British champion ice dancers Olivia Smart and Joseph Buckland lead a 4-strong squad at the 2013 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Milan this week.
The pair first teamed up in 2010 and have emerged as a top British talent, claiming the gold medal at the last two British Championship in the junior dance category. They also have international pedigree, winning at the Mentor Nestlé Nesquik Cup during the 2011-2012 season.
In their first World Junior Championship appearance back in 2012, Smart, the 15-year old from Sheffield, and Buckland, younger brother of British champion Nicholas Buckland, finished a respectable 17th, advancing to the final round with a strong preliminary performance. Three of the top four places last year went to Russian pairs and, although two of them won’t be at Milan, silver medallists Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin will be hoping to go one better this time. The presence of bronze medallists Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton of the United States means that it’s another strong field and qualification is no sure thing.
Following Harry Mattick and Kate Powell’s move up to the senior ranks in which they both medalled at this year’s British championships, Worlds débuts have been handed to Hull-based Jamie Whiteman, 17, and German-born Amani Fancy. Fancy has just returned from the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival where she finished 15th out of 28 entrants. Weightman has just come back from injury but placed second at this year’s Nesquik Cup.
Performance director for the National Ice Skating Association, Hilary Selby, said: “The World Junior Figure Skating Championships is considered the most prestigious international competition for juniors. Many of the top skating countries in the world will be competing so it will be an important benchmark for our youngsters.
“We have some incredibly talented skaters in the squad and this will be a great platform for them to showcase their skills and gain valuable major event experience for the future.”
Eurosport will be showing extensive coverage of the World Junior Championships on British Eurosport 2 from Wednesday 25th, starting with the short dance program.