Yogeeta: You're In The Loop - we're here to discuss the ups, downs and sideways of the sport of figure skating, and maybe give you +5 GOE along the way. Let’s introduce this week's hosts.
Niamh: Hi, I’m Niamh, and you might know me as the one on Twitter constantly tweeting about Jason Brown’s spirals. You can find me @rivrdance.
Karly: Hi, I’m Karly, I was recently at US Nationals. You may know me from the Nathan Chen and Andrew Torgashev banners and I’m on Twitter @cyberswansp.
Yogeeta: I’m Yogeeta and at this point I have the GOE bullets memorized, I believe. You can find me @liliorum.
Karly: Yay, welcome to episode 25!
Niamh: Oh my god, has it been 25 episodes?
Karly: I know, right?
Niamh: What? Okay! So this week we're going to start with a brief news update of the figure skating community. So there has been a petition set up in order to rename the Almaty Arena in Almaty, Kazakhstan, which is the arena mostly used for figure skating events in Kazakhstan, in honor of the late Denis Ten.
Karly: There's also been two withdrawals from the Pairs field at the Four Continents Championships, which are going to be held this weekend, actually. Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor from Australia have withdrawn, and Tae Ok Ryom and Ju Sik Kim from North Korea have also withdrawn, so we're sad to see them go. I was especially looking forward to Ryom/Kim. [Note: Miu Suzaki and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan have also withdrawn from the event]
Yogeeta: Okay, let's start this week's episode, which will be on Canadian and US Nationals. Are you guys ready?
Karly: I'm so ready. I was at US Nationals, I've been ready for a week!
Yogeeta: Well before we actually get started on talking about what happened at Nationals, I would like to give a short rant on accessibility.
Karly: Rant number one, throwback to episode 1 of In The Loop.
Yogeeta: So, the senior events for US Nationals were streamed via NBC Sports Gold, and then parts of it was also streamed on NBCSN and NBC. Which makes it really hard for people who want to watch the earlier skaters but can't because they either can't afford to subscribe to NBC Sports Gold or they're not American, so they can't access the service. Also, the tech box is one of the most annoying things in the world and I hate it and it's so terrible for beginners. For many Americans, the US Nationals is the first opportunity to watch live skating, since it is primetime in the US, however, this tech box doesn't really tell [you] anything and doesn't really teach people about what's going on. It really only tells you if an element is under review or not as they meticulously explain with green, yellow and red [boxes].
Karly: Yeah, so I remember during the Olympics them constantly explaining the green, yellow and red, and now that I'm much more into the sport of figure skating and understand how GOE and under review works, I wish it was so different.
Niamh: Surely the color scheme is obvious enough to the general viewer that they don't need to reanalyze it every five minutes. Everyone tends to have the general idea that red means and green means good. (hosts laugh)
Yogeeta: And this is also not something that's been around US Nationals for a while. If we go back to 2016 US Nationals, they had the descriptive tech box that tells you what the elements were, and then they switched to this new one in 2017 and they've kept it. They kept it for the Olympics too which was absolutely a terrible idea, in my mind. And this was really annoying for beginners who don't know what the elements are like they don't know if they did a triple Lutz, or they did a triple loop, or what type of jump they did, what levels they get on spins, what levels they get in Dance. Like Dance means nothing to someone who can't actually see what the levels are.
Karly: Literally a good example of that was my roommate and I were watching the Olympics and all we knew was what a twizzle was.
Niamh: I've been watching figure skating for nearly two years and that's all I know. (hosts laugh)
Yogeeta: So that is probably my biggest frustration, especially since the ISU tech box has improved since last season. They switched to the tech box that we have now on the international level, previously all we saw was the score, instead of seeing the elements [and GOE]. So, props to them taking the Japanese tech box. But I don't understand why the ISU is going forwards but NBC is going backwards.
Karly: Yeah, honestly, I love the ISU tech box and I just remember during the Olympics I would have loved to know what was going on.
