Kat: You’re In The Loop – we’re here to discuss
the ups, downs and sideways of the sport of figure skating, and maybe give you +5 GOE
along the way. Let’s introduce this week’s hosts. Yogeeta: Hi, I’m Yogeeta and I barely got
any sleep this weekend because timezones. My twitter handle is @liliorum. Becs: Hi I’m Becs and I’m keeled over
in relief that I don’t have to worry about surviving Japanese competitions for a whole
nother month! My twitter handle is @becsfer Kat: I’m Kat and I cannot believe that the
GP Series is over already! Find me on twitter @kattwts Kat: Alright so, the Grand Prix series is
over, guys, and we survived. Yogeeta: In my mind, it’s not over until the
Grand Prix Final, but… Becs: True, but we went through the really
grueling portion of it and we get a break for a week – which is all that matters. Kat: I know, I just feel so exhausted for
some reason, even after all of this. Yogeeta: Because you haven’t been sleeping! Becs: We went to two Grand Prix and then all
the next four were not in our timezone. I just realized that – what were we thinking? Kat: I know, my sleep schedule has been so
weird. Yogeeta: This is why I slept through Cup of
China. Kat: Yeah, that was a smart move. Yogeeta: We can’t all love ourselves, Yogeeta. Kat: We should probably mention that this
is our recap of Rostelecom and NHK, the last two Grand Prix before the Grand Prix Final,
which is coming up in two weeks in Torino. So, I guess let’s just get started with the
Pairs. We have our winners of the Pairs in Rostelecom,
Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii [of Russia], Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir
Morozov [of Russia], and Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nolan Seegert from Germany. And the winners of NHK Trophy were, of course,
my loves, Sui Wenjing and Han Cong from China, and then Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael
Marinaro [from Canada] got silver, and third place was Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr
Galliamov from Russia. Becs: Pairs this Grand Prix series is just
kind of a wild chaotic unexpected mess, it’s just… Yogeeta: It’s so weird, this entire Grand
Prix… Kat: Pairs is rough. Becs: It’s like predictable in some ways as
for the winners, but for everything else, it’s just kind of been a muddled, everyone
trying to really cement themselves and get a lead in the general pack. Kat: I just think that it’s always interesting
to see which teams end up capitalizing on the momentum, and which teams end up faltering. Because, if we’re going to start getting into
it, if we’re going to talk about teams capitalizing, Boikova and Kozlovskii really saw that door
open with [Natalia] Zabiiako and [Alexander] Enbert out and were like, “Hello! We are here!” They really capitalized at Rostelecom, and
they skated really lights out. They were almost perfect, in both programs. So far, they’re the only team this season
besides Sui and Han to score over 80 in the Short Program. They just in general look so polished and
confident in everything. Yogeeta: And their two programs also work
so well with them. I remember last season, I liked them as skaters
but I wasn’t really into them because I didn’t really like their programs as much. But this season they have the complete package. Becs: Last year I watched them at Skate Canada
and was so impressed by their elements and their quality and their lines, but I was like,
“Eh, their program is very bland Russian Pairs.” Kat: It’s Russian. Very Russian. Becs: It’s good, but it’s not really interesting. But I’m a sucker for a good “[James] Bond”
Free Skate. I know there are a few issues, you could argue
the music cuts aren’t the best or something, but oh my God, they executed so well and get
so into it, and they both perform the hell out of it. Kat: It’s like the good kind of drama that
really allows them to bring out their personality, and I already love the “Spectre” soundtrack. In general, I think that this Free Skate is
really doing it for them. Yogeeta: It also really highlights all their
great elements, like all their placements of their jumps. Boikova is stunning per usual, she makes every
moment of this program count. Kat: Yeah, and I love how enamored everyone
is with them. They’re just like really cute, dramatic kids. Like come on, Dima’s reaction at the end of
their Free Skate in Russia, on the ice he was fist-bumping in the air, and she was like,
“Okay dude, what?” She was cringing. Yogeeta: I love their dynamic. Kat: And then in the Kiss and Cry, he starts
standing up and waving to everyone before the scores even come out, and she’s pulling
him down, like, “Dude, sit down. The scores aren’t even out. Dude, calm down.” Becs: We love that confidence though. But yeah, for what a young pair they are,
they’re so polished and so refined. They perform every moment and it’s just great
to see. Even their growth, like they skated well at
Skate Canada when we saw them, but here they just completely brought down the house, it
was incredible. Kat: Yeah, and I’m just really impressed by
their grit. There are some elements that she definitely
fought on the throw landings, but still her running edge, keeping her leg up. Her running edge is so beautiful. And even on the side by side jumps, I did
not think that he was going to be able to complete the combo, the triple-Toe-double-Toe-double-Toe
because his axis was so off during the triple Toe, and he still managed to chuck those double
toes on. So, so impressed by them, and I think that
once we talk about Boikova and Kozlovskii and their insane (I don’t even know if you
would call it a rise? Like, yes rise in the standings in their performance,
but definitely just overall perception). I think that now the Russian Federation has
fully backed them, because if we go on to a little bit more of a sadder topic of how
Tarasova and Morozov did — which was really weird, that RusFed decided to put Boikova
and Kozlovskii against Tarasova and Morozov in both of their Grand Prix this season. I don’t know how smart of a move that was. Becs: It wasn’t that smart, but the Russian
Fed loves to do their really passive, like that’s their entire theme this Grand Prix
series, the passive-aggressive matchups between the young blood and the old blood and was
like, “We’ll throw you to the wolves and you can battle it out.” Kat: Right, and so Tarasova and Morozov definitely
were not as much of a hot disaster here as they were at Skate Canada, which was really
sad because we saw them skate live there. Becs: They didn’t abort lifts, I was just
happy. I actually got to see their lifts this time
and they were beautiful and they’re so hard. The balance on those is insane. Kat: They even lost in PCS. Yogeeta: That’s what was really surprising. Kat: Yeah, so having them skate better here
and still losing out… they honestly performed at a decently adequate level. It’s obviously not the best we’ve ever seen
from them, but given how much they’ve been struggling, I was more just happy that they
were standing at the end and looked generally okay. Becs: Yeah, their main issues were just their
side by side jumps and a few other small things. They performed pretty well, they executed
a lot of the elements with a lot of quality. It’s just, in comparison, they didn’t perform
quite as well, and some of their tech isn’t quite as strong at the moment. Yogeeta: It’s really heartbreaking for me
because honestly, I think their Free Skate is probably my favorite program of theirs. And to see that they’ve been struggling so
much, did we sacrifice a good program for not as strong elements? But they did make the coaching change and
they’re re-learning a lot, so I’m hoping that this is just the temporary issues that they’re
having as they’re re-learning and learning how to work with their new coaching team. I really hope that they take these next few
weeks to figure something out so they can make a really strong case at Russian Nationals
for themselves. Kat: Yeah, I think that for some teams, missing
out on the Grand Prix Final is more of a blessing just because you get that extra time to prepare
for nationals, which is where matchups and politicking and momentum really become important,
especially within domestic rivalries. Becs: Especially with Russia, because they
have the deepest Pairs field by far in the world. Kat: Exactly, so it might be a little bit
of a blessing in disguise, just because I’m sure that they’re obviously shocked that they
didn’t even make the Grand Prix Final with Zabiiako and Enbert sitting out, who were
probably one of their major domestic rivals last season. It’ll really be interesting to see but it
is really sad, and I hope this is just a short stumbling block where they’re making some
transitional moves. But also at Cup of Russia, we had the premiere
of Kseniia Stolbova and Andrei Novoselov. I was really curious to see them because it’s
been a hot minute since we’ve seen Stolbova compete. I was pretty impressed in their Short Program. They had a lot of things that needed to be
worked out with them, but she is still one of the best Pair girls ever. Her skating skills are still top-notch, she
can still land those throws, and her death spirals look amazing. But ooh boy, that Free Skate was rough. Especially Andrei – probably a little strength
training is needed. Maybe putting two lifts right at the end of
the program was not the smartest move for them because they got base value on 1, and
then completely aborted the last one. This is still their first outing, so there’s
obviously a lot of room to grow, and maybe put them into shape. I know she can do it. Becs: We have faith in her. Yogeeta: I trust Pairs ladies to do anything. Becs: Shall we talk a little bit about NHK? Kat: Yes. NHK Pairs. What do we want to talk about first? Becs: Kat, this is your chance. Gush a little bit. Yogeeta: Gush about Sui/Han. Kat: If you insist! Sui and Han, we have a world record in the
