Happy October and welcome back to the Ice Dance Observer!  

With just two Junior Grand Prix events left, we at Team IDC are thinking about the upcoming Grand Prix series, which is just TWO weeks away. With so many teams taking a break, it’s paved the way for many new faces to grace Grand Prix ice for the first time. All of the host pick spots have been filled and barring any late or last minute withdrawals, the rosters are set.  Watch for our Grand Prix series preview later this month. As in previous seasons, IDC will be posting photos and reports from each of the Grand Prix events.  

While keeping our archive updated with results from all of the major domestic and international events, I’ve realized that there are smaller events that aren’t on our radar. In the interest of changing this, I’m reaching out to you – our readers – to ask that you let us know of smaller, club competitions that include ice dance so that we can include them on our website.  Let us know via the contact form or email [email protected]  

~ Daphne & Team IDC



October 2-6
Russia Cup #2
Yoshkar-Ola, Russia

October 3-6
JGP Ljubljana Cup
Ljubljana, Slovenia

October 4-7
Finlandia Trophy
Espoo, Finland

Denis Samokhin (coach), Georgy Reviya, Nikita Nazarov, Maria Borovikova (coach), Maria Kazakova, and Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva | Photo courtesy of Maria Kazakova


by Anne Calder 

The logo for Ostrava, Czech Republic, recognized by its three unique exclamation points, was seen throughout the city, proudly welcoming athletes and fans to the fifth 2018 Junior Grand Prix event. The Ostravar Arena hosted the competition from September 26-29. One hundred twenty-nine athletes competed, which included 18 ice dance teams representing 15 countries.

The podium finishers were Russians Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva & Nikita Nazarov in first place, Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya representing Georgia in second, and Diana Davis & Gleb Smolkin of Russia finishing third. Both the silver and bronze medalists made their 2018 JGP debut, with Davis & Smolkin debuting on the JGP series for the first time.

In the rhythm dance, Khudaiberdieva & Nazarov jumped out to a five-point lead with a season’s best score to “Tango Amore” by Edvin Marton. Kazakova & Reviya used “Building the Bullet” and “Assassin’s Tango,” while Davis & Smolkin performed to “Oblivion” and “Por una Cabeza.”

Both Russian teams earned level 4 for their twizzles, but Khudaiberdieva & Nazarov received higher GOE marks from the judges, including mostly +3 and +4 scores. The Georgians had a slight twizzle synchronicity problem and received levels 3 and 4, combined with lower GOEs.

The leaders hit six of their eight key points, while Davis & Smolkin executed four in their first pattern but missed all of them in the second. Kazakova & Reviya completed only four key points – three in the first pattern and one in the second.

One-point deductions were given to Khudaiberdiava & Nazarov for costume failure and Davis & Smolkin for an extended lift.

Emmy Bronsard & Aissa Bouarguia of Canada finished fourth in the rhythm dance with 56.04 points, just .51 behind Davis & Smolkin.

In the free dance, Khudaiberdiava & Nazarov scored a personal best of 95.71 points with a very aggressive dance to “Human” by Rag ‘n Bone Man and “Nemesis” by Benjamin Clementine. The judges rewarded their close and matching level 3 circular step sequences with an overall GOE of +2.49. The team shuffled around two elements from their earlier JGP. The two lifts opened the program while the choreographic spin and lift closed it. Their total of 160.24 was also a personal best.

Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya danced to Carmina Burana performed by Edvin Marton and “Vocalise” from the thriller film, The Ninth Gate. The team used the tempo of the powerful music to steer their elements, moving fast, then slow, then closing with speed again. Their TES was 50.08, the highest of the event. However, the Georgians were unable to make up ground on their Russian training mates. The program earned 94.40; the total was 154.17.

Davis & Smolkin performed to selections from the soundtrack of the 2015 James Bond spy film, Spectre. The twizzles, lifts, and spin earned level 4; the one-foot step sequence was level 2. The program earned 92.07 and gave them a wider margin over the Canadians, guaranteeing them a third place finish. The total score was 148.62.

