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The Big Picture


News from the Southwest Pacific Region

Clubs of the SWP region are invited to send us news items for inclusion here.

Provisional Allotments for 2021


ISU European Figure Skating Championships

Jan 25 - Jan 31, 2021, Zagreb, CRO

ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships

Feb 08 - Feb 14, 2021, Sydney, Aus

ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships

Mar 01 - Mar 07, 2021, Harbin, CHN

ISU World Figure Skating Championships

Mar 22 - Mar 28, 2021, Stockholm, SWE


  In the News:

Pair Skater Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya Dies by Apparent Suicide at Age 20

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany

(19 July 2020) On Saturday morning, July 18, 2020, local time, Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya, the Russian pair skater who had competed for Australia from 2016 to late 2019, committed suicide. She jumped out of a window of her apartment on the sixth floor of a Moscow building to the ground and and was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Her Australian skating partner Harley Windsor, who she had performed with until January 2020, was in Sydney, Australia and commented on Facebook: “Words can not describe how I feel right now, I am devastated and sick to my core about the sad and sudden passing of Katia. The amount we had achieved during our partnership is something I can never forget and will always hold close to my heart. This news is something you can never prepare for. Rest In Peace, Katia.“

Alexandrovskaya was born in Moscow on January 1, 2000, and after doing singles she had been training in the Moscow pair skating school of Nina Mozer from 2014. But she could not find a longtime good partner until Australian skater Harley Windsor came to Russia in early 2016 with his Russian-born coach to find a partner. In Australia only few people practice skating and he could not find any girl who wanted to do pair skating competitively with him. Mozer recommended he try with Alexandrovskaya and helped her to get released from Russia within a few weeks because nobody expected she would ever become a top skater.

They began to train in the spring of 2016 and made such quick progress that they competed in the Junior Grand Prix in the same year, even winning their second Junior Grand Prix in Tallinn, Estonia. They qualified for the Junior Final in December 2016 where they finish fifth. Only three months later they won a surprising gold medal at the Junior World Championships and beat the Russian pairs with all the usual triple elements. Two weeks later they were 16th at their first senior Worlds.

In the fall of 2017, they qualified again for the Junior Final, which they won. They also qualified for the Olympic Games of 2018 at the Nebelhorn Trophy 2017. Afterwards Australia gave Alexandrovskaya citizenship very quickly. Therefore they could compete at the Games in South Korea where they were 18th and some weeks later 16th at the senior World Championships 2018. In the summer of 2018, they decided to move to Montreal and train with Richard Gauthier. But in the long run, they were not very happy there. Alexandrovskaya dreamt of becoming World Champions, but criticized her partner and their coach during many practices.

These were the first signs of her depression which became worse in 2019. Therefore they did not compete as well as in 2016 and 2017, and the team left Gauthier and went back to Moscow. In 2019 their results were not strong, placing 9th at Nebelhorn, and 7th at Skate America, and they had injury problems. On January 10, she did not turn up for training because she had to go to a Moscow hospital. The doctors diagnosed epilepsy after about ten days in the hospital and told her and to Windsor that it was very dangerous to continue a skating career. Therefore they split in January 2020 and Windsor went back to Australia. She got medication against her problems, but they obviously proved inadequate to help her to the extent needed.

Elite European Skaters Return to the Ice

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany

(6 July 2020) In Russia, some rinks opened in late May. One was in Novogorsk near Moscow, but all skaters and coaches who wanted to work there had to stay in a strict quarantine for two weeks in one hotel before being allowed to train. Coach Eteri Tutberidze had stayed with her daughter, the ice dancer Diana Davis (who was fifth at Junior Worlds 2020 with Gleb Smolkin), in Novi, Michigan (where Igor Shpilband works) between mid-March and the end of May. When she returned to Russia, she also had to stay in quarantine, like everybody who has arrived from abroad.

 The second rink for top skaters was in Kislovosk in the Caucasus mountains in southern Russia, near the border to Turkey. Some skaters from St. Petersburg and the school of Evgeni Plushenko went there in mid-June. Plushenko was afraid of infecting himself with the virus in a plane. Therefore he rented a small mobile home in St. Petersburg and drove more than 1,500 miles to the mountains. Some top skaters of Alexei Mishin came in early July. Mikhail Kolyada, one of Russia’s male top skaters, by the way, changed coaches and now also trains under Mishin. He had asked the federation if he could train with Rafael Arutunian in California, but the federation was not willing to pay this training.

 In June more Russian ice rinks opened again, especially far from Moscow because the capital still had many infections.  

In late May, at least two rinks in the French Alps opened again, mainly for national team members of the French federation.

