Archive | December, 2012

Rudy Galindo, Lori Nichol Named to U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame

17 Dec

U.S. Figure Skating announced today that Rudy Galindo and Lori Nichol have been elected to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame Class of 2013. Here at SKATING magazine Blog, we’d like to congratulate both Rudy and Lori on their fantastic careers.

Galindo won three U.S. titles, two in pairs with Kristi Yamaguchi and one in men’s. Last year, the U.S. Championships were held in San Jose, site of the 1996 U.S. Championships and Galindo’s famous victory in his hometown. In the 2012 U.S. Championships program, Amy Rosewater revisited the event. (Click the image below to view her story)

2012 U.S. Championships Program.indd

Nichol is one of the most sought-after choreographers in the world. In 1995, the Canadian created Michelle Kwan’s iconic “Salome” program, which debuted a new look and sophistication for the 15-year-old. Nichol worked with Kwan, the most-decorated figure skater in U.S. history, until early 2001.

Nichol, 49, is renowned for crafting artistic and technically difficult programs. She choreographed 2010 Olympic champion Evan Lysacek’s programs, being mindful to maximize the American’s scoring potential. Nichol’s choreography credits include eight Olympic medals and 30 World medals.

Vancouver Olympics

A Week in Sochi

14 Dec

Last week, I took the long journey to Sochi, Russia, home of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

The 2012 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final for junior and seniors served as the figure skating test event. Despite the 27-hour travel time to and from Colorado Springs, I was excited to be in Sochi over a year before the Opening Ceremonies.

The Olympic Park is based in Adler, Russia, a suburb of Sochi. A small town on the Black Sea, Adler has become a massive construction zone leading up to the Games. I arrived late Tuesday night, long after the sun set, and my first bus ride the following morning was also in darkness. (It stayed dark until almost 9 a.m. every day.) At first glance, it was hard to appreciate the work that has been and continues to be done in the area. Cranes, dirt, framed buildings and arenas all over the place!

Many of the competition venues are complete, including figure skating’s home, the Iceberg Skating Palace, the women’s and men’s hockey arenas, a curling venue and the long track speed skating oval. The Iceberg will also house short track events. Across a small parking lot from the Iceberg, the practice rink for figure skating and short track speed skating already has ice.

The Olympic stadium (for the opening and closing ceremonies), athlete village, hotels, roadways, railroads and other infrastructure now appear to be the focus of current construction. Structures that surround the Olympic Park are getting facelifts, while hotels and dorms are being built from the ground up.

Due to construction and security concerns, we weren’t allowed to do much walking around the Olympic Park so I did most of my viewing from the concourse levels of the Iceberg.

In addition to the view of the Olympic Park, the view of the landscape from the Iceberg was impressive. On clear days, the snowcapped Caucasus Mountains were a beautiful backdrop to the city.

Speaking of mountains … in addition to the work being down seaside for the main Olympic Park, crews are working to build the secondary park that will host the ski and bobsled events. On a bus, a few of us chatted with a gentleman from New Zealand whose company is working on the snow making machines on the slopes. Their company (the name of which escapes me) was selected for this role because the climates in this part of Russia and New Zealand are similar. He was in town to prepare snow for an upcoming event.

The two Olympic parks will be connected by a high-speed rail system.

Several people were surprised by the weather in Sochi. I had done my research and knew that Sochi has a humid subtropical climate (well, I got that term from Google). In lay terms, Sochi enjoys mild winters. The days were in the 50s, the nights in the 40s. It did rain, but snowfall in the coastal areas is infrequent. The average high in February is nearly 50 degrees F. Sounds like great swimming weather…

As for the Iceberg, the 12,000-seat venue was originally built to be unassembled and moved following the Olympics. However, rumor is that the building will remain where it stands and be converted into a velodrome after the Games.

The Iceberg’s event level was easy to navigate with the locker rooms, warm up area, athlete lounge, entrance to the ice and media areas all in close proximity to each other. The athletes will have no trouble getting around the building once they’ve cleared security. It certainly helps that they have to walk a few hundred yards between their competition and practice venues.

