JGP Tallinn Ladies Recap

Does Tallinn have one “L” or two?

Eh, whatever, I’m going with two. (I am beginning to see a pattern of not being able to spell the names of JGP host cities.) Spelling aside, this was a great event! Here’s what went down in Estonia (that I can spell!) this weekend.

1. Polina Tsurskaya

Lady Polina Tsurskaya, Grand Duchess of Triple Lutz, was nothing short of sublime in Tallinn.

(I looked it up, and “Grand Duchess” was, indeed, a real term for Russian royalty, so I went with that instead of the cooler-sounding “Empress Dowager,” which applies to several Asian countries but would not actually have been used in Russia. Ya learn something new every day!)

Both of her programs were nearly perfect (some missed levels and a small turnout were the closest thing to mistakes in either of her programs), and her vastly-improved artistry was even better than in Saransk. Polina has this regal quality about her this season that’s just incredible to watch: she’s cool, confident, poised, and never looks fazed. Everything from her facial expression and costumes to the way she transitions out of jumps (the high leg position on her landings is EVERYTHING) is just…well, queenly. Okay, so maybe I’m going overboard with the royalty metaphors, but why not? It only takes one viewing to get what I’m going for. This young lady just blows my mind.

2. Elizaveta Nugumanova 

It was probably apparent in my JGP Russia recap that I love me some Liza Nugumanova, so I was thrilled to see her improve on that performance here. Her “Malaguena” SP wasn’t as good as it was a few weeks ago -she underrotated her 3Lz-3T kind of obviously-but it’s an ingeniously-choreographed little gem and I loved her performance of it. The free skate was much stronger than her last one; underrotations were much less of an issue than they were at Saransk, and she landed everything well. With a silver and a bronze, Liza has a chance of getting into the final, but it’s by no means a guarantee. I’ll be crossing my fingers for an Alisa Fedichkina-in-2015 situation (refresher: Alisa made the final with a silver medal and a 4th place last year) to get her in.

3. Mako Yamashita 

I will admit it, Mako Yamashita doesn’t really excite me all that much. Her skating is kind of bland. But she has admirable qualities: her jumps are great-her technique is a lot like that of fellow Japanese juniors Kaori Sakamoto and Rin Nitaya, with tight air position, fast rotation, smooth landings and good height-and so far, she’s been pretty consistent. With two bronzes, she could make the JGP Final, although it’s an outside shot; it would require Gubanova and Konstantinova to bomb drastically at their second event next week. But stranger things have happened…

 

4. Rin Nitaya 

I was really critical of Rin when I recapped JGP France, but I won’t be this time: I don’t know if it was a change in her skating or just a change of opinion, but I really enjoyed her mature presentation. (That’s what happens when you stay down in juniors at 18: your maturity looks 85x more impressive than it would in seniors, simply because you’re competing against 13-year-olds.) Some of the jumps weren’t there in the free skate, and it looked like she was getting tired towards the end, but it was a solid effort and really enjoyable to watch. With a bronze and a 4th place, she’s probably not looking at a chance at a Final spot, but it would be nice if she ended up being an alternate. She brings something different with her maturity and smooth jumps, and I appreciate that.

5. Tessa Hong 

Okay, pause.

I have been waiting five weeks to be able to recap an American skater in one of these. It’s actually kind of sad, but Tessa was a deserving first-American-in-a-recap. She struggles with URs, but everything else about her skating is absolutely exquisite. Her musicality and interpretation are a cut above for a 14-year-old, and she has an elegance to her skating that I love. But, like with many other skaters, her URs were her undoing here. She landed all of her jumps in both programs, but many of them were UR’d obviously enough to see in real time (that’s when you know it’s bad). There were bright spots: both of her programs were beautiful, and she actually landed things, including 3-3s in both programs. But she needs to get a handle on her UR problem or she won’t be able to reach her full potential. Sigh…another beautiful, artistic skater with a UR problem. 😦

And, a 15th-place program you need to watch anyway because it’s awesome 

This program featured nothing harder than a 3Lo and wasn’t the cleanest, but in terms of entertainment, it was one of the best programs of the event (in my opinion). Danielle’s energy and excitement are really infectious, especially in the StSqs (which were both awesome). Just plain fun to watch.

Also, is it just me, or does she look like she could be Gracie Gold’s long-lost sister? I feel like they look very alike.

Advertisements

JGP Saransk Ladies Recap

You know it’s finally skating season again when you miss an event that happened while you were asleep and wake up to approximately 8,900 pages of questions, comments, and concerns about the judging of said event on the Internet forums.

Wouldn’t be the same without them, really.

This time, it was no different, and the online judging critics were in full force – with good reason. Here’s a shake-down of what all happened at JGP Saransk.

1. Polina Tsurskaya 

Polina Tsurskaya was the overwhelming favorite to win this competition, despite having recently recovered from an injury. On that front, she didn’t disappoint. Her SP was phenomenal, earning a well- deserved junior world record score of 69.02. I’m not a huge fan of the droning, monotonous music or the choreography (as with many of Eteri Tutberidze’s students’ programs, there is a lot of miming), but her jumps were fantastic and her interpretation has improved greatly. I also couldn’t help noting that it seems she looks more like an adult this year than most of the seniors. Polina’s FS wasn’t her best, with two pops (a double lutz and a single Axel), and again, I thought the music was a little boring, but the choreography was much better, the rest of her jumps were excellent, and – shallow note – her dress was beautiful (actually, both of them were). Overall, this wasn’t Polina’s best competition, but it was an excellent return to competition. She likely just needs a little more time to get her feet back under her.

Fun random note: my phone tried to correct “Eteri” to “arteries.”