The first rink is in Courchevel, site of the biannual Junior Grand Prix in an altitude of about 5,500 feet near Albertville. Coaches Brian Joubert and Laurent Depouilly came there to work with their students. Among them are Kevin Aymoz and Adam Siao Him Fa. Fa switched coaches, left Joubert and now trains with Depouilly.

The second rink was in the mountain resort of Vaujany near Grenoble where Florent Amodio has his international skating school. The new federation president Nathalie Pechalat asked renowned French choreographer Benoit Richaud to work with several French single skaters. Pair skater Vanessa James still is in Florida waiting to be allowed to train, but she does not know yet if the pair will continue to exist. Her partner Morgan Ciprès sits in France and has to appear in front of the new disciplinary commission of the French federation on July 9 after having sent photos of himself totally naked to two girls in Florida two and half a years ago.      

In Germany one of the rinks in Berlin opened in late April, at the beginning only for five skaters who are national team members and their coaches. The skaters were the two pairs Minerva Hase & Nolan Seegert and Annika Hocke & Robert Kunkel plus the single skates Paul Fentz. Those five skaters had been qualified fort he World championships in Montreal which was canceled in March.

The coaches had to wear masks and everybody was tested. The name and phone number of everybody was registered in order to be able to contact them quickly if one person was tested positive. Nobody else was allowed in the rink, neither parents nor judges nor federation people. Beginning from mid-May ten skaters were allowed, in June more, but not more than ten skaters on the ice at the same time.

In early May, another German training rink for not more than five national team members was opened in Oberstdorf, site of the annual Nebelhorn Trophy in September. This rink is in Bavaria where the rules were a bit stricter than in the rest of Germany. During the first weeks, pairs and ice dance couples were not allowed to train together but only separate with a distance of six feet from one another. Therefore they could not practice any lifts or pair spins, but only basic movements or side by side step sequences.

The mandatory entrance to the rink was different from the mandatory exit in order to avoid skaters coming too close while entering or leaving the rink. They had to change clothes at home because the changing rooms were closed.

In June everything was a bit less strict, because Germany had only a small number of new infections, Bavaria (with a population of 13.5 million) only 30 – 40 per day and between zero and four cases of death. But the border between Germany and Russia is still closed. Therefore the new couple of Elena Pavlova & Ruben Blommaert could not train because she was stuck in Russia and he was stuck in Germany.

The rink in Dortmund has re-opened again as well, therefore the German ice dance champions Katharina Muller & Tim Dieck and some other team members can train there. But Muller & Dieck hope that the border to Russia will open again because their main coach was and is Angelika Krylova in Moscow. They did not exclude that Krylova might come to Dortmund with some of her Russian students for some times if this is easier than travelling to Moscow for Muller & Dieck.   

In Austria, two ice rink were re-opened in early May for national team members: One is in Gmunden near Salzburg and the other one in Telfs near Innsbruck. Both rinks are far from the Austrian capital of Vienna hardly any top skaters live and train there.

Austria’s top skaters, the pair of Miriam Ziegler & Severin Kiefer who were tenth at the World Championships 2019, trained in Gmunden, but during the first weeks without their main coach Knut Schubert. Normally they train in Berlin with him, but the border between Germany and Austria were locked from mid-March to mid-June. Normally there is no control at all at this border. Second problem: At the beginning,  they were not allowed to train together, but only in a distance of two feet although they live together and are a couple off the ice.     

In Britain, the rinks were closed longer than in Continental Europe because the United Kingdom had more cases of Covid 19 than the rest of Western Europe. But there were differences between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Some rinks in Canada opened in early or mid-June, especially the rinks of the Ice dance academy on Montreal. Therefore the dance couples could train again, though with some restrictions. From July 2 on, Canadian tourists were allowed to come to Europe again without two weeks of quarantine, but for Americans and Brazilians, the border remains strictly closed.  

A Lost Season

Skating in Southern California Soon to Reopen

(Revised June 22, 2020)

(June 8, 2020) As we write this in early June, rinks in Southern California remain closed. In the urbanized counties of Southern California the current case rate is 0.3 to 0.6 percent of the population, with Los Angeles County being the worst case. Deaths in Southern California are running at about 4 percent of cases. Nationwide, Covid-19 deaths are running at about 900 per day, a bit less than half the rate during the peak of the pandemic in early April. Nationwide deaths are projected to continue at a rate above 400 per day into August. Cases and deaths in the rural counties of California are at a much lower rate than the urban centers.