For spectators, the concourse hallways are wide, feature concession and merchandise stands, elevators and staircases. My favorite part is that the façade is made completely of glass, allowing fans to get great views of the outside from inside the building.

On Sunday, after competition had wrapped up, several of us, including Jason Brown, Angela Wang and Joshua Farris, took the 20-mile ride up to the city of Sochi. It was a lovely drive on a sunny day … A look to the right offers views of the Caucasus Mountains, while glancing left presents a pretty view of the sea.

Upon arrival in Sochi, our first stop was the Olympic countdown clock. Just 420 days to go! That is not a lot of time…

We also stopped in the BOSCO store. The company makes official Olympic apparel. I was very tempted to get a pair of cute shoes with the Olympic logo, but refrained. It’s the holiday season, I shouldn’t be buying stuff for myself, right?

From there we made our way to the boardwalk. Like any boardwalk, there were souvenir shops, food stands and restaurants. There was also a waterslide that Marla Brown, Jason’s mom, seemed disappointed she couldn’t ride. We all found some Olympic-themed souvenirs and had lunch by the water.

I’m glad we left Adler as early as we did for our trip to Sochi. There was a huge traffic jam headed in the opposite direction, toward the city, as we returned to the hotel.

While there is a lot of work to be done, what already stands is impressive and, most importantly, the athletes who qualified for the JGP and Grand Prix Finals were all inspired by their visit to the home of the next Olympics.

Charlie White, who won his fourth straight Grand Prix Final title with partner Meryl Davis, said, “This is the Olympic setting. It’s great practice. It really sets the tone and helps us build toward that Olympic goal.”

Athletes from around the world seemed to share the sentiment … how could they not. I feel lucky as a member of U.S. Figure Skating’s staff to be one of the few people to experience Sochi before the Games. I can only imagine how competing there must amplify the feeling!

-Renee Felton
media relations manager, U.S. Figure Skating

Team USA Earns Five Medals in Sochi

8 Dec

Saturday, December 8th – Iceberg Skating Palace – Sochi, Russia

Useful Links

Twitter  #GPF2012 |   icenetwork.com Event Page

Official Event Page   |   icenetwork.com Event Photos

Schedule (PDF)   |   Live Results/Starting Orders

*Coverage of the 2012 Grand Prix Final will air on NBC this Sunday from 1-3 p.m. ET*

Team USA added three medals today as events concluded from the 2012 Grand Prix Final and 2012 Junior Grand Prix Final. Ashley Wagner earned silver today for her first Grand Prix Final medal, while Meryl Davis and Charlie White made history as they became the first ice dance team in history to win four Grand Prix Final titles.

Davis and White skated their best performances of the season in Sochi to total a season-high 183.39 points. Their “Notre-Dame” free dance, that White called “fantastic,” was highlighted by an array of level 4 elements including one spin, four lifts and the twizzle sequence. They earned 110.19 points for the segment.

White continued, “Emotionally, technically, we really put it all out there. I’m proud of the way we fought through it. It’s a great step to help us build toward winning Worlds.”

Russian President Vladmir Putin was on hand to watch the free dance, a fact that Davis and White were aware of but tried to push to the back of their minds before the skate.

“The ice, the atmosphere and the crowd were fantastic,” Davis said. “We heard (Russian President) Putin was in the audience which is really exciting. When you hear about important people in the audience, it’s not something you try to focus on before you skate. But afterward we were like, ‘Oh! Putin was in the audience. That’s cool.'”

Wagner showcased her tenacity as she continued her “Samson and Delilah” free skate following a hard fall on a double Axel and earned 115.49 points for the segment. She started out strong with a triple flip-double toe-double toe jump sequence that earned 9.30 points. Wagner would fall earlier in the program on a triple Salchow, but rebounded nicely with a pair of spins and two triple jumps before suffering the fall that required immediate ice on her left hip following her exit from the ice.

