A Very Confusing Farewell…

Elena Nikita 13 TEB FD

Yes. I have the right picture.

Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov made a big splash when they won the Junior World Championships in 2010 but they did not emerge as Olympic contenders until… well… Sochi. These two have had tons of ups and downs (Remember their “Ghost” FD? Actually, maybe we shouldn’t.) and I think we all cringed a little when Elena started dating Nikolai Morozov but whatever happened in the past, this year looked like their breakthrough season. With their Olympic bronze medal, it seemed as if Ilinykh & Katsalapov were going to be at the top of the world and if they stayed long enough and improved enough to fend off their competitors, they could be Olympic champions.

However, that is not to be. According to this article, Elena and Nikita are ending their partnership after the World Championships in Saitama this year. Nikita will be will be skating with Viktoria Sinitsina while Elena’s future is currently unknown. What a shock. This will also be good news for Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte. And Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje. And Bobrova & Soloviev.

In any case, I decided to post this video of their 2010 FD when people started buzzing about them and how they were going to be the next big thing in ice dance.

They might not win Olympic gold in the future but they might get the title of World Champions if all goes well for them this week.

Did this split shock you as much as it did me? Tell me in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Dancing with Meryl and Charlie

dwts meryl charlie

Right after the Olympics, my Twitter blew up all of a sudden when it was announced that Meryl Davis & Charlie White were going to be participating in this season’s Dancing with the Stars. (Also, since when did Meryl get such great leg lines? I swear her lines weren’t this nice when she was wearing skates.) I don’t watch Dancing with the Stars but I might tune in to see how Meryl & Charlie do each week. I have no doubt that they’ll do well considering ice dancing is based off of ballroom dancing.

Week 1:

Charlie was kinda swoon-worthy in this dance.

Week 2:

Week 3:

For any fans who know of Youtubers, Lindsey Stirling played the violin for Meryl & Mak’s dance.

Judging from their DWTS18 wikipedia page, it seems as if both Meryl and Charlie are doing well in the competition.

Also, seriously Americans, if you think Meryl and Charlie look like a couple, have you seen their rivals? Also, everyone knows Charlie is dating Tanith Belbin, Olympic silver medalist in Torino 2006. (You see her for a few seconds in the video of him in week 1 in the audience. Fun fact: she used to date Evan Lysacek who was also in DWTS a few seasons back.)

What do you think of Meryl and Charlie’s performances on DWTS? Let me know in the comments?

~The Rinkside Cafe

EDIT: I’ve decided to split the DWTS performances post so that they feature 3 weeks worth of dances each. For…

Week 4 to 6

Week 7 to 9


Predictions: 2014 World Figure Skating Championships

So, welcome to the predictions for the 2014 World Championships. For anyone who follows skating closely, you know that this event will be somewhat… less exciting to put it lightly because so many skaters opt out of the competition after an exhausting Olympic season.


As expected, many of the top contenders have opted out of the World Championships this year, leaving the door wide open for reigning Olympic Champion, Yuzuru Hanyu, to strike gold on home ice. Yuzuru will be looking to improve on the Olympic performance of his LP, which was flawed but nevertheless was enough to win him the gold. Another competitor to look out for is Javier Fernandez who was skilled enough to win the Olympic medal but was kept off because he violated the zayak rule. Hopefully, he will have learned his lesson and will come out strong here.

Other contenders to look out for: Tatsuki Machida who’s had a strong season so far and also has home ice advantage. Maxim Kovtun, the windmill guy who beat Plushenko at Russian Nationals but didn’t go to the Olympics, therefore he’ll be more rested than the others and Han Yan, a young and talented newcomer. Jeremy Abbott may somehow prove that he can survive under pressure while Takahiko Kozuka, who is also well-rested may show us why he was once the World silver medalist.


Gold – Yuzuru Hanyu
Silver – Javier Fernandez
Bronze – Maxim Kovtun


There has been quite a big buzz over the fact that Sotnikova isn’t going to Worlds and that the South Korean Olympic committee has filed an official complaint over the judging of the ladies competition. The big story then, is one of redemption by Mao Asada, who did not get the result we expected her to in Sochi. I hope that we’ll see her strong and that we can see her finish her career with a smile. Going against her is the young Russian phenom, Julia Lipnitskaia, who hopefully, has had less disturbing media attention since the Olympics and the Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner. I have no doubt again that the judges will lowball Carolina’s PCS even if she’s the best performer with the best choreography this season.

