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! 🙂

Advertisements

The GP Assignments Post

It’s that time of year again: that day we wait for for months, only for the announcement to be made four hours later than desired expected, and then become even more impatient for the season to start.

It’s Grand Prix Assignment Release Day/Week (#latetotheparty)!

So, here are my thoughts on this! Events will be covered in chronological order. For reference, here are the entry lists (copied and pasted from the ISU website, because I am supremely good at pilfering things so I won’t have to write them myself):

 

Skate America

Chicago, IL October 21-23, 2016

Skate Canada Int.

Mississauga, ON October 28-30, 2016

Rostelecom Cup

Moscow November 4-6, 2016

Trophée de France

Paris November 11-13, 2016

Audi Cup of China

Beijing November 18-20, 2016

NHK Trophy

Sapporo November 25-27, 2016

Julianne SEGUIN / Charlie BILODEAU CAN

Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD CAN

Kirsten MOORE-TOWERS / Michael MARINARO CAN

Miriam ZIEGLER / Severin KIEFER AUT

Lubov ILIUSHECHKINA / Dylan MOSCOVITCH CAN

Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD CAN

Wenjing SUI / Cong HAN CHN

Lubov ILIUSHECHKINA / Dylan MOSCOVITCH CAN

Julianne SEGUIN / Charlie BILODEAU CAN

Lola ESBRAT / Andrei NOVOSELOV FRA

Cheng PENG / Yang JIN CHN

Kirsten MOORE-TOWERS / Michael MARINARO CAN

Vanessa JAMES / Morgan CIPRES FRA

TBD CAN

Aliona SAVCHENKO / Bruno MASSOT GER

Vanessa JAMES / Morgan CIPRES FRA

Wenjing SUI / Cong HAN CHN

Cheng PENG / Yang JIN CHN

Kristina ASTAKHOVA / Alexei ROGONOV RUS

Xiaoyu YU / Hao ZHANG CHN

Valentina MARCHEI / Ondrej HOTAREK ITA

Camille MENDOZA / Pavel KOVALEV FRA

Xiaoyu YU / Hao ZHANG CHN

Xuehan WANG / Lei WANG CHN

Evgenia TARASOVA / Vladimir MOROZOV RUS

Nicole DELLA MONICA / Matteo GUARISE ITA

Kristina ASTAKHOVA / Alexei ROGONOV RUS

Aliona SAVCHENKO / Bruno MASSOT GER

Mari VARTMANN / Ruben BLOMMAERT GER

Sumire SUTO / Francis BOUDREAU AUDET
JPN

Madeline AARON / Max SETTLAGE USA

Vera BAZAROVA / Andrei DEPUTAT RUS

Ksenia STOLBOVA / Fedor KLIMOV RUS

Evgenia TARASOVA / Vladimir MOROZOV RUS

Nicole DELLA MONICA / Matteo GUARISE ITA

TBD JPN

Tarah KAYNE / Daniel O SHEA USA

Yuko KAVAGUTI / Alexander SMIRNOV RUS

Natalia ZABIIAKO / Alexander ENBERT RUS

Natalia ZABIIAKO / Alexander ENBERT RUS

Yuko KAVAGUTI / Alexander SMIRNOV RUS

Ksenia STOLBOVA / Fedor KLIMOV RUS

TBD USA

Haven DENNEY / Brandon FRAZIER USA

Alexa SCIMECA / Chris KNIERIM USA

Marissa CASTELLI / Mervin TRAN USA

Alexa SCIMECA / Chris KNIERIM USA

Tarah KAYNE / Daniel O SHEA USA

8

8

8

8

8

8

Skate America

Chicago, IL October 21-23, 2016

Skate Canada Int.

Mississauga, ON October 28-30, 2016

Rostelecom Cup

Moscow November 4-6, 2016

Trophée de France

Paris November 11-13, 2016

Audi Cup of China

Beijing November 18-20, 2016

NHK Trophy

Sapporo November 25-27, 2016

Brendan KERRY AUS

Patrick CHAN CAN

Elladj BALDE CAN

Chafik BESSEGHIER FRA

Patrick CHAN CAN

Elladj BALDE CAN

Jorik HENDRICKX BEL

Liam FIRUS CAN

Chafik BESSEGHIER FRA

Romain PONSART FRA

Boyang JIN CHN

Nam NGUYEN CAN

Nam NGUYEN CAN

TBD CAN

Alexei BYCHENKO ISR

Ivan RIGHINI ITA

Han YAN CHN

Alexei BYCHENKO ISR

Boyang JIN CHN

Han YAN CHN

Keiji TANAKA JPN

Takahito MURA JPN

TBD CHN

Ivan RIGHINI ITA

Daisuke MURAKAMI JPN

Michal BREZINA CZE

Shoma UNO JPN

Sota YAMAMOTO JPN

Michal BREZINA CZE

Yuzuru HANYU JPN

Shoma UNO JPN

Daniel SAMOHIN ISR

Deniss VASILJEVS LAT

Denis TEN KAZ

Daniel SAMOHIN ISR

Keiji TANAKA JPN

Denis TEN KAZ

Yuzuru HANYU JPN

Artur DMITRIEV RUS

Artur DMITRIEV RUS

Daisuke MURAKAMI JPN

Sota YAMAMOTO JPN

Maxim KOVTUN RUS

Takahito MURA JPN

Mikhail KOLYADA RUS

Adian PITKEEV RUS

Maxim KOVTUN RUS

Mikhail KOLYADA RUS

Sergei VORONOV RUS

Alexander PETROV RUS

TBD RUS

Javier FERNANDEZ ESP

Alexander PETROV RUS

Adian PITKEEV RUS

Jason BROWN USA

Grant HOCHSTEIN USA

Javier FERNANDEZ ESP

Nathan CHEN USA

Sergei VORONOV RUS

Jason BROWN USA

Adam RIPPON USA

Ross MINER USA

Alexander MAJOROV SWE

Adam RIPPON USA

Max AARON USA

Nathan CHEN USA

TBD USA

Misha GE UZB

Max AARON USA

Misha GE UZB

Ross MINER USA

Grant HOCHSTEIN USA

12

12

12

12

12

12

Skate America

Chicago, IL October 21-23, 2016

Skate Canada Int.

