Final Winter Olympic
Qualifications to be Decided at 2021
by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
A bit more than three quarters of the country spots for the
Olympic Winter Games 2022 were decided at the World
Championships in Stockholm, Sweden in March 2021. But the last
spots will be decided at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf,
Germany, like in 2009, 2013 and 2017. This traditional early
fall competition has existed for more than 50 years. It is named
after a mountain near the rink.
There is a rule change since the last Olympic qualification
competition in 2017. This time, a country at first only has as
many spots as there were skaters in the final at Worlds. If this
one skater has been in the top ten or the two best skaters
together have not more than 13 placing points together (for
example finishing 5th and 8th), the country has the right to
send a different skater from those in the final to Nebelhorn to
get one more spot. The goal of this rule change is to avoid a
country to get two or even three spots although it has only one
good skater in this category. Some additional skaters will
compete at Nebelhorn Trophy without any Olympic qualification.
In the women‘s competition, six Olympic spots out of 34
competitors will be decided. If a country gives back its spot,
it might be seven. The USA has two guaranteed women’s spots
because Karen Chen and Bradie Tennell were 4th and 9th at Worlds.
This is not more than 13, therefore they will send Alysa Liu to
be among the top seven of those who try to qualify for the
Olympics at Nebelhorn and to win a third spot for the USA. Other
strong women who have a good chance to win a spot for their
country are Ekaterina Kurakova for Poland, Lara Naki Gutman for
Italy and Alexia Paganini for Switzerland.
In the men’s competition, there are seven spots for 25
competitors trying to qualify. The USA has only two up to now
because Nathan Chen was first and Jason Brown seventh, together
less than 14. Therefore the USA will send Vincent Zhou to win a
third Olympic spot because he had not reached the final in
Stockholm. The strongest other men are Mark Kondratiuk for
Russia, Brendan Kerry for Australia, Vladimir Litvintsev for
Azerbaijan, Roman Sadovsky for Canada, Adam Siao Him Fa for
France and Paul Fentz for Germany.
In ice dance, only four Olympic spots are open for 16 countries
because only 23 couples will compete at the Olympic Games,
instead of 24 in 2018. The USA has three spots guaranteed
because their three ice dance couples were 2nd, 4th and 9th at
Worlds. The best couples for the Olympic spots are Tina
Garabedian & Simon Proulx Senecal for Armenia, Natalie
Taschlerova & Filip Taschler for the Czech Republic, Juulia
Turkkila & Matthias Versluis for Finland, Maria Kazakova &
Georgy Reviya for Georgia and Yura Min & Daniel Eaton for South
For the 13 pairs, there are only three spots because 19 will
compete at the Games instead of 20 in 2018. The USA have two
Olympic spots guaranteed but cannot win a second spot because
Knierim & Frazier were 7th and Cain-Gribble & Leduc 9th, which
is 16 together, more than 13. The best pairs might be Yuchen
Wang & Yihang Huang for China, Laura Barquero & Marco Zandron
for Spain and Coline Keriven & Noel-Antoine Pierre for France.
Bradley Lord’s 1961 U.S. Gold-Medal Winning Performance
A template for the ages
by Liz Leamy
(7 May 2021) In light of the fact that this past winter
marks the 60-year anniversary of the 1961 U.S. World figure
skating team who tragically lost their lives on the Sabena
Flight 548 crash near Brussels, Belgium on route to the World Figure
Skating Championships that February, it is enlightening,
inspirational and gratifying to learn about the incredible depth
and talent, as well as the touching personal stories of those
individuals who had been on that flight.
Bradley Lord, in particular, was a driven
and talented 21 year-old top American contender who represented
the Skating Club of Boston at the 1961 U.S. Championships in
Colorado Springs where he famously clinched his first U.S. title
with a remarkable free skate that still stands in terms of its
choreography, execution and overall layout.
Lord, who had been second in the figure
portion of that competition, held at the original Broadmoor
World Arena, triumphantly pulled up to the first place overall with
his electric program, edging out his talented rival, Gregory
Kelley, a 16 year-old Newton, Massachusetts native who was the
1959 U.S. junior champion who wound up claiming silver at the
1961 U.S. Championships to earn a spot on that U.S. World team.
Skating to an operatic medley of Pagliacci, La Taviata and
Sleeping Beauty, with visible determination, command
and strength, Lord, who came from a family of Italian descent
and lived in Swampscott, a North Shore coastline town nearly 15
miles north of Boston, demonstrated astonishing technical and
artistic aptitude as well as notable speed and energy throughout
his entire program, performing every primary turn and step
including rockers, counters, loops, Mohawks and Choctaws
performed in both directions, among other notable things.
At the same time, Lord does some
show stopping moves, including a back-to-front pivot with a
complete change of direction, clockwise-direction split jump (he
is a counter-clockwise jumper and spinner) and double loop
landed on a left-back inside edge, all of which generated
thunderous applause from the packed crowd at the Broadmoor
For Lord, it was all about doing his best.
“After I had skated, I felt I did the best
I could,” said Lord, who attended Boston University and had
wanted to eventually pursue a career in commercial art. “As long
as I had done [my] best, I was happy. I knew Greg [Kelley] was a
strong free skater and it all depended on how I did.”
Although this program dates all the way
back from 1961, and Lord’s technical content consisted of double
jumps (all of which were high, fast and technically solid), his
components were dazzling on all counts and could still stand in
Specifically, his connecting steps were
rich and complex, his skating skills were superior and his
choreography and presentation is intriguing, full of depth and
clear, powerful and effective in terms of its narrative and
messaging, rendering this program as a true template for much of
what the International Judging System stands for today.
