Predictions: Skate America 2016

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Yes, I know, competition has started. And I haven’t written about Worlds at all. At school, they never teach you that adulting is hard. So many demands for my time so I will keep this short. I should try to correct my rambling writing style anyways.

Men

  • Shoma Uno will be hungry to redeem himself at Worlds. He was crying at the kiss and cry (it was so heartbreaking). I think we all knew that he could’ve been the World bronze medalist.
  • Strange. I thought Boyang Jin was supposed to have gone to Frank Carroll for coaching but I don’t see that on his ISU bio. Wonder what happened. Either way, I hope he’s worked on his skating skills during the off season.
  • Dear Skating Gods – I’m not asking for much. I’ll take boring programs over the secondhand embarrassment I felt watching Maxim Kovtun’s programs from last year.
  • I also hope that Jorik Hendrickx doesn’t put the entire speaking track of a movie in his music this year. Actually, maybe for entertainment value, he should. I had a good laugh over it though my seat neighbours in Boston probably thought I was being creepy.
  • Home ice advantage should favour Jason Brown. Unless he bombs and Adam Rippon does well. Who knows, who needs skating skills and fully rotated jumps when home ice advantage can win you a silver medal? (I’ll admit that I’ve leveled that barb unfairly at the men – both Brown and Rippon have good skating skills.)

Gold: Shoma Uno
Silver:
Boyang Jin
Bronze:
Jason Brown

Ladies

  • I feel as if I will have to lower my expectations for Mao as she tries to find her step again, as Carolina did after two disastrous Olympic cycles. Ganbare, Mao-san!
  • You should probably be able to discern my feelings on Ashley Wagner’s World silver medal. Regardless of how I feel, the home ice advantage comment should apply here too.
  • Someone give Gracie Gold programs she actually likes. Firebird was frankly worse live and she looked miserable skating to it. The field is pretty thin here so I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to give 2 medals to the American ladies here.
  • I admit I wached Mai Mihara’s SP for the competition. She lacks musicality, which is to be expected of someone so young but she skates with so much speed and she lands her jumps really smoothly. I’m impressed.

Gold: Ashley Wagner
Silver:
Mai Mihara
Bronze:
Gracie Gold

Pairs

  • Huh. I feel like I should just pick out 3 teams whose names seem familiar and make that my prediction. The field is really, really thin at Skate America this year.

Gold: Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov
Silver:
Julianne Seguin & Charlie Bilodeau
Bronze:
Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres

Ice Dance

  • The ice dance competition should look like USA vs. Russia with two sets of teams for each country.
  • The Shibutanis should be able to win this with the home ice advantage. I hope they continue in the same vein as last year – as in they have programs really suit them.
  • I would like to see what progress Hubbell & Donohue have made, though I feel as if I have a fondness for this team because of Marie-France Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon (who I hope will be the new rulers of ice dance – I am ready for the end of the reign of Queen Marina).
  • I really hope that Ruslan Zhiganshin has really stepped up his game this season. It would be a pity for Elena Ilinykh’s talent to go to waste. She alone is better than Bobrova & Soloviev but unfortunately, ice dance doesn’t work that way.

Gold: Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani
Silver:
Elena Ilinykh & Ruslan Zhiganshin
Bronze:
Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue

What are your predictions for Skate America 2016? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Mid-Season Favourites for 2015/2016

It’s a little late but I thought, why not? It’s time to make my mid-season picks for my favourite programs! As always, I will select my favourite short and long program from each discipline.

Men

There are moments in the step sequence where it looks like the blades are controlling Adian and not the other way around, which is something I’d like to see him improve on but there’s something very nostalgic about this program. It’s very Yagudin-esque somehow. At the very least, Pitkeev and his programs this season are a good reminder that not all Russian men skate like windmills having convulsions on ice.

Do I really need to say anything about this program and this skate?

Ladies

The choreography to this program is quite lovely and it suits Zijun Li very well. It shows off her delicate, airy quality – packaging at its best.

I love the step sequences in this program and for once, the vocals aren’t terrible. Whoever sings this was a pretty good Cio-Cio san. From start to finish, this program puts you under the spell and oddly enough, there aren’t noticeable slow parts that leave you bored in the middle. In general, a well-balanced program.

Pairs

For me, Seguin and Bilodeau are a fun team to watch but they lack polish – they don’t always finish their movements, lack extension and don’t point their toes (grrr). This Cirque de Soleil program, however, manages to cover up these flaws with this whimsical, fun theme that really suits their energy and style. A prime example of great packaging for a team.

I love the music of Samson and Delilah and I love this program. There’s drama but not too much of the cheesy variety and the little choreographic touches like when Sui slides under Han’s legs – gorgeous. Another program showing packaging at its best. These two have grown up to be mature, sophisticated performers and this program is the perfect vehicle for them to show that to the world.

Ice Dance

I often get really frustrated when skaters have programs set to Hallelujah. More often than not, they’re exhibition programs that are meandering, empty and filled occasionally with big tricks to get applause from the audience. This is definitely not one of those programs. The Ravensburger Waltz is fitted really well into the programs and they all blend into a gorgeous, flowing work of art. That final lift almost doesn’t look like a lift since it flows so well, which makes it even more breathtaking because it’s so unexpected.

I don’t know what it is about this program – maybe because it’s just the right program to soothe my soul during this time of my life. “Fix You” is a bit of a sad song but then it becomes so uplifting and the dance is the same. It starts out on a more sombre tone only to build towards an optimistic ending.

Debrief: Grand Prix Final – Part II

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Alright! It’s time for part II of the Grand Prix Final debrief with the pairs and ice dance competition! I apologize for the lateness but better late than never? These posts remind me why I usually do a “State of the Union” post after the GPF but it seems this season, my tardiness has some benefits. I believe some of the results at Nationals may be a little more telling than what transpired at the GPF so… I will do a 4CC predictions post but all my thoughts on the outcomes of Euros and 4CC and some of the national competitions will be summed up in a State of the Union post.

As for Worlds… well, I have a bit of a surprise which I think I will reveal a little later in the season. But first, GPF debrief! Let’s go!

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Debrief: Trophée Eric Bompard 2015

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Shocked. Heartbroken. Devastated. Words cannot describe my sadness over the events of last Friday in Paris, and as many have noted, the violence that is going on all around the world. I don’t know if there’s much I can say to help or improve the situation at all but I’ll share a quote from the late Jack Layton, a famous Canadian politician and just an all-around decent guy.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

In the wake of the tragedy, I’ll spare a bit of space here to say, don’t just pray for Paris, think. Use your head to light the dark corners of ignorance and sweep away the webs of misunderstanding that divide us. Use your heart to feel the pain of all those affected – Parisians, Lebanese, refugees – and remember that at the end of the day, we’re all just people trying to find happiness in the life that we’re dealt.

Moving onto the debrief on TEB, I guess I should start with the news that, as far as I know and from news articles, it seems that the ISU is still in the midst of making a decision on how to treat the results of TEB in terms of whether or not skaters qualify for the Grand Prix Final. Day 2 of TEB was cancelled in the wake of the attacks as France began a three day period of mourning. There were quite a few surprises in the short program and if the results of the SP become the final rankings then my predictions were completely and utterly wrong. Nonetheless, whatever they decide, let’s take a look at what went on last weekend. More