2018 US Nationals Senior Dance Preview

Three teams qualified for the Grand Prix Final for the third year in a row.  This is the one discipline where the US is consistently a medal threat and is the best bet for the US at the Olympics.

As a group, they have 43 national medals.  They have won five Worlds medals, 10 Four Continents medals, and eight World Junior Medals.  They won 7 Grand Prix medals and 6 Challenger Series medals this season.  The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 10th place finishers from last season will be competing here.  Only the 1st, 3rd, 12th place finishers from last year’s junior event moved up.  The short dance will be held on Friday, January 5th with the free dance on Saturday, January 6th.

To be competitive internationally, these teams need at least 71 points in the short dance, 107 points in the free dance, and 177 points overall.
The Shibutanis have the 3rd best total score internationally, set at Skate America.  They have consistent earned Level 4s on most of the elements in the short dance, finally achieving Level 4 on their non-touching step sequence at the Grand Prix Final, but dropping their Rhumba from a Level 2 to Level 4.  In the free dance, they have hit Level 4s on everything except for their step sequences which have been earning Level 3.  The only anomaly was their second step sequence earning a Level 2 at the Grand Prix Final.
Hubbell and Donohue have the 5th best score internationally, but they have set personal best segment scores at different competitions.  They have earned a Level 4 on every element of their short dance, but they’ve been vacillating between Level 3 and Level 4 on individual elements between events and have never earned Level 4 on everything.  In their free dance, they’ve been hitting Level 4 on their first step sequence, but have lost a level on one random element elsewhere in the program, dropping their spin to Level 3 at NHK Trophy and their last lift to Level 3 at the Grand Prix Final.
Chock and Bates have the 6th best score internationally, set at the Grand Prix Final.  They have been bringing their levels up throughout the season, achieving a Level 4 on their Rhumba at the Grand Prix Final.  They have never earned a Level 4 on the partial step sequence or the non touching step sequence.  In the free dance, they’ve been fairly consistent with achieving Level 4s on everything except for their step sequences.
While this is the deepest and most competitive discipline in the US it is also fairly predictable.  The Shibutanis, Chock and Bates, and Hubbell and Donohue have dominated the scene for the last 2.5 years and it would be a major upset if any other team were to steal one of the top three spots.  But there are several teams vying for that final spot on the podium and the placement of the top three teams is not set in stone.
Hawayek/Baker, McNamara/Carpenter and Parsons/Parsons are all former World Junior Champions and none have medaled on the Grand Prix this season.  Hawayek and Baker have been up in the senior ranks the longest and have the most experience, but they’ve also made fluke errors.  Pogrebinsky/Benoit are the reigning Pewter Medalists, landing on the podium in their first season as seniors last year.
Chock and Bates look like they might have trouble holding on to their silver medal this year.  They set a season’s best score at the Grand Prix Final where the Shibutanis and Hubbell/Donohue did not have their best events, yet they still finished behind both teams.  They have had problems hitting their Levels, including never achieving a Level 4 on some of their elements this season.  Their best technical score in the short dance is behind Hubbell and Donohue and the Shibutani’s worst score from the season, and they don’t fare much better in the other areas.
The Shibutani’s have three of the top five short dance TES scores, three of the top five short dance PCS scores, one top five free dance TES score, and three top five free dance PCS scores, putting 10 of their 12 possible scores in the top 5 for the US for the season.
Hubbell and Donohue have two of the top five short dance TES scores, one top five short dance PCS score, three top five free dance TES scores, and one top five free dance PCS scores, giving them a total of 7 top five scores.
Chock and Bates have one top five short dance PCS score, one top five free dance TES score, and one top five free dance PCS score, giving them 3 top five scores.
Even with their worst performance of the season, the Shibutanis managed to come out ahead, and their short program has been their biggest strength this season.  Hubbell and Donohue have put out stronger free dances, so it is entirely possible to see them split the two segments.  Keys to this event are going to be the Shibutanis’s lead after the short dance and if anyone can upgrade to Level 4 step sequences in either program.
Top 10 TES Scores, Short Dance
Shibutani/Shibutani: 41.30 (SA)
Shibutani/Shibutani: 40.85 (GPF)
Hubbell/Donohue: 40.57 (SC)
Hubbell/Donohue: 40.30 (NHK)
Shibutani/Shibutani: 40.23 (RC)
Hubbell/Donohue: 38.22 (GPF)
Chock/Bates: 38.08 (GPF)
Chock/Bates: 37.07 (IDF)
Chock/Bates: 35.97 (CoC)
McNamara/Carpenter: 34.30 (CoC)
Top 10 PCS Scores, Short Dance
Shibutani/Shibutani: 37.88 (SA)
Shibutani/Shibutani: 37.24 (GPF)
Shibutani/Shibutani: 37.07 (RC)
Chock/Bates: 36.69 (CoC)
Hubbell/Donohue: 36.59 (GPF)
Hubbell/Donohue: 36.51 (SC)
Chock/Bates: 36.48 (IDF)
Chock/Bates: 36.28 (GPF)
Hubbell/Donohue: 36.01 (NHK)
Hawayek/Baker: 31.51 (SA)
Top 10 TES Scores, Free Dance
Shibutani/Shibutani: 57.95 (SA)
Hubbell/Donohue: 57.64 (NHK)
Hubbell/Donohue: 57.47 (SC)
Hubbell/Donohue: 57.42 (GPF)
Chock/Bates: 57.25 (GPF)
Chock/Bates: 56.27 (CoC)
Shibutani/Shibutani: 56.01 (RC)
Shibutani/Shibutani: 54.15 (GPF)
Chock/Bates: 53.47 (IDF)
Hawayek/Baker: 53.05 (SC)
Top 10 PCS Scores, Free Dance
Shibutani/Shibutani: 57.12 (SA)
Shibutani/Shibutani: 55.93 (RC)
Hubbell/Donohue: 55.88 (SC)
Shibutani/Shibutani: 55.76 (GPF)
Chock/Bates: 55.57 (CoC)
Chock/Bates: 55.54 (GPF)
Hubbell/Donohue: 55.17 (GPF)
Chock/Bates: 54.83 (IDF)
Hubbell/Donohue: 54.40 (NHK)
Hawayek/Baker: 49.05 (SC)

My podium predictions:

Gold: Shibutani/Shibutani

Silver: Hubbell/Donohue

Bronze: Chock/Bates

Pewter: Hawayek/Baker

 

Bios of the competitors:

Aldridge/Eaton: She is 23 and represents the Detroit Skating Club he is 25 and represents the Ann Arbor Figure Skating Club.  They are the 2014 Four Continents Bronze Medalists and 2012 and 2013 World Junior Bronze Medalists.  They finished 6th in 2015, 5th in 2014, are the 2013 Junior Champions, 2012 Junior Champions, finished 5th in juniors in 2011 and are the 2010 Novice Champions.  They won gold at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

Bain/Altukhov

Biechler/Dodge: She is 19 and represents the Skating Club of Wilmington and he is 23 and represents the Peninsula Skating Club.  They finished 8th at the US International Figure Skating Classic and 17th at Finlandia Trophy.  They placed 7th last season, 5th as juniors in 2016, 8th at juniors in 2015, 7th as juniors in 2014 and 9th as juniors in 2013.

Chock/Bates: She is 25 and represents the All Year Figure Skating Club and he is 28 and represents the Ann Arbor Figure Skating Club.  They finished 7th at Worlds and are the reigning Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  They won silver at Cup of China and silver at Internationaux de France to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they placed 5th.  They are the 2015 World Silver Medalists, 2016 World Bronze Medalists, 2015 and 2016 Four Continents Silver Medalists, and 2013 Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  They are the reigning Silver Medalists, 2016 Silver Medalists, 2015 Champions, 2014 Silver Medalists, 2013 Silver Medalists and finished 5th in 2012.  They have the 8th best short program, 5th best free skate, and 6th best total scores internationally.

Hawayek/Baker: She is 21 and represents the Detroit Skating Club and he is 24 and represents the Seattle Skating Club.  They finished 4th at Skate Canada and 5th at Skate America.  They won silver at the US Figure Skating Classic and bronze at Golden Spin of Zagreb.  They are the 2014 World Junior Champions.  They finished 5th last season, 5th in 2016, are the 2015 Pewter Medalists, 2014 Junior Champions and 2013 Junior Silver Medalists.

Hubbell/Donohue: She is 26 and he is 27 and they represent the Lansing Skating Club.  They placed 9th at Worlds and 4th at Four Continents last season.  They won bronze at Skate Canada and silver at NHK Trophy to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they placed 4th.  They won gold at the US International Classic.  They are the 2014 Four Continents Champions.  They are the reigning Bronze Medalists, 2016 Bronze Medalists, 2015 Bronze Medalists, 2014 Pewter Medalists, 2013 Pewter Medalists and 2012 Bronze Medalists.  They have the 6th best short program, 4th best free skate, and 5th best total scores internationally.

Klopstock/Schedl: She represents the Centennial 7k Skating Club and he represents the University of Delaware Figure Skating Club.  They finished 12th as juniors last season.  They won bronze at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

Manta/Johnson: She is 21 and represents the Coyotes Skating Club of Arizona and he is 23 and represents the Broadmoor Skating Club.  They placed 14th at Nebelhorn Trophy.  They finished 8th last season, 7th in 2016, and 10th as juniors in 2015.

McNamara/Carpenter: She is 18 and represents the Peninsula Skating Club and he is 21 and represents the Washington Figure Skating Club.  They placed 7th at Junior Worlds last season.  They placed 5th at Cup of China.  They finished 5th at the Autumn Classic International, 8th at Finlandia Trophy, and won silver at Warsaw Cup.  They are the 2016 World Junior Champions and 2015 World Junior Silver Medalists.  They are the reigning Junior Bronze Medalists, 2015 and 2016 Junior Champions, 2014 Junior Silver Medalists, 2013 Junior Bronze Medalists, 2012 Junior Bronze Medalists, finished 9th in Junior in 2011, 6th in Novice in 2010, are the 2009 Intermediate Pewter Medalists and 2008 Juvenile Pewter Medalists.

Parsons/Parsons: She is 20 and he is 22 and they represent the Washington Figure Skating Club.  They are the reigning World Junior Champions.  They placed 7th at Rostelecom Cup and 9th at Skate America.  They won silver at Ondrej Nepela Trophy and finished 8th at Golden Spin of Zagreb.  They are the 2016 World Junior Silver Medalists.  They are the reigning Junior Champions, 2016 Junior Silver Medalists, 2015 Junior Silver Medalists, 2014 Junior Bronze Medalists, 2012 Junior Pewter Medalists and 2011 Novice Champions.

Pogrebinsky/Benoit: She is 19 represents the Peninsula Skating Club and he is 22 and represents the Skokie Valley Skating Club.  They placed 7th at Cup of China and 7th at Internationaux de France.  They won bronze at Tallinn Trophy.  They are the reigning Pewter Medalists, 2016 Junior Bronze Medalists and 2015 Junior Bronze Medalists.

Reynolds/Reynolds: She is 27 and he is 24 and they represent the IceWorks Skating Club.  They finished 10th last season, 13th in 2016, 11th in 2015, and 14th in 2014.