A few other contenders to look out for: the rising star, Gracie Gold, who may actually be the Next American Ice Princess, Akiko Suzuki, who will undoubtedly be lowballed in PCS as always and Anna Pogorilaya, a Russian youngin who did well earlier in the season and will be well-rested for not going to Sochi.


Gold – Mao Asada
Silver – Julia Lipnitskaia
Bronze – Carolina Kostner


The pairs competition will be a race for gold between Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy and Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov. The latter pair surprised us all but pitching in 3 solid performances in Sochi. S&S, I think, still has what it takes to win it but they’ll have to skate clean. As for the bronze medal, there are a few teams that have the technique, choreography and steadiness of mind and character that can take them to the podium and I think those teams are: Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang, Stefania Berton & Ondrej Hotarek, Meaghan Duhamel & Eric Radford and Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch. The bronze is going to be a tough call. As will be the gold. So here goes…


Gold – Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy
Silver – Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov
Bronze – Meaghan Duhamel & Eric Radford

I expect these predictions to be completely and totally wrong.

Ice Dance

The ice dance competition will be less exciting without the Davis & White and Virtue & Moir rivalry but this competition may end up  being the most revealing of them all. With them two dominating team gone, this competition may give us an idea of how the ice dance field will look like next season and for the next Olympic cycle.

Although I think that Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat should’ve won the bronze at Sochi (I knew they wouldn’t because they’re not Russian), they may see themselves on the podium, just not at the top. That spot will probably belong to Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov who will likely be the top Russian team for the next cycle. Whether they can maintain this top position is a completely different question – not all the competitions are held in Russia, you know. We may see two Russia teams on the podium if Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev are well received in Saitama. However, we still need to keep an eye out for Igor Shpilband’s top team: Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte who have been skating strong all season. Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje will no longer be in the shadow of Virtue & Moir but they will likely be lowballed as they have been all season. However, I wanted to make this comment because Maria de Buenos Aires is a lovely FD and I want you to watch it.


Gold – Elena Illinykh & Nikita Katsalapov
Silver – Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte
Bronze – Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat

I’m somewhat unused to this roster and so I’m guessing that these predictions will be laughably wrong. What are your predictions? Share them with me in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe



All Hail Princess Elena!

I don’t pay attention to the Junior World Championships as much but it’s always wise to keep an eye out for the podium finishers on Olympic years because of the exodus of skaters and the arrival of bright newcomers that inevitably happens during the season following the Olympics. It seems that Russia had a podium sweep in the ladies event, though perhaps with less dubious judging involved.

2014 junior worlds ladies podium

For anyone paying attention to my blog, you would know that my favourite Russian baby this season was Elena Radionova, despite the fact that she was not age eligible for the Olympics. She skated two perfect programs at Junior Worlds to win the gold, making her a strong newcomer and contender in the Grand Prix series next season. I’m still reluctant to call her the future of figure skating, as I did Yuzuru 3 years ago, mostly because she has yet to reach that level of divinity I saw in Yuzuru when he did that Romeo & Juliet program at THE ICE. If puberty treats her well though, we may she her shining bright amongst her peers.

With all the criteria in the PCS categories fresh in my mind, I have to say that in some categories, Elena already surpasses who the judges have deemed the “Olympic Champion.” She doesn’t quite have the sureness in her edges, steps and foot placements that you see in the senior ladies, but I think I’ve seen more one foot skating in this short program than Sotnikova’s entire long program. The transitions are well used in this program, as in, they’re used as movements  that lead into elements like jumps, rather than steps and movements that are haphazardly strewn between bouts of two foot skating. I’m not sure if there’s a storyline but there is a definite sense of intrigue and subtle drama in the choreography and Elena expresses the subtleties of the music and choreography well. She could have better carriage and presence and use more facial expressions in the program but I find both her programs and her skating more compelling than Sotnikova overall.

Elena also skated a solid long program. There was a small bobble (and possible under-rotation) on a landing in one of her earlier jump combos (3Lz-3T) but overall, another clean performance by Radionova. I think I’ve seen her skate this program with more commitment in the past but I also hear that she’s recovering from injury so kudo, girl!

I’m excited to see what Elena has to offer next season though this season isn’t over yet – senior worlds is up soon! I will have a predictions post up possibly tomorrow. I’ve been waiting until the last minute to do it because there are so many withdrawals and replacements after the Olympics.

What are your thoughts about our two-time Junior World Champion? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Olympic Ladies Event – A Few New Problems Come to Light

One of biggest problems with the Olympics is that videos get removed from youtube faster than you can say, “Olympics” because of copyright issues. However, the IOC seems to have established their own youtube channel and have uploaded the Olympic performances. After re-watching Sotnikova’s programs, I continue to stand by my opinion that her PCS were inflated.

