American Junior Skaters Kick Off JGP Series in Courchevel, France

(8/24/19) - Eight Americans competed in Courchevel, France, this week for the first event of the 2019 International Skating Union’s (ISU) Junior Grand Prix (JGP) of Figuring Skating Series.

Ice dancers Katarina Wolfkostin and Jeffrey Chen led the U.S. contingent in France with their fifth-place finish. In their debut as a couple, the Novi-based team headed into Saturday’s free dance in fourth place after receiving a score of 58.90 for their rhythm dance. Their Sam Smith medley free dance earned 89.03 points and they finished in fifth with a total score of 186.71 points.

Elizabeth Tkachenko and Alexei Kiliakov
notched a total score of 122.65 and received a 12th-place finish in their JGP debut.

Elizaveta Shanaeva and Devid Naryzhnyy of Russia took home the competition’s final gold medal (163.90). France’s Loicia Demougeot and Theo le Mercier finished in second place (161.01), and Ekaterina Katashinskaia and Aleksandr Vaskovich of Russia claimed the final podium spot (151.65).

In the men’s competition, Matthew Nielsen recorded a personal best short program score of 70.19 to move him into second place. The Ohio-native landed four jumps and completed three Level 4 spins in his program. In the free skate, Nielsen fell back to sixth place overall in his JGP debut with a total score of 186.71.

Massachusetts’ Maxim Naumov finished right behind Nielsen, coming away with a seventh-place finish after recording a total score of 179.15. After missing the 2018-19 season, Naumov scored 63.47 for his short program and 115.68 for his free skate in his return to competition.

Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama took home the gold with 234.87 points, while Aleksa Rakic of Canada earned silver (200.71) and Russia’s Andrei Kutovoi claimed bronze (198.06).

In her third JGP event, Hanna Harrell posted a seventh-place finish with a total score of 160.50. The 2019 U.S. pewter medalist recorded a score of 56.71 for her Carmen-themed short program and a free skate score of 103.79.

Also in the ladies competition, Illinois-native Calista Choi, making her international debut in France, finished in 14th place with a cumulative score of 148.19. The 2019 novice champion registered 54.10 points for her short program and 94.09 for her free skate.

Kamila Valieva of Russia took home the first gold medal of the series (200.71), followed by the Republic of Korea’s Seoyeong Wi in second (191.07) and fellow Russian Maiia Khromykh in third (179.32).

JGP Series continues next week in Lake Placid, New York. The competition is scheduled for Aug. 29-31 at Herb Brooks Arena where Team USA will compete on home ice.

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