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The Big Picture



ISU Championship Allotments for 2023/24 and Later

Season 2023/24 Figure Skating

    December 7 - 10, 2023 - ISU Grand Prix Final, Orleans, France

    Jan 22 - Jan 28, 2024 - ISU European Figure Skating Championships, Budapest, HUN

    Jan 29 - Feb 04, 2024 - ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, Shanghai, CHN

    Feb 26 - Mar 03, 2024 - ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships, Taipei City, TPE

    Mar 18 - Mar 24, 2024 - ISU World Figure Skating Championships, Montréal, CAN

Season 2024/25 Figure Skating

    January 20 - 26, 2025 - ISU European Figure Skating Championships, Zagreb, CRO

    February 24 - March 2, 2025 - ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships, Debrecen, HUN

    March 24 - 30, 2025 - ISU World Figure Skating Championships, Boston, MA, USA

    April 4 - 5, 2025 - ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships, Tampere, FIN

Season 2025/26 Figure Skating

    January 12 - 18, 2026 - ISU European Figure Skating Championships, Sheffield GBR

     ISU March 23 - 29, 2026 -World Figure Skating Championships, Prague, CZE

     


U.S. Figure Skating 2022-23 Domestic Competitions

2023 U.S. FIGURE SKATING QUALIFYING SEASON

2023 Eastern Sectional Singles & U.S. Ice Dance Final

Nov 08 - Nov 12, 2022
Lansing, Michigan

2023 Midwestern Sectional Singles & U.S. Pairs Final

Nov 07 - Nov 10, 2022
Lansing, Michigan

2023 Pacific Coast Sectional Singles Final

Nov 08 - Nov 13, 2022
Lansing, Michigan

2023 Toyota U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Jan. 23-29, 2023
San Jose, California

U.S. SYNCHRONIZED SKATING QUALIFYING SEASON

2023 Eastern Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships

Jan 18 - Jan 22
Norwood, MA

2023 Midwestern Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships

Jan 24 - Jan 29
Rockford, Illinois

2023 Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships

Jan 24 - Jan 29
Rockford, Illinois

2023 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships

Mar 01 - Mar 04
Peoria, Illinois

U.S. ADULT FIGURE SKATING QUALIFYING SEASON

2023 Eastern Adult Sectional Championships

Mar 10 - Mar 12, 2023
Kissimmee, FL

2023 Midwestern Adult Sectional Championships

Mar 10 - Mar 12, 2023
Fort Wayne, Indiana

2023 Pacific Coast Adult Sectional Championships

Mar 03, 2023
Henderson, Nevada

2023 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships

Apr 12 - Apr 15, 2023
Salt Lake City, Utah

 

  In the News

2022 ISU Grand Prix Final

Torino, Italy
7-11 December, 2022

Grand Prix Final Senior Pairs Short Program

By Klaus-Reinhold Kany

The first senior event of the Grand Prix Final 2022 in the Olympic rink (Palavela) in Torino, Italy, was the short program of the six pairs.

 Riku Miura & Ryuichi Kihara from Japan, seventh at the Olympic Games 2022 and second at the World Championships this year in Montpellier, France, took the lead with 78.08 points. Their music was “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Elvis Presley in a version of Hammerstein & Rodgers and “Sweet Hope Walk” by Karl Hugo.

All their seven elements were excellent, GOEs of +3 and +4 dominated. The triple toe loop was very well synchronized, the Axel Lasso lift (Level 4) with variations in the air, the triple throw Lutz elegantly landed and the step sequence (also level 4) had difficult variations. Their components were around 8.8.

Miura said, “I was very nervous before we started, but I feel very good that we were able to finish with no mistakes.” Kihara added, “What we really love about skating is just being able to skate, we always are able to have a great time together which means we can enjoy the skating and having that enjoyment makes it wonderful being able to skate. We went through some tough times together and we were able to share these feeling and we can now enjoy every competition and it’s wonderful. I had injuries and was lacking confidence in the skating skills for seven to eight years. I really couldn’t see the future and I thought I was not going to make it in figure skating so that for me was the most difficult time.”

Reigning World champions Alexa Knierim & Brandon Frazier of Irvine, California, came second with 77.65 points, skating to the music “Separate Ways” from Worlds Apart by U.S. composer Journey & Steve Perry. Several elements were a bit more spectacular than those of the Japanese team, for example the triple throw flip, but Frazier touched down on the triple toe loop, which cost them at least 1.5 points. Four elements had a level 4 (the Japanese team had only two with a level 4), but the Americans’ components were a little bit lower, around 7.7.

Knierim explained, “We both skated from our hearts and we skated with passion and we are very proud and happy with how we skated today. We made a big improvement from the Grand Prix and we are relieved with the outcome. We’ve been working very hard. Today we took the ice and we took ownership of what we do and we’re very proud of how we skated today. We can improve definitely, but for now we’re very pleased.” Frazier added, “We just went home from our Grand Prix and took a lot of notes, and just basically did everything we could to make the improvements we needed to make.”

Deanna Stellato-Dudek (39 years old) & Maxime Deschamps of Montreal are currently third with 69.34 points. Their performance to the Tango “Oblivion” was almost flawless as well. His triple toe loop was a bit shaky, but otherwise everything was good with GOEs of mainly +1 and +2, the triple throw loop included. Their components were around 7.8 because they had less tricky steps between the elements than the winners. 

Stellato-Dudek said, “We are very excited to be here on our first Grand Prix Final. Actually my relatives live here in Italy - both of my parents come from here. So it was always a goal to come here and we are very excited to be here. I fell ill a couple of weeks ago, lost weight and muscles, we worked hard to come here and we are pleased with the fight we put in tonight. I had to come back and get all my jumps back, learn a new discipline, and skate with someone else and not just in a competition, but every day. But I love skating. it just really takes the desire and passion.” Deschamps added, ”It was a fight, Deanna has been sick lately so we couldn’t train our best but we went out there and we had fun and that is the main goal.”

Sara Conti & Niccolo Macii from Italy placed fourth with 67.30 points, skating to the Tango “Oblivion”. Six of their elements were good and had mainly GOEs of +1 and +2, but their triple Salchow was a bit out of sync, though both landed it correctly on one foot. Their components were around 7.4.  Conti explained, “It’s very emotional, we didn’t expect anything of this, but we tried to seize every opportunity. After 68 points in Sheffield, of course we always expect to improve the score, little by little, but we’re aware that we have lost some levels, in the twist, we think in the step, but for sure it’s not a bad score. I like a lot to skate in front of a home crowd. Hearing the crowd cheering, knowing they’re here especially for us Italians, it’s amazing.” Macii added, “We went from a season best of 59 last year to a 68 this year, and to increase by nine points in the short program in just one year is remarkable.”

The other Italian pair of Rebecca Ghilardi & Filippo Ambrosini finished on fifth place with 63.54 points. Ambrosini did not catch Ghilardi correctly on the triple twist and they had only a clean double Axel as side by side jump. The triple throw Lutz, however, was good, the lift even very good. Their components were around 7.5.

Ghilardi stated, “We weren’t familiar anymore in Italy with the presence of the audience, but today we had good feedback from them. We had the last competition two weeks ago for the Finland Grand Prix, where we qualified for the Final. Sometimes we just have to hurry, as we always say we haven’t finished yet to assimilate a competition and we already have another one to take part in.” Ambrosini added, “We were able to perform and have fun with ourselves and with the public. We made some little mistakes but despite that, we are satisfied because we enjoyed our program.”

The second U.S. team of Emily Chan & Spencer Howe trains in Norwood near Boston. Their twist and triple throw loop were very good, but Chan doubled and stepped out of the toe loop, which he tripled in good quality. Later he aborted the lift. Their components had an average of around 7.3. Howe commented, “I thought we had a pretty strong start, it's unfortunate about the lift going down because obviously that's is one of the more expensive elements in these programs. But it was just a little bit of timing issues and it's just about going back home and just training more and getting those lifts more and more confident. That Flamenco type number is a number that I really like to soak in, so regardless of the element like it's great to be here, and it was a fun skate. I have been slowly getting better and better from my injury, I suffered a shoulder injury in July, and so we've been from the start of the season until now we’ve been able to do a little bit more or less a little bit more lifts.”

Shoma Uno takes lead in Men's short porgram.

Interview with Madison Chock and Evan Bates

2022 Grand Prix Espoo

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany

(4 December 2022) Originally, the sixth and last Grand Prix of this season was supposed to take place in Moscow. But as Russia is still excluded from international competitions, the Finnish federation jumped in. Therefore it was organized in the Metro Arena in Espoo, which is a suburb of the Finnish capital of Helsinki. It was not possible to hold it in the huge Hartwall arena in Helsinki where several ISU championships had taken place. The owner of that beautiful rink is a Russian oligarch whose property was confiscated after the beginning of Russia’s war against the Ukraine due to European law. The Finlandia Trophy has taken place several times in Espoo, and Europeans in January 2023 will take place there as well.

Women

The women’s competition at the Grand Prix in the “Metro Areena” in Espoo, Finland had a mixed level. Nobody tried a triple Axel nor a quad. Mai Mihara from Japan won her second Grand Prix in two weeks after being first in Britain’s Sheffield. In Finland it was a close fight between her and the Belgian skater Loena Hendrickx. Mihara, Four-Continents-Championships winner in 2021, opened her short program to the sad music “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” by the well-known Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto with an excellent double Axel. A very good triple flip came next and a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop in which the toe loop got a q for a small under-rotation. The three spins were very impressive, the step sequence with five GOEs of +4 stellar and her components had an average of 8.5.

After her serious health problems of 2020 with several stays in hospital, she commented, “The music was chosen by (choreographer) David Wilson, and he told me to put all my feelings into it and to reflect my whole life in this short program. When the choreography begins it shows how I struggled in my life, but then as the music goes on, when the step sequence comes and the music goes toward the peak of the program, that part shows how happy I feel to skate, to be here, to be back in the scene. As I feel all this, I couldn’t help crying in the step sequence, but in the end I was really happy that I was able to concentrate and to put in all the feelings into the program.”

In her passionate free program to the Spanish music “El Amor Brujo” by Manuel de Falla, three triple jumps were very good, but two others got a q and she almost fell on a flip which was planned triple. But she performed only one and a half rotation. Her spins were excellent , her two step sequences had many GOEs of +4 and her components were around 8.3. She commented, “Today with my free skating I have a lot of regrets, but I am happy to go to the Grand Prix Final. I hope by then I overcome the obstacles and will get my level up and will become a stronger person, I was not in my best condition, but from now on I would really want to show my best, especially at the Grand Prix Final. Some of my fans flew here all the way to support me from Japan. I met some of them on the plane and met others here”.

The 2022 World silver medalist Loena Hendrickx from Belgium had won the Grand Prix de France and was coached again by her older brother Jorik Hendrickx and choreographer Adam Solya. She won the short program in Espoo with a distance of 1.30 points to Mihara and the same elements, the same q, but higher components of around 8.8 and three GOEs of +5 for her layback spin. Her music was “Si Mama” by Romanian singer Inna and to “Mi Gente” by U.S. singer Beyonce. She explained, “I was satisfied with my performance today, especially since I had a hard time working towards this competition. I felt a little ill last week and my blood results were not very good, so I had to take a little bit of rest.”

After the competition in France, Hendrickx exchanged once more a piece of her free program music and has not two pieces by Karl Hugo, “Heaven” and “Fallen Angel”, which was specially composed for her. After a very good combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, she had two more good triples, but under-rotated a flip, fell on the under-rotated second Lutz and the second Axel was only single. Her spins were as excellent as always, her step sequences as well. Because of her mistakes, she had only the third best free program and dropped to second place, winning 203.91 points overall. She admitted,  “Today was not my day, I know I can do better. The aim was so far away before I started the season. I never thought I’d get the chance to be in the Grand Prix Final and I am proud I achieved this. We wanted to expand the artistry of the program, the accents and the nuance. The first part is in heaven, An angel struggles with her saints. The second part is ‘Fallen Angel’, it has more accents and more power and emotions. It is really unique that this music has been especially made for me.” Both top skaters certainly reach the Final.

Mana Kawabe from Japan won the bronze medal with 197.41 points. Skating to three songs by U.S. singer Billie Eilish, she performed a very good double Axel, a combination of triple Lutz (with a small edge warning) and a slightly under-rotated triple flip. Spins and step sequence were very good. She said, “The flip was not ideal, but overall I feel quite satisfied. I’ve been practicing the free skating much more than the short program. I’ve been focusing on not repeating the same mistakes as in France.” In her free program to “Drowning” by Anne Sila, she had three very good triples, her two Lutzes got a small edge warning and three of her jumps were under-rotated. But to give GOEs of -4 and -5 for these jumps was too hard a punishment. She commented, “I was able to be myself and show my program today, In my free skating I found a lot of things to improve. I want to practice my triple Axel.”

The third Japanese skater Rika Kihira finished on fourth position, earning 192.43 points. The student of Brian Orser and Tracy Wilson had been fourth at Worlds 2019, but since suffered from several health problems. Now she is coming back slowly. In her short program to “The Fire Within” by Jennifer Thomas, her double Axel and her combination of triple Salchow and triple toe loop were impressive, but she stepped out of the triple loop. Everything else was excellent. In her free program to the soundtrack of “Titanic”, all six triple jumps were at least good, the layback spin was even very good. Therefore she moved up from sixth to fourth position.

