FS Fashion Series: European Championships-Ladies & Ice dance

So, the last event at Euros (free dance) just ended, and even though I didn’t actually get to see most of it (I could only catch bits of the SD, ladies and men’s free skates, and FD), I saw most of the major contenders, so I feel qualified to write it up, LOL. But I wanted to do a costumes one instead, so that’s what I’m going to do.

Ladies 

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Elena Radionova, Russia-FS (“Titanic” soundtrack) 

Elena apparently outgrew the dress she previously wore for this program, so she changed it entirely and I like the result! I haven’t seen Titanic, so I don’t know if this is based off the movie, but it seems somewhat accurate for that time period, so I figure it is. I like the lace overlay and the cool draped sleeves; the neckline in particular is very well-designed. Also, she actually did something directional with her hair! It’s hard to tell in these pictures, but there was a metal swirly thing in her bun. It made the whole look feel more complete. Overall, this was a costuming win for Elena; it’s a mature yet age-appropriate dress that fits the program and looks great.

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Evgenia Medvedeva, Russia-FS (“W.E.” soundtrack)

Since I’ve gushed over Evgenia’s SP dress one too many times, I figured it was time to move on and talk about her FS costume. This is also a great dress; the crystal-work (is that a word?) is very impactful, and the lace is cleverly used to subtly give the dress texture. I don’t even mind the gloves, since they’re not flesh-toned. They’re bedazzled to look like part of the costume, which, IMO, is what you should do if you must wear golves. There’s no point in trying to hide them-it’s painfully obvious when somebody wears the flesh-tone ones-so why not sparklify (yes, I just made up a word :p) them? I also, oddly enough, really liked the three-quarter sleeves. You really don’t see that often. This is not quite as spectacular as her SP dress (I loooove those beaded mesh sweetheart necklines!), but still a pretty and well-designed costume.

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Angelina Kuchvalska, Latvia-FS (“Tango de Roxanne” and Romeo & Juliet)

Angelina’s FS has got to be one of the oddest combinations of music I’ve ever seen, but I can look past that because she TOTALLY KILLED IT and probably should’ve gotten the bronze, but what’s done is done, so I will try not to go crazy with the WUZROBBED! accusations.

Anyway, this was a well-done black dress in that it fulfilled the #1 rule of black skating dresses: it wasn’t boring! The beading/crystals/whatever it was added a lot of interest and distracted from the fact that this dress was possibly a little too sheer. And here is another instance of gloves done right: because they’re the same color as the dress and it has long sleeves, they just look like an extension of the dress. That is the only other way you can wear gloves without it being distracting. This was a very well-designed dress and though it would’ve been better if it wasn’t quite so sheer, it was a good look for a program that had to be difficult to design a costume for.

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Viveca Lindfors, Finland-FS (“Evita”)

 

This costume had absolutely nothing to do with the music, but I had to throw it in because it is PURPLE and SPARKLY and it has OMBRE TIERS on the skirt…!

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Nathalie Weinzerl (sorry if misspelled), Germany-FS (Meditation from Thais)

Even though the skirt was weird, the neckline of this dress was to die for and I liked the lotus-esque decal thingy on the bodice. It just would’ve been better with a different type of skirt.

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Anna Pogorilaya, Russia-FS (“Scheherazade”) 

First of all, she is bleeding in this picture and that is essentially what happened in this program. She fell on her face twice, it looked painful, and she still got the bronze because she did her two highest-scoring elements (3Lz-3T and 3Lo-1Lo-3S) well.

Second of all, who told this girl that pink illusion mesh was a good idea? This was almost a really good costume, but then they had to go and ruin it with pink illusion?!? Why?!? I like the color and the beading is really cool, but I can’t get past the pink illusion. Urgh.

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Anna Pogorilaya, Russia-SP (“Bolero for Strings”) 

This dress was basically strips of red fabric held together by illusion (which didn’t match her skin, but at least it wasn’t pink). ‘Nuff said.

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Mae-Berenice Miete, France-FS (“Tristan and Iseult”) 

It’s purple, and the chevron beading is extremely cool.

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Laurine Lecavelier, France-FS (Latin medley)

HIDE MY EYES.