Shibutani/Shibutani: She is 23 and he is 26 and they represent the Skating Club of New York.  They are the reigning World Bronze Medalists and reigning Four Continents Silver Medalists.  They won gold at Rostelecom Cup and gold at Skate America to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.  They are the 2016 World Silver Medalists, 2011 World Bronze Medalists, 2016 Four Continents Champions, 2011 Four Continents Silver Medalists, 2015 Four Continents Bronze Medalists, and 2009 World Junior Silver Medalists.  They are the reigning Champions, 2016 Champions, 2015 Silver Medalists, 2014 Bronze Medalists, 2013 Bronze Medalists, 2012 Silver Medalists, 2011 Silver Medalists, 2010 Junior Champions, 2009 Junior Silver Medalists, 2008 Junior Pewter Medalists, 2007 Novice Champions, 2006 Intermediate Champions and 2005 Juvenile Silver Medalists.  They have the 3rd best short dance, 3rd best free dance, and 3rd best total scores internationally.

Short Dance

  1. Virtue/Moir, CAN: 82.68 (Skate Canada)
  2. Papadakis/Cizeron, FRA: 82.07 (Grand Prix Final)
  3. Shibutani/Shibutani, USA: 79.18 (Skate America)

Free Dance

  1. Papadakis/Cizeron, FRA: 120.58 (Internationaux de France)
  2. Virtue/Moir, CAN: 118.33 (Grand Prix Final)
  3. Shibutani/Shibutani, USA: 115.07 (Skate America)

Total (one score per team listed)

  1. Papadakis/Cizeron, FRA: 202.16 (Grand Prix Final)
  2. Virtue/Moir, CAN: 199.86 (Skate Canada/Grand Prix Final)
  3. Shibutani/Shibutani, USA: 194.25 (Skate America)

 

2017 Cup of China Dance Preview

This promises to be a fascinating event.  First, the field is extremely stacked with three top teams competing here all who are current or former World medalists, and all who want a spot on the Olympic podium this season.  There are also several new and up and coming teams, looking to start making a name for themselves in preparation for the next Olympic cycle.  Additionally, there are 10 teams competing here, but only four countries are represented, China, France, Russia, and the US, so there are also mini national competitions going on between these teams.

Three teams are making their Grand Prix debuts, including former Junior World Champions McNamara and Carpenter.  Angelique Abachkina is the youngest lady at this event at age 17, while Ekaterina Bobrova is the oldest at 27.  Quinn Carpenter is 21 while Evan Bates and Dmitri Soloviev are 28.  Chock and Bates and Bobrova and Soloviev have scored over 180 points in their careers, while Papadakis and Cizeron have a personal best above 190.

Papadakis and Cizeron are going into only their fourth season on the Grand Prix, after missing the 2015 season due to injury.  They have won four medals, including three gold, and have qualified for the Final twice, winning medals both times.  They started their season with a gold medal at Finlandia Trophy.  Their short dance had a Level 4 rhumba, twizzles, and lift, with Level 3 on their non touching step sequence and partial step sequence.  They had all positive GOEs, worth 9 points, and program components in the mid to high 9s.  They even received five 10.00 marks.  Their free dance had Level 4 twizzles, lifts, and spin, with Level 3 on their circular step sequence.  They had a fall during their diagonal step sequence, which dropped it to a Level 2 and made the element worth only 2.60 points after all the deductions.  In contrast, their other step sequence was still only a Level 3 but was worth 9.85 points, so the fall cost them dearly.  The rest of their program was fairly strong, and they still managed to earn 13 points from GOEs and receive program components in the mid 9s.  They have the 2nd best short dance, 6th best free dance, and 5th best total scores.

Bobrova and Soloviev won a silver medal at Rostelecom Cup.  They need a gold medal to guarantee their spot in the Final, while a silver will keep them in contention.  Their short dance in Russia featured Level 4 twizzles, non touching step sequence, rhumba, and lift with Level 3 on their partial step sequence.  They earned all positive GOEs and had program components in the low to mid 9s.  While they have some of the best raw technical scores this season, they can still improve their GOEs and especially their program components.  However, their GOE and program component marks were higher than they received at Pndrej Nepela Trophy earlier this season, and they improved their levels as well.  Their free dance earned Level 4 for the twizzles, lifts, and the straight line step sequence with Level 3 on their diagonal step sequence.  Their GOEs were all positive, except for their spin, which had a bit of a hiccup and only received Level 2, earning 11 points.  Their program components were similar to earlier in the season in the low to mid 9s.  They have the 5th best short dance, 6th best free dance, and 6th best total scores.

Chock and Bates are coming off a disappointing season where they finished 2nd at US Nationals for the second year in a row, and then finished 7th at Worlds, tying their worst performance ever.  They have not competed yet this season, so they are a bit of a wild card in this event.  There is no denying they are a top team and should land on the podium, but it’s a little harder to predict if they will have the programs at their best capacity in regards to levels and performance quality.  This will be their 7th season on the Grand Prix, and they have medaled 8 times.  The last time they won gold was back at Skate America in 2015.  They have qualified for the Final each of the past three seasons, and they won silver twice, but finished 6th last year.

While they are not necessarily medal contenders at this event, this will be the first match up between McNamara and Carpenter and Pogrebinsky and Benoit.  Pogrebinsky and Benoit made their senior debut last season, despite finishing just 3rd at US Nationals as juniors the year prior and not medaling at Junior Worlds.  That year, McNamara and Carpenter won the gold medal at Junior Worlds but decided to stay junior for one more season.  They failed to make the podium last year, and are making their senior Grand Prix debut at this event.  Pogrebinsky and Benoit have never come out on top of McNamara and Carpenter, but they also have a year of senior experience under their belt.

McNamara and Carpenter are making their Grand Prix debut at this event.  They are the 2016 World Junior Champions.  They kicked off their senior careers with a 5th place finish at the Autumn Classic International and an 8th place finish at Finlandia Trophy.  At the Autumn Classic International, they earned Level 4 for the twizzles and lift in their short dance with Level 3 on their non touching step sequence.  They scored all positive GOEs and had program components in the low to mid 7s.  Their free dance earned Level 4 for their lifts and twizzles, with Level 3 on their serpentine step sequence.  They again earned all positive GOEs and had program components slightly higher in the mid to high 7s.  At Finlandia, their short dance again earned Level 4 for the twizzles and lift but only a Level 2 on their step sequence and their program components were similar in the low to mid 7s.    They had a major error on their free dance at Finlandia, with a fall during their spin.  It only earned a Level 1 and taking into account the deduction, was only worth .70 points.

Pogrebinsky and Benoit are entering into their sophomore season on the Grand Prix.  They finished 4th at Lombardia Trophy to start their season.  At Lombardia Trophy, they earned Level 4 on their curve lift and twizzles in the short dance, with Level 3 on the non touching step sequence, but they only earned Level 1 on the rhumba.  They received all positive GOEs and had program components in the mid 7s.  Their free dance featured a Level 4 spin and lifts, with Level 3 on their twizzles.  They earned all positive GOEs and had program components in the low to mid 7s.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Papadakis/Cizeron

Silver: Chock/Bates

Bronze: Bobrova/Soloviev

 

Bios of the competitors:

Chen/Zhao, CHN: They placed 1oth at Four Continents.  They finished 9th at Cup of China last season.  Their personal best is 128.55.  She is 23 and he is 25.

Wang/Liu, CHN: They finished 16th at Worlds and 7th at Four Continents.  They placed 9th at Skate Canada and 6th at Cup of China last season.  Their personal best is 158.36.  She is 23 and he is 23.

Wang/Zhao, CHN: This is their Grand Prix debut.  She is 19 and he is 22.

Abachkina/Thauron, FRA: They finished 8th at Junior Worlds last season.  They won gold at JGP France and bronze at JGP Japan last season to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final where they placed 5th.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  Their personal best is 152.17.  She is 17 and he is 22.

Papadakis/Cizeron, FRA: They are the reigning World Silver Medalists and European Champions.  They won gold at Trophee de France and silver at NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won silver.  They are the 2015 and 2016 European Champions, 2015 and 2016 World Champions, and 2013 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 196.04.  She is 22 and he is 22.

Bobrova/Soloviev, RUS: They finished 5th at Worlds and are the reigning European Bronze Medalists.  They won silver at Rostelecom Cup.  They are the 2013 World Bronze Medalists, 2013 European Champions, 2011 and 2012 European Silver Medalists, 2016 European Bronze Medalists, and 2007 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 186.68.  She is 27 and he is 28.

Zagorski/Guerreiro, RUS: They placed 5th at Rostelecom Cup last season.  Their personal best is 173.02.  She is 23 and he is 26.

Chock/Bates, USA: They finished 7th at Worlds and are the reigning Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  They won silver at Skate Canada and silver at Rostelecom Cup last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they placed 6th.  They are the 2015 World Silver Medalists, 2016 World Bronze Medalists, 2015 and 2016 Four Continents Silver Medalists, and 2013 Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  Their personal best is 189.01.  She is 25 and he is 28.

McNamara/Carpenter, USA: They placed 7th at Junior Worlds.  They won gold at JGP Czech Republic and gold at JGP Slovenia last season to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  They are the 2016 World Junior Champions and 2015 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 163.65.  She is 18 and he 21.

Pogrebinsky/Benoit, USA: They finished 7th at Skate America and 6th at Rostelecom Cup last season.  Their personal best is 167.81.  She is 19 and he is 22.

2017 US Nationals Dance Results

Place Start Name Short Dance Free Dance Total Score
Place Score Place Score
1 9 Maia Shibutani, SC of New York
Alex Shibutani, SC of New York
1 82.42 2 117.63 200.05
2 11 Madison Chock, All Year FSC
Evan Bates, Ann Arbor FSC
2 79.96 1 119.08 199.04
3 10 Madison Hubbell, Lansing SC
Zachary Donohue, Lansing SC
3 79.72 3 111.70 191.42
4 7 Elliana Pogrebinsky, Peninsula SC
Alex Benoit, Skokie Valley SC
5 67.17 4 103.12 170.29
5 8 Kaitlin Hawayek, Detroit SC
Jean-Luc Baker, Seattle SC
4 72.60 8 87.46 160.06
6 6 Anastasia Cannuscio, University of Delaware FSC
Colin McManus, SC of Boston
8 56.94 5 96.41 153.35
7 5 Julia Biechler, SC of Wilmington
Damian Dodge, Peninsula SC
6 59.15 6 93.04 152.19
8 4 Karina Manta, Coyotes SC of Arizona
Joseph Johnson, Broadmoor SC
7 57.96 7 89.19 147.15
9 1 Charlotte Maxwell, Arctic FSC
Ryan Devereaux, Pittsburgh FSC
9 56.88 9 82.32 139.20
10 3 Elicia Reynolds, SC of Wilmington
Stephen Reynolds, SC of Wilmington
10 40.83 10 62.74 103.57
11 2 Kseniya Ponomaryova, Skokie Valley SC
Oleg Altukhov, North County FSC
11 38.89 11 54.40 93.29

2017 US Nationals Senior Dance Preview

Ice Dance is by far the United States’ most competitive event.  Three teams qualified for the Grand Prix Final for the second year in a row, and these same three teams all placed in the top 6 at Worlds last season.  This is the one discipline where the US is consistently a medal threat and there is the potential of walking away from Worlds with two medals.

