This weekend officially brings us into the month of October- and that means that the Grand Prix season is so close we can all taste it!
This week bring us three skating events:
JGP Lograno- Serafima Sakhanovich headlines the ladies event, USA's Nathan Chen will compete in Men's
Nepela Trophy- Good lineup here! Ladies: Bell, Daleman, Medvedeva, Pogorilaya, and Rajicova. I will be on the lookout for the performance of those two Russian ladies- I am interested to see what kind of a factor they can be on the GP this season. We'll also get a good look at USA's Jason Brown's technical progress, as he competes in the men's event. The Russians will be on display in the pairs competition, with Stolobova/Klimov, Tarasova/Morsov, and Astakhova/Rogonov all competing. In ice dance, we will get our first look at Shibutani/Shibutani, as they compete along with Gilles/Prioir and Testa/Csolley.
Japan Open- In perhaps the highlight of the weekend, this star-studded invitational event is much anticipated- Mao Asada, Satoko Miyahara, Gracie Gold, Ashley Wagner, Adelina Sotnikova, Elizaveta Tuktamyshva in ladies; Daisuke Murakami, Shoma Uno, Brian Joubert, Javier Fernandez, Jeremy Abbott, and Patrick Chan in mens.
Story lines to watch for at this event:
Mao makes her comeback debut and competes for the first time against Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. As the last two ladies to win a World title and to land a triple axel, the battle between these two could be fabulous.
Ashley V Gracie 2015-16 gets going, as they both compete here. This is the first competition for Wagner's new season (though she's competing with her Moulin Rouge program from last year), and Gold looked very steady at an earlier competition this summer.
How will Adelina be skating? The reigning Olympic champ is also looking to make a comeback and is reportedly still struggling with some injuries that have her technically inconsistent.
In mens, Patrick Chan is also back to skating after a season off. It will be interesting to see him compete against Javier, the reigning World Champ.
After announcing he was taking the season off, fan favorite Jeremy Abbott will compete here and it will be nice to see him skating again.
First, sad news to report for American Joshua Farris. Today, his name was removed from his two Grand Prix assignments. No word on the issue, but hopefully it isn't a serious injury. He really has had bad luck with injuries as of late. I was really hoping he could build on some of the success he had last year, so I am hoping to see him compete at Nationals.
US Figure Skating announced a new competition for this season- The Team Challenge Cup- that will be held in Spokane, Washington in April. The event has a concept similar to that of the World Team Trophy, where three teams 1) North America, 2) Europe and 3)Asia each consist of three ladies, three men, two pair teams and two ice dance teams. The selection process of the athletes is a little funky- all of the pair/dance teams are chosen based on ISU rank along with the top two men and ladies, but the last two members ( a man and a lady) are chosen by FAN VOTE. Interesting.... Also of note- the top two from each discipline CANNOT be from the same country(i.e.- No Gold/Wagner, Tuktamysheva/Radionova, Miyahara/Murakami or Peng&Zheng/Sui&Han). The fans can vote in those skaters though. BUT- not any skater that you want! Fans will choose from a list of 5 men and ladies nominated by the Team Captain and all of these skaters on the list must be entered into that year's World Championships- WHEW!
It's all new and different information at this point, but hey- it's more skating for us to watch and that is always a good thing! Hopefully this will soften the blow of the season being over after worlds and I can see this competition being held on a semi-annual basis to rotate with WTT. It's a great opportunity for those on the West coast to see some good skating and hopefully the top athletes agree to attend. IceNetwork will provide live streaming free worldwide and it will be shown on network TV.
This week, we have the Nebelhorn Trophy and JGP Torun. Both have a live stream (yes!) and the Nebelhorn lineup is pretty good! I will live tweet when I can, but the times are a tad early for some events.
Have a great week!
It was great to get back to live tweeting and competition watching over the weekend with the US Figure Skating Classic! Here are a few of my thoughts on highlights from the events that I saw:
If you haven’t yet- check out USFSA’s YouTube Channel for tons of reaction videos from the skaters that I really enjoyed watching!
Trophee Bompbard's Facebook page posted the final additions to the senior Grand Prix rosters as follows: (They aren't on the ISU pages yet)
Men: Chafik Besseghier added to TEB
Ladies: Brooklee Han added to TEB
Pairs: Ziegler/Kiefer added to TEB
Dance: Agafona/Ucar and Hurtado/Diaz added to TEB
So, that's it! Rosters are finalized unless an injury sidelines a team or skater- this must mean we are getting close!
We finally got a new short program video for the last of the top ladies contenders- Ashley Wagner. You can see TSL’s video here. This is obviously not the jump layout or costume that she’ll use for competition, but it’s fun to see the choreography and music edits. This sassy style fits Ashley so well and I think will help her overcome some of the mental challenges she has struggled with in the past during the short program. I can’t wait to see this one in competition.
Evgeny Plushenko announced that a new back injury will keep him from competition this year. I can’t say I am surprised, based on his age and history with injury. He says his focus is the 2018 Olympics, but it is hard to imagine him skating again at that competitive level.
