Northern Lights #11: A Very Sectional Week

Another weekend, another trip! I love to travel, but I think I’m looking forward to spending a month at home after I get back from this one. The busy schedule is starting to take its toll on my health and sanity. I will apologize in advance for today’s post…I think it is going to have to be a shortened one, and I do not have time to dig though photos. I will make up for it next week!

Weaver & Poje Among the Favourites at NHK Trophy
Even though the field at NHK Trophy this weekend includes Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani, reigning world bronze medalists from the United States, I feel like Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje are entering the event with a slight edge. Maia & Alex finished a bit behind expectations at their first event in China, whereas Kaitlyn & Andrew met expectations at their first event and seem to have a bit of momentum. As I wrote in last week’s blog, Kaitlyn & Andrew have really nailed the expression in their short dance, and if they skate cleanly, I think that will set them up for a chance at their first Grand Prix gold. Their free dance in Mississauga was so emotional, but it did have a few bobbles. Of course, it was the first time out for that program, so I am expecting and hoping for a smoother skate in Sapporo this weekend.

Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam will join them in Sapporo and they have a chance to bounce back from a disappointing showing at Skate America. I think that the short dance will be key for them. Their free dance was quite solid in California, so if they get a better start in the first phase of competition, I think that it will improve their confidence and help them to go for an even stronger performance in the free dance.

In the Books: AB, WOS, EOS Sectionals
Three of Canada’s sectionals (with dance events) were contested last week. Most of the fields had fewer than four entries, so nearly everyone that competed will advance to Challenge next month. The exception was the pre-novice event, where six entries fought for four spots.

Among the three sections, the standout performance belonged to Mackenzie Bent & Garrett MacKeen, who won the Eastern Ontario junior title with a score of 120.96. They earned fantastic levels across the board in both dances—level 4 on everything, except for level 3 on all of the footwork sequences—but I was surprised by their components marks. Compared to what they earned on the JGP, the sectional judges marked them quite a bit lower.

In last week’s blog, I said that pattern and short dances from Eastern Ontario would be broadcast on Skatebuzz, but this was not the case. I’m not sure what the problem was, but I sat at my computer and refreshed the channel page for an hour, to no avail. The videos are not archived, either. Sorry for the bad information!

Check out the results for all of the sectionals:
Eastern Ontario
Western Ontario

Sectionals this Weekend, Too
Four more sections with dance events are slated for this weekend, and two will be broadcast on Skatebuzz. Busy weekend!

As usual, the Québec section will have the largest roster, but because of byes for JGP skaters, the entire field at the junior and senior levels will still advance to Challenge. A little less stressful than last year! Speaking of the junior field, it’s packed with talent. All nine teams will put on a great show, but the battle for the title between Andréanne Poulin & Marc-André Servant and Victoria Hasegawa & Connor Hasegawa promises to be exciting. Several other teams, including Élisabeth Paradis & François-Xavier Ouellete and Laurence Fournier-Beaudry & Yoan Breton, should put up a good fight, too! It looks like QC is streaming the events on Glace 2, which is where the dance competitions will be held. Tune in at 7.15p EST on Saturday to watch the novice FD, junior SD, and senior SD. Junior and senior free dances begin at 1.25 on Sunday afternoon. The full schedule is available here (PDF).

The BC Sectionals don’t have quite as much drama (at least in the dance event…all eyes will be on BC for Emanuel Sandhu’s comeback in senior men) because the juniors are sitting out this event. They all have competed on the JGP and the competition is not held locally, plus they get to “compete” against each other every day in practice. I’ll be tuning in, though, to catch Nicole Orford & Thomas Williams’ senior debut, where they will compete against training mates Larissa Van As & Troy Shindle. The dance schedule in BC is a bit grueling, with all dances scheduled for Saturday. It will also be broadcast on Skatebuzz, and the schedule is available here (PDF). Pattern and short dances will be held between 8 and 10 a.m. (PST) and free dances will be held between 2.25 and 4 p.m. (PST).

Central Ontario and Saskatchewan sectionals are not on the Skatebuzz docket this year, but are also slated for this weekend. Saskatchewan is a small event, with just seven dance teams across three levels. Central Ontario’s roster is more filled out, but still will not have any cuts for the Challenge team. The senior competition at COS should be a good one, with Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill going up against their training mates, the new pairing of Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier. COS usually posts results quickly, and they will be available here.

That’s all I have time for tonight. Don’t forget to tune into CBC on Sunday & Monday evenings for the final week of Battle of the Blades. That’s where I’m heading this weekend, so I’ll have photos and a report from the show next week. Two ice dancers in the Finale this year…I would love to see a dancer win for the first time this year!