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March 10-12, 2017


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April 18-22, 2017

  In the News:

Grand Prix Final 2016 - Senior Pairs

by Klaus Reinhold Kany

The pairs event at the Grand Prix Final 2016 in Marseille, France was the first senior competition to be finished. The level of the competition was good but nobody was outstanding. At the moment there is no really top pair in the world which is comparable to skaters like Hanyu, Fernandez, Virtue & Moir, Papadakis & Cizeron or Medvedeva in the other disciplines.

The gold medal for Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov from Russia, earning 213.85 points, nevertheless was well merited. They are trained by Nina Mozer and five-time world champion Robin Szolkowy from Germany. Morozov is often asked if there is any relations to the coaches Stanislav Morozov or Nikolai Morozov with the same last name, but there is none. In the short program to “Glam!” (Electro Swing Remix)”, all seven elements had an excellent quality: The huge triple twist is their best one, was elegantly landed and got six times GOE of +3. The side by side triple toe loop  was in perfect harmony, the triple throw loop was excellent and the step sequence got a level 4. The components had an average level of 8.8 and 78.60 points was a new personal best for them.

Morozov said: “I feel good actually, we did our best short program of this season and we are very happy that we can do better every competition. I think this is very good progress for us. We like the support from the audience when everyone claps and they like our short program. We like to skate and ‘talk’ with the audience. We knew the Final is like a mini World Championships.”

Their free program to “Music is my First Love” by John Miles was convincing as well and quite fast, but not as brilliant. They began with a quad twist which they have included in their free program only since this November. It was cleaner than in Paris and even had a level 3. Then Morozov stumbled a bit on the side by side Salchow which was downgraded, whereas her jump was clean. The triple throw Salchow was very good, but on the jump combination he singled the third toe loop  after both had jumped a triple and a double toe loop  and she another double one. The rest of the program was flawless and two of the three lifts and the triple throw loop even excellent. Near the end they looked a bit exhausted. The components had an average level of 8.7.

“In the short program we want to dance, we have fun dancing with swing. In the free program it’s a different story”, Morozov commented. “It’s lyrical and it’s like, music was my first love and it will be my last, something from Love Story and lyrical and it’s like a mix.” Tarasova added: “We’ve had two weeks of good preparation and worked very hard and this is the result. This victory is a big step forward for us. The judges now look at us as potential winners and that is important.”

The Chinese pair Xiaoyu Yu & Hao Zhang, who compete together only since this fall but had years of experience with other skaters, won the silver medal with 206.71 points. Six of their seven elements in the short program were clean, including the side by side triple toe loop  and the loop lift. The triple twist (with level 4) and the triple throw loop were even stellar, but the side by side spin a bit out of sync. It is astonishing that the spins have been the weakest elements of all Chinese pairs for decades. Their components were around 8.4.

Zhang commented: “We skated quite relaxed and happily today, unfortunately there was a little mistake but overall I think it was a good performance. The music was so loud on the spin, she couldn’t hear me count. It has been only six months since we’ve been skating together but we have worked very, very hard and although we are still lacking in some aspects, a lot of work has been put in every day in practice.”

In the free program, they were third, but it was enough to remain in second place overall. After a huge and technically demanding triple twist (Level 4) their jump combination was not perfect because Yu under-rotated the triple toe loop  and land the double toe loop  on two feet. Their triple throws were excellent again and all level elements had a level 4, including the technically difficult backward outward spin. But near the end of the program Yu fell at the end of the pair combination spin.  

Later Zhang said: “Today I’m very pleased that we have first place and second place in the Grand Prix events and very pleased that we can compete in the final and we got second place. The place is good but there were some problems.” Yu added: “We are very excited to be on the podium. Today I felt very tired in the lifts and in the jumps, but I fought through it and we did pretty well.”

The reigning world champions Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford from Canada made several costly mistakes and therefore finished only third, winning 205.99 points. In the short program to “Killer” by Seal, they started with a good triple twist, followed by a side by side triple Lutz (which no other pair in Marseille tried), but Duhamel put her hand on the ice. Then she fell on the triple throw axel, which was under-rotated and which also no other pair tried. The rest of the program was very good, including a difficult axel Lasso lift and three other level 4 elements. Their components had an average level of 8.5, because their harmony as a pair is not that excellent.