The Canadian Champion Madeline Schizas came fifth with 187.84 points. In the short program to “Black Swan” by Clint Mansell, which is mainly really Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”, she performed a good double Axel and triple loop, but in her combination the triple toe loop after the triple Lutz was under-rotated. In her free program to Leonard Bernstein’s “Westside Story” she skated more stable than at Skate Canada. All six triple jumps were good, her combination even excellent. Her only mistake was a single Axel near the end.

U.S. skater Lindsay Thorngren of Montclair, New Jersey, student of Julia Lautowa and third at Junior Worlds 2022, placed sixth with 183.23 points. She was fourth in the short program to the “Concierto de Aranjuez” de Joaquin Rodrigo in a version by French composer Cedric Tour. There, six elements were at least good, the camel combination spin even excellent. But in her combination, the triple toe loop after the triple Lutz was under-rotated. The components were around 7.6. In her free program to three compositions by Cedric Tour, only two triples were good, three more under-rotated, two double jumps as well and she fell on the third part of a combination, a double loop. Her spins were excellent.

Anastasiia Gubanova is seventh with 166.57 points. She competes for Georgia and  stayed in Russia even after this year’s drafting because Russia has no female soldiers. All male Georgian skaters fled from this country having mostly dual citizenship. They did not want to be drafted to the army and die in the war. The elegant Gubanova who had competed for Russia until two years ago had been sixth at Worlds 2022 in France. In her short program, her triple flip was soso and the student of Evgeni Rukavitsin in St. Petersburg went down on the triple Lutz. In her free program, only three triple jumps were good, but two others under-rotated and she fell again on the triple Lutz.

Former U.S. champion Bradie Tennell lives now in Nice in France and trains there with Benoit Richaud. She finished eighth, earning163.98 points, ten more than at her first Grand Prix two weeks before. This time, she did not fall in the short program, had five good elements, but her triple Lutz before the triple toe loop of her combination was under-rotated and the triple loop got a q. She said, “Today was a really big step forward. Now I am a bit more back in the rhythm and more used to the competition atmosphere.” But in her free program to a “Four Seasons”- Medley, only one triple was good, but three under-rotated and she fell on both triple Lutzes. Later she said that she liked especially the middle part of her free program in which the young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg says, “How dare are you!” and she looks to the judges.

None of the three Finnish women was really good. 23-year-old Jenni Saarinen finished on ninth place with 155.64 points. In the short program her combination of two triple toe loops was o.k. But in the free program, only one triple (Salchow) was successful. After the competition she officially announced the end of her career because it was no more fun. 15-year-old Janna Jirkinen is tenth with 154.45 points. She came as an alternate for Finnish Emmi Peltonen who withdrew in the last minute because she was not yet fit after a Covid-19 infection. Jirkinen is a big talent, but was very nervous on her first senior Grand Prix and popped the Lutz as well as the flip in the short program. Her free program was better with five good triples.

Linnea Ceder came 11th with 151.91 points. In her short program a step-out on the double toe loop in her combination with a triple Lutz was her only mistake, but she not get many pluspoints for her clean elements. In her free program only two triples were good. Eva-Lotta Kiibus from Estonia ended up 12th and last with low 138.89 points. She had to stay longer in Japan after the NHK Trophy because of the strike of Finnair. She now trains in the Netherlands under Dutch coach Thomas Kennes. In her short program she fell on the downgraded triple Lutz, the third spin was wobbly and her double Axel was under-rotated. In the free program only one triple was o.k., but she popped the Lutz and the loop.

Men

The men’s competition at the Grand Prix Espoo in Finland had a good level. 17-year-old Ilia Malinin of Reston, Virginia, the new “Quadgod”, won with 278.39 points although he said in the press conference he had some small injury problems in his left foot and therefore he did not try any Lutz in the competition. Off the ice, he walked around with special shoes, but on the ice you did not notice any problems. He started his short program to “I Put a Spell On You” by Canadian singer Garou with a combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop, but both jumps got a q for a slight under-rotation. His quad Salchow was excellent, but he stumbled on the triple Axel. Two spins were very good, but one was shaky, his components were around 8.2 and he was second there. He commented, “Even though it wasn't the best skate that I had, I still enjoyed performing for the audience. The Final is really important to me, but I just focus on my competition and try to be confident, trust in my training.”

After the free program which he easily won, he knew that he would get to the Final after winning Skate America in October. He skated to the soundtrack “Euphoria” and his first element was a quad Axel with a hand on the ice and a bit stepped out. His quad flip and his two quad toe loops were excellent, the second one in a combination with Euler and triple Salchow. The first quad Salchow also got a q and he added four more triples, including a difficult combination of triple flip and triple Axel. The spins got mainly GOEs of +3 and the step sequence +2. His choreo step sequence was outstanding with mainly GOEs of +4 and his components were around 8.4. He explained, “I’m still in shock at how was I was able to perform. I was a little mad after yesterday’s performance. I was really hoping that today I would forget about it and gain my confidence again, just to make sure that I am able to be in control of everything. The Grand Prix Final has always been a dream of mine, but I couldn’t go to the Junior Final with the cancellations last year. I put a lot of effort into trying to make the Grand Prix Final.”

Shun Sato from Japan trains in the practice rink of the Saitama Super Arena near Tokyo, where the World Championships in 2023 is planned. In Espoo he won the silver medal with 262.21 points although he has not much charisma. In the short program to “Carol Of the Bells” by Lindsey Stirling, he performed a clean quad toe loop, but fell on the quad Lutz. His triple Axel was good, his spins and step sequence were very good and his components around 7.7.

His free program to “Red Violin” originally by Joaquin Rodrigo was clean. He began with an excellent quad Lutz, followed by a very good combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop, a good triple Axel and another quad toe loop. Four other triples came later, good spins and step sequences. He qualified for the Final as well after being third at the British Grand Prix. He explained, “Yesterday I was not happy with my short program, but I was able to recover and make up for it. My coach told me tomorrow is another day and I was able to skate clean. Of course I’m really happy I am in the Grand Prix Final. It is an event full of top skaters.”

Kevin Aymoz from France surprisingly won the short program and is third overall with 255.69 points in a successful comeback. He had suffered from an ankle injury since a bad fall in early October and had to cancel his participation at the French Grand Prix. But the week before coming to Espoo, he took part as a test in the Warsaw Cup, which he won without any quad, but otherwise excellently. In Espoo, too, he did not try any quad. Skating his short program to two music pieces by British musician Labrinth, he had six excellent elements, a triple Axel, the triple Lutz, the spins and outstanding step sequence. He only made a step between his triple flip (which got a small edge warning) and the triple toe loop in his shaky combination. He commented, “This is my first big competition this season. I got injured six weeks ago, I tore my ankle, I am glad to be here, even if I don't have the technical level to do big quads. This injury makes me realize that I am here to enjoy the moment.”

In the free program mainly to the soundtrack of “Gladiator”, the student of U.S. coach Silvia Fontana had six very good triples and an edge call on the triple flip. His step sequences were outstanding, though a bit wild. Without quads, he dropped to third place even with the highest components of the field of around 9.0. He was totally excited about his bronze medal, “I am really proud. Tonight I was confident, happy, there are many words. I was just in the moment and it was the best for me. Skating last was difficult. It’s a 45-minute wait, and you have to go out on the ice and be ready. I worked with my psychologist to try to eliminate what stressed me, and I just used the tools she gave me and voilà.”

The second Japanese man Tatsuya Tsuboi had boot problems before the competition and had won a bronze medal at Junior Worlds 2022. He finished on fourth position, earning 244.90 points. In his short program, he overturned the quad Salchow which also got a q. His triple Axel was good and in his combination the triple Lutz before the triple toe loop got a small edge warning. His free program was by far the best he has ever performed. He began with a very good quad Salchow, followed by two good triple Axels, the second one with Euler and triple Salchow. Five other triple jumps came later, four of which got mainly GOEs of +2 and the Lutz again with a small warning.

U.S. skater Camden Pulkinen, fifth at Worlds 2022, came fifth with 229.92 points. He moved to New York City to study business fulltime at Columbia University. He said he does not want to compete for Finland although some ancestors are Finnish, he feels as an American. In his short program to “Fly Me to the Moon”, he touched down on the quad toe loop, popped the Axel and almost fell on the first spin. Then he pulled himself together and his four remaining elements were good, including a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. In his Tango free program, he performed a good quad toe loop and six triple jumps, but he singled a Salchow, doubled a Lutz and had problems with a spin.

Nikolaj Majorov from Sweden is sixth with 209.55 points. He skated with back pain, fell on the downgraded Axel and had no quads. In the free he performed four good triples, but stepped out of three others. He has to face a new rival in his home country for the spots at Europeans and Worlds because junior Andreas Nordeback had 20 more points at the Finlandia Trophy. 16-year-old Arlet Levandi was the better of the two Estonian skater and placed seventh with 209.50 points. His coach is his mother Anna Levandi, the former Soviet skater Anna Kondrashova who had won silver at Worlds 1984. Arlet is a big choreography talent and has worked with Benoit Richaud for years, but no big jumper. In Espoo he tried triple Axels for the first time, but missed them and promised, however, he will always try them in the future. The other triple jumps were good, however, and his step sequence in the short outstanding, but he fell on one in the free program.

Keegan Messing (30) from Canada finished eighth, earning 205.02 points in probably his last Grand Prix. He was very nervous because he wanted to show his best a last time, but missed a lot. In his entertaining short program the quad toe loop had no flow after the landing, he stepped out of the triple Axel and landed the triple Lutz of his combination with the triple toe loop very deep. His components were around 8.6, the second highest behind Aymoz and he was fourth. He began his free program with a hard fall on the quad toe loop, but added a good second one 15 second later, though without combination. Four mistakes came later, including a fall on the second triple Axel. Therefore he was last in the free skate and dropped from fourth to eighth position overall.

Valtter Virtanen from Finland is already 35 years old, is a Ph.D. in medicine and works in the emergency room of a hospital. He competes in his 17th year as an international senior, performed in his first Grand Prix ever and is still the only Finnish man with a good international level. His German wife Alina Mayer is his main coach and they have a two-year-old daughter. He has no triple Axel nor any quad, but everything else has a good standard. Therefore he came ninth with 204.02 points which was a new personal best for him, the first time over 200 points. In the short program, his combination of two triple toe loops and his triple Lutz were good, the spins even excellent, but he stumbled on the double Axel. In the free, he landed seven clean triple jumps.

Aleksandr Selevko from Estonia is tenth, earning 199.47 points. He came as an alternate for Kazakh skater Michail Shaidorov. Selevko went down on the quad toe loop and on the triple Axel in the short program, the other five elements were very good. In the free program, five triple jumps were at least good, but he made three other mistakes. The third Japanese skater Lucas Tsuyoshi Honda came 11th with 197.90 points. He missed all three triple Axels in both programs, but had four clean other triples in the free program. Morisi Kvitelashvili from Georgia ended up 12th and last with 196.80 points. He had even been 4th at the World Championships 2002 and has mental problems since he quickly left Russia in the summer and now trains in Italy with Lorenzo Magri. In the short he missed all three jumping elements. He began his free with a very good combination of quad Salchow and triple toe loop, but later made four big mistakes.

Pairs

The pairs competition at the Grand Prix in Finland had a low level. No pair was excellent and everybody made several small or big mistakes. Rebecca Ghilardi & Filippo Ambrosini from Bergamo in Italy won the event with 189.74 points after taking the lead in the short program. They qualified for the Grand Prix Final in spite of a fourth place in France. In Espoo, they opened their entertaining short program to two songs of Freddy Mercury with a clean triple twist, followed by a side by side double Axel, which was landed correctly but far apart from each other. The triple throw Lutz was a bit shaky, but the step sequence excellent. Their components were around 7.7 (in both programs). Wearing a moustache, Ambrosini said, “We enjoyed skating our program. I represent Freddie Mercury and we feel this program, this music.” Ghilardi added, “It is a big opportunity for us to make the Grand Prix Final and we’d like to reach this goal. We just want to skate and be happy about our performance. Today we reached this goal. We’ve worked very hard for it and work is paying off.”

The first element in the free program to Rossini’s opera “The Barber of Seville”, was a triple twist again, this time not totally clean, followed by a combination of two double Axels with her stumbling on the second jump. After a small double Salchow of both partners, the three lifts were excellent, the triple throw loop a bit shaky, the throw Lutz good and the other elements very good. Ghilardi explained, “We were in our performance from the beginning to the end, but it is not easy to include into the competition.” Ambrosini added, “We worked in the last months to feel like one person, one movement, and today we had that feeling,”

Germany’s Alisa Efimova & Ruben Blommaert came as alternates for the Chinese pair of Cheng Peng & Yang Jin. They won the silver medal, earning 170.75 points after being fourth in the short program. Skating to two versions of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”, they performed a very good triple twist, an excellent triple throw loop and beautiful linking steps, but Efimova almost fell on the triple toe loop. In the free program to “Private Investigations” by Dire Straits and to “Sold my Souls” by the German band of “Two Wooden Stones”, they began with a very good triple twist, followed by a clean triple throw flip, but then he fell on the triple Salchow (she stepped out) and she missed the triple toe loop. The three lifts and the triple throw loop were good. Right after performing they had no points for the forward outward death spiral because Efimova was not deep enough near the ice. But after the end of the program the technical panel changed their mind and they got level 1.