2. Stanislava Konstantinova

This was possibly the most controversial part of the competiton.

With a FS featuring two falls, Stanislava beat both Elizaveta Nugumanova, who was clean but underrotated several jumps, and Yuna Shiraiwa, who fell once but executed most of her other elements cleanly. I personal thought Elizaveta should’ve gotten the silver medal and Yuna the bronze, with Konstantinova in 4th, but there is some basis for what the judges went with. Stanislava had a clean SP that left her with a cushion of about three points going into the FS. While her jumps were clean, I felt like it was a bit frantic and unpolished; however, I can see why she was in second. The free skate, though, was a different story. I didn’t think the program itself was anything special (I was kind of bored) and she fell twice. I really can’t see the logic here-even if the judges wanted a Russian sweep, it could’ve happened with Stanislava in 3rd (which I thought was more fair). But there’s no point in arguing about that now. I try to find something I like to highlight about every skater I write about, so for Stanislava, I think that quality is that she’s different. In a field dominated by copy-and-paste Tutberidze pupils, any kind of uniqueness is refreshing, and I like Stanislava’s quirky style.

3. Elizaveta Nugumanova 

I’m not going to lie, I thought Liza was robbed of the silver. But she has a rather serious UR problem that I was previously not aware of, so it makes sense that that held her down. That aside, I thought her programs were the best of the event. Her spunky “Malaguena” short is a delightful little gem, not to mention impeccably choreographed, and her “Romeo and Juliet” free skate has an innocent sweetness to it that Liza pulls off very convincingly. (Another shallow note: I love her FS dress!) Unfortunately, she raked in UR after UR on her jumps, and while one wouldn’t have mattered much, four of them had an impact on her scores. She still managed to score very well (her SP score was fair, and her FS was slightly overscored), but the placements didn’t shake out in her favor. I hope she can get her jumps fixed up, because her spins, SS and interpretation are really great for such a young skater.

4. Yuna Shiraiwa 

Yuna Shiraiwa went from a nobody to a rock-solid contender for major medals last season; I was expecting her to continue that momentum. But, due to an injury, that wasn’t to be (at least, not here). She actually skated quite well, with a clean SP and one fall in the FS, but for various reasons (you know which reasons…), she missed out on the podium. Her “I Got Rhythm” SP was really well-skated and could be a very fun program if she can add some spark to her interpretation, which was a bit flat. The FS, to an instrumental medley of pieces from “Notre Dame De Paris” (which, for reasons I will never understand, didn’t include “Danse Mon Esmeralda”), is a powerful program that could either bring out the passion in her skating or showcase her weaknesses-hopefully the former. It looked as if she was exhausted towards the end of the program, and she fell out of the last jump, a 3L0. Maybe her stamina has taken a hit since her injury, or it was jet lag, but it seemed like a fluke mistake and I expect Yuna to be back to her usual, consistent form by her next competition.

5. Kokoro Iwamot0

I didn’t actually watch Kokoro’s programs during the competition, so I’m watching her free skate in the post draft and writing about it as I go along. First off, dress on point. I love the combination of gold and white, and it’s a great cut and style. Based on the protocol, her FS was clean except for an edge call (I just saw the flip that got called, and it was 0n a very obvious outside edge, even in real time). Her jumps are pretty good-they look labored, but she gets all the way around, and the height is nice. Her axel technique scares me. Spins are pretty nice. Expression could be better. So, now that I’ve finished watching it, Kokoro seems like your run-of-the-mill-top-5-JGP-skater: pretty good technically but nothing extraordinary, and not the best artistry, but gets the job done. For a JGP debut (I think?), she did really well.

And now I have to go write the U.S. Classic post! Yay…

JGP Ostrava Ladies Recap

JGP Ostrava is a wrap, and from the looks of it (I haven’t gotten to watch a lot of the men’s and dance programs yet, but I saw the results), it was a much stronger competition across the board than the first event. Despite a lot of lackluster free skates and some truly insane scoring inflation in the ladies event, it had its strong points, too. Let’s get started!

1. Anastasia Gubanova, Russia — 185.59

What Happened: Coming into this competition, a lot of people (myself included) had their eyes on Anastasia. She’s one of the most watchable skaters I’ve ever seen: her balletic carriage, gorgeous use of her hands, wrists and arms, and beautiful extension make her skating about as aesthetically pleasing as it gets. However, her jumps…are another matter. Her technique would make my coach cry, and her 3-3s are terrifyingly unstable because of her hold-onto-your-hats 3T takeoff. She reminds me of Yulia Lipnitskaya in almost every way: refinement, expression, extension, spins, and some reeeally sketchy jumps. However, despite falls in both programs, Anastasia’s polish, spins, and the jumps she did land were enough to squeak out a win by the narrowest of margins. This gives her a great shot at the Final, and I can’t wait to see her at her next event.

The Programs: Her short program to “The Swan” is kind of exactly what you’d expect someone like Anastasia to skate to-soft, elegant and balletic. Not exactly a creative choice, but it’s gorgeous. (She does need to look up more, though. My coach would be all over her for looking at her skates throughout the whole program.) I really love her “Romeo and Juliet” FS: it uses my favorite version of that music, shows off her best qualities, and really brings out the passion of the music. (Random: sometimes I’ll see a junior do an R&J program and think, ‘he/she’s too young for that music,’ but then I remember that in the play, Juliet was 13…and then I slowly die because it freaked me out when I first read it and it STILL FREAKS ME OUT.)

