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2015 World Championships

Shanghai, China
March 23 - 29, 2015


Event Schedule

Medal Count

  Gold Silver Bronze Total
CAN 1   1 2
CHN   1 1 2
JPN   2   2
RUS 1   1 2
ESP 1     1
FRA 1     1
KAZ     1 1
USA   1   1


Dance SD:  6,400 (estimate)
Pairs SP:   12,000 (estimate)

Ladies SP:  7,500 (estimate)
Pairs FS:   11,500 (estimate)
Dance FD: 10,500 (estimate)
Men's SP: 10,000 (estimate)

Ladies FS: 11,500 (estimate)
Men's FS:  12,000 (estimate)
Exhibition: 12,500 (estimate)

Maximum capacity in this configuration, approx. 13,000

IJS Basics

Program Guides


Sweepers are just too cute!

It's All about Me
(Dr. George Goes to Shangahi)

Getting Here

It wasn't easy.  More difficult that anywhere else we have been - even worse than Russia.

First there was the visa application, which collects the story of your life, why you are going, and what equipment you are bringing.  That was followed a few weeks later by an Excel form that requests the equipment list sent the first time, yet again.

Eventually you get back a letter saying, bring this to the consulate to apply for the visa - which of course requires a second form asking for the story of your life.

The Los Angeles consulate is a two hour drive from home.  On the first trip the clerk asks, 'Where is your letter of invitation?'  Apparently that is another letter that comes from the Foreign Affairs Office, that the clerks think the applicant is supposed to have.  Turns out the letter saying go to the consulate was sent before the Foreign Affairs Office completed their thing.

A week later and another two hour drive, same thing.  "Where is your letter from the Foreign Affairs Office?"  But this time we are prepared.  The letter comes directly to the consulate we say.  A trip to the back office and the clerk comes back with 'only the supervisor can look for the letter and she is busy."

An hour letter, success.  The FAO letter has been found.  Now come back in four days for your visa.

Third two hour drive four days later, and a two hour wait, and we are $140 poorer, but we have our visa!


Not the social kind, but the kind that requires yet more forms.

Shanghai is a 13 hour flight from Los Angeles.  We arrive not much the worse for wear, and get to the competition volunteer desk.  Before we left the LOC sent us a form listing our equipment, but when we arrive we have to fill out the same form yet again with the information they already have - for the third time.  They escort us to customs, and more paperwork ensues.  Eventually they let us in the country, but not before giving us more forms that have to be returned when we leave to prove (by showing our equipment) that we have not left anything behind.

Adventure Number One - The Tea Ceremony Scam

Practice ice on Monday and Tuesday if for skaters.  For us they are days for adventure.

Boy were were a friend and I scammed good on our first attempted trip to the Shanghai museum.  Here is the way it work.

You exit the subway near the attraction and a young couple pretending to be tourists ask you (the foreigners) to take their picture.  Then they chat you up on where do you come from and where are you going.

You tell them and the answer is, 'Oh, we were going there too, but it was closed," or "Oh, it doesn't open for another hour (or time).'  We were told the museum is closed on Mondays, which sounds plausible since many museums in Europe are closed on Mondays.  Had we only known it was open all year.

If the dumb foreigner (like us) doesn't know the schedule, the scam continues with, 'We are going to a tea ceremony, why don't you join us?'

Let me tell you, the tea ceremony is not cheap.  You get to sample different kinds of tea, and at the end they try to sell product.  Your new friends 'buy' some, and they encourage you to do the same.  You have to pay in cash.

Our adventure ended with a few cups of tea, an hour of 'entertainment' and a few tins of tea, and our wallet $110 lighter.

Street Vendors Are Relentless

After the tea incident, it's off to the main tourist market, since the museum is closed (NOT).

This old city area near the Yu Gardens is very old, about 400 years, in traditional Chinese architecture.  It is a maze of shops that sell everything from junk to high end merchandise, to counterfeits.  You need to know what you are doing to avoid buying fakes and junk, but there are some nice things there to be found too.

As you get close, and while you are there, you are constantly accosted by people trying to take you to some shop or sell you some kind of crap, mostly counterfeits and junk.  You have to be firm in pushing them away.  Still, it is very colorful and interesting.  The nearby Yu gardens are an interesting attraction, but by now it was too late in the day.  But tomorrow is another day.

