Welcome back to the Observer! 

This week, the focus shifts from junior to senior and the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating.  All eyes will be on Everett, Washington for the first Grand Prix of the season – Skate America. Though in Olympic years the order of Grand Prix events shifts around, it usually returns to that familiar schedule for the following season.  Be sure to check out Melanie Heaney’s preview of the entire 2018 ISU Grand Prix series.  

On Monday, we posted an interview with Team USA’s Karina Manta & Joe Johnson.  Anne checked in with them while they were in Salt Lake City last month for the U.S. International Classic.  

Also posted on Monday was this month’s Parent Guide post, which focuses on how families can work better together during this part of the season.  In the United States, things will change next year when the new qualifying structure is implemented.  More on that in a future post.

Robin Ritoss is sending us photos from Skate America and next week, Anne and I head to Laval for Skate Canada.  We look forward to bringing you reports and photos from Grand Prix #2.

Until next time,

Daphne & Team IDC



October 16-18
Russia Cup Event #3
Krasnoyarsk, Russia

October 18-21
Minsk Arena Ice Star
Minsk, Belarus

October 19-21
Skate America
Everett, WA

October 19-21
Halloween Cup
Budapest, Hungary


by Anne Calder 

The Republic of Armenia hosted its first ISU international event from October 10-13. The seventh and last 2018 Junior Grand Prix was held in the capital city of Yerevan, which celebrates its 2800th jubilee this month. Fifteen ice dance teams from 12 countries competed. Two teams qualified for the JGP Final.

Rhythm Dance

The four couples with the highest scores at the end of the rhythm dance all represented different countries: Russia, Georgia, Canada, and Ukraine. The top three also had personal best RD scores.

Russians Arina Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov (#1) were the only ones in the event to hit all eight key points and level 4 for both Argentine Tango patterns. Their spectacular closing rotational lift scored five +4 and three +3 GOEs. The Russians had the highest rhythm dance score for the 2018 season – 69.18 points.

Georgians Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya (#2) improved their Czech Skate rhythm dance score by six points, but still trailed the Russians. Their GOEs were mostly +3 and +2. They missed only one key point – Timing. In Ostrava, they missed four of the eight. The segment earned 65.42 points.

Canadians Ellie Fisher & Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette (#3) danced for the second straight week after withdrawing from earlier national and international competitions due to injury. They upped their TES by three points, by both earning level 4 twizzles and hitting two more key points than at Ljubljana. The footwork also increased from level 2 to level 3. The score was 60.34.


Thirty seconds into the Group 2 warm up, Julia Kim & Shokhrukh Sultanov suffered a hard collision. The medical staff escorted the Uzbekistan team off the ice. Considering their apparent injuries, it was a surprise when they skated to center ice to perform their rhythm dance. ISU commentator Ted Barton called it a true “Spirit of the Sport” moment. At the end, Kim pumped her fist in the air, and the team helped each other off the ice. They later withdrew from the free dance.

Free Dance

Ushakova & Nekrasov won gold and scored a personal best 103.63 to the Black Cat, White Cat film soundtrack, which is actually about the unruly antics of a gypsy settlement and has nothing to do with felines. The Russians began with a pantomime-filled 3.59 Choreographic Step Sequence that set the table for their elements skated with quirky, slapstick movements and facial expressions. The dance earned mostly +3 and +4 GOE scores. The total 172.81 is now the Junior Ice Dance score to beat.

Kazakova & Reviya earned their second JGP silver medal and became the first Georgian ice dance team to qualify for the Final. The team used the powerful music, Carmina Burana and “Vocalise” to score a personal best 99.23 – and just missed 100. Their TES was close to the Russians, but they slipped behind in the component score. The level 4 twizzles and level 3 footwork earned their highest scores. The 164.65 total score was a personal best, but eight points behind the Russians.

Shanaeva & Naryzhnyy squeezed out a third place in the free dance to Sampson and Delilah by .21 points, but finished fourth over all. The team began the event looking for a miracle to qualify for the Final. Unfortunately in the rhythm dance, they hit only 2 of eight key points, earned a level 1 for the footwork and had a stumble entering the twizzle. They redeemed themselves in the free dance with a personal best 92.33 score, but it wasn’t enough to buy a ticket to Vancouver. The total was 148.14.

Fisher & Malette-Paquette danced a dramatic performance to “Look Down” and “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables that scored 92.12. They beat their free dance score from last week by over 7.5 points with higher base levels for the twizzles and one-foot step sequence. The free dance was fourth, but they held on to third overall with a 152.46 total. The Canadians won their first JGP medal (bronze) in their two-year partnership and fourth JGP event.

Ice-dance.com has been highlighting programs for each JGP event. This week’s selections have a special significance. The rhythm dance is by the Uzbekistan team that showed great courage for skating their program after encountering a hard crash during the warm-up. The free dance belongs to the Armenian team whose country hosted its first ISU competition.

The six competitors with the highest points will participate in the JGP Final.

1. Arina Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov * Russia 30
2. Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva & Nikita Nazarov   30
3. Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik   28
4. Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko *   28
5. Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha *   28
6. Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya   26

* Competed in the 2017 JGP Final:

Shevchenko & Eremenko (4th)

Ushakova & Nekrasov (5th)

Lajoie & Lagha (6th)


  • Due to the introduction of the +5/-5 GOE, all statistics start from zero for the season 2018/19. All previous records are now historical. Therefore, all three scores earned by Arina Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov of Russia established new junior ice dance standards.
  • Seven teams earned personal best scores for their rhythm dance, free dance, and total, three for their free dance, and one for their rhythm dance.
  • Georgy Reviya (GEO) has skated with three partners. They all have last names that begin with the letter “K” – Maria Kazakova, Eva Khatchaturian, and Ksenia Konkina.
  • Yerevan is called Armenia’s Pink City because all the buildings are made of a naturally colored volcanic rock found in the surrounding landscape. The color is brightest at sunrise and sunset and changes throughout the day, depending on where the sun hits it.


This week, junior and senior teams head to the seventh annual Minsk-Arena Ice Star competition, which takes place in Minsk, Belarus from October 18-21.  Since it was created in 2012, the event has always taken place in Minsk and former winners include Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitry Soloviev (2013) and Italy’s Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte (2017).  Russia’s Ksenia Monko & Kirill Khaliavin are the only team to capture two titles, going back-to-back in 2015 and 2016. In 2017, the event was included as part of the ISU Challenger Series. From 2012-2017, competitions at the advanced novice level were also held.  This year’s roster features seven senior teams and 13 junior teams.

The medal hunt:  In the senior event, Italy’s Jasmine Tessari & Francesco Fioretti and Sofia Evdokimova & Egor Bazin of Russia are medal favorites, along with Finland’s Juulia Turkkila & Mathias Versluis.  At the junior level, Angelina Lazareva & Maksim Prokofiev of Russia, who won bronze at this event last year, are front runners for the top step of the podium. Russia’s Ekaterina Andreeva & Ivan Desyatov, who competed on the Junior Grand Prix series this year and finished fifth at Amber Cup are also podium threats.

Both the rhythm and free dances for junior and senior are scheduled to go back-to-back.  The rhythm dances are scheduled to take place on Thursday, October 18, starting at 5 PM (local time) with the free dances on Friday, October 19th at 9:15 AM (local time). With the seven hour time difference between Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and Minsk, it converts to 10 AM (EDT) on Thursday for the rhythm dances and 2:15 AM (EDT) on Friday for the free dance events.