Archive | December, 2011

Canton Fun and Games in Quebec City

10 Dec

by Lynn Rutherford

During practice one of the first ice dance practices here, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani swung into their “Chattanooga Choo Choo” tap dance and suddenly, there were six skaters doing the steps instead of two.

The siblings’ training partners – Meryl Davis and Charlie White, and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir – were out there tapping away, too.

“We saw it out of the corner of our eyes,” Maia said.

“We heard the audience’s reaction; normally, that section doesn’t get that much applause,” Alex said. “So it was the most we got for that part, but it was really fun. It was nice to know we each know each other’s routines so well that we can shadow each other.

“In hindsight we could have foreseen this happening all last week. They were kind of mocking, a little bit of fun.”

Moir claims it was all a deliberate plan to keep the atmosphere light.

“It’s always so serious,” he said. “The reality is we have fun at home and [we wanted] to have fun here, maybe get them to loosen up a little bit at their first Grand Prix Final.”

“We’ve been talking about this with Meryl and Charlie for a really long time,” Virtue added. “And oddly enough we still don’t know the steps exactly. We tried our best. It’s Maia and Alex’s first go at the Grand Prix Final and there can be a lot of nerves, a lot of pressure and anything we can do to get a laugh.”

So, is Alex plotting a way to get back at his training mates?

“Yeah, I am,” Alex said.

Thanks to Alex Shibutani for tweeting this picture:


Team USA Off to a Good Start in Quebec

10 Dec (LIVE streaming of the GP Final)

Starting Order/Results Page  Twitter

TV Schedule/Competition Notes (PDF)  Photo Gallery

Team USA earned its first medal of the week earlier today while many more skaters stand in medal contention. Britney Simpson & Matthew Blackmer, who formed their partnership over the summer, earned the junior pairs bronze medal. They enjoyed two clean skates and totaled 146.35 points. They were joined on the podium by China’s Wenjing Sui & Cong Han in first and Katherine Bobak & Ian Beharry of Canada in second.

Russia enjoyed a sweep of the junior ladies podium with Julia Lipnitskaia leading the way. Teammates Polina Shelepen and Polina Korobeynikova finished second and third, respectively. American Vanessa Lam, competing in her first JGP Final, finished fifth overall.

With the exception of the senior free dance, which goes final Sunday, the remainder of events will be decided Saturday. A rundown Team USA’s current ranks is below:
Junior Ice Dancing: Alexandra Aldridge & Daniel Eaton (5th after short)
Junior Men’s: Joshua Farris (1st); Jason Brown (2nd)
Ladies: Alissa Czisny (4th)
Men’s: Jeremy Abbott (2nd)
Ice Dancing: Meryl Davis & Charlie White (1st); Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani (5th)

Friday Quotes

Vanessa Lam (Bellflower, Calif./trains in Westminster, Calif./All Year FSC) – 5th overall (3 SP, 5 FS) – Total: 145.62; FS: 91.28; SP: 54.34 points (international PB)

(on free skate) “The beginning of the program, I was a little overcautious. That’s probably why I went down on the first element, the Lutz. I regained my footing on the second jump. But I felt my timing was off for the triple loop. The program didn’t feel like I had my footing under me. I didn’t feel as comfortable as I did yesterday.”

(on what she can take from this competition) “Training has a lot to do with it but I have to keep my focus for competition and fight through my programs. I’m going to have to train harder and push myself more. I need to put more pressure on myself when I’m doing my routines. I need to get used to putting on my performance when I have to.”

Britney Simpson (Golden, Colo./Broadmoor SC) & Matthew Blackmer (Detroit/Detroit SC) – (training town: Colorado Springs, Colo.)

3rd overall (3 SP, 5 FS) – Total: 146.35; FS: 94.44; SP: 50.91 points (all scores represent season-highs)

(on free skate) Simpson – “We are very excited. We did what we came here to do which is two season best scores and skate how we have been training at home with two clean programs. It was so amazing that the crowd kept us going and we got more into the program. We focused on components, which is what we do best.”

Blackmer – “My favorite is when we are in our last element, our pairs spin, there is a moment where we can look at each other and relax knowing we’ve done our job. Right before we went out, Dalilah (Sappenfield) said ‘It’s only you two out there, stay within you two.’ I feel like we did a really good job of that. We were focused on each other and our connection. That really showed in our marks.”

