Final Skating Off-Season News Roundup

Skate Canada wraps up Summer Series as Patrick Chan debuts programs elsewhere.

It’s been the final week of the off-season, with the first Junior Grand Prix officially starting on Wednesday. U.S. Figure Skating used the opportunity to hold their annual Champs Camp for their top skaters. So far most of what’s come out of that is photos and brief answers to fan questions on social media, especially on the federation’s Twitter and Instagram accounts. The important part of Champs Camp is the test skates, though those are closed to the public.

Much of the rest of the action took place in Canada, as the Summer Series concluded with both of the final two events in Ontario and British Columbia.

Skate Ontario Summer Skate

Ontario has a number of these unofficial competitions that run through August and October, including two Summer Series events, but the most significant has always been the one in Thornhill. It was also the stronger of this week’s two events. Unfortunately, while it was livestreamed, Skate Ontario for some reason didn’t upload footage afterwards, so videos are limited.

The men’s field included three men who all must remain relieved that the fourth, Stephen Gogolev, isn’t old enough to compete in PyeongChang. He didn’t beat them all this time, though, thanks to a bad short program, though he still ended up winning the free with a program that included a clean quadruple salchow-triple toe loop jump combination, and finished second. But of the men competing, only Keegan Messing skated a clean short. Nailing a quad-triple of his own in it, he took a surprise lead. But struggles with most of his jumps in the free, including a quad lutz attempted, dropped him to fourth.

So ultimately, it was the man who was second in both segments who landed on top overall. Nam Nguyen may still have consistency issues, but he landed the short program’s only other clean quad combination, and he free program was clean outside the quad attempts, one of which he also nearly landed. Roman Sadovsky rounded up the top three, coming in a fraction of a point behind Gogolev. He went for the same quad-triple in both programs, but didn’t quite manage it in either, and those weren’t his only problems.

As at all the Summer Series event, one woman dominated the rest. However, in this case, it wasn’t a Canadian one. Instead, it was Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbaeva, who would’ve blown out the home skaters had she skated well. Even when she didn’t, she still won by over ten points. Her struggles to skate clean didn’t stop her from attempting a quad salchow, though that went badly. Unfortunately, it might be the wrong year for her to skate her short to Carmen, since while she has the artistry for it she lacks the ferocity of others skating to it this season. Her free program will hopefully be more entertaining if and when she skates it cleaner.

The pairs field had only three teams skate their short program, but one of them was Lubov Iliuschechkina & Dylan Moscovitch. Their short felt brilliant, except for the bit where she’s still struggling with the jumps. But they pulled out before the long, leaving only two pairs. Natasha Purich & David Portz won with a pair of programs which were neither particularly good nor particular bad. There were only two dance teams from the start, with Molly Lanaghan & Dmitre Razgulajevs winning. The former junior national champion and his new partner did far better here than they had at their previous competitions this summer.

View full results here.

BC/YK Summer Skate

In Burnaby, British Columbia, the BC/YT Summer Skate included a first look at the final contender for Canada’s second Olympic men’s berth, but we only got to see his short. Kevin Reynolds debuted that, then withdrew (Skate BC/YT did upload clumps of footage, if no individual videos.) It’s a daring program, and he have to admire both that and the zeal with which he skates it, even if this week the jumps weren’t there at all. Only three men skated the free, with young Antony Cheng winning without being too impressive.

The women’s event was another one where no one could compete with Kaetlyn Osmond. This was true even when her short program wasn’t her best. Her free wasn’t completely clean either, but that she kept it together even after the mistakes remains reassuring for her. There were no senior pairs. The four senior dance teams included no one major, though winners Haley Sales & Nikolas Wamsteeker have a top five Nationals finish, and did well enough to give themselves a good chance to hold onto that, if not to get much else.