As a group, they have 28 national medals (although 12 of them belong to the Shibutanis).  They have won four Worlds medals, seven Four Continents medals, and two World Junior Medals.  They won seven Grand Prix medals and seven Challenger Series medals this season.  The 1st-5th, 7th, 8th, 11th, and 13th place finishers from last season will be competing here.  Only the 3rd and 5th place finishers from last year’s junior event moved up.  The short dance will be held on Friday, January 20th with the free dance on Saturday, January 21st.

To be competitive internationally, these teams need at least 72 points in the short dance, 107 points in the free dance and 180 points overall.
While this is the deepest and most competitive discipline in the US it is also fairly predictable.  The Shibutanis, Chock and Bates, and Hubbell and Donohue have dominated the scene for the last 2.5 years and it would be a major upset if any other team were to steal one of the top three spots.  But there are several teams vying for that final spot on the podium and the placement of the top three teams is not set in stone.
The Shibutanis are coming off a World Silver medal and the first US senior title of their career.  They have the 3rd best short dance, 3rd best free dance and 3rd best total scores.  They have struggled a bit with their levels this year, earning a Level 2 in the short dance on their partial step sequence at Skate America and Cup of China and a Level 2 on the non-touching step sequence at Skate America.  However, their GOEs have more than made up for the technical deficits, earning between 8.5 and 9.5 points between events.  Their program components have been strong throughout the season, and their best short dance components came at the Grand Prix Final where they received 9.11-9.36.  They have perhaps the best execution of the combination of Blues and Hip Hop of any team this season.  After last season’s iconic Fix You program, I thought it would be difficult for them to top that free dance, yet they have been successful.  Again, they’ve had Level issues, receiving a Level 2 on one of their step sequences at Cup of China and the Grand Prix Final.  They earned 15.5 points from GOE at all of their events and at Cup of China and the Grand Prix Final their program components ranged from 9.21-9.50, even receving a few 10s from the judges.
Chock and Bates established themselves as the #1 team in the US after Davis and White retired following the 2014 Olympics.  They won a national title, medaled at Worlds and had never lost a competition to any of their US teammates.  However, they were overtaken by the Shibutanis last season at nationals and haven’t been able to catch up.  They have the 4th best short dance, 4th best free dance, and 4th best total scores internationally.  They have done something no other team has done this season, beating Virtue and Moir in the free dance at Skate Canada.  However, their scores have been steadily slipping throughout the season and they finished 6th at the Grand Prix Final behind the Shibutanis and Hubbell and Donohue.  They have consistently dropped Levels in the short dance with all but one of their elements receiveing Level 4 at Skate Canada, while only two received Level 4 at the Grand Prix Final.  They earned 9 points from GOE at Skate Canada, but only 6.5 points and the GPF.  Their best program components for the short came at Rostelecom Cup, where they earned 8.93-9.36.  Their free dance was fairly similar between Skate Canada and the Grand Prix Final with Rostelecom Cup being a bit of a blip in the road.  At their two best events they earned Level 4 on everything but the step sequences (and they earned one Level 4 step sequence at Skate Canada).  They earned between 12.5 and 14 points from GOEs with their best program components ranging from 9.07-9.29.  Interestingly, their best program components came at Rostelecom Cup, which was their weakest technical performance.
Hubbell and Donohue have steadily moved up in the world standings, qualifying for the Grand Prix Final two years in a row, and placing 6th at Worlds last season.  They even bested Chock and Bates for the first time at the Grand Prix Final.  They have they the 8th best short dance score internationally.  They have been improving throughout the season, with their best short dance coming at the Grand Prix Final where they received Level 4 on everything but the partial step sequence and earned 7 points from GOE.  Their best program components were also at that event, scoring 8.61-8.79.  While their free dance had better Levels at Skate America and Trophee de France, their program components were much better at the Grand Prix Final, scoring between 8.75 and 9.14.  They consistently scored around 13 points from GOE in the free dance.
Hawayek and Baker had a bit of a disappointing season last year.  They won the pewter medal in their senior debut in 2015, but fell to 5th place last year.  They had a free dance they were very passionate about and invested in, but they couldn’t find the scores to move them forward.  They have had some Level issues this year, receiving Level 2 on the partial step sequence in their short program at Skate Canada and Level 2 on the non-touching step sequence at NHK Trophy.  They earned between 5 and 6 points from GOE at their two events and their best program components were at Skate Canada where they scored 7.64-8.00.  Their free dance improved throughout the season.  While they earned Level 2 for their twizzles at Skate Canada, they received Level 4 at NHK Trophy.  Their GOE in this segment at that event earned them 13 points and their program components were 8.07-8.43.  However, they may be closer to the top 3 after a strong performance at Golden Spin saw them score only 2 points less than Chock and Bates and Hubbell and Donohue.
Pogrebinsky and Benoit are the reigning US Junior Bronze Medalists and placed 4th at Junior Worlds last season.  They still had junior eligibility but decided to make the jump to the senior ranks where they earned two Grand Prix assignments and won a medal on the Challenger Series.  Their best short program came at Rostelecom Cup where they improved the levels on their twizzles and the non-touching step sequence and earned 4 points from GOE.  Their program components are a bit low, but on par with a first year senior team.  Their best short dance program component marks came at Skate Canada where they scored 7.00-7.29.  For the free dance, their Skate America levels were better, earning 2 and 3 on their step sequences and 4 on everything else.  Their GOE and program components were similar at their two GP events, earning +9-9.5 and 7.21-7.61.
Cannuscio and McManus had a breakout season last year, winning the pewter medal at nationals.  Like many of the teams here, they’ve struggled with some of their levels this season.  Their best short dance came at Cup of China where they earned Level 4 on their lift, Level 3 on their twizzles and Level 2 on the step portions.  Their program components were a little low ranging from 6.57-7.04 at NHK Trophy.  They had similar performances in their free dance, earning Level 4 on everything but the step sequences, which earned Level 2.  They earned between 6 and 7 points from GOE and had program components ranging from 6.57-7.36.
Biechler and Dodge are making their senior debut after placing 5th in juniors last year.  At Eastern Sectionals, their short dance earned Level 4 on the twizzles and Level 3 on everything else.  They received 4.5 points from GOE and their program components scored 6.42-7.00.  They earned Level 4 on the lifts and spin in their free dance and Level 3 on the twizzles and steps.  They earned 11 points from GOE and had program components ranging from 6.42-6.92.
Manta and Johnson also had a strong showing at Sectionals.  Their short dance received Level 4 on the twizzles and lift, Level 3 on the non-touching step sequence, and Level 2 on the Blues and partial step sequence.  They earned 4.5 points from GOE with program components from 6.63-7.31.  They earned Level 4 on the lift, twizzles and spin in their free dance with Level 2 on the step sequences.  They were awarded 7 points from GOE with program components ranging from 6.58-7.25.
What this event is going to come down to is program components.  The Shibutanis were under marked in this category for years and even though they were exceptional technicians, they couldn’t keep pace on the artistic side.  Now, their levels have been holding them down a bit this season, but their GOEs and program components are keeping them on podiums.
Top 5 TES Scores, Short Dance
40.85 Shibutanis, Grand Prix Final
40.61 Chock/Bates, Skate Canada
38.35 Chock/Bates, Rostelecom Cup
37.66 Hubbell/Donohue, Grand Prix Final
36.87 Shibutanis, Cup of China
Top 5 PCS Scores, Short Dance
37.12 Shibutanis, Grand Prix Final
36.83 Shibutanis, Skate America
36.69 Chock/Bates, Rostelecom Cup
36.36 Shibutanis, Cup of China
35.60 Chock/Bates, Skate Canada
Top 5 TES Scores, Free Dance
57.44 Chock/Bates, Skate Canada
56.95 Shibutanis, Skate America
55.59 Shibutanis, Rostelecom Cup
55.45 Shibutanis, Grand Prix Final
54.88 Hubbell/Donohue, Trophee de France
Top 5 PCS Scores, Free Dance
56.31 Shibutanis, Cup of China
56.18 Shibutanis, Grand Prix Final
55.76 Shibutanis, Skate America
55.30 Chock/Bates, Rostelecom Cup
54.59 Chock/Bates, Skate Canada
Note that despite receiving lower levels in the short dance and free dance than their other competitors, the Shibutanis are receiving much higher GOE marks, giving them technical scores equal to or better than the other teams here.  Add on to this the higher program component marks and scores that are trending upward, and they are on the right track to repeat their national title.

My podium predictions:

Gold: Shibutani/Shibutani

Silver: Chock/Bates

Bronze: Hubbell/Donohue

Pewter: Hawayek/Baker

 

Bios of the competitors:

Biechler/Dodge: She is 18 and represents the Skating Club of Wilmington and he is 22 and represents the Peninsula Skating Club.  They finished 4th at Lombardia Trophy.  They placed 5th as juniors last season, 8th at juniors in 2015, 7th as juniors in 2014 and 9th as juniors in 2013.

Cannuscio/McManus: She is 24 and represents the University of Delaware Figure Skating Club and he is 26 and represents the Skating Club of Boston.  They placed 7th at Cup of China and 8th at NHK Trophy.  They finished 7th at Ondrej Nepela Memorial.  They are the reigning Pewter Medalists, finished 5th in 2015, 7th in 2014, 6th in 2013, 6th in 2012, are the 2011 Junior Bronze Medalists, finished 7th in juniors in 2010 and 10th in juniors in 2009.

Chock/Bates:  She is 24 and represents the All Year Figure Skating Club and he is 27 and represents the Ann Arbor Figure Skating Club.  They are the reigning World Bronze Medalists and reigning Four Continents Silver Medalists.  They won silver at Skate Canada and silver at Rostelecom Cup to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they placed 6th.  They won silver at Nebelhorn Trophy and silver at Ondrej Nepela Memorial.  They are the 2015 World Silver Medalists, 2015 Four Continents Silver Medalists, and 2013 Four Continents Bronze Medalists.  They are the reigning Silver Medalists, 2015 Champions, 2014 Silver Medalists, 2013 Silver Medalists and finished 5th in 2012.

Hawayek/Baker: She is 20 and represents the Detroit Skating Club and he is 23 and represents the Seattle Skating Club.  They finished 6th at Skate Canada and 4th at NHK Trophy.  They won silver at Autumn Classic International and silver at Golden Spin of Zagreb.  They are the 2014 World Junior Champions.  They finished 5th last season, are the 2015 Pewter Medalists, 2014 Junior Champions and 2013 Junior Silver Medalists.

Hubbell/Donohue: She is 25 and he is 26 and they represent the Lansing Skating Club.  They placed 6th at Worlds and 4th at Four Continents last season.  They won silver at Skate America and silver at Trophee de France to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they placed 5th.  They won gold at the US International Classic and silver at Finlandia Trophy.  They are the 2014 Four Continents Champions.  They are the reigning Bronze Medalists, 2015 Bronze Medalists, 2014 Pewter Medalists, 2013 Pewter Medalists and 2012 Bronze Medalists.

