Ranking the Programs of Russian Nationals, Pt. 1: Pairs Free Skate

Trying something new here, because I’m on break and I have time!

To recap Russian Nationals, I am going to take on the ambitious challenge of watching every  Ice Dance/Ladies/Pairs FS and ranking them (literally in the order of how much I like them, because objectivity is boring). Since the Ladies field is going to take a VERY LONG TIME to watch (even though I saw half of it live), I’m starting with the much smaller pairs event. But, just to make it seem *credible*, here’s what I will be scoring the programs on:

  1. Music choice – letter grade from A-F
  2. Costume – letter grade from A-F
  3. Choreography – letter grade from A-F
  4. Musicality – letter grade from A-F
  5. Originality – letter grade from A-F
  6. Performance/Expression – letter grade from A-F

There were 11 pairs in this event. Each of their free skates will be scored on this scale. The higher the team’s “GPA,” if you will, the higher they are on the list. So…let’s get going!

11. Anastasia Poluianova/Maxim Selkin  

Actual Placement: 1oth

Scorecard:

Music Choice: A (Notre Dame De Paris). One of my favorite musicals for skating. I will never not approve of that choice, even if the skater’s interpretation of such is lacking.

Costume: B. Nothing great, nothing awful.

Choreo: C. Lots of two-foot skating, nothing particularly interesting. (I can’t stand boring choreography, especially if it involves 8,000 crossovers.)

Musicality: C. They were in time with the music at some parts of the program, but they didn’t seem to have any sort of connection to it.

Originality: C. This concept and piece, as much as I like it, has been done before – over and over, to be frank.

Performance/Expression: C. Not much going on in terms of emotion or audience/musical/partner connection. However, they’re (I think?) young and probably inexperienced as seniors, so they have a lot of time to grow in that area.

10. Bogdana Lukashevich/Alexander Stepanov 

Actual Placement: 11th

Scorecard:

Music Choice: B. Don’t know what it is (my Shazam app has ceased to work, and their ISU bios have virtually nothing in them), but it sounds sort of like an old action movie score. It’s not my favorite, but I have to give them points for originality here (I mean, I’ve never heard it before…).

Costume: C. Not crazy about her all-over polka dots (would’ve been better if they were only the skirt, or only on the bodice, instead of the entire dress) or his…open-jacket-over-a-prisoner-shirt…thing.

Choreo: C. Again, lots of two-footed skating, and not much of interest.

Musicality: B+. They did well in keeping time with their music and matching the movements to it, but again, I didn’t see any connection to it.

Originality: B+. I’ve seen a couple of programs that were stylistically similar to this one, but it’s not an overdone style.

Performance/Expression:  C. They were kind of robotic, to be honest.

9. Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov

Actual Placement: 2nd

Scorecard: 

Music Choice: C (Disco-ish medley). Okay, before I even start this, I am aware that it seems odd to put a world-class pair (who medaled) this low in the standings, but Evgenia and Vladimir’s problem has always been packaging, and although they have an excellent SP this year, their free skate is…yikes. It’s more choreographically complex, thus why it’s above some other programs, but I do not like the music/concept/choreography/execution. Their music makes me want to run screaming (if anyone here happens to like this genre of music, please don’t throw tomatoes! It’s just not my thing), thus the low score.

Costumes: C-. Just…WHY. WHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHY. CANNOT GET OVER THE FACT THAT SOMEONE TOLD THEM TO WEAR SOMETHING THAT LOOKS LIKE SOME SORT OF FRANKENSTEIN-INSPIRED SPACESUIT. LIKE, THEY PAID ACTUAL MONEY FOR THAT. If it weren’t so sad that they actually competed in an elite athletic competition in these, it would be almost amusing.

Choreo: B+. Some interesting bits, and the transitions were good and complex, but mostly blah.

Musicality: B. Sometimes really into it, sometimes totally tuned out.

Originality: A-. Disco programs aren’t exactly a hot trend in pairs (and for that I am eternally grateful), but originality should be encouraged, even if it doesn’t work, so here ya go.

Performance/Expression: B-. They seemed like they were getting into it at times, but it was kind of patchy throughout the program. The slow sections were very blah.

I know I went sorta snarky on them, and I feel bad, because I actually really like this team. It’s just this program.

8. Elizaveta Zhuk/Egor Britkov 

Actual Placement: 9th

Scorecard: 

Music Choice: B+. Not sure what it is, but it’s unconventional and not an earsore.

Costume: B. I don’t really care for the weird tattoo deal on her dress, but it’s all but invisible from far away, and they just look like generic black costumes. Boring, but better than crazy.

Choreo: C. Nothing particularly interesting going on in this program’s choreography. Not too complex.

Musicality: A-. Their movements matched the music really well. I really liked that.

Originality: A. Like I said, unconventional choice.

Performance/Expression: C. Meh…

7. Natalia Zabiiako/Alexander Enbert 

Actual Placement: 3rd

Scorecard: 

Music Choice: B (“Cry Me A River”). A lot of skating fans run screaming at the first sign of any and every Michael Buble song. I am not necessarily one of them. (Okay, so maybe I groan a little when Feeling Good comes on, but generally, I’m pretty tolerant of warhorses – really can’t think of any one I legitimately can’t stand.) However, someone at my rink used this song a few years ago, so I connect this program to that one, which is sort of distracting.

