As promised, a little follow-up of the past weekend’s international skating events is in order… but first, thought I’d mention that “Improv-Ice” apparently taped over the weekend too (numerous participants Tweeted about it—everyone from Joannie Rochette to Rachael Flatt to Evan Lysacek to Jeremy Abbott). As with most Disson shows these days, there was a Special Musical Guest… last year that guest was the Goo Goo Dolls; this year it was Foreigner (though I’m advised it is now a Foreigner minus original lead singer Lou Gramm). “Cold as Ice”, anyone? We can look for it on NBC Sunday, November 21.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world was the Junior Grand Prix’s Japan edition. Some notable finishes there include:
+ U.S.’s Max Aaron, claiming his second JGP medal in as many performances with a silver (17 year old Andrei Rogozine, representing Canada, took gold).
+ 15 year old Kiri Baga, also of the U.S., also won a silver.
And somewhere in between these two events we had the Nebelhorn Trophy happening in Germany. Always some curious results to be found at this one, and this year didn’t disappoint:
+ For the men, 20 year old Tatsuki Machida took gold; he was #4 at the most recent Japanese Nationals and finished 2nd behind Adam Rippon at 4CC’s shortly thereafter. Armin Mahbanoozadeh, the top U.S. competitor this time around, had a dismal SP (8th) but an impressive FS (3rd) to finish less than a point out of 3rd. Kevin VanDer Perren blew a 2nd place SP with an 8th place FS (5th overall), Joey Russell of Canada was 6th, Michal Brezina (4th at Worlds this year) was a surprising 5th (does anyone know if he’s injured or just had a bad weekend?)… and the U.S.’s Jason Wong was 8th.
+ Kiira Korpi (Finland) won on the ladies side, with surprise Top 10-at-Worlds Viktoria Helgesson (Sweden) in 2nd, and Melissa Bulanhagui (USA) taking 3rd… perhaps proving that the gold she won at the Junior GP level 2 seasons ago wasn’t a fluke (though I haven’t yet seen the performances). She’s competed nationally at the senior level since early 2007; her best Nationals finish to date was 8th in ’08. Canadian Diane Szmiett finished 6th; Germany’s rising star Sarah Hecken withdrew after the SP.
+ Speaking of rising stars, Russia’s upcomers Bazarova/Larionov won the Nebelhorn pairs title, with Italy’s upcomers Berton/Hotarek (one of the pairs coached by John Zimmerman & Silvia Fontana). Canada’s newest pair of Duhamel/Redford (formerly Duhamel/Buntin) had an impressive international debut; already they’ve won their first medal, a bronze. In 4th and 7th respectively were the U.S. teams of Donlan/Speroff and Zhang/Toth.
+ Pechalat/Bourzat were perhaps the best-known names in the dance division, and managed to pull up from 3rd to 1st over the second-best known names (Cappellini/Lanotte, who were only 4th in the FD). The Americans finished in 5th and 6th, but it should be noted that the brother/sister team The Shibutanis had one of the biggest placement ranges I’ve ever seen in this discipline—8th in the (new) Short Dance, and 2nd in the FD, to end up 5th. (The other U.S. team was Kriengkrairut/Giulietti-Schmitt.)
As some of these performances start to surface on You Tube, I just took a look at the Shibutani’s FD—it’s a wonderfully retro Nat King Cole medley, and with it placing so well here, it makes me curious what it might inspire… check it out here, and look for them at NHK in a few weeks.