(on how this prepares them for U.S. Championships) Blackmer – “Anyone can attest that having international experience is a good ally going into a national championship. This will be my first nationals and I feel so ready and relaxed. Each competition has made me feel more that way.”

(on experience taken from this event) Simpson – “What we’re going to take away is knowing how to compete at a high level and how to enjoy skating and be prepared for our nationals and enjoy it.”

Blackmer – “We came into this competition without putting pressure on ourselves. I think it was a nice learning tool especially going into other competitions in the States.

(on what to watch in the senior pairs competition) Simpson – “For me personally, watching all of the senior teams that made it here is exciting. The best of the best make it here and it’s going to be fun to watch all of them.”

Blackmer – “It’s a cool experience to see all of these teams. I’m excited to see the Germans and the Russians battle it out and see elements like a throw triple Axel.”

Alissa Czisny (Auburn Hills, Mich./trains in Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Detroit SC) – 4th place – 60.30 points

(on short program) “Besides the one jump, I felt like the program was good, but the loop didn’t happen today so I’m disappointed in that.”

(on how she approached the program) “I wanted to try to focus on each element. I feel like the fans here deserve a great performance.”

(on being the defending Grand Prix Final champion) “There is definitely pressure. It is good experience for me to go into a competition defending and learning how to defend a title.”

Meryl Davis (West Bloomfield, Mich./Arctic FSC) & Charlie White (Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Detroit SC)

(training town: Canton, Mich.) – 1st place – 76.17 points (international PB)

(on season’s best score) Davis – “It was indeed our season’s best. We’ve been working on our short dance a lot since both Skate America and Cup of Russia. I think we’re feeling more solid and confident with the dance. We can really get our feet under us now. We’re really pleased with it.”

(on lead going into free dance) White – “A bigger lead is always nice. But I don’t think it’s going to affect our mind set very much. I must have said this a million times, sorry I don’t get more interesting, but we have the same idea going into every skate and that’s to skate how we practice. As long as we do that, we’re going to be happy.”

Davis – “Charlie and I were really pleased. This was our best program both with the season’s best score and our best program in competition so far this which is always nice when those line up. Charlie and I were talking a lot before we skated about keeping perspective. What’s happened with Mao’s mom is so sad and we all put so much into skating and it’s so important to all of us, but things like this really put into perspective what’s important. We wanted to go out there and have fun and that’s what we did.”

(on watching other skaters – specifically referencing Virtue and Moir’s fall) White – “We don’t usually watch anyone before us. We try to focus on ourselves. There’s a lot to focus on. We just want to think about that. But of course when you’re out there and the crowd is laughing really hard, we wonder what’s going on and figure it is Scott hamming it up.”

(on free dance) Davis – “Hopefully it will be an improvement over what we did at Cup of Russia. Charlie and I are pleased with both of the free dances we have done this season. We haven’t made any major changes. We’ve been focusing on the nuances of the dance. Hopefully it will be similar with a little bit of an elevated performance.”

Maia Shibutani (Ann Arbor, Mich./SC of New York) & Alex Shibutani (Ann Arbor, Mich./Arctic FSC)

(training town: Canton, Mich.) – 5th place – 65.53 points (season-high)

(on short dance) Alex – “It was our best performance of the year. Our best score. In terms of what we could control, we were really confident and relaxed. It was great warming up with Meryl and Charlie and Tessa and Scott, that helped for sure. We’re very happy with how we skated and it was a great start to our week. We’re so excited to be here.”

(on first Final experience) Maia – “We’re just so excited to be here. last year, we were first alternates, so to be here is really amazing. We keep trying to soak it all up because it’s only your first Grand Prix Final once. It’s such a lucky experience for us because we will have so many great memories from being here with Meryl and Charlie and Tessa and Scott.”

(on improvements throughout the season) Maia – “We were happy with our elements today. we saw a great increase in our score from every other competition we’ve done. That shows we’re moving in the right direction. We got some better levels and GOEs.”

