Welcome to All About Figure Skating by Ann Jensen!

Ask Ann anything!  Let’s start talking about our favorite sport.

What do you think of our current USA Team?

I was at Glacier Falls. We are at the “some assembly required” part of the season.

Here is the link to the USFS page that has our team:(if you don’t spend a lot of time examining the USFS pages – and you are interested in, or participating in, skating at a competitive level…. you really need to.)

http://usfigureskating.org/story?id=84023

TEAM A
Ashley Wagner Karen Chen

Adam Rippon Jason Brown
Nathan Chen

Haven Denney & Brandon Frazier Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim

Madison Hubbell & Zach Donohue Madison Chock & Evan Bates
Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani

If Glacier had been a practice session at Nationals… I would have said (as I did in 96 about Rudy) “She is hungry. She is going to take this”. That having been said – it is very early for her to look this strong. I worry she will peak too early. I have not seen anything but small clips from Ashley. So – no idea.

The men. The men. Jason and Adam are my loves. But honestly. Nathan’s tech is hard to beat. Best case scenario is Jason and Adam find at least one quad and Nathan is not 100% on technically. But Nathan can have good artistry if he chooses. so. I am just beside myself over this whole part of the event. What is good for skating? What is good for USFS??? What do I want to see??? I am getting another drink.

Pairs and dance have not even really begun. But I am team Shibutani and Hubbell/Donahue. As for our pairs. well.. Everyone’s pairs were all over the place last season. Can Alexa keep her intestines ?? Can Haven’s knee hold up??? Or should we just let all these poor girls rest and hand medals to Canada and China???

TEAM B
Caroline Zhang Mirai Nagasu
Courtney Hicks Mariah Bell
Gracie Gold

Grant Hochstein Ross Miner
Max Aaron Vincent Zhou

Tarah Kayne & Daniel O’Shea Chelsea Liu & Brian Johnson
Marissa Castelli & Mervin Tran Jessica Pfund & Joshua Santillan
Deanna Stellato & Nathan Bartholomay Ashley Cain & Timothy LeDuc

Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker Rachael Parsons & Michael Parsons
Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter Julia Biechler & Damian Dodge
Christina Carreria & Anthony Ponomarenko Elliana Pogrebinsky & Alex Benoit

Wow. Therapy for everyone!!! Can we get a Team discount???
Any of those ladies could do… something wonderful. And any of them could implode. I have soft spots for Mirai and Gracie. But Courtney really, really has a GREAT</strong FS this year. Really suits her. That is so much of the battle. If she does it – she owes Jonathan Cassar a car. Mirai's FS seems good – but she is very focused on her jumps getting clean (which I understand). She seems to be banking on her 3 Axel…. That is dicey. If it works – she has it. If not – she could drop way down. Kuddos for bravery. Caroline's programs are lovely. But her tech content is a bit lite. And she is still a bit slow. She is another soft spot for me – just because I love the "old skating" feel of her "East of Eden" Program. But I am afraid for her…. I have no clue what Mariah is doing/up to. She was inconsistant last season. If she got Rafael to fix that – then she is in the mix….

As far as the men here. Grant. Ross. Max. Vincent. At Glacier, Ross was the most "well rounded" – he had technical and PC marks. Grant had a lot of tech struggles. But it is early – so those may resolve. Vincent may just have bad timing. With Nathan in his way – he may be a year late for the Olympic spot. But he has come a long way in PCS. And his technical is strong. He could squeak in here because he is young and can fight. Max had a horrible season last year and I haven't heard much from him in the early season. So. well. He can do a lot of jumps If he is in shape. dunno what else to say there.

As for pairs – I am a Cain and LeDuc fan. But I also have loved Kayne and O'shea in the past. And Stellato & Bartholomay have some awesome moments. And the California teams have my heart as well. I just throw my hands in the air on this one. Too hard!!! makes my head/heart hurt.

TEAM C
Angela Wang Amber Glenn
Polina Edmunds Bradie Tennell
Ashley Lin Starr Andrews
Kaitlyn Nguyen

Alexander Johnson Timothy Dolensky
Jordan Moeller Andrew Torgashev
Aleksei Krasnozhon Sean Rabbitt
Camden Pulkinen Ryan Dunk

Jessica Noelle Calalang & Zack Sidhu Erika Smith & AJ Reiss
Elli Kopmar & Jonah Barrett Nica Digerness & Danny Neudecker

Chloe Lewis & Logan Bye Karina Manta & Joseph Johnson

Wow. This is a dark horse group. Starr has strong Tech – but has been inconsistent. But she is a tough scrappy fighter… Kaitlyn has a great FS that really suits her. But also young. Polina is really struggling to find her way back. The others certainly have had their moments – but – nothing I would put money on here.

Oh. The boys. My favorite. I love Alexander’s artistry. But with school also in his path and the relocation… Not sure…Sean is solid with what he does. But he doesn’t do a 3 axel (well – he sometimes does..) or a quad so far. So… that is a tough battle. The rest are definite long shots here.

