It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been able to post, and a lot has happened in Canadian dance! Since NL #17, we’ve seen Canadian juniors pick up three more JGP bronze medals, and the seniors won gold and silver at the recent U.S. International Classic. I’m glad that the dancers have been just as busy as I have been, although they twizzle a little more often than I do.
Bronze, Bronze, Bronze!
I suppose another country might be annoyed if their skaters kept “only” winning bronze, but Skate Canada has made it clear that they are very proud of their JGP skaters. I think it’s a terrific streak. The teams keep putting out top-notch performances and keep ending up on the podium. Since I’m four weeks behind, I’ll start there to catch up.
Four weeks ago, Andréanne Poulin & Marc-André Servant (pictured, right) won the bronze medal at the JGP event in Lake Placid. They are in their final year of JGP eligibility, and this was their first podium finish, and it was in front of family and friends, so it’s a little extra sweet. I was in Lake Placid, and it was great to see them lay down a solid performance in the short dance. Unfortunately, the calls on the patterns were tough in Lake Placid. Almost every team was disappointed with that aspect of their score. Andréanne & Marc ended up fourth after the short, and drew to skate last in the free dance, which made things even more exciting after they skated a great free dance and ended up third. They will compete again this week in Slovenia.
Noa Bruser & Timothy Lum also competed in Lake Placid, and they also had a rough time with levels in their short, receiving low levels for both Blues patterns, as well as their footwork. They came back strong with a fourth-place free and finished fifth overall, less than a point from fourth.
Two weeks ago, Mackenzie Bent & Garrett MacKeen (pictured, left) brought home JGP bronze from Austria. It was their second bronze on the JGP; they also won one last year. Bent & MacKeen put up a huge score, 129.16, that nearly matched their season’s best from Minto Summer Skate (132.04). Bent & MacKeen didn’t have any trouble with levels, earning level 4 for both Blues patterns in their second-place short dance. They skated really well in the free dance, but couldn’t hold off the talented Russian team of Anna Yanovskaya & Sergei Mozgov, and they finished the competition in third. They are scheduled to compete again next week in Croatia, and they do have some room for improvement, as they did not earn level four for their twizzles or all of their lifts in Austria.
Last weekend in Turkey, Madeline Edwards & ZhaoKai Pang displayed big improvements over their first JGP event in France, increasing their score by over 20 points to 135.01. Based on my records, which are not 100% guaranteed, but which are pretty extensive, that is the highest score recorded by a Canadian team since the introduction of the two-dance format to the junior level! What a great accomplishment. The Blues had also gotten the best of Maddie & ZhaoKai in France, but in Turkey, they earned two level 4s on that aspect of the short dance. Their second-place free dance scored 80.50 and they pretty much maxed out their levels, earning level 4 on everything besides their step sequences, which were called level 3. They were just over a point from the silver medal. And very few of the JGP events hold an exhibition gala, but both Courchevel and Istanbul did, so Maddie & ZhaoKai had the opportunity to perform a show program both times. Some kind soul videoed their performance in Istanbul.
Across the board for all teams, not just Canadians, it seems like the panel was less strict at the third and fourth events than it was at the first two, so I hope that trend continues. I can’t speak for the first event, but in Lake Placid, the mood after the short dance was so disheartening. I don’t like to see that at any level, but especially not at the junior level. I kept hearing that it was impossible for skaters and coaches to know what the panel wanted, because everyone was interpreting the steps differently. Hopefully, that’s been sorted out now, and some consistency will be attained. I want to see teams skating the patterns well, but they need to know which standards they should be aiming to match.
Seniors Go 1-2 in Salt Lake
Canada wrapped up the top two spots at the first-ever U.S. International Classic in Salt Lake City, Utah. This Senior B competition was a first for North America, and it was great to see North American skaters get extra opportunities to compete internationally and earn ISU points. Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier (pictured, right) and Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam both took advantage of the opportunity.
Piper & Paul were third after the short dance, but a first-place free dance combined with mistakes from the leaders rocketed them to the top of the podium in their first international assignment. Their total score of 146.90 was a couple of notches off of the 163.54-point score that they put up at Canadians last year, but the effort was nowhere near as disastrous as some of their detractors predicted it to be. Overall, it looks like they are in good shape for their Skate Canada assignment, coming up in about a month.