Mississauga, ON October 28-30, 2016

Rostelecom Cup

Moscow November 4-6, 2016

Trophée de France

Paris November 11-13, 2016

Audi Cup of China

Beijing November 18-20, 2016

NHK Trophy

Sapporo November 25-27, 2016

Isabella TOBIAS / Ilia TKACHENKO ISR

Piper GILLES / Paul POIRIER
CAN

Viktoria KAVALIOVA / Yurii BIELIAIEV BLR

Piper GILLES / Paul POIRIER CAN

Alexandra PAUL / Mitchell ISLAM CAN

Tessa VIRTUE / Scott MOIR CAN

Charlene GUIGNARD / Marco FABBRI ITA

Alexandra PAUL / Mitchell ISLAM CAN

Kaitlyn WEAVER / Andrew POJE CAN

Lorenza ALESSANDRINI / Pierre SOUQUET FRA

Kaitlyn WEAVER / Andrew POJE CAN

Marie-Jade LAURIAULT / Romain LE GAC FRA

Kana MURAMOTO / Chris REED JPN

Tessa VIRTUE / Scott MOIR CAN

Laurence FOURNIER BEAUDRY / Nikolaj SORENSEN DEN

Marie-Jade LAURIAULT / Romain LE GAC FRA

Hong CHEN / Yan ZHAO CHN

Gabriella PAPADAKIS / Guillaume CIZERON FRA

Rebeka KIM / Kirill MINOV KOR

Shiyue WANG / Xinyu LIU CHN

Charlene GUIGNARD / Marco FABBRI ITA

Gabriella PAPADAKIS / Guillaume CIZERON FRA

Shiyue WANG / Xinyu LIU CHN

Penny COOMES / Nicholas BUCKLAND GBR

Ekaterina BOBROVA / Dmitri SOLOVIEV RUS

Laurence FOURNIER BEAUDRY / Nikolaj SORENSEN DEN

Ekaterina BOBROVA / Dmitri SOLOVIEV RUS

Penny COOMES / Nicholas BUCKLAND GBR

TBD CHN

Anna CAPPELLINI / Luca LANOTTE ITA

Elena ILINYKH / Ruslan ZHIGANSHIN RUS

Anna CAPPELLINI / Luca LANOTTE ITA

Tiffany ZAHORSKY / Jonathan GUERREIRO RUS

Isabella TOBIAS / Ilia TKACHENKO ISR

Natalia KALISZEK / Maksim SPODIREV POL

Emi HIRAI / Marien DE LA ASUNCION JPN

Alisa AGAFONOVA / Alper UCAR TUR

Alexandra STEPANOVA / Ivan BUKIN
RUS

TBD RUS

Elena ILINYKH / Ruslan ZHIGANSHIN RUS

Victoria SINITSINA / Nikita KATSALAPOV RUS

Kana MURAMOTO / Chris REED JPN

Madison HUBBELL / Zachary DONOHUE USA

Federica TESTA / Lukas CSOLLEY SVK

Alisa AGAFONOVA / Alper UCAR TUR

Federica TESTA / Lukas CSOLLEY SVK

Alexandra STEPANOVA / Ivan BUKIN
RUS

Natalia KALISZEK / Maksim SPODIREV POL

Maia SHIBUTANI / Alex SHIBUTANI
USA

Madison CHOCK / Evan BATES USA

Madison CHOCK / Evan BATES USA

Alexandra NAZAROVA / Maxim NIKITIN UKR

Anastasia CANNUSCIO / Colin MCMANUS USA

Victoria SINITSINA / Nikita KATSALAPOV RUS

TBD USA

Kaitlin HAWAYEK / Jean-Luc BAKER USA

Elliana POGREBINSKY / Alex BENOIT
USA

Madison HUBBELL / Zachary DONOHUE USA

Maia SHIBUTANI / Alex SHIBUTANI USA

Kaitlin HAWAYEK / Jean-Luc BAKER USA

10

10

10

10

10

10

Skate America

Chicago, IL October 21-23, 2016

Skate Canada Int.

Mississauga, ON October 28-30, 2016

Rostelecom Cup

Moscow November 4-6, 2016

Trophée de France

Paris November 11-13, 2016

Audi Cup of China

Beijing November 18-20, 2016

NHK Trophy

Sapporo November 25-27, 2016

Gabrielle DALEMAN CAN

Alaine CHARTRAND CAN

Zijun LI CHN

Gabrielle DALEMAN CAN

Kaetlyn OSMOND CAN

Alaine CHARTRAND CAN

Roberta RODEGHIERO ITA

Kaetlyn OSMOND CAN

Roberta RODEGHIERO ITA

Laurine LECAVELIER FRA

Zijun LI CHN

Wakaba HIGUCHI JPN

Mao ASADA JPN

TBD CAN

Yura MATSUDA JPN

Mae Berenice MEITE FRA

Ziquan ZHAO CHN

Yura MATSUDA JPN

Mai MIHARA JPN

Rika HONGO JPN

Kanako MURAKAMI JPN

Mao ASADA JPN

TBD CHN

Satoko MIYAHARA JPN

Kanako MURAKAMI JPN

Satoko MIYAHARA JPN

Elizabet TURSYNBAEVA KAZ

Wakaba HIGUCHI JPN

Rika HONGO JPN

Elizabet TURSYNBAEVA KAZ

Angelina KUCHVALSKA LAT

Yuka NAGAI JPN

Angelina KUCHVALSKA LAT

Yuka NAGAI JPN

Mai MIHARA JPN

Alena LEONOVA RUS

So Youn PARK KOR

Da Bin CHOI KOR

Julia LIPNITSKAIA RUS

So Youn PARK KOR

Elena RADIONOVA RUS

Anna POGORILAYA RUS

Julia LIPNITSKAIA RUS

Maria ARTEMIEVA RUS

Anna POGORILAYA RUS

Alena LEONOVA RUS

Elizaveta TUKTAMYSHEVA RUS

Maria SOTSKOVA RUS

Serafima SAKHANOVICH RUS

Evgenia MEDVEDEVA RUS

Elena RADIONOVA RUS

Evgenia MEDVEDEVA RUS

Joshi HELGESSON SWE

Nicole RAJICOVA SVK

Gracie GOLD USA

Elizaveta TUKTAMYSHEVA RUS

Nicole RAJICOVA SVK

Maria SOTSKOVA RUS

Karen CHEN USA

Karen CHEN USA

Ashley WAGNER USA

Joshi HELGESSON SWE

Polina EDMUNDS USA

Gracie GOLD USA

Courtney HICKS USA

Polina EDMUNDS USA

TBD USA

Mirai NAGASU USA

Courtney HICKS USA

Tyler PIERCE USA

Ashley WAGNER USA

Mirai NAGASU USA

12

12

12

12

12

12

Skate America 

 