Yogeeta: The online stream of the Olympics did tell you what was going on, which is what we watched right, Niamh?
Karly: Yeah, well I was a peasant and I was watching it on the computer, not on an online stream on NBC. (hosts laugh)
Niamh: Honestly, the online tech box for Dance was possibly the best thing figure skating has given us.
Yogeeta: The other best thing is Belinda Noonan, my favorite commentator who actually taught me Ice Dance! Unlike the commentators here who don't really teach you anything.
Karly: Yeah, I think the best thing about being live at US Nationals was that I didn't have to hear the commentators.
Niamh: I think Yogeeta especially me and you, I think we probably screamed "Bless Belinda" into that chat at least 30 times per hour.
Yogeeta: She was so great, she actually explained what edges were and what the different levels meant during Ice Dance at the Olympics. Whereas, Charlie White and Ben Agosto and Tanith White - NBC had two different sets of commentators and neither of them actually explained anything about what exactly Ice Dance was. Which I don't think is handy for a beginner audience.
Niamh: If I wasn't a figure skating fan, I don't think I would have known that any of them were actual Ice Dancers through their commentary of Ice Dance.
Yogeeta: Honestly, of all the commentators that I listened to this weekend, my favorite commentator was Ashley Wagner talking about Euros.
Karly: Yeah, I will say I didn't get to hear her commentary, but I was interested in it. It'd be best to have previous figure skaters as commentators, but even then you can't always rely on them to explain everything, which I hate.
Yogeeta: And the other thing is that these commentators are giving in to the NBC and USFSA hype machine which, obviously, you expect national bias and stuff like that but the stuff they were saying about Alysa Liu and Nathan Chen - it just went over in my mind and I was like... You're hyping them up so much but, we'll get to this later, if they don't continue to deliver at the level that you guys are saying they're at then you're just hyping them up for them to fall.
Karly: Hype trains are so bad for the sport.
Niamh: And in regards to NBC Gold and how the USFSA streams their competitions, I'm the only international fan on the episode so probably my perspective is different, but I'm an international fan. Other than streams online, there is no literal way for me to watch American Nationals - and the majority of my favorite skaters are American!
Karly: (cough) Jason Brown.
Niamh: And I would have been perfectly happy paying for a stream if I was given the ability to pay for a stream. But other than [Novices] and Intermediates, which for the most part are streamed on the USFSA Fan Zone, they global block all streams. So, even if I wanted to pay for NBC Gold, I can't. So I don't see how they expect international fans to keep up with skaters they like if they aren't given streams. US Nationals isn't a small competition for the majority of skating fans and it's quite concerning when I find it easier to find a stream for Canadian Sectionals than it is for US Senior Nationals.
Karly: US Nationals and the USFSA is just so nationalistic. They don't even consider the possibility that there could be international fans wanting to watch.
Niamh: Think of how much money they could have made!
Karly: Exactly, they could make so much more money if they opened up NBC Gold to international people. The USFSA is a big federation and in some fields, they have lots of good skaters and lots of people who want to watch those skaters. So they could do really well with opening NBC Gold to international buyers, but they just don't.
Niamh: Or even just opening it for US Nationals, because at least with the other competitions we have other options. For example, I have BBC for Worlds and then I have British Eurosport. But for US Nationals, there is only NBC.
Yogeeta: This definitely breeds into the larger topic of how figure skating is accessible at a larger international level and how difficult it is for us to not just stream NBC but Canadian Nationals was also difficult to stream. It was on TSN, which is a paid network in Canada, so it was hard to stream the last groups because there weren't any streams really available for non-Canadians. And the same can be said for watching Japanese Nationals, for watching Russian Nationals - it's hard to find legal ways to actually watch them.
Karly: Yeah, basically with like National competitions you have to consider the fact that there are people outside of your country that are interested in watching.
