Whitley and Graham top Canadians at ISU Junior Grand Prix

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Hannah Whitley of Barrie, Ont., and Elliott Graham of Angus, Ont., placed fifth in ice dance on Friday for Canada’s best result so far at the second stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit.

Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter of the U.S. took the gold with Nicole Kuzmich and Alexandr Sinicyn of the Czech Republic second and Arina Ushakova and Maxim Nekrasov of Russia third.

Whitley and Graham posted their best international score with 126.27 points to also improve on their seventh place finish from last year’s ISU Junior Grand Prix stop.

“We skated two of our best programs and we’re impressed to make the top-five,’’ said Whitley, 16, who sat out part of last season due to a shin injury. “We learned a lot and going home we have a lot to work on for our next competition. Our speed is one area in particular that needs improvement. For me it’s great to be back on the ice pain free.’’

Danielle Wu and Nik Mirzakhani of Burnaby, B.C., were seventh in their international debut.

‘’It was quite a learning experience,’’ said Wu. ‘’The short dance was a bit disappointing but we came back with a strong free. We are learning to connect together as a team and we can see a lot of improvement.’’

In pairs, Anna Duskova and Martin Bidar of the Czech Republic were the winners. Amina Atakhanova and Ilia Spiridonov of Russia were second and Chelsea Liu and Brian John son of the U.S. third.

Lori-Ann Matte and Thierry Ferland of Levis, Que., were sixth with a career-best 137.89 points while Justine Brasseur of Brossard, Que., and Mathieu Ostiguy of Ste-Angèle-de-Monnoir, Que., were 11th.

‘’We are very proud of our performances here,’’ said Ferland. ‘’We achieved our goals and proud with how well we did in our first Grand Prix. We had never measured ourselves against skaters from other countries so we kept our goals focused on our own performances.’’

In the men’s short program on Friday, Canadian junior champion Joseph Phan of Laval, Que., is sixth and Samuel Turcotte of Varennes, Que., 10th.

In Thursday’s women’s short program Alicia Pineault of Varennes is 10th.

The men’s and women’s free skates are Saturday.

Complete results: http://www.isuresults.com/results/season1617/jgpcze2016/index.htm.

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