Despite the pain, Wagner went on to perform triple flip and her closing spin.

“I’m really proud of myself. I was able to pull myself together after a fall like that,” she said. “Going into the next jump, you’re pretty much terrified that you’re going to do that again. I knew I could either give the competition away or at that point I could continue to fight. I’m happy that I really pushed through.”

Wagner, who totaled 181.93 points for the week, doesn’t think she injured herself seriously.

“We’re going to see how it progresses for the rest of the weekend,” she said. “The team doctor said that I have a hip pointer. I don’t know what that is but I can tell you it hurts. We might be looking into getting X-rays later this week. For the most part, I think it’s one of those things where I got myself pretty good. But I’ll be fine by the time nationals comes around.”

Japan’s Mao Asada enjoyed the best competition of her season to secure her third Grand Prix Final title with a score of 196.80 points. Her teammate Akiko Suzuki won bronze with 180.77 points.

Christina Gao, in her Grand Prix Final debut, totaled 154.54 points for the week. She felt much more comfortable in her free skate after what she called a shaky short program.

“It felt much better than yesterday,” Gao said. “I didn’t have a great warm up but I’m glad I pulled it together for the program. I know I’m tough and I’m more consistent than I’ve ever been before. Overall, I’m happy with how I did.”

Featuring a field of newly minted JGP Final competitiors, the junior ladies podium featured Hannah Miller, who won the silver medal for Team USA. Coming into the competition, Miller was focused on competing two strong performances. She did just that, and received what coach Kirsten Miller-Zisholz called “a bonus” medal.

On medaling, Miller said, ““It’s super great. It was just my goal to come here and skate my best. That put me in a medal spot so I’m excited.”

She earned 168.41 points for the week and claimed the silver medal by one point over bronze medalist Anna Pogorilaya of Russia. Elena Radionova helped the host country complete a sweep of the junior podium with a total score of 179.40 points.

Angela Wang had reason to celebrate after executing the second-best free skate of the day to the tune of 110.89 points, a season high. Her Ladies in Lavender program was highlighted by the highest-scoring technical element of the segment, a triple Lutz-triple toe-double toe combination worth 12.50 points.

“I felt really calm,” she said. “I have been working really hard on my artistry for this program and I hope that showed.”

Wang finished with 162.05 points for the week.

Leah Keiser placed sixth in Sochi with a total score of 137.44 points.

Complete coverage of the event is available at icenetwork.com.

Members of Team USA will next be in action at the 2013 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships set for Jan. 20-27 at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

Farris, Aldridge & Eaton Medal at JGP Final; Senior Events Under Way Friday

7 Dec

Friday, December 7th – Iceberg Skating Palace – Sochi, Russia

Useful Links

Twitter  #GPF2012 |   icenetwork.com Event Page

Official Event Page   |   icenetwork.com Event Photos

Schedule (PDF)   |   Live Results/Starting Orders

*Coverage of the 2012 Grand Prix Final will air on NBC this Sunday from 1-3 p.m. ET*

Team USA earned a pair of medals today as the junior men’s and ice dancing competitions concluded. Joshua Farris is the 2012 JGP Final silver medalist while Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton took bronze. The senior events also began today. Ashley Wagner is in a very close second place, while Meryl Davis and Charlie White lead the ice dancing event.

Joshua Farris, the reigning World Junior silver medalist, added another JGP Final medal to his collection after winning bronze last season and taking silver today. Despite battling the effects of allergy medicine following a reaction to dairy, Farris turned out a hard-fought free skate to “Piano Concerto no. 2 in C Minor, op. 18: Allegro Scherzando.”

After opening with triple Axel-triple toe combination that received 14.03 points, Farris suffered a fall on his quad toe and struggled with the ensuing triple Lutz. He earned 136.84 points for the segment.

“I hit the boards when I fell on the quad and it bent my hip back,” he explained. “It took a few elements to get back into it. I skated probably a little bit worse than last year and still have improved my placement. I can’t be too disappointed with that.”

