Here are our judges for Skate Canada 2016!
Amanda H. (@BlondeAssassin1)
I skated from ages 4-16 on a regular basis, competing locally and skating in club shows wearing terrible costumes. I was on a precision skating team (the precursor to synchro) for 3 years that competed at Sectionals twice and at Nationals once. I have been a fan forever, but over the last few years I have turned into a FAN.
Bea (@tweenershots) | You Only Lutz Once
I co-founded and blog at You Only Lutz Once. I also co-founded Tropical Frost, a fan site dedicated to Michael Christian Martinez (PHI). Outside streaming, I've watched Four Continents in Taipei last season. (I was probably on TV too many times because of the many banners we had, especially that "The CHANpion is Back" banner. This season, I got to watch Asian Open Trophy and got to meet and cheer for many of my favorite skaters.
Patrick (@Team_PDD) | Patrick Commentates Skating
I'm that crazy guy that leads prayer circles on twitter before competitions. One time I met Ashley Wagner, and it was awesome.
Sam S. (@szabothebaby)
Been a fan of the sport since 1997 and have taken some basic skating classes (I have a mean forward swizzle lol). Also I'm a professional dancer in New York which definitely informs the way I watch skating.
Sarah R. (@pas_dechat) | Sarah Explains The Finer Sports
I started skating when I was five and continued with freestyle into my early teens. Now I'm an avid armchair quarterback with a blog.
Sean Z. (@enderstar)
I have been a figure skating fan for over 10 years and also a part-time sports writer specializing in figure skating from China. Though not a skater myself, I am very interested in the technical side of the sport. I have also covered several ISU events including GP China, GPF and FCC. Ice dance is my favorite category and probably the most fabulous thing on this planet.
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Amanda: The whole thing!
Bea: Singles SPs only, but I caught up on the rest of singles and pairs through YouTube. I gave up on ice dance.
Patrick: Everything except a few of the free dances from the first group. #sorrynotsorry
Sam: Despite it being Halloween weekend I somehow watched it all!
Sarah: I watched every competitive routine at least once, although I zoned out during some of the pairs.
Sean: The entire dance competition and around half of the men's. 30% of the ladies' and only a couple of performances for pairs'.
Who had the best performance of the event?
Amanda: I loved Satoko Miyahara's free skate. The program is gorgeous and the music suited her perfectly. Her attention to detail, especially the way she uses her arms, is stunning.
Amanda: I think Alaine Chartrand gets stronger and more confident with every performance. She has two great programs this season that suit her very well, and I look forward to seeing her continue to improve.
Which performance was the most underscored?
Amanda: Everything about Satoko Miyahara's skating is first rate. The fact that the judges scored her PCS 4 points LOWER than both Medvedeva and Osmond in the free skate is just inexcusable. Satoko's flow over the ice and her interpretation and musicality are as good, if not better, than any other female skater in the world. She may have had issues with her jumps here, but that should have no effect on her PCS, which are supposed to be treated separately than technical marks, but very rarely are.
Bea: I still fume whenever I think of how the judges scored Satoko Miyahara in this competition. I'm no expert, but a skater's program component scores shouldn't be compromised if there's something wrong with technique. Satoko met expectations in her two programs but didn't get the scores she deserved.
Patrick: Okay, Canada. We need to have a chat. I get it. You LOVE your skaters. What country doesn't? Everyone inflates their skaters' scores at home. I get it. It's normal. It's standard practice. But, like, let's be realistic here. Satoko Miyahara is a world silver medalist, the 2016 4CC champion, and the reigning Japanese national champion. Do you really think she deserves to be scored lower than Kaetlyn Osmond of all people? Do you? Canada, you can have pairs, ice dance, and hell, even men! But why do you have to try to make your ladies relevant? We all know it's your worst discipline. Just give it a rest and give the #TinyQueen the scores she deserves.
Sam: I don't know if they were necessarily underscored but I would have put Denney and Frazier in 3rd. To me they were cleaner both nights compared to Lubov and Dylan, and they have quality for days. I wonder had they not lost a season last year if they would be scoring just a shade higher. Brandon's skating is some of the best of the men in the pairs event and they're one of the few pairs teams that can actually skate to a step sequence with some style and quality, especially in their short.
Sean: There is no such thing as being "underscored" right now under the current judging system. The judges are all crazy. OK seriously, both performances of the Chinese dance pair. In my opinion, they should have won over Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam. Shiyue Wang and Xinyu Liu are making huge progress. They skated clean at Skate Canada, getting good levels. They showed great speed, beautiful edges and powerful dance moves on ice. Chinese dancers, or Asian dancers in general have been suffered from possible judging bias for a long time.
