You might remember that US Nationals is our BIGGEST EVENT EVER™: we have TEN (10!) judges joining us, so answers have been edited quite a bit for clarity, readability, and length. Yes, these are the shorter answers - the judges had a lot to say. Even with some editing, this is our longest rejudging ever.
I've also reorganized the responses a bit to make this a bit more readable and perhaps a bit shorter. Feedback is welcome! Let us know what you thought.
Without further ado, in alphabetical order, here are our judges:
Amanda is on Twitter!
Erin can be found blogging at On Stage and Screen or on Twitter.
Lauren is on Twitter..."Otherwise I can be found in Starbucks and Luluemon ;)"
Matthew can be found dancing with the Cincinnati ballet. He's on Twitter.
Meghan blogs for USFSA Fan Zone and at Figuratively Speaking. She's also on Twitter.
Patrick commentates past skates on YouTube or current ones on Twitter.
Phillip can be found on Twitter.
Rafael can be found in the Kiss & Cry at Nationals (or on Twitter).
Roxanne is on Tumblr or 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 US 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 US Nationals
Amanda: All of it!
Erin: Very close to all of it!
Lauren: I cannot tell cannot tell a lie, I could not sit through the lower ranking teams' Ravensburgers (watched those ranked 1-6) and I missed some of the early men as well.
Matthew: Basically everything except the pairs dance early groups.
Meghan: All of the mens, ladies and pairs, last two groups dance.
Patrick: Every. single. program.
Phillip: All of it.
Rafael: At the time of writing, all of the senior events minus group 2 of the men's free skate
Roxanne: 90% of it (due to IN/NBC's blocks).
Tiffany: Every single heart-pounding moment
Who had the best performance of the event?
Matthew: The Shibutanis. This has been a long time coming: they've undergone the Sasha Cohen trajectory at Nationals, winning silver or bronze for five years before finally stepping atop the podium. And they've never skated better. The team has found this cosmic connection in their free dance which draws everyone in: the audience goes through the journey of the program with them. Even in a tremendous final group of dance teams, their Coldplay was a force.
Meghan: All 3 of the new winners had breakout performances, but I think the Shibs long program meant the most to them, to the audience, and to the sport. *happy tears*
Rafael: This is a tough one because there were so many great moments at this Nationals, but I have to go with Maia and Alex Shibutani's free dance. They skated it with such passion and such precision, that it is hard not to choose this as the standout moment of the competition. I cannot wait to hold up my #shibsibs sign in Boston again. Honorable mention: Adam Rippon's free skate. He brought the house down and showed everyone that good spins, good steps and quality jumps still matter.
Tiffany: This is such a hard question. There were so many fabulous performances, but I'm going to give it to Maia and Alex Shibutani's FD told ColdPlay's "Fix You." I am so excited that I'm going to be able to see this performance live in Boston, because I could feel the crowd's emotion through the television. The last minute is mesmerizing and once the standing ovation started, I just knew they had it. It was magic.
Lauren: Gracie was breathtaking in the free skate. The men's event was magical. And we are should probably rename our country the United States of Ice Dance. But I have to give this to my favorites, Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea. Skating two clean programs in pairs is the tallest of orders. And it certainly would have been easy to them to skate for silver as the pre-event party line was they had no shot at the title, let alone a fifteen point rout. But they skated to win and win big they did. And not only did execute elements, they performed both programs with such conviction and such connection to one another. It was a pure U.S. Nationals "These Are The Moments" Moment that fans (this fan in particular) live for.
Patrick: There were SO many wonderful performances from so many skaters at nationals this year, but my favorite performances go to Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea. Their short program is beautiful and their free skate was equally impressive.
Who improved the most from the last time you watched them skate?
Matthew: Hannah Miller. I remember her in the K&C at Cup of China saying that her skating wasn't going anywhere, but these Nationals may finally have been the breakthrough she needs. The long program was gorgeous. That triple toe-half loop-triple salchow was a step in the right direction and overall the coaching change to Rafael seems to be working. For a small girl, she skates so big, with great ice coverage and deep edges. I would have had her PCS in the long closer to the top four than they were.
Phillip: Alexander Johnson. His return to his "Eleanor Rigby" program was a wonderful move, and one of the highlights of the men's program. From edgework to intricate transitions, to the total and complete "feel" for the music, this was the most complete and artistic program in the entire men's field.
Meghan: The free programs from Chock and Bates and Kayne/OShea were light years more polished and confident than what I saw at Skate America. I was happy to see Scimeca and Knieirm improve their 4Tw from their last two events.
