Deb can be found on Twitter.
Jennifer can be found winning The Skating Lesson's Fantasy Skating three times in a row!
Joanna is on Tumblr!
Shannon can be found on Twitter.
Victor can be found on Twitter or winning the US UGL Juvenile Regional.
LET'S GET JUDGING. When you're finished reading, leave a comment to let us know what you thought about Russian Nationals, 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!
Judging Russian Nationals
Deb: Most of the ladies events, the free skates of the top 3 pairs, the men who matter (top 5 & Moris), and enough dance to ruin Christmas.
Jennifer: All. Of. It. Gala included.
Joanna: All of men and ladies besides some snippets here and there thanks to interrupting telephone calls, restroom breaks and… naps (it was a lot of FS these days?). About 50% of Pairs and Dance.
Shannon: The entire event
Victor: Men's, ladies, and pairs
Who had the best performance of the event?
Alejandro: I don't have any doubt here, it's Elena Radionova's short. There is so much going on there. I love the dress, I love the choreography. She knows how to sell it, and the step sequence is incredible, she knows exactly what to do with her arms in every second.
Joanna: Although she didn’t keep her SP form in the LP, Yulia Lipnitskaya. When she was that itty-bitty little girly in the red coat, wowing the world and collecting gold medals like I do bruises during my skating attempts, I was mainly neutral on her. Cute girl, a lot of nice qualities, not my thing. But whatever it was she lacked then for me, she had it in spades in the SP. It had me smiling the whole way through! I think I never saw her so involved in her music and enjoying herself so much. And even if the LP had its flaws, I enjoyed it more than any of her previous LPs. I’m daring the early prediction that Urmanov was a 100% right move for her, and I hope we will see her improving even more after they actually get to work together longer. Plus, their KnC moments were adorable! Give me Yulia + Urmanov + giant teddy cuteness please.
Shannon: I have to give this to Anna Pogorilaya. After a dismal performance at NHK, I did not believe she would be on the podium here. Good for you Anna!
Victor: I thought Anna Pogorilaya. She was focused and determined here. The last 2 times we saw her compete, it was a hot mess. She's really made strides, and it paid off.
Which performance was the most underscored?
Alejandro: I must say that no performance was underscored; all were overscored. But the least overscored is Dmitri Aliev's SP. He was almost clean with a quad and he didn't reach the last group of the free skate while most of the men in the last group had a fall or didn't have a quad.
Alejandro: Once again, I don't have doubts here. Evgenia Medvedeva was so overscored here, both in the short and free programs. I think she is the fair winner of the event, but 12 points of difference between her and Elena wasn't fair. The GOEs and PCS were totally overscored. No way Evgenia has better IN (interpretation) than Elena.
Jennifer: Maxim Kovtun, FS. Almost everyone at this event got the ole nationals PCS inflation, but there is no planet on which Kovtun’s skating should ever be awarded 10s (I’ll take Medvedeva’s knees over his querulous stare any day). His mix of Beethoven is awful to begin with—but why is his choreography full of poncy mockery? Is quad telegraphing interpretation? Why does he throw his limp arms down in literal exhaustion about 5 times in a row halfway through? Why should we “shh” before his “spin?" Good for him on the jumps—but it relieves me as a fan that his inflated total of 266.13 should not represent an international podium threat.
Shannon: Mother Russia is fantastic for giving us sensationally inflated score across the board, I am going to say: Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katasalapov. I have a difficult time believing their short dance warranted a 73. Their twizzles were out of sync, with Victoria losing half a rotation on the third set. Nikita also needs to work on upper body control. Both skaters where not over their knees, which gave them issues here. They should have lost GOE across the board. Victoria also had some balance checks through out the program. These mistakes would have cost lesser known skaters so much more.
Out of those skaters and teams who finished in the bottom half of their events, who had the best performance?
