Grand Prix Assignment Speculation, Pt. 2: Ice Dance

The GP ladies speculation post was originally going to be a stand-alone, but I enjoyed writing it so much that it’s back. (This one’s for ice dance.) To see how it works, read this: https://salchowsandswarovskis.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/grand-prix-assignment-speculation-pt-1-ladies/

SKATE AMERICA 

  1. Medal seed: Shibutani/Shibutani, USA
  2. “Potato” (4-6) seed: Hubbell/Donohue, USA
  3. Ilinykh/Zhiganshin, RUS
  4. Tobias/Tkachenko, ISR
  5. Paul/Islam, CAN
  6. Gilles/Poirier, CAN
  7. Fournier-Beaudry/Sorensen, DEN
  8. Host pick: McNamara/Carpenter, USA

MY REASONING: the US has two medal seeds in dance and could go with either of them, but I think the Shibs will get this spot because they were the higher-placed team and won Nationals. Since the US also has a “Potato” seed (Hubbell/Donohue), I see no reason they wouldn’t send them. If McNamara/Carpenter move up, they’re practically guaranteed the host pick spot. And the rest are kind of just random guesses or people I really want to see.

SKATE CANADA 

  1. Medal seed: Papadakis/Cizeron, FRA
  2. Potato seed: Weaver/Poje, CAN
  3. Virtue/Moir, CAN
  4. Stepanova/Bukin, RUS
  5. Sinitsina/Katsalapov, RUS
  6. Coomes/Buckland, GBR
  7. Hawayek/Baker, USA
  8. Host pick: Edwards/Pang, CAN

MY REASONING: since Canada doesn’t have a medal seed, there was no obvious team to fill this slot. I went with Papadakis/Cizeron for no particular reason. Weaver/Poje are practically guaranteed the potato seed spot, and if Virtue/Moir do any Grand Prix events, this will probably be it. Most of the others were picked to fill top-12-at-Worlds/SB-mandated spots. If Edwards/Pang are back to competition by October, there is a reasonable chance they’ll get the host spot (that is, if the rumors about Paradis/Ouellette’s split are true).

CUP OF CHINA 

  1. Medal seed: Chock/Bates, USA
  2. Potato seed: Cappellini/Lanotte, ITA
  3. Guinard/Fabbri, ITA
  4. Sinitsina/Katsalapov, RUS
  5. Agafonova/Ucar, TUR
  6. Gilles/Poirier, CAN
  7. Bobrova/Soloviev, RUS
  8. Host pick: Wang/Liu, CHN

MY REASONING: since China has virtually no dance teams, all I gave them for their own teams was a host pick. to avoid back-to-back assignments, both Chock/Bates and Cappellini/Lanotte had to get this assignment (like last year). The rest were random fill-ins from the SB list.

ROSTELECOM/CUP OF RUSSIA

  1. Medal seed: Shibutani/Shibutani, USA
  2. Potato seed: Weaver/Poje, CAN
  3. Ilinykh/Zhiganshin, RUS
  4. Stepanova/Bukin, RUS
  5. Tobias/Tkachenko, ISR
  6. Coomes/Buckland, GBR
  7. McNamara/Carpenter, USA
  8. Host pick: Loboda/Drozd, RUS

MY REASONING: again, to avoid back-to-back spots, the Shibs had to get Rostelecom. It was between Weaver/Poje and Hubbell/Donohue for the potato seed and I went with Weaver/Poje. Russia gets Stepanova/Bukin, who needed two spots due to Worlds placements, and Ilinykh/Zhiganshin, plus Loboda/Drozd for their host pick because they aged out of juniors (I think) and are probably getting spots as JW medalists.

GRAND PRIX DE PARIS 

  1. Medal seed: Papadakis/Cizeron, FRA
  2. Potato seed: Hubbell/Donohue, USA
  3.  Lauriault/Le Gac, FRA
  4. Sinitsina/Katsalapov, RUS
  5. Guinard/Fabbri, ITA
  6. Cannuscio/McManus, USA
  7. Muramoto/Reed, JPN
  8. Host pick: Alessandrini/Souquet, FRA

MY REASONING: Medal seed: um…duh. Potato seed: felt like it. Lauriault/Le Gac aged out of juniors and are 97% guaranteed a spot at TEB, Alessandrini/Souquet are the only other French team I know of, and the rest needed their guaranteed spots somewhere.

NHK TROPHY 

  1. Medal seed: Chock/Bates, USA
  2. Potato seed: Cappellini/Lanotte, ITA
  3. Muramoto/Reed, JPN
  4. Loboda/Drozd, RUS
  5. Bobrova/Soloviev, RUS
  6. Kim/Minov, KOR
  7. Cannuscio/McManus, USA
  8. Host pick: Emi Hirai/Marien De La Asuncion, JPN

MY REASONING:

Seeds: only ones left.

