Press Release

Second JGP event this weekend in Italy

Melissa Bulanhagui and Ron Ludington.
Melissa Bulanhagui and Ron Ludington. (Lindsey Goff)

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(09/02/2008) - The second event of the 2008 International Skating Union (ISU) Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating (JGP) Series takes place Sept. 3-7 in Merano, Italy. The event will be held at the Meranarena - Via Palade 74, beginning Thursday, Sept. 4 with the compulsory dance and the ladies and men's short programs. Official practice will take place Wednesday.

Eight athletes will represent the United States at the event in three disciplines: ladies, men's and ice dancing. A pairs competition will be held at four of the eight JGP events during the season.

The JGP Series, now in its 12th season, consists of eight international events in a cumulative point-scoring format. Approximately 400 athletes representing more than 35 countries are expected to participate in the series. 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 Junior Grand Prix Final Dec. 11-14 in Seoul, South Korea.

U.S. LADIES
This is Melissa Bulanhagui's third go-around on the JGP circuit. She finished fifth last season at the JGP in Sofia, Bulgaria, and eighth at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Saint Paul, Minn. Bulanhagui is joined by U.S. junior bronze medalist Brittney Rizo. This is the first JGP competition for Rizo, who won gold as a junior at the 2008 AEGON Challenge Cup.

INTERNATIONAL LADIES
The field includes skaters who have combined for 11 JGP medals and three top-10 finishes at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships. Japan's Rumi Suizu has won four medals in her four years on the JGP circuit, including a pair of bronzes last season. She was fifth at the World Junior Championships in 2007. Countrywoman Satsuki Muramoto is entering her sixth season as a JGP competitor; she won her first medal last year, a silver, in Bulgaria. Svetlana Issakova of Estonia owns three JGP medals (two silver, one bronze) and qualified for last season's JGP Final. Other skaters who could vie for a medal are German Sarah Hecken (gold at JGP Germany in 2007), Russia's Ekaterina Kozireva (bronze at JGP Romania in 2006), Sweden's Joshi Helgesson (seventh at the 2008 World Junior Championships).

U.S. MEN
Curran Oi will be competing in the JGP series for the third season. Oi finished sixth at last year's JGP event in Estonia and sixth at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, where he competed as a junior. This is the first JGP season for reigning U.S. novice champion Danny O'Shea, who brought home silver as a junior from the 2008 AEGON Challenge Cup.

INTERNATIONAL MEN
The international men's field is a familiar one as it contains two skaters who medaled at last week's JGP stop in France. Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic won the gold in Courchevel, the second JGP medal of his career. Brezina is also the 2007 Nebelhorn Trophy champion. Another contender is Kazakhstan's Abzal Rakimgaliev, who placed 13th at the 2008 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships and 24th at the 2008 World Figure Skating Championships.

U.S. ICE DANCING
Isabella Cannuscio and Ian Lorello finished fourth last year at the JGP in Romania and eighth in Bulgaria. They wrapped up their 2007-08 season with a ninth-place finish as juniors at the U.S. Championships. Reigning U.S. junior bronze medalists Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlin won gold last year at their JGP appearance in Estonia and bronze at the JGP event in Germany. They finished the series with a fifth-place finish at the JGP Final in Gdansk, Poland.

INTERNATIONAL ICE DANCING
The Russian team of Ekaterina Riazanova and Jonathan Guerriero captured silver at both of their JGP assignments last fall to qualify for the JGP Final. They concluded their season with an sixth-place finish at world juniors.

In addition to Merano, Italy, the Junior Grand Prix Series consists of the following events:

JGP Mexico: Mexico City, Mexico - Sept. 10-14
JGP Czech Republic: Ostrava, Czech Republic - Sept. 17-21
JGP Spain: Madrid, Spain - Sept. 24-28
JGP Belarus: Gomel, Belarus - Oct. 1-5
JGP South Africa: Cape Town, South Africa - Oct. 8-12
JGP Great Britain: Sheffield, Great Britain - Oct. 15-18
JGP Final: Goyang City, South Korea - Dec. 10-14

U.S. ENTRIES
Ladies
Melissa Bulanhagui
Brittney Rizo

Men
Curran Oi
Daniel O'Shea

Ice Dancing
Isabella Cannuscio and Ian Lorello
Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlin