Debrief: Skate America 2015

sui and han sa 2015

The figure skating season started last week at Skate America. The competition had many surprises and overall, I thought it was a great start to the season! Let’s start with some highlights.


I love this free program. It’s edgy, passionate, intricate and just so well choreographed. It also helps that I love the music of Samson and Delilah. I am just so proud of this team right now. I remember adoring them as juniors and I love them even more now. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, not going to Sochi was the best thing that’s ever happened to this team. I am so glad they took that time to really improve and mature because this team is World Champion material.

I know the figure skating world has been buzzing about Karen Chen for a bit but I was doubtful. I’m still a little doubtful about whether or not she’ll survive puberty but I’ll keep an eye out on her for future competitions. She reminds me a bit of a slightly more polished version of a young Gracie Gold.

This little creature was nervous in the SP but skated with so much maturity in the free program! Elizabet looks like she’s out to win it and I’m looking forward to her future.

Adian Pitkeev has matured very well since last season and his elements show that very well. He skates with a really nice control over his edges and he takes his time to complete his movements.

Gilles & Poirier went avant-garde and artsy with both their programs this season. While I hate their SD – especially their costumes – I’m quite intrigued by this FD. It’s quirky, it’s different and it’s interesting. Then again, that could be said for both their programs but while their SD means me groan and want to take a tea break, their FD keeps me mesmerized from start to finish.

Thoughts and Notes:


  • Max Aaron was the surprise win here at Skate America. He skated two clean programs but I felt the judges were a little generous with his PCS considering the bobbles in his skating.
  • Speaking of PCS, I thought that the judges were being a little skimpy on the PCS for Shoma Uno in the short program. I would’ve placed him in 2nd after the SP. Looking at the final scores, had the judges been a little more generous, my prediction for an Uno win would’ve been right.
  • According to one of my readers, Denis Ten was injured and it showed. His LP was ridden with mistakes and falls – it was heartbreaking to watch. Ten rarely starts his season off well but I hope he can recover from this and get back on track.
  • Florent Amodio skated to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” – it was sort of cute but his jump technique is all over the place. The guy was meant to be an entertainer rather than a competitor.


  • If you followed my live tweeting, you would know that I absolutely hate the fact that Evgenia Medvedeva back-loads her programs. It generally doesn’t add any aesthetic value to the program like front-loading. I’m really frustrated with this because now the ISU might impose a rule on back-loading as they did with front-loading, making IJS programs more cookie-cutter-like. The stupid thing is, if PCS was used correctly instead of being a tool to bolster skaters with high political clout, it could check the worst of the front-loading offenders.
  • Satoko Miyahara needs more PCS.
  • Former phenom Julia Lipnitskaia needs to take a lesson from Elizaveta Tuktamysheva – something ain’t working and she’s either got to fix it or sink. Puberty has set in and as I predicted, it’s not kind to her jumps, especially in the LP.
  • Gracie Gold’s programs suit her a lot more this season, however, I take issue with all of the random poses in her “Firebird” LP that makes her contort her limbs in awkwardly ugly positions.


  • Stolbova & Klimov were off the podium after a disastrous SP. They did a lot better in the LP but they’re not razor sharp precise as I expected them to be. I wonder what happened to them last season that caused them to skip Worlds.
  • I am super impressed with Scimeca & Knierim’s quad twist – so high, so gorgeous!
  • Sui & Han = pure love. I hope they nail their sbs 3S in the LP – the choreography for that section requires that element to be nailed since the jumps are timed to the crescendo of the music.

Ice Dance

  • I’m not sure how I feel about this year’s pattern and programs. Programs range from very bland to WTF. (I’m pretty sure everyone knows who had the WTF program last weekend.)
  • Chock & Bates had a surprisingly classy SD for something choreographed by Igor Shpilband. And then, they got an overdone, over-frilly FD that felt like Dolores Umbridges’ office transformed into a program.
  • Sinitsina & Katsalapov really improved technically since last season. They still don’t look at each other and they still need to work on their chemistry but at least it’s a start.
  • Although no one should be surprised, the rankings for the SD were exactly the same as the FD.

