Highlights/Low Points: NHK Trophy

Heeeeeeey people!

I hope I will be able to crank out this post in a semi-timely fashion after it took me four days to finish my Rostelecom post, LOL. So I’m going back to my dear friend the highs/lows recap, which I seem to be able to write with some degree of punctuality. #SayNoToProcrastination


It is of historical importance :p to note that all three standing records for men’s scores were broken at this event. The standing ones were set by Yuzuru Hanyu (SP-101) and Patrick Chan (FS and total-195? and 295). The new records were set by SP record holder Yuzuru Hanyu-106 for his SP, 216 for his FS and 322(!!!) overall. This was the first time a skater of any discipline broke 200 in the FS and 300 overall.

1. Highlight: Suprise GP Finalists!Ā (Hubbell/Donohue-Short Dance)

At the beginning of the season (crazy to think we’re almost halfway through!), I thought Hubbell/Donohue were toast. All I’d seen of them was a very underwhelming, moth-wing-clad free dance at the US Classic, so I naturally didn’t think they’d be able to hold up to the ridiculously deep US dance field. But come Trophee Bompard, I was in for a shock: they actually managed to win a Grand Prix (ignoring the fact that they only skated a short dance and the field was pitifully shallow after Papadakis/Cizeron’s withdrawl). I couldn’t believe it-but then I watched their short dance.

It. Was. Breathtaking. And it still is. Another stellar performance of it at NHK secured them a spot in the Final (huge shocker!) and helped Team USA pull off something no country has ever done: qualifying three ice dance teams to the Final.

Hallelujah, indeed. šŸ™‚

2. Low Point: This was no Skate Canada (Ashley Wagner-Free Skate)


There were no falls, and she still made the Final, but that was about the only redeeming quality of this performance. (That and the dress, which, by the way, is fabulous.) Her scoring protocol sheet was a minefield of carrots (AKA underrotation signs, AKA these things <) and edge calls. She also lost a lot of points in her spins and steps, only getting a level 4 on one (out of five). One element, a choreographic step sequence, only got a level 1. That, and the URs/Downgrades, proved her undoing, and she finished 4th-a disappointing showing after her personal-best performance at Skate Canada. Her gold medal from that event was able to save her spot in the Final, but she will need to step it up if she wants to medal there.

3. Highlight: An American in PairsĀ And Also the Final (Scimeca/Knierim SP and FS)Ā 



American pairs are back on the map.

(Also, I’ve been waiting for a chance to use that pun for several months, so I hope you found it witty. šŸ™‚ )

A U.S. Pair team hadn’t qualified for the GPF in eight years…until Friday. Scimeca/Knierim rose to the challenge, qualifying in 5th placeĀ with a silver (Skate America) and a bronze (NHK). This was not their best outing by any means (although their consistent scores in the high 60’s this season, which continued here, are very encouraging to see), but it was enough to hold on to the podium. And neither of them fell on an SBS jump, which was awesome (though several had wonky landings, hands down, etc.). I’m very excited to see what they’ll be able to pull off at the Final!

4. Low Point: UUUUURGGHHHHHHH. (Maxim Kovtun FS)Ā 


I actually enjoy this program, so no, the ridiculous facial expressions and overacting are not the focus of this rant. (I find they amuse me greatly. *Sips tea formally*)

The focus of this rant is the multiple pops, stepouts, etc. in this program. Three pops, a Zayak violation (he did three 2As), and a whole lot of -3 GOEs is just plain unacceptable for a technically-proficient, top-level skater. Ironically, the program was the highlight: apparently over-the-top, goofy interpretations of classical music are Maxim’s forte (pun not intended) and he sold the heck out of this program. But it couldn’t make up for the technical errors, and he ended this competition in an embarrassing 10th place.

5. Highlight: Yup, she’s back! (Satoko Miyahara-Free Skate)

In an interesting plot twist, a diminutive teenager with no triple-triple (at least, in the FS) beat out a three-time world champ, the reigning GPF bronze medalist, and a bunch more solid contenders to win her first Grand Prix. Key to her success (besides all of her actual competition completely bombing, but I choose to pretend that never happened) was that she fully rotated almost all of her jumps, which she usually struggles with; of course, that was very exciting to see. Combined with maxed-out spin levels and excellent “PCS qualities” (interpretation, presentation, skating skills, etc.), this skate was more than enough to win andĀ was the first timeĀ Ā she brokeĀ 130 in international competition. After a rather disappointing outing at Skate America, this was exactly what she needed to set herself up well going into the Final (her first ever). Well done!