In this environment, California has developed a four phase plan for reopening businesses. On June 5 the state announced that counties that have attested they meet the state’s requirements for phase three openings could begin to open additional types of business, under the state plan. All but 10 counties in California have so far attested they meet the phase three requirements, with those ten all in the San Francisco Bay area. The details for how phase-three businesses can open, and the schedule to be followed, are being left up to each county. After weeks of waiting, the ball is now in the court of county health departments to say what practices phase-three business must follow, and what the schedule for resuming operations will be. It is anticipated counties will make their announcements in the next week (by June 12).

Skating rinks are phase-three businesses under the California’s plan. When the counties give the word, rinks can open and competitions can again be held, but with the restrictions that spectators will not be allowed at competitions. Sporting events with spectators are phase-four activities in California, and there is no hint of when phase four opening will be reached. It is expected this will not occur for several more months.

While many states are planning reopening of businesses with four phase plans, the businesses included an any particular phase varies from state to state.  For example, while ice rinks are phase-three businesses in California, they are phase-four businesses in New York.  Thus, competitions in California may have an earlier start than elsewhere.

Since early March, in a tsunami rolling through the calendar, clubs have been cancelling their competitions. The last competition we know of held in Southern California was in early February. Most clubs have cancelled their competitions outright instead of rescheduling them for later in the summer. Currently, no competitions are scheduled in Southern California through the end of July. Only three clubs in Southern California are currently known for certain to be planning to hold competitions before the Southwest Pacific Regional qualifying competition: The Glacier Falls Summer Classic, rescheduled to August 20-23; the Golden West Championships, the weekend of Labor Day; and the Pasadena FSC Open, sometime time later in September or early October. Southwest Pacific is still on the schedule for the weekend of October 17.

The National Qualifying Series (NQS) component of competitions was canceled earlier this season. The NQS approved competitions are a mechanism to allow skaters to qualify for Sectionals without having to compete at Regionals. As for the Regionals themselves, these competitions are still on the schedule, though there is no guarantee they will not be rescheduled or canceled.  Details will be announced by U.S. Figure Skating in the future.

U.S. Figure Skating announced in mid-May that plans for the qualifying competitions will be announced no later than July 1.  On June 4 officials received an e-mail that availability requests for qualifying competitions will be delayed, and available in a few weeks. As U.S. Figure Skating develops its plans for how qualifying competitions might be held, the association is working closely with the few non-qualifying competitions still in the planning stages for later this summer to determine the best way to hold competitions with social distancing in place. One thing is certain, competitions held the remainder of this year will look very different from past practices.

If things go smoothly, it is likely singles skaters in Southern California will be able to return to training in about 7-10 days, with social distancing requirements in place within rinks, and reduced occupancy loads. Pairs, Dance and Synchro, however, may still be problematic, as these disciplines require skaters be in close proximity for long periods of time in order to train. Hockey has a similar problem. Under California phase-three guidelines public sessions would fall under the same criteria as opening gyms to the public, involving as yet to be determined reduced occupancy loads.

One added complication for competitions is that some states still have in place quarantine requirements of 14 days for persons entering the state, meaning an out of state competitor would have to arrive 14 days before a competition starts before they could venture outside their hotel.  For those states, as a practical matter entries would probably end up limited to skaters within the state where the competition was held.  For California, however, this is not an issue.

Assuming rinks in Southern California open by July 1, skaters will have slightly over two months before entries close for Regionals, leaving little time to recover past skills and also acquire new skills needed to test and move up. Unless skaters are allowed to skate up at Regionals (not currently allowed by the rules) it would seem nearly all skaters who planned to compete at a high level this season are out of luck. Given the short development timeline that skating now requires of athletes to reach elite status, this season will likely be a setback that will impact their future development for seasons to come.

And as bad as all this is, it has the potential to get worse. U.S. Figure Skating is preparing for a potential loss of members this season of over 10%. Meanwhile, health officials warn of a second wave of Covid-19 coinciding with the start of flu season in October. It would be unfortunate on many levels, if qualifying competitions were reschedule to later in the year, only to have that coincide with a second wave of Covid-19 on top of the peak of flu season. Skating is not nearly out of the woods this season, and any plans to be adopted can only be based for now on best guesses and estimates for how things will unfold.

Internationally, one of the Junior Grand Prix competitions has been cancelled and another rescheduled, and it is possible that the entire Junior series will be cancelled.  The ISU has given the host federations of the senior Grand Prix until August 1 to confirm they will be able to host those competitions.  We have heard that should one of the countries be unable to hold their competition Finland would like to be a substitute host.  Assignments to the Grand Prixs have also not yet been announced, and the ISU lists all the Senior events as provisional allotments.

Locations for the French and Japanese Grand Prixs were only recently announced.  Earlier in the year it was rumored that the French Grand Prix would be held in Nantes, or perhaps Grenoble again.  With the resignation of Didier Gailhaguet and the election of Natalie Pechelat as federation president earlier this year, the French federation has seen a bit of turmoil this season which delayed a decision on the location of that event, which is now listed on the ISU schedule for Grenoble.  NHK Trophy is now listed on the schedule for Osaka.

