A Few of My Favorite Things, 2015-16: Short Programs

The off-season is upon us. Yaaaaay!

Said no skating fan ever.

But I am determined to do something productive during this skating void. Firstly, I hope to get my Axel and a back camel spin that doesn’t look like roadkill before the JGP. Secondly, I am planning several blog post series throughout the summer, starting off with reflections on last season, then a GP assignment recap in June, and finally, JGP Previews in July. (Also, possibly some random gymnastics stuff that decidedly doesn’t belong on here during the Olympics.)

The first of these is entitled “A Few of My Favorite Things” and it is basically exactly what it sounds like. Each post will rave about several of my favorite things from the 2015-16 season in different categories. This one is for short programs (all disciplines). I’m also planning one for free skates, two for costumes (singles and pairs/dance), one for “discoveries,” one for junior performances, and one for best usages of warhorses. So, this should last me a while. But now I’m going off on a tangent, so I need to get to the point. These are my top three senior SPs in every discipline.

Top Three 2015-16 Short Dances 

1. Shibutani/Shibutani (“Coppelia”) 

As you probably know if you have read anything on this blog, I am a diehard fan of the Shibs and will blindly praise everything they do. However, I legitimately loved this SD. It was somewhat traditional but still fairly different from what most teams were doing; it was comical and lighthearted without being juniorish or immature (IMO); and, of course, it won them a lot of things. 🙂 I never cease to be amused by the fact that they choreographed a bit where Maia smacks Alex upside the head. But most of all, it was the first program of theirs in which both of them gave adequate face. Seriously, many of their facial expressions in this program are completely priceless. Fun, unique, and very much “them.”

2. Cappellini/Lanotte (“The Merry Widow”) 

Cappellini/Lanotte have been on my radar for a while, but I did not really become a fan of theirs until this season. However, they became one of my favorite teams this season, thanks to their two great programs. This SD did something I thought was impossible: it allowed me to listen to the “Merry Widow Waltz” without wanting to chuck chairs out a window. That piece was my much-maligned violin warmup in 5th grade, and usually hearing it brings back bad memories. But after seeing this, I don’t think it will anymore, as I now associate it with something far more positive. Like the Shibs’ SD, this is a very lighthearted dance, but where the Shibutanis are comical, Cappellini/Lanotte are effervescent. It’s frothy and frivolous and fun, and their costumes are my everything.

3. Cannuscio/McManus (selections from “Cinderella”) 

This is not the most well-known SD I could’ve chosen; if I wanted that, I would’ve gone with Papadakis/Cizeron or Weaver/Poje. It’s also not the only program I considered for this spot-P/C and Chock/Bates’ SDs were also possibilities. But in the end, I chose this one, because I absolutely love that they did a short dance with a very traditional waltz feel without it being stale. I especially love the rise and fall of the music and how their skating matches it; it ebbs and flows beautifully and has a lovely lilting feel. It has really become one of my unexpected standouts of the season.

Top Three Pairs Short Programs 

  1. Sui/Han (“Farrucas”)

I am just getting more and more obsessed with this pair, and seeing their flawless short program at Worlds did not help with that. This program showcases their performance quality extremely well; the subtle sass of Sui’s performance in this program is EVERYTHING. It strikes a perfect balance of personality and polish (are you noticing the alliterations in this post? 😉 ), and when the elements are on, it is breathtaking.

2. Astakhova/Rogonov (“The Artist”)

There have been a million programs to The Artist in recent years, but this one is unlike any other. I feel like the music cuts might’ve been lesser-used ones (correct me if I’m wrong), but that isn’t exactly what I’m referring to. This SP was upbeat, jazzy, and just plain fun, and I’m a total sucker for any and all 20’s programs, so this was kind of a given from the start. It’s a shame they didn’t have a better season, because this is a real crowd-pleaser and I would’ve liked to see it at Worlds. The step sequence is a particular highlight-one of the most well-choreographed I’ve seen. I think this program had a lot of unrealized potential, but I loved it even so.

