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Flashback Friday: Skate Canada 2018 Edition

Week two of the 2018 Grand Prix season brings us to Skate Canada, held this year in Laval, Quebec. Back in 2012, Canadian ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier made their Grand Prix debut at Skate Canada with this delightful “Mary Poppins” short dance:

It is more traditional than these two usually go for, but I really enjoyed it—especially their energy throughout.

Gilles told CTV News that this year’s programs are emotional and vulnerable, especially in light of the death of her mother last May. Their interview with her ahead of the competition is a great read. This weekend, look for their tango rhythm dance to “Angelica’s Tango” by Piernicola Di Muro and free dance to “Vincent (Starry Starry Night)” by Don MacLean and Govardo. We’ll see if they can challenge the momentum that Skate America Champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue have going into this event!

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Flashback Friday: Skate Canada 2010

Inspired by Ashley Wagner’s Skate Canada victory last weekend, let’s take it back five years, to the last time an American lady won Skate Canada. For this week’s Flashback Friday, Alissa Czisny and her glorious spins taking gold at Skate Canada 2010 in Kingston Ontario:


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Skate Canada Hairstyles

There was some great skating at Skate Canada over the weekend—and some fabulous hair. I tend to notice hairstyles no matter which sport I am watching. I’m not the only one who loved the braids and ponytails that the soccer players rocked at the women’s world cup last summer. And every time I see another football player with flowing locks like this:

Image Source: nflrush.com

I can’t help but think how uncomfortable and sweaty it must be under that helmet. In figure skating, hairstyles are more important than most sports, since it can be part of the “look” of a costume or character. But at the same time, it needs to be practical and keep the hair out of the way during a performance. (Yes, I’m looking at you, female ice dancers who don’t pull your hair back. It’s distracting. And gives fuel to people who think skating is less of a sport.) My hair all-stars of Skate Canada are:

Most Improved: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Russia

Last year, Elizaveta was always sporting a messy ponytail with lots of visible clips. It was a look that was more “Sunday afternoon at the gym” than “World Figure Skating Champion.” This picture doesn’t even really capture how bad it was:

Image Source: olympics.nbcsports.com

This year, she has come out much more polished, with a braided look. Unfortunately, there aren’t many good pictures of it, but you can get the gist here:

Image Source: icenetwork.com

Image Source: icenetwork.com

MVP: Ashley Wagner, USA

Ashley has been a pretty consistent bun-wearer for the past few years, except for the polished ponytail in her Pink Floyd short program. I loved seeing her switch it up here, with the side part and twists into the bun. The red color also suits her much more than the really light blonde she had going on last year, in terms of both appearance and her sassy personality. Here’s a side view of the ‘do:

Image Source: wtop.com

Best Short Hairstyle: Meagan Duhamel, Canada

It is pretty rare to see a female figure skater with short hair. Short hair is difficult to pull back and limits your style options if you are going for a specific character. Canadian pairs skater Meagan Duhamel probably has the most well-known short hair in skating these days, and sometimes even she has bad hair days (like this overly curly situation at the Sochi Olympics). But I loved her look at Skate Canada; enough volume that it didn’t look flat or boring, but not so much that her hair overshadowed the rest of her.

Image Source: icenetwork.com

Image Source: icenetwork.com

Most Eye-Catching: Adam Rippon, USA

I can’t do a post about figure skating hairstyles this season without mentioning Adam Rippon’s gray locks:

Image Source: thefinersports.sportsblog.com

There was lots of chatter over the summer about this look; whether he’d dye it back before the competition season started, and whether it would be off-putting to the (sometimes old-fashioned) judges. While I’m not the biggest fan of the look of the gray, I will give him props for staying true to his own style. I just don’t love hair colors that were clearly created in a bottle and not in nature.

Who sported your favorite looks at Skate Canada? Am I wrong about ladies who leave their hair down? (It would take a lot to convince me of that…) Share your favorites in the comments!


