U.S. Figure Skating is the official governing body for the sport of figure skating in the United States, recognized as such by both the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the International Skating Union (ISU).
KAUNAS, LITHUANIA – SEPTEMBER 08: (L-R) Kirill Iakovlev of Russia, Andrew Torgashev of the United States and Yuto Kishina of Japan pose in the Junior Men’s medal ceremony during day three of the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Amber Cup 2018 at Zalgirio Arena on September 8, 2018 in Kaunas, Lithuania. (Photo by Joosep Martinson – ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
KAUNAS, Lithuania – Andrew Torgashev captured the gold medal in the men’s competition and Avonley Nguyen andVadym Kolesnik won the silver medal in ice dance on the third stop of the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) Series in Kaunas, Lithuania. Team USA has now collected at least one medal in every JGP event this season.
Torgashev’s gold was his first career JGP win and third career medal in the series. After securing second earlier in the week with his 69.39-point short program, Torgashev posted 132.24 in the free skate to capture first place with a combined score of 201.63.
After a slow start, he regained confidence after landing a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, followed by a triple flip-double toe combination. Torgashev also earned two Level 4 spins.
American Joseph Kang finished in 13th place with 147.32 total points.
Nguyen and Kolesnik won their first JGP medal in Lithuania. The duo scored 63.40 in their rhythm dance to move into second place and held that position to earn the silver medal.
In the free dance, they were impressive, earning two Level 4 lifts, a Level 4 spin and Level 4 twizzles. Their 98.44-point performance gave them 161.84 points overall, almost 20 points ahead of the third-place finisher.
In their international debut at the junior level, Oona and Gage Brown notched a top-10 finish in the ice dance competition. The sibling duo came into the free dance in fifth place and scored 69.28 points with two Level four lifts. With 124.75 total points, the couple finished in ninth place.
In the ladies competition, the United States’ Audrey Shin finished in 11th place. In her JGP debut, Shin improved from 13th to 11th place after scoring 89.34 points in her free skate for 134.19 points overall.
The JGP Series continues next week in Richmond, British Columbia, from Sept. 12-15, 2018.
It’s one of the most crucial decisions a figure skater has to make each and every season: what music to skate to.
Some look for a personal connection. Others imagine what kind of moment a song can create. And some look for songs they know they won’t get tired of after a long season of listening to it endlessly.
Check out what the members of Team USA take into account when deciding on music for their programs.
Evan Bates “I think it’s important to pick something that suits the skater, and what I think is so cool about ice dance, and figure skating, but specifically ice dance, is that every team has a unique style and an individual style. So for us, we always take that into account. What kind of style is good for us? I think this year we picked free dance music that’s going to be really good, and hopefully stand out amongst the crowd.”
Nathan Chen “Ultimately, something that I will enjoy for a season, since you’re going to be playing the music over and over and over, so you don’t want to get tired of it too quickly.”
Kaitlin Hawayek “I’d say what we can skate most passionately and authentically to. I would never want to skate a program that I didn’t feel that I could be authentic with and give one hundred percent to. So when we choose our music we really want to make sure that it’s something that we can find a way to be ourselves through expressing a character through.”
Brian Johnson “Can I see myself skating to it? There’s a lot of music that I love, but a lot of it, you can’t skate to because it’s either too repetitive or the same pitch. So you have to pick something that has a lot of variation, but that you also like listening to, and that gets kind of hard.”
Tarah Kayne “I just listen to music and whatever I hear that makes me want to move, in any way – sometimes with music that’s more classical, I feel those movements – but this music is a little different and you feel more like you’re in a dance club. That’s not normal for me, but I really wanted to move to it. Whatever kind of inspires me at the time.”
Timothy LeDuc “It’s about creating that moment. How do we want to get the audience on their feet? At the end of our clean, perfect program at nationals, how do we want to get them on their feet? So if you don’t hear that when you’re listening to the music, it’s not right for you.”
Bradie Tennell “I have to be able to see myself skating to it at nationals in a stadium full of people.”
LINZ, AUSTRIA – AUGUST 31: Camden Pulkinen of the United States poses in the Junior Men medal ceremony during day one of the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating at Keine Sorgen Eis Arena on August 31, 2018 in Linz, Austria. (Photo by Joosep Martinson – ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
LINZ, Austria — Camden Pulkinen won his second career Junior Grand Prix Series gold medal Saturday in Linz, Austria at the second competition of the 2018 series.