Adventure Number Two - More Shopping and the Yu Garden

Tuesday another friend and I head back to the market.  She is looking for silk dresses, and on the previous trip had found a nice shop for silk merchandise.

After a bit of shopping, we visited a Taoist temple, which was very colorful and exotic.  Then it was into the Yu Garden.  The garden is an extensive Chinese garden located beside the City God Temple.  It was begin in 1559 and about 40% of the original garden remains.  Even at only 40% it is huge.  What remains is about 5 acres.

The garden is a mix of streams, koi ponds, rock formations, plantings, bridges and small pavilions, and was well worth the $5 to enter and the time spent.  The picture under the page banner is from the Yu Garden.

After lunch we made our second attempt at the Shanghai Museum.

Shanghai Museum

First, the museum IS open on Mondays!

It is a modern museum near People's Square, devoted to Chinese art and culture.  It is free and can be handled in half a day.  Less, if there is something specific you are interested in.  I was there for the art, pottery and bronzes.  It is a beautiful building with modern exhibition space.  We spent three hours, with a brief rest in the museum coffee shop.  All of it was very modern.

And did I mention, it is open on Mondays, and it is free.

The Bund

This is a promenade and park on the west bank of the Huangpu River.  It offers a view of the modern center of the city on the eastern bank.  Many of the buildings throughout the city are illuminated with programmed lights, and the view from the Bund offers a colorful light show in the evening.


Food stands, food shops, restaurants are everywhere.  We were not brave enough to try the street vendors.  Our rule of thumb is if a place if full of local people, it is probably safe and good.  Away from the hotel areas, good meals were to be had for about $10.  The smells of food fill some sections of the city from dawn to late night

Wednesday is for Work

The competition began Wednesday morning, and time for adventures was over.  On to four days of competition.  Adventures are over for this week.

... Five Days Later ...

Getting Out is as Hard as Getting In

The white knuckle ride to the airport was like the trip on arrival.  The taxis here are fearless.  They tailgate, lay on the horn, and thread the needle between slower cars and mega-trucks without hesitation.

At the airport it's check your bag, get your bag x-rayed, get your bag hand searched, stop at customs to prove you are taking all your equipment home, go through security, get your carry on searched, go through customs again, and then get your carry on searched again at the gate.

A last minute discovery at the airport in all the gift shops there - they sell the same merchandise as in the old city, and they sell it for one-third to one-half the price.  Buyer beware was never more true than in China.

Guards Everywhere, Internet Censored

Never have we seen such a security presence as is here in Shanghai.  It beats Moscow Worlds in 2011.

At the media hotel there are metal detectors and x-ray machines at the entrance, and fluids brought into to hotel must be sipped by the carrier to prove the liquid is non-toxic.  Everyone gets a pat down too, front and back.  Each morning the detail musters in front of the hotel, numbering about 20.

In additions to the typical security staff at a modern arena there are hundreds of police, swat officers, and other security guards on duty.  The arena is surrounded by a security perimeter.  To enter badges are scanned using a system similar to the one used at the Sochi Olympics, followed by metal detectors, x-ray machines and a pat down front and back.

Internet connectivity can be spotty at time.  Anything produced by Google seems to be blocked.  Stories critical of China (or in some cases even mentioning China) will not load.  Stories that put the west in a bad light, however, display with no problem!

More fun sites you can't visit here (as we find them): Yahoo comments, the Naval Observatory master clock, some news about Ukraine, some U.S. economic news, news items on religious freedom, some air safety stories

Facebook has also been a problem for the media who use it.  There is some kind of work around possible, but it seems be an ordeal to set it up.  Since we do not face, however, we have no personal experience for what it is all about.

There seems to be no lack of security jobs in China.  For example, at the small medal ceremony for the men and ladies free skate there were about 80 security and police on hand to control the highly dangerous crowd of teenage girls on hand to see Hanyu.

If You Go

Thinking of going to Shanghai in the future?  Here are our lessons learned.

Shangahi airport is big and modern.  You can get to the city from the airport several ways.  Bus lines from the airport go to the major areas of the city.  Schedules can be found online.

The metro has a stop at the airport.  It is modern, clean, inexpensive and easy to use.  Signage is in Chinese and English system wide.  Announcements on some trains are in both Chinese and English.

