Episode 19: Internationaux de France 2018 - Transcript


Dani: 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 weeks hosts.

Kat: Hey it’s Kat, and I just spent this Thanksgiving weekend trying to get my family to watch figure skating while eating copious amounts of food. You can find me on Twitter @kattwts.

Tilda: Hi I’m Tilda, my twitter handle is @tequilda. Today is my mom’s birthday so I’m sneaking away to record this episode with a glass of wine so I can toast to the Grand Prix Finalists.

Dani: My name is Dani and I’m currently getting ready for my upcoming season as a competitive figure skater. You can find me on Twitter @DanielleSkating.

Tilda: Let's just start with some news.

Kat: So Japanese Junior Nationals happened this past weekend and the top 6 at Junior Nationals will compete at Senior Nationals next month, which will be really really fun. For the Men, we have Tatsuya Tsuboi, Shun Sato, and Koshiro Shimada. Tatsuya won with a .49 lead over Shun.

Tilda: And for the Ladies medalists we've got Yuhana Yokoi, who was the oldest competitor there, actually, in her last Junior season. And then we have Nana Araki, and Tomoe Kawabata, who actually went from 12th in the Short Program to 3rd overall, so very well done.

Dani: And also Adam Rippon has officially confirmed his retirement from competitive figure skating.

Kat: We all saw this coming, and it's still a little bit sad because he's so amazing. I love him.

Tilda: I'll toast to Adam Rippon as well. Cheers! (laughs)

Kat: And we have some interviews down the pipeline from some coaches and skaters from the Grand Prix event in France this past weekend, so keep a look out for those!

Tilda: Also we've started an Instagram! Search for inthelopodcast and you’ll find it, we post some photos we’ve taken at competitions and such.

Dani: We publish a weekly roundup of news stories you may have missed during the week on our website. Just go to inthelopodcast.com and you’ll find all our articles there.

-end segment- 2:24

START: IDF Overview

Tilda: So, today in our main segment we will be discussing the final Grand Prix event, Internationaux de France.

Kat: Ooh! Those French skills!

Dani: Fancy.

Tilda: I studied French for too long to not be able to speak French at all.

Kat: (laughs) You didn't drop the ball! So yeah, what an event this weekend, right? It was pretty crazy from a lot of different ways.

Tilda: And very high stakes as well, because there were quite a few Grand Prix Final spots that were up in the air.

Kat: Yeah, for sure, it was pretty intense. But there were some pretty crazy things that went on just from the organizing side of it. Like the fireworks during the skater introductions, and the disco podium during the victory ceremony.

Tilda: I love it.

Kat: No plastic stars this time - this time we get plastic hexagons!

Tilda: Yeah! Clara informed us that France is known as "the hexagon" due to the shape of the country, so maybe that was like an homage to France?

Kat: I couldn't even tell though, because it was an irregular hexagon, so everyone thought it was a pentagon because everyone was holding it and cutting off one of the sides. We never would have been able to tell that it was a hexagon, just because everyone was holding it.

Dani: Guys, real talk, do you think that they're going to run out of shapes at one point?

Kat: Who knows, maybe they'll just stick with this the whole time.

Dani: I'll say that 2019 will have squares or triangles.

Tilda: I do wonder if it's like building a brand as avant-garde, you know?

Kat: I don't know, it just seems kind of awkward because they're holding gifts and flowers and then the plastic [hexagons] so they looked really confused during the photo op, like what to do with all of the stuff. I remember during the Dance victory ceremony [Gabriella Papadakis] and Guillaume [Cizeron] were holding their [hexagons] and we're like "do we take this in the photo with us?" It was really funny.

Tilda: I just think that it's iconic that Gabi repeated her Simba presenting pose on the disco podium.

Kat: It's adorable.

Tilda: It's worth it just to see cinematic parallels like that.

Dani: I thought Nathan [Chen]'s face was really funny. He was just like "Oh no..."

Kat: And the flags! Oh man... They didn't even have actual flags during the national anthem, they had the LCD screens with the flags on them. I guess I've never planned a figure skating competition but it doesn't seem like it would cost too much extra to get some actual flags for the victory ceremony? I think that the skaters can live without the fireworks. We can get some flags, I think.

Tilda: The fireworks made it feel more like a show than a competition at times. It's a bit exciting sometimes though, right?

Kat: I guess, but the ice looked like it was melting and I don't know if the fireworks had anything to do with that but... I mean, this isn't the only competition, granted, during the Grand Prix that's had some pretty subpar ice conditions but skating on melted ice during the final Grand Prix where Grand Prix Final qualifiers are going to be decided doesn't seem to be the way to go.

Dani: Yeah, I did think that was a bit weird. I can say from experience that I've competed on melting ice and it's really hard to grip it. Especially edge jumps, I have trouble with those to begin with so competing on that is wild, and I'm surprised that there weren't more falls.

Kat: Yeah, especially if Grand Prix qualifiers are on the line, you don't want to be dealing with that in addition to compete. And then also the poor US Pairs skaters, I don't know if you guys saw this, but Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov had to skate their Free Skate while a part of the boards were falling on the ice. It was really funny because I missed it live and I replayed it, you could see the sign looking really unstable and like it was about to fall, and then the next shot of it you see it's on the ice. And then they do their side by side triple toes right in front of it, and Audrey definitely looked like she was probably distracted because she fell and it was right in front of the sign that fell on the ice, and that's so dangerous! It's funny in hindsight because you can see the guy kind of sneaking around as their going into the Pairs spins, and he's kind of sneaking past the boards so that he can find an opportunity to jump over the board and grab it, and then once they skate to the opposite end of the rink then he actually does it, and it's really funny because you can see it. But in a practical sense, that's so dangerous, and it's really unfair to the team because of course they were going to be distracted, and had this been a little bit more of a controversial result, or if they were in a more competitive situation for the podium or for a spot in the Grand Prix Final, this could have been a bigger deal. Because I really haven't seen that many people talking about it.

Dani: Well, because it doesn't happen that often.

Tilda: It does remind me a bit of... who was it that did a slide on the boards?

Kat: Oh, was that Keegan [Messing]? Yeah.

Tilda: Yeah, and it looked like it was like toilet paper, it was so thin, that was ripped off.

Kat: That's not a great situation, and maybe we should try to avoid that in the future.

Tilda: Everyone stay away from the boards. (Kat: Yes!) They don't love you, stay away from them.

-end segment- 7:50


Tilda: So let's move on to the Men. We have our medalists, Nathan Chen from the US, and then Jason Brown, also from the US! And in third place, Alexander Samarin from Russia.

