Deb can be found on Twitter.
Judit can be found ACTUALLY JUDGING and refereeing for the ISU through 2003, including at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano.
Matthew can be found dancing with the Cincinnati ballet. He's on Twitter.
Tim is busy being half of Norway's first-ever senior ice dance team with Thea Rabe. You can find him on Twitter.
Ximena can be found translating commentary into Spanish on YouTube. She's also on Tumblr.
LET'S GET JUDGING. When you're finished reading, leave a comment to let us know what you thought about the GPF, 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!
Deb: All of the senior events, except sychro, because... it's synchro.
Judit: Almost everything, not the synchronized skating.
Tim: All of it!
Ximena: All of it except for synchro.
Who had the best performance of the event?
Deb: Putting aside the obvious (330! Point-four-three!), I have to give the other best performance of the event to Javier Fernández. While I was tempted to pick Ashley's free skate, I know for sure that she can land all of those jumps, while I was beginning to worry that Javi may never land his third quad. He not only landed all three quads, but also became the second man to score over 200 in the free skate, and he got to do it all at home. ¡Vamos, Javi!
Honorable mention: Evgenia Medvedeva's SP. Russia has had an endless supply of ladies prodigies, but Lipnitskaia, Radionova, Sotnikova, and Tuktamysheva (other than her jumps) have always left me cold. However, Medvedeva is a breath of fresh air and especially with her short. The program is quintessentially Russian, sophisticated and elegant but still age-appropriate. Her LP I’m not such a fan of, but there is still no denying that Medvedeva is a major star fully deserving of gold here.
Deb: Stolbova and Klimov have improved a lot lately, and they are finally looking like they may actually be able to present a challenge to Duhamel and Radford, as long as Ksenia can keep from murdering Fedor between now and Worlds. Fingers crossed for minimal glaring at Euros.
Matthew: Shoma Uno. I'm not one to watch a lot of junior competitions, so I wasn't very familiar with him until this season. I thought at SA and TEB he was a great skater considering his age, but after the long program it's clear he is a great skater period. What he lacks in stature he more than makes up for in projection, and he has knees like Nobunari Oda.
Deb: Unlike most competitions, this one did not leave me feeling that anyone in particular had been completely #robbed. Small miracles can happen!
Judit: Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau's SP and the Shibutanis' FP.
Deb: At the risk of expressing uninformed opinions about ice dance, I will say that I think the score that Chock and Bates received for their free dance seemed to be higher than one would expect after such a glaring error. Judge #4 saw fit to give them a +2 for twizzles which probably would have meant bronze or nothing for any other couple not named Weaver and Poje. (Side note: I will yield to whatever Tim says, since he actually knows what ice dance is.)
Matthew: Judging by how much I laughed after certain scores (and there were several): Gracie Gold's long. Probably not the most overscored in context because it didn't affect the medals and the judges were handing out Christmas gifts right and left. However, Gold going 128 for a long with three clean triples and absolutely no commitment to performing the program was really eye-popping. It's a shame because Firebird is not a bad program--it's certainly a marked improvement from Phantom and even Sleeping Beauty--but Gold isn’t inherently great at any of the five programs components. However, three of the five components (SS, CR, and IN) were marked above 8.50 and overall her PCS scored higher than Satoko’s.
Honorable mention: Chock/Bates' FD. I really enjoy this team, and I love Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto no.2 (however overused), but somehow not together.
Out of those skaters and teams who finished in the bottom half of their events, who had the best performance?
Deb: Maia and Alex [Shibutani], who somehow still managed to make me cry over their free dance, while masking the fact that Alex was barely able to function.
Honorable mention: Patrick Chan’s long. His short was an embarrassment and it is shocking that he attributed his repeated triple toe to “not knowing the rules.” However, his long was a beauty: no detail overlooked, supremely musical, just gorgeous skating. This Chopin program is great because it’s like he represents figure skating in its purest form, without affectations or excess of any kind. Those edges are simply to die for
Ximena: Patrick Chan in the FS, such a redemption from his terrible SP. Even if he only has one quad, he's got gorgeous SS to make up for it AND he landed his 3A (yay!). Shoma held him off the podium with his SP, but this FS puts Patrick right on track with Denis and Javier.
Who has the most to gain at their next competition?
Deb: The Shibutanis, who finished 0.1 point behind Chock and Bates in the free dance (and within 3 points overall) have shown that if they are skating at full health, they are a threat to win the national title. This could finally be their season, and if I say that enough times, perhaps I can speak it into existence.
Judit: Ashley Wagner.
Matthew: Mao Asada. She has already achieved everything in the sport besides that elusive Olympic gold, which won’t even be contested for two more years. A fourth World title will be difficult against the Russians and Satoko, but she’s is in a place now where she can only go up. She was ill here and at NHK which likely contributed to her rough skates at both events, but I’m hoping that this event is a wake-up call to her team that her jump layout needs revamping. The lutz has abandoned her this season and that triple flip-triple loop will only get ratified once in a blue moon. She needs her SP changed back to her Olympic layout of triple axel, triple flip-double loop, and triple loop. It will be difficult to miraculously win Nationals and beat Satoko who never makes a mistake, but Nationals is usually a great event for Mao. She has six titles to show for it, and some of those have come after poor Grand Prix.
