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.


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?


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.


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: Cup of China 2015

boyang jin

Well… most of my predictions went out the window last weekend. But what can I say? Ice is slippery and besides, at least we got a lot of great skating from it! Here are some highlights and some random comments here and there on the Cup of China. Feel free to jump in and add your own thoughts in the comments! More

Mid-Season Favourites

I won’t bother typing a post for the roster for the GPF because there’s a wikipedia page for that. It has a pretty table and a more effective and succinct way of showing you all you need to know. Instead, I’ll write a post on my favourite programs of the season this far since the majority of skaters have shown us what vehicles they want to use to propel them to the top.

kavaguti smirnov sa 2014 lp


Yuzuru has yet to perform this program clean in competition but I loved this program since I saw it in exhibition form so I will put this as my favourite SP of the season so far. I adore the use of spread eagles and just the slow and graceful pace of the choreography. Yuzuru and Jeff Buttle are just magic together.

I’m not a huge fan of when coaches try to get skaters to skate like others but I find this combination of Kazakh pride with Patrick Chan-esque intricate transitions compelling. Although memorable is a double-edged word (certain terrible things can be just as memorable and good things), I think that this program has the potential to be memorable in a pleasant sense.


I like this program mostly since I do think that it does well to combine the natural personality of the skater with the music and the choreography, despite the mistakes. I do hope that Zijun skates this to its full potential and doesn’t give up midway through after a huge mistake. There are a lot of beautiful soft moments in this program that I think she can perform very well so I will wait until that time comes.

Without a doubt, my favourite long program of the season is Satoko Miyahara’s Miss Saigon LP. Just watch it.


I like the mystery and introverted quality of this program and I think that this team has what it takes to do it justice. It may not be the most stunning thing ever but it’s definitely a lot more interesting than most of the programs out there.

The angst. The drama. The stomping. The throw quad salchow. This program is so epic. Tamara Moskvina is a genius.

Ice Dance

I’ve been less than impressed with a lot of the flamenco SDs this season and I’m not sure why. Most of them have been underwhelming or the costumes are too distracting or that nothing really shines through. Sara Hurtado & Adria Diaz have an SD that gives a good flamenco flavour without it being too cheesy, which is why it makes this list.

I try not to pick the same skater or team for my favourites list but this is hands down my favourite FD of the season so far. This dance can so easily get cheesy but somehow this love theme and the choreography works, flowing smoothly from one type of love to the next. I really love how this team pushes the boundaries every season with really creative programs.

What have been your favourite programs this season so far? Let me know in the comments!

Predictions: Cup of China 2014

Zijin Li 12 lp

The Grand Prix season is well underway and with the huge time different and personal commitments this weekend, I’m afraid livestreaming will not be possible. I will, however, do my best to catch up to all the competitions as fast as I can so that I can give you a recap/highlight post early next week. However, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves and make the predictions first. More

Predictions: Cup of China 2013

Ahhhh! I have 16 hours to make these predictions. Bloody time differences. Ok, lunch first.


Zijin Li 12 lp

Onwards to the predictions for the Cup of China 2013!


First up, the men!

Ah, come on, really? Am I seriously supposed to make predictions based on this clusterf*** of a roster? So many of the frontrunners are so inconsistent. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

Ok. Problem solving skills. Go.

Some names that pop off right off the bat: Takahiko Kozuka, who had a really rough start at Skate America this year but still has the potential to grab a medal… I think. Denis Ten, last year’s World silver medalist who’s win was a complete surprise because he has the potential but his previous results have always put him in the second group of skaters at GP events. Then, there’s Florent Amodio… WHO GOT NEW COACHES! *opens up some champagne* YES. This kid has potential but those horrific programs with a gazillion pauses were weighing him down. This is great news. Han Yan also has home-ice advantage and a lot of potential. A good candidate to snatch a medal off a veteran’s hand if they don’t skate well.

So now that the initial list is done, I’m really not sure how to rank them. It could honestly go any way. Let’s just throw caution to the wind and randomly come up with a ranking.