A maglev train runs from the airport to the edge of the city.  From there you will need to take a taxi or the metro to your final destination.

Taxis outside arrivals area at the airport are inexpensive and plentiful.  DO NOT take a gypsy cab, it will cost you three times the price.

When exiting customs into the terminal arrival area a representative of the airport shuttle service will try and divert you to the "transportation desk," which is really just for the shuttle.  It too is about three times the cost of a taxi.  If you ask about a taxi they will probably tell you it is over an hour wait, when in fact it is maybe 5-10 minutes.

This is a common ploy of merchants throughout the city.  Their minions troll the streets for foreigners to lure you into a shop.  They all lie about something to try and get your business.

Beware of the tea ceremony scam.

Getting around the city by taxi and metro is easy, inexpensive and convenient.

Buyer beware.  Know what things should really cost, and bargain for everything in the tourist heavy areas.  In tourist areas you can often get things for one-third to one-half the first price offered.

Stay away from the counterfeit merchandise.  It is poor quality and illegal to bring back into the U.S.

Newer hotels have modern western style beds and bathrooms.  Hotel rooms are not as small as in Japan.

Western and Asian style restaurants are plentiful.  Choose wisely and you will get great meals for reasonable prices.  Beer is cheep, too.  Our rule of thumb is, if the place is full of locals, that's a good bet.  If someone is outside pitching people passing by to come in, run away.  Frequent street vendors for food at your own risk.

You can see all the major sites in three days.  More people speak English than you might expect at first, though not a large number.  Street signage is in Chinese and English, just like the metro, so getting your bearings with a good map is easy.

The city is clean, the people were friendly, and I didn't feel any concerns about safety beyond that for any big city.




Event Reports





Three World Titles go to Europe in Shanghai

It was somewhat surprising, but three of the four 2015 World titles went to Europe. A lot has been said about the shift in attention to Asia, but actually the Asians were not the top favorites in Ladies, Pairs and Dance – only in the Men, but in the end a Spaniard triumphed. China hosted a World Figure Skating Championship for the first time and had chosen an excellent facility with the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai. There were a few glitches in the organization and hassles such as complicated visa applications, unreliable internet connections, a little exaggerated security measures and some single-handed actions of the local organizing committee, but this didn’t affect the overall positive impression of the event plus the level was very high at least at the top in all four categories. It was a big plus that the Oriental Sports Center was full every day, even for the morning sessions, and overall 125,000 spectators attended the events.


Protocol Supplement (Only on ISIO.  Music selections, time lists, planned program content, exhibition schedule and music)

Ladies Short Program Press Conference Audio (17:03, in English and Russian with English translation)

Men's Short Program Press Conference Audio (24:22, in English and Japanese with English translation)

Pairs Short Program Press Conference Audio (15:16, in English and Chinese with English translation)

Dance Short Dance Press Conference Audio (9:50, in English, opening comments by second and third place team missing)

Ladies Free Skate Press Conference Audio (18:50, in English, Russian and Japanese with English translation)

Men's Free Skate Press Conference Audio (37:58, in English and Japanese with English translation)

Pairs Free Skate Press Conference Audio (35:28, in English and Chinese with English translation)

Dance Free Dance Press Conference Audio (11:48, in English)

(Audio edited to remove dead time, translations to Chinese, moderator comments)

World Medalists Together at Closing Exhibition

(Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (FRA), Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS), Javier Fernandez (ESP), Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (CAN)

Fans Crowd Small Medal Ceremony for Ladies and Men's Free Skate

Yuzuru Hanyu's star power was shown off at the small medal ceremony on Sunday, where over 500 fans crowded the arena concourse for the ceremony.  Some fans waited outside six hours to be first into the building to get a front row place, and waited another hour inside to see their idol get his medal for the free skate.  This was a repeat of last year, where hundreds of fans waited up to four hours in the cold and rain to see the small medal ceremony held outdoors at those championships.

U.S. Ladies and Men Fail to Medal, Move up  Enough in Free Skate to Hold Three Entries for Next Worlds

Of the six U.S. singles entries this year, only Jason Brown managed two clean programs in their events.  Brown finished fourth in the Men's event, the best one could have expected for a skater without a quad.  Adam Rippon recovered from his mediocre short where he was downgraded on quad Lutz and under-rotated on triple Lutz., to move into eighth place.  In total the men scored one place better than needed to qualify for three entries next year.  Josh Farris had two mediocre skates to finish eleventh.

