ISU cancels 2020/21 Junior Grand Prix season

Decision comes a week after Japanese Skating Federation said it would not send athletes to JGP or Challenger events due to COVID-19.

By Rory Jiwani

The International Skating Union announced on Monday (20 July) that the 2020/21 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating (JGP) series had been cancelled.

In a press statement, the ISU cited "increased travel and entry restrictions which would seriously complicate the travel of Junior Skaters with the consequence that some ISU Members simply cannot or do not feel comfortable to send Junior teams to the remaining ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating countries".

It added, "Furthermore, the potential extensive sanitary/ medical care measures (including possible quarantine) would put an unsustainable burden on the organizers."

One week ago, the Japanese Skating Federation said it would not be sending athletes to JGP or Challenger events due to COVID-19.

It is the latest in a long line of figure skating events to fall victim to the Coronavirus pandemic with the 2020 World Championships scheduled for March in Montreal also cancelled.

The cream of junior figure skating

The ladies' singles category attracted most attention last year with Kamila Valieva, US senior national champion Alysa Liu and Lee Hae-in both winning two events apiece.

At the Grand Prix Final in Turin, it was Valieva - the latest prodigy from Eteri Tutberidze's Sambo-70 club - who took victory from Liu with Valieva's training partner Daria Usacheva collecting bronze.

Valieva landed a quad toe loop and broke Alexandra Trusova's free skate junior world record as she also claimed gold at the World Junior Championships in Tallinn, Estonia with Usacheva beating Liu for silver.

All three are still just 14 years old and would have been eligible to ompete at this year's JGP.

Neither competed at Lausanne 2020 which was won by Korea's You Young after she competed in the senior Grand Prix.

On the men's side, Sato Shun scored a surprise victory at last year's JGP Final before compatriot Kagiyama Yuma stole the limelight for the rest of the season.

Kagiyama was third in the Japanese senior nationals to Uno Shoma and Hanyu Yuzuru, even outscoring double Olympic champion Hanyu in the free skate.

He then won gold at the Lausanne 2020 YOG ahead of Russian rival Andrei Mozalev before finishing third in the Four Continents behind Hanyu and Jason Brown.

Mozalev finally put one over on Kagiyama at the World Junior Championships having been second at the JGP Final and at Lausanne 2020.

Both men are 17 and opted to stay in the junior ranks last season despite being eligible for senior competition.

Speaking to Olympic Channel in Lausanne, Mozalev confirmed that he would be stepping up to the seniors this season.

While Kagiyama and Mozalev look set to leave the juniors behind, that would not the case for JGP Final and Lausanne 2020 bronze medallist Daniil Samsonov who turned 15 after the 1 July cut-off for the senior Grand Prix.

He says that training under Tutberidze alongside the likes of Alena Kostornaia and Anna Shcherbakova has helped his development, particularly when it comes to quad jumps.

ISU Grand Prix announcements to come in August

The ISU did say that if the situation with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic changes then it would consider "financially assisting" ISU members wanting to host international juniors competitions.

Preference will be given to the ISU members which were previously set to stage JGP events.

Before the series cancellation, Canada, Slovakia and Japan cancelled their scheduled competitions leaving Hungary, Czech Republic, Uzbekistan, Slovenia and Latvia to host regular season events ahead of December's Grand Prix Final in Beijing.

Now attention turns to senior competitions and whether they will take place this season.

The Challenger Series opener in Beijing, scheduled for 9-13 September, has been postponed with the event in Bratislava a week later cancelled.

There is no news as yet on the ISU Grand Prix series with nominations for the six events delayed from June until August.

The ISU Council will meet virtually on 3 August to "evaluate the pandemic developments and related situation and to update the season planning for the ISU senior Events".


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