Figure Skating: From the Boards

A Look Ahead: The Ladies of the GP Series May 24, 2012

Let’s hear it for the ladies!

Last year, the women made this event ever-unpredictable and, as always, a premiere event to watch. Looking at the lineup this season, I expect to see much of the same! Here’s how it breaks down.

Skate America: 

Mae Bernice Meite (FRA)
Sarah Hecken (GER)
Valentine Marchei (ITA)
Haruka Imai (JPN)
Alena Leonova (RUS)
Adelina Sotnikova (RUS)
Viktoria Helgesson (SWE)
Rachael Flatt (USA)
Christina Gao (USA)
Ashley Wagner (USA)

Okay, lots of goodies here. First, we see US and Four Continents champ Ashley Wagner’s Skate America debut. We all know the season she put together last year, but this will be an even bigger test — living up to these new expectations.

Speaking of expectations, Rachael Flatt will be interesting to watch this year. There’s no doubt she adores the sport and the challenge of training to compete. But, will she be able to shake off last season’s disappointments and the weight of college academics to be competitive again?

Personally, I adore Christina Gao. Her carriage over the ice is almost regal. If she can stay healthy, look for a much better GP season from her in 2012.

The Russian return to the top in ladies skating has been coming on for some time now. Many think Adelina Sotnikova is the strongest hope for the podium in Sochi. If that’s the case, she needs to make great use of the next two years in order to build her stamina and consistency to compete with the best of the best.

Don’t overlook Alena Leonova, though. She’s not quite ready to give in to the budding youngsters — and you don’t have to look further than her World medal for proof of that! (more…)


A Look Ahead: Men of the GP Series May 22, 2012

Yesterday was the day. Where you surprised by the Grand Prix assignments? If you’re an Evan Lysacek fan, you were likely disappointed. Conversely, if you’ve been anticipating a Johnny Weir comeback, you may have squealed to see his name on the list twice.

Over the next few days, we’ll take a look at each discipline separately and how the assignments line up for each event.

Since the men have been the talk of the town (my “town,” anyway!) we’ll give them the first shake.

Here’s the Skate America lineup:

Michal Brezina (CZE)
Tomas Verner (CZE)
Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
Takahiko Kozuka (JPN)
Tatsuki Machida (JPN)
Konstantin Menshov (RUS)
Alexandra Majorov (SWE)
Jeremy Abbott (USA)
Douglas Razzano (USA)

Not too shabby, eh?

As has become the norm, the biggest competition will come from the Japanese contingent, although it’ll be the Abbot — competing at Skate America for the first time in his career — who will have the support of the hometown crowd.

Last season proved we can’t count out quad-master Michael Brezina, and when he’s at his best, Tomas Verner is a force to be reckoned with as well.

Personally, I’m thrilled to see Douglas Razzano along side Abbott for Team USA. He’s a real “skater’s skater” with the elegance and musicality that can bring an entire arena to its feet. If he can match that artistry with technical difficulty, he’ll be well on his way!

Then there’s that haunting “TBA.”

What — or should I say who — is that spot for? Naturally, the rumor mill would lean naturally toward that spot being for reigning Olympic Champ Evan Lysacek who has made no secret about his wish to compete in Sochi. However, there have been more than a couple roadblocks along the way.

Last season, there was the “contractual issues” with the USFS that kept him from returning to competition. While the details of that conflict were not made public, it has been reported that it wasn’t simply “Evan wanting more money” like it came across the first time, but far more complicated than that.

With that assumed to be resolved, it was a bit surprising to NOT see Evan’s name on the assignment list. However, there are plenty of explanations (read: “assumptions!”) that don’t involve him not staging a comeback.

Perhaps he didn’t want the GP spot. He’s made mention of wanting to compete at Senior B events to ease back onto the international scene. He’s a proven champion, so maybe he simply feels it a better option to start small and work his way back up towards Nationals and Worlds, sans the fall series. Or maybe, he’s scheduled to compete on the Dancing With The Stars All-Star season this fall. Who knows, save Frank Carroll and Lysacek. But, perhaps that TBA spot is reserved should he choose to accept it after all.

