USA’s Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons have been one of most accomplished junior ice dance teams in past few seasons, winning multiple medals at Junior Grand Prix (JGP) events and the silver medal at Junior Worlds last season.
The 2016-17 season will be their sixth and final season competing on the junior circuit.
“We will be competing at the senior (level) next year,” confirmed Michael, who turns 21 on October 3, “so we want to show this year that we are ready to do it.”
Thus far, the siblings from Maryland have certainly exhibited their strong commitment since the beginning of the season. The team officially started their season at the end of July when they competed at the Lake Placid Ice Dance International in New York where they won the junior competition.
Later, during the second week of September, the students of Alexei Kiliakov, Dmitri Ilin, Elena Novak went to Yokohama, Japan, to compete at their first JGP event this season. They pulled off two strong performances and brought home the gold medal by a combined score of 160.42 points, only 2 points behind their personal best. Both their short dance (“A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” by Fergie and “Born to Die” by Lana Del Ray) and free dance (“Singing in the Rain” arranged by Sophia Sin and Alexander Goldstein) won a standing ovation from the impressed Japanese audience.
“There’s nothing like skating in Japan,” commented the elder brother. “Everybody helps us get into the program and helps you finish it, so it is amazing skating here. We love it!”
“I just had a very good time,” added Rachel. “I want to go and do it again.”
In retrospect to the overall competition, both felt satisfied with their performance.
“I feel we finished the competition the way we wanted to,” said Michael. “There are things that can definitely be better, so we have lots to improve on, but I think we are very happy with our skate.”
The sibling’s next JGP assignment will be in Dresden, Germany, next week and they aim at furthering their improvement.
“We always try to push ourselves to the next level technically and emotionally,” Rachel commented. “Always working on consistency and getting every element to work every time, so yes, we have a lot of work to do.”
“There are always a few mistakes that can be fixed,” noted Michael. “An example of mistakes we have been fixing since Japan is the execution of our elements. In Yokohama, we didn’t perform our elements as well as we know we could have, which caused both levels and GoEs (Grades of Execution) to be lower than we know are capable of.”
Nevertheless, the JGP Japan gold medalists’ free dance was very well received at the event in Yokohama.
“We started the season wanting to skate to ‘Singing in the Rain’ from the classic movie, and we cut our program to it,” Michael shared. “Later, we decided that the music wasn’t really working and we wanted to do something more original. Our coach found the music, we cut the program to that, and finished the program a little later, but that’s what we wanted to do—something new and contemporary.”
“It is a new style for us, a new style of music that we’re working on,” Rachel added. “It’s more contemporary, and I think it is a performance that other people can relate to and really get into.”
“We are always trying to improve on it,” the 18-year-old continued. “It is still very early in the season, so there are a lot of things we want to change, tweak, and improve. We will see where it is by the end of this season.”
“I think every program is a work in progress for the whole season,” said Michael, “so it will keep getting better, and hopefully we will keep improving it all the way until junior Worlds.”
Without a doubt, Junior Worlds is on the reigning silver medalists’ minds, however, they are currently putting all their focus on the JGP circuit in hopes for a spot at the Final.
When being asked whether they felt confident on winning the Junior World title this season, Michael conservatively answered, “we’ll see,” while his sister was more straight-forward: “We hope so. That’s the plan!”