Niamh: Although, props to Skate Canada for their Dailymotion.
Karly: Oh true! Nobody uses Dailymotion, but it's fine!
Niamh: (hosts laugh) We'll use it for group one of Men's! So this isn't specifically related to Nationals per se, but the lack of accessibility is increasingly becoming an issue with the ISU, IOC and especially SBS, which is the Korean carrier for figure skating, I think, isn't it?
Niamh: Yep, cracking down on uploads. Not even just full competitions, which I can semi-understand, if someone uploads the entire 4 hours of the Olympics on YouTube, you maybe want to take that down for copyright. But a 5-minute program of a Junior skater that is unheard of isn't going to lose you much money and is only going to increase figure skating watching around the world. Because I don't see how they expect figure skating fans other than the top maybe 6 Men, 6 Ladies, 6 Pairs, 6 Dance teams - how are you supposed to branch out and find new skaters to watch, and find new programs, and find new federations if it's physically impossible to watch skaters?
Karly: Yeah, it's just really halting the growth of the sport and it's so sad to see that so many people have playlists of different figure skaters, maybe their favorite programs from a specific skater, and those playlists are just decimated.
Niamh: Yeah, I had a 300 video playlist of Yuzuru Hanyu's career and there is 5 videos left on it.
Yogeeta and Karly: Oh no!
Niamh: And because when a video is taken down on YouTube it just goes "Video Unavailable," I don't know even know what videos were on it to try and re-find them.
Yogeeta: Oh no.
Karly: I haven't checked my playlists yet but I'm sure they're very sad looking right now.
Niamh: It's heartbreaking.
Yogeeta: Some of the biggest figure skating YouTube channels have been taken down and I think it's kind of silly that SBS has been allowed to claim all these videos. Especially since the majority of them aren't even Korean skaters that they're claiming.
Niamh: I can fully understand if SBS takes down a video of SBS commentary or SBS commentary of a Korean figure skater, but I don't see how SBS has the rights to take down a video that was broadcast by [British Eurosport].
Karly: Funny enough, talking about how you can understand if SBS would take down an SBS commentated video, I was teaching someone about what "Cyberswan" was the other day, and the best "Cyberswan" to watch is an SBS commentated video - and it's still up!
Yogeeta: Goddamnit, SBS.
Niamh: It's easier at the moment to find videos of Senior skaters when they were Juniors than it is when they are Seniors.
Karly: (hosts laugh) Junior Yuzuru Hanyu.
Niamh: Yeah, honestly!
Yogeeta: As we all know, accessibility has always been a big issue plaguing figure skating.
Karly: And if you want to hear more on it, let me just plug In The Loop episode 1, which I was on. But no, seriously, it's a good episode.
-end segment- 13:00
START: Canadian Men
Yogeeta: Let's quickly review Canadian Nationals, which actually happened a few weeks ago. And let's start with the Men and with our two-time Canadian National Champion, Nam Nguyen.
Karly: Yeah, so I don't think anyone expected him to become Champion and I am pleasantly surprised.
Niamh: Yeah, I was half expecting Stephen Gogolev.
Yogeeta: We were all like 90% expecting Stephen Gogolev. If you went through my tweets over Canadian Nationals, I literally said after the Short Program "Here's to our Canadian National Champion, Stephen Gogolev."
Karly: But yeah, so [Nam] went clean, for the Free at least. I can't remember if he went clean for the Short.
Yogeeta: He was mostly clean.
Karly: But hey, he won! So it doesn't matter!
Niamh: And he's had a pretty good season so far, especially compared to other season's he's had in the past. Last season wasn't the best for him, he didn't make the Olympic team and then didn't qualify for [the Free Skate] at Worlds and then he was going to have to retire because his parents cut his funding. So he was planning on walking away from the sport and then decided that, nope, he wasn't finished and he was going to come back. And I'm glad that he's having a good season so far this year, he's been a staple part of Team Canada since Junior Worlds in 2014. So it would have been sad to see him go so young.