LADIES

What I’m Excited About: firstly, Mao Asada! Super excited that one of her events will be in my time zone (not actually mine, but you get the point) so I will get to watch her live. I’m so glad that Serafima Sakhanovich got a GP after a dismal last season. Oh, and Yulia! And also Mai Mihara-I didn’t even know she was going senior, let alone getting two GPs, but I love watching the debuting seniors so I’m happy about it. In dance, I’m excited that the Shibutanis got SA because, well, Shibs. And I’m thrilled that one of my latest ‘discoveries,’ Tobias/Tkachenko, got this spot-I didn’t know if they would even get two spots, let alone this one! Oh, and Ilinykh/Zhiganshin! 🙂 In pairs, I’m really excited to see Seguin/Bilodeau back at Skate America-they had one of my favorite performances at last year’s event. And I love watching Aaron/Settlage. In men: Shoma’s back, which means my favorite skaters in each discipline (Shibs, Gracie, Shoma, Sui/Han) are going to be at Skate America…*drools*

What I’m Not Excited About: I feel like the Gracie-Vs.-Ashley dynamic in this event is going to mess with both of their heads and potentially knock one or both out of GPF contention. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll be really interesting, but if the media milks it like they’ve milked the Ashley/Gracie “rivalry” at every recent Nationals, it could be really bad for both of them. Not a good move, USFSA. In pairs: what the heck are Sui/Han doing on this list?!? I love them to pieces, but Sui recently (last month) had ankle surgery that was supposed to have a four-month recovery period. That is barely the amount of time between the surgery and SA, and even though they reportedly already had programs, I feel like they will either show up super unprepared and bomb or show up still injured and make the injury worse. I seriously hope neither of these things is true, but it seems highly unlikely that something bad won’t happen. The Chinese Federation’s exploits continue…*hides in a corner*

TBA Spot Predictions: Ladies-Tyler Pierce; Men’s-Richard Dornbush; Pairs-Denney/Frazier; Dance-Cannuscio/McManus

Skate Canada 

What I’m Excited About: For starters, Evgenia vs. Elizaveta. Somebody get me some popcorn, because that’s gonna be a good one. (Provided Elizaveta is in better form than last season, which I think she will be-no source there, just gut feeling.) And we get to see Rika’s new programs, which look great in the clips I’ve seen. Alaine has another chance to not bomb and hopefully have programs as great as last year’s. In dance, the much-anticipated return of Virtue/Moir should be exciting, and I’m excited to see how Cappellini/Lanotte-who grew on me drastically last season-will do. And I cannot wait to see Hawayek/Baker, who perenially have some of the best FDs in the business. In pairs, I’m really excited to see Denney/Frazier back in competition. For the men, Daniel Samohin is making his senior debut and it’ll be interesting to see how he stacks up. Also, Grant Hochstein (does anyone not love Grant after that FS at Worlds?!?).

What I’m Not Excited About: There is a 90% chance one or both Canadian ladies currently in this event will headcase dramatically. And it’s really, really sad to see “Yu/Zhang” in print on any official document. Whyyyyyyyyyy?!?!?! (I was not even invested in either of them! Why am I so upset? One of life’s many mysteries…)

TBA Spot Predictions: Ladies-Veronik Mallet (is she ever not the SC host pick?); Men-Kevin Reynolds; Pairs-um, I don’t even know any Canadian pairs who aren’t on this list…hehe.

Rostelecom Cup 

What I’m Excited About: on the ladies side, this one’s got a lot of my favorites-Zijun, Nicole, Elizabet, Elena-and it’s always exciting/painful to see which Anna will show up (Scaryfalls McHeadcase or “This is Why I’m A World Medalist, Suckers!”). In dance, it will be interesting to see if Weaver/Poje will redeem their disappointing Worlds, and GP deubts-this time, Porgebinsky/Benoit’s-are just about my favorite thing ever. Pairs has Seguin/Bilodeau and also Astakhova/Rogonov, who-totally off topic-need to get some kind of award for coming up with the idea of making their free skate a sequel to their last one (I mean, I didn’t love their last FS, but how cool is that?!?). Stolbova/Klimov never fail to bring the drama and excitement-they’re wildly unpredictable, but never boring. In men’s-Deniss Vasiljevs’ senior debut.

What I’m Not Excited About: there’s not much about this one that I don’t like. 🙂

TBA Spot Predictions: men’s-no idea.

Trophee De France 

What I’m Excited About: GRACIE AND MAO AND WAKABA AND MARIA AND TYLER AHFIOWHFIOHFIORHOIRHIOWRHGOIHGIOHRGQEHGOHGIOQHGIOQHGIOHQIOGHQOG  THIS IS GOING TO BE SUCH A FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC LADIES EVENT OMG…

…I promise I’ve calmed down. I am just really excited about that ladies list.

In other disciplines, because they exist too: more of Tobias/Tkachenko and Ilinykh/Zhiganshin in dance, and also, the debut of #TeamSuspiciousBio! (I seriously got a kick out of debating the validity of the famous line in their bio-if you don’t remember, see if you can find it here-during Junior Worlds and it is literally all I can think about whenever I watch/read about them, but it’s made me like them more, so I guess it was a good thing?) Whew, sorry for the extreme run-on sentence. Nathan Chen is making his GP debut and if he doesn’t break himself again, I am excited to see how he factors in at the senior level.

What I’m Not Excited About: annoying people online with my constant blathering about Lauriault/Le Gac’s biography. :p JK, I never don’t enjoy bringing that up in totally irrelevant conversations. Whee! *frolics maniacally*

TBD Spot Predictions:  there are none…

Cup of China 

What I’m Excited About: Elena, Karen, Rika, and Zijun, in that order. Also, the GP debut of Vartmann/Blommaert, who I really liked at Nebelhorn last year. And the Shibs, because every situation is improved by  a touch of Shibness. (I don’t care that that’s not a thing.  I am going to make that a thing.) I have a bit of a (huge) soft spot for Cannuscio/McManus, so I’m excited about that, too.