Skate America is still on schedule to lead off the Grand Prix Series in Las Vegas, NV the weekend of October 24. Nevada currently does not have in place a quarantine for travelers entering the state; however, the U.S. does have quarantine requirements for entry into the U.S.  Current regulations would also prohibit spectators at Skate America and the other Grand Prix events.

If current travel restrictions remain in effect into October, travel between the Grand Prix events will be problematic.  All the countries hosting Grand Prix events currently have requirements for persons entering each country to quarantine themselves for 14 days.  Thus, anyone attending Skate America, for example, could not meet the quarantine requirement to attend (or participate in) Skate Canada or Cup of China, but would barely meet the requirement to allow participation in Internationaux de France (TBD) three weeks later, and so on, through the series.

The current travel quarantine requirements may create an insolvable problem for the people who normally work several, in not all six, of the Grand Prix events each season.  Further, competitors who are assigned to two events are scheduled within two weeks of each other could not meet quarantine requirements for their two events, and skaters while in quarantine could not go to a local rink and train.  In addition, anyone who participated in NHK Trophy (the last of the six Grand Prixs) could not meet Chinese quarantine requirements to participate in the Grand Prix Final two weeks later.

Notes added June 22, 2020:  Since California county health departments were given permission to implement phase 3 openings on June 12, 2020 four rinks in southern California posted on their websites shortly thereafter they were partially open for freestyle session.  The majority of rinks remain closed.  The number of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. has been on the rise the last two weeks, and this is true also for the state of California.  Recently the state ordered the use of masks, a requirement that had been dropped by most counties earlier this month.  The speed at which rinks will reopen is now again in doubt. One rink in Southern California has posted on its website it will not reopen until phase 4 reopening is approved by the state.

Internationally, the Schengen area has been reducing travel restriction within the area, but travel restrictions (with 14 day quarantining) between the area and other countries have been extended to July 1.  After that date countries outside the area will be required to meet certain criteria to be allow unrestricted travel.  Given that the pandemic is continuing to run nearly unabated within the U.S., travel between the U.S. and the Schengen area is likely to be restricted for a lengthy period to come.

2020 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Canada Cancelled

With the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Skate Canada has cancelled the 2020 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Canada. The event was scheduled to take place from August 26-29, 2020 in Richmond, British Columbia.

The Remarkable Life of U.S. Olympic and World Coach Ron Ludington - Ron Ludington, the iconic U.S. Olympic and World pairs and dance coach who was a force and fixture on the national and global competitive scene for many decades, sadly passed away on Thursday, May 14th, after having been admitted to the Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware earlier that week. He was 85 years old.

2020 World Figure Skating Championships Cancelled

World Short Track and World Synchronized Skating Championships also cancelled for 2020

Statement from the ISU, 16 April 2020

Mindful of the escalating negative COVID-19 developments, the resulting world-wide human tragedy and the measures taken by the public authorities as well as logistical challenges the ISU Council during its on-line meeting held on April 16, 2020 concluded that a postponement of the pending 2020 ISU Championships is not possible. Consequently, the ISU Council has decided that the following ISU Championships must be definitely cancelled:

  • ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, Seoul, March 13-15, 2020
  • ISU World Figure Skating Championships, Montreal, March 16-22, 2020
  • ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships, Lake Placid, April 3-5, 2020.

In regard to the planning of the 2020/21 skating season and considering the uncertain development of the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on the staging of international sports events, the ISU Council will hold another on-line meeting on April 28 when different scenarios of the COVID-19 developments and impact on the ISU Event calendar will be discussed. The objective is to work out and communicate to all stakeholders options suitable for different scenarios in order to limit the uncertainty to the strict minimum. This evaluation will also consider the ISU Skating Awards in Figure Skating.

Statement from the ISU, 11 March 2020

With the uncertainty surrounding the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Skate Canada and the International Skating Union (ISU), were informed today by the Government of Quebec that they have decided to cancel the ISU World Figure Skating Championships® 2020. The event was scheduled to take place from March 16-22, 2020 in Montreal at Centre Bell.  

The ISU and Skate Canada and have closely monitored the provincial and federal health authorities’ position on the spread of the virus and fully respect the difficult decision made today.  Like the authorities, the ISU and Skate Canada are committed to the health and safety of the athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and spectators.

The ISU therefore is unable to hold the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2020 at the above-mentioned planned date.  The ISU thanks Skate Canada and all the partners involved in the preparation of the Event and for their cooperation during the critical monitoring phase leading up to this decision.