Lord, who had placed fourth at the 1960
U.S. Championships and sixth at that year’s World Championships,
was coached by Montgomery ‘Bud’ Wilson, a Canadian Olympic
bronze medalist (who was awarded the Bronze Star for heroic military efforts
as an artillery officer during World War II) at the Skating Club
of Boston, who also did the choreography for this program as
Known as a ‘great guy and friend’ among his
peers at the storied Skating Club of Boston venue where he
trained all the way from the group lesson level up through the
National and World Championship level, Lord had faced some
struggles throughout his competitive career.
For one, he was said to have worked
extremely hard to pay for his skating expenses, and had taken
several aside jobs to help cover costs.
Further, Lord labored extremely hard to get
through the challenging eight U.S. Figure Skating school figure
tests, most of which did not come easy to him (or most anyone
else, for that matter).
At the same time, Lord worked dogmatically
to prepare to face off against Gregory Kelley, the formidable
young American international contender who was fifth at the 1960
U.S. Championships and ninth at the1960 Worlds.
Known for his terrific speed and high
jumps, Kelley, like Lord, had worked with Montgomery Wilson for
many years at the Skating Club of Boston, but had made a
coaching change several years prior to the 1961 U.S.
Championships so he could train with Eduard ‘Edi’ Scholdan, an
Austrian figure skater and coach at the Broadmoor Arena in
Somehow, all of these challenges only
seemed to motivate Lord in his pursuit of winning the 1961 U.S.
title, something that was evident in his victorious free skate
Ultimately, his impact among those who knew
him, just as like his skating, was potent and still resonates to
“Bradley was so nice. He would always come
by to chat to see how we were all doing,” said Nancy Madden
Leamy, a U.S. national coach based in Greenwich, Connecticut who
trained with Lord at the Skating Club of Boston growing up. (She
was also coached by Montgomery Wilson.) “We all worked hard at
the club and then many of us would then go out to eat afterward
and would sit together and just talk and laugh. It was a lot of
fun and we had a good time.”
Certainly, the legacy of all the talented
and fascinating members of the 1961 U.S. World team, as
illustrated in the work and story of Bradley Lord, has had a
great effect on so many and continues to serve as a powerful
prototype and means of inspiration today for those who comprise
the domestic and global skating world in terms of their skating,
determination and perhaps more than anything, heart.
Last Day of the World Team Trophy; Russia Becomes World Team Trophy Champion for the First Time
by Maria-Laura Mitsuoka
World Team Trophy, Final Standings
12 + 11
12 + 10
8 + 6
10 + 8
8 + 7
9 + 7
12 + 10
12 + 5
10 + 9
11 + 8
11 + 4
6 + 5
6 + 4
3 + 0
6 + 0
2 + 1
2 + 1
9 + 5
9 + 4
4 + 3
5 + 3
7 + 2
3 + 2
Each team has two entries in Ladies and
Men, and one entry in Pairs and Dance. Matteo Rizzo of Italy had
to withdraw due to being Covid positive.
Points are awarded for each placement,
12 for first place through 1 for 12th place.
Three exciting days come to an end
Today, the third day of the
World Team Trophy, the tournament came to an end, pleasing
judges and the audience with a weekend of magnificent
performances. The six best nations according to the ISU calendar
were invited to compete for the gold medal in Osaka. It is a
team event where two athletes from each nation aim for the
highest score in their disciplines to bring their team to the
top of the podium. Only China was not able to attend the World
Team Trophy this year due to the Corona restrictions. After the
first two days, Team Russia led with 91 points, followed by Team
USA and Japan in third place.
Russia rules the figure
skating world in 2021
a large number of very talented athletes, Team Russia had not
managed to take first place at the World Team Trophy in previous
years. Team Captain Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and her members
finally made Team Russia’s dreams come true by claiming the gold
medal. Not only in the World Championship Russian athletes
dominated the rink, but also on the World Team Trophy, they took
the lead by a large margin. “It was a great moment for our team
when we heard the Russian song. We were so happy because we had
the Russian flag here and that means a lot,” Elizaveta commented
on their victory.
World Champion Anna
Shcherbakova, only 17 years old, continued to defend her top
title pulling off a great performance. The 4F at the beginning
of the program earned her small minus points, but the rest of
her free skate was flawless as usual. “I felt the cheering of
the audience and the team spirit so strongly, we really
supported each other. After the World Championships, the season
wasn’t over for me, so the tension continued, but this is the
end of the season, so I’m happy and I finally can relax.”
Team leader Elizaveta
Tuktamysheva took third place right after Kaori Sakamoto. She
did not make any big mistakes, only small erros influenced
the total score of her performance. Elizaveta has big plans for
the coming season, “I’m working on my quads right now, but they
are not stable and consistent yet. In the next season, however,
I think I can put them into my program.”
Anastasia Mishina & Aleksandr Galliamov also led the way in the pair dance. Their
free program was more than convincing, suitably performed to the
chosen music. Although the Russian Federation made an effort
to keep the athletes in shape through many national events, it
was difficult for the pair to get ready for the World
Championships and the WTT that followed. Mishina said, "There
were fewer international competitions than the previous years,
so it was difficult to adjust. The season's start was late,
there was a lot of quarantine and a lot of difficult times, but
the Russian Federation prepared many competitions and we are
Team USA takes the silver medal
The USA remained stubbornly in second place, led today by the
outstanding performance of Pair Dancers Alexa Knierim & Brandon Frazier, who earned a full eleven points for their team.
However, the triple Salchow left much to be desired this time.
Although Alexa did not fall, she, unfortunately, could not
perform the jump synchronously with her partner and thus gave
away some points. Although the pair has not been training
together for too long and has only had a few opportunities to
put their skills to the test, their confidence in each other's
abilities is unshakable. “Before we took the ice today, Brandon
brought me to the side and he was like 'You know, one year ago
we were doing lifts on parking lots, just trying to learn each
other further. It’s incredible, we’re here after one year,
so let just everything go! Stop trying to prove or to be perfect.