Short Program. Becs: Woo! Kat: It was almost perfect, except for Allen
missing up the spin. Becs: Poor Allen. Kat: Which they got a level 2 on. If there’s anything that I trust with Sui
and Han, it is them nitpicking every single detail and improving it for the next time,
because that’s what they do so well. In the last competition, they got a level
down on their death spiral, and they got a level 3 and a V on their spins, so they worked
on them. They’re level 4’s this time – well except
for in the Free Skate, that death spiral level went down again. Becs: I was really impressed by how much more
polished this looked versus Cup of China, especially given how sick Wenjing was. Given that she was horrifically ill for a
week and couldn’t train at all, and they still looked this much better, it’s incredible how
fast they can improve a program. Kat: And so that’s why I am definitely not
so worried as much as on the fluke fall on the triple Toe, because she said that she
was holding back a little bit because her stamina was not up, she was afraid that she
wouldn’t be able to make it through the Free Skate. I have no issues with the triple Toe, it will
probably be fine given that hopefully, she’ll be injury and illness free for the next two
weeks. But her triple Sal, guys, did we really just
see Wenjing land two triple Sals in competition in a row? Becs: I know! Yogeeta: I can’t believe it. Becs: My shock, especially after the three
T[oe] issues, like “Ahh!” Kat: It was just amazing because obviously
anybody that’s been watching them for this long knows that this is her demon jump. I am so glad that the Sal is improving and
I’m so happy that their pair spin is a level 4 now too. Like I said, they always pick things to work
on and they always make the improvements that they need to make. So I am not so worried about them. In general, I think this is the best condition
I’ve seen them at in a really long time. They’ve always had these struggles with injury,
so I’m hoping that they just keep staying healthy and keep working consistently, not
taking any big risks right now. If they maintain the condition that they’re
at, they should be at the top of the podium, no matter what competition, as of now. Becs: So, moving on, we have a new favorite
pair that we’ve adopted from NHK! Yogeeta: I’m so excited! Kat: I’m so excited to talk about them. Yogeeta: This is me and Becs’ time to talk
about Pairs. Becs: Yes, yes, this is where we get to really
go off. Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara debuted and
oh my god guys, they are so charming. Yogeeta: They’re so great, I love them. Kat: They’re so cute, they win for Kiss and
Cry reactions. Becs: Her unbridled joy in the way they just
freaked out…they freaked out in the Short, but then also when they realized that they
got the minimum TES for Worlds… Kat: They’ve literally only been together
since the summer because Riku and her previous partner Shoya Ichihashi split at the end of
July, or at least that’s when they announced their split. So there’s no way they’ve been skating for
more than four or five months. This is an extremely fast turn-around for
them, and their elements look great. The twist is the one thing that needs a little
bit more work, but the fact that they can land side-by-side jumps? Yogeeta: They landed all their side-by-sides,
I can’t believe it. Kat: And she has a throw triple Lutz. Becs: Their tech potential is really good
if they can get their twist and shape, and work a little bit on the complexity of their
lifts. Kat: And it honestly just encourages me that
JSF is willing to put forward some funding to allow them to train overseas because they’re
being trained in Canada by Bruno Marcotte and Meagan Duhamel. That gives me a little bit more hope that
JSF is like, “Oh, maybe we should actually invest in non-singles disciplines.” Becs: The fact that between like them having
such a strong debut at home, which has got to be great for their confidence, but also
the fact that they’re JSF and they’re a new team, and they basically have so much
potential along with Utashin [Utana Yoshida and Shingo Nishiyama] in Ice Dance, who were
also only together for a few months and did so well. Like this is just so, it’s so novel to be
excited about non-singles disciplines in Japan. Kat: I know! Becs: But it’s so great. Like this is what we’ve been hoping for years
because Japan has so many talented skaters and then they just don’t develop their other
disciplines. So yes! Yogeeta: I’ve also just really happy they
had such a great debut at NHK. We all know when Japan hosts the competition,
people show up, even for Pairs, like the audience was pretty packed. People got to see them, they got to know them,
so I’m hoping that they’ll get a lot of Japanese support, and also they’ll be able to encourage
other skaters that like, Hey, these other disciplines exist too. It’s not just singles.” Kat: I really hope that this is the start
of just overall seeing a little bit more interest and coverage in their non-singles because
Japan is filled to the brim with talented skaters and to see them all just bottlenecking
in the singles is just… I feel like there’s so much wasted talent,
wasted potential. Yogeeta: So many amazing skaters with great
skating skills, just doing like singles when you could be putting those skating skills
to work in Dance. Becs: It’s really, really promising. I just really hope they stayed together because
Pairs and Japanese Pairs, you know? But they seem like they have a really good
relationship like they look so solid and in sync for only having just gotten together. Yogeeta: They look so happy together! Kat: But Riku is also Sui/Han fan, and so
she is a girl after my heart and she has good role models. She knows what good pair skating looks like,
so she’s aspiring to that level. I have a lot of faith in her motivation and
in their ability to grow and also with that short bob cut, she looks like a baby Wenjing. Just when she flies out when she’s just skating
around the rank with her little bob cut like, it’s literally the exact same hairstyle. I’m so, so charmed. Becs: Really, really excited to see them at
Four Continents and at Worlds. So fingers crossed, can’t wait to see what
their improvement looks like in another couple months. Becs: All right. And now, we should move on to looking at the
Grand Prix Final! We have qualified with 30 points Wenjing Sui
and Cong Han from China, Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii from Russia with also
30 points, Cheng Peng and Yang Jin from China with 28 points, Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr
Galliamov with 26 points, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro from Canada with 26 points,
and Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin with 26 points. Kat: This is a very, very interesting field
considering the only Pairs that are returning from last year’s Grand Prix Final are Peng
and Jin and Pavliuchenko and Khodykin and you know, the front runners for the Grand
Prix Final are very, very different from last year as well. I think that no one is shocked that Sui/Han
are the favorites to win. They’ve been to the Grand Prix Final three
times prior, but they still have yet to win their first gold, so please let me have this. Yogeeta: May this be the year that they actually
win? Becs: I would be shocked if they didn’t like,
honestly, I have literally no doubts that they will pull this off. Kat: We’ll see, because Boikova and Kozlovskii
are the only team right now that has comparable scores, and they have been consistent, like
I think that their consistency is what’s giving them their momentum this season so far, because
they have looked really solid, and they have great programs, and so their scoring potential
is pretty high. I will say that since their second Grand Prix
was in Russia, there is definitely the chance that their scores were a bit inflated, so
we’ll see if that they’re able to make comparable scores with similar skates, like Grand Prix
Final. Becs: Yeah, it’ll definitely be interesting,
but basically in terms of who could do bronze, like it’s definitely between both of these
teams for gold and silver, but in terms of the bronze, it’s literally like shrug emoji. Yogeeta: Here’s everybody else! Becs: Any of these teams could do it. They all have really comparable scoring potential. Most of them have been really consistent. Kat: I mean, obviously we weren’t expecting
Tarasova and Morozov not making it, so that was a shock. That’s also probably what kind of putting
more of the results up in the air too because they’d be fighting for gold. Becs: It’ll be interesting to see how all
the different Russian teams pair off. I think Mishina and Galliamov have the advantage. They’ve beaten Pavliuchenko and Khodykin before. Kat: They definitely have an edge because
of their tech, because they’re very, very consistent and they have that amazing triple
Salchow-Euler-triple Salchow, that has looked incredible, so it’s just a matter of how everyone
performs on the day, honestly. Becs: Which is a lot of the fields here. Kat: I am very interested to see how Peng
and Jin do, like in my heart, I would love for them to get bronze because they were like
a surprise silver metal this last year, but their side by side jumps are always a huge
question mark. I have no idea what is happening with her
ankle, I have not heard any updates about it since Cup of China. They looked okay at Cup of China. It didn’t seem like her injury was too aggravated
if it’s still bothering her, so I’m just curious to see because now they’ve had three to four
weeks to prepare for the Grand Prix Final. They’d known that they were going to the Grand
Prix Final for a while. Becs: Other than Pavliuchenko and Khodykin,
