Skating Off-Season Weekly Roundup: Shibutanis’ and Others’ Music

This wasn’t an easy week for anyone, including American skating fans. As well as the potentially demise of the rule of law and democracy in their country, they also had to deal with the divorce woes of the greatest skater the U.S. has ever produced. Apparently Michelle Kwan’s husband treated her pretty shabbily too, not telling her he was filing for divorce, and she had to find out on Twitter. As least she may be very well shot of him.

In more professional skating news, the biggest story also came out of America: Maia & Alex Shibutani’s free dance music. It seems they, too, are going back to 2016, although at least they’re not literally skating to their old music. Instead, they’ve officially declared said program to be part of a trilogy:

In theory, another Coldplay song should suit them, and “Paradise” is thematically similar enough to both “Fix You” and their music from last year that making them a trilogy is a clever way to excuse not doing something different. On the other hand, “Fix You” wasn’t an instant success, and they actually had to tweak it and add a sample from “The Scientist” before they got to the top with it. They may end up having to do the same this season.

A couple more skaters are doing something more typical: just keeping programs from last season. Although in Polina Edmunds case, she didn’t get to skate at all last season, so it makes sense she’s going to be using the programs she got choreographed last summer this season instead. That means her short to Palladio and a long to a Sarah Brightman melody. These are both common music choices, but not overused ones, and the first Brightman song, “Bilitis – Générique,” is really obscure. She’s also using, “Time to Say Goodbye,” which is one of the most common two Sarah Brightman songs, though it remains heavily associated with 2002 Olympic ice dance champions Marina Anissina & Gwendal Peizerat.

Also keeping her short program is Australian ladies champion Kailani Crane. It’s a large part of what took her up another level and put her into the conversation for qualifying an Olympic berth, so that too makes sense.

A less delightful choice, however, is the one Sara Hurtado & Kirill Khavialin apparently made this week. Last week, we heard they were doing their free dance to a flamenco. But it sounds like they changed their minds:

The opening of the program they’ve posted sounds very much like it’s from Leon Minkus’ Don Quixote, a piece of music any skating fan watching that video would recognize immediately. It’s heavily used, and unfortunately it’s a piece of music it’s way too easy to get tired of. It doesn’t help matters we can’t be sure right now their more famous teammate Javier Fernandez isn’t using it. They really should’ve stuck with the “pam pam.”

Whether he can get Spanish citizenship and they can be the Spanish team that qualifies for the Olympics remains to be seen. But a team that had no chance of either citizenship or qualifying have become the second ice dance team in as many weeks to announce their retirement. Emi Hirai & Marien de la Asuncion both did so this week on social media. Longtime Japanese number twos, they never medaled internationally, and their best achievement at an ISU championship was making the top ten at Four Continents in 2015. But one look at his Twitter feed, and it’s clear they were much loved by their fans, and will be missed.

Meanwhile, the International Skating Union continues setting things in place for the upcoming season, with base values, Grade of Execution values, and guidelines for marking for all singles and pairs elements. With all changes underlined, they haven’t made many, and none to any of the elements’ base or GOE values. Most of the changes they have made are pretty technical. Perhaps the most needed of them is on the final page. With all the 10s going out to the top skaters in PCS, even when they skate less than clean, it’s a good thing to reserve it for skaters who did not have serious flaws. Although the ISU might not have gone far enough, making it only a “guideline.” Debates about what constitutes a “serious error,” will likely also ensue.

It is also the season for ice shows, starting with the ones held by skating clubs across the U.S. This week saw shows from Boston to Pasadena, some with some pretty big names performing. But the one we have both footage from and the most anticipated appearance was Skate It Forward in Ohio. Done to raise money for charity, they provided quite a few Instagram videos, and one fan in the audience has uploaded a few more to YouTube. That includes the performance of Joshua Farris, back after he’d announced his retirement the previous summer, and looking good in his rendition of the Ed Sheeran short program that enchanted fans back during the 2015 season, even if the jumps aren’t all there yet:


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