Neset/Markelov (USA) soar to Ice Dance gold at ISU World Junior Championships

Leah Neset/Artem Markelov (USA) celebrated at confident victory as the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships continued Saturday in Taipei City (TPE) with the Free Dance. 

Leah Neset/Artem Markelov’s (USA) golden dance

ISU Junior Grand Prix Final Champions Leah Neset/Artem Markelov (USA) floated to the Ice Dance gold with almost seven points to spare. Elizabeth Tkachenko/Alexei Kiliakov of Israel edged Germany’s  Darya Grimm/Michail Savitskiy for the silver medal. The Israeli and German couples won the first Ice Dance medal at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships for their countries. 

Leah gold medal shot

Gold medalists Leah Neset and Artem Markelov (USA) in the Junior Ice Dance Free Dance at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei © ISU

Performing to “Anywhere, Anytime”, Neset/Markelov turned in a smooth dance, showing off their beautiful lines and strong edges. The US Junior Champions collected a level four for the twizzles, the combination lift and dance spin. The one foot step sequence was rated a level three and the circular footwork a level two. A little slip at the end of their new choreo lift counted as a fall. The JGP Osaka Champions netted 99.60 points and accumulated 169.76 points to win the title. 

Leah 1

Leah Neset and Artem Markelov (USA) at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei © ISU

“It’s hard to believe right now, I think we need to sleep over it and then can realize it,” Markelov commented. 

“I think it’s a big achievement for us that definitely took a lot of work to get here,” Neset said at the post-event press conference. “We’re really happy to be here. I think the day-to-day work stays the same, regardless of the results. We’ll just keep working and trying to improve everything,” she added.

Tkachenko/Kiliakov’s expressive dance based on the modern ballet “Ghosts” was highlighted by a straight line-stationary combo lift and a level-four dance spin. Her twizzles garnered a level four while his were a level two.

silver ISR

Silver medalists Elizabeth Tkachenko and Alexei Kiliakov (ISR) at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei © ISU

The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalists scored 96.80 points for their Free Dance and moved up from third to second with 162.68 points. 

“We’re very grateful for all the people and the Israeli federation who helped us get to where we are,” Killiakov said. “We’re also very proud of our achievement. So we’re looking forward to working harder to achieve even more,” he added.

 “We’re really proud of how, during these big competitions, we managed to keep our cool and perform our best. And I feel like we really grew as a couple throughout this season,“ Tkachenko added. 

Grimm/Savitskiy put out a crisp performance to a modernized version of “Carmen”, completing difficult lifts and intricate footwork.

This Darya

Bronze medalists Darya Grimm and Michail Savitskiy (GER) take bronze in the Junior Ice Dance Free Dance © ISU

The German Junior Grand Prix Champions collected a level four for three elements, and a level three for the one foot step sequence, to post a season’s best 96.02 points. With a total of 162.13 points they just slipped behind the Israeli team. 

“We’re really happy and very grateful, especially to our coaches for helping us to get here to this moment,” Grimm shared. “It feels great to be the first one to get a (Junior World Ice Dance) medal for Germany. It is really important for us that we could show good programs and were able to get this medal,” she continued. 

Savitskiy agreed: “Historical achievements like this are very important, and we hope to inspire people in Germany to come into skating, to get into ice dance. We hope to be an example for future generations and for the Federation to have more funding and inspire people to do Ice Dance.” 

All three medalist couples are junior-age eligible for next season, but have not yet decided whether they will move up to the senior level or stay in juniors.

ISU Junior Grand Prix Finalists Celina Fradji/Jean-Hans Fourneaux (FRA) pulled up from sixth to fourth place with an evocative Tango performance (156.66 points) while  Elliana and Ethan Peal (USA) remained in fifth place at 154.09 points. Chloe Nguyen/Brendan Giang (CAN) moved up from seventh to sixth at 151.09 points.

See the full results here.

Schedule of the event

The schedule of the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships is as follows:


Wednesday, February 28:        Junior Pairs & Junior Women’s Short Programs
Thursday, February 29:            Junior Men’s Short Program, Junior Pairs Free Skating
Friday, March 1:                       Junior Rhythm Dance & Junior Women’s Free Skating
Saturday, March 2:                   Junior Free Dance & Junior Men’s Free Skating
Sunday, March 3:                     Exhibition Gala

For full entries and results, please see the ISU event page and the official website. Follow the discussion on social media using #WorldJuniorFigure and #FigureSkating. 

Where to watch the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships 2024:

The ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships will be live streamed on the Skating ISU YouTube Channel. Geo-restrictions will apply in markets where TV rights are in place. You will find the full list in the Where to Watch news here.

Subscribe to the Skating ISU YouTube Channel to receive alerts when the live streams start and when new videos are posted. 

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