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2017 Golden Moments

Photos © Shirley McLaughlin

The Big Picture



News from the Southwest Pacific Region

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


2018 Regional Figure Skating Championships

North Atlantic

Hackensack, New Jersey

Oct. 4 -2017

Upper Great Lakes

Blaine, Minnesota

Oct. 4 -2017

Northwest Pacific

Eugene, Oregon

Oct. 4 -2017

South Atlantic

Aston, Pennsylvania

Oct. 11-15, 2017


Fort Collins, Colorado

Oct. 11-15, 2017

Southwest Pacific

Ontario, California

Oct. 11-15, 2017

New England

Westborough, Massachusetts

Oct. 18-22, 2017

Eastern Great Lakes

Antioch, Tennessee

Oct. 18-22, 2017

Central Pacific

Salt Lake City, Utah

Oct. 18-22, 2017

2018 Sectional Figure Skating Championships


Boxborough, Massachusetts

Nov. 15-19, 2017


Bloomington, Minnesota

Nov. 15-19, 2017

Pacific Coast

Spokane, Washington

Nov. 15-19, 2017

2018 Eastern Sectional Championships
2018 Midwestern Sectional Championships
2018 Pacific Coast Sectional Championships

2018 Adult Sectional Figure Skating Championships


Ardmore, PA

March 9-11, 2018


Rochester, MI

March 9-11, 2018

Pacific Coast

Pasadena, CA

March 9-11, 2018

U.S. Adult Championships

Marlborough, MA

April 10-14, 2018

2018 U.S. Adult Championships
2018 Eastern Adult Sectional Championships
2018 Midwestern Adult Sectional Championships
2018 Pacific Coast Adult Sectional Championships

  In the News:


2018 Olympic Winter Games

(Full Coverage)


Figure Skating Event Schedule

 Zagitova's Programs are Back-Loaded, So What

(23 February) Once the schedule started to zero in on the Ladies' event this week, much has been made about Zagitova's two back-loaded programs by the mainstream sports media.  The inference has been this is intrinsically a major sin, and some sort of scandal when a skater executes such a program.

Let's be real now.  It's allowed by the rules, and if you can do it, it's foolish to give away any second-half bonus points by putting jumps in the first half. It's IJS. It's all about maximizing points.  And Zagitova, and ther Russians are not alone in this.  Skaters from other countries also lay out their programs this way.  We could name some coaches in Southern California (but won't) who set programs this way.

Some argue this is intrinsically bad choreography.  But skaters who perform these programs don't get marked down in the composition component for doing it.  The judges sdon't penalize it, so again there is nor reason

Medvedeva at Technical Disadvantage to Overtake Zagitova

(22 February) Rivals for the Gold, Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitovaare are poised to be the first Russian athlete at these Games to win a Gold Medal.  These two skaters last competed against each other at the European Championships in Moscow in January, where Zagitova outscored Medvedeva in both the short and the long.

In the Short Program both skaters have very similar programs, except that Medvedeva executed a lower base value group of jumps.  This spotted her rival 1.87 points in the technical score.  In the components Medvedeva was able to make up only 0.80 points of that.

In the Free Skate, Medvedeva leaves even more base points on the table, spotting Zagitova 3.25 points of base value.  The jump content of the two skaters, listed in order of value of the eleven jumps in a program is this:

Zagitova Medvedeva
3Lz, 3Lz 3Lz
3F, 3F 3F, 3F
3Lo 3Lo
3S 3S
3T 3T, 3T
2A, 2A 2A, 2A
2T 2T, 2T

As in the short, Zagitova has a second triple Lutz vs. a second triple toe loop for Medvedeva, and in addition a double loop vs. a second double toe loop. In addition, Zagitova puts all her jumps in the second half for the bonus, while Medvedeva has two jumps in the first half, giving away the bonus on those two jumps.

For GoE points, Zagatova outscored Medvedeva at Europeans in both the short and the long, and here in Gangneung in the short.  On the other side of the scoring, Medvedeva outscored Zagitova in components in the same segments.