Host-country teams: self explanatory.

The rest: needed spots.

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Grand Prix Assignment Speculation, Pt. 1: Ladies

The release of the Grand Prix assignments is just over a month out, and due to the irritating lack of live results pages (the one thing the ISU always gets right) for RG events, I have no sports to follow. And what do we do when we have no sports to follow?

Speculate!

I have decided which ladies skaters I want to/think will be assigned to each GP and I am going to post it to relieve my boredom facilitate discussion. Or something? Well, here goes.

SKATE AMERICA 

Since Skate America and Skate Canada are the only events that are never at obscene hours of the morning/night in my time zone, I have a lot of opinions on who I want to see at them. Skate America should, in my mind, kick off the season with these skaters:

  1. Medal seed: Ashley Wagner US
  2. 4-6 seed: Elena Radionova USA
  3. Mao Asada
  4. Wakaba Higuchi
  5. Maria Sotskova
  6. Tyler Pierce
  7. Nicole Rajicova
  8. Da Bin Choi
  9. Zijun Li
  10. Alaine Chartrand
  11. Roberta Rodeghiero
  12. Host pick: Bradie Tennell

MY REASONING: the US finally has a medal seed in ladies, so Ashley seems like the obvious choice. Since I doubt they’d put Ashley and Gracie in the same event and Satoko went to Skate America last year, I chose Elena for the 4-6 seed. I chose some unseeded personal favorites-Mao, Zijun, Tyler, Maria, Wakaba, Alaine, Nicole-to make it interesting, and since SA always has some new seniors, it seems like a good Grand Prix debut for Wakaba and Maria. I chose Bradie as the host pick because she did very well at Nationals, and I’m pretty sure she’s going senior. The rest are…kind of just there.

SKATE CANADA 

Skate Canada is one of the more unpredictable events for ladies, IMO, so I am just going with my gut here.

  1. Medal seed: Anna Pogorilaya
  2. 4-6 seed: Gracie Gold
  3. Kaetlyn Osmond
  4. Gabrielle Daleman
  5. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
  6. Adelina Sotnikova
  7. Da Bin Choi
  8. Mirai Nagasu
  9. Rika Hongo
  10. Yuka Nagai
  11. Mae Berenice Miete
  12. Host pick: Veronik Mallet

MY REASONING: Evgenia, medal seed #1, is definitely getting Rostelecom, and I doubt they’d give Ashley back-to-back assignments, so that left Anna-which I though was kind of cool anyway because she won this event in 2014. Of the 4-6 seeds (I’m going to call them “potato seeds”), Gracie will probably get SC because the 2nd-ranked American at worlds usually does. Gabrielle Daleman has cemented herself as the #1 Canadian lady and will almost assuredly get a spot here, as will Kaetlyn Osmond. I threw in two unpredictable but potentially-competitive Russians-Elizaveta and Adelina-for interest, and rounded out the medal contenders at this event with Rika Hongo. I feel like the US might want to send Mirai here, so in she went. Veronik is literally always the SC host pick and I don’t think that will change. Again, the rest are just there.

CUP OF CHINA 

Cup of China is, traditionally, the GP that nobody wants, but last year it turned out to be one of the best events of the series. Since China has few ladies skaters, this could be kind of tricky, but I think I have an idea of who’ll go here.

  1. Medal seed: Ashley Wagner
  2. Potato seed: Satoko Miyahara
  3. Zijun Li
  4. Ziquan Zhao
  5. Elizabet Tursynbaeva
  6. Maria Sotskova
  7. Maria Artemieva
  8. So Youn Park
  9. Polina Edmunds
  10. Courtney Hicks
  11. Miyu Nakashio
  12. Host pick: Xiangning Li

MY REASONING: sending Ashley to this event was the only way to avoid having one medal seed do back-to-back events, which is exhausting and usually leads to meltdowns. Satoko will definitely get NHK, so I chose COC for her other event so she wouldn’t have back-to-back events. Zijun and Ziquan are extremely obvious choices and Xiangning Li (who I have never heard of) was the only other Chinese lady who even had a Wikipedia page, so I picked her for the host pick. Maria and Alena are here because almost nobody sends their top skaters to COC (sad but true)-same with Courtney and Polina (okay, maybe not so much Polina) and Miyu. Elizabet and So Youn, two of my favorite small-fedders, are in it for interest.

