Ice Dance Observer – September 17, 2019

Welcome back to the Ice Dance Observer!  It’s been a busy week of ice dance with two Challenger Series events, a Junior Grand Prix and Challenge Cup, the final event of U.S. Figure Skating’s new National Qualifying Series.  We look back at the events in our recaps below and the links to results are in the sidebar.

It’s another busy week ahead as teams are off to Poland, United States and Slovakia.  Anne and Robin will be on-site in Salt Lake City for the U.S. International Classic.  Harumi will be photographing in Bratislava at Nepela Memorial.  We’ve previewed the events below.  Watch for reports and photos next weekend! 

Until next time,

Daphne, Anne and TJ


by Anne Calder 

Chelyabinsk is located in west-central Russia near the Ural Mountains on the Europe and Asia border. The city became famous in 2013 when a super bolide meteor brighter than the sun and visible up to 62 miles away, entered the earth’s atmosphere. The indirect effects of its explosion caused injury to residents and shock waves were felt miles away.

Russia has hosted one other JGP event – in Saransk (2016). The 2012 JGP Final was held in Sochi.

Rhythm Dance

Russian teams Elizaveta Shanaeva & Devid Naryzhnvy and Diana Davis & Gleb Smolkin were the top two followed by the Canadians Nadia Bashynska & Peter Beaumont and Irina Galiyanova & Grayson Lockhead.

  • The teams continued their struggle with the Tea-Time Foxtrot.
  • Only Davis & Smolkin (RUS) earned a Level 4 for Section 1 of the element by hitting all four key points.
  • For the fourth JGP, no one earned Level 4 for Section 2. Bashynska & Beaumont (CAN) and Brown & Brown (USA) earned Level 3.
  • Russians Shanaeva & Naryzhnvy and Belarusians Karina Sidarenka & Maxim Yalenich earned Level 4 Twizzles for both the Lady and Man.

Free Dance

The rhythm dance top three teams held their position. Russians Shanaeva & Naryzhnyy (171.07) and Davis & Smolkin (158.24) won gold and silver. Canadians Bashynska & Beaumont took home the bronze. The Americans Katarina Wolfkostin & Jeffrey Chen vaulted from sixth to fourth missing the podium by .24.

  • After finishing just off the podium for the first three JGPs, the Canadians made it across the finish line and on to the podium with the bronze medal.
  • Wolfkostin & Chen skated 11th and scored 93.90 in the FD. The team held the lead (in the free dance phase) until the 18th (final) skaters – Shanaeva & Naryzhnyy scored 103.37 and won the segment.
  • Shanaeva & Naryzhnyy’s 171.07 was the highest total score this JGP season.
  • Seven teams earned L4 Twizzles for both the Lady and Man: Canada (2), Russia (2) Armenia, Czech Republic, and Kazakhstan.


  • Diana Davis & Gleb Smolkin (RUS) now train in Novi, MI with Igor Shpilband.
  • For the third week in a row, two sets of siblings competed (ITA) and (USA).
  • Sidarenka & Yalenich (BLR) vaulted three positions and improved their score by nine points from their first 2019 JGP in France.
  • Five teams skated in their first JGP event.
  • Eva Bernard (FRA) and Ivan Kuznetsov (EST) were the youngest skaters.
  • In the four 2019 JGP events, there have been 23 deductions for extended lifts. Barbara Fusar-Poli needs to share her stopwatch!

Highighted Performances:  This week, we highlight the rhythm dance performance by Nadia Bashynska & Peter Beaumont and the free dance performance of Estonia’s Tatjana Bunina & Ivan Kuznetsov.



by Anne Calder 

Canada’s Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier finished first in both the rhythm and free dance to win their first Autumn Classic International.  Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson (pictured) vaulted from fifth to second to claim silver, their second medal on the ISU Challenger Series.  Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac of France won the bronze.

  • Five of the teams struggled with the Finnstep required pattern hitting only one or none of the four key points. Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac received credit for two.
  • Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson’s disappointing RD placement was the result of the lower base values assigned to their he level 1 Rotational lift and Midline Step Sequence.
  • Carolane Soucisse & Shane Firus’s unfortunate fall in the third twizzle and lower levels knocked off points while their competitors were adding to their scores. Their second place RD score just wasn’t enough to keep them in the hunt for a medal.
  • Whether Lauriault & Le Gac or Smart & Diaz stood on the podium was a matter of inches. The Spanish team’s negative GOEs on the FD twizzles was a difference maker.



by Anne Calder 

Italy’s Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri and Canada’s Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen were virtually tied after the rhythm dance. The Italians widened the gap considerably during the free dance and earned their fourth Lombardia Trophy gold medal. The Canadians claimed silver and Ukrainians Alexandra Nazarova & Maxim Nikitin moved up from fourth and took home the bronze.