6. Low Point: The (Literal) Fall of Mao Asada (Mao Asada SP)Ā 

After her great performance at Cup of China, I though Mao would easily be the top skater this year.

Not so.

I’d actually prefer to pretend this never happened, but it did, and *sigh* I’m not so sure if she’s actually going to be that competitive if she keeps skating like this šŸ˜¦

7. Highlight: WORLD RECORD Y’ALL!Ā 

If you haven’t already, watch these programs now.


Good. Think about it. Reflect on it. Contemplate the meaning of life or whatever. Just commit this to memory, because it may never be topped-and certainly not for a very, very long time.

8. Low Point: The Pogo Slideā„¢ (Anna Pogorilaya-Short Program)Ā 

Anna Pogorilaya was once a consistent, robotic teenage jumping bean. But those days have gone by.

Anna’s artistry has improved, but in return, she’s become a class-five headcase mostly known for her terrifying wipeout falls (henceforth to be known as the Pogo Slideā„¢-if you don’t get it, watch the video). And this was no exception.

She fought back valiantly in the FS, but it couldn’t undo the damage done by this 11th-place short program. I seriously hope she can fix whatever is going on with her before Russian nationals, because it is going to be a bloodbath for those three spots and if she skates like this, she could become this year’s Yulia.

9. Highlight: How exactly did this happen? (Courtney Hicks-Free Skate)Ā 

If you’d told me before the Grand Prix started that three different American ladies would medal at GPs this year, I would’ve guessed the obvious Gracie, Ashley and Polina, or perhaps Karen Chen. ButĀ Courtney?Ā …Never in a million years. So I was equally shocked and excited when I found out she’d won the silver! It only adds to the accomplishment that she did it in such a stacked field-if she can beat Ashley and Mao, I have no doubt she could get the third spot for Worlds if she skated clean at Nationals. Courtney’s (and Mirai Nagasu’s) great results here threw a wrench into my Nationals prediction; either could beat Polina if they skated like they did here, and there’s also Karen, Tyler Pierce, Mariah Bell and Angela Wang, who’ve done well on the Challenger Series/GP. Who knows?

The hunt for the Nationals bronze just got way more interesting.

1. Highlight: If they don’t win Nationals I’ll flip (Shibutanis FD)Ā 

I love this program more and more every time I watch it, and the scores are going up with each outing. This FD scored them a personal best score of 106.35(!), which would have had them just a few hundredths of a point out of third at Worlds (in the FD). It’s not inconceivable to think they could be on the podium in Boston, and certainly possible they could win Nationals. Both they and H/D have scored higher in the free dance this season than Chock/Bates, who were, until now, the undisputed top Americans. They’re both in serious contention for the National title, which would’ve been unheard ofĀ only a year ago. And I am really, really excited to see how it all plays out.

On to the GPF!


Rostelecom Cup: Best & Worsts

Rostelecom Cup just ended, and wow, it was a whirlwind competition. The ladies field was one of the best I’ve seen, the dance equally competitive, and the pairs excellent as well. Naturally, I want to cover everything, so I’ve condensed all my post formats into one: a best/worst recap that includes everything from costumes to quads and everything else in between. So…enjoy!


Best Breakout Performance:Ā Natalia Zabijako/Alexander Enbert, Russia


Coming into Rostelecom, I had no idea who this team was. This is their first season together and only their second competition, but I’d heard good things about them online. And they skated pretty well here! Although they kind of bored me, they were very impressive technically for such a new pair. It will be interesting to see, a bit later in the year, where they stand in the hierarchy of Russian pairs.

NOTE: I would’ve put a video of them here, but WordPress wouldn’t let me-that’s why there are no videos in this post.

Best Short Program (singles): Alaine Chartrand, CanadaĀ 


I have said many times that I love Alaine’s short program, set to selections from theĀ PinaĀ soundtrack. But this was on a whole new level of awesome.

