Emily is on Twitter.
Ioana is on Twitter and Tumblr.
Meghan blogs for USFSA Fan Zone and at Figuratively Speaking. She's also on Twitter.
Matthew can be found dancing with the Cincinnati ballet and will be joining the St. Louis Ballet next season. He's on Twitter.
Tiffany can be found blogging about food (and so much more!) on her website and on Twitter.
LET'S GET JUDGING. When you're finished reading, leave a comment to let us know what you thought about Team Challenge Cup, how you think the real judges did, and how you think our judges did. If you disagree, leave a comment and sign up to judge an event and share your thoughts!
Emily: I watched 95% of the event, the percentage I actually saw was far lower due to the stellar feed.
Ioana: Most of it, if not all.
Matthew: As much as IceNetwork would allow me to.
Meghan: I soaked up every minute of the last event of the season!
Tiffany: All of it, though (for the first time all season), I watched none of it live. I missed being a part of all the Twitter conversations.
Who had the best performance of the event?
Emily: Obviously Shoma Uno and his quad flip magic. Ashley Wagner's short program- because who else could command you to clap mid back camel? Denis Ten's short program - classic Denis joy, which was sadly followed by classic Denis sorrow in the long.
Emily: Ten's SP was glorious considering his skates at Worlds...and the whole season... Overall, I have to give it to Gabby Daleman as she continues to grow each time she skates. I'm very excited to see what she brings to the ice next season.
Matthew: With an event like this there is such a release of pressure, seen surprisingly in the dance event where Weaver/Poje and Chock/Bates gave superb performances. I've always found Weaver/Poje's dance to be very underrated, and in Spokane it got the skate it deserved: haunting and abandoned. Chock/Bates, an attractive but strangely affectless team, have developed their Rachmaninoff little by little, skating their finale of the program with great speed, passion, and volume.
Which performance was the most underscored?
Emily: I honestly stopped paying close attention to scores very early in the event as judges were handing out points like candy. [I would say] Tursynbaeva's LP. The judges were a bit stingy with the candy points to her.
Matthew: Underscoring is relative here because the judges were giving out +GOE and high PCS like pocket change. However, Elisabet Tursynbayeva was an exception: her 123 in the LP was basically in line with her score at Worlds, even though her skating here was superior. Even Elena Radionova got a bit of the early warm-up shaft with her Titanic. The program is a hot mess...but I didn't see her performance as 5-6 points lower than her Euros or Worlds free skates even with an under rotation on the loop.
Emily: The entire event!
Ioana: Most of them.
Matthew: Particularly for the top ladies, scores at this event had to be taken with a grain of salt (or several). Everybody knows Medvedeva, striking as she is, did not skate the greatest FS ever, nor did Wagner skate better here than at Worlds. But comparison is key: Medvedeva had the obvious standout skate of the night with nothing to pick at technically (aside from her flutz); Wagner's skate lacked the fire of Worlds and got the benefit of the doubt on two 50/50 calls technically (both her 3/3s). However, I took more issue with Medvedeva's SP: her performance quality was not in the same league as Wagner's despite the two being identical in PCS. I also wouldn't have scored Gracie Gold's SP--with its doubled lutz and glossy, dull expression--over 70 points, or at least not with PCS so close to the top two women.
Out of those skaters and teams who finished in the bottom half of their events, who had the best performance?
Emily: It was a solid event for Jason Brown. Jason is pure joy on the ice, which I feel skating truly needs and should be celebrated more often.
Emily: Satoko Miyahara. She is so steady, so consistent. With a set of dynamic programs she could finally gain the respect she truly deserves.
Ioana: Mikhail Kolyada, if he stays injury free and finds some consistency. I've never been so drawn to a male Russian skater. He has great performance skills, a charismatic presence on the ice but he needs those big tricks to keep himself in the mix of the Quad Gladiators.
Matthew: Shoma Uno. He has all the talent in the world, but what could be more vital is his respect for each competition. The Team Challenge Cup might have been an exhibition to some, but for Uno it was already a new opportunity to debut a new quad, rearrange his programs to attempt more difficulty, and redeem himself after Worlds. Precocious as he is, he still has time to develop and with most of the attention on Yuzuru, he won't have to approach the 2018 Olympics with all the spotlight on him.
Meghan: Ashley Wagner is leaving this season with a World silver medal, personal best scores and the most consistent triple triples of her career. This year, she received support from the international judges that she hasn't always been there. She is officially the highest ranked US lady, and next season is time to run with that momentum.
Tiffany: Jason Brown, without a doubt. His attention to detail and emotion was missed this year, and I think his LP is absolutely stellar. It will be extremely important for him to create momentum at this point in the Olympic cycle. Next season is going to be extremely important.
Who has the most to lose at their next competition?
Emily: My answers feel pretty standard here. Ashley Wagner and the Shibutanis gave us iconic programs this year and they have set a high bar for themselves. Chock/Bates and Weaver/Poje felt the pinch this season with the changing of the dance hierarchy. Adding Virture/Moir into the picture next season makes it all the more interesting.
Ioana: Maybe Elena Radionova. It's not only about the jumps; she's done a very good job this season in spite of her growth spurt but the judges have sent a clear message that they were not impressed with her programs this season, which, unfortunately, also made her weaknesses more obvious.
