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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 World Figure Skating Championships

Mar 22 - Mar 28, 2021, Stockholm, SWE

  In the News:

2019 NHK


by Klaus-Reinhold Kany

The NHK Trophy is named after Japan’s only public media (especially TV) organization Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK) which has transmitted this skating competition for many years and is the main sponsor. This year, the Trophy is the last of the six Grand Prix. The site of this competition changes every year, similar to Skate America. This year it is held in the Olympic city of Sapporo, where it has been organized already in 1998, 2011 and 2016. Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido, the northernmost of the four big Japanese islands, and has a population of about 1.9 million. The distance to Tokyo by air is about 520 miles, The event is held in the Makomanai Ice Arena with 11,000 seats, which was built for the figure skating events and some ice hockey games of the Olympic Winter Games of 1972. Many spots for the Grand Prix Final are still open, and in all four categories top skaters are competing, therefore the tension is high and the event has been sold out for a long time.

In the men’s competition, Japan’s superstar and multi-millionaire Yuzuru Hanyu leads the field, especially after his excellent performance and victory at Skate Canada. Everything but a clear victory of the 2019 World silver medalist (behind Nathan Chen who has already two vicories) would be a big surprise. Several skaters have an eye on the two other medals: One of them is Jason Brown who was second at Skate America. Another silver medal would almost guarantee him a spot for the Final in Torino, Italy. Another medal candidate is Kevin Aymoz from France who won bronze in his home town of Grenoble.

Two skaters from Russia also have medal chances: The Cup of Russia surprise bronze medalist Makar Ignatov wants to capture a small chance to reach the Final in his first Grand Prix season. „Oldie“ Sergei Voronov reached the Final in 2018 and 2019, but was only sixth in France this year and seems not as strong any more. The second U.S. skater and reigning Junior World Champion Tomoki Hiwatashi was fifth in France and hopes to reach at least this position again in Sapporo. In good shape the two other Japanese skaters Sota Yamamoto and Koshiro Shimada also hope for good results, as well as the Israeli Alexei Bychenko. The two Canadians Conrad Orzel and Roman Sadovsky were not stable and consistent in their first Grand Prix, finishing only 11th and 10th and hope to be better this time.

In the ladies event, a battle between two Russian and one Japanese skaters for the victory may be expected. Alena Kostornaia from Russia won in France mainly because of her triple Axels, but also because of her excellent style. She beat the reigning World Champion Alina Zagitova there, but without Zagitova’s mistakes the race between these two may be close. Rika Kihira is the best jumper in Japan and also has the triple Axel in her repertoire – and she may have a bit of a home advantage in Sapporo. If everything runs normal, these three should win the medals and qualify for the Final all three. Outsider chances for a medal might have Eunsoo Lim from South Korea or the third Russian skater and reigning European champion Sofia Samodurova. The three U.S. skaters do not seem to be strong contenders for a medal. Starr Andrews might be better than Karen Chen and Meagan Wessenberg. 

Four times World Champions Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron are the hot favorites in the ice dance competition after winning their home event in Grenoble in an outstanding way. They are chasing one world record in points after the other even if the ISU does not call them „World Record“. The other dance teams know that they can aim only for silver and bronze if everything remains normal. Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri from Italy will try to win silver after being third in France. The same is true for Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin from Russia, who had been second at Skate America. Both couples can hope to qualify for the Final together with the French team.

The other couples have only limited chances to win a medal. The rising British couple of Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson, third in Canada nevertheless hope for a surprise. Another rising team is from the U.S.: Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko want to move forward and to come as close as possible to a medal. And a third team has become very strong lately: Shiyue Wang & Xinyi Lui from China were fourth at the Grand Prix in their home country. The only Japanese couple Misato Komatsubara & Tim Koleto withdrew from the NHK Trophy a week before the event. Koleto wrote that Komatsubara had a concussion in August and after the Cup of China some symptoms returned.

In the pairs competition there is also a highly favorized team: The reigning World Champions Wenjing Sui & Cong Han from China are expected to win their second Grand Prix after being successful in China. If Kirsten Moore-Towers & Michael Marinaro from Canada take the silver medal, they would be happy because this would probably qualify them for the Final after being second at their first Grand Prix in Canada. But there are other strong teams: Anastasia Mishina & Aleksandr Galliamov, the reigning Junior World Champions from Russia, had won the Grand Prix in France and want to show that this was not a nine-day wonder.

