While this is not our last event for the season - we'll take on the Team Challenge Cup later this month - Worlds 2016 is our last competitive individual event for 2015-2016. Thank you to everyone who made this first season for The Judges' Table so spectacular. Keep an eye out over the summer as we recap the year (we'll definitely have to review everyone's bold predictions) and maybe rejudge a few throwback events, just for fun.
Here are our judges for the 2016 World Championships!
Alice can be found on Twitter.
Bronwyn can be found video recapping events at Lutz and Glory, as well as on Twitter.
Ioana is on Twitter and Tumblr.
Jackie is covering figure skating over at Rocker, and you can read his World Championships coverage here!
Jennifer is a fantasy skating WIZARD, having one The Skating Lesson's Fantasy Skating three times in a row!
Mark is documenting his skating journey and blogging for the USFS Fan Zone. He's on Twitter here.
LET'S GET JUDGING. When you're finished reading, leave a comment to let us know what you thought about Junior Worlds, 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!
Alice: Most of ladies and men, the latter groups of dance and pairs.
Bronwyn: Pretty much all of it, minus a couple SP groups here and there.
Ioana: I'd say about 80% of it.
Jackie: About 247% of it.
Jennifer Cl.: 75%
Mark: All of it! Mara and I were in the arena, and went to many of the practices!
Who had the best performance of the event?
Alice: I don't even know how many times I've rewatched Sui/Han's short program since it happened and blew my mind. Perhaps others will remember champions' programs, but for me, Sui and Han are unforgettable. Their short program this season demonstrates what a powerful duo they are despite their small stature compared to their competitors; every move is controlled but remarkably fierce. Knowing that Wenjing constantly struggles with an ankle injury makes me appreciate this program even more - the choreography showcases Wenjing's pure determination through every single element (the size of that throw flip!), and Cong is not too bad either. Wenjing definitely rules my universe.
Jennifer: I can’t not go with Papadakis and Cizeron. I don’t think there’s any other possible answer. Watching them, my respirations slow to about 4 a minute, lest I make too much noise. P+C float on a transcendent, apolitical cloud above the rest of the field. Their taut, low, musical lifts; the delicious molasses moments between each set of twizzles; at the beginning of the free dance when she breathes and swoops toward him after his hand sighs down her arm; how he flourishes her into dance spins; how they gaze through one another across the whole audience while never simpering towards the judges; how their edges are so deep I’d believe either was about to be lain into a death spiral by the other. I love both programs’ music and costumes. I find myself wanting to show this to my non-fan friends and see if they can pretend not to care.
Mark: Overall, both short and long, clearly Papadakis/Cizeron, the Shibutanis, and Anna Pogorilaya. The last of these three was clearly a pleasant surprise, but all of these athletes skated without so much of a bobble in both programs - and that's all you can ask for!
Alice: Perhaps she isn't necessarily the most improved skater, but Mirai Nagasu's short program moved me so much more profoundly than her skating did all season. Her attack in during the step sequence brings me to tears every single time I watch it (which is a lot of times, by the way); she flies across the ice like she's broken all the barriers and has willed herself to beat all odds. Despite all the different circumstances that have held her down, like her recurring boot problems, Mirai captivated the entire arena during the short program. Honorable mention goes to Gabby Daleman during the SP - loved seeing her skate with such confidence.
Alice: Satoko Miyahara and Mao Asada in the free program. Arguably the two most graceful skaters in the event, both received much lower PCS marks than Medvedeva. For Satoko, the subtle nuances and quiet expressiveness of her skating went unrewarded, with a PCS score almost 6 points lower than that of Medvedeva's slow, uninteresting skating. Perhaps more infuriating is Mao received more than 3 points less PCS than Medvedeva and a fraction of a point less than Gracie Gold's questionable choreography. Though Mao did not have the highest TES, her performance transcended points and placement in its beauty and grace - but I guess the judges couldn't see that.
Jennifer: Hubbell and Donahue create real moments on the ice. Ice dance saw some big scores in this event, but their otherwise great scores didn’t match up to those of other equivalent teams. (Please no one say Satoko Miyahara. If that many people skate up to their potential, she just shouldn’t be on the podium.)