Tiffany: Kayne and O'Shea! Oh my goodness. I, along with 98% of skating fans, had them solidly in the silver-medal position. They came and laid down two programs that could not have been much better. I am thrilled for them.
Which performance was the most underscored?
Patrick: Here am I to sing my annual tune of Mirai Nagasu being underscored at nationals. The edge call on the flip in her short was...interesting, especially when one considers the fact that no other lady got any sort of edge call (not even a warning!) in the short program. I don't disagree with her overall placement, but it seemed like she got a tad low-balled by the judges.
Rafael: Mirai Nagasu's free skate components marks were a little lower than I would have expected. Ultimately, her placement was spot on but I would have liked to see her a few points closer to Ashley.
Roxanne: Mirai Nagasu's short program. She should have received a couple more points to put her above 60 (edge call? what edge call?). She also skated with a ripped boot and was still able to have one of her best skates in a long time. If that's not determination, then I don't know what is.
Phillip: Although not the most artistic or complete, Max Aaron deserved better from the judges for his flawless short program.
In videos you've already seen...
Amanda: Hubbell and Donahue have one of the best short dances in the world this season. Each time they've skated this program, it becomes more powerful and their elements get stronger and more confident. I think H/D's scores should have been closer to the two teams above them; their scores did not reflect the performance that they gave, and you could tell they thought so too. They're a strong team in a very deep field, and I expect them to improve on last year's placement at Worlds.
Tiffany: For the most part, I thought the judges were surprisingly on point. I will say that Hubbell/Donahue's SD deserved a couple more points. While I think the Shibs ran away with it in the FD and rightfully won, I honestly would have had H/D first, Shibs second and Chock/Bates third after the SD.
Which performance was the most overscored?
Matthew: I hate to rain on their parade, but both the singles National champions. More so Gracie Gold. I mentioned the issue with the triple flip earlier, but overall her SP I was shocked to see place in second given the aborted combo. The rest of her elements were fine, but the spark was taken out of the performance after the combo and it never fully came back. I had issues with her LP too, namely the 2A-3T-2T combo being credited without a review when the 3T was clearly cheated. Adam's PCS were absolutely fine: no argument there. But in his LP his quad lutz was clearly << and 3Lz-3T under rotated on the first triple.
Meghan: Well, this is Nationals, so gross overscoring is like the baseline. While I agree with the free skate placements in the pairs, I do not agree with the huge point spread between 1-2, particularly in PCS in skating skills and transitions. When Ashley Wagner gets 9.11 for Interpretation in the free skate, I do not know how Polina gets an 8.57 and Gracie a 9.00 in the same category.
Patrick: The judges were apparently very excited about Polina Edmunds' short program and realized their mistake in the free. I would have had her third overall here, but I've also never understood why the US judges seem to enjoy her skating, given how disconnected she is from her music. And those curls in the free? Someone stop her.
Tiffany: Gracie's SP after getting zero points for her lutz. What was that? And LOL at Polina's LP PCS - #judgesgotjokes
Amanda: There is always overscoring at Nationals; it's just the nature of the beast.
I was more concerned by the lack of calls on under rotations and incorrect jump edge takeoffs. Technical callers may think they are doing skaters a favor by giving them the "benefit of the doubt", but international panels will certainly not be so forgiving, and skaters who need to fix those problem areas need that feedback in order to improve.
You've already seen...
Phillip: Debatable free skate technical elements aside, I don't feel that Adam Rippon's flawed and flatly performed short program deserved to be less than 4 points off the lead. Personally, I have always like Adam Rippon and his skating, but on this night, I felt the judges truly gifted him.
Roxanne: Max Aaron's short program. It was nice, but not nice enough to go ahead of Ross Miner's short which had much more to offer in terms of being an interesting program. Honorary mention goes to Polina's short program.
And, my favorite answers:
Lauren: Nothing really stands out to me as super overscored. It's always a little jarring when Meryl and Charlie numbers start getting thrown around for non Meryl and Charlie teams but that's been the trend in dance since Virtue/Moir and Davis/White stepped away so the US judges here really had no choice but to put up numbers competitive with what other top teams are getting at their Nationals.
Rafael: I actually don't think the scores were heavily inflated at this nationals. Overall, the judges made fair decisions with their GOEs and PCS scores.
Out of those skaters and teams who finished in the bottom half of their events, who had the best performance?