GRAND PRIX DE PARIS (Or whatever they changed the name of the one in France to) 

Two things: one, I don’t actually know the order of the events this year, so I’m just going by last year’s order. Two, I have no idea if I got the name right, only that it used to be Trophee Bompard and that it is now Grand Prix De Something. Hopefully I can be more accurate with my predictions than I was with my fact-checking…

  1. Medal seed: Evgenia Medvedeva
  2. Potato seed: Gracie Gold
  3. Mae Berenice Miete
  4. Laurine Lecavelier
  5. Adelina Sotnikova
  6. Rika Hongo
  7. Kanako Murakami
  8. Elizabet Tursynbaeva
  9. Nicole Rajicova
  10. Gabrielle Daleman
  11. Alaine Chartrand
  12. Host pick: Alizee Crozet

MY REASONING: to avoid back-to-back spots, Evgenia had to get this event. Gracie won it last year, so I sent her here for luck ;). Mae Berenice and Laurine are both 98% guaranteed to get this event. I don’t know if Adelina is going to do two GPs, but if she is, I can see her doing this one. I had Japan and Canada sending some of their top skaters to this as well. Alizee Crozet was apparently the 2016 French bronze medalist (thank you, Wikipedia), and I’d never heard of any other French ladies skaters, so in she went. Several of the other skaters are on

ROSTELECOM/CUP OF RUSSIA 

  1. Medal seed: Evgenia Medvedeva
  2. Potato seed: Elena Radionova
  3. Polina Edmunds
  4. Hannah Miller
  5. Kaetlyn Osmond
  6. Elizabet Tursynbaeva
  7. Angelina Kuchvalska
  8. So Youn Park
  9. Viveca Lindfors
  10. Ivett Toth
  11. Kailani Craine
  12. Host pick: Yulia Lipnitskaya

MY REASONING: Evgenia and Elena were fairly obvious choices, and I really want to see Yulia at Rostelecom. The rest are not particularly competitive, but I wanted at least one event where a bunch of lower-ranked skaters would get a chance to compete and this was it.

NHK TROPHY 

  1. Medal seed: Evgenia Medvedeva
  2. Potato Seed: Satoko Miyahara
  3. Mao Asada
  4. Yulia Lipnitskaya
  5. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
  6. Serafima Sakhanovich
  7. Mirai Nagasu
  8. Tyler Pierce
  9. Amy Lin
  10. Nathalie Weinzierl
  11. Angelina Kuchvalska
  12. Host pick: Wakaba Higuchi

MY REASONING: Satoko for the seed, Mao for the non-seed, pretty obvious. Wakaba for the host pick, fairly likely. I really want Yulia to get NHK and for Tyler to get anything other than an SA host pick. Many of these skaters are kind of only on here because their SB and the amount of age-ineligible juniors on the SB list got them a guaranteed GP. So…hopefully this was less of a failure than I think it might be.

 

 

Well, that’s a wrap. That was fun and I might do these kinds of posts for other disciplines.

A Primer to Rhythmic Gymnastics

As I have alluded to in several posts, skating is not the only sport I follow. *Gasp* To be fair, I know little about the interloper coming to hijack this skating blog. I can sort of recognize the elements, and I know who the top contenders are, but that is about it. It is simply a fun diversion that happens to have its on-season in the skating off-season.

We speak, of course, of rhythmic gymnastics.

And I figured this would be as good a time as any to introduce it because, as an unashamed patriot, I have to shove it in everyone’s faces that an American gymnast just won two World Cup medals, the first ever for the US, at World Cup Minsk. (the World Cup is essentially the same as the GP series in skating, not to be confused with various RG events called Grand Prixs-which are not the same). This will mostly be a sort of primer on the sport in general, with a little bit of extra fun stuff I currently don’t have planned. So, let’s start with the basics.

Scoring 

There are two scoring components in rhythmic gymnastics: the Execution Score (like GOE in skating) and the Final Composition Score, a combination of the Artistic (like PCS) and Difficulty (like TES) scores. The Execution Score begins at 10.0, and deductions are taken for any technical mistakes. (Many of them are hard to catch, but the biggest mistake, which you will definitely notice, is dropping the apparatus.) The Final Composition Score consists of the Difficulty and Artistry Scores divided by two. The maximum Artistry Score is also 10.0 and is judged on musicality and choreography. The Difficulty Score starts at 0 and goes up based on how hard the routine is. The maximum Difficulty Score is-here it is again-10.0. The highest possible RG score on any apparatus in 20.0; thus, the highest possible All-Around score is 80.

Apparatuses 

Rhythmic gymnastics at the senior level consists of four events, each on a different apparatus: hoop, ball, clubs, and ribbon. (A fifth event, rope, is also competed on the junior level.) Gymnasts have a different routine set to music for each apparatus, which contains throws:

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Pivots (also called Pirouettes, RG equivalent of spins):

giphy-1.gif

Balances:

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Dance Steps:

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And Leaps:

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As well as other apparatus-specific things like passes through the hoop, rolls of the hoop and ball, and club-swinging. Also, enjoy these totally trippy backwards illusion turns from Margarita Mamun:

giphy 1.33.35 PM.gif

There are several things judges look for in an element (thank you, about.com): firstly, good form. Legs should be straight, with toes pointed. Secondly, it must be controlled. The gymnast should be in total control of what the apparatus is doing and keep it moving. Flexibility is another: leaps should hit a 180-degree (straight) split position, at very least, and ideally more than that. Lastly, choreography is considered in scoring-it must match the music and the routine should be a complete performance, not just spinning around to music that is not being acknowledged.

