U.S. skaters look to stay on roll in Estonia

Two U.S. pairs make debut this weekend

Chelsi Guillen and Danny Curzon will make their JGP debut in Estonia.
Chelsi Guillen and Danny Curzon will make their JGP debut in Estonia. (Paul Harvath / Special to


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(09/19/2007) - The fourth event of the 2007 International Skating Union (ISU) Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating (JGP) Series takes place in Tallinn, Estonia, Sept. 20-23. The event will be held at the Premia Ice Rink, beginning Thursday with the ladies short program, men's short program and compulsory dance.

More than 20 countries will be represented by 113 athletes in this installment of the JGP Series. This is one of the four JGP events with a pairs competition.

At last week's competition in Vienna, Austria, United States skaters captured gold in each of the three disciplines. Rachael Flatt was in second place after the short program, but she edged teammate Kristine Musademba to win the ladies gold. In the men's contest, Brandon Mroz skated past China's Jinlin Guan and Russia's Artem Borodulin to land on top of the podium. U.S. ice dancing duo Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates battled Russians Maria Monko and Ilia Tkachenko throughout the competition, with the Americans eventually securing the gold and the Russians the silver.

Blake Rosenthal most recently placed fourth in the junior division at the 2007 State Farm U.S. Championships. Her international experience includes a seventh-place finish at the 2006 JGP event in Taipei. Another U.S. entry, Juliana Cannarozzo, has a strong history in JGP competitions, completing the 2006 series with two gold medal-winning finishes (Norway and Hungary) and finishing seventh at the JGP Final. Estonia's own Svetlana Issakova is competing on the JGP circuit for the second year. She will be looking to improve on her silver-medal finish at last year's event in the Czech Republic. Also in Tallinn is Shoko Ishikawa of Japan, whose last JGP appearance, in Budapest in 2006, ended in a fifth-place finish. Swedish skater Joshi Helgesson finished sixth at the 2007 JGP's first stop in Lake Placid, N.Y.

China's Jinlin Guan has finished fourth or better at all of his JGP assignments since his 2004 debut, most recently earning a silver medal in Vienna last week. Internationally, Guan placed sixth at last year's World Junior Championships. Guan's Chinese teammate Chao Yang placed 10th at last year's World Junior Championships. Yang's fifth-place finish last week at JGP Austria has him in contention for a spot in this year's JGP Final. American Curran Oi finished the 2006 JGP season with a fourth-place finish in Norway, a silver medal in France and a fifth-place finish at the JFP Final in Bulgaria. This is U.S. skater Doug Razzano's third year on the JGP circuit; he previously competed in 2005 (Slovakia, sixth) and 2006 (Czech Republic, seventh). France's Florent Amodio has competed in JGP events since 2005, most recently placing fifth in Lake Placid.

Two U.S. pairs teams will make their JGP debut: Chelsi Guillen and Danny Curzon, and Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir. Both teams have been skating together for about a year and both participated at the sectional and U.S. championships in 2007. Canada's Mark Fernandez and Amanda Velenosi are in just their second year together and hope to improve on their third- and sixth-place finishes in last year's JGP stops in Norway and Taipei City. Canada's junior silver medalists, Fernandez and Velenosi arrive in Estonia with a bit of World Juniors experience as well, placing sixth in last year's competition. Estonia pairs skaters Maria Sergejeva and Ilja Glebov placed seventh and ninth at their JGP competitions last year in Norway and Liberec. Their country's national champions, the duo also skated to a seventh-place finish at last year's World Junior Championships.

The Ukrainian duo of Alisa Agafanova and Dmitri Dun have maintained strong, top-10 finishes in their JGP events since 2004, last year placing fourth in Courchevel and winning a silver medal at the Taipei Cup. Canadians Joanna Lenko & Mitchell Islam will look to at least replicate their silver-medal finish in Lake Placid and earn a chance to move onto the JGP Final. Shannon Wingle and Ryan Devereaux comprise one of two teams representing the United States in the ice dancing competition. The duo placed seventh (Norway) and sixth (Hungary) during the 2006 JGP season.

Michelle Scott contributed to this story