they’ve had the most time in between their Grand Prixs than anyone before Grand Prix
Final, so hopefully they’re in better shape and have had a little more time to really
work on matters, because they were set back a lot by her ankle injury, but we’ll see. It’s pretty much just depending on whoever
performs best, because as long as you’re clean and you really performed the hell out of it
and fight for it, basically anyone could get it. Kat: I think that like Kirsten and Michael
like getting second at both of their Grand Prixs, I don’t even know if they were expecting
that to be honest. Like they actually had some pretty tough fields
to go up against, and they did pretty well, and with identical total scores, which is
freaking hilarious. Becs: Literally, what kind of witchcraft. If you look at the scores too, if they stacked
up against most of these, like those are consistent enough scores to potentially beat people. Yogeeta: It’ll be really hilarious if they
get that same score at the Grand Prix Final. Becs: That’s just their official score for
the season. We accept nothing else. [Hosts laugh] -end segment- START: Men Yogeeta: Onto the men! At Rostelecom, we had Alexander Samarin of
Russia in gold, Dmitri Aliev also of Russia with silver, and Makar Ignatov also of Russia
in bronze. At NHK Trophy, we had Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan
in gold, Kevin Aymoz of France in silver, and Roman Sadovsky of Canada in bronze. Kat: Chaos reigns supreme in the men this
season! Yogeeta: Well, the chaos is reigning supreme
everywhere. Becs: The sheer amount of medalists in each
event who did very well who are not making the Final – although Boyang [Jin] did sneak
in, so good for him! Kat: That’s probably the wildest development
I think of the season, is Boyang suddenly sneaking in. Becs: Yes, but we’ll get to that later. But like seriously, it’s because the field
right now is just so clearly Yuzu and Nathan- Yogeeta: And then everyone else! Becs: Battling it out and having like nervy
meltdowns and then someone doing really unexpectedly well. Kat: Although I’m going to be honest, if I
had to pick between the field being chaos, or Yuzu being chaos, I would definitely pick
the field. I think I’ve had enough of Yuzu chaos. Becs: The fact that Yuzu was like the chill
and predictable one other than some unexpected last-minute layout changes, it’s good. I’ll take it. Kat: It’s always good to have a level of unexpectedness. Becs: I really like it because it’s made men
really exciting this year because you really have no idea what’s going to happen. At the same time, I kind of missed when we
had, you know, Kat: Men who could land jumps consistently? Becs: And like last year’s Grand Prix Final
when it was not like who’s going to get bronze or who’s going to get silver, but it’s literally
like who’s going to win because we have no idea. This is a good potential because if there’s
so much competition at the lower levels, you don’t really push everyone to improve, so
it’s good. We’re just in kind of a weird limbo where
there’s just a big gap between parts of the field and the rest, but it’s still really
exciting. Yogeeta: Pretty large gap there. Becs: All right, so I think one thing that
was really fun about these events is that we had some utterly surprised bronze medalist
with Roman and Makar just coming up nowhere and taking their opportunity. Kat: So I was on vacation when Russian test
skates happened, and so I remember when I sneaked into the chat during my vacation and
seeing everyone yell about this Russian test skates boy, I had no idea who this person
was until I watched Rostelecom. Becs: I vaguely remember him from Juniors,
but then he was off for a season just because of injury. So the fact that he came back this strong
and he just showed up, I always love to see someone just really take a window of opportunity
and just absolutely go for it and be like, listen, I’m here. Kat: Because if there’s anything, like the
men’s field is chaotic right now for sure, but none more so than the Russian men right
now. Yogeeta: Oh, Russian men. Becs: Like it’s chaotic, but last year was
really depressing. Kat: Right? Because no one was doing well. Becs: No one. Dima was injured, [Mikhail Kolyada] was injured. I mean, Misha hasn’t really skated this year,
but at least he’s taking steps to fix that now and recovering from the surgery. Yogeeta: And Samarin was inconsistent. Becs: Maxim Kovtun won nationals and then
retired because he was so injured, it was just really depressing. Granted, I have issues with some of the Russian
scoring and inflation and politicking, but it is nice to see the general competition
in the field rising really well. It’s a little more interesting. Kat: It was very interesting watching Makar
because like again, this was more or less my first impression of watching him, and I
got a lot of Stephen Gogolev vibes from him, he is a real jumping machine. They’re not the best technique-wise, but he
can get them done. Becs: He’s really solid. Yogeeta: He rotates really quickly in the
air, which I think helps him a lot. Kat: I got to say for a first impression,
I remember being like, whoa, but definitely could use a lot more work in terms of the
programs and like the skating, overall skating, but I’m interested to see how he’ll play it
though. Becs: Like his scoring at NHK, he, unfortunately,
didn’t skate nearly as well at NHK, but as scoring at NHK made a lot more sense. 80 PCS in the Free versus like 72 ish at NHK. Kat: Remember when he was leading the Short
Program for so long at Rostelecom? Becs: Oh my God, that was so bizarre. Yogeeta: I remember waking up to go check
in on Men’s for Rostelecom, and I was like, “Who is this person who has been leading
the Short since like a group ago?” Becs: But it’s really great to see someone
have a really strong Senior debut at home, that I’m here for. Kat: And I think given that he was skating
back to back at NHK and he probably had it in his mind now, “Oh my god, I could have
a chance of making the Final.” It’s a possibility that got into his head
a little bit, which is totally understandable, so I don’t really fault him for that, but
I think for him, he should be really, really proud of how well he did this season so far. Yogeeta: Let’s talk about that other surprise
bronze medalist. Becs: Yay, Roman! Yogeeta: I might not like Roman’s programs,
but I really enjoy watching him skate. Becs: He’s a really pleasant skater to watch,
he has really nice skills and basics. Yogeeta: Yeah, he has great ice coverage,
really nice skating skills, and he has like the best spins. Becs: Oh, his spins are so great and honestly
like when he lands jumps like they look nice and solid and he gets nice flow out of them. Kat: He does, he really does. He gets really into it when the jumps go well,
it’s always nice to see the program open up. Becs: And we haven’t seen him skate this well
in a really long time. Yogeeta: I think the last time was maybe like
Autumn Classic last season. I’m really excited for him because Canadian
Nationals isn’t super deep, but like him versus Nam versus Keegan – it’ll be really interesting
to watch there. Becs: Yeah, I mean given that they only have
one spot for men at a home Worlds, it’s going to be like honestly, out of all the Canadian
men, if Keegan didn’t quite perform as well as potentially he could have, but I mean,
I have faith that like by Nationals, Keegan could show up and skate stellar, because he’s
capable of really great skating. So Canadian Nationals is going to be pretty
exciting because the Canadian men have done quite, quite well in the series so far. Even now I’m like, Nam did not podium at Rostelecom
like we had maybe thought he might be able to, but he’s still skated really well. He was still really solid, and he really performed. So I’m excited to see what Canadian Nationals
look like and hopefully, they can all just put their best skate forward. Kat: Some other highlights from Rostelecom,
man, Shoma. Yogeeta: Shoma at IDF was heartbreaking. He really needed those two weeks with Stephane. This clearly is not the best that he has ever
done and nowhere lives up to the actual potential, but it’s far in a way, like so much of an
improvement over what he put out in France. It’s not what’s the skate he wanted, but I’m
happy he was able to see that he can still perform. Kat: I just hope that this inspires a permanent
movement or at least like a wake-up call that he needs. Becs: From his comments post-Rostelecom, he
seemed to really indicate that he really understood the importance, like it’s clearly made such
a difference with him to just have some sort of more present coach for even just the two
weeks that he seems really decisive that like, I can’t sit out the rest of the season coachless
and I’m going to have to make a choice. And it sounds like Stephane will be with him
at Nationals? Yogeeta: Yeah he’s going to be training with
Stephane [Lambiel] until Nationals, and then afterward I think they’re going to make a
decision of whether Shoma is going to stick with him for the long term. Becs: At least it seems very very clear to
Shoma that he can’t keep up this situation and it was really bad for him so hopefully
he can get on track later. I’m a little worried just because Sota [Yamamoto]
and Keiji [Tanaka], although he had a rough outing at Cup of China, and Yuma Kagiyama
[Yogeeta: Yeah, looking at the Juniors] have been doing great. Luckily Japan has three spots for Worlds so
it’s not really a bloodbath like it was back 7 years ago. Kat: But it is interesting to see the field
open up a little bit in the Japanese men. Becs: I’m excited because it used to be that
Japanese Nationals was super predictable, so hopefully he can get it together. I’m worried about his jumps, it seems a little
bit mental and a little bit a combination of sloppiness and lack of proper training. I miss when Shoma was up in the equation with