Gracie Gold had the second best free skate and moved up to fourth place, just one mistake in the short and 2.51 points off the podium.  Ashley Wagner also made a big move in the long, where she placed third best, for a fifth place finish, 6.46 points off the podium.  Polina Edmunds finished seventh in both the short and the long for an eighth place finish.  The U.S. ladies brought home no medals, but secured three entries in the ladies event for next year.

The message to the U. S. singles skaters here seemed pretty clear.  For the men, without a quad, two otherwise strong programs can buy you a fourth place finish at best, unless quite a few men fall down ahead of you, which doesn't happen often, and didn't happen here.  For the ladies, a clean triple-triple is required, particularly in the short, in order to fit three triples into the program.  Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, also set the bar a little higher, by showing a solid triple Axel in the short, and vowing to deliver one in the long also next season.  Currently Tuktamysheva is the only lady out there with the elements to fit four triples into the short.

In addition, the consistency of the competition currently facing U.S. skaters is such that two clean programs are a necessity to reach the podium.  The U.S. ladies this week showed the tools but not the consistency to reach the podium, while for the men's lack of command of the quads is the main obstacle keeping the U.S. off the podium.

Oh The Pooh-manity!

Winnie the Pooh Explosion Follows Hanyu Free Skate

Sweepers were put to the test for Hanyu as several hundred gifts rained down on the ice.

The sweepers here are all just too cute.  They looked mostly age 7-12, and when skaters from China or their other favorites skated, they shrieked like sweepers do everywhere with a volume and pitch to set dogs barking a mile away.  Quite a few spoke enough English well enough to tell about their own skating, where they came from, who their favorite skaters where.  Most were what we would call Lutz-level and Axel-level skaters.

For skaters like Hanyu, there were too many tossies to carry back to the gates quickly, so about 20 sweepers went roaring around the ice scooping up gifts, frantically throwing them over the boards wherever they happened to be for others to pick up and bag.  The tossie of choice for Hanyu fans is Winnie-the-Pooh.  Most of these, he said after the event, would be donated to charities in Shanghai.

Weaver & Poje Upset in Dance Victory by Papadakis & Cizeron

Canadians Kaitlin Weaver & Andrew Poje could not hide their disappointment with a third place finish in the dance event.  The Canadians had won at Grand Prix Final and Four Continents, and placed second in the opening segment of the event at Worlds.  They seemed well positioned to win the dance title, but were bypassed by the young French couple Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron, who won at the European Championships last month, but placed fourth in the Short Dance here.  Also in the mix in the pre-Worlds handicapping were Americans Madison Chock & Evan Bates, who placed second at Four Continents.

The French couple has been together for eleven years, and this is their second season in the senior ranks.  They trailed by 2.53 points after the short, but fought back in the free dance, which they won by nearly six points.  Their program to music from Mozart's Concerto No. 23 was exquisitely performed with strong emotion, and received four marks of 10.0.

Chock and Bates, followed close behind in the free dance, but had three level-3 elements, and trailed by 1.72 points in components.  Their routine to "An American in Paris" was well skated, and offered a striking contrast to the style adopted by the French couple.

Weaver & Poje offered yet a third artistic choice, skating this season to music from the Four Season.  Their performance was scored with two level-3 elements, and also trailed the French couple by 1.84 points.  They also received a one point deduction for an extended lift.

The top three couples offered very different artistic approaches; romantic from the French, modern from the Americans and classical from the Canadians.  The judges, as they often seem to do, went with the program showing the greatest emotion and passion.

With a fifth place finish, Maia and Alex Shibutani ended up about as well as could be expected given the depth of this competition and the limitations of their free program.  The American sibling's skated their waltz program superbly, but four minutes of waltzing is not a program concept the judges are ever going to put on the World podium.  It is a concept they will not embrace, and one could say in choosing this program the coaches for this couple choreographed them for failure from day one.

Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, moved up one place from the short to finish tenth.

