Vienna set to host third event of 2007 JGP Series
|Brandon Mroz will compete in Vienna. (Paul Harvath)|
More than 100 skaters hailing from nearly 30 countries will participate in the event, the third in the series. The JGP Series, now in its 11th season, consists of eight international events in a cumulative point-scoring format. Each athlete is eligible to score points in two of the eight scheduled events (pairs can compete in two of four designated events). The top eight point-earners in each of the disciplines qualify for the JGP Final in Gdansk, Poland, Dec. 6-9.
At last week's event in Romania, U.S. skaters Adam Rippon and Chrissy Hughes took the title in men's and ladies' competitions, respectively, while Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier, the 2007 Canadian junior champions, outlasted the field to bring home the gold.
American Rachael Flatt's most recent international competition was the 2007 International Challenge Cup in The Hague, Netherlands, where she claimed gold as a junior. Her other international experience includes a third-place finish at the 2005 North American Challenge Skate (Kansas) and a first-place showing at the 2005 Triglav Trophy. Jenni Vähämaa of Finland has skated to top-10 finishes at each of the last two World Junior Championships and claimed the junior ladies crown at last year's Finnish Championships, improving on her silver medal in 2006. In addition to placing in the top 15 at the 2007 Four Continents Championships, Korea's Na-Young Kim fell just shy of the senior podium at her country's national championships last year, taking fourth. In her third year competing in the JGP Series, Kim will look to improve on her bronze-medal finish at last year's JGP in Chinese Taipei.
Brandon Mroz of the United States achieved some outstanding results during the 2006-07 Junior Grand Prix season, bringing home a gold medal from the Junior Grand Prix in Taipei, garnering a silver at the Junior Grand Prix in Mexico and finishing second at the 2006 Junior Grand Prix final. Japan's Tatsuki Machida is fresh off a ninth-place finish at the World Junior Championships. His four-year history in Junior Grand Prix events has yielded all top-10 finishes, including, most recently, a silver medal at the 2006 competition in Liberec. Russian Artem Borodulin has competed in Junior Grand Prix events since 2005 and will be looking to improve on a seventh-place finish at last year's JGP Final in Sofia, Bulgaria. He is the reigning Russian junior silver medalist. Swedish competitor Adrian Schultheiss is his country's two-time defending senior men's champion. He finished 20th at last year's European Championships and qualified for the 2005 JGP Final after taking silver and gold in his assignments.
JGP veterans Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates, the 2007 U.S. junior champions, had a strong start to the Junior Grand Prix season, winning gold at the Lake Placid event. Another familiar team, Poland's Joanna Budner and Jan Moscicki, have never medaled at a JGP, but always seem to be in contention. Russia's junior silver medalists, Maria Manko and Ilia Tkachenko, are in just their second year competing together, and are looking to make a splash in their JGP debut similar to the one they made at the 2007 World Junior Championships, where they finished fifth. Evgenia Melnik and Oleg Krupen, the 2007 Belarusian national champions, are another pair that began skating together in 2006. Austria will be their first JGP assignment.
Michelle Scott contributed to this report.