Reigning ISU World Junior bronze medallist Ami Nakai (JPN) and Rio Nakata (JPN) are the first Skaters to secure their spots for the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final by coming first and second respectively at the latest ISU Junior Grand Prix event that took place on September 6-9, 2023, in Istanbul (TUR). The new Pair made of Anastasiia Metelkina/Luka Berulava (GEO), Ice Dancers Mariia Pinchuk/Mykyta Pogorielov (UKR) as well as Minkyu Seo (KOR) competing in the Men category, all struck gold. Istanbul was the third ISU Junior Grand Prix event of the season.
Ami Nakai (JPN) takes second gold of the season
Following her win in Bangkok (THA) two weeks ago, Ami Nakai of Japan headed as the favorite to Istanbul with the goal in mind to hit her triple Axel and to qualify for the Final. Mission accomplished !
Ami Nakai (JPN) performs during the 2023 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Istanbul, Turkey.@ISU
The ISU World Junior bronze medalist placed first in both segments of the competition and won clearly with 194.65 points, a new personal best score. Nakai produced a nice triple Axel in her Free Skating set to “Glimmer of Faith” and “Only Hope” as well as four more clean triple jumps. She only struggled a bit with her triple flip in both programs.
Gold medal winner Ami Nakai (JPN) poses with medal during medal ceremony after the 2023 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Istanbul, Turkey.@ISU
“I’m a little bit disappointed, but happy to be in first place”, the Japanese Skater commented. “All combinations were with double jumps so that’s why I’m disappointed. At the Final, I want to show a perfect performance in the Short and Free Skating to get to the podium.”
Nakai’s teammate Rena Uezono celebrated a successful international junior debut by claiming the silver medal. The 13-year-old ranked fourth in the Short Program with a strong performance and moved up to second with another great skate (187.71 points).
Rena Uezono (JPN) performs during the 2023 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Istanbul, Turkey. @ISU
Korea’s Yujae Kim earned the bronze, her second bronze medal on the Junior circuit. She went for a triple Axel, but missed it (183.65 points). Seojin Youn (KOR) was second in the Short Program, but dropped to fifth in the final standings (175.77 points).
First victory for Minkyu Seo (KOR)
Minkyu Seo of Korea claimed his first ISU Junior Grand Prix gold medal with two excellent performances. The 15-year-old started off with a clean Short Program to “Flower Dance” and stood in second place. Skating to “Notre Dame de Paris”, the Korean not only produced a triple Axel and seven more triples as well as level-four spins, but also earned high component scores thanks to his expression and flow on the ice.
Minkyu Seo (KOR) performs during the 2023 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Istanbul, Turkey. @ISU
Seo set a new personal best in both Short and Free Skating and totaled 231.30 points. Seo was fifth in Bangkok (THA) and has now 22 points. He will have to wait and see if that is enough for the Final. “I am very proud of this competition since it was the first time I landed the triple Axel here in Istanbul,” Seo shared. “Now I am very proud after the disappointment I had in Bangkok.”
Istanbul silver medalist Rio Nakata of Japan does not have to worry about the Final, he qualified with his silver medal following his victory in Bangkok (THA). Nakata placed third in the Short Program after an error on his triple Axel. He landed his quad toe in his James-Bond themed Free Skating as well as seven clean triples to move up to second place at 222.35 points.
Rio Nakata (JPN) performs during the 2023 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Istanbul, Turkey. @ISU
Newcomer Daiya Ebihara of Japan won the Short Program, but took a fall on the triple Axel in the Free Skating to drop to third in his first ISU Junior Grand Prix assignment (207.17 points)
Metelkina/Berulava’s (GEO) golden debut
Anastasiia Metelkina/Luka Berulava of Georgia have teamed up only a short time ago, but their previous experience and high level skating showed in Istanbul. The team scored a runaway victory with 181.37 points and almost 27 points to spare. Performing to “Summertime”, the couple laid down a clean Short Program. Their Free Skating to “The Millionaire Waltz” was highlighted by a triple twist, throw triple flip and a triple toe late in the program. However, two falls in the choreo sequence and on the throw triple loop costed points.
Rio Nakata (JPN) performs during the 2023 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Istanbul, Turkey. @ISU
Metelkina/Berulava became the first Pair Skating team from Georgia to win an ISU Junior Grand Prix event. “We are very happy now. We skate together for three months. Our next competition is in Budapest (HUN)”, Berulava said.
Olivia Flores/Luke Wang (USA) have come to Istanbul straight from the Cup of Austria in Linz and left with their second silver medal. The couple improved their personal best score by a little over seven points and most likely will advance to the Junior Final with their two second places (154.52 points).
Olivia Flores and Luke Wang (USA) perform during the 2023 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Istanbul, Turkey. @ISU
The bronze went to another newly formed team, the Canadians Jazmine Desrochers/Kieran Thrasher (146.34 points).