2. Rika Kihara, Japan — 185.51

What Happened: Rika was another skater everyone was looking at coming into this competition. A video had recently surfaced of her landing a perfect 3A-3T, and it was rumored she would unveil her 3A here, so fans were anticipating the possible debut of the Triple Axel That Was Not (sorrynotsorry, spoilers!). Her SP, despite not having the 3A, was impeccable, and she lead by a healthy margin. Most of her FS was good, too, except for the Triple Axel That Was Not™: she fell hard, and I didn’t look at the protocol, but it definitely looked <<. Still, gotta give her props for trying. She missed the win by only .07 points-possibly the smallest margin between medalists I’ve ever seen.

The Programs: eh…not sure how I feel about either. Both of them (the SP to “Tzigane” and FS to “Rhapsody in Blue”) are polished, well-choreographed programs, but I don’t feel like she was really “living up to” the very serious, well-known classical music she used. I’m all for juniors using classical music, and “Rhapsody in Blue” was a nice choice (I think that’ll be a nice program when it’s gotten more mileage), but “Tzigane” seemed…too heavy for a junior. Something lighter, like a waltz, or something up-tempo and fun, like “Czardas”, might have been better choices for someone Rika’s age who wanted to use classical music.

3. Alisa Lozko, Russia — 162.28

What Happened: Ted Barton of the JGP Live Stream said it best: Alisa’s a “spinner from heaven.” But her jumps…yikes. She fell in the FS, and through both programs, she racked up so many URs I lost count. It might have been partly because she is better at -3Lo combos than she is at -3T combos, which she had to do her because of the 3Lo being a required solo jump, but those were far from the only things hit with <. However, there were bright spots: I loved her footwork in both programs, and her spins are some of the best I’ve ever seen. (I tried to do something like her biellman variation, where she grabs her knee while spinning in a nearly-split position, at practice the other day, and I almost fell on my head. And it didn’t look an eighth as pretty.) Sadly, if she can’t fix her awful jump technique, she’ll probably get buried in the constant stream of Russian juniors.

The Programs: I’m not really sure how I feel about the music to Alisa’s “Pavlova” SP, but the program itself is really nice. Her “Milord” FS could be really fun, but she isn’t really engaging in it. She has wonderful musicality and uses the music well, but almost no expression, which makes it somewhat hard to connect with her skating.

4. Yuna Aoki, Japan — 155.79

What Happened: Yuna is a category-five headcase, and her leg wrap in jumps drives me crazy, but she is beautiful to watch. She has lovely polish and grace, and her interpretation is top-notch. However, she can’t seem to get through a program without falling or singling something, so I have no idea how she will hold up as a senior.

The Programs: Her “Meditation from Thais” SP is elegant and gorgeous and a joy to watch. The FS (“On My Own”) is nice, if a little generic.

5. Ha Nul Kim, Korea — 149.25

What Happened: essentially, URs kept Ha Nul out of the top five in the SP, and she came back with a fairly strong FS. She’s a nice skater, and her presentation is improving, but I still don’t really get anything out of her skating. Nice, but not anything earthshaking.

The Programs: her SP (forgot the music, but it’s something by Caro Emerald) is really fun, but the FS is nothing special. Since I’m too lazy to go into a long statistical analysis of why I think this, I’ll just leave it at that.

JGP France Ladies Recap

The season has begun! (Finally!) The first major event of the season, Junior Grand Prix St. Gervais (abbreviated to “JGP France”), just concluded. Some disciplines were weaker than others (the dance field was wide open, and the men’s event was a splatfest), but the ladies event featured some fantastic skating that I can’t wait to recap!

 

1. Alina Zagitova, Russia — 194.37 (68.07/126.30) 

As is the case at virtually every event, Eteri Tutberidze’s latest wunderkind, Alina Zagitova, won this event by quite a bit. Her SP, set to “Samson and Delilah”, included a fantastic Rippon 3Lz-3T, 3Lo, and 2A (her axel technique is exponentially better than most of her coach’s other students), strong spins, and a fast, dynamic step sequence that I really enjoyed. Her free skate (random note-I’m pretty the costume is Evgenia Medvedeva’s 2013-14 SP dress) to “Don Quixote” was not quite as strong-a couple of jumps had slightly scratchy landings-but still excellent, with a very nice 3Lz-3Lo and 2A-3T. Again, I thought her StSq was very well-choreographed and enjoyable. Alina has some areas she could work on-in particular, her expression could be a bit less blank-but much of what she would need as a senior is already there. Either way, she’s clearly very talented-she ended up winning the competition with scores that would’ve won last year’s Junior Worlds. Because, y’know…that’s totally normal result in your first international competition. 

2. Kaori Sakamoto, JPN- 178.86 (64.12/114.74)

Kaori had a pretty good competition here, with two near-clean programs. Her SP, a fun, energetic program to “The Artist,”  featured a 3F-3T, 3Lo, and 2A. She’s improved a lot as a performer over the summer: she used to skate a little bit blank-faced but this performance was really fun and engaging. Her FS isn’t my favorite – it’s set to music that kind of bores me (something called “The Color Purple”) and I find the choreography a little generic – but she turned in some strong elements. She didn’t get a planned 3T onto her opening 3F-3T, but made it up later in the program with two 2A-3Ts. Her biggest mistake other than that was an edge call-not perfect, but overall a great competition for Kaori.

3. Rin Nitaya, JPN — 175.01 (60.94/114.07) 

I vaguely remember seeing Rin last season and thinking she was kind of “meh,” so I wasn’t expecting much here. Suffice to say it that she exceeded my expectations! Rin skated a clean short and a near-clean long (her only mistake was a popped axel) to place 3rd. She landed an excellent 3Lz-3T, 3Lo, and 2A in her “Red Violin” short program, and although I found her expression a bit nonexistent bland, she delivered the technical content and was duly rewarded. In the free skate, she utilized what I call the Satoko Layout: two 2A-3Ts in the second half instead of a 3-3. I really enjoy watching her jump: unlike most juniors, her landings are dang solid and smooth as butter. No scratchiness or turnout, ever-which I love, considering how rare it’s becoming. She’s not the most engaging skater, but she deservedly placed really well here.

