Skate America 2015 – That time I wondered how American biased the judging with be in Boston…

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Hi everyone!

Today’s the first of my Grand Prix recaps for the 2015/2016 season. Yay! The Grand Prix season has officially begun.

I was able to follow along live and watch the majority of Skate America this past weekend. I just couldn’t contain my excitement. I feel this is going to be a very interesting season. And as I’ll be making the trip to Boston in a few months, I want to make sure I stay on top of things.

A lot of things happened at Skate America. I’ll cover the different disciplines in depth below…but first I want to say, seriously why are the scores always so inflated these days?? Especially to skaters from the home country?? Yes there is always an added boost when you’re skating on home ice, but it’s getting ridiculous. The scores at the Mordovian Ornament a few weeks back were comparable to the inflated scores from the Olympics, for the Russian skaters and then this week the Americans saw a similar inflation. Yes Max and Gracie skated well, but the judges then did everything they could to give them the title. It worked in Max’s case, but the judges couldn’t control how Evgenia skated. Scimeca and Knierim were great in the SP, but World podium level great?? And I’ve been saying Chock & Bates are overscored for a while now, that’s nothing new. We’ll see how the results compare for the Canadians at Skate Canada this week, but seriously, if this keeps up, Worlds in Boston are going to be unbearable. There’s only so much this Canadian can take.

Men

Max! Wow! I am impressed. You actually skated two really good programs that had some solid choreography. Yeah Shoma probably still should have won, but I don’t want to take this accomplishment away from you. Those were some pretty good programs, though why don’t you do triple toes on the end of your combos?? I’m glad your new artistic side still allows you to skate fast. Yes you are still quite wooden in your artistry but at least you’re trying, and I can applaud that. It must be hard when everyone seems to love Jason instead you, Jason who’s technical difficulty is a fraction of what you did here. Here’s hoping this is the start of your rise back to the top, I’m voting Max for US Champ.

Shoma! Shoma! Shoma! I told you guys a few weeks back that this boy is the one to watch, and I was right. Shoma is the real deal! That 4T in the second half was gorgeous! He has the jumps. He has the basics. He has the artistry. Plus he’s adorable. If I hadn’t already given my heart to Yuzu, I’d be #TeamShoma. I think all those Daisuke fans who’ve been lurking for a few years are going to be jumping on the Shoma train very quickly. Keep an eye on this boy, he’s gonna be on the World podium soon.

I just don’t get Jason Brown. So many people rave about his artistry and basic skating skills but I just don’t see it. As a former skater, I can appreciate good skating and a good program. Am I the only one who sees how full, yes, but full of simple steps his programs are? Yeah I guess he’s pretty emotive, that helps – but still, I’m just not feeling it. Plus his FS is really quite boring this year. I also just don’t see him ever mastering the jumps. I don’t know if he’s ever going to get that quad. He gets too many downgrades on the 3A, how is he going to rotate a quad? I’ll be very surprised when it happens. I haven’t seen Jason skate live yet, perhaps that will change my mind, but I highly doubt it.

Denis Ten! Yikes! That was a disaster. I hear you’re injured, but if you’re injured enough that you’re skating like this, you shouldn’t be skating. Take time to heal! This was just bad, a shadow of what you can do. Takahito Mura and Florent Amodio are also shadows of their former selves, when you start posting scores that low perhaps it’s time to stop. Mura, you’re not going to get out of Japanese Nationals this season if you keep skating like that!

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Pairs

I am very excited by Sui and Han. I remember them being adorable and inconsistent a few years back and now they seem like the team to beat. I love Duhamel & Radford, but I’m kinda excited to see how high these two can go. They did a flawless quad twist and are hoping to include a throw 4S later in the season. If they do, this young duo just might become World Champions. They seem to have it all.

Stolbova and Klimov confused me here. They ended their season early last year to work on new elements and prepare for the new season….but then they come here and stumble all over the place?? It doesn’t make much sense. These two had moments of brilliance, like those side-by-side triple toe-triple toes – first ever apparently. But then there were other moments that they looked under-trained and not the world class competitors they are. Also, I can’t be the only one who thinks it’s because these two hate skating together? Seriously, they both looked so miserable with each other out there.

I couldn’t be more excited by Seguin & Bilodeau. These two are so young, fresh and very talented. They won a medal in their first senior GP event. That’s quite impressive. I think these two have a very exciting future. They’re just so cute and likable!

Dance

I am so unimpressed by Chock and Bates. They just do nothing to excite me. Watching their FD I am reminded of Meryl and Charlie, except Meryl and Charlie were at least good. I watch Chock & Bates and I can identify their flaws. They’re just not as refined as I feel they should be. Plus their programs are boring this season. Ugh, it’d be awful if they won in Boston.

I appreciate Gilles and Poirier for pushing the limit and trying new artistic things. They definitely keep things interesting¬† But seriously, what are they wearing in the SD? Those are awful. I do really enjoy their FD though, it’s weird, modern and quirky. It suits them well. These aren’t a pair who can pull off a soft, lyrical or romantic program. I applaud them for embracing the weird.

Ladies

I recently said we should keep and eye on Evgenia Medvedeva this season, and that came true quite quick! This was the first time I think I’ve actually seen her skate and my goodness I was impressed. I liked Julia Lipnitskaia during her stellar Olympic season, but I never felt she emoted or had strong enough basics to make it. It’s unfortunate she’s fallen since, but perhaps it was the lack of strong basics that didn’t stay with her when she grew. I feel the opposite about Evgenia. She is so young and fresh-faced, but at the same time she doesn’t skate like she’s 15. She’s mature and I think has quite excellent skating skills. Plus her jumps are amazing. I think she can do a 3T off any jump! She’s also gorgeous and captivating on the screen. I can’t wait to see her grow this season.

If you’ve been here before, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of Gracie Gold. I never have been and I don’t think I ever will. She has amazing jumps and actually pretty good programs this year but I just can’t get into them. She always looks like she’s painting-by-numbers out there. She’s constantly just skating through the motions, one step and one arm movement at a time. Until that changes, I don’t think I’ll be a fan. She did skate pretty excellent here. Perhaps this season she’ll finally find some consistency??

Elizabet Tursynbaeva is another one to watch. She is young and coached by Brian Orser, you’ll definitely be seeing more of her! Excellent start from Satoko Miyahara, I always forget she won a medal at Worlds last year. I just haven’t been able to put her in that class of World medalists yet. Perhaps this season she’ll impress me. Such a disappointing event for Alaine Chartrand. Though impressive that she tried a 3A in her FS. But I have to wonder why. She doesn’t have the most success with some of her other jumps. She often two-foots and under-rotates. Perhaps those should be fixed before she tries to add a a new jump?? I just don’t know. Though she is working with Brian Orser now, so perhaps we’ll see some improvement? I hope so! I probably prefer Alaine to Gabby.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for some fun things from Skate Canada!
– Justine Alyssa

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