If both ladies skate their best, Zagitova has the clear technical advantage and could well outscore Medvedeva by up to 5 to 10 technical points in the free.  Given that both skaters are already scoring in the mid 9s, there are not enough additional component points available to Medvedeva to make up the technical deficit in that case, even if she scores perfect 10s in the components.

Medvedeva's Gold medal hopes hang on her skating better than her best in the free, and Zagitova cracking in the free.  Zagitova's personality, as we have thus far observed it, suggest her cracking is not a likely scenario.

Zagitova and Medvedeva Battle for Gold, Osmund in Position for Bronze in Ladies Championship.

(22 February) The current stars of the Russian women's skating program placed first and second in the Ladies Short Program at the Gangneung Ice Arena on Wednesday.  Alina Zagitova took the lead over her countrywoman and training mate Evgenia Medvedeva by 1.31 points.  Skating before Zagitova, Medvedeva skated a record highest score, only to have the record broken by Zagitova three performances later.

"I was very focused in all practice," said Zagitova.  "When I made mistakes I ws corrected and tried to fix them.  With the work and the help of the coaches I was able to do a clean short program."  She added, about the possibility of winning the Gold, "The most important thing is to show your best, to give 100% so that the coaches, the judge, the audience and yourself are pleased."

Both ladies skated back loaded programs (all jumps in the second half), but Medvedeva spotted her opponent 1.87 in base value by executing jumps of lesser value than Zagitova - in order of difficulty, triple flip, triple loop, triple toe loop and double Axel vs. triple Lutz, triple flip, triple loop and double Axel.  Both ladies executed the same value content for their spins and step sequence, all of which achieved level 4.

 In GoE points (the points resulting from the judges GoEs), Zagitova outscored Medvedeva by 12.20 to 8.22 points.  The presentation and artistic content of Medvedeva was slightly favored by the judges with 38.42 point to 37.62 points.  Both ladies presented strong secure programs, though Medvedeva's routine was somewhat superior in the connecting content of the elements.

Both skaters are trained by Eteri Tutberidze in Moscow, and their programs are virtually identical in content and layout.  Both skaters begin with a flying camel spin and then the step sequence to kill time until the second half.  Then both execute the jump combination, the solo jump and the double Axel in succession.  Finally Medvedeva ends with the combination spin and layback spin, while for Zagitova it's the layback spin and then the combination spin.  The two patterns of ice converge are similar and the elements are placed in more or less the same areas of the ice.  The two routines are about as cookie cutter as they come.

Describing her rivalry on the ice with Zagatova she said, "Last time I hear so many news that Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva are opponents on the ice and off the ice.  We are humans, we communicate as usual, we are friends, we are girls, young girls.  We can talk about everything to each other."  But on the ice she said, "When we take the ice this is sport and we must fight.  In every competition I feel like a little war.  This is sport, this is war.  We must show our best, no matter if you are nervous or not.  When you take the ice you are alone. Yes, your friend is competing here but you have to fight."

Kaitlyn Osmund (CAN) gave a much stronger performance in that in the Team event to place third in the short, with 78.87 points.  Her routine to two Edith Piaf songs was competitive with the Russians in components, averaging 9.26 vs. 9.41 and 9.61 for the Zagitova and Medvedeva.  Her elements were the same content as Zagitova, but with only the double Axel in the second half, and the GoEs from he judges were slightly lower.  While she is numerically in the race for the Gold or Silver, moving higher up on the podium will likely require one of the two leading ladies to falter in the Free Skate.

Osmund scored her season best, and commented, "It means so much.  I have been fighting to keep this program and improving it at each event.  I was a little upset after the team event short program, but to come out here, not long afterwards and do this program and do a personal best and season's bet it's really important to me."

Satoko Miyahara (JPN), the 2015 World Silver medalist sits in fourth place, 2.93 points behind Osmund.  She skated a clean program to "Memoirs of a Geisha," though her opening triple Lutz - triple toe loop combination was not particular strong and only received an average GoE of 1.  Her two other jump elements were scored somewhat higher, and her spins and step sequence received mostly 2s and 3.  Her components averaged 8.92.  She has the potential to move up, though if both she and Osmund skate clean, Osmund has stronger jumps and components, and thus the advantage.