Farris began the competition by earning a season-high score of 74.53 points for his short program and totaled 211.37 overall.

Jason Brown, who came into the event as reigning champion, was elated following his yesterday’s short program that featured his first career triple Axel in competition. The element would get away from him in the free skate, but he battled through the rest of the program to finish in a narrow fourth place with a total score of 198.32 points.

“I don’t know what happened (on the Axel),” he said. “I think it’s just new and it’s something I need to learn how to do under pressure and with being off the ice for a while before I skate again.”

The “Liberstraum” program featured triple flip-triple loop combination and a triple Salchow in the second half of the skate. Other features included two level 4 spins and a level 3 step sequence.

Russia’s Maxim Kovtun won the gold, while bronze went to Japan’s Ryuju Hino.

Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton battled back from a disappointing short program in which they placed fourth to secure the bronze medal in their second consecutive trip to the JGP Final. Their score of 83.59 points for the “Fiddler on the Roof” free dance represented a season high.

“This free dance was important because of how disappointed we were after the short dance,” she said. “We wanted to come out today and show the judges, technical panel and crowd that we are a strong team technically and emotionally. We can have strong levels and a high performance. I think we accomplished that today.”

Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin earned Russia’s second gold medal of the day, while France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron earned silver in their JGP Final debut.

Wagner is poised to win her first Grand Prix Final medal after setting a season-best score of 66.44 points for her “Red Violin” short program. She saw level 4 on each of her elements, including her spins, something she looked to do at this competition and hopes to carry into the free skate on Saturday.

“This season, I have had three really solid long programs. If I can continue on that trend, I will be very pleased,” she said. “The last two competitions, I didn’t have my spin levels. I proved to myself that I’m capable of doing it in competition here in the short. Hopefully I can make that happen in the long program.”

Wagner is notes that putting a triple-triple jump combination in her free skate will be a gametime decision.

“Like I’ve said before, I’m taking it day by day. I said earlier this week that I think the one who is going to be on top of the podium is the one who skates the cleanest,” Wagner explained “I have to figure out if that (triple-triple) is what’s going to help me get there. It comes down to if Mr. Nicks thinks it’s going to be clean and solid tomorrow.”

Japan’s Mao Asada carries a narrow lead with 66.96 points, while her teammate Akiko Suzuki is in third with 65.00. Christina Gao, in her Grand Prix Final debut, totaled 48.56 points and is in sixth place.

“I’m just really happy to be here and to get a chance to be at the Grand Prix Final is great. I’d like to skate better in the long and make the most of my time here.”

Davis and White, who are skating for their fourth consecutive Grand Prix Final title, lead with a short dance score of 73.20 points. A goal throughout the season has been to improve the technical mark and the score has progressively improved since Skate America.

The technical mark totaled 35.15 points today thanks to a level 4 lift and level 4 twizzles. Their program components mark of 38.05 points was also the highest of the day.

“It’s an improvement,” Davis said. “We both feel like this program was a big improvement for us over our first two competitions of the season, which is what we are aiming for.”

They lead Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who earned a season-high 71.27 points, and the French team of Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat with 68.70 points.

Competition concludes tomorrow with the both ladies free skates and the free dance. All three American woman skated well in their JGP Final debuts. Hannah Miller sits in second place while Angela Wang is in fourth and Leah Keiser sits in sixth.

Complete coverage of the event is available at icenetwork.com.

Junior Ladies Free Skate – 3:30 a.m.

Keiser – 3:37 a.m.

Wang – 3:51 a.m.

Miller – 4:06 a.m.

Junior Pairs Free Skate – 4:45 a.m.

Senior Ladies Free Skate – 6:15 a.m.

Gao – 6:22 a.m.

Wagner – 6:53 a.m.

Senior Free Dance – 8:15 a.m.

Davis and White – 9:07 a.m.

Senior Men’s Free Skate – 9:40 a.m.

Senior Pairs Free Skate – 11:05 a.m.

