Thank you to this week's fantastic judges!
Erin C. (@Erinsk8)| On Stage and Screen
Tell us a little about your experiences with figure skating or as a fan. I skated competitively for 10 years, worked as a coach, and now I continue to follow the sport obsessively. I attended Worlds 2016 in Boston this year and it was pretty much the best experience ever.
What's your favorite grossly underscored skate of the last five years? If I can go with an OVERSCORED one instead, Gracie's short at 2016 Worlds. Sorrynotsorry.
Grace W. | Tumblr
Tell us a little about your experiences with figure skating or as a fan. Although I have no personal skating experience, my first live experience was watching the Men's FS and Free Dance of the 1998 Worlds in Minneapolis, MN when I was 5 years old. I am going to 2017 Worlds in Finland!
What's your favorite grossly underscored skate of the last five years?Hubbell/Donohue's "Hallelujah" SP the entirety of last season. What a gem!
Ioana (@iguana012) | Tumblr
Tell us a little about your experiences with figure skating or as a fan. My experiences with figure skating have been staying up or waking up at ridiculous hours, arguing with my laptop, growing gray hair watching my faves, but also enjoying beautiful programs, unforgettable performances and making edits and gifs.
What's your favorite grossly underscored skate of the last five years? Daisuke Takahashi's Blues For Klook at the 2012 World Championships.
Sharon (@RosaCotton) | Tumblr
Tell us a little about your experiences with figure skating or as a fan. I became a year-round figure skating fan when my roommate and I watched Skate America, and I fell head-over-heels for Davis/White's Die Fledermaus. Ice dance remains my favorite discipline. So excited to see what will happen this season!
What's your favorite grossly underscored skate of the last five years? I would have to go with Ashley Wagner's short program at the Olympics. I totally agree with her reaction and thought that should have been scored higher.
Will B. (@sassmasterwill) | Lutz and Glory
Tell us a little about your experiences with figure skating or as a fan. Ardent fan of FS since 2009. Started skating in 2008.
What's your favorite grossly underscored skate of the last five years? Papadakis/Cizeron 2016 Worlds FD lmao
LET'S GET JUDGING. Click "Read More" below to continue. When you're finished reading, leave a comment to let us know what you thought about NHK, how you think the real judges did, and how you think our judges did. If you disagree, sign up to judge an event later in the year and share your thoughts!
Erin: All of it!
Grace: I would say 75% overall, and about 90% of the mens and ladies events.
Ioana: All of singles and the top dance & pair teams
Sharon: 90% of it.
Will: I only watched Pairs SP and half of Pairs FS bc sleep but I've caught up on nearly everything else.
Who had the best performance of the event?
Erin: I am surprising myself a little bit by saying this, but I have to go with Tessa and Scott- both programs, really, but particularly the short dance. As a hardcore Meryl and Charlie fan (I started a Facebook fan group for them back in '07 and burst into tears when they won the Olympics, my love runs deep), I have struggled a bit with how to feel about Tessa and Scott's comeback because while I have always respected their talent and enjoyed their skating, I'm not used to rooting for them. But they turned out two really strong performances here and won fair and square. That Prince short dance really is a showstopper. I'd also love to give a shoutout to Satoko Miyahara, who has one of my favorite freeskates this season and skated it so beautifully here.
Ioana: For me it's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir's SD. First of all, I've always been a huge Prince fan and it's really hard to replicate the magic he created; he was one of a kind. But watching Virtue & Moir's performance felt like watching one of Prince's music videos, the feeling was totally there. There was a fine mixture of his signature movements and Virtue & Moir's own personalities. And when the program broke into the haunting guitar riffs and high notes of Prince's voice, I gave them a standing ovation in front of my TV - and probably looked like a weirdo doing it.
Sharon: Anna Pogorilaya. She delivered very strong performances in both segments. It is incredible how consistent and self-assured she skates now. (Plus, seeing her smiling, looking so happy in the Kiss & Cry, made me teary-eyed.) She is now my favorite Russian lady.
Who improved the most from the last time you watched them skate?
Erin: Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker looked the strongest I've ever seen them (and they got the scores to match!) after looking a bit out of sorts all last season. Similarly, Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea put forth their strongest effort in a while in the free skate and really seem to be back on track as it comes time to defend their National title. I also cannot stress enough how refreshing it has been to watch this new and extremely improved Anna Pogorilaya this season. A little confidence in the form of a World bronze medal clearly goes a long way.
Which performance was the most underscored?
Erin: I generally found the scoring in the ladies' freeskate to be a bit stingy. To be fair, many of the underrotation calls were valid, but with PCS factored in, I would have had Karen Chen and Mirai Nagasu at 120+. Similarly, I was a bit confused as to how Tarah and Danny scored slightly lower in the freeskate than at Skate America when she fell.
Erin: This may seem contradictory to my first answer, but Tessa and Scott. Both programs, but especially the short dance. I totally appreciate that the judges are excited to see them back and all, and they have been skating really well, but there were 2 visible errors in the short dance. Even considering that the potential base value this season is higher than ever before, I would not have given it a world record. The free went more smoothly, but I think it still has room to grow. I would have had it at more like 114 for this point in the season.