Pulkinen, who took second at last seasons Junior Grand Prix Final, came from behind to win the free skate and take the top step on the podium with 223.95 overall points.
In his “Westside Story” themed free skate, he landed an opening triple Lutz-euler-triple Salchow combination, followed by eight more clean jumps. He landed four in the second half of his program, including a triple flip-double toe combination. He was awarded two Level 4 spins.
American Dinh Tran notched a Top-10 finish with 169.70 points.
In the ladies competition, the United States’ Ting Cui improved on her sixth place short program to place fifth overall. In Saturday’s free skate, Cui landed her opening eight jumps, including two combinations to gather early momentum. Though she had two falls later in the program, she received two Level 4 spins to earn 102.79 points in the segment for 156.04 total points.
Laiken Lockley and Keenan Prochnow finished fourth in the pairs competition. The duo, who are the reigning U.S. junior bronze medalists, were second after the short program after skating clean and receiving high marks on their twist (Level 3) and lift (Level 4). After their seventh-place free skate, the pair totaled overall points 139.11 points to place just off the podium.
In the ice dance competition, Sophia Elder and Christopher Elder placed sixth (127.48 points) and finished seventh (123.02 points).
The JGP Series continues next week in Kaunas, Lithuania, from Sept. 5-8, 2018.
Ever since Nathan Chen, who won the World title by nearly 50 points last season, announced he would matriculate at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, this fall, questions have abounded: How effective will training with longtime coach Rafael Arutunian, based almost 3,000 miles away in Southern California, be when it’s limited to competition weeks, holidays and Skype? With a full slate of classes, can he train enough to maintain his quadruple jumps? Will his academic and competition schedules collide?
“It’s still a work in progress, obviously,” Chen, 19, said during Champs Camp. “I’ll be moving to New Haven on Thursday (Aug. 23). Fortunately, I have a lot of people helping me; Yale staff and U.S. Figure Skating are combining forces to help me out.”
Here’s a bit more about Chen’s plans so far:
Fan Zone: Where do you plan to train?
NC: I have a fair amount of ice time already set up on campus and off campus. (On campus) is obviously in New Haven and the other rink is about 30 minutes out. That’s the skating situation.
The class schedule has come out, but the actual classes I will take has not (been finalized). Once I get to campus, I will talk to counselors. For freshmen, a lot of the classes are 101 intro classes. There are a lot of students trying to take them, and since there are around 30 students in each class, that means not every single student will be able to take the classes they want. So, there will be a lottery system. Hopefully I’ll get the classes I want, and get out of the classes at 1 or 2 p.m. and spend the rest of day at the rink.
(Note: as first reported by Phil Hersh, much of Chen’s possible competitive schedule this season works well with the Yale 2018/2019 academic calendar: his Grand Prix events, Skate America and Internationaux de France, are held during recesses; the Grand Prix Final coincides with Yale’s pre-finals reading period; and the 2019 World Figure Skating Championships will be held during Yale’s spring break.)
Fan Zone: Are you still planning a pre-med track?
NC: I do want to do pre-med, which requires a lot of science, but I’m still undecided about my major. I’m thinking maybe statistics, because sciences require a lot of lab time, and lab time then coincides with skating time, and that means there will be a conflict of interest there. I will figure out the best approach for me, something that challenges me but still allows me to keep skating.
Fan Zone: You recently got back from Japan, where you performed in Mao Asada’s The Ice, and you were also part of Stars on Ice this spring. With all of this performing, how is training going?
NC: I have been doing a decent amount of traveling to Japan, and obviously Stars on Ice took a big chunk of time. But outside of that, training is going pretty well. I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with Raf (Arutunian), which is awesome. I wanted to build a pretty solid base before going to Connecticut, so I can build off of that instead of trying to regain everything I lost over the summer. I don’t think I lost much. I still have all of my quads, and that gives me the option of choosing what quads to do at competitions.
Fan Zone: Talk about your competitive programs, which you performed in The Ice.
NC: The short is to “Caravan,” a pretty popular song performed by Boston Brass. It’s a different twist to “Caravan,” it has a lot of drum-line feel to it, it’s kind of cool. The free, to “Land of All” by Woodkid, kind of goes along (artistically) with what I did last year. The short is really different. It’s a lot more jazzy and fun, which is great because I can interact with the audience. The long is moodier, but that helps me build character and movement.