Amanda: Kaetlyn Osmond's short program. It seemed like she was being rewarded for finally skating a clean program more than for what she actually did. There's not a big difference in quality between her skating and some of the other skaters that would justify such a high score. I would have had her PCS at least 2-3 points lower.
Sam: Is it too controversial to say Team Canada? I know that skating on home ice always has the affect of bumping your scores but there wasn't enough polish and too many falls for some of the scores that were being given. The caller in the ladies event was very tough, maybe too tough, and when you have a skater like Kaetlyn whose rotation is almost always doubtless I see how she got the silver here, but she was too rough around the edges in between her elements and her spins traveled too much here to be scoring 74+ in the short. In the long, four clean triples and a fall should not be scoring 130+. Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch were the other glaring scores to me.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Hi all, Mara here. There's a first time for everything, apparently: I have to attach a warning to Medvedeva's free skate below. The program makes use of audio clips from news broadcasts following the attack on the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001 . While many have enjoyed Evgenia's performance of this program, I have personally found the voiceovers to be distressing and overwhelming. Please use caution.
Amanda: It was great to see Misha Ge have such a strong free skate. He always commits fully to his performance, and the crowd seemed to really get into it. I also enjoyed Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker's short dance a lot; it's one of the best hip hop short dances I've seen so far.
Sam: I know I just said Team Canada was overscored, but I was really taken by Liam Firus. For some reason he's never really been on my radar until now but I love his programs this year and I hope we get to see him skate cleaner later in the season. His jumps weren't here this weekend but his speed and flow across the ice was wonderful watch and he related to his music in such an authentic, open, and clear way. It was a breath of fresh air compared to the over-emoting we often get in skating.
Amanda: I think Yuzuru Hanyu and Patrick Chan will both be looking to redeem themselves after their rough performances here. They are both the favorites to win their next events, but men's is always unpredictable, so anything can happen.
Bea: I think it would be Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier. A silver at Skate America and a fourth-place finish in Skate Canada is a good result after taking a season off. This will help establish them as one of the frontrunners heading to US Nationals.
Patrick: Be still my heart. Mirai Nagasu had so much momentum heading into this competition and it all fell apart here. She has a pattern of bombing her first Grand Prix event, but considering she had the highest ladies short program score of the season prior to this event, I had hopes she might threaten for a medal here. She was looking solid in practices, so hopefully she can figure things out before NHK and US nationals. Finishing dead last in the free skate ripped my soul to pieces, but she's a fighter and I believe in her ability to come back and prove everyone who doubts her wrong.
Sam: I'm gonna go with Mirai Nagasu. I can't help it, I'm Team Mirai forever. It's like being a Cubs Fan; you stick with your fave no matter what. The evidence is there that she's training like one of the best skaters in the world and it is very much her pattern to struggle through her first Grand Prix. Now she has to come roaring back at NHK. To a win a match up against Polina and Karen Chen would be a coup for her going into Nationals, and if she can deliver the kind of brilliance she displayed in her short at Autumn Classic, she'll be back in the mix and making a strong case that Mariah Bell isn't the only front runner for that 3rd podium spot this year.
Sarah: Kaetlyn Osmond is on a real hot streak with her silver medal here and her win at the Finlandia Trophy. Most of us had written her off because it took her so long to recover from a series of injuries, but now that she's healthy, it's clear that she's not just talented but capable of consistently skating well. She earned giant GOE bonuses for her triple flip-triple toe in both programs, and it looks like she really owns that jump. She's not facing a particularly tough field at Cup of China, which means that if she skates like this, she's on track for a gold medal there. That's a great sign for her, but also a huge amount of pressure. She performs brilliantly as an underdog, but Cup of China will prove whether she can hold it together as one of the favorites.
Sean: Probably Tessa and Scott. Their comeback is the best thing this year for me because I'm a huge fan. Unfortunately they did not perform well at SC. Tessa was very shaky during both of their programs and made several errors. Their routines are great; particularly the short dance, which is my favorite this season and almost as revolutionary as their Latin medley six years ago. They've got the best vehicle, now they have to drive it to full speed to prove they are the best.
Who has the most to lose at their next competition?
Amanda: Madison Chock and Evan Bates came close to beating Virtue and Moir in Canada. They need to win their next event to keep that momentum if they want a shot at the World podium. Unfortunately for them, their next event is in Russia, against Bobrova/Soloviev, so that might be easier said than done. (I'm rooting for Weaver/Poje to beat them both.)
Bea: Kaetlyn has a lot to prove following her silver-medal finish. Going up against Elena Radionova, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, and Ashley Wagner at Cup of China is not going to be an easy feat.
Patrick: Honestly, this was a disaster of a competition, so most people have something to gain rather than lose, but it looks like Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte are struggling to maintain a hold at the top of the ice dance world. They need a strong showing at their next Grand Prix assignment to stay in the mix. Alternatively, Piper & Paul have built a lot of momentum lately, and if they have a weak second Grand Prix outing, it could hurt their chance to stay near the top of the international ice dance field.
