Junior World Championships 2024: Recap

© International Skating Union (ISU)

The 2024 World Junior Championships took place from February 26 to March 3 in Taipei, Taiwan. The culmination of the Junior skating season, the competition saw first medals for skaters and their countries, as well as an array of season’s bests and strong emotions. Read on for a closer look at some of the key performances and results of the championships!

Results

Men
🥇Minkyu Seo (Republic of Korea)
🥈 Rio Nakata (Japan)
🥉 Adam Hagara (Slovakia)

Women
🥇 Mao Shimada (Japan)
🥈 Jia Shin (Republic of Korea)
🥉 Rena Uezono (Japan)

Ice Dance
🥇 Leah Neset / Artem Markelov (USA)
🥈 Elizabeth Tkachenko / Alexei Kiliakov (Israel)
🥉 Darya Grimm / Michail Savitskiy (Germany)

Pairs
🥇 Anastasiia Metelkina / Luka Berulava (Georgia)
🥈 Olivia Flores / Luke Wang (USA)
🥉 Naomi Williams / Lachlan Lewer (USA)

Men

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Taking the gold medal and becoming the first Korean man to win Junior Worlds was Minkyu Seo of the Republic of Korea, with a total of 230.75. He was secure on opening triple axel in his short program, and demonstrated amazing control and footwork in the level four step sequence, grasping the intricacies of the flowing music with elegance. His free skate was to ‘Notre Dame de Paris’, which matches his big skating. He opened with a triple axel-double toe combination, but popped his second axel into just a single. He had great use of the choreo sequence to emphasise the chorus of ‘Les Temps des Cathedrales’ with expansive movements; the triple flip and triple toe were landed in time to the climax of the piece. Seo equally showcased neat positions in the spins with laudable fast rotation. 

In close second with 229.31 points was Rio Nakata of Japan, who was fifth after the short program but delivered the highest-scoring free skate. In the short program, he managed to hang onto the combination, albeit receiving a -0.38 GOE on the element. His combination spin was strong, and he used his whole body to deliver the choreography in the step sequence. In his James Bond free skate, he was unable to cleanly land the opening quad, but received positive grades of execution for all the following elements and was solid in his jumps thereafter. The program layout saw a double axel as the penultimate element, which he pulled off with skill to close out a successful performance. 

Adam Hagara of Slovakia won the bronze medal, with 225.61 points. He has had a busy season, with 10 international competitions, and we will see him at Senior Worlds in just two weeks, where he will be a skater to watch. In Taipei, he delivered a strong short program, with positive GOEs for all elements. Skating to ‘Another Love’, he was secure in his jumps, which had flow into and out of them; all elements were integrated well into one another. Hagara had a two-footed landing on the toeloop in the opening combination in his free skate, but came back strongly in the following triple axel. He used his torso well to express the music, and holds himself well on the ice. 

In fourth place was Shunsuke Nakamura of Japan. He had a hard fall on the triple axel in his short program, but maintained focus to deliver the triple flip-triple toe combination and triple lutz with quality; the lutz in particular had good speed and flow, which he carried into the spin and step sequence. Going into the free skate in tenth place, he delivered a solid performance, although it had several jump errors. He opened powerfully with a quad toeloop, but struggled again with the triple axels, and had a fall from one of them. 
France’s Francois Pitot came fifth in the competition. His short program to ‘Separate Ways’ opened with effective choreography which set the tone of the performance. He put out just a double toe after the triple flip, but his other two jumping passes were great. Pitot retained the level of intensity which his program demands with skill throughout, and showcased a dynamic step sequence; there was an emphatic pause in the choreography before going into the final spin. In his free skate, he started off with a triple axel, but had several jumping errors thereafter, popping the axel into a single, and falling from a triple lutz in the latter half of his performance. Nonetheless, he used his movements well to match the jazzy music, and the choreo sequence highlighted his strengths as a performer. 

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Another notable performance was that of Anthony Paradis of Canada, who delivered two standout programs. In terms of jumps, he put out programs with lower base values than many of his competitors but shone in his components. In the short program, he put out a 2F-3T, 2A, and a triple lutz with a fall. His step sequence, given a level four and +1.28 GOE, was intricate and impressive. Cartwheels do not always work well in choreography, but Paradis pulled it off with skill, and had fluidity into and out of the move. His spins had swift transitions within the element and included a Biellmann position. His stellar grasp of music was once more evident in the free skate to ‘Yours’ by Conan Gray. Paradis always performs to the maximum, and the emotive performance was memorable. The choreo sequence was a highlight, and the strength of his extension and lines was foregrounded in the spiral. 