Kat: I guess something I've been thinking about, at least at this Men's competition, is how the new judging system is starting to play out in favor of rewarding skaters that focus on the quality of the elements rather than just going for the highest technical content, like Jason for example. Those skaters would instead see higher rewards in terms of GOE, rather than relying on their base value and also having the high PCS to go along with the good execution. And before this competition, I guess we really didn't see any evidence of this really happening because the quad base value was still such a huge advantage but Jason Brown did prove that you don't need quads to perform really well, and he was first after the Short Program with a score higher than his personal best even under the old system. One of the judges- didn't they give him over 100 for his Short Program? I mean, I would have. (Tilda: Yeah!) Totally, absolutely. No one had ever scored over 100 without a quad before but... Yeah, Jason's quality absolutely deserves it.

Tilda: So he got 93 points at 2017 Worlds, and 94 points at World Team Trophy, so that was his best under the old system. And then using pretty much the same jump layout, the only difference here is that he put the combination in the second half so he got a little bit extra [from the] second half bonus. It's not a huge difference in terms of the GOE, and he got half a point higher in PCS as well, so it's a very small PCS boost. But he's still getting a lot of +5's, so that's thrilling to see but, again, we're not seeing a huge difference really.

Kat: I think that there's still higher we can go with the PCS, personally. Jason is one of the best skaters in the Men's field objectively, just on his Skating Skills, and it pains me that without quads he might never ever get a 10 in his Skating Skills ever, no matter how good he gets. So I hope that there isn't an arbitrary PCS cap based on the fact that he doesn't have a quad. We'll see how that goes because, from what I can tell, Jason's sticking around for a while.

Tilda: And also something I noticed while watching Ladies and Men mixed together and checking the protocols, I felt like the Men, in general, were getting higher GOE on elements overall. And I do wonder if it's a general trend of rewarding the Men more for their clean elements because I did see some meh elements among the Men get higher GOE than some really jumps in the Ladies. So I think that would be interesting to look at that more systematically because that's just sort of the impression I got.

Kat: That's definitely something that I think about as well. Men are more likely to be a disaster during their programs because they're attempting all of these crazy quads, so comparatively, when someone executes something cleanly because we get so few clean programs in the Men's events anyway, it makes you think that it's better than it actually is. Versus the Ladies where not being clean can really take you out of contention for your scores or the podium. So if everything is clean, then nothing really stands out. That's just from a psychology perspective.

Tilda: Yeah, I was just feeling the frustration when I saw the Ladies land really great jumps and getting less GOE for it.

Dani: Especially the Japanese Ladies, their execution was absolutely gorgeous, and I think that they should have been scored higher, but they're not.

Tilda: I just thought about Mai's jumps in general at this competition, I was just kind of wondering about why she's not getting the GOE on her jumps, especially her back counter double Axel I thought was so gorgeous.

Dani: That was impressive, I was like "You go, girl!"

Tilda: And then I look at the GOE and I was like "Why? Why do you do this?"

Kat: Well we're going to get into it with some of these skaters.

Tilda: Yes, but we were discussing the Men now and we're off topic.

Kat: (laughs) Yeah. So, first we've got Nathan Chen, resident Yalie, getting his second gold on the Grand Prix here. What did we think, guys?

Tilda: I thought that was pretty great! I think there's a disconnect between his skating and his music in the Free Skate, and I'm not really sure if it's [that] his music choice wasn't the best for skating, or if it's because he's focusing too much on getting the elements done.

Kat: Oh, for sure, the first half kind of feels like a jumping exercise. Again, he's not the only one that does this, but it felt like he was just going in for his jumps one by one and I did not really connect with the program, at least in the first minute.

Dani: I do feel like Nathan Chen does pick more exciting music for the Short Program because he can have more fun with it and he has a shorter time span, if that makes sense. While in the Free Program, it is mainly focused on getting the elements in, and if you do you use all of your energy up just from the get-go then it's harder to finish the program. I do agree with where he's going music-wise, but I do feel like he could continue to add more to the Long Program.

Kat: I agree, I really like that he's kind of made it his brand to not go for the typical warhorse music, he's going for more contemporary. I think that suits his style a lot more, the Short Program especially, I really like his Short Program. Although I definitely think he looks a lot more tentative compared to in Skate America, especially from the very beginning. I remember that the first time I saw the program at Skate America I was like "Oh my god, he's giving so much face. He's drawing me in." But it felt a lot more expressionless like his face wasn't really capturing me this time, but I know that he's got it in him. And I don't know if he was necessarily nervous, I just didn't feel the performance as much. His body language wasn't as open and wide as it was at Skate America at least.

Dani: And that's something that I did see in him last season, especially with Nemesis is as this goes on, he almost loses that expression.

Kat: I am afraid of that.

Tilda: Oh, but I do love Caravan.

Kat: Yes I do.

Dani: Oh it's great.

Tilda: It's so much fun, and I think it's quite demanding in performance, I think he really needs to perform it- give a lot while performing it or else it would just fall flat. So I think in that sense it's sort of forcing him to actually go out of his comfort zone a bit, if that makes sense. And I think in general he has been helped by reducing his base value because- for example not doing both the quad flip and quad Lutz in the Short Program lets him have more fun, energetic Short Program performances. And as well in the Free Skate, it does a lot to not have to do five quads.

Kat: Although I do wish he would take the quad flip out of his Short Program. His Lutz is marginally better, but he keeps getting edge calls- he got an edge call here, he fell on it, and it was underrotated.

Tilda: Didn't he get an unclear edge in both the short and the free?

Kat: Yes, he keeps getting the edge calls on it. Please take the quad flip out, please. But it was really great of him to stick on the triple toe after the quad toe in the Short Program after he fell on the quad flip. That was a pretty bold move and that's a lot of pressure so good for him.

Dani: And I do think apart from the quad flip fall in the short, I thought he did pretty well this week. He opened the Free Skate with one of the best quad flips and quad toes, in my personal opinion, of the season. I am quite fond of both of his programs this year, I feel like he is finding himself musically and he will continue to grow. His Short Program especially brings out the fun side, and both the audience and the judges can enjoy it which is awesome.

Kat: Yeah I think that it really caters to everyone, it's fun but it's got energy to it.

Tilda: Ok let's talk about Jason Brown a bit, who was my favorite this competition actually.

Kat: Oh he was so good.

Dani: I thought for sure Jason Brown wowed us all by winning the Short Program with no quad.

Kat: So great.

Dani: He did turn his triple Lutz into a double Lutz in the Free Skate which was a little disappointing, but this competition does show how stable and capable he is in all of his triple jumps, his spins, his skating skills, and I'm confident that Brian Orser is going to do a great job with him.

Kat: I agree, I was worried that- and obviously we all know that transitioning to a new coach after 18 years of being with the same one is a tough period, but I was worried that it would shatter his confidence because he was looking really unstable at Autumn Classic and at Skate Canada, and especially I was so excited for him because after his 6th place finish at Skate Canada, getting silver here was definitely the proof he needed that he made the right decision. And it really let him push himself and I think this is definitely the best free he's done all season. The triple Axel in his Short Program is one of the best that I've ever seen him do, it's been one of his weakest jumps.