It was, without a doubt, the best short program Alaine has ever skated, giving her a new personal best score of 67 and placing her 2nd in the SP. For one thing, she didn’t underrotate any jumps, which she almost always does-not even her triple lutz-triple toe combination. It was a triumphant comeback after her last-place finish at Skate America. Although she did not hold on to a podium place (finishing 5th), this was one of the many programs from this event I will be rewatching sometime in the future.

Best Short Dance: Ksenia Monko/Kirill Khaliavin, Russia


This is actually a bit of an unexpected one for me: I wanted to put a best short dance in this post, but I hadn’t actually seen the short dance, so I had to go through the videos on YouTube. Theirs (to the soundtrack of Howl’s Moving Castle)Ā was the only SD I hadn’t seen, so I watched it in the hopes that I would like it enough to put it here. Sure enough, I did! I love the playful feel of theĀ programĀ and that they genuinely seem to love skating it. It’s a shame that they had to withdraw, because I like their FD a lot. (And on the topic of withdrawals, NHK must be cursed because skaters are dropping like flies out of that one!)

Best Free Skate (Singles): Adelina Sotnikova, Russia


Okay, just to clear this up: if anyone skates toĀ Je Suis Malade,Ā I’m automatically going to love it. That was Adelina’s music. I loved it.

Adelina’s artistry has improved greatly since she appeared on the Russian version of Dancing with the Stars, and it really showed here. No,Ā JSMĀ is not exactly a beacon of refined artistry (at all…), but the ridiculously awesome over-the-topness of this song fits Adelina perfectly. I really, really loved it, even with the mistakes (and weird dress), and I hope she makes worlds so I can see it again. And again. And agaiiiin!!!!!! Hehehehe!

Best Free Dance: Anna Capellini/Luca Lanotte, Italy


I really love everything about this free dance: the music, the choreography, the costumes, the sass and spunk that’s really made this pair stand out to me this season-it’s pretty much all there. A lot of people (including me) kind of wrote them off as one-hit wonders after their dismal GP showing last year (in the wake of a world title), but they’re back with a vengeance this year. They’ve got great programs and solidĀ elements and I will be very excited to see how the rest of the season unfolds for them!

Best Pairs Free Skate: Tarah Kayne/Daniel O’Shea, USA



You can read my thoughts on this program in my US International Classic post, so I will indulge my laziness and not type them up again. šŸ™‚

I just want to put it out there that I was RIDICULOUSLY HAPPY that they did so well here and I also wish I could’ve found a better picture of this, LOL.

Best Costumes

1.Evgenia Medvedeva-Short Program



I saw this dress in action :p at Skate America and thought it was gorgeous…and I still do. The burgundy color is very flattering on Evgenia, and the bling (crystals, mostly) is absolutely exquisite. It’s a gorgeous but age-appropriate choice; other teenage skaters should take a hint from this! (Also, a MILLION times better than her last SP dress.)


2. Alaine Chartrand, Short ProgramĀ 



First off, #NinjaAlaine needs to be a thing that exists. (If you did not think “ninja” when you saw that bottom picture, we cannot be friends. :p JK, I’m probably the only one who thought that.)

Secondly, I loved this dress almost as much as the program itself. Turquoise is my favorite color, so of course I loved that, but I also liked the unusual halter-y neckline and the rows of crystals. I never would’ve thought “sleeveless turquoise halter dress” when I heard her music, but it fits perfectly! It was very effective with the program.

3. Adelina Sotnikova-Short Program




Okay, I only included that first picture because Fierce Adelina is the best species of Adelina. šŸ™‚

Anyway, I thought this was a really great costuming choice for Adelina. The color looks great on her, and the fringe skirt is a fun touch (it looked fantastic during spins). It was very samba-y without being tacky, which I appreciated. It probably could’ve done without extra fringe in some places (there were certainly some…questionable placements of fringe), but the good far outweighed the bad. This was a big step up from a lot of her previous costumes.

Also, shoutout to whoever did her hair. It looked amazing. šŸ™‚

4. Yuka Nagai-Free SkateĀ 




The OMBRE!! *Drama hands*

This is one of the best-done ombre dresses I’ve seen. The colors were gorgeous! Also, there was what looked like a violin in crystals on the back (or a viola *slow clap for violists of the world*), which I thought was awesome. Overall, a very well-designed dress.