(Also, in a very twisted way, I kind of am looking forward to Yu/Zheng vs. Peng/Jin. I know. I will go sit in a corner and think about what I’ve done.)

What I’m Not Excited About: …?

TBD SPOT PREDICTIONS: I know nothing about Chinese singles outside of Zijun Li, Boyang Jin and Han Yan, and even less about Chinese ice dancers, so…pass.

NHK Trophy 

What I’m Excited About: another Wakaba/Maria matchup! Why am I suddenly so excited about these two? I mean, I always liked both of them, but why am I going berserk over them getting the same GPs? Egh, obsessions are complicated. Hawayek/Baker and Virtue/Moir make nice highlights for the dance event. Wang/Wang are a lovely pair and don’t seem to get out of China all that often, so I’m excited to see them skate. And open TBA pair spot + no more Japanese pairs = maybe a spot for someone on the sub list that I like?

What I’m Not Excited About: nothing, really.

TBA Spot Predictions: pass.

 

Thoughts? I’m personally very happy with nearly everything on these lists. 

 

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

Yup, it’s back!

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

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

Top Three Pairs Short Program Costumes 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Three Pairs Free Skate Costumes 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Three Short Dance Costumes 

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

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

Attractive orange costumes are practically an extinct species.

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

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

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

There are many things I love about these costumes:

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

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

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

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

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

Top Three Free Dance Costumes 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

A Few of My Favorite Things, 2015-16: Free Skates

So, you know how in yesterday’s post, I said I was going to try to spread this series out over several weeks?

I didn’t.

At least, not the first two posts.

If you read my last post, you will probably know how this works. I list my three favorite SPs and FSes in each discipline and say why I like them. It’s pretty simple. However, it is hard for me to remember all the programs I loved in each discipline. I frequently accidentally leave out one of my favorite programs and forget about it for about a day until I remember, slap myself, and promise to give it a shout-out in the next post. That being said, I left Alaine Chartrand’s short program out of yesterday’s SP post, despite it being one of the ones I knew I wanted to include when I came up with the concept for this series. Deepest apologies; I would have put it in if I remembered.

Okay, that was really long, and I didn’t mean for it to be that long, so here we go.

Top Three Free Dances

  1. Shibutani/Shibutani (“Fix You”)

When IceNetwork’s Twitter did its annual fan vote for best program in each segment of each discipline, the overwhelming majority of voters chose this as the best free dance. Not surprising at all. This is, in my very biased opinion, the single best program in any discipline this season. Just…ugh, it’s too perfect to be real. I got to see this program in person at Worlds and I nearly made myself sick and blew out my vocal chords because I was hyperventilating and shrieking until I could barely breathe. (If you were there and heard someone screaming “‘MURICA!” repeatedly after this performance in Loge 8, that was me.) The placement of the twizzle sequence, the lifts, the step sequences, everything about this program was amazing. I am in such awe of this program that I  have taught myself the twizzle variation (with the leg extended) that they do. LOL. 🙂

2. Cappellini/Lanotte (“La Dolce Vita”)

I like this free dance for most of the same reasons I like their short dance: it’s frothy, frivolous and fun, achieves #costumegoals status, and really stood out from the rest of the top teams’ FDs. Is it me, or were there a LOT of “look at us, we’re arteestick!” free dances this season? I feel like there were, so this was a very nice contrast. Also, I’m very predictable, because I put these in the same order as I did for the SDs.

3. Sinitsina/Katsalapov (“Lo Ci Saro”)

A lot of people criticized this program for being “bland,” but when I saw it at Worlds, I thought it was fantastic. I can’t really put my finger on what it was I liked about it, but I did, so on the list it goes.

Top Three Pairs Free Skates

  1. Seguin/Bilodeau (“A Whiter Shade of Pale”)

I warned you. 😉

Getting to see this program in person at Skate America was one of the highlights of the entire season for me. This program is truly wonderful: lyrical but passionate, delicate but powerful, emotional but subtle. They had SUCH a moment with it at the Grand Prix Final; I was very eager to see it at Worlds, and although they weren’t there, they had many memorable performances with it. It’s taken me from barely knowing they exist to a huge fan of theirs. As I said in the previous post, one of the things that I like most about Seguin/Bilodeau is their connection. This program showcases their connection beautifully.  Highlighting your strengths is one of my criteria for deciding whether or not a program is good, so this program passes with flying colors.

(It made me ship them. You don’t get any better than that.)

2. Sui/Han (“Samson and Delilah”)

When Sui/Han skated this program well, it was completely breathtaking. It’s intense and passionate and never stops building until the end, and when they landed things, the effect was extremely impressive. Everything about this program is BIG: the elements, the choreography, the emotion, Sui’s performance quality…I feel like this program, but especially this particular performance, could be described as “we’re here, we’re perf, and we’re going to leave y’alls in our dust.” A very accurate statement indeed. :p

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

Admit it: this performance made you cry.

Kayne/O’Shea seem to have developed this lovely habit of completely slaying their FS at every competition, demonstrated by their showings at Cup of Russia, 4CC, and (mostly) Worlds, but most prominently at Nationals. There was just something about that particular performance that made it really special. So even though I liked this program a lot before that, it became something special after Nationals.

Top Three Men’s Free Skates

  1. Shoma Uno (“Turandot”)

Everyone’s favorite leprechaun made history at TCC by landing the first ratified 4F in competition, ending his season on a much-needed triumphant note. In addition, his free skate takes top honors in the Men’s FS category of this recap. It was maybe more of an “introverted” interpretation of Turandot (I feel like I’m saying that a lot), but a convincing one, with a lot of cool choreographic bits. (*eh ehm* CANTILEVER!) Gorgeously choreographed and interpreted, with a delightfully punnable costume.

The Leprechaun has his ups and downs, but, being a leprechaun, always ends up with a pot of gold. 😉

2. Grant Hochstein (“Les Miserables”)

This is another program that I basically chose because of one performance. His Worlds free skate was, IMO, the moment of the night (well, one of them). It blew the roof off the place; his interpretation is some of the best I’ve ever seen, actually. A lofty statement, but a deserved one.