Tilda: I'm absolutely thrilled at seeing him in such great shape. I think that the new coaching environment does seem to be doing him favors, especially with his confidence. The Short Program itself was exquisite.

Kat: I love the Short Program it makes him look so mature.

Tilda: Yes, exactly, mature! The style is- everything is so polished, so strong, especially this early in the season to have such a complete Short Program just feels artistically and technically complete. Honestly, his PCS should be higher, quite a bit higher. But I'm still glad to see him get a really good score with this such complete performance, and nailing all of his elements.

Kat: The reaction from Brian and Tracy in the Kiss and Cry after his programs was to die for, especially in the Short Program, Brian's face when he got his score was so great, I love seeing happy reactions to scores. We all love that. And also Jason making silver qualified Jun to the Grand Prix Final, which is another bonus because we were all worried that Jun wasn't going to make it, and he did.

Tilda: And you will be there, right Kat?

Kat: Yes, so that'll be so fun! I'm so excited to cheer for him.

Tilda: Ok so, bronze medalist, Alexander Samarin. I was just thinking about his GOE because in the Short Program he turned out of his opening quad Lutz and he still received positive GOE for the element. I'm kind of confused at what happened overall with his GOE.

Kat: Just in general with his GOE's.

Tilda: I mean regarding the GOE bullets, I think he only hit one bullet, which was very good height and distance, it was huge, but it didn't hit the others. The turnout of the landing was pretty bad, and a weak landing can get anywhere between -1 to -3, so I think at best he should've gotten neutral and instead he got positive.

Kat: Yeah, getting positive GOE on a jump with a turnout, I guess you can justify it if everything else was good, if there was steps, transitions in and out, effortless throughout, great height and distance, then maybe, but it didn't really hit any of the other positive bullets in my opinion at least, and it still got positive GOE. I don't know how we can justify that.

Tilda: Yeah, I thought the same could be argued for a lot of his other jumps, where he doesn't have a lot of transitions in and out of them, for example. I was a bit confused about that.

Kat: His jumps look very full of effort, and for a jump to get more than +2, effortless throughout and good takeoff and landing, those bullet points have to be met, [Correction: for +4 and +5, the 3 bullet points- very good height and very good length, good takeoff and landing, and effortless throughout must be met] and that's not always the case with him.

Dani: Right, and I feel like his jumps in general are what my coach would call very messy. They look very muscled. As you said, it looks like there's a lot of effort put into the jump to even get it in the air, I completely agree with you. And if I'm being honest, I feel like he doesn't really know how to connect to a piece of music, because choosing The Greatest Showman is a big song, you really have to know how to fill it. I've seen girls skate to it who have done a great job, and I've seen girls skate to it who have done a mediocre job. And you really have to know how to fill a piece like The Greatest Showman. I think his air position, like you said, was fine for the quad Lutz, but other than that I feel like his skating is extremely rushed and sloppy and he's just trying to get from element to element.

Tilda: It is a bit sad that he needed a silver to qualify for the Grand Prix Final and he just missed it, so that is a bit sad for him.

Kat: Yeah, for me at least, I remember I also saw him at Skate Canada live, and all I could think about was where are his facial expressions? You're skating to The Greatest Showman, you really have to- I felt like it was very expressionless and cold, and despite the fact that he's skating to this energetic hype-y music, he just constantly has that mouth agape looking like he was about to speak expression the entire time that doesn't quite make sense with this kind of music. And if you're going to skate to something like The Greatest Showman soundtrack, that's kind of really ostentatious and out there, you got to really commit to the expression to pull me in. His upper body is also very stiff as well, and I feel like you need a lot more movement and energy to sell that program. So I want to talk quickly about Boyang Jin because I love him so much, but this was a pretty tough week for him, but he's had to deal with visa and travel issues and he only got to France a day before he was able to compete, so I really got to cut him some slack with how he performed because it was pretty stressful. Thankfully he was given some time to practice since he missed the first official practice, but that's still such a rough situation in the end, to compete.

Dani: And for his actual programs he attempted a quad Lutz in the short and fell, his blade hit the ice with a fourth of the rotation left to go, and although he fell, the rest of his performance was really fun, which is always something you can count on Boyang to give. He wasn't able to put his best skates forward in France, but I for sure have faith he'll return stronger as the season goes on.

Tilda: Yeah, Boyang for me is one of those skaters where I always have faith in him, he always feels strong in himself. But then this season he's felt more and more tentative, almost insecure, so I'm just really worried and hoping that- I was thinking he changed the training location, right, recently. So I just hope everything is working out and he's just adjusting right now.

Kat: Well he always peaks later in the season, he's won Four Continents before, made it on the World podium twice, so we'll see how things go, but I haven't given up just yet. So rise Boyang!

Tilda: I also want to touch on Dmitri Aliev, who came back from a disappointing Short Program to place second in the free and fourth overall. He did a triple Lutz - double Axel sequence, and, for the record, I love these sequences. And, this is just my opinion, but I think sequences should get the full base value now.

Kat: They're so hard, they absolutely should.

Tilda: And now, they're not allowed to do a hop in between, so then there's no reason to cut the base value. I remember when we were watching the ISU Congress and they were talking about changing the rules for sequences, and I kept going "Someone say something about ending the reduction, please! If you're changing the definition then change the base value reduction too." But, alas.

Kat: I love his Short Program too, so it was a real struggle to watch, unfortunately. I feel sad whenever skaters kind of stumble during their step sequences on nothing, that's just so sad to me.

Tilda: I was thinking, "Is the ice melted there? Is that what?"

Kat: Yeah, maybe. It's ok.

Dani: I feel like this is directed at me in my competitions, because I'll fall straight in.

Kat: Yeah, it's ok!

Tilda: And a final shoutout to Kevin Aymoz, who gave two really great performances in front of a home crowd. So, he's definitely one of our faves.

Kat: Stop robbing him on PCS. His free is absolutely incredible, it's one of my faves for the men, at least. And I was lucky to be able to see it twice. Alright, so heading into the Grand Prix Final, it will be the first time Nathan and Shoma go head to head. We also do have Yuzu, he hasn't withdrawn yet from the Grand Prix Final, but with the injury it's looking- I'm not hopeful of him being at the Grand Prix Final, and I'm kind of hoping that he doesn't go to the Grand Prix Final.

Tilda: Right, it's better to heal.

Kat: Yeah, so it'll be interesting to see. Nathan and Shoma are pretty even, their scores have been around ballpark of each other. Neither have skated two fully clean programs on the Grand Prix. Anything can happen, and like we said, men can go anywhere from being totally amazing or a complete splat-fest, so it'll be interesting to see who takes the gold here.

