Madelyn Dunley of Campbellville, Ont., was the star of the show.

OTTAWA: Madelyn Dunley of Campbellville, Ont., was the star of the show.

The 16-year-old – who was novice champion in 2012 – sparkled with a triple Salchow-triple toe loop combination, a high-flying effort for a group still trying to find itself. However, Dunley underrotated a triple loop and fell on it. Still, she finished first at 45.66 points.

She did get level fours of difficulty for her combination spin and a step sequence, and she’s in perfect position to win the junior women’s event, after being third last year.

In second place after the short is Julianne Delaurier, a 15-year-old from Kelowna, B.C., who skated to Chopin’s Fantasie Impromtu. In third place going into the free program on Wednesday is Kim DeGuise Leveillee, 15, of Sorel-Tracy, Que., after finishing sixth at Challenge in December.

Kelsey Wong delivered a stunning layback spin that ended in a Bielmann, but she fell on a triple loop and a triple Salchow.

Sandrine Martin attempted a triple Lutz, but fell and then singled a loop.

“It was good to see that we had a triple-triple from Madelyn Dunley,” said Michael Slipchuk, high-performance director for Skate Canada. “It was good to see junior girls starting to do triple-triples. They are still developing at this point.”

Never mind that there are junior-eligible women such as Gabby Daleman who are already competing at the senior level – and in fact Daleman, at age 15, has already earned an Olympic spot. “Only two years ago, they were here,” Slipchuk said. “It does change pretty fast. You’ve got to start trying triples at this stage. A year from now it’s [junior women] going to be a lot stronger. Some of them have been on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. It’s a good learning experience for them.

“It’s all about development.”

The junior dance category seems in good hands. Mackenzie Bent, 16, of Uxbridge, Ont., and Garrett MacKeen, 19, of Oshawa, Ont., won the short dance on Monday with 59.63 points. Silver medalist last year in junior dance, Bent and MacKeen are trained by Carol Lane and Juris Razgulajevs.

Youth surged to the fore in Melinda Meng, only 14, and Andrew Meng, 17, of Montreal. With their Pink Panther routine, they finished in second place with 56.89 points. Trained by Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, the Mengs were sixth last year in this category.

In third place are Brianna Delmaestro, 18, of Port Moody, B.C., and Timothy Lum, 18, Burnaby, B.C., with 54.60 after a scintillating midline footwork sequence.

Other gems: last year’s novice champions, Danielle Wu and Spencer Soo of Burnaby, B.C., are blasting up the ladder, with a fourth place finish in the short dance. Channelling Gene Kelly’s Singing in the Rain, Wu and Soo were brilliant, although a twizzle went awry. They are less than a point behind the more seasoned Delmaestro and Lum.

Beverley Smith