Erin: The first two groups of men in the freeskate really impressed me. There was some really lovely skating and jumping, and only 3 falls total during the first 9 skaters. It was very refreshing to see these under-the-radar men go out there, put out performances they could be proud of, and get so many personal best scores.
Meghan: There's a lot of potential in the bottom half of the men's free skate- it contained some fantastic performances. I loved Robert Przepioski's "Proud of Your Boy" music and the hometown kid Daniel Kulenkamp had a great moment as well.
Roxanne: The early groups of men had some really nice, solid skates. There's a lot to list, so I'm going to say the men in these groups had their best performances.
Tiffany: Daniel Kulenkamp and Robert Przepioski lit up the bottom half of the men's LP. They were really wonderful, infectious and lovely. Kept reminding me that there are wonderful skaters outside of top 8.
Amanda: They finished closer to the middle than the bottom in the dance event, but Karina Manta and Joseph Johnson were very impressive in their Nationals debut. Unfortunately, they were one of the teams skipped over by NBC/IN during the live coverage, but they are definitely worth a watch. They were incredibly entertaining, and had some very unique lifts and choreography in their Ragtime program. I really enjoy this team, and they will only get better with time and experience.
Lauren: I am not sure if they're technically bottom half but they were not on NBC... Daniel Thomas and Danielle Eaton had a really nice Nationals debut, particularly in the short dance. He is a strong partner and a great talent and I'm happy to see him at Nationals again. Also, Carly Gold may not have had strong performances but her joy to be skating at Nationals was palpable. How can you not smile at that?
Phillip: Scott Dyer had a beautiful free skate with wonderful choreography by Lori Nichol. Some of this jumps were not fully rotated, but even some technical faults did not mar the overall effect.
Rafael: Okay, I know they weren't *technically* in the bottom half of the event, but I was very impressed by Erika Smith and AJ Reiss' debut. For a new team they have great chemistry and they'll be ones to look out for in the future.
What surprised you most about this event?
Amanda: I really wanted the Shibutanis to win the dance event. I thought there was no way it would actually happen. The power and emotion of their free dance has completely won over audiences all season, and seeing the judges reward them with the National title was an amazing moment. I tend to be pretty cynical about judging, especially in ice dance, but this win by Maia and Alex gave me hope that sometimes, judges will do the right thing.
Erin: A I think the biggest surprise to me still is that the judges actually gave the dance title to the Shibutanis. It is very rare to see such a shake-up in the dance standings (I don't think a defending champion has been unseated since the late 90s, they always just retire) and especially after the Grand Prix Final I had kind of lost hope that anything would change. I also (perhaps foolishly) underestimated the ability of Adam Rippon, Gracie Gold, and Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea to rise to the occasion the way they all did.
Lauren: More like, what didn't surprise me?!?! I was surprised the pecking order was allowed to be altered in dance both for gold and pewter. I was surprised Scimeca and Knierim were not held up a bit more. Had they skated more respectably in the GPF, they might have been. Similarly, I was surprised Gracie and Ashley were down in the low 60s after the short. I was surprised they BOTH had huge errors in the short. I was surprised Gracie rallied to do a perfect free skate last after Polina put up a monster score. I was surprised the judges remained lukewarm on Nathan's PCS after he did FOUR quads in one program, which is I think more than our three men did at Worlds last season. I was surprised at how freely and unapologetically Johnny and Tara voiced their disagreement with the men's result.
Matthew: No event had an "easy" champion. All four events were well-fought with the winner decided in the last or penultimate skate. I was shocked how strong and hotly contested the men's event was, especially after the withdrawals of Brown and Farris. The final group of ladies free was also a thrill, which I didn't expect after the splatfest of the SP.
Meghan: The judges were willing to break the mold in terms of placements and the skaters who were expected to take them. Though controversial to some, I'm screaming from the rooftops that the judges were willing to value the artistic performance side of figure skating. That is what creates and retains fans.
Patrick: Honestly, the biggest surprise was how happy I was at the end of the event. We ended up with three national champions (Adam Rippon, Maia and Alex Shibutani, and Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea) who I adore. Normally nationals doesn't turn out this well for my favorites. And shout-out to Mirai Nagasu for her pewter medal! Moving in the right direction!
Phillip: After the disastrous ladies short programs, I was afraid to watch the longs. Happily most of the ladies pulled it together and there were a lot of encouraging performances. I think many of us have been waiting to see Gracie Gold relax and skate a program like she did in St. Paul, and to see Polina skate the best she has all season, and for Ashley to land and fully rotate two difficult combinations, all heartening heading into Boston.
