Skating Off-Season News Roundup: A Relatively Slow Week and a Half

ISU Council announces a few more decisions and skaters a few more music choices as the summer hits a lull.

This update might have gotten majorly delayed, but last week wasn’t the fastest week for news anyway. Many of the skaters were too busy attending each other’s weddings. One of those weddings, that of rich ice dancer Isabella Tobias to the son and grandson of more rich and important sports people, made the New York Times! Though a number of American skaters also gathered in Colorado for summer pairs camps, where they worked with accomplished Russian coach Nina Mozer and her assistant, Robin Szolkowy, whom many of them grew up idolizing. No major news out of that yet, but they did have some fun:

Other skaters were in Japan, where a second set of Fantasy on Ice shows occurred over the past two weekends, first in Kobe, before the tour concluded in Niigata. One of Kobe’s shows was televised the following Monday. Some newcomers joined the cast for that one. None of them debuted new competitive programs, but Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron, with some live accompaniment, provided a highlight anyway:

There were, however competitive programs we got a first look at at this past weekend. In Italy, Valentina Marchei & Ondrej Hotarek performed their short program to Renato Carosune’s “Tuo vuo fa americano,” or at least a section of it (we’re not entirely sure) for a small audience, and the rest of the world gets to see a minute of it:

It looks like lots of fun.

Not dissimilar is a longer clip of World Junior pairs silver medalists Aleksandra Boikova & Dmitrii Kozlovskii, of their short program set to Globus’ take Handel’s Sarabande. That’s not an uncommon one among the lower ranks, but their choreography isn’t without creativity.

Over in Toronto, Mai Mihara is only just getting her short program choreographed, but Japanese news showed a clip of that:

Most skating fans can quickly recognize “Gabriel’s Oboe” from Ennio Morricone’s score to The Mission. It may be a warhorse, but she’s looking good with it.

The biggest music announcement not to be accompanied by footage came from Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue. They’d already announced their free dance music, but Hubbell followed that up with the short dance music in her June 10th blog entry. One of the pieces, Guem’s “Le Serpent,” may not be anything Americans have heard of, but it happens to be the theme of a very famous French talk show that aired from 1994 to 2009. French skaters have even used it in the past, which may be how this American team heard of it. The other piece of music they’re using, “Cuando Calienta el Sol,” is also on the famous side, with Tayla Ferro’s cover being just one of many, many versions.

Not that the International Skating Union took the week off from making announcements. This week they published more Council decisions, including new memberships and minimum technical scores. We can now potentially see new figure skaters competing from Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, and Moldova. Most likely, for a while yet, either skaters from bigger countries who can get the right passport will represent those countries, or pioneering skaters will make low-placing appearance at Junior Grand Prix, Challengers, and more minor international events. Further into the future, if they’re lucky, will come more successful native skaters, who can achieve the tech minimums needed to compete at the higher events.

For now, those minimums remain exactly what they were last year. As was the case four years ago, the tech minimums required for Europeans and Four Continents will also get skaters into the Olympics, for both the individual and team events. The ISU reserves the right to change them up to two weeks before the entry deadline for each event, though more often than not they don’t.

They also reaffirm the locations of all the upcoming season’s ISU’s championships, including Europeans in Moscow. They still can change that too, but the question remains whether any other country in Europe could pull things together in time to host it even now. It looks like we’ll have to settle for someone other than Russia doing the dope tests.

Elsewhere in Russia, we also have a minor coaching change. On her, Elizaveta Nugumanova announced she and Petr Gummenik have left their previous high-profile coach, Alexei Mishin, along with his former assistant, Veronika Daineko, and are now working with her, while she works under coaching legend Tamara Moskvina. She said only it was her decision to do so, without really saying why. Although her disastrous second half of the season, after her initial breakthrough on the Junior Grand Prix circuit, is explanation enough. Gummenik is dangerously close to proving an also-ran after his own experiences on the same circuit, so his wanting new guidance also makes sense.

The International Olympic Committee was busy too, doing a visit to Beijing, host for 2022 Games. That too provided a little news, including about the skating venue. Figure skating and short-track speed skating events (often held on the same ice), will both be held in the Wukesong Sports Center, one of the few Olympic venues that found use after the 2008 Summer Olympics ended. They’ve put more than one kind of ice rink down there plenty of times since. Figure skating first came to the venue as early at the 2008 Cup of China, when they plopped an ice rink down in the volleyball court, which it seems they’ll do again. Unfortunately, there is no sign so far the ice quality and competition quality will be any better than it usually is in China.

This week won’t be as quiet, but the next update may not happen until Sunday. In the past few weeks, already many lower-ranked skaters have first skated their programs in front of judges, as some of the “club competitions,” events held by skating clubs, mostly during the summer, where competitors can get judge’s feedback with noone really caring about the results. This week the Broadmoor Skating Club, one of the country’s highest-profile club, have their annual competition, the Broadmoor Open, as well as the MK Aerial Skating Challenge, a popular literal jumping competition. They’re even raising money to try to stream that live, but unfortunately it’s not going too well.


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