Fall is in the air! I spent last weekend in Toronto, where I got some lovely autumnal foliage shots on a perfect, blue-skied Sunday afternoon. Fall is a great time of year for baked goods (pumpkin muffins!), and it’s also a great time of year for skating. The international season is beginning for the seniors and wrapping up for the juniors, and teams at home are getting ready for Sectionals.
The Bronze Medal Streak is Alive!
Last weekend in Bled, Slovenia, Andréanne Poulin & Marc-André Servant (pictured, right) won Canada’s fifth JGP bronze medal in as many events. Andréanne & Marc had fantastic skates and earned 126.57 points, almost 12 points more than what they scored at their first JGP event this year in Lake Placid. They set new ISU personal bests in both dances. Their short dance scored 51.57 points, and they could have scored a few points higher if they’d hit their Blues levels a little better (they earned level 3 and level 2) and earned level 4 on their twizzles. Overall, though, I thought that the dance was done well, and they looked strong. Their free dance earned 75.00 points and was also an excellent effort. They had great levels on the FD, with 4 on everything besides the footwork sequences, which were called level 2. I think they have some opportunities to make the second half of the program even stronger; they had a little stumble, and I felt like they had a little less attack on the last few elements. Since they will be switching gears to work on the senior version of this program for Canadian competitions, I look forward to seeing what they do with the extra 30 seconds required in the free.
Caelen Dalmer & Shane Firus finished sixth in Slovenia, earning 111.71 points. The event was their first JGP assignment this season, and they also set ISU personal bests in both dances. Caelen & Shane scored 47.93 in the short dance and had the third-highest technical score, even with only a level 1 on the midline. They earned level 3 and 4 on the Blues patterns, which really helped them out. I really like this program for them and thought they performed so well. I feel like the judges lowballed them just a bit on PCS. Their free dance scored 63.78 and it was a solid performance, although not without a couple of issues. They had a good save on the final choreographic lift that went awry; fortunately, they stayed on their feet, and the lift is only worth a fraction of a point, so the technical side was not really affected. It may have affected their PCS, though, which had a greater range than in their short dance, going from 4.50 (lower than their SD) up to 6.25 (higher than their SD). Overall, though, Caelen & Shane did a nice job with a program that was more complex than some of the teams ahead of them.
Canada sent two dance entries to Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, last weekend. Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam finished fifth with 137.92 points, and Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill (pictured, left) earned 130.42 points to finish seventh. The competition among the top seven teams was fairly close—for example, Ralph & Hill were closer to the bronze medal than they were to the team ranked just below them.
Alex & Mitch earned 54.50 points in their short dance, where their most costly error was not hitting all of the key points for the Yankee Polka, earning level 1 and level 3. The Yankee is so fast that I expect this to be a problem for many teams throughout the season, and it’s great that Alex & Mitch have some early feedback on this. The free dance was ranked fourth, scoring 83.42. Again, they have some levels to look at, but it was another solid performance. Their opening circular footwork and spin had earned higher levels in Salt Lake City, and the judges in Salt Lake also gave them slightly higher PCS. Perhaps this is due to the comparisons among the more diverse field at Nebelhorn.
Kharis & Asher earned 53.79 points in their short dance. They received level 3 and level 2 on the Yankee Polka, and lost a point or so on their twizzles, which were called level 3 and given a slight negative GOE. Their “Gigi” short dance is my favorite program from them in several years, so I’m glad they had a good first time out with it. Their free dance scored 76.63, after a two-point deduction for an illegal element/movement. They were also hit with a level 1 for their rotational lift. Without those issues, they would have been looking at 80+ points, which is closer to where they are aiming for, I’m sure.
This Week Abroad
This week is a busy one, with Canada sending dance teams to three different international competitions. Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir will kick off their season at Finlandia Trophy, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (pictured, right) will begin theirs at Ondrej Nepela Memorial, Mackenzie Bent & Garrett MacKeen will look to keep Canada’s medal streak alive on the JGP, and Melinda Meng & Andrew Meng will make their JGP début.
Tessa & Scott shouldn’t have too much pressure in their season début at Finlandia Trophy. They also began their season in Finland last year and liked the experience so much that they have returned for more early-season feedback. This will be the public’s first look at their programs, a short dance that features a waltz composed by actor Anthony Hopkins, and a free dance to Carmen. Barring disaster, they will win the gold medal, but of course the more important aspect of the competition is to see how the panel calls their elements and how the judges like their programs.
Kaitlyn & Andrew are also gold-medal favourites at their event, the 20th Ondrej Nepela Memorial in Bratislava, Slovakia. This is their first time ever on the Senior B circuit. Kaitlyn & Andrew are currently ranked fifth in the ISU World Standings; if they win this weekend, it will push them ahead of the Shibutanis and keep Bobrova & Soloviev from catching up with them. This will allow Kaitlyn & Andrew to skate after the Russians in the short dance at Skate America in a couple of weeks, so it’s a great strategy. It also gives them a chance to get their new programs out before they hit the Grand Prix circuit.
Mackenzie & Garrett have a great chance at making the podium in Zagreb this week, and could even upgrade from Canada’s bronze streak to a medal of a different color. They have similar scoring potential to Russians Zenkova & Sinitsin, based on their first events, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they stack up, head to head.
Melinda & Andrew are making their JGP début this week, based on their strong performances at summer assignments. Last week, though, the Meng siblings struggled a bit at the Souvenir Georges-Éthier in Shawinigan, Que., finishing third. Hopefully, they got the bugs out of their programs and will be back on track in Zagreb.
Last Week at Home
In the senior division, Élisabeth Paradis & François-Xavier Ouellette (pictured, left) won the gold medal with 128.82 points. Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen were second with 111.61.
At the junior level, Mariève Cyr & Benjamin Brisebois won the event with a score of 107.16. Christina Penkov & Simon Proulx-Sénécal were second with 105.78, and Melinda Meng & Andrew Meng scored 102.84 to finish third. The highest score in the short dance at this event was 42.49 points, so it seems that the technical panel was much more strict at this event than they were at the Québec Summer Championships.
Christina Carreira & Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette came back after a second-place quickstep to win the novice event with 75.14 points, their highest score so far this season. Valérie Taillefer & Jason Chan were second with 66.05 points, and Marie-Jade Lauriault & Pierre-Richard Chiasson finished third with a score of 64.52.
Alycia O’Leary & Oliver Grutter barely stayed ahead of Sabrina Bédard & Zoé Duval-Yergeau to win the pre-novice event, 55.74 to 55.15. Sara Campanelli & Anthony Marier scored 49.08 to win the bronze medal.
Cassidy McFarlane & Alexandre Roy won their second competition in two weeks at the juvenile level, scoring 41.79. Marie-Ève Gagné & Gabriel Degré were second with 34.50 points and Maria Courchesne Panfili & Philippe Marchand’s score of 32.91 ranked them third.
Valérie O’Leary & Kyle Cayouette and Arianne Bonneau & Michel Larouche won the pre-juvenile A and B events, respectively.
That’s it for this week! If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, feel free to email me ([email protected]) or comment below. Thanks!