Rafael: Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea's short program was a stunner for me. It's amazing that it is relatively new program, because they were just amazing. Hopefully they can improve even more before Boston.
Roxanne: To be honest, I was surprised by all the upset wins! Going into watching Nats this year, I was pre-resigned to see Max, Gracie, Chock/Bates, and Scimeca/Knierim win titles again. I am still thrilled that the judges were relatively sensible this year and gave the gold to the Shibs, Kayne/O'Shea and Adam. I am also happy to see Grant Hochstein on the podium - he had lovely programs and deserved the recognition for that.
Tiffany: Nobody was able to defend their national title from last year. It's amazing that there will be 6 new faces on the homepage of USFSA.org. I actually thought Chock/Bates and Scimeca/Knierim were locks and I couldn't be happier. Also, bonus surprise of all the hatin'-ass haters that wrote articles that had the nerve to lament the state of US figure skating. Until Queen Meryl came down from her throne and blasted them all, reminding them that we do have ice dancers and we are the reigning Olympic gold medalists in that discipline. #SlayMerylSlay <fire emoji>
Preparing for 4CCs and Worlds
Editor's note: judges' responses were due (and were kindly submitted - thank you) prior to Nathan Chen's WD from Worlds and Junior Worlds due to hip injury and surgery. Grant Hochstein will be replacing Nathan Chen in Boston.
Amanda: I was impressed that the USFSA actually did the correct thing and put Nathan Chen on the team for senior Worlds. He more than earned the spot, and there was no logical argument for keeping him off, so well done USFSA. I'm thrilled that Grant Hochstein gets to go to 4CC's; he's had a great season and I'm so glad we get to see him compete again. I'm equally thrilled for Mirai Nagasu's 4CC assignment; she's skating so well and deserved to go to another competition.
Erin: I think the choices are spot on. I feel like it's worth mentioning that I don't find Jason Brown to be completely undeserving of a spot on the World team- he has been the US's top man internationally for 2 seasons. In a world where there was a much more mediocre performance for the bronze medal that wouldn't place well internationally I would have opted to send Jason. But considering the stellar gold medal-worthy performances given by all three of our top men, I think sending all of them is absolutely the right call. Here's to hoping Nathan Chen is healthy to go make a big splash at Worlds.
Lauren: I was very pleasantly surprised USFS did the right thing and named Nathan to the team. It is a more solid bet than an on-the-mend, quad-not-yet-soup Jason and an investment that could pay huge dividends in the coming years. Everything else was fairly straightforward and as expected.
Matthew: Although irrelevant now, Nagasu should have received the nod over Wagner for 4CC from the beginning, if Hochstein was granted a berth in men's. Otherwise I agree with the USFSA's selections.
Meghan: I actually agree with all of the choices. I am excited that Nagasu, Hochstein and Castelli/Tran will get more international exposure at 4CCs. They made the right call to let the men who skated their hearts out in St. Paul go to Worlds. I'm praying Nathan is healthy enough for Worlds or takes the time to do so.
Patrick: I would have left one of the top three ladies off in favor of Mirai Nagasu (surprise!), but Ashley withdrew and took care of that for me. It was pretty interesting to see the federation flat out deny Jason Brown's petition, especially considering they seem obsessed with him. It was definitely the right decision, though.
Phillip: I'm satisfied with the choices. Although I love Jason Brown, after missing nationals with a back injury, and his coach stating he would not be ready in time for Four Continents, I don't see any reason why he should rush his recovery to be placed on the Worlds team.
Rafael: USFS actually made the correct choice in my opinion, especially with the men. As much as I love Jason Brown, I think it's best for him to focus on healing completely and to start training for next season. Maybe he can finally get that quad consistent.
Roxanne: I am fairly content with the selections for Worlds and 4CC; I am so thrilled that Ashley withdrew from her spot at 4CC and thus allowed Mirai to compete there.
Tiffany: I think World picks were on point. I love Jason, but after missing his 2nd grand prix event (and his programs not having that international mileage to get that PCS boost) I think it was a good move to put Nathan on the World Team. Though, now that Nathan is injured, it looks like he might not be going. Worlds for Grant?! (Editor's note: Worlds for Grant!)
Which skater/couple is going to have the most success at Worlds/4CCs?
