Due to a technical difficulty in Zagreb, we have not posted photos from the event this weekend. However, the photos are on their way, so we will post them this week.
Starting on Thursday, the national events kick into high gear. Italy, France, Germany, and Spain all crown their national champions this week; in addition, the Four Nationals Championships, which includes teams from Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, and Slovakia, will also take place. As this is an Olympic season, the stakes are even higher.
The lone international event this week is Bosphorus Cup. Currently, there are only three teams registered to compete in the junior event and four teams on the roster for the senior event.
From now until the European Championships, which take place from January 15-22, 2018, there are no international competitions on the docket. We will continue to bring you results from each national event as they become available.
Until next time,
RECAP: JUNIOR & SENIOR GRAND PRIX FINAL
by Anne Calder
The 2018 ISU Grand Prix Final and ISU Junior Grand Prix Final were held at the Nippongaishi Hall in Nagoya, Japan, December 7-10. Ice dance teams from Canada, France, Italy, Russia, and the USA qualified and competed in both divisions for medals and prize money.
Additional technical information for the television audience was provided in the upper left corner of the screen. It showed the executed element with its Base Value (BV) and GOE (Grade of Execution). Also included were a current (C) total score and the TES (Total Element Score) for the competitor in first place.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
JUNIOR GRAND PRIX FINAL
The three 2017 Junior Grand Prix Final medalists all skated as seniors this season, so the podium reflected a new regime in international junior ice dance. Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin (RUS), who qualified two years ago but just missed the 2017 Final, won gold, followed by last year’s fourth place team, Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) with silver. Newcomers to the event, Sofia Polishchuk & Alexander Vakhnov (RUS) claimed bronze.
Skoptcova & Aleshin danced to rhumba, cha-cha, and samba rhythms and scored a personal best of 65.87. All the elements earned level 4 except the not-touching step sequence, which was level 3.
Skoptcova explained their performance attitude. “Just to skate clean is not enough; you need to improve every time. We come to each competition to win.”
The 2017 World bronze medalists, Carreira & Ponomarenko had a timing issue in the first pattern (level 3) and a twizzle problem (level 2). Still, the highest PCS in the SD helped them score a personal best of 64.10. They danced with great animation and enthusiasm.
“This SD is very fun; it’s cha-cha, samba, and rhumba, so we just want to go crazy, especially because our FD is the complete opposite,” Ponomarenko said.
Polishchuk & Vakhnov’s cha-cha and samba music program earned level 4 on the twizzles, rotational lift, and second Cha Cha pattern. It scored a personal best of 63.17. The large audience awed the competitors.
“We were holding hands, looking to the eyes of each other and talking,” Vakhnov said. “It is our first Grand Prix Final, and I was excited. There are so many spectators; I’ve never seen that before.”
Finishing in fourth, fifth, and sixth place: Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha (CAN) 60.52, Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko (RUS) 60.10, and Arina Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov (RUS) 58.53.
The Final podium was the same as the short dance leader board.
Skoptcova & Aleshin won gold with a season best 87.74-point mature performance to a tango selection by Gotan Project. The choreography cleverly wove the elements in and out of the traditional dance movements as the skaters maintained the tango expression.
The lifts, twizzles, and spin earned level 4; the serpentine footwork was level 3. Their 153.61-point total was a personal best for the young Russians, who qualified for the JGPF with a second place at the Minsk Arena Cup, followed by first place at the Baltic Cup.
The Moscow-trained dancers were asked what was needed to get a step sequence level 4. Skoptcova responded, “You need to execute everything 100 percent, and we were lacking a little bit.”
Carreira & Ponomarenko, winners of both their JGP events, performed to “Dance for Me Wallis” and “Abdication” from the W.E film soundtrack and earned a season best score of 87.66.
“In the beginning of the season, we created a story that she is a butterfly, and I am the wind, carrying her through the free dance,” Ponomarenko explained.
The silver medal program earned level 4 for five elements; the circular step sequence was level 3. Their twizzles, which were downgraded in the short dance, earned all +2 and +3 marks from the judges. The Americans again scored the highest PCS. Their total of 151.76 was also a season best score.
“We feel really good about how we skated; we still have a lot of things to work on,” Carreira said.
Polishchuk & Vakhnov were awarded a season best score of 85.87 for their performance to the original soundtrack from the 2010 Black Swan film.