This coming from someone who LOVES bright orange costumes…

Ice Dance 

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Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov, Russia-SD (Swan Lake) 

Despite the fact that Nikita has orange illusion mesh in the neck of his shirt, I like these costumes a lot. His is interesting and non-black, and hers is very ballet-ish and the skirt looks like a cloud. Very, very swan-lakey without a single feather! #LifetimeAchievement

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Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte, Italy-SD (“The Merry Widow”) 

This is a costume change from the ones they wore at the GPF, and a very good one. Hers looks like a 1950’s wedding dress, and it is oddly fantastic; his is, again, non-boring. They are now, without a doubt, the best-dressed dance team in Europe…and I will probably never be able to mention them again without going on and on about their costumes, LOL. (I’ve already written about their awesome FD outfits, so I will leave that out because it’s repetitive and I’m lazy.)

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Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin, Russia-SD (1920’s-ish medley?)

Call me crazy, but these were probably my favorite costumes of the dance event (even though I kinda hate his vest). Hers is BRIGHT ORANGE and RIDICULOUSLY BLINGY and IT LOOKS LIKE SHE SPILLED SUNNY-D (that gross fake orange juice drink) ON IT AND THEN DYED THE ENTIRE THING THAT COLOR AND I CAN’T STOP USING CAPS LOCK!

I love orange costumes. I also love bling. How could I not?

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Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron, France-SD (“Charms”) 

These costumes were beautiful and I might actually be starting to like this team, which I feel kinda bad about because I have called them “highly overrated” multiple times. I guess I just didn’t like their programs, so the hype drove me nuts. But anyway, I like their SD a lot, and their costumes are on point. Her skirt is magically floaty and I love the draping on the bodice. His looks like something one would wear in The Nutcracker, but at least it’s not boring.

Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron, France-FD (“To Build a Home”) 

This, on the other hand, looks like the cover of a dystopian novel about ice dancing.

Actually, somebody please write that book. I would totally read that.

Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland, Great Britain-FD (“Hurricanes and Butterflies”) 

If I was trying to design a dress that looked like a butterfly, this is probably what would happen. Therefore, I like it. 🙂

Charlene Guinard/Marco Fabbri, Italy-SD (Italian opera medley)

Charlene’s costume is fine, but Marco’s looks like something you would wear to sell kettle corn at a circus.

Alisa Agofonova/Alper Ucar, Turkey-SD 

This program is exponentially more enjoyable if you pretend it’s about a flight attendant (who has been attacked by a badger, thus the tattered skirt-obviously :p) and a 19th-century farmer.

Hehe.

Thanks for reading!

 

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2016 U.S. Nationals Recap: Ladies

So, this is late, and it has been bugging me since the event ended. So I’m finally writing this! (For this event, I’m doing all of the events but men’s, which I really don’t care about.)

Now for the recap!

5th Place: Tyler Pierce 

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A breakout performance

Scores: 62.45 (third), 126.05 (fifth), 188.50 (fifth) 

Tyler was, dare I say, the breakout star of this year’s Nationals, with two near-clean programs. She had one of the only clean SPs of the ladies event, hitting one of two clean 3-3s done in the event. Her FS was less clean, with a fall on a 3F, but it was a strong skate and I like her “Danse Macabre” FS a lot. (Also, her dress was gorgeous). She has great jumps and spins, and her performance quality is good (could use work, but she’s young). All she needs is consistency, which is something she’s lacked in the past. She has been assigned to Junior Worlds (an event she’s come in 14th and 19th at in the past), so hopefully she’ll be able to redeem her dismal Junior Worlds performances last year and skate well-she has the programs and difficulty to contend.

 

4. Mirai Nagasu

Redemption for Mirai

Scores: 59.64 (5th), 129.20 (4th), 188.84 (4th) 

Mirai has had one of the most up-and-down careers I’ve ever seen, and the last two years have not been her best. So I was extremely happy that she was able to medal here! Her SP was almost clean-she landed her 3Lo and 2A, the only mistake being a doubled 3T on her combination-but she tore part of the stitching on her skate, leading to concern as to whether it could be repaired before the FS. Luckily, she was able to get it fixed and went on to skate one of her best free skates ever-landing and rotating(!) all of her jumps. Her FS was enough to medal (at most national competitions, a pewter medal is awarded for 4th place), and she was named to the Four Continents team after Ashley Wagner (3rd) withdrew. And the fact that it all went down in the city she won Nationals in in 2008 was just the cherry on top! After several bad seasons, I am absolutely thrilled that Mirai is back to her top form and I hope she skates well at 4CC.

