(July 22, 2008)

The first stop on the International Skating Union (ISU) Junior Grand Prix circuit will be in Courchevel, France with the competition running from Aug. 27–31. Canada will have a strong team consisting of eight athletes that will compete in men’s, ladies and ice dance disciplines.

Paul Poirier, 16, of Unionville, Ont., will make his men’s singles debut on the ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit.  Paul, who trains out of the Scarboro FSC with coaches Jana-Kim Batka, Mark Batka and Juris Razgulajevs, is the 2008 Canadian Junior Men’s silver medalist.  Paul will also appear on the Senior Grand Prix circuit in ice dance with partner Vanessa Crone.

Jackson Wood, 16, of Oromocto, N.B., will also be making his ISU Junior Grand Prix debut.  In 2008, Wood was the Canadian Novice Men’s Champion.  He trains out of the Oromocto SC with coach Karen Alexander.

Diane Szmiett will be representing Canada in the ladies discipline.  Diane, 17, of Watford, Ont., will be a veteran on the team having first competed on the circuit in 2006. In 2007, she placed ninth at the Junior Grand Prix in Tallinn, Estonia.  Coaches Alison Purkiss and Scott Rachuk train Szmiett at Watford FSC.

Rylie McCulloch-Casarsa, 14, of Burlington, Ont., will also be representing Canada in the ladies category.  This will be her first time on the ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit. Rylie is coached by Brian Orser at the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club.

Kharis Ralph, 16, and Asher Hill, 17, both from Toronto, Ont., are the 2008 Canadian Junior Champions in ice dance.  This will be their second year on the ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit.  In 2007, they attended Junior Grand Prix events in Lake Placid, USA and Sheffield, Great Britain, placing fourth and seventh respectively.  Carol Lane, Jon Lane, Juris Razgulajevs and Donna Iijima coach the team out of the Scarboro FSC.

Maja Vermeulen, 18, of Acton, Ont., and Andrew Doleman, 18, of Dundas, Ont., will be returning to the ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit for the second year in a row.  In 2007, they placed ninth at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Chemnitz, Germany.  The duo placed seventh in junior at the 2008 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships.  Maja and Andrew train out of the Kitchener-Waterloo SC with coaches Rebecca Babb, Gennady Kaskov and Paul Macintosh.

Petra Burka of Toronto, Ont., will be the team manager at the event.  Susan Blatz of Troy, Ont., and Jeff Lukasik will be the Canadian officials at the competition.

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