Skating Off-Season News Round-Up: More Footage and Other Things from the Rink Where It Happens

More club competition results/footage trickles in, Jason Brown does an extended interview and confirms he’s skating to Hamilton.

This biggest thing for skating fans to watch since last Saturday may have been all the videos from Dreams on Ice in Japan, including the new competitive programs, but they weren’t the only ones available. We also got some other videos, and a little more news besides that.

Where none of the various club competitions taking place last weekend had the highest of profiles, the skaters competing in them were occasionally another matter. The Los Angeles Open, for instance, had National Champion Karen Chen skating her short program. From the results posted, it seems she had a fall. However, we can’t know just how she skated, because she’s not the one who uploaded footage of herself to YouTube afterwards. Instead, Starr Andrews, who won the senior ladies after Chen withdrew, uploaded the long with which she placed second in the segment, but held on overall:

Whitney Houston recorded “One Moment in Time” for the last Korean Olympics, so it’s very appropriate for this season. It’s not surprising to see Andrews rock this kind of music; she showed her ability to do that when she was nine. Nor is her trying the triple axel at the beginning surprising. She’s already gone for the hardest jump content, and despite her Junior Worlds disappointment likely will continue to do so.

But sometimes it’ll take a while for video from a club competition to come to light. This week, for instance, one fan posted to YouTube video of Ross Miner skating his new short to “Downtown” by Macklemore from a club competition two months ago:

A few more months of development and a closer camera, and this might be really fun to watch.

That’s the most significant club competition footage we got this week, although we got a handful of other details about how things went at some of them. The most intriguing details about the summer so far there involve Deanna Stellato & Nathan Bartholomay. They competed at the Orange Blossom Open in Tampa Bay, and while we don’t have footage, we do have their scoring sheet for the long program. From it we learn that the pair with the least technical difficulty from last year’s Nationals podium is now going for some of the hardest jumps anyone is attempting. It looks like the side by side lutzes especially went badly this time, but there are plenty of next times to come right now.

Kaetlyn Osmond managed to record her Black Swan free program sneak peak in better quality than the short sneak peek. After a couple of Instagram posts (including a look at her costume), she tweeted the expanded version of that:

Black Swan gained warhorse status within a year of the movie coming out, but this looks promising.

Shorter is the Instagram clip that gives us the first look at Elliana Pogrebinsky & Alex Benoit’s free dance, after they elaborated on it in another Instagram post:

🔥🔥🔥 Desire 🔥🔥🔥

A post shared by Ellie and Alex USA ice dancers (@pogrebinsky_benoit) on

One hopes the dance has more of that original composition and less of “I Put a Spell on You,” what with everyone officially being sick of that song.

Jason Brown, too, is getting an original piece composed for his long this season. Though that wasn’t the first thing we learned about his programs this week. For some time, he’s been indicating he’s skating one of his programs to Hamilton. So confirming that required more than a mere announcement. Brown provided an entire video:

It’s good to have this confirmed. It was high time we got a high-profile Hamilton program, and Brown’s the guy you want to be breaking in music at that level too. U.S. Figure Skating’s twitter account also informed Lin-Manuel Miranda, who unfortunately is currently away from Twitter and so couldn’t give a full reaction, but did provide one through the person running his account in his stead.

That was one of very many things he talked about in a 52-minute interview with Ted Flatt of Golden Skate, where he called his programs the hardest ones he’s ever done, and talks more about the long. Maxim Rodriguez, who has composed a number of pieces for various skaters to skate to, apparently he wanted to do one for Brown as early as 2015. He no doubt knows he’s one who’ll express his music like never before. This year they finally agreed to it.

Addressing the all-importation question of his famous long hair, Brown indicated his hairstyles for both will be more bun than ponytail, though neither hairstyle was set in stone. He’s also pushing things technically. He still has yet to get a clean quadruple jump ratified in competition, but he speaks confidently of his quad toe and salchow, and of having two quads in each program. He actually does manage to land four quads at Nationals and he will make the Olympic team; that’s enough when combined with his everything else.

Flatt did a much shorter interview with Mirai Nagasu as well. She talks about her preparation and both her programs. She expresses a hope Medvedeva’s Chopin short will use a different version and/or cut of the music than hers, and notes that unlike Satoko Miyahara’s Miss Saigon, hers will be completely instrumental. There’s also a place at the beginning for the triple axel, if at any time she decides to go for that.

Some skaters made more simple music announcements. After debuting her new show program at Dreams on Ice, Wakaba Higuchi opted for an announcement in Japanese news much like the ones so many of her teammates had made the previous week. Unfortunately, her short program is another Don Quixote one. It seems there is no escaping Minkus’ ballet this season. But at least she’s using the Gypsy Dance section, which isn’t so annoying. Her long is to “Skyfall,” another common choice.

Also opting for commonly-used music is Russian skater Sergei Voronov, who gave an interview on his upcoming season to Russian news media. Although he describes his short only as being to an Astor Piazzolla tango, without saying which. His long is to Globus’ Sarabande Suite, which he’s not even the first skater to claim this season. Perhaps having Misha Ge as a choreographer will make his programs more interesting than they’ve typically been, but Voronov has never been one for artistry. He also talks of possibly upping his quad content, and to have a chance at making the Olympic team, he’s going to need to. Technical content is most of what he’s got.

The trend of keeping old programs continues, and now it’s even gotten into the ice dance, where skaters rarely keep programs, even underused one. But at least this one isn’t a case where it’s that bad a thing. The program in question is Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker’s “Liberstraum” free dance. They revealed this in an extended interview with NBC that had a lot of interesting details about their history too. Also their ambition to make the Olympics, even though right now it looks kind of impossible for them to break into the top three. But that free dance, even used, is a good weapon. It was one of the best programs anyone had last year, and they got too little chance to make it shine. It deserves another season for that alone.

We also got another Instagram reveal, with Courtney Hicks posting both music and costume design for her short program:

😍😍😍 So excited about the dress by @xcostumedesigns for my short program to "Nocturne" by Yo Yo Ma!

A post shared by Courtney Hicks (@courtneynhicks) on

No video preview, but she’ll be debuting it at Skate Detroit next week.

Aliona Savchenko & Bruno Massot are not revealing their music choices yet, even as they talked a little about making them an a German interview. But that interview had more surprising news. Up until now, everyone assumed next year would be Savchenko’s last season, her last chance at Olympic gold. And it will be the latter, because they said they won’t be carrying on until 2022. But she also said they might stay on for a couple more seasons after this anyway. That is a departure in outlook for Savchenko, who back during her previous partnership said she didn’t care about anything besides winning the Olympics anymore.

Currently planning to continue their home Olympics, on the other hand, or Wenjing Sui & Cong Han. We got her saying now this week in a Chinese news clip with an English summary provided by a fan on Tumblr. However, that’s to be expected, since they’re young yet. We got a look at a promising show program too.

But unsure if they’re going to continue even this season are elder Russian statesmen Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov. We do have footage of two performances they gave at longtime coach Tamara Moskvina’s master class last week. But those doesn’t seem to be competitive programs, even as her new junior pair Nika Osipova & Vladislav Tarasenko skated their short program. Smirnov, too, gave Russian media an interview this week, where he said they haven’t yet decided whether or not to continue their career. But when he talks about injuries, whether their likely results would be worth it, and going into coaching, it sounds like they’re not likely to compete.

Next week comes Skate Detroit, another one of the summer’s bigger club competitions. There’ll even be a livestream available for those willing to pay for it.


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