Thanksgiving week in the United States turned out to be a very busy week in the ice dance world.  In addition to Skate America, the final Grand Prix event of the 2017 series, other competitions held this week included Open d’Andorra, Shanghai Trophy, and Tallinn Trophy. In the case of Tallinn Trophy, three events were held concurrently.  The results from all competitions have been posted on IDC and links are available in the sidebar.  



by Anne Calder 

The ISU closed its 2017 Grand Prix Series in Lake Placid, N.Y., November 24-26. The small, rustic village in the Adirondack Mountains is rich with Olympic history, having previously hosted the 1932 and 1980 Games. Nine ice dance teams from six ISU countries competed for prize money and points to qualify for the GP Final in Nagoya, Japan, December 7-10.

Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani (USA) won a second gold; Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte (ITA) added silver to their bronze, and Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) took their first GP medal of the season—bronze.

Short Dance:

Seven of the nine teams had lower base values (levels) than at their previous GP event. In addition, no team earned above a level 3 for the not-touching step sequences.

The Shibutani siblings danced to selections by Perez Prado, the Cuban “King of the Mambo”. They made their spectacular twizzles an even bigger highlight by timing the eight rotations of the first set to the music, as the lyrics counted from one to eight in Spanish. The element drew thunderous applause from the audience. They earned four of five level 4s. Their side-by-side footwork was a level 3 with all +2 and +3 GOE marks, contributing to their personal best score of 79.18.

“Since the Rostelecom Cup, we’ve been working on the details for the program, and it was great to see the progress we’ve made,” Maia said.

Cappellini & Lanotte were second with cha cha and samba rhythms that showed off their flair, but their levels were all over the map. The twizzles and rotational lift earned level 4; the side-by-side footwork was level 3; the pattern step sequence was level 2; and the rhumba pattern was level 1.

The team was pleased with the improvement they made since their other GP event, but not with the 72.70-point score, which was three points less than what they received at NHK Trophy.

“We lost a lot of technical points, and we’re not sure why. We will ask and work on it to get a better score in the future,” Cappellini commented.

Sinitsina & Katsalapov scored 68.72 for third place with the samba, rhumba, and samba rhythms. Their element levels were an exact copy of the Italians, but the judges scored them almost three points less.

They spoke at the press conference about working on the technical side since NHK Trophy. When asked about specifics, Sinitsina answered, ”We worked on the rhumba, pattern dance, choreography—basically everything.”

Russians Zagorski & Guerreiro were next with 64.20 and a slim .13 lead over the Canadians, Gilles & Poirier’s 64.07, followed by the Japanese team of Muramoto & Reed’s 62.30.

Free Dance:

Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani (USA)

Maia & Alex Shibutani defended their Skate America title and qualified for the Final with a gold medal performance set to “Paradise” by Coldplay. They heard the music in February 2017 while competing at the Four Continents Championships, which was held at the Olympic venue in PyeongChang, South Korea. The music completed the trilogy that they began two years earlier with
“Fix You,” by the same British Rock band.

They earned level 4 twizzles, lifts, and spin, and level 3 for both the diagonal and circular footwork.

Each element received a higher score than it did at their first Grand Prix, five weeks ago. Their free dance scored 115.07; the total was a personal best of 194.25.

“We made a lot of big changes after Russia, to the free dance in particular, especially to the second half of the program,” Alex Shibutani said. “I think that has really paid of with the overall feel of the program as we skated it today.”

Cappellini & Lanotte won the silver medal with a sensitive and emotional interpretation of the music from the film Life is Beautiful. The 2014 world champions earned level 4 for their twizzles, spin, and two of the three lifts. Their straightline lift had a slight mishap on the exit and was awarded only a level 3, along with the serpentine and diagonal step sequences.

Cappellini & Lanotte scored 108.93 in the free dance, which earned them a trip to the Final by a small margin, while at the same time, eliminating Russians Ekaterina Brobova & Dmitri Soloviev. Their total score was 181.63. Both marks were below their season’s bests, scored two weeks ago at NHK Trophy.

“Luca and I had a little wobble in one of our lifts, so we are not 100% happy with our skate today,” Cappellini said. “We are definitely looking forward to improving our technical score, especially in the second part of the season where the major championships are taking place.”

Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov danced off with the bronze medal to a Rachmaninov piano concerto free dance that earned a personal best score of 107.81. The spin, twizzles, and lifts were level 4; the circular footwork earned a level 3; and the diagonal step sequence was level 2. The total was 176.53

No Russian ice dancers qualified for the Grand Prix Final, but they have their own tough competition next month at the Russian National Championships. Sinitsina & Katsalapov are in the mix.

“Our next competition is our championships in Saint Petersburg,” Katsalapov said. “We will go home and work on everything we didn’t do perfectly here at Skate America. We know what we need to work on. We will approach our championships ready for battle.”

Gilles & Poirier (CAN) moved up a notch to fourth with a dance to the theme from Perry Mason, the popular fifties detective television show. It scored 102.47, which was almost identical to their outing at Rostelecom Cup. Unfortunately, their 166.54 total score was almost six points lower, mainly due to their low TES in the short dance. The Canadians had medaled at each of their six GP events prior to this season and qualified for the Final three years ago.

Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker (USA) vaulted from seventh in the short dance to fifth place with a mesmerizing performance to “Liebestraum” that captivated the audience. The program scored 101.38; their total was 163.53.


The large Skate America audience waved flags and cheered loudly and often with overwhelming enthusiasm for all the skaters. They received high accolades in return.

  • “The crowd was absolutely incredible, and we embraced their energy” – Alex Shibutani
  • “The audience here was just amazing. They gave us such support and made us energized.” – Nikita Katsalapov

The Olympic Arena had fond memories for a few of the skaters.