Many stakeholders have been affected by the cancellation of the World Championships, the ISU and Skate Canada will be communicating directly with each group in the coming days. Any fan who has purchased tickets directly from the official ticket provider Evenko will receive details on the refund process in due course.

Considering the current uncertain developments surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, a rescheduling and/or relocation of the above-mentioned Championships within the current season, even if the season would be extended by several weeks after its normal end in early April, cannot be reasonably considered. During the coming weeks, the ISU will evaluate in cooperation with all stakeholders whether the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2020 could possibly be held later in the year, but in any case not before October 2020.Before taking a final decision, the ISU will remain in close contact with Skate Canada and ISU Members.

The ISU regrets that the most important Figure Skating Event of the season cannot be held as planned but the ISU also understands that the safety and wellbeing of all participants and the community take precedence and is sure that ISU Members, Skaters and fans will understand this decision.


2020 Junior Worlds

Reports from Tallinn, Estonia.

A Quad Salchow, Nearly as Good as It Gets

The anatomy of a fully rotated quad Salchow, executed by Yuzuru Hanyu.

2020 Four Continents Championships

Hanyu, Kihira, Sui & Han Highlight Successful Four Continents Championships in Seoul, Korea

by Tatiana Flade

Excellent performances by star stars such as Yuzuru Hanyu, Rika Kihira, Wenjing Sui & Cong Han and many others highlighted the ISU Four Continents Championships in Seoul, Korea. Even the Corona virus panic didn’t stop the event from being a success.

Precautions were taken, but some of them seemed unnecessary or exaggerated. Spectators had fill into a health inquiry from where they were asked whether they had been to China or had contact to ill people, all accredited people had their temperature checked every time they entered the rink. However, you can be infected and contagious without showing any symptoms such as fever for up to two weeks. Most people wore masks all the time, although these don’t provide an effective protection. Everyone was reminded of washing their hands regularly  - which is something you should do anyway, especially when using the restroom and before eating.

Only one skater withdrew apparently because of the Corona virus – Christy Yi Leung from Hong Kong, who is actually based in the USA. The Chinese delegation needed a special permit to be able to enter Korea as the country closed their borders from people coming from China on February 4.

Several spectators from China possibly were unable to attend because of these travel restrictions. According to the organizers, about 25 percent of the tickets had been sold to Chinese fans. Korea had officially reported 25 cases of Corona virus infections until February 8, so all these measures seemed a bit over the top. It was not like the virus was rampant in Seoul. Every year more people die from the regular flu. Except for all the people wearing masks, the event seemed like business as usual and no major problems arose.

The ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2021 will be held in Sydney, Australia.

Ladies Event

Men's Event

Pairs Event

Dance Event

2020 European Championships

Graz, Austria

Ladies Event

Men's Event

Pairs Event

Dance Event

2020 U.S. Nationals

21-26 January 2020

Greensboro, NC

Gracie Gold Jumps Back Into National Ring

By Liz Leamy

Gracie Gold, much to the excitement of many fans and thousands of those involved in the sport, is in the proverbial house here in Greensboro where she has been making, in typical style, quite a splash.

The Chicago-area native, who captured the attention of the world back in mid 2010s when she clinched the 2014 and 2016 U.S. titles with her power, pizzazz and infectious high energy, valiantly made her way back into the national center ring upon scoring bronze medals at the 2020 South Atlantic Regional and 2020 Eastern Sectional Championship events last fall.

The beguiling 24 year-old, who also placed fourth at the 2014 Olympics and 2015 and 2016 World Championships, wound up 13th in the short Thursday night with a noble performance in which she executed a big double Axel and triple Lutz (with a landing that was two footed)-double toe.

Due to the fact that she had singled a triple loop, Gold lost some crucial points affecting her standing in this first-round showdown.

Wearing a black dress inflected with sparkling gold accents, Gold was clearly a crowd favorite, as the audience gave her a thunderous round of applause when she completed her program.

For Gold, who trains full time in Aston, Pennsylvania with Alex Zahradnicek and Pasha Filchenkov, the narrative seems to be all about self empowerment these days, as this outing marked another vital step forward in her journey back into the spotlight of figure skating.

Gold’s performance here in Greensboro marks the first time she has competed in this event since 2017, when she was sixth at that U.S. Championships.

This venerable athlete, who was followed by virtually all of the biggest media outlets when she made her first big gold-medal splash in the championship skating world, including the New York Post, New York Times and USA Today and was said to have hung around with such mega-celebrities as Taylor Swift when she lived in the Los Angeles area from 2013 through 2016, revealed the powerful spirit here that brought her to worldwide fame a few years back.