Firstly, here is a link to an overview of the PCS and its criteria. When we think of the scores, let’s keep in mind the definitions of each number when we say that the PCS is marked from 0 to 10:

9-10 – Outstanding
8 – Very good
7 – Good
6 – Above average
5- Average
4 – Fair
3 – Weak
2 – Poor
1 – Very poor
<1 – Extremely poor

Adelina received scores mostly in the 8s in her SP and 9s in her LP. Yes, the scores themselves are subjective but each PCS has its own criteria to limit how we define “average.” The following are the criteria of the PCS and my take on it. More

Sad Farewell: Nobunari Oda

The Japanese single skaters have made their mark in the last two Olympic cycles. The depth in single skating in Japan is so impressive that we knew that the world will be deprived of 1 or 2 great skaters from both the men and ladies discipline when they made their Olympic team. Even with the maximum 3 berths for the men and the ladies, it was not enough to contain all of the talent in those disciplines from this country.

One skater who retired from the scene quietly before the Olympics was Nobunari Oda – the direct descendant of a famous Japanese warlord who initiated the initiation of the unification of Japan in the Warring States period. In his career, Oda wasn’t a charismatic performer like his fellow teammate, Daisuke Takahashi but Oda’s strengths came in his jumps and his knees. He landed jumps smooth as butter with a gorgeous running back outside edge.

I think my favourite program for Oda is still his Charlie Chaplin LP from the 2009/2010 season. It was a program that showed off his strengths and allowed his fun personality to shine.

I want to limit each of these farewell posts to one video each but I think I have to share this bonus with everyone. I mean, it’s Mario. And figure skating. Done well.

I’m sad to see you go, Nobu.

Which programs did you enjoy from Nobunari Oda? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

And the Short Dance Pattern for the 2014/2015 Season is…

This is probably old news to a lot of you but in case you didn’t know, it’s the Paso Doble.

For a more classic and intense Paso, here’s Domnina/Shabalin’s from 2009.

The North American teams (aka Team Marina) opted for a lighter, more modern take with more unusual holds between partners.

I have to say, I’m surprised how much I’m enjoyed Domnina/Shabalin’s CDs. They’re not usually a team that I particularly adore but they bring it in the CD.

Fun fact: I was thinking about the dance pattern for next season and guessed that it was going to be the Paso and it turns out I was right!

Are you going to miss the Finnstep or are you more excited for the Paso Doble next season? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

The Dark Side of Figure Skating Fandom

I’m actually trying to start another post on the issues of the ladies Olympic event but I feel that before I fuel the discussion even further, I should put out this post because there are truly some alarming things going on in figure skating fandom since the Olympics.

I think what makes this sport really special is how skaters can inspire such great feelings in their fans. Their programs give us a glimpse of their acting ability or their personality and because of that, we love them. We’ve seen Daisuke Takahashi fans coordinate their efforts around the world so that a green and white “Go Daisuke!” banner follows him and supports him wherever he goes. We’ve seen fans send messages of love and support when competitors go through hard times and we ourselves may have gone to a competition or show to see our favourite skaters, only to be rendered speechless and shaking when we hand them a pen and shyly ask for their autograph. The dedication of the figure skating community is truly a lovely thing to behold and I think we need to remember these positive feelings that the skaters give us and we give in return.

However, as we all know, love and hate are two sides of the same coin and when great rivalries arise in figure skating, the passion for the skater and the venomous loathing for their rivals comes out of the woodwork as well. Of course, we all have certain styles and skaters we dislike but I think we need to make sure that we criticize the skating or the judging with well-reasoned arguments and productive discussion. I hope that I have done this in the past and I will have this in mind as I continue to write for this blog.

Skating is an inexact science – they’ve tried to control subjectivity with the IJS but sometimes, the judges do abuse the system to inflate marks or sometimes, it really comes down to the subjective issues of the kind of art you prefer. HOWEVER…

Hating on a competitor just because you like their rival shows that you’re a fan. When you’re a fan, it automatically means that you have a bias towards your favourite. However, if you have good reasons supported by evidence on why your favourite is better, you’ve shown an understanding of the rules, the sport as well as the progress and limits of your favourites. At the same time, it allows for a discussion and invokes the art of persuasion and when done respectfully, I think it shows some of the best of the human spirit – logic, reasoning, eloquent writing or speech and intellect.

