With a new international season slated to begin this week, I can’t think of a better time to start Northern Lights, my new blog dedicated to Canadian ice dance.  My goal in creating this blog is to give a bit of the spotlight to Canadian dancers at all levels.  I also wanted to create an outlet to ramble about things like JGP assignments, so that my best friend doesn’t have to listen to me theorize how Skate Canada will use their last couple of spots during our midnight phone calls.

2011-0830-1Since this is a new blog, I guess I should introduce myself.  My name is Melanie Hoyt, and since you’re reading my blog, we can be friends and you can call me Mel.  If you’re often at Canadian dance events, we might already know each other, or one of us probably at least recognizes the other.  If you need a refresher, I usually look like this at the rink, except with redder cheeks from the cold and bigger bags under my eyes from the sleep deprivation.

 

I have been watching figure skating since 1992, writing about it since 2003, and photographing it since 2007. I am from Chicago, but I developed the Canadian beat for Ice-Dance.com when I joined the site in 2007 and I continue to attend mainly Canadian events. I love watching skaters that I have known for years rise in the ranks, and I love getting to know new athletes every year.

And with the intro post business out of the way, let’s talk dance! The Junior Grand Prix Series begins this week, and to me, this is always one of the most interesting parts of the season. I love being surprised by breakout teams and it is always such a joy to see the excitement when athletes receive their first international assignment.

Skate Canada was only guaranteed one dance entry in each of the seven JGP events, but so far, they have picked up an extra spot at three events, with two more rosters still to be published. Six Canadian teams have been assigned to the first five events, with three more teams listed as substitutes at various events. I’ll be posting at least once a week, so I’ll profile each of the JGP teams as their assignments occur.

Andreanne & Marc-AndreFirst up is Andréanne Poulin & Marc-André Servant, who arrived today in Riga, Latvia for the first JGP of the season. They competed on the JGP once last season, where they were a big surprise at Pokal der Blauen Schwerter, the sixth event in Germany. Andréanne & Marc-André finished fourth there, .21 from the podium, and less than a point from the silver medal. Since they didn’t have a chance to receive a second assignment last year, I am glad that they were given one of the initial spots this year.

The best thing about Andréanne & Marc-André is their incredible connection. It is something that clicked between them in the beginning, something that I have seen since their first competition together. Their connection shines in both of their programs this year, which I saw in Lake Placid. Their short dance is a playful take on the Cha Cha, set to “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay,” and their free dance is an intense, Spanish-flavoured piece called “Passion Nomad.” Artistry and attention to detail have always helped them to give great performances, even when the elements don’t go as planned, but I hope that they will have two strong skates in Riga. I know that they are capable of winning their first international medal, and I’d love to see them end up on the podium.

Well, that wraps up my first Northern Lights post! Next week, I’ll be back to discuss Andréanne & Marc-André’s competition in Latvia, Nicole Orford & Thomas Williams’ chances in Australia, and the team(s) assigned to the sixth JGP.