JGP RIGA RECAP: THE PODIUM VIEW FROM THE BLACK SEA
by Anne Calder
The Russians and Americans shared the podium at the third JGP event of the season. Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko (RUS) took gold, followed by Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov (RUS) with silver. Caroline Green & Gordon Green (USA) earned bronze.
Short Dance: No team received two level 4 pattern marks – a first for the 2017 series. Several music and/or choreography violations were noted in the protocols. None of the teams earned higher than level 2 on the not-touching step sequence.
Russians Shpilevaya & Smirnov led their training mates, Shevchenko & Eremenko, by a slim 1.24 margin. The main difference was a higher first pattern mark earned by the leaders. Unfortunately, Americans Caroline & Gordon Green had a twizzle stumble that lost them base value and GOE points, but the personal best 52.82 score landed them in third place. Canada, Israel, and Ukraine rounded out the top six spots.
Free Dance: Shevchenko & Eremenko vaulted into first place with an 82.04 dynamic dance to the instrumentals, “Heart Cry” by Drehz and “La Boulange” by Yann Tiersen. The unique and innovative choreography was highlighted by a sit spin twizzle that traveled across the ice with amazing speed and scored 8.23. The lifts also earned level 4. The total was 140.91.
Shpilevaya & Smirnov were unable to hold off their Russian teammates and slipped down to second place. The opening twizzle series was dropped to level 1, and an extended one-point lift deduction almost wiped out its 1.54 GOE score. Their Love Story program scored 79.72 with beautiful balletic extensions that complemented the choreography. The total was 139.83.
The Green siblings made their JGP debut with a bronze medal performance to “Polovtsian Dances” from the opera Prince Igor and “Strangers in Paradise” performed by Sarah Brightman. The twizzles, lifts, and spin earned level 4. The segment (71.76) and total (124.58) were personal best scores.
The Israelis, who skated back-to-back JGP events, surpassed their Austria Cup score by over six points and moved up to fourth place. Canada and Ukraine placed fifth and sixth.
Featured JGP Riga Cup Video: Valerie Taillefer & Jason Chan free dance (via ISU Youtube Channel)
ISU CHALLENGER SERIES GETS UNDERWAY
This week, while the Junior Grand Prix series takes a break, the ISU Challenger Series starts off with the first two events – the U.S. International Classic and Lombardia Trophy.
U.S. INTERNATIONAL FIGURE SKATING CLASSIC
The sixth annual U.S. International Figure Skating Classic kicks off this week with a roster consisting of 10 teams representing eight countries. Since it’s inception in 2012, the event has always taken place in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2014, the U.S. Classic was included as part of the inaugural season for the ISU Challenger Series.
The medal hunt: Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue of the United States are the favorites for gold in Salt Lake City. Reaching the top spot of the podium at the U.S. Classic would mark their third consecutive title at this event. Also representing Team USA are Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker, the 2015 U.S. pewter medalists, and Julia Biechler & Damian Dodge who are entering their second season as a senior team.
By finishing 13th at the 2017 World Championships, Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen earned an Olympic spot for Denmark, but are not currently able to compete in PyeongChang because Fournier Beaudry is not Danish citizen. The team won silver at this event in 2015, could repeat that result this year.
Olivia Smart & Adria Diaz of Spain finished fourth at this event in 2016. Smart & Diaz have skated together just one season, but medaled at several international events last season and earned an Olympic spot for Spain.
Japan’s Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed, the 2016 U.S. Classic silver medalists, debuted their short dance in August at Dance Pairs Chicago where they finished second. Muramoto & Reed are one of three teams who will also compete at the end of September at Nebelhorn Trophy with the hope of securing one of the final five spots at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The short dance takes place on Friday, September 15 (3:20 pm EDT) with the free dance on Saturday, September 16 (6:30 pm EDT) You can follow the results live via the U.S. Classic starting orders & results page (TBD) or watch the event live with an IceNetwork.com subscription. The event’s official hashtag is #USINTLCLASSIC17.
Lombardia Trophy, taking place this week in Bergamo, Italy, boasts a larger roster with 14 teams from 11 countries. This is the fifth time the event has been held and the third time it has been included as has been part of the ISU Challenger series.
As has become customary with Challenger Series/Senior B competitors lists, the roster for Lombardia trophy has changed since it was announced several weeks ago. Italy’s Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte were scheduled to compete, but have withdrawn due to Cappellini’s injury (cut hand). Sara Hurtado & Kirill Khaliavin announced via Instagram that they would compete at Finlandia Trophy instead, due to Hurtado recovering from injury.
The medal hunt: 2016 Lombardia Trophy champions, Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri will be on-hand to defend their title. Over the past two seasons, Guignard & Fabbri have won four Challenger Series events and finished fourth at each of their Grand Prix events.
Elliana Pogrebinsky & Alex Benoit are entering their second year as a senior team. The Americans started the 2017-18 season with a bronze medal win at the Lake Placid Ice Dance International, despite an aborted lift in their free dance.
Alexandra Nazarova & Maxim Nikitin changed coaches last year and are currently working with Igor Shpilband and Fabien Bourzat in Novi, Michigan. The team qualified an Olympic spot for Ukraine by finishing 15th at the 2017 World Championships.
Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd of Russia, the 2017 JGPF and World Junior Championship silver medalists will make their senior ice dance debut at Lombardia Trophy.
The short dance takes place on Friday, September 15 (4:30 AM EDT), with the free dance on Saturday, September 16 (10:00 AM EDT). You can follow the results live via the Lombardia Trophy starting orders & results page (TBD).
Until next time,