"I wanted to be more expressive and more open," she said.  "And I hope I can do that in the free program."

The second Canadian competitor, 2017 World Bronze medalist Gabrielle Daleman had a lackluster skate, with an error on her opening jump combination (a step out of the second of two triple toe loops with a hand down).  Her components (average (average 8.25) were not competitive for a medal contender.

Mirai Nagasu (USA) scored the highest of the U.S. ladies.  She fell on her opening triple Axel attempt, which was fully rotated.  On triple loop she had a poor landing edge that was scored negative.  Her spins reached level 4, but the steps level 3.  The expression of her routine to Chopin's Nocturne No. 20 was not embraced by the judges and her components averaged only 7.67.  Medvedeva used the same music and received components of 9.61.

About the Axel she said, "I think I over-shot it.  I kind of landed it, then I kind of fell and ended taking the fall.  But it was a fight.  I still did my triple-triple and still managed to do my loop as well.

Karen Chen, the 2017 U.S. Ladies Champion, stepped out of triple Lutz and put a hand down, preventing completion of the planned triple-triple jump combination.  later in the program she added a double toe loop to her triple loop jump to get at leat a few points back.  Skating her "On Golden Pond" routine from last season, she moved in slow motion over the ice with little attack, though with some petty positions.  Her components average 8.09.  She currently sits in tenth place.

The third U.S. lady, 2018 U.S. Ladies Champion Bradie Tennell sits on 11th place.  She fell on the triple toe loop in her opening combination, and then went on to cleanly complete the rest of the program. She achieved level 4 in all the leveled elements, except her layback spin at level 3.  Her program places the solo jump and the double Axel in the second half.  The speed and attack of her skating did not look as strong as at U.S. Nationals.  her components averaged 7.38, the lowest of the three U.S. Ladies.

For the combination, she explained, "You just have to get u and keep going as if nothing happened.  You know my left arm just got away from me and I just kind of sat down."

Skill, French Costume Failure and National Bias Propel Virtue & Moir to Third Olympic Gold

(21 February) French couple Gabriella Papdakis & Guillame Cizeron, trailing by 1.74 points after the Short Dance, fought back in the free, winning the segment, but not by enough to overtake Canadians Virtue & Moir.  The 0.79 margin of victory brought Virtue & Moir their third Olympic Gold medal (in Team and Dance).  Added to their previous Silver medals, the five-time medalists became the most decorated Olympic figure skaters.  With three Golds they join Gillis Grafstrom, Sonia Henie and Irina Rodnina who all won three consecutive gold medals in their disciplines.

Virtue & Moir skated their dramatic "Moulin Rouge" routine with speed power and confidence while Papadikis & Cizeron skated their lyrical "Moonlight Sonata" routine with great presence and emotion.  As expected, prior to the Olympics, these two top couples were the only serious contenders for the Gold, and are the two great Ice Dance couples of our time.

In the Short Program Papdakis & Cizeron suffered a costume failure when Cizeron broke the strap on Papadakis's dress that was holding it up.  Throughout the full program, the couple was distracted by the possibility of the dress not staying in place and did not skate with their usual fluid freedom of motion.  They missed a level on their Pattern Dance Type step sequence, and received two 1s on their Straight Line lift.  The skaters and their coaches all indicated after the short they felt the costume failure cost then several points.  The level in the step sequence alone was 1.5 points, and the lift GoEs could have accounted for another half point.  There wasn't much room for added points in the components, and even perfect 10s alone would not been enough to make up the 0.79 points the French needed in the event to win.

Whether or not the French couple would have skated better and scored more points without the costume failure in the short, is subjective, and something skating fans can argue about for the rest of time.  The effect of national bias on the results, however, can be objectively tested.  For the Free Dance we entered the scores into the ISU calculation program and tested different scenarios.

