Recap: 2024 World Junior Championships


by Matteo Morelli

With 31 ice dance teams representing 23 countries competing for the valued medals available, the 48th ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Taipei concluded the Junior skating season. Taiwan was not new to hosting the event: Taipei did in fact welcome the Junior World Championships before, having hosted it a few years ago, in 2017.

With all medallists from last year’s event having graduated to their first senior season, the podium was open for new medallists to step on. The top three reflected the results of the Junior Grand Prix Final: USA’s Leah Neset & Artem Markelov completed an already successful season by earning their first Junior world title, leading on both segments of the event; in silver medal position and jumping up one place from the rhythm dance were Elizabeth Tkachenko & Alexei Kiliakov of Israel, followed by Darya Grimm & Michail Savitskiy of Germany in bronze medal position.

Event recap

USA’s Leah Neset & Artem Markelov dominated the entire season, winning both their Junior Grand Prix assignments, the Junior Grand Prix Final and now the Junior World title. At their second Junior Worlds and after a fifth-place finish last year, this team showed remarkable improvements that paid back all the hard work they put in.

“I think it is a big achievement for us (to win Junior Worlds), it definitely took a lot of work to get here”, Neset said. “I think the day-to-day work stays the same, regardless of the results, so we will just keep working and try to improve everything”.

“I think the biggest accomplishment is the growth that we achieved both as people and as skaters, and I think that is what I am the most proud of and happy about”, Markelov added.

Although they didn’t exceed their personal best recorded at the Junior Grand Prix final, the three-time U.S. junior champions finished first after the rhythm dance with a score of 70.16, to then add 99.60 points for their free and secure their lead with a total of 169.76 points.

“I think what I would take from this season is that you just need to do your job and focus on what needs to be done and just do it as in practice”, Markelov shared.

Also showing remarkable improvements were Elizabeth Tkachenko & Alexei Kiliakov of Israel: at their third Junior Worlds, they went from a thirteenth and eleventh place finish in previous events to winning a silver medal at this year’s event.

“We are really proud of how during these big competitions we managed to keep cool and perform our best and I feel like we really grew as a couple throughout this season”, Tkachenko said.

The difference between second and third place was just a fraction of a point. They finished the rhythm dance in third place with a score of 65.88, but then eared 96.80 points for their free, enough to total 162.68 and secure the silver medal with half a point margin from the third place. This was Israel’s first World Junior ice dance medal.

“I feel like these achievements, if anything, are indicators that what we are doing is working and so of course we are going to build off of that to keep getting better”, Kiliakov shared.

The contention for the highest spots saw Darya Grimm & Michail Savitskiy of Germany ending second in the rhythm dance with 66.11 points, but then dropping to third place in their free with 96.02 points and third overall with 162.13 points.

The German duo was really pleased to be at the event, after having to withdraw from last year’s Junior Worlds due to Grimm falling ill.

“I think not being able to compete last year pushed us even harder this year”, Grimm said. “We really wanted to show our best this year and to compete for a medal and that is what we managed to do”.

“We are really glad to be here, because Junior World Championships is the last competition of the season, it is what we built up to from the very beginning of the season”, Savitskiy shared.

With their podium finish, they secured Germany’s first World Junior ice dance medal.

“We are really happy and very grateful, especially to our coaches, for helping to get here to this moment”, Grimm said. “It feels great to be the first one to get a medal for Germany”.

“Historical achievements like this are very important and we hope to inspire people of Germany to come into skating, to get into ice dance and just be an example for future generations and for the Federation to have more funding and inspire people to do ice dance”, Savitskiy said.

Just off the podium were France’s Célina Fradji & Jean-Hans Fourneaux, that managed to move up two places from rhythm dance to free dance. Also from France and in tenth place were Dania Mouaden & Théo Bigot. The only other European team to finish in the top ten was that of Noemi Maria Tali & Noah Lafornara of Italy, who finished in seventh place.

With the new Junior world champions, another two American teams ended in the top ten: Elliana Peal and Ethan Peal in fifth place, and Yahli Pedersen & Jeffrey Chen in ninth place.

Canada also secured two top ten finish: Chloe Nguyen & Brendan Giang in sixth place, and Layla Veillon & Alexander Brandys in eighth place.

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