Amanda: The Shibutanis and Chock/Bates will both be on the podium at 4CC's; the color of their medals could go any way. It will be interesting to see how an international panel places the Shibs and Chock/Bates after the results at Nationals. Gold or Wagner (or both) can medal at Worlds if they skate two clean programs. Worlds in Boston will probably be the best chance either one of them have ever had, so I really hope they can rise to the occasion.
Erin: I hope the home country advantage combined with good momentum this season propels Ashley Wagner or Gracie Gold to end the women's World medal drought. I have high hopes that delivering under pressure the way she did in St. Paul will help Gracie conquer some of her mental demons. I also think that both the Shibutanis and Chock/Bates should easily finish in the top 5 at Worlds with one on the podium.
Lauren: I think out of the U.S. team that has been named to Worlds, only Gracie has a true shot at leaving Boston as the World Champion. But that is IF she skates to her absolute potential, which is, perhaps, the biggest, diciest IF in the history of skating - she could just as easily end up sixth. If Ashley can pull off a Skate Canada short, she will be in great position for a medal. The Shibs and Chock and Bates will skate strongly and contend for the podium but that political landscape is a bit murky now and we'll be able to better call this after 4CC.
Matthew: Before Nationals, I would have said Chock/Bates hands down. It will be interesting to see how the Shibutanis' upset here affects the perception of the two teams by international judges. I do see the U.S. having an ice dance couple who medals in Boston. Gracie Gold could, in theory, win Worlds. She can go toe-to-toe technically with Medvedeva and her PCS will be high at home, but Gracie's big match temperament is a different story. Realistically I see a bronze for her, but easily she can finish off the podium considering Medvedeva, Radionova, and Miyahara are mental giants, and Asada is extremely formidable when she skates well.
Meghan: For 4CCs: I hope this is the beginning of international momentum for the Shibs; it will be *quite* interesting to see how the US dance teams place. I think Scimeca/Knierim will pick up some international traction before Worlds. I'm really excited to see what Grant Hochstein can do there also. The Boston Worlds are shaping up to be the Gracie show, in terms of the U.S. agenda, but I hope they give our dance teams the credit they deserve.
Patrick: Fingers crossed for Ashley Wagner at Worlds! I'm hoping she comes out of that event as the top US lady.
Phillip: If Gracie Gold can skate a clean SP and with the fire (no pun intended) she did in St. Paul, she could medal at Worlds.
Rafael: It's going to be a toss-up between the Shibutanis and Chock and Bates. Both teams have world medals already, but with the "upset" victory by the Shibutanis (which really shouldn't be called an upset IMO), it's very hard to tell which team will come out on top in Boston.
Roxanne: For Worlds, I feel that the Shibs, Tarah/Danny, and Adam will have the most success. I think Mirai will do well at 4CC. I feel everyone listed will be in the top 10, if not the top 7.
Tiffany: I think we'll get a U.S. lady on the Worlds podium. It will be whichever skates the best, but I think Ashley and Gracie are both capable.
Which skater/couple is going to have the least success at Worlds/4CCs?
Amanda: Scimeca/Knierim have had a rough couple of events, and losing a National title that they thought was in the bag has to have messed with their confidence. If they continue to struggle, I can see them falling behind Kayne/O'Shea internationally and not placing well at 4CC's. Max Aaron does not receive the PCS internationally that he needs in order to compete with the top men. Even when he lands the quads and other jumps, it's probably not going to be enough. If he has mistakes on the jumps, he tends to get dropped by the judges and given no help with PCS. If he is clean and everyone else splats, he might do okay, but the odds of that happening are not particularly high.
Erin: Polina does not have the best track record with international judges. I feel like another top 10 finish at Worlds is definitely within reach, but I think improving upon her 8th place from the past two years will be very difficult. I am also worried about Alexa and Chris. Making the Grand Prix Final was a big step for them in terms of being taken seriously internationally, but the competition will be even more intense at Worlds. If they don't start landing their side by side jumps consistently I'm afraid their progress will really stagnate.
Lauren: This is a sad question. (Editor's note: sorry!) I think Polina will continue to be viewed as US #3 at least through this season and will be subject to tougher technical calls than she got here. That does not mean she will place poorly, just perhaps not where she believes she should be.
Matthew: Edmunds placed the lowest of the three Americans at the last two Worlds as well as the Olympics, and I would expect that to continue. I don't see Rippon having such strong skates at Worlds like he had in St. Paul, and the technical specialist at Worlds won't be as lenient with crediting his jumps, particularly a quad lutz that is always dicey.