Yuzu and Nathan and neck and neck versus the fact that now his scores have been so tragic. Yogeeta: That was just last season, Becs! Becs: There are still four months before Worlds
so hopefully– I mean, Stephane wouldn’t be my pick for a coach in terms of jumps. Kat: I was just gonna say. Yogeeta: I think Stephane is going to be a
great coach to have just for the mental aptitude, which I think Shoma needs. Becs: Yeah, fingers crossed things work on
the trial and things will be better moving on. So we have Dima, who is still living this
season, a blessing! It’s great not to be injured, I love a non-injured
Dima who’s doing so much better. Kat: I was really worried about him after
last season. Yogeeta: He’s remembering his Axel’s, also
really important. Becs: Yes there are Axel’s present. His jumps math is still off. He needs to go to the Yuzuru Hanyu school
of yolo layouts. I need Yuzu to hold a training seminar at
the Final – not that he should have the time – but seriously if he could just give
a quick PowerPoint about how to quickly calculate jump layouts… Yogeeta: Maybe at the banquet, after it’s
over he could put together this presentation. Kat: But yeah I was just really happy for
him that he made the podium and he is able to make the Grand Prix Final this time around. He looked so much better too than at Skate
America. Skate America, he kind of had a rough skate. Becs: In my opinion, I don’t think he was
lowballed on PCS but I think in comparison to Samarin who beat him on PCS I would say
he was lowballed in contrast. I think his PCS are roughly where they should
be, it’s just Samarin’s were an easy 5 to 7 points higher than I would put them at. Anyway, really excited to see him in the Final
so yay! He survived. Yogeeta: A quick shoutout to Deniss [Vasiljevs]
for skating a backup Short Program in Russia. Becs: He did well, it was really nice. Deniss, he’s still a little frustrating in
that his jumps are not quite where one would hope, but he performs so well. His performance skills, his spins are incredible. It was great to see him have– compared to
last season his Grand Prix’s have been much more solid and he’s placed really well. His “I love cheese” comment was the funniest
thing in the entire Rostelecom. Yogeeta: True highlight. Kat: Hilarious. Becs: He got a rat plushie and was just “I
love cheese!” and Stephane hates cheese so it’s even better knowing that background. We love cheeky students. Yogeeta: Moving on to men at NHK. Let’s talk about the one and only Yuzuru Hanyu. Becs: He survived! Yogeeta: He survived two competitions injury-free! Becs: I have spent the last two Grand Prix’s
Yuzu has been assigned to almost sobbing in bed in a dull haze because he was so injured
at each one. Kat: Three years. Becs: I think the entire mood, including Yuzu
and all his team, were all so relieved that he’s healthy and going to the GPF. Kat: I was so happy that he was in such good
spirits but it was really humanizing just to see how nervous he was here. Becs: When he took his opening pose, he was
trembling for “Origin.” He was trembling so badly and my heart just
dropped. Yogeeta: I saw he was trembling and I was
like, I’ve never seen Hanyu be nervous like this. Becs: I’ve seen him be nervous but I’ve never
seen him – he was almost skittering across the ice out of his opening pose because he
was shaking so hard. Kat: And for him to still do so well with
that kind of stress! Becs: With that kind of pressure and anxiety. We all know, we love Yuzu but he is so superstitious. This has really been the year where he has
been facing each demon head-on and ripping it to shreds. Yogeeta: And he’s been triumphing, it’s been
amazing to just watch him do this. He was so happy to be going to the GPF. Becs: It’s been so long, my lizard brain is
still worried about his training into the GPF or something dumb like that. Kat: Hearing him in the Kiss and Cry with
Brian and Ghislain, he’s like “Going to the Final!” He was so excited, it really feels like so
long since we’ve seen him at GPF. The fact that he managed to make it through
the Grand Prix intact, two working ankles, without any illnesses. Yogeeta: And it’s probably his best shape
that he’s been in for a while. Becs: Origin [at NHK] was not quite as good
as Skate Canada, but given the nerves and all the pressure he was under, he did amazingly. Kat: Yeah and we talked about how nervous
he was, all of us were, but the fact that he was able to improvise his layout. Let’s talk about this a little bit, he popped
his second planned quad toe-Euler-triple flip into a double and then improvised a quad toe-triple
toe instead of his triple Axel triple toe, and then yolo’d a triple Axel-Euler-triple
Sal. What even – on the fly! That is insane! Yogeeta: Also that triple Axel-Euler-triple
Salchow is probably his best Axel combo that he’s done all season and I’m so blown away. Kat: Judge 4 giving it a 0 GOE, like hello!? I was absolutely on the floor over that. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, we can see–
so far the quad Loop is the jump that seems to be the least stable of the ones that he’s
putting out so far. Yogeeta: We’ve seen a steady improvement across
his three competitions. Becs: So far it’s a little fickle but it’s
looking better than it was early in the season. And then Kevin Aymoz made the GPF. Yogeeta: I’m so happy for him, also the panning
away from the Kiss and Cry just as he realized he made GPF. Kat: I know, that was so bad, I was like “Go
back!” Becs: I need that reaction because he was
in such shock. His Short Program, he skated really well here. His Free was kind of rough, and he really
had to fight for everything. The landings and the axis of his jumps still
terrify me but I am so impressed that he does not sacrifice the program or the choreography
or the transitions at all, even if it would make his consistency much higher. Kat: I’m so happy for him though. It’ll be so great to watch him at the Final
because he really deserves to be there. Yogeeta: And he’s commented that GPF wasn’t
even one of his goals for this season, so the fact that he made it is so mind-blowing
for him. Becs: And then we finally got to see Sota. Kat: Sota! Becs: Sota Yamamoto! I’m never not going to be bitter because he
really deserved two Grand Prix’s, especially in this field given how much potential there
was for doing well given how well he’s done. But it was great to see him finally. We saw him at U.S. Classic but to see him
in a Grand Prix and at home, skating with his idol too, Yuzu. Yogeeta: He didn’t need to take as much inspiration
from Yuzu this comp though, like the quad toe pops. Kat: He’s usually much more solid on them
but I can understand being nervous here. Becs: Yeah I think the nerves got to him. Kat: In general though, I really love his
range of motion like his upper body movement. Especially during his choreo sequence and
his step sequence, he is so fast and he gets such great ice coverage. I could use a little bit more facial expression. It’s very similar to the problem I have with
Jun but he’s so young that he can work on it. I’m just super happy that he was able to perform
here and do pretty solidly. Yogeeta: I’m really excited to see, as we’ve
talked about, Men at Japanese Nationals because it’s going to be a time. Becs: It’ll be really interesting to see how
he does and Sota, in my opinion, is one of the most inspiring skaters in the men’s field
in terms of his pure grit and commitment to chasing his goals and dreams and getting better. Seeing him slowly get back his triple Axel
and his quads has just been incredible to watch. On to the GPF, our qualifiers are Yuzuru Hanyu
from Japan with 30 points, Nathan Chen from the U.S. with 30 points, Alexander Samarin
from Russia with 28 points, Dmitri Aliev, also from Russia with 24 points, Kevin Aymoz
from France with 24 points, and Boyang Jin from China with 20 points. Kat: Sneaking his way in. Yogeeta: Oh Boyang, he made it! Kat: His hilarious post on social media where
he was just like “Oh should I film a vlog this week or something?” and he’s like “Alright,
no, I’m not doing it” once he finds out he’s going to GPF. And then someone from the official Cup of
China account was like “Go get your visa.” Becs: His visa woes are unmatched so hopefully
this goes better. Kat: And he’s got about two weeks so hopefully… Becs: Hopefully this is not another visa tragedy. But, in terms of match-ups, it’s basically
Yuzu versus Nathan for first and second. There’s no contest – unless Nathan or Yuzu
gets horribly ill in the next two weeks – it’s them. Kat: Considering the margins that they’ve
both won their Grand Prix’s… Becs: They’ve both been beating their field
by between 40 to 60 points, it’s ridiculous. Yuzu is still the only man to have broken
300 points so that is definitely hefty. But also both Yuzu and Nathan can change their
jump layouts to be considerably harder if they want to, depending on what the other
one does. I’m pretty much convinced Yuzu is going to
show up to Torino, do his weird taste the ice rituals and then decide his jump layouts. Yogeeta: I actually disagree, I think Yuzu
is going to stick to the program we’ve seen him do these past two comps and will actually
try a new layout at Nationals. Kat: I feel like Nathan definitely is a lot
more finicky about what he brings to each competition. Yuzu has basically brought the same layout
to his competitions and Nathan changes it up a little bit. Becs: Very much changes his layout on the
fly. It’s going to be really interesting to see. I’m really glad that they both seem– well
we haven’t seen Nathan in quite some time yet but hopefully he’s doing well. I’ll be really happy to see how they face
off against each other. Kat: It’s been a while since they’ve competed