Efimova explained, “During the warm up we decided to go for both triple jumps. We are of course a bit sad about the mistakes but overall we are feeling good about this competition. This is our second Grand Prix event and the first one we can skate to the end. For us, this competition showed that it is important to communicate during the competition and to always fight until the end,” After having won silver at the Finlandia Trophy in the same rink in October, Blommaert said, “This arena seems to be a lucky place for us. We were second both times, and we are looking forward to coming back here for Europeans,” The couple had to withdraw from Skate Canada after the Short Program due to a hip bruise after she badly fell. Therefore they had no chance to reach the Final.

Anastasiia Metelkina & Daniil Parkman from Georgia won the bronze medal with 166.56 points. Since they left Russia, they train in Berlin, Germany under the German coaches Alexander Koenig and Knut Schubert. They were very strong in the warm-up. In the short program to Beth Hart’s “I’ll Take Care of You”, their twist was very good, but her triple Salchow was near an under-rotation and she stepped out of the triple throw flip using her second foot very quickly to avoid a fall. Their expression was confident. Parkman said, “Today not everything worked out 100 per cent, but it is a step up from our last Grand Prix. We hope to continue the same way, to go up step by step.”

At the beginning of their free program to “Lamentations” by Quebec musician Marimuz, she doubled the Salchow and seemed to have forgotten the other two jumps, whereas he tripled the Salchow and added two double toe loops. She touched down on the triple toe loop. Their triple twist was very good, the triple throw loop as well. The three lifts were soso, the other elements more or less clean, including the triple throw flip. Parkman admitted, “Unfortunately, we didn’t show our best. We always have the one goal to show the best and to progress. Today we made one big mistake and it cost a lot of points, so we cannot say we are happy.”

The U.S. team of Anastasiia Smirnova & Danylo Siianytsia are of Bloomington, Minnesota, but both were born in the Ukraine. They had been fourth at Junior Worlds 2022 and finished on fourth position in Espoo, earning 165.12 points. In the short program to “Sound of Silence” by Paul Simon and performed by the U.S. metal band Disturbed, they made no serious mistake and were even second. The triple twist was good, but Smirnova touched down on the triple Salchow and her triple throw Salchow was deeply landed. He said, “This is our first Grand Prix on the senior circuit and we are pretty excited, especially about getting our season’s best.” They had to withdraw from Skate America earlier this season because he had heavy groin problems. In the free program to “Je suis malade”, performed by Lara Fabian, her triple Salchow was under-rotated, her triple throw Salchow landed on two feet and she went down on the toe loop, on which he stepped out. Two lifts were good, but the third one was aborted and they had only a double throw loop.

Daria Danilova & Michel Tsiba came fifth with 146.15 points. They are the better of two pairs from the Netherlands. They were ninth at Worlds 2022, which will allow two Dutch pairs to go to Worlds in Japan in 2023. Both pairs have reached the ISU technical minimum score for Worlds. At Europeans, the Netherlands have only one spot and after the Golden Spin in December it will be decided which pair goes there. Danilova & Tsiba mainly train with Dmitri Savin and Fedor Klimov. Five elements in the short program were good, the loop lift even very good, but Tsiba fell on the triple Salchow. In the free program, their triple Salchow and two lifts were good, the triple twist was tight, but Danilova fell on both triple throws, on the loop half a second after she seemed to have landed it. Her second double Axel in the combination was not clean and one lift got no points. Tsiba said, “The technical panel didn’t count one of our lifts, and we still need to figure out why.”

The other Dutch pair of Nika Osipova & Dmitri Epstein were alternates for the Georgians Karina Safina & Luka Berulava who had withdrawn after having big problems at the Grand Prix in France. The Dutch finished sixth with 138.10 points. They train mainly with Dmitri Kaplun and lately also with Olympic Champion Aliona Savchenko who works in the Netherlands. In the short program, their triple twist was o.k., Osipova landed the triple throw flip on two feet and fell on the triple toe loop. The other elements were mainly clean. In their free program, the twist was very good, the three lifts o.k., but Osipova stepped out of the triple throw Lutz and almost fell. She went down on the triple Salchow, had big problems with the toe loop which she doubled, but the triple throw Salchow was good.

Anna Valesi & Manuel Piazza from Italy placed seventh with 129.02 points. They had been invited instead of Lori Ann Matte & Thierry Ferland from Canada. The Italians were fifth at Skate America and have the same coaches as the winners. In their short program, Valesi fell after landing the triple twist, went down again on the triple throw flip and under-rotated the triple Salchow. The spin was a bit shaky, the other three elements relatively clean. In their free program, the triple twist was clean, but Valesi stepped out of the triple throw flip and fell hard on the (under-rotated) double Axel which followed the toe loop which he tripled and she doubled. Her double Salchow also was shaky, but their double throw loop good. The Axel lift near the end was not correctly landed.

Greta Crafoord & her brother John Crafoord from Sweden were invited as alternates for the Australian pair of Anastasia Golubeva & Hektor Giotopoulos Moore who had preferred to skate two Junior Grand Prix and reached the Junior Final. The Crafoords ended up eighth and last with 127.37 points. They are coached by Olympic Champion Aliona Savchenko and are back on the ice only since this September after a break of almost one year, when she broke her kneecap in half. Their technical content was still quite easy. Their twist in both programs was double, but good. Her double Axel in the short program was downgraded, their triple throw loop o.k., the other elements relatively clean. In the free program, she stepped out of the double Axel again and could not perform a correct jump combination after almost falling on the double flip. The double throws were soso, and the lifts relatively correct.

Ice Dance

The ice dance competition in Espoo had a very good level. After Skate Canada, Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier, the 2021 World bronze medalists and fifth at Worlds 2022, also won their second Grand Prix with a big distance to the rest of the field. This time the students of Carol Lane and Yuris Razgulajevs had 219.49 points. All five elements in the Rhythm Dance to the Cha Cha “What Do I Do?” by Lady Bri and to the Rhumba “Rhythm Only, Rumba 25”) by the Dancelife Studio Orchestra were outstanding, GOEs of +4 dominated. Their Choreo Rhythm Sequence, a non-level element, even had three GOEs of +5. Three other elements had a level 4 for both partners, the midline step sequence a level 3. The components were around 9.3, with some 9.75. Poirier commented, “This being the second event of our season we were a little bit excited. And so today's performance took a lot of mental fortitude.” Gilles added, “We know that there's still more of us to give, as the season goes on, but we're really happy with the development of the program. We're proud of the moment we have right now.”

In their fluid and very expressive free dance to the soundtrack of “Evita”, in which they play the Argentinian politician Evita Peron and the revolutionist Che Guevara, all ten elements were stellar and had mainly GOEs of +4, six of them had even some of +5, the choreo step sequence even had a +5 from six different judges. Five of the seven level elements had a level 4 and the two step sequences a level 3. The components had an average of 9.5, and for the first time in this season in all four categories, one of them was a 10.0. It was the French judge Sandrine Peizerat, the sister of the 2002 Olympic Champion Gwendal Peizerat, who gave this highest number of possible points for composition. Well done! Poirier indirectly regretted that they did not skate to this music in the Olympic season, which was not so successful, because they had had planned this music for many years, but never realized it. Gilles explained, “Going into our program today, we were a little bit tired. We're learning that it's O.K. to perform under any circumstances. Something we've learned over the past couple of years is trusting our training, and don't skate any more than we have that day. But we're really proud of our performance. We definitely felt that it was a step up from Skate Canada.”

U.S. dancers Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker, who train in the Ice Academy of Montreal, won the silver medal with 202.46 points and also reached the final after winning silver at Skate America five weeks before. Their Pattern Dance Type Step Sequence had only a level 2 and the Midline Step Sequence a level 2 for her and 3 for him, the other two level elements a level 4. Dancing to the Sambas “Cuban Pete” and “El Cumbanchero” and the Rhumba “Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps”, all by Desi Arnaz and his orchestra, their entertaining Rhythm Dance was impressive as a whole and for the first time they had more than 80 points. Their components were around 8.8. Hawayek said, “As we've continued to develop in the sport, something that has come with our years of experience is an understanding of how to ground ourselves in the present moment. Today we really tried to not only lay down a solid performance, but also to find special moments within the performance for one another.”

In their free dance they used more serious or even sad music pieces of “Requiem” and to “Sofia” by the Norwegian composer Askjell Solstrand. All elements were excellent again. The levels were mixed, but GOEs of +3 dominated and each element had some +4, the Choreo steps even one +5. Their components were around 9.0. Hawayek said, “For us, it was a very good performance. There's moments when you skate where things feel effortless and things feel almost like you're in a trance, in a magical moment, and then there's other days where it feels like constant micro refocuses and work. It was one of those programs where we felt really proud of just being able to stand out there, execute and continue to show the improvement that we've made this season.” They did not take part at the exhibition gala because Hawayek had a small bursitis in her knee and did not want risk a bigger injury.

To the delight of the spectators, the Finnish couple of Juulia Turkkila & Matthias Versluis, 15th at the Olympic Games of 2022, won their first Grand Prix medal and the first ice dance Grand Prix medal for Finland because at the time when Susanna Rahkamo & Petri Kokko competed, a Grand Prix did not exist. Turkkia & Versluis won bronze with 191.79 points after being only seventh at the Grand Prix de France after a Rhythm Dance with a fall. In Espoo, the students of Maurizio Margaglio had been fourth in a strong Rhythm Dance, being 1.14 points behind the third position with mixed levels. Dancing to three Sambas and one Rhumba, they skated seemingly effortless and had program components of 8.2. In their speedy free dance to three romantic piano music pieces of Franz Schubert, everything looked easy again and they had four more points than the couple on third position, especially thanks to a higher speed, and they moved up to third place. Their components had an average of 8.5. Versluis commented, “It felt like a long day today and we felt a bit tired, but the home crowd gave us a lot of energy to skate through the free program, and we felt very ‘in the moment’ and tried to enjoy every second of the skate.” Turkkila added, “It gives us a lot of confidence. We know what we are capable of and we want to achieve more. This I just the beginning.”

U.S. dancers Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko finished on fourth position with 188.80 points. They mainly train with Canadian Olympic Champion Scott Moir in London, Ontario, who is head of the Ontario branch of the Ice Academy of Montreal, but also with Madison Hubbell and Adrian Diaz who work in London as well. For their Rhythm Dance they used two Sambas and one Rhumba. They had good levels, mainly GOEs of +3 and some +2 and components of 8.2. Ponomarenko explained, “We're really happy with the performances. We want to come in and capitalize on the events. We skated in Sheffield just a few weeks ago, and made the little improvements that we wanted to make in between.” In their free dance, however, to the soundtrack of “Backbone” and to Gershwin’s “Summertime”, they dropped to fourth place although they dd not make a big mistake. But their GOEs were a bit lower and one lift was too long. 

Natalie Taschlerova & Filip Taschler from the Czech Republic came fifth with 186.39 points. Their special strength is the high speed in which they always skate their programs. In Espoo the students of Matteo Zanni in Italy made no mistakes. In the Rhythm Dance to a Samba by Columbian singer Shakira and to a Rhumba by Spanish pop singer Enrique Iglesias, their levels were good and the GOEs mainly +2. In their free dance, they tried to skate to music which shows in favor of the protection of Nature, earning mainly GOEs of +2 and components of around 8.2.

Carolane Soucisse & Shane Firus from Canada came sixth with 175.63 points. Since this summer they do not train any more in Montreal, but have switched to the school of Carol Lane in Scarborough near Toronto. In their faultless Rhythm Dance to Samba and Rhumba, GOEs of +2 dominated and their components had an average of 7.8. In the free dance to “Aloha Ke” by the international music group “Nahko Bear and Medicine for the People”, their levels were mixed and the components around 7.8.

The second Finnish couple of Yuka Orihara & Juho Pirinen gave a very good impression, skated with a lot of charisma, and is seventh, earning 173.17 points. They were a bit under-marked because they are Finland’s number two. After competing at the NHK Trophy the week before, they could not fly from Japan right to Finland, but had to stay in Sapporo because of a strike of the airline company Finnair. They were happy to get an extra training in Japan. Their lift and twizzles in the Rhythm Dance had a level 4, the other two level elements a level 2. Their GOEs were mainly +2 and +3. In the entertaining free program to “My Jolly Sailor” and to “We’re Sinking” from the soundtrack of “Pirates of the Caribbean”, their levels were a bit lower, but the students of Italian Maurizio Margaglio could convince the spectators and skated the sixth best free dance after being eighth in the Rhythm Dance.

The U.S. team of Oona Brown and Gage Brown of Huntington, New York, Junior World Champions in April 2022, finished on eighth place with 166.70 points. In the Rhythm Dance to the Cha Cha “Bones”, his twizzles were a bit shaky and he only got a level 2 for them, his sister, however, a level 4. Their other elements were good. In the free dance, their circular step sequence got only a level 1. Everything else was good, but in their first senior season, they still skated a bit like juniors. Therefore their components were only around 7.4.

Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu from China, who train in Montreal, also could not fly from Japan to Finland right after the NHK Trophy because of the Finnair strike. They came ninth, earning 165.20 points, which was a bit disappointing for them. But it had not been possible for them to come back from China to Montreal a long time before. While in China, the Montreal coaches had worked online with them, but sometimes there were technical problems. In the free dance, Liu fell one second after the end of a lift and he had had heavy back pain. Natasha Lagouge and Arnaud Caffa from France, who train in Finland with Maurizio Margaglio and French coach Neil Brown,  ended up tenth with 151.63 points in their very first Grand Prix. They did not skate badly at all, on the contrary, most of their elements had mainly GOEs of +1.