The Italian pair of Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise was not yet very good in their first Grand Prix in China after a long injury break in the summer, but they hope for more in their second Grand Prix. Two U.S. teams and former U.S. champions also want to show that their shape is going up and that they are candidates for another U.S. title in January: Alexa Scimeca Knierim & Chris Knierim were fourth at Skate Canada, Tarah Kayne & Danny O’Shea placed sixth at the Cup of China, but both teams have a lot of room for improvement.

2019 Cup of Russia





Shiseido Cup of China 2019





2019 Skate France International

Grenoble, France

The 2019 Internationaux de France de Patinage, in the University and 1968 Olympic City of Grenoble, in the Alps of Southeastern France is the third Grand Prix of this season. The rink is called "Pole sud“ (South Pole) and is about two miles south of downtown. Grenoble has no airport because of surrounding mountains. Therefore all skaters, coaches, officials and spectators who come by plane, arrive at Lyon airport, which is about 50 miles northwest of Grenoble, and go to Grenoble by bus, train or car in about one hour.  This is the third year this competition has been held in Grenoble. <more>

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."

2019 Skate Canada International 

Kelowna, BC

The second Grand Prix in 2019 is Skate Canada International in the wine city of Kelowna, British Columbia. The biggest star is the two time Olympic gold medal winner Yuzuru Hanyu from Japan who plans to compete in Canada again a bit more than one month after his first competition at Autumn Classic in Oakville near Toronto. A huge crowd of Japanese fans are therefore heading to Kelowna and many hotels are booked out. If the student of Brian Orser does normal no other competitor should be able get as many points as him. But several other skaters hope for silver and bronze medals, for example European bronze medalist Matteo Rizzo from Italy, the two Canadians Nam Nguyen and Roman Sadovsky, Brandon Kerry from Australia and the second Japanese skater Keiji Tanaka. Russian skater Mihkail Kolyada had to skip the whole fall season because he has to undergo a sinus surgery and is replaced by Julian Yee of Malaysia. U.S skater Camden Pulkinen gives his senior Grand Prix debut.  <more>

2019 Skate America 

Las Vegas, NV

Current Replay Systems Not Up To Task of Insuring Accurate Calls

The 2019 Junior Grand Prix Series 

The seven 2019 Junior Grand Prix were a great success for the hundreds of skaters who competed and won a lot of experience for their later career in seniors. Russia once again was by far the most successful country and won 15 of the 24 spots for the Junior Final, the USA only two. Most Junior Grand Prix are attended by less than 300 spectators, but a huge exception was the event in Tcheliabinsk in Russia where more than 5.000 spectators came every day. All programs were transmitted with livestreams on the ISU channel and can be watched again on Youtube. <more>

Lake Placid Junior Grand Prix Draws Premiere Juniors From All Over Globe


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Past News Nuggets are in the Archive

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.”