Yogeeta: Yeah, I'm really happy that he's made the decision to stay this season and he's actually doing it with two programs that he says that he really loves and I think he said earlier this season that they are his favorite programs that he's done so far. And I've seen these programs a lot because I, for some reason, watched Canadian Sectionals over the summer. So I've seen these programs grow and evolve and watched him become a better performer in these programs. I'm happy that he's had a lot of opportunities to bring out these programs on a National level to help train that performance aspect and you can really see, from the very first outing to where he is right now at Nationals, how well he's trained these programs and how he's become more comfortable with them and able to better perform them. So I hope that he'll be able to continue this momentum going forward, he'll be at Four Continents this week so, hopefully, he'll place pretty highly there.
Karly: Yeah, it was just nice to see him get his confidence back, because at Canadian Nationals I remember the did a lot of fluff on Nam, just talking about his journey and it's just nice to see him succeed, especially since he's been here for so long, and like you said, he's only 20.
Niamh: I was looking at his ISU bio and I was like I could have sworn you were older than that!
Karly: He's been in the skating world for a while.
Yogeeta: Yeah, he has. He won the national title in 2015 and at that time everyone thought that Nam was the next Patrick Chan but unfortunately with his growth spurt and everything, he hasn't really had another season like that season.
Niamh: He was fifth in Worlds, was it 2015 Worlds?
Yogeeta: He was, and everyone thought that he's gonna be the next big thing, and that growth spurt really hit him hard.
Karly: But the thing of thinking someone's gonna be the next big thing kind of ties into what we're gonna talk about later with putting pressure on young kids.
Yogeeta: Yeah, we can start right now with our silver medalist, Stephen Gogolev.
Karly: Yeah so, you've all heard, if you watched Canadian Nationals, you probably heard the words "Kid Canada" because they just kept calling him different nicknames and they kept hailing him as the future of Canadian men's skating just because he can do quads, because apparently that's not a thing Canadian men can do anymore, so yeah, we'll also touch on this topic with Alysa Liu, later on, because it applies to her just as well, if not possibly a bit more, but I just cannot with Canadian Fed and US Fed placing so much pressure on these young kids. [Stephen] was only fourteen at this competition and Alysa is only thirteen. It's not good for the kids, it's not good for the people putting pressure on them. Stephen probably felt that pressure so much and not being able to live up to high standards is horrible in sport, especially at a young age. It's really not good for their mental health.
Yogeeta: We already saw this happen at the Junior Grand Prix Canada, where Stephen crashed and burned. He came off of a gold medal at his first Junior Grand Prix event and then placed fifth at Junior Grand Prix Canada because of the pressure that Canadian Fed and Canadian media was putting on his shoulders. He did end up going to Junior Grand Prix Final and ended up winning, but it still speaks to how much pressure they're trying to put on his shoulders.
Karly: Exactly, he only went - let's not forget that he only went as an alternate. But yeah, it's just - as I said, we'll touch on this later, but putting so much pressure on anyone isn't healthy, especially in a mental aspect, but putting so much pressure on a kid is just horrible and I cannot stand it.
Niamh: So tying in with the hyping up skaters, with Keegan Messing in third, and ever since Patrick Chan retired Keegan's kind of been promoted as the top Canadian, at least senior man, and I don't know what it was like in the actual arena but just watching the Canadian Nationals from a stream, I think there was a fluff piece on Keegan Messing every five minutes. (Hosts laugh)
Yogeeta: There was a lot of fluff pieces on Keegan. And you know what, I will give them that - I will give them why they're choosing Keegan over Nam, because I do think Keegan has stronger skating skills, and he's just very inconsistent, I really don't like his packaging as I've said before, and honestly I like Keegan very much as a person. Watching him be so happy when Nam went clean right before he had to go, he is such a good competitor and he cares so much about his competition. I really like Keegan as a person, I hope he one gets better programs, and he finds his consistency somewhere because I do really enjoy his regular skating skills, I just find it difficult to enjoy the programs he's given us.
