Russia looks to continue dominance in Sheffield

Russia has won seven gold medals in four JGP events this season

Earlier this season, Yasmin Siraj won the silver medal at the JGP France.
Earlier this season, Yasmin Siraj won the silver medal at the JGP France. (Laurie Johnson)


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By Mickey Brown, special to
(09/28/2010) - Russia looks to continue its ownership of the top of the podium at this week's Junior Grand Prix Series event in Sheffield, Great Britain.

Russian skaters have won seven of the 12 gold medals handed out at the four JGP events this season, and the country has title contenders in all four disciplines at this week's competition.

Leading the Russian ladies in Sheffield is Adelina Sotnikova, the gold medalist two weeks ago at JGP Austria. (The withdrawal of Anna Ovcharova, a qualifier for the 2009 Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and the fifth-place finisher at the 2010 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, on Tuesday leaves the Russian team weakened). Both U.S. entrants, Kristiene Gong and Yasmin Siraj, are serious medal contenders, as each has won a silver in this year's series (Gong in Romania, Siraj in France). Japan's Yuki Nishino, who won the short program at JGP Romania before falling to seventh place, and Sweden's Isabelle Olsson (fifth at JGP Romania, bronze at 2009 JGP Lake Placid) could also contend for a podium spot.

Someone in the men's field will become a JGP gold medalist for the first time. Russia's Zhan Bush has won the bronze at each of his last three JGP assignments, including this season at JGP Austria. Joshua Farris, the reigning U.S. junior silver medalist, nabbed the silver at JGP Romania, while Japan's Keiji Tanaka earned the bronze at that event. Liam Firus, the reigning Canadian junior champ, placed fifth in his first JGP assignment this season, in Romania.

Pairs compete for the second time in this fall's series, and the podium will likely consist of a Japanese team and two Russian duos. Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran of Japan took the silver at last year's JGP Final and World Junior Championships, finishing one spot ahead of Russia's Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov at the latter. Alexandra Vasileva and Yuri Shevchuk placed fourth at both of their 2009 JGP assignments and qualified for the 2009 JGP Final. Reigning Canadian junior champs Margaret Purdy and Michael Marinaro came in eighth at the 2010 World Junior Championships.

Ice dancing
The heavy favorites to win gold are Russians Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin, who have won the gold at each of their last three JGP events as well as at the 2009 JGP Final. Their country mates, Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin, claimed the silver two weeks ago at JGP Austria. Americans Lauri Bonacorsi and Travis Mager have a pair of JGP bronze medals on their resume, one this year in Romania and another last season in Lake Placid. Canada's Abby Carswell and Andrew Doleman finished just three points back of Bonacorsi and Mager in Romania.