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Four Favorites: Internationaux de France 2019

Cup of China has come and gone, but here I am looking back at Internationaux de France from (not quite) two weeks ago. I was out of town the weekend of the competition for an excellent coaching seminar with Learn to Skate USA and got behind in my skating viewing, hence posting about France after the next event has already been completed. The skating was honestly a little haphazard in France, so I went with fashion for my four favorites from this event:

Ladies

Poor Maria Sotskova of Russia finished last here, and looks to really be struggling to regain the form that earned her a spot on Russia’s 2018 Olympic team. While her jumps didn’t look good, her short program dress really did. Unfortunately, the last place finisher apparently doesn’t make it to YouTube or Google Images, so I’m utilizing some very professional screenshots of NBC Sports Gold from my browser. All rights to NBC Sports Gold and the ISU, of course.

Front:

Maria Sotskova 2019 SP Dress Front

Back:

Maria Sotskova 2019 SP Dress Back

I love the color against the white ice, the asymmetrical cutout, and the hint of sparkle. It was very classy without being too traditional or expected. This was her only Grand Prix assignment of the season, and with the Russian ladies field as stacked as it is, I’m not sure we’ll see Sotskova or this lovely dress again this year, outside of Russian Nationals.

Men

Shoma Uno of Japan had a disastrous competition here, and in the long program, especially, his falls were wild and troubling. His free side was completely out of control and it looked like he was going to really get hurt if he kept going. But apparently the theme of this post is me loving the outfits of people having tough performances, because I thought his long program shirt was gorgeous. It looked like a starry night sky, or the lights of a city as viewed from an airplane window. Here’s a fan video of the program:

Pairs

Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier’s “Lion King” program re-run made my favorite programs list after Skate America, and I mentioned then how much I liked their outfits. I noticed them in even more detail at Internationaux de France, including the subtle leopard print! The brown is a color you don’t see often in skating, but this one is a deep enough shade that it looks great against the ice and is not drab. You can check out photos of Denney and Frazier from the competition via the event coverage on Figure Skaters Online.

Dance

In a year of Broadway-themed rhythm dances, there are no shortage of fun and memorable costumes. Spain’s Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz were my favorites here, with their very authentic Grease getups. (I’m choosing to ignore the questionable message of the movie/musical, that a girl needs to change who she is for her boyfriend…) With these two, there is full commitment to the Grease theme, right down to Smart’s curled hair a la Olivia Newton-John; does Diaz need to add a bit more gel to his look to really nail the Grease theme? This photo of the costumes is from an early-season event, but they are the same ones the duo wore in France:

Now I’m off to go finish watching the men’s and the ladies events from Cup of China!


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2017 Worlds Predictions: Men

Sometimes I let my personal favorites get in the way of all logic and reason when it comes to figure skating. So I’m predicting the 2017 Worlds results in two sets: sentimental vs. rational. See the full explanation in my initial post with ice dance predictions.

The men’s event is full of skaters tossing off quads left and right. It’s going to be awesome. I’ll never forget watching the final warmup group, live at Worlds in Boston last year, and being completely blown away by quad after quad, and the incredible quality of the jumps. If you’re going to be in Helsinki this year, I’m both super jealous and thrilled for you. Here are my thoughts on this quad festival:

ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2016 - Day 5

Image Source: justjaredjr.com

Sentimental:
Gold – Javier Fernandez, Spain
Silver – Nathan Chen, USA
Bronze – Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan

Last year at Worlds, Javier Fernandez held the audience in the palm of his hand during the long program. Stellar jumps, all delivered with this pizzaz and ease that made it seem like he was doing an exhibition program. I loved it, I love him, and I want him to get his third World title this week. I also have so much admiration for Nathan Chen’s poise under pressure and commitment to pushing himself. I’ve got him in second in my sentimental picks because of my love for Javi, but let’s be honest…I bet he will run away with this title. He’s been riding some excellent momentum since the Grand Prix Final and just seems to do better with each outing. And as Phil Hersh pointed out in his IceNetwork preview, Fernandez’ quad content doesn’t quite measure up to some of the other top guys. So my rational podium has two Japanese men, Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno. And not just because of their stellar quads; these guys have the whole package.

Rational:
Gold – Nathan Chen, USA
Silver – Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan
Bronze – Shoma Uno, Japan

P.S. It is also Nathan’s first World Championships. When was the last time anyone won in their first try? Let alone the last U.S. man to do that? Google sleuthing didn’t help me out on this one, so if anyone knows, leave it in the comments! We can just call it pulling a Medvedeva in the meantime, since she won 2016 Worlds in her first year at the senior level.


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Flashback Friday: Skate America 2016

When I moved to Chicago this summer, one of the things I was most excited about was that it was the host city for the 2016 Skate America. Yes, I just saw unforgettable live skating at the 2016 Worlds in Boston. And yes, I also got to attend the 2014 U.S. Nationals in Boston. And yes, yes, one of my good skating buddies told me it just wasn’t fair that I keep living in cities that host awesome skating competitions.

But in seriousness, I am really grateful for the opportunity to see some of today’s most incredible skaters live and in person. Watching on TV is great (and that’s what I’ll be doing for U.S. Nationals next week, no doubt), but there is something about the emotion and electricity of being in the arena, about being close enough to see the expressions on the skaters’ faces as they control their nerves and deliver flawless performances, selling it to the last row.

So I was pretty excited to show up to the Sears Centre, site of Skate America, with my all-event ticket this past October. On this Flashback Friday, let’s count down the reasons it was awesome:

QUAD

As in…Shoma Uno’s QUAD FLIP. But it wasn’t just any quad flip—it was light and airy, with great height and landed with exquisite knee bend (wow, that last phrase is definitely from the Dick Button canon). He had such command of the jump, and of his whole program:

I really enjoyed Shoma’s performance at Worlds last year, and it’s great to watch him come into his own this season.

TRIPLE

As in three Notre Dame Figure Skating alums reuniting to watch some awesome skating:

tglf6917

DOUBLE

As in the number of times I cried: two. Once when Mariah Bell brought the house down with an incredible long program:

I loved all the spirals in the choreography, plus, she just oozed ease and grace throughout the performance.

And the second time during Jason Brown’s free skate. Not only did he land his first quad in competition, but he skated a moving, understated, and flawless performance. If you don’t watch the whole program, at least skip ahead to 5:46. One of the competition volunteers was epically weeping at the boards after his program, and Jason gave her a huge hug. He’s the sweetest (I can confirm, because we got to meet him after the medal ceremony and he was gracious and generous towards all the fans.).

SINGLE

As in one awesome ponytail pose from Maia Shibutani:

The Shib Sibs’ “That’s Life” short dance was superb: sharp, crisp, hip hop movement, and a creative cut of music, mixing Sinatra’s version of the song with Jay-Z. It’s my favorite of all the hip hop short dances this year, because it’s so clever and well done.

Were any fellow skating fanatics at the Sears Centre, too? What were your favorite moments?