In the Free Dance the president of Skate Canada was again on the panel, while France did not have their judge drawn.  So while the Canadian and French judges essential canceled themselves out in the Short Dance, it was not so in the free.  The Canadian judge gave Virtue & Moir nearly perfect scores, and gave Papadakis & Cizeron the lowest scores of the panel in both GoEs and components.

 For our tests we presume the French judge would have played the same game as the Canadian (which was the case in the short) and given marks the reverse of the Canadian judge.  On the panel judges 1, 2 and 4 scored the Canadians higher, judge 3 tied them, and judges 5 through 9 scored the French higher.

If the Canadian judge does not score the event, using the marks from the remaining eight judges, the French win the Gold.

If the French judge replaces the Canadian judge, the French win the Gold.

If the French judge replaces judge 1, the French win the Gold.

If the French judge replaces judge 3, the French win the Gold.

If the French judge replaces judge 4, the French win the Gold.

This would not be the first Olympic event (in all sports) that might have been decided by an equipment failure, and it probably won't be the last.  It's tragic for the French couple, but it's a part of all sport.

 It is even more tragic for the French couple, however, that this Gold was also decided by the luck of the draw of judges in the free dance and the rampant national bias that taints figure skating judging.

Virtue & Moir Top Short Dance, Papadakis & Cizeron Experience Costume Malfunction, Canadian and French Judges Lend Their Skaters A Helping Hand

(19 February)  Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir (CAN) skated an outstanding, nearly perfect program to take the lead in the Short Dance.  They skated with ease and energy before a modest audience of about 4100, in a poorly attended event.  They scored their season best.  Their 83.67 points was a World and Olympic record.

Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (FRA), placed second, 1.74 points back in a program that did not show their usual ease of motion and fluid skating.  Papadakis suffered a costume malfunction when Cizeron broke the strap on her dress near the start of the program, and the skaters ended up more focused on keeping her top covered than presenting the program.  Their skating was stiff and cramped as a result.  Towards the end of the program a nip slip went out over the air in the live broadcast.

Madison Hubbell & Zachery Donohue (USA) and Maia & Alex Shibutani (USA) are in a virtual tie for third place, separated by 0.02 points.  The Shibsibs scored higher in components, but gave ground on the elements, including missing two of the key points in the Rhumba sequence.  They missed these elements in the Team event and you have to wonder, with all the time since then, why they were not able to find out exactly what the Technical Panel has an issue with and fixed it. Hubbell & Donohue also skated their season best

Anna Cappallini & Luca Lanotte (ITA), the 2014 World Champions, sit in fifth place, 1.16 points behind the Shibutanis.  1.10 points farther back are Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev (OAR).  0.02 point behind the Russians lie Madison Chock & Evan Bates (USA) who scores their season best.

The panel included judges from Canada, France, Russia and the U.S.  The judges from Canada and France could not resist the opportunity of lending their skaters a small helping hand, and a back of the hand to their rivals.

 Canadian and French Marks Comparison

Panel Ave GoE FRA
Panel Ave Comp. FRA
Virtue & Moir 3.00 2.73 2.40   9.95 9.79 9.50
Papadakis & Cizeron 2.20 2.64 2.80   9.45 9.81 9.85

The Canadian and French judges were more subtle than the Chinese judge in the Men's Free Skate, having had company on the panel for the individual marks they gave, but the pattern is unmistakable for the totality of the 40 marks involved.

Notice that the panel as a whole saw the two couples within 0.09 of each other for average GoE, and within 0.02 of each other for average PC, while the Canadian judge scored differences of 0.80 and 0.50, and the French judge scored a difference of 0.40 and 0.35.  The two couples were nearly equivalent for the panel as a whole but not for the Canadian and French judges, who came to their own opposite results.

Another way to look at this, the Canadian judge was a high judge (*) for Virtue & Moir for every GoE and PC (total of 10), and a low judge (*) for Papadakis & Cizeron for every GoE and PC.  The reverse was true for the French Judge.  Never did their marks fall in the middle for either judge.

Attendance in the Short Dance was the strangest yet of the Games.  The day started of with about 1/3 of a full house (8200) and built to about 75% of a full house at the end of the fourth warm-up group.  But for the final group, it is estimated about 1/3 of the audience left after group 4, so that the last group skated before a half empty arena.