  • The Finnstep proved to be a challenge to several teams. Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen (CAN) and Adelina Galyavieva & Louis Thauron (FRA) were the only teams to score three of the four key points. Six teams hit two, while four teams hit none. No team scored four.
  • In the free dance, four teams received extended lift deductions.
  • Fournier Beaudry & Sorensen won their first international medal representing Canada.
  • Caroline Green & Michael Parsons (USA) who began their partnership five months ago were third in the free dance and fifth over all. Parsons won the 2018 Lombardia Trophy silver medal with his previous partner Rachel Parsons.
  • Nazarova & Nitkin were also the 2017 bronze medalists.
  • India Nette & Eron Westwood (AUS), Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha (CAN), Yuka Orihara & Juho Pirinen (FIN), Ekaterina Mironova & Evgenii Ustenko (RUS), and Caroline Green & Michael Parsons (USA) made their international debut as a senior team.



by TJ Carey

The Junior Grand Prix series heads to the northern Polish city of Gdańsk for another exciting week of skating. This week could be the most exciting yet, as several of the teams competing here have already medaled earlier this year on the JGP series. A single mistake from one of the top couples could be enough to determine whether they will qualify for the Final in December or not. Along with a field of an astounding twenty couples, this week’s race for the podium will make this event one not to miss.

This will be the tenth time Poland has hosted a junior Grand Prix event, and Gdańsk has hosted all but two of those events (2009 and 2015 in Toruń). The city has even hosted the Junior Grand Prix Final twice, in 1999 and 2007. Several very accomplished couples have won this event in the past, such as Alexandra Zaretsky and Roman Zaretsky (ISR), Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov (RUS), and Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker (USA).

The medal hunt:

  • Avonley Nguyen and Vadym Kolesnik (USA) are the JGP Lake Placid Champions.
  • Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva and Andrey Filatov (RUS) won JGP Riga in their international debut together (withdrew due to medical reasons).
  • Loicia Demougeot and Theo Le Mercier (FRA) are coming off their first JGP medal, a silver, in Courchevel.
  • Ekaterina Kataskinskaia and Alexandr Vaskovich (RUS) were the bronze medalists in Courchevel.
  • Miku Makita and Tyler Gunara (CAN) were fourth in Lake Placid.

Other items of note:

The US will also be represented by Ella Ales and Daniel Tsarik.

Oliwia Borowska and Filip Bojanowski (POL) will be competing in their hometown this week. The host nation will also be represented by Olivia Oliver and Joshua Andari.

This is the largest field of couples in a single JGP event all season.


The rhythm dance begins Friday, September 20 at 10:00 am local time (4:00 Eastern Daylight Time). The free dance will be the final event of the week, beginning Saturday, September 21 at 15:35 local time (9:35 EDT).



The 2019 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic takes place this week in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Since 2012, the event has been held annually and was included as part of the International Skating Union’s Challenger Series since 2014.  Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier of Canada won the inaugural event and are the lone non-American winners.  Former champions include Meryl Davis & Charlie White, Alexandra Aldridge & Daniel Eaton and Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue.  Hubbell & Donohue have won the event for the past four years, but are not on the roster for this year’s competition.  Nine teams from seven countries will compete for medals, Challenger Series points and ISU Championship minimum scores.

In the medal hunt:

  • Madison Chock & Evan Bates of the United States are poised to make their season’s debut in Salt Lake City.
  • Americans Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko finished second at this event in 2018.  The team won the silver medal in late July at the Lake Placid Ice Dance International.
  • Carolane Soucisse & Shane Firus of Canada have competed multiple times this season, including a fourth place finish at Lake Placid Ice Dance International.  They finished fifth at last week’s Autumn Classic.


There is no concrete schedule released, other than the one included in the original announcement, which lists the rhythm dance taking place on Friday, September 20 and the free dance on Sunday, September 21, but does not included the exact time.  (This will be updated as soon as a schedule is available.)



The Nepela Memorial is an annual competition that has taken place since 1993, which makes this the 27th time the event has been contested.  It is named after Ondrej Nepela, the 1972 Olympic champion, who was born in Bratislava and died in 1989.  Ice dance has been included as part of the competition since the beginning, but was not part of the event in 2003 and 2006.  The entire podium from 2018, including last year’s champions Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov of Russia, are on the 2019 roster.

In the medal hunt:

  • Sinitsina & Katsalapov won this event in 2018 and are the reigning World silver medalists.
  • Americans Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter won the silver medal last year and claimed the bronze medal at the Lake Placid Ice Dance International in July.
  • Last year’s bronze medalists, Betina Popova & Sergey Mozgov of Russia, as well as Spain’s Sara Hurtado & Kirill Khaliavin, who won a medal on the Grand Prix series last season, should also figure in the podium mix.

Other items of note:

  • Natacha Lagouge & Arnaud Caffa of France and Latvia’s Aurelija Ipolito & J.T. Michel are making their international, as well as Challenger Series, debuts.
  • Korea’s Yura Min & Daniel Eaton competed at their first international, the Lake Placid Ice Dance International, in July where they finished seventh.  Nepela Memorial is their first Challenger Series event.


The rhythm dance takes place on Friday, September 20, at 5 PM local time (11 AM EDT).  The free dance is on Friday, September 21, at 2:30 PM (8:30 AM EDT).