I’ll be working more with my choreographers Shae-Lynn Bourne (short program) and Marie-France Dubreuil (free skate) on cleaning up and making sure the programs are set. Obviously the new +5, -5 rule (extending the judges’ GOE range to -5 to +5) and the quad rule (no repeating more than one quad) have taken place already, so the programs will be changed a little bit, but I don’t think anything super drastic will come out of it. I’ll be doing Japan Open (on Oct. 6), which is awesome. It’s a little bit of a test run of the free skate, it’s not super-serious, and it will let me get the program out there.
For more exclusive content on Team USA, stay tuned for the relaunch of the U.S. Figure Skating Fan Zone this fall.
It’s the end of August, and you know what that means: the end of summer and the start of the figure skating season. During their break from the grind of training and competing, the skaters of Team USA spent their time traveling, hanging out with family and friends at home and making some major life changes.
Take a look at what some of Team USA’s finest enjoyed most this summer.
Photo courtesy of Bradie Tennell
“Just being in a new environment, and being around the best teams in the world on an everyday basis and really challenging ourselves.”
“They changed some of the requirements and the rules for lifting, and I feel that Deanna and I are super strong in that category. So it’s been a real challenge, to add an entry and an exit to a lift, it makes it a little more death-defying and exciting for the audience. It makes me feel stronger when we do harder lifts, and just working on them and creating new positions and movements and lines has been my favorite.”
“Exploring Toronto. I really, really enjoy being in a new city, and being in the city. That’s really, really neat.”
“Well, it wasn’t technically summer, it was like right before summer, I got engaged. So it’s been a fun summer planning things for the wedding.”
“Definitely Stars on Ice was so much fun. I know that happened earlier, it wasn’t really summer yet, but it was so much fun traveling with everyone from the Olympic team and getting to know each other and do the shows and go through rehearsals. It was a great group.”
“I’ve been able to travel to Japan and throughout the U.S., because I did Stars on Ice. So we went across the U.S. and I got to meet a whole bunch of new little skaters and obviously perform with an amazing cast of skaters—as well as travel to Japan four times this summer for shows. It’s been a very busy summer, but I’ve had a great time.”
“Exploring a new city. It’s fun to be in an actual city. For the last nine, almost 10 years, Jean-Luc and I had been in Detroit, Michigan. And it’s a very nice place, especially during the summer when there are lots of things to do on lakes and everything, but there’s something to be said for living in a city, and especially Montreal. It’s a nice blend between North America and Europe as well. You have French-speaking dialect so you can see a lot of the European culture infused into the city. It’s just been fun to explore a new place.”
“I really enjoyed being in Colorado Springs for the summer and working with different coaches. We worked with Christine Krall for jumps, Ben Agosto for skating skills, Katherine Hill for modern dance – it was really fun, we’d go outside and just dance – and Dalilah Sappenfield for our twist. So kind of getting new information from new people.”
“It’s also my least favorite, but traveling. I got to come here (Colorado Springs) a lot. I got to train back home (in New Jersey/New York) a little bit. So I was all over the place, but I was able to skate with a lot of good people here, a lot of good people back at Ice House. It really pushes me to the next level.”
“I think getting to go to Lake Placid, and enjoying that competition. It’s always so much fun and it’s beautiful there.”
“Being able to spend time at home with my friends and family. Obviously I’m still skating, but basically just hung out, watched movies, read books, got back on my cooking.”
For more exclusive content on Team USA, stay tuned for the relaunch of the U.S. Figure Skating Fan Zone this fall.
Photo by Joosep Martinson – ISU/ISU via Getty Images
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — The ice dance team of Eliana Gropman and Ian Somerville won their first career Junior Grand Prix Series medal Saturday in Bratislava, Slovakia, in the first competition of the 2018 series.
The Maryland-based team secured their bronze medal with seven Level 4 elements across both segments of competition for a total of 148.96 points—nearly 13 points better than the next placement. Coached by Alexei Kiliakov, Elena Novak, Greg Zuerlein and Dmytri Ilin, the duo scored 60.37 points in the rhythm dance and 88.59 points for their free dance set to music from Mozart l’Opéra Rock.
Also in the ice dance competition, Katarina DelCamp and Maxwell Gart finished tenth in their international debut with 122.09 total.
Andrew Torgashev earned the third-best free skate score with 129.38 points for his Moulin Rouge! performance in the men’s event. He improved upon fifth place after the short program to finish fourth overall with 194.75 points. Fellow American Ryan Dunk placed sixth in his second ever JGP event.
In the ladies competition, Pooja Kalyan finished eighth in her JGP debut. Despite one fall on a triple Lutz in her free skate set to The Lion King, Kalyan executed five triple jumps and three Level 4 spins, finishing with a total of 160.60.