4. Ye Lim Kim, KOR — 157.79 (55.11/102.68)

Coming into this competition, people were expecting a lot of Ye Lim. Her jump layout was crazy-difficult and she had been looking consistent, so she was a medal favorite here. But it began to unravel in her “Donde Voy” SP: she two-footed her 3Lz-3T, which was downgraded and given mostly -3s in GOE. Combined with her lack of strength in PCS relative to her competition, that was enough to get her off the podium after the short. Her FS was better, but still had some iffy landings and kept her off the podium in 4th. She kind of tripped (not sure how to explain it because I’ve never seen anything like it…) out of the 2Lo in her 3Lz-3Lo-2Lo, which was downgraded, her 3Lz-3T was underrotated, and she got an edge call on her 3F. And to top it all off, she didn’t seem to be connecting to her music at all (I’ll give her a pass because both pieces were very ill-suited for someone of her age and style, which I blame on the choreographer.) She has a lot of potential, but this was just not Ye Lim’s competition.

5. Emmi Peltonen, FIN — 150.00 (53.41/96.59)

Emmi Peltonen was a nice “discovery” at this event: I’d never seen her, but she is a gorgeous skater with gigantic jumps and I think she has a lot of potential. In her short program, she landed a massive 3T-3T and a great 2A but singled her 3Lo. I really enjoyed the program, which was very well-choreographed with a very convincing tangoey flair. Her StSq was great. The FS was also a lovely program, but three pops and a fall did her in. She badly needs consistency (she appears to be the latest in a long line of artistic Finnish headcases), but she could be one to watch for.

Honorable Mentions: 

6. Alexia Paganini, USA: her short program was gorgeous except for a doubled jump, but two falls in the FS kept her from finishing any higher.

7. Julie Froestcher (sorry for spelling), FRA: her reaction to her score was great. 🙂

 

JGP Hype!: 10 Junior Ladies To Watch For This Season

IT’S ALMOST JGP TIME *weird excited dance*, which is THE BEST TIME, because juniors are amazing and I almost always end up ubering a 13-to-15-year-old and having to cross my fingers they never find this blog. (Lookin’ at you, Vivian. Speaking of which, she will probably not be in this because she’s competed as a senior at club competitions recently, so I have no idea if she is moving up.) It’s just a few weeks away, and you know what that means: preview time!

So, here are 10 junior ladies I think will make a splash this season!

1. Polina Tsurskaya, Russia

Why She’s One To Watch: Polina totally dominated the junior circuit last season up until her unexpected last-minute withdrawal from Junior Worlds due to an injury sustained in practice. She’s primarily a jumper: her textbook-perfect, freakishly consistent jumps are some of the best I’ve ever seen. But she also has strong spins and presentation. She’s very tall (5′ 6″ according to the ISU, but could be more) and, unlike most tall juniors, actually uses it to her advantage. I love the way she uses her long limbs to enhance the performance, if that makes any sense. When used properly, that can give you a commanding ice presence; Polina gets it right, and combined with her speed and powerful jumps, it does.

2. Marin Honda, Japan

Why She’s One To Watch: Marin was the suprise Junior World Champion last season after the withdrawals of Polina Tsurskaya and teammate Alisa Fedichkina, who she tied in the SP. She doesn’t pack the biggest technical punch: her 3-3 in the SP last season was a 3Lo-3T, which she will not be able to do this season due to 3Lo being the solo jump, and in the FS, a 3S-3T. If she skates clean, as we’ve seen, that won’t hold her back: her jumps are solid, her spins great, and her presentation some of the strongest in the field. But she’s not particularly consistent.  She’s able to keep up, though, and a lot of that is because of her stellar presentation. She has an easy grace and lightness to her skating that’s very pleasant to watch, and her interpretation is great. I call her Baby Mao because her artistic style reminds me a lot of Mao Asada as a junior. That kind of says it all.

3. Alisa Fedichkina, Russia 

Why She’s One To Watch: Alisa is, in a word, charming. Her lyrical, dainty style and adorable smolness (smol=new favorite word) are a delightful combination and she connects to both crowd and programs superbly. Her jumps are a little bit small, but she usually lands them; she’s consistent, though not robotically so, a la Polina. And her spins are excellent. Along with Marin, she’s one of the few juniors whose artistry stands out more than her technical content. Provided she can land things, she will definitely be a strong contender.

4. Elizaveta Nugumanova, Russia

Why She’s One To Watch: Liza is one of the debuting juniors that many people are expecting good things from, with good reason. She’s got it all: her jump technique is excellent (a hallmark of Alexei Mishin pupils, of which she is one), her spins are great, and her presentation is good. She’s not exactly the picture of artistic maturity, but her youthful interpretation really works and is a joy to watch. She makes excellent use of arm variations in jumps (they’re utilized but not overdone), which is good for the scores. And her 3Lo-backended 3-3s are truly gorgeous. Oh, and she’s also extremely consistent. Unless something changes dramatically over the next few months, I’m expecting her to win stuff. 🙂

5. Ye Lim Kim, South Korea 

Why She’s One To Watch: Ye Lim recently won the Korean JGP Selection Event Thingy I Don’t Remember The Official Name Of with a truly impressive technical layout: in the FS, for example, a 3Lz-2Lo that looked popped and was likely intended to be a 3-3, a 3Lz-3T, and an improvised 3F-3T thrown in at the end. And she’s a truly astounding backloader: two of her three jumping passes in the SP are in the bonus, and SIX(!) of her seven jumps in the FS are after the halfway point. Her spins are strong, too. I’m a bit lukewarm on her programs and interpretation, and she could use more speed, but with a layout like that…wow.

