The ISU Junior World Cup Speed Skating this season will feature fresh and familiar prodigies. As of the 2016/17 season a competition for neo seniors is added to the Junior World Cup, which will hand skaters who have not yet reached World Cup level in the senior ranks a chance to develop further internationally.
Among others, last year’s junior champion in the Men’s 500m and 1000m Viktor Mushtakov (RUS) will compete in the neo-senior category. Marcel Bosker (NED), who won last year’s 1500m, 3000m/5000m and the Mass Start, has moved up to the senior ranks this season. Four of last year’s five Lady’s champions are still young enough for the juniors this season. Only Ayano Sato (JPN), who won last season’s Mass Start, is too old to compete with the juniors once more.
Three instead of four
The ISU Junior World Cup is brought back from four to three legs. The series will visit Belarussian Minsk on November 26-27, before moving to Collalbo (ITA) on January 21-22, to conclude with the final in Erfurt (GER) on February 11-12 in the 2016/17 season.
Past champions success in senior ranks
Although winning a medal in the ISU Junior World Cup Speed Skating by no means guarantees future success, since the inaugural Junior World Cup in the 2008/09 season some of the junior medalists also grabbed silverware in the senior ranks. The first ever lady’s 500m junior World Cup winner, Olga Fatkulina (RUS), won 1000m gold at the 2013 World Single Distance Championships and 500m silver at the 2014 Olympic Games. Kai Verbij, who won 1000m silver at last week’s Senior World Cup in Nagano, won the Junior World Cup Mass Start in the 2011/12 season and the Junior World Cup 1000m in the 2012/13 season.
Last year’s Dutch male junior champion Marcel Bosker (1500, 3000/5000 and Mass Start), as well as the lady’s Mass Start champion Ayano Sato, will try their luck in the senior ranks from this season onward. Russian Viktor Mushtakov, who won the 500m, 1000m will enter the neo-senior category in the Junior World Cup this season.
Darya Kachanova (RUS) and Rio Yamada (JPN) will both still be able to defend their junior titles. Kachanova is the reigning lady’s 500m champion and Yamada took last year’s lady’s 1000m gold.
Mei Han (CHN), who won last season’s lady’s 1500m, and Park Ji-woo (KOR), who grabbed the lady’s 3000m title, are no longer eligible for the juniors because they already debuted in the senior World Cup this season.
New kids on the block
With Bosker having grown out of the juniors category, new names will pop-up on the podium. Norwegian Allan Dahl Johansson is a favorite to win the long distances after being runner-up in both the 3000m and the Mass Start Junior World Cup last year. In the shorter distances Belarussian Ignat Golovatsyuk will challenge Russian favorite Mushtakov in the neo-senior category
With Kachanova and Yamada still around after last year’s success the new kids on the block will face a tough challenge in the lady’s short distances this season, but in the longer distances many new names are eager to prove themselves. With a fifth place in the 3000m, Austrian Viola Feichtner is last season’s highest ranked skater to still compete in the junior ranks this year.