“In the beginning, I am a white swan, a very innocent girl who doesn’t have any sins,” Polishchuk said. “Then I meet Sasha (my partner), who is on the dark side. He enchants me like a demon. I have to struggle inside myself, and by the end of the program, I am a black swan.”
The dance earned level 4 for all the elements except the circular footwork, which received level 3. The young Russians, who qualified for the Final with a first- and second-place in the JGP Series, recently tweaked their program.
“We have changed the end of the program because nobody liked it,” Vakhnov explained. “Now we have another lift, which we changed almost the day before departure. This is the first competition we did it.”
The final standings changed after the free dance. Russians Shevchenko & Eremenko (144.38) and Ushakova & Nekrasov (141.88) each moved up a notch to fourth and fifth. The Canadian team, Lajoie & Lagha (141.28), fell to sixth.
NEW ON IDC
EVENTS THIS WEEK
December 11-16, 2017
December 13-16, 2017
Italian National Championships
December 14-16, 2017
Four Nationals Championships
December 14-16, 2017
French National Championships
December 15-16, 2017
German National Championships
December 15-17, 2017
Spanish National Championships
GRAND PRIX FINAL
Senior ice dance also crowned new champions. Gabriella Papadakis & Guilllaume Cizeron (FRA) defeated the reigning GPF gold medalists, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir (CAN). Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani (USA) repeated as bronze medalists.
World silver medalists Papadakis & Cizeron received a personal best score of 82.07 for their salsa, rhumba, and salsa dance to Ed Sheeran’s music with Christopher Dean’s choreography.
The pattern, twizzles, partial pattern step sequence, and straightline lift earned level 4; the not touching footwork was level 3. The performance section of the PCS drew seven 10’s from the judges.
“It was a really, really good performance, the best of the season,” Papadakis said. “When we got off the ice, we were happy because we did the best we could have done. We were focused on our steps, and at the same time, we were into the performance.”
Virtue & Moir were only .54 behind the French with 81.53 points. The 2017 world champions used the music of the Rolling Stones (samba), the Eagles (rumba), and Santana (cha cha). They earned level 4 for all the elements except the level 3 side-by-side footwork that scored a 2.83 GOE.
“We are pleased with our performance,” Virtue said. “It is a step up from the Grand Prix circuit, and we are looking to build it up.”
“We want to defend, but we know how deep this field is, and we are honored to be in this group of skaters,” Moir added.
Shibutani & Shibutani were third with 78.09 points for their mambo, cha cha, and samba dance to a Perez Prado medley. The lift and both step sequences earned level 4 and all +2 and +3 GOE marks.
The level 4 twizzles had a unison issue between the second and third transition, which lowered the GOE. The siblings also made two timing errors for level 2 on their pattern.
“Overall we think it was really strong,” Alex said about the performance. “There were a couple of things that we left on the table, points-wise. So we’ll go back home and work on that. I’m beating myself up over the mistake on the twizzle. That’s a mistake I never make.”
Only .57 points separated the fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-place teams.
Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue (USA) scored a 74.81 for their samba, rhumba, and samba. The pattern and curved lift earned level 4; the twizzles and both step sequences were level 3.
“Zachary and I wanted to make the rumba the highlight of the program, so that’s why in the middle that is the only part that has lyrics,” Hubbell explained. “This is the part which we feel the audience connects with the most.”
Madison Chock & Evan Bates (USA) danced salsa, rumba, and samba to a Marc Anthony medley that scored 74.36. The lift, twizzles, and pattern were level 4; both step sequences were level 3.
“It felt a little tough out there today, but we still connected and had a good skate,” Chock said.
Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte (ITA) received 74.24 points for their cha cha and samba. The rotational lift and twizzles were level 4; the other elements were level 3.
“It was surely the best performance in the season, but we want to boost our score a little bit higher, like 75-80,” Lanotte said.
Papadakis & Cizeron used the somber sounds of “Moonlight Sonata” to eclipse the score of their Canadian training mates and win their first GPF gold medal. The French champions glided seamlessly across the ice, stopping only to accent the ethereal performance with effortless lifts and spins.
The team’s exquisite performance was rewarded with all +2 and +3 GOE marks and 24 perfect 10.00 component scores. The dance scored 120.09; the total of 202.16 was a personal best and a new world record.