Niamh: He's very fast, it's quite terrifying.
Karly: Literally his jumps scare me. I'm not the jump master so I can't really tell you why but his jumps just... scare me sometimes.
Niamh: It's when he goes, I think it was the triple Lutz, he was literally horizontal. I don't know how he landed it! He was horizontal!
Yogeeta: Yeah, his axis on his jumps go completely out of the way and when he lands them it's like a pure miracle. It's really amazing how he falls and immediately bounces back up, that's really what astonishes me every time Keegan falls.
Niamh: He denies physics.
Yogeeta: He is a great entertainer and I wish his programs spoke to that.
-end segment- 20:03
START: Canadian Pairs and Ice Dance
Yogeeta: Well, let's move on to pairs.
Karly: The Canadian pairs field is possibly more dead than the American pairs field.
Niamh: To be fair, the American pairs field isn't too bad, there's a lot of teams that are at the same level, so it's interesting when they're fighting because there are so many teams and it could be any outcome, they just might not be competitive with the top teams worldwide, I guess.
Yogeeta: Yes, whereas with Canadian pairs, other than Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro, I really could not name another Canadian pairs team off the top of my head that is a similar level. With the retirement of [Meagan] Duhamel and [Eric] Radford at the end of last season, Canada really doesn't have any other pairs teams in the making, so I'm concerned what they're going to be doing to enhance that field going forward.
Niamh: So they do have a second young team, [Evelyn] Walsh and [Trennt] Michaud, who are still young, they were sixth in Junior World Champs 2017, but other than that Canadian pairs is a very sad field to watch.
Karly: Yeah... North American pairs is kind of sad. Lemme tell you, it's all about Chinese pairs, let me promote Sui and Han.
Yogeeta: Well, let's move on to a field that isn't dying in Canada. Ice dance.
Karly: So in first we have Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. It's only their second time competing this season, we saw them at Autumn Classic, where they debuted their lovely Free Dance in honor of Denis Ten.
Niamh: We've seen this program twice and I've ended up sobbing at the end both times.
Karly: That's incredibly understandable, yeah. It's beautiful, and honestly, both first and second place in ice dance in Canada have gorgeous Free Dances.
Yogeeta: Yeah. And [Piper] Gilles and [Paul] Poirier's Free Dance is dedicated to Piper's mother, so there's a lot of sentimental value in both Free Dances this season.
Karly: Personally, so second was Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, I could personally talk about how much I love their Free Dance for hours. It's one of my favorites of the season, the music makes me cry, okay, story time: one time I was just driving home listening to my skating music playlist, and "Starry, Starry Night" came on, and I just like broke down sobbing. (Laughs) That was a good time. But yeah. The costumes are gorgeous and reminiscent of the music and the theme, and just completes the program, and I love the little steps they do when the music picks up, I love their lifts in the music, it's just gorgeous. I'm sorry, mini rant over.
Niamh: I saw them perform this at IDF and I swear the arena was just quiet for a good ten seconds after, just quiet.
Karly: The music just makes you pause and think, it's very beautiful. And honestly, you can say the same about Weaver and Poje's Free. It's literally just personal taste which one you prefer more, they're both beautiful and sentimental.
Niamh: And they're both at the same level technically, aren't they?
Yogeeta: They're roughly the same, in this case Gilles and Poirier win the Free Dance here, Weaver and Poje won on the strength of their Rhythm Dance, but they were both wonderful in both their Rhythm Dance and their Free Dance, and this podium could have gone either way, and it's gonna be really exciting to see them face off against the Americans, but before we get into that, let's talk about our bronze medalists here, Laurence Fournier-Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen. So these guys have an interesting backstory, they originally skated for Denmark, but unfortunately Laurence couldn't get her Danish citizenship so they moved back to Canada and this is actually the first time they've been allowed to compete this season.