2015 Ottavio Show Hints at Plans for Future Olympic Events

No World Championships would be complete without the annual "Ottavio Show" (president's press conference) at which he shares whatever is on his mind and then takes questions.  The physical decline in president Cinquanta is startling.  As the press conference opened he was staring vacantly into space, like the lights were on but no one was home.  There have been rumors the past few years (since Junior Worlds in Milan) that he is ill, but his comments were coherent, at least to the extent his fractured English allows.

Regarding the future of the new team event that was unveiled at Sochi, Cinquanta said that the team event would now become a permanent part of the skating events at the Olympic Winter Games.  In addition, he also commented in general on bringing synchronized skating into the Olympics.  He did not provide details, but said that proposals to increase the profile of synchro within the ISU would be unveiled in a few months.  He also voiced support for adding synchro to the Olympic schedule.  A general proposal to do that, he commented, has been sent to the International Olympic Committee, and this proposal will be considered at an IOC meeting in June in Kuala Lampur.

Asked about how receptive he thought the IOC would be to this in light of the added expense it would entail, he made two interesting, though vague comments.  First, he said the proposal presented to the IOC did not address the cost issue, but that if the IOC ended up having such concerns the ISU would then address them at that time.  Second, he said that the proposal to add synchro to the Olympic program would not require the addition of another rink to the games.  This latter comment was surprising, since all the other ice venues are currently booked full time during the games.  How this could be accomplished he did not describe. The figure skating venue is also used by short track and has no days free in the current schedule.  Adding the team event in Sochi required starting the team event a few days before the opening ceremony.  He was quite clear that adding synchro would not entail the removal of the team event, but would instead be an additional event.

In light of president Cinquanta's musings last year on eliminating the short programs from competition, conspiracy theorist immediately started speculating that the time for syncho might be created by taking the short programs out of the schedule.  If not that, the only other way to fit synchro into the schedule at the figure skating venue would be to eliminate some short track events in the arena.  The long track arena is not an option, nor is the curling rink due to their sizes, and the hockey rinks are also currently booked full time during the games.  The Sochi games used six rinks: Ladies Hockey, Men's Hockey, Curling, Long Track, Figure Skating and Short Track, and Figure Skating practice.

President Cinquanta Press Conference Audio (22:23)

(Audio edited to remove dead time, translations to Chinese, moderator comments)

Duhamal & Radford Win Their First Worlds Pair Title

Canadians Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford capped off a winning season by winning their first World pair title.  The team placed first in all their competitive events this season.  A flawed landing on throw quad Salchow, and falling out of a position in a side-by-side spin marred the first third of the program, but they put that behind them for the remainder of the program to finish with strong elements otherwise, and components averaging near nine.

Sentimental favorites, Qing Pang & Jian Tong dropped from second in the short to third in the long and third overall, with a well crafted, well executed performance.  Other than Pang singling a double Axel, they skated a clean program, and earned the highest component marks for the long.  The couple came back for one more season in order to compete at the first World Championships to beheld  in China.

Wenjing Sui & Cong Han moved up from third in the short to second in the long and second overall.  They skate an athletically strong clean program, and earned the highest Total Element Score of the long.  Their performing skills, however, continue to lag, with their component scores fourth best.

U.S. teams Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim and Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier placed seventh and twelfth overall in both the long, and the final standings.  Scimeca & Knierim had errors on three elements and Denney & Frazier two.  Neither team impressed the judges on the component side, with marks for both teams in the low sevens.

U.S. Ladies Falter in Short Program, Podium Seems Out of Range, Three World Team Berths in Jeopardy.  Tuktamysheva Dominates the Short Program, Lands Triple Axel.

U.S. Ladies chances for the podium seem out of reach after the short program where the ladies finished seventh, eighth and eleventh.

Polina Edmunds had the cleanest skate of the three U.S. ladies, but with components not quite reaching seven, she is in over her head against the dominating Russian and Japanese ladies.  Edmunds had only an edge attention on a triple flip.  Gracie Gold missed both her jump combination and solo triple jump.  Her components were third best, but her Total Element Score was more than 14 points behind the leader Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who landed a strong triple Axel.  In the process Tuktamysheva scored the third highest Short Program score at a World Championships.  Gold looked tense warming up the jump combinations, so error in the program, was not totally unexpected.

Ashley Wagner skated last among the 36 ladies entered.  She looked secure in the warm-up, but under-rotated and fell on her jump combination, and under-rotated triple flip.  Her double Axel was also poorly executed.  She scored fourth in components, but with all three jump elements trashed she ended in 11th place.

