by Anne Calder 

Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri (ITA) successfully defended their 2016 title. Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd (RUS) won silver in their senior debut, followed by Alexandra Nazarova & Maxim Nikitin (UKR) with bronze.

Short Dance: None of the teams received a level 4-pattern mark; several music and/or choreography violations were noted in the protocols. The top three teams each earned level 3 for the not-touching step sequence.

Guignard & Fabbri led with the only level 3 pattern score – the rest received level 2 or 1. The twizzles earned a 1.56 GOE score. Laboda & Dzrod in second and Pogrebinsky & Benoit in third each had level 4 twizzles and lifts and both earned negative GOE marks for the Rumba pattern.

Free Dance: Guignard & Fabbri skated a seamlessly ethereal performance to Exogenesis: Symphony Part III, Redemption, by Muse. The twizzles received six of seven +3 GOE marks; the combination spin and rotational lift earned level 4. Unfortunately, Fabbri struggled with the straight-line lift and didn’t complete the element. The lower base value and negative GOE were costly. The 99.04 segment score was seven points below their personal best. Their total was 169.30.

Loboda & Drozd used the Chicago soundtrack to earn 91.06 points. The twizzles, stationary and combination curve/rotational lifts received level 4. The 2017 World Junior silver medalists scored 154.40 total points and were awarded the silver medal.

Nazarova & Nikitin were awarded 89.82 points for their third place free dance to The Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack. Their opening level 4 straight-line lift earned +2 and +3 marks and a 1.56 GOE score. The twizzles and curve lift received level 4. The reigning Ukrainian National Champions edged out Pogrebinsky & Benoit – their Michigan training mates – by .44 points and won the bronze medal with a 150.88 total.

Pogrebinsky & Benoit (USA), Cecilia Torn & Jussiville Partanen (FIN) and Jasmine Tessari & Francesco Fioretti (ITA) finished fourth, fifth and sixth in the final standings.


Ashlynne Stairs & Lee Royer (CAN)

After a one week break, the ISU Junior Grand Prix (JGP) continues this week in Minsk. This is the fourth time since 2008 that Belarus has been part of the JGP series and the third time Minsk has been the host city.

The medal hunt: Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko are candidates to win their second JGP gold of this season after finishing first at Cup of Austria. A slip on the twizzles in the short dance cost the team technical points in Salzburg, so they have not yet received the scores they are capable of this season.

Minsk Arena Cup marks the season’s debut of Russia’s Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin, who finished just over two points behind the Americans at the 2017 World Junior Championships. Skoptcova & Aleshin qualified for the JGP Final two years ago, but were alternates in 2016.   Due to Aleshin’s age, this is their final year of junior eligibility.

Arina Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov, also of Russia, are competing in their second JGP season after winning bronze medals at both events last season.

Ashlynne Stairs & Lee Royer of Canada compete in their second JGP event of the season after a fifth place finish at Cup of Austria.

France’s Julia Wagret & Mathieu Couyras finished fifth and fourth, respectively at their JGP events last year and this is their first JGP for this season.

The short dance takes place on Thursday, September 21 (3:30 AM EDT), with the free dance on Friday, September 22 (12:00 PM EDT). You can follow the results live via the JGP Minsk Arena Cup starting orders & results page or or watch the JGP live on the ISU’s YouTube Channel.



This week, the ISU Challenger Series forges ahead with the next two events – the Ondrej Nepela Trophy and Autumn Classic International.


Laurence Fourner Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen (DEN)

Montreal, Quebec, will host the 2017 Autumn Classic International. This is the third time the event has been included as part of the ISU Challenger Series. The Autumn Classic moved to Montreal last year after being held in Barrie, Ontario in 2014 and 2015.

The medal hunt: Skate Canada assigned their top three teams to Autumn Classic, which could result in a podium sweep for the host country.

Autumn Classic marks the debut of 2010 Olympic Champions, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, who won their third World Championship in March. Virtue & Moir, whose partnership has spanned 20 years, forged their comeback with a decisive win at the 2016 Autumn Classic . Can the team maintain the momentum they built throughout last season while heading into 2018 and the Olympics, which would be their third?

Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje shook up their training environment last season when they moved from Detroit to New Jersey to work with coach Nikolai Morozov. The team’s programs last season were a departure from previous years and showcased their strengths and refinement. The two-time Canadian champions relinquished their title to Virtue & Moir, but after a full season with Morozov, can they strike back early this season?

Five-time Canadian medalists Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier have been on the cusp of breaking through for the past few seasons. Their programs are always creative and fun to watch and in 2016, the ISU rewarded them by creating a pattern dance based off of their 2016 short dance, called the Maple Leaf March. Can the innovative duo make a move this season?

2014 and 2016 ACI bronze medalists, Laurence Fourner Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen of Denmark are competing in back-to-back events after finishing fourth at the U.S. Classic last week.

Autumn Classic is also the Challenger Series debut of Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter of the United States. The young Americans won gold earlier this season at the Lake Placid Ice Dance International, but this is the first time the team has been up against this caliber of competitors at the senior level.

The short dance takes place on Friday, September 22 (5:00 PM EDT), with the free dance on Saturday, September 23 (4:05 PM).



Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitry Soloviev (RUS)

The Ondrej Nepela Trophy takes place from September 21-23 in Bratislava, Slovakia. Named for the 1972 Olympic champion, the event is held annually and has been included as part of the ISU Challenger Series since 2014. Marina Anissina & Gwendal Peizerat of France, the 2002 Olympic champions, won gold at the first Ondrej Nepela Trophy in 1993. There are 14 teams competing in Bratislava this week.

The medal hunt: Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitry Soloviev are clear favorites for gold. After several tumultuous seasons, the team finished third in the free dance and fifth overall at the 2017 World Championships and appear to be back on track heading into this Olympic season.

South Korea’s Yura Min & Alexander Gamelin enter their third season as a team and could medal in Bratislava. Gamelin received his South Korean passport, so they are now eligible to represent South Korea at the 2018 Winter Olympics should they secure a spot at next week’s final Olympic qualifier – Nebelhorn Trophy.

The 2017 World Junior champions, Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons could build off of their second place finish earlier this season at the Lake Placid Ice Dance International. A podium finish at their first Challenger Series event is entirely possible.

The short dance takes place on Friday, September 22 (7:00 AM EDT), with the free dance on Saturday, September 23 (9:40 AM).


Until next time,

Team IDC