Alice: I believe all the champions' performances were overscored, but the skate that stood out from the rest was Javier Fernandez's free program. Though I do agree with the placement, did Javier really deserve 6 more PCS than the entire rest of the field? Though his free is memorable for its technical perfection, for me, his performance was nothing special and most definitely not deserving of near perfect PCS.
Ioana: Overscored is the word I would choose to describe the entire season! For this competition: Evgenia Medvedeva's FS. While I believe she deserved to win, she could have done so without scoring 150+. The judges ignored her flutz completely and let her get away with less-than-stellar skating skills and maturity. But it's a classic Tutberidze formula; first we had the girl in the red coat, and when she didn't want to use the soundtrack from W.E., Tutberidze let Medvedeva interpret her own daughter who is hearing impaired (thus the opening pose with her hands over her ears). Special mention: Gracie Gold's SP. I just thought - no, Boston. Don't do that.
Alice: Does 14th count as bottom half for the men? I've been following Deniss Vasiljevs since I first watched his skating back in 2014 and he's made incredible improvements to his jumps without ever losing his quirky choreography and spins. He has great speed and so much life in his skating.
Alice: Pleasantly surprised by Ashley Wagner's silver medal! She put together two near-perfect programs back to back and earned herself a spot on that podium, effectively ending that medal drought or whatever. I don't think I doubted her ability to deliver under pressure - but somehow the judges were actually nice to one of my faves and rightfully awarded her the marks that earned her that World silver.
Bronwyn: Some of the more well-known names didn't qualify for the free skate: Joshi Helgesson, Mae Berenice Meite, and Nam Nguyen are all examples, but I think Han Yan was the biggest shocker. Joshi, Mae, and Nam all hadn't competed for a while, but Han was coming off a surprisingly strong performance at Four Continents where he won the bronze medal. I don't think anyone expecting him to do so poorly in the short program, let alone not make it to the free skate.
Ioana: To me, the biggest surprise was Yuzuru Hanyu failing (again) to win Worlds. He had the best couple of programs by far, his skating has improved a lot since he won in 2014, and I was definitely envisioning him winning by millions of points with a strong performance of Seimei - which in my opinion is the best program of his career so far. I wasn't as surprised about his mistakes as I was about his lack of energy and connection to the music; for the first time this season, the music overpowered him and his skating lacked its usual quality. Despite a heavy fall in the SP, Javier Fernandez performed the FS of his career and beat Hanyu easily.
Jackie: The quality of the event overall was the surprise. It was the best and deepest Worlds I've ever seen.
Jennifer: My gut reaction is Patrick Chan’s free skate. I can’t stand to rewatch it. It was not his popped jumps or his running into the boards or his complaining about the ice (perhaps justifiably) afterward. Instead, it was the pained ache of watching a program skated by one of the best skaters alive that flounders from 1-2 measures behind in choreography to looking like “here’s a random bit of choreography I remember in this moment of blind panic." I cannot imagine how that skate had to have felt to him. All of it was wrong; all of it was off. I feel like I still have not seen Patrick Chan skate live.
Mark: How many people think it's a good idea to skate to the same music literally everyone else does. I never want to hear Summertime or Feeling Good ever again.
The Fun Stuff!
Who had the best costume at this event?
Alice: Anna Cappellini and her sparkles.
Jackie: It's less about how the costume looked (though it's a sleek, minimal costume that looked great) and more about what it *did*. Ashley Wagner's Marissa Castelli short program costume was the best thing that could happen to her. It was the "lucky" costume that brought her a second clean short of the season. I need to wear Marissa Castelli's dress the next time I live-tweet.
Alice: Maybe Savchenko/Massot's free program costumes.
Mark: Elena Radionova's long program dress was not a flattering combination of colors.
Alice: When will skaters stop using Firebird?
Alice: Iliushechkina/Moscovitch really impressed me with how well they fit each other during the free program. Worst chemistry goes to Scimeca/Knierim.
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Predictions for Next Season
Alice: Mirai Nagasu. I believe.