Tilda: Yeah especially considering how close it was in the last Grand Prix Final between Shoma and Nathan. It was a half a point.

Kat: Half a point! And then Shoma's time violation.

Tilda: That was controversial.

Kat: Very.

Dani: We do also have to remember that if Shoma does go clean Nathan has taken a few quads out, so his base value is going to be lower.

Tilda: Or if he decides to up his base value again, then he will have the disadvantage of not having done the quad Lutz or the quad Salchow in competition in a while.

Kat: And Nathan also has to study for his finals.

Tilda: Oh that's rough.

Kat: Because he's a student! At Yale!

Tilda: I'm a student too, it sucks. I'm not a competitive skater but-

Kat: Not an easy thing, I have so much respect for Nathan. I can't even imagine what he must be- he was studying during the competition this week too, so props to him and we'll see how that goes. Of course I'm still happy about Jun making the Grand Prix Final. First Korean male skater to ever qualify for the Grand Prix Final. We can hope that he makes the podium.

-end segment- 27:54

START: Pairs

Kat: So for the Pairs, for the medalists we had Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès from France. In silver we had Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea from the U.S. And finally, rounding out the podium, we had Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii from Russia. So James and Ciprès continuing their first place finishes this season.

Tilda: Great to see they're the number one qualifiers of the Grand Prix Final, which is amazing.

Kat: Yeah, and it was the first time winning at home too. They definitely didn't perform at the same level that they did at Skate Canada, but it was still good to see that they managed to come back in the free from third place. And winning at home- this gives them a lot of momentum going into the Grand Prix Final since they are the top qualifiers. And it's the first time they qualified too, so great for them.

Tilda: Yeah must be kind of a surreal feeling, because they were so close to qualifying last season, they just missed it. And now they're the number one qualifiers.

Kat: And even though it was flawed, I still loved their programs, especially their Free Skate. I was crying during Skate Canada, and I think that it works so well for them. I still kind of wish they changed the ending though because I always think it's kind of awkward whenever the ending position is the woman getting lifted. It always feels really awkward, but it's something they can work on.

Tilda: And also, I think about the "You doubled?" said by Aljona [Savchenko] at the Olympics all the time, that's so iconic to me, and then Vanessa doubled her Salchow and that just made me laugh because I always think about shoutout.

Kat: Yeah, but good for them. Hopefully we can see them rise this coming season, they've got a lot of momentum.

Tilda: Yeah, I'm not so sure how I feel about the Free Program itself, because I think it might be the music that I take issue with, but I just feel like it doesn't build very well, so there aren't as many impactful moments for them to highlight the music, except for the lifts, they're timed really well. I just feel like, compared to last season, I'm not sure about this Free Program.

Tilda: I'm not so sure how I feel about the Free Program itself because...I think it might be the music that I take issue with, but I just feel like it doesn't build very well, so there aren't as many impactful moments for them to highlight the music. Except for the lifts, I guess? They are timed really well. I just feel like compared to last season I'm not sure about Free Program.

Kat: Their last season's -- or last two season's -- Free Program was pretty iconic, I think.

Tilda: It’s kind of hard to top, right?

Kat: It is definitely hard to top. I feel like they were kind of going for a similar style; that kind of slow, dramatic ballade with the build, but I think that last season's was better. But I can still go with this, I think.

Tilda: But I do think that their Short Program is more impactful. Because, you know, there are more choreographic touches, so it works better as a program in that sense. They really make it come together through all these small, great moments.

Kat: Hoping that they do well at the Grand Prix Final. So next we have Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea. It was really, really nice to see them bounce back from a not-so-great showing at their last Grand Prix, and they were able to win silver after being fourth in the Short Program here, and they got second in the Free Skate. Now they're the third US team to make a podium on the Grand Prix season - and the only one to higher than a Bronze because Cain and LeDuc got Bronze at Skate America, and the Knierims got Bronze at NHK. And they have great momentum heading into Nationals and they'll be fighting for that singular US Pairs World's spot so, it will be interesting.

Tilda: Yeah, that's going to be a challenge.

Dani: Dun dun dunnn.

Kat: Yeah, but they have this amazing entry to their throw triple Salchow and it's so cool. I really hope that they keep using it.

Tilda: Yeah it's a highlight, definitely. So the Bronze medalists are Boikova and Kozlovskii. These two have really great elements but their programs don't really do it for me.

Kat?: Yeah same.

Tilda: I mean, there are so many insanely good Russian pairs teams and I feel like skating to The Nutcracker is not a good way to stand out.

Kat: Their programs are very Russian. And not in a great way, it’s just like generic, I guess.

Tilda: I mean, I do like that style. I do, I like the classic style. I just feel like they just don't have the experience yet to make it feel authentic because...they don't have that authenticity that you want.

Dani: It may take time for them to grow into what they are, rather than the whole Russian branding.

Kat: Yeah, and they are coming up from [Juniors], I believe this is their first Senior season. So, they have time to grow and it's a great result to get on the podium during your first Senior season on the Grand Prix.

Tilda: It does sort of feel like that, you know; a couple of young people who are trying to find their own style. And their throws are insane, right?

Kat: Yes. The height and distance she gets on her throws is crazy I remember seeing them live. It's really incredible. She gets great flow out of them. So, just, keep working and they'll probably rise in the next season or so. And then, just a quick shout out to Ryom and Kim. I have a really soft spot for them. I think that they're so great and they have so much potential. They did so great in the short and they placed second, and I don't think anyone predicted that. And I was really glad that they got two Grand Prix assignments this year after never competing on the Grand Prix. And they were so close to getting on the podium too, so, you know. I really hope that they can keep working and growing and I think that her expression is so great. Their Short really shows that off, they have great basic skating skills and I just really hope that in the future they can maybe branch out and get new programs. Because this is the third season, I believe, that they're recycling their Beatles Short Program, and this is the second time they are recycling their Free. But, you know, I don't know if there is a funding or access issue, or maybe they can't afford it. I really, really hope that they can get new programs and expand their artistic range.

Tilda: And hope that they'll make it to the Four Continents.

Kat: Yes.

Tilda: They got bronze last year, right?

Kat: Yeah so, hopefully, they can have a good showing there as well.

Tilda: Yeah, I really enjoyed seeing them. I was lucky enough to see them live so...They have a good presence, I think.

Kat: Yeah, so, basically going to the Grand Prix Final it's going to be a showdown between Tarasova and Morozov and James and Cipres, I think, for the title. I think it's solidly between these two, they're the two top qualifiers by a long margin. It'll just be really interesting to see whether James and Cipres can capitalise on the momentum they've been gaining for this past season, ever since they got their World's bronze medal. They've won every event they've entered this season, as have Tarasova and Morozov, and they're the top qualifies so. I don't know what'll happen.