Pure hatred towards competitors on the other hand, is toxic and is just hurtful to competitors who have worked very hard for results that have been given to them by judges. Let me repeat that again: their scores were given to them by the judges. They had to deliver a product (aka their programs) and their scores are at the mercy of technical specialists who may or may not decide to reward them for their elements and judges who may or may not like their artistic styles.

So when you disagree with a result, there is no need to hate on the skaters themselves because they have done nothing wrong. They simply went out there to give it their best.

With that being said, let me be clear:

  • It is NOT APPROPRIATE at all to send death threats to competitors on social media because you dislike the results. (And yes, unfortunately, this has happened during this Olympic cycle. Also, it’s not appropriate to send people death threats ever. I mean, did I seriously need to spell that out?)
  • If you think the judging was unfair, it is crucial that you provide reasons and evidence on why and how the judging was unfair.
  • More than likely, you don’t know these people all that well and even if you did, personal attacks on their appearance or personality are hurtful and has nothing to do with their skating.
  • Just saying that someone is better or worse without giving a reason is unhelpful. No one knows if your answer is fueled by nationalism, fandom or knowledge of the sport.
  • When you spew all this negativity on behalf of a skater, you’re in the process of making a bad name for the fans for that competitor. Anyone who’s been a fan of skating in the last two Olympic cycles know about Yunabots and Maobots. They bring drama and negativity that discourages people from declaring that they’re fans in fear of being associated with them and we want people to love the sport and its competitors, not the opposite.

So everyone, let’s be positive and smart figure skating fans. When we talk about results, we want to sound smart to show that we know their own rules and how those rules were not followed by the judges. That way, the ISU can’t brush off our opinions as being nationalistic or fandom-fuelled.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Sad Farewell: Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat

As each Olympic cycle ends, the exodus of skaters begins as many competitors announce their retirement from competitive figure skating. As a result, I decided to create this series of posts bidding teams and skaters farewell. Each post will feature what I think was the best program of their career and maybe a few anecdotes on them. In the comments below, I highly recommend fans to input a nice farewell message. (I’ll tweet the post to them if they there are any messages!)


My first memory of Nathalie & Fabian was back in 2009 when I started to get back into figure skating after watching Tessa & Scott’s “Umbrellas of Cherbourg” FD. My first impression of them weren’t that favourable: I stumbled upon their FD which started with the theme from “Life is Beautiful” which then became a circus. I was so confused. The same feelings came to me when I saw their Alice in Wonderland/Requiem for a Dream FD. It took me a while but I realized that these two were really creative and tried to push the envelope in their choreography. Their programs were unique and memorable, though I guess I’m not avant garde enough to appreciate all of them. I also met them briefly in 2009 and found that they were really nice to fans. I offered my pen to Nathalie for an autograph without realizing she was going into a room to see the media. When she came back out from the press conference, she came up to me and she and Fabian signed my little notebook.

As for my favourite program of theirs, I’d have to say that I really enjoyed their “Le Petit Prince et sa Rose” program. I think this program packaged the team well – it was unique and creative (no overused music here) with so many emotions as we went along with them on their interstellar journey.

Personally, I would’ve given them the Olympic bronze medal but alas, the Olympics were in Russia.

Nathalie and Fabian, we’re going to miss the creativity you brought to the competition.

~The Rinkside Cafe


Gracie Gold, Media Darling

For a while, I knew that as soon as Gracie Gold showed that she was a capable competitor, the USFSA would dump Ashley Wagner and throw their support behind the bubbly, pretty blonde with the perfect last name. This season, it happened when Gracie won U.S. Nationals and headed to Sochi as the U.S.’ leading lady. Even though she didn’t win any medals, Gracie has set herself up very well for the next Olympic cycle and to boot, she’s become a media darling. She’s been on Jay Leno and goodness knows what else on American television. Earlier this month, renowned Youtubers, Benny and Rafi Fine asked Gracie on Twitter to appear on an episode of “Teens React.”

finebros gracie goldI hope that Gracie does end up on an episode. I also hope that they manage to get Frank Carroll on “Elders React.” I mean, Mr. Carroll is a legend… he was Michelle Kwan’s coach!

In any case, Gracie is getting even more media attention nowadays with this…

A viral video from a guy asking Gracie to prom!

He appeared on a TV as a surprise and even got a chance to give her flowers.

As for her reply? “If it works out I would love to.”

If Gracie can stay healthy and skate her best leading up to Pyeongchang, I have a feeling we’re witnessing the birth of a huge star that is the next American Ice Princess.

~The Rinkside Cafe