Of course fight, but let‘s just do this for each other," said Alexa.
Unfortunately, it was not enough for third place in the women's
free skate. Bradie Tennell did not land cleanly after her first
triple-triple combination and jumped some under-rotated combinations in
the second half of her program. This unfortunately gave her only
fourth place behind Elizaveta. Nevertheless, she enjoyed her
stay in Osaka very much! “It feels amazing to come here and to
put on a program like that. I’ve been training every day for the
last months, especially after Worlds with my boot breaking. I
skated well, it was so much fun to skate with fans again. I’m so
grateful for all of their support and I could definitely feel
that through my performance.”
Team Captain Jason Brown cheered on the ladies and couples with
the utmost vigour and commented at the end of the event, “I
think one of the biggest takeaways from this event is how much
strength we pulled from each other and how much we learned this
week and just built up this great comradery. It’s only been
positive! I think the louder we cheer, the more our teammates
feel that they have our support on the ice and that pushes them
to work harder and to fight harder also.”
Bronze for Japan
At the top of Team Japan was Kaori Sakamoto, who even outshone
Elizaveta with her free skate. At the triple Lutz the edge was
not clear and also the landing at the Salchow was rather unclean,
but the second half went flawlessly. With 150.29 points Kaori
set a new high score for the season. Now it's time to say
goodbye to Matrix and move on to preparations for the Olympics,
“For the Olympic season, I want to be on the offensive and be
very aggressive. At the Worlds, I prioritized stability, so I
only practiced the jumps in the program, and for a month I
haven’t practiced the quad. During the weeks of quarantine, I
practiced some quads with Yuma and he made me feel that I could
Although Rika Kihira suffered back pain two days before her
arrival in Osaka, she fought her way through the event very
bravely. There were inconsistencies throughout the program and
she fell after her triple flip - double toe loop, but she still mustered enough strength
to finish the routine and grab fifth place.
The World Team Trophy was gratifying for Pair Dancers Riku
Miura & Ryuichi Kihara. Although Riku landed the Throw Triple
Loop on rather shaky legs, their performance was still enough to
overtake top Italian contenders Nicole Della Monica & Matteo
Guarise in the rankings. Riku stated, “The second half my legs
weren’t moving and he was supporting me and kept me going. I
must make sure I put not too much burden on my partner, so I
need to brush up and also work harder.” The couple was clearly
surprised by the result and even cried tears of joy because
getting into the top three was their goal. “Yesterday after the
short program I said that I had no concerns, but when I came
into the competition, fatigue hit me and it worked on my stamina,
but we could perform with full power until the very end,” so
Italy overtakes Team France, Canada still in the last place
Today there was movement in the lower half of the ranking list.
Although Team Italy had to lament the absence of single skater
Matteo Rizzo, the Ladies and Pair Dancers put up a valiant fight
to overtake their French rivals, who were only three points
ahead a day earlier.
Team Canada, unfortunately, was unable to catch up on the final
day, even though Canadian skaters Alison Schumacher and
Gabrielle Daleman held their own against the French. Nicole
Della Monica & Matteo Guarise scored nine whole points for
Team Italy and looked in good spirits despite the point
deductions for the first 3S, that Matteo didn’t land cleanly,
and the triple toe loop - double toe loop combination, which unfortunately fell out of sync.
“We are happy about the outcome of our performance. It wasn’t
clean, but we made all elements we intended to do and the most
important point is to enjoy the competition. We felt all the
people in the crowd support us. That is the point, have fun,
enjoy and let people enjoy.”
Nevertheless, regardless of the results, all the teams agree
that the World Team Trophy was a huge enrichment! Many athletes
were able to beat their World Championship scores and earn a new
record score for the season, plus all Team Captains saw it as
good preparation for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Despite the
Corona pandemic, all athletes felt comfortable in the "bubble"
and enjoyed their stay in Osaka. Let's wish them all a good rest
in the off-season and enough strength to start the Olympic Games
Team Russia Maintains Commanding Lead in World Team Trophy after
Each team has two entries in Ladies and
Men, and one entry in Pairs and Dance. Matteo Rizzo of Italy had
to withdraw due to being Covid positive.
Points are awarded for each placement,
12 for first place through 1 for 12th place.
The fight goes on!
After an exciting first day with many breathtaking programs and
magnificent shows, the World Team Trophy continued with the
performances of the Pair Short Program, Free Dance and Men's Free
Skating. Russia had secured the leader position on the first day
with a total of 49 points, closely followed by Team USA, who
earned a very well-deserved high score through World Champion
Nathan Chen’s and Team Captain Jason Brown’s spectacular
achievements. Team Japan had won third place, for France, Italy
and Canada, however, the first day ended rather disappointingly.
Russia still in the lead
Team Russia was able to hold its ground against the other teams
with a big score difference. Especially pairs and ice dancers
lead their team very far ahead, bringing Russia's first victory
in the history of the WTT within reach.
In the short program of the pair, world champion
Anastasia Mishina & Aleksandr Galliamov shone with a wonderful
interpretation of the piece Esmeralda. Only the triple
Salchow was not up to scratch, as it ended in a double one.
Although many National competitions were held in Russia this
season to keep the athletes motivated, this year was not easy
for the pair. Mishina explained that "A lot of things were going
on. We changed our coach and with covid, we had to stop training,
but we kept on moving forward and worked hard."
For Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov, the WTT ended with
a very satisfying result. After struggling with illnesses and
injuries, the couple had been able to claim victory at the
Rostelecom Cup and World Championships, and now triumphed in the
WTT. The program was flawless and the couple in top form, real
role models for their discipline. Sinitsina gave the following
tip for other teams on the way, “What I propose it so to put
your soul into it and open your heart to it. And when you're
performing the program, you have to really feel the joy of
skating! Feel your body!” For the coming season, they are aiming
for a victory at the Olympics.
In the men's free skate, Mikhail Kolyada made it to the top
three for his team. Although the planned triple Axel and triple
loop only became
double jumps, his program was still convincing overall. Team
captain Elizaveta Tuktamysheva could not be prouder of Team
Russia’s achievements, “Today when I looked at the result after
the boys, I could not be happier, because I don't think we've
seen such a score after the second day in a long time. I hope
everything will go tomorrow as we plan and we remain in this
place. It would be great for me if Russia wins the Team Trophy
for the first time with me as captain.”
Nathan Chen unstoppable
Team America continued to take second place today, shining
especially with Nathan Chen's free skate. Although there were
point deductions after his quad toe loop - triple toe loop combination because he landed
uncleanly, he was still unbeatable and was ten whole points
ahead of his biggest rival Yuzuru Hanyu. Since 2018, Nathan has
been the undefeated World Champion, as well as the USA National
Champion. His secret tip is not to worry too much about winning,
“For me, focusing on it entirely doesn’t help me to perform
better, if anything, it maybe makes me even perform worse. Now,
when I compete in these competitions, I’m actually happy to win
in a flow, but inevitably it’s going to end. This competition,
the next or the following competition, these guys are really
really good and these guys are always becoming stronger and
stronger, especially coming into the Olympic season.”
For Jason Brown, unfortunately, the free skate didn't go quite
as smoothly. The very first quad Salchow was underrotated, the
entire program was mixed with many small mistakes, and after the
triple Lutz he
fell. This was unfortunately only enough for the eighth place
still behind Daniel Grassl and Shoma Uno, who had performed a
weaker short program the day before. Nevertheless, Jason did not
lose his smile and emphasized how much he was looking forward to
the last day of the event. "You know all we can do is try and
our teammates, they work so hard and are so trained. And I have
faith in them and I trust them and they are gonna go out and do
their thing and that's all I can ask as a team captain. So, as
long as they go up there and fight, I'll be cheering all the way."
In ice dance, Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker placed third
with a decent performance. For the upcoming season, they plan to
return to their drawing boards and brainstorm creative ideas for
a new program.
Big disappointment for Shoma Uno
Japan's third-place also remained untouched, although not
everyone was convinced of their own abilities. Yuzuru Hanyu made
second place behind Nathan Chen, just like the day before, after
not everything in his free skate went as planned. Point
deductions were made for the quad Salchow, which was only performed in one
rotation, plus minor mistakes continued throughout the rest of
the program. Still, it meant a lot for Yuzuru to participate in
the WTT and give light to his numerous and loyal fans in Japan
during the Corona crisis. But he wasn’t the only one shining,
and explained, “I think everybody was a light here. When I
looked at the scores, I knew that everybody was going through a
really tough battle, but they did their best. I felt that and it
was a guiding light for me, that actually empowered me. Maybe
because I‘m a few years ahead of them and a senior to them,
I knew that I had to really do well. That was really encouraging.”
Shoma Uno was very disappointed with his performance today and
showed a lot of remorse. After trying to salvage the failed
short program of the previous day with atriple Axel - quad toe
loop combination to
start the free skate, he crashed after his under-rotated quad
toe loop. Bad luck followed him beyond the first jump, however,
as he also crashed after his second quad toe loop and the three
jump combination ended with only one flip. "There are so many
talented skaters in Japan, somebody else might have done better
and brought us on the top of the podium."
Pair dancers Riku Miura & Ryuichi Kihara had reason to
celebrate because although they had never competed together at a
WTT before, they placed third after their short program. Points
were deducted for the under-rotated triple toe loop, which unfortunately
ended in a fall, but they fought their way through the second
half of the program with brave soul. Since their career together,
the pair has improved from competition to competition, although
the Corona pandemic made it impossible for them to travel back
to Japan. Kihara commented, "We had the judges to level check
before we went to the Worlds, but we never had actual
competitions till the Worlds, so at the Worlds, we realized that
we were not giving what we intended to score, so I think we made
the right adjustments and improvements coming into the
No movement in the lower rankings
For Team Canada, Italy and France, the second day also ended
in the lower half of the rankings. Italian pair dancers Nicole
Della Monica & Matteo Guarise, as well as ice dancers Charlene
Guignard & Marco Fabbri scored high points through second-place
finishes, but could not compensate for the missing athlete
Matteo Rizzo despite strong performances. The latter had to
withdraw from the event after testing positive for COVID-19.
Nevertheless, Matteo saw the participation in the WTT as a good
enrichment for Team Italy, "We show to the young how to handle
the competition, how to skate, to enjoy, to be friends with
everybody. This is one chance every two years, and if you have
the possibility to live it, you have to live it 100 per cent."
Team France's achievements were unfortunately not enough to
place in the top three. In the men's free skate, Kevin Aymoz was
far behind Kolyada after making several mistakes and only
finished fourth. Adelina Galyavieva & Louis Tauro also had to
be satisfied with fourth place. Overall they are only three
points ahead of Italy at the moment, so tomorrow's ladies
performance might decide the final ranking.
Team Canada is way down with 42 points. None of the
disciplines worked out for the Canadians today and
they all took last place. However, many stepped onto the ice
in front of an audience after a very long period. In addition,
team captain Nam Nguyen is the only member so far who has ever
participated in a WTT. Surely, despite a defeat, the team will
have taken many good experiences from this event.