Manta/Johnson: She is 20 and represents the Coyotes Skating Club of Arizona and he is 22 and represents the Broadmoor Skating Club.  They placed 5th at the US International Figure Skating Classic.  They finished 7th last season and 10th as juniors in 2015.

Maxwell/Devereaux: She is 27 and represents the Arctic Figure Skating Club and he is 27 and represents the Pittsburgh Figure Skating Club.  They placed 6th at the Warsaw Cup.  They finished 8th last season and 9th in 2015.

Pogrebinsky/Benoit: She is 18 represents the Peninsula Skating Club and he is 21 and represents the Skokie Valley Skating Club.  They finished 4th at Junior Worlds last season.  They placed 7th at Skate America and 6th at Rostelecom Cup.  They placed 4th at Nebelhorn Trophy and won bronze at Tallinn Trophy.  They are the reigning Junior Bronze Medalists and 2015 Junior Bronze Medalists.

Ponomaryova/Altukhov: She is 28 and represents the Skokie Valley Skating Club and he is 33 and represents the North County Figure Skating Club.  They placed 11th last season, 12th in 2015, 16th in 2014 and 14th in 2013.

Reynolds/Reynolds: She is 26 and he is 23 and they represent the IceWorks Skating Club.  They finished 13th last season, 11th in 2015, and 14th in 2014.

Shibutani/Shibutani: She is 22 and he is 25 and they represent the Skating Club of New York.  They are the reigning World Silver Medalists and reigning Four Continents Champions.  They won gold at Skate America and gold at Cup of China to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.  They are the 2011 World Bronze Medalists, 2011 Four Continents Silver Medalists, 2015 Four Continents Bronze Medalists, and 2009 World Junior Silver Medalists.  They are the reigning Champions, 2015 Silver Medalists, 2014 Bronze Medalists, 2013 Bronze Medalists, 2012 Silver Medalists, 2011 Silver Medalists, 2010 Junior Champions, 2009 Junior Silver Medalists, 2008 Junior Pewter Medalists, 2007 Novice Champions, 2006 Intermediate Champions and 2005 Juvenile Silver Medalists.

 

Pogrebinsky and Benoit bring beauty, strength, and passion to their senior debut

Elliana Pogrebinsky and Alex Benoit teamed up in the spring of 2014.  They saw immediate success as a team, claiming the bronze medal at US Nationals as juniors less than a year after their partnership began.  They are also the reigning US Junior Bronze Medalists.  Their international credits include a bronze medal at JGP Spain in 2015 and a 4th place finish at Junior Worlds last season.  The team is based in Novi, Michigan and trains in Igor Shpilband’s renowned camp.

They moved up to seniors this season and earned a 7th place finish at Skate America and a 6th place finish at Rostlecom Cup, in addition to a 4th place finish at Nebelhorn Trophy and a bronze medal at Tallinn Trophy.  They earned personal bests in all segments of competition at Tallinn Trophy, and have the 17th best total score of the season internationally for juniors and seniors.

In addition to their competition demands (they flew a whopping 32,000 miles this season already) and daily training regimen, they both are attending college and find the time to give back through various volunteer work.

They are an incredibly warm and likable team on the ice (just check out their Elvis Presley themed short dance) and those same attributes can be used to describe them off the ice as well.  There’s a level of openness and honesty that makes their skating accessible, even to people who are not knowledgeable about the intricacies of ice dancing.  Behind that, there is a wealth of thought and detail put into their choreography and the nuances give way to a different experience for the audience with each performance.  If you haven’t seen Ellie and Alex skate yet, you’ll definitely be a fan after Kansas City!

How would you describe yourselves as a team?

Wow!  You started off with the difficult questions!  Currently in the discipline, many of the teams are artistically similar to one another, embracing the soft, lyrical, yet emotionally detached programs which are the trend of the moment.  In contrast, we feel that we are a unique team and that our strength lies in creating a classic beauty with underlying sophisticated power, and a genuine, palpable chemistry on the ice.  Obviously, we are a physically large team and that allows us to utilize our leg length not only for line, but for speed and ice coverage, too.  Coupled with Ellie’s love of dramatically intense programs, along with Alex’s theatre background, we are fortunate to be able to change up our program concepts each year, while still delivering a performance that can touch the spectator with a mix of emotions.  It has been fun for us to play the angel or the devil or the temptress or the rockstar and hopefully entertain the audience as well!  If we were forced to be succinct, we would describe ourselves with these six words: classic beauty, contemporary strength, palpable passion.


Tell me about yourselves outside of skating.

Pogrebinsky (EP):  I am a very artistic person and love photography.  I also enjoy drawing, painting, and playing the guitar.  Recently, I started cooking and baking, and after some experimentation with easy recipes, I’m now starting to feel natural in the kitchen and have enjoyed creating my own dinner and dessert ideas.  Another big part of me is my love for animals. In addition to donating to a local shelter, I will be volunteering there after Nationals. At various times in my life, I’ve had a dog, hamsters, a gerbil, and have a guinea pig. Recently, I adopted a 9-month-old cat (Tux) from the shelter, and he has been a wonderful addition to our family!  In my free time, you can almost always find me hanging with my pets and laughing at all the silly things they do. 

Benoit (AB): I love spending time with friends, researching fast cars, hiking outdoors, or enjoying film and other pop culture.  I also spend my free time creating ……whether it is writing, photography, art …. Which ultimately helps me to figure out who I am as a person.

Tell me about your programs this seson. 

Our short dance  (“Trouble” by Elvis Presley) is a story told from two perspectives, as a rock star (the King) interacts with one of his adoring fans.  Initially, the King is full of bravado, bragging about his bad boy persona while the fangirl is swooning.  But her persistence and cuteness ultimately win him over, and while he insists that he’s trouble, they end the dance together.  Fabian Bourzat and Rohene Ward both had significant roles in this program, and it has been a fun process to bring this story and these roles to life.


Our free dance tells the Persian legend of Layla’s temptation of Majn
un, using classical and contemporary music.  In our story, the beautiful Layla tempts Majnun to the edge of insanity, since he is prohibited from marrying her. The element placement and choreography is fascinating in this program, because the intention is to draw the spectator (along with Majnun), through the temptation (represented by the sinuous, fluid curves and elements of the first two minutes) to the brink of insanity (skated with tight, complex curves, rotational elements and increasing tempo from the twizzles through the end of the program).  The ending pose of the program is intentionally ambiguous, to let the spectator decide whether Majnun gets Layla or loses her.  We have absolutely fallen in love with this program — the music is mesmerizingly seductive, and it allows Ellie to have fun being provocative and little bit bad, all at the same time!

What made you decide to move up to compete as seniors this season?

We made the decision to forego our last year of junior eligibility and move up to senior, because we (our coaching team, our parents, and us) felt that we could benefit from the move.  We had finished our 2016 season with a very successful World Junior Championships in Hungary, and when we had our post-season team meeting, the question was asked whether we would grow as a team more from remaining junior or from challenging ourselves as seniors.  The two of us were very intrigued with the prospect of moving up, although we knew that we would likely be turning down an opportunity to compete at the Junior Grand Prix Final.  It was ultimately decided that moving up would be the better challenge, Igor approached US Figure Skating about the move, and they were supportive of the request.

You were assigned to two Grand Prix events this year.  How was that experience compared to the Junior Grand Prix circuit?

It was exhilarating to take the ice with most of the top ice dancers in the world, even though we have the pleasure of training with many of them on our home ice in Novi.  However, when you add in the excitement of the crowd, the officials, the television cameras and the “supersized” atmosphere of a Grand Prix event, the entire experience takes on a life of its own.  We felt pretty prepared for the event by the time we got to Skate America.  USFS does a great job with simulations at Champs Camp, plus our coaching staff has so much experience in guiding teams down this path, that our job was made much easier.  We got to enjoy the process of pushing ourselves so much further than we could have otherwise, and to start to discover just how much we could achieve!


In addition to your two Grand Prix assignments, you competed twice on the Challenger Series, winning bronze at the Tallinn Trophy.  What was it like to win your first senior international medal?

Actually, our first event as a senior team was the Senior B event at the Lake Placid International Championships, in July.  To win that event, even after getting a late start to our season, was just amazing, and it helped us to believe in ourselves and in this first senior season.  That being said, to finish our fall competition season with a podium finish in Tallinn was awesome!  From June (Dance Camp) through late November (Tallinn Trophy), we had 7 major skating events, flew 32,000 miles, had 48 time zone changes, and were both attending college.  Needless to say, we wre feeling some mental and physical fatigue by the time we reached Tallinn Trophy, and the bronze medal, along with personal best scores in both events, was a really wonderful acknowledgement of what we had achieved.

Having competed so many times internationally before nationals, what have you learned before your senior national debut?

We were fortunate for the opportunity to perform in front of such knowledgeable and appreciative audiences at Skate America and Rostelecom Cup, and we learned to stay in the moment when we are performing.  A truly memorable performance is created when the technical elements are balanced with the artistic aspects, AND the spectator (audience member or official) has a positive, visceral response to what is being experienced.  As athletes, we train to perform the technical; as artists, we train to perform the artistic.  But as actors, we must connect with one another and with the audience, while we are in the moment, to create the desired response.  We feel that we improved this process significantly during our fall competitions, and are prepared to get out on the ice in Kansas City and share something truly incredible with another wonderful audience!

How has your training changed now that you’re both in college?  What do your studies
(Kinesiology and Acting) add to your skating

EP: I take all of my classes online, which allows me to be more flexible and free to skate in the mornings before Alex goes off to his classes.  We still get a good amount of time on and off the ice before we have to leave the rink.  It isn’t our training schedule that has changed this season, as much as what we used to do after our practices.  Knowing that kinesiology will be my profession has made me more aware of my body and how to keep it in prime shape.  I am so interested in this path, due to the fact that sports have been such a major part of my entire life.  Dealing with pains is something that every elite athlete endures.  I have already gained so much knowledge through experience, and now gaining the education to back that up is a really exciting process.

AB: School has definitely helped our training!  While Ellie gets to develop her knowledge about the human body, I get to study culture and human interaction.  We each bring these new elements to our partnership, both on and off the ice.  Obviously, my studies involve a tremendous amount of work to develop characters and movement styles, in addition to performing in front of an audience.  There is a direct connection between this work and what the ice dance discipline rewards, so I feel that I have a significant advantage over skaters without this type of training.

Alex—what interested you in becoming a figure skating judge?

AB: Growing up, my mother served as a USFS National Dance Judge & Technical Controller, but she also was very active locally as a test judge for my home club (Skokie Valley Skating Club).  I was always impressed by how she could be so impactful in multiple roles at the same time — incredibly knowledgeable about the sport and helpful to developing skaters on one hand, and yet fully committed to staying home to raise my brothers and me on the other.  I saw how many skaters were helped by her knowledge, and how selflessly she gave of her time and expertise to help them become the best that they could be. When she resigned from judging for the sake of my skating career and to eliminate the potential for conflict of interest, she never made me feel as if she were making a sacrifice, even though I know how important judging had been to her.  I love my mother and have an unbelievable respect for what she did for me, and for what she has done for this sport.  And it was this respect that inspired me to give back to my sport and to serve as a USFS judge.

Elliana—you’ve worked with three very famous coaching teams in the U.S.  What have you taken from each of those experiences?

