I have not been good about covering the Challenger Series events. That is going to change! Long intros are overrated, so I’m just going to get right to the point with this. Here goes!
1. Kaetlyn Osmond
Kaetlyn Osmond has not had the smoothest comeback, so I was thrilled to see her have such a strong outing. I’ve always liked her skating, but this is the first time I really noticed what a brilliant performer she is. (Landing all of her jumps certainly didn’t hurt her cause. 😉) She performed her near-clean Edith Piaf SP to sassy, spunky perfection; it may have been planned, but if not, her only mistake was doubling the last jump of an intended 3F-3T combination. Kaetlyn seems to be really into this program, and her enthusiasm and energy were infectious. Her free skate to “La Boheme” was a change of pace, but equally clean. It was a little more subdued and slow-paced; I enjoyed it as well, although it didn’t top the SP. Even with a slower program, her performance quality really shone, and all of her elements were excellent (with the possible exception of a 3F-3T with several turns in between the jumps). She’s got two excellent vehicles, and if she can keep skating like this…watch out, world.
(On a superficial note, I loved both of her dresses.)
2. Mao Asada
Mao seems to have scaled back her technical layout a bit, but, seeing as she went clean, it seems to have been a good choice. And it didn’t distract from what makes her special: interpretation and expression. Both of her programs (set to different parts of the same piece of music, “Ritual Dance) are exquisitely choreographed, unique, sophisticated, and nuanced, and she pulls it off convincingly in a way that, out of the current field, only she could. If she ever skates these programs with her usual technical content, they will be nothing short of spectacular.
3. Anna Pogorilaya
Anna has really been on an upswing since winning a world bronze medal. Her new programs are both fantastic, her artistic qualities are improving dramatically, and her jumps are a lot more stable than they were last season (a whole competition with no Pogo-Splat!). Anna’s “Por Una Cabeza” SP is wonderfully fiery and really showcases her maturity, and her FS, which I don’t know the music to because I watched it with no sound, looked great, too. It seems like she’s developed a propensity for forward landings and hands down, but anything is better than Pogo-Splat. Since her artistry has always been her weakest area, I’m very happy to see how much she’s improved it. And no falls is just the cherry on top.
Well done, Anna! 😁
4. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
I have never been the biggest fan of Liza (understatement), but she’s starting to win me over. I actually enjoyed both of her programs here-the SP is very sassy (something she does well) and a lot more choreographically complex than anything she’s had before, and the FS, while sort of empty, is a good fit for her. She makes an excellent Cleopatra; all that one needs is more choreography. And her jumps are a lot more stable than they were last season. Overall, I think this was a good outing for Elizaveta, and I am excited to see these programs again (I love it when skaters I irrationally dislike start growing on me!).
5. Nicole Schott
I have very little to say about Nicole, so…here’s a video?
Random, irrelevant, but noteworthy: Nathan Chen did five quads in his FS. (And a 4F and 4Lz-3T in his SP.) And I’m over here like…*jaw unhinged*