Interview with Ilia Malinin

Interview with Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, 2022 World Pairs Champions

2022 NHK Trophy

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany

(21 November 2022) NHK Trophy is named after the Japanese TV channel which has sponsored the Japanese skating Grand Prix for many years. This year, like in 2011, 2016 and 2019 and several times before, it took place in Sapporo, a city of almost two million people in Northern Japan. The ice rink is named Makumanai Sekisui Heim Ice Arena Sapporo and was the rink of the Olympic Winter Games of 1972, and has around 10,000 seats.

Women

The women’s competition at the NHK Trophy 2022 in Sapporo had a good level. 19-year-old Yelim Kim from South Korea, who had been ninth at the Olympic Games nine months ago, won in her fifth Grand Prix her first gold medal, this time with 204.49 points. At the Grand Prix de France she had been second, therefore she qualified for the Grand Prix Final. In Sapporo, she beat the reigning Japanese World Champion Kaori Sakamoto. The skater from Seoul had already taken the lead in the short program, performing a clean program to the music “Mercy” by Max Richter with seven very good elements, among them a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, a triple flip and three level 4 spins. GOEs of +3 dominated for all elements and her components had an average of 8.3. She commented, “I am so happy for a clean program today. In France I lost some points in the spin and step sequences and I’ve trained not to lose levels. Maybe I worked on my mental focus just to do what I train.”

Her first element in the free program to the soundtrack of “Summer of 42” and to “Summer Arabesque” by Karl Hugo was her short program combination, again in very good quality. Three good other triples came later, plus a triple flip with a touch down which got a q and she went down on the second triple flip. Two good double Axels, very good spins and step combinations completed her program. Her components were around 8.3. This was only the second best free program, but it was enough to keep her first place. She said, “I can’t believe I just won an ISU Grand Prix event. I think I’m going to cry. I tried to imagine my last training skating; not to think about anything special. The second flip was planned in a sequence with the double Axel and so I did the double Axel with the triple Salchow like I do in practice.”

World Champion Kaori Sakamoto from Japan had won Skate America and therefore is also qualified for the Grand Prix Final although she won only silver in Sapporo with 201.87 points. In her short program, she was four points behind Kim. Skating to “Rock With You”  and to “Feedback”, both by Janet Jackson, she began with a lot of speed and performed an outstanding double Axel, followed by a triple Lutz for which she had to fight to land it cleanly and it got a small edge warning. Therefore the GOEs for this jumps were mostly -1. Her spins were excellent and her step sequence fast and outstanding. On her jump combination the triple flip got a q and the triple toe loop was under-rotated and not cleanly landed. This element had mainly GOEs of -5 although she did not fall. She explained, “Today’s performance was not something that I expected, All my jumps were unsatisfactory. Of course, this is one of the major events in Japan and this makes me nervous. In Japan there are still restrictions in place – you cannot cheer loudly. Nationals is the one I am really nervous at and the NHK Trophy is almost the same.”

Sakamoto was first in the free program with a distance of 1.53 points to Kim, but this was not enough to win gold overall. After a stellar double Axel with a lot of speed on the landing, which had three GOEs of +5, her triple Lutz got a small edge warning again. Three more triple jumps were excellent, one of them in the combination of double Axel, triple toe loop and double toe loop. But both jumps of her triple flip, triple toe loop combination were shaky and got a q for a small under-rotation. All this would have been enough to win, but at the end she made a big mistake and singled the triple loop which cost her seven or eight points and kept her on second place. She said, “I feel that I'm still far away from last year’s condition. I popped the very last jump but overall I did everything I could at this moment this season. I had to overcome a cold after Skate America. Inside myself there were an angel and a devil fighting each other. I want to overcome the devil. It tells me, ‘You gave your best last year, this season you can relax.’”

The second Japanese skater Rion Sumiyoshi won the bronze medal with 193.12 points after being third at the Grand Prix in France. Therefore she has to wait and see the result of the last Grand Prix in Finland before she knows if she has qualified for the Final. She began her romantic short program to “White Flowers Take Their Bath” with a good double Axel, followed by a combination of triple flip and triple toe loop, the second of which got a q. Her triple Lutz was good, her spins and step sequence excellent and she skated with deep edges, soft knees and beautiful transitions. She explained, “In the short program in France I nailed the first two jumps, but then my focus was lost and I made mistakes on the spins and the third jump. This time I made sure to stay focused, I did my jumps and spins. This was my major improvement.”

In her free program to “Enchantress” by the U.S. music company “Two Steps from Hell”, she was the only woman to try a quad (toe loop), but she landed it forward. Therefore it was downgraded and she fell. Five very good triples followed, but she made a three-turn on her sixth triple, which was a flip and went down again on a downgraded triple Salchow. Spins and steps were very good and her components around 7.9. She said, “Considering that this is my first senior Grand Prix and I got third place in both competitions, I am happy. However, regarding my performance today, there were so many regrettable points.”

U.S. skater Audrey Shin of Colorado Springs had been fourth at Junior Worlds in April. In Sapporo, she finished on fourth place again, earning 189.00 points. She began her short program to the tango “Maria de Buenos Aires” with a combination of two triple toe loops, but the second one got a q and therefore had mainly GOEs of -1. Her double Axel and her triple loop were very good, her spins and steps excellent and her components around 7.8. The student of Tammy Gambill commented, “I am so excited to have this opportunity to skate in front of the crowd. It was a dream of mine since I was little. I knew my jumps weren’t very best today, so I am okay with the scores.” In her free program to three music pieces of U.S. singer Michael W. Smith, she performed four clean triple jumps, but two others were under-rotated and she popped the flip. She explained, “I am very relieved because I felt some pressure yesterday to keep that top 4 position and I am very happy I did that. I am glad I could get the mistake at the beginning out of my mind and went through it. The combination with two triple toe loops in the second half was a last minute decision. I thought I was going to try.”

Rinka Watanabe from Japan, who had won Skate Canada three weeks ago,  landed on fifth position with 188.07 points. She had trained in Vancouver for years, but went back to Japan when the pandemic began in 2020. In the short program she was only ninth after falling on a shaky and under-rotated triple Axel and after popping the triple loop. With the third best free program, she could move up four spots. She landed the triple Axel with a three-turn and four more good triple jumps, but landed a triple flip on two feet and singled a Lutz. Seyeon Ji from South Korea trains in Colorado Springs and came sixth with 184.14 points. Her short program was almost flawless with a good combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. She performed seven clean triples in her free program, but her spins were not very impressive and her components were lower in both programs.

Niina Petrokina from Estonia is ranked seventh with 180.29 points. In the short program, the triple flip was clean, but she went down on the downgraded triple toe loop after the triple Lutz. Four triple jumps in her free program were good, but she touched down on a triple Salchow and the second triple Lutz was a bit under-rotated. Later she explained, “I am so tired now, but happy I made it through my program well. The public was amazing and helped me a lot.” The third South Korean skater Seoyeong Wi came eighth, earning 176.74 points. Her double Axel and her triple loop in the short were very good, but both jumps in her combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop got a q. In the free program, she fell on the triple loop and four other jumps were not rotated correctly.

Californian skater Starr Andrews, who had won the silver medal at Skate Canada,  landed on ninth place with 174.06 points. She was fifth in the clean short program with a combination of two triple toe loops and very good spins and steps. But she dropped four spots after being only 12th in the free program. She performed only two clean triple jumps, fell on the triple loop, popped a flip and under-rotated four other jumps. Olga Mikutina from Austria finished on tenth position with 173.36 points. In her short program, two jumps got a q and she went down on the under-rotated triple Lutz half a second after thinking she has landed it correctly. In her free program, three triples were good, but the loop was shaky, the Lutz under-rotated and she doubled two jumps which were planned triple. She said, “The full stadium and all the clapping makes me feel like I am at Worlds.”

Amber Glenn of Colorado Springs is 11th with 169.36 points after being third at Skate America. In the short program, she stepped out of the triple flip and fell on the triple loop. Her double Axel was very good. In the free program, the eighth best of the competition, her triple Axel was landed on two feet, four other triples were good, but three more jumps not correctly landed. Eva-Lotta Kiibus from Estonia ended up on 12th place with 162.37 points. She popped the Lutz in the short program and performed only a shaky combination of triple toe loop and double toe loop. In the free program, three triples were good, but three others under-rotated.

Ice Dance

The ice dance competition of the NHK Trophy had a very good level and ended with a surprise at the top. The favorites Madison Chock & Evan Bates, fourth at the Olympic Games and third at Worlds 2022, did not win, but were second. Instead, the Canadian team of Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Soerensen, who had been ninth at these two events and had competed for his native Denmark until 2018, won the gold medal in a tight decision with 210.41 points. This is their first gold medal in their eleventh Grand Prix after winning silver in France two weeks before.

Dancing to three songs by Gloria Estefan, the students of the Ice Academy of Montreal took the lead in the Rhythm Dance with .66 points because they had the higher levels. The stationary lift, the twizzles and the pattern dance type step sequence had a level 4, the Midline Step Sequence a level 3. All five elements were excellent, GOEs of +3 and +4 dominated and their components were around 9.1. Soerensen commented, “I was surprised. I walked out and saw our name on top and I couldn’t really believe it. But we've set really high goals for this year and worked really hard to realize those goals. We came out after the Olympics to recalibrate the way we train, the way we think, really do everything for the purpose. So we're just really happy that we were able to go out there and then it bears fruit with the first place here today.”

In their emotional and passionate free dance with eight different music pieces, which may be called “Mexican Flamenco”, the Canadians kept the lead with a difference of only .62 points and also won the free dance although their combination lift was longer than 12 seconds and one point was deducted. Once again all elements were outstanding, the choreographic steps near the end even had three GOEs of +5 and the components had an average of 9.3. Fournier Beaudry said, “It is a dream come true and something we have worked for for a very long time.” Soerensen added, “There are a lot of emotions and a lot of thoughts. We were just extremely proud of being able to deliver these two performances that brought us to the top of the podium today. Thinking back, it’s been a long journey and I wish that I just could tell everybody that starts somewhere that you can make it anywhere you want to go if you commit properly.”

Madison Chock & Evan Bates, training mates of the gold medalists in Montreal, won silver with 209.13 points. Dancing and entertaining to two Sambas and a Rhumba of “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie, they had two elements with level 4 and the pattern dance type step sequence with a level 3, like the Canadians, but she had only level 1 on the midline step sequence and he had level 3. GOEs of +3 and +4 dominated on all five elements and the components were around 9.2. Chock admitted, “A level one on my midline step, two small errors, but obvious nonetheless and that's costly in any competition. We’ll just be looking to clean that up and continue pushing our performance because we had a great time out there and the audience was fantastic.” Bates added, “We are really happy with this David Bowie Remix. We actually changed it a bit from Skate America, so this current version that we just skate is really up tempo, I felt like the audience was clapping almost immediately through the whole program. It’s true we had a little late start into the season, we had some great touring which was a good way to round up the Olympic season. Jumping back into training was a little quick, but we love competing.”

In their free dance to “Souffrance” by the French band Orange Blossom and to “Les Tectoniques” by Quebec singer Jorane, most elements were excellent, the twizzles good and she had only a level 3 for this element. Their components had an average of 9.2. Chock explained the concept, “We've made some big renovations on both programs and we are very pleased with how we were able to perform this week. We’ve done some evolving of our concept and our character since Skate America. It's about the relationship of the spirit of fire and spirit of air and how one cannot survive without each other. They have the ability to rebuild, devour and produce life to each other and things around them. We wanted to express that relationship. It's something we have connected with and are excited to keep exploring.” Bates added, “Our goal remains the same, We want to win Worlds this year. It’s never a linear line to the top. This season is just a new territory for everyone. Competition will be tough and we just have to be the best.” Both top dance teams are qualified for the Final.

Caroline Green and Michael Parsons from the new dance school in Canton, Michigan, won the bronze medal with 191.10 points after being fourth at Skate Canada. In their Rhythm Dance in Sapporo to two Sambas and one Rhumba, all elements were at least good, the twizzles even excellent, the levels were mixed and their components around 8.4. Parson said. “We're very proud of how we skated, This season for us has been about our constant improvement and the last two weeks we've been really happy with how we’ve trained after Skate Canada and it's cumulated into this Rhythm Dance today.” In their free dance to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, GOEs of +3 dominated for all ten elements. Five of them had a level 4, but the two step sequences 1 and 2. The components were around 8.5. They were fourth in the free dance, but remained in third position overall. “Caroline and I are very happy with how we skated here,” Parsons explained. “Of course we know we can be a lot better in terms of execution and our general score so we have a lot to work on, but that's been the theme of our season.”

Allison Reed & Saulius Ambrulevicius from Lithuania, who train in Montreal, finished on fourth position, earning 189.98 points. Japan is special for her because her mother is Japanese and her sister coaches in Japan. In the Rhythm Dance to Mambo, Rhumba and Samba by the Swiss music duo Yello, they had good levels, GOEs of mainly +2 and +3 and components of around 8.3. They had the third best free dance, but remained on fourth position. In this free dance to a Techno medley, all elements were very good, the GOEs had mainly +3 and the components were around 8.4.

Evgeniia Lopareva & Geoffrey Brissaud from France placed fifth with 184.63 points after being third in France. Four elements in the Rhythm Dance to a Rhumba and a Samba were very good, the twizzles good. In their free dance to two songs of French singer Edith Piaf, the levels were relatively high, all elements were very good and the components around 8.2. Brissaud said, “We take from this competition how to skate under different conditions, with the time difference, but it’s a good experience. We also aren’t used to skate last in the group. It was not perfect today, but we fought.”