Women

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Mao Shimada of Japan won the gold medal in the Women’s event, with a total of 218.36 points. She was second after the short program, where she skated to ‘Americano’. She opened with a seemingly effortless double axel, and showed tight in-air positions and secure landing on all of her jumps. She was strong also in her spins, all level fours, and the performance was highly rewarded by judges. In her ‘Benedictus’ free skate, she had a step out of the triple axel, but clean on the following quad toe, and received positive grades of execution on all following elements. She used the spiral in the choreo sequence to accompany the climax of music, and pulled off a triple lutz near the end of the program, with impressive speed heading into the element. 

© International Skating Union (ISU)

Jia Shin of the Republic of Korea came second, with 212.43 points. She had the highest-scoring short program of 73.48 points. She started out with a quality triple flip-triple toe combination. She has an elegant, lyrical skating style, which worked well with the music ‘Fascination’. She delivered an Ina Bauer heading into the final jump, the triple lutz, which received a GOE of +2.11. Shin had neat footwork in the step sequence, taking the time to portray each element of choreography. Her free skate to ‘Not About Angels’ was a superb performance, which carried momentum into the latter half: she showcased top quality jumps, followed by a memorable choreo sequence, an element which saw a split jump into lunge which was controlled yet expressive. She struggled slightly with the final spin, receiving a -0.13 GOE for it. 

In third place was Rena Uezono of Japan, with 194.70 points. Her short program had a step out of the triple toeloop, but was strong elsewhere; the skate demonstrated a good change of expression between the two pieces of music, and the upbeat step sequence was performed well. Uezeno had a clean free skate; she went into it with attack, and the focus and determination was evident throughout. She had good control of a moment of pause in the choreography after the second triple lutz, which was used to transition into the second part of the program. 

Iida Karhunen of Finland came in fourth place. She had a great triple flip-triple toeloop combination in the short program, and although she was a little shaky on the double axel, she held onto the landing. Karhunen paid attention to the various beats and accents of the jazzy piece in her step sequence, highlighting them with her movements. It was a season’s best performance of 64.64 points. She opened her free skate with a big flip-toe once more and expressed a range of movements in the choreo sequence. The choice of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ enables her to experiment with a variety of tonalities and tempos. Karhunen struggled with the flying sit spin at the end, which cost her some points. 
Japan’s Ikura Kushida was fifth in the competition. Skating to ‘Red Violin’, she was in third place after the short program, which saw a neat triple lutz, and intricate footwork in the step sequence. She had a rougher free skate, with two falls and two jumps judged as landed on the quarter. She fought well for the triple lutz-triple toe-double toe combination in the second half of her program, and her expressivity and musicality were foregrounded in the choreo sequence.

Ice Dance 

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Leah Neset and Artem Markelov of the USA won the Ice Dance event with 169.76 points. They projected well towards the audience in the rhythm dance and reflected the ambiance of ‘Still Loving You’ well through their expression and movements. They performed through their straight line lift and had speed in their twizzles. In the free dance to ‘Anytime Anywhere’, they showed sustained and well-defined positions throughout the curve and rotational lifts. It was an emotive and strong performance from the team, although they had a fall at the very end on their spin, which caused a one-point deduction. 

Elizabeth Tkachenko and Alexei Kiliakov of Israel came second, with 162.68 points. They were third in the rhythm dance, which saw a strong set of twizzles, and a synchronised and controlled diagonal step element. In their free dance, the team was accurate in their movements, with the lifts and twizzles were done well. It is admittedly a difficult piece to skate to: the percussive piece has little variation in tone, although there is a buildup of tempo at the very end. 

Second in the rhythm dance but third in the free dance to win bronze overall were Darya Grimm and Michail Savitskiy of Germany with a total of 162.13 points. The twizzles in their rhythm dance had difficult transitions, through which they were synchronised. They reflected the tone of their Electric Light Orchestra medley well in their movements, and the rotational lift matched the upbeat music. The free skate was another technically difficult program, and with transitions between all elements, it was also a dense skate which they pulled off with skill. They lost out on a few levels in the twizzles, but put out a very strong rotational lift after. They hit the accents of the music, and connected with the audience in the choreo step sequence at the program’s end. 