Anna Scherbakova (RUS), winner of the
Ladies Short Program
Results After Day 1
12 + 11
8 + 6
8 + 7
12 + 10
10 + 9
11 + 4
2 + 1
9 + 5
6 + 5
3 + 0
4 + 3
7 + 2
Each team has two entries in Ladies and
Men, and one entry in Pairs and Dance. Matteo Rizzo of Italy had
to withdraw due to being Covid positive.
Points are awarded for each placement,
12 for first place through 1 for 12th place.
Spectators return to skating
After a long Corona break with many
cancellations and restrictions, this season ends with the ISU
World Team Trophy in Osaka. About two weeks after the World
Championships, top skaters from France, Italy, Canada, the
United States, Russia and Japan were invited to join forces and
bring the gold medal into their country. To ensure the safety of
all athletes, as well as the organizers and the public, the
number of participants was reduced and the stay was limited to
moving within a so-called “bubble”. Although the arena contains
12000 seats, only 3000 spectators were admitted in total.
Understandably, the tickets were already sold out within just a
Unlike the World Championships, where
athletes compete individually against each other, the World Team
Trophy is about teamwork. Athletes can earn a maximum of twelve
points per discipline, influencing their score by their
performance and ranking. The team that achieves the highest
total number of points is crowned the winner.
Team Russia on top
In the short program the Russian
ladies once again showed fantastic performances and took the
first two places. World Champion Anna Shcherbakova enchanted the
jury with her program "O doux printemps d'autrefois" and landed
almost all jumps flawlessly. Only the triple flip was a little bit wobbly
at the landing, but her lightness and elegance quickly made up
for this little "uncleanliness". For the upcoming free skate she
wants to deliver a very clean performance, "I want to land all
my jumps cleanly, and feel I did a good job. I want to do
everything as well as possible, and also do well not just for me
but for my team." After last season, Shcherbakova's performance
has improved so much that she could easily be called a shooting
star of figure skating, "This year I trained a lot, and I think
I grew. I am happy you think I have improved artistically. I
wanted to put a lot of emotion in my performance and focus on
everything, not just one thing."
Also this time silver medalist of this year's World
Championships Elizaveta Tuktamysheva secured herself the second
place and thus brought her team 11 points. For her,
today was especially joyful, as she showed a flawless
performance of her program and even achieved her personal best
score this season. "I am happy with the performance. I was
relaxed and felt strong support from the audience, they gave me
energy." In addition, this year she gets to prove herself as the
Team Leader of the Russian athletes for the first time. "I was
very honored and surprised when I found out that I was going to
be the captain of the Russian team. It was a bit nerve-wracking
at first as I did not quite know what I had to do, but when I
came here I learned about my obligations and it is not that
difficult. It is indeed fun, we have a great, strong team here,
therefore it is all going very well so far."
by the performances of the Russian athletes, Tuktamysheva is
doing a really good job as team captain, as Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov also took first place for Russia. The
European and World champions were not able to beat their
personal best, but they stood at the top with 86.66 points.
After only about 30 percent of the spectators had been admitted
for safety reasons during the Rostelecom Cup, the positive
energy of the audience in Osaka had a good effect on the two ice
dancers. Everything was right, the atmosphere, the music and the
The performances of the men were not enough to make it
into the first three places, nevertheless Kolyada and Semenenko
finished their performances with smiles on their faces as soon
as they saw the ladies’ results.
“We are strong, we are healthy and we
Nathan Chen (USA)
After a rather stressful World
Championships, the American athletes approached the Word Team
Trophy with one thing in mind: "We are strong, we are healthy
and we are trained." Sunshine Jason Brown completely blossomed
not only on the ice but also as a team leader, talking about how
much he enjoyed taking the lead.
"You know, I just love representing
The USA, the event and the fact that we all get dressed up in
our countries' colors and cheer each other up. So, it's one of
my favorite things to do and to be there to support my teammates."
After finishing seventh in the World Championship, he
fought his way to third place today just behind Nathan Chen and
Yuzuru Hanyu. Even after his performance, he kept up the happy
mood in the Kiss and Cry, scoring a miraculous 94.86 points.
For World Champion Nathan Chen, who
had a rather unsatisfactory result in Stockholm in his short
program, it couldn't have gone better today either. This time,
the Yale student landed all jumps with flying colors and thus
took the well-deserved first place. Compared to the World
Championships, he was very relaxed about the WTT, enjoying
competing together with his friends: " The Worlds take a lot of
energy, so I'm a little bit more refreshed
coming here. For the free program I try to skate as clean
as I can and enjoy the music."
The ladies were not quite as
convincing this time, but were still happy to finally be able to
perform in front of an assembled audience. Ice dancers Kaitlin
Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker took third place in Rhythm Dance.
Third place with some hurdles
With figure skating legend Yuzuru
Hanyu on the team, Team Japan put up a valiant fight for third
place. His short program "Let me entertain you" really heated up
the audience and despite small point deductions for his 3A, he
was able to achieve second place after Nathan Chen. For Yuzuru,
this season was fraught with extra difficulties as the Corona
crisis separated him from his coach Brian Orser for a long time.
In addition, just before the World Championships, in which he
took bronze, a major earthquake again sought his hometown. "Fortunately
my home was not damaged, but the ice rink Sendai did have a wall
crack similar to 2011. However, I was able to participate in
practicing after just one day," he said.
Shoma Uno, who trains under
Stepahne Lambiel in Switzerland, has not been particularly lucky this
season. A One fall, a landing on the quarter in his 4T combo and
other small mistakes were only enough for ninth place.