Kana Muramoto & Daisuke Takahashi were the better of the two Japanese couples, coming sixth with 178.78 points. Takahashi is 36 years old and the single skating World Champion of 2010. He finished his career in 2014 and came back as an ice dancer in 2018. He skates much more flexible now than one or two years ago. Dancing to Salsa, Rhumba and Samba in the Rhythm Dance, the students of Marina Zueva performed five good elements and had components of 8.0. In their free dance to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera”, his twizzles were a bit shaky, all other elements good. Takahashi said, “Competition is the best practice, as our coach told us. You learn when to be aggressive and when to save energy, so the previous competition helped.”

Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu from China, who had been 12th at the Olympic Games in their home country, train in Montreal when they are allowed to leave China, otherwise often online with their Montreal coaches. They are seventh with 174.11 points. They danced to a Cha Cha and two Sambas in the Rhythm Dance. Twizzles and lift were excellent, the other elements good. In the free dance, their twizzles were not ideal, but all other elements at least good. Their components had an average of 7.7. Yuka Orihara & Juho Pirinen from Finland finished on eighth place with 168.45 points. In the Rhythm Dance, their twizzles were a bit shaky, the other elements good. In their free dance to “My Jolly Sailor Bold”, Yuka is a siren who tries to seduce him, then kills him. All elements had positive GOEs. After their free dance, they were overwhelmed because they received the very first standing ovation in their life because Orihara is Japanese.

Misato Komatsubara & her husband Tim Koleto from Japan are ninth with 164.30 points. They mainly train in Montreal. Their elements in both programs were good, but two lifts in the free program were a bit too long and got a deduction. They were a bit slower than last year. Their music in the free dance is from the soundtrack of “The Fifth Element”. He said, “It’s always special to skate in Japan. It’s great to have our two Grand Prix in Canada and Japan as we feel at home in both countries. In Japan everyone is wearing masks and not screaming, but they were clapping very loud and that gave us confidence.” The U.S. team Katarina Wolfkostin & Jeffrey Chen from the new dance school in Canton, Michigan ended up tenth and last with 148.10 points. In their free program they used music from the British band “Florence and the Machine”. In the Rhythm Dance, they had only level 1 in both step sequences, but performed well. In the free dance, she used her second foot in the second part of the twizzle sequence and he fell on the last rotational lift when he skated on one foot – the only serious mistakes in the whole ice dance competition.

Pairs

The pairs competition had a higher level than the early Grand Prix because not only one or top two teams were good or excellent. Most other teams skated better than at their first Grand Prix or earlier in the season. Therefore in Sapporo the general level was relatively good. There were only six pairs competing because two others withdrew and could not be replaced any more because of the lack of pairs worldwide. Russian pairs are still excluded, Chinese pairs are not allowed to come due to Covid 19 and six good North American pairs had finished their career after the end of last season.

To the delight of the big majority of the spectators, all of whom had to wear face masks, Riku Miura (20) & Ryuichi Kihara (30) from Japan celebrated a run-away victory with 216.16 points and got standing ovations after each of their two strong performances. They had been seventh of the Olympic Games nine months ago, second at Worlds 2022 and won Skate Canada 2022 in late October. The pair trains in Oakville, Ontario, situated one hour southwest of Toronto, mainly with renowned Canadian coach Bruno Marcotte. He had already suggested them to compete together while holding a pair skating seminar for the Japanese federation in springtime 2019. In early summer 2022 Miura dislocated her shoulder and they could not fully train for two and a half months. But this injury did not affect her any more, on the contrary, she looked more confident then ever.

Their short program music pieces are “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by several arrangers and to “Sweet Hope Walk” by Canadian music arranger Karl Hugo. They opened their program with an elegant triple twist, though only level 2. The side by side triple toe loop was excellent, the triple throw Lutz as well and exactly to the beat of the music. Like all other level elements it had level 4. The difficult backwards Axel lift was outstanding. Their components had an average of 8.7 and they had a new personal best of 78.25 points in the short. During their step sequence you could see and feel joy on their faces. Kihara said, “Since Skate Canada we worked with our coach to make sure we get our levels, and we are happy we got to do that. After Skate Canada we were able to do really good training and had absolutely no worries coming here and this naturally came out in our performance today.”

They opened their free program to “Atlas: Two” by the U.S. project “Sleeping At Last” and to “Shared Tenderness” by Karl Hugo with a good triple twist, followed by a combination of triple toe loop and two double toe loops. It was correctly executed, but a bit out of sync. The three lifts were outstanding, her triple Salchow under-rotated, the triple throw loop and all other elements excellent. She only touched down on the triple throw Lutz, She laughed and shook her hands, knowing the program was still good enough for gold. Their components were around 8.7 because of the unique connection between them, which was underlined especially because of their extroverted character.

Miura explained, “More than skating perfectly we want to show our personalities and smile. We were able to completely finish the performance within the allocated time and felt good about that. After the throws jumps, we made a mistake in the choreographic lift for the first time and my reaction was like ‘oh, oh, I made a mistake’. We actually made many small mistakes – despite that, we got a personal best in the total score and we are very happy about that.” Kihara added, ”We had won a spot at the Grand Prix Final last year. But because of the Omicron variation of Covid-19 it was cancelled, and we were very disappointed. We are very happy to go now and we found a lot of things that we will look to improve on. I think one thing I will mention is that we are very similar as skaters. We don’t force ourselves too much. We both like speed on the ice. On a personal level we are very balanced and we compliment each other well.”

Emily Chan & Spencer Akiro Howe of Norwood near Boston won the silver medal with a personal best of 187.49 points after being also second at Skate Canada. With the results of the NHK Trophy being fixed, they know they are also qualified for this year’s Final in Turin in early December. Howe likes especially skating in Japan as his mother is Japanese, “It’s cool to be able to come here and feel a little bit more connected in that sense. I’m able to embrace that culture when I’m here.” In their short program to “Nyah” by CH2 and Hans Zimmer, their triple twist was nice. Chan landed the triple throw loop on two feet and went down on the triple toe loop. The four other elements, all with level 4, were very good and their components around 7.5. Chan admitted, “We had some technical errors in the jumping, but besides that, we got out there and had great energy and enjoyed performing in front of the Japanese crowd.”

They began their free program to two versions of “Unchained Melody”, one from the musical “Ghost”, exceptionally not with the triple twist, like all other pairs did, but with a good jump combination of double Salchow and two double Axels, followed by a toe loop which she doubled and he tripled. The triple twist was a bit wobbly and she landed the triple throw loop on two feet. Two lifts, the other triple throw and the other elements were impressive, the third lift good and their three components around 7.7. Chan explained, “We were coming into the Free Skate with the goal of giving all our love and going for everything. We are very happy to have a new personal best. We are very grateful that we can go to the Grand Prix Final in our first year on the Grand Prix circuit. We hope to take the short time to improve our technical (elements) and fix the small technical errors so that we can increase our score.”

Brooke McIntosh & Benjamin Mimar of Toronto took bronze with 175.65 points. The Canadian students of Dmitri Savin had also won a bronze medal at Junior Worlds six months ago and were fourth at Skate Canada three weeks ago. In the short program to “Release” by U.S. musician Jennifer Thomas, their twist and their triple toe loop were good, the landing of the triple throw loop a bit rough and the reverse lasso lift good. Thhe other three elements were lean and the components around 6.7. McIntosh commented, “It was lot of fun skating in front of the Japanese crowd. Even with the small mistake we were able to get a personal best and we are excited for that.” In their free program to the musical “Les Miserables” by Claude-Michel Schoenberg, most elements were good, the three lifts even very good, she only fell hard on the triple throw loop. Mimar explained, “We are very happy about our first Grand Prix medal, and I am proud of my partner. Even with the fall she fought to the end.” McIntosh confirmed that she was checked by the doctor and was okay.

Irma Caldara & Riccardo Maglio from Torino in Italy finished on fourth position earning 164.23 points. In the short program, they skated to “Brotsjur” (breaker) by Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds and to “Iron” by French composer Woodkid. Their twist was good, most other elements OK, but the triple throw loop deeply landed. For the free program they used the music “Don’t Be So Serious” by the Californian Band Low Roar and to “BB’s Theme” by British singer Jenni Plant. They made no big mistakes, but several small ones, like being far apart on the double Axel and shaky landing on the two throws.

Camille & Pavel Kovalev from France came fifth with 162.01 points. They were still solid, but did not skate as clean as in Angers where they had won a silver medal. In the short program in Sapporo, she stepped out of the triple throw Salchow and the other elements had less plus points than in France. In the free program, most elements were good again, but her second toe loop in the jump combination was only single and she touched down on the triple throw flip. She said it was difficult for them especially with the jetlag. They had never performed so early in the morning. The Grand Prix Final was in their mind. They were sad after the short program, but less after the free.

Daria Danilova & Michel Tsiba from the Netherlands had been surprising ninth at Worlds 2022. They were invited to Skate America, but Danilova, who is a Russian citizen, did not get a visa for the USA. For Japan, a visa for her was no problem, therefore they came to Sapporo as alternates for the Australian pair of Maria Chernyshova & Harley Windsor who had finished their career in springtime, but announced it much later. The Dutch pair ended up on sixth position with 155.84 points in the first Grand Prix of their career. In their short program to “The Hunger Games”, their twist was a bit shaky, Tsiba fell on the triple Salchow and Danilova touched down on the triple throw flip. The other elements were o.k. In their free program, they made four mistakes, including a fall on the triple throw flip. Two pairs were missing and could not be replaced, The Czech team of Jelizaveta Zukova & Martin Bidar withdrew because Zukova’s mother had died one week before and she had to go home. The German pair of Annika Hocke & Robert Kunkel cancelled their participation because Hocke had been tested positive with Covid 19 some days before.

Men

The level of the men’s competition at the NHK Trophy 2022 in Sapporo was better than at the first two or three Grand Prix, but there were still many mistakes. Reigning world champion Shoma Uno from Japan won his home Grand Prix easily with 279.76 points. The Olympic Bronze medalist opened his short program to the music “Gravity” by U.S. singer John Mayer with an excellent quad flip, but went down on the quad toe loop which was a bit over-rotated. Therefore he had no combination and was second in the short program, five points behind the winner. His triple Axel was very good, his three level 4 spins and his step sequence outstanding and his components had an average of 8.9. He explained, “There was one mistake. Compared to my short program at Skate Canada I did a good job. I am very aware that this competition has some weight and I hope to make it to the Grand Prix Final. I believe each time I skate I identify what the challenges are and I hope to have a finished product at the end of the season.”

In the free program to Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air on a G string” and other Christian music pieces, the student of Swiss coach Stéphane Lambiel fought back and began with a very good quad loop which is still rare in the world. His quad Salchow was impressive as well. Skating in an elegant but not very fast style, the 24-year-old skater then popped the quad flip and executed it only double. He recovered quickly and performed an excellent sequence of triple Axel and double Axel, a good quad toe loop and a second quad toe loop with double toe loop which was a bit shaky. The second triple Axel was good, the spins excellent and the two step sequences outstanding. His components were around 9.0. He commented, “The Free Skating was not that great. Of course, I had to get the points with my jumps. When it comes to the transitions, there were a lot of omissions. I have to apologize to the choreographer because there were so many things I could have done, but I couldn't today. I will keep training in Japan but will go to Switzerland a few days before the Final to adjust my jetlag and my condition. In Switzerland Stéphane is there to stop me from training too much. In Champéry I do more off ice training than in Japan, for example ballet and physical training. Yesterday after the training we went out to eat something and he told me that I shouldn't try too hard to make a perfect performance. I knew that in my heart, but to hear that from a third person made me happy.”

Uno’s teammate Sota Yamamoto had taken the lead with the only clean short program to three music versions of “Yesterday”. All his seven elements were excellent, including the combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop and the quad Salchow. His components were around 8.2. He said, “This season I have been quite consistent in my short program and today I was able to land all my jumps, so I’m happy to do that. I do not have a great record at the Grand Prix so far. Making the Grand Prix Final is a goal, but don’t want to think too much about it and just focus on what I need to do.”

But in the free program, he was not that consistent, had only the sixth best program and dropped to second place with 257.85 overall points. The quad Salchow at the beginning was very good, the two quad toe loops (the second one with a triple toe loop) good. But then he fell on the first triple Axel and once more on the second triple Axel. In his next combination, the triple toe loop after the triple flip was shaky. This toe loop did not get any points anyway because he had already repeated two other jumps and it is not allowed to repeat more than two. Another combination triple Lutz (with small edge warning), Euler and triple Salchow did not get many plus points. His spins were excellent, his step sequences good and his components around 8.2. He commented, “I was last to skate, and I had practiced that.” He reached the Grand Prix Final as well and commented, “I had the pleasure to go to the Junior Grand Prix Final together with Shoma. After that I didn’t have too great results on the senior Grand Prix. I am very happy to go to the Final this year together with Shoma.”

Junhwan Cha from South Korea won the bronze medal with 254.76 points. In the last two and a half years, he had trained in South Korea and with Brian Orser in Toronto only online. In his short program to a Michael Jackson medley, he fell on an under-rotated quad Salchow and stepped out of the triple loop which was part of his combination after the triple Lutz. The five other elements were good. With the second best free program to music of a James Bond medley, he moved up from sixth to third place. Two very good quads (Salchow and toe loop) were the first elements in his free program, four triple followed, but an under-rotated first triple Axel and a second one with a rough landing had negative GOEs. His components were around 8.4. He said, “After the very disappointing Short Program I was quite satisfied with my performance today,. It was hard, I had to work a lot today and I fought through my program.”