Gold: Florent Amodio
Denis Ten
Han Yan


With a newfound consistency and beautiful performances, Carolina Kostner, will likely win the gold. Adelina Sotnikova‘s terrible programs (and hence, lower PCS) and Kanako Murakami‘s lower TES make them somewhat at the same level and these two will likely duke it out for silver and bronze. If any of them make a mistake, fresh-faced Zijun Li could also grab a medal and hopefully her Coppelia LP will be great since I’ve pegged that as a fantasy program for her in this post.


Gold: Carolina Kostner
Kanako Murakami
Adelina Sotnikova


Barring some freak accident or injury, former World Champions, Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy, should be able to take the gold. They might face some strong competition from Qing Pang & Jian Tong, who took a year off last season but are likely still better than the rest of the competition. I’m almost tempted to say that I refuse to pick a bronze medal winner but I’ll just close my eyes and point to a name on the screen. It’s anybody’s game at this point. Anastasia Martiusheva & Alexei Rogonov. Ok, done!


Gold: Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy
Qing Pang & Jian Tong
Anastasia Martiusheva & Alexei Rogonov

Ice Dance

The ice dance competition will likely be a three-way race between Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev, Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat and Madison Chock & Evan Bates. I’d give the edge to the first two teams though even when you narrow the gold medal choices down to two, it’ll be interesting to see who prevails. B/S has been beating P/B for a little while now but P/B have switched to Igor Shpilband, which might give them that extra boost they need to regain the top European spot. This will be a tough call.


Gold: Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev
Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat
Madison Chock & Evan Bates

What are your predictions for the Cup of China this year? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Picks from 2012/2013

At the end of last season, icenetwork released a series of picks and I decided to follow suit with a post. I like the format so much that I think I’ll repeat it again. So, without further ado, my picks for the 2012/2013 season.

Best program:

It’s a tie this year between Akiko Suzuki’s LP to “O” choreographed by Pasquerale Carmelengo and Kanako Murakami’s SP to “Prayer for Taylor” choreographed by Marina Zueva. Both of them were interesting and more than just the cookie-cutter Morozombie programs you see with the CoP system. I love the final step sequence in Akiko’s program and the unusual sequence of elements in Kanako’s SP.


Best Performance:

Yuzuru Hanyu at the NHK Trophy, skating his SP – honestly one of the most mesmerizing performances of the season. A great program and a great performer. I’m kind of sad that he’s not the record holder for the highest score for the SP but he’ll get that score again one day. He has the potential to do it.


Best Rivalry:

Just like last year, this one goes to: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir vs. Meryl Davis & Charlie White

dance podium 13 worlds

This year, the odds were tipped towards Meryl & Charlie who have skated brilliantly throughout the season. There are a few crazy fans out there who will bash against either team but I love both teams and how they push each other to be the best. *This* is what a skating rivalry should be about. Or skating in general. This element to the rivalry really brings back memories of the epicness of Plushenko vs. Yagudin. I think the level of epicness in this rivalry is pretty similar to that of the two Russian men. The Yags/Plushy rivalry was slightly more entertaining since the two men actually hated each other and would say it out loud on camera. LOL.

Biggest Upset:

Denis Ten at Worlds, especially in the LP where he won that portion of the competition. I don’t think anyone thought he had it in him to beat a whole slew of people for the silver medal. I also think that in a lot of people’s hearts, Denis won the gold at Worlds this year.


Favourite Breakthrough Performance:

Zijun Li at Worlds and 4CC. This girl can’t seem to skate a clean short but she’s just a little jumping bean in the long program! I’m keeping an eye out for this girl and her freshfaced look next season and I hope to see her improve more and more.


Best Comeback Story:

Yuna Kim. Duh. It’s pretty epic how she comes back to Worlds without competing at any major international competition and wins calmly and effortlessly. I just wish her programs were a little more compelling.


Best Moment:

Akiko Suzuki at the World Team Trophy – I wish there was a clip for this but right before she skated, Team Japan chanted her name and you could just see a look of surprise and a sudden glow of confidence light up her face. It was so sweet. She went on to do this:

Girl, at 28,  you’re skating better than ever. She’s the female Plushenko – dauntless, awesome and timeless. Please keep skating.


