NextGen Skaters Shine at First Junior Grand Prix of the Season in Thailand

BANGKOK, THA (August 26, 2023) – The first Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating event of the season wrapped up Saturday at the IWIS International Training Center in Bangkok, Thailand with strong results for the seven NextGen athletes making their debut for the season. 

The ice dance team of Layla Veillon and Alexander Brandys of London, Ont., had the top finish of the competition finishing just off the podium in fourth with a total score of 139.17. The team from Korea of Jinny Kim and Namu Lee just edged them for bronze with a total score of 139.32. Leah Neset and Artem Markelow of the USA won gold with a score of 168.47 while Celina Fradji and Jean-Hans Fourneaux of France captured the silver with a score of 150.98. 

“Our performance felt really into the ice,” said Veillon following the free dance where they placed third with a personal best score of 86.80. “It was definitely one of our stronger performances of the season, and we’re excited to keep exploring and building on the program as the season goes on.” 

Victoria and Andrei Carandiuc of Saint-Constant, Que., were competing in their first Junior Grand Prix and finished 10th overall with a score of 112.12.  

“At first I was a bit scared because I know that there are a lot of good skaters out there in juniors and I was scared to be less good than the other skaters, but in the end, it was a really good experience and we’re going to keep getting better and better,” said Andrei. 

Hetty Shi of Northville, Michigan, the 2023 Canadian Junior Champion, had a strong performance in the junior women’s competition finishing seventh overall with a total score of 156.70. Ami Nakai of Japan won gold with a score of 190.65. Yuscong Kim of Korea took silver with a score of 189.92 while Heesue Han, also of Korea, took bronze with a score of 173.99. 

“I feel relieved that it’s over,” said Shi who set new personal best scores in her second international competition. “I’m not happy about my score (in the free skate) but it’s similar to what I’ve been doing in training, so there’s not much I can expect. I’m going to keep working on the consistency of my jumps and focus on my spin levels moving forward.” 

Canada had two competitors in the junior men’s competition with Grayson Long of Mississauga, Ont. and Rio Morita of Thornhill, Ont. finishing 9th (172.94) and 11th (171.89) overall respectively. Rio Nakata of Japan won gold with a total score of 217.65, with François Pitot of France just behind in silver with a score of 217.50. Yanhao Li of New Zealand took the bronze with a score of 210.08. 

“I think this competition was an amazing experience, especially because it was the first junior grand prix in Southeast Asia, and the crowd here is amazing and so it felt really fun to be on the ice, and although I made some mistakes at the end of my long, I was really happy to be out there,” said Long following his free skate.  

Morita, who recently won the 2023 NextGen competition, rebounded strongly from his 14th place in the short program to place 7th in the free skate.  

“I feel great,” said Morita following his free skate. “I wanted to go home with a better performance and feeling better after my short program and I think the free was going in the right direction. I need to keep working on everything, but I think the way I’m training right now with Tracy (Wilson) and all the other coaches is really good for me and so I think I’m going to continue working with them and the execution of my jumps and the consistency of my spins.” 

The second Junior Grand Prix of the season takes place this upcoming week in Linz, Austria from August 30 to September 2, 2023 and will feature eight NextGen skaters for Canada – one woman, one man, one pair team, and two ice dance teams. 

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