(*) By high judge and low judge we mean they were among the one or more judges that gave the highest mark or lowest mark.  More then one judge might give the highest or lowest score for each element or PC.

Nathan Chen Arises from Abyss of the Short Program to the Summit of the Free Skate

Epic Collapse in Short Program is Followed by Epic Achievement

(18 February) Like a legendary Phoenix, Nathan Chen arose from the ashes of the Short Program to triumph in the Free Skate.  No, he did not win the gold, or even reach the podium, but his free skate was a high water mark in the history of Men's figure skating.  He attempted six quad jumps and landed five cleanly, while stepping out of one, a quad flip, that he decided to add to his routine after the debacle of the Short Program.

"I did the best I could in the free program to try and catch up with the points," he said, "but it was not enough to clinch a podium spot.  I am proud of my long program and I was able to win the long actually, it was a big accomplishment for me.  So onwards and upwards."

Chen was 17th in the short, but more importantly he was 22 points below third place and 29 points below the leader.  It was a huge deficit to have to overcome.  With a phenomenal technical Score of 127.64 he blew away the competition in the Free Skate, and when his scores came up, it was clear they would move him up in the standings considerably, but with component scores only in the high eights it was also clear he would still need some of the top contenders to falter, particularly Boyang Jin and Shoma Uno, in order to medal.

Throughout the event the judge spread their marks, going down substantially for skaters who did not skate clean, and up substantially for those that did.  It was clear as the event unfolded that if the top skaters performed well, they would also get big scores, and ultimately both Yuzuru Hanyu and Javier Fernandez both scored personal bests.

When the snow settled, Chen placed first in the Free Skate and fifth overall.  He ended up 0.42 points behind Jin, so the several point he lost on the quad flip cost him one place.  His final score was 7.89 points off the podium.  Overlooked  in all the discussion of Chen's skating, and what jumps he might or might not have landed to medal, however, is that he also trailed Hanyu by nearly 17 points in program component points, only ten of which would have been enough to have won the silver, were he among the leaders in component skills.

Like Fernandez who had a great chance to medal in Sochi, but barely fell short, and had to wait four years to stand on the Olympic podium, so now will Chen.  Onwards and upwards to Beijing.

U.S. Medal Hopes Crushed in Nathan Chen Epic Collapse in Men's Short Program

(16 February) Throughout the season, U.S. medal hopes for the Olympic Men's event grew to the point that Nathan Chen entered the game not only as a medal contender, but as a contender for the Gold.  Twice in 2017 Chen had beaten Yuzuru Hanyu, and he had also bested Shoma Uno and outscored Javier Fernandez.

In the Team event Men's Short Program, Chen did not skate well, but neither did several of the other men and it was tossed off to nerves early in the games.  It has been speculated there is some unknown issue that might be affecting his skating, but if there is it appears to be a state secret.  In any case, hopes remained high going into the Short Program today.

Chen was 26th to skate, second in the last warm-up group following Yuzuru Hanyu.  It was an epic collapse.  On opening quad toe loop - triple toe loop he fell on the quad and omitted the triple.  After two spins he stepped out of quad toe loop, and that error prevented him from completing a jump combination.  The quad Lutz was then designated +Combo and lost 20% of its base value.  On the subsequent triple Axel he stepped out of the landing.

Beyond the elements, the performance was flat with no spark or presence.  His components averaged 8.38, well below what the judges would score some one they thought was gold medal caliber.  His GoEs for his successful elements were also mostly 0s through 2s, with few 3s, again well below what is needed for a medal wining result.

The writing is on the wall.  His Olympic dream will have to wait another four years.  He is 20.8 points below third place, and 29.41 behind the leader.  Making up enough points to medal would require a miraculous Free Skate, and at least one of the leaders falling on their sword.  Chen would have to skate his personal best, and at least one of the leaders would have to score more than 20 points below their personal bests.