Meghan: Polina will find it hard to duplicate her results internationally and I question if Tarah and Danny will be rewarded internationally; a strong 4CCs is important for them. Gracie bombed 4CCs last year and only two clean skates at the same event will convince me she finally has the confidence for Worlds.
Patrick: Polina Edmunds. The international judges are gonna ding her jumps, and I'm just going to sit back and shake my head at the nationals technical panel.
Phillip: While they absolutely deserved their national title, I don't think Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea have the international rep yet to break through at Worlds yet. I would love to be wrong, as I am extremely high on this team.
Rafael: Polina Edmunds hasn't had much success on the international circuit this season, so I have doubts that she will be able to keep up with the rest of the ladies at Worlds.
Roxanne: As much as I love them, I don't think the US ladies will fare well at Worlds. The field is much too deep and I think there will be another Russian sweep in that discipline. Out of the US ladies, I think Ashley will do the best overall since she has the most experience attending this event and therefore having the most knowledge with how to handle the pressure it brings.
Tiffany: Unfortunately, I think Hubbell and Donahue are going to be the lowest placing of all of the US Worlds entrants (I'm predicting 8th place).
Will the country gain/lose a spot in any disciplines at the World Championships?
Amanda: I think the U.S men will only hang onto 3 spots if a lot of other skaters falter, which is how we got 3 spots last year. Ladies and dance will keep 3 spots. There is an outside shot for the pairs to gain a third spot depending on which pairs actually make it to Worlds; with so many injuries and withdrawals clean skates by Scimeca/Knierim and Kayne/O'Shea may do better than expected.
Erin: I think as usual, keeping our third spot for men will be touch and go. I know there has been talk of gaining a third spot for pairs, but considering how deep the international pairs field is this season I don't see that happening quite yet.
Lauren: I predict we will keep our spots 3 spots in ladies and dance and 2 spots in pairs. Before the men's free skate, I believed we were definitely losing a spot (not because of a lack of talented skaters, simply because the field is so very deep). I am more optimistic after seeing the electric performances of the three men going to Worlds that we could hold on to three but it is still dicey at best.
Matthew: Particularly if Nathan Chen does not compete, I see us dropping back to two spots for men. Everything else the same.
Meghan: We'll keep our three dance and ladies spots for sure. Mens and pairs....they're another story and they make me nervous. Start praying to the skating gods for some home ice magic, people.
Patrick: We'll keep three spots for ladies and dance. We'll keep two spots for pairs. We'll lose our third spot for men.
Phillip: It will be an uphill battle for the U.S. men to keep three spots, but if Adam, Max, and (hopefully a recovered) Nathan perform up to their potential hope lives on.
Rafael: The US skaters will have their work cut out for them in every discipline except dance. In the ladies, if Gracie and Ashley don't put out their best skates, there's a slight chance we may lose our 3rd spot (especially since Polina doesn't score very well among international judges). The most exciting thing for the US is pairs (surprising, I know). If Tarah and Danny improve upon their performance at Nationals, and if Alexa and Chris skate as well as they are capable, we could potentially gain back a 3rd spot for next year. Of course, some help from other top teams wouldn't hurt the chances, but those two teams are capable of being in the top 10, and maybe high enough to eke out 13 or less in the standings.
Roxanne: I think US ladies will be the most likely to lose a spot, followed by the men [but this will be far less likely than the women].
Tiffany: The US will gain 3rd pairs spot.
And, just for fun...
Erin: Mirai Nagasu, Karen Chen, Angela Wang, and Heidi Munger all had gorgeous costumes for both programs.
Lauren: Marissa Castelli. As always. And if she can lend her magic dress back to Ashley, I will name her best costume at Worlds even when she isn't skating there.
Matthew: Chock/Bates's Rachmaninoff I thought was lovely. Anything maroon or burgundy and I'm on board. Also Ashley Wagner's SP.
Meghan: Marissa Castelli- short, long, today, tomorrow, forever. (fire emoji).
Patrick: #TeamPussyWagon (Alexandria Shaughnessy and Jimmy Morgan) had the best pairs short program costumes. Angela Wang continues to be one of the best dressed ladies. Shout out to Alex Johnson for rocking the man cleavage in the short program and somehow not having a nip slip. That free skate shirt was inexcusable, though. Why, Alex? WHY?
Phillip: Mirai Nagasu's free skate flapper was the bee's knees.
Rafael: Adam Rippon's free skate costume is to DIE FOR. I want to borrow it (and then never return it). I think we're roughly the same size. Honorable Mention: Tim Dolensky's deep-vees. The men really brought it this year.