2012 JGP Final Under Way in Sochi, Russia

6 Dec

Thursday, December 6th – Iceberg Skating Palace – Sochi, Russia

Useful Links

Twitter  #GPF2012 |   icenetwork.com Event Page

Official Event Page   |   icenetwork.com Event Photos

Schedule (PDF)   |   Live Results/Starting Orders

*Coverage of the 2012 Grand Prix Final will air on NBC this Sunday from 1-3 p.m. ET*

From the home of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, Team USA took the ice today as competition began at the 2012 Junior Grand Prix Final. In the midst of being awed by the Iceberg Skating Palace that stands out as one of the many buildings already constructed in the Olympic Park, skaters put on impressive programs and put up big numbers as they battle in the first of several annual ISU championship events. Following the junior short programs, Team USA stands in position to medal in all three disciplines, ladies, men’s and ice dance.

Joshua Farris, the reigning World Junior silver medalist, is in first place following the junior men’s short program. Farris posted a season-high score of 74.53 points, which included 40.32 on his technical elements. After a bobble on his program-opening triple Axel, Farris executed what coach Damon Allen called “his best triple Lutz-triple toe of the season,” which, the athlete added, “didn’t end up with me crashing into the boards.” He netted 10.10 points for the jump combination and also saw positive GOEs on the remaining five elements of the “Unaccompanied Cello Suite in G Major, BWV 1007: Prelude” program.

Farris, who was in first place after the short program the 2011 JGP Final (he went on to finish third) and World Juniors, says he has worked on his mindset entering the free skate this season.

“At junior worlds, I had gotten my mental state a lot calmer,” he explained. “I used to get really nervous for the free skate. I have been training so much better and using the tools I have learned at junior worlds to skate clean programs. I’m actually pretty confident going into the long this year.”

Jason Brown had something to cheer about following his season’s best short program. After three years of practice, the current JGP Final champion, landed his first ever triple Axel in competition.

“I was really excited that I was able to start off my first competition where I had a clean Axel,” Brown said. “And to do it in the program was very exciting. All the hard work, I felt it in that moment. It was unbelievable.”

The skate, which netted 69.43 points, also included a strong triple Lutz-triple toe and three level 4 spins.

Like all the competitors here, Brown is honored to skate at the Olympic venue over a year out from the Games.

“The rink is beautiful. The stands are amazing. Being on the ice and looking around is breathtaking,” he said. “To be with your coach and stand in the Olympic rink is a huge goal and what I hope to be part of my dream with her. It’s amazing to have a glimpse of it and I hope to be in an Olympic rink again.”

All three American woman skated well in their JGP Final debuts. Hannah Miller executed her best short program of the season, by far, totaling 59.18 points. Despite being the only competitior to leave a triple-triple combination out of the skate, Miller was confident in the program she has been training.

“I’m working on them, but they are not strong enough to put in the program yet,” Miller said. “I knew I could skate a clean program, that’s what I’ve been training for and I was really happy with the result.”

She earned level 4 on each of her elements, including three spins and the step sequence. She trains leader Elena Radionova of Russia by less than two points. Radionova has 60.90 points while teammate Anna Pogorilaya earned 57.94.

Angela Wang totaled 51.16 points on the night. After missing her program-opening combination – she singled a planned triple toe on the back end of a triple Lutz – Wang skated a clean Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon program that featured two level 4 spins and a double Axel. Like Wang, Leah Keiser, who earned 47.23 points and sits in sixth place, looks to rebound with a strong free skate on Saturday.

“I’m still feeling confident because I know I’m a consistent skater and I can perform better than I did today. I’ll come back fighting in the long,” she said.

Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton sit in fourth place after the short dance and are well within striking distance of the podium with 52.60 points. The team look to improve on a fourth-place finish at this event last year, and are confident going into the free dance.

“Everybody at home calls us the comeback kids,” Eaton explained. “For example, at Junior Grand Prix Lake Placid, we were behind six points and pulled back seven-and-a-half in free dance. We are a strong team for coming back from being down. I think our free dance is going to be really strong and we will do what we have to do.”

Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin sit in first place with 61.18 points, while the third-place duo of Anna Yanovskaya and Sergey Mozkov earned 53.03 points.

Competition continues Friday with the start of the senior events and the conclusion of the junior men’s and dance events. Team USA is being represented by Ashley Wagner and Christina Gao in the ladies event. Meanwhile, Meryl Davis and Charlie White skate for their fourth straight Grand Prix Final title.

Complete coverage of the event, including photo galleries, blogs, feature stories and complete competition stories, is available at icenetwork.com.

Friday, Dec. 7

Junior Men’s Free Skate – 4:45 a.m.

Brown – 5:15 a.m.
Farris  – 5:30 a.m.

Senior Ladies Short Program – 6 a.m.

Gao – 6:07 a.m.

Wagner – 6:40 a.m.

Junior Free Dance – 7:15 a.m.

Aldridge and Eaton – 7:35 a.m.

Senior Short Dance – 9:15 a.m.

Davis and White – 10:01 a.m.

Senior Men’s Short Program – 10:35 a.m.

Senior Pairs Short Program – 11:50 a.m.

Saturday, Dec. 8

Junior Ladies Free Skate – 3:30 a.m.

Keiser – 3:37 a.m.

Wang – 3:51 a.m.

Miller – 4:06 a.m.

Junior Pairs Free Skate – 4:45 a.m.

Senior Ladies Free Skate – 6:15 a.m.

Senior Free Dance – 8:15 a.m.

Senior Men’s Free Skate – 9:40 a.m.

Senior Pairs Free Skate – 11:05 a.m.

2012 Grand Prix Final Viewers Guide

5 Dec

Wednesday, December 5th – Iceberg Skating Palace – Sochi, Russia

Useful Links

Twitter  #GPF2012 |   icenetwork.com Event Page

Official Event Page   |   icenetwork.com Event Photos

Schedule (PDF)   |   Live Results/Starting Orders

*Coverage of the 2012 Grand Prix Final will air on NBC this Sunday from 1-3 p.m. ET*

The Grand Prix Final, the culmination of both the junior and senior level Grand Prix Series, comes to a close with the top six competitors in each discipline in Sochi, Russia, site of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. For Americans Ashley Wagner and Meryl Davis and Charlie White, an opportunity to compete on the same ice as their main rivals for the first time this season and for Christina Gao, a chance to put herself on the map.

In the junior event, the United States is looking for a large medal haul. With two top men, three ladies and a top ice dancing team, it could be a golden event for the United States.

Competition Schedule (All times Eastern and approximate)

Thursday, Dec. 6

Junior Men Short Program – 8:45 a.m.

Brown – 9:12 a.m.

Farris – 9:25 a.m.

Junior Short Dance – 9:55 a.m.

Aldridge and Eaton – 10:34 a.m.

Junior Ladies Short Program – 11:10 a.m.

Keiser – 11:17 a.m.

Miller – 11:24 a.m.

Wang – 11:43 a.m.

Junior Pairs Short Program – 12:20 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 7

Junior Men’s Free Skate – 4:45 a.m.

Senior Ladies Short Program – 6 a.m.

Gao – 6:07 a.m.

Wagner – 6:40 a.m.

Junior Free Dance – 7:15 a.m.

Senior Short Dance – 9:15 a.m.

Davis and White – 10:01 a.m.

Senior Men’s Short Program – 10:35 a.m.

Senior Pairs Short Program – 11:50 a.m.

Saturday, Dec. 8

Junior Ladies Free Skate – 3:30 a.m.

Junior Pairs Free Skate – 4:45 a.m.

Senior Ladies Free Skate – 6:15 a.m.

Senior Free Dance – 8:15 a.m.

Senior Men’s Free Skate – 9:40 a.m.

Senior Pairs Free Skate – 11:05 a.m.

Sochi

SKATING magazine – November Issue

4 Dec

Click on the cover to view the entire digital version of the November SKATING magazine.

nov 2012 cover