3. Yuzuru Hanyu (“Seimei”)

How can I leave out the program that broke the world record twice? I don’t understand how this dude is even real. (However, I will stop saying that because I think it jinxed him at worlds.)

Top Three Ladies Free Skates

  1. Rika Hongo (“Riverdance”)

Rika Hongo’s transformation from a possible contender with poor posture and few standout qualities to a reliable, electrifying performer has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season. I love the way she keeps up the high-energy, appropriately Riverdancy feel of this program throughout, and the ChStSq is one of the best I have ever seen-and that includes everything ever done by Mao Asada! I especially appreciate the Irish dance steps in both StSqs; they were very well-integrated into the program. This free skate has really made me take notice of Rika, and I am surprised by how much I have enjoyed watching her this season. I hope she works with Akiko Suzuki (who choreographed her programs) next season, and can’t wait to see her next programs!

2. Adelina Sotnikova (“Je Suis Malade”)

I might have questionable taste, but I am kind of obsessed with Je Suis Malade. Naturally, any Je Suis Malade program that comes to my attention will be lauded as a masterpiece with excessive hyperboles.

Okay, maybe that was a slight  large exaggeration, but I do typically like Je Suis Malade programs, and Adelina’s was a very good one. She gave it the over-the-top angsty drama it deserves, and I found the program to be very well-choreographed. I can understand why one might not like this program (I mean, if angsty drama isn’t your thing, there is a LOT of angsty drama going on here), but I happen to love overdramatic interpretations, so I enjoyed Adelina’s free skate a lot.

3. Gracie Gold (“Firebird”)

As you may know, I am kind of a noob as far as skating fans go. I have not been watching for very long (I obviously watched the 2014 Olympics, but other than that, my first experiences watching skating were on the 2014-15 GP because I did not have IceNetwork prior to that), so I have not seen very many of the “great” programs. Thus, the only Firebird program I had ever seen before this season was Anna Pogorilaya’s 2014-15 FS, and (no offense to Anna, who has improved a lot since then) virtually any rendition of Firebird would be an improvement over that.

Enter Gracie, the other prominent artistically-challenged blonde, who is actually quite like Anna: a headcase, and not a natural artist, but improving.

This is definitely one of the best programs Gracie has ever had, certainly the best free skate. First of all, The Squat. It is my favorite thing. I can often be found listening to Firebird and randomly squatting (with the correct arms, too :p). Also, I feel like this powerful music is easier for her to interpret than most of what she’s had before. It wasn’t perfect: when the jumps weren’t there, neither was the performance. But when they were, she showed quite a bit more fire and emotion than she ever has before. The style was a good fit for her, so I hope to see her continue to do things similar to this. (She also said many times that she loves this program, so that is always a bonus.)

Well, that’s a wrap…next up, one of the two “best costumes” ones. 

Beantown Beat: The World Championships Extravaganza, pt. 2

I have not written any blog posts since I left home. *Scampers away ashamedly*

When I have not been at the rink, I’ve been sleeping/walking around to historical sites. So I haven’t really had time to write (considering that I get back from the arena at about midnight).

But now it’s raining, so I don’t have to go to historical sites, so I’m going to write more blog posts!

The Last Three Events from the Perspective of a Non-Fan 

I am at this event with a person who is most definitely not a skater, or even a fan (unless fan is defined as “will tolerate it”). So I wanted to get his opinions on everything to see what this event would look like from a non-skater’s perspective. He did not remember enough names to have this completely nailed down, but here is what he thought of the ones he did remember:

Free Dance 

Papadakis/Cizeron: thought they were boring. Did not “get” their skating, if you will.

Shibs: thought they were good & exciting enough for his tastes.

Chock/Bates: liked them as well. He seemed impressed by some of their elements but didn’t say much else.

Cappellini/Lanotte: he said they started out slow but liked them by the end. I told him I would get married in her dress, he wondered if I said “married” or “buried”, and this got turned into a string of ridiculous puns that lasted the entire program. If the lady sitting next to us (who hasn’t said a single word through the three events we’ve been to) is reading this, I am incredibly sorry.

Weaver/Poje: Loved their costumes, but didn’t say anything about their skating.

This was all I remember him saying, besides that Stepanova/Bukin’s music was horrific.

Pairs Short 

Sui/Han: impressed by their elements and liked their costumes, but didn’t say much else.

Duhamel/Radford: liked their music. I don’t remember if he said anything else.

Volosozhar/Trankov: very impressed by their triple twist. Apparently, he really likes twists.  Didn’t like the costumes.

Savchenko/Massot: loved them. Was completely blown away by their twist, loved their costumes, and thought Aliona was pretty. (I tried to get his opinions on people’s actual skating, but he didn’t really remember most of them…except the twists.)

Stolbova/Klimov: he liked them for reasons he could not really describe, but he did remember that he liked Ksenia’s haircut. In his own words, “it matches her personality when she skates.”

Tarasova/Morozov: hated Vladimir’s outfit, but he liked their twist and the program itself.

Men’s Free 

Javier Fernandez: liked that he had personality, and that he skated clean.

Yuzuru Hanyu: was a bit disappointed that he wasn’t the perfect supernatural being I made him out to be. :p I went a little overboard with the “Yuzuru never makes mistakes and is probably an extraterrestrial” thing, and he bought it…but I think he enjoyed it somewhat?

Boyang Jin: was getting food during his program.

Mikhail Kolyada: didn’t have much to say about him.

Patrick Chan: thought he was boring and didn’t like his music.

Adam Rippon: liked his music, that he skated clean, and that he was American and skated clean. Also, he liked his shirt “except the sheer back”, as he put it.

Shoma Uno: indifferent, except that we’ve met him. Agreed that the faceplant looked painful.

Now, Onto the Actual Skating: Free Dance Highlights 

So, Papadakis/Cizeron defended their title, and I liked them better than I have before but I still didn’t love this program. A little boring, and not emotionally moving (for me) at all. I agree with the results-they definitely deserved to win-but this performance did not deserve a world record.

I hyperventilated violently/convulsed/almost fainted.

Literally.

I gotta say, this program has really grown on me. I love Rach 2 but never thought it would work for a free dance; however, by the end of the season, Chock/Bates sold me on this.

I cannot properly express my love for this dress, but I can definitely express my appreciation of this program. It’s good to have a few good free dances that are more lighthearted to offset all the serious ones, and this fit the bill. It was really well-performed here; “frothy” is the word that comes to my mind to describe it.