Competitions This Week
This week, two international events are going on (Click on the name to view the full list of entrants/schedule):
Lombardia Trophy: Featuring Miyu Nakashio, Joshi Helgesson, Michael Brezina, Chad Besseghier, Marchei/Hotarek, Capellini/Lannotte and Guignard/Fabri. Competition starts Thursday from San Giovanni, Italy.
US Figure Skating Classic: Featuring Karen Chen, Mariah Bell, Angela Wang, Satoko Miyahara, Kanako Murakami, Elizabet Tursynbaeva, Shoma Uno, Castelli/Tran, Kayne/OShea, Moore/Towers, Hubbell/Donahue, and Nazarova/Nikitin. Competition starts with the pairs short program on Thursday at 7:30 PM Salt Lake City time.
Ice Network will be sharing live streams from the Classic and I will be live tweeting for the ladies short program Friday night! Hope y’all will join me.
Next week, we’ll have the JGP Torun (Amber Glenn, Alexwi Krasnozhon, Liu/Johnson, McNamera/Carpenter) and Nebelhorn Trophy (Courtney Hicks, Mirai Nagasu, Alaine Chartrand, Katelyn Osmund, Alena Leonova, Max Aaron, Grant Hochstein, Scimeca/Knierim, Aaron/Settlage, Volosozhar/Trankov, Chock/Bates, Cappellini/Lannotte). Exciting!
Entrants for Finlandia Trophy were posted, including Weaver/Poje, Julia Lipnitskya, Elena Radionova and Rika Hongo.
So much skating, so little time! The weeks are flying by and I couldn’t be happier.
A few more host choices were posted to the Grand Prix rosters today:
Ziqun Zhao (CHN) added to Cup of China.
Lu Zheng (CHN) added to Cup of China.
Adelina Sotnikova (RUS) added to Rostelecom Cup.
Mariko Kihara (JPN) added to NHK Trophy.
* There is one more TBD spot at Trophee Bompbard
Keegan Messing (CAN) added to Skate Canada.
Nan Song (CHN) added to Cup of China.
Artur Gachinski (RUS) added to Rostelecom Cup.
* There is one more TBD spot at Trophee Bompbard.
Zabijako/Enbert (RUS) added to Rostelecom Cup.
There is one TBD spot left at Trophee Bompbard.
Ouelette/Paradis (CAN) added to Skate Canada.
Cong/Sun (CHN) added to Cup of China.
Muramoto/Reed (JPN) added to NHK.
Sinistina/Katsalopov (RUS) added to Rostelecom Cup.
* There are two TBD spots at Trophee Bompbard.
It’s Russian skating Christmas, everybody! Videos are up from the Russian test skates event and many of skating’s biggest names have new programs for us. Here are the video links and a few comments from the top Russian ladies:
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva Short Program Free Skate
These programs were without her now signature triple axel (which I am sure we will see later) but the rest of her jumps look consistent for this early in the season. Her music choices work for her and build very well. I’m not sure I’m seeing a *ton* of improvement in her performance skills, but time will tell. She’s sticking with her gauzy and dark costume theme again this season- I actually like her LP dress, but her short program dress has me scratching my head.
Elena Radionova Short Program Free Skate
Technically, Elena looked about the same as we saw at the end of last season- consistent with a few bobbles here and there. I thought her short program music was a tad overwhelming, but hopefully she grows into it as the season progresses. I was already eye rolling at her Titanic free skate music (with Celine vocals) but did there have to be quotes from the movie too? Too cheesy for me but the instrumental music sections aren’t bad.
Evgenia Medvedeva Short Program Free Skate
Evgenia jumps a lot like Elena- they both set up very slowly and deliberately, with jerky, scratchy movements to muscle jumps out- that is not my favorite. Also not my favorite, she backloads the crap out of her short program to maximize bonus points. Her music choices are both slow, classical selections that are pretty, yet uninteresting. Though not my style, I am interested to see her skating judged against the other top senior ladies this season.
Julia Lipnitskya Short Program Free Skate
It’s good to see Julia back on the ice after her rough season last year. Her jumps looked improved from what we’ve last seen of her, but there is still work to be done on them before Skate America. Her short program music baffles me completely- I like the “Can’t Help Falling in Love” section, but I think the music change is so poorly chosen for her. She is so incredibly talented that I would love to see her skating at her best again.
Adelina Sotnikova Short Program Free Skate
The 2014 Olympic Champ took a step towards her comeback, showing two programs at the test skates. Her jumps show improvement, but she’s still nowhere near the shape she was in two seasons ago. I liked her samba short program, but personally her J'suis Malade free skate is too powerful for her. Her SP dress is a gorgeous color, but the tassels on the chest are distracting. For the long, I like the dress itself but the bedazzled heart doesn’t mesh well.
Anna Pogorilaya Short Program Free Skate
Anna’s still showing the shades of disaster that plagued her at the end of last season, with falls and silly mistakes. I actually liked both of her music choices, but she doesn’t have the performance skills to pull them off successfully. Her short program dress was fine enough by me, but her long program dress needs some major editing. Unless Anna can pull it together quickly, she’s in danger of being eclipsed by the many other talented Russian ladies.
I did not have a chance yet to watch the men’s, pairs or ice dance videos but I have shared them all on my Twitter page if you would like to check them out (which you should!)
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Reviews, predictions and opinions in the magical, sparkly and dramatic field of figure skating.