Top Contenders 

As in ladies skating, Russian gymnasts are dominant in rhythmic gymnastics. The reigning World Champion, Russia’s Yana Kudryavtseva, has been almost unbeatable the last few seasons despite injuries. Here is her most recent set of all-around routines (from a World Cup event last week)-isn’t it crazy how easy she makes it look?

Kudryavtseva’s teammate Margarita Mamun is one of the only gymnasts who has beaten the three-time world champion. She is known for her elegant style and the #trippybackwardsillusions that I mentioned before. In stark contrast to Kudryavtseva, who has only competed once since last year’s World Championships, Margarita has competed in nearly every World Cup this season and dominated in all of them. Here are her 2015-16 routines from a variety of World Cup events:

I especially love her “Black Swan” ribbon routine. 🙂

Another top contender, this one not Russian, is 2015 World All-Around Bronze Medalist Melitina Staniouta. In addition to being my favorite rhythmic gymnast, she is one of the most consistent gymnasts in the field and often is the one who wins when everyone makes mistakes. Here are her AA/Event Final routines from the event in Minsk this weekend:

Another medal contender is Ukrainian Ganna Rizatdinova. She is known for her artistry and being a headcase. Her most recent performances, seen here, were at World Cup Pesaro in April:

Son-Yeon Jae of South Korea is another contender who’s won at least one world medal (that I can remember). She is known for…um, I’m not really sure, actually. But people on a rhythmic gymnastics forum that will not approve my account requests occasionally complain about her “samey” routines (she apparently does very classical stuff every year), so maybe it’s that? I don’t know, but I like her. Recent routines:

There are a LOT more gymnasts I could profile here, but it would take forever. So, a shortlist of other names you should know: Alexandra Soldatova (Russia), Neta Rivikin (Israel), Salome Pazhava (Georgia), Arina Averina (Russia) and identical twin Dina Averina, and Laura Zeng (USA). 

So, that is basically all I can think of to write, so I hope this was informative and will compel you to watch RG to find out more for yourself! 🙂

A Few of My Favorite Things, 2015-16: All Things Junior

This is gonna be a good one.

In this fifth installment in the Favorite Things series, I will be revisiting my favorite programs and moments on the Junior level this season. Since I am an avid follower of junior competitions and just generally love the juniors a lot, I can’t wait to take a look back at my favorite junior things this season!

Note: this was going to include costumes, but I did a costumes recap at Junior Worlds and I would just end up repeating myself.

Favorite Junior Programs 

Favorite Short Program (Junior Ladies): Marin Honda-“Spring Sonata”

I like to call Marin’s SP the Mini-Mao Program™ because it reminds me a lot of some of Mao Asada’s early programs-which is definitely a compliment! Marin has a lovely softness and a naturally lyrical style that I love, which this program showcased beautifully. A lot of juniors seem to default to the “darke, heaviiy and dramatik!” type of programs, for some odd reason (which I will never understand), so the lightness of Marin’s short program was very refreshing. (That is also why I enjoyed Alisa Fedichkina’s SP, which was of a similar style, but I felt that Marin did it better, so she got the nod here.)

Favorite Free Skate (Junior Ladies): Alisa Fedichkina-“Memory” (French cover)

In my Junior Worlds preview post, I called this free skate a “national treasure.” While we unfortunately didn’t get to see it there, that still stands true. Alisa is a ridiculously expressive skater, and this program was a perfect way to show that off. It’s dramatic and nuanced enough to show off her interpretation skills, without being so dramatic and nuanced that it drowned her. It allows her to be youthful and exploit her cuteness while also showing mature expression and musicality. Really, there was nothing I thought this program was missing. It’s made me a fan of hers (and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one). I really want her to be the next Russian Wunderkind when she’s old enough for seniors because she has almost everything: expression, jumps, spins, musicality, polish and refinement…her consistency isn’t always great, but still! I really love this child. 🙂

Also, whoever came up with the “kitty spread eagle” (yes, stupid name, but it gets the point across) should be knighted.

Best Short Program (Junior Pairs)-Renata Ognesian/Mark Bardei-“The Race II”

The cheering sounds in the music. The step sequence. The huge triple twist. The literal race car costumes. It is so strange and I love it.