Rika Kihira was also not satisfied with her result, fell
right after the first under-rotated jump, and
landed the following 3-3 combination uncleanly. "For the
3A I felt my body axis was leaning backwards. Hopefully I can
get a better understanding of that before my free program. The
other jumps I was able to do pretty relaxed, but my goal was to
do a clean program, so I definitely want to do my free program
Kaori Sakamoto achieved a pretty
satisfying result for the ladies. However, she also knows that
she will have to dare new challenges if she wants to continue to
be at the top of Japanese female athletes in the future, "The
quadruple jump is starting to become a must for ladies as well,
starting the Holiday Week, the Golden Week in May, we'll be able
to train for the next season, so I'll start thinking about
putting quadruples into my program and also training."
For husband and wife Misato
Komatsubara & Tim Koleto, who received 19th place in the World
Championships, their best placing so far, it was a very good
start. However, unlike the Canadian athletes, who were denied
training on the ice for a long time, they were lucky to test
their program in various ice shows.
Disappointment for Canada, France and Italy
Major and minor mishaps in
the last-placed teams caused long faces and partly even tears.
While Kevin Aymoz achieved fourth place in the men's short
program with a clean performance, things did not go well at all
for the ladies. Lea Serna fell after her triple flip and could not
convince with her step sequences in the second half, so that she
only made it last. Maia Mazzara’s program was also not perfect,
landing on the wrong edge after her triple Lutz and not jumping the
Ice dancers Adelina Galyavieva & Louis Thauron were satisfied with their program, because apart from an
interruption of less than 4 beats right at the beginning of
their performance, the athlete from Moscow and her partner
seemed to enjoy their dance.
Among the Italians, ice
dancers Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri took the lead and won
second place after their Russian rivals. However, the eleven
points were unfortunately not enough to take the team to the
top. To make matters worse, Matteo Rizzo had to withdraw from
the tournament after testing positive for COVID-19. So only
Daniel Grassl could fight for Italy in the men’s short program,
for the missing athlete the team received zero points.
It did not go well at all
for Team Canada today. In none of the disciplines could they make it among the first five, so unfortunately they
ended the day in last place. However, the WTT was the first real event on the
ice for many Canadian athletes after a long time. Nam Ngyuen
explained, “For us Skate Canada athletes, we really had the minimum of
times participating in competitions, so to make up for that our
federation did the best to keep us motivated for the season
since we were not knowing what’s gonna happen. They set up
multiple monitoring sessions for all of us to check on our
condition, it’s been an interesting season.”
After Canadians rinks were closed and many events fell into the
water, they considered themselves lucky to finally be in front
of an audience again.
How Many Entries Did the U.S. Earn for the Men's Olympic
Competition? Three Like for Worlds? If Only it Were
With Nathan Chen and Jason Brown delivering first and seventh
place results at the 2021 World Championships, their combined
placement of 8 was far better than the 13 needed to earn three
entries at the 2022 World Championships.
But if you though that also means the U.S. earned three
entries for the Men's event at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games,
you underestimate the Byzantine complexity of ISU rules.
While the World Championships determines the full allocation
of entries for the next World Championships, only part of the
Olympic entries are determined at Worlds. A number of
entries are left unallocated, and these unallocated entries are
filled at the Nebelhorn Trophy which is held in September and
acts as a qualifying competition.
For the Olympic Winter Games there are a maximum of 30
entries for Ladies and Men, nineteen 19 for Pair Skating and 23
for Ice Dance. Up to 24 entries for Ladies and Men, 16 for
Pair Skating event and up to 19 for Ice Dance are determined at
Worlds. The remainder will be determined at Nebelhorn.
So what does that have to do with the U.S. men?
There is, it turns out, an additional detail when it comes to
qualifying for three entries for the Olympics. If a
country has two or three entries in the World Championships not
only must the combined placement of their top two skaters be 13
or less, three competitors must reach the free skate (or free
dance). Since Vincent Zhou placed 25th in the short
program and did not reach the free skate, the U.S. only earned
two entries for the 2022 Olympics for certain. The third
potential U.S. spot is added to the entries up for grabs at
Nebelhorn, and the U.S. must sends a skater who must earn
the third U.S. Olympic entry there.
The U.S. Ladies are in a similar situation. Karen Chen
and Bradie Tennell had a cumulative placement total of 13, but
there were only two U.S. ladies in the free skate. So the
ladies must also contest for the third Olympic entry at
Men: Twenty-three entries were allocated at Worlds.
Seven entries are to be contested at Nebelhorn. The U.S.
(currently with two entries) can contest for one of the seven.
Ladies: Twenty-four entries were allocated at Worlds.
Six entries are to be contested at Nebelhorn. The U.S.
(currently with two entries) can contest for one of the six.
Pairs: Sixteen entries were allocated at Worlds.
Three entries are to be contested at Nebelhorn. The U.S.
(currently with two entries) did not earn the right to contest
for one of the three.
Dance: Nineteen entries were allocated at Worlds.
Four entries are to be contested at Nebelhorn. The U.S.
(currently with the maximum allowed three entries) cannot
contest for additional entries.
While Russia managed to hold all their major planned skating
events this season so far such as the test skates, the national
Russian Cup series, the Grand Prix and Nationals, skaters in the
rest of Europe had much less opportunities to compete at high
In spring most countries in Europe went into the first lockdown
and ice rinks closed for weeks. In Germany (and other countries)
National team members were then slowly allowed to start on-ice
training again, but training was limited and depending on the
region, there were many restrictions. In Bavaria, for example,
ice dancers and pair skaters at first were not allowed to train
elements where they are touching each other, while couples in
Berlin were able to practice together. On ice training resumed
in May in most places.
Germany then was the first country worldwide to hold an
international and “real” (not virtual) figure skating
competition, the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, in September.
That was encouraging and optimism grew. However, infection
numbers started to rise all over Europe again in September and
the situation is now dire in most countries. Germany and others
are back to strict lockdowns.