Elena Radionova skated a strong clean program.  Her main problem today was that she did not have a triple Axel.

Going into the free skate Satoko Miyahara placed third.  Her teammates Kanako Murakami and Rika Hongo placed fourth and fifth.  Looks like it will be a Russian and Japanese podium on Saturday.

U.S. ladies need to move up at least two spots in the free skate to hold onto three world team entries for Boston next year.

Opening Ceremony Spectacular Initiates First World Figure Skating Championships in China

The 2015 World Figure Skating Championships opened Wednesday with a spectacular show modeled on the format of ceremonies seen at the Olympic Winter Games.  Approved and funded by the Beijing government, the show took three to four months to produce at a cost of about 3 million dollars.  The show included multiple acts, dozens performers, aerial electronic props and performers, theatrical lighting, singers (including Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao) and guest appearances by Lu Chen, Evgeni Plushenko, Meryl Davis & Charlie White, and Shen & Zhao.

The show, as well as other aspects of the Championships, where funded by the government apparently to send a message showcasing China's status as a modern nation capable of putting on world class events.

 Unlike other World Championships, which typically include volunteers from other countries, this is an all-China competition.  All volunteers where required to be Chinese, we assume to show that China can run major events without help from any other nationality.

For the most part the LOC are putting on a fine competition; however, the lack of experience of some of the volunteers has shown through in some cases to negative effect. For example, in bypassing the experienced translators with knowledge of skating who often work at ISU events, the domestically provided translators have produced some confusing and nonsensical press conferences, with the non-English speaking skaters all ending up sounding like low level government bureaucrats speaking double talk.

Less comical was the press conference for the Pairs final Thursday night, which was the most inconsiderately nationalistic media event witnessed in my 29 year memory of covering Worlds.  What was scheduled to be a half hour session that should have focused on the competition and the champions, Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford, degenerated into an hour long love-fest for the Chinese skaters by the Chinese media, who were nearly exclusively selected by the moderator to ask all but three questions, virtually ignoring the champions in the process.  The Spanish media feeding frenzy after Javier Fernandez medalled at the Grand Prix Final was extraordinarily better handled in Barcelona than what happened here.  In that case, local media interest in the home country medalist was not allowed to upstage the the champions Hnayu.

U.S. Men Ready to Take on the World’s Best

Brown, Rippon and Ferris Talk Strategy for Shanghai

by Liz Leamy

It would be fair to say that this year’s American men’s world contingent, comprised of Jason Brown, Adam Rippon and Josh Ferris, is quite varied in terms of their personality and demeanor.  At the same time, each of these athletes all seem to possess the same supersonic level of drive in regard to their skating, which in turn makes them a formidable bunch.

In a pre-Worlds conference call last week, Jason Brown, the newly crowned U.S. champion, said he is looking forward to representing the country well in Shanghai and dismissed any notion that not having a quad would prevent him from racking up high scores.  “I definitely do think I have what it takes to compete against the [top] guys,” said Brown, 19. “Every year my scores continue to grow.”

No doubt, Brown’s record speaks for itself.  In 2013, the Highland Park, Illinois native, who has been training in Monument, Colorado with his longtime coach, Kori Ade for the nearly two years, scored second at Junior World without a triple Axel.  The next season, he went on to score silver at the 2014 U.S. Championships in Boston as well as a coveted Olympic team berth, without a quad.

At that event, Brown outskated more than two dozen of the country’s top male contenders, a handful of who attempted a quad, with his ‘Riverdance’ number, a performance that to date, has received more than five million hits on YouTube, making it one of the most-watched programs ever on the internet.

This coming week, Brown, who is as tough as he is tender, is hoping to make yet another major impact with his skating on the world stage with his strong planned program content.  “I’m so humbled to go into the World Championships as the U.S. champion and can’t wait to get out there,” he said. “My goal is to skate two great programs to have three spots for the 2016 Worlds in Boston.”

Adam Rippon, the 25 year-old 2015 U.S. silver medalist, also seems to be primed to do the U.S. proud this week.  Last January, Rippon, a two-time junior world champion and the 2012 U.S. silver medalist, brought down the house at the U.S Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina, with a memorable free skate that included a quad Lutz.  “I went there to do exactly what I wanted to do,” said Rippon. “I wanted to show that my time is now.”