TEAM D
Nina Ouellette Ting Cui
Angelina Huang Pooja Kalyan
Emmy Ma

Eric Sjoberg Oleksiy Melnyk
Maxim Naumov Mathew Graham
Joseph Kang Sasha Lunin
Dinh Tran

Caroline Green & Gordon Green Sophia Elder & Christopher Elder
Katarina DelCamp & Maxwell Gart Eliana Gropman & Ian Somerville
Jocelyn Haines & James Koszuta

Ohhhh. well. JGP for everyone. Emmy Ma made a good showing at Glacier. I know Pooja – so. Bias!!! Nina is a very good skater. And I don’t know the other 2. Or have forgotten their names because I am old. I love Eric’s skating – beautiful. And he has decent technical content. Dinh Tran has strong Tech as well. Off to Latvia.

RESERVE TEAM
Paige Rydberg Tessa Hong
Brynne McIsaac Ashley Kim
Franchesca Chiera Gabrielle Noullet

Emmanuel Savary William Hubbart

Sarah Rose & Joseph Goodpaster Audrey Lu & Misha Mitrofanov
Vanessa Chen & Eric Hartley Gabriella Marvaldi & Daniel Villeneuve

Eliana Gropman & Ian Somerville

I am not even sure if this is this year or last year’s team. I love Tessa. But again – Bias. All of this team is just so young and inconsistant. More trips to Latvia!!!!!

16 thoughts on “Welcome to All About Figure Skating by Ann Jensen!

  1. Comment: Do you think Mirai Nagasu should be sent to the Olympics if she finishes fourth at Nationals and Tessa Hong is third? How about if Mirai Nagasu is third and Tessa Hong is fourth? Mirai Nagasu has not made a World Team on her own accord since 2010. At what point do we have to look at developing the future? Is Mirai wrong by the judges or is it a work ethic issue?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh. Well. What I want and think are not going to change what the rules are. The rules are that the committee can send anyone they wish. I don’t see Tessa having any international assignments so far this season. So I don’t know if she can even make the minimum score needed. I think Mirai has a reputation for not rotating her jumps. Once you have that reputation; it is difficuly to lose it. And once you have that habit in your skating; it is difficult to lose it. So – a lot of things going on that do not help her in competition. The Olympics may not be the place to “develop the future”. But I do agree we do need to develop it. The question is – how does that happen???

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dear. Well. I would want full access to his medical records on that/those concussion(s). If he does have a good “return to play” plan from a Doctor; I would follow it completely. Also – I think I would have him be “The boy in the bubble” from this moment on. he has a lot of allergies and “stuff” that seems to go on with him. And I would make sure his programs are big stand outs – to get huge attention.

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    1. Well. The divorce will be styled impeccably. And it may well coincide with her being at the Olympics – as did Johnny and Victor’s. And I think it can not be as dramatic as Johnny and Victor’s because her husband does not seem like drama man.

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  2. Comment: If you were going to be put in purgatory for 1,000 years and were being subjected to bad skating on a never-ending loop, would you rather watch Evan Lysacek skate to ‘Grease’ or Roz Sumners skate to ‘Black Velvet’? What are the pros and cons of each?

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    1. Oh dear. I think even Evan would vote for Black Velvet – that Grease program came and went so fast!!!! Honestly I wouod just ask to skip purgatory and go straight to hell rather than watch the same program for 1000 years. I remember the pro competitions in the 90’s. I have already done this.

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    1. What Level of skater is your Daughter? What does her current coach say about this plan? Kori is a completely different person than Tom Z. What personality works best on your kid is what to look at here. Is she a fragile moody teenager or a carefree little one???

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  3. Hi Ann,
    I read you have a soft-spot for Gracie, and I was just wondering if you had any thoughts on the trajectory of her career. I’m a big Ashley fan and have always felt that Gracie was rewarded just for staying on her feet despite a lack of artistry; over the last year, however, I’ve found myself watching her disastrous programs over and over, just for a glimpse of what might be happening in her training and in her head.

    – So what do you think has happened? She’s referred to herself as “fat,” as you surely know, and part of me wonders if her constant popping of jumps (even during shows) is due to distracting self-consciousness at whatever she perceives her body to look like.

    – I’ve followed figured skating for about five years but I’m decently familiar with skaters from the ’90s and ’00s as well, and I’ve never heard of a skater taking quite as extreme a plunge as Gracie has. Is there a precedent?

    – Any insights regarding the ups and downs of her career as she’s moved from Alex to Frank and now to Marina? My favorite program of hers was her “Life is Beautiful” FS, which was before she moved to Frank; since then I’ve always thought her music choices and choreography under Frank/Lori were not-so-good (“Firebird,” most notably), and I’m interested to see how an ice dancing coach might imfluence her artistically. Did you think it was strange that no one on her team (including her) changed up anything in her programs last season, even though she’d make the same mistakes over and over again?