“We are happy to have won this competition,” Papadakis said. “There was a lot of pressure here with the top six teams competing. It was a good practice for the Olympic Games.”
“It was not perfect yet,” Cizeron added. “There are still some things that we can improve in both programs, technically, and also to make it more consistent.”
Virtue & Moir’s “Roxanne” and “Come What May” from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack set a different tone than Beethoven’s sonata. The character–driven program oozed with passion and intense energy as the dancers dramatically interpreted their roles.
The elements, except for the step sequences, were level 4. Their total score was 199.86, exactly the same as Skate Canada. The difference was that the GPF free dance score of 118.33 was a new personal best.
“We made a few uncharacteristic glitches, but we feel we captured the moment,” Moir explained. “We had a lot of fun out there. We were able to move the program better than at both of the Grand Prix [events].”
A mere 2.77 in the final standings separated the third- through sixth-place teams.
The Shibutani siblings were sixth in the free dance, but hung on for a third-place overall finish. Their “Paradise” by Coldplay was the third entry in their trilogy series.
The program earned level 4 for the spin, twizzles, and lifts. The base value for the level 3 circular and level 2 diagonal step sequences plus having only 0.51 GOE on their twizzles lowered their TES and segment score to 109.91. The total was 188.00 points.
“Today was not the performance we wanted,” Alex said. “I just had issues on the twizzles this week. We have set very high goals for this season and are confident that we are going forward. We are looking forward to get home to prepare for the Nationals and Olympics.”
Hubbell & Donohue remained in fourth place with a 112.59-point sultry dance to “Across the Sky” and
“Caught Out in the Rain.” The U.S. bronze medalists had the highest base value and the only level 4 step sequence in the competition. Unfortunately, a glitch on the final rotational lift dropped them a level, lowered the GOE, and probably cost them a medal. The total score was 187.40, just .60 behind the Shibutanis.
Hubbell explained their mishap. “We just lost some footing on those quick rotations, and it really threw us off. Thankfully for our experience and our many run-throughs, we could save it.”
Chock & Bates were third in the free dance with a season best of 112.79 for their program set to John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The total of 187.15 points was also a season best.
“We will just keep going with everything we want to keep putting out,” Chock said. “We want to show emotional performances, each one better than the last.”
Cappellini and Lanotte’s Life is Beautiful free dance scored a season best of 110.99 for fifth place in the free dance. The total was 185.23 and they finished sixth overall.
“We are extremely happy with the result today,” Capellini said. “We skated the best we could.”
RECAP: GOLDEN SPIN OF ZAGREB
The ISU Challenger Series came to a close last weekend with the 50th Golden Spin of Zagreb.
Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitry Soloviev captured the gold medal and finished a full 8.5 points ahead of Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri of Italy, who won the silver medal. Bobrova & Soloviev’s total score of 186.66 was their best score of the season and just .02 away from a new ISU personal best. Guignard & Fabbri also continued the upward trend, scoring a season best score of 178.16. Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker of the United States pulled up from fourth to cap their Challenger series season by winning the bronze. Their score of 163.88 was similar to what they earned on the Grand Prix series this season.
In third after the short dance, Sara Hurtado & Kirill Khaliavin of Spain slipped to fourth in the free dance and overall after a mistake on the twizzles. Their final score of 163.58 meant that they missed the podium by just .30.
In the national races that figure into decisions regarding the Olympic berths, Hurtado & Khaliavin finished one place and just over four points ahead of Olivia Smart & Adria Diaz. On the German side, Kavita Lorenz & Joti Polizoakis finished ninth to Katharina Müller & Tim Dieck’s 11th, but they were separated by less than a point and a half.
FINAL STANDINGS: ISU CHALLENGER SERIES
The three teams who finished at the top of Challenger Series’ leader board all competed at the final event in Croatia. The final three teams finished as follows:
|1||Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitry Soloviev (RUS)||Gold – Ondrej Nepela Memorial; Gold – Golden Spin of Zagreb||368.58||$5,000.00|
|2||Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri (ITA)||Gold – Lombardia Trophy; Silver – Golden Spin of Zagreb||347.26||$4,000.00|
|3||Tiffani Zagorski & Jonathan Guerreiro (RUS)||Silver – Minsk Arena Ice Star; 6th – Golden Spin of Zagreb||327.85||$3,000.00|