Emotional victory for Pinchuk/Pogorielov (UKR)
The exciting Ice Dance event concluded with an emotional victory for Ukraine’s Mariia Pinchuk/Mykyta Pogorielov. The couple from Kharkiv in Eastern Ukraine has been forced to relocate to Austria after Russia started the war and attacked their home country in February 2022.
Maria Pinchuk and Mykyta Pogorielov (UKR) perform during the 2023 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Istanbul, Turkey.@ISU
Pinchuk/Pogorielov ranked second in the Rhythm Dance to “Unchain My Heart” and “You Give Love a Bad Name”. Dancing to “Vogue” and “Frozen” by Madonna, the Ukrainians were second again in the Free Dance, but overall captured gold at 148.82 points as the standings shuffled.
It was the first Ice Dance gold medal for Ukraine in the ISU Junior Grand Prix series since 2011 when Maria Nosulia/Evgeni Kholoniuk won in Riga. “I still can’t believe this happened. I am so excited”, Pinchuk said. “When you set a goal like this you have so many emotions and so many things to say but now I don’t know what to say,” Pogorielov added. The couple will compete in Gdansk, Poland, again and hopes to qualify for the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final there.
Yahli Pedersen/Jeffrey Chen (USA) are a new team this season and took the lead in the Rhythm Dance. However, Pedersen fell in the circular step sequence in their Free Dance. The Americans ranked fifth in the segment and came second overall (146.37 points).
Yahli Pedersen and Jeffrey Chen (USA) perform during the 2023 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Istanbul, Turkey.@ISU
Gina Zehnder/Beda Leon Sieber made history for Switzerland by taking the first Ice Dance medal on the ISU Junior Grand Prix for their country. Standing in fourth place following the Rhythm Dance, the couple from Zurich won the Free Dance with a strong performance to “This Bitter Earth” and “The Nature of Daylight” that included level-four twizzles, a level-four dance spin and curve lift (143.65 points).
Gina Zehnder and Beda Leon Sieber (SUI) perform during the 2023 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Istanbul, Turkey. @ISU
The four gold medals went to four different ISU members: Japan, Korea, Georgia and Ukraine. Japan was the most successful country with four medals (one gold, two silver, one bronze) followed by Korea and the USA with two medals each. Georgia, Ukraine, Canada and Switzerland took home one medal each. A total of 110 Skaters/Couples representing 36 ISU Members competed in Istanbul.
The ISU Junior Grand Prix series continues next week with the ISU JGP in Osaka (JPN).
The ISU Junior Grand Prix features each year about 300 talented young Skaters aged 13 to 19 (21 for the male Ice Dance and Pair Skating partners) from Europe, North and South America, Asia, Oceania as well as Africa. Skaters/Couples earn points according to the results in each event and the top six in each discipline will advance to the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, which will take place in Beijing (CHN) on December 7-10.
Full entry lists, results, the General Announcement and further information are available on the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series page.
The 2023/24 season marks the 26th edition of the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating which was introduced in 1997. The Series was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the 2020/21 season.
Junior Grand Prix Standings
The International Skating Union (ISU) has supported the Skating Federation of Ukraine since the start of the war, implementing ISU Communication 2469, and also granting financial support to assist Ukrainian Skaters. The ISU reiterates its sympathy for and solidarity to all affected by the War in Ukraine. The ISU maintains its condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the strongest possible terms.The ISU Council met on June 9-11, 2023 and discussed the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) recommendations of March 28, 2023 for International Federations on the participation of athletes with a Russian or Belarussian passport in international competitions. The ISU Council decided to explore the feasibility issues with regard to potential pathways to implement the IOC recommendations within ISU Sports. The Council will continue to monitor the situation in Ukraine and its impact on the ISU activity as well as the decisions and their implementation within the Olympic Movement. In the meantime, ISU Communication 2469 remains in force.
Where to Watch
The ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating events will be live streamed on the official ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating YouTube Channel in most countries.
Subscribe to the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating YouTube Channel to receive all the latest videos and follow the conversation with #JGPFigure.
ISU Junior Grand Prix Schedule
The schedules of each ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating events are available below:
23 - 26 Aug 2023 Bangkok/THA
30 Aug - 2 Sept 2023 Linz/AUT
6 - 9 Sept 2023 Istanbul/TUR
13 - 16 Sept 2023 Osaka/JPN
20- 23 Sept 2023 Budapest/HUN
27 - 30 Sep 2023 Gdansk/POL
04 - 07 Oct 2023 Yerevan (ARM)
About ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating
The ISU Junior Grand Prix Figure Skating Series started in 1997. It includes seven events and the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. The Series features some of the up and coming Skaters of the world and provides young skaters aged 13 to 19 (21 for the male Ice Dance and Pair Skating partners) with the opportunity to compete at a high international level. A points system based on the ranking has been established to determine the qualifiers for the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. Points are obtained according to the results in each of the seven events and only the top six Skaters / Couples in each discipline can qualify for the Final. The ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating is financed by the ISU Development Program.
Since 2011 all events of the Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating are live streamed on the official ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating YouTube Channel.