The JGP Series continues next week in Linz, Austria, from Aug. 29-Sept. 1, 2018.
After some solid finishes last season – including fifth in the U.S. and 12th at the 2018 World Figure Skating Championships – could 2018/2019 be Mariah Bell’s big breakout season?
“Absolutely! You start these next four years and everybody is there at the same level, essentially,” Bell said. “It’s all about who can grow and expand and put it together when it counts.”
The 22-year-old skater has reason for optimism. She took part in Mao Asada’s “The Ice” shows in Japan this summer, performing her 2018/2019 season’s competitive short program, choreographed by Adam Rippon to Celine Dion’s “Love You More.” And having trained under Rafael Arutunian in Lakewood, California, since April 2016, she thinks her triple jump combinations will be more consistent than ever this season.
“I definitely feel more trained this year, than I did last year at this time,” Bell said. “The thing with Raf is, he has a very particular technique, and you spend a year learning how to speak his language. So first you have to understand it and only then can you start to apply it. Now I’m in the stage where I can really apply it, and it’s exciting to see the changes happen. Every day I get more confident.”
Bell added that while Arutunian has taken on a few new students — including Marin Honda and her older brother, Taichi – he has still devoted a chunk of time to her this summer.
“Ashley (Wagner) and Adam (Rippon) are no longer training there right now, so that has opened spots,” she said. “It’s exciting for me because there are more lady skaters, like Marin and (Korean skater) Lim Eun-soo….It’s always evolving.”
Bell’s free skate was choreographed by Shae-Lynn Bourne to a mix of “Piano” and “Experience,” both by Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi.
“Shae is incredible, and it was such an honor she said she would do my program,” Bell said. “Watching her skate is amazing. She would say, ‘You try it.’ And I said, ‘Wow, I don’t know what you did, I was just watching how pretty it was.’”
The Canadian choreographer, who won the 2003 World ice dance title with partner Victor Kraatz, stretched Bell artistically and technically.
“I fell like this is the most contemporary program I’ve ever done, more contemporary than even East of Eden, which was kind of its own thing,” Bell said. “Some of the movement is more abstract for me, and that’s exciting because I feel like I’m opening up another side of my skating.”
Photo courtesy of Courtney Hicks
Happier Hicks Loves Training in Altitude
After placing ninth at the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships – and getting caught in one too many Southern California traffic jams – Courtney Hicks ditched the Golden State in favor of training with Kori Ade in Monument, Colorado.
“My mom and dad went to Hawaii for a week (in February), and I was driving myself the hour and a half to the rink,” Hicks said. “I was like, ‘I can’t do this.’ So I called Jordan (Moeller) and asked, ‘How do you move to Colorado?’”
Hicks had choreographed several programs with Rohene Ward in Monument, and had often considered relocating there. At age 22, she decided it was now or never.
“I love Colorado, I really enjoy the weather and all of the outdoor activities here,” said Hicks, who arrived in June and now trains alongside her pal Moeller. “I’m loving working with Kori.”
Best known for her big jumps, Hicks has been working with Ade to gain more control and finesse.
“I think that whole aspect of jumping big has been one of the problems for me,” she said. “When I was younger I didn’t have to have the greatest technique, because I could jump really high and just pull in. I could make it look really big, powerful and fast, but it was so inconsistent. I was throwing myself into these jumps, not knowing where my right side was, where anything was, and just doing it.”
Ade is also working on polishing Hicks’ on-ice look, focusing on her head, hand and arm movements.
“It’s all in the details,” Hicks said. “I had to be told what to do, because it wasn’t something that came naturally to me.”
The skater is keeping last season’s short, choreographed by Rohene Ward to music from La Califfa. Ward created her new free skate to the “Pas de Deux” from The Nutcracker. It’s her second free of the season; the first, a tango, was dropped about three weeks prior to Champs Camp.
“For me, it’s all about highlighting a skater’s best qualities,” Ward said. “Courtney has such a great back and a great neck; I try to highlight how strong her back is. She is also very musical, she has trained in ballet. We started with the tango and it wasn’t working, because it was too strong, so we took it to a whole new level and softened it.”
Hicks hopes the changes add up to higher program component scores.
“I’ve been working on changing the way I’m viewed in skating,” she said. “I’ve always been viewed as a powerful skater with big jumps, never as the most artistic or lyrical skater. We’re working on how to change the way I’m perceived.”