Skate America gets underway in Hoffman Estates (aka Suburban Chicago) Friday night at 8PM Eastern time, which means the unofficial official season start is close at hand!
(So close, in fact, that I’ll include THIS LINK to Ice Network's "Viewer's Guide" so you can be ready when that Short Dance kicks things off...)
But have you been following the sport since late August? There’s plenty of need-to-knows floating amongst figure skating’s unofficial pre-season. Let’s see if I can boil it down to FIVE:
1) If you haven’t been to isu.org lately, go check it out. A major summer overhaul benefits it greatly, at least in terms of keeping track of which competition is happening where and when. A simple horizontal “Upcoming Events” calendar makes it easy to see and click through (if you like) on not only the GP sched, but the ISU Junior Grand Prix and the new-but-really-it’s-not ISU Challenger Series, featuring 11 “B” meets including the debut of the Skate Canada Autumn Classic (held just this past weekend).
2) Winners from the Challenger series to date include Polina Edmunds (U.S. Int’l Figure Skating Classic), Richard Dornbush (Lombardia Trophy), Kavaguti/Smirnov (Nebelhorn Trophy), The Shibutanis (Ondrej Nepala Trophy), Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (Finlandia Trophy), and Ross Miner (Autumn Classic).
3) The JGP wrapped up in
a couple weeks back... here’s the list of those teenagers who made it to the
JGP Final, held at GP Final time in mid-December:
MEN: Jin Boyang (CHN), Shoma Uno (JPN), Alexander Petrov (RUS), Lee June-hyoung** (KOR), Sota Yamamoto (JPN), Roman Sandovsky **(CAN)
LADIES: Serafima Sakhanovich **(RUS), Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS), Wakaba Higuchi **(JPN), Maria Sotskova (RUS), Yuka Nagai (JPN), Miyu Nakashio (JPN)
PAIRS: Julianne Seguin/Charlie Bilodeau (CAN), Maria Vigalova/Egor Zakroev (RUS), Lina Federova/Maxim Miroshkin (RUS), Kamilla Gainetdinova/Sergei Alexeev (RUS), Daria Beklemisheva/Maxim Bobrov (RUS), Chelsea Liu/Brian Johnson (USA)
DANCE: Anna Yanovskaya/Sergei Mozgov (RUS), Mackenzie Bent/Garrett MacKeen (CAN), Betina Popova/Yuri Vlasenko ** (RUS), Alla Loboda/Pavel Drozd (RUS), Madeline Edwards/Zhao Kai Pang (CAN), Daria Morozova/Mikhail Zhirnov (RUS)
** = Skaters in the JGP that stood out for me this season. Other names on that list that did NOT make the Final include Chase Belemontes (USA), Amber Glenn (USA), Shpilevaya/Smirnov, Dance (RUS), Luke West (USA), Andrew Torgashev (USA), Anastasia Gubanova/Alexei Sintsov, Pairs (RUS)
4) Injuries! Yep, they’ve been cropping up ahead of GP season, and all of the following have bowed out of their GP events as a result:
Volosozhar/Trankov, RUS (injury to Trankov)
Bobrova/Soloviev, RUS (injury to Soloviev)
Valentina Marchei, ITA
Kaetlyn Osmond, CAN
Peter Liebers, GER
Joshi Helgesson, SWE
5) Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge an official changing of the (skate) guard... first announced several weeks back... that got a big push from the Today show a few days ago: Terry Gannon, Johnny Weir, and Tara Lipinski have supplanted Tom Hammond, Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic as NBC’s broadcast team for all things figure skating. Considering the fact that Hammond/Hamilton/Bezic go at least as far back as the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, and have been the premier team since NBC took the skating coverage reins from ABC/ESPN in the 2008-9 season, this is a significant development for those of us who watch faithfully!
Or will you be forced to watch with the sound turned off now because you can’t stand Johnny? Or
Tara? Or both? (Please
don’t say you can’t stand Terry Gannon. EVERYONE like Gannon. Every. One.) Let
me know if you’ve got an opinion on this one... I really want to re-visit this
particular topic when time allows.
Speaking of which, I’d better get to work on my second (second?? Yes, she said second) post of the week where I make crazy semi-informed guesses as to how Skate America will go.