3. Ashley Wagner 

Not Ashley’s best, but not too bad

Scores: 62.41 (4th), 135.47 (3rd), 197.88 (3rd)

Ashley’s Nationals performances last year were her best ever, and she won the title by over 20 points. Coupled with a fairly strong early season, many expected her to defend her title, but it was not to be. In the SP, she fell and downgraded the 3T on her 3F-3T combination, leaving her in 4th. Her FS was good aside from a singled lutz, but because it was the same program she had an iconic moment with at last year’s Nationals, it lacked the “wow factor” it would otherwise have. It certainly wasn’t a horrible competition for Ashley, but it was by no means a great one. The pressure of defending a title got to her, it seems.

2. Polina Edmunds

A surprise silver medal and two great skates

Scores: 70.19 (1st), 137.32 (2nd), 207.51 (2nd)

Polina had arguably her two best skates ever at this event, and it almost won her a US title; however, her 7.5-point cushion didn’t hold up to Gracie Gold’s fantastic FS. Her SP, however, was incredible: all of her jumps were clean (no UR or edge calls!), and her presentation was superb. Her balletic softness was on display here, and it was lovely. She came out of the SP with a commanding lead of almost eight points, and delivered a clean FS (with the exception of an underrotated triple loop) as well. While her “Gone with the Wind” free skate is not particularly memorable, she skated it as well as she could’ve. This was definitely an event she can be proud of, and it speaks volumes about her mental toughness. Overall, a job very well done!

 

1. Gracie Gold 

That face says it all

Scores: 62.50 (2nd), 147.96 (1st), 210.46 (1st)

After failing to defend her US title last year, Gracie earned it back with a subpar SP and a spectacular FS despite being 7.5 points out of the lead after the short. Surprisingly, the element Gracie flubbed in the short program was not the 3F she’s popped twice this season; it was her money jump, the 3Lz (part of a 3-3 combination that she did not complete). She added a 2T onto her solo jump, the 3F, to save her score, but it was a disappointing skate overall. Many thought she would continue the trend and bomb her free skate, but she delivered when it counted (and following an amazing performance from Polina…) and it was a small miracle. She hit all of her jumps, proving that she can deliver under pressure and leaving us all to wonder why she doesn’t do that more often. It was a spectacular skate, and if she can do that at worlds, watch out, Evgenia: you could be facing some incredibly stiff competition.

Also, her exhibition program was fabulous and I must provide it for your viewing pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWSz8PWEmio

 

Also, the “disappointingly not in this post” list:

  1. Karen Chen, who missed her combo in both programs to finish 8th
  2. Courtney Hicks, whose plethora of various falls left her in 9th
  3. Mariah Bell, whose SP was good but sunk her chances with a subpar FS (11th)
  4. Angela Wang, who actually wasn’t too bad but had a few errors and finished 10th
  5. Bradie Tennell, who was actually great and finished 6th but I was too lazy to put her in
  6. Hannah Miller, who also did great and finished 7th but I was also too lazy to put her in

I shall be back with dance and pairs sometime soon. But until then, adios! 

Nationals, a Love Story (Pt 4)

IT’S ALMOST TIME!

With the hours until the most wonderful time of the year ticking down, it’s time to end this blog series (which has actually been one of my best decisions of 2016! Yay) with a bang: the new, improved, nine-piece chicken nugget combo meal US Figure Skating Championships Preview Series Senior Ladies Analysis! Woot woot!

I have discovered that writing a long-winded paragraph about why I think each skater will place where I put them is far more fun that a report card, so I shall do that (it’s also faster, which is imperative because I have things to do and this can’t take three hours to write). And so it begins/ends!

 

1. Gracie Gold 

 

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Age: 20

Skating Club: Wagon Wheel FSC

Accomplishments: 2014 US Champion, 2014 Olympic Team Member (4th), two-time GP gold medalist, 2012 Junior World Silver Medalist

Why I placed her here: Now that she’s uninjured and not trying to defend a title, Gracie is in peak shape. Aside from the GPF, she’s had a good season so far, and in every even-numbered year since 2012, Gracie has taken a  US title (junior in 2012 and senior in 2014). Okay, that’s a lame reason, but if she is clean or near-clean, she’s unbeatable. She finally has programs that fit her, so that gives her an additional PCS boost. However, if she isn’t clean, Ashley will likely win. It all comes down to putting two clean programs together, which she has only ever done at-wait for it-Nationals.