Sam: I've gotta say it's a tie between Grant Hochstein and Ross Miner. With Jason Brown looking stronger than ever and Adam Rippon showing that he's more fired up than ever, it's going to be a tight trace to the top of the US men's field. Throw in Nathan Chen and Max Aaron and suddenly you can't really afford to be having competitions like the two of them did. They both have a somewhat tenuous hold as skaters who deserve to be in the final flight at nationals, but repeat performances like this and great skates by the likes of skaters like Timothy Dolenksy, Alex Johnson, or Vincent Zhou might put them in the penultimate group.
Sarah: Everyone else was bellyaching about Satoko Miyahara's low scores, but I think they were right on target here. The judges were merciless on her rotation and edges, and I'm pretty sure that at least some of those rotation calls were based on pre-rotation rather than on the landing. It's a big warning to her and her coaches, and I think it's a warning she needed to hear. Her fans get in a lather when anyone brings up her jump technique, but height and amplitude are elements of jump quality and always have been. Here, the judges had to compare her with Kaetlyn Osmond and Evgenia Medvedeva, whose jumps are enormous, and Miyahara's look unimpressive next to theirs. I also think she's taken a step back artistically. She's up against another tough field at the NHK Trophy, and a lot of them are power jumpers. If the judges there are half as critical there, she's going to lose in an upset and miss out on the Grand Prix Final.
Sean: Evgenia. She has been very consistent all the way. But we all know it is impossible to perform perfectly every time. However, strangely, that seems not to be a problem for her. So I don't know... I almost hope to see her fall next time. I'm evil.
The experts always get to make "bold predictions." Make a bold prediction about something that will happen in the remainder of the season.
Amanda: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will finally win the Grand Prix Final, but will come up short at Worlds when Tessa messes up the twizzles.
Bea: Patrick Chan will hopefully land his 3A and 4S and finally score a 300. I'm being biased, but I love how his programs are less dramatic and more relaxing, and I would love to see it clean.
Patrick: Mirai Nagasu will finish in the top 4 at NHK trophy, will medal at US nationals, and will finish in the top 8 at worlds.
Sam: I think we could possibly see the second year in a row where at least three of the four reigning World Champs defend their titles. Also, the US men will just barely earn three spots for the Olympics.
Sarah: New Japanese National Champions in both men and ladies. It's shaping up to be the year when Shoma dethrones Yuzuru - a year or two sooner than I'd expected. Satoko doesn't look nearly as bulletproof as she has for the past couple of seasons, and I think there's a good chance Wakaba could outskate her. Or that one of the tiny juniors, like Marin Honda or Rika Kihira, could put them all to shame.
Sean: Tessa and Scott win the GPF. (I'm a perfectionist so GPF is more important than Worlds.) The rest of it I just can't say. Those ISU judges are elusive.
This week's optional bonus question is exactly the same as last weeks, because I'm still trying to wrap my head around this year's ice dance program. The ice dancers were given the option to use hip hop in their short dances this year, which is definitely causing some skaters to step out of their comfort zones. What unlikely hip hop song do you want to see in a short dance this year?
Amanda: Nicki Minaj's "Monster" verse.
Bea: If someone skates to Hamilton, I will send them a fruit basket.
Patrick: Being from the Bay Area, could I chose anything other than this?
Sarah: I'm not surprised that I didn't get the OutKast SD that I wanted, but I'm disappointed. I was hoping to see somebody shake it like a Polaroid picture to "Hey Ya." It's a twisty song with lots of changes in emotion and rhythm, which raises the difficulty of skating to it but would also make for some fabulous step sequences.
Sean: Any song by Nicki Minaj? Super Bass... Bang Bang... Anaconda... I hope the ISU has rating system in figure skating as MPAA has it in films.
Anything else to add about this event?
Amanda: The technical panel was probably the strictest one I have ever seen. It would be refreshing if some of that strictness was applied to awarding PCS as well. #justiceforsatoko
Bea: Let us not talk about the men's event. Ever.
Sam: Tessa and Scott are back and ice dance couldn't be any better for it. I don't know if it's fair to give them total credit for this, but all the top ice dance teams have really upped their game this year and I think we're already seeing the battle to the Pyeongchang podium begin.
Sarah: Daniel Samohin wins the congeniality award for most adorable bows and best duet with a panda in the K&C. Scott Moir, on the other hand, needs to stop talking while he's waiting for his scores. He thinks he's being funny, but he's making himself look like a jerk instead. Please don't ask me about my Mirai feelings.
Sean: It was a pretty good GP event generally speaking.
What did you think about Skate Canada 2016? How did our judges do? Leave us a comment to let us know, then sign up to judge a future event!