6. Kaori Sakamoto, Japan 

Why She’s One To Watch: as far as I know, Kaori’s been on the JGP the longest of anyone on this list. This is her third season, so she has a lot more experience than most of these girls. Her jumps are her standout: solid but floaty, with that inexplicably satisfying “crack” when she taps in for a toe jump. She’s not much of a standout in spins or presentation, but she’s done well on the JGP in the past, so she’s going on this list.

7. Anastasia Gubanova, Russia

Why She’s One To Watch: another of the Russian debutantes, Anastasia is a very expressive skater with lovely lines, spins. Her jumps are great, too: she has a gorgeous 3Lz-3Lo. Anastasia’s issue is with consistency, unlike most of her teammates. Which is a shame, because she’s so strong artistically; her polish is very impressive for a junior. Hopefully, she can keep it together at her events.

8. Alexia Paganini, USA 

Why She’s One To Watch: Alexia has been doing very well at the club competitions she’s done this summer, with near-60 SPs and near-100 FSes. She’s also successfully added a 3Lz-3T to her short program and attempts two 3-3s, 3T-3T and 3S-1Lo-3S, in her free skate. Not on the level of the Russian girls, but strong content nonetheless. Her spins and presentation are nice, too, and she’s fairly consistent. However, she does not seem to attempt the 3F, which might hold her back a little bit (correct me if I’m wrong on this one).

9. Alisa Lozko, Russia

Why She’s One To Watch: yet another debuting Russian, Alisa boasts a great 3Lo-3Lo and one of the best laybacks in the business. She’s not really the greatest artistically, and sometimes her jumps are a bit sketchy, but she could definitely be up there.

10. Ashley Kim, USA 

Why She’s One To Watch: Ashley seems like an odd pick for this list because she’s never been to Nationals (at any level), but she’s had an extremely promising summer. She won the Freezer Aerial Challenge, a jump event, with stellar 3-3s, which also helped her mop the floor with her competition at various summer events. She’s also a strong spinner (her layback is especially fantastic). Her presentation is a bit frantic and unpolished, but she’s a very talented jumper (like many of her Dallas FSC training mates-winkwinknudgenudge). So, on the list she goes!

In Retrospective: 2013-14 Junior Grand Prix Final-Ladies Free Skate

Here is the final installment of my first “In Retrospective”! This will cover the Ladies Free Skate from the 2013-14 Junior Grand Prix Final.

6. Angela Wang, USA-86.89/131.58

Music: “Nights in the Gardens of Spain”

Program Execution: 3lz(forward)-3T, 3F, 1Lo, 3Lz (fall), 2T-2A sequence, 3S, 2a-2T-2T (fall)

Costume Assessment: pretty, but kind of generic. Not much to see here.

What I Liked About This Performance: like I said when I discussed Angela’s SP, she has very nice polish and finishes her movements. Her spins are nice, too, and the 3S came out of nowhere. I like it when jumps come out of nowhere. 🙂

What I Didn’t Like About This Performance: the falls.

Wuzrobbed?: …isn’t it obvious?

5. Alexandra Proklova, Russia-106.50/157.77

Music: “Bahrein-Oriental Medley”

Program Execution: 3Lz-2T, 3F-1Lo-3S, 3Lo, 2A-3T, 3F, 1Lz, 2A

Costume Assessment: honestly, it was kind of garish. I don’t know what this program was supposed to be about, but I can’t think of any theme/narrative that would require a “leopard in a paint factory” dress.

What I Liked About This Performance: her energetic footwork, fantastic spins, and the absolutely gigantic 2A-3T. Plus, her commitment to selling this admittedly bizarre but kind of cool program. But mostly the 2A-3T. *Grabby hands*

What I Didn’t Like About This Performance: it was a weird and slightly confusing mix of an attempt at a “fun program” and an attempt at a “serious program,” which meant it didn’t make much sense. A let-down, especially considering that her short program flawlessly pulled off both.

Wuzrobbed?: a little.

4. Polina Edmunds, USA-113.57/161.71

Music: “Peer Gynt”

Program Execution: 3Lz-3T, 3F-1Lo-3S, 2A, 3F, 3Lz, 3Lo-2T, 2A

Costume Assessment: I liked this dress for Polina in that it was youthful and age-appropriate, but still sophisticated enough to appear mature. Even the hair jewelry isn’t too bad-I actually kind of like it. (Present-day Polina should be reminded that she wore this next time she goes to the dressmaker’s.)

What I Liked About This Performance: well, first of all, it was clean. And I really liked the way it used her arms-I mean, if you have arms as long as hers, you might as well make them look nice. The light, dainty choreography suited her very well.

What I Didn’t Like About This Performance: there wasn’t much, but if I had to pick something, it would probably be her sit spin, which has never been particularly pretty.

3. Evgenia Medvedeva, Russia-104.93/163.68

Music: “La Califfa,” “Never Gonna Miss You”

Program Execution: 3F-3T, 3Lz, 3F, 2A-3T (stepout), 3S-2T(‘tano)-2T(‘tano), 2A

Costume Assessment: I like this dress a lot, but the gloves were majorly distracting. The dress was great-great color, great sparkle, great back-but the gloves were nearly the length of her arm and it looked very weird. She wears gloves with a lot of her costumes, so she might need them for some practical purpose, but the kind she had for this year’s free skate-matching her costume, but not long-were much better.