Also, I am completely biased because I love her and at this point, it’s so unsure that everyone is just picking whichever lady they like better to win. I’m going with Gracie.

 

2. Ashley Wagner 

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Age: 24

Skating Club: SC of Wilmington

Accomplishments: three-time US Champion, 2014 Olympic Team Member (7th), 2012 4CC Champion, two-time World Junior Bronze Medalist, four-time GP gold medalist, three-time GPF medalist (silver-2012, bronze-2013 and 2014)

Why I placed her here: A lot of people are expecting Ashley to win her fourth US title, but I’m not so sure. With the exception of NHK, she’s had a stellar season so far, but from past experience, I’m pretty sure the one thing that gets to her like nothing else is having to defend a National title when she’s the favorite. (See 2014.) Yes, she could win,  but she would have to skate clean. Like, really clean. I’m not sure if she will, but Gracie isn’t exactly a model of consistency either, so it could go either way.

 

3. Courtney Hicks 

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Age: 20

Skating Club:

Accomplishments: 2015 NHK Trophy Silver Medalist

Why I placed her here: Courtney has had a very strong season, winning a silver medal at NHK Trophy over not only Ashley but Mao Asada(!). She’s technically excellent, and her programs this year are pretty decent. If she lands all the stuff, she will definitely make the world team. When Courtney is on, she’s electrifying to watch.

4. Polina Edmunds

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Age: 17

Skating Club: Peninsula SC (not to be confused with Peninsula FSC)

Accomplishments: 2014 US Silver Medalist, 2014 Olympic Team Member (9th), 2015 4CC Champion, two-time JGP gold medalist

Why I placed her here: Polina seems like the obvious third-place pick after solid skates at Rostelecom Cup, but her underrotation issues seem to be getting worse and she’s had a few incidences of sit spins being invalidated (Now there’s a problem you never hear about…). She has more potential than most of these ladies and she’s fixed her flip edge, but despite that, I don’t think she’ll get on the team. Underrotations are deadly, and hers are not improving.

5. Karen Chen 

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Age: 16

Skating Club: Peninsula FSC

Accomplishments: 2015 US Bronze Medalist, 4-time JGP Medalist

Why I placed her here: Karen is a truly special skater and I love her to bits, but she has yet to live up to her Nationals FS last year. (Her SA SP was very good, though.) She has all the goods…except consistency, as usual. And she tends to underrotate and pop jumps. I really hope she proves me wrong, but I just can’t be sure. (She would be my personal pick for the third Worlds spot.)

6. Mirai Nagasu 

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Age: 22

Skating Club: Pasadena FSC

Accomplishments: 2008 US Champion, 2010 Olympic Team Member (4th), four-time GP medalist, two-time junior world medalist

Why I placed her here: Mirai is absolutely capable of at least a bronze, but her trademark inconsistency and tendency to underrotate jumps have kept her off the podium several times. She is probably the most traditionally “artistic” of the US Ladies and her technical content is up to par with the rest of the field, but she hasn’t executed it cleanly in a very long time. However, her great performances at NHK give me hope that she will finally step up. Placing her this low was a precautionary step because she could revert to her old ways, but I have a good feeling about this.

7. Mariah Bell 

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Age: 19

Skating Club: Rocky Mountain FSC

Accomplishments: 2013 US junior silver medalist, JGP medalist

Why I placed her here: Mariah showed that she can compete with the best with a 6th-place showing last year, but she has had a very rocky season so far. Two dismal Challenger Series showings left me worried, but she came back with a decent GP debut at Skate America (8th). Mariah is a lovely skater and person (I’ve met her and she is very gracious and friendly, so I’m kind of partial towards her), so I hope she does better than this, but she has not been very consistent.

8. Tyler Pierce 

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Age: 17

Skating Club: All Year FSC

Accomplishments: 2013 US Novice Champion, 2014 US Junior Silver Medalist, two-time Challenger Series medalist

Why I placed her here: Tyler looked very strong on the Challenger Series, with two bronze medals and solid scores (60+ SPs and 105+ FSes), but her recurring inconsistency could return. Until we know what form she is in, this is the highest I’m comfortable placing her.