6. Riona Kato-Free Skate



Worst Costumes:

1. Polina Edmunds-Free Skate


I hate to criticize her costumes after she got so much flack for her (not that bad) Peter Pan dress last year, but this dress is…ick. The tattered sleeves and skirt are more “the cat got its hands on grandma’s fancy drapes” than Gone With the Wind. And something about the neck is just not right. Also, pale skaters should not wear any shade of white. EVER.

2. Adian Pitkeev-Free Skate

No. No.Ā JustĀ no!Ā 

“The Mission” is one of my favorite pieces of music, and I loved Adian’s interpretation-but this costume needs toĀ die.Ā It looks like a Casual-Friday-At-Work suit with a weird collar and a chest cutout.



3. Mikhail Kolyada-Short ProgramĀ 

*Hides in closet*
*Ruptures tear ducts*

I actually did want to cry upon seeing this. MIKHAIL, YOU NEED TO FIRE WHOEVER PUT YOU IN THIS. NOW.



Soooo…that’s my recap! Thanks for reading! šŸ™‚Ā 



Recap: Live from Skate America!!!

Hi everybody!

First off, I apologize for not covering several of the recent Challenger Series events…my schedule has been rather hectic and I didn’t get a chance to watch them. But this time, you’re in for a treat!

We all know that the Grand Prix started this week with Skate America, and I was fortunate to be able to attend all the events in person. I had a blast and I can’t wait to give you the inside scoop!

Since I loved the format of the “top 10 highlights/low points” post I did for the US Classic, I’m going to use it because I have stuff I want to cover in every discipline.

10. Highlight: Just in time for Halloween…Gilles/Poirier continue to innovate

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier are a very divisive team-you either love them or hate them and there is really no in between. I usually love them , and their short dance (shown here), set to an odd mix of Beatles songs and classical waltz music and featuring some of the oddest outfits I have ever seen, is so crazy it actually works. It’s a lot of fun, and a breath of fresh air from the nearly-identical Masquerade Waltz programs we’ve seen too many of (even for somebody like me, who loves classical waltzes and typically hates “edgy” modern interpretations). The free dance, however…well, it’s almost Halloween, I guess?

I really don’t even know what this is supposed to be…from what I’ve seen, the music is from a famous Norwegian film (a historical thriller-drama, if Wikipedia is correct), and their choreography looks very zombie-esque. I feel like they’re trying to emulate Zhiganshina & Gaszi, a famously wacky German dance team whose signature program was a zombie free dance (albeit more literal than this, but still…). This is a bit toned down from that, but it is a bit avant-garde for my taste…and what is up with those fake tattoos on her tights? Piper, who convinced you to wear this?!?

While I was not a fan of the free dance, I liked the short dance a lot and I have to give them props for trying something that’s not as “safe” as last year’s material. Innovation is rather rare in ice dance (most couples tend to copy programs that the judges liked in the past), and Piper and Paul consistently bring that to the table, which is really what makes them stand out as a team.

9. Low point: Denis Ten bombs an early-season event…as usual

Denis Ten has always been a late-season peaker, as well as ridiculously injury-prone (if he’s not injured, he has boot issues or the flu or some other unfortunate condition, it seems), so it was rather inevitable that he would not be at his (glorious-e.g. 2015 Four Continents) best at this competition. But what he actually did was so spectacularly bad it was almost impossible to watch.

The short program, while not even close to his best, left him with a small chance of a medal, so I was optimistic that he would at least be 4th (which would give him a small chance to make the Grand Prix Final). But no, it was not to be…

This might be the single worst program Denis has ever skated. After about four jumps, I had to look away (thank you, Twitter, for distracting me from this incredible meltdown), and that is never a good thing. *Sobs* HIS PROGRAMS ARE BEAUTIFUL…AND THEY DESERVE TO BE SKATED WELL…

*Sigh* Denis is an extremely frustrating skater to like.

8. Highlight: Nazarova/Nikitin get Mozart right 

Mozart programs have been all the rage ever since Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron won Worlds with their acclaimed Mozart free dance, but a lot of them have been extremely bland.

Not this one!