What I Liked About This Performance: Evgenia’s extension is really nice here, and all of her choreographic movements and footwork match the music very well.

What I Didn’t Like About This Performance: that 2A-3T was the one of the scariest jumps I’ve ever seen, and the flying sit wasn’t very aesthetically pleasing, but nothing major.

Wuzrobbed?: no.

2. Serafima Sakhanovich, Russia-112.30/172.86

Music: “Closed School”

Program Execution: 3F-3T, 3Lz, 3F-1Lo-3S, 2A, 3Lo, 2A (stepout), 3Lz-2T

Costume Assessment: serviceable, but very bland.

What I Liked About This Performance: I thought Serafima’s interpretation of this music was good, and she gave quite a bit of face. Her speed was also excellent.

What I Didn’t Like About This Performance: again, the scary jumps. I’ve figured out what it was that scared me about her landings: she lands with her chest down and her knees rather stiff and bends them sharply on impact, which is both jarring to watch and very likely terrible for her joints.

Wuzrobbed?: no.

1. Maria Sotskova, Russia-115.46/176.75

Music: “Pina” Soundtrack

Program Execution: 3Lo, 3Lz-3T, 3F (shaky landing), 3Lz, 2A-3T-2T, 3S-2T, 2A

Costume Assessment: the dress could have been okay-not great, but okay-if not for the shredded stuff on the shoulders. It looks like a cat got at her dress. Otherwise, it’s okay, but nothing great. I did like her hair, though.

What I Liked About This Performance: “Pina” is a very quirky piece of music, and Maria’s choreography and interpretation definitely showed that. In general, this was a very well-choreographed program. Her spins were great, too.

Wuzrobbed?: no.

 

In Retrospect: 2013-14 Junior Grand Prix Final-Ladies SP

I’m trying a new thing! *Jazz hands*

“In Retrospect” is a thing I will occasionally do spontaneously with no predictability. Essentially, I pick a past competition (at least two seasons ago, or, 2013-14 and before) and a discipline and write two posts-for the SP and FS-in which I talk about the top 5 (6 in case of GPF, obviously) skaters’ programs. And since I’ve been wanting to watch more of Serafima Sakhanovich lately (for reasons I don’t really know), I chose the 2013 Junior GPF for my first post.

Skaters are discussed in placement order. Here goes!

 

6th. Angela Wang, USA-44.69

Program Execution: Fall on 3Lz, part of intended combo; 2A clean; Popped 3Lo (mandatory solo jump) into 1Lo-invalidated

Costume Evaluation: I like this dress a lot. In some of the up-close shots, you can see the elaborate beading/crystaling/sparkle-ing on the top of the bodice-it’s very “wow” even from far away, but up close, it is very elaborate and gorgeous.

What I Liked About This Performance: Angela, particularly in this program, has a lovely refinement and finishes all her movements very nicely. It makes for a very polished, mature look that most of her competitors lacked.

What I Didn’t Like About This Performance: duh…it was a headcasey disaster.

Wuzrobbed?: No. Even though the next-worst performance had a fall and no combo, Angela didn’t get credit for a combo OR a solo jump. Her PCS was a little bit low, but I can understand that, given the execution.

5th. Polina Edmunds, USA-48.20

Program Execution: Shaky landing and no combo on 3Lz; fall on 3Lo; 2A clean

Costume Evaluation: first of all, there is a reason that neon yellow color is not found in nature. It simply isn’t flattering. But, given the theme of the program, it worked pretty well. (Read: in the context of a cha-cha program, I didn’t hate it.)

What I Liked About This Performance: Polina has had two seasons of subpar programs that not only did not showcase her newfound maturity, but gained her a reputation as being boring as tar. It is easy to forget that it wasn’t always like this: way back in Polina’s repertoire are gems like this one, programs that played up her strengths and entertained the audience. I love the way this program uses her long limbs (arm choreo!!!), excellent twizzle variations, and balletic grace. It’s kind of sad that she seems to have artistically regressed since the 2013-14 season, because if this is any indication, she could have become an amazing performer.

What I Didn’t Like About This Performance: again, headcasey disaster.

4th. Alexandra Proklova, Russia-51.27

Program Execution: 3Lz-turns-3T; slight turnout on 3Lo; clean 2A from spread eagle

Costume Evaluation: I like this dress a lot! Though I’m not a huge fan of the fishnet-ish sleeves, the tutu skirt is fabulous enough to make up for it. (If you’ve ever read my blog, you’re probably acquainted with my love of skating tutus and should’ve seen this coming. :p)

What I Liked About This Performance: a better question might be, what didn’t I like? This tiny child was amazingly refined and all of her elements and movements were beautifully polished. The 2A was one of the nicest I’ve seen from a Russian junior, and out of a really cool spread eagle transition. Her layback and Biellman are Yulia Lipnitskaya-quality. The footwork was to die for. And that twizzle sequence with the leg movements that mimicked (I think) a fouette turn? Brilliant. It is incredibly freaking sad that Alexandra has been injured so often since then. *Sulks off to cry in a corner*

What I Didn’t Like About This Performance: there was only one thing I could find fault with here. Throughout the program, Alexandra did at least four extremely pretty spirals that were held for approximately a millisecond. Nooooo, that is not how you choreograph your program if you have an amazing spiral! I understand that she was using them as transitions, but couldn’t one of them have been held?

Wuzrobbed?: Probably not, considering the mistake on the combination, but I liked her the most.

