Debrief: NHK Trophy 2015

yuzuru 15 nhk lp

What a great ending to the seeded events in the Grand Prix Series. The final is shaping up to be fantastic. I apologize for the lateness of this post so let’s not tarry.


Yuzuru. Perfection. Pure love.

I doubt there is anything that can compare to the glory that was Yuzuru’s LP but there are a few interesting moments in this SP when the music is timed well with the elements.

This is the SD I wish Weaver & Poje could skate to but Hubbell & Donohue are fantastic.

This program is so much fun that I forget about the competition altogether because there is nothing in this world other than this program and a smile on my face.

I normally don’t like programs like these but I have to say, I think this is my favourite FD of the season so far.

Edgy. Out of the box. Interesting. Did Igor Shpilband seriously choreograph this?


  • Yuzuru has laid down the gauntlet. As it stands right now, I don’t think there is anyone in the world who can match him if he can pull out two performances like the ones here this season.
  • I feel like a proud mom. I’ve been tracking his progress since he was a junior. *sob* So many tears of joy.
  • That quad lutz. I still have that tiny moment of confusion after I type those words, only to realize it’s true. Boyang Jin’s 4Lz is amazing – the one in the LP at NHK was so high and landed so beautifully. Hopefully all the other parts of his skating will be as lovely as that jump is one day.
  • Someone needs to do something about Maxim Kovtun’s SP. Seriously. He is contorting himself into weird positions in just choreographic details and it’s PAINFUL to watch. Either change the choreography or his coach needs to teach him how to move more smoothly so he doesn’t look like a creepy awkward guy who’s trying too hard at a party.
  • Kovtun’s LP is somewhat more acceptable though I find myself torn between amusement and second-hand embarrassment. (Especially during that moment when he feigns sleep.) His jumps were not quite with him, which makes me wonder if the theatricality and acting are making him lose concentration in some of the other elements in his program.
  • Takahito Mura’s costume for the LP has improved a little bit. I find Mura’s skating passable – he’s not quite a full performer and he leans forward a little too much on the takeoff of his jumps at times, which makes him a little inconsistent. Still, he is a testament to the strength of Japanese singles skating.


  • Satoko Miyahara got some decent PCS for once and the result? Proof that she has deserved to be on podiums way before this. Miyahara’s SP is a little bland but the intricacies of her LP make for a soothing and beautiful program. My favourite part was that twizzle in her first step sequence.
  • What is going on with Mao’s jumps!?!? She didn’t land either of her 3As in her SP and LP and she popped or under-rotated several others across both programs. I hope that Mao takes time to train and regroup for the GPF because without momentum, getting back her World title will be hard for her this season.
  • I want to push Zijun Li so that she can skate faster. She is lacking so much in speed, ice coverage and her jumps are so small. I want to see her do well but at the moment, she needs more physical power to skate at the top. She’s performing quite well but gosh she’s so slow.
  • Courtney Hicks, the silver medalist here, has the exact opposite problem: she has glorious speed and power but she lacks in musicality and an awareness of the lines she makes with her body, which results in strange contortions in certain parts of her programs.
  • I have to say, Ashley Wagner is still great at selling her programs, I’m just starting to really not care. Especially when her jumps no longer flow with the program because they’re telegraphed.
  • I think I’m giving up on Pogorilaya. Those jumps. Those falls.
  • Love Mirai Nagasu’s Great Gatsby dress.


  • For me, pairs has been a joy to watch this season. But I’m dreading having to sit through the combined 6 minutes of Duhamel and Radford’s programs.
  • I honestly feel as if Duhamel & Radford’s programs were choreographed first and the music choice came after. Maybe I’m crazy but I’m not sure how the music or the choreography go together at all.
  • Alexa Scimeca looks more trained than Chris Knierim. I’m not sure if it’s the difference in ability at the moment but this team has no connection whatsoever even though they do have that lovely quad twist in their arsenal.
  • I’m very sad that Yu & Jin went down on their throw 4S in the LP but I’m also super proud of them for taking that risk upping their content. That is the kind of thing this team needs to do to climb the rankings.
  • I really admire the tenacity in the team of James & Cipres. If I remember correctly, this team has had to teach themselves some of the more difficult pairs elements and I think that their training is really starting to show this season – they’re sharp, their elements are clean and their unison is better than ever. Going forward, however, I’d like to see programs that strike a balance between the emotional side of the sport and the athletic side of the sport. Their programs this season remind me of pairs back in the Olympic cycle leading up to Vancouver 2010, where teams were trying to find that “heart” element but turned out short, resulting in mostly cookie-cutter programs.

Ice Dance

  • After half a season of the Ravensburger Waltz SD, I’m still feeling lukewarm about this dance pattern. Most of the programs so far this season have been pretty bland and forgettable.
  • I think that for the first time in their senior careers, Maia and Alex Shibutani have found their style. They’re skating as Maia and Alex and not as sibling knock-offs of Tessa and Scott and I’m so happy about that.
  • The Shibutanis have done better than anticipated this season. I think that Chock & Bates are still better technically but I hope this is one step to dethroning the current American National Champions. I don’t think I’ve ever had a comment where someone expressed a partiality towards to the top American ice dance team. Ever.
  • Marie-France Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon have made Hubbell & Donohue a team to look out for. I love their SD this season. Their FD may have a few pacing issues in terms of the choreography but it’s interesting.
  • Seriously, U.S. ice dance teams #2 and #3 are way more compelling than their National Champions at the moment.  Can we dethrone them this season? Pretty please?
  • I feel as if Stepanova & Bukin’s skating style is more suited for the 90s. Make of that as you will.
  • Their teammates, Bobrova & Soloviev are skating with good speed, which is good considering they lost momentum for taking a season off due to injury and they’re coming back with a double helping of dramatic cheese. I find it entertaining now but ask again at the end of the season and I might have a different answer.
  • I think last weekend was the best I’ve ever seen Coomes and Buckland skate. They’re skating with a lot more speed and their timing to the music feels a little better now. They still have ways to go before they become an A-list team but I’d like to see them sync up a bit more as partners. There looks like there are a few missed cues and a  lack of unison in certain parts of their programs. These two have been partners for a decade and they really need to be able to show that.

Did you enjoy the NHK Trophy as much as I did? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Christianne
    Dec 04, 2015 @ 07:59:58

    I was at work (and was secretly following live tweets) – it was nerve-wracking and when everyone was going “HE CLEARED THE LUTZ” I wanted to scream. I didn’t because my colleagues would probably be schocked. 🙂


  2. Christianne
    Dec 06, 2015 @ 05:26:58

    I was following via Live Tweets, because I was at work. Couldn’t really celebrate after Yuzu’s Lutz (FINALLY!). 😁


  3. Liam Nemo
    Dec 06, 2015 @ 14:33:23

    Yuzuru’s SP and LP and the Shibs’ SD and FD are the best highlights of NHK, and even the season. I also love Yu/Jin SP and LP. For me, they have best programs in their disciplines of this season.


  4. Andrea
    Dec 11, 2015 @ 07:55:11

    At CoC Mao turned to coach Sato in the K+C and asked “Do you think I can beat my PB with this short program?”, and he said “Let’s wait and see.” Mao has some strong ideas about what she wants to do with this season. I shall be so interested in how she tackles the final.


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