Long Beach Hosts Third Junior Grand Prix Event

Brittany Vise and Nicholas Kole
File photo by Paul Harvath

(9/8/2004) - The first 2004-05 international figure skating event taking place in the United States hits Long Beach, Calif., this weekend, as the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series makes its third of eight stops. The Long Beach event will feature 18 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 2004-05 season.

Leading the ladies division is 2004 U.S. junior champion and 2004 World Junior silver medalist Kimmie Meissner (Bel Air, Md.). Meissner has already posted a strong season, placing second at her first JGP event in France. With a strong placement in Long Beach Meissner will most likely earn a spot at the JGP Final in Helsinki, Finland, where she'll look to better her finish from the 2003 JGP Final, at which she placed fifth. Joining her in Long Beach is fellow 2003 JGP Final competitor Danielle Kahle (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) who finished sixth at the event. Kahle enters her third season in the JGP Series after a fifth-place finish in her 2002 JGP event and a first- and second-place finish in her two 2003 JGP events. Kahle most recently placed 10th at the 2004 State Farm U.S. Championships, her first as a senior, then took 11th at the 2004 World Junior Championships. Rounding out the ladies field is 2004 U.S. Championships novice pewter medalist Cara Kinney (Noblesville, Ind.). Though Kinney is new to the JGP Series, she won silver as a novice at the 2004 Triglav Trophy and recently placed seventh as a junior at the 2004 North American Challenge Skate (NACS) in San Jose.

2003 U.S. junior champion Dennis Phan (Indio, Calif.) leads the men's division, entering his third season in the JGP Series. In 2002 he placed sixth at the event in Slovakia, then took ninth and second at his 2003 events in Sofia and Slovenia, respectively. The rest of his 2003-2004 season was strong, with a 14th-place finish in his first U.S. Championships as a senior and a seventh-place finish at the World Junior Championships. With his performances in Long Beach he will aim to qualify for his first JGP Final. 2004 U.S. novice champion Princeton Kwong (Los Altos Hills, Calif.) and novice bronze medalist Charlie White (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) will both compete in their first JGP Series event. Kwong first competed internationally as a junior last season, placing second at the 2004 Gardena Spring Trophy, then won gold this August at the 2004 NACS in Waterloo. White, also the 2002 U.S. intermediate champion, competed in the NACS Waterloo event as well, his first international event. He finished sixth as a junior.

The U.S. sends four pairs teams to Long Beach, led by JGP veterans Brittany Vise (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Nicholas Kole (Littleton, Colo.). The pair just missed qualifying for the JGP Final in 2002, but their 2003 silver and bronze finishes in Mexico City and Sofia led them to the 2003 JGP Final, where they placed sixth. They also placed eighth at the 2004 U.S. Championships as seniors before going on to finish sixth at the 2004 World Junior Championships. Three new Team USA pairs will join Vise and Kole in Long Beach. 2004 NACS Waterloo junior bronze medalists Aaryn Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Will Chitwood (Colorado Springs, Colo.) will look to add to their medal count, which includes a pewter from the 2004 U.S. Championships as novices. Chloe Katz (Sea Cliff, N.Y.) and Joseph Lynch (Wantagh, N.Y.) also found success at the 2004 NACS Waterloo event, taking fourth after placing 11th at the 2004 U.S. Championships, both as novices. New pairs team Lucy Galleher (Denver, Colo.) and Justin Gaumond (Littleton, Colo.) will debut their 2004-2005 programs internationally, looking to start off their career as a pair on a positive note.

Ice Dancing
In ice dancing, the seasoned duo of Morgan Matthews (Fairfax, Va.) and Maxim Zavozin (Ashburn, Va.) continue to take on their third and final JGP Series, this season looking for JGP Final gold. They are well on their way after winning the gold at their first JGP event of the season in France. The two-time U.S. junior champions and 2004 World Junior bronze medalists placed third at the 2003 JGP Final. Competing with them in Long Beach is the team of Caitlin Mallory (Berkeley, Calif.) and Brent Holdburg (Dallas, Texas). They placed 11th as juniors at the 2004 U.S. Championships in their first season together. The JGP event in Long Beach marks their first international competition.

The remaining events in the Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series are:

Harbin, China Sept. 16-19
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

2004 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating
Long Beach, Calif.
Sept. 9-12

U.S. Entries: Name (Hometown/Training Town)

Danielle Kahle (Thousand Oaks, Calif./El Segundo and Simi Valley, Calif.)
Cara Kinney (Noblesville, Ind./Indianapolis, Ind.)
Kimmie Meissner (Bel Air, Md./Newark, Del.)

Princeton Kwong (Los Altos Hills, Calif./San Jose, Calif.)
Dennis Phan (Indio, Calif./Riverside, Calif.)
Charlie White (Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)

Lucy Galleher (Denver, Colo.) & Justin Gaumond (Littleton, Colo./Colorado Springs and Denver, Colo.)
Chloe Katz (Sea Cliff, N.Y.) & Joseph Lynch (Wantagh, N.Y./Bellmore, N.Y.)
Aaryn Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo.) & Will Chitwood (Colorado Springs, Colo./Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Brittany Vise (Colorado Springs, Colo.) & Nicholas Kole (Littleton, Colo./Colorado Springs and Littleton, Colo.)

Ice Dancing
Caitlin Mallory (Berkeley, Calif.) & Brent Holdburg (Dallas, Texas/San Jose, Calif.)
Morgan Matthews (Fairfax, Va.) & Maxim Zavozin (Ashburn, Va./Ashburn, Va.)