Tilda: Yeah, I mean, Tarasova and Morozov have better side-by-side jumps, I think, and better Skating Skills and a better twist.

Kat: Yeah, just their elements in general are more solid.

Tilda: But I do think that James and Cipres have the overall edge on interpretation and more unique programs.

Kat: For sure.

Tilda: But then, on the other hand, I might prefer the performances I've seen so far from Tarasova and Morozov, simply because I feel like they sometimes give off more of a clean overall appearance. They feel more polished when skating and sometimes James and Cipres can feel a bit messier to me. So that impacts the overall perception.

Kat: Yeah, I agree. And Tarasova and Morozov are very aesthetically pleasing. They have gorgeous lines, great posture, they're elements are solid. The expression is the part that really is just lacking sometimes. Sometimes they skate through musical accents, and they don't look like they're connecting with the music. And that's the disconnect, at least for me. But just their overall aesthetic is so pleasing. So, we'll see if [we see] a clean Tarasova and Morozov and James/Cipres, what the result would be. I'll be curious. And, yeah, the fight for the bronze is going to be pretty interesting I guess. It'll be, probably, Zabijako and Enbert, if I had to predict, but I would definitely kill to see Peng and Jin on the podium; I love their Short Program, but they'd need to go clean because Zabijako and Enbert hit their levels more consistently than Pend and Jin. So, yeah, We'll see how it happens!

-end segment- 36:27

START: Ice Dance

Kat: Alright, and so for our next event! This was a good event; Ice Dance. Our medalists were: with the gold medal Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, with the silver Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov and finally, rounding out the podium, we have Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier from Canada. Lots of drama going into the dance event, considering that there were three potential Grand Prix Final qualifiers, and Papadakis and Cizeron not being one of them since they withdrew from NHK due to Guillaume's back injury.

Tilda: Yeah, my take away from this event is that Tangos are really difficult, the patterns are really difficult and I'm just wondering...we're almost half-way through the season and we're seeing so many mistakes in the pattern. So I'm just wondering, what will it take to see cleaner patterns?

Kat: Yeah. I've been griping about this last week as well when we saw...there were so few level threes, no level fours. This week as a little bit better, but still, no one has really nailed the pattern in a really long time. I think only one team has nailed the pattern this entire Grand Prix. We've seen some level four, level three and vice versa but...guys, clean up your tangos!! Go into the Tango Romantica remedial classes! Get your levels! So starting with the gold medal we have Papadakis and Cizeron. This was their big reveal; we've basically heard nothing, seen no footage of any of their programs and this is the last Grand Prix. And then they withdrew from NHK, because of back injury, so they were basically the last ones to reveal their programs in competition. So, we were all kind of going in a little bit blind with how they would be scored. Considering we hadn't seen them skate all season with the new scoring system. Going along with my complaining about the patterns; something I have been thinking about is whether teams should be able to get positive GOE on a basic or a level 1 pattern. Just a quick rundown for anyone who doesn't know about dance patterns and key points; the Rhythm Dance this season, the compulsory pattern is the tango romantica and it has two sections with four key points for each. To get credit for the key point you have the right edges, turns and holds held for the right number of beats, and then the levels are assigned based on the number of key points that you have. So level 1 is one key point, 2 is two key points etc. and the base value will go up with the level. And if you don't get any key points it's a basic. At least to me, it seems really counter-intuitive for a pattern to have missed like three key points to be considered good execution and get +3s and +4s. Like, Papadakis and Cizeron, on the first part, they got a level 1. But they're not the only ones, Hawayek and Baker got a B, because Jean-Luc got a timing call, and they still got +2s and +3s. So, I don't know guys. I guess there are plenty of other positive features that count for GOE, but do you guys think that there should be a max cap on the GOE that you can give based on key points?

Tilda: Yeah. If there's not a lot of difference in the base value of them. Which there isn't, right?

Kat: Right.

Tilda: So then, if you have quite similar base value and then you can get +4's on any level, then, in the end, you will get about the same amount of points for like a level 1 as for a level 3 - as long as you get the GOE's, right?

Kat: Yeah, I do think that's a good point; the base value differentiation between the levels is just not wide enough to justify. There's only half a point difference separating the levels, besides the basic level. So the wider GOE range makes it more likely to be able to inflate the score. So you'd never know that Papadakis and Cizeron got a level 1 on part 1 and then a level 4 on part 2 because they were only separated by a point and a half in the end. Which is crazy because the second part has been so hard for teams this season, I think maybe one or two other teams have gotten a level 4 on section 2. So teams that nail it should be able to be rewarded for it, at least in my opinion.

Tilda: Yeah, no, I totally agree.

Kat: You never know though, it could just be the ISU wanting to avoid a double jeopardy of getting dinged on the level and then the GOE from the same mistakes but I don't know. Key points, at least to me, seem kind of like a proxy for looking at the edge quality of the pattern as a whole because they obviously can't look at the edges for all of the steps, there are a tonne of steps in the patterns. They do pick the hardest parts though, so. What do you guys think about the programs themselves though?

Tilda: I think, for a first outing especially, it's very impressive. I mean the Free Dance is not really my style but I was just sort of blown away by how much flow they have, and it's so smooth, and all of these little details that stand out. They just make the whole program feel very seamless, and I think, for me, the highlight was the rotational lift. I liked the image of her just sort of throwing herself and like hugging him. I just thought that was so beautiful.

Kat: They are very good interpreters, I think, especially Gabi. I think that Gabi is a very good interpreter of music, I love her expressions, basically. For me I really liked their Rhythm Dance, I already talked about the levels but despite that, I really liked the placing of the pattern on the music. They do the helicopter at the start of the pattern right on a musical crescendo, and they do these moves and holds right at the start of their midline step sequence and it's so great.

Tilda: I did feel a bit about their Rhythm Dance that I didn't feel the passion and the sharpness that I normally want from a tango.

Kat: That's how I felt about the pattern execution for sure.

Tilda: I just feel like they might be a bit trapped as far as expression goes, and that sort of sharpness wasn't really available to them.

Kat: Yeah, but again it is their first outing, so we'll see how it can grow at least. I mean I really love their Free Dance as well. The stationary lift right at the start is so nice, I really like that. I personally was a little afraid that the program was going to be more of the kind of ethereal, airy, dreamlike [type]. But I personally don't think it was. I saw a lot of people saying that this was more of the same but, at least to me, I didn't really agree with that. I think the music is still subtle; it's not quite in your face dramatic, but I still think there's [a] really nice build. And there's some dramatic tension, even if it's not overtly dramatic with the music. They're not so floaty in their movements, and I love that curve lift, the one where they get really low to the ice and they cover so much distance over it too.

Tilda: I love low lifts, it's one of my favorites.