2018 U.S. National Championships

29 December - 7 January 2018
San Jose, CA

Olympic and World Team Selections

Estimated Attendance

Russian Athletes to Compete Under IOC Banner at PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games


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News Nuggets

Past News Nuggets are in the Archive

14 Feb. - First Day on the Ice: Tips from a Professional Skating Coach (and Mom) by Jocelyn Jane Cox is intended for parents who are thinking about taking their children skating for the first time or for parents who have already gotten their kids out on the ice, but need a bit more information.

Currently a number one Amazon Best Seller, this book was released just in time to catch the wave of interest stirred up by the Winter Olympics. Additionally, itís helpful for coaches who are just getting started in the business or coaches who want a refresher.

Cox is a freelance writer, humorist, figure skating coach and mother of a five-year-old son. She formerly competed in ice dance and pair skating with her brother, Brad Cox, and they made the national team four times together at the junior level. She has now been coaching skating for over 25 years. In that time, she estimates that she has probably taught hundreds of skaters through both group and private lessons. She focuses mostly on ice dance and moves in the field.

This clear, often humorous guide helps the parents of beginners figure out what to wear, what to talk about beforehand, how to lace the skates, and even give parents insider techniques to try with their children both on and off the ice. The goal is for the first day in skates to be a positive one and to lead to more fun in the future.

Cox got the idea to write the book when her friends were asking her questions about taking their toddlers and pre-schoolers to the rink for the first time.

ďEven though I have been coaching for a long time, I only started seeing it from the other side, in other words, the parentís perspective recently, when I started taking my son (now five) out on the ice.Ē

Cox realized that thereís a lot you can do to prepare your child for a fun day of skating before they even step on the ice.

ďWhat Iíve written in this short book may seem really obvious to skating insiders, but isnít obvious to people who have no experience with skating, and thatís who Iím hoping to help.Ē For example, she says that even small details like the right length of socks can make a big difference on that first day.

9 Feb. - The Court of Arbitration for Sports ruled today that 45 Russian athletes banned by the IOC from participating in the current Winter Games would not be allowed to compete and confirmed the IOC's right to decide who can compete.

"That's it ó the story is over," said Russian delegation spokesman Konstantin Vybornov, as quoted by the AP.

CAS held two days of hearings and ruled that the IOC did not act in a "discriminatory, arbitrary or unfair manner."

CAS described the IOC process as a permissible eligibility decision rather than a sanction against the skaters.

16 Jan. - Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir are named the flag bearers for the Canadian Olympic Team at the PyeongChang opening ceremonies.

12 Jan. - Ross Minor and Ashley Wagner withdraw from their Four Continents assignments.  Star Andrews withdraws from her World Junior assignment.

February Competitions

Feb 01 - Feb 04, 2018, Sarajevo Open 2018, Sarajevo, BIH

Feb 01 - Feb 04, 2018, The Nordics, Nordics Open, Rovaniemi, FIN

Feb 02 - Feb 04, 2018, Egna Dance Trophy, Egna, ITA

Feb 06 - Feb 11, 2018, Sofia Trophy 2018, Sofia, BUL

Feb 08 - Feb 11, 2018, Dragon Trophy & Tivoli Cup, Ljubljana, SLO

Feb 09 - Feb 25, 2018, Olympic Winter Games 2018, PyeongChang, KOR

Feb 15 - Feb 18, 2018, Olympic Hopes, ROU

Feb 16 - Feb 18, 2018, Jegvirag Cup 2018, Miskolc, HUN

Feb 22 - Feb 25, 2018, Challenge Cup, Den Haag, NED

March Competitions

Mar 05 - Mar 11, 2018, ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships, Sofia, BUL

Mar 16 - Mar 18, 2018, Coupe de Printemps, Luxembourg, LUX

Mar 19 - Mar 25, 2018, ISU World Figure Skating Championships, Milano, ITA

April Competitions

Apr 04 - Apr 08, 2018, Triglav Trophy & Narcisa Cup, Jesenice, SLO

Apr 05 - Apr 08, 2018, Egna Spring Trophy, Egna, ITA

Apr 09 - Apr 14, 2018, Ephesus Cup, Izmir, TUR

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