Skate Canada 2018: Shock and Aw Shucks

Thanks to the EST to MST time zone conversion and TSN’s general awfulness, I missed all of the live short program coverage on Friday. Instead, I spent 5 straight hours mainlining the free program broadcasts on Saturday to bring you one glorious recap of Skate Canada International.


Mariah Bell’s Camel Spins

I’ve had so much hope for Mariah Bell for so many years, only to see those hopes crumble in the face of inconsistent skates and so-so programs. This camel spin from her free skate is a shining example of why I keep hoping: beautiful extension, excellent speed, and a graceful line. She should have multiple US National titles under belt and yet, here we are. I still have hope for her this season. Shae-Lynn Bourne gave her an excellent free program, and the departure of Ashley Wagner from #TeamRaf has obviously freed up coaching resources. If Bell can develop some consistency, my bold prediction is a National title in 2019.

Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier’s Free Dance 

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After a disastrous rhythm dance dropped them to 6th, Gilles and Poirier needed magic to find their way back to the podium. I don’t know who put the fairy dust in their boots, but their free dance was four enchanted minutes that floated them up to 3rd place.

Gilles & Poirier have always been my favourite Canadian dance team. They make unusual and engaging music choices that set them apart from their field. I’ve been howling for years that their performances have been criminally underscored, but 2018 marks a turning point in their career. Starting with Canadian Nationals in January, where they beat Weaver & Poje for the silver medal, I think judges have taken more notice of their skating. This free dance carries their momentum from Nationals, Worlds, and the Olympics, and I see it sweeping them to a Canadian National title (continuing with the Bold Prediction™ theme, apparently).

Some of the best lifts and feature choreography in ice dance, right here, people.

Vanessa James & Morgan Ciprès 

At the risk of sounding dramatic: finally!

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This is a pairs team with so much to celebrate, from Ciprès’ dedication to mesh shirts and James’ love of a catsuit, to their smouldering, swaggering choreography. They have had so many near-misses with greatness over the last few years: half a brilliant program, one great skate when they needed two, side-by-side jump meltdowns after glorious throws. This is a team that should have a trophy case full of Grand Prix medals, but Skate Canada is their first gold on the Grand Prix circuit. The number of withdrawals, injuries, and retirements in pairs has cleared the way for James & Ciprès to power-lift their way to their first Grand Prix Final.


Medvedeva’s Short Program

We are all Brian Orser here:

Credit Medvedeva’s killer instinct for putting up the highest free program score less than 24 hours after blowing the crucial jump combination in the short program. A bronze medal is a success given the circumstance, but this is the lowest Medvedeva has finished at a senior event since Russian nationals in 2014.

Good news for Medvedeva: she has a month to regroup before her next event (Internationaux de France) and she has a good chance to win. That should score her enough points to qualify for the Final. Lord knows I never thought I’d be talking about a situation where Medvedeva wasn’t a total lock for the Final. Then again, I never thought Sergei Voronov was going to medal again at Skate America and then he did. *looks out the window for locust swarms*

Every Man Dying at the End of his Program

Shoma Uno using coach Mihoko Higuchi as a crash pad after his free skate

The ISU trimmed 30 seconds from the men’s and pairs free skate time this season and I am having none of it. Shoma Uno should not be wheezing at the end of a free skate, early season be damned. There are plenty of things figure skating fans want less of: inconsistent edge calls; tinkering with the short dance/rhythm dance format; Federation presidents sitting on judging panels; whatever the hell Didier Gailhaguet is up to. There is no world where I want less time to see Yuzuru Hanyu, or Shoma Uno, or any of the top men (and pairs) skate.  #GiveMeBackMy30Seconds

Move I Most Want to Copy

Kevin Aymoz’s ina bauer/spread eagle mashup is a thing of beauty and this is the exact moment he became Everybody’s New Favourite Boyfriend.

Gif of the Event:

Mako Yamashita’s tiny “YAY!” at the end of her silver medal-winning free skate is adorable. Enjoy!

Up Next

Grand Prix Finland (#GPHelsinki) runs November 2-4th. I’m going to try to write a preview post because the men’s event is going to be lit. Get ready to rock out and see you soon!

One of the only gifs that doesn’t belong to me, and I have no idea who the original credit goes to. Mystery Hanyu Fan: you do good work!

Header/feature image credit: ©International Skating Union (ISU)

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