Kazuki Tomono from Japan, who had been third at the Grand Prix de France and sixth at Worlds, finished on fourth position with 251.83 points. In his entertaining short program to “Happy Jazz” in two versions, his combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop had a turn between the two jumps. He went down on the under-rotated quad Salchow. His step sequence was excellent. He admitted, “Since the six minutes warm up my body felt wobbly, and I was worried whether it would work out. I need to calm down next time. Concerning the salchow, already during the warm-up I didn't feel physically stable.” He began his free program to “Die Fledermaus” (the Bat) by Johann Strauss with a very good combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop, but popped the Salchow which was also planned quadruple. Then he went down on the second quad toe loop, but added five impressive triple jumps including two Axels. His two step sequences were outstanding because he moved exactly to the beat of the music, like an ice dancer. His components were around 8.4.

Adam Siao Him Fa from France is fifth, earning 250.45 points. In the short program to “Rain, In Your Black Eyes” by Italian composer Ezio Bosso, his combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop was very good, but he touched down on the triple Axel and stepped out of the quad Salchow. His step sequence was very powerful, had showy moves. He explained, “My choreographer Benoit Richaud asked me while creating the program what tricks I can do in the step sequence. I tested some new things and he liked them.” In the free program to music pieces mainly by Woodkid, he dropped from third to fifth place because he stepped out of the quad toe loop and later doubled three jumps which were planned triple. Two more quads were good, spins and steps excellent.

Matteo Rizzo from Italy came sixth, earning 240.76 points. In his short program, his quad toe loop was downgraded, he almost fell and had not yet a combination. Therefore he left out the quad loop, went safe and performed a clean combination of triple flip and triple toe loop instead. The triple Axel was good, the other elements very good. In the free, his quad toe loop was quite bad again. Therefore he concentrated on his eight triples, seven of which were good. He said, “Competing in Japan is always hard for us and brings a big jetlag, I really take from this competition that I need to adjust a bit better and earlier the next time.”

Nika Egadze from Georgia placed seventh with 232.86 points. His combination of quad Salchow and triple toe loop was good, his quad toe loop as well, but he made a three-turn on the way out of the triple Axel. In the free program, two quads were good, but he fell on the second quad toe loop and made three smaller mistakes later. He did not skate with much connection to the music and dropped from fifth to seventh position. 17-year-old Stephen Gogolev from Canada finished eighth with 221.02 points. In the short program, the student of Rafael Arutunian touched down on the quad toe loop before performing a double toe loop as second part of his combination. He doubled the Salchow which was planned quadruple. The other five elements were good. His first element in the free program was a good quad toe loop, but then he popped the Salchow. Later he repeated a good quad Salchow with a double toe loop. Two good triple Axels were clean, two other triples good as well, but he touched down on the triple loop. His rotation speed is very high.

Gabriele Frangipani from Italy finished ninth with 212.31 points. He went down on the short program quad toe loop and simplified his combination to double Lutz and triple toe loop. His other elements were mainly o.k. In the free program, his opening toe loop was only triple and he almost fell, then he stepped out of the quad Salchow. Later six triples were good, including two Axels. He said, “I fought until the end. That’s a big improvement for me as I used to give up easily last season.”

Conrad Orzel from Canada is tenth with 202.69 points. He was invited as an alternate for the Chinese skater Boyang Jin who had trained in Toronto, but was injured. In the short, Orzel’s combination of quad toe loop and double toe loop was good. But he stepped out and touched down on the quad Salchow. His triple Axel had a shaky landing. He said, “I just felt the energy of the great Japanese crowd, it was amazing and I tried to embrace that.” In his free program, only four triples were more or less clean, but he stepped out of the double toe loop after the quad toe loop.

Maurizio Zandron from Austria finished 11th with 201.72 points at his very first Grand Prix at the age of 30 years. His technique in the triple jumps sometimes is not clean. He lost balance in one spin in the short program and later said there was something on the ice. His four triple jumps were soso. In the free program, four triple jumps were relatively clean, but four others more or less shaky. U.S. skater Tomoki Hiwatashi ended up 12th and last with 185.05 points after being ninth in Sheffield the week before. He missed three elements in the short program. After performing two tight quads at the beginning of his free program, he later popped four jumps.

MK John Wilson Trophy Sheffield 2022

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany

(21 November 2022) For the first time in more than 25 years of Grand Prix history, a Senior Grand Prix took place in the United Kingdom. China had given back its Grand Prix  for the third time in four years, this time because of their zero Covid 19 policy. The country does not allow foreign skaters, coaches, officials and spectators into their country because of the risk of bringing the disease back to China (where its origins are). The ISU asked other countries to take it and finally gave it to the British federation. It took place in Sheffield where many British National Championships, some ISU Junior Grand Prix and the European Championships 2012 had been organized. Sheffield is home city of the steel company John Wilson which produces many of the blades of all skaters worldwide. Therefore it was logical that this company became the title sponsor of this Grand Prix.

Women

The women’s competition at the Grand Prix in Sheffield had a relatively good level, but nobody tried a triple Axel nor a quad.

Mai Mihara from Japan, who was fourth at Japanese Nationals one year ago and had won the Four-Continents Championships 2022, took the gold medal in her tenth Grand Prix with 217.43 points, seven of which were fourth places. She had been in hospital for arthritis several times in the 2019/2020 season. The 23-year-old skater opened her short program to the music “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” by Ryuichi Sakamoto with a very good double Axel, but had a tight landing on her triple flip. The combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop was excellent, two spins and the step sequence outstanding and her components around 8.6. She admitted, “I was so nervous, but I was looking forward to skate here. I am thinking about the next Olympics and I'd like to aim for it. Today I skated in front of so many people, I am so grateful for that.”

In her Spanish free program to “El Amor Brujo” by Manuel de Falla, the student of Sonoko Nakano included seven triple jumps, four of them excellent, including a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, a good loop, and two slightly under-rotated ones. Spins and step sequences were excellent, the components around 8.8 because of her charming style and her elegance. She explained, “I am really happy now, because I finished fourth many times. I thought I can’t make it to the podium, but my coach told me you can get a medal - and you can even be on the top. I couldn’t believe it.” Japan nominated her for the University Games which will take place in mid-January in Lake Placid, NY.

Present Junior World Champion, the 15-year-old Isabeau Levito of Mount Laurel in New Jersey was relatively close to Mihara. After Skate America she won her second silver medal with 215.74 points. Therefore she has very probably qualified for the Grand Prix Final. For her young age, the student of Yulia Kuznetsova and choreographer Evgeni Platov, the ice dance Olympic Gold medal winner of 1994 and 1998, she has a very elegant style and reminds of a ballet dancer. She just has the complete package which is needed for big successes in the future. She began her short program to a kind of flamenco called “Una Noche Mas” by Israeli singer Jasmin Levy with a triple flip which got a small edge warning, followed by an impressive double Axel and a very good combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. Her spins and the step sequence were excellent and her components around 8.5. She remarked, “I have a mental vision of how I wanted so skate and I feel like I've yet to see it, but I felt very happy with how I did. I don't think there is any additional pressure. I'm just very excited to come here and compete, and so far everything has been so wonderful.”

The first element in her divine free program to the romantical Russian folk music “My Sweet and Tender Beast” in a vocal version was a clean combination of triple Lutz and triple loop, which is rare. Five other triples followed, three of which were excellent. The two triple flips had a small edge warning. Her spins and step sequences were outstanding and even had a few GOEs of +5. Her components had an average of 8.7. She remained self-critical, “It was pretty good, but it was definitely short of perfection. I was slightly disappointed in my triple Lutz-triple loop combination. I know I can do it better and I was a little upset when it wasn’t absolutely perfect. I am very happy to go to the final. That was my goal. My idols are Evgenia Medvedeva and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva.”

Anastasiia Gubanova from Georgia, sixth at Worlds 2022, was born in Russia and competed for this country until some years ago. After switching to Georgia she had more chances to get international competitions. In Sheffield she took bronze, earning 193.11 points. She stills trains in Russia with Evgeni Rukavitsin and doesn’t have to be afraid of being drafted to the Russian army because Russia does not have female soldiers. But Rukavitsin could not travel to Sheffield, therefore only the Georgian team leader was with her. Her combination of triple flip and triple toe loop in the short program was excellent, like her step sequence. Her double Axel, the triple Lutz and two spins were good. The 19-year-old skater explained her program, “I really like it when the program has a storyline, I'm skating a girl who, at the beginning of the program, is just living a happy life. In the second half there is an accident, the girl is in a coma. She is between life and death, strives towards the light, and in the end there is the sound of a deep breath and I am alive.”  

In her free program, she interprets Indian music pieces called “Latika’s Theme” and “Historiette”. She had five good triple jumps, and two which got a q for a slight under-rotation. Spins and steps were good, her components around 7.8. She was fifth in the free, but remained third overall. She said, “This was my first senior-level Grand Prix event and I am glad that I won this medal for my country, Georgia.”

Young You from South Korea finished on fourth position, earning 191.36 points. She mainly trains in Colorado Springs now and coach Viktor Pfeifer came with her. In her short program to the Tango “Oteno Porteno”, her double Axel was good, but her triple Lutz under-rotated. In her combination, the triple flip before the triple toe loop got a small edge warning. Her spins were good, the step sequence excellent. With the third best free program, she moved up from sixth to fourth place. Six triple jumps were at least good, only her triple flip got another small edge warning and was nearly under-rotated (q). Spins and steps were good, her components around 7.9. She said, “Ahead of the competition I was sick. I had quite a high fever. I thought about withdrawing but I had already travelled here. I am better now, but not fully recovered. I had a rough time during the Olympics because my father passed away, which prevented me from participating in the Gala. Especially the support of my fans helps me to overcome all that and I am happy that I am on the right track again.”

Ekaterina Kurakova from Poland, who trains in Italy under Lorenzo Magri, placed fifth with 190.44 points. Skating to the two Elvis Presley songs “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” and “A Little Less Conversation”, she under-rotated the triple Lutz of her combination a bit (q) and added a double toe loop. The triple loop and the five other elements were very good. She said, “The support is incredible. I feel like no matter what I do, I am already a winner of the hearts.” In the entertaining free program to the soundtrack of “Up”  she got three q on her three first triples, but added four clean ones and good steps and spins.

Nicole Schott from Germany moved up from seventh in the short to sixth place with 181.41 points. She had been sick with Long Covid 19 for several months and in Sheffield did her first good competition of the season. In the short program to “Despedida” by Shakira, the longtime student of Michael Huth tried a triple-triple combination, but after a clean flip she under-rotated the triple toe loop. The triple loop and the other elements were good. In her free program to two versions of the “Bohemian Rhapsody”, her opening triple flip and a second flip with a double toe loop and a double loop were good. Her triple loop was under-rotated, but three more triples good. She commented, “I am very pleased. I actually thought for a long time I would quit after the 22 Olympics. But I realized I just love it still so much. I will keep doing this as long as I enjoy it.”

Gabriella Izzo of Norwood near Boston placed seventh, earning 174.10 points. She is a fulltime student of Harvard University. Her short program to “Punga” arranged by Cedric Tour was faultless with a combination of triple flip and double toe loop, a triple Lutz and three level 4 spins. In her free program to three music pieces of Max Richter, four triple jumps were good, but she popped the flip and the second Lutz and therefore dropped from fifth to seventh place. Gabrielle Daleman from Canada is eighth with 163.77 points. She started her short program with her excellent trademark combination of two triple toe loops, but fell on the triple Lutz. In her free program, this combination did not work, but she skated a bit better than at Skate Canada. She fell on the triple toe loop, but had two good other triples.

Alexia Paganini from Switzerland finished on ninth position with 156.89 points. She changed coaches several times and now now trains with Michael Huth in Germany. In her short program combination of two triple toe loops, she stepped out of the second one. The triple loop was good, but one of her three spins had not enough revolutions. In her free, only two triple jumps were correct, but three more under-rotated. Her step sequences and her transitions were a bit easy. Julia Sauter (25) lives in Germany but competes for Romania, home country of her parents. She was 18th at Worlds 2022 and Sheffield was her first Grand Prix. In the short program, she could not add a second jump to her triple toe loop. Later she added a double toe loop to the triple Salchow. With five clean triple jumps in the free, she moved up from 12th to 10th place with 156.46 points.

Natasha McKay from Britain, longtime student of Simon Briggs in Dundee, is 11th with 155.20 points. Her short program was clean with a combination of triple loop and double toe loop and a triple Salchow. In her free, she performed three clean triples, but popped the Lutz and dropped from 9th to 11th position. The 2018 and 2021 U.S. champion Bradie Tennell ended up 12th and last with 153.19 points. She had to sit out the whole Olympic season due to a longtime foot injury. In this summer, she moved to Nice in France, where her choreographer Benoit Richaud now works with her also as coach. The John Wilson Trophy was her first competition since her injury. In the short to “Restrictus” arranged by Cedric Tour, she fell on the under-rotated triple toe loop in her combination with the triple Lutz and went down again on the under-rotated triple loop. The five other elements were very good. In her free to a Four Seasons medley, she fell three times and had only two good triples. She said, “I think I never skated a program as badly as I did today but I am happy because I was able to come back, I didn’t give up.”