Karly: Yeah because, due to the year limit, they couldn't complete on the Grand Prix, right?
Yogeeta: Yep. So we will be seeing them at Four Continents and Worlds, but this was their debut for the season.
Karly: And even though, they recycled their Free Dance, right?
Karly: Okay, I had not seen their Free Dance, and I will say, tango and flamenco are somewhat similar, so having two similar programs - having a similar Rhythm Dance and Free Dance - probably wasn't the best move, but I still loved their Free Dance.
Yogeeta: I love her dress.
Karly: Her dress is gorgeous, the moves are gorgeous, it's a nice balance of dramatic and interesting.
Yogeeta: I do wanna say something about their Rhythm Dance, they have what I think is the cleanest pattern that I've seen all season. I don't find the Rhythm Dance particularly interesting, I'm just really tired of tangos at this point, but their steps were so clean and they were so close together in their hold, I really, really like seeing that, so it'll be exciting to see how exactly they get called on the international level.
Karly: Yeah, let's hope we get to see them on the Grand Prix next season.
Yogeeta: We definitely will.
-end segment- 25:05
START: Canadian Ladies
Niamh: So, going into our next discipline, we have the Canadian Ladies field, which is another field that is suffering post-Olympics.
Karly: Yeah, so in first place we have Alaine Chartrand, and it's nice to see her and Nam rising as previous Canadian champions, however her being first place is not really something that would happen anywhere internationally. She rose to the top because of Gabby's mistakes in the Free, Gabby Daleman, but if you put Alaine anywhere in an international competition, she probably wouldn't be scoring this high. In Evie's own words, she'd have to rely on the world's most lenient tech panel.
Yogeeta: Honestly I am in constant worry about the Canadian ladies because they don't have anybody, to be honest, Kaetlyn Osmond is not competing this season, and it's up in the air whether she's actually planning to return to competition, and Gabby's been having a lot of mental struggles this season, not just this season, but they've been really coming forward this season as we saw here, and she's really their other best bet of getting international medals and also getting spots for next Worlds. They have three spots this season but I doubt they're going to be able to retain their spots.
Karly: Yeah, considering that second place was Larkyn Austman, who also put up internationally would not make it anywhere with the scores she usually gets. Let's remember that Larkyn did not qualify for the Free Skate for both the Olympics and Worlds last season. So it's important to note that Canada's top three ladies, and the ladies that they're sending to Four Continents, none of them have the scores to keep their spots. So we can only hope that maybe, if Gabby's feeling up for it, of course, only if Gabby's feeling up for it, maybe they'll send her to worlds and she might have a chance to save spots.
Niamh: So, Gabby's had a tough year this year, she's been battling many mental health issues, anyone across social media will most likely know about her ongoing battle, and she did have a bad showing at the Olympics, it's probably the one Free Skate I won't watch from the Olympics, so she skipped the Grand Prix and honestly, just props to her for getting out here and competing, and similar to Gracie Gold from America, she's just gonna need time to get back into the swing of training and competing.
Karly: Yeah, and I'm so proud of her for being open with her journey, just like Gracie Gold. Just a small rant on mentality and mental health in sport, it takes so much to be open with your mental health in sport because no one ever considers mental health and how it affects your ability to perform. So to those who do speak up, I'm very thankful.
Yogeeta: I hope that whatever she decides, it is best for her.
Karly: We very much support her in whatever she does.
-end segment- 27:58
START: US Pairs
Karly: Are we ready to move on to US Nats and many, many rants? (Hosts laugh)
Yogeeta: Oh boy.
Karly: US Nationals was a bit more recent, so we have a bit more stuff on US Nationals, and plus, we know a couple people who were there, so we have a couple live opinions, like me!
Yogeeta: Starting with pairs! And before we begin, US Nationals is unique in that they have four people on the podium and not three.