EP: Every coaching team has a special aspect about them.  I think I am fortunate to have been with those who have passed on their skills and have helped mold me into the skater I am.  Each training location is different and is based around certain focuses.  By coming from multiple coaches (including Olympic Champions Klimova and Ponomarenko and by the coaches at Wheaton Ice Skating Academy), I am able to have a mix of all the qualities that help an ice dancer grow.  I could not be happier learning from Igor Shpilband and everyone else in Team Novi.  I believe I have found my permanent location and look forward to all that the future may bring for Alex and I as we train with Igor. 

Talk to me about your work with Touch My Heart USA.

AB: I have worked with Touch My Heart USA for a while, as they are headquartered near my home in Chicago, and I have known the founders of the not-for-profit organization for a number of years.  The charity serves a community that frequently goes unnoticed, and the idea of helping others who are less fortunate resonates with me.  The organization creates leisure and educational opportunities for people with special needs, in addition to collecting and distributing goods to their group homes.  When I was still in Chicago, I visited the group homes and assisted with the collection and distribution of donations.  Due to my move to Michigan, my involvement with TMH is severely restricted, so when I realized that I could use our participation in Skate America to help TMH, I asked Ellie for her help, and we created the glove drive.  Our fan response was outstanding and we collected so many pairs of gloves during our two events.  They were donated to TMH and shared as gifts from Santa for the 500 special needs guests at the TMH-hosted holiday party in December.

Have you made any changes to your programs for nationals?

We are both laughing at this question!  There is an urban legend that Igor once changed a team’s program between the free dance five-minute warmup and when they took the ice to compete the program, so needless to say, all of us in Novi are continually updating our programs.  Frankly, we have made so many changes — some big and some small — since Tallinn, that it is hard to remember exactly what our programs were like then.  Some changes are made to boost levels and GOEs and others are made to help with PCS.  But inevitably, the changes make the programs better and keep them fresh after all of the mileage they have already seen.  It is a wonderful process to see the evolution of each program over the course of the season.

What are your goals for nationals? For next season?

Oh wow — another incredibly difficult question to answer!!  If we were being overly politically correct, we would say that our goals are to skate our best and to deliver two strong performances and let the chips fall where they may.  If we were being completely frank, however, we would say that with the amount of dedication, sacrifice, time, money, and pure hard work that skating demands, EVERY competitor strives for more than that.  Truth be told, our US dance field is so ridiculously deep right now, that stating a placement goal would be impulsive.  Instead, we know that we are trained and we expect ourselves to perform well in Kansas City and to enjoy the experience.  As a sidebar, we hope that our skating will engage the audience enough to encourage them to follow us on social media, and to continue to grow our Ellie & Alex following!  

Is there anything else you want people to know?

We are grateful to have so many wonderful experiences through skating and we love to share them with our fabulous fans.  We love to hear from our fans and we personally respond to our inquiries.  You can follow us at: 

  1. Instagram: pogrebinsky_benoit
  2. Twitter: @Ellie_and_Alex
  3. Facebook: www.facebook.com/PogrebinskyBenoit
  4. http://pogrebinsky-benoit.ice-dance.com

2016 Skate America Dance Preview

Three of last year’s top 10 Worlds finishers are competing at this event along with three of the Grand Prix Final qualifiers.  As a group they have three Worlds medals, four European medals (including one gold), four Four Continents medals (including two gold), and two Junior Worlds medals (including one gold).

The top short dance score of the season is 77.72 with the top ten all scoring above 63 points.  The top free dance score is 111.48 with the top ten all scoring above 97 points.  The top total score is 189.20 with the top 10 all scoring above 160.

The Shibutanis had their breakout season last year, taking home a World silver medal five years after their first World medal.  They also won their first US title in their sixth senior season.  Their free dance last year finally showed all of their potential with their impressive technical ability matched with a dramatic emotional performance matched with great music.  They’ll need a performance matching last year’s if they want to stay on top of a stacked US field and stay on the podium in an international field that now includes Virtue and Moir.  They have not competed yet this season, so this will be the first time judges have a look at their new programs.

Bobrova and Soloviev started their season with a gold medal at Ondrej Nepela Trophy.  All of the elements in their free dance earned Level 3 and 4 with all positive GOEs.  All of their program components were in the 9 range except for the transitions.  They were not able to compete at Worlds last year as she was disqualified due to the doping scandal that plagued many Russian athletes.  They have the 4th best short dance, 4th best free dance and 4th best total scores.

Hubbell and Donohue won gold at the US International Classic and silver at Finlandia Trophy.  At Finlandia Trophy, they received a Level 2 on one of their step sequences.  They also received all positive GOEs and program components in the 8s.  They have the 8th best short dance, 7th best free dance and 7th best total scores.

Ilinykh and Zhiganshin started their season strong last year with a medal at Cup of China.  But they weren’t able to medal at their next event, and finished 4th at Russian nationals, keeping them from any Championship teams.  They have not competed yet this season.

Guignard and Fabbri started their season with a gold at Lombardia Trophy.  They had Level 4s on all of the elements in their free dance except for their step sequences with positive GOEs on all of their elements.  They had 8s on some of their program components, but were in the 7s for skating skills and transitions.  They have the 8th best free dance and 9th best total scores.

Pogrebinsky and Benoit are starting their first senior season.  They were the US Junior Bronze Medalists and finished 4th at Junior Worlds.  While they were not the team most expected to move up to seniors this year, they are making the most of their opportunity.  They finished 4th at Nebelhorn Trophy in their first major senior international event.  They didn’t have the best levels in their free dance, earning Level 3s on their steps and a Level 2 and Level 3 on two lifts.  They did have all positive GOEs and program components in the 7s.  They have the 10th best short dance score.

They will skate the short dance on Saturday, October 22nd and the free dance on Sunday, October 23rd.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: Shibutani/Shibutani

Silver: Bobrova/Soloviev

Bronze: Hubbell/Donohue

 

Bios of the competitors:

Tobias/Tkachenko, ISR: They finished 12th at Worlds and 10th at Europeans.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  Their personal best is 160.98.  She is 25 and he is 29.

Guignard/Fabbri, ITA: They placed 10th at Worlds and 7th at Europeans.  They finished 4th at Skate Canada and 4th at Rostelecom Cup last season.  Their personal best is 172.28.  She is 27 and he is 28.

Muramoto/Reed, JPN: They placed 15th at Worlds and 7th at Four Continents.  They finished 7th at NHK Trophy last season.  Their personal best is 151.18.  She is 23 and he is 27.

Min/Gamelin, KOR: They finished 8th at Four Continents.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  Their personal best is 139.26.  She is 21 and he is 23.

Bobrova/Soloviev, RUS: They are the reigning European Bronze Medalists.  They won bronze at Skate Canada and silver at NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they placed 5th.  They are the 2013 World Bronze Medalists, 2013 European Champions, 2011 and 2012 European Silver Medalists, and 2007 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 178.84.  She is 26 and he is 27.

Ilinykh/Zhiganshin, RUS: They won bronze at Cup of China and placed 5th at Rostelecom Cup last season. Their personal best is 176.70.  She is 22 and he is 24.

Agafonova/Ucar, TUR: They placed 21st at Worlds and 12th at Europeans.  They finished 7th at Trophee Eric Bompard last season.  Their personal best is 151.74.  She is 25 and he is 31.

Hubbell/Donoue, USA: They finished 6th at Worlds and 4th at Four Continents.  They won gold at Trophee Eric Bompard and bronze at NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 6th.  They are the 2014 Four Continents Champions.  Their personal best is 176.81.  She is 25 and he is 25.

Pogrebinsky/Benoit, USA: They finished 4th at Junior Worlds.  They placed 4th at JGP Austria and won bronze at JGP Spain last season.  This is their Grand Prix debut.  Their personal best is 155.20.  She is 18 and he is 21.

Shibutani/Shibutani, USA: They are the reigning World Silver Medalists and reigning Four Continents Champions.  They won silver at Skate Canada and gold at NHK Trophy last season to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 4th.  They are the 2011 World Bronze Medalists, 2011 Four Continents Silver Medalists, 2015 Four Continents Bronze Medalists and 2009 World Junior Silver Medalists.  Their personal best is 188.43.  She is 22 and he is 25.

2016 World Junior Championships Dance Results

Short Dance

Pl. Qual. Name Nation TSS
=
TES
+
PCS
+
SS TR PE CC IT Ded.
StN.
1 Q Rachel PARSONS / Michael PARSONS USA 67.88 36.66 31.22 7.79 7.50 7.89 7.89 7.96 0.00 #30
2 Q Lorraine MCNAMARA / Quinn CARPENTER USA 66.25 34.34 31.91 7.93 7.71 8.07 7.96 8.21 0.00 #27
3 Q Marie-Jade LAURIAULT / Romain LE GAC FRA 59.65 31.20 28.45 7.11 6.89 7.21 7.18 7.18 0.00 #18
4 Q Anastasia SHPILEVAYA / Grigory SMIRNOV RUS 59.15 31.70 27.45 6.82 6.64 7.07 6.89 6.89 0.00 #23
5 Q Elliana POGREBINSKY / Alex BENOIT USA 59.05 30.62 28.43 7.11 6.89 7.25 7.11 7.18 0.00 #26
6 Q Alla LOBODA / Pavel DROZD RUS 58.93 29.24 30.69 7.64 7.57 7.61 7.86 7.68 1.00 #31
7 Q Betina POPOVA / Yuri VLASENKO RUS 58.56 29.76 28.80 7.21 7.00 7.29 7.29 7.21 0.00 #29
8 Q Angelique ABACHKINA / Louis THAURON FRA 58.34 30.74 28.60 7.11 6.89 7.25 7.29 7.21 1.00 #28
9 Q Mackenzie BENT / Dmitre RAZGULAJEVS CAN 56.76 29.43 27.33 6.82 6.64 6.93 6.89 6.89 0.00 #16
10 Q Melinda MENG / Andrew MENG CAN 52.60 28.46 25.14 6.32 6.21 6.25 6.39 6.25 1.00 #25
11 Q Marjorie LAJOIE / Zachary LAGHA CAN 52.57 28.40 24.17 6.00 5.79 6.11 6.18 6.14 0.00 #10
12 Q Sara GHISLANDI / Giona Terzo ORTENZI ITA 52.19 24.67 27.52 6.82 6.61 6.89 7.04 7.04 0.00 #22
13 Q Ho Jung LEE / Richard Kang In KAM KOR 50.10 26.30 23.80 5.89 5.71 6.11 6.11 5.93 0.00 #24
14 Q Nicole KUZMICH / Alexandr SINICYN CZE 49.08 23.94 25.14 6.25 6.04 6.46 6.43 6.25 0.00 #19
15 Q Anzhelika YURCHENKO / Volodymyr BYELIKOV UKR 47.66 24.71 22.95 5.82 5.57 5.89 5.79 5.61 0.00 #20
16 Q Maria OLEYNIK / Yuri HULITSKI BLR 45.02 22.85 22.17 5.68 5.46 5.57 5.64 5.36 0.00 #12
17 Q Ria SCHWENDINGER / Valentin WUNDERLICH GER 43.87 23.42 20.45 5.14 4.96 5.18 5.21 5.07 0.00 #14
18 Q Alexandra BORISOVA / Cezary ZAWADZKI POL 42.80 23.49 19.31 4.71 4.71 4.71 5.14 4.86 0.00 #7
19 Q Rikako FUKASE / Aru TATENO JPN 42.63 23.29 19.34 4.68 4.54 5.00 5.00 4.96 0.00 #8
20 Q Maria GOLUBTSOVA / Kirill BELOBROV UKR 42.49 22.81 20.68 5.18 4.96 5.29 5.25 5.18 1.00 #21
21 Xibei LI / Guangyao XIANG CHN 41.16 22.19 18.97 4.79 4.54 4.79 4.93 4.68 0.00 #17
22 Guoste DAMULEVICIUTE / Deividas KIZALA LTU 39.98 20.07 20.91 5.32 5.07 5.14 5.43 5.18 1.00 #15
23 Villö MARTON / Danyil SEMKO HUN 38.63 20.95 17.68 4.43 4.25 4.46 4.57 4.39 0.00 #9
24 Ekaterina FEDYUSHCHENKO / Lucas KITTERIDGE GBR 38.12 20.43 18.69 4.89 4.57 4.79 4.82 4.29 1.00 #13
25 Viktoria SEMENJUK / Artur GRUZDEV EST 37.68 21.20 16.48 4.21 3.93 4.29 4.25 3.93 0.00 #2
26 Jenna HERTENSTEIN / Damian BINKOWSKI POL 37.68 20.85 16.83 4.25 4.18 4.07 4.43 4.11 0.00 #6
27 Hannah Grace COOK / Temirlan YERZHANOV KAZ 37.60 21.26 16.34 4.07 3.93 4.14 4.21 4.07 0.00 #5
28 Kimberly WEI / Illias FOURATI HUN 34.48 17.99 16.49 4.21 4.04 4.11 4.25 4.00 0.00 #3
29 Elizaveta ORLOVA / Stephano Valentino SCHUSTER AUT 32.53 18.22 15.31 3.89 3.75 3.86 4.00 3.64 1.00 #4
30 Matilda FRIEND / William BADAOUI AUS 31.98 16.84 15.14 3.96 3.54 3.86 3.89 3.68 0.00 #11
31 Yana BOZHILOVA / Kaloyan GEORGIEV BUL 28.27 15.27 14.00 3.64 3.32 3.50 3.71 3.32 1.00 #1

