China Hosts Fourth Junior Grand Prix Event
Photo by Michelle Harvath
(9/15/04) - Harbin, China, will serve as host of the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series Sept. 16-18 for the fourth of eight stops. The Harbin event will include 10 U.S. athletes competing in the ladies, men's, pairs and ice dancing disciplines.
The JGP Series consists of eight international events in a cumulative point-scoring format. Approximately 400 athletes representing more than 35 countries are expected to participate in the series. Each athlete is eligible to score points in two of the eight scheduled events. The top eight point-earners in each of the disciplines then qualify for the JGP Final in Helsinki, Finland, Dec. 2-5. Athletes will be vying for a total of $365,000 in prize money throughout the series.
The new ISU judging system will be implemented this season for the JGP Series. Under the new system, points are awarded for a technical score combined with points awarded for five additional components - skating skills, transitions, performance/execution, choreography/composition and interpretation. Throughout the series, judges' names will not be anonymous; instead they will be listed in the protocol with their marks. This will let the ISU Council compare this procedure with that of anonymous judging after the 2004-2005 season.
Leading the ladies division is Christine Zukowski (Newark, Del.), who is competing in her first JGP event. Although Zukowski is new to the JGP Series, she has an impressive 2003-2004 record, winning gold at the State Farm U.S. Championships as a novice. In her first contest at the junior level, Zukowski performed brilliantly, taking home the gold from the 2004 Gardena Spring Trophy. Accompanying her to China is Erin Reed (Ogden, Utah), the 2004 U.S. Championships pewter medalist on the junior level. Reed, who is also competing in her first JGP event, looks to capitalize on her recent success, having captured the silver medal as a junior in the 2004 Gardena Spring Trophy.
2004 U.S. junior bronze medalist Wesley Campbell (Nashville, Tenn.) returns for his third spell in the JGP Series. Campbell has extensive JGP experience, having placed 10th in 2003 at Sofia and sixth and second at his 2002 competitions in Germany and Yugoslavia, respectively. With a solid performance, Campbell hopes to move toward qualifying for his first JGP Final. Contending with him in China is 2004 U.S novice silver medalist Daisuke Murakami (Corona, Calif.). Murakami has performed well in 2004, earning the silver medal competing for the first time as a junior in the 2004 North American Challenge Skate (NACS) in Waterloo and taking home the gold at the 2004 Triglav Trophy as a novice. Murakami will look to impress while contending in his first JGP Series.
In pairs, Brooke Castile (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.) and Ben Okolski (Ann Arbor, Mich) will compete in their third straight JGP Series. The experienced duo is aiming to improve on their third-place finish in France last month. In 2003 the pair had an impressive showing in JGP competition, placing fourth and third in Sofia and Japan, respectively. Having earned the silver medal as juniors at the 2004 U.S. Championships last season, Castile and Okolski will be attempting to reach their first JGP final. Accompanying the pair to China will be Jenna Yount (Paradise Valley, Ariz.) and Grant Marron (Phoenix, Ariz.). China will serve as the pair's second JGP test, having placed sixth in Bratislava in 2003. After earning a bronze medal at the 2003 U.S. Championships at the novice level, they followed with a fifth-place finish at the 2004 U.S. Championships on the junior level.
In ice dancing, 2004 U.S. junior bronze medalists Trina Pratt (Pueblo, Colo.) and Todd Gilles (Colorado Springs, Colo.) look to build on their third-place finish at the JGP competition in Hungary previously this month. An inspiring performance could help the duo advance in the JGP standings. The couple placed seventh in their first ever JGP event in Sofia in 2003.
The remaining events in the Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series are:
Belgrade, Serbia/Montenegro – Sept. 23-26
Kiev, Ukraine – Sept. 30-Oct. 3
Chemnitz, Germany – Oct. 7-10
Miercurea Ciuc, Romania – Oct. 14-17
JGP Final: Helsinki, Finland – Dec. 2-5
Sept. 16-19 U.S. Entries: Name (Hometown/Training Town)
Erin Reed (Ogden, Utah/Ogden and Salt Lake City, Utah)
Christine Zukowski (Newark, Del./Newark, Del.) Men
Wesley Campbell (Nashville, Tenn./Franklin, Tenn.)
Daisuke Murakami (Corona, Calif./Lake Arrowhead, Calif.) Pairs
Brooke Castile (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.) & Ben Okolski (Ann Arbor, Mich./Taylor Mich.)
Jenna Yount (Paradise Valley, Ariz.) & Grant Marron (Phoenix, Ariz./Scottsdale, Ariz.) Ice Dancing
Trina Pratt (Pueblo, Colo.) & Todd Gilles (Colorado Springs, Colo./Colorado Springs, Colo.)