3rd. Evgenia Medvedeva, Russia-58.75

Program Execution: clean 3F-3T; clean 3Lo; clean 2A

Costume Evaluation: I also loved this dress. The color was lovely on Evgenia, it has a tutu, and the gold accents looked really good on red.

What I Liked About This Performance: Evgenia’s musicality was on point in this performance-she hit every accent perfectly, and it made a noticeable difference. She had a very nice lightness over the ice and it actually sort of looked like she was floating. Oh, and no ‘tanos!

What I Didn’t Like About This Performance: her layback spin was not pretty.

Wuzrobbed?: heck to the yes. I actually decided to include a “wuzrobbed” category because of this. She was cleaner than Serafima, and I didn’t see any noticeable difference between them artistically (I preferred Evgenia’s interpretation and program, but that’s just me). Totally robbed.

2. Serafima Sakhanovich, Russia-60.56

Program Execution: landed but forward/swingy 3F-3T; clean 3Lo; clean 2A

Costume Evaluation: fine, but a little generic.

What I Liked About This Performance: she was very connected with her music, her speed was excellent, and there were many Ina Bauers/spread eagles used as transitions  (as there should be).

What I Didn’t Like About This Performance: all of her jumps were insanely swingy and, frankly, terrifying. And I feel like she might’ve been giving the performance a little bit too much-my main complaint with this, besides scary jumps, was that I felt like her interpretation wasn’t subtle enough. (I feel bad about this, because I really have liked all of her recent programs, and because she was only 13, but it had to be said.)

Wuzrobbed?: no.

1st. Maria Sotskova, Russia-61.29

Program Execution: clean 3Lz-3T; clean 3Lo; clean 2A

Costume Evaluation: This costume can be summed up as “Renissance Court Jester-Slash-14th-Century-Plague-Doctor.” Possibly the court jester part was intentional-she was skating to Vivaldi, after all-but I still don’t like it.

What I Liked About This Performance: all I could think while I was watching this was Baby Carolina Kostner! Maria’s speed, long lines, polish and big, tidy jumps reminded me a lot of a young Carolina, and that is definitely a compliment. Her haircutter was amazing, too.

What I Didn’t Like About This Performance: the costume, and that is literally it.

Wuzrobbed?: she won, so…no.

Part 2, the Ladies FS, will probably be up sometime this weekend. Hope you enjoyed! If you have a request for a past event you would like me to cover in a future “In Retrospective,” please leave a comment. That was a very enjoyable post to write and I’ve only been following skating since Sochi, so…poll time!

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. 

“Hungary” For Gold: Bits and Pieces of Jr. Worlds (pt. 3)

Wow, what a competition!

This year’s Junior Worlds was full of surprises from start to finish. From dramatic comebacks in the men’s and ladies’ FSes to the Year Of Small Federation Champions to THAT ISU BIO and, most recently, a decisive victory by yet another powerhouse American ice dance team (it’s like the Russian ladies and I LOVE IT SO MUCH!), it was an event unlike any other and I’m sure I will come away from this with very fond memories of the craziness that went down here.

So, in the Grand IceNetwork Variety Post Tradition, I am closing the “Hungary” For Gold post series with a best-dressed analysis. 🙂 There will be one costuming winner in each segment of the competition-ladies SP and FS, men’s SP and FS, SD and FD, and pairs SP and FS-and winners in a few other random categories. (The skater’s placement is indicated in parenthesis.)

Best-Dressed in the Ladies SP: Marin Honda (1st) 

Marin Honda may have won the Junior World title, but that isn’t the only thing she won this weekend: she’s also the winner of the best-dressed award for the ladies SP. 🙂 I love the multicolored skirt (which seems to be designed to look like a flower, and looks awesome when she spins) and the pale pink color is very flattering on her. Very delicate and feminine, which went perfectly with her “Spring Sonata” short program.

Best-Dressed in the Ladies FS: Tyler Pierce (6th) 

It is a bit hard to see the smaller details on this dress in the picture (the only one I could find that was okay-quality and showed the dress in full), but wow, this is one intricate dress. It must’ve been extremely labor-intensive to make all those little jagged cutouts on the bodice, not to mention hand-applying the crystals (and there are obviously a lot of them)! But I think my favorite thing about it is actually the sleeves. For some reason, I am obsessed with colored mesh sleeves, and the grey mesh under the black fabric looked absolutely stunning. Also, the neckline is perfection. The whole thing is stunning, and as “Danse Macabre”-ish a dress as you could find.

Best-Dressed in the Short Dance: Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (2nd)

As is usually the case in ice dance, Michael’s costume is fine and suitably non-crazy, but it’s Rachel’s dress that catches your eye-and it’s gorgeous. The gold sparkly stuff (is it glitter or crystals? I’m not sure) looks amazing on the white chiffon, and the illusion mesh sleeves actually match her skin!!! The mock turtleneck was a nice touch. Really, everyone should be getting their costumes from whoever made these.

Best-Dressed in the Free Dance: Marjorie Lajoie/Zachary Lagha (

In addition to fringe skirts (see below), I am a total sucker for elaborate tutus (two words: Elena Ilinykh) and these costumes were really nice. Zachary is basically wearing your average paso doble SD costume (they’re skating to Don Quixote). But, again, it’s the girl’s dress that’s meant to catch your eye: the lacing on the sleeves was extremely cool and like nothing I’d ever seen before, and the tutu looked like it had sparkly butterfly wings on it…which somehow worked.

