JGP GDANSK RECAP: THE PODIUM VIEW FROM THE BALTIC COAST
by Anne Calder
The 2017 Junior Grand Prix sixth event was hosted by Gdansk, Poland. Nineteen ice dance teams from fifteen countries competed. Three were in contention to qualify for the JGP Final.
Russian ice dancers, Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin and Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva & Nikita Nazarov won gold and silver. USA siblings, Caroline Green& Gordon Green took home the bronze. It was the second 2017 JGP medal for each of those on the podium.
Short Dance: Skoptcova & Aleshin received level 4 marks for all five elements – the only team to have accomplished that feat so far in the 2017 JGP Series. The not-touching step sequence score totaled 10.83, which included an 8.60 base value + 1.73 GOE. Their 64.63 was the highest short dance score in the series to date.
Khudaiberdieva & Nazarov earned level 4 for the patterns, twizzles and lift. Their level 2 not-touching step sequence had a lower base value and GOE than that of the other Russians and was the difference in their technical scores. The total segment score was 59.03.
Green & Green’s rotational lift and second pattern earned level 4; the twizzles and first pattern were level 3; and the step sequence was level 2. Their 55.43 was almost three points higher than their first JGP score at Riga Cup a month ago.
Darya Popova & Volodymyr Byelikov (UKR) 54.96 were fourth, followed by the two Canadian teams in fifth and sixth – Olivia McIsaac & Elliott Graham 53.44, and Olivia Han & Grayson Lochhead 51.15. The top six teams all earned personal best scores.
Free Dance: Skoptcova & Aleshin won gold with a tantalizing tango by Gotan Project that flowed seamlessly across the ice and accented their strong level 4 lifts, twizzles and spin. The mature performance earned 86.15 points. The total score was 150.78 and topped the previous 150.30 highest mark scored by Canadians Lajoie & Lagha at the Croatia Cup.
Green & Green gave a passionate performance to Polovtsian Dances from the opera, Prince Igor, and “Strangers in Paradise” and were second in the free dance. The program earned level 4 twizzles, lifts, and spin. Unfortunately they had a small loss of balance on the diagonal step sequence. The segment 75.70 and total 131.23 were personal best scores. The siblings, who made their JGP debut in 2017, claimed their second series bronze medal.
Khudaiberdieva & Nazarov danced to the sounds and lyrics of the Ghost musical soundtrack for their third place free dance performance. The twizzles and lifts were level 4, but a mishap in the spin completely negated the element score. The dance received 74.82; the total was 133.85. Both were personal best scores and secured the silver medal for the team.
Emiliya Kalehanova & Uladzislau Palkhouski (BLR) finished fourth in the free dance with a 72.15 score. They were eighth in the short dance. Han & Lochhead switched places with their fellow Canadians in the free dance. They placed fifth with 69.40 while McIsaac & Graham were a slim .44 behind in sixth place with 68.96. All three were personal best scores.
A mere 1.09 points separated the fourth, fifth and sixth places: McIsaac & Graham (122.40), Popova & Byelikov (122.19) and Kalehanova & Palkhouski (121.31).
JUNIOR GRAND PRIX FINAL ICE DANCE QUALIFIERS:
- Belarus: Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) 30 points
- Croatia: Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha (CAN) 28 points
- Croatia: Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko (RUS) 28 points
- Gdansk: Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin (RUS) 28 points
Featured JGP Riga Cup Video: Emiliya Kalehanova & Uladsislau Palkhouskii (BLR), free dance (via ISU Youtube Channel)
FINLANDIA TROPHY RECAP
by Anne Calder
The Finlandia Trophy is one of the 10 original Challenger Series events created in 2014. Nineteen ice dance teams from 14 countries attended the competition, including Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin (RUS), who competed to defend their 2016 title.
The ice dance podium included: Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (FRA), Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin (RUS) and Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen (DEN).
Short Dance: Papadakis & Cizeron earned level 4 for the pattern, twizzles, and lift; both step sequences were level 3 with 2.56 and 2.38 GOEs. The World silver medalists earned 39/40 +2 and +3 marks from the judges for a 39.66 total element score (TES). Their program component score (PCS) included four 10’s. The total segment score was 78.09.
Stepanova & Bukin’s twizzles and curve lift received level 4. Both step sequences were level 3, with the Not Touching footwork getting a 2.20 GOE. Unfortunately, the Russians missed all three key points in the rhumba pattern and received a level 1. Their segment score was 70.27.