9. Angela Wang 

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Age: 19

Skating Club: Salt Lake City FSC

Accomplishments: three-time JGP Medalist

Why I placed her here: Angela has shown vastly-improved consistency this season, and she can be technically excellent when she is on. However, I wouldn’t put her in the top 10 yet, considering her low Nationals placement last year (15th).

So, this is the end! I hope you enjoyed this series as much as I enjoyed writing it, and I hope to do something like this in the near future. Au revoir, until the events start! 

 

Nationals, A Love Story (Pt 3)

So, after pushing back the post date for this post twice, I’m finally getting it done. Woot woot! *Raise the roof hands*

This is, as I stated in the first post, the senior ice dance preview for the U.S. Championships (which start on Saturday with the Juvenile pattern dance). This is the most competitive senior discipline-there are no less than five teams who could possibly/reasonably place in the top 10 at worlds and three of them made the GPF this year-so there are several ways this could go, but I am going to toss it up and do the order I prefer, rather than the one that will probably happen.

Again, I will not be doing report cards for dance because I have the technical knowledge of a fish.

1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani 

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Ages: 21/24

Skating Clubs: SC of New York/Arctic Edge FSC (in a moment of insanity I almost spelled that “artic”)

Accomplishments: 2011 World Bronze Medalists, Olympic Team Members (2014-9th), 11-time GP Medalists, two-time 4CC medalists (silver-2011 and bronze-2015), 5-time US Medalists (senior)

So, you may be scratching your head at this, because the Shibs-who are most definitely my  Ice Dance Preciouses-have repeatedly been dissed by the judges (case in point: GPF FD). But even the worst judging won’t ignore a flawless performance, which is what they’ve been delivering all season. With the exception of Ondrej Nepela Trophy, they’ve made themselves a reputation of being virtually guaranteed not to mess up their twizzles (which is far more than I can say for most any other teams, domestic or international), and their programs this year fit them to a T. Barring another unfortunately-timed illness, I fully expect lights-out performances at Nationals. But will the judges go for it? All I can say is, “I hope so.”

2. Madison Chock/Evan Bates

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Ages: 23/26

Skating Clubs: All Year FSC/Ann Arbor FSC

Accomplishments: 2015 World Silver Medalists, Olympic Team Members (2014-8th), 2014 and 2015 GPF Silver Medalists, 6-time GP medalists, 2015 US Champions

If we were going by the accomplishments list alone, I would definitely have put Chock & Bates in first, but they have been rather inconsistent this season. They’ve botched twizzles in both of their last competitions (Cup of China and the GPF), and while I don’t expect it to happen again, I can’t comfortably have them winning with that in mind. They are, however, the USFSA’s favorites, and they have good programs. So if they don’t have any major mistakes, they will almost certainly win.

3. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue

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Ages: 24/25

Skating Clubs: Lansing SC/Lansing SC

Accomplishments: 5-time GP Medalists, 2014 4CC Champions, 2012 and 2015 US Bronze Medalists

At the beginning of the season, I thought Hawayek/Baker would be comfortably occupying the bronze spot. But Hubbell & Donohue have really stepped it up, winning a GP and qualifying for the final. They seem to be benefitting from their coaching change, and their programs are excellent (well, their program-I really just mean the SD). However, they’re not consistent either, so I don’t really know. However, this seems like the most likely placement.

4. Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker

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Ages: 19/22

Skating Clubs: Detroit SC/Seattle SC

Accomplishments: 2014 Junior World Champions, 2014 NHK Trophy Bronze Medalists, 2015 US Pewter Medalists

Last season, I thought Hawayek & Baker would be next year’s bronze medalists. It seemed that the trajectory of US ice dance was going that way. However, Hubbell & Donohue threw a wrench in my plans. While they did pretty well at both of their GPs (they withdrew after the SD from their second one), it was not enough to reasonably be called the bronze-medal favorites. I like their programs, but they don’t seem as strong technically as some of the other teams (this coming from someone who loves them). I hope I’m wrong, though!