Regarded to be one of the sport’s rising stars as a junior, Rippon faced some challenges as a senior, including the difficulty of learning and mastering the triple Axel, overcoming several injuries, and working through some coaching changes.  “I had immediate success in the junior rank and when that didn’t happen in the senior rank [it was hard],” he said.

These days, Rippon certainly seems to have hit his stride due to where he is right now in terms of his training situation and general mindset.  Without question, he seems to click with Rafael Artunian, the coach with whom he has been training with in Artesia, California for the past several years.  At the same time, he seems to get a huge confidence boost from his best friend, Ashley Wagner, the 2014 U.S. titlist who also trains with Artunian.

In considering these different variables, Rippon seems to be ripe to rock out some high marks this week in Shanghai.  “I know it’s within me to do it,” he said. “I’m just getting ready to be amazing.”

Josh Ferris, the 2015 U.S. bronze medalist, is another contender to keep an eye on.  This skater, who trains in Colorado Springs with Damon Allen and Christy Krall, gave one of the most interesting pre-Worlds conference call interviews last week, answering reporters with gut-wrenchingly honest and insightful answers about where he is with his skating.  “[This year] I had to grow up a little bit,” said Ferris, the 2013 World junior champion. “There was something immature about how I trained and I had to get a new respect for [what I was doing].”

Last November, Ferris, 20, had a major wake up call after finishing a disappointing 11th place at the NHK Trophy in Japan.  “The moment I stepped of the ice at NHK, I made up my mind to be different,” he said. “I started running two programs a day [when I got home], not just one.”

Ferris, who was second at Four Continents in February, seems to have turned a major corner due to the lessons he learned from that event and appears to be as primed as ever to take full advantage of his opportunity to make a good impression on the international stage in Shanghai.  “I believe if I skate the best I possibly can, the way I know I can, I can contend with the best [there],” he said.

Ferris added that in time, he believes that the quality of his skating will only continue to get better.  “Give me a year or so and I’ll be as strong as they (the top men) are,” he said. “I think eventually [I’ll get there].”

Ferris also talked about the friendly rivalry he has with Brown, who he has known for years.  “Jason and I became friends last year during the tour,” he said. “I was a lot more introverted when I was younger and wasn’t [really] friends [with him].”

Now, Ferris views their friendship as a means to help further strengthen their own standard as skaters as well as that of the whole U.S. team.  “I’m very excited and honored I can be part of the team,” said Farris. “I think the marks, regardless [of what they are], will influence me in a positive way.”

U.S. Ladies Ready to Take on the World

by Liz Leamy

This past year, there has much hullaballoo over the ‘ridiculously high’ skating standard of the Russian ladies, but rather, it might be worth turning this attention toward the U.S. ladies, who are a formidable group that has been only gaining strength and momentum with each season.

Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold and Polina Edmunds, the top U.S. women, have also ‘spoken,’ and have made it crystal clear they want to make their mark at the World Championships this week.

“I think all of the U.S. ladies have proven themselves to be competitive and I think the possibilities to medal going into Worlds are really good,” said Wagner, the 2015 U.S. champion and 2014-2015 Grand Prix final bronze medalist.

This year, Wagner, the 2012 and 2013 U.S. champion, seems to be on a roll and has proven that she certainlu has the stuff to be one of the sport’s best.  In December, she clinched bronze at the Grand Prix Finals and in January, went on to reclaim the U.S. title in Greensboro after having given it up to Gracie Gold in Boston in 2014.

At the 2014 U.S. Championships, Wagner, 23, had placed a disappointing fourth and then found herself in the middle of a media frenzy when she was named to the U.S. Olympic team over Mirai Nagasu, the bronze medalist.  Following that announcement, Wagner in turn, faced a flurry of social media and press negativity, yet showed her steely resolve and placed a respectable seventh at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

“I love to prove people wrong, it’s one of my favorite past times,” she said. “I have to prove, now more than ever, that I’m going to be around for awhile.”

Wagner said she plans to keep competing as long as she can continue to keep mentally and physically pushing through her skating, which is no easy feat at the elite level.  “I know if I put in the hard work, I’ll feel the way I did at [the 2015] Nationals,” said Wagner, who trains with Rafael Artunian in Artesia, California.