Karly: Yeah, they have a Pewter medal...
Niamh: Or a potato waffle.
(All hosts laugh)
Karly: A what now? Okay yeah, so it's unique - they have a pewter medal for fourth place, also affectionately called the potato medal, I don't know why it's called that but it is. Niamh called it a potato waffle. (Niamh and Karly laugh) Okay, so. Our podium for US pairs was Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc, Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Nathan Bartholomay, and Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea. So I was there for the pairs Free Program, and I'm really glad I got to see Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc do their Free Program. They're my favorite American pair by far now, and their Free was absolutely lovely to watch and watching them nail every element was just great to see, I was so happy to watch it.
Yogeeta: I will say that I live in fear of Cain/LeDuc doing a lift, ever again, now, just constant fear.
Karly: But it was really nice at the end of their Free Skate, they had a little moment on the ice that was reminiscent of Alyona Savchenko and Bruno Massot at the Olympics, you know, their breakdown on the ice that makes me cry, and it's obviously an event that's not on the calibre as the Olympics but it still might have been just as important to them.
Yogeeta: Yeah, I have high hopes for Cain and Leduc as well, especially since I think they're the biggest chance for US Pairs to get a second spot at Worlds. In order to get a second spot at World's they need to finish in the top 10 and I think they're highly capable to do that.
Niamh: I'm just glad we're moving away from the whole 'the Knierims are our only hope' narrative that was running for a while.
Karly: Yeah, I've never been a huge fan of the Knierim's skating. They just...They lack chemistry.
Yogeeta: But they're married. (hosts laugh)
Karly: That doesn't matter!
Yogeeta: I'm really proud of Cain and Leduc, this is only their third season together, so the fact that they've been able to grow so quickly together and they actually feel like a Pairs team now... I remember watching them at their first US Nationals and I really liked them at that time too, but they didn't feel like they were a Pairs team, and now they do. It's so great to see that.
Karly: I also really liked Stellato/Bartholomay skate and they were Bronze, so I'm very proud of that. However, they got shafted by the USFSA for international assignments. They weren't assigned to Four Continents or World's, right?
Yogeeta: Well, they can't be assigned to Worlds, they only have one World's spot.
Karly: Oh, duh! Ignore that!
Yogeeta: So, shoutout to Deanna and Nate for their third-place finish here. They haven't had the strongest outings this season, which is why they didn't get a spot at 4 Continents, and that was instead given to Kayne and O'Shea. But they've definitely grown a lot this season as pairs skaters and Deanna...I live in constant awe of her. For listeners that don't know a lot about her; she was originally a Singles skater and she had to retire due to injury. Then she came back 15 years later as a Pairs skater and this is her third season skating Pairs. So, I live in awe of her and she's amazing.
Karly: Yeah, she's incredible.
Niamh: And I know we're going to do a full-length episode of the John Coughlin case, but I just think it's important to point out that, especially in American Pairs, there was a lot of tributes and signs for him in the Kiss and Cry, many of which were quite controversial, so say the least. It appears that Dalilah Sappenfield runs half of the American Pairs and every team she had was sporting either the hats or the ribbons. It wasn't even just Dalilah, Kori Ade had it as well.
Karly: Along with her skaters like Cortney Hicks.
Niamh: Yeah, and Ben Jalovick.
Karly: We'll go into a lot more detail of the John Coughlin case, it's going to have its own dedicated episode. Because it's what it deserves.
-end segment- 32:22
START: US Men
Yogeeta: Well, let's move on to an event that is full of discourse the US Men's event!
Niamh: Oh Lord.
Karly: I got to see Men's Short Program and Free Program and boy was it a time.
Niamh: I genuinely quit out of the stream in rage. (hosts laugh)
Yogeeta: She did! She refused to watch anything else. She didn't even stay to finish Jason Brown's skate, she just was like 'I'm out'!