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Flashback Friday: Max Aaron

During the men’s long program at Rostelecom Cup last weekend, commentator Tara Lipinski mentioned how much Max Aaron has improved over the past few years, which gave me the idea for this Flashback Friday post. Max was the U.S. Champion in 2013 with this fun long program to “West Side Story”—that featured two fantastic quad salchows. Take a look at this one, and then watch this season’s “Gladiator” program.

2013 U.S. Nationals:

 

2014 Skate Canada:

 

Both great performances, but the comparison definitely affirms Tara’s point. This season’s long program really highlights how hard he has worked on his spins, footwork, transitions, and even the extensions on the landings of his jumps. I also have to say that I love the “sword fighting” motions in the footwork in the “Gladiator” program. Looking forward to seeing this program at Nationals in January!


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Impressions: Skate Canada

I was out of town last weekend and not able to catch all the coverage of Skate Canada, but luckily I have a subscription to Ice Network, which provides access to all their video footage of the competitions this year. Some thoughts after watching the highlights:

Ashley Wagner

source: universalsports.com

  • I have always been a big Wagner fan—I love the passion in her skating. She always sells her program and really commits to the music. I was glad to see her improve upon a shaky start at the Japan Open.
  • I love the lunge entrance she is using to one of her spins—so unique!
  • It was great to see a Charlotte in her program as well. I still miss the required spiral sequence for the ladies…no one holds their spirals long enough any more, in my opinion.
  • I’m not sure about this music choice, given that Ashley usually excels when portraying strong, recognizable characters, e.g. Delilah of Samson and Delilah in 2013 or Nina in Black Swan in 2012. I’ll be interested to see the program evolve throughout the season. Jenny and Dave over at The Skating Lesson blog mentioned in one of their videos that they think the program lacks transitions and I agree. Lots of long glides rather than more intricate connecting moves. Maybe she will add more as the season progresses?

Ice Dance

  • Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje won gold with their fluid style and long, beautiful lines. I really enjoyed watching them at the Olympics last season and can’t wait to see more from this duo. Their lifts were the highlight of their programs for me—such interesting positions!
  • Americans Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue skated to a compilation of songs from The Great Gatsby soundtrack and unfortunately, I didn’t love it. Their costumes didn’t really complement the music—and the hood on his vest was a little confusing. It seemed like they were going for a more modern take on Gatsby, as opposed to the traditional 20s style. Maybe not the way I would have gone with it, but perhaps it will grow on me as the season goes on. There was also audible swearing from Zach in the kiss n’ cry, which I was surprised was not bleeped out of the Ice Network broadcast. Definitely something he should be careful about in the future.

Pairs

  • I have to admit that I haven’t watched a lot of the pairs coverage this season, but I like Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. They skate with such joy—and it doesn’t hurt that their side-by-side triple lutzes are amazing! I also love how in sync they are on their side-by-side spins; that can sometimes be a lost art.

Max Aaron

  • Max is a fantastic jumper who seemingly effortlessly tosses out quads. But I do wish he would hold the landings of his jumps a bit longer. He’s really worked on his skating skills and polish over the past few years and not holding the landings takes away from that.
  • I really liked his Gladiator program—the strong music suits his style. Thoughts on the vocal intro? I thought it was weird at first, but that might be because I don’t do well with change and am still getting used to the new rule allowing lyrics in all disciplines. After thinking about it a bit more, I like how the intro set the context for the program and the character he is portraying.

General Observation

  • I’ve seen the a-shaped spin (is there an official name for it?) a couple of times in my skating viewing this season, and I just really don’t like it. It’s not an attractive position at all:

Source: 30somethingskating.blogspot.com

I’ll have to find some scoresheets and see how many points this thing is worth…I hope not too many, and it can be retired soon.

Looking forward to watching some Cup of China action this afternoon! I’ll be typing about it this week.