Alejandro: This one is hard, but I am going with Bazarova/Deputat. They were 6th out of 12, so they are not bottom half, but almost. It seems that she has the jumps again even though they are as small as always. The short program is so good and suits them a lot. I can't say the same with the free skate which I find boring because I don't see any connection with the music.
Jennifer: I was not surprised by much here. I was a bit surprised that men’s 3rd and 4th places both lacked quads. What would Plushenko say? (Also, sad how low Voronov and Menshov placed!)
Joanna: Anna finally medaling at nationals and being on her way to be the first Russian wunderkind to make it to worlds 3 times in a row! (She still has to do well at Europeans, I know I know, but I’m being optimistic, okay?)
Victor: Tatiana Voloshazar and Maxim Trankov. They were back, and ready to go! The judging was horrible, and most people were overscored.
Preparing for Euros and Worlds
Alejandro: I think they have chosen fairly. It was pretty clear that Stolbova/Klimov were going to be chosen for Euros over Tarasova/Morozov even though they weren't at nationals. I guess that for Worlds the team is going to be the same but for the ice dance pair that finishes last in Euros and Petrov who will stay home.
Deb: In every discipline except pairs, Russia has chosen to send everyone who made the podium to Euros, which is somewhat surprising. I don't necessarily disagree with the choices, though I may have sent Tarasova/Morozov to Euros to allow more time for Fedor Klimov to heal, but I suspect that Stolbova/Klimov are anxious to win Euros, after last season's disaster.
Jennifer: The choices are exactly correct at this stage. Poor Pogorilaya never has to stop watching her back, does she?
Joanna: All the choices for Europeans are correct for me. The ladies team gives me a lot of heartbreak if I think of who did not make the team (I like all of Adelina, Liza, Yulia and Alena quite a lot), but what can you do. That’s what happens when one country decides to be the only child of figure skating and hoards all the talent! (Will you learn to share Russia, huh? I’m from Germany, we can make 3 great girls out of any of your substitutes alone!)
Shannon: I disagree with the dance team, for reasons stated above. ("Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katasalapov. I have a difficult time believing their short dance warranted a 73") I do wonder if they will put Liza on the ladies team, given that she is the reigning European and World Champion.
Victor: Euros: I would choose Evgenia, Elena, and Elizaveta. For men's: I would choose Maxim Kovtun, Alexander Petrov. For pairs: Yuko and Alexander, Tatiana and Max, and Ksenia and Fedor.
From there, I would then choose my picks for Worlds. they need to do well at Europeans first.
Which skater/couple is going to have the most success at Worlds/Euros?
Alejandro: I think russian girls will have a sweep in Euros and get two medals at Worlds. Medvedeva will probably be the star this year, winning both events. Russian men have it harder. They'll probably get silver and bronze at Euros after Fernandez and struggle to get a top 10 in worlds.
Deb: Unless she suddenly grows a foot in the next 3 months, Evgenia Medvedeva is very much in danger of becoming European Champion and at least making the podium at Worlds.
Jennifer: I think V/T and Stolbova/Klimov have both got a leg up on the Canadians, and I’d be surprised if they don’t go 1, 2 at Worlds. (Pause. Aliona’s back, isn’t she. Euros just got so much more interesting!) Medvedeva seems unstoppable. I don’t know if I completely trust Radionova or Pogorilaya to make the Worlds podium this year, but I do think another Euros ladies sweep is inevitable.
Joanna: Evgenia Medvedeva. There, I said the obvious… it’s actually pretty boring. So, I’ll rather say Stolbova/Klimov will out-deathglare everyone else and get the European crown this time and Mikhail Kolyada will get a surprise silver by landing a nice 4S for the first time. These choices might make me lose my lunch money, but they're way more fun.
Shannon: Medvedeva without a doubt. Her scores have been going up all season. I love Satoko, but Worlds is Medvedeva's to lose at this point. Satoko will win 4CCs.
Victor: I think Tatiana and Maxim. They have experience, skating skills, and the elements. The judges do like them, too.
