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Top 5 Surprise Moments from the U.S. Championships

We had the “wow moments” and the tearjerkers at Nationals this year, and I think there were also a few surprises. Check out my top 5:

1. The return of Joshua Farris

I ruled him out based on his recent ankle injury and a rough showing at NHK Trophy, but man, was that a mistake. And I’m glad it was, because he is my favorite of all the men’s skaters on the scene right now. Not only does he have the jumps, but his spins, footwork, and artistry are superb. His jump entrances are also unique (and difficult). Watch his footwork sequence get a huge reaction from the crowd in his Nationals long program (which is rare in a piece as somber and quiet as Farris’ Schindler’s List long program):

The best part about his skating is that he looks so natural on the ice, as if nothing is forced. Johnny Weir pointed out in that video that Farris is a natural artist, and I couldn’t agree more. Hopefully he makes a strong showing at Worlds! I think it is entirely possible, because Farris was one double toe loop away from winning the title at Nationals. He did three double toes in combination, which is against the rules and resulted in him not earning any points for his triple lutz-double toe combination. The 7 or so points that combo would have given him would have been enough for the title. A rough lesson to learn, but one that will not be forgotten any time soon and will serve him well in the future.

2. And as a bonus surprise, Farris is also a fantastic guitar player and singer. Thanks to NBC for revealing this hidden talent:

3. Mariah Bell in 6th place for the ladies was another pleasant surprise.

I loved her when I first saw her perform live in Boston last year and was thrilled to see her put out two solid performances this year. I bet she will grow a lot before next season and hopefully get some Grand Prix assignments. I think she flies a little too far under everyone’s radar–she skates with beautiful ease and pizzazz. Watch her short program performance and just try not to smile (really, you can’t not grin while watching this):

4. Tarah Kayne and Daniel O’Shea’s bronze medal in the pairs event

She had surgery on her right hip in July, and the commentators during the event mentioned that the pair hadn’t resumed full-time training until about a month prior to Nationals. It certainly didn’t show in their long program, and the emotion was palpable as they hit nearly all of their elements:

Quite the impressive showing for last year’s Four Continents silver medalists, and they will head to that event again this year.

5. There was some buzz surrounding 15-year-old Karen Chen (who is from the same town in California as Olympic Champion Kristi Yamaguchi) coming in to Nationals, but she still blew everyone away with a career-best performance that included six triples and earned the bronze medal. Too young to compete at the World Championships, she will go to the Junior World Championships instead. After withdrawing from Nationals last year with a broken ankle, this was a great moment for her:

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Impressions: Rostelecom Cup

So many broadcast-related questions while watching Rostelecom Cup coverage:

Where’s Terry Gannon? I missed him. I heard from a fellow fan on Twitter that Terry is covering something for the Golf Channel and will also miss this week’s competition in France. Bummer.

Image Source: @JohnnyGWeir on Instagram

Image Source: @JohnnyGWeir on Instagram

Speaking of Europe, why weren’t Tara and Johnny (and Gannon’s replacement Steve Schlanger…who just didn’t seem to know what to make of the exuberance of T&J) actually at the competition? The only on-camera shots of the group were in front of a screen with the Grand Prix logo on it, and all of their social media accounts clearly indicated they were in New York. Will they be in France this weekend? Why are they broadcasting from afar? I personally think the commentary on any event is better if you are there in person—do you guys think it hurts the broadcast when they aren’t on site?

And continuing my broadcast confusion—why isn’t NBC showing any of the ice dancing events? With two victories for Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates and two silver medals for their teammates, the Shibutanis, it is clear that the U.S. teams are stepping up to fill the hole left by American Olympic Champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White. I think it is so cool that American teams are dominating in ice dance and wish that was highlighted to the general viewing audience. They did show a portion of Chock and Bates’ free dance and noted their victory during the broadcast, but I wish there was more. I think they could go without showing the singles skaters who are in 7th or 8th place, just show the top several people, and then incorporate some dance coverage into the broadcast. Anybody else want to see more ice dancing in prime time?