Bronsard & Bouaraguia remained in fourth place with a snappy dance to The Greatest Showman soundtrack. The program scored 84.86; the total was 140.67.


  • In their JGP debut, Katarina Wolfkostin & Howard Zhao (USA) had the highest free dance base value (38.68). They finished 10th.
  • Three sets of siblings competed: Sophia Elder & Christopher Elder (USA), Natalie Taschlerova & Filip Taschler (CZE), and twins Mariia Nosovitskaya & Mikhail Nosovitskiy (ISR).
  • Five of the six medalists were born in Russia; Diana Davis was born in Las Vegas, but she has a mother who is Russian, and she (Davis) has grown up in Russia. Her mom is renowned singles coach Eteri Tutberidze.
  • Eleven teams made their 2018 Junior Grand Prix debut – two medaled and five will skate in one of the two remaining events.

Again this year, Ice-dance.com will be highlighting programs for each event. This week’s selections include the rhythm dance of Sophia Elder & Christopher Elder (USA) and the free dance of Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya (GEO).

All videos are available via the ISU JGP Youtube Channel.

The six competitors with the highest points will participate in the JGP Final. Tiebreakers include scores and placements. After the first five JGP events, the top ten points and scores are:

  1. 30 points 320.62 Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva & Nikita Nazarov (RUS)
  2. 28 points 320.31 Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha (CAN)
  3. 18 points 290.06 Eliana Gropman & Ian Somerville (USA)
  4. 16 points 276.54 Loicia Demougeot & Theo LeMecier (FRA)
  5. 15 points 168.17 Arina Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov (RUS) *
  6. 15 points 158.70 Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko (RUS) *
  7. 14 points 273.55 Natalie D’Alessandro & Bruce Waddell (CAN)
  8. 13 points 161.84 Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik (USA) *
  9. 13 points 154.17 Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya (GEO) *
  10. 13 points 152.21 Elizaveta Shanaeva & Devid Naryzhnyy (RUS) *
  11. 13 points 149.39 Polina Ivanenko & Daniil Karpov (RUS) *

Team has qualified for the Junior Grand Prix Final (bolded)

* Team will skate one more JGP event – Slovakia or Armenia


Parsons & Parsons (USA), Gilles & Poirier (CAN), and Carreira & Ponomarenko (USA)
Photo by Robin Ritoss


by Anne Calder 

The Nebelhorn Trophy celebrated its Golden Anniversary in Oberstdorf, Germany, from September 26-29. Six countries sent nine ice dance teams to compete. Eight of the teams made their Nebelhorn debut. Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier of Canada were Nebelhorn bronze medalists in 2016.

The podium included a Canadian and two American teams. Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier, in their first international competition of the season, won gold, while Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons earned their fourth international silver medal of the season. Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko took the bronze.

In the rhythm dance, Gilles & Poirier moved out to a seven-point lead with “Angelica’s Tango.” The scores for the two American teams were quite close. The Parsons siblings were second with their dance to “Vuelvo Al Sur” and “Tango Cha.” Carreira & Ponomarenko danced to “Jealousy Tango” and “Yo Soy Maria” and were just .46 behind their American teammates.

In the free dance, Gilles & Poirier performed to “Vincent,” sung by Govardo and arranged for them. The Don McLean cover of a tribute to Van Gogh was captivating. A fragile sense of personal and historical loss subtly wove through the dance. The lyrical interpretation was a different style for the Canadians.

The spin, lifts, and twizzles earned level 4 with all +3, +4, and +5 GOEs. The three choreographed moves scored 3.59 each. The segment received 116.72 points; the total was 194.12.

Parsons & Parsons chose “To Build a Home” by The Cinematic Orchestra as their music selection. The siblings increased their free dance scores in their three Challenger events by over 17 points: Asia Trophy (93.47), Lombardia Trophy (102.48), and Nebelhorn Trophy (110.93).

Their segment score was six points behind the Canadians, with the component score being almost 4.5 points lower. The spin, lifts, and twizzles earned level 4; the step sequences were level 3. Unfortunately, Rachel had a slight wobble on the closing choreographed lift and they received a one-point deduction for a fall. While not a terribly obvious mistake, it was judged that she lost her balance while the majority of her weight was not on her blades. The 180.95-point personal best total was nearly 24 points higher than their first Challenger event in Bangkok.

