(March 8, 2004)
The Canadian ice dance teams of Lauren Senft and Leif Gislason and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir both made impressive World Junior Championship debuts at the 2004 International Skating Union (ISU) World Junior Figure Skating Championships.
Both teams performed strongly throughout the week, with Senft and Gislason giving Canada its highest place finish in dance since 1996 by finishing in eighth-place, and Virtue and Moir placing 11th.
This year marks the first time both of these teams have competed at this event.
Senft, 16, of West Vancouver, and Gislason, 20, of Winnipeg, who won the silver medal in the Junior Ice Dance event at the 2004 BMO Financial Group Canadian Championships in Edmonton in January, are a new team this year. Although this was Senft and Gislason’s first time to the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships as a team, Gislason is no stranger to the event, as he competed in the 2002 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships, where he placed 16th with his former partner, Lauren Flynn.
Senft and Gislason have had a successful competitive season. They competed at the ISU Junior Grand Prix event in Okaya City, Japan, where they won the bronze medal, and they also placed fourth at the ISU Junior Grand Prix event in Mexico City, Mexico.
Senft and Gislason continued their improvement at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships, climbing the standings throughout the competition after placing fifth in their qualifying group, ninth in the original dance and eighth in the free dance to place eighth overall.
In the free dance, Senft and Gislason’s marks ranged from 4.5 to 5.2 for technical merit and from 4.8 to 5.3 for presentation.
Like Senft and Gislason, 14-year-old Tessa Virtue, of London, Ont., and Moir, 16, of Ilderton, Ont., had a very positive week at the event. The 2004 Canadian Junior Ice Dance Champions also moved up the standings during the competition, placing seventh in their qualifying group, 12th in the original dance and ninth in the free dance to place 11th overall.
The duo’s marks for the free dance ranged from 4.4 to 5.1 for technical merit and from 4.7 to 5.3 for presentation.
Virtue and Moir also competed in two ISU Junior Grand Prix events this season. They placed fourth at the ISU Junior Grand Prix event in Zagreb, Croatia, and they finished in sixth-place at the ISU Junior Grand Prix event in Bratislava, Slovakia.
It was a very strong field of ice dancers at the 2004 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships. Capturing the gold medal was the Russian team of Elena Romanovskaya and Alexander Grachev, while Nora Hoffmann and Attila Elek took home the silver medal. The bronze medal went to Americans Morgan Matthews and Maxim Zavozin.
Senft and Gislason’s eighth-place finish combined with Virtue and Moir’s 11th-place finish at this event enables Canada to send two entries to the 2005 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships, which will be held in Kitchener, Ont.