© International Skating Union (ISU)

Celina Fradji and Jean-Hans Fourenaux of France were fourth. Fradji had a loss of balance coming out of the midline step in the RD, but they were strong elsewhere; both of them are dynamic, powerful skaters, which complemented the music choice effectively. In their free dance to music by Rascasuelos, they showed neat twizzles in time with the flowing piano music. The difference in style from the rhythm dance underscores their versatility, and they have success with lyrical, instrumental pieces as well. The choreography in the choreo character step sequence was great and they delivered it with conviction. 
Elliana Peal and Ethan Peal of the USA were fifth place. They skated a strong rhythm dance to music by Janet Jackson, and the quality of their skating was evident in their sharp, synchronised movements. They secured level fours in the twizzles, where they were well-matched with each other and controlled throughout. Their free dance to music from The Lord of the Rings was another great skate from the two, with positive grades of execution for all elements. The idea to skate to music from the film is not commonly seen, and they delivered it well. 
Noemi Maria Tali and Noah Lafornara of Italy were fourth in the rhythm dance, but ninth in the free dance, and dropped to seventh place overall. They brought good energy to their rhythm dance, and received level fours in the element. In their free dance to ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’, they had strong twizzles again, and used the dance spin to transition into the sung section of their program. They built up well to the climax of their performance, and the curve lift accentuated the chorus. However, there was an unfortunate mistake at the end, seeing a fall in the closing position incurring a two-point deduction for the falls, as well as a -1.00 for an extended lift.

Pairs 

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European silver medallists Anastasiia Metelkina and Luka Berulava of Georgia won the Junior Pairs event with 179.32 points. In the short program, their smooth triple twist was given a level four and +2.14 grade of execution, and they were strong on the throw triple loop as well. They had difficulties with their free skate, with a fall from the side-by-side triple salchow, and sticky landings and step outs on the throw triple flip, side-by-side triple toe, and throw triple loop: mistakes which added up. They remained strong in the lifts and spins, however, and maintained their first place position with ease. 

In second place was Olivia Flores and Luke Wang of the USA, with a total of 166.89. In their ‘Once Upon a December’ short program, they began with a strong triple twist, and equal quality was demonstrated in the throw triple loop. Flores and Wang built up with skill towards the climax of the program, using the choreography of the step sequence to the fullest in order to do so: they are both strong, expressive skaters with great musicality. The Star Wars-themed free skate started off well with the triple twist, and they put out a powerful succession of axels in their jump sequence. The side-by-side triple salchow had a step out, and the throw triple loop saw a fall; nonetheless, they nailed the throw triple salchow as the penultimate element. 

Winning the bronze medal were compatriots Naomi Williams and Lachlan Lewer with 146.00 points. They were fourth in the short program, where they had solid side-by-side double axels. It was a strong performance from the team despite a deductive GOE in the spin. There is a brightness to the quality of their skating, which they foregrounded in the step sequence with which they closed out their short program. In their ‘Miss Saigon’ free skate, they demonstrated solid side-by-side double salchows, and nailed the throw double loop as well. The two had a good transition into the more delicate ‘Sun and Moon’ section of their skate. 

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Irina Napolitano and Edoardo Comi of Italy were seventh after the short program, but third in the free skate to rise to fourth place overall. Opting for a double twist, they followed up with a side-by-side double axel and skated powerfully to the vocals of ‘Oro Nero’, and were rewarded well for the step sequence, getting a level four. Their free skate, to the music of ‘The White Crow’, marks a tonal shift from their SP and pushes them artistically in a different direction. They had height in the double twist and pulled off the triple toe-double toe-single axel sequence. It was a great performance, earning them a season’s best of 94.12 points. 
Canada’s Martina Ariano Kent and Charly Laliberte Laurent came fifth. They were third in the short program. They opened with a triple twist but struggled with the element, which was given a base level and -1.78 GOE. Despite this, they recovered to deliver a side-by-side double axel afterwards, and their throw triple loop was top quality, receiving +1.50. They did well to convey the bubbly, upbeat ‘500 miles’ in the last section of their skate. Skating to ‘Radioactive’ in their free skate, they gained impressive height on the triple twist, but struggled again with the control. There were three falls in the program, but they did well to maintain the flow of the program regardless. 
Also representing Canada, Ava Kemp and Yohnatan Elizarov were sixth in Taipei. They struggled with the twist in the short program but managed to come out of it safely. They were strong on the throw triple loop, which was the third element, and were clean thereafter, with a level four spin and step sequence. The ‘Skyfall’ free skate was a difficult performance for the two, with three falls, including a hard fall for Kemp in the side-by-side double axel. Nevertheless, there was fluidity in the lifts, and the throw triple salchow had good distance; they appeared to settle into the skate in the latter half of the program and delivered it with skill.

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