5. Anastasia Cannuscio/Colin McManus 

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Ages: 23/25

Skating Clubs: University of Delaware FSC/SC of Boston

Accomplishments: 2015 Nebelhorn Trophy Bronze Medalists

Cannuscio/McManus were one of the biggest surprises of this season for me. While I liked them last year, this was the season I became an actual fan of theirs. Both of their programs are among my favorites in any discipline this season (particularly the SD), and while their scores haven’t been high enough to compete with the top teams, they’re improving. If one of the other teams makes mistakes, they could end up the pewter medalists. (Personally, I would like a Shibs-H/B-C/McM-C/B podium, in that order, so I kinda hope that happens. Hehe. ;))

So…are y’all, my fives of readers, excited for Nationals yet? Who do you hope to see on the podium? Leave me a comment if you care to chat *fan obsessively* about it! 

Nationals, A love story (Part 2)

Heeeey!

So, today was the scheduled day for the junior ice dance preview. But then I found out I was going out of town at the last minute. I have two or so hours before I have to leave, so I hope to actually get this done on time!

Since I am not exactly an ice dance technical expert (I could tell you what a turn is called or how to identify good twizzles, or if I like the costumes :p, but that’s about it), this is going to be structured differently than my ladies recaps. Instead of a report card, I’m just going to be explaining why I think they’re good (going by past results) and how much I like them…hopefully more of the latter…ish. So, no sciency report cards today. Again, this is in order of how I expect these teams to place.

1. Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter

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To get started, here is a lovely photo in which Quinn’s face is entirely obstructed by  ginormous Getty Images logo! Yaaaay!

Ages: 16/19

Club represented: Peninsula SC/Washington FSC

Accomplishments: 2015 JGP Final Champions, 2015 World Junior Silver Medalists, 2015 US Junior Champions, 2013 JGP Final bronze Medalists, six-time JGP medalists, multiple other US medals I’m too lazy to list

Why I placed them here: first off, look at that accomplishments list. Just look at it. That is an explanation in itself. No other junior team right now has won that much stuff. Also, I love their style. In a sea of cookie-cutter teams who virtually all seem the same (not only are a lot of their programs fairly similar, approximately 94% of the girls wear mint green dresses…), they’re bringing something different. Because the first thing that comes to mind in a waltz season is mountain trolls. 🙂 They have a delightfully wacky style best described as a subtler version of Gilles & Poirier. Their programs this season are also strikingly different, which says good things about their versatility. They’re an incredibly refreshing pair with very high scoring potential, and I can’t see any way they won’t win Nationals.

2. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons 

 

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Ages: 18/20

Club represented: Washington FSC/Washington FSC

Accomplishments: 2015 JGP Final Bronze Medalists, 7-time JGP Medalists

Why I placed them here: The Parsons, along with Mcnamara & Carpenter, totally dominated the JGP (up until the final, when a Russian pair snuck in and got the silver), and I thought it would be an incredibly close race between those two teams at Nationals. However, the Parsons had a disappointing showing at the JGP Final and now I’m not so sure. However, they are siblings doing a tango FD (yes, you read that right) and it doesn’t make me feel the need to fling my computer out the window, which is an accomplishment in itself. If they skated well, they could beat any team in the field except possibly McNamara & Carpenter, and they’re a lock for silver at this event.

Superficial comment: I kinda want Rachel’s short dance dress. 🙂

3. Christina Carriera/Anthony Ponomarenko 

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Ages: 15/14

Skating Club:  SC of New York/San Francisco SC 

Accomplishments: 2015 JGP Poland Silver Medalists, second alternates for the 2015 JGP Final 

Why I placed them here: In terms of results, Carriera/Ponomarekno were the obvious choice for third. But they’re also a personal favorite team. I love their commitment to character in their programs. In terms of charm factor, Carriera/Ponomarenko definitely win this event. They always look like they’re enjoying themselves, and that’s a quality I love in a skater/team. And after okay but not great results last season, they’re breaking into the top three. They’ve become the best of the rest (aka anyone who is not M/C or the Parsons) and I don’t really see anyone else taking the third spot at junior worlds.