Ioana: Once again, nothing stands out as blatant overscoring. One can make a case about Satoko Miyahara's triple lutz only getting an underrotation call in the SP and not a downgrade but I guess it depends on what the technical panel saw in the replay. Other than that, her +GOE level 4 spins and step sequences more than make up for the underrotation calls, and deservedly so.
Will: (prepare for trash and tea) lmao. don't get me started. maria sotskova. i'm. don't. i guess. all i can say is: What are judges not seeing? Every stroke and crossover is labored at best, and every element operates independent of the last. All I can say is I'm really not a fan of hers at this point in time and her PCS have just been Russianed™ out of proportion. I felt a similar ire when Medvedeva made her senior GP debut, but she has since proven me wrong, and I hope Sotskova will do the same to justify the PCS she has been gifted so far this season. tl;dr she should not be receiving above 8s for PCS and I am A Little Upset At Her For A Couple Of Reasons Right Now. Also unrelated, her programs are the Exact Same to me.
Erin: I really enjoyed Dabin Choi's freeskate. She has a lovely quality on the ice, and even with a few underrotations, it is always a thrill to see a skater land everything. I also really liked Elladj Balde's short program. He is such an expressive skater and it was a shame to see him struggle so much in the free.
Will: Da Bin Choi!!! A victim of skating early in a very, very tight ladies field, I thought David, as she's affectionately dubbed on Twitter due to white announcers refusing to pronounce non-WASPY names correctly, did a lovely job of kicking off the Ladies FS event. I am a bit partial to Dr. Zhivago, and she certainly has a ways to go in terms of piecing the program into one cohesive, fluid performance, but her jumps looked as strong as ever. She looked totally fresh and ready for this competition, and I wish her placement on paper spoke more of that.
Who has the most to gain at their next competition?
Erin: If Anna Pogorilaya keeps skating the way she has been, I think she could legitimately challenge Medvedeva, who showed vulnerability with a fall at Trophee de France. It will also be interesting to see if Nathan Chen can carry this momentum into the Grand Prix Final, where he could legitimately challenge for the podium, and on to US Nationals. I also think it's a good thing that Yuzuru hasn't peaked yet because it means the best is yet to come from him this season. I'm also not ready to count Papadakis/Cizeron out- I know they are often criticized for doing similar free dances year after year, but no other team could skate said free dances like they can, and they truly have something special that you can't teach.
Grace: Virtue/Moir, solely because they have deserved that GPF title for many years and are poised to finally achieve it, perhaps with a new world record free skate?
Ioana: Probably Anna Pogorilaya. Everyone remembers what happened at the 2015 NHK Trophy and what an amazing turn of events took place this year. After winning both of her GP assignments, she may get her first GPF medal if she continues to skate with this newfound confidence. I feel like she's still cautious with her jumps - especially in the FS - so I would love to see her focusing on her expression. I would also add Mirai Nagasu, I can totally see her making the podium at US Nationals. And by podium I don't mean pewter medal.
Sharon: Nathan Chen. If he beats Adam at the GPF he will have huge momentum going into US Nationals as the favorite. And if he pulls off a Shoma Uno by medaling, Nathan will become part of the conversation for that Worlds podium.
Will: Nathan Chen. My childgroomwifebrideboytoy has literally nothing to lose going into his first senior GPF, and I'm sure he will skate as such in Marseille. We've been primed to believe that the 5 (4 this weekend, SHAME) quads he attempts in his FS is the norm, but it is MOST. DEFINITELY NOT!! He combines brute physicality and incomprehensible difficulty with a genuine understanding of music and kinesthetic facility, and I foresee he will surprise MANY people in the future with that ability. Also lmao, emergency 4F-3T is my new fave. (ily nathan pleASE LOVE ME)
Who has the most to lose at their next competition?
Erin: It was really disheartening to see Jason Brown skate so poorly here. Nationals is going to be a tough competition and with only two World team spots up for grabs, he's really going to need a strong comeback. Similarly, Alaine Chartrand had a truly disastrous competition, and will need to really get back on track if she wants to have any hope of defending her National title and getting one of Canada's 2 World team spots.
Grace: Jason Brown. He started off the season with a bang at Skate America but lost a lot of momentum here. With only two spots for the US Men at Worlds and both Adam Rippon and Nathan Chen making the GPF, Jason’s going to have to battle back at Nationals if he wants to make the world team.
Ioana: Alaine Chartrand has had a very tough season so far. She is the reigning Canadian champion but with Kaetlyn Osmond coming back (and making the GPF!) and Gabrielle Daleman's 4th place at both Skate America and Trophee de France, Alaine will have to make an extra effort this time.
Sharon: Alaine Chartrand. With a 10th place finish at NHK, it does not look good for Alaine defending her Canadian National title. I fear she is in great danger of not making it back to Worlds with how well Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabby Daleman did at their Grand Prix events. Where is the confidence she had last season?