Carriera & Ponomarenko skated to a Tokio Myers medley that included “Clair de Lune,” “Bloodstream,” and “Angel” for a personal best score of 107.93. Their base value was 44.58, the same as the leaders.

The 2018 World Junior silver medalists lost two levels when Ponomarenko stumbled on the twizzles. The GOEs were mostly +2, +3, and a few +4s. The personal best total score was 177.49.

Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson of Great Britain placed fourth with a personal best score of 160.61 to a “let’s get up and dance” selection of disco songs by Donna Summer and Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Bits and Pieces

  • The Fritz-Geiger-Memorial Trophy, presented to the team with the highest placements across all disciplines, was awarded to the USA.
  • Since 1969 when the Nebelhorn Trophy was first held, only two ice dance teams have won back-to-back gold medals. Both are from the former Soviet Union.
    • 1982 and 1983 – Marina Klimova & Sergei Ponomarenko, the parents of Anthony Ponomarenko – bronze medalist in 2018.
    • 1987 and 1988: Ilona Melnichenko & Gennady Kaskov. Melnichenko is the mother of Andrew Torgashev, 2015 U.S. Junior National Champion.



The sixth of seven events on the ISU Junior Grand Prix series takes place this week in Slovenia. Ljubljana, the capital and largest city in Slovenia, hosts 17 teams from 14 countries – one of the largest rosters of the JGP series.  With just one event remaining after Ljubljana Cup, several teams will look to solidify spots in the Junior Grand Prix Final.  

The medal hunt:  Russia’s Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko already have a gold medal from Cup of Austria and can clinch a spot in their second consecutive JGP Final with a medal of any color. Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik of the United States won silver at Amber Cup, but accumulated a higher overall score in Lithuania than the Russians did in Austria. A gold medal would qualify Nguyen & Kolesnik for their first Final, but a silver could likely earn them a spot as well. Polina Ivanenko & Daniil Karpov of Russia and Ukraine’s Darya Popova & Volodymyr Byelikov are also podium contenders.

Natacha Legouge & Corentin Rahier of France will compete at their first event of the season. The duo finished eighth at the World Junior Championships. Canada’s Ellie Fisher & Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette, who finished fourth and fifth at their JGP events last year, will also skate in their first event of the season at Ljubljana Cup.

The rhythm dance takes place on Friday at 3 PM (local time) with the free dance on Saturday at 6:15 PM (local time).  With the six-hour time difference between Slovenia and Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), that equates to 9:00 AM on Friday for the rhythm dance and 12:15 PM Saturday for the free dance.  All Junior Grand Prix events are livestreamed and archived via the ISU’s JGP Channel.



ISU Challenger Series event number seven takes place this week in Espoo, Finland. Held annually since 1995, Finlandia Trophy has also been part of the Challenger Series since it began in 2014. The event was not held in 2005 and ice dance was not included in 2004, 2006, and 2007. Former winners include Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir and Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje of Canada and France’s Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron. Two-time Finlandia Trophy champions Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin of Russia headline a roster of 12 teams.

The medal hunt: This is the season debut for Stepanova & Bukin, who could win their third Finlandia Trophy title. Olivia Smart & Adrian Diaz of Spain have already won a silver medal at Autumn Classic and could add to their medal haul in Finland. Canada’s Carolane Soucisse & Shane Firus finished just behind Smart & Diaz at Autumn Classic and also have a podium shot.

Also of note is the return of Russia’s Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov, who have not competed since the 2017 JGP Riga Cup due to Smirnov’s recovery from injury. They will be making their senior international debut.  

The event kicks off with the rhythm dance at 12:00 PM (local time) on Saturday, followed by the free dance on Sunday at 5:55 PM (local time). There is a seven-hour time difference between Espoo and Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), which translates to 5:00 AM for the rhythm dance on Saturday and 10:55 AM for Sunday’s free dance.