Fournier Beaudry & Sorensen earned level 4 for the twizzles and rotational lift. The pattern was level 3 after missing one key point. The Danish National Champions received 65.76 points for the segment.
The remaining top six teams were: Carolane Soucisse & Shane Firus (CAN) 60.50, Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu (CHN) 58.50, and Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA) 57.77.
Free Dance: The judges rewarded Papadakis & Cizeron’s Moonlight Sonata program with +2 and +3 marks for eight of the nine executed elements. The exception was the negative 2s for Cizeron’s fall in the diagonal step sequence.
The two-time World Champions steered the choreography through several musical mood changes beginning with an opening somber tone through the wildly frenetic stage of twirling spins and finally to a peaceful closing. The free dance received 110.16 points; the total score was 188.25.
Stepanova & Bukin performed a light and romantic dance to Franz Liszt’s, Liebestraum and other selections that vacillated between the mesmerizing rhythm of soft piano chords and the singing of lyrics. The team’s use of the piano to dramatically accent their elements, especially their signature sit-spin twizzles, added to their GOE score. Unfortunately, an extended rotational lift lost them a point. The segment received a 96.61; the total was 166.88.
Fournier Beaudry & Sorensen were fifth in the Latin free dance that included: “Spanish Caravan” by the Doors, Hush performed by Marcin Patrzalek and “Asturias” performed by Marcin Patrzalek. An unfortunate mishap in the curve lift and a level 2 circular step sequence lowered their technical mark and almost cost them a podium position. The program scored 92.45. The total 158.21, however, was enough to claim the bronze medal.
Canadians Soucisse & Firus were fourth in the free dance to selections by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga with 94.10 points, a slim .82 points behind the Russians. The lower base value for their level 2 twizzles and diagonal footwork created a big difference. The 154.60 total kept them in fourth place.
Popova & Sergey Mozgov, bronze medalists at the recent Ondrej Nepela Trophy, used the dramatic music of the opera, Carmen, to place third in the free dance. The new Russian team earned level 4 for their twizzles, spin, and lifts. The segment score was 94.92. Unfortunately, they finished seventh in the short dance, and the gap was too big to overcome for another medal. The total 152.58 placed them fifth over all.
A quick look at the protocols showed that several short dance positions shifted after the free dance, which was reflected in the scrambled final placements.
Each year the Finnish Figure Skating Federation invites fans to knit mittens for the medalists. Some lucky people actually got an opportunity to present theirs to the winners.
Grand Prix Assignments:
Papadakis / Cizeron (FRA) – Cup of China / Internationaux de France
Stepanova / Bukin (RUS) – Rostelecom Cup / Internationaux de France
Fournier Beaudry / Sorensen – (DEN) – NHK Trophy
Wang / Liu (CHN) – Cup of China / Skate America
Popova/Mozgov (RUS) – Rostelecom Cup – NEW – added 10/10/17
McNamara / Carpenter – (USA) Cup of China
Kaliskek / Spodyriev (POL) – Skate Canada / Internationaux de France
Kuzmichova / Sinicyn (CZE) – Rostelecom Cup
Alessandrini / Souquet (FRA) – Internationaux de France
JUNIOR GRAND PRIX EGNA/NEUMARKT PREVIEW
by Melanie Heaney
Egna, Italy, is the seventh and final stop of this season’s Junior Grand Prix circuit. Italy has hosted the JGP four times before, but this will be the first major event in Egna, a small town of about 5,000 people in northeastern Italy. Egna is also known by its German name, Neumarkt, and German is actually a more prevalent language than Italian.
The roster at JGP Egna Neumarkt is comprised of 18 teams from 13 countries. Canada, Russia, and the United States all have two earned entries, and France has picked up a second entry as well. Italy is allowed to enter up to three teams at its host event, but they are only sending two teams, as the junior level of ice dance in Italy is not as developed as it has been in the past.
The Russians Race for the Final: In the last event, the race to qualify for the JGP Final takes center stage. This event is a bit less dramatic than in past years, though, as only the two Russian teams have a chance to qualify. Sofia Polishchuk & Alexander Vakhnov won the first JGP event in Brisbane, way back in August, and they are the clear gold medal favorites here. They are the only team on the roster to have scored over 60 points in the short dance this season, so if they hit their key points, expect them to take a big lead heading into the free dance.