Tim: Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani. If the Shibs continue their momentum, they could see another World Medal by the end of this season. They have the perfect material and the technical goods to return to the podium. The Shibs are at their very best this year, and I think with two solid performances at the US Championships and 4 Continents, they could be poised to rise in the standings to where, I feel this season more than ever, they undoubtably belong.
Ximena: Possibly Evgenia Medvedeva. Her win at the GPF gives her a head start over the other Russian ladies in the bloodbath that will be Nationals. It still won't be easy with the World and the Olympic champion there, but if she keeps being as consistent as she has this season, she could become National Champ and a very serious threat for the World Title.
Who has the most to lose at their next competition?
Deb: Patrick Chan, who needs to remember how to skate a short program before he allows himself to be beaten by a 17-year-old at nationals. His spot at Worlds is safe, but he still has his pride to lose.
Judit: Yuzuru Hanyu.
Matthew: Hanyu. He has been so freakishly perfect two events in a row: how does he improve from here? What’s at least good news is that Nationals and 4CCs are the perfect events to come down before he builds back up for Worlds, but it will be an incredible amount of pressure to summon these performances again during the biggest event of the season. On a different note, Gracie Gold lost a lot of momentum here. She was cruising through the Grand Prix and was beginning to like the It Girl for Nationals particularly after Ashley’s meltdown at NHK. Even a bad short here wouldn’t have been the end of the world if she had a great long, but not delivering in either program was a big missed opportunity to establish herself as an international contender. She doesn’t want to continue being that skater who is perpetually 4th or 5th in the world.
Tim: Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje. Though Madison Chock & Evan Bates finished 2nd here at the Final, their defeat of Anna Capellini & Luca Lanotte might betray a late-season rise similar to what we saw last year at this time; a rise that led them to a Silver Medal at the World Championships above Weaver & Poje. Much of the results for the World Championships will depend on Papadakis & Cizeron, but with both Americans closing the gap (it should be noted the Chock & Bates still defeated the Italians with a mistake on the Twizzles in the Free Dance), Weaver & Poje will need to be at their very best at 4 Continents.
Ximena: Sadly, I think it's Mao Asada if she doesn't get her jumps together. Satoko has proven to be in much better condition, and even Rika Hongo has shown her consistency (they have both beaten her in the FS). Her PCS are not holding up either; Ashley, Elena and Evgenia had higher PCS than her in the FS. Nationals is not looking easy for her, and coming as anything but the National Champion can hurt your chances of medalling/winning at Worlds, even if you're Mao. But I'll still believe she can comeback to her old self. Her 3A is looking better than ever.
The experts always get to make "bold predictions." Make a bold prediction about something that will happen in the remainder of the season.
Deb: Ashley Wagner will stand on the podium in Boston (because if you're going to make a bold prediction, it might as well be a happy one).
Judit: I hope that Fernandez will be again World Champion in Boston. I like his style better than Hanyu; he is a masculine skater. In pairs skating, there will be a big fight between Stolbova-Savchenko-Sui and maybe Volosozhar.
Matthew: The Russian ladies (Medvedeva, Radionova, Tuktamysheva) sweep the podium at Worlds. Duhamel/Radford leave without a medal.
Tim: Gracie Gold will skate lights-out in Boston at Worlds, securing her first World Medal.
Ximena: Either Boyang or Shoma will knock Patrick or Denis off the Worlds Podium.
It won't be Volozoshar and Trankov, but Stolbova and Klimov, who will take the world title away from Duhamel and Radford.
1) Watch this Team Paradise GPF-winning synchro skate and provide commentary on the performance.
While a few judges gave genuine responses, several were less-than-pleased with this question.
Deb: You are not tricking me into watching any more synchro than I am already forced to watch at every local ice show (#BostonProblems).
Judit: I am not a professional in synchro.
Matthew: Not one Carmen, but 16! I know nothing about synchro, but watching this I was surprised this was the winner. There were many sloppy lines and unison problems, particularly during the two skaters with the Bielmann spins as well as the exits to those overhead lifts. One of the couples completely missed their cartwheel at 4:34. The problem with synchro is with so many skaters on the ice, it is difficult for any one skater to garner a lot of ice coverage. I did like some of the circular patterns toward the end and, as expected, the Russians were giving a lot of face.
I'm not a big advocate for Synchro in the Olympics except that I might prefer it to the Team Event in figure skating: I thought the event was so pointless in 2014 when the medals were essentially under wraps after the short. It's fun to have a team event like at WTT, but it doesn't belong in the Olympics, especially when we don't have a team event at Worlds. I'm not convinced about Synchro, but at least it is a team sport if figure skating must have one at the Games.
Ximena: 1) I didn't know synchro skaters could be such good spinners, and I liked the paired movements. They seemed to move faster than any other synchro team I had seen (even if there hasn't been many). 2) Preferably not, but If I have to choose, possibly skeleton. It's incredibly exciting, but I also think it's ridiculously dangerous for the athletes.
Judit: I was last year in Barcelona it is a fantastic,very well organized evening,and i have heard that this year it was better than last year.
Credit to the Barcelona audience for being so warm and supportive to all the skaters. A great event!