Which skater/couple is going to have the least success at Worlds/Euros/4CCs?
Alejandro: I think that Petrov won't have a lot of success at Euros. He is going to be outshined by older and matured skaters. He needs the quad to be in the battle with the senior man.
Deb: If there is any justice in the world, Nikita Katsalapov will do the thing he is 2nd most famous for: completely giving up on at least one element. The thing he is most famous for, of course, is dumping his far superior partner.
Jennifer: I think Russia could send any of its top 5 ice dance teams to worlds and still not necessarily get 3 spots for next year—all of them feel fallible (probably Stepanova and Bukhin in particular, love those low twizzles though). As for the men, I don’t see more than one of them in the top 10 (and I’m not prepared to guess which).
Joanna: Kavaguti/Smirnov could be in a bit of trouble. They are clearly behind both other Russian teams at this point, and Europeans marks the re-entrance of Queen Aliona back into the pairs rink. If Savchenko/Massot can skate up to their potential, they will probably earn some huge GOE and K/S might have a hard time catching up to them if they're not at their best.
Shannon: I worry about Kavaguti and Smirnov. Yuko has had side by side jump issues this season. The pairs event is going to be insane. There isn't going to be room for errors.
Victor: Ksenia and Fedor. He has been out with a bad back. They weren't good at Euros last year. I also think Maxim Kovtun won't do well at worlds. He doesn't have the skating skills, and his jumps aren't there for me.
Will the country gain/lose a spot in any disciplines at the World Championships?
Alejandro: I think it will remain the same: 3 spots in all disciplines at Euros. 3 spots in ladies, pairs and 2 spots men and ice dance at Worlds.
Deb: It is impossible to say without knowing for sure what the team will be, but I do not expect Russia to lose their 2nd spot for men's or dance. That being said, I also don't really expect them to gain a third spot, and I could see the men managing to pull off only one spot in 2017.
Jennifer: Same spots next year. Would love to be proven wrong!
Joanna: Probably not. They’re not going to lose one in Ladies or Pairs, given they have 3 entries with podium potential in each. Gaining one in men’s looks tough if the other guys can skate anything similar to what they did at the GPF – we have a pretty clear top 5 (Hanyu, Fernandez, Chan, Ten, Uno) and then the American men. Dance has better chances… but that’s not saying much.
Shannon: I hope that Russian dance and men will get a third spot back this year. The men's field was very interesting this year and I would like to see Adian Pitkeev next year, as well as Mikhail Kolyada. They make the Russian men's event worth watching.
And, just for fun...
Alejandro: I like Astakhova/Rogonov costume in their free skate. The costume suits the program and the choreography and I love everything about it.
Who had the worst costume at this event?
Alejandro: I think Petrov's costume in his short program was one of the worst. That mustard colour is horrendous.
Alejandro: I like the music selection of Kolyada in the free skate. Nightmare before Christmas I think was never used before and I love it.
Deb: Moris Kvitelashvili, the hero we didn't know we needed, until this season. (Closely followed by Adelina Sotnikova and Elena Radionova).
Jennifer: I can’t in all seriousness nominate Kvitelashvili’s SP again, but I am still not over Medvedeva’s FS music. Abel Korzeniowski’s A Single Man soundtrack got me through college physics, and I’m a sucker for his W.E. music. I’m also crushed that her bizarre Mlle Havisham with roosters exhibition music got swapped for something not once popularized by the Paris Hilton and balding professor German ice dancers, but I’ll live.
Shannon: Mikhail Kolyada. Who doesn't love The Nightmare Before Christmas!
Victor: I love Evgenia Medvedeva's music. It was great, and she portrays the character very maturely.
Who had the worst music selection at this event?
Alejandro: I think we have a tie here. Leonova and Voronov free skates are an mixture of random music with no connection among them.