Somehow, much of the reason for this is due to the good   old happiness and contentment factor, as Gold, who resides in Claymont, Delaware, is said to be settled and content with her situation at the Aston Ice Works complex, where the renowned Philadelphia Open is held every July.

There, Gold teaches group and private lessons when she is not busy training on and off ice, usually on weekends.

According to insiders, she is adored by many of the young skaters there, as she is said to always make time to chat with them, which is a true test of practically any individual’s character.

Meanwhile, Gold is building her brand, as she has recently formed a partnership with the company Julep, creators of makeup, skincare and nail polish.

For Julep, Gold serves as a spokesperson for their products and also their philosophy of strength, beauty and spirit, which seems appropriate based upon the type of person she is and continues to evolve into.

With this, let the next stage of the games in regard to this promising and talented athlete carry on.

Nathan Chen Seeks Fourth Consecutive U.S. Title - Nathan Chen, the 20 year-old Salt Lake City native and quad jumping phenom who, over the past number of years, has been largely responsible for raising the technical bar of figure skating, seems as hungry as ever to claim his fourth consecutive U.S. title at the 2020 Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina next week.

Cain-Gribble and LeDuc Set to Defend Their U.S. Pairs Title - Ashley Cain-Gribble & Timothy LeDuc, the 2019 U.S. champions who have been making a name as a global podium threat the past few seasons, seem as poised as ever to retain their position as the country’s premiere pair in Greensboro.

Hubbell and Donohue Looking to Clinch Third Consecutive Title at U.S. Nationals - Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, the reigning two-time U.S. champions and two-time World medalists (silver in 2018 and bronze in 2019) seem to be as pinpoint-focused as ever in regard to the prospect of capturing a third consecutive gold medal at the U.S. Championships in Greensboro.


Alysa Liu Eager to Defend U.S. National Title in Greensboro - Alysa Liu, the effervescent 14 year-old Clovis, California native who last season, catapulted herself right into the sport’s main spotlight after having captured the 2019 U.S. title, seems poised and primed to defend her position as the ladies frontrunner at the 2020 U.S. Championships in Greensboro next week.

The Next Olympic Ladies Champion Revealed - The next Olympic Winter Games are about two years away, but already the writing is on the wall for who will be the next Olympic Ladies Champion.

The Axel is the Only Jump that Takes Off Backwards

In Search of the Quad Axel - What will it take to complete a quad Axel?

The Perfect Air Position - What is it?  What does it look like?  Why does it matter?

Current Replay Systems Not Up To Task of Insuring Accurate Calls

2019 Grand Prix Junior and Senior Finals - The Junior and Senior Finals in Torino, Italy closed out the first half of the 2019/20 season.  Given the number of entries and medals that went to Russia, this might as well have been Russian Nationals.  Half the medals were captured by that country.  The United States placed second in the medal count with five.

2019 NHK





Exhibition Cast
Photo by Robin Ritoss


2019 Cup of Russia





Shiseido Cup of China 2019





Exhibition Cast
Photo by Robin Ritoss

Liubov Iliushechkina & Charlie Bilodeau Show New Type of Press Lift at Skate Canada International

by George S Rossano

The Canadian pair team of Liubov Iliushechkina & Charlie Bilodeau presented a new form of press lift in their free program at the 2019 Skate Canada International in Kelowna, BC.

The ISU (rule 619) divides listed lifts into five groups with the following definitions, with hand to hand lifts being group 4:

Group One - Armpit Hold position
Group Two - Waist Hold position
Group Three - Hand to Hip or upper part of the leg (above the knee) position
Group Four - Hand to Hand position (Press Lift type)
Group Five - Hand to Hand position (Lasso Lift type)

The Lift’s Group is determined by the hold at the moment the Lady passes the Man’s shoulder.

 In Groups 3–5 full extension of the lifting arm(s) is mandatory.

Rule 619 also states:

Partners may give each other assistance only through hand-to-hand, hand-to-arm, hand-to-body and hand to upper part of the leg (above the knee) grips. A change of hold means going from one of these grips to another or from one hand to another in a one hand hold. Changes of hold during the lift are permitted.

The takeoff of this lift (shown below) highlights an interesting ambiguity in the rule.

The lift meets the requirement for a legal hold (hand-to-arm) but does not meet the definition of a group 4 lift (hand to hand), or any other group for that matter.  If anything, this hold starts off looking closer to an armpit hold (group 1) than anything else. But it's clearly not hand to hand.

Nevertheless, the technical panel called this a group 4 lift; and there you have it, a new hand to arm group 4 lift is created.

To paraphrase Humpty Dumpty in "Through the Looking-Glass":

“When I use a rule,” the Technical Panel said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make rules mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said the Technical Panel, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Like Captain Barbossa's comment about the pirate code in Pirates of the Caribbean, it seems for the ISU "the code (rulebook) is more what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules."