Men

The men’s competition of the John Wilson Trophy in Sheffield had a mixed level. The best five skaters had a really high level, but the second half a low one. Daniel Grassl from Italy won the gold medal with 264.35 points in his second Grand Prix of this season after being fourth at Skate America. He has to wait and see if this is enough for reaching the Grand Prix Final. It was the first gold medal for an Italian man in the Grand Prix history. After training for almost three months in Norwood, Massachusetts with Alexei Letov, he had returned to his hometown of Merano in Italy after Skate America. Skating to “Silhouette” by the British music duo Aquilo, in Sheffield he was second in the short program which he opened with a quad Lutz which he landed on one foot, but a bit tight. His triple Axel was very good, but in his combination he stepped out of the almost under-rotated triple toe loop after the triple Lutz. His spins, especially his body positions were excellent and innovative, had difficult edge changes and his components around 8.2. He commented, “I needed to go back to Italy to see my friends and family, because I really missed them. It was nice that my mum cooked for me again. I'm happy with how I've worked because I really wanted to come here and be prepared.”

His first element in his free program to four music pieces arranged by Frenchman Cedric Tour was a good quad Lutz, but then came his only mistake when he went down on his quad flip. Later he performed seven good triple jumps, among them two Axels and again had unusual body positions in his spins which require a great body flexibility. He admitted, “After the six minutes warm-up I felt very bad. It was a very important competition for me, but I tried not to think about it. I planned to do three quads in my program, but after the six minutes I said, ‘You go with two because I don't feel good right now’. I tried to do my job and to concentrate. I thought, focus, you have to fight again.” In the kiss and cry corner he seemed astonished that he had beaten all others who had competed before him.

Deniss Vasiljevs from Latvia took the silver medal with 254,56 points after being only tenth at Skate Canada. In the short program in Sheffield, he fell on the quad Salchow which was under-rotated, but the triple Axel and the combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. Two spins, among them his trademark sit spin and the step sequence were outstanding and his entertaining interpretation of the music “Englishman in New York” as well.  His components were around 8.3. Later he commented, “I think I have slightly reformed my approach to my work. My work became a little more fun. I started to enjoy skating in itself more.”

His only mistake in his free program to Antonin Dvorak’s 9th Symphony (“From the New World”) came in his first element, a quad Salchow which he landed on two feet and got a q for nearly being under-rotated. Then he delivered seven good triples, among them two Axels, excellent level 4 spins and step sequences. His components had an average of 8.7. He got a standing ovation for this performance. He explained, “I am here for the thrill of performance. Performing like today, connecting with the people and getting such a warm reception is one of those things I really cherish about our sport. That is something that warms my heart and really motivates and inspires me to continue. I am very happy that today I have the first Latvian Grand Prix medal, but that's not focus. It's the feeling, the standing ovation, people cheering, the clapping. This energy is something way above, beyond what you get just by achieving something, it is something to live for, to strive for.”

Shun Sato was the best of the three Japanese skaters and won the bronze medal with 249.03 points. In February he had to undergo shoulder surgery and missed the Olympic Games, but now he is fit again. He began his short program to “Carol of the Bells” by Californian violinist Lindsey Stirling with a clean quad Lutz, then he stepped out of a quad toe loop, almost fell and made a step before the double toe loop, which is not allowed in a short program combination. The other elements were good. In the free program he moved up from fourth to third place. He fell on the opining quad Lutz. But he added a good combination of quad toe loop and double toe loop, another excellent quad toe loop, four very good triples and stepped out of the triple loop. His components were around 8.1. He mainly trains in the practice rink in Saitama where numerous event had been held and the next world championships in March will be again.

Koshiro Shimada is also from Japan, but trains in Switzerland with Stephane Lambiel. He finished on fourth position, earning 247.17 points. In the short program to “Sing, sing, sing” by Louis Prima, none of his three jumping elements were clean. The quad Salchow and the quad toe loop, combined with a triple toe loop, both got a q for a small under-rotation and he stepped out of the triple Axel. The other elements were good. In the free to a Charles Chaplin medley, he performed an outstanding quad toe loop and six very good triples, but stepped out of two more. His teammate Tatsuya Tsuboi came fifth with 226.13 points in his Grand Prix debut. His quad Salchow in the short program to “Stairway to Heaven” had a q, his combination consisted of a triple flip, a step in-between and only a double toe loop, but his triple Axel was excellent. In the free to the soundtrack of “High Strung” he went down on his opening quad Salchow, but made no other mistakes and landed seven good triples.      

Roman Sadovsky from Canada had won the short program (like several times before) with an excellent quad Salchow, a very good triple Axel and a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop both of which got a q. His spins and his step sequence were first class and his expression and speed strong. During his performance, some lights in the rink dimmed down, but he did not even notice it. He said, “I'm pleased with my performance, and I'm improving over Skate America. I improved my confidence and my ability to put repetitive strong short programs.” But in the free program he struggled again under pressure, having little consistency, and dropped to sixth place with 219.35 points. He fell three times on the first quad Salchow and both triple Axels, both of which were downgraded. He made two more mistakes and only two triple jumps were clean. Excellent spins and steps could not help his placement much. 

Jimmy Ma of Norwood, Massachusetts, is on seventh position, earning 214.47 points. The first element in the short program was a tight quad toe loop, followed by a combination of triple Lutz and only double toe loop. His triple Axel was overturned and nearly under-rotated. In the free, he stepped out of a quad toe loop and touched down his hand, then he doubled his second toe loop. Four triples were good, but he stepped out of the triple Lutz. Spins and steps were good. Morisi Kvitelashvili from Georgia, fourth at Worlds 2022 and doing many shows organized by Tatiana Navka in springtime, has left Russia in the summer - like all other Georgian skaters – because flying from Russia to other countries has become complicated and those with double nationality feared to be drafted to the Russian army. He now trains with Lorenzo Magri in Italy, but sends his Russian coaches videos of practice. He finished eighth after performing a disastrous short program in which he was last, There he performed a single Axel, a double toe loop and a combination of double Salchow and triple toe loop. He even made small mistakes on two spins. His free was better, therefore he could move up to eighth place with 195.25 points. He had a clean combination of quad Salchow and double toe loop and five triples, only fell on the quad toe loop, but doubled a second attempt of quad toe loop and generally skated not very inspired.    

U.S. skater Tomoki Hiwatashi of Colorado Springs came as an alternate for the injured Azerbaijan skater Vladimir Litvintsev. He finished on ninth place with 190.88 points, far from his best. He had dislocated his shoulder in September at the Lombardia Trophy and obvious has not yet recovered completely. His quad toe loop in the short was nearly under-rotated, then he popped the Axel, his combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop was soso. His three spins had small mistakes. In the free, he missed the two planned quads and popped the second triple Axel and a triple loop. Only two triples were good. Corey Circelli of Toronto began his short program with a good combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, but his triple Axel was downgraded and he popped the flip. In the free, he was inspired by Toller Cranston, used one of his free program music and tried to imitate the legendary Canadian of the 1970ies who died in 2015. But Circelli fell twice, popped an Axel and had only two clean triples.    

The two British men participated were nominated as local skaters. Three time British champion Graham Newberry finished 11th, earning 180.42 points. He singled the Axel in the short. The combination of triple loop and triple toe loop was soso, the triple Lutz and the spins good. He began his free program with a very good triple Axel, but then battled his way through the program, made mistakes on the next five jump elements, fell twice, doubled jumps and had finally no more clean triples. 17-year-old Edward Appleby, the youngest male competitor of the whole event, had been 20th at Junior Worlds seven months ago, but was given the chance to compete in front of a big crowd. In the short, he stepped out of the triple Axel, performed a clean combination of double Lutz and triple toe loop and a good triple flip. In the free, four triple jumps were o.k.. He made two mistakes, but did not fall. Being 11th in both competition parts, he ended up 12th with 180.13 points, very close to his teammate.

Pairs

The pairs competition of the Grand Prix in Sheffield had a better level than those of the first three Grand Prix, but still not very high due to the lack of available good pairs worldwide because Russia is still excluded, Chinese pairs cannot travel abroad and six good North American pairs have finished their career in the summer. An exception were the reigning World Champions Alexa Scimeca & Brandon Frazier who won their second event easily with 205.85 points, four more than at Skate America. They had taken the lead in the short program to the music of “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”, but they do not go separate ways at all. The U.S. federation had encouraged the 31-year-old Scimeca and her pairs partner Frazier (who is one year younger), perhaps also financially to continue their career after winning the World title, which they happily did. Their triple twist was good, but had only Level 1. Her triple toe loop was a bit tight, but landed on one foot. The triple throw flip and the four other elements (all with level 4) were excellent and their components around 8.7. 

Frazier commented, “Alexa and I feel very proud that we were able to put on another strong performance. We had a few technical things that we didn’t execute as well as we normally can, so we’re disappointed about that, but overall we’re happy with our performance and the fight tonight.” Knierim added, “When we finished Skate America we were very eager and motivated to work even harder. We weren’t comfortable and ready at Skate America. We felt we made a lot of progress when we arrived here. Not specifically about the program itself, but being here with our mental game and confidence is what I feel has grown and become stronger since Skate America. With that, throughout the season, the performances will become stronger and stronger. I am proud of us for stepping up and coming here with a different mindset.”

They opened their free program with a good triple twist again (like usual, all pairs start with the twist), this time with level 2. Scimeca stumbled on the triple toe loop and stepped out and touched down on her triple Salchow later, but all other elements were at least good, the lifts and spin even excellent. Their music pieces were “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles and “Healed Broken Wings” by Karl Hugo and their components had an average of 8.5. Frazier explained, “I am very proud of how Alexa and I fought this weekend. It was a fight on some of our elements today. But I feel like we are progressing each time we go out from short to long, from Skate America till where we are this week.”

The Italian team of Sara Conti & Niccolo Macii, third at Skate Canada and coached in Bergamo by Barbara Luoni, won the silver medal with 184.19 points. In their short program, using the Tango “Oblivion”, the twist was a bit wobbly, the other six elements at least good, including a triple Salchow and a triple throw loop. 68.69 points in the short was the best they ever had.  Macii said, “We are improving with every competition and we had two points more than in our last short program at Skate Canada. Coming home from Canada we realized where we could improve in our skating, giving more to the spectators. We tried to skate faster, give more pathos to the audience and we enjoyed it more. The audience saw it.”

In their free program to the soundtrack of “Cinema Paradiso”, after the triple twist they had a good combination of triple Salchow, Euler and double Salchow and a triple toe loop on which he touched down his hand a bit. The triple throw loop was very good, but she stepped out and touched down on the triple throw Salchow. Two lifts were good, but he aborted the third one (zero points) and was very frustrated at the end because he feared they would lose a place. But they did not because their components were high enough (7.6). Macii said, “The last lift angers us because we can do it so easily. It is a timing entrance - that is where the problem came. We know where we missed and where to work. We have a good chance to get to the Final. We tried our best. We never thought about having one medal and we even got two. If we go to the Final, it will be even more amazing.” But he admitted, “We don’t like competing in Italy so much, with so many friends and family around.”

Letizia Roscher (18) and Luis Schuster (21) from Germany, fifth at Junior Worlds in April 2022,  won a surprising bronze medal with 167.37 points in their first Grand Prix season. At Skate America they had a good short and were third, but a bad long program and finished only seventh. This time both programs were relatively good. They are coached by Ingo Steuer and Robin Szolkowy, both of them former pairs World Champions and Olympic medalists. For the first time in their life, they had more than 60 points in the short program (60.24), competing to “In the Air Tonight” by Joseph William Morgan. The twist and the lift were good, the double Axel a bit shaky and she landed the triple throw Salchow on two feet. Roscher, who still goes to high school fulltime, commented, “I am happy we could reach a new personal best. I felt a little bit shaky in the beginning of the program, but after the first two elements I enjoyed it and had a lot of fun.” Schuster added, “We enjoyed it more than our first Grand Prix. We looked at the levels and thought about why some things were not like we wanted them to be. At our second Grand Prix now, we had less pressure.”

In their elegant free program to “Experience” by Ludovico Einaudi and to “Every Ending Is a Chance” by Claire Marigold Wyndham, most elements were relatively clean, including the jump combination double Axel - single Axel - double toe loop as well as the double Salchow and the difficult carry lift with a change of direction, but Roscher landed both triple throws on two feet. Schuster explained, “At Skate America, it was a shock for us that we could reach a medal and we lacked the mental focus. Now it was also a bit shaky, but we held our focus in the free skating. It helped us a lot that we had the same situation.” Roscher agreed, “We learned a lot from Skate America. We had a lot of motivation for training to get better - to make the elements cleaner. It still feels kind of unreal and we are super happy to win a medal here. Before the competition our legs were really shaky but during the skate we were o.k.”

Anastasiia Metelkina & Daniil Parkman from Georgia, both born in Russia, finished fourth with 165.60 points. Like many other Georgian skaters they quickly left Russia and their coaches in the summer where they had trained. The pair now stays in Berlin, Germany and is trained by Alexander Koenig, the coach of the 2018 Olympic Gold medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot who the German federation had fired in 2021. Metelkina & Parkman had missed Europeans and Worlds 2022 due to injury. They began their short program in their first Grand Prix with an excellent twist, but Metelkina fell on the triple toe loop. The other five elements, including a triple throw flip, were clean. In the free program, their combination of triple Salchow and double toe loop and the three lifts were good, the twist very good again, but she stepped out of both triple throws. Parkman said, “We could have done a lot of things much better. Our goals are just to skate clean and bring the emotions through to the audience.”

he second Italian pair of Irma Caldara & Riccardo Maglio placed fifth, earning 160.23 points. Their opening twist was very good, but Maglio stepped out of the double Axel. Their triple throw loop was shaky, but they had the courage to try it although Caldara had two bad falls in the six minute warm-up. The other elements were o.k. In the free, they moved up from sixth to fifth place. Most elements were clean, but Caldara landed the triple throw Lutz on two feet and stepped out. The double Axel was a bit shaky, and the triple throw loop was almost clean, one of the best of the whole week.