Nevertheless, some European countries organized not only their
National Championships, but even smaller international
competitions. Hungary hosted two international events in the
fall and the National Championships on December 18 and 19.
Following the success of Nebelhorn Trophy, Germany held the NRW
Autumn Trophy in November in order to provide domestic and
international skaters with an opportunity to compete. Belarus,
although shaken by political unrest, had the Ice Star Minsk end
of October and then, with the blessing of the ISU, turned their
National Championship into an open competition, Minsk Winter
Star, with international competitors in December.
Germany moved its Nationals from Hamburg, which was unable to
organize an event under the Corona conditions, to Dortmund on
December 18 and 19. However, the fields were very small as some
skaters were sick (Covid-19 and other illnesses) or injured.
Plus, the Berlin Skating Federation withdrew all their skaters
saying it was too dangerous to travel to Dortmund and to
Italy organized a national “Grand Prix of Italy” series
consisting of three events leading up to their Nationals in
December. Poland, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic have been
holding their Nationals together in the past years and did so
again in Poland this year. Usually Hungary is part of this event
as well, but due to the circumstances they chose to stay home
Austria cancelled the international events they had planned, but
at least had Nationals in December. Sweden cancelled their
Nationals that were scheduled for December 10-13 but is
preparing for the World Championships in March. Estonia has
moved their Championships from December to the end of January.
Switzerland and Finland for now have postponed their National
Championships and no new date has been announced yet. France has
cancelled everything so far, first the Grand Prix, then
Nationals. Great Britain opened their rinks very late after the
first lockdown and closed them again in the fall. British Ice
Skating was one of the first countries to cancel their
Championships. Their problem is that in Great Britain, ice rinks
have been classified not as sports venues but as entertainment
venues. The English Ice Hockey Association, British Ice Skating
and the Ice Rink Managers Association have written a letter to
the Prime Minister in the beginning of December asking him to
classify ice rinks as sports venues.
So we have seen not many European skaters in action this season.
A few got the chance to compete at Rostelecom Cup – Eva-Lotta
Kiibus from Estonia and the Lithuanian ice dancers Allison Reed/Saulius
Ambruvelicius. Kiibus also used her chance and went to
Oberstdorf and Budapest. A few French skaters including Kevin
Aymoz competed at the Minsk Winter Star. Latvia’s Deniss
Vasiljevs, who trains in Switzerland, and Swiss Champion Alexia
Paganini as well as Matteo Rizzo of Italy were at Nebelhorn
Trophy as were most of the top German skaters.
The options for European skaters to compete were and are very
limited. At least National team members can train in most areas
as they are considered professional athletes and figure skating
is an Olympic sport. However, in many places the younger skaters
and children cannot train and in a worst case scenario many of
them will quit the sport as a result. The danger is big that
European figure skating except for Russia will feel the effects
of the pandemic for many years to come.
Figure skating in Russia
has been affected by the pandemic as sports have been worldwide.
However, Russian skaters get more opportunities to compete at
high level as national events are held and they might come out
of the crisis even stronger than before. While many
international and national competitions have been cancelled,
Russia managed to conduct the traditional test skates in
September as well as the five events of the national Cup of
Russia series and the Grand Prix Rostelecom Cup. All this gives a good overview of Russian
skating before the Russian Championships December 24-27 in
Tcheliabinsk in the Ural mountains.
The Autumn surge in Covid cases has recently resulted in the closure or severe cutback of hours for ice arenas.
Many skaters are without access to ice completely, or can book
only very limited hours in those rinks that are still operating.
These conditions are likely to be in place throughout the
winter. One solution to the problem of skaters not being
able to get to arena ice, is to bring ice to the skaters, by
building a backyard ice rink.
Former French ice dancer Nathalie
Pechalat, bronze medalist at Worlds in 2012 and 2014,
gold medalists at Europeans 2011 and 2012 and fourth at the
Olympic Games of 2014, all with dance partner Fabian Bourzat,
was elected president of the French Ice Sport Federation in
March 2020. This organization covers not only figure
skating, ice dance and synchronized skating, but also speed
skating, short track, sledding and bobsledding. She was elected the
successor of Didier Gailhaguet who retired in February 2020
under pressure from different sources, including the
French minister of sports, who accused him of knowing
about but not stopping several scandals during his presidency,
an accusation he denies.
13 Sep 2021 - The hosting of the
2022 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Tianjin, China has
been cancelled due to complications of organizing the competition under
Covid-19 pandemic conditions in China. This follows on the
cancellation of the Cup of China Grand Prix, which was relocated to
The ISU has solicited applications to host the
Championships, and will make its decision at the ISU Council meeting on
1 October, 2021.
27 April 2021 - U.S. Figure Skating
announced 2021 Skate America will be returning to the Orleans Arena in
Las Vegas, NV. Fans are expected to be permitted this year.
21 April 2021 - Vanessa James, 33, and Eric Radford, 36, have formed a new skating partnership and will compete
for Canada in the pairs discipline this coming season. Previously James
represented France with Morgan Ciprés and Radford represented Canada
with Megan Duhamel.
“Partnering up with Eric is a very exciting career opportunity. I am
looking forward to a season full of inspiration, joy and personal
growth,” said James. “We’re both very much looking forward to
this new chapter in our lives.”
“I’m looking forward to this new partnership with Vanessa and getting
back on the ice and doing what we love,” said Radford. “Vanessa and
I are thrilled to have the opportunity to represent Canada this coming
season and are looking forward to see what the future holds for our
James and Radford both did not compete this season. James, with her
previous skating partner Morgan Ciprés, is the 2019 European Champion,
the 2018 World bronze medallist in the pairs event, and represented
France at the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics. James and Ciprés announced
their retirement in September 2019. Radford, with his previous skating
partner Meagan Duhamel, is a two-time World pair champion (2015, 2016),
a 2018 Olympic gold medallist in the team event, a 2018 Olympic bronze
medallist in the pairs event, and a seven-time Canadian national
champion (2012-18). Duhamel and Radford announced their retirement in
This coming season, James and Radford will be training in Quebec coached
by Julie Marcotte.