I still don’t love this program, but I could better-appreciate how technically difficult it was in person. Very intricate, with a lot of difficult transitions. Still boring, though. #GetWeapoABetterFreeDance2k16

More Actual Skating™: Men’s Event Highlights 

In which another 2015 World Champion defends their title. This was really fun to watch in person-he has so much personality and the crowd got really into it. (Whole sections of spectators started screaming whenever he skated by…now that’s performance quality! 😉 Anecdotal bit: one of my close friends is a massive fan of his (we have nicknamed him “Suavier” :p) and wanted updates, so I filmed little bits of this and sent them to her. When I sent her the one of his scores, she went BESERK; this enhanced the experience, obviously. I think we brought him luck. *Wink wink*

YUZURU, YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE A PERSON!

I think I cursed him with my constant “Yuzuru is a Supernatural Extraterrestrial Robot” talk. Oops. Remind me not to say that about Evgenia. (She may not have three quads, but she is reaching robotic levels of consistency and I don’t want to curse her.)

This was a very boring program, but the quads were exciting! Very exciting. He is Quadmaster™. *Nods approvingly* Maybe he should do ice dance to work on his artistry…it would make him unstoppable. LOL.

I think Maxim Kovtun has FINALLY been bumped from the Russian #1 spot. I like Mikhail. He is a good performer, has a biellman, and there is something new and innovative about his style. He’s very quirky, if you will, and his programs are unique and unlike anyone elses’. So I am glad he made such a strong debut here. (Now we just need to get Adian Pitkeev on next year’s world team!)

He may not have gotten onto the podium, but this was a bit of a disaster and I think it was overscored. However, his SS are remarkable in person.

In which the skaters of #Murica actually feed off the hometown advantage and skate well!

See above.

I have to say, this was one of my favorite performances of the event! Yes, it was clean, but it was also very ARTISTIC and PRETTY and all-around extremely enjoyable to watch. THIS is what an alternate is supposed to do (*clears throat* Nam Nguyen): go out and slay in a higher-ranked skater’s absence. Grant definitely succeeded on that front, and I might actually rewatch this performance (I never rewatch men…).

I like things that make me laugh, so I liked this program.

Voiceover: “if you jump, I jump too!”

Jorik: *does jump*

Me: *does single of same jump for lols*

Now, Pairs

In which the Boss Queen and her loyal Bodyguard are the embodiment of perfection.

I honestly cannot wait for their free skate, because they are sassy and fabulous and we ALL need Boss Queen Wenjing Sui in our lives.

The amplitude of their elements was very impressive, but following pairs like Volosozhar/Trankov, Stolbova/Klimov and Sui/Han, their lack of expression and performance quality was extremely obvious.

Maxim’s outfit was a bit distracting (mostly it was all the loose fabric flapping around), but this was a really fun program. They performed it very convincingly, and the crowd really liked it. And now I’ve seen 3 of the 4 reigning Olympic champions in person! (I have got to see Adelina so I can finish my set!)

I am a better person for having seen Savchenko/Massot’s twist. BLESS.

This wasn’t a perfect skate, but Ksenia is an incredible performer so it’s always interesting to watch her do things. :p “I Put a Spell on You” was a fantastic music choice for them because they put a spell on…well, most of the audience.

The Coach Pair™ (get it? :p) was one of my unexpected highlights of the event! I love Irish-themed programs and they did theirs really well. Gorgeous 3Tw, good energy and convincing interpretation-this is another example of what alternates are supposed to do.

I cannot think of anything else to write except that Gracie Gold had an awesome short program that I couldn’t watch because I was on a plane. So until next time, I’m out. 🙂 

“Hungary” For Gold: Bits & Pieces of Jr. Worlds (Pt. 1)

The men’s event at the 2016 Junior World Championships just finished, and it was one that will likely go down in history as one of the weirdest free skates in figure skating history. Why?

Well, first off, none of the top three skaters after the short program medaled.

And secondly, the medalists placed 9th, 8th and 6th in the short program.

I’m pretty sure that, like, never happens.

But the men’s event wasn’t the only unexpected happening at this event (which isn’t even over yet), so I opted to do an IceNetwork-style recap with anecdotal bits and pieces from all of the events, on-and-off ice. So here goes!

 

Men’s Event Mayhem 

While the men’s short program at this competition was cited all over the internet as one of the best-quality events in recent years, it wasn’t the main point of interest. But when a skater pulls up from 9th to 1st with a record-breaking free skate, a skater who failed to qualify for the free skate at last year’s junior worlds wins silver and singlehandedly getting Canada’s three spots back, and the bronze medalist was an alternate and not even going to compete until someone withdrew, anything else seems bland.

Naturally, I needed to blog about it. So here is a play-by-play of how it all went down:

The first medalist to skate was Daniel Samohin, who placed an extremely disappointing 9th in the short program and skated first in the second-to-last group. Clearly, none of this had any effect on him, and he smashed the junior men’s free skate scoring record-165.38 to the previous top score, 163.06 (held by Shoma Uno at last year’s JGPF). His lead held for the rest of the event and he became the first Israeli skater to win a junior world title.

The next medalist in the start order was Canadian Nicolas Nadeau, whose placement was especially remarkable when you consider that he didn’t even qualify for the free skate at last year’s Junior Worlds. It was also payday for Skate Canada: his medal secured three spots for Canadian men at next year’s Junior Worlds and, while I’m not sure how many, quite a few more JGP slots than they had last year.

Dmitri Aliev of Russia, one of the favorites for the title, was the next contender to skate. His fantastic SP set him up well to win or at least medal, although his lead over compatriot Alexander Samarin was extremely small, and enough contenders bombed that it looked likely he would win. The possibility of a win went out the window when he doubled his opening quad, and he made enough mistakes on other jumps to take him out of the medals. Random note: he does one of the coolest transitions I’ve ever seen into his 3F.

The next skater, Deniss Vasiljevs of Latvia, was also on the podium after the short (3rd). However, like Aliev, his free skate took him out of podium contention, with three underrotated jumps and a pop. The underrotated jumps were some of his most valuable-both 3As and a 3Lz-and he didn’t do a quad, which ultimately caused him to fall from 3rd to 8th.