against each other with both being healthy. Becs: And then we have this complete… Kat: “What?” for bronze. Yogeeta: What’s gonna happen with the bronze? Becs: I love that this is so exciting but
also what is going to happen? Yogeeta: Any of these men can make bronze. Any of these men can make the case to be bronze
at this competition and it’s both amazing but also what is going on with the men. Kat: Nathan is the only returning [skater]
from last year’s GPF and Yuzu technically did qualify but then withdrew. But the field is completely different from
last year’s. It’s a wild ride for that third spot. Becs: It’s going to be interesting and none
of these men have a particular reputation for being incredibly consistent, especially
this time of year. Boyang gets more and more consistent so he
might be able to pull it together. Kat: I’m very happy that Boyang is a peak
later in the season kind of guy. Becs: Samarin has some of the highest tech
ceilings and he also gets very generous PCS and GOE but I’m interested to see how that’s
going to look outside of Russia. Russia still goes very hard in politicking
but it might be more reasonable. Yogeeta: I’m very interested to see Samarin
versus Dima lineup here. Kat: Judging from Rostelecom it’s looking
like RusFed is backing Samarin and we know that RusFed is looking for a top guy. Yogeeta: I will be very interested to see
how an uninjured Dima in his third competition out will do because he has been improving
steadily throughout his competitions this season. Becs: It’ll be interesting, and even Kevin
– if Kevin skates really well, and everyone else dies on their quads. Kevin is not the most consistent skater on
his jumps but even he could have a really good showing. I’m not really necessarily hoping for him
to medal but men have been so unpredictable this year apart from the top 1 or 2 men that
I’m not making any sound predictions in any way. I’m just really happy we have such an exciting
field with a lot of people who haven’t been to the Final or haven’t been to the Final
in a while. -end segment- START: Ice Dance Becs: For the Ice Dance podiums – at Rostelecom,
taking gold we have Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia. In silver, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of
Canada, and in bronze Sara Hurtado and Kiril Khaliavin of Spain. At NHK Trophy, we had Gabriella Papadakis
and Guillaume Cizeron of France in gold. Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin from Russia
in silver, and Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri from Italy taking the bronze. Kat: So, where should we start? Becs: I mean, Ice Dance remains the most predictable
in some ways but also this has still been, not necessarily for medalists, but overall,
a little bit more unpredictable or a little more interesting in some of the progressions
we’ve seen in certain teams and how other teams have struggled. Kat: I think it’s that the field looked
so different last year because there were so many teams missing, and so a lot of teams
were able to capitalize and push up through the gaps a little bit. And now the top teams are back, it’s much
harder understandably for there to be shifting of ranking in Ice Dance, just because there’s
so much embedded politicking in the scores. In general, Ice Dancers don’t mess up nearly
as much. Becs: Speaking of our world record holders,
who got new world records at NHK, Papadakis and Cizeron. It’s interesting because they got such astronomic
scores but their programs definitely have room to grow. Kat: Papadakis and Cizeron, of the top teams
currently, or the teams who are at the Grand Prix Final, have the best programs, even if
some of their programs aren’t necessarily for me or my favorite of them. I absolutely love their Rhythm Dance. I feel like some of the top teams this season
have really been slacking on their programs so comparatively I’m like, “I’ll take
it.” Becs: Honestly, their still such incredible
skaters and their programs are really good, and people harp on them a lot, but their Rhythm
Dance is what I wanted from this team. It’s so campy, it’s so fun. Yeah, they need to work on the timing a bit… Kat: This program is what I feel like they’re
like in real life. Becs: They have really fantastic personalities
and I like that they finally took the dare to do a Rhythm Dance that really shows it. So many teams this year for the Rhythm Dance
really phoned it in or did some kind of antiquated vintage bland thing and Papadakis and Cizeron
just delivered. Kat: Honestly, I love this Rhythm Dance a
lot. I was super excited when I first heard that
they were doing Fame, but that being said… Becs: That being said, there were some interesting
things that went on here. Kat: That doesn’t mean we are going to overlook
some of the scoring that went on here. This is the first Rhythm Dance over 90 points,
but wow, there are some things we need to talk about. The twizzles are probably the most egregious. Guillaume literally missed a rotation in the
first set and still the lowest GOE on their protocol was the 3 that a couple of judges
gave them on the twizzles. Yogeeta: I think what was even more egregious
for me is that when they did their Finnstep, they only got 2 of the key points, but afterward
it went up to them getting all 4 key points after it was reevaluated by the tech panel,
and I was like “No. You missed the timing and a bunch of other
things. You guys should have gotten a level 2 there.” Kat: And their stationary lift also went from
level 3 during the program to level 4 by the time I checked the protocol, and got all 4/5
GOE by the end so it’s like hmmm. Becs: It’s just frustrating because they
are so good and they need to work on their pattern and they need to work on some of their
elements, but they don’t need that kind of bump to win by a margin. Kat: Again, it’s just frustrating because
we do care about their scoring, and how crazy inflated their scores are, but it’s sad
a lot of the discussion of great this program is, and how it brings out their fun side. It kind of gets lost because everyone’s
so mad at the scores all the time. Yogeeta: I appreciate Papadakis and Cizeron. I’m sure most people know I’m not their
biggest fan, but I agree that they’re the top skaters in their field. They don’t need the judges to do this, they’d
still win these competitions. Becs: Yeah, it just makes people frustrated
and bitter, which is really unfortunate because they have such good programs this year. If we want to talk about the Free Dance which
is definitely a much more polarising program; I will defend this program to the death, because
I am the sort of person who spends all my spare income going to really eccentric, bizarre,
minimalistic modern dance things. The fact that they, one, took the challenge
to skate to spoken word poetry that is really hard to work with. They worked really hard on doing interesting
lifts. This program is so raw and minimalistic and
beautiful and different. Kat: There are things that I appreciate about
this program, even if the program itself is not really to my taste. Becs: I guess I get frustrated with – as someone
who likes modern dance a lot, this is an extremely different program than the ones they’ve
done in prior years, in terms of challenging, and how hard the cut is to skate to. From everyone I’ve talked to, it has a much
stronger impact live, so I’m excited to see it at Worlds if it already gives me chills. A lot of people are like oh my god, it’s
voiceover, and people are so anti-voiceover after last year, but there is an abrupt, jarring
voiceover the way [Madison] Hubbel and [Zachary] Donohue chuck one in their program, and this. I would not classify this a voiceover, it’s
the core thread of their program. It’s not a jarring interruption, it’s
literally what their entire program is entirely built on, so I don’t get that discontent from
someone’s talking, because it’s such a salient thread running through the entire
program that it draws you into their world. Moving onto other people who got to the final,
we have Piper and Paul, who finally qualified. Kat: It’s been a hot minute for them too. Yogeeta: I was so happy that they made it,
but [claps] please work on your Finnstep levels. Becs: They’ve done the Finnstep beautiful,
they’re an older team. Someone of these teams like [Lilah] Fear and
[Lewis] Gibson have not been competing long enough to have had to do Finnstep before. I feel like every single year we do this,
and look sadly at protocols like “Drill your pattern, drill your pattern.” Kat: And, this is not like the Tango Romantica,
which is notoriously one of the most difficult, with two sections. Becs: They made it through both the Grand
Prixs, without any heart-breaking performances. They tend to be a little shaky sometimes on
the Grand Prix. It was just really great to see them. Their scores have been – they have been competing
really solidly. They’ve been really strong technically. Kat: It’s great for them to get in, after
just missing out last season. This season is also a lot more competitive,
so kudos. Becs: Congratulations! So, another team that we are very fond of
– Guignard and Fabbri. Kat: Fond of, but also sad about. Becs: It was kind of a hard competition to
watch. There were kind of two issues – one was they
had a last-minute change of their Rhythm Dance to “Grease.” Yogeeta: Their previous Rhythm Dance was great. I don’t understand why they changed it. Especially, if you had to change it, fine,
but why would you do it at your Grand Prix event? Why not wait until [Nationals]? Becs: Change it between Grand Prix Final to
Europeans, or something, then you have a lot of time. Yogeeta: This timing was so weird to me. IDF was just two weeks ago. You did not have time to go and make a new
program and have it perfected by your second Grand Prix event in the span of two weeks. Kat: It just looks very very rough right now,
which is understandable if they’ve basically only had two weeks to drill it. Becs: The problem with Ice Dance is – yeah,