6 April 2021 - Skate Canada
announced it will submit a bid in April of 2021 to host the ISU World
Figure Skating Championships® 2024 in Montreal, Quebec. If successful,
this will be Canada’s 11th time hosting the championships. Montreal was
set to host the ISU World Figure Skating Championships® 2020 but was
cancelled a week prior due to the pandemic. Canada last hosted the
illustrious event in 2013 in London, Ontario.
“We are thrilled to put forth Montreal as the host city for the ISU
World Figure Skating Championships® 2024 for consideration by the
International Skating Union. Canada has an exceptional hosting history,
and we would be honoured to hold the 2024 event,” said Leanna Caron,
President, Skate Canada. “With all the diligence that went into planning
the 2020 World Championships, the entire team is ready to welcome the
world to Montreal in 2024. We have confidence that working with
all government and municipal partners together with Patinage Quebec, we
will deliver an excellent event in Montreal.”
“The ISU World Figure Skating Championships are a staple event. I am
thrilled that Montréal was chosen to be the Canadian candidate to host
its 2024 edition. I would like to underline Tourisme Montréal's
contribution to this success as well as to the mobilization of the
community. This much-anticipated international competition promises to
be highly successful and to provide an excellent showcase for our
metropolis,” stated Valérie Plante, mayor of Montréal.
In accordance with ISU regulations, Skate Canada will submit Montreal as
the host city along with supporting documents in April 2021. The 2024
host will be determined by the ISU Council and a decision is expected
later this year.
10 March 2021 -
U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Famer and former
Olympian John Zimmerman was suspended from figure skating in fallout
from the Morgan Cipres sexual abuse scandal.
Cipres is facing a felony charge in Florida
after he allegedly sent a 13-year-old girl lewd photos of his
Cipres, 29, is currently living in France where he is
said to be working in real estate, and refuses interviews. A warrant
has been issued for his arrest in Florida.
Zimmerman and wife Sylvia Fontana, along with coach Vinny Dispenza,
were accused of covering up the sexual abuse of the female skater.
Zimmerman was suspended by the U.S. Center for SafeSport for
two years. Fontana and Dispenza have each been given six months probation.
1 March 2021 - Ashley Cain-Gribble
and Timothy LeDuc will represent Team USA at the ISU World Figure
Skating Championships 2021 later this month, U.S. Figure Skating
announced Monday. The Dallas-based duo will replace Jessica Calalang and
Brian Johnson, who have withdrawn from the competition for personal
reasons unrelated to COVID-19.
In January, Cain-Gribble and LeDuc (the 2019 U.S.
pairs chamions) earned the bronze medal at the 2021 Toyota U.S. Figure
Skating Championships, in Las Vegas, NV. They finished ninth at
the World Championships, earning the United States two pairs entries at
the next World Championships.
12 January 2021 - Skate Canada
announces the cancellation of the 2021 Canadian Tire National Skating
Championships and the 2021 Skate Canada Cup. The
championships were to occur from February 8-14, 2021 in Vancouver, B.C.,
at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre while the 2021 Skate
Canada Cup was planned to be a virtual event in replacement of the
pre-novice and novice competitions at the 2021 Skate Canada Challenge.
“We are deeply
saddened for all athletes, coaches, and supporting individuals who are
impacted by this decision and appreciate the incredible efforts to
overcome ever-evolving training and access challenges to best prepare
athletes for these events,” said Leanna Caron, President, Skate Canada.
25 Dec 2020 - Morry Stillwell, past
president of U.S. Figure skating passed away today, at age 93, from cardiac arrest
after battling pneumonia for several months. Morry was
born in Everett, Washington, on November 17, 1927.
Morry was U.S. Figure Skating president from 1995 to
1998 when skating was at the peak of it's popularity in the United
States. While president, he led the negotiations for the TV
contract with ABC that put U.S. Figure Skating on the road to financial
He was a key participant in the creation of the ISU
Champion Series in 1995 along with representatives from Canada, France,
Germany and Japan. This series later became the current ISU Grand
Prix of Figure skating. Morry served for five years as chairman of
the management committee of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating.
Morry was a National U.S. Figure Skating judge and
referee in singles, pairs and showcase He also held an appointment
as a dance judge and technical controller. Together with Jack
Curtis he created the discipline of Showcase skating. He
originally began his involvement in amateur sports in roller skating.
Originally from the Seattle area, Morry, who was
named after Maurice Chevalier, spent most of his adult life in
Southern California. Following his term as U.S. Figure Skating
president he remained active in local skating, promoting skating at the
grass roots, in which he took great joy. He was president of the
Escondido (now North County) figure skating club for many years. Prior
to that he was active in the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club and for a
time its president. Before that he was a member of the All
Year Figure Skating Club and president of that club.
Morry began as a roller skater and competed in three
roller skating national championships in dance. Later he switched
to ice skating, winning a bronze medal in Bronze dance at Pacific Coast
After passing the silver dance tests, Morry was
drafted into the army and served at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville,
Alabama working as a technician for Werner von Braun. While in Huntsville, he started an artistic roller
figure skating club called the Rocket City Roller Club.
Morry was the devoted husband of Elda Stillwell.
They were married for 65 years. Elda is a U.S. Figure skating
National Accountant. Together they were fixtures at Southern
California competitions for many decades. He is survived by wife
Elda and daughter Lisa.