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News Nuggets

Past News Nuggets are in the Archive

22 June 2020 - Two-time and reigning U.S. champion Alysa Liu announced today that she will begin training under a new team of coaches, including Lee Barkell, Lori Nichol and Massimo Scali. She has worked with all the coaches except Barkell in the past.

Liu, who became the youngest lady to win a U.S. title at age 13 in 2019, will continue to be based in Oakland, California.

“I am very excited to announce that I will be training under the guidance of a new team of coaches including Lee Barkell, Lori Nichol and Massimo Scali," Liu said. "I look forward to working with all my coaches even though some of them are located in different parts of the world.”

Liu was previously coached by Laura Lipetsky.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank my former coach Laura Lipetsky for everything she has done for me since the beginning of my career,” Liu said. “We’ve worked so closely together, and she has helped me get to where I am today.”

Liu will compete as a junior internationally and senior domestically during the 2020-21 season.

29 Feb. 2020 - The ISU confirmed the

2020 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2020 will not be staged as originally scheduled on March 13-15, 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea.  Authorities of the city of Seoul have closed the Mokdong Ice Rink and ordered the cancellation of all planned competitions. 
The ISU will evaluate the possibility of holding the Championships later in the year, but in any case not before mid-October 2020.  All other ISU Events for the season 2019/20 remain scheduled as planned.

The ISU advises that anyone with any symptoms of acute illness should NOT be traveling to ISU Events. Anyone seeking accreditation for ISU Events will be required to complete an ISU questionnaire and a temperature check.

Anyone with an acute illness or temperature will not be granted an accreditation. Instead they will be provided with a mask, isolated and will follow the protocol of the host country for testing and quarantine.

The ISU has implemented the following precautions at ISU Events  aimed at all accredited persons for the prevention of contracting the Coronavirus:

  1. Questionnaire and health checks to be completed at arrival at the ISU Event  
  2. Health checks periodically throughout the ISU Event
  3. Availability of tests for coronavirus on anyone with a temperature
  4. Availability of masks for anyone who has cold-like symptoms or requests one. Please note that masks are not recommended for anyone who is healthy. Masks are recommended for anyone with symptoms.
  5. Isolation room(s) to be available if necessary
  6. Availability of hand sanitizer throughout the venue and the hotel
  7. Gloves to be available if requested
  8. Reinforce education regarding frequent hand washing, use of hand gel and cough etiquette.
  9. Reduce handshaking and close physical contact
  10. Educational sheet included in information on the ISU Events App.

Local Organizing Committees will be responsible to implement any necessary measures for the general public.

8 Feb. 2020 - The president of France's ice sport federation, Didier Gailhaguet, resigned over a damaging sex abuse scandal engulfing his sport.  Four members of the federation board have also resigned.

In his resignation announcement Gailhaguet said, "In the spirit of conciliation I took the sensible decision to resign with philosophy, dignity but no bitterness."

In an autobiography published on January 30, former world championship bronze medalist Sarah Abitbol accused coach Gilles Beyer of raping her several times from 1990 to 1992 when she was between the ages of 15 and 17.  Other accusations have since followed including another skater, the parent of a skater, and another coach.

Gailhaguet's had led the French ice sport federation since 1998, except for a three-year international ban following the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics scandal, and from 2004 to 2007 following a critical auditor's report.

 The French Sports Ministry, led by Roxana Maracineanu, has promised a thorough investigation of the accusations, most of which, if not all, predate Gailhaguet's tenure as federation chief.

The key question concerning federation officials is what did they know, when did they know it, and what action did they take to protect their athletes.  Beyer is described as having an executive position with the federation until 2018, and was also a national team coach for several years.

6 Jan. 2020 - U.S. Figure Skating has selected the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas as the host for 2020 Skate America, Oct. 23-25, 2020, and the host for the 2021 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships, Feb. 24-27, 2021.

Skate America, which will return to Las Vegas after a successful 2019 event, will be the first competition of the International Skating Union Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series.

Tickets for Skate America will go on sale later this spring.

“We received an overwhelmingly positive response from skaters and fans in regard to their experience at 2019 Skate America,” U.S. Figure Skating president Anne Cammett said. “The convenience of having the host hotel within a short walk of the Orleans Arena was heavily considered in the decision to return. We also heard good things from the skaters and coaches about the arena, the ice and the professional staff at the Orleans Arena.”

