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Ice Theatre of New York Spring Show Preview

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Theron James in “Presence” – Choreography by Deneane Richburg – Photo by Josef Pinlac – Image Courtesy ITNY

The Ice Theatre of New York (ITNY) is the first nonprofit ice dance company in the United States, and their annual spring show takes place this Thursday, May 2. I previewed the performance for Figure Skaters Online, and talked with ITNY founder and artistic director Moira North, as well as guest performer and Olympian Misha Ge for the story.

Read the full story on the FSO site to hear more about the new pieces that will be performed in the show, and updates on Misha Ge’s growing choreography and coaching career in retirement:

Ice Theatre of New York Spring Show to Feature Misha Ge and Honor Gracie Gold

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Flashback Friday: Rostelecom Cup 2018 Edition

Gracie Gold returns to competitive ice and the Grand Prix circuit this weekend at Rostelecom Cup, after taking the 2017-18 season off for health and personal reasons. She won her first Grand Prix medal—a silver—at Rostelecom Cup in 2012. She skated this sparkling short program en route to the silver medal:

She showcased excellent speed and jump height in this program, as well as a joy for skating that I hope we will see again this weekend, regardless of placement.

This happens to be the second Flashback Friday from the 2012 Rostelecom Cup ladies event, which was full of some great performances! Here’s to some more this weekend at 2018 Rostelecom.


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The World is Coming…

…to Boston! The 2016 World Figure Skating Championships are less than two weeks away, and I will be in the building at the TD Garden for the free dance, men’s free skate, and ladies free skate. This is pretty much where I’m at:

My excitement levels are at an all-time high. I have been fortunate enough to attend two U.S. National Championships held in Boston, in 2001 and 2014, but there is something special about the World Championships being on American soil and getting to see it all in person. The last time Worlds was in the United States was 2009, in LA; the last time Worlds was on the East Coast was 2003, in DC. And not only is is a privilege to get to see ANY World Figure Skating Championships at all, but the skating this year has been fantastic. I know lots of people will be making predictions and taking their best guess as to who will stand on the podium. The level of skating is so high this year that I bet there will be many and varied conjectures. But there are a few things I can predict without any doubt. And here they are, in gif form:

I will cry my eyes out at the Shibutanis’ free dance. I cry watching it on TV; getting to see it in person will be another level. I’ll be the lady bawling in my seat…but I bet I won’t be the only one:

I’ll be wondering why most of the top half of Gabriella Papadakis’ dress is sheer (Here it is, for your reference. Rule book experts: no costume deduction for how revealing it is?!), and feeling uncomfortable about it:

When I was at 2014 U.S. Nationals, I was completely blown away by the height and distance of Gracie Gold’s triple lutz. I was the big dork in the stands who said, “Whoa.” out loud during the warm-ups, it was that impressive. I bet it still is, and I can’t wait to see it again:

I will barely be able to handle the cheesy voiceovers in Elena Radionova’s “Titanic” long program:

The men’s event is full of guys who are doing multiple quads in one program. Yuzuru Hanyu is already a legend in the sport, and there’s also Fernandez, Chan, Jin, Aaron and others tossing off the quads like a “simple” triple toe. I’ve seen quads in person before, but not of this quality or quantity. I have no doubt that I will be in awe:

Amazing-gif

But for now, I’ll just be blissfully looking forward to what promises to be an unforgettable World Championships:


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Links I’m Loving Lately

The blog has been a little quiet for the past few weeks, but I’m still keeping up with all the latest and greatest skating news. Here are some links I’ve been loving lately:

Grace Gold’s short program from Trophee Eric Bombard. She OWNED this. She finally skated with confidence in the jumps and some serious pizzazz on the presentation side. I want to see this Gracie every time. You can’t take your eyes off her during the opening moments of the program, because she is using the music so effectively.

The IceNetwork article about Ashley Wagner and her boyfriend, speed skater and baseball player Eddy Alvarez. It’s always fun to get a glimpse into the off-ice lives of skaters, and this is a sweet Olympic love story. They met in Sochi at the Olympic Village and are now making it work despite long distance and their crazy schedules, with Ashley competing on the Grand Prix and Eddy playing minor league baseball. Talk about skills—I can’t believe Eddy was an Olympian in one sport and might play professionally in another!

