Mid-Season Favourites

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Now that the GP circuit is done, we have a pretty good sense of what these new programs have to offer. As I do every year, here are my favourite programs so far.

Men

Short Program – Shoma Uno – Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra

I didn’t find any of the men’s SP particularly compelling but I like the final step sequence in this program. Mostly because those deep knee bends and that angsty artiste quality reminds me a lot of Daisuke Takahashi.

Long Program – Yuzuru Hanyu – Hope and Legacy

Needless to say, this is a super ambitious program with four quads. Any skater might water down the content in between the jumps but not Hanyu. The flow, the elegance is what epitomizes Yuzuru’s style and combined with music by Joe Hisaishi, I’m sold. I feel as if he spoils us sometimes with how he makes things look so easy. You don’t realize how intricate his programs are until you see his skate before or after a much younger skater who has yet to develop their performance quality, musicality, and skating skills to Yuzuru’s level. I sincerely hope I get to see this at its full potential this season.

Special mention – Nathan Chen – Prince Igor

I was a little confused about this program at the beginning of the season when Chen was struggling with all the jumps but after watching it at the GPF, I began to appreciate this program a lot more. Of course, I will always lament the lack the transitions and Chen’s need to be in control of his blades in between jumps but all of that is exactly what makes this program. The music is loud, with few pauses and is absolutely relentless. There’s no need for intricate details, elegant footwork or deep edges – as long as Chen nails those jumps, you are left with that stunned feeling at the end as if you had gone through an intense roller coaster.

Ladies

Short Program – Katelyn Osmond – Sous le ciel de Paris, Milord

I was pleasantly surprised at Skate Canada with Katelyn Osmond’s return to competition. I have yet to warm up to her style but I’ve always liked the way Katelyn skates with attack and joy and this program epitomizes this. She may not be backloading her jumps like Medvedeva but this program gets the audience involved – she flirts with them, she stops and then delivers a rousing finale. Bravo!

The music and choreography really suits Katelyn’s powerful and yet bubbly style. I wouldn’t mind if she used this program again next year in the Olympic season.

Long Program – Satoko Miyahara – The Planets

I quite like this program for Satoko. I think it forces her to try to project to the audience to convey the mood of a subject that is bigger than herself or any of us. At the same time, the swoops, crescendos and quietness of the music force her to take her performance quality and interaction with the audience to a higher level than she’s used to but at the same time, it also highlights her skating skills, speed and ice coverage. This is an example of good packaging, though I feel that Satoko has yet to maximize its potential.

Pairs

Short Program – Aliona Savchenko & Bruno Massot – That Man

None of the Pairs SPs really stood out for me this season but in terms of my favourites, I quite like this bubbly program from Savchenko & Massot. We never really got to see that flirty side when Aliona was partnered with Robin (they had more of an avant-garde artsy style) so it’s refreshing to see her tackle some material she’s unfamiliar with. Overall, just an adorable program.

Long Program – Lubov Iliushchkina & Dylan Moscovitch – When You Say You Love Me

This program has yet to be skated to perfection and I will be utterly frustrated until they achieve a clean skate. I am absolutely in love with the transitions and lines in this program. That first lift where Lubov is has her back arched – that should seriously be in an art gallery somewhere. That spiral from Lubov into the death spiral! Love. Pure love.

I also adore how this program really showcases the connection between the partners. Since last year, this team has really grown and their chemistry is charming. One of my favourite moments in Skate Canada this year had to be watching Lubov & Dylan during warm-up. There was something very endearing about the way he held out his hand for her. I hope someone holds their hand for me like that one day.

Ice Dance

Short Dance – Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir – Prince Medley

I generally hate medley programs because the music cuts are random and jarring and the sequence of songs don’t always seem to make much sense. Not to mention we’ve all heard mashups before and while it’s understandable that technology can only give us so much in terms of having amateurs combine music in a jiffy, the mashups serve as a reminder that there are ways to render the transition of one song to another more palatable, smooth and easy to listen to. In any case, I digress.

I was genuinely surprised to have liked this program since the beginning of the season. The SD has never really been Virtue & Moir’s strong suit, mostly because they’re better in the FD where the story and choreography are less formulaic. Nonetheless, they seem to have a lot of fun skating this SD and their energy really translates into the performance. The choreography and their ability as performers also make the posing sections less awkward, which is something a lot of teams have difficulty with this season. (I almost hate the Midnight Blues pattern because it seems to enable one of my biggest pet peeves in figure skating – the pause and pose.)

All in all, the ice dance royalty are back and I’m so happy.

Free Dance – Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue – I Wanna Dance with Somebody

I think the era of Marie-France Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon are a’coming and I’m so happy to see a new, fresh style taking the top ranks in ice dance. I love the dreamy romance in this FD and how it feels like a modern take on a classic Hollywood movie. And all the twizzles. Their unison has improved since last season. The only thing I wish they would change is the last third with the random soft rock but otherwise, I still adore this program.

On another note, I really hope that this result will give them some good momentum going into Nationals.

What were your favourite programs this season? Let me know in the comments!

As well, if you would like to be up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @RinksideCafe! I livetweet during major competitions when I can so stay tuned!

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my readers and fans for all your encouragement. Happy holidays to all of you and best of luck to everyone in the new year!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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