Here’s a certainty: the capital of Bulgaria has turned into the capital of world (junior) figure skating these days; and some of the young skaters competing at the Junior Worlds might say in the forthcoming years: “My career started, in fact, at the Winter Palace in Sofia…”. Until then, for the figure skating audience, most of these talented athletes are practically anonymous – and the famous ones are, in fact, their coaches. As the journalists from beautyinsport.com have noticed, the winners of no less than eight World titles and six Olympic medals gathered in Sofia this week, accompanying their students at the 2014 Junior Worlds. Among them, Evgeny Platov (coaching the British ice dancers Olivia Smart and Joseph Buckland), Anjelika Krylova (coaching Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, USA), Brian Orser (coaching the Canadian Nam Nguyen), Barbara Fusar Poli (coaching the ice dance couple representing Hungary, Carolina Moscheni and Adam Lukacs), Alexei Mishin (coaching the Russian Alexander Petrov). Adding to this group of very well-known coaches the familiar face of Elena Radionova, the 2013 World Junior champion and already two-time medalist on the senior Grand Prix series, you might say that Sofia is definitely the place to be at the beginning of the spring.
by Florentina Tone
As a matter of fact, the 15-year-old Elena Radionova – third at 2013 Skate America, second at 2013 NHK Trophy and fourth at the Grand Prix Final in Fukuoka – is the only reigning World Junior Champion trying to defend the title she won last year in Milan, Italy. The defending Junior ice dance champions, Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin (Russia), withdrew from the event due to illness, while Joshua Farris (winner of the men’s event last year) and the American pair Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier (gold at the 2013 Junior Worlds) moved to senior level given their age.
In the ladies’ event, one more familiar name: the Japanese Satoko Miyahara. At the end of January, in Taipei, the 15-year-old skater won the silver medal at the Four Continents Championships; and she is also the 2013 Japanese senior national bronze medalist.
The men’s event is definitely a joy to watch, given the amount of talent to be displayed in Sofia. We have, on one hand, the Canadian young skater trained by Brian Orser, Nam Nguyen, but also Shoma Uno and Keiji Tanaka from Japan, Adian Pitkeev from Russia, Nathan Chen and Shotaro Omori representing USA. Actually, Nguyen will fly from Sofia to the World (Senior) Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, given the fact he was named in the Canadian team, alongside Kevin Reynolds and Elladj Baldé. Under these circumstances, Brian Orser will have no less than three students in the men’s event in Saitama: the 15-year-old skater with Vietnamese origin, the Olympic champion in Sochi, Yuzuru Hanyu, and the Spanish Javier Fernandez, fourth place at the Olympic Games in Russia.
Romania is represented at the World Juniors in Sofia by the 16-year-old Julia Sauter, coached by Marius Negrea and Roxana Luca. Holding dual citizenship, Julia represented Germany until 2011.
To me, one of the best things when it comes to the event in Bulgaria is the large number of countries participating at this edition of the Junior Worlds; alongside athletes representing well-known countries in the figure skating world, we get to see skaters from Chinese Taipei, Greece, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Africa, Thailand… Good luck everyone! And those of you from Europe, don’t forget you can watch the competition on the ISU Skating Channel.
For useful pieces of information and updates on this edition of the Junior Worlds, we recommend you to follow the English section of the Bulgarian website www.beautyinsport.com.
PHOTO-GALLERY: glimpses from the 2014 Junior Worlds
(photos courtesy of Andriana Andreeva)