The Skating Lesson’s video on Gracie’s twin sister Carly Gold was fabulous. Though she hasn’t had the national and international success of her sister, she keeps skating because of her pure love for the sport. Not only do I really respect that, but I can relate to it, too, as an adult skater who is still at it and working on moves in the field tests.

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And the great news is that she qualified for Nationals with her victory at the Pacific Coast Sectionals! I bet NBC is already prepping a behind the scenes piece on the Gold twins. How cute is this Instagram of her and her coach Frank Carroll in the kiss and cry?

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Image Source: @carlycgold on Instagram

What other fun skating links from around the interwebz should I check out in the lull before the Grand Prix Final? Share in the comments!


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Impressions: Skate America 2015

I’m about to sit down and watch the Ice Network feeds from Skate Canada, but before I do that, it’s probably time to type out some of my thoughts on last weekend’s Skate America:

  • I was surprised that Gracie lost to Evengia Medvedeva. It’s pretty clear that it came down to the points she lost doubling her flip in the short program and her salchow in the long. Man, is this a numbers game or what? Medvedeva was thinking on her feet and added two combinations during her program, after falling on an earlier intended combination. It’s that kind of quick thinking that makes a difference in this judging system. Once Gracie gets enough confidence in her elements in competition, she is going to have to do that too—especially if she makes a mistake early in a long program.

    Image Source: fs-gossips.com

  • On a more superficial and less mathematical note, I loved Medvedeva’s dress (except the gloves, I am rarely a fan of gloves). The color and the varying sequin design were just gorgeous. Her fellow Russian and training mate, Julia Lipnitskaia, continues to make puzzling fashion choices, like this dress for her Elvis-themed short program:

    Image Source: dailyherald.com

    According to the NBC commentary team, these two ladies don’t speak to each other and won’t skate on the same ice. It makes Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner’s relationship look positively chummy in comparison. I find the respectful rivalry between Gold and Wagner really refreshing and mature, and even moreso in light of this information about these Russian rivals.

  • Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim of the U.S. look FAST and their elements have the “big” quality that so many Russian and Chinese teams have excelled at while Americans did not; I think this could be their year to break through.
  • And on the opposite end of the spectrum from a breakthrough, we have the Russian team of Stolbova and Klimov. They skipped the World Championships last year and ended their season early to begin preparation for this season, and, allegedly, a quad element. I’m not quite sure what they did during their time off, because they seemed to barely have a handle on the elements they used to execute flawlessly. Is something else going on here?
  • The ice dance situation this season seems discombobulated—several teams have already been through multiple short dances, because they can’t seem to get the rhythm requirements right. I can’t believe that Chock and Bates are on their third short dance of the season already, and honestly, it didn’t look like it. They looked very confident, despite only having done a few runthroughs of the entire program, according to NBC commentator Tanith White. All these struggles with program and music choices sort of make me wonder about the quality of the pre-competition evaluations that federations are doing or whether the rules are too specific.
  • One distinctly non-discombobulated portion of the dance event was the overall performance of Russians Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov. They were utterly forgettable last season, so I was really impressed by their improvement and connection here. I will admit that I was more on the side of Katsalapov’s previous partner Elena Illinykh when they rather abruptly and strangely split after their bronze at the Sochi Olympics. She seems so passionate about skating and he seemed a bit apathetic last year. If these performances are any indication, I may be converted and enjoy them both with their new partners.

    Image Source: youtube.com

  • I’m not sure how I feel about Jason Brown’s long program. It’s beautiful, yes, but it is also so quiet. There is no big crescendo of emotion, which he is so good at. I’ll be interested to see this program develop as the season goes on.

And now, on to Canada!


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Fashion Friday: Mid-Season Costume Changes

The World Team Trophy wrapped up the 2014-15 season last weekend, so now I’m taking a look back at some of the fashion decisions of the year. A number of skaters made costume changes mid-season and I’m weighing in on whether it was the right decision.