Will: Eek, I guess I'll have to say Duhamel/Radford. Any one of the teams that qualified to Marseille will pounce on the reigning World Champs if given the opportunity, and if the Canadians throw down the programs they did this weekend in a couple weeks time, they are going to be surpassed. That said, we were literally saying the same about this exact team a year ago, and they proceeded to prove everyone wrong, so this is not a complete write-off so much as it is a cautionary tale, though their SP needs to Aggressively Halt and Reassess itself. Also, Jason Brown. US Nationals will be A Competition™ and I'm Terrified. :)
The experts always get to make "bold predictions." Make a bold prediction about something that will happen in the remainder of the season.
Erin: Papadakis/Cizeron will bounce back to win the Grand Prix Final because it's in France and also, Tessa and Scott don't win Grand Prix Finals. Karen Chen will end up back on the Nationals podium. Ashley Wagner will rebound from a super disappointing Cup of China to win her 4th US title. Javi will win the Grand Prix Final for the first time but Yuzuru will peak at the right time this year to win Worlds. And finally, I predict the men's event at US Nationals will take years off the lives of the viewers because it will be so stressful.
Grace: Adam Rippon and Nathan Chen will both be in the top 6 at worlds. The four Russian ladies at the GPF will finish 1-4. The Canadians will claim three of four world championship titles: Patrick Chan, Duhamel/Radford, and Virtue/Moir.
Ioana: I already predicted Wakaba Higuchi going to Worlds in one of my previous competition analysis last season and that one currently looks like a no-brainer, so I'm gonna go with Keiji Tanaka for the World team!
Sharon: The Russian ladies will sweep the podium at the GPF, Euros, AND Worlds!
Will: Shoma wins Japanese Nats and the GPF. Javi will retain his world title for a third time. Kayne/O'Shea will slay us all and win U.S. Nats. Adam Rippon will literally shapeshift into a bird in flight in Marseille, and upon his being airborne, he will snatch every minted medal away from the men's medalists if he doesn't earn one himself. Pogorilaya beats Evgenia at some point this season. Isabella Tobias's contour literally slashes #LLIA during twizzles at, like, Europeans, probably.
The final week of this bonus question! As always, costumes have ranged from the strangely mundane (Patrick Chan) to the just plain strange (Gordei Gorshkov). What is your favorite costume so far this season? What is your least favorite?
Erin: Mirai Nagasu's short program dress is just gorgeous. I also adore both of Tarah Kayne's dresses, and she seriously needs to teach a seminar on makeup and hair because so many skaters could learn from her skills. As for least favorite, Yura Matsuda's freeskate dress was pretty horrifying. I am also not a fan of Tessa Virtue's very bland free dance dress- it adds absolutely nothing to the program, and the illusion mesh doesn't even match her skin tone.
| || |
| || |
| || |
| || |
Erin: You have to love NHK, home of the most gaudy Kiss & Cry, most enthusiastic, clap-happy fans, and ridiculous literal trophy most likely to get you stopped at airport security. I also have to say that while he didn't compete here, these results landed Adam Rippon a well-deserved spot in his very first Grand Prix Final, and seeing his excitement on Twitter was so great.
Grace: Wakaba Higuchi is my favorite new addition to the senior ladies this season! I’m excited to watch her improve over the years. Also, it’s crazy that the ice dance podium has won five world championships between the three teams, and yet only two are going to the final. The ice dance field is turning into an embarrassment of riches and I love it!
Ioana: It saved the whole Grand Prix from being the Grand Prix Season of Doom. For now. The final still has the potential to seal the deal of doom.
Sharon: How awesome was that Japanese crowd!?! They were so supportive, waving tons of flags, clapping for everyone. Even when a skater messed up the crowd started clapping right away to encourage them to keep going. But my favorite was the crowd’s attempts to clap along to everyone’s music – even if the music was super-duper fast or didn’t have a clap-able beat! I heart skating events in Japan with their supportive fans, enormous Kiss & Cry, and hilarious mascots. Thank you, Japan, for bringing the Grand Prix series to a thrilling end!
Will: MIRAI!!!!! So happy she was able to rebound from SCI with solid performances, should boost her confidence going into Nats, yay!!! DENISSSSSSSSSS ILYYYYY!!!!!!!! great job! KAITLIN AND JEAN-LUC U LIEBSTRUMED (heh) @ MY HEART STRINGS!!! DON'T DO THAT W/O WARNING ME NEXT TIME THXXXXX. SATOKOTOOAO OAOKTOAOKKO OTATOAO TK what are jumps what are underrotations!!!! anticipating her flipping a mASSIVE bird in Marseille to every judge that's ever called a jump of hers under ! Thank you, NHK!! :) Oh also, Yuzu. He did a thing. Gud job.
(Editor's note: normally I'd edit that down, but I honestly have no idea what to do with that, so...it's staying. Congratulations, Will.)
What did you think about NHK Trophy? How did our judges do? Leave us a comment to let us know, then sign up to judge a future event!