Alex – “We practiced really well so far this week. We made a lot of changes to our short dance after NHK Trophy. We’ve been working very hard all year on improving our connection and the Latin movement. We’re getting more and more comfortable with that. It’s always been a lot of fun but now we are starting to get into a groove and I think that is showing in our performance and with the score.

“After our two competitions back to back, we weren’t able to make a lot of adjustments in between. We learned a lot over those two weeks. When we got home with Marina and Igor we changed our circular step sequence and side-by-side and a lot of the transitions toward the latter half of the program. All programs evolve and you go through changes to make sure you can perform them the best you can when you have to compete.”

Jeremy Abbott (Aspen, Colo./trains in Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Detroit SC) – 2nd place – 82.66 points

(on short program) “That program was a lot of work. I stepped out of the first jump and then didn’t have the combo. I wasn’t sure if they would count the step out as an extra jump. The whole program, I was like ‘Do I do the triple Lutz-triple toe, do I do the plain triple Lutz?’ Going into the triple Axel I was thinking this, going into the spin, I’m thinking this. Finally, I’m like, ‘I have to make up my mind.’ So I decided to do the Lutz-toe, if they drop it, they drop it but I’m sticking to the plan that I make regardless of the consequence. In the end, it was for the better because if I had no combo, I would be five points less. I worked it after the Lutz-toe. I had a little fun. I think I was thinking so much through the whole program I forgot to change edge on the camel spin because at that point I was so tired of thinking that I just went. I totally missed the edge but still level three so it’s OK. I had fun and I’m happy to move on to tomorrow.”

(on returning to the Grand Prix Final after missing last season) “I’m very happy to be here. The Grand Prix Final is such a great competition. To qualify really means you’re one of the best in the world. I’m proud to be here and representing the U.S. To be the only man here representing the U.S., I feel like I have a lot on my shoulders. I’m proud to carry it.”

(on plan for free skate) “I want to do my program justice. I have a good program that I’m really proud of and I think is special. I have yet to skate it to a point that show cases it. I want to stay focused and perform the way it deserves to be performed.”

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2011 GP Final – Viewer’s Guide

9 Dec

Useful Links (LIVE streaming of the GP Final)

Starting Order/Results Page  Twitter

TV Schedule/Competition Notes (PDF)  Photo Gallery

2011 GP Final (All times Eastern)

Friday, Dec. 9
1:00 p.m.: Senior ladies short program
2:05 p.m.: Senior short dance
8:00 p.m.: Senior pairs short program
9:15 p.m.: Senior men’s short program

Saturday, Dec. 10
3:40 p.m.: Senior ladies free skate
4:55 p.m.: Senior men’s free skate
8:15 p.m.: Senior pairs free skate

Sunday, Dec. 11
1:50 p.m.: Senior free dance


The DefenderAlissa Czisny is the reigning Grand Prix Final champion. The 2011 U.S. titlist began the season by winning gold at 2011 Hilton HHonors Skate America, the first event of the Grand Prix Series. She went on to secure bronze at Trophée
Eric Bompard in Paris in mid-November.

Three’s CompanyJeremy Abbott, the 2008 Grand Prix Final champion, makes his third trip to the Grand Prix Final and first since placing fourth in 2009. Abbott’s season includes a gold medal from Cup of China and a bronze from Rostelecom

The Rookie(s)Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani earned their spot at the Grand Prix Final thanks to a gold medal at NHK Trophy, their first Grand Prix Series win, and silver at Cup of China. Both U.S. ice dancing teams in the train in Canton, Mich., under coaches Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband.

The Whole Nine YardsMeryl Davis & Charlie White enter the event having won eight consecutive events dating back to 2010 NHK Trophy. The 2011 World champions, Davis and White, are the two-time reigning Grand Prix Final titlists and also
earned the bronze medal at this event in 2008.

History in the Making? Davis & White look to become the fi rst Americans to ever win three consecutive Grand Prix Final titles. They would join Russia’s Tatiana Navka & Roman Kostomorov as the only teams in history to do so (2003-05).