U.S. skaters Katie McBeath & her new partner Nathan Bartholomay are sixth with 147.29 points in their Grand Prix Debut. They had withdrawn from their first Grand Prix in Canada because they were not ready yet. He had had elbow surgery in August and they had blade problems the week before Skate Canada. They train with Jenni Meno and Todd Sand in California. McBeath had been a single skater until 2018 when she was 18th at women’s Nationals. Bartholomay is an experienced pair skater with several partners. Their double Axel in the short program was very good, the other elements including a triple throw flip were more or less clean. They had said they had made only four run-throughs before Sheffield. In the free, they made mistakes on five elements, among them an aborted lift and her fall on the death spiral and they dropped from fifth to sixth place.

The British champions Anastasia Vaipan-Law & Luke Digby were first the first to compete overall and were overwhelmed by the many British flags. They ended up seventh and last with 143.81 points. Digby had been a little flower boy when the Europeans took place in Sheffield in 2012, now he came in a different role. In the twist she had her arm around his neck in the landing which is not allowed. The double Axel was good, but the other elements had some little slips and mainly GOEs of -1 to -3. In their free program, the twist was shaky, she missed the triple toe loop and he the triple Salchow and they made some more mistakes, only their double throw loop was good. The Canadians Lori Ann Matte & Thierry Ferland were injured and withdrew from the competition. No other pair could be found as alternates.

Ice Dance

The ice dance event at the Grand Prix in Sheffield, Britain had a very good level, there was no weak couple at all. Six of the ten teams are training in the Ice Academy of Montreal with its four main coaches Patrice Lauzon, Marie-France Dubreuil, Romain Haguenauer and Scott Moir.

Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri from Italy won the gold medal with 213.74 points and are qualified for the Grand Prix Final in their home country after being first in France the week before. They had travel problems on their way to Sheffield. Fabbri said, “Our flight from Milan to Manchester had two hours delay, which was not so bad. We had to take a taxi, the driver put in the address and there were two results. When we arrived, we were close to Birmingham, which was about two hours away!” So they arrived in Sheffield even much later, but they did not miss anything important.  Guignard remembered the year 2012, when they competed in Sheffield and finished 11th, “This was our first Europeans here 10 years ago, it was our first big competition. There were a lot of nice memories.”

In the Latin Rhythm dance to the Samba “This Is”, the Rhumba “I’m Crying”, both by Grace Jones, and the Samba “Panters en Libertad” by Monica Naranjo, they excelled with an outstanding performance. The twizzles, the Straight Line Lift and the Pattern Dance Type Step Sequence had a level 4, the Midline Step Sequence a level 3 and the Choreographic Rhythm Sequence is a non-level element. These elements had mainly GOEs of +3 and +4 and the components were around 9.3. Fabbri commented, “Compared to the Rhythm Dance last week, it was much better. Even last week, we felt quite good on the ice, but there were some small mistakes. Today we felt good, the crowd was warm, it was pretty easy to skate. We didn’t have time to change anything from the last Grand Prix. We just tried to have a different attitude when we stepped on the ice. Last week it was our second competition, but it was the first important competition of the season and Lombardia Trophy was in September, so it was a long time ago. So we were a little bit more stressed last week, even though the performance was not bad.”

In their emotional free dance they used “My Love Will Never Die” by Australian-American singer Claire Wyndham, “Mephisto’s Lullaby” by Israeli-born Yair Albeg Wein and “Eden” by Spanish-Mexican singer Belinda. The levels were better than in France. Five of the seven level elements (the lift combination is counted as two elements here) had a level 4. For the One Foot Turns Sequence, she had a level 3 and he a level 4 and for the Circular Step Sequence both had a level 3. The three non-level elements were a Choreo Character Step Sequence, a Choreo Sliding Movement and a Choreo Spinning Movement. All elements had mainly GOEs of +3 and +4 and even a few +5. Their step sequences were very intricate. It did not disturb them to skate right after the British home crowd favorites. Fabbri said, “Now we are an experienced couple and we don’t really let everything around disturb us. We try to create our own bubble and focus on our performance. It’s not been that hard. The crowd was supportive as well with the other skaters.”

Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson, perhaps the best British ice dance couple since Torvill & Dean, won the silver medal with 205.56 points. In their entertaining Rhythm Dance using three music pieces by Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, they were just .93 points behind the Italians and got a huge applause. They had almost the same levels, more GOEs of +3 than +4, but their choreographic Rhythm Sequence had four GOEs of +5 out of the nine judges. Their components had an average of 9.1. Fear explained, “The crowd was amazing; I think all of the skaters had so much fun out there. It was electric energy. I just feel like we are building with each competition and it is really exciting.” Gibson added, “After Skate Canada, we worked a lot on our step sequences and turns, trying to clean all that up. Generally we just worked to make everything sharper and stronger.”

In their free dance to the songs “Born This Way” and “Million Reasons,” both by Lady Gaga, they once more entertained the public brilliantly and also pleased the judges. The lifts were spectacular, but their levels on the steps were a bit lower and Gibson stumbled for a second on the choreographic twizzles, which counted as a fall. Therefore the distance to the Italians became much bigger although the British have the better presentation. Their components were around 9.1. Gibson said, “We are very proud of what we did here. We are just so excited to come here and skate in front of our home crowd. The energy was electric. It lived up to and surpassed our expectations. Of course, I would have liked not to have that little mistake, but it is what it is.” Fear added, “It was a memory and experience that we will not forget. We are just so appreciative to have had the opportunity to skate at the Grand Prix in Great Britain. The mistake doesn’t affect us too much, because we will just learn from it, it was a different kind of performance, so much noise from the start.” With the two silver medals they are almost certainly qualified for the Grand Prix Final as well, it would be their first Final. Gibson said, “We’re both very excited about the opportunity and it’s another goal achieved for us.”

Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha from Canada won their second bronze medal after the first at Skate Canada. They have to wait and see if they also qualified for the Final, but it is not very likely. They used for their Rhythm Dance “Let’s Cha Cha” and two Sambas by the German pop group Bellini which was named after a Brazilian football player. They danced in high speed, had mixed levels, mainly GOEs of +3 and components of around 8.8. Lajoie commented, “We were able to be present in the moment, even though we were very stressed. I think the crowd helped.” Lagha added, “When you have such a short period of time between every competition, and you want to improve, you have to very strategic which part of the program you want to improve. After Skate Canada we had a problem with the twizzle, because it was level three, so we needed to add another twizzle - the rest was just about performing.”

In their free dance to “Nurejev” from the soundtrack of “The White Crow” they paid tribute to the famous Russian ballet dancer. They had very good levels, many GOE of +3, but also many +2. Lajoie commented, “It was very good for us. There were very little mistakes, but we are very happy with the performance we did. We are happy to have made it through the GP season with four performances that we are pleased of. Now we are really looking forward to take some time off.”

U.S. dancers Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko finished fourth with 187.42 points. They have improved much since last season although Ponomarenko had to undergo ankle surgery in February and could not train. During this time Carreira trained and danced with their coach Scott Moir and she learnt much of him. Moir works in London, Ontario, and is head coach of the Ontario branch of the Ice Academy of Montreal. Other coaches in London are Madison Hubbell and Adrian Diaz. In the Rhythm Dance to two Sambas and a new Rhumba version of the famous soundtrack of “Love Story”, they had good levels and mainly GOEs of +2. In their smooth free dance to two music pieces of the soundtrack of “Backbone” and two versions of “Summertime”, all elements were very good and their components around 8.4. Carreira explained, “We are very happy about our first competition. It was a great start. Madi (Hubbell) and Scott (Moir) both themselves wanted to skate to “Summertime” during their careers but neither managed in the end. So it’s a group project and we are so happy to be the ones to perform to it in the end. We feel like this program portrays ourselves very well which makes it easier to execute it.”

Nathalie Taschlerova & Filip Taschler from the Czech Republic train with Matteo Zanni in Italy and are fifth with 177.89 points. Taschler slipped a bit during the midline step sequence, but everything else was very good. In their free dance, they want to emphasize the necessity to keep nature healthy for the next generations. Taschlerova stumbled a bit on the twizzles, all other elments were good. They skated both programs with high speed. Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya from Georgia came sixth, earning 176.71 points. Reviya suffered from a back injury in the summer. They quickly left Russia and now train in Italy with Matteo Zanni, like the Czech couple. They had good elements with high levels in the Rhythm Dance. In their free dance, there were some small slips, but GOEs of +2 dominated. Reviya said, “We aren’t as pleased today, but the performance level was good.”

Oona Brown and brother Gage Brown, the present Junior World Champions, placed seventh with 173.74 points. In the Rhythm Dance to the Cha Cha “Bones” by Imagine Dragons, they had mixed levels, but GOEs of mainly +2. Their free dance with mainly GOEs of +1 and +2 was faultless. Alicia Fabbri & Paul Ayer from Canada train in Montreal and placed eighth, earning 165.78 points. Ayer had shoulder surgery in the summer. In the Rhythm Dance she made one more rotation in the twizzles than he did. Their free dance music was “Big Sky” by Annie Lennox and “No Good Place For the Lonely” by Joe Bonamasse. Their free dance music had to be started twice because of a technical problem, but it was no problem for the skaters. Their choreographic steps in the free dance did not receive any points.

Haley Sales & Nikolas Wamsteeker from Canada, also students of Scott Moir, are ninth with 163.69 points. Their free dance music was “Phantom of the Opera”. The Ukrainian couple of Mariia Holubtsova & Kyryl Bielobrov, who were allowed to train in the Montreal school as a gesture of solidarity, ended up 10th with 156.04 points. The British ice dancer Olivia Smart had offered them free accommodation.

Interview with Loena Hendrickx, Belgian Women's Champion, 2022 World Silver Medalist and 2022 Grand Prix de France Gold Medalist

2022 Grand Prix de France

2022 Skate Canada International

Interview with Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, Canadian Ice Dance Champions, 2022 Skate Canada Gold Medalists

Ilia Malinin Quad Axel Analysis

Interview with Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps, Canadian Pairs Skaters, 2022 Skate America Silver Medalists

Ilia Malinin Quad Axel Slideshow


2022 Skate America

Interview with Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson, British Ice Dance Champions

 

Interview with Caroline Green and Michael Parsons, 2022 Four Continents Ice Dance Champions

Interview with Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri, Italian Ice Dance Champions

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12 October 2022 - The ISU announces that  the 2025 ISU World Figure Skating Championships will be held March 24-30, 2025, in Boston, MA.  As this will be the Championships that will in large part determine how many entries countries will be allowed at the 2026 Winter Olympic Games, interest in this event will be enhanced.

Worlds was last held in the United States in Boston in 2016, nine years earlier.  Prior to this Worlds were allocated to the U.S. every 6-7 year.

22 March 2022 - It was announced today that the 2022 Internationaux de France will be held in Angers, France.  Separately, there are rumors that Cup of China and Rostelcom Cup will not be a part of the 2022 Grand Prix, and competitions will instead beheld in Italy and Finland in their places.

Future Competitions

Nov 17 - Nov 20, 2022 ISU Grand Prix NHK, Sapporo, Japan

Nov 24 - Nov 27, 2022 ISU Grand Prix Espoo, Espoo Finland

Dec 7 - Dec 11, 2022 Grand Prix Final, Torino Italy

Jan 09 - Jan 15, 2023 - Canadian Figure Skating Championships, Oshawa, ON, CAN

Jan 23 - Jan 29, 2023 - U.S. Figure Skating Championships, San Jose, CA, USA

Jan 23 - Jan 29, 2023 - ISU European Figure Skating Championships, Espoo, FIN

Feb 07 - Feb 12, 2023 - ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, Colorado Springs, USA

Feb 27 - Mar 05, 2023 - ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships, Calgary, CAN

Mar 20 - Mar 26, 2023 - ISU World Figure Skating Championships, Saitama, JPN

2022-23 ISU Grand Prix

Event Location Date
Skate America Norrwood, MA, USA October 21–23
Skate Canada Mississauga, ON, CAN October 28–30
Internationaux de France Angers, FRA November 4-6
MK John Wilson Trophy Sheffield, GBR November 11-13
NHK Trophy Sapporo, JPN November 18-20
Grand Prix Espoo Espoo, FIN November 25-27
Grand Prix Final Torino, ITA December 8-11

2023-24 ISU Grand Prix

Event Location Date
Skate America TBD October 20–22
Skate Canada Vancouver October 27–29
Internationaux de France TBD November 3-5
Cup of China TBD November 10-12
Rostelcom Cup TBD November 17-19
NHK Trophy TBD November 24-26
Grand Prix Final Orleans, FRA December 7-10

2022-23 Junior Grand Prix

August 24-27, 2022, Courchevel, FRA

August 31 - September 3, 2022, rong>Ostrava, CZE (includes Pair Skating) 

September 7-10, 2022, Riga, LAT (includes Pair Skating)

September 21-24, 2022, Yerevan, ARM

September 28 - October 2, 2022, Zagreb, CRO (includes Pair Skating)

October 5-8, 2022, Gdansk, POL (includes Pair Skating) 

October 12-15, 2022 Egna-Neumarkt, ITA


 
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