Free Dance

  Pl. Name Nation TSS
=
TES
+
PCS
+
SS TR PE CC IT Ded.
StN.
1 Lorraine MCNAMARA / Quinn CARPENTER USA 97.40 47.85 49.55 8.21 8.14 8.29 8.29 8.36 0.00 #20
2 Rachel PARSONS / Michael PARSONS USA 94.86 46.34 48.52 8.11 7.93 8.14 8.14 8.11 0.00 #18
3 Alla LOBODA / Pavel DROZD RUS 92.26 44.42 47.84 7.93 7.89 7.93 8.07 8.04 0.00 #13
4 Elliana POGREBINSKY / Alex BENOIT USA 87.78 43.24 44.54 7.39 7.14 7.54 7.50 7.54 0.00 #17
5 Betina POPOVA / Yuri VLASENKO RUS 87.65 42.11 45.54 7.50 7.39 7.64 7.71 7.71 0.00 #14
6 Anastasia SHPILEVAYA / Grigory SMIRNOV RUS 87.40 42.68 44.72 7.43 7.25 7.54 7.54 7.50 0.00 #19
7 Angelique ABACHKINA / Louis THAURON FRA 86.91 42.74 44.17 7.32 7.14 7.46 7.43 7.46 0.00 #15
8 Marie-Jade LAURIAULT / Romain LE GAC FRA 84.61 38.84 45.77 7.57 7.43 7.64 7.79 7.71 0.00 #16
9 Mackenzie BENT / Dmitre RAZGULAJEVS CAN 81.85 38.57 43.28 7.21 7.04 7.32 7.29 7.21 0.00 #11
10 Nicole KUZMICH / Alexandr SINICYN CZE 79.83 39.71 40.12 6.64 6.43 6.82 6.75 6.79 0.00 #7
11 Sara GHISLANDI / Giona Terzo ORTENZI ITA 78.99 36.78 42.21 6.82 6.75 7.18 7.11 7.32 0.00 #8
12 Melinda MENG / Andrew MENG CAN 76.23 36.63 39.60 6.68 6.46 6.61 6.71 6.54 0.00 #12
13 Marjorie LAJOIE / Zachary LAGHA CAN 75.49 37.32 38.17 6.29 6.11 6.43 6.54 6.43 0.00 #9
14 Ho Jung LEE / Richard Kang In KAM KOR 69.03 34.57 34.46 5.79 5.46 5.86 5.75 5.86 0.00 #6
15 Ria SCHWENDINGER / Valentin WUNDERLICH GER 65.13 34.05 31.08 5.32 4.86 5.29 5.25 5.18 0.00 #5
16 Anzhelika YURCHENKO / Volodymyr BYELIKOV UKR 64.99 29.11 35.88 6.07 5.79 6.07 6.04 5.93 0.00 #10
17 Maria GOLUBTSOVA / Kirill BELOBROV UKR 63.41 33.42 29.99 5.11 4.82 5.14 5.11 4.82 0.00 #1
18 Maria OLEYNIK / Yuri HULITSKI BLR 61.29 28.71 32.58 5.57 5.18 5.50 5.61 5.29 0.00 #2
19 Rikako FUKASE / Aru TATENO JPN 59.47 28.91 30.56 5.18 4.89 5.25 5.18 4.96 0.00 #4
20 Alexandra BORISOVA / Cezary ZAWADZKI POL 57.51 27.97 29.54 4.96 4.68 5.00 5.04 4.93 0.00 #3

Total

FPl. Name Nation Points SD FD
1 Lorraine MCNAMARA / Quinn CARPENTER
USA
163.65 2 1
2 Rachel PARSONS / Michael PARSONS
USA
162.74 1 2
3 Alla LOBODA / Pavel DROZD
RUS
151.19 6 3
4 Elliana POGREBINSKY / Alex BENOIT
USA
146.83 5 4
5 Anastasia SHPILEVAYA / Grigory SMIRNOV
RUS
146.55 4 6
6 Betina POPOVA / Yuri VLASENKO
RUS
146.21 7 5
7 Angelique ABACHKINA / Louis THAURON
FRA
145.25 8 7
8 Marie-Jade LAURIAULT / Romain LE GAC
FRA
144.26 3 8
9 Mackenzie BENT / Dmitre RAZGULAJEVS
CAN
138.61 9 9
10 Sara GHISLANDI / Giona Terzo ORTENZI
ITA
131.18 12 11
11 Nicole KUZMICH / Alexandr SINICYN
CZE
128.91 14 10
12 Melinda MENG / Andrew MENG
CAN
128.83 10 12
13 Marjorie LAJOIE / Zachary LAGHA
CAN
128.06 11 13
14 Ho Jung LEE / Richard Kang In KAM
KOR
119.13 13 14
15 Anzhelika YURCHENKO / Volodymyr BYELIKOV
UKR
112.65 15 16
16 Ria SCHWENDINGER / Valentin WUNDERLICH
GER
109.00 17 15
17 Maria OLEYNIK / Yuri HULITSKI
BLR
106.31 16 18
18 Maria GOLUBTSOVA / Kirill BELOBROV
UKR
105.90 20 17
19 Rikako FUKASE / Aru TATENO
JPN
102.10 19 19
20 Alexandra BORISOVA / Cezary ZAWADZKI
POL
100.31 18 20
Xibei LI / Guangyao XIANG
CHN
FNR 21
Guoste DAMULEVICIUTE / Deividas KIZALA
LTU
FNR 22
Villö MARTON / Danyil SEMKO
HUN
FNR 23
Ekaterina FEDYUSHCHENKO / Lucas KITTERIDGE
GBR
FNR 24
Viktoria SEMENJUK / Artur GRUZDEV
EST
FNR 25
Jenna HERTENSTEIN / Damian BINKOWSKI
POL
FNR 26
Hannah Grace COOK / Temirlan YERZHANOV
KAZ
FNR 27
Kimberly WEI / Illias FOURATI
HUN
FNR 28
Elizaveta ORLOVA / Stephano Valentino SCHUSTER
AUT
FNR 29
Matilda FRIEND / William BADAOUI
AUS
FNR 30
Yana BOZHILOVA / Kaloyan GEORGIEV
BUL
FNR 31

2016 US Nationals Junior Free Dance

Please note the ice network site is down.  If you are trying to view the event go to: http://web.icenetwork.com/video/v538723683

Group 1

Lucas/Schedl: 53.35 Total: 91.08

Addas/Schultz: 57.40 Total: 95.28 and into 1st place

  • Twist around the neck to a split standing on his boots–very effective and interesting lift
  • Straight leg twizzles just a bit off on the unison and a little far apart
  • I’d like to see them closer in their dance hold
  • Rotational lift with a change in position
  • I’d like to see them have more connection with each other, especially in the choreographic moments in the middle
  • A lot of their step sequence isn’t done in a closed hold
  • Good positions and speed in the dance spin
  • Step up over his shoulder into a swan position

Takai/Martin: 54.34 Total: 1003.37 and into 1st place

  • Good speed in the opening choreography
  • Nice deep edges in the step sequence but they could be a little closer; looks like she might have slipped and had to take a knee
  • Cartwheel up to his leg and twist down
  • I love the change in feel for them from the adorable Up program to a more mature Adele piece
  • Good positions in the dance spin with nice speed
  • He really is a great performer
  • She took a little bobble out of the twizzles
  • I think they forgot to edit the curse word out of their music–I wonder if there will be a deduction for that
  • She falls going into the step sequence–great job finding their music and getting back into it
  • It really is a shame I really like this team and this program but she just doesn’t seem on her legs today

Efimova/MacMillan: 64.23 Total: 113.99 and into 1st place

  • Their costumes scream Romeo and Juliet which is good because that’s what they’re skating to!
  • Just a hair off on the unison on the first set of twizzles but otherwise very nice
  • Her leg lines are higher than his on the step sequence so they can work on matching that better
  • Cartwheel to an attitude standing on his leg and a roll out
  • Great positions for her in the dance spin with nice speed and ease in the changes
  • They could have more closed holds in their step sequence and be a bit closer together
  • Split rotational lift

 

Group 2

Grosul/Colucci: 59.44 Total: 111.97 and into 2nd place

  • They are skating to West Side Story
  • The feed is really choppy to start their program
  • They both have such nice lines and presence for being so young
  • Nice changes of position in the lift ending with her up on his shoulder and such a light easy set down
  • I love their connection with each other as well very impressive for being so young
  • A slight loss of unison on their twizzles
  • Ice network blue screen of death
  • Nice closed hold in the step sequence but she has a slight bobble on a turn
  • He falls off one of his edges in the step sequence but they get back into it fairly quickly
  • Great position in the dance spin with nice changes
  • He falls to his knee in the second step sequence
  • So much potential for this team and they are receiving their first international assignment later this spring as novices

