Third Junior Prix Event in Mexico City This Weekend

Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates
Photo by Michelle Wojdyla

(9/13/06) - The third event of the 2006 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series takes place in Mexico City, Mexico, Sept. 14-17. The event will be held at the ICENTRAL ice rink beginning with the ladies and pairs short programs on Thursday afternoon.

Seven athletes will represent the United States at the event in three disciplines: ladies, men's and ice dancing. A recent ISU decision has designated that pairs teams will only compete at four of the eight JGP events this season. The U.S. team hails from four states: California, Colorado, Missouri and Michigan.

The JGP Series, now in its 10th 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 then qualify for the JGP Final in Sofia, Bulgaria, Dec. 7-9. Athletes will be vying for a total of $258,000 in prize money throughout the series.

U.S. skaters made an impressive showing in this season's first two JGP events, bringing in almost half (10 of 21) of the medals given out. In the first event, in Courchevel, France, Ashley Wagner and Megan Hyatt took the gold and silver medals, respectively, while Austin Kanallakan and Curran Oi earned the same honors for the men's. Ice dancing team and siblings Madison Hubbell & Keiffer Hubbell won the silver. At the second event, in Budapest, Hungary, Juliana Cannarozzo captured the gold in the ladies, while Stephen Carriere finished first and teammate Eliot Halverson placed third. Pairs team Keauna McLaughlin & Rockne Brubaker earned its first gold medal, and Kaela Pflumm & Christopher Pottenger took the silver.

Ladies
Competing in her first JGP event, Caroline Zhang placed eighth as a junior at the 2006 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Zhang's international experience includes a first and fourth place finish in her two NACS events. Scheduled to compete with her in Mexico was 2006 U.S. junior silver medalist Rachael Flatt however, Flatt was forced to withdraw from the event after sustaining a back injury.

Men
Daisuke Murakami is back for his second JGP event, following his first experience in 2004, where he finished 11th in China. Since then, he has competed as a junior in the 2006 U.S. Championships, where he placed fourth, and went on to the World Junior Figure Skating Championships, where he finished 11th. Brandon Mroz will also compete in Mexico City. Though this is Mroz's first JGP event, he has competed internationally before, finishing first in the junior division at the 2006 Triglav Trophy. He placed second as a novice at the 2006 U.S. Championships.

Ice Dancing
JGP veterans Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates return to the series after competing in the 2006 World Junior Championships, where they placed 10th, and 2006 U.S. Championships where, as juniors, they took the silver. Piper Gilles & Timothy McKernan head to Mexico fresh from their first-place finish in their 2006 NACS event. The duo also competed as novices at the 2006 U.S. Championships, where they placed seventh.