2019 / 2020 Season

November Competitions

Nov 01 - Nov 03, 2019, Icelab International Cup, Bergamo, ITA

Nov 01 - Nov 03, 2019, ISU Grand Prix - Internationaux de France, Grenoble, FRA

Nov 06 - Nov 10, 2019, Volvo Open Cup, Riga, LAT

Nov 08 - Nov 10, 2019, ISU Grand Prix - SHISEIDO Cup of China, Chongqing, CHN

Nov 08 - Nov 10, 2019, Pavel Roman Memorial, Olomouc, CZE

Nov 08 - Nov 10, 2019, Prague Ice Cup, Prague, CZE

Nov 10 - Nov 17, 2019, Tallinn Trophy, Tallinn, EST

Nov 12 - Nov 17, 2019, Denkova-Staviski Cup, Sofia, BUL

Nov 14 - Nov 17, 2019, Warsaw Cup, Warsaw, POL

Nov 15 - Nov 17, 2019, ISU Grand Prix - Rostelecom Cup, Moscow, RUS

Nov 20 - Nov 24, 2019, Open d'Andorra, Canillo, AND

Nov 20 - Nov 24, 2019, Skate Celje, Celje, SLO

Nov 22 - Nov 24, 2019, ISU Grand Prix - NHK Trophy, Sapporo, JPN

Nov 25 - Nov 30, 2019, Bosphorus Istanbul Cup, Istanbul, TUR

Nov 30 - Dec 02, 2019, Southeast Asian Games, Manila, PHI

December Competitions

Dec 02 - Dec 08, 2019, Santa Claus Cup, Budapest, HUN

Dec 04 - Dec 07, 2019, Golden Spin of Zagreb, Zagreb, CRO

Dec 05 - Dec 08, 2019, ISU Grand Prix Final (Senior & Junior), Torino, ITA

Dec 13 - Dec 15, 2019, 61st Grand Prix of Bratislava, Bratislava, SVK

January Competitions

Jan 04 - Jan 05, 2020, English Inclusive Skating International Championships (Special Competition), Solihull, GBR

Jan 07 - Jan 12, 2020, Mentor Torun Cup, Torún, POL

Jan 08 - Jan 12, 2020, EduSport Trophy, Bucharest,  Otopeni, ROU

Jan 09 - Jan 19, 2020, Winter World Masters Games (Adult Competition), Innsbruck, AUT

Jan 09 - Jan 22, 2020, 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games, Lausanne, SUI

Jan 14 - Jan 18, 2020, 13th Europa Cup Skate Helena, Belgrade, SRB

Jan 20 - Jan 26, 2020, ISU European  Championships, Graz, AUT

Jan 24 - Jan 26, 2020, Reykjavik International Games, Reykjavik, ISL

Jan 30 - Feb 02, 2020, Dragon Trophy & Tivoli Cup, Ljubljana, SLO

February Competitions

Feb 03 - Feb 09, 2020, Sofia Trophy, Sofia, BUL

Feb 04 - Feb 09, 2020, Bavarian Open, Oberstdorf, GER

Feb 04 - Feb 09, 2020, ISU Four Continents  Championships, Seoul, KOR

Feb 06 - Feb 09, 2020, The Nordics & Nordics Open, Stavanger, NOR

Feb 07 - Feb 09, 2020, Egna Dance Trophy, Egna, ITA

Feb 13 - Feb 16, 2020, Ice Challenge, Graz, AUT

Feb 13 - Feb 16, 2020, Tallink Hotels Cup, Tallinn, EST

Feb 14 - Feb 16, 2020, Jegvirag Cup, Miskolc, HUN

Feb 14 - Feb 16, 2020, Sarajevo Open, Sarajevo, BIH

Feb 18 - Feb 22, 2020, Open Ice Mall Cup, Eilat, ISR

Feb 19 - Feb 22, 2020, Bellu Memorial, Bucharest,  Otopeni, ROU

Feb 20 - Feb 23, 2020, Challenge Cup, Den Haag, NED

March Competitions

Mar 02 - Mar 08, 2020, ISU World Junior  Championships, Tallinn, EST

Mar 13 - Mar 15, 2020, Coupe du Printemps, Kockelscheuer, LUX

Mar 16 - Mar 22, 2020, ISU World Championships, Montréal, CAN

Mar 26 - Mar 29, 2020, Egna Spring Trophy, Egna, ITA

April Competitions

Apr 03 - Apr 05, 2020, 15th DVTK-AVAS Cup, Miskolc, HUN

Apr 06 - Apr 12, 2020, Triglav Trophy & Narcisa Cup, Jesenice, SLO

Apr 15 - Apr 18, 2020, Golden Lynx, Gomel, BLR

May Competitions

May 06 - May 08, 2020, Oceania International Novice Competition, Auckland, NZL

May 17 - May 23, 2020, ISU International Adult Competition, Oberstdorf, GER

2019-2020 ISU Grand Prix

Event Location Date
Skate America Las Vegas, Nevada, United States October 18–20
Skate Canada Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada October 25–27
Internationaux de France Grenoble, France November 1–3
Cup of China Chongqing, China November 8–10
Rostelecom Cup Moscow, Russia November 15–17
NHK Trophy Sapporo, Japan November 22–24
Grand Prix Final Turin, Italy December 5–8
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