It seems that doubled 4Ts were the order of the day here, and American Vincent Zhou was no exception. Though he completed two quads, several messy landings and the popped quad dropped him from 4th to 5th. It wasn’t a terrible placement, but he definitely could’ve done better. (And here you see American bias in its natural habitat! Hehe. Compared to someone like Kevin Aymoz, he did okay, but I’m sure he wanted to do better than that.)

 

The other American, Tomoki Hiwatashi, skated next. Considering that he was not even supposed to compete here until gold medal favorite Nathan Chen withdrew, nobody was expecting much of him. When he did well in the short program, placing 6th, many people were hopeful that he would place high enough to get three spots for the American men next year, but he did one better and medaled! He smashed his personal best in the free skate by 16 points, landing all of his jumps (although his second 3F was invalidated because he did too many jumping passes) and capitalizing on everyone else’s bombfests while flying under the radar in a low-pressure situation.

Alexander Samarin had a great short program, placing an extremely close second to teammate Dmitri Aliev, and many were expecting him to medal. But in the true fashion of the event, he fell over and died. This was a very depressing performance with unnecessary amounts of Oda O in it. (Does he think that is going to make him look more artistic? All it makes you look is ridiculous.)

France’s Kevin Aymoz-a Max Aaron lookalike who skates much like Florent Amodio-closed out the event with ANOTHER dramatic implosion. Spoiler alert: he cries at the end. I would not recommend you watch this performance, but if you must, brace yourself and enjoy his Florentish showmanship (and costuming :p).

Ice Dance Never Fails To Bring the Drama…and Neither do ISU Bios 

The French ice dance team of Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac may have placed 3rd with a stellar performance in the short dance yesterday, but lurking in the depths of their ISU bio was a little gem that caused loads of speculation on the internet forums:

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 4.20.14 PM.png
I choose to believe the writer of this bio has been doing some light shipping lately

According to their ISU bio, Marie-Jade & Romain are actually married! While not improbable (they’re 19 and 20), nobody on the message board I belong to (including me) has been able to find any other sources that mention their “marriage”. So for now, even though ISU bios are supposed to be accurate sources of information, it is safe to assume that this is some kind of prank or misunderstanding.

(Side note: I have thoroughly enjoyed coming up with ways this could have happened-did they somehow accidentally get married, or are their training mates pranking them?-no matter how unrealistic they are.)

Year of the Small-Federation Junior World Champions 

I have already mentioned that one of the world champions who have been crowned so far-Daniel Samohin of Israel-is the first junior world medalist for his country, but his title wasn’t the only national first: the Czech Republic got its first junior world title when Anna Duskova & Martin Bidar won the pairs event. I have attached their free skate for you to enjoy, and hope you like it as much as I did! 🙂

Tie In the Ladies SP

The ladies SP this morning was a dream come true for me because the unimaginable happened: my two favorite junior ladies tied for 1st! Although Alisa Fedichkina (Russia) is counted as the winner of the event because her TES was higher, Marin Honda (Japan) won the PCS, and they both scored 66.11. I think this was ultimately a good decision on the judges’ part: I love both and thought they were about equal. Alisa had harder jumps and backloaded her 3-3 and solo triple jump, but they were equal in every other aspect: both are superb spinners, and very artistic, with similar styles-both are graceful, lyrical, expressive skaters. Both skaters are absolutely delightful to watch, and definitely have the potential to be future stars. Who knows? This might be the start of a career-long rivalry! (That would be awesome…) I wish them both the best in the free skate!

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

BEFORE WE BEGIN:

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! (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. 🙂

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 Pairs And Also the Final (Scimeca/Knierim SP and FS) 

 


 

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. 🙂 )

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 place 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) 

 

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 and was the first time  she broke 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) 

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 😦

7. Highlight: WORLD RECORD Y’ALL! 

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

Done?

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 Slide™ (Anna Pogorilaya-Short Program) 

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 Slide™-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) 

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. But Courtney? …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) 

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 of 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!

BESTS 

Best Breakout Performance: Natalia Zabijako/Alexander Enbert, Russia

thumbnail.php

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, Canada 

628x471.jpg

I have said many times that I love Alaine’s short program, set to selections from the Pina 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

maxresdefault

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) 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 the program 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

Unknown.jpeg

Okay, just to clear this up: if anyone skates to Je Suis Malade, 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, JSM 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

Unknown.jpeg

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 solid 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

2743154.thw.jpeg

 

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. 🙂

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

images.jpeg

GettyImages_493984904_0qfj2a9i_ydwuqiqg.jpg

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 Program 

images.jpeg

Unknown.jpeg

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

images.jpeg

 

20151124_1802992.jpg

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

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. 🙂

4. Yuka Nagai-Free Skate 

Ladies-Free-Yuka-Nagai-1024x1024.jpg

IMG_1838.PNG

IMG_1838.PNG

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

STRIPEY BOWS, Y’ALL!

WORSTS

Worst Costumes:

1. Polina Edmunds-Free Skate

IMG_1840.PNG

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. Just no! 

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

No. 

 

3. Mikhail Kolyada-Short Program 

*Hides in closet*
*Cries*
*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! 🙂 

 

 

Recap: Highlights & Low Points of the 2015 US International Figure Skating Classic

As fellow skating fans may know, the Challenger Series (a circuit of small senior internationals occurring from September to December) began this week with the US International Figure Skating Classic in Salt Lake City. It was a really great event, and I luckily got to watch most of it, so I am going to recap my 10 favorite moments/programs/discoveries of the event!

There will be at least one highlight from each discipline, thus why I didn’t do a traditional recap of just ladies.

10. Highlight: The unofficial Year of Strange Ice Dance Music Selections begins 

Oh, gosh, this was an interesting dance event.

Namely, several teams used music I would never have thought I’d see in an ice dance program, and even stranger, a lot of it actually worked. This was my favorite of the odd-music-choice-programs:

Elisabeth Paradis & Francois-Xavier Ouellette’s FD, set to “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” was a far better use of folk-type music than the following:

This program skated by Laurence Fournier-Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen of Denmark, and I cannot.

Seriously, what. Is. This. Music.

Guys, I loved you last year, and I actually liked this program at first, but I now realize this is not as great as I wanted to make myself believe it was.

And the oddest one of all, belonging to Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue:

YOU GUYS, MADISON IS WEARING MOTH WINGS ON HER DRESS. MOTH WINGS!!!! IN AN INTERNATIONAL ATHLETIC COMPETITION!!!