I have watched very little of the pairs at any junior events this season. Can you tell? #NotManyOptions

definitely did might have liked this program because it’s something I can see one of the  pairs in the fictional pairs skating universe in my mind doing. (If I ever see a junior pairs program to Requiem For a Dream, I’ll die, because that is this fictional pair’s signature program, which they did as juniors in my mind. LOL.)

Best Free Skate (Junior Pairs)-Anna Duskova/Martin Bidar (“La Leyenda Del Beso”)

This is actually where I got the idea for my current program, so of course I picked it. I might only like it because of the delightful surprise Junior Worlds win and the music, but I really don’t follow junior pairs, so don’t expect much.

Best Junior Short Dance-Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter (“Peer Gynt”)

In ice dance, there is usually very little space between “bland” and “freakily avant-garde.” I think that’s why I appreciate Lorraine and Quinn so much: they have a good balance of the two. This short dance got better feedback than most of the seniors’ programs did, mainly because it was so unique-I mean, who hears “waltz SD” and thinks “mountain trolls”? I loved it! Fun, quirky, and very well-done. They’ve got a really fantastic style that I can’t wait to see more of. I hope they go seniors and do some amazing weird blues SD, because I need that in my life.

Also, Lorraine gives SUCH FACE. Has she been taking lessons from Wenjing Sui? 😉

(I just got a sudden urge to write a novel about that, actually. I’m very strange.)

Best Junior Free Dance-Anastasia Shpilevaya/Grigory Smirnov (“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”)

Russian senior ice dance may be going through a bit of a crisis period, but their junior dance field is alive and well. Case in point: Shpilevaya/Smirnov, my favorite of their current crop of junior teams. They didn’t have a great JGP but went on to win the Youth Olympics and place an impressive 5th at Junior Worlds-with my favorite junior free dance of the season. They skate with such passion and abandon-if you were to clone Bobrova/Soloviev, fix their posture, make them skate very delicately, and put them through a Dramatic Facial Expression Enhancer, you would get something like this team. Their delicate skating and dramatic facial expressions are a bit of an odd combination, but I like it, and I will basically automatically adore you if you skate to Umbrellas of Cherbourg, so there is also that.

Best Free Skate (Junior Men)-TIE-Daniel Samohin & Roman Sadovsky

I didn’t like any men’s SPs, so I just chose two FSes. I like this one because it is kind of quirky and unusual but not too much so.

And I liked this one because it is very, um, elegant, I think. To be honest, I watched it once-at JGP Bratislava, EIGHT MONTHS AGO (okay, how did that happen)-and I remember liking it, but I’m too lazy to go re-watch it to remember what I liked. Hehe.

Favorite Junior Moments/Performances 2015-16

Emily Chan’s Short Program at the U.S. Championships 

Emily Chan, simply put, is a gorgeous skater. I could watch her spin and do step sequences for an entire free skate and not even notice that she didn’t jump. Her skating is always a pleasure to watch, but when she lands stuff, it’s downright magical, so her flawless short program at Nationals was a no-brainer when I was deciding what to put on this list.

Check this out, 13-year-old jumping machines: it’s the late-bloomer advantage. You can jump, but they will out-spin, out-interpret, and out-footwork you. They are coming.

Maria Sotskova’s Free Skate at Junior Worlds 

Junior Worlds was a bit of a soap opera for the Russian ladies: favorite Polina Tsurskaya withdrew the day of the short program, leaving teammates Alisa Fedichkina and Maria Sotskova to-hopefully-duke it out for the title in her place. Alisa emerged as the frontrunner, tying Marin Honda for the lead in the short program, but she injured her ankle on the day of the free skate, leaving only one competitor, Maria Sotskova, to secure Russia’s three spots for the next Junior Worlds. To do so, she would have to win gold or silver. It was possible-she sat in third after the short-but the pressure was on, and everyone was anxious to see if she would deliver.

Deliver she did. Winning the silver medal, she clinched the three spots singlehandedly, a feat many thought impossible. Maddest respect to Masha for managing to throw down when it seriously counted.

Vivian Le’s Short Program from JGP Bratislava

My favorite junior (#UnbridledPatriotism) did not have a particularly impressive second half of the season, losing the National title she was heavily favored to win and a chance to go the the JGPF when she bombed JGP USA, but three of her events-Glacier Falls, JGP Bratislava and Sectionals-were very good. And when she is on, she is RIDICULOUSLY good. This short program was perfection. I think she might be moving up (she won senior at a club competition with an amazing 71-point SP and a bombed 101-point FS), but I kind of hope she won’t because I really want her to make the JGPF. Senior at Nationals would be fine (it seems like the only way to make Junior Worlds in the US, lol), though. And I’ve gone off on a tangent again…well, you get it. I am kind of too obsessed with Vivian and I will take any chance I get to ramble on about her.