Final Facts –
* The U.S. has won 29 medals since the Grand Prix Series’ inception in 1995 (11 men’s, 12 ladies, 6 ice dancing)
* The U.S. has won 9 gold, 8 silver, 12 bronze
* Michelle Kwan has won the most Grand Prix Final medals (5)
* The U.S. has won medals in ice dancing every year since 2007 (4 consecutive years)

JGP Quotes

Junior Pairs

Britney Simpson (Golden, Colo./Broadmoor SC) & Matthew Blackmer (Detroit/Detroit SC)

(training town: Colorado Springs, Colo.) – 3rd place – 50.91 points (season-high)

(on short program) Simpson – “It felt like what we have been training at home. It was so much fun with the Canadians here watching it. It was really easy to skate”

Blackmer – “From a components standpoint, it felt really, really good. We emoted really well and had a strong connection between us. Overall, it was a great performance.”

(on free skate) Simpson – “What we’re coming here to do is to skate and not worry about placement. We want to enjoy skating and that is what we are going to show tomorrow in the long.”

(on the Chinese team performing quad throws and twists) Simpson – “We can’t control anything other than what we are capable of doing. We are going to go out tomorrow and do what we can do best.”

(on intensity of short program today) Blackmer – “We spend a lot of time on our component mark because we feel that is something we are strong at. We work on basic posture and stroking and enhancing the dynamics of our skating.”

Junior Ladies

Vanessa Lam (Bellflower, Calif./trains in Westminster, Calif./All Year FSC) – 3rd place – 54.34 points (international personal best)

(on short program) “I felt really excited to get out there. Warm up was good for me. I was just ready to do my thing. It felt nice to perform. I’m pleased with the performance and presented my program the way I feel I wanted to present it.”

(on transitions in program) “Mostly transitions felt better for me. I’ve been working on them for the past few weeks after my Junior Grand Prix events and hopefully people see improvement.”

(on goals for free skate) “To land my jumps of course. But also presenting to the audience. I’m working on my components score.”

(on competing at first JGP Final) “It’s so amazing here. Everything is so pretty. To be here at this event is so exciting and I’m looking forward to watching the seniors after I’m done competing.”

(on final goal for the season) “My goal is to improve on my transitions and skating skills, my program components in general. I want to be able to get more into the music when I perform.”

Junior Ice Dancing

Alexandra Aldridge (Birmingham, Mich./Detroit SC) & Daniel Eaton (Bloomfield, Mich./Detroit SC)

(training town: Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) – 5th place – 51.59 points

(on short dance) Aldridge – “It was not our best, that’s for sure. We started off really strong. The lift was great and the first of pattern of cha cha was pretty good. Then we had a stumble, recovered well and finished the cha cha. The twizzles were very good. Our choreography got a little sloppy, but we finished as strong as we could.”

(on tomorrow’s free dance) Eaton – “We’re going to reset our minds and get ready for the free dance. We want to do what we are good at doing.”

(on free dance being the stronger of their two programs) Aldridge – “The free dance is definitely our stronger program. We love doing the Irish dance, the crowd loves it. It’s good that we have that to look forward to tomorrow.”

Junior Men

Jason Brown (Highland Park, Ill./trains in Highland Park and Northbrook, Ill./Skokie Valley FSC) – 2nd place – 68.77 points (international PB)

(on short program) “I felt really good about it. I stayed focused. I tried to use my excitement to my advantage and express to the audience how much fun I was having. Hopefully they felt that way.”

(on what he has improved this season) “I have improved in my program components and my skating skills. I have gotten faster and am more confident in what I do. I think my spins have improved and the speed into my jumps.”

(on triple Axel) “It’s coming. It’s one of those jumps where I keep thinking it’s coming and it’s coming. Every day I think it gets closer. We were thinking about doing it in the short but decided not to. I’m not planning to try it in my free skate.”

(on free skate) “I’m going to use the short program and go forth from there. I want to stay focused and keep up with how well I did today. I’m going to try my best to go through my long like I did my short today.”

(press conference opening statement about short program and experience here) “I tried to stay calm. It’s been amazing to be at this event with six of the best senior men in the world. It’s unbelievably motivating.”

(on where short programs ranked in terms of season) “This was my personal best. There were parts of the program that weren’t as strong as other competitions, but as a whole it was my personal best.”