Matthew: Medvedeva. In memory we haven't seen a skater with such a dominant debut season, winning every event besides a loss at Rostelecom. For all her accolades, Medvedeva has not been infallible, suffering a late fall in her FS at Euros (as well as Skate America), not to mention her SP from Rostelecom. At Worlds her free program was well-nigh perfect, as were her skates here, and the pressure to live up to that quality next season will be enormous. The ladies event is so strong and domestically she has to compete against perhaps the toughest and deepest field in the world. Russia has not been known to sustain ladies champions; I just hope Medvedeva doesn't fall on the same boat. I could see her go through growing pains next season, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing when the main goal is 2018. She has had a more successful debut season than any of her other compatriots, but only time will tell if she is the Russian to stay on top.
Meghan: The Russian woman who dominated the season last year didn't even make it on the World team this year. Evgenia Medvedeva had an incredible season, but what she does next year will determine if she has the staying power her predecessors have lacked.
Tiffany: Gracie has got to get her head together. All of the talent in the world is not going to mean anything if you can't compete mentally. If she has another season like this one, where she under-delivers when it counts, the drop in her international reputation could be disastrous heading into 2017-2018.
The experts always get to make "bold predictions." Make a bold prediction about something that will happen in the remainder of the season.
Emily: I hate to say it, but I predict the Carolina Kostner comeback may be rough. Chan and Asada had a rough go of it this season, I can't see it being any more smooth for Kostner. I do fully expect her to still be as captivating and elegant on the ice as ever.
Ioana: Honestly, predicting the weather in Helsinki during the World Championships would be more accurate than predicting figure skating. In the past couple of seasons since Sochi we've had enough drama worth a thousand episodes of The Young and the Restless. Should I say The Quads and the Restless? The Russians and the Restless? Hmm.
Matthew: Javier will pull a Kurt Browning/Patrick Chan and three-peat. One of Sotnikova and Lipnitskaya will make it back onto Russia's World team. Volosozhar/Trankov will retire.
Meghan: Sui/Han will be World Champions, Adam Rippon will successfully ratify a quad, Virtue/Moir will win the Grand Prix Final their first year back and Ashley Wagner will regain her National title again.
Tiffany: I think I've been totally wrong on all my "bold predictions" this judging season. :) Adam will land at least 2 fully-rotated quad lutzes. Gracie will add a second triple-triple combination to her repertoire. An American lady will be on the podium for the 2nd year in a row. Virtue/Moir will make the GP Final, but will not be on the podium at Worlds, and they will lose to the Shibutanis in a competition, signaling a changing of the guard.
This week's optional bonus question may look familiar, but the weird scoring at Team Challenge Cup requires our attention. The winning continent of this event was determined by adding up the free skate scores of al the skaters. What scoring mechanism would have been more fun? If we had followed your made-up rules, which continent would have won?
Emily: I enjoyed the candid team moments in the Kiss and Cry at this event, so let's throw some random points out for that.
- Christopher Dean looking so handsome, endless debonair points.
- Ksenia Stolbova smiling and dancing, one million ice queen points.
- Eric Radford's Blue Steel looks, all the points in the world.
- Chris Knierim looking a little bored, negative points.
- Boyang Jin capitalized on the best silly prop usage points.
- Team Europe raked in best dancing points.
- Ashley and Adam easily brought in mountains of BFF moment points
- Nam Nguyen awkward promposal points!
Ioana: No matter the rules I would come up with, Asia would never win. I thought more credit should have been given to the pairs and ice dance teams, I didn't quite understand the purpose of a complete separate competition for the singles. But hey, at least Asia could win something.
Matthew: The organizers needed to find a way to incorporate the SPs into the overall result. The SPs determined the groups for the LPs and that was it: no carryover whatsoever. I did like the head-to-head match ups in the short and I wish that would have continued in the long: it would have been a subtle throwback to 6.0 days if the skaters in each group were ranked instead of having their scores added to the team total. That would have made the event more competitive and fun even if North America would have walked away with the trophy either way.
I would also institute a best dressed award (for both individual skaters and teams) with a Fashion Police booth next to the judging panel.
Meghan: Well, we started this crazy thing with a fan vote, why not end it that way? In a twist, an audience vote is added to the final scores, from the arena and at home, to determine the overall winner.
Tiffany: Number of individual elements completed with positive grades of execution. I'm way too lazy to check the protocols on this, so let's just give it to Team Asia (since everybody knows they were completely out of this competition at the point where dance/pairs were included).
Anything else to add about this event?
Emily: Best dressed- Christopher Dean and his shiny suits! Worst dressed- Rika Hongo and Gabby Daleman's feet. I just do not get the tiger striped moon boots! I find them so distracting, almost as much as Medvedeva's tights.
Ioana: I would like to thank the United States of America for keeping me sleep deprived after the roller coaster in Boston just weeks ago. Watching skating competitions is a wild ride but watching skating competitions at 5 AM is like yeaaahh free drinks for all!
One more thing: I realized I came up with the famous #TinyQueen nickname everyone is using right now as I was browsing through my tumblr archive and found a year old old post where I said I was bowing to this "tiny skating queen" for blessing us with her skating.
Matthew: Let's not fool ourselves: the only reason we want this event back is for the opening ceremony. Not only because this skating-inspired hodgepodge of Oscar red carpet with NFL draft was SO bad it was good, but the free stream actually worked some of the time. Unlike during the competition.
Meghan: The whole thing was a little crazy, but I have to say it was great to watch all those programs one last time and our underpaid skaters got to earn some nice prize money at the same time. Win-win.
Tiffany: I'm not certain how this competition adds to the overall scope of the figure skating season, but I'm glad the skaters made a little money. Do we know if #3continents will be returning next year? Editor's note: does anyone know?
What did you think about the inaugural Team Challenge Cup? How did our judges do? Leave us a comment to let us know, then sign up to judge a future event!