Roxanne: Mirai Nagasu, Ashley Wagner, Emmanuel Savary.
Tiffany: Heidi Munger's costumes in both programs were lovely. Classically beautiful and just the right amount of sparkle.
Who had the worst costume at this event?
Roxanne: Max Aaron. Is he allergic to sparkles and/or color?
Amanda I'm really not a fan of when men wear what looks like practice clothes as their competition costume. It just looks lazy and uninspired to me. Put some effort into it; try a color other than black! I don't understand Polina Edmunds' free program dress at all. She wants to be seen as a mature skater, yet she chooses to skate in a frilly dress with a bow and curl her hair into ringlets that make her look like a grade schooler. I don't love her short program dress, but it is MILES better than that Scarlett O'Hara nightmare, so I'm not sure what's going on.
Erin: Emmanuel Savary's freeskate costume frightened me.
Tiffany: Emmanuel Savary's free skate program looked like a stained glass court jester. Honorable mention to both of Max Aaron's costumes. He looks like he doesn't even try.
You've already seen...
Meghan: Nathan Chen's long program was electric, but his electric blue shirt is an exact replica of a show choir costume I wore circa 2004, down to the rhinestones. I liked his other one better. Even Ashley didn't understand it, so I'm pretty sure I don't need more justification than that.
Patrick: Alex Johnson's free skate costume had me shaking my head, especially since he's had such good costumes in previous years (and even earlier this season!) I admire Caitlin Fields and Ernie Utah Stevens for their commitment to matching costumes, but those short program costumes were...yikes.
Who had the best music selection at this event?
And, as you might expect, you've already seen...
Meghan: The Shibs' long program. Coldplay's "Fix You" is pure magic. It captures your interest and your heart the instant it comes on and the edits BUILD so perfectly to the end of the program. *MOMENT* OH, GOD, excuse me while I go cry now.
Patrick: The Shibutanis. Extra bonus points for doing a Mirai Nagasu tribute program as their short dance in the same arena where she won her national title in 2008.
Rafael: The Shibutani's free dance music is probably the best this season. It's just so so so good. I can't stop gushing.
Tiffany: The Shibs for their "Fix You" FD. It just grabs you.
Roxanne: The Shibs and Adam Rippon. I enjoy music that you can sing along to unironically.
Phillip: Again, Hubbell/Donohue's "Hallelujah" for the short dance.
Who had the worst music selection at this event?
Amanda: Anyone skating to Michael Buble, especially his version of Feeling Good.
Make better choices, people.
Erin: Everyone who used music with spoken dialogue. I don't understand. It's awkward, distracting, and silly (case in point from elsewhere in the season: I'll never let go, Jack).
Phillip: Sadly I have to pick Ben Jalovick again. "Avatar" may have music which works well in a big screen adventure, but for ice skating, it just was not a compelling mix.
You've already seen...
Meghan: It's not so much the selection, but Max Aaron's Black Swan program does not maximize the potential of that music. When the most dramatic and famous section of music is playing, he's spinning. Not effective, and Max Aaron needs his music to be effective.
Roxanne: Max Aaron. When you can't skate to the music, why have music at all?
Which pair/dance team had the best chemistry?
Erin: Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue have great chemistry that makes their short dance work so incredibly well.
Matthew: Hubbell and Donohue have such great chemistry in all their programs: they have no problem creating a sense of intimacy.
Patrick: Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue continue to have amazing chemistry on the ice (#poorZach).
You've already seen...
Lauren: All of the top dance teams have their own unique and special chemistry but I have to give this to Mervissa. The way he looks at her during Open Arms and the first few seconds of their short program makes you want to cry and drink wine and sing power ballads. They also just move wonderfully together, perhaps more two as one than any other US pair.
Rafael: Tarah and Danny had the best chemistry in their programs. Though that probably shouldn't be surprising.
Roxanne: The Shibs and Tarah/Danny have the best chemistry, with an honorary mention to Madison/Zach.
The worst chemistry?
Lauren: I see very little chemistry between Scimeca and Knierim on the ice, which I think has a lot to do with them appearing to be thinking through their elements (which understandably are quite difficult) and their choreography.Even in the Metallica program, they seem to feel the music but not really each other.
Amanda: All I'll say regarding the worst chemistry is that there are teams who are very much together off ice, yet you would never know that by watching them skate. Eye contact, guys. You know who's really good at this? Julianne Sequin and Charlie Bilodeau.
Roxanne: The worst is Chock/Bates - to me, it feels like they go through the motions and have too much of a put-upon relationship.