Duskova/Bidar’s Surprise Junior World Title 

Small-federation JWCs make me so happy…*sniff*

McNamara/Carpenter’s US Championships Short Dance 

Any of Lorraine & Quinn’s short dance performances could’ve made this list, but I think this was their finest. #MountainTrollz #PleaseMoveUpWeNeedYouOnTheGP

Parsons/Parsons’ Junior Worlds Short Dance 

Literally nobody expected the Parsons to overtake McNamara/Carpenter at Junior Worlds, so this was a very nice surprise. Note: it broke the Junior SD scoring record.

And now I’m out of ideas. Will be back with the next post soon. 

A Few of My Favorite Things, 2015-16: Costumes (pairs/dance)

Yup, it’s back!

This is the fourth of seven planned posts in the Favorite Things series, and I have been thinking about what I will include in it all day, so hopefully I won’t leave anything out. (STILL kicking myself for leaving out Tobias/Tkachenko’s Free Dance from the free skates post…)

Anyway, this is structured the same as the last post: top five costumes in each segment of each discipline. So…here goes!

Top Three Pairs Short Program Costumes 

  1. Wenjing Sui/Cong Han (“Spanish Romance”)

Despite the fact that Sui’s dress is the stuff my eight-year-old dreams were made of (it’s PINK and PURPLE and SPARKLY!), I appreciated this lovely slap-in-the-face to anyone who thinks you can’t wear pink without looking juniorish. His is fine, too.

Non-costume-related note: Sui had a ligament surgery in her ankle (I believe that is what it was-sorry if incorrect) earlier today. I wish her/them a full and fast recovery and hopefully they will not have to sit out the whole season, which would make the pairs event 88% less interesting.

2. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (“Creature de Siam”)

Bruno looks like a waiter, but I will forgive that because Aliona’s dress, while not shown in its full spectacularity in this picture, reaches a level of sparkliness beyond what I thought was possible.

(No, seriously. I watched them compete at worlds from the top of the Loge seating and it was blindingly sparkly even up there. No wonder Bruno looks like a waiter…they probably used up their whole costume budget on Aliona’s bling!)

3. Tarah Kayne/Daniel O’Shea (“Take Me To Church”)

Not the best picture, but these were lovely. The burgundy color (is that the right name for it?) was very striking, and I loved the draped bodice and one-shoulder sleeve thing (*applause for word choice*) on Tarah’s dress. Basically, as long as the man does not look like a waiter, a vegetable (#BlueLettuce), or a 18th-century agrarian, I don’t care what he’s wearing…so this shirt was fine. I liked that they matched, actually. Not many pairs color-coordinate, LOL.

Top Three Pairs Free Skate Costumes 

  1. Wenjing Sui/Cong Han (“Samson and Delilah”)

This is one of the only costumes on this list where I felt the man’s costume was on par with the lady’s: I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s eye-catching and goes with the program…and doesn’t look like a waiter, vegetable or agrarian. Woohoo. But even so, Sui’s dress was still the standout: that shade of blue is my favorite color, and I love the asymmetrical tiered skirt and the wavy rows of crystals. Okay, I admit I’m a sparkle fiend, but it really does make an impact when the crystals on a dress are somewhat directional (like I said in the ladies’ costume post).

2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (“Man and Shadow”)

Again, I am willing to overlook a subpar costume from the man (Fedor, please refrain from wearing loungewear in the future-this is an international athletic event, not a Netflix marathon!) because the woman’s costume is so great. I usually hate neutral-colored costumes because they tend to look bland, but the draping and the ribbon-looking things on Ksenia’s dress make it very interesting and extremely chic. It really matched the somber, somewhat “heavy” feel of Stolbova/Klimov’s free skate.

However, Fedor needs to stop wearing pajamas on international television.

3. Tarah Kayne/Daniel O’Shea (“Music of the Night”)

There have been so many POTO programs that, both in terms of the program itself and the costumes, it’s hard to make yours stand out. I think these costumes worked because of their simplicity: neither costume was very sparkly or colorful, and in this case, that was apparently what this program needed. I especially liked the use of lace trim on Tarah’s dress-normally that makes the dress look like a nightgown, but in this case it didn’t. Points for that, and also for managing to make a black, non-sparkly dress that wasn’t boring.

(I don’t understand Danny’s affinity for man-blouses, but he does not look like a farmer, vegetable or waiter, so I will let it slide.)

Top Three Short Dance Costumes 

  1. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (“The Stunt Man” Soundtrack)

Orange costumes are strangely rare in any discipline, let alone ice dance.

Attractive orange costumes are practically an extinct species.

So despite the atrocity that is Ivan’s vest, these costumes win the short dance category on the sheer perfection of Alexandra’s Bedazzled Background Dancer In A Florida Orange Juice Commercial Dress™. Because anyone who can make an eye-searing shade of orange look beautiful has my utmost respect.