I never thought I would like a Mozart free dance because I didn’t really like Papadakis/Cizeron’s version (the original), but Nazarova/Nikitin’s version was gorgeous and far more interesting to watch than any of the other versions I’ve seen. This style is a complete change for them (last year, their free dance was an edgy, modern dance-inspired piece), but it suits them surprisingly well. And while their scores weren’t fantastic (that score would’ve put them in 17th at worlds, which is where they placed last year), the program has potential. I’m excited to see more of this team!

7. Low Point: Alaine Chartrand very nearly makes me cry 

Going by the short program alone, this seems like an odd choice for a low as, aside from some underrotation calls, Alaine’s short program was quite nice. (I really love this program.) She didn’t fall, her spins and footwork were nice, and she had great energy. Buuuut…

This also happened. Althought Alaine was in 6th after the short, this free skate was a Denis-level disaster. I really wanted her to do well here…but after that skate, her chances of a medal were, like her music, Gone With the Wind.

This was honestly depressing and I seriously hope she can get it together before her next event. Alaine has medaled on the Grand Prix before-what is she doing in last?!?

6. Highlight: Another silver medal! Scimeca/Knierim break through

Coming into this, I didn’t think that Scimeca & Knierim, the top American pair team, would place higher than 3rd. (And, according to Alexa’s Instagram, neither did they!) But in a field of relatively clean but unmemorable skates, they managed to lead after the short program, clearing their personal best by three points with a score of 69.69. I was not sure if their FS would be enough to keep them in the lead, but the fact that they were in first after the short was extremely exciting-I don’t even know when an American pair last did that!

This program was edgy, intense and mature, and their facial expressions were downright frightening (Alexa was giving us quite a bit of the infamous “Oda O”, while Chris was extremely blank in comparison), but it worked. They were very committed to the performance and Alexa in particular was selling the heck out of it.

Alexa & Chris’s free skate was not their best, but, fortunately, neither was anyone else’s, so they were able to hang onto the silver medal (despite placing fourth in the free). I like this program but it is a little bit flat at this point in the season-it should grow with time-but this was an excellent first outing and puts them in a good position to make the Grand Prix Final.

5. Low Point: Yulia ain’t lookin’ too good…

Ever since she burst onto the scene in 2013, Yulia Lipnitskaya’s emotional performances, maturity, and insane flexibility have made her a favorite of many skating fans (myself included). Most everybody was expecting great things from her until she hit a growth spurt, bombed at the Grand Prix Final, and, in a dramatic end to her season, came in 9th at Russian Nationals. And it hasn’t exactly been uphill from there.

Those of us who were wishing for an Elizaveta Tuktamysheva-type comeback from Yulia didn’t get one.

While this short program wasn’t terrible, it left her in 5th, which certainly wasn’t what she wanted. ( I really don’t like this program-I don’t like Elvis, and the costume looked like a 5-pack of highlighters threw up on it-which didn’t help matters any.)

The free skate was even worse.

I actually like this program, and it was lovely from a performance aspect, but the jumps just weren’t there. Her spins were superb and the interpretation excellent, but there were too many costly jump mistakes for her to pull up in the standings. She had to settle for 6th, and after this I’m left wondering what her future prospects are if this is the form she’s in.

4. Highlight: Hawayek/Baker prove that Finlandia was a fluke

After a rather dismal showing at the Finlandia Trophy, I was concerned about Hawayek & Baker’s outlook this season (which was rather worrisome as they’re one of my favorite teams). But they proved me wrong, and I’m incredibly relieved that they skated well here! Their short dance is lovely and deserves a good performance-which they had here.

Their free dance was what I was most worried about (they had one of their worst skates ever in the Finlandia free dance), so I was hoping they would skate it well enough to hold onto 4th. They did! This is a great free dance for them (very original but still fitting for them and of a similar style to the stuff they’ve done so well in past years) and, judging by the audience reaction and scores, the judges and fans like it. It was a huge relief to see them skate it this well, and I will be excited to see how their next Grand Prix goes.

3. Low point: I can’t even…

Florent, who told you this was a good idea?!?

Do I even need to say anything else?

2. Highlight: Chock & Bates unveil spectacular short dance

Okay, before I get into this, I heard that this was only the THIRD TIME they’d ever done this program in full.