Favourite Outfits:

I don’t care very much for their skating but I love the fun, quirky colours and patterns on Cathy & Chris Reed’s costume for their Beatles Medley FD. Super cute. Also, I feel as if someone needs to make a macro or meme using Chris’ face in this picture.

Chris Cathy Reed 2013 Worlds FD

This season has been quite eventful. What are your picks for the season? Post them in the comments below or send me a link to your list!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Highlights of the 2013 World Championships


The World Championships are over but hey, the season’s not over yet! We still have the World Team Trophy. I’ll put up predictions closer to the date, as well as some other end of season posts but for now, let’s think about the positive and put the spotlight on some amazing skates at Worlds this year. More

Highlights of Four Continents 2013

It’s the Lunar New Year and I don’t think it’s the time to dwell on the negatives even though there were huge negatives in this competition. In any case, here are a few highlights and we’ll think about the good things.

Mao Asada’s I’ve Got Rhythm

I’m so excited to see her triple axel back! She also did a triple-triple in the long program which was surprising. Mao is getting ready to face her biggest rival at Worlds.

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir – The Waltz Goes On

I feel like I’m watching a fairy tale unfold here.

Kanako Murakami, Tango

I’m happy to see Kanako’s improved a ton. I hope she keeps this up.

Zijun Li

I saw glimpses of Yuna and Mao at their peak in her in this performance. I hope that puberty sits well with her because this girl has a lot of potential.

Han Yan

Despite the mistakes, this guy’s jumps are HUGE. I hope he improves fast. China may have a fleet of single skaters. I can smell the future nationalism already.


What were your favourite bits of the Four Continents competition?



~The Rinkside Cafe

Highlights and a few comments on the NHK Trophy 2012

Highlight: Yuzuru Hanyu beating his own world record in the short program. At the tender age of 17. Wow.

I adore this program. My favourite part? The footwork into the 3A. So difficult but he makes it look smooth as butter.

I think his gold here at NHK has set him up quite well for Sochi. He’s proven that he’s a tough competitor who can beat Daisuke and be the #1 Japanese man. Aka the one the JFSA will politick for next year. He just needs to keep up his consistency and work on his long program but this kid is on the right track to a bright future. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll notice that he’s the only skater I’ve pegged so far as the future of figure skating. I’ve been reluctant to do the same for some other bright talents (ie. the baby Russian divas, Adelina Sotnikova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva) because none of them have talent that stood out like Yuzuru’s. I’m so excited for this young man’s future.

Highlight: Despite the change in coaches, Yuzuru still has his Winnie the Pooh tissue box. And Brian Orser carries it around. (This picture was from the Finlandia Trophy but Orser did carry Pooh bear around at the NHK Trophy.)

Also, anyone else noticed that Brian was more chummy with Yuzuru than Javier? Poor Javi, such talent but he has no powerful figure skating union to back him up.

Highlight: Akiko Suzuki skating a fabulous long program. So focused, so lovely. She gets better with age.

However, despite winning the long program, she totally got tanked by her PCS which made her lose the gold. I’m sorry, Mao, but I don’t think popping or doubling jumps and shaky landings constitute as good skating skills. Or at least skating skills rated as 8/10. That abnormally high bit of PCS on Mao’s score in the LP was what gave her the gold medal. Frankly, I’m very disappointed in you, judges. And the JFSA.

Highlight: Richard Dornbush. I’ve been told about this youngin’ though I haven’t had much time to follow up and watch his skating. But now that I have, I admit, despite the mistakes, he has great potential. I love the lines he makes with his arms and the smoothness in his skating. I hope this guy improves.

Highlight: Zijun Li has utterly boring programs and her PCS are a bit high seeing that she skates like a junior but this girl was refreshing to watch. She’s a natural jumping bean! She reminds me of a young Mao, though her aura is definitely a lot different. I’d love to see her with a different choreographer. She wasn’t that far behind Mirai Nagasu for bronze so I’d say that she has a little time to show everyone what’s she’s got and I’m excited.

What were your favourite moments of the NHK Trophy?

~The Rinkside Cafe