(JK, I actually love pretty much all orange dresses. This one was probably my favorite costume of the entire season in any discipline.)

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

There are many things I love about these costumes:

  1. Anna’s dress looks like a vintage 1950’s wedding dress. (Along with anything 20’s-inspired, I dig 50’s-inspired costumes. Yes, I just said “dig”, get over it. #ProudDork)
  2. Luca is wearing a vest and a tie but doesn’t look like a waiter at the Cheesecake Factory.
  3. These were a much-needed change from the cringeworthy pink fur boa nightmare things they wore earlier in the season. (I always like costumes more if they’re a change from a costume I didn’t like.)

As I said in the singles post, I like white dresses a lot-I think white is probably my favorite color of skating costumes, actually (along with purple)-so it was rather inevitable that this A. white, B. Sparkly and C. 50’s-looking dress was going to end up on this list. And Luca’s costume isn’t A. all one neutral color or B. a waiter/vegetable/farmer, so I approve.

3. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (“More”/”Unchained Melody”)

I try not to be insanely pro-American in my posts because, although I admittedly sometimes am in my head, it makes me look rather unprofessional. So I tried to limit this list to one American per category, even if it was hard and I was tempted to throw in extra spots and make it top 5 so I could put in the 85 teams whose costumes I loved at Nationals or whatever. However, I decided to be unpatriotic, stop giving Cannuscio/McManus every possible award (I LOVE THEM, OKAY?!?), and stick to one. Chock/Bates were the obvious choice, even though Madison’s costume screams “prom dress” (which, actually, I didn’t mind, because looking at prom dresses is one of my guilty pleasures-LOL?). Evan’s costume is fine, if borderline waiterish, but as usual, Madison is the “costume star”. I loved the sparkly draped bodice and the teal underskirt; also, the skirt was delightfully twirly and I would always stare at it when they twizzled. I have heard that Madison designs their costumes, so if she designed this one, she did very well with it. 🙂

Plus, the illusion mesh actually matched her skin, which is unfortunately rare considering that that is kind of the point of illusion mesh.

Top Three Free Dance Costumes 

  1. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (“La Dolce Vita”)

This was as close as any team came to a perfect set of costumes this season: while Luca’s costume could’ve been more interesting, Anna’s dress is near the top of my all-time-favorite-dresses list. I’ve talked about it a lot-this was the most thorough recap of why I liked it-so I won’t bother to write it up again. Suffice to say that it was magictastical. (Yes, I made that up. #ProudDorkReturns)

2. Isabella Tobias/Ilia Tkachenko (“Polovtsian Dances”)

Tobias/Tkachenko were one of my favorite “discoveries” of this season. I kind of ignored them for most of the season but, when I saw them in person at Worlds, realized that that was a regrettable decision. Their Free Dance was fantastic, and I was going to put it on the favorite FDs list in the free skates post, but I forgot. However, I also loved their costumes, so I managed to get in a mention somewhere else. Isabella’s dress was one of the most interesting ice dance dresses this season (just to be clear, I mean that in a good way). The faux necklace things on the neckline and bodice, and the black sparkly bits, were gorgeous, impactful, and went well with the somewhat Middle Eastern theme of the program (okay, I know that Polovtsian Dances isn’t Middle Eastern, but it got the point across better than “Central Asian”!). Ilia looks fine, but Isabella’s dress is kind of the “focal point” and it works out fine because when you have a dress like that, you need to show it off. :p

3. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (“Fix You”)

I admit I am more than slightly biased towards this program, but I thought these costumes were a perfect fit for it. I once read a costume recap from last year in which the author commented that Denis Ten’s SP costume was rather simple so it wouldn’t distract from the emotion of the program, and I feel like that was the point of these costumes. This free dance might not have been quite as effective with gaudy or overdone costumes-it might have been a bit distracting because this is not a gaudy program. So these costumes fit the bill: they were simple but not bland, and I don’t think there was a single crystal anywhere on them. In a word, they were understated (as they should’ve been). Simply sublime.

Four down, three to go! Next up is what will probably be the longest post in this series, the Favorite Junior Things recap. I am planning to include a variety of things-programs, costumes, specific performances-so it might be a long one. I’m not sure when I’ll get it finished, but stay tuned. 

 

 

A Few of my Favorite Things, 2015-16: Costumes (Ladies)

So, after writing my first two season recap posts in two days, I took a break from blogging because I was going to use up the whole series in a week and then be upset that I had nothing to blog about. But now I’m back, with probably my favorite topic to blog about: costumes!