Alex & Mitch had a few demons to conquer after a disappointing season last year. They have since moved to Michigan to train at the Detroit Skating Club, and they started this season looking much stronger. In Salt Lake, they were behind Gilles & Poirier by just .12 after the short dance, and they stayed close in the free dance, ending up with 143.76 points overall, as well as the silver medal. I think the most important thing to remember from this competition is that Paul & Islam were 17 points behind Gilles & Poirier at last year’s Canadians. At this competition? Not even three points. The race for the bronze in January should be a close and exciting one.
This Week on the JGP
Andréanne & Marc are back on competitive ice this week in Bled, Slovenia. They definitely have some opportunities to earn higher levels and increase their score. I am sure that they have been working hard at home. The biggest competition for the podium will come from Americans Alexandra Aldridge & Daniel Eaton, who won in Lake Placid, and Yanovskaya & Mozgov. A few other teams could challenge for bronze, but I think that Andréanne & Marc still have a solid shot if they skate their best.
Caelen Dalmer & Shane Firus (pictured, left) are taking JGP ice for the first time this year. They have been waiting patiently at home in Vancouver and after a couple of medal-winning performances at both the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships and BC Summer Skate in July and August, I’m sure that they are ready. The roster features quite a few teams that are on the cusp of making a move on the JGP, and I expect to see Caelen & Shane right in the thick of things. Their short dance, which uses “I Got a Woman,” suits them perfectly, and they really get into the Broadway vibe for their Cats free dance.
This Week at Nebelhorn
It feels so strange that Nebelhorn isn’t the first Senior B this year. I hope the cows of Oberstdorf aren’t offended that Salt Lake stole the beginning-of-the-season thunder. At any rate, Nebelhorn will still mark the beginning of the “real” part of the season for Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill. They showed their short dance at Thornhill, but their free wasn’t ready yet, so its first competitive outing will be this weekend. I saw both programs (well, only parts of their free dance) back in the first week of August at their club’s summer show. At that time, I thought that their Gigi short dance was really well done (and boy, does the music seem tailor-made for the polka pattern!), but I didn’t really “get” the free dance. I look forward to seeing how it has evolved, providing that someone posts videos, of course!
Alex Paul & Mitch Islam head straight back to competition with their second fall international. Since they didn’t rack up enough ISU points last year to get selected in the initial round of Grand Prix assignments, I’m glad that Skate Canada has at least given them two Senior B internationals so that they can get as much experience as possible. I hope they have another great competition and continue to build confidence.
Wouldn’t it be great to see both Canadian teams on the podium again at this event? I think so, and I also think it’s within their capabilities. Go get ‘em.
Last Week at Home
Fall competition season is also ramping up domestically. Last week, dancers competed at juvenile through junior levels at Autumn Skate in Ottawa. Scores were combined in the juvenile, pre-novice, and novice events, but juniors were allowed to enter each dance separately.
At the junior level, Samantha Glavine & Jeff Hough showed big improvements, scoring over 40 points for the first time in the short dance. And by “over 40 points,” I mean “well over 40 points”—they earned a score of 48.91 and took first. Marina Barova & Allan Stoll, a new team that trains in Michigan, were second with 45.62. Bianka Gadosy & Benjamin Smyth won bronze with 44.33 points.
In the junior free dance, Audrey Croteau-Villeneuve & Dominic Barthe leapt into the medals with a season’s best of 63.55, winning gold. Bianka & Benjamin were second with 60.66, and Sam & Jeff’s 57.89 placed them third.
Laura-Maude Verret & William Lavictoire’s score of 66.55 won them the novice gold medal. It was an improvement of over 10 points from their score at Québec Summer Provincials. Emily Valentine & Simon Desrochers also bested their QC score by 10 points. They earned 62.13 points and won silver. Vanessa Chartrand & Christian Reekie were third with 60.05.
In pre-novice, Alycia O’Leary & Oliver Grutter won the gold medal with a score of 57.64. Natascha Collier & Lee Royer were second with 50.97 points, and Talia Rancourt & Alex Gunther scored 49.81 for the bronze.
Only two teams competed at the juvenile level. Cassidy McFarlane & Alexandre Roy won the event with 44.02 points. Ashley Ingram & Dominic Tremblay scored 25.41.
This week, the Georges-Ethier competition will be held in Shawinigan, Québec. Patinage Québec will live-stream the action. Most of QC’s dance teams are on the roster, so it looks to be a good event.