with Singles you can kind of just copy a layout, and it’s hard to change a program – but
Ice Dance you have to be perfect. Kat: Especially considering they are very
much a technical team. They’re amazing, but the reason why they’ve
done so well is that they’re such great skaters, and Rhythm Dance is very much about
how good are you as a skater. So, the Rhythm Dance is their strength, and
messing with that definitely wasn’t a smart move for them, at least from my perspective. Yogeeta: No, not at all. Becs: Also, the fact that they did “Grease.” [Olivia] Smart and [Adrian] Diaz have such
an incredible “Grease” program and it’s just going to bite very harsh comparisons
just on the whole performance side because you might be the best technician but still. Also, they struggled a bit. They had a deduction because of a technical
fall in their Free, which was really unusual for them. He’s recovering from injury, so I’m still
just shocked they’re doing so well. Kat: This was definitely the lowest Free Dance
score they’ve gotten in a while. They usually score up in the 120s. Becs: They looked shocked by it. Kat: They were behind Fear and Gibson in the
Free Dance. Becs: Which is insane, normally, given their
technical level – the technical gap between these two teams. Yogeeta: Unfortunately, they won’t be making
it to the Grand Prix Final, but hopefully they will take this time between now and Nats
and Euros to figure out what exactly they’re doing with their programs, and hopefully Marco’s
hand will heal, so they’ll actually be at full strength once Europeans happen. Becs: Alright. Kat. It’s time to talk about the loves of our
lives. Kat: Time to talk about Stepanova and Bukin. Becs: NHK was really fun, because there were
a lot of teams from Skate America, and we all got to see these teams five weeks ago,
in person, so seeing their improvement was really fun. Kat: Especially because these guys had the
most time to fix up any issues from Skate America until now because they got the first
and the last Grand Prix. They definitely looked a lot sharper here
than at Skate America. [Laughs] These guys and their almost costume
violations in the Rhythm Dance. Kudos to Sasha’s composure under pressure. She saved her hairpin, she saved the tassels
that nearly fell out. Becs: The fact that she got the levels while
dealing with that whilst obviously in like distress, and still sold it. Yogeeta: After the Rhythm Dance though, she
looked so mad. Kat: She was like why me? Why again? Becs: They looked in great shape, which was
lovely. Kat: They had tough competition at both of
their Grand Prixs, it was going to be a tough ask for them to beat Hubbel and Donohue at
home, and it was obviously going to be a tough ask for them to beat Papadakis and Cizeron,
so I’m pretty sure they were expecting to just perform solidly and qualify for the Grand
Prix Final. Hopefully, at the Grand Prix Final, we’ll
be able to see the Rhythm Dance without any mishaps or anything. It kind of reminds me of how we had to wait
– last year, they had the bird issue or the confetti issue at Finlandia [Trophy] and we
had to wait until [GP] Helsinki to see their Rhythm Dance performed to its max potential. It’ll be fun. Becs: It’ll be worth the wait. We also have our loves [Shiyue] Wang and [Xinyu]
Liu, who have done so well this Grand Prix series. Yogeeta: They have done so well this season,
and they have two amazing programs. Becs: They have 3 – shame on NHK for not inviting
them to the gala. Yogeeta: You are right. You are right. Kat: Honestly, when I first heard they were
doing “Chaplin” and “Black Swan,” Becs: Those are like the most tired programs. I see them in Singles too much. I’m not excited. But, theirs are so good. Kat: It’s a testament to the fact – especially
for “Chaplin” – there’s a lot of commitment that has to be had to be able to pull off
“Chaplin,” and they really commit the entire time with the facial expressions. They don’t lose steam and I think losing
steam is what would make this program suffer, but they really commit to it the entire time. . Becs: They even commit to the “Black Swan.” Xinyu’s eyeshadow, man. Everyone should take note and follow. This is the sort of makeup that you should
be doing. I appreciate also Adrian’s commitment to
the clown makeup. Kat: We appreciate men in eyeliner and eyeshadow. Becs: Yes. Moving on, one interesting part of NHK was
we got to see [Lorraine] McNamara and [Quinn] Carpenter for the first time since they had
to withdraw from IDF from injury. You could clearly tell that they had issues
with injury, and were just trying to get out there and get some traction with their programs. It was rough to see, because they had not
the best showing, especially given what they’re capable of. Kat: They finished last here. They’re usually much more polished and so
much cleaner but I can’t even blame them because of the lack of training time, especially
since it is already so late into the season, and everyone’s been drilling and improving
since their last competitions, I can’t really blame them for looking so rough here. Becs: We also had [Christina] Carreira and
[Anthony] Ponomarenko who, unlike a lot of the teams we saw from Skate America, had a
rougher outing here. [Yogeeta: Yeah] Anthony missed the leg grab
on the rotational lift and it was kind of a disaster. Yogeeta: I really love their Free Dance so
I’m really interested to see how this is going to play out for US Nationals with the second,
mid-tier teams because, obviously, we have McNamara and Carpenter, who are still recovering
from this injury – I don’t know if they’ll be fully recovered for Nationals. CPom, they’re usually pretty polished so this
seemed like more of an unusual mistake for them. Becs: We’ll see. I mean, Nationals is going to be interesting
because [Kaitlin] Hawayek and [Jean-Luc] Baker have also struggled and [Caroline] Green and
[Michael] Parsons are a new team. So it’s going to be interesting, seeing the
battle for bronze – and the potato [pewter] medal! Since we get potato medals at Nationals! Looking forward to our qualifiers at the Grand
Prix Final- Yogeeta: We have Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume
Cizeron of France with 30 points, Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia
with 30 points, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Canada with 28 points, Madison Hubbell
and Zachary Donohue of the US with 28 points, Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin of Russia
with 26 points, and Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the US with 26 points. Kat: Anyway, I think gold is pretty much a
lock here, right? Becs: Papadakis and Cizeron would literally
have to trip all over both of their programs to not get gold. And then next, we have Sinitsina and Katsalapov
who are probably going to be silver. Their programs are definitely weaker this
year and they’ve looked a little more vulnerable but still I think they have the benefit of
clout and backing. Kat: They have RusFed backing as of late. Becs: Which is a very powerful element. Kat: Yes, especially since Zhulin is their
coach. But we have seen them falter in the past,
especially Nikita’s twizzles – that second set, where they have the arms outstretched. I always think he’s going to topple over because
you can see his arms wobbling up and down, whereas if you look at Vika she looks totally
stable. Her arms do not shift in position or wobble
up and down at all. Becs: I’ve actually been really impressed
with how much Vika has improved. Kat: It’s a shame that their programs, in
general, are a little bit weaker this season but I still think technique-wise they’re probably
second to Papadakis and Cizeron overall. Their Rhythm Dance score is so far the second-best
we’ve seen but I think that their Free Dance will be a little bit more up in the air. Becs: I think some of the most interesting
showdowns are going to be between the two top Russians pairs and the two American pairs. Kat: It’s going to be Papadakis and Cizeron
and then a Russian and an American team. Becs: Much as I would love Piper and Paul… It would make me so happy, but- Yogeeta: Listen, there is the probability
that it could potentially happen. Becs: Honestly, I’m kind of excited this year. For instance, one, Hubbell and Donohue were
at Skate Canada. They’ve had the most time to rework their
programs out of anyone, because most of these teams – Chock and Bates had a bit more, but
most of these teams have either just competed at NHK or at Rostelecom. But Hubbell and Donohue have had a while,
and also Zach was very ill during Skate Canada. Kat: For both of them he was pretty rough. Becs: Yeah, for both of them. So it’s kind of understandable that the performance
might have suffered a bit and hopefully, they’ve reworked their programs as best they can. It’s just going to be interested to see because
Chock and Bates’ scoring has been surprising this season. I think the US federation has probably decided
to back them a little more than they were when they weren’t sure whether or not they
were injured last season. Kat: In my dreams, Stepanova and Bukin make
the podium, in third. But I don’t know if we’ll see two Russian
teams on the podium. Yogeeta: Honestly, I can’t make any real predictions
of who’s going to get silver or bronze here. Anything can happen. Kat: No, you can’t! It’s so interesting because the Free Dance
scores, for the most part, barring Papadakis and Cizeron, have all been roughly around
the 124 to 126 range. And none of them had perfect levels – none
of them. So it’s going to be interesting. Becs: Basically, this is just me, as usual,
collapsing on the ground and begging everyone to please drill – especially the Rhythm Dance
and their patterns – and work on their levels. Because as much as levels still don’t make
