Ice Dance Observer – September 24, 2019

Welcome back to the Ice Dance Observer!

It was another busy week of skating with both national and international events taking place.  There are more photos coming from Nepela Memorial and U.S. Classic, so check back later this week to see the final pics.  There will also be a report from the U.S. Novice & Junior Challenge Skate. 

This week’s schedule includes Nebelhorn Trophy and JGP Croatia Cup – a much smaller event list.  IDC will be posting photos from Nebelhorn Trophy.

PROFILE UPDATES:  If you are a junior or senior team, take a minute to submit your profile updates or submit your information if you are a new team. 

Have a great week!

~ The Observer Team



by Anne Calder 

Gdansk is a port city on the Baltic coast of northern Poland. The city hosted its eighth Junior Grand Prix event in 2019. Teams from sixteen different countries participated.

Rhythm Dance

The leader board included: Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik (USA), Loicia Demougeot & Theo Le Mercier (FRA), and Ekaterina Katashinskaa & Alexandr Vaskovich (RUS).

  • Americans Nguyen & Kolesnik were the first team in the 2019 JGP competitions to hit all four key points in the Second Segment of the Tea Time Foxtrot; they earned level 4.
  • Four teams earned Level 3 for both the First and Second Segments of the Tea Time Foxtrot: Demougeot & Mercier (FRA), Katashingskaa & Vaskovice (RUS) Miku Makita & Tyler Gunara (CAN) and Francesca Righi & Aleksei Dubrovin (ITA).
  • Four teams performed to music from Singing in the Rain.

Free Dance

The three teams who stood on the podium were all previous 2019 JGP medalists. The Americans won their second gold, while the French held on for another silver. The Russians won their second bronze. Canadians, Miku Makita & Tyler Gunara were fourth in their second 2019 JGP.

Nguyen & Kolesnik performed a mesmerizing dance to Rachmaninoff Concerto #2 and earned level 4 for the lifts, twizzles and spin. The judges rewarded the amazing final Choreograph lift with all 4 and 5 GOE’s. The French danced a dramatic interpretation of “Habanera” and Carmen Suite and received level 4 for the spin, lifts, and his twizzle. The Russians danced to a Harry Styles rendition of “Sign of the Times”. The spin, lifts and twizzles earned level 4.

Nguyen & Kolesnik (105.48) and Katashinskaa & Vaskovich (97.96) earned season best free dance scores. The French team scored 96.88. Canadians Miku Makita & Tyler Gunara also scored a season best 91.86 free dance.


  • Nguyen & Kolesnik, who previously won gold at the Lake Placid JGP, qualified for their second straight Junior Grand Prix Final. They join Russians Elizaveta Shanaeva & Devid Naryzhnyy who punched their first Final ticket last week at Chelyabinsk.
  • The French and Russians finished in the same order, second and third, at the first 2019 JGP in Courchevel, FRA.
  • Eight teams made their Junior Grand Prix debut at Gdansk, Poland.
  • The string of siblings continued with Australians Alexandra and Christopher Fladun-Dorling.
  • Katerina Bunina (EST) and Sasha Fear (GBR) have sisters who also compete internationally in ice dance. Tatjana Bunning competed in the Chelyabinsk, Russia JGP; Lilah Fear recently won the silver medal at the senior Challenger Series, Autumn Classic.

Ted Barton interviewed Avonley Nguyen and Vadym Kolesnik after the awards:

“We still have a lot to work on, but I’m happy with what we’ve done today. There’s always a place for improvement, and we’re going to keep getting better and better and stronger. Hopefully by the Final we’ll show higher quality skating,” said Kolesnik. “When we go home, we’ll look at the protocols, and we’ll know what we need to work on – what needs to be improved,” added Nguyen.

Highighted Performances:  This week, we highlight the rhythm dance performance by Sasha Fear & George Waddell (GBR) and the free dance performance of Avonley Nguyen & Vadymn Kolesnik (USA).


by Anne Calder 

Russians Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov defended their 2018 Nepela Trophy title and won the gold medal. Training mates Sara Hurtado & Kirill Khaliavin, representing Spain, took home silver, while the Americans Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter finished third. The Russians and Spaniards made their 2019-2020 debuts. The Americans previously competed in July at the Lake Placid Ice Dance international where they were also third.

