After a jam packed two days of fierce competition in Vancouver, here are our highlights from the second Grand Prix event of the season.
1. All The Single Ladies
The women’s event in Vancouver lived up to its advance billing and then some. Kamila Valieva (RUS) struck gold on her Grand Prix debut and became the fifteenth woman to land a triple Axel in international competition on her way there. That is even before we talk about the three quads in the free skating. We may very well have seen the next Olympic champion. It is hard to see who will be able to touch Valieva come February. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) at last seems to have found the right kind of consistency in an Olympic season and, although it will be tough, she has a real chance to make the Olympic team in her country. Japan’s Mana Kawabe and Wakaba Higuchi became the sixteenth and seventeeth female skaters to successfully land a triple Axel internationally. Kawabe was the first of the twelve competitors to perform in the free skating.
2. Chen Back With A Vengeance
If you had slept through Skate America and somebody told you at Skate Canada International that not only had Nathan Chen (USA) lost, but he had come third, no one would have believed you. The three-time World champion finished over 45 points ahead of the rest of the field, despite not having the support of his coach Rafael Arutiunian who was ejected from the competition for inadvertently straying outside the Covid bubble. The American also became the first skater to secure a place at the Grand Prix Final in December.
3. Original Sinnerman
If you have not seen Jason Brown (USA) perform his “Sinnerman” short programme, stop what you are doing right now and watch it. Now.
4. Orange You Glad?
If there is a more fun rhythm dance this season than Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier’s Elton John themed one, we might not be able to handle it. There has been lots of talk about those orange costumes, but if we are talking about ice dance and Elton John. Nothing subtle need apply. And when it gives you a new personal best as well, it is clear that the judges do not mind.
5. Feed The World
Technical glitches marred the experience of those trying to view the pairs short programme on the YouTube live stream. Eventually we did get to see Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (CHN) skate for the first time this season outside of China and it was clear from the moment they stepped on the ice that there was no pair in Vancouver to challenge them. Despite a flawed free skate, the Chinese finished over thirty points ahead of silver medallists Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin (RUS).