Since this is a very broad category, I’m splitting the favorite costumes segment into two posts. This one is for ladies, and the next one will be for pairs and dance. (I didn’t really like any of the mens’ costumes, so there will not be any in this.) This is structured somewhat the same as the programs posts: a certain number in each discipline, depending on how many I can remember that I liked.

Best Ladies Short Prorgram Costumes 

  1. Evgenia Medvedeva (“Melodies of the White Nights”)

This is as close to a perfect dress as I saw this season: the color, cut, crystals, and overall design were absolutely gorgeous, and it looked fantastic on Evgenia. Age-appropriate but stunning. I’ve raved about this dress approximately 95 times already and I’ve probably said it all by now…

2. Adelina Sotnikova (“Besame Mucho”)

IT HAS A FRINGE SKIRT, GUYS. Costume aside, I could not get enough of Adelina’s programs this season, and she has officially vaulted onto my top-5 list of ladies skaters (somewhere in between Gracie/Elena/Yulia/Mao). Спасибо, Adelina, for being awesome.

Okay, I kind of only put that in because wanted to show off my Russian, but of the smattering of Russian I have yet memorized-Спасибо, Вода, Да, Нет, Где, собака, молоко (water, yes, no, where, dog, and milk)-that seemed the least nonsensical. LOL.

3. Elena Radionova (“J’Taime”)

Yes, I know this hides the front of her dress, but the back is my favorite part, and none of the pictures that showed the front showed the back, so I went with the back. I love the orange beading and the flowy orange pieces of fabric coming off the back-they looked like flames when she moved. She may have had some serious costume failures this season (the watermelon dress at Worlds…), but this one was great.

4. Gracie Gold (“El Choclo”)

From the front, this looked like a practice dress, but the back and underskirt were fabulous. I am also running out of ideas. I would use juniors’ costumes for this, but I already committed to doing those in another post…gergh.

5. Gabrielle Daleman (“Mr. Paganini”)

It’s so PURPLE and SHINY…I like things that are purple and shiny. 🙂

Top Five Ladies Free Skate Costumes 

  1. Tyler Pierce (“Danse Macabre”)

I discussed Tyler’s free skate costume here and am too lazy to write it up again. Random note: there are far more good pictures of this costume floating around Google now than there were after Junior Worlds, so apparently I need to wait two months if I want any good pictures of a costume.

2. Mao Asada (“Madame Butterfly”)

Mao is basically the queen of impeccable costuming (possibly only rivaled by actual rival Yuna Kim and the famously fashionable Kiira Korpi), and this season’s dresses were no exception. I preferred this one because it was more unique-I saw nothing else like it except for that one dress that looked like a ripoff of this one. Having the entire costume made of mesh gave it lovely movement, and the butterfly appliques were a nice touch. Everything about it was gorgeous, but if I had to pick a favorite thing about it, it would be the sleeves. Mesh bell sleeves are right up there with sparkly sweetheart necklines and ombre on the list of things I am a total sucker for.

 

3. Ashley Wagner (“Moulin Rouge”)

Okay, whoever thought to put gold beading/crystals/whatever on bright-white fabric was a fashion genius. The “sparkly stuff” (don’t know if it’s crystals, glitter or beading) really stands out against the white bodice. The faux-necklace neckline was very cool as well. If a top skater wears a white dress, I will inevitably become obsessed with it-examples: Anna Cappellini’s SD dress, Rachel Parsons’ SD dress, Victoria Sinitsina’s SD dress…and this one. I would go so far as to say this costume kept the program “fresher” than it would’ve been if she didn’t change the costume. Then again, maybe it was just that I liked staring at this dress. 🙂

4. Rika Hongo (“Riverdance”)

Rika’s sadly-replaced original “Riverdance” dress was one of my favorite dresses this season. It was suitably Riverdance-y without being the “WOOHOO I’M RIVERDANCING AND THIS IS A RIVERDANCE PROGRAM SO TOP O’ THE MORNING TO Y’ALL!” kind of Riverdance-y. (It was a lot prettier when she was moving – still photos don’t show the actual color well.) The green underskirt and well-placed green crystals added a little color so it wouldn’t look too somber, but the extremely dark color made it more refined than if it had been the typical emerald-green. This season was really a breakout season for Rika in terms of programs, and her costumes-especially this one-definitely did them justice.

5. Mirai Nagasu (Selections from “The Great Gatsby”)

If you have read certain things on this blog, you probably know that I love 1920’s-themed anything in skating, so Mirai Nagasu’s fabulous 20’s-inspired free skate dress was bound to end up on this list. I loved the subtle blush color, which is not a color you often see skaters wear, and the very “directional” crystal placement (by which I mean it was clearly meant to be shaped a certain way). The crystal “straps” and the chevron pattern in the cutout were very nice touches-no detail was spared with this dress! The headband was a cute addition. Fresh and youthful without looking too young.