(December 6, 2009 - TOKYO, Japan) – Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill, both of Toronto, confirmed they could be strong medal contenders at next March’s world junior championships on Sunday with a solid fourth place finish in the junior ice dance event at the ISU Grand Prix figure skating final.

Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin of Russia won the gold medal placing first in both the original dance on Saturday and Sunday’s free dance.  They withstood a strong challenge from compatriots Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov who climbed to second with 139.36.  Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the U.S., dropped to third at 138.75.

Ralph and Hill, silver medallists in their two Grand Prix appearances earlier this fall, totalled 124.74 and had the fourth best scores in both phases of the competition.  The couple is tuning up for the world junior championships next March in the Netherlands.  They were fifth at last year’s world juniors.

“Kharis and Asher had a very strong event this weekend,” said Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada’s high performance director. “They didn’t put one step wrong in both the original and free dances and were on top of their game all weekend.  There was a real calm and ease to their skating and to get fourth against such a tough field is huge.”

Canada ends the Grand Prix final with one silver medal earned by Tessa Virtue of London, Ont., and Scott Moir of Ilderton, Ont., in the senior ice dance event on Friday.  Vanessa Crone of Aurora, Ont., and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., were sixth in the same event.

On Saturday, Joannie Rochette of Ile-Dupas, Que., was fifth in women’s singles.  Kaleigh Hole of Virden, Man., and Adam Johnson of Chatham, Ont., took fifth in junior pairs on Friday.

 
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