Bronwyn: There are a lot of people I see having success in all four categories who didn't medal, but I think Satoko especially will be looking to improve even more, as she does every year. She is so consistent, and she's not someone I worry will lose that consistency. She's a World silver medalist for a reason, and she will not go down without a fight. Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov are also a team I expect to do better next season, as they had injury issues coming into the event. Their partnership seems a lot more harmonious than it was last season, so I think they will improve a lot.
Ioana: I expect Weaver and Poje to come back stronger, as well as Volosozhar and Trankov, Stolbova and Klimov, Shoma Uno, Satoko Miyahara and Mirai Nagasu. As for other skaters such as Patrick Chan, Denis Ten, Mao Asada or Gracie Gold, they're all still under a question mark. The judges were ready to crown Gracie as the new World Champion here but at the end of the day her Firebird turned into Frozenbird. Let it go, let it gooo...
Jackie: Shoma Uno is going to come in roaring next season - he had a very good Worlds debut, but knowing his work ethic, he was not happy with the two mistakes he made. Look for him to come back with a vengeance, and upgraded technical content.
Jennifer: I want Volosozhar and Trankov back on my podium, please, and I’ll take two great programs for Hubbell and Donahue so they can trounce the Italians out of my memory. Never count Patrick Chan out, if we can make him not quit after this. Tursynbaeva has gained quite a bit of experience this year, and I’d love it if Radionova comes back pissed that she bought that gnarly third dress with the gawky peach bows for this event and is somehow magically refined and mature-seeming on the ice. She still has some jumps and some fire, but nothing could penetrate those two clunkers she skated to this year. That’s a lot of answers. The single correct answer, needless to say, is: Tessa and Scott and Marie-France, of course.
Mark: Kolyada. Hello, Russian Olympic medal hopeful. While Alexa [Scimeca] and Chris [Kneirim] are clearly the more naturally talented of the two US pairs, I wouldn't be surprised if Tarah and Danny bounce back from the past two disappointing performances and kill it on the Grand Prix (Team Florida has a tendency to do so).
Which medalist from this event is going to have the least success next season?
Alice: Anna Pogorilaya, probably. She's definitely not known for consistency.
Bronwyn: This is hard to call. For a while now, we've seen the top Russian lady not go on to continuing success the next season (Julia Lipnitskaia and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva), so we will have to see if Evgenia Medvedeva can carry her dominance into the next season. It'll be interesting to see if Boyang Jin can continue scoring 100+ TES consistently as well, as he kind of walked into a medal win here.
Ioana: To be honest the weakest link of all events is still Anna Pogorilaya. Yes, she made it through the Russian Nationals and delivered two clean programs at Worlds, but the rest of her season speaks for itself. Whether she will get over her problems or not, I don't know. She's had a lot of ups and downs in the last couple of years.
Jackie: Across the board, I see all 12 medalists being Worlds medal contenders again next season.
Jennifer: I don’t think it’s any stretch to say Boyang Jin will need some good quality time with Frank Carroll to come close to repeating this, particularly if Denis Ten heals, Patrick doesn’t abandon ship, Nathan Chen’s hips hold up, or Josh Farris ever heals and returns to skating (maybe wishful thinking on that last part?). Pogorilaya has always had this in her. Maybe the falls are over* (*written so I can read back on this in the autumn and laugh at myself).
Mark: I'm actually not sure. I'm still not convinced Anna Pogorilaya can be trusted to skate clean, and same goes with Ashley Wagner. Also, the dance competition is going to be an all out brawl in North America.
Make an additional prediction about something that will happen NEXT season.
Alice: Nathan Chen will take seniors by storm and medal at everything!! I miss you, Nathan. Satoko will medal at Worlds again and avenge the bronze she deserved this season. Julia Lipnitskaia will make the World team again. Hanyu, spurred on by his rage, will put the quad loop in his free program with some success.
Bronwyn: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will not beat their new training mates Papadakis/Cizeron at Worlds next season.
Ioana: Aliona Savchenko and her new friend will be successful. The men's event will get messier due to adding more quads. The Shibutanis will win US Nationals again. Mirai Nagasu will medal. Wakaba Higuchi will make her debut at senior Worlds. Satoko Miyahara will land a triple axel before she manages to get more elevation on her toe jumps. Mikhail Kolyada will be the #1 Russian man.