In any case, I’ll end this post on a lovely note. Just before the season began, I finally found he answer as to why I hated exhibition programs: it’s because whenever I watch the filler fluff programs, all I can think is that the skater can be wayyyyyyy better than that. Sui & Han, however, blew me away with this gorgeous exhibition that shows off their ability to be performers, their maturity and their chemistry (despite not being a couple):

What did you think of Skate America last week? Let me hear your thoughts!

~The Rinkside Cafe

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. burdens
    Oct 28, 2015 @ 04:22:38

    My friend at SA said she was not wowed by Satoko though. This is her comment: “Satoko still skates small. While she executes all the technical elements and her landing edges have improved, she still does not have a huge presence on the ice, where as Evgenia commands attention already…I saw Satoko last year at Skate Canada and she has improved her speed and control since then, but when you see her live, you are not drawn into the performance Like you expect to be, she is a beautiful skater, but doesn’t pack the “wow” punch.”


  2. Quyen Thuy Tran
    Oct 28, 2015 @ 05:07:38

    Ice dance this season is a big disappointment for me. All the teams have have boring programs.


  3. Fuchsia G
    Oct 28, 2015 @ 11:55:37

    From what I watched: I love Medvedeva. She’s got way more maturity in her jumping technique than Radionova and her skating is more graceful and pleasing to watch than Tuktamisheva’s. Although I do get why this back-loading of her programme is bothering you. But in any case she’s made a very good impression on me.
    Just like you, I much prefer Gold’s programmes of this year than those from last season. I really love her outfit in the SP which is both sober and sharp like the programme. However I do agree with you on the useless contortions she’s doing in the FS. Not my cup of tea.
    As for men: Max did tremendous progress in his skating and his jumps were very solid. However he still is miles away from in terms of artistry compared to someone like Shoma already. His FS felt empty and bland compared to Shoma’s SP especially, which was so compelling to watch.
    I’m surprised you didn’t comment on Mura’s weird outfit ^^ I hope he will get it together as the season progresses because his win last year at Skate Canada had seemed so promising.
    Pairs: I’ve never been a great fan of Klimov and Stobolva (mainly because she’s scary and they lack chemistry somehow), but I absolutely loove their programmes this year. I hope they’ll improve and gain in assurance.
    I love Sui and Han too. And their team-spirit is exactly what Klimov an Stobolva are missing!
    Ice dance: The only team that drew my attention was Gilles and Poirier. I love their quirky programmes. Chock and Bates are as boring as always. And Sinitisina and Katsalapov are so getting on my nerves. They need to stop posing like this.
    And now I’m more than curious about Skate Canada. Waiting for your predictions 🙂


    • rinksidecafe
      Oct 28, 2015 @ 18:30:17

      Takahito Mura’s outfit – I think on Twitter I said that it looked like some toddler stuck some grey mesh on his shirt. I really don’t understand the concept behind that costume but I also hope he can improve. He did very well in the GP series last year and I was surprised to see him flop. Do you know if he’s injured maybe?
      I’m also glad that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t like Gracie Gold’s LP. I thought I was maybe just biased because I actually don’t like the music to “Firebird” – doubly so because I consider the phoenix as my personal spirit animal to strive towards.
      As for Sinitsina & Katsalapov, I find it annoying that Marina Zueva is styling them like Tessa & Scott but I’m not sure that’s what you meant that they were posing. Care to elaborate?


  4. Susan
    Oct 28, 2015 @ 11:55:43

    Totally agree about Sui/Han’s exhibition piece. I generally don’t like watching exhibition pieces unless they’re from my top 3 favorite skaters (and even then it sometimes feel like a duty), but this was just gorgeous.

    Also why do people take “Firebird” sooooo literally? It’s almost like you should maybe dress as a clown when you skate to “Send in the Clowns,” because that’s how unnecessary the red feathery flame-y things are. Also I actually laughed out loud at parts of Gracie’s program,


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