Duhamel explained: “Well it wasn’t the way I wanted to have my birthday go. We had a back-up plan in case the side-by-side triple Lutz didn’t work and I had half a mind to tell Eric to go for the throw Lutz but we haven’t missed the Axel since we’ve been here and I just thought I feel good let’s do it. I’m kicking myself now for not calling the Lutz. At home the triple Axel is a way more consistent throw.”

Radford added: “We’re trying some really difficult elements, the triple Lutz and the throw triple Axel. It’s frustrating because they were really good in practice but they’re not transferring into the performance and today they weren’t even close. It’s a high risk program and there’s not a high reward. The throw Axel is too risky unless you get good GOEs. We’re going to have to review this when we get home.”

Their free dance music was “Non, je ne regrette rien” (“No, I don’t regret anything”) sung by Patricia Kaas to the melody which Edith Piaf had used 50 years ago. After a very good triple twist Duhamel doubled the side by side Lutz. Then they risked the quad throw Salchow which Duhamel landed with a touch down of her hand, but she did not fall. The loop lift was excellent, but then Duhamel messed up the jump combination because she stepped out of the first triple toe loop  and could not add two clean double toe loop s. And the style of some of her jumps is a bit awkward. The other elements were good, the lifts had an excellent quality, but again their look as a pair is not outstanding.

Duhamel commented: “We are really disappointed with our performance today. We were prepared to come to this competition and have two great programs, and unfortunately we couldn’t have one great program, so we have to reassess a lot of things. We struggled in the Grand Prix circuit, and we struggled here. We can’t continue this season like this, we have to make a U-turn now as we prepare for the second half of this season so that we can show the best of our skating and be happy and proud of ourselves when we get off the ice. Last year our season didn’t start very well but then it peaked at the end.”

Radford added: “There were some really good things in our performance today and some unfortunate mistakes on important elements like the jumps. They’re usually our strength and when we mess them up it’s not good. But altogether I think the program was smooth and we tried the throw quad Salchow which went quite well.”

Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert from Russia finished on fourth place, earning 188.32 points. They were only nominated because the German pair Aliona Savchenko & Bruno Massot withdrew due to Savchenko’s foot injury. Enbert said: “We are here as alternates and found out last Friday. We were already training seriously and getting ready for a competition in Zagreb, so we were prepared.” Their short program to Sviridov’s “Snowstorm” had no serious mistakes, but three little slips on the triple twist, her triple toe loop  and the landing on her triple throw loop on two feet. In the long program to “Cry me a River” by Michael Bublé, they again did not make serious mistakes, but both doubled the side by side Salchow and they were a bit slow.

Julianne Séguin & Charlie Bilodeau ended up fifth with 186.85 points. After their two Grand Prix, they had gone back to their last year’s short program to “Monde Inverse.” Bilodeau fell in both program on individual jumps and she missed the triple throw Lutz in the short program, otherwise their elements were clean. The Chinese pair Chang Peng & Yang Jin ended up sixth with 183.19 points. Their short program was clean, but in the long Peng fell on both individual jumps and almost crashed at the end of the Axel lift.

Grand Prix Final Comes to Marseille, France

by Klaus Reinhold Kany

After two years in Barcelona, Spain, the Grand Prix Final 2016 will take place in Europe again, this time in Marseille which is France‘s second largest city and greatest Mediterranean harbor city.

Marseille has around 850,000 people and a lot of Arabic influence. Many ships from the former French colonies of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, which are independent states for about 60 years now, stop in Marseille. You might compare the big North African community in Marseille with the big Cuban community in Miami. This year’s Final will be the last one in Europe for some time, because next year it is planned in Nagoya, Japan and in two years in Vancouver, Canada.

Marseille has little skating tradition. The event will take place in the "Palais Omnisport Marseille Grand Est,“ which was built about seven years ago and is a few miles southeast of downtown. In 2009 French national championships were held there when it was quite new, but otherwise there have been no major skating events here.

Like in the past years, the senior and the junior final are held together. This is a win-win situation because firstly it helps to save money for the ISU. Secondly the best juniors in the world can see the best seniors live who often are their idols. Thirdly it is also more interesting for the spectators because a senior final with only six skaters or pairs in each category alone would be over too quickly and for some visitors not worth travelling around the world. This year several thousand Japanese fans are expected.