    – Do you have any predictions on her future? Do you anticipate she’ll retire after this coming season, regardless of her results? She just looks/sounds like she’s having the opposite of a good time, even when performing at ice shows. And I can imagine that living apart from her family is tough.

    My interest is, in essence, about sports psychological and the industry of elite figure skating; i.e., nothing but compassion and hope that Gracie’s coming season is one she’ll look back on fondly.

    Thanks so much for all your figure skating info!

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    1. Well. There is a lot to address in here. Let me start with the fact that I disagree on the analysis of Gracie VS. Ashley and choreography. I will say Ashley is a LOT more expressive in her face and in upper body dance moves. And I will just walk away from that now.

      In terms of precidents of skater’s carreer’s hitting peaks and valleys. Well. That is really pretty common. It is more noticeable when someone has been presented as “the next big thing”. Mirai had a very long rough patch (which led to international results that “assisted” in the decision to leave her off the last team. Denis Ten has had a pretty rough few seasons. At a less visable level – MANY hot shot Juveniles vanish and are never heard from again. Girls are more subject to this phenomenon (we call it “puberty”) than boys. But boys suffer from it as well. It is a reason that very stong basic skills are critical to gain early – so you can ride out the body changes.

      Gracie’s consistency was always an issue. But it was – inconsistent at a higher base level – so a mistake here or there did not take her as low in the standings. Regarding her weight and the above mentioned “body changes”: Losing or gaining a lot of weight or height in a very short period is not good for consistency.It changes your timing and technique. It makes you doubt yourself. And losing a lot of weight very quickly can lead to muscle loss as well. And I will now leave that there.

      In terms of “armchair psychology”: In general; I find that many elite skaters live in a bit of a bubble (probably true for young elite athletes in any sport). They go through the ususal phases of adolesence and young adulthood a bit later than the GenPop. Moving away from your family at 21 (as Gracie did) is not that remarkable – and is often a very good step for young people. Also – she moved AFTER her skating trouble had already been going on a while. So I don’t feel we can blame that. It was an effect – not a cause. As to what causes a lack of confidence in 21 year old Women – I am not sure those causes are different in skaters than in any other people. It is a time you differentiate from your family and childhood self and define your adult self. Doing that in spandex on blades in an arena full of people is not something I could have done successfully. So – I am not surprised that it is difficult for anyone else.

      I always expect everyone in the elite ranks to retire after an Olympic season. Wherever that season ends for them. Only if they are very young would I expect them to last another 4 years. Since Tara/Sarah we don’t see folks able to stick through a second cycle. It is a different sport with different demands. And a different world, with different rewards for the OGM skaters. I don’t think we are going to ever see the longevity we used to see.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Ann!

    If you could ban only one piece of music from competitive skating forever, what would it be? And conversely, what is your FAVORITE performance to that piece of music?

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    1. OH. Wow. Such a rich variety of overused pieces from which to choose. Carmen. Malagueña. Roxannneeeeee. Matrix.

      I think I have to choose Roxxxxannne. Not only is it overused; it is unpleasant to listen to. The clanging noises. The screeching “singer”. Also – all ages overuse it – which makes it very inappropriate at times.

      I don’t have a favorite performance to it. I suppose the most successful use of it is Karen Chen’s. That agressive style seems to suit her. But that may just be because I saw it most recently. Maybe there is another. But I can’t enjoy any of them because that is such awful sound. I feel the same about Matrix (Clubbed to Death) and that Requiem for a Dream that was in heavy rotation for a while. I am of an era that enjoys actual melody. So any of the electronic and club stuff is also inexplicable to me. I could keep going with this. But let me sign off with my music motto: “It takes TWO to Tango”.

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    1. I don’t know – but I have seen that Tom is a very mathmatic and analytic man. So I imagine there is a lot of discussion on ratios of succesful jumps (how many you land/how many you try). And how that increases as you near competitive season/peak training time.

      In terms of improvement. It seems like TeamMax has been trying to find a style/music that fits him. I am not sure they have landed on the perfect fit yet. Max has a very Elvis Stoyko quality to his persona and body type on the ice. That always seems to be a hard type to find a good presentation of/for. You want to emphasize the skater’s stong suits (power – explosive moves) and make us forget any..weaknesses (long lines – extension – delicate choreography) all while still letting him be himself and have the set ups he needs for the jumps. It takes a long time for skaters to find this delicate balance. Early Todd Eldridge and Matt Savoie are a good example. There were some very awkward/boring years for them both until it all “clicked” for them and they found great and very different ways to bring artistry to their skating.

      Often powerful Soundtracks from adventure movies are a good fit for the Max type skater. or a musical like West Side Story – that has worked well for others in the past. We will see what this season brings. it would be a very good time for TeamMax to find the perfect fit.

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