Just let that sink in, because if they can skate like this the third time they do a program, I don’t even want to know what it’s going to look like at Nationals!

That aside, this short dance (their third this season) is absolutely spectacular. It was the only dance program of the event to get a standing ovation, it’s gorgeous, it’s powerful, it’s memorable, and (shallow note) the costumes were beautiful-this one’s a world-champion program if I ever saw one and I think it was a great choice to switch programs. I can’t wait to see this again at Cup of China and I expect it to be amazing.

1. Best moment of the event: Gracie Gold’s Free Skate

I wanted this to be Gracie’s year before it even began, but I didn’t know if it would be as she has a bit of a problem with inconsistency…but with better programs than ever, I was confident she could pull it off.

And pull it off she did.

While her short program was good aside from a doubled flip (which was invalid, as it was supposed to be a triple), it would take a lot to win, as she was five points out of first. I was extremely nervous watching her, but I had no reason to be-aside from a doubled salchow (apparently she pops jumps instead of falling now…), Gracie’s free skate was technically perfect, artistically much improved from any of her previous programs, and very crowd-pleasing. She got a personal best score of 137 (which was already a 9-point improvement from last year’s season best!) for a total of 202-good for second place. Not only did she show how much her consistency has improved, she’s now in a great position to make the Final.

I couldn’t have picked a better event to attend.

Thoughts? Did I miss anything? Leave a comment! Thanks for reading!

Off-Season Slump (and its soon-to-be-cure)

Every skating fan hates the off-season.

Amid scattered program announcements and the occasional summer competitions that are too small to get broadcasted, even over the internet, too small even to have programs put on YouTube, is a lot of boredom and waiting and anxiety concerning your favorite skaters’ results next year. Will so-and-so get that triple axel she’s been Instagramming? Will what’s-his-face work out the kinks with his inconsistency? Will our favorite pairs actually stay together long enough to not fall on their faces?

Luckily, most of us have jobs/summer assignments/social lives.Ā Except me.

School’s out. Orchestra’s out. Summer camp? Not happening. An ankle injury left me off the ice for 4 months (!!). So…I basically had no life.Ā Enter the dreaded Senior B!

TheĀ secondĀ a competition date-be it a Senior B, Junior Grand Prix, or even a big senior GP-was announced, it was neatly scrawled in my planner. I was determined not to miss a single event (no matter where I had to look to find a live stream, or even the results, which are surprisingly hard to find), and I would go to any length to make sure it happened. I was obsessed.

Probably too obsessed. Now I get to skate. Yay! I have a life again! But still…


The only problem? All the ones good skaters are in are impossible to find. A Google search for the results of Skate Detroit turns up nothing more than a venue announcement or last year’s official website. Searching for a calendar of smaller summer events is a virtually fruitless task. I am forever stuck in the void of “wait for the US International Classic,” handily viewable on IceNetwork (by the way, anyone know when I have to renew my subscription?), or even the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships (not streamed, but there’s always an article about it). It’s killing me.

I need my skating fix, and watching the Free Dance at 2012 Skate America (my go-to event for every occasion) for the 18th time Ā ain’t gonna cut it anymore.

I am reaching with desperate #GrabbyHands to the days of World Team Trophy, when skating was at my fingertips.

My IceNetwork addiction has brought me to an all-time patience low.


Please excuse my pointless rants. I am a very impatient individual. LOL.

Anyone know how to find live streams of senior b’s? I’m even willing to *Gasp* PAY MONEY to get these competitions…sad, I know, but this is what I’ve been brought to. šŸ˜¦

Hello world!

Hi! If you’re a reader of my other blog, Skating Randomosity, welcome to Salchows and Swarovskis! If you’re new, I’m so glad you’ve decided to take a look at my blog! Here at Salchows and Swarovskis, it’s all about skating-partially why I decided to get a new blog, as about half my Skating Randomosity posts were not skating-related. On this one, you’ll get all the skating content you love (or have never seen in your life ;-)) from Skating Randomosity, with a side order of skating, topped with skating sauce. All about that skating, am I right? šŸ™‚ I might also post some of my original skating-related writing, which will hopefully be read & I hope to get critiques and feedback on.

Happy reading!

-Shark Whisperer