3. Seguin/Bilodeau (“Monde Inverse”)

Seguin/Bilodeau were, I think, my favorite “discovery” of the season. I was aware of them before, but I thought their last programs were kind of boring. However, I saw them in person at Skate America and was very surprised by how much I liked them. I think the things I was most impressed by were their connection and skating skills: I’d go so far as to say they’re as fast as Stolbova/Klimov (who were also at SA, for direct comparison), who are often seen as the “benchmark” of skating skills in pairs. And that definitely benefitted this program, which is very upbeat and fast-paced. They were fun and youthful without being juniorish, which seems to be very difficult to pull off for most skaters. And it was different-I definitely have not seen a program anything like this before.

And as much as I loved this SP, I loved their FS even more. Expect a long, crazy rant about that in my next post.

Top Three Men’s Short Programs 

  1. Yuzuru Hanyu (“Ballade No. 1”)

Firstly, that is a horribly unflattering screencap.

Secondly, this was kind of hard for me. I like men’s enough-this year, I can proudly say I have gotten a favorite men’s skater, which I didn’t have before-but I am not as invested in it as I am in ladies or dance. So when I needed to pick programs for this, I went with the obvious Yuzuru Hanyu. I do actually enjoy this program a lot; it’s very artistic, methinks. But mostly, I am just completely floored by his jumps. Yeah, there are skaters trying harder elements (and this is a two-quad SP we’re talking about…OMG), but his are simply a cut above because they look so easy. He seems to throw out 3As and quads as easily as if he were eating pancakes or mopping the floor or something really mundane and easy and I know those are horrible analogies, but I think it gets the point across.

As someone who cannot even rotate a measly single axel, I am totally in awe of how easy he makes defying physics look.

2. Adian Pitkeev (“Appassionata”)

Adian has become one of my favorite men’s skaters because I love his lyrical style. I really wanted him to bump off Kovtun as Russian #1 (speaking of, I almost included Kovtun’s SP because the irony of it was cruelly hilarious, but decided it was mean and didn’t), and although he didn’t, I’m very hopeful that he will get on the world team next season. I have nothing more to say, so sit back and enjoy the Sensitive Artist Russian™.

3. Shoma Uno (“Legends”)

I am still not sure I “get” this program, but A) I needed to pick someone, B) Shoma is my favorite, and C) this program had a quad flip in it.

Top Three Ladies Short Programs 

  1. Adelina Sotnikova (“Besame Mucho,” “Historia de un Amor”)

I have always liked Adelina, but this was the first season that I really liked her. When she came back from a leg injury, I did not really know what to expect from her, and on the technical side, the comeback was a disappointment, but on the artistic side, a huge success. Adelina’s time on Dancing With the Stars seemed like it really helped her grow as a performer, and she ended up having two of my favorite programs. This one was everything I want to see in a Latin program: sassy, spunky, showy, and crowd-pleasing. The jumps were never really there (except, it would seem, at Mordavian Ornament), but this was one of the few programs I’ve seen where it honestly didn’t matter because the program itself was so strong.

2. Gracie Gold (“El Choclo”)

This has become my favorite program of Gracie’s, probably because it actually suits her. As far as tangos go, it’s more of a subdued, ‘introverted’ one, but that style works for Gracie. She isn’t really a natural performer, but her speed, refinement and commanding ice presence (well, when the jumps were there) lent themselves well to that style. The two times she performed it perfectly, it was incredible.

3. Mao Asada (“Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen”)

I know that I’m using the word “sassy” way too much, but that is exactly why I love this program and there’s kind of no other word that describes it. Mao has never really done a program like this; I’ve enjoyed getting to see the sassy, spunky side she has apparently been hiding. Also, listen to the crowd at the beginning of her footwork. Every time she did that move with the toe pushes, the audience LOST ITS MIND. That is how you step sequence.

Soooo…that’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed this!

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