The 2022 World Junior Championships will take place in Tallinn, Estonia, April 13-17. As this competition was not held in 2021, the results of the 2020 World Junior Championships was the determining factor for the number of entries each nation can field to this season′s campaign. No exhibition gala is scheduled for this event.
The U.S. has three spots in singles and ice dance and two in pairs, but is only fielding one pairs team; Japan has three men, two women and an ice dance team entered; Canada is sending two skaters/teams in all four disciplines.
Ilia Malinin of the U.S., who skated into ninth place at senior Worlds last month, will be in a league of his own when it comes to quads at this competition, making him the man to beat and the odds-on favorite to take the title. Japan′s team includes Kao Miura, the reigning junior champion, who was forced to withdraw from senior Worlds after suffering a slight strain. Shun Sato suffered a shoulder injury and has withdrawn.
Canada′s Wesley Chiu is also high on the list for a podium finish. His teammate, Stephen Gogolev, fifth at this competition in 2020, is one of the few skaters returning this season. Sidelined by injuries and growth spurts, Gogolev has only had one international outing in two years, finishing 11th at Warsaw Cup last November. That was his only competition this season following his withdrawal from the national championships.
The battle for the top step of the podium in the women′s competition could turn out to be a duel between the two American entries, Isabeau Levito and Lindsay Thorngren. But other talented young stars will be challenging them for top honors. Nina Petrokina of Estonia, who landed on the podium at all three Challenger Series events she contested in 2021, has the potential to cause an upset.
Japan′s Rinka Watanabe could also be in the medal mix. We have not seen the Korean women since the Junior Grand Prix, so what they will bring to this competition is an unknown factor at this time.
In pairs, Karina Safina and Luca Berulava of Georgia, who have the distinct advantage of having competed at Europeans, the Olympic Winter Games and senior Worlds, are head and shoulders above the rest of this field. A runaway victory in Tallinn would come as no surprise.
The ice dance competition will be one of the highlights of Junior Worlds, with two teams from the U.S. and one from Canada that qualified for the (cancelled) Junior Grand Prix Final, going head-to-head for the first time this season. Katarina Wolfkostin and Jeffrey Chen of the U.S. and Natalie D’Alessandro and Bruce Waddell of Canada have personal best scores this season that are less than two points apart. If both teams skate to their potential the battle for gold should be between them.
The 2022 World Junior Championships will be live-streamed worldwide on the ISU Skating Channel (link below) except in countries with TV/online rights holders (if any). Ted Barton will host the competition.