Rafael: Madison and Evan fell pretty flat for me, especially in the free dance.
If anyone has video of the below, please share!
Meghan: Pfund and Santillan's long program was so unfortunate from a team I really like.
Tiffany: Reynolds/Reynolds. They just haven't mastered that skating as brother and sister thing. It's definitely possible, though.
To close it up...
Amanda: Patrick Chan will not make the podium at Worlds and will retire from competition for good. Mao Asada will come back with a vengeance and win the World title.
Erin: Zero of last year's World champions will successfully defend their titles.
Lauren: Nathan will be the highest ranked U.S. man at Worlds. (Don't throw things at me, Adam and Max fans. I like them. I really like them.) (Editor's note: whoops, sorry Lauren.) C/B will go back ahead of the Shibs at 4CC, which will make for a battle royale at Worlds.
Matthew: Nagasu finishes the highest of the American ladies at 4CC.
Meghan: The Shibutanis will win Worlds on home ice in Boston, Adam will land a quad lutz and Polina will say at least once that she can win Worlds (hair toss). I will throw a brick through my TV as NBC makes us relive the drama of Boston 2014 over...and over...and over again in their Worlds coverage.
Patrick: Mirai Nagasu will outskate at least one of the other US ladies at 4CC. Maia and Alex Shibutani will beat Chock/Bates at both 4CC and Worlds. Adam Rippon will place higher than Max Aaron at worlds.
Phillip: A U.S. lady will medal at Worlds for the first time in nine years.
Rafael: Adam will land his quad Lutz cleanly at Worlds and rock the hell out of his free skate to land back in the top 6 at Worlds, and be the highest finishing American man.
Tiffany: Both U.S. pairs teams will skate 2 clean programs at Worlds and will go 6th and 7th, getting 3 pairs spots for the U.S. for the first time in 725 years.
Anything else to add about this event?
Amanda: The commentary and analysis done by the contributors on IceNetwork, especially John Coughlin, Charlie White, and queens Meryl Davis and Tanith White, was head and shoulders above anything put out on NBC. The ranting and raving done by the NBC commentators after the men's free skate was embarrassing to listen to and was bordering on unprofessional. Adam won Nationals!! The Shibutanis won Nationals!! Tarah and Danny won Nationals!! This was way more than I could have hoped for, and it made this probably the most exciting Nationals to watch in a long time.
Erin: What an emotional roller coaster! I feel like this was a very dramatic Nationals, in a fun way. A lot of surprises and a lot of really stellar skating. Nationals is my favorite competition of the year and 2016 certainly did not disappoint.
Lauren: Tanith Belbin-White was outstanding leading the IN coverage this weekend as well as on NBC. She was also impeccably dressed at all times. She and John Coughlin make Ice Desk something worth watching, which perhaps was not the case a few years ago. NBC and IN should seek to expand her role as much as possibly possible. I miss 90s style fluff pieces very much so it was nice they tried to do a few that were longer than 45 seconds. USFS should be sending Emily Chan to Junior Worlds.
Matthew: For some reason I wasn't that excited about these Nationals beforehand, but I was completely proven wrong. You had great skates, close outcomes, debatable judging, dramatic fluff pieces, and the works. Couldn't have asked for more!
Meghan: Sitting in that arena, the men's event was an incredible way to end Nationals...it felt like such a celebration of the sport. The drama that ensued was the wrong way to spin really strong performances. My heart goes to the top men, who handled the situation like heroes.The ice is a stage, and there was no one better that night at being a star than Adam Rippon. #bewareofthewitch'smagic
Patrick: Am I still crying daily over Adam Rippon, Maia and Alex Shibutani, and Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea being national champions? Maybe...
Phillip: On the whole, the U.S. Nationals in St. Paul was strong, with the notable exception of pairs. Let's hope, light a candle, meditate, or whatever may be needed to bring more consistency and funding to our pairs teams. See you in Boston, U.S. medalists!!!
Rafael: I got a shout out on national TV in the Kiss & Cry from Cannuscio and McManus, so I'd say this was the best nationals ever.
RoxanneI: I want to know where Emmanuel Savary gets his shirts. That is some mom sweater circa 1988 realness and I love it.
Tiffany: Whew, I'm so exhausted that I don't even care about Euros happening. But I'm super stoked about all the people I'm going to get to see live in Boston.
What did you think about the US National Championships? How did our judges do? Leave us a comment to let us know, then sign up to judge a future event!