There are four junior and four senior competitions, each of them with six skaters or couples. In single skating this means one flight, in ice dance and pair skating two. Unlike last year in Barcelona, there is no synchronized skating competition included this year because the synchronized skaters have the Shanghai Trophy in March as a comparable event.

Each skater who qualified for one of the Finals competed in two Grand Prix. This year‘s six senior events took place in Hoffman Estates in the USA, Mississauga in Canada, Moscow in Russia, Paris in France, Beijing in China and Sapporo in Japan.

In the senior men’s final, a fight between Brian Orser’s two top students Yuzuru Hanyu and Javier Fernandez for the gold medal can be expected. Both skaters were outstanding in at least one of their two Grand Prix: Hanyu with more than 300 points at the NHK Trophy and Fernandez in Russia. But Patrick Chan should not be neglected because of his outstanding skating skills if he lands his jumps. In Canada he even beat Yuzuru Hanyu.

All three of these men have been World champions and are the clear three medal favorites. The other three senior men are Japan’s rising star Shoma Uno and a bit surprisingly the two Americans Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon. Chen qualified with a second place at the NHK Trophy and a fourth place at the Trophée de France whereas Rippon came to Marseille with two bronze medals, at Skate America and in Paris. Unlike at the world championships in Boston, the U.S. men were more successful than the U.S. ladies in the fall. First alternate is Boyang Jin from China, followed by Sergei Voronov from Russia and Alexei Bychenko from Israel.

In the ladies final, there are no U.S. skaters this year because neither Gracie Gold nor Ashley Wagner did well at both their Grand Prixs, and Polina Edmunds withdrew before the beginning oft the series.

Four of the six ladies in the Final are from Russia which confirms the superiority of this country in this discipline although neither the 2015 World champion Elizaveta Tukamysheva nor the 2014 Olympic team gold medalist Julia Lipnitskaia qualified.

The reigning World Champion Evgenia Medvedeva, who had also won last year‘s Grand Prix Final, is a slight favorite for the gold after her two victories in Canada and France, butut her countrywoman and world bronze medalist Anna Pogorilya did two excellent Grand Prix in Russia and Japan as well and will fight hard to win.

The third Russian skater, Elena Radionova, also is a medal candidate after winning in China and being second in Russia. The fourth Russian lady Maria Sotskova would be happy to win a medal as well, but it would be a surprise.

The two non-Russian ladies in the Final are Kaetlyn Osmond from Canada, who won two silver medals in her Grand Prix in Canada and China and performed the highest jumps of all ladies; and the second is Satoko Miyahara from Japan who qualified with a second and a third place. First alternate is Ashley Wagner, second alternate is Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (Russia) and the third is Mai Mihara from Japan.

Reigning world champions Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford from Canada are the favorites in the pairs competition in spite of making some mistakes in their two Grand Prixs, in Canada and Japan, which they both won nevertheless. Two other hot medal candidates are the two new Chinese pairs who exchanged partners after the World Championships in April.

Both pairs of these Chinese paris are better now for it: Xiaoyu Yu and the very experienced Hao Zhang won silver in Mississauga and gold in Beijing whereas Cheng Peng & Yang Jin took silver in China and Japan.

Evgeni Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov from Russia also have an eye on the podium after being third at Skate America and second in France. The second Canadian pair of Julianne Séguin & Charlie Bilodeau are in the final for the second time, mainly thanks to their victory at Skate America.

World bronze medalists Aliona Savchenko & Bruno Massot from Germany qualified by winning their Grand Prixs in Russia and France. But they withdrew from the Final because Savchenko still suffers from the ankle injury (half-torn ligament) which occurred after a bad landing on the triple throw Axel during the competition in France. Therefore the first alternates Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert from Russia were invited to the Final.

Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier who now train with Rockne Brubaker in Geneva, IL near Chicago would be the next alternates, Liubov Ilyushechkina & Dylan Moscovitch from Canada the third ones.

Several top couples have not competed in this year’s Grand Prix: The Olympic Champions Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov pause because Volosozhar is expecting a baby in March. The Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov from Russia withdrew because of several injuries, and the Chinese team Wenjing Sui & Cong Han, second at the World Championships in Boston, have not trained since May because she underwent surgery on both feet.