Kat: Yes, I do too! Some people are not into that but I think they look really nice.

Tilda: World records on their first time competing this season as well? (Kat: Oh yeah.) It's a statement that they're still the ones to beat, even if they won't be at the Grand Prix Final.

Kat: Yeah, I mean, that was quite a world record. Maybe I would still give them the world record, I don't know if I would have given it by 8 points, I think, in the Free Dance. They had a lot of 10s in the PCS which, I mean, they are good but it is their first outing, and that's basically the judges saying to them that there's nothing you can improve here and that's not fair to them, I think, right? I think there's room for the dance to grow still and for them to earn higher scores, I don't think they need the inflation. I do believe they are one of the best teams in the world, even without the overscoring, but I know a lot of people that have kind of soured on seeing them just because their scores can sometimes be a very anti-climatic moment, I guess, because you kind of resign yourself to accepting that they're going to win no matter what. But I still love the program, the diagonal step sequence is so great. It's so good, and I know Guillaume's back hunches a little bit during it and it can be a bit distracting, but I'm cutting him some slack because of the injury. And they're the first ones to get a level 4 on that step sequence this entire [Grand Prix series]. So, good on them.

Tilda: It's going to be weird to not see them at the Grand Prix Final.

Kat: For sure. And it sucks, their programs are really good, I would love to see it again and I would have loved to see it live but... you know. Alright, next we have Sinitsina/Katsalapov in silver. Their Rhythm Dance is really good, I will admit, it is quite good.

Dani: Yeah, it is.

Kat: And they did the best on the pattern, all things considered, because they had two level 3's. And their tango is done in pretty close hold, at least the closest of all the teams that we've seen here for sure. And the gancho right before the midline step sequence and the clapping choreo - it's so good! So, third place, Gilles and Poirier, I love them so much. But they needed a second place finish here to make the Grand Prix Final because they got the bronze at Skate Canada, and it's just so sad for them because they were Canada's best shot at a home Grand Prix Final appearance, and possibly medal. But they got definitely two of the most stacked Dance Grand Prix's, because they had to go up against Hubbell and Donohue, Sinitsina and Katsalapov at Skate Canada, then Sinitsina and Katsalapov again, plus Papadakis and Cizeron, and Hawayek and Baker, and so now they're not even first alternates. Their Free Dance is so good, guys, I love it so much. I cried over it, and it deserves to be performed as many times as possible. There's so many little details and nuances.

Tilda: I just think it's a shame about their levels.

Kat: Yeah, they really got hosed. And [Piper] just looks so beautiful. Unfortunately, they could have used the momentum of making the Grand Prix Final here, especially since they were the only really relevant Canadian Dance team on the Grand Prix, and especially since Weaver and Poje were sitting out. So they're going to have to go up against Weaver and Poje again at Canadian Nationals and the momentum would have been nice, but we'll see what happens. Weaver and Poje do have a really nice Free Dance as well. And then in fourth place, Hawayek and Baker. I'm not super sad about that because they still made the Grand Prix Final thanks to their win at NHK. I love them so much but, oh gosh, pattern levels. I'm still cutting them a little bit of slack because Jean-Luc is still coming back from a concussion, they missed a lot of training time because of that, and I think between the two of them he's the better skater, so I'm not going to freak out too much. But it is November, and they're going to the Grand Prix Final, and, if they want to compete for the podium, they have to get their levels. But this is the second time that they've gotten a B on their pattern, at least this time they got a level 2 on section 2 but I think they really have to hammer the pattern over and over. I hope that they rise, they have great lines, they're very aesthetically pleasing. I really like the aesthetic of them, I like when Pairs and Dance teams have not so much of a height difference. I mean, I love Sui and Han so... But yeah, I'm not the biggest fan of their programs but I can deal with it. But it might just because Kevin [Aymoz]'s "In This Shirt" Free Skate is one of the best Free Skate's this season. So having three, I think, in the same event, right? Because Romain also did it in the Short Program.

Tilda: Oh my god.

Kat: So having so many of the same song in the same event, it didn't really work in their favor, at least in my opinion. We'll see what happens at the Grand Prix Final.

Tilda: I do hope that the Grand Prix Final gives them enough momentum for the US Nationals, because, although they're not podium contenders at the Grand Prix Final really, Chock/Bates will probably be back for US Nats, and if [Hawayek/Baker] have a good showing at the Grand Prix Final it could give them a fighting chance at Nationals.

Kat: So good luck to them. Grand Prix Final for Ice Dance will be interesting, right? And none of the Olympic medalists will be at the Grand Prix Final, so it'll be interesting because Papadakis and Cizeron have basically solidified their top Dance team status, even if they're not going to be there. I guess the Grand Prix Final will actually decide who is the second best Dance team in the world, and I think there are a couple of teams vying for that spot, don't you think?

Tilda: Yeah, definitely. I think that Hubbell and Donohue started this season as favorites, but then we have Stepanova and Bukin who proved to be strong contenders with really great showings.

Kat: I am so excited to see them.

Tilda: Definitely. So you had the world records swapping between them at every competition, which was really exciting to see.

Kat: And then also Sinitsina and Katsalapov have shown to be pretty strong contenders as well. We'll have a decent fight for the gold, I think. We'll see, I think it always was going to be an interesting Dance event considering how many teams were sitting out and then how many teams ended up withdrawing from the Grand Prix as well, so it's a good chance for any team here to gain some momentum into their Nationals and then going into Championships in the second half of the season.

Tilda: Let's pray that everyone gets their levels.

Kat: Please! Please, at least by Nationals!

-end segment- 50:28

START: Ladies

Tilda: So let's move on to Ladies. We have in first place Rika Kihira from Japan, in second place Mai Mihara, also from Japan, and then in third place, Bradie Tennell from the US. So one thing that just came to me when I was watching is the whole thing with overscoring and underscoring. (Dani: Oh for sure.) I was watching Marin [Honda] in the Kiss and Cry after her Short Program, both at Skate America and at IDF, and it's very disheartening to see her look so surprised at the score, given how excited she was when she finished it. And then in Skate America she completely fell apart in the Free Skate and somehow I felt that the score she got in the Short Program sort of robbed her of the confidence going into the Free Skate, and this sort of how I felt last season a lot about Wakaba Higuchi.

Kat: Oh god.

Tilda: I just really hate seeing the moment when they are excited to get their score and then their face just falls when they see it. And I just think that when you're not given due credit for what you put out it can be really detrimental to your self-confidence because I think it can make you think nothing you do will be enough (Kat: Oh totally.) which is a really poor mentality to have when you have a Free Skate coming up soon.

Kat: Yeah, and then if you go in tentative into the Free Skate and then you start popping a jump or two, and you tighten up in your body, it makes your expression suffer as well which doesn't help your PCS. And so then the PCS falls as well, and it just snowballs. It's not great.

