The Grand Prix Series got under way over the weekend at Skate America in Las Vegas and here were the moments that stood out for us from the event.
1. Zhou My GOE
If you had said to us prior to the Skate America men’s short programme that Vincent Zhou, the first skater up, would stay in the lead right until the end of a competition that included skaters such as three-time World champion Nathan Chen and 2018 Olympic silver medallist Shoma Uno, we would definitely had a slightly raised eyebrow. However, while others faltered particularly in an error strewn short, Zhou remained rock steady and put together two solid routines to take his first Skate America title and break Chen’s winning streak that started after the 2018 Olympics.
“I don’t think it has sunk in yet,” Zhou told the post-event press conference. “I didn’t really expect this result, but what I did expect of myself was to be as well prepared and well trained as I possibly could.”
A Russian woman making an impactful debut in the senior ranks has become commonplace over the last decade. What was refreshing about Daria Usacheva in Las Vegas was that even though she did not have a triple Axel or a quad (or three) the quality of everything she did, particularly in the short programme, was so good. Many would argue that she should have won the short at least. Although she did not have the technical arsenal to match the eventual winner Alexandra Trusova in the free skating, Usacheva will be a skater we will be keeping an eye on this season. It is crazy to think there is a possibility a skater of her calibre might not make it to the Olympics next February.
“I am a bit upset with the mistakes that I made in the Free Skating but I am happy with my result,” the 15-year-old told the post-event press conference. “For me this competition was a bit harder (than events in Russia) because it was my first senior international.”
3. Tarasova And Morozov Back To Their Best
After being in the shadow of teammates 2021 World champions Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov and 2020 European champions Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozslovskii for the past few seasons, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov were back on the top step of the podium at a Grand Prix for the first time since 2018. The Russians were within a point of their personal best in the short programme and, despite solo jump errors rearing their ugly heads in the free skating, there was a new sense of confidence in their skating that perhaps can be partly attributed to their recent collaboration with Eteri Tutberidze and her team.
“It was not perfect, but it was a good step forward. We’ll work harder to achieve better performances,” Morozov said. “It is a good feeling (to win a Grand Prix again for the first time since 2018). In the last three years we went through many changes. For this season we are back in Moscow and we have a great team, that’s why we gave good results.”
4. Japanese Joy For Miura And Kihara
If there was an award for a most improved pair of the past year, it would surely go to Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara. They served notice of their rise with a top ten finish at Worlds in March and their win at the Autumn Classic International last month. A silver medal and a whole new set of personal bests with areas in both programmes that can be further improved on means the sky is the limit for the duo and they will be continuing to break new ground for Japan in the pairs event.
“Now we aim for another medal at our next Grand Prix event and we would like to get 210 points,” Miura said. “We are taking it step by step.”
5. Still All About Montreal In Ice Dance
Five of the top six teams in the ice dance event came from the same coaching team as the Ice Academy of Montreal continues its domination of the discipline. And when the school can produce programmes that include a tender and lyrical drama (Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue), an alien encounter (Madison Chock and Evan Bates), a Viking saga (Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen), a swashbuckling epic (Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz) and a sensual and taboo love story (Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto), there is no reason to be mad at it either. Hubbell and Donohue eked out a victory by just over a point from Chock and Bates and we are looking forward to seeing how all the IAM routines develop as the season goes on.