That Was The Week That Was In Figure Skating (7-13 September 2015)

We take a quick look back at what happened in the world of skating over the course of the past week.

Russian Sweep At Austrian Junior Grand Prix

The fourth Junior Grand Prix of the season in Linz, Austria was dominated by Russia. Maria Sotskova captured her second title of 2015 with personal bests in both the short programme and free skating to give herself a total of 185.44. The 2013 Junior Grand Prix Final gold medallist became the first skater to seal her place for her third consecutive final in December in Barcelona. Sotskova will be joined by Japan’s Mai Mihara who backed up her silver medal from Bratislava last month with another one in Linz. Another repeater was Da Bin Choi. The Korean finished third again here after earning bronze in Riga. It was a disappointing event for Wakaba Higuchi. The 2015 Junior World bronze medallist had been favoured to challenge Sotskova for gold, but a nightmare short left her in 8th going into the free and, despite a good skate, she wound up in 5th.

In their very first international competition together, Amina Atakhanova and Ilia Spiridonova took pairs gold with a total of 162.50. They look assured to make it to the final with only a modest result necessary at their second assignment in Poland in two weeks time. Anna Duskova and Martin Bidar from the Czech Republic gave themselves the best chance to make the trip to Barcelona with a silver and a set of new personal bests in Linz. The first couple to book themselves a place in the final were Ukraine’s Renata Oganesian and Mark Bardei who won bronze to add to their gold from Riga.

Alla Loboda and Pavel Drozd were comfortable victors in the ice dance event setting personal bests in both segments to win with a total of 153.64. The Russians also became the first ice dance team to qualify for the final. The renaissance of French ice dance continued with a great silver for Marie-Jade Lariault and Romain Le Gac. They train under Romain Haguenauer who also coaches World champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron in Montreal. Julia Biechler and Damian Dodge from the United States bagged their first international medal by winning bronze.

The clean sweep of titles by Russian skaters was completed by Dmitri Aliev in the men’s event. The St. Petersburg native matched his result from Riga last month and is the first male skater to confirm his place in the final. He will most likely be joined in Barcelona by Vincent Zhou from United States who came second again after achieving silver in Bratislava. The bronze went to Ivan Pavlov from Ukraine.

The Junior Grand Prix Series takes a break this week before returning for the fifth round in Torun, Poland.

Yankowskas And Gaman Call Time On Careers

The financial difficulties of skating at the highest level were illustrated this week with the announcement by British pairs champions Caitlin Yankowskas and Hamish Gaman that they were retiring from competition. The duo cited a lack of resources to enable them to train to the standard they would like as the reason behind the decision. Yankowskas and Gaman earlier this year had launched a fundraising campaign for their skating expenses. They will be reimbursing all who donated.

Gabriella Papadakis Reveals Details About Injury

In a Facebook page post, World ice dance champion Gabriella Papadakis shed some light on the injury she sustained during a practice session. The French skater revealed that the concussion has left her with “memory, balance and focus issues, added to a big tiredness” that has prevented her from returning to the ice although physically she is fine and her prognosis for recovery good. Papadakis is scheduled to compete at French Masters next month with her partner Guillaume Cizeron, although whether they will be ready in time is a matter of doubt.

Grand Prix Assignment Updates

The Japan Skating Federation announced this week that their final host picks for the NHK Trophy would be Keiji Tanaka (Men), Mariko Kihara (Ladies) and Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed (Ice dance).

Jin Seo Kim from Korea has received his first Grand Prix assignment of the season at Skate Canada, while Elladj Balde from Canada got a second at Cup of China.

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