Dani: Well as a skater myself I can definitely agree with this, and it's hard just watching, especially the Senior Ladies for Japan, cause I'm noticing a trend that most of them are really underscored and they're putting out overall a phenomenal skate, whether it be jumps, spins, footwork, PCS [skills] - the whole package is there, and I feel like they're not getting the scores that they deserve for that. And that's hard as a fan to watch.

Kat: Oh for sure, unfair scoring, in general, is just so hard for all of us, as the audience, to watch a skater not get the credit that they deserve.

Tilda: And then you have excessive overscoring which can also be detrimental to the mentality because I feel for Evgenia [Medvedeva], for example, she's been seeming to lose her confidence with the scores that she's been getting because she has a high standard which is probably compounded by the fact that the judges would reward her very generously in the past. And now she has seemingly lost the favor and it seems like that's kind of throwing her off.

Kat: Yeah, and to be fair, her scores now are actually more in line with anything that she'd ever received during the rest of her Senior career.

Tilda: Yeah, I agree.

Kat: And it's just hard to see that she's still setting herself up for that super high standard that the judges had kind of placed on her in the seasons past, and I think now her mindset just seems to be kind of out of whack and she seems to be going through a mental block. It's just interesting to me because she's looked so solid in the practices. What I personally saw at Skate Canada is that she didn't pop anything, basically, and from what people have been reporting this past weekend as well it's not an overall training or stamina issue, I don't think. She's been banging out loop combos left and right.

Tilda: Yeah, I think for me what I'm seeing is that she has issues that have been mostly ironed out in practice and then it's just a matter of transferring those skills from practice to competition. And I think that's the struggle for her. (Kat: Yeah.) Also because she's at the point where everything is still new and unfamiliar with her whole life changing, so she hasn't been able to find her competition focus in the midst of all of that.

Kat: We definitely got to be patient with her, but I obviously feel a little bit for her, and I worry for her a little bit just because she has a perfectionist streak inside of her. I think she'll be okay in the long run though.

Tilda: I think she's hanging on pretty well with that in mind that she has changed everything about her life, it's just that we're used to seeing like a really freakish consistency from her.

Kat: Right.

Dani: So in first place, we have Rika Kihira from Japan. She is definitely going to become one of my favorites. I think she has crazy strong jumps and spins, and just overall skating ability. She did miss the triple Axel in the Short Program, and she turned it into a single Axel, but she came back and she did it in the Free Skate. She did touch down with one hand.

Kat: And it was underrotated.

Dani: Yeah, it was. But I believe that out of a lot of Ladies at the Senior level she has some of the best air position. She gets up, she's tight, and she just comes up and you're like "Alright, girl. I see you."

Kat: There's like an effortlessness in her jumps, I think, that's very appealing in an aesthetic kind of way. I agree with you, she's definitely becoming one of my new favorites, and I think that this weekend was definitely a really big moment for Rika in terms of momentum. And I was a little worried for her initially just because going into NHK there were some expectations for her because of the triple Axel but there was a little bit of a like "will she, won't she" scenario. But then she fell in the Short Program and then came back from behind because she had nothing to lose, and it could be pretty daunting to go into this competition with the expectation that you're going to live up to a skate like that. That was a moment. That was an incredible moment, I think. (Dani: Yes.) And, obviously, here in France, it was a bit of a weaker showing than her NHK outing. She just had some shakier landings in her Free. You know, we discussed the ice and all that. But, man, the fight to hang on to that first triple Axel in the Free and then the foresight to ditch the triple Axel and do a double instead with a triple toe tacked on - so incredible.

Tilda: One thing I think is amazing is that she originally only had one Grand Prix assigned to her, (Kat: Right?) and then she was the host pick for NHK and then she crushed both of those events.

Kat: I know!

Tilda: She's the second qualifier for the Grand Prix Final, and she had the third highest point total. She wasn't especially known for her consistency before, so I think it's very cool to see here in France that she was able to hold her own. Because singling an Axel right at the beginning of the Short Program could have crushed her confidence, but instead she went on to having a stunning Short Program. It was really just that beginning and it's just really cool that she can recover from those mistakes and still skate really well.

Kat: Right. The Short Program, for me at least, isn't quite my cup of tea because, Clair de Lune, I'm very iffy on Debussy in general for skating. It's kind of snoozy for me at least. But that Free Skate, guys. It is a masterpiece. Thank you, Tom Dickson! I know that her technical prowess is her main selling point, at least as a new senior, it kind of gets you in the conversation. But I think that the Free just shows off the maturity of her body expression and her interpretation. The music is very subtle but it has a lot of small accents that she can use to her advantage, like the use of her arm movements and the changes of level in her body during the step sequence, and those backward steps when she's looking up at the sky. And the choreo sequence with the spirals right on the musical accents, it just shows me that she's paying attention to the nuances, and she's not skating through those musical accents, which, I guess, is common amongst Seniors coming up from Juniors. But she's letting them enhance her movements and it's my favorite Free Program of the whole season. And also the fact that the last element of the program is the triple Salchow that she puts right at the end during a moment of almost complete silence is so risky, but it works so well. Give her all the PCS!

Dani: I thought that was incredible, that triple Salchow at the end. I remember watching [and thinking] "Is she really going to jump with no music?" And she did, and she landed it and I'm like "Oh!"

Kat: Right? When she lands and the thunder goes on in the background. (Dani: Yes.) Oh god, so good.

Tilda: And the fact that she managed to win this competition with only one triple Axel, and it was underrotated with a hand down, really shows that even without the triple Axel she can still be a strong contender. (Kat: Oh, for sure/) It's not just the triple Axel, it's everything else about her. So I just think it's really cool to just see her grab that.

Kat: Yeah, her Rippon triple Lutz, ugh.

Tilda: Yeah, it was so good! Okay, let's move onto Mai Mihara. And mm, okay honestly, what do the judges want Mai to do to get more than 66 PCS? Fly? Crystallize ice?

Dani: Maybe both?

Tilda: Just the fact that she isn't getting 9s in interpretation and performance just blows me away. I mean, she got 7s in there! (Kat: How?!) I think the Short Program isn't the best fit for her, but for the Free Skate, her PCS - I don't understand. I really don't understand.

Kat: It's so tragic - this is her third year on the senior level and her PCS have rise[n] like nothing!

Tilda: I think for me it's troubling that she can continue to put out pretty clean performances - she's consistent, she has clean performances. And we're talking about the occasional under rotation, basically, which everyone has. And she's still not getting the GOE or the PCS. And not even her beautiful back counter double Axel in the Free Skate - that only got +1! I mean, there were a few 4s in her protocol, but no 5s and many 2s and 3s. I mean it's troubling because at this point, I'm not sure what should be done to get the results. I just feel like perfect jumps can get stuck on 3s and I'm wondering what's additionally required for a skater to get more 4s and 5s. Because I don't think it's the quality of the jumps that distinguish between getting a 3 and getting a 5.

