That Was The Week That Was In Figure Skating (28 September – 4 October 2015)

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

Asada Back and Better Than Ever

The highest profile event this past week was the Japan Open Invitational that took place at the Saitama Super Arena, the venue for the 2014 World Championships, which was packed to the rafters in anticipation of the return to competition of Mao Asada. The three-time World champion more than lived up to expectations. Skating to “Madame Butterfly”, she began with a triple Axel and reeled six other triple jumps while enthralling the audience throughout her programme. Asada posted an excellent score of 141.70 to finish miles ahead of the other five ladies she skated against. Satoko Miyahara challenged her teammate technically to come in second on 134.67 with World champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva failing to land a triple Axel which put her third 128.34. Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova was also on the comeback trail, but a number of mistakes on her jump meant she only scored 118.81 to come fourth.

After a disappointing outing at the U.S. Figure Skating Classic last month, Shoma Uno redeemed himself with a stunning performance to “Nessun Dorma” by Puccini. The Junior World champion laid down two quadruple toe loops (one in the second half of the programme) and two triple Axels to earn a massive 185.48 for his efforts. World champion Javier Fernandez popped a triple Axel and fell on a quadruple Salchow, but otherwise put a solid skate together to music from “Guys and Dolls” to score 176.24. With no quad and only a shaky triple Axel, Patrick Chan was a distant third on 159.14 in his comeback competition after sitting last season out.

After everyone had skated, Team Japan came out on top with a combined score of 607.62, Team North America second on 545.23 and Team Europe third on 528.90.

Medvedeva and Brown Victorious at Ondrej Nepela

Evgenia Medvedeva led a Russian sweep at the Ondrej Nepela Trophy in Bratislava, Slovakia. The Junior World champion won her first senior international title with a total of 183.94. Her only slip-up came on a fall on a triple flip in her free skating. Anna Pogorilaya fell twice in her short programme and was ninth going into the free. She came back strongly enough in that segment to win it and pull up to second overall on 178.38. Maria Artemieva finished third in both the short and free to end up with the bronze, a total of 177.21 and a new set of personal bests.

Russia also occupied the entire podium in the pairs event. A crucial error in each of their routines could have cost Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov dearly, but in spite of those mistakes the Olympic silver medallists were able to grab the title with a total of 190.28. Kristina Astakhova and Alexei Rogonov were third after the short and were able to move up to second by finishing first in the free. They achieved a new personal best total of 185.00. Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov had been first after the short, but a subpar free dropped them to third with a combined score of 184.28.

Jason Brown found himself trailing after the short and battled with rotating a quad and both of his triple Axels in his free. Despite all that, the rest of his elements were first rate and he won the title with a total of 239.37. Mikhail Kolyada, who had been in first after the short, took silver with 229.59 and fellow Russian Gordei Gorshkov netted the bronze with 223.25.

In the ice dance event, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier climbed up from third after the short dance to grasp their first international gold since 2012 with a total of 159.14. Following a season marred by illness, Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland showed that they were back in good form with second in Bratislava on an overall total of 156.22. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani will have been less pleased with missing a couple of levels in the free dance and sliding from first to third to come third on 154.34.

Final Countdown Under Way For Juniors As Spanish JGP Concludes

The penultimate Junior Grand Prix of the season was held in Logroño, Spain and Yuna Shiraiwa from Japan garnered her second win of the series to secure herself a place in the Junior Grand Prix Final in December. Alisa Fedichkina from Russia couldn’t hold onto her lead after the short and had to be content with silver. The bronze went to Yura Matsuda from Japan. The biggest shock of the event was the complete meltdown of Serafima Sakhanovich. The Junior World silver medallist fell apart in her free skating and wound up in seventh place which effectively rules her completely out of qualifying for the final.

Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac from France advanced to the final with a victory and three new personal bests. They will be joined there by Russian silver medallists Betina Popova and Yuri Vlasenko. It was a very successful competition for Elliana Pogrebinsky and Alex Benoit from the United States who came away with a bronze.

This was the fifth time Nathan Chen has stood on the highest step of the podium at a Junior Grand Prix. He began with a new personal best of 77.94 in the short and, even though he fell on a triple Axel in the free and narrowly lost that segment, the American had enough in the bank to come through for the win. With his second place in Spain, Daniel Samohin becomes the first singles skater from Israel to qualify for the final. He Zhang from China must win this week in Zagreb if he is to join Chen and Samohin in Barcelona.

Grand Prix Assignments Updates

Timothy Dolensky (USA) has been added to the men’s roster at Skate Canada.

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