Lewis/Bye: 80.43 Total: 136.45 and into 1st place

  • They are skating to a Spanish mix
  • Great Tango vibe right from the beginning with the right faces and choreography
  • Ice Network blue screen of death
  • Missed the whole program which is a shame because it looked great at the beginning

Gropman/Somerville: 77.75 Total: 135.44 and into 2nd place

  • They are skating to Ice Queen and Rebirth 2
  • Good positions and speed in the dance spin with a nice change of direction
  • Flip over to a shoulder lift and then a split rotational lift
  • She’s almost too tall for him and that shows in the exits from the lifts but he’ll surely go through a growth spurt
  • Good twizzles but they could be a bit closer together
  • Good change of position in their second lift ending in a split on his legs with him in a spread eagle
  • Feed goes a little choppy
  • Nice rotational feature

Becker/Becker: 73.56 Total: 126.34 and into 3rd place

  • They are skating to an African mix
  • Fast rotational lift to open the program
  • Nice speed and flow in the step sequence with good matching leg lines and edges
  • Cool straight line lift but a little awkward getting out of it
  • He falls on some transitional footwork
  • Good positions in the dance spin with nice speed
  • Good distance between them on the twizzles with good unison
  • Nice deep edges in the second step sequence

 

ICE RESURFACING

 

Group 3

Pogrebinsky/Benoit: 89.96 Total: 155.94 and into 1st place

  • They are skating to Romeo and Juliet
  • They are in 3rd after the short with a 1 pt lead over 4th and 5 points from 2nd
  • Nice opening twizzles
  • Good positions in the dance spin with really nice speed
  • Great edges in their first step sequence
  • Cartwheel up to a Biellman standing on his leg
  • Split rotational lift with a lot of speed
  • Great speed in their second step sequence but a few edge changes with some ice spray
  • It looks like she slipped a bit on their choreographic spinning movement and fell from her knee to her butt so that might earn them a deduction

Carreira/Ponomarenko: 87.98 Total: 152.79 and into 2nd place

  • They are skating to the music of Goran Bregovic
  • They are in 4th after the short, 1 pt back from 3rd
  • Nice speed on their twizzles but off on the unison
  • She almost missed his hand on a transitional move going into the dance spin but they recover well
  • A little bit of pulling gone the change of direction otherwise nice positions and speed
  • Step up to a nice lift on his leg and a cartwheel exit
  • Really nice edges in the step sequence and good expression
  • Cool hydroplane lift with her standing on his blade
  • I like the energy in this second step sequence with more deep edges and nice performance
  • Split rotational lift
  • Really fun program and executed really well

Parsons/Parsons: 95.17 Total: 165.46 and into 1st place

  • They are skating a Tango
  • They are currently in 2nd, 3 points off the lead
  • She had her tango face on as soon as they took the ice
  • Feed went choppy
  • Second and third sets of twizzles looked good
  • Step up around his head and an upside down position to finish
  • Rotational lift with a change of position
  • Cool position in the dance spin with her holding on by her leg but they are a bit slow through some of the changes in position
  • Great leg lines in the step sequence with nice flow and speed; he may have put his foot down early on a turn but the edges look pretty good
  • Good flow in the second step sequence but she could soften her arm a bit
  • Rotational lift with a nice toss exit

McNamara/Carpenter: 96.62 Total: 170.04 and into 1st place

  • They are skating to Carmen
  • They are in 1st after the short program with a 3 pt lead
  • So much speed through the opening sequence
  • Great speed and flow through their step sequence with great posture and carriage; nice matching lines and good edges
  • Cartwheel up to stand on his leg and dismount around the back
  • They don’t waste a single second of performance time and really put a lot of work into the details from a look to a hand in every transitional moment
  • Off on the unison on the twizzles and maybe a little far apart
  • She looks like she slipped off her edge in the step sequence but he keeps her standing
  • Rotational lift
  • Great program!

Biechler/Dodge: 88.56 Total: 146.38 and into 5th place

  • They are skating to Nocturne and Bohemian Rhapsody
  • They are in 5th after the short, 7 points from the podium and 8 points from 3rd
  • Nice flow through the step sequence
  • Twizzles were pretty good, just a hair off on the unison
  • A little choppy on the change in the dance spin but nice flow out of it and good positions
  • Flip around to a lift with nice changes of position
  • Nice speed in their second step sequence
  • Rotational split lift with her arched back and a change of position to a stag
Place Start Name Short Dance Free Dance Total Score
Place Score Place Score
1 12 Lorraine McNamara, Peninsula SC
Quinn Carpenter, Washington FSC
1 73.42 1 96.62 170.04
2 11 Rachel Parsons, Washington FSC
Michael Parsons, Washington FSC
2 70.29 2 95.17 165.46
3 9 Elliana Pogrebinsky, Peninsula SC
Alex Benoit, Skokie Valley SC
3 65.98 3 89.96 155.94
4 10 Christina Carreira, SC of New York
Anthony Ponomarenko, SC of San Francisco
4 64.81 5 87.98 152.79
5 13 Julia Biechler, SC of Wilmington
Damian Dodge, Peninsula SC
5 57.82 4 88.56 146.38
6 6 Chloe Lewis, All Year FSC
Logan Bye, SC of New York
7 56.02 6 80.43 136.45
7 7 Eliana Gropman, Pavilion SC of Cleveland Heights
Ian Somerville, Washington FSC
6 57.69 7 77.75 135.44
8 8 Gigi Becker, Washington FSC
Luca Becker, Washington FSC
8 52.78 8 73.56 126.34
9 4 Alina Efimova, Peninsula SC
Kyle MacMillan, Washington FSC
10 49.76 9 64.23 113.99
10 5 Katherine Grosul, SC of Novi
Cameron Colucci, Philadelphia SC & HS
9 52.53 10 59.44 111.97
11 3 Aya Takai, Detroit SC
Alexander Martin, Detroit SC
11 49.03 12 54.34 103.37
12 2 Elizabeth Addas, All Year FSC
Jonathan Schultz, FSC of Southern California
12 37.88 11 57.40 95.28
13 1 Rebecca Lucas, University of Delaware FSC
Jacob Schedl, Pavilion SC of Cleveland Heights
13 37.73 13 53.35 91.08

2016 US Nationals Junior Short Dance

Group 1

Grosul/Colucci: 52.53

  • Really nice quality of movement through the opening section
  • Nie changes of position in the lift
  • Very solid waltz with nice matching leg lines; I’d like to see her keep her head a bit more out of the frame though
  • Very nice set of three twizzles
  • Great edges in their non touching step sequence with nice unison and they really have great hands and arms and stretch all the way through their lines
  • They are coached by Igor Shpilband (one of four teams here) and are JGP age eligible next season

Lucas/Schedl: 37.73 and into 2nd place

  • Off on their unison in the twizzles but recovered by the third set
  • Good speed in the waltz but their leg lines could match better in places; a few ice sprays in places but for the most part the edges are clean
  • She’s really using her arms in the non touching step sequence and he isn’t so it throws the unison off
  • Rotational lift is a bit slow and they seem to have difficulty changing positions

Parsons/Parsons: 70.29 and into 1st place

  • They are the first of 5 teams representing the Wheaton Skating Academy competing at this event
  • Nice lift rotating all the way around the head before finding it’s position
  • Good speed and positioning in the waltz; nice use of their free arms to accentuate the security of the steps; great flow across the ice
  • There are a few places in the non touching sequence that she could stretch through her leg just a bit more and really finish the line but otherwise very solid
  • Nice straight leg twizzles and moving closer to complete the final two sets

Lewis/Bye: 56.02 and into 2nd place

  • They are coached by Igor Shpilband
  • I love her dress–its a plum/lilac color with pink underneath and with a little bit of a bubble skirt feeling that really moves well
  • Arms are slightly different in places in the non touching step sequence but otherwise nice unison
  • straight leg twizzles with good speed but she loses her balance on the second set; coming very close on the third set
  • Nice height on the leg lines in the waltz
  • Nice musical accent on their lift; I’m not crazy about the position but it was executed seamlessly

 

Group 2

Takai/Martin: 49.03 and into 4th place

  • Surprisingly, they are the only team in this field training at DSC with Krylova and Camerlengo
  • Nice opening into the waltz
  • Great leg lines but they seem to be gripping a little tightly in the hold, and the position in the hold could be better
  • Nice unison on the twizzles
  • I like the change in spatial relationship between them on the non touching step sequence and the expression from both
  • Lift over back of head with a bit of hesitation in the transition to standing on his boots
  • Super cute program to music from Up

Carreira/Ponomarenko: 64.81 and into 2nd place

  • They are coached by Igor Shpilband
  • Nice rotation around to a lift standing on his leg and a twist out timed well with the music
  • Nice use of the free arm in the waltz section; good secure changes of holds
  • Maybe a beat off on their twizzles
  • He is really selling this non touching foot work sequence and although it doesn’t scream Chaplin to me I appreciate the effort
  • Great moment at the end almost with a hydroblade and her leaning in to him; very effective

Biechler/Dodge: 57.82 and into 3rd place

  • Straight leg twizzlzes with nice unison throughout the three sets, but maybe a bit far apart
  • Flip over to lift laying on his leg
  • A bit off on their arm unison in the non touching sequence and I’d love to see more expression from her
  • Waltz looked pretty good but a bit of tension in the hold
  • This is their last year of junior eligibility internationally

Pogrebinsky/Benoit: 65.98 and into 2nd place

  • They are coached by Igor Shpilband
  • Very smooth and enjoyable opening section with great expression
  • Nice unison in the non touching step sequence; picking up speed at the end with the music
  • Nice flow to the waltz, use of the free arm and matching leg lines
  • Nice straight leg twizzles and good unison and speed throughout all three steps
  • Nice spiral into a step up onto his thigh and great position for her
  • I love how this program built

Ice resurfacing

 

Group 3

Gropman/Somerville: 57.69 and into 5th place

Becker/Becker: 52.78 and into 7th place

McNamara/Carpenter: 73.42 and into 1st place

  • They train at WISA
  • Ton of speed and presence right from the beginning
  • Nice matching leg lines in the waltz with good speed and changes of edge; I like that the whole sequence fits seamlessly into the program
  • Nice speed and unison thorough their twizzles
  • Great power and flow through the non touching step sequence with nice unison; good edges
  • Rotational lift wrapped around head
  • I love that they’re not afraid to take a traditional waltz and make it so quirky and unique

Efimova/MacMillan: 49.76 and into 10th place

  • They train at WISA as well
  • Good unison on the twizzles
  • Great deep edges in the waltz but their leg lines don’t always match
  • Split rotational lift with nice extension
  • Nice changes of edge in the step sequence but lacking some of the power and flow of the top teams
  • Not a lot of expression for most of the routine, but starting to come out of their shells a bit here at the end