4. Elliana Pogrebinsky/Alex Benoit 

  

Ages: 17/20

Skating club: Peninsula SC/Skokie Valley SC 

Accomplishments: Bronze Medalists at a JGP event I forgot the name of, US Junior Bronze Medalists

Why I placed them here: 

So, I had to leave and I’m writing this on my phone. I’ll keep it short: they were the only other JGP medalists I hadn’t already mentioned. 🙂

5. Chloe Rose Lewis/Logan Bye

  

Ages: 15/17

Skating club: All Year FSC/SC of New York

Accomplishments: 2013 US Novice Champions 

Why I placed them here: I hadn’t watched them in a long time, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I put them here on the grounds of their respectable JGP showings this year, but when I watched videos of their programs this season, I was really impressed with their maturity. Few junior teams could successfully take on “Valse Triste,” but they have. They haven’t had much international experience, but their personal best scores are pretty good and I like the programs. So I think they will be able to crack the top five here. 

Honorable mention: Eliana Gropman & Ian Sommerville, who are ridiculously presh even if they probably won’t place here. 🙂 Also, there are a lot of Elianas in US ice dancing…LOL!

I know it was a little late, so I’m sorry about that. I severely overestimated my ability to write in a moving car, so…I finished it as soon as I could. Hope you enjoyed it!

Nationals: A Love Story (Part 1)

Ah, Nationals, how I love thee…

(For clarification, I am referring to US Nationals. Not the upcoming Canadian Nationals, or the Japanese or Russian nationals that already happened. All ‘Murica, all the time. :p)

Seriously, Nationals is one of my favorite competitions of the whole season, probably second only to the Olympics. Okay, and Worlds. And any of the early-season summer competitions considerate enough to provide livestreams. (Three months feels like an eternity with no skating…)

Hehe. Anyway, back on topic, segueing into the actual post…*drumroll* I’m going to be doing a Nationals preview series! If this goes according to plan, it will be in four parts, one every three days (timed to coincide with the start of Nationals, obviously). So if I can make it work, this will be the posting schedule:

Today, January 4th: Junior Ladies Preview
Friday, January 7th: Junior Ice Dance Preview
Tuesday, January 12th: Senior Ice Dance Preview
Friday, January 15th: Senior Ladies Preview

Basically, I will be analyzing the top contenders in each of these categories with the help of SCIENCE! Or, a “skater-grading” system I came up with that uses an academic report-card format to analyze the prospective placements and technical mumbo-jumbo of the big names in each discipline. Neat, right? Wait, what? You just want me to get to the point?

Oh, all right…here it is: your very official unofficial analysis of the 2016 US Championships Junior Ladies Event! (FYI, these are ranked in order of predicted placement.)

Also, a handy sample of the “report cards” I will use for this series:

Age:
Accomplishments:
Club Represented:

GRADES

Jumps:                                            Spins:                                           Skating Skills/Footwork: Presentation/Interpretation: Consistency:                                Overall Strengths:                     Overall Weaknesses:

1. Vivian Le 
  
Age: 15
Accomplishments: two-time JGP medalist, 2015 US Junior bronze medalist, 2014 US Novice champion, 3rd alternate for the 2015 JGP Final
Club Represented: Dallas FSC

GRADES 
Jumps: A+. HUGE-like, some of the biggest I’ve ever seen-and beautiful to watch, but they lack control. Most of the mistakes Vivian makes are falls and stepouts because she can’t control the landings.
Spins: A-. They’re fast, centered, and have nice positions.
Skating Skills/Footwork: A-. She’s not exactly the most graceful skater, but she gets a lot of speed and power, which is a lot of what SS is.
Interpretation/Presentation: B-. She isn’t a particularly artistic skater (she’s young, so it should come with time), but her presentation is good enough that she’s pleasant to watch, if not entertaining. Even so, tech is her thing, and that’s okay for now.
Consistency: C. Because her jump landings lack control, she’s prone to big, noticeable mistakes like falls and stepouts, not subtler (albeit just as bad) ones like URs or edge calls. She doesn’t seem to be particularly mentally tough, either, which is not a great combination of qualities.
Overall strengths: jumps, spins, speed
Overall weaknesses: interpretation, control, mental strength/consistency