  • Tiffani Zagorski, who now skates for Russia, was the 2007 Lake Placid Solo Dance Bronze medalist, representing her native Great Britain.
  • Maia & Alex Shibutani debuted as juveniles at the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships 13 years ago.
  • Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte qualified for their first Grand Prix Final in 2009.



November 28-December 4
British Figure Skating Championships
Sheffield, Great Brittain

November 29-December 4
2018 Skate Canada Challenge
Montreal, Quebec



With the conclusion of Skate America, the senior roster for the Grand Prix Final has been set. France, Canada, and Italy each qualified one team, while the United States will send three teams to Nagoya, Japan, for next week’s Final.

In order of qualification, the following teams will compete at the Grand Prix Final in the senior dance event: Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (FRA), Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir (CAN), Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani (USA), Madison Chock & Evan Bates (USA), Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue (USA) and Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte (ITA). Alternates to the GPF are Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev (RUS), Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (CAN) and Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin (RUS).

The Junior Grand Prix events ended in October, with the following teams earning a spot in the Junior Grand Prix Final: Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko (USA), Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin (RUS), Sofia Polishchuk & Alexander Vakhnov (RUS), Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha (CAN), Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko (RUS) and Arina Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov (RUS). Alternates are Ksenia Konkina & Grigory Yakushev (RUS), Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva & Nikita Nazarov (RUS) and Caroline Green & Gordon Green (USA).



Last week, Tallinn hosted teams for three competitions simultaneously, including the second-to-last ISU Challenger Series event, Tallinn Trophy. Tallinn International and Interclub competitions were also held.

Poland’s Natalia Kaliszek & Maksym Spodyriev took first both the short and free dances en route to winning their first Challenger Series event. Alisa Agafanova & Alper Ucar of Turkey brought home the silver, and Elliana Pogrebinsky & Alex Benoit pulled up from a fourth-place short dance to claim bronze.

The ISU Challenger series concludes with Golden Spin of Zagreb, which takes place from December 6-9 in Zagreb, Croatia. The top three placed teams by total scores at the end of the ten-event series receive ISU prize money. At the end of nine events, the current top three are Betina Popova & Sergey Mozgov (Russia), Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA), and Alisa Agafanova & Alper Ucar (Turkey). There are 20 teams on the roster for Golden Spin of Zagreb.



Canillo, Andorra, hosted the fourth annual Open D’Andorra from November 22-26. 

Sara Hurtado & Kirill Khaliavin, the 2017 Spanish national champions, collected the gold medal. Hurtado & Khaliavin were nearly 10 points ahead after the short dance and after totaling 171.87 points, they were almost 23 points ahead of the silver medalists.

Great Britain’s Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson won their second silver medal of the season after pulling up from fifth in the short dance to finish second in the free dance and overall. Shari Koch & Christian Nuchtern of Germany claimed the bronze.

In second after the short dance, Viktoryia Kavaliova & Yurii Bieliaiev of Belarus dropped to fourth place. Two teams withdrew after the short dance—Cecilia Törn & Jussiville Partanen of Finland (3rd) and Kimberley Hew-Low & Timothy McKernan (10th).



Russia’s Bobrova & Soloviev bested four other teams to claim gold at the 2017 Shanghai Trophy in China. The event was a different from a typical senior international. It was the first time that the ISU combined figure skating, synchronized skating, and short track speed skating in the same event. ISU members were invited to enter skaters based on their finishes from the 2017 World Championships, and only a free program was contested. 

Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri of Italy won silver, finishing 11 points behind the winners. Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac of France took the bronze.



This week, Canadian ice dance teams will head to Pierrefonds, Que., for the 2018 Skate Canada Challenge. Skaters qualified for Challenge by advancing through local sectional championships or receiving byes based on fall international or summer domestic competitions. National champions will be crowned for teams at the pre-novice level. Novice and junior teams will be fighting to qualify for the 2018 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships that will be held from January 8-14 in Vancouver, BC. Since less than 15 teams have registered to compete in Canada this year, all senior teams will advance to the Canadian Championships.

Haley Sales & Nikolas Wamsteeker (CAN)

The three competition rinks at Sportplexe Pierrefonds will be live streamed and can be viewed via the Skate Canada Dailymotion page. 


Wednesday, November 29
2:10 PM  –  Novice Pattern Dances

Thursday, November 30
6:05 PM  –  Novice Free Dance

Friday, December 1
11:25 AM  –  Junior Short Dance
3:15 PM  –  Pre-Novice Pattern Dances

Saturday, December 2
9:55 AM  –  Junior Free Dance
1:51 PM  –  Senior Short Dance
5:30 PM  –  Pre-Novice Free Dance

Sunday, December 3
10:55 AM  –  Senior Free Dance



Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson (GBR)

The best British ice dance teams head to Sheffield, England, this week for the British National Championships. A total of 20 couples will compete in Sheffield and national champions will be crowned at the basic novice, advanced novice, junior, and senior levels.  

Senior competitors include Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland and Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson.


(all times local / Sheffield)

Saturday, December 3
11:04 AM  –  Basic Novice Pattern Dance 1
11:36 AM  –  Advanced Novice Pattern Dance 1
12:15 PM  –  Basic Novice Pattern Dance 2
12:47 PM  –  Advanced Novice Pattern Dance 2
1:57 PM  –  Junior Short Dance
2:28 PM  –  Senior Short Dance

Sunday, December 4
11:30 AM  –  Basic Novice Free Dance
12:15 PM  –  Advanced Novice Free Dance
1:32 PM  –  Junior Free Dance
2:22 PM  –  Senior Free Dance


Until next time,

Team IDC