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Jennifer: Tuktamysheva FS. WHO did that to Grieg for you? Did Mishin acquire this arrangement in a twofer with Perederova’s Night on Bald Mountain midi remix (sans finale drum solo)? Strangely, this is the most I’ve ever seen her sell her footwork, but what story are you telling when this is playing in the background?!
Victor: I don't like Elizaveta's long program music. It's very dark, and I don't think that's her style of music.
Which pair/dance team had the best chemistry? The worst chemistry?
Alejandro: I like the pair that Sitnisina/Katsalapov made. I think both are very good-looking and I enjoy watching them. I think Tarasova and Morozov have the worst chemistry, they are young and they need to work in that aspect.
Deb: They didn't have wonderful chemistry during the actual programs, but Nikita and Victoria had way too much chemistry during the short dance warm-up. I was uncomfortable.
Jennifer: Best: The Trankovs’ physical synchrony is only outstripped by how believable it seems when Maxim looms in to bite her neck. (Similar: his face in their 2013 Godfather program while he’s grinding behind her). I also never doubt that Sinitsina would happily crumble into a pile after Katsalopov has twizzle-barreled straight into her. (Am I taking “chemistry” too literally?)
Worst: I’m not sure Tarasova and Morozov looked at each other during their SP until the collegial high five at the end. (Huge elements, though.) Bobrova and Ilinykh both give face, but neither of those partnerships has much sizzle, either.
Joanna: Kavaguti/Smirnov, which is something I probably wouldn’t have said previously to seeing them live in Barcelona. But they really have a sweet, supportive, completely not forced romantic aura about them. If this would have been CoR, honorable mention would have went to Kovtun and his girlfriend :p And least would probably be Tarasova/Morozov… who are really good skaters with strong elements, but fall into the death trap of “leaving me cold” figure skating clichés.
Shannon: While Brobova and Soloviev were clean, I found them to be boring. Volosozhar and Trankov for the best chemistry.
Victor: The best chemistry is definitely Tatiana and Max. They are married, so obviously they have the best chemistry. The worst chemistry was Alexander Smirnov and Yuko Kaviguti. They don't seem like they want to be with each other. It might just be me, but I don't think that worlds will be good for them, either
To close it up...
Alejandro: Tatiana and Maxim are defeated in Euros by Aliona and Bruno because he can't lift Tatiana in the last lift.
Deb: National Champion Maxim Kovtun will finish behind one of his two teammates at either Euros or Worlds.
Jennifer: Anna Pogorilaya will NOT fall the whole rest of the season, all the while learning how to close her fingers and extend her limbs. One of the three pairs teams slotted for Euros will withdraw due to a bad bleaching experience, dental work, or a spell being put on them, only to return for Worlds, no questions asked.
Joanna: Maxim Kovtun will continue to rile people up with his… existence. Evgenia will not have her unclear lutz edge called to break the LP world record on her way to world gold. She’ll be accompanied by another Russian lady on the podium and one Japanese lady (a resurgent Mao or the ever-consistent Satoko), while the American ladies medal drought continues because Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold out-almost-girled each other again by coming 4th and 5th (I might feel a little mean about that last part… maybe).
Shannon: For all not to be surprised if Liza or Adelina get sent to Worlds. Saying it now, I do not think Anna's spot is a lock.
Victor: Yuzuru will get over 315 and Evgenia will win. Tatiana and Max will win the pairs title, and Gabriella Papadakis and her partner will win the ice dance event.
Anything else to add about this event?
Deb: Ruslan Zhiganshin was the only member of the partner-swapping teams not to make a big mistake in this competition, proving himself to be superior to Nikita in every possible way. #TeamFriend
Joanna: Why does the Russian ladies event look like the Miss Universe catwalk? What sorcery is this? Can any of them look… normal, please? Like just a little ordinary? No? Okay, then I’ll have to continue to look through heart eyes at all their programs and spam the internet with heart eyes emojis and unnecessary superficial comments. It’s not my fault!
Shannon: I really missed Stolbova and Klimov.