  • There were no Level 4 Finnsteps. Russians Sinitsina & Katsalapov and Betina Popova & Sergey Mozgov plus Koreans Yura Min & Daniel Eaton hit three keypoints and earned level 3.
  • Evgeniia Lopareva & Geoffrey Brissaud vaulted from eighth place in the rhythm dance to sixth overall after a fourth place free dance.
  • Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter were the 2018 Nepela Memorial silver medalists.
  • Yuka Orihara & Juho Pirinen (FIN), Yura Min & Daniel Eaton (KOR), Natacha LaGouge & Arnaud Caffa (FRA), and Aurelija Ipolito & J.T. Michel (LAT) are new 2019-20 season teams.


by Melanie Heaney

Always one of the premiere events of the Challenger Series, Nebelhorn Trophy will take place this weekend in Oberstdorf, Germany. The Bavarian alpine village first held an international dance event in 1963; the current format of Nebelhorn Trophy as a senior international figure skating event was established in 1969. This is the 51st annual Nebelhorn Trophy.

Nebelhorn is the fifth event in this year’s Challenger Series, in which scores from a team’s best two events are added to create the final standings. This year, 15 teams from 11 countries will compete in Oberstdorf. No previous Nebelhorn champion is on the roster this time around.

The medal hunt:

  • Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker (USA) are aiming for the top of the podium, but they are making their season début here. Their ISU personal best score, set last year at the Four Continents Championships, is 189.87.
  • Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) débuted last week at the U.S. International Classic, where they finished second and set a new ISU personal best score of 188.47.
  • Laurence Fournier-Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen (CAN) put up a similar score (189.36) at Lombardia Trophy two weeks ago, also a new personal best, despite underperforming in the free dance.
  • Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson (GBR) won the silver medal at Autumn Classic two weeks ago, scoring 184.09. It was a new personal best.
  • Olivia Smart & Adria Diaz (ESP) won the Lake Placid Ice Dance International to start their season, and set a new personal best score (181.51) when they finished fourth at Autumn Classic two weeks ago.
  • This will be the international season début for Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu (CHN), but they looked ready at a Chinese national competition. They have not yet scored over 180 points internationally, though.

Other items of note:

  • This is an important head-to-head competition between Hawayek & Baker and Carreira & Ponomarenko. Hawayek & Baker have always come out on top thus far, but this is their season début, and Carreira & Ponomarenko just put up a big score last week.
  • Fournier-Beaudry & Sorensen will also be looking to make a move here. They finished just behind Hawayek & Baker at both the 2019 Four Continents Championships and the 2019 World Championships.
  • Jennifer Urban & Benjamin Steffan (GER) will be competing at their home rink.


The rhythm dance is scheduled for Friday, September 27, at 11:30 a.m. local time (5:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time). The free dance will conclude the competition on Saturday, September 28, at 2:15 p.m. local time (8:15 a.m. EDT).


by TJ Carey

The Junior Grand Prix Series moves on to Zagreb, Croatia for another exciting week of skating. The spots for December’s JGP Final are starting to get filled up, but the competition for the remaining events is still plenty fierce. Several teams have an outside shot of qualifying for the Final, and since this is such an evenly matched field, whether or not a couple qualifies could depend on the slimmest of margins.

Zagreb is no stranger to international skating events. In fact, this venue, the Dom Sportova, has hosted numerous competitions over the years, such as the European Championships, World Junior Championships, and World Championships for synchronized skating at both the junior and senior levels. This event will be the tenth edition of the Croatian event, with past champions including Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (USA) as well as Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha (CAN).

The medal hunt:

  • Maria Kazakova and Georgy Reviya (GEO) placed second at JGP Riga Cup with the winning free dance.
  • Sofiya Tyutyunina and Alexander Shustitskiy (RUS) got the bronze in Riga.
  • Natalie Taschlerova and Filip Taschler (CZE) were the bronze medalists at JGP Lake Placid.
  • Nadiia Bashynska and Peter Beaumont (CAN) are coming off of a third-place finish at JGP Chelyabinsk.
  • Emmy Bronsard and Aissa Bouaraguia (CAN) placed fourth at JGP Grand Prix de Courchevel.

Other items of note:

  • The US will be represented by Katarina Delcamp and Ian Somerville as well as Molly Cesanek and Yehor Yehorov.
  • There are five couples here who also competed at Junior Worlds in Zagreb this past March.
  • Alexander Vakhnov medaled on the Junior Grand Prix with both of his last two partners, Sofia Polishchuk and Ksenia Konkina. He’s making his international debut with Svetlana Lizunova (RUS).


The rhythm dance begins Friday, September 27, at 11:00 a.m. local time (5:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time). The free dance will be Saturday, September 28 at 12:15 p.m. local time (6:15 a.m. EDT).