Costume: A. I love her dress, even though I have no idea what it has to do with the program. He looks fine, too. Their ombré game is strong.

Choreo: B. Fine, but nothing that really stuck with me.

Musicality: B+. They were fairly strong in this area, but they did not reach the level of DRAMATIKS™ that this music requires.

Originality: B-. Don’t think this one has been used too much, but it is Michael Buble, so it kinda isn’t very original.

Performance/Expression: C+. Again, needs more DRAMATIKS™.

6. Alexandra Boikova/Dmitrii Kozlovskii 

Actual Placement: 6th

Scorecard: 

Music Choice: B+ (Tristan and Isolde). A warhorse, yes, but I kind of like that particular warhorse.

Costumes: A-. I like them, but they don’t really stand out.

Choreo: B+. It fits the music and is decently complex, but I don’t remember any of it standing out.

Musicality: B. Passable.

Originality: C. Warhorse, but to a lesser extent than some other warhorses.

Performance/Expression: B+. Their emoting was okay, but it went in and out like a spotty wi-fi connection.

5. Anastasia Mishina/Vladislav Mirzoev

Actual Placement: 7th

Scorecard: 

Music Choice: B+ (samba piece/La Vie En Rose). Weird combination of pieces, but I liked both of them. (Maybe not together, though…?)

Costume: B-. Hers is a really strange cut with the stomach cutout and the asymmetrical skirt. I am actually sort of loving Vladislav’s purple shirt, though…

Choreo: A. Complex, interesting, matches the music…finally, a program I can give a high choreo grade to!

Musicality: A. They were with the music and seemed to connect with it.

Originality: A-. While both of the pieces they used are fairly mainstream in skating, they are pretty much never used together…so I gotta give them that.

Performance/Expression: A-. Pretty good! They had really great expression in parts, and although it waned a little bit in others, it wasn’t bad for a junior pair.

4. Kristina Asthakova/Alexei Rogonov

Actual Placement: 4th (hey, it matches!)

Scorecard: 

Music Choice: A (The Storm, Le Bien Qui Feit Mal). I LOVE the first piece (“The Storm” is one of my favorite instrumentals!), and the second piece is okay, too, although it still sort of blows my mind that there is a rock opera about Mozart. People really will watch anything these days…

Costume: D. Uhh…what even are these? I can’t even come up with a humorous analogy for these costumes, except maybe that he looks like a vampire. And I have no words for Kristina’s dress.

Choreo: A-. Kristina and Alexei have a sort of simultaneously quirky/dramatic style, and this choreography fits that image. It’s unique and memorable, which is more than I can say of most of the programs on this list.

Musicality: A. They were totally into this music and their choreography matched it perfectly.

Originality: A. This program is a sequel to their last FS. If that doesn’t get the point across, I don’t know what will.

Performance/Expression: A. They were SO INTO IT. I just love their total commitment to character.

3. Alisa Efimova / Alexander Korovin

Actual Placement: 8th

Scorecard: 

Music Choice: A (Strauss medley). Can’t go wrong with good, solid classical. Not too original, but it’s a standby for a reason.

Costume: A-. Not too crazy about his purple velvet pants, but her dress is nice.

Choreo: A. One of my favorite things about this program. It was just perfect for this music.

Musicality: A. They did a very good job keeping time with the music and matched the moods of it well.

Originality: B. Um, not really…

Performance/Expression: A. I thought their interpretation of the music and projection to the audience were excellent.

2. Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov 

Actual Placement: 5th

Scorecard: 

Music Choice: A (Clair De Lune). I actually used this piece for a program once. Needless to say, I really like it.

Costume: A-. Simple and elegant. Exactly what Clair De Lune costumes should look like.

Choreo: A. Elegant, complex, and beautifully executed, as is their custom.

Musicality: A. As is also their custom, their interpretation was on point. Very nuanced. In that regard, Yuko and Alexander are far above the rest of this field. Nobody else comes close to matching their refinement and maturity, except maybe Stolbova/Klimov (and that’s a serious ‘maybe’).

Originality: B-. I mean, it’s Clair De Lune, which is basically a warhorse.

Performance/Expression: A. See above, because I’m lazy and it’s late.

  1. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov

Actual Placement: 1st

Before continuing, please take a moment to appreciate this majestic screencap.

Now, the Scorecard: 

Music Choice: A-. I don’t know what it is, but I like it fine.

Costumes: B+. I don’t love jumpsuits, but Ksenia looks amazing in everything, so I’ll give it a pass. Fedor looks like modern art, which I don’t think is a compliment, but it’s better than last year’s “Netflix marathon in pajamas” costume.

Choreo: A. Smooth, difficult, interesting, and very complimentary to the music. Plus, their SS is amazing, which makes everything look even better.

Musicality: A. They were very connected to the music, as usual. Their style is what I would describe as “intense”, so this music was a great fit for them.

Originality: A. Definitely a unique program. (I’m running out of words, y’all.)

Performance/Expression: A, because ^^. I cannot think anymore, so I shall leave this post.

Stay tuned for the next installment sometime soonish. Merry Christmas! 🙂

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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 (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!