Joshua Farris (Colorado Springs, Colo./trains in Colorado Springs, Colo./Broadmoor FSC) – 1st place – 72.99 points

(on short program) “I opened with a great triple Axel. Probably one of the best I’ve done in competition this year. I did my triple flip but fell out of the circle a little bit do I did a double toe to have a nice skate. My spins were great. I also did a really good Lutz. Overall, I felt really good about the program. It felt very easy and over my feet.”

(on competing in second JGP Final) “I feel much more confident. I was focused on myself instead of others this time. That is something I’ve done all year.”

(on where short programs ranked in terms of season) “I don’t think it was my personal best. There were things that were better than other programs. But it was my second best of the season.”

2011 JGP Final – Viewer’s Guide

8 Dec

Useful Links (Archived footage of the JGP Final will be available)

Starting Order/Results Page  Twitter

TV Schedule/Competition Notes (PDF)  Photo Gallery
2011 JGP Final (All times Eastern)

Thursday, December 8th

5:00 p.m.: Junior Pairs

6:15 p.m.: Junior Ladies

7:20 p.m. Junior Ice Dance

8:35 p.m.: Junior Men

Friday, December 9th

11:25 a.m.: Junior Pairs

6:30 p.m.: Junior Ladies

Saturday, December 10th

2:20 p.m.: Junior Ice Dance


In Like a LionVanessa Lam qualified for the JGP Final following first- and third place finishes in Austria and Australia, respectively.

Repeat TripJoshua Farris looks to improve on a sixth-place finish at this event a year ago. Farris won a pair of gold medals in Estonia and Poland to qualify for his second JGP Final.

Brown Seeks GoldJason Brown won the JGP Australia title and added a silver medal at JGP Italy.

Just the Two of UsBritney Simpson & Matthew Blackmer joined forces last spring and enjoyed immediate international success, winning the JGP Poland title and following that up with a silver medal at JGP Estonia.

Unfortunate WithdrawalJessica Noelle Calalang & Zack Sidhu clinched a spot in the JGP Final after finishing third in Estonia and fourth in Poland. However, the duo withdrew from the JGP Final on Nov. 30, due to an injury to Sidhu.

Dance, Dance, DanceAlexandra Aldridge & Daniel Eaton, who began competing internationally in 2010, secured a pair of medals with silver in Austria and bronze in Latvia.

*Fantasy Skating

Be sure to set your final roster for the GP Final before the event begins on Friday afternoon. Due to an illness in her family, Mao Asada will fly home to be with her family and will miss the Grand Prix Final. We wish her the best of luck and our thoughts are with her at this time. As a result, she has been removed from the Fantasy Skating roster, please update your teams accordingly.

November Issue – SKATING magazine

7 Dec

Each month we will post the past month’s edition of SKATING. Click on the cover to view the entire magazine.

New York City Ballet to Present The Nutcracker Live in Movie Theaters

2 Dec

NCM Fathom, the company which helped bring the live premiere of RISE to more than 500 movie theaters nationwide earlier this year, will help deliver the live movie theater broadcast of New York City Ballet’s acclaimed production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker on Tuesday, Dec. 13.

New York City Ballet, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and NCM Fathom have teamed up to bring this first-ever live movie theater broadcast of a New York City Ballet performance to 530 movie theaters in the United States. Actress and talk show host Kelly Ripa will host the event.

Tickets are on sale at participating movie theaters and online at

The one-night-only event starts at 6 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. CT and 7:30 p.m. MT and PT. Produced by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, this program will be broadcast direct from the Center’s New York campus through NCM’s exclusive Digital Broadcast Network.

“We are thrilled to bring this beloved holiday production to audiences around the country, in what we hope will be the first of many opportunities to present New York City Ballet’s extraordinary repertory in movie theaters throughout the world,” Katherine E. Brown, New York City Ballet’s executive director, said.

The production features more than 70 New York City Ballet dancers, the 62-piece New York City Ballet Orchestra and 50 children from the School of American Ballet.

Performed by the New York City Ballet every year since its creation, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is one of the cultural treasures of the holiday season in New York and is seen by more than 100,000 people annually.

SKATING Magazine Cover – December

1 Dec

Every month we will unveil the new cover for the upcoming issue of SKATING magazine. Here is the cover for the December issue:

Click here for additional photos from Alissa Czisny’s SKATING magazine photo shoot.