Costume changes can occur for a variety of reasons. Maybe the first one didn’t go over well with the fans or the judges. Some skaters get rid of costumes they wore during a terrible performance, trying to shed the bad memories and maybe even the bad luck. This season, we had mostly Americans switching up their looks:

Gracie Gold – Third Time’s The Charm?

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Image Source: UniversalSports.com

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Image Source: teamgraciegold.tumblr.com

Image Source: nickverrreos.blogspot.com

3. When I blogged about my favorite costumes earlier in the skating season, Gracie Gold’s purple free skate dress was at the top of the list. It reminds me of the dress that her BFF Taylor Swift wore when she performed at a fundraiser with Prince William at Kensington Place in London. Perhaps there was a little bestie fashion inspiration there? Whatever it was, it wasn’t enough for Gold to keep the dress. She showed up at Four Continents with a slightly altered version—a higher neckline and a flower embellishment on the front. I wasn’t a big fan of this version. Actually, I was pretty shocked and dismayed to see it. It made the dress look too youthful and added unnecessary bulk to the airy lace. When Gold took the ice at Worlds, she showed off a different look entirely. Very glamorous, very sophisticated. The high-fashion look suited her well, but my one complaint was that the dress didn’t look very well-made. The shoulder clasps were too clunky and needed to be more seamless. There were only a few weeks between Four Continents and Worlds, so maybe there was a rush to get it finished.

Maia Shibutani – Dark Blue vs. Light Blue

Image Source: zimbio.com

Image Source: zimbio.com

Fellow American Maia Shibutani debuted a new light blue free dance dress at U.S. Nationals that she wore for the remainder of the season. If I hadn’t seen her first dress, I think I would have liked this one. The dark blue dress Maia wore for the beginning of the season was perfection—it completely fit the character of their waltz music, looked great on her, and the color popped on the ice. While the light blue is a pretty color, the sheer panels on the bodice didn’t seem to go with the heavy, full skirt. I think the original dress was the better choice.

Madison Chock & Evan Bates – Back in Black

Image Source: teamusa.org

Ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates took a modern approach to the costumes for their An American in Paris free dance. They told teamusa.com that they wanted to tell the story as if it took place in 2014, and the asymmetrical touches on their costumes definitely conveyed that. I thought it was an interesting approach and had a pretty neutral attitude towards it until their costume change at Four Continents:

Image Source: avaxnews.net

These costumes look like practice outfits that someone threw sequins on with a bedazzler. The original ones were much more sleek, and I was glad to see them return to that look at Worlds.

Jason Brown – First is the Worst, Second is the Best

Image Source: teamusa.org

Image Source: usatoday.com

I kid, I kid. Brown’s first costume of the season was not the worst thing we’ve seen out on the ice. The faux leather boots were definitely quite theatrical and not my personal cup of tea, but they fit Brown’s personality and the character he was playing in the program (Tristan, the warrior from the opera Tristan and Isolde). He changed things up after the U.S. Nationals, going with a more subtle navy blue/black color scheme with the same style and I think it was a great decision. It looked much more polished and mature. His interpretation of the music is so intense that he doesn’t need anything overtly theatrical to help tell the story; he does it with his movements.

It seems like most of the international skaters stuck with the same costumes throughout the season. Canadian ice dancer Kaitlyn Weaver used different versions of the same dress concept for her Four Seasons free dance with Andrew Poje, so I’m not sure that counts as an entire costume change. I don’t think the American team as a whole is more prone to costume changes, because we’ve seen plenty from international skaters as well over the years. Japanese champion Mao Asada often switched up her dresses and Canadian ice dance Olympic Champion Tessa Virtue seemed to show up with a different free dance dress to every competition last year.

I think it just depends on the athlete, and their program that year. For me, all I can think of when I see all these costume changes throughout a season is how much each of these outfits must cost! I used to spend a couple hundred on my dresses back in my more recreational skating days, and this article says that the elite skaters can spend up to $5,000 per costume. The lengths we go to for fashion!