How’s that for drama surrounding the first event of the season, eh?! (more…)


The early signs of the season! May 18, 2012

Filed under: Off season News — Tara Wellman @ 2:44 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

The off season can get really long. But it always makes things a little more bearable when things like schedules, team envelopes, and even Grand Prix assignments make their way through the interwebs!

Fortunately for us, that’s where we are!

First, the schedule. For a complete international schedule, check out The page will be updated with assignments as they are announced.

As for the ISU Grand Prix series, the schedule looks like this: 

SKATE AMERICA — October 19-21, 2012 (Seattle/Kent, Washington)

SKATE CANADA INTERNATIONAL — October 26-28, 2012 (Windsor, Ontario)

CUP OF CHINA November 2-4, 2012 (Shanghai, China)

ROSTELECOM CUP — November 9-12, 2012 (Moscow, Russia)

TROPHEE BOMPARD — November 16-18, 2012 (Paris, France)

NHK TROPHY — November 23-25, 2012 (Sendai, Japan)

GRAND PRIX FINAL — December 5-9, 2012 (Sochi, Russia)

Following the GP Series, we’ll get a whole host of national championships, including Canadian Nationals (Missisagua, ON, Jan. 13-20, 2013) and US Nationals (Omaha, NE, Jan. 20-27, 2013).

Then, the attention shifts to Osaka, Japan for the Four Continents Championships (Feb. 6-11, 2013) before heading to the World Championships March 10-17 in London, Ontario.

But, before we get to all that, there’s the Junior Grand Prix circuit to focus on! That kicks off the season with the JGP in Courchevel, France on August 22, 2012.

So, who might we see once the whirlwind begins? Well, for the US, the team envelopes are a good place to start! Here’s where we stand.


Ladies: Ashley Wagner

Men: Jeremy Abbott

Pairs: Mary Beth Marley & Rockne Brubaker, Caydee Denney & John Coughlin

Dance: Meryl Davis & Charlie White, Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani, and Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue


Ladies: Alissa Czisny, Mirai Nagasu, Agnes Zawadzki, Caroline Zhang, Christina Gao, Gracie Gold

Men: Douglass Razzano, Adam Rippon, Armin Mahbanoozadeh, Ross Miner, Jason Brown, Nathan Chen, Josh Farris

Pairs: Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir, Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier, Gretchen Dolan & Andrew Speroff, Britney Simpson & Matthew Blackmer

Dance: Lynn Kriengkraiut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt, Madison Chock & Evan Bates, Alexandra Aldridge & Daniel Eaton


Ladies: Rachael Flatt, Samantha Cesario, Vanessa Lam, Mariah Bell, Hannah Miller, Amanda Gleb, Ashley Wang, Ashley Cain, Courtney Hicks, Barbie Long, Karen Chen, Amber Glenn

Men: Richard Dornbush, Stephen Carriere, Keegan Messing, Max Aaron, Timothy Dolensky, Harrison Choate, Philip Warren, Spencer Howe, Lukas Kaugar, James Schetelich, Vincent Zhou

Pairs: Kylie Duarte & Colin Grafton, Madeline Aaron & Max Settlage, Caitlin Fields & Jason Pacini, Jessica Pfund & AJ Reiss, Jessica Noelle Calalang & Zack Sidhu, Chelsea Liu & Devin Perini, Alexandria Shaughnessy & James Morgan

Dance: Emily Samuelson & Todd Gilles, Anastasia Cannuscio & Colin McManus, Rachael Parsons & Michael Parsons, Madeline Heritage & Nathaniel Fast, Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter, Holly Moore & Daniel Klaber, Hannah Rosinski & Jacob Jaffe, Whitney Miller & Kyle MacMillan

Click HERE for the full breakdown, including the reserve teams.

Also, check the list of the complete US International Selection Pool, including skaters like Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir who are attempting comebacks this season to prepare for the Olympics in Sochi. These athletes are also eligible to be selected for international events.

The Grand Prix assignments are announced Monday, so keep your eyes peeled!

But until then, who are YOU most looking forward to seeing compete this year?