Going into Shanghai, Wagner plans to throw everything down to earn podium-worthy scores.  “For me to get on the podium, I’m not going to have to leave anything on the table,” she said. “I have to get all the levels on my spins, do the triple-triple combination and make sure the outside edge on the Lutz is there.”

Gracie Gold, the 2013 and 2015 U.S. silver medalist, is also looking to rack up some high scores in Shanghai this week.  This talented 19 year-old, who trains at the Toyota Sports Center in Los Angeles with Frank Carroll, seems as determined as ever to finish up the season on a high note after having had faced some challenges, including an ankle injury that kept her out of the Grand Prix Finals and several equipment issues.

“[This year] I switched blades, boot sizes and [had the situation] with my ankle,” said Gold, who was fourth at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. “I’ve been all over the place this year and I need to finish the season [well].”

Since the U.S. Championships, Gold has been training intensively and seems to be happy with where she is at right now going into Worlds.  “I’ve been training really hard and skating really well,” said Gold.

Polina Edmunds, the 2015 U.S. bronze medalist, rounds out this formidable group and is another U.S. ladies contender who could very well have a podium-worthy showing this week.  The high-energy 16 year-old, who trains with David Glynn and her mom, Nina, in San Jose, California, and is known to step up to the plate under pressure, should be good to go, especially considering that she walked away with gold at the Four Continents Championships in Seoul last February.

Edmunds, who is trained to run through her triples four-to-five repetitions at a time, is said to have been training clean programs these past few weeks, which should serve her well in Shanghai.

No doubt, these three gals are all top picks. Now all we have to do is sit back, watch and witness the U.S. gang do their thing.

U.S. Dance Teams Fired up for Shanghai

by Liz Leamy

Tonight, the top U.S. dance teams, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, Alex and Maia Shibutani and Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue, will kick off the World Championships in an event that should be chock full of good drama, skating and storylines.

This year’s dance-off is also a competition that could truly be anyone’s game in light of the absence of Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the 2014 Olympic champions and also Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the 2014 Canadian Olympic silver medalists, both teams of who have stepped away from the competitive ring.

No doubt, each of this year’s U.S. dance teams seem hungry to step in and establish themselves as premier contenders at this event, especially Chock and Bates, the newly crowned U.S. champions who clinched silver at the 2014/2015 Grand Prix Finals in December.  “We’re feeling great and strong going into Worlds,” said Chock, 22. “This is the year.”

Chock and Bates, 26, two-time U.S. silver medalists who were eighth at the 2014 Olympics and train with Igor Shpilband in Novi, Michigan, seem primed to make their mark as a premier team in this discipline.  The two, who have only been skating together for three and a half years, seem to click like nobody’s business and have risen quickly to the top due to the superior quality of their programs, which are consistently as interesting as they are difficult.  “We’re both lucky to have found each other,” said Bates. “With every competition we have more self belief.”

Maia and Alex Shibutani, the 2015 U.S. silver and 2011 World bronze medalists, are also looking to score major marks in Shanghai.

This brother-sister duo, who train in Canton, Michigan with Marina Zoueva and have been skating together for more than 10 years, are going into this event with one of the most impressive competitive resumes of any international dance team.  Last December, they were fourth at the Grand Prix Final and are three-time U.S. silver and two-time U.S. bronze medalists.  “Heading into Shanghai, we’re feeling confident,” said Alex, 23. “We’re aiming to do the best we can.”

These days, the Shibutanis are also focusing on the quality of their skating rather than just their scores.  “We’re not in control of our scores,” said Alex. “We’re just looking to [every] next step in our journey.”

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, the 2015 U.S. bronze medalists, are also looking to have a good outing.  The two, who train with Pasquale Camerlengo and Anjelika Krylova in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, were fourth at the 2013 and 2014 U.S. Championships and seem primed to keep moving forward and upward.

“We feel the sky’s the limit,” said Hubbell, 24. “We’re having to prove how strong we can be competing at our highest level and showing everybody what we [already] know ourselves.”

Collectively, this is one group to take notice of in Shanghai this week, as U.S. ice dancing has become such a dominant force in the sport over the past decade.  “It’s quite a presence and it feels powerful to be part of Team USA,” said Hubbell.


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