The ice dance events in the Grand Prix Series had a very high general level, and more than six couples would merit to take part in the Final. After their extremely strong comeback with two victories, the 2010 Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir from Canada are slight favorites; but the 2015 and 2016 World Champions Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron, from France, mainly lost against the Canadians at the NHK Trophy because of two small mistakes. If they do not make any mistakes, like at the Grand Prix in France, there might be a close race between gold and silver.

If everything goes normal, the other four couples can only hope for bronze, although they are excellent as well. Not less than three of them from three different dancing schools are Americans which underlines the high level of U.S. ice dance in general: The 2016 World silver medalists Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani won gold at Skate America and the Cup of China. The 2016 World bronze medalists Madison Chock & Evan Bates qualified with two second places in Canada and Russia. Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, sixth in Boston, won a silver and a bronze medal in their Grand Prix events.  And last but not least, Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev from Russia qualified because of a third place in the USA and a first place in Russia. They recovered well after being wrongly banned from Worlds because of doping. It turned out later that the substance she said she had taken last year was illegal only after January 1 of this year. It could not be proved that she had taken it this year.

The three alternates for Marseille are Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje from Canada, Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier, also from Canada as well as Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte from Italy. All of them had been in a Final before and are very good couples.


The best six Juniors in each category in the seven Junior Grand Prix competitions qualified for the Junior Final. The Junior Grand Prix took place in St. Gervais (France), Ostrava (Czech Republic), Yokohama (Japan), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Saransk (Russia), Tallinn (Estonia) and Dresden (Germany).  The Russian skaters were most successful and won 14 of the 24 spots, the U.S. skaters four, Japan three and the Czech Republic, South Korea and France one.

In the ladies Junior Final, three skaters are from Japan (Rika Kihira, Kaori Sakamoto and Marin Honda), and three from Russia (Anastasiia Gubanova, Alina Zagitova and Elizaveta Nugomanova who came as first alternate after her countrywoman Polina Tsurskaya withdrew due to a knee injury.

For the men’s Junior Final the four Russians Alexander Samarin, Roman Savosin, Ilia Skirda and Dmitri Aliev are qualified, plus the South Korean boy Jun Hwan Cha and the U.S. skater Alexei Krasnozhon.

In ice dance, the three medalists of the 2016 Junior World Championships all remained juniors and are in the Final. Like in seniors, no less than three dance teams are from U.S. figures skating: Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter, Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons, who are favorites for gold and silver, as well as Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko. The three other teams are Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd as well as Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov, both from Russia and Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron from France

The Junior Pairs Final would almost have been a Russian national Junior championship because five of the six teams which qualified are from this country: Mishina & Mirzoev, Ustimkina & Volodin, Atakhanova & Sirodov and Boikova & Kozlovskii will compete, but Borisova & Sopot withdrew because Ekaterina Borisova has some (unknown) painful injury. Instead of them, the first alternates and Australians Alexandrovskaya & Windsor will compete in France, plus the Czech couple and reigning Junior World champions Duskova & Bidar.

The ISU transmitted the whole Junior Series in a high quality live stream with the Canadian Ted Barton commentating. You can still see all programs on the ISU channel on YouTube. There were around seven million clicks during the Junior Series this year, last year there were four millions.

2016 NHK - NHK Trophy, as most of the time the sixth and last event of the ISU Grand Prix Series, returned to Sapporo on the northern island Hokkaido for the first time since 2011. The week before, Sapporo also hosted the Japan Junior National Championships which were, like NHK Trophy, a test event for the upcoming Asian Winter Games next February.

2016 Cup of China - In the end, most of the top favorites prevailed at the Audi Cup of China in Beijing, the fifth and penultimate event of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series in Beijing, but there were also a few upsets, most notably Ashley Wagner’s failure to make the podium. Overall there were quite a few excellent performances, but also some disappointments.

Grand Prix Moves on to Trophée de France - The Trophée de France is the fourth of the six Grand Prix of this season.  For many years this competition had been held in the Palais Omnisport, a huge arena for multiple events (not only sports) in downtown Paris, in the part of the city called Bercy. But in the fall of 2014 and also 2015 the 30-year-old arena underwent a complete renovation and was closed.  Therefore the French federation decided to go to Bordeaux twice which is about 300 miles south of Paris.

