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Kovtun seeks second straight victory in Germany

Stepanova, Bukin shoot for eighth JGP medal; Keiser eyes JGP Final berth

Leah Keiser is hoping for a repeat performance of her gold-medal victory in Istanbul
Leah Keiser is hoping for a repeat performance of her gold-medal victory in Istanbul (Tom Briglia)

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By Mimi Whetstone, special to icenetwork.com
(10/09/2012) - The final competition in the 2012 Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series takes place this week in Chemnitz, Germany, with returning champions set to compete in all four disciplines. Russia's Maxim Kovtun will take the ice fresh off his gold-medal-winning performance last week at JGP Croatia.

Ladies

American Leah Keiser hopes to claim her second JGP title after winning her JGP debut in Turkey last month. She will earn a trip to the JGP Final with a medal of any color. Challenging Keiser will be her teammate Samantha Cesario, who earned the bronze in Austria. She can clinch a spot in the JGP Final with a gold medal; a medal of another color could earn her a berth depending on other results. Also hoping for a medal are Anna Pogorilaya of Russia, who finished third last week in Zagreb, and Miyabi Oba of Japan, who finished just off the podium, in fourth, at JGP Turkey.

Men's

Kovtun, who finished fourth at the 2011 JGP Final, looks for his second straight gold this week. Last week, Kovtun earned a personal-best score of 219.19 points, nearly seven points ahead of the field. Hoping to stand on the podium is American Shotaro Omori, who tied his best JGP result with a fourth-place finish in Istanbul, and Shoma Uno of Japan, who finished sixth at JGP Slovenia.

Pairs

Brittany Jones and Ian Beharry of Canada lead the pairs field after claiming the title at JGP Austria last month. Jones and Beharry turned in two strong performances in Linz, winning the competition by more than nine points. Also hoping for gold are Russia's Lina Fedorova and Maxim Miroshkin, who finished just behind Jones and Beharry in Austria. Americans Britney Simpson and Matthew Blackmer, the reigning JGP Final bronze medalists, hope to return to the podium after a fifth-place finish in their season debut at JGP Austria.

Ice dancing

Russia's Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin will skate for their eighth JGP medal after finishing third at the last two JGP finals. Stepanova and Bukin have topped the podium at each of their last five JGP events, most recently taking the top spot at JGP Turkey. Joining Stepanova and Bukin in the medal hunt are their teammates Daria Morozova and Mikhail Zhirnov, who finished fourth at JGP Lake Placid. Also hoping to stand on the podium are Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker and Canadians Noa Bruser and Timothy Lum.