Kat: And it's just that poor Mai is - not only is she shafted by the judges, but she's shafted by JSF too because she probably got some of the worst assignments this season, considering how packed the ladies field at NHK and at IDF were. Her scores at NHK would have gotten her on the podium literally anywhere else. She would have won Skate Canada, gotten silver at Rostelecom or in Helsinki, and a bronze at Skate America. But the podium at NHK had scores in the 219 to 220 range. JSF, why would you do this to her?!

Tilda: And as for Bradie Tennell, we've talked a bit about her programs before. I think she did a great job, and one thing I thought was amazing was that the Russian and the Japanese ladies have been totally dominating the Grand Prix this season. Only two non-Russian and non-Japanese ladies medaled on the Grand Prix circuit, and that was Eunsoo Lim last week and then Bradie Tennell. So in the context of that, I just think Bradie's medal was really impressive. And I think she's making a solid statement that she is a contender for medals and her packaging is a lot more careful, and she's really setting herself up for an upwards trajectory. So at this point, I just feel like it's the underrotations that are holding her back.

Kat: We're going to quickly touch on, of course, Evgenia. We kind of discussed her briefly as well, but her programs were tough to watch I think.

Dani: Yeah, it was really tough to watch. And I think the thing I felt so bad for her, is she almost looked upset, she didn't look relaxed at all, which isn't really something we see from her. Even Brian told her, "you really have to be feisty in your skates." And I think she kind of realized that and tried to bring it to the free, but all those old habits are starting to come back and from a skater's standpoint, she does try to make her rotation by using her upper body, and skaters who are listening to this are going to agree with me - when you turn your upper body, this pulls you out of your tight position and you have more of a chance of wrapping which is when your leg comes up. Your air position is going to become a mess and that is what happened. She kind of fell out of some of her jumps and in France, it was just unusual for her. It wasn't a mistake she normally makes. But I have confidence that Brian Orser is going to take what happened in France and he's going to work on it and I have full faith in him.

Tilda: Let's also touch a bit about Marin Honda, who also had a less than ideal skate and I feel like we also see the same thing as Evgenia: she's moved to another country, she's changed to a completely different coaching situation, and I just feel like we should be patient. And I think she got quite low PCS here. (Dani: Oh yeah, for sure) Especially her skating skills, I think it's a bit criminal to give her - she got 7.82 in the Short Program, and I just thought that was crazy for skating skills.

Dani: I think she has some of the best skating skills in the ladies field.

Kat: Oh yeah, it's her lowest component too for some reason. I don't understand how she's still getting 7s in skating skills!

Tilda: At the same time I think that her PCS would be affected by the fact that she hasn't made a strong presence in seniors. She had her struggles last season, and those are continuing this season. So I have faith that if she gets more solid performances, which hopefully as she grows more confident with the new coaching situation, her performances will improve and hopefully that should also change the PCS.

Dani: I really, truly, do not know what competition the judges were watching but gve this girl her PCS. She deserves it!

Kat: I agree. And I definitely am trying to - I'm again sympathetic to the new coaching change and I'm trying to be patient and I just worry for her so much because it's not going to get any easier to stand out amongst the depth in the Japanese ladies. And I just hope that the lack of consistency in her results and in her performances and the lowballing as well don't affect her confidence even more going forward because I think she has so much potential. Her face just lights up the rink and she's just adorable. She's such a star. I love her.

Tilda: Let's talk a little bit about the Grand Prix Final? We have 3 Japanese ladies and 3 Russian ladies. So it's just going to be Japan vs. Russia.

Kat: If you had any doubt which countries had the deepest fields for ladies, well...

Dani: Now you have it.

Kat: I'm going to be super interested in seeing how Rika and Alina will stack up because the last time they competed against each other was the Junior Grand Prix Final two years ago where Alina won and Rika was fourth. It'll be interesting to see because Alina goes in as the top ranked qualifier but Rika has the higher total score at a single competition, and that was at a competition where she fell on her triple Axel. So it will be interesting - Alina hasn't skated completely clean for two programs, at least at Helsinki and in Rostelecom so it will be interesting to see if she goes clean here, and it will be interesting to see who wins [between] a clean Alina vs. a clean Rika because Alina still gets pretty high scores despite sometimes having the mistakes because she has such a PCS advantage.

Dani: Another thing we'll be seeing is Rika's triple Axel vs. Liza's triple Axel. Who will be the best?

Kat: Yeah I mean, Rika beat her at NHK trophy with the two triple Axels she landed in her free so. It'll be interesting to see if they go clean and how that'll play out as well.

Dani: I really hope they do, that will be really exciting. It'll give me anxiety, which isn't exciting but...

Tilda: And let's also say that the most consistent skater in the Grand Prix has been Satoko Miyahara. Amazingly, she scored 219 points at both of her Grand Prix events, so that means that she actually has a higher point total than anyone else - higher than Alina as well because Alina got 215 at Helsinki and 222 at Rostelecom. So even though Satoko has one gold and one silver, her total score was the highest of anyone. So yeah, Alina and Rika have the advantage of scoring higher than her at a given competition, [but] it must be reassuring to know that Satoko has shown more consistency than either of them.

Kat: Hey, who knows, slow and steady wins the race right? If Rika and Liza fall on a triple Axel or if Alina messes up her Lutz-loop combo, anything can happen.

Tilda: Satoko can win with 219 points.

Kat: Oh yeah, for sure, no doubt, and I would absolutely love to see her win here. But it'll be a very interesting Grand Prix Final for the ladies, for sure.

-end segment- 1:09:19

START: Shoutout of the Week

Tilda: And the shoutout of the week goes to Clara (Kat: Woo! Love you, Clara.) for all her amazing work at IDF. It was really heartwarming to see a friend at rinkside, and snapping photos that you can see on our Twitter and our new Instagram hopefully.

Kat: Yeah, she's been running around between press conferences, editing photos, shooting photos-

Tilda: Doing interviews!

Kat: Yeah, doing interviews as well, she'll be doing the interviews that we'll be posting in the weeks to come so keep a lookout on that. Thanks again, Clara, for all your hard work!

-end segment- 1:09:54

START: Outro

Kat: Thank you for listening, we’ll be off next week, but we’ll be back in two weeks for our next episode which will be about the Grand Prix Final!

Dani: If you want to get in touch with us, then please feel free to contact us via our website inthelopodcast.com or on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook. You can find our episodes on Youtube, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Spotify.

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.

Tilda: 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. Thanks for listening, this has been Tilda, Kat, and Dani.

Kat: See you next time!

Tilda and Dani: Bye!