2016 Rostelecom Cup - Rostelecom Cup in Moscow was the third event of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series for 2016 & 17 and thus some of the medalists qualified for the Final or at least have a very good chance. Russian skaters were not as dominant as in some previous years, however the host country still got five out of twelve medals: gold and silver in the Ladies, gold in Ice Dance, silver and bronze in the Pairs event. But the competition showed also that the Ladies are still Russia’s top discipline and the only one that almost guarantees medals and victories.

2016 Skate Canada

2016 Skate America

European Commission Ruling Has Potential to Upend ISU Eligibility Rules
Gracie Brings Golden Glow to Westchester Skating Academy - Gracie Gold, the two-time U.S. champion, showed what a force she in the sport when she made a visit to the Westchester Skating Academy in Elmsford, New York last month (July).

2016 ISU Congress Elects New Leadership


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News Nuggets

Past News Nuggets are in the Archive

Oct 27 - The 2017 edition of Skate Canada will beheld in Regina, Saskatchewan from October 26-29, 2017 at the Brandt Centre located at Evraz Place.

Oct 13 - The 2017 edition of Skate America will beheld in Lake Placid, NY at the end of November 2017. As a part of the 2017 & 18 Olympic seasons, US Figure Skating had asked that Skate America be the last of the six Grand Prix events. The Final next season will be in Nagoya, Japan.

Sep 26 - Hall of Fame pair skater Frances Dafoe passed away at age 86 on Friday evening.

Dafoe, a native of Toronto, was a pioneer in pair skating with her partner Norris Bowden. During their career they captured four Canadian titles from 1952-1955, two World titles in 1954 and 1955 and an Olympic silver medal in 1956. They became the first Canadian pair team ever to win a World title in 1954. They were also the Canadian Ice Dance Champions in 1952.

Dafoe has a long list of honors, including becoming a member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1955, entering the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1958, receiving the Order of Canada in 1991 and being inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame in 1993.

After her competitive career Dafoe remained actively involved in skating. She was an Olympic judge and a successful costume designer. She was a graduate of the famed Parsons School of Design in New York City and went on to design thousands of costumes. She worked for CBC for close to 40 years designing costumes for various shows. She also designed the costumes for the closing ceremonies at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games.

Sep 23 - Patrick Chan will be working with a new coaching team this season. Marina Zoueva, Oleg Epstein and Johnny Johns will make up Chan’s coaching team. He will train in Canton, Michigan at the Arctic Edge Arena.

“I am excited to be working with Marina, Oleg and Johnny. They each bring so much to the table and have such a rich history of coaching world and Olympic competitors in all the disciplines. I am looking forward to the season ahead and my first event the Finlandia Trophy in just a couple weeks,” said Patrick Chan.

In August, Chan and his previous coach Kathy Johnson ended their skater-coach partnership after four years working together.

Chan’s first grand prix of the season will be Skate Canada International. The event takes place from October 27-30, 2016 in Mississauga at the Hershey Centre.

ISU congress agrees to eliminate anonymous judging.ISU congress agrees to eliminate anonymous judging.

November Competitions

14 - 18 Nov - ErzurumTrophy, Erzurum Turkey

16 - 20 Nov - Open D'Andorra, Canillo Andorra

17 - 20 Nov - Warsaw Cup, Warsaw Poland

18 - 20 Nov - ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Audi Cup of China 2016 & 2017, Beijing China

18 - 20 Nov - Minsk-Arena Ice Star, Minsk Belarus

18 - 19 Nov - Pavel Roman Memorial, Olomouc Czech Republic

20 - 27 Nov - Tallinn Trophy 2016, Tallinn Estonia

23 - 27 Nov - Skate Celje, Celje Slovenia

25 - 27 Nov - ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating NHK Trophy 2016 & 2017, Sapporo Japan

30 Nov - 4 Dec - NRW Trophy S&P, Dortmund Germany

December Competitions

6 - 11 Dec - 10th Santa Claus Cup, Budapest Hungary

7 - 10 Dec - Golden Spin of Zagreb, Zagreb Croatia

8 - 11 Dec - ISU Junior & Senior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final 2016 & 17 Final, Marseille France

16 - 18 Dec - 58th Grand Prix of Bratislava, Bratislava Slovak Republic

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