While skating to Daft Punk, I might add!

*Sigh* This is so awful it’s funny. They can kiss their spot on the world team goodbye if this is how they are going to be skating this season. (Um, that score was, for lack of a better word, dismal.)

In the end, this is a highlight because it amused me so much to see ice dancers in moth wings skating to Daft Punk, and all kinds of Folk-y Whatsit, and all manner of things you’d never expect to see. At least it’s not Carmen.

9. Low Point: What is happening to Shoma Uno?!?

This is just sad.

Shoma, coming in as the reigning Junior World Champion, was expected to win this competition easily, but an absolutely abysmal short program made that impossible. His TES score was 19.25, comparable to a middle-of-the-pack Junior ladies’ score.

His free skate was much stronger, but a few mistakes kept him off the podium, in 5th. (Bonus points for using Nessun Dorma, the Overused Music De Jour…;)).

Shoma, you are so much better than this! What is happening to you?!?

8. Highlight: Selena Zhao’s Free Skate

Prior to this event, I’d only heard of Selena Zhao because I remembered she didn’t make the free skate at Junior Worlds. This was an excellent show of how far she’s come since then! Selena placed an excellent 5th in her senior international debut, beating out favorites like 6th ranked US lady Mariah Bell and Kanako Murakami, a 2014 Olympian who’s placed as high as 4th at worlds. This was a lovely use of one of this season’s major warhorses (skating community slang for an overused piece of music), Nessun Dorma, and was the 3rd-best free skate of the event, pulling her up four places.

Also, she had one of the best costumes of the entire competition.

7. Low point: Mariah Bell Falls Apart 

Before we plunge into Mariah’s bitter heartbreak of a free skate, I want to talk about her short program, which was actually very nice. Set to an Irish piece called “Storm Cry,” it is what I like to call ‘subtle Riverdance’ and is a really lovely program. It was a pretty respectable skate, and she did an okay 3Flip-3Toe (not clean, but landed). So this was a pretty good outing. On the other hand…

This is where it all went wrong.

I really love this program, and I was hoping she would skate it well enough to pull up a few places. But that was not to be. She melted down totally, and it was seriously painful to watch.

Ouch.

6. Highlight: Elizabet Tursynbaeva Proves Herself as a Senior 

Elizabet Tursynbaeva caught a lot of fans’ eyes when she placed 4th in a stacked field at the Junior World Championships this year, and many thought she’d be in the top 5. However, I doubt many people thought she would do this well!

This short program had her in a respectable 4th place, but that was not all we were going to see of Elizabet.

In a free skate where everybody was falling, Elizabet capitalized on the poor quality of her competitors’ performances to pull up to second place. This free skate was one of the standouts of the event, and proved that this small child (who many remarked looks like a 12-year-old) is ready to butt heads with the seniors.

5. Low Point: Kanako, You’re Supposed To Place Higher At Senior Bs Than You Did At Worlds! 

Kanako Murakami started this competition with a short program that was an instant hit with the fans. Many people had very good things to say about this program (and costume, for that matter), though it left her in fifth place-disappointing for a medal favorite and multiple-time world competitor. I thought she was going to pull up in the long, but…

This happened.

This was not Kanako’s fines hour-er, three minutes-and it left her in 7th, below skaters she easily could’ve beaten. (For goodness sakes, there was only one other person here who even qualified for 2015 Worlds, where Kanako came in 7th!) I hope she skates better than this in the future, because I know she can.

4. Highlight: Daniel Samohin’s Free Skate 

Though still a junior (he won a silver medal at the Junior Grand Prix in Colorado Springs and is assigned to another one), Daniel proved here that he can compete with the seniors any day. This was a great skate for him-and it didn’t hurt that this program is one of my favorite men’s programs of the season so far.

3. Both a Highlight and a Low Point: Karen Chen Fails Beautifully

I dearly love Karen Chen.

Like, a lot.

And this program is really fantastic. (That spiral into the music change is perfect!!! <3) Seeing as this is the third “Nessun Dorma” program on this list, it’s evident how overused that piece is this season…but, IMHO, Karen did it best.

The technical side was okay aside from a doubled 3T, but that didn’t last.

Another perfect program. Just…yes. (Also, costume on point.) But the jumps were a whole different story. Two pops (both of them singled), a fall, and two URs…what happened there?!?

I suppose the altitude might have had something to do with it, but you never know. She’s also apparently had boot issues lately, so that might be it. I don’t know, but I really hope this headcasing thing doesn’t last.

2. Satoko Miyahara Continues To Be Our Favorite Tiny Arteeste

Satoko Miyahara won this competition convincingly with two relatively clean, exquisitely-choreographed programs (as have become her trademark), and that sets her up well for the season ahead. I was worried about growth-related jump issues, since she’s young and might grow more and has tiny jumps, but that was no problem at all here. (Her jumps are still tiny, though.) This short program was very different from anything she’s done before, but, with a hint of Satoko’s signature Tiny Arteeste charm, it worked. However, I like the free skate much better:

Nice classical music? Check.

Exquisite choreography? Check.

Costume on point? Check.

Yes, this is definitely a Satoko Masterpiece in the making. Watch out, Miss Saigon-this program might well give you a run for your money. 🙂

1. Best Highlight of the Entire Event: My Pair Wins a Thing 

To start off, I have about five pairs I consider “my pair” and the phrase will probably be used for all of them. So…yeah. This is not an exclusive term, LOL. But, to get to the actual point:

MY PAIR WON A THING!!!!! *Insert the confetti emojis not available on my laptop*

I like Tarah & Danny’s short program better than their free, but I loved both programs. This one’s giving me subtle Paso vibes, and I like it! It’s different for them, but it works very well. (This skate had them in 3rd after the short.)

Their Phantom of the Opera free skate (last year’s Warhorse De Jour) was the soft, romantic fare we’re used to seeing from them. (It’s quite similar in style to their short program from last season.) It was a nice program, and suited them very well (also, their costumes were my favorites of the event :)), but I prefer the short. I have a feeling it will grow on me, though…

Anyhow, CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR FIRST INTERNATIONAL WIN!!!!!

Aaaaaand…out. 

Have anything to say? Did I miss one of your favorite highlights? 

Leave a comment to let me know! Bye all!