Other Competitions

As the other top Canadian men showed themselves on the Summer Series Circuit, the one above them all, Patrick Chan, chose to instead start his season at a much smaller competition, the Onyx Figure Skating Challenge in Rochester, Michigan. More than one fan got their camera out, for both his short and long program:

Chan’s had some spectacular programs over the years, including both of last season’s. Even so, it’s not impossible that, with a little more mileage, this could prove his best pair yet.

With the entry deadline for the Nebelhorn Trophy less than a week away, countries looking to earn Olympic berths are starting to make their choices and announcements of who they’re sending to do so. Switzerland held a selection competition for both Nebelhorn and the Junior Grand Prix last weekend in Flims, though we only got the results on Monday. As expected, the men’s spot went to Stephane Walker, who until the rosters for this competition was released was thought to be the only Swiss skater with a serious chance of actually earning a berth.

But with those rosters also came the news of a country switch, not the first of the summer, but probably the most significant so far. As late as last August, Alexia Paganini was representing the U.S. on the JGP with a minor international win to her name, and coming in sixth in France. But it seems she has the needed Swiss ancestry for a passport, and got U.S. Figure Skating to release her to compete for Switzerland. So she crashed the ladies event in Flims, and, like Walker, won by a huge margin, and showed herself good enough to contend for a berth.

There were no pairs or ice dance competitions at any level in Flims, and it doesn’t look like Switzerland’s sending anyone to either competition in Obertsdorf. On the JGP, they’ve filled all seven of their allotted singles berths, but only one of their three dance berths, and are not sending any pairs. None of these skaters are likely to finish very high.

Other news

As they top Australia’s Nebelhorn team, now posted to the country’s international assignments list, Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya & Harley Windsor also debuted their new short program at a show in Sydney:

They’re unlucky to not be the only pair this year skating to “Paint it Black,” but they seem game to try to do it better.

Another show in Igora, Russia gave us a first look at a La La Land: Elizaveta Nugumanova’s:

Right now, she’s far stronger in the opening balletic section than the rest of the program, the symptoms of a young skater trying to broaden her repertoire. Training mate Petr Gummenik seems to not have those kinds of ambition in his short program, which he debuted at the same show.

We already knew Kristina Astakhova & Alexei Rogonov were also using La La Land, for their long program, but this week we got their short program music. Kind of: we know it includes Carmina Burana and an unspecified Mozart piece. Not two things one would think of as going together, but “O Fortuna” would probably work if paired with something from his Requiem.

We had a couple of longer Russian interviews too, both now translated by TAHbKA on Figure Skating Universe. One was with the newest pair on the top, Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov. Most of their comments in it, about last season and about this season’s plans and programs, are pretty general. It’s interesting to hear, however, that they ended up with their unimpressive long program after being forced to change it by the Russian federation in July. And from their comments about how they actually could’ve skated better at Worlds, one assumes they’re aiming to win everything with no further waiting.

The other, with coach Elena Buyanova, talks a little bit about the two top Russian ladies she’s currently working with, but even more about Adelina Sotnikova, the Olympic champion who left her earlier this summer. She speaks of it with Russian bluntness, and not all of what she says about her is at all nice, though ultimately she seems to be taking it philosophically. There is also a clear expectation that Sotnikova won’t go through with her return, though there are still no confirmations or denials from that quarter.

Two more former Russian skaters now skating for Hungary are getting help from that country to be eligible for the Olympics.  This week, pairs skater Daria Beklemisheva got her citizenship, with a report that ice dancer Anna Yanovskaya is in the process of getting hers. It’ll be difficult, however, for either Beklemisheva & Mark Magyar or Yanovskaya & Adam Lukacs to earn an Olympic berth, though the latter’s chances are slightly better.

And finally, the ISU is releasing finishing changes for the season, including an updated handbook for ice dance technical judging, with all changes underlined. Most of the changes are as technical as you’d expect for such a document. Some are simple, such as keeping couples from retrying interrupted elements for credit, or newly allowing stops in the free dance no-touch steps. Some are also interesting, such as that pattern dance sequences can be downgraded if disrupted by errors, and twizzles similarly heavily penalized for errors.

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