quite as much of the decisive factors I would wish… Kat: One of these days we will have that discussing
again on whether or not lower-level elements should be able to get +5s and +4s – but we’ll
save that for another time. -end segment- START: Ladies Kat: So, for the Ladies podium at Rostelecom
we had Alexandra Trusova [of Russia] in gold, Evgenia Medvedeva [of Russia] in silver, and
Mariah Bell [of the US] in bronze. And at NHK, we had Alena Kostornaia [of Russia]
in gold, Rika Kihira [of Japan] in silver, and Alina Zagitova [of Russia] in bronze. So I think that there were a lot of redemptive
skates by way of the second Grand Prix was much better than the first. Becs: Yeah, in quite a lot of ways. So we had Evgenia who completely came out
and absolutely threw down at Rostelecom. She hasn’t skated two programs that well back
to back in a very long time – arguably, maybe since the Olympics. Yogeeta: I think it has been since the Olympics. Becs: She really was like, “Listen, I am here.” And she made some smart choices regarding
her layout too – that helped so much. Yogeeta: Getting rid of the Lutz in the Short
Program for the loop was the best decision she has ever made. Kat: Her edge jumps are so much better than
any of her toe jumps, so I’m so glad that the loop is in instead of the Lutz now. Yogeeta: It’s just so important that she was
able to get this done at Rostelecom because, especially after what happened Skate Canada,
she needed this to prove to herself and her own confidence that she can still remain competitive
in this field. Kat: And that she made the right choice as
well. I think that, given how uneven her performances
have been since she started training overseas, there’s definitely a little bit of self-doubt
that naturally would seep in like, “Is this the right choice?” And I think that she really needed a performance
like this to validate that “Yes, I’ve made the right choice. I’m going to continue with this.” Because what broke my heart most when I saw
her at Skate Canada was that it almost looked like she was defeated like, “I don’t know
how I did this.” It was just really great to see that she was
able to wash those doubts away. Becs: Yeah, she did such a turnaround and
it was fantastic. Also, continuing in the vein of people who
had much better second Grand Prixs – and even just better competitions – Mako Yamashita. We were so happy because we all saw her at
Skate America. [Kat: It was rough] It was hard because we
had seen her last season at Skate Canada too live and she was incredible there. Seeing her struggle so much was really hard
at Skate America so coming back and watching her really throw down and skate cleanly and
solidly – that’s got to be amazing for her confidence because she hasn’t had that good
of a skate in over a year. Kat: I think that she really needed that for
her own confidence too, especially because Nationals is less than a month away now. So being able to put it together now so close
to Nationals is really good for her. Yogeeta: Also shout out to Yuhana Yokoi. Firstly, she was at Rostelecom and NHK – so
shout out to her doing this back to back. But also, she didn’t have that great of a
Short Program at NHK and she turned it around in that Free and skated her life out. I’m so proud of her. Becs: I have been ridiculously fond of her
ever since she was a Junior. Literally the moment that I found out that
her hobby was gardening there was no going back. Yogeeta: She spoke to you. Kat: Your daughter! Becs: But yeah, it was really good to see
her skate so solidly. Especially since, normally, if you have grueling
back-to-back Grand Prixs, you often perform a little worse in the second one, as opposed
to better. So seeing that improvement at home with the
pressure, I’m just so happy for her and hopefully this is a good mark of an upward trend. Another salient narrative that emerged from
these Grand Prixs was a strong running thread of consistency. Alena, Rika, and Alexandra all really held
up well to a lot of pressure and medalled very highly, either winning or getting silver
at their Grand Prixs. Kat: Alena – are we going to talk about how
amazing she is? Especially at NHK, oh my God, that triple
Axel. Becs: Her world record Short Program, while
I did keel over at the scores in general, she was so stellar. Kat: That triple Axel with those transitions
and with the distance that she gets on them – oh my God. It is just so wild to me how many triple Axels
we’re seeing this season. Becs: Really good triple Axels! Kat: Not just like a “We land this and get
it done,” but between Alena and Rika both at the same competition, landing such beautiful
triple Axels – I was like, “Oh man.” Yogeeta: I still think Young [You] probably
has my favorite triple Axel that we’ve seen this season. Becs: Young, when she lands it, is gorgeous
and also [Elizaveta Tuktamysheva’s] is looking so much more solid too. So they’re all just absolutely slaying it. Kat: I think it’s a matter of those three
– Alena, Rika, and Young – all have different things about their triple Axels that I like. So I can’t even pick a favorite. Alena has the best transitions and the best
distance, Rika rotates so fast and she gets the rotations so clearly in the air and her
landings look so confident. Young has a little bit longer of a set-up,
but her landing has so much flow and speed out of it. The amount of quality that we’re seeing in
the triple Axels just feels like an abundance of riches. Becs: I know, and also Liza’s looks so much
easier this season in general. Kat: And it looks like she just hops into
the air and gets into the rotations so quickly! Becs: Especially given the dicey quality of
some of the Ladies quads, it’s heartening that the triple Axels, in general, when people
actually do them, tend to be like chefs kiss. They’re just gorgeous. I think the showdown [at NHK] was definitely
between Alena and Rika and to me Alena completely did win the Short, no question. The Free, I’m a little dubious about. Rika skated cleaner than Alena and the fact
that her technical element score was so much lower… Kat: It was a little bit dubious. Becs: Like I’m kind of okay with them getting
about equal on the PCS. They basically were equivalent there which
I’m fine with. I have more issues with Alina’s scoring in
that regard. But it was just kind of frustrating to see. Kat: She would have won either way and because
Alena also has other tech issues as well that got overlooked is the main issue because she
has a very clear flutz. So that’s one of the more egregious problems
I see. It’s especially glaring because I think that
Rika is one of the few skaters that has such a solid technique on every single jump. Becs: It’s a little frustrating, yeah, but
at least they both qualified, in the end. But basically, I’m a little frustrated on
how much lower Rika’s GOE was in comparison to Alena, given how well Rika also skated. Kat: I’m really glad that she made the smart
move to not go for the quad Sal, because I don’t think it would have been worth it. She was going to make the Grand Prix [Final]
as long as she was top four and she just did her normal layout. It’s so close to the Grand Prix Final that
I would not want her to risk that injury. Yogeeta: I think she’ll probably risk it at
Grand Prix Final though. Kat: Yeah. In general, with the scoring, I think the
podium is exactly correct but the scoring felt a little wonky – especially when you
look at Alina’s scores as well. Alina also scored over 150 [in the Free]. Yogeeta: I think that’s also what upset me
more, not with Alena but with Alina and Rika’s Free Skate scores being so close. Kat: It’s so funny though because the three
podium girls all got 150 in their Free Skate and then the next girl was like at 130. Becs: And the thing with Alina is that she
was very much quite business in just trying to get the jumps done for most of the Free
Skate, but given the Short she had and how far back she was, I don’t blame her. She kind of just had to get her jumps done
and make sure she skated cleanly. People always write off Alina and I appreciate
the hell out of her grit and staying power because she managed to get through a horrible
season last year, in terms of her injury. She’s looking more solid, she’s looking healthier,
the field has gotten so much more deep with Trusova, Kostornaia, and Shecherbakova all
going Senior – so her results haven’t been quite as good this season as they were last
season. She’s getting more bronzes and silvers rather
than just winning things but she’s looking really good. I do think the fact that she won PCS- Yogeeta: She won PCS in both the Short and
the Free. Kat: More glaring in the Short, considering
the mistakes she made. Becs: At least with the Free, she was clearly
not as into the performance until she got the jumps done but she skated really well
but for the Short, that doesn’t make sense to me. If I look at it, I’m just like “Okay.” I was really happy though to see her come
back and skate such a good Free after that Short Program and a letdown. Moving on, we have to talk about Satoko a
bit. Kat: Go, Becs. You can be sad for us all. Becs: Because she is like… Ugh! I know I turn into like a classical Greek
widow, beating my breast, ragging my clothes and screaming the moment her PCS comes up
but I looked at her protocols from Rostelecom and Satoko is not 3.5 points above Sasha and
almost 4 points below Zhenya, as a skater in components. Kat: If Alina and Zhenya are 9 to 9.5’s type
of skaters, Satoko should be a 12. Yogeeta: Satoko’s a 12! Becs: So it’s frustrating, I don’t think there
are any other skaters that I go blank with rage the moment I see their PCS. Anyway, she had to do back to back GPs for
the first time, so that was a struggle. I’m glad she’s changed to Lee [Barkell], I
think in the long run it’ll probably pay off but I’m a little side-eyeing their choice