 

Best Dressed in the Pairs SP: Bryn Hoffman/Bryce Chudak (8th)

As you can probably tell from the costumes, this was a “Chicago” program, and these costumes are, indeed, very “Chicago”-y. The fringe skirt on Bryn’s dress looked really cool in flight (did that sound as weird as I think it did?) and the sparkly geometric details on the bodice were a fun touch. Bryce was wearing suspenders, which I will only accept in 1920’s-themed programs (which this was…obviously), but otherwise his costume was a bit boring…oh well. The pairs short didn’t have any particularly fantastic costumes, IMO, so I had to pick something and these were the best I could find.

Best-Dressed in the Pairs FS: Anastasia Mishina/Vladislav Mirzoev (2nd)

I was originally going to go with Borisova/Sopot’s costumes for this, but after actually writing it up I realized I had way too many criticisms of them and my little blurb sounded like a really long backhanded compliment. (However, I came up with an analogy that compared Dmitry Sopot’s shirt to the Nazca Lines that I felt that warranted a mention, so I’m mentioning it. 😉 ) I went with my safer option instead (these), and I realize now that I like them a lot more. Vladislav looks normal and nothing on his costume could be compared to oversized Peruvian petroglyphs, so that is a costuming success in my book. And Anastasia’s dress is very fun: a green fringe skirt and  a sparkly spandex bodice with a one-shoulder neckline sounds like it should be a major costuming misfire, but looks surprisingly great. Sassy and shiny and very 20’s-ish (if you haven’t already guessed, I love all things 1920’s in skating-fringe skirts, ice dance Charleston and Finnstep SDs, you name it…)

Best-Dressed in the Men’s Short Program: Deniss Vasiljevs (8th)

If I had to design a costume for a “Puttin’ on the Ritz” program, it would probably look somewhat like this. Very snazzy. 😉

Best-Dressed in the Men’s Free Skate: Daniel Samohin (1st)

I like men’s costumes to be interesting and colorful and fitting to the program without being weird or crazy. This is interesting, colorful and fitting to the music without being weird or crazy, so I obviously liked it. For some reason I particularly like the red satin collar and back of the vest. I legitimately have no idea why…also, any costume that manages to incorporate a cravat without making the skater look like a bad Mozart impersonator is doing something right. 😉

The Takahito Mura Award for the Best Costume That’s So Weird It Works: Maria Golubtsova/Kirill Belobrov (18th) 

I am glad I decided to watch the earlier groups of the FD despite the fact that they didn’t have any medal contenders in them, because if I didn’t, I would’ve missed these gloriously literal costuming disasters. This Ukrainian team whose names I can barely spell skated to the Super Mario Brothers soundtrack-as you probably guessed already-and apparently someone thought they needed to wear the most literal costumes imaginable. And they remind me of one of the reasons I love ice dance: in what other sport would you ever see someone competing with a rhinestone mustache on their chest? I almost can’t believe this exists, but it is for the good of humanity that it does. :p

Best Costume Featuring Bad Modern Art: Kevin Aymoz (9th)

As I once said of Ruslan Zhiganshin’s FD costume: “Give me one good reason you should ever have a face on your shirt.”

Actually, I am not sure this is even a face. It’s more like an eye and some weird squiggly lines…

I am officially out of ideas for awards to give here, so I’m going to wrap it up. Hope y’all enjoyed this post and the Junior Worlds series in general. 🙂 

“Hungary” For Gold: Bits & Pieces of Jr. Worlds (pt. 2)

The ladies event just finished up at the 2016 Junior World Figure Skating Championships, and though not as bizarre results-wise as the men’s event, it had its share of crazy. Add that to breaking news on the Suspicious ISU Bio Situation™, last-minute injuries, and the free dance about to begin, you’re in for an interesting wrapup.

 

Ladies FS: the Russian Streak is Broken 

Perhaps the most notable happening of the event was the breaking of the Russian winning streak. Russian ladies have won the Junior World titles more times consecutively than I care to count, but this year, one skater capitalized on the surprise withdrawls of two of the Russians (more on that later) and snatched the title out of Russian hands. (In 2nd place was Russian Maria Sotskova, so they were not far off, but still!)

14-year-old Marin Honda of Japan, the JGPF bronze medalist, won the title with a massive score and two pristine performances. Here is her free skate:

 

Russia’s Maria Sotskova won the silver medal with a mostly-clean performance:

Rounding out the podium was last year’s bronze medalist, Wakaba Higuchi of Japan, who fought back from a tough SP to defend her bronze medal:

In fourth place was the third Japanese skater, Yuna Shiraiwa, who also fought back from a lackluster SP:

Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbaeva rounded out the top five, coming back from a short program that got a five-point deduction because it was interrupted by to a nosebleed:

In 6th place was American Tyler Pierce, whose Free Skate is not on YouTube yet. Major props to her for FINALLY breaking her Junior Worlds curse (she’s bombed and placed 14th and 19th there the last two years)!

Last-Minute Withdrawals

We were all surprised when Polina Tskurskaya, the gold-medal favorite in the ladies event, withdrew shortly before the SP because of an injury she sustained in practice, but that wasn’t the end of the Russian ladies’ bad luck. Teammate Alisa Fedichkina, who won the short program, withdrew from the free skate with yet another injury (this one from the off-ice warm up). No details on Alisa’s injury have been released; whatever it is, I wish both skaters a fast and full recovery.

Weird Free Dances (So Far) 

The free dance is currently underway, and I thought it was worth a mention that the first team skated to Super Mario Brothers (in literal Mario outfits…) and the second team skated to a rock opera about Mozart (the music was actually kind of cool, but a rock opera about Mozart?!?). It’s not even close to over yet, but I thought those two programs garnered a mention.

These variety pieces have been a lot of fun to write, so I hope I can get in one more before the events in and maybe even a few live from worlds! Hopefully enough weird things happen in the FD to warrant another installment.