2. Emily Chan 
  
Age: 18
Club Represented: Dallas FSC
Accomplishments: 2015 US Novice champion

GRADES 
Jumps: B-. Not necessarily bad, but…um, this is kind of mean, and if Emily is reading this, I’m sorry and I love all the other things about your skating…but she almost never actually lands them. But when she does, they’re good, so…yay?
Spins: A+. This is one of the areas where Emily shines. They’re fast and centered, with excellent positions, and really everything you want them to be…she has this way of making lower-risk elements that you might ignore with other skaters the highlights of the program, especially spins.
Skating Skills/Footwork: A+. She has excellent SS and her StSqs are immensely enjoyable. According to this article http://www.usfigureskatingfanzone.com/uncategorized/fan-blog-halfway-junior-grand-prix-6-great-moments-might-missed/ her step sequence at JGP Bratislava scored more than the BV of a triple flip. That’s how good her footwork is.
Presentation/Interpretation: A+. Emily is by far the oldest skater in this preview, and this is where it shows. Her musicality and polish is far beyond the rest of the field, and even past some of the senior ladies. She is just beautiful to watch and if she could land things, I can’t even imagine how far she would go. She’s got absolutely everything else.
Consistency: Um, like, C-…like I said, she doesn’t really land things that much. Which is very sad, because she would be up there internationally (as a junior) if she could.
Overall strengths: spins, SS/Footwork, presentation, interpretation/musicality, polish/refinement
Overall weaknesses: consistency, jumps

3. Bradie Tennell

  
Age: 17
Club Represented: Wagon Wheel FSC
Accomplishments: 2015 US Junior champion, 2012 US Novice bronze medalist

GRADES 
Jumps: A. Big, with nice lift and flow.
Spins: A-. Nice, but nothing extraordinary.
Skating Skills/Footwork: B+, I guess? They seem fine.
Presentation/Interpretation: B+…it’s okay, but I don’t really feel things. To get good grades, you must make me FEEL THINGS! *Thumps gavel*
Consistency: B-. This is usually a pretty good area for Bradie, but after disappointing showings at her JGP assignment, I’m not sure anymore.
Overall Strengths: jumps, spins
Overall Weaknesses: presentation, I guess?

4. Paige Rydberg

  
Age: 16
Club Represented: Northern Ice FSC
Accomplishments: 2014 US Novice silver medalist

GRADES 
Jumps: A. She gets amazing ice coverage.
Spins: B. The positions are fine but they travel sooo muuuch…urghhhhh.
Skating Skills/Footwork: B. I guess they’re okay?
Presentation/Interpretation: B. I can tell there’s something there, but it’s very hard to describe and it only comes out in certain parts of her programs.
Consistency: C-. If she does well in one program, chances are she’s gonna fall apart in the other.
Overall Strengths: Jumps (ice coverage!!!!!)
Weaknesses: Consistency, spins (centering)

5. Brynne McIsaac 
 
 
Age: 16
Club Represented: Washington FSC
Accomplishments: 4th at a JGP event

GRADES 
Jumps: B. Okay in the air, but she kind of telegraphs, especially her 3Loop (the entry would make my coach cry). Also, ginormous toe hammer on the flip. Her 2A is great, though.
Spins: B. Fine, but kind of a “nothing to see here” thing.
Skating skills/Footwork: A. A lot of complexity in the footwork and great transitions, if a bit flaily.
Presentation/Interpretation: C. She kinda skates like a robot? Sorry…*hides*
Consistency: A-. If everyone else is falling apart, she’ll be okay. Usually.
Overall Strengths: Consistency, transitions, footwork
Overall Weaknesses: jumps (telegraphing, toe hammer), interpretation
 
And so it ends! Did I leave out someone you think has a shot at the top 5? Do you beg to differ with one of the grades, or did I read your mind? Feel free to leave a comment. I like them! 🙂 

New Year, New You…Tube?

First off, happy Olympic year! (Yes, I’m such an Olympics freak I actually say that! :p)

Second off, semi-exciting announcement: I have entered the vast wasteland of YouTube! 

Basically, I had some time on a weekend so I taught myself to make a montage. One thing lead to another, and now I’m obsessed with making skating edits…hehe. 

My personal favorite video features some of my favorite junior ladies: http://youtu.be/Tkh3awoGrC0

In another, I put a random classical piece from my iTunes library over Evgenia Medvedeva’s SP and it worked surprisingly well: http://youtu.be/bLBn1B8dY2Q

And my most recent video took two hours to make-not because it was hard, but because it took forever to find a program that even sort of fit the song (and the only one that did was too long):  http://youtu.be/HOZY6nV2zUs

So, yeah? Hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed making them! I hope to make more! 🙂