Jackie: Someone will land a clean quadruple loop next season.
Jennifer: Neither of the US men’s spots we earned this year will be filled by the same competitors. Evan Bates will attempt hip hop but with such great carriage and posture he could still be wearing a barrister’s wig and neckpiece. The Shibs will break my heart and not come up with two programs that equal or surpass their Coldplay FD. Marchei and Hotarek will move to the 80s in a 6-piece medley that will begin with her working as a waitress in a cocktail bar. LIPTNITSKAIA vs. MEDVEDEVA: Worlds 2017?! Uramov is fixing her, right??
Mark: Weaver and Poje are going to come back guns slinging - they have to, to fight off Tessa and Scott. Ashley will come back and attempt a clean edge lutz. Adam will attempt quads. We'll either see Gracie come back and kill it, or she'll continue to stumble and possibly even withdraw from the sport. (sad face).
Anything else to add about this event?
Alice: Although I wasn't a fan of most of the champions and the overscoring, there were some amazing breakthrough moment for skaters that made the whole event unforgettable. I don't think I mentioned the Shibs at all yet, so WORLD SILVER MEDALISTS MAIA AND ALEX SHIBUTANI. Their free dance was the skate of the night for me, always and forever.
Bronwyn: Let me just talk about Ashley Wagner since she's my favorite and I didn't really get to say much about her. She has been counted out so many times throughout her career, and people have always doubted her. Whether it be music choices, training choices, or doubting her ability to be amongst the top of the world, she has always proven people wrong. All of that has come to a head, as she won the silver medal and made me so proud to be a fan, for many reasons on and off the ice.
Ioana: I live in Eastern Europe so I had to sacrifice four nights for this Worlds. Watching the disaster that was the men's FS at 5 AM was definitely a wild experience. Highly reminiscent of the Sochi event with all the splats. The contrast between the disaster in the men's event and the best competition ever in the ladies' event (so many clean skates it's like the planets were aligned for this to happen) was striking. I mean, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva would have finished 6th here with the score she won with last season. All in all I was very envious of everyone who attended the event but hey, shaking my fists and screaming internally in the dark in front of my laptop... that experience was not too shabby either. Some legends say people turn into werewolves under the moonlight. I turned into Nikolai Morozov.
Jennifer: What a fantastic event. Each of the victors won by virtue of a stellar performance, rather than on the mistakes of others. For the events I attended - the men’s and ladies’ frees - it was a bit unfulfilling to see many of the best skaters in the world falter. A great performance is a great performance, but I’d say only Papadakis and Cizeron, and arguably Medvedeva, were actually the best in their respective categories. Watching Patrick, Shoma, and (most of all) Yuzu with his Seimei program falter in person was more disappointing than I’d thought it would be. Similarly, Russian pairs skating did not seem to enter the building, and Han’s unfurling of Sui like a flag at the end of their free left me wishing I’d been there to see them perfect. The wise and capable were able to peak at Worlds—but most of the programs over which I was hyperventilating with excitement did not meet their potential. Medvedeva’s jumps were just as big live, and she was lithe and musical in person. Of everyone I saw live, she lived up to her hype on the night it counted.
Mark: It was an incredible skating event, and what an amazing world's! Couple more shoutouts: the Polish ice dance team [Kaliszek/Spodyriev] has such great skating skills, carriage, and edges! Didn't love their long program, but I want to see more of them after such a great short. Two years ago, I could never imagine that Javier would be able to skate a long program like that. I absolutely adored his exhibition program (ballade to Danny Boy) and wouldn't be surprised if he does something more lyrical next year. The crumbling of Nam, Han Yan, and Kovtun was shocking, but even if they had skated clean there are plenty skaters who rose to the occasion who would've beaten them anyway! Nathan Chen could've placed top five if he weren't injured. Just saying. I'm concerned about the future of the US ladies when you consider how many ladies attempted triple triples here compared to US nationals.
What did you think about Worlds? How did our judges do? Leave us a comment to let us know, then sign up to judge a future event!