to drastically rework her jump tech in the middle of the Grand Prix Series because it’s
costing her a lot and it probably would have been better to move to him earlier and work
on it or get through the season and then work on it. Yogeeta: Well I feel like they’re probably
like, “We need to get her ready for Nats, at this point,” and wanted to at least try
it out because I feel like they probably didn’t have as much hope that she would make Grand
Prix Final, given the fields, unfortunately. Becs: I don’t know, man. But yeah, it was really sad seeing her struggle
so much, like it was just unfortunate because she skated beautifully in a lot of aspects
but there were just too many technical issues that held her back, given the strength of
the field and how well everyone skated. Yogeeta: Okay, let’s take a quick look at
the Grand Prix Final. So for our qualifiers, we have Alena Kostornaia
of Russia with 30 points, Alexandra Trusova of Russia with 30 points, Anna Shecherbakova
of Russia with 30 points, Rika Kihira of Japan with 26 points, Alina Zagitova of Russia with
24 points, and Bradie Tennell of the US with 22 points. So, who is surprised at our top three qualifiers
for Ladies at the Grand Prix Final? Becs: I mean, no one. Although, to be honest, I am very glad that
Anna Shecherbakova did so well this season. Really, our surprise person is dear Bradie
Tennell, who managed to sneak in. Kat: Who was very much a “Let’s see how everyone
else does before we can see if she qualifies.” I think she definitely got kind of lucky in
that regard but kudos to her, honestly. Yogeeta: Yeah, she’s the first US lady since
2015 to make the Grand Prix Final. Kat: Especially since she had back-to-back
Grand Prixs too, at the beginning of the season. Becs: Which is super impressive. Also, she had an incorrect call, I forget
exactly what it was, but one of her jumps got called as a double instead of a triple
in Skate America and she didn’t manage to contest it in time. So the fact that she still won the tiebreaker
and made it into the Final – because we were all really sad if that was going to be the
reason that she didn’t make it into the Final, because of the tech panel messing up. So thank God that didn’t actually end up screwing
her over. But looking forward to the actual matchups,
it’s going to be a really intense Final. This is going to be the event of the Final. Kat: We don’t know what’s going to happen. Literally, anyone – there’s a lot more variance
in who’s going to win that title, I think. Yogeeta: Alena is leading the qualifiers over
Sasha, which was my biggest surprise. But also the quality of her components is
really whats getting her there. I’m really hoping that Alena pulls out the
win here. Becs: And then you have all the games – Sasha
posted that she’s training the triple Axel and if Sasha can somehow stuff a triple Axel
or two into her Free Skate and Short Program… I’m not optimistic that it’s going to properly
happen and Sasha, out of almost anyone, tends to be the most up and down in terms of flubbing
her jumps a little more. Luckily, she has so many potentially high
scoring jumps that it doesn’t usually tend to impede her too much but that wasn’t necessarily
facing off against this entire field so it’ll be interesting. And one thing that probably concerns me the
most about this Final is, given the heavy Russian presence versus Rika, who is probably
the strongest contender for, say, silver or gold at the Final – the Russian fed was kind
of unnervingly blatant in their politicking this Grand Prix season. And it came down to just really inconsistent
narratives with Lutz edges, but they blatantly complained about Anna Shcherbakova’s quad
Lutz edge calls at Cup of China really opening and also post-NHK, they claimed that the reason
Rika didn’t include a triple Lutz into her program was not because of injury, because
she’s been pretty much injured and struggling to manage that all of this Grand Prix Series,
but because her edge was wrong. Yogeeta: Of everyone in this field, Rika’s
the only one with a clean Lutz. Kat: There are many Japanese skaters that
have issues with their Lutzes. Becs: Right, but Rika is not one of them! Kat: I don’t know if this is just a power
move because Rika right now is the only clear threat to any of the Russian Ladies, especially
because she’s the only Japanese lady that made Grand Prix Final. But the sheer irony of it kind of boggles
my mind a little bit. Becs: It’s just disconcerting considering
the trends in Ladies judging in general and I hope at the Final we can have more of a
clear-cut competition. Yogeeta: You have more hope than I do, Becs. Becs: Well these are all incredible skaters. We have such a good lineup at the Final, especially
the people like Alena, Sasha, Rika, and even Alina, who are in contention for gold and
silver. The things they are capable of technically
and artistically are really impressive so the fact that there is such blatant politicking
going on in advance to shape the narrative and to pressure the calls is… We were lucky, I think, to have relatively
strict panels at both IDF and Cup of China. So I hope that returns for Grand Prix Final,
although I’m not terribly optimistic. But it was really refreshing to see fairly
strict Ladies calling. Yogeeta: I am interested to see if these comments
will actually incentivize Rika to up her layout. Becs: Yeah, it will be really interesting
to see if she decides to include the quad Sal. I would not be at all surprised because it
seemed like she ended up ditching it at the last minute at NHK but she was drilling it
in practice. Yogeeta: And I also trust that Rika would
not put a jump in her layout that she isn’t 90% confident that she can land it. Kat: Yeah, it might have just been a strategic
move at NHK, to take it out for the reasons I stated before but, if she did put it in
at Grand Prix Final, then I would not question her judgment there. Becs: Right, and I think the last key point
that’s going to be really interesting to see given that, sadly, we only have three spots
for Russian Ladies at Worlds, seeing how the four Russian Ladies stack up against each
other going into Russian Nationals – which will still have even fiercer competition with
the people who couldn’t make it to the Final, it’s going to be really interesting. It’s basically like the pregame for Russian
Nats. Kat: Oh boy… It’s just interesting because, yeah, Rika
and Alina are the only returning competitors to this Grand Prix Final. Yogeeta: Well that’s because the other three
of them were at the Junior Grand Prix Final last year! Kat: And they were all top qualifiers to their
Senior Grand Prix Final. Becs: Alina was literally the mom taking cute
photos at their victory ceremony the last Grand Prix Final, and now she’s going to be
fighting neck in neck with them. It’s kind of wild. -end segment- START: Shout Out of the Week Yogeeta: So, our shout out of the week goes
to Ryoga Morimoto, who is my new son. I love him. Kat: Our Mozart dubstep remix king! Becs: His performance quality of that outsold
probably 95% of the Senior Men’s field, in my opinion. It was incredible! Yogeeta: I love and appreciate our future
2030 Olympic Gold Medallist, Ryoga Morimoto. Becs: I know we’re doing a recap of competitions
and trying to encourage you to watch them but if you watch any program, if you need
your dose of serotonin for the month – go watch that on loop like three times. You will not regret it! Kat: Literally opening the whole gala with
that too. JSF made such a smart move. Yogeeta: Also just a shout out to JSF in general
for always including their Novice and Junior champions to these galas because it’s such
a great opportunity for these younger skaters to actually perform to such a large audience
because this is the one time that people are probably paying attention. Becs: Like the first time I saw Rika and Shun
Sato was at a gala for World Team Trophy back in 2017 because they invited them which I
was like “This is brilliant!” Because it’s so tangible what a fantastic
experience that is for them and the fact that they invited Utana [Yoshida] and Shingo [Nishiyama]
and got them some exposure for Japanese Ice Dance like yes please, keep it up! Invite them to everything, this is the way
it should be! Kat: Yes! Becs: Thank you for listening, we hope to
see you again for our next episode! Thanks so much to our transcribing and quality
control team for keeping us in check, Evie for being our fabulous editor, and Gabb for
being our brilliant graphic designer. Yogeeta: If you want to get in touch with
us, then please feel free to contact us via our website inthelopodcast.com or on Twitter. You can find our episodes on Youtube, iTunes,
Google Play, Stitcher and Spotify. Becs: Yes, please consider giving us feedback. We absolutely adore and appreciate it and
take it all into consideration, so thank you. Kat: If you enjoy the show and want to help
support the team, then please consider making a donation to us on our ko-fi page, and we’d
like to give a huge thank you to all the listeners who have contributed to our team thus far. Becs: You can find the links to all our social
media pages and our ko-fi on the website. If you’re listening on iTunes, please consider
leaving a rating and a review if you enjoyed the show – it really, really helps us. Thank you for listening, this has been Becs, Yogeeta: Yogeeta, Kat: And Kat. Yogeeta: Bye! Kat: Bye!

Episode 41 – We Appreciate Men In Eyeliner (Rostelecom Cup and NHK Trophy 2019)
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One thought on “Episode 41 – We Appreciate Men In Eyeliner (Rostelecom Cup and NHK Trophy 2019)

  • November 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm
    Permalink

    Time codes for this episode
    Pairs 0:01:48
    Men 0:21:40
    Ice Dance 0:45:07
    Ladies 1:04:56

    Reply

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