Arina Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov, also of Russia, picked up a bronze medal in their first event and have 11 points. To qualify for the Final, they will need at least a silver medal. If they win this event, they are in, but if they finish second and Polishchuk & Vakhnov also medal, they will need a score of at least 140.63 to win the tiebreaker for the last spot. This is a reasonable goal, as their score at their first event was 142.94.
The North American Contingent: It is likely that one North American team will join the Russian teams on the podium, and two interesting battles have shaped up between the U.S. and Canadian teams. Each contingent is sending one more established junior team and one new upstart team, and all four teams finished fifth at their first event.
Americans Chloe Lewis & Logan Bye are the most experienced of the four teams. Obviously disappointed with their fifth-place finish in Australia, they will enter this event with a lot to prove. If they are driven by that competitive fire, they are certainly capable of a podium finish here and leading the North American teams. They will travel to Italy with their young training mates, the new team of Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik. Nguyen & Kolesnik were fifth in Minsk, scoring 114.89, about 10 points below Lewis & Bye’s mark in Australia, and 24 points below Lewis & Bye’s ISU personal best.
On the Canadian side, second-year juniors Alicia Fabbri & Claudio Pietrantonio will aim for their best JGP finish yet. In three events this year and last year, they have been fourth, fifth, and sixth. They were fifth earlier this season in Latvia, scoring 119.67, about eight points off their personal best. If they are sharper in the short dance, in particular, they have a shot at the podium. The new Canadian team of Ellie Fisher & Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette will join them, having just placed fifth two weekends ago in Croatia. They scored 122.00 in their first JGP event and if they can add a few points to their total, they can certainly challenge the other top teams.
Left Out: Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigori Smirnov, one of the top Russian teams, won silver in their first JGP event, but with only one event, they will not have an opportunity to qualify for the Final. They were originally assigned to this event, but were replaced due to injury or illness about two weeks ago. They qualified for the Final last year and were fourth at the World Junior Championships.
Canadians Olivia McIsaac & Elliott Graham finished fourth last week in Poland, scoring 122.40 points. This is a higher finish and point total than the teams assigned to this event, but Skate Canada clearly never considered sending McIsaac & Graham to back-to-back events, as they were not listed as possible substitutes for Italy. While mathematically possible, it would have been a tall order for this brand-new team to qualify for the Final; they would have needed a gold medal here.
The short dance takes place on Thursday, October 12 (9:00 AM EDT), with the free dance on Friday, October 13 (1:30 PM EDT). You can follow the results live via the JGP Egna starting orders & results page or watch the JGP live on the ISU’s YouTube Channel.
COUPE DE NICE PREVIEW
The 22nd Annual International Coupe de Nice (Cup of Nice) will take place this week from October 11-14 in Nice, France. Although this is not an ISU Challenger Series event, the top five finishers will receive ISU world standings points. The roster currently includes 18 teams from 10 countries, including four from France. The gold, silver and bronze medalists from the 2016 Coupe de Nice are on-hand to fight for the podium once again.
The medal hunt: Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte of Italy will debut at Coupe de Nice. The team withdrew from Lombardia Trophy last month when Cappellini sustained a cut on her hand during training.
This is the second event of the season for Great Britain’s Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland. After missing last season while Coomes recovered from a fractured kneecap, the team returned to competition with a decisive win at Nebelhorn Trophy, securing not only the gold medal, but a 2018 Olympic ice dance berth for Great Britain.
Ukraine’s Alexandra Nazarova & Maxym Niktin won a bronze medal at the Lombardia Trophy Challenger Series event in September. The team’s style often focuses on more whimsical programs, and this season is no exception.
Coupe de Nice provides another head-to-head competition opportunity for Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac and Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron as the race for France’s second Olympic spot heats up. Lauriault & Le Gac are the defending champions of this event.
Katarina Mueller & Tim Dieck of Germany debuted their programs back in August, finishing fourth at the Lake Placid Ice Dance International. With Lorenz & Polizoakis earning Germany an Olympic spot last month, it is still unknown who will compete in PyeongChang.
Coupe de Nice will mark the debut of several new teams including Australia’s Chantelle Kerry & Andrew Dodds and Carolina Moscheni & Andrea Fabbri of Italy.
The short dance takes place on Friday, October 13 (2:10PM EDT), with the free dance on Saturday, October 14 (1:50 PM EDT). You can visit the official event page or follow the results live via the International Coupe de Nice starting orders & results page.
Until next time,