“After hosting a successful 2019 Skate America competition, The Orleans and Boyd Gaming are honored to continue the great relationship that has been built with U.S. Figure Skating with its decision to bring Skate America back to the Orleans Arena Las Vegas in 2020,” Executive Director of the Orleans Arena Rex Berman said. “This continues our proud tradition of hosting Olympic style events, and we cannot wait to welcome these world-class athletes back to the property.”

The 2021 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships will mark the first time that the event has been held in Las Vegas.

“U.S. Figure Skating is excited to showcase our premier synchronized skating event in Las Vegas,” Cammett said. “This is a great opportunity for the athletes, coaches, officials and fans to come to such a vibrant sports city. I’m looking forward to seeing the bleachers full, the banners waving and hearing the cheers at the Orleans Arena.”

2 Jan. 2020 - World bronze medalist Vincent Zhou announced today that he will begin training with Lee Barkell and Lori Nichol in Toronto, Canada. Zhou will also continue to train with Mie Hamada. Zhou had previously been coached by Tammy Gambill, Christy Krall and Tom Zakrajsek in Colorado Springs.

“I can’t thank Tammy, Christy and Tom enough for all they have done for me and my career,” Zhou said. “I’m excited to begin training with Lee, and also work more regularly with Lori, in Toronto, and continue to work with Mie.”

Zhou withdrew from both of his Grand Prix assignments this season to focus on school this fall.  He has since decided to begin a gap year at Brown University to focus on figure skating.  He is scheduled to next compete at the 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

9 Dec. 2019 - The World Anti-Doping Agency’s Executive Committee have unanimously endorsed the recommendation of the independent Compliance Review Committee that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency be declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code for a period of four years.

The 12-member committee supported the recommendation, which includes a series of strong consequences and conditions for reinstatement.

In remarks when the announcement was made, WADA President Sir Craig Reedie said: “For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport. The blatant breach by the Russian authorities of RUSADA’s reinstatement conditions, approved by the ExCo in September 2018, demanded a robust response. That is exactly what has been delivered today.

 Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and re-join the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial."

 As a result, the WADA ExCo has responded in the strongest possible terms, while protecting the rights of Russian athletes that can prove that they were not involved and did not benefit from these fraudulent acts."

This ban covers both the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.  Despite another doping ban, some Russian athletes will still be able to compete at these Games.

The sanctions handed down, however, mean there won't be a Russian flag or national anthem at the Olympics. But it is expected athletes who can be proven to be clean can compete under the Olympic banner.

Similar restrictions were imposed for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, where there was no “Russia” but there were 168 “Olympic Athletes from Russia," two of whom later failed doping tests.

Russia rejects the WADA ruling, and is expected to challenge it before the international Court of Arbitration for Sport.

22 Oct. 2019 - Vincent Zhou, the bronze medal at the 2019 World Figure Skating, has withdrawn from both his Grand Prix assignments, Cup of China and Rostelecom Cup.

“It’s really difficult to balance classes and training at the same time,” said Zhou, who is in the middle of his freshman year at Brown University. “I want to perform at the highest level on the ice and in the classroom, and I have not been able to dedicate the necessary time to my skating with my rigorous class schedule. Unfortunately, the timing of my midterms has fallen right in the middle of an important training period for me this fall. This was a tough decision because I love to perform in front of the fans, but this is the best decision for me right now.”

2020 / 2021 Season

September Competitions

Sep 09 - Sep 12, 2020, ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating, Budapest, HUN

Sep 16 - Sep 19, 2020, ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating, Shinyokohama, JPN

Sep 23 - Sep 26, 2020, ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating, Ostrav, CZE

Sep 30 - Oct 03, 2020, ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating, Tashkent, UZB

October Competitions

Oct 07 - Oct 10, 2020, ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating, Ljubljana, SLO

Oct 23 - Oct 25, 2020, ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, Skate America, Las Vegas, NV, USA

Oct 30 - Nov 01, 2020, ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, Skate Canda International, Ottawa, CAN, SLO

November Competitions

Nov 06 - Nov 08, 2020, ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, Cup of China, Chingqing, CHN

Nov 13 - Nov 15, 2020, ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, Internationaux de France, Grenoble FRA

Nov 20 - Nov 22, 2020, ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, Rostelcom Cup, Moscow, RUS

December Competitions

Dec 10 - Dec 13, 2020, ISU Grand Prix of figure Skating Final, Beijing, CHN

2020-2021 ISU Grand Prix

Event Location Date
Skate America Las Vegas, Nevada, United States October 23–25
Skate Canada Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Oct 30– Nov 1
Cup of China Choingqing, China November 6–8
Internationaux de France Grenoble, France November 13–15
Rostelecom Cup Moscow, Russia November 20–22
NHK Trophy Osaka, Japan November 27–29
Grand Prix Final Beijing, China December 10–13
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