Addas/Schultz: 37.88 and into 12th place

  • He seems a bit tentative in the non-touching step sequence and is hunched forward a bit as well
  • Very bouncy in the waltz and not really settling into their edges and evoking the waltz feel
  • Twizzles were pretty good but lost the unison right at the end of the third set
  • She can work on flowing more through her free arm and hand and not being so stiff when using her arm in dance holds
Place Start Name Score
1 11 Lorraine McNamara, Peninsula SC
Quinn Carpenter, Washington FSC
73.42
2 3 Rachel Parsons, Washington FSC
Michael Parsons, Washington FSC
70.29
3 8 Elliana Pogrebinsky, Peninsula SC
Alex Benoit, Skokie Valley SC
65.98
4 6 Christina Carreira, SC of New York
Anthony Ponomarenko, SC of San Francisco
64.81
5 7 Julia Biechler, SC of Wilmington
Damian Dodge, Peninsula SC
57.82
6 9 Eliana Gropman, Pavilion SC of Cleveland Heights
Ian Somerville, Washington FSC
57.69
7 4 Chloe Lewis, All Year FSC
Logan Bye, SC of New York
56.02
8 10 Gigi Becker, Washington FSC
Luca Becker, Washington FSC
52.78
9 1 Katherine Grosul, SC of Novi
Cameron Colucci, Philadelphia SC & HS
52.53
10 12 Alina Efimova, Peninsula SC
Kyle MacMillan, Washington FSC
49.76
11 5 Aya Takai, Detroit SC
Alexander Martin, Detroit SC
49.03
12 13 Elizabeth Addas, All Year FSC
Jonathan Schultz, FSC of Southern California
37.88
13 2 Rebecca Lucas, University of Delaware FSC
Jacob Schedl, Pavilion SC of Cleveland Heights
37.73

2016 US Nationals Junior Dance Preview

This is the most competitive group competing in the junior division at nationals.  All three teams who went to Junior Worlds last season are competing at this event, and 5 of these teams have top 10 scores internationally.  As a group they have won 24 nationals medals and 9 JGP medals this season.  The Junior gold, silver and bronze medalists from last season along with the 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th place teams will be returning.  The novice silver medalist and 9th place team are moving up to compete here.  The short dance will be held on Wednesday, January 20th with the free dance on Friday, January 22nd.

McNamara and Carpenter are competing in the junior event for the 6th time, after winning gold last year and medaling each of the last 5 seasons.  They’ve won every event they’ve entered this season, including the Grand Prix Final and have set themselves up for a run at the Junior World title.  Their best outing came at JGP Poland.  They earned Level 4 on both segments of their Starlight Waltz, twizzles and lift in the short dance with a Level 3 on their non touching step sequence.  They had all positive GOEs earning 6 points.  Their program components ranged from 7.79-8.17.  Their free dance included Level 4 lifts, spin, twizzles and Level 3 step sequences.  They earned all positive GOEs totaling 9 points.  Their program components were again strong, earning 7.96-8.50.

Parsons and Parsons have the 2nd best international score of the season and took home the bronze medal from the Junior Grand Prix Final, giving the US a shot at two medals at Junior Worlds.  Their best performance this season came at JGP Croatia.  They received Level 4 on their lift, Starlight Waltz, step sequence and twizzles in their short dance.  They earned all positive GOEs totaling 6 points.  Their program components ranged from 7.50-7.64.  Their free dance had Level 4 twizzles, lifts and a spin with Level 3 step sequences.  They received positive GOEs on all of their elements, earning 10 points.  Their program components ranged from 7.79-8.07.

Pogrebinsky and Benoit set the top score during qualifying, more than 15 points better than the next closest competitor.  They also earned a bronze medal on the Junior Grand Prix.  At sectionals, they received Level 4 on their Starlight Waltz, twizzles and lift with Level 3 on their non-touching step sequence.  They had all positive GOEs, earning 6 points.  Their best program components came at sectionals where they earned 7.25-7.56.  Their free dance had Level 4 twizzles, spin and lifts with Level 3 on their step sequences.  They earned all positive GOEs, netting 10 points at sectionals and 6 points at JGP Spain.  Their best program components came at sectionals where they earned 7.44-7.88.

Carreira and Ponomarenko set the 2nd highest score during qualifying and won a silver on the JGP circuit. They received Level 4 on their lift, one Starlight Waltz pattern and the twizzles in their short dance with a Level 3 on the other Starlight Waltz pattern, and the step sequence.  They earned all positive GOEs.  Their best program components came at JGP Poland where they earned 6.79-7.46.  Their free dance had Level 4 twizzles, spin and a lift with Level 3 on their other lift and step sequences.  They earned all positive GOEs, netting 6 points at sectionals and 8 points at JGP Poland.  Their best program components came at JGP Poland, earning 7.17-7.54.

Lewis and Bye set the third highest score at sectionals.  They only earned a Level 4 on the Starlight Waltz pattern in their short dance at sectionals.  Their levels were much better at JGP Spain, earning Level 4 on their twizzles, one pattern of Starlight Waltz and their lift with a Level 3 on their non-touching step sequence and the other Starlight Waltz pattern.  At both events they earned all positive GOEs.  Their best program components came at sectionals where they earned 6.50-6.83.  They earned Level 4 on their twizzles, spin and lifts in their free dance with a Level 3 on one step sequence.  They earned all positive GOEs, netting 5.5 points at JGP Spain and 8 points at sectionals.  Their best program components came at JGP Spain with 6.57-6.89.

Biechler and Dodge set the fourth highest score at sectionals and earned a bronze medal on the JGP this season.  Their best short dance levels came at JGP Austria, where they earned Level 4 on the twizzles, lift and Starlight Waltz with Level 3 on their non-touching step sequence.  At both events they earned all positive GOEs.  Their best program components came at JGP Austria where they earned 6.71-7.07.  Their best free dance came at sectionals with Level 4 twizzles, spin and lifts with Level 3 step sequences.  They had all positive GOEs at both events, earning 7 points at JGP Austria and 9 points at sectionals.  Their best program components came at JGP Austria, where they earned 7.18-7.43.

Grosul and Colucci set the fifth highest score at sectionals.  Their short dance includes a Level 4 Starlight Waltz pattern, lift and twizzles with a Level 3 on the other Starlight Waltz pattern and their non-touching step sequence.  They earned all positive GOEs.  Their program components ranged from 5.94-6.13.  Their free dance included a Level 4 lift, twizzles and spin with a Level 3 on their other lift.  They again had all positive GOEs, netting 6.5 points.  Their program components ranged from 6.25-6.44.

 

My podium predictions:

Gold: McNamara/Carpenter

Silver: Parsons/Parsons

Bronze: Pogrebinsky/Benoit

Pewter: Carreira/Ponomarenko

 

Bios of the competitors:

Addas/Schultz: She is 16 and represents the All Year Figure Skating Club and he is 17 and represents the Figure Skating Club of Southern California.  They finished 9th in novice last season, are the 2013 Juvenile Bronze Medalists and finished 20th in juvenile in 2012.  They won pewter at Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  They have the 10th best free dance score.

Becker/Becker: She is 13 and and he is 15 and they represent the Washington Figure Skating Club.  They placed 6th at JGP Croatia.  They finished 9th in juniors last season, are the 2014 Novice Champions, 2013 Novice Pewter Medalists, 2012 Intermediate Champions and 2011 Juvenile Silver Medalists.  They won silver at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  They have the 7th best short dance, 6th best free dance and 7th best total scores.

Biechler/Dodge: She is 17 and represents the Skating Club of Wilmington and he is 21 and represents the Peninsula Skating Club.  They finished 5th at JGP Slovakia and won bronze at JGP Austria.  They placed 8th as juniors last season, 7th as juniors in 2014 and 9th as juniors in 2013.  They won gold at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  They have the 5th best short dance, 3th best free dance and 4th best total scores, nationally.  Internationally, they have the 8th best short dance and 10th best total scores.

Carreira/Ponomarenko: She is 15 and represents the Skating Club of New York and he is 15 and represents the Skating Club of San Francisco.  They placed 4th at JGP Latvia and won silver at JGP Poland.  They placed 5th in juniors last season.  They won gold at Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  They have the 2nd best short dance, 2nd best free dance and 2nd best total scores, nationally.  Internationally, they have the 6th best short dance, 7th best free dance and 9th best total scores.

Efimova/MacMillan: She represents the Peninsula Figure Skating Club and he is 18 and represents the Washington Figure Skating Club.  They won bronze at Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  They have the 9th best short dance and 10th best total scores.

Erdman/Shchepetov: He is 18 and they represent the Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society. They won bronze at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  They have the 8th best short dance, 8th best free dance and 8th best total scores.

Gropman/Somerville: She is 14 and represents the Pavilion Skating Club of Cleveland Heights and he is 15 and represents the Washington Figure Skating Club.  They placed 10th at JGP USA.  They are the 2014 Novice Silver Medalists, 2013 Intermediate Champions and 2012 Juvenile Champions.  They won bronze at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  They have the 6th best short dance, 7th best free dance and 7th best total scores.

Grosul/Colucci: She is 13 and represents the Skating Club of Novi and he is 14 and represents the Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society.  They are the reigning Novice Silver Medalists, 2014 Intermediate Silver Medalists and 2013 Juvenile Pewter Medalists.  They won silver at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  They have the 3rd best short dance, 5th best free dance and 5th best total scores.

Lewis/Bye: She is 15 and represents the All Year Figure Skating Club and he is 17 and represents the Skating Club of New York.  They placed 5th at JGP USA and 5th at JGP Spain.  They finished 7th in juniors last season, 6th as juniors in 2014, are the 2013 Novice Champions, 2012 Novice Pewter Medalists and finished 6th in Intermediate in 2011.  They won silver at Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  They have the 4th best short dance, 4th best free dance and 3rd best total scores.

Lucas/Shedl: She represents the University of Delaware Figure Skating Club and he represents the Pavilion Skating Club of Cleveland Heights.  They won pewter at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

McNamara/Carpenter: She is 16 and represents the Peninsula Skating Club and he is 19 and represents the Washington Figure Skating Club.  They are the reigning World Junior Silver Medalists.  They won gold at JGP USA and gold at JGP Poland to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final where they won gold.  They are the reigning Junior Champions, 2014 Junior Silver Medalists, 2013 Junior Bronze Medalists, 2012 Junior Bronze Medalists, finished 9th in Junior in 2011, 6th in Novice in 2010, are the 2009 Intermediate Pewter Medalists and 2008 Juvenile Pewter Medalists.  They have the 2nd best short dance, best free dance and best total scores internationally.

Parsons/Parsons: She is 18 and he is 20 and they represent the Washington Figure Skating Club.  They placed 4th at Junior Worlds last season.  They won gold at JGP Slovakia and gold at JGP Croatia to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.  They are the reigning Junior Silver Medalists, 2014 Junior Bronze Medalists, 2012 Junior Pewter Medalists and 2011 Novice Champions.  They have the best short dance, 2nd best free dance and 2nd best total scores internationally.

Pogrebinsky/Benoit: She is 17 represents the Peninsula Skating Club and he is 20 and represents the Skokie Valley Skating Club.  They finished 13th at Junior Worlds last season.  They placed 4th at JGP Austria and won bronze at JGP Spain.  They are the reigning Junior Bronze Medalists.  They won gold at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  They have the best short dance, best free dance and best total scores, nationally.  Internationally, they have the 9th best short dance, 10th best free dance and 9th best total scores.

Takai/Martin: She is 18 and he is 19 and they represent the Detroit Skating Club.  They won pewter at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  They have the 10th best short dance, 9th best free dance and 9th best total scores.