Niamh: Because Jason popped his triple Salchow and I had-
Yogeeta: His quad salchow, Niamh?
Niamh: Oh no, he popped his triple salchow as well.
Karly: He popped both. (hosts laugh)
Niamh: And I had immediate throwback trauma from Nationals 2018 and just...nope!
Karly: Okay, so, our first place, as you can probably know and probably expected, was Nathan Chen. And in all fairness, Nate did great here. He deserved his win. He went clean, he sure did land his quads and he deserved his win. The scores... not so much. Nationals inflation is a known thing and it goes for most countries, but this was just something else. So...some stats here, Yogeeta, here's your stats.
Yogeeta: Oh, my stats? I love stats!
Karly: He scored 228.80 in the Free, and we calculated his possible max score, which was 234.29. So judges really thought that he was only 5.49 points from an absolutely perfect score. And while both of those were great skates, and I loved watching the programs, I cannot agree with 5 points from perfect. I'm so sorry. It's just...228.8, even with the new system I just...what?
Niamh: And these were possibly the best skates of his life, at least for me personally, they were the skates I've enjoyed from him the most. Like his Free Skate was technically insane. You can't deny that he's doing something for the sport but these scores are ridiculous. Even with Nationals inflation.
Karly: Also, if you look at his protocols, two different judges gave him perfect 10s in PCS (in the Free Program) [Judge 3: Jessica Bussgang, USFSA National judge & Judge 9: Lorrie Parker, has judged International events including Pyeongchang Olympics]. Two judges. Perfect 10s. So this just comes back to the rant about treating skaters as perfect or hyping them up as you do; it hurts them. In the case of Nathan, treating his as perfect doesn't allow him to improve. He's a great skater but, as everyone else does, he has places that he has can improve on, and ignoring these things, and instead handing out undeserved perfect scores just goes against the idea of judging. Judges are supposed to point out where skaters can improve, and if you're not doing that, you're not helping the skater, you are just hindering them from improvement. Hyping them up like this, making it seem like these blown-out-of-proportion scores are typical just worsens it for Nathan when he inevitably doesn't get these scores internationally. It makes him look bad, it might even make him feel bad, even though - let's be real - he probably knows about how inflated Nationals scoring is.
Niamh: One example of this was the Olympics. Going into the Olympics, everyone in America knew him as America's only hope, and he didn't perform in either Short and he butchered by the media.
Karly: I could rant about that forever.
Niamh: I'm not even in America and even the media over here were talking about it. So going back to our discussion on his perfect score, [in the Free Skate] other than one +3 GOE on his Change-foot Camel spin, which got a level 4, Judge 3 [Jessica Bussgang, USFSA National judge] gave him a perfect score (including +5 on all of his elements, other than his spin. That's including his Step Sequence, I'd just like to point out, which Nathan is known for not having the best Skating Skills -- they're not bad, but they're definitely not perfect and 10s on all of his PCS. Just looking at the scores alone you can see it at least looks as if they just looked at the old historical records and tried up to one-up them at all costs just to further the story that Nathan is unbeatable, which doesn't help anyone.
Yogeeta: Well, I'd like to go back and take a look at his jumps, because Nathan Chen, at the end of the day, is known as the great Quad King. So, let's talk about the GOE bullets for jumps. There are 6 GOE bullets you have to meet in order to gain positive GOE. They are: 1) very good height and distance, 2) good take off and landing, 3) effortless throughout, 4) steps into a jump/ unexpected or creative entry, 5) good body position and 6) element matches the music. Now, in order to get more than +3 GOE, you have to hit all three of the first three bullets. This is required. This is not an optional requirement. It is required! (hosts laugh)
Niamh: I would just like to point out that these are the rules the ISU set themselves. These are not things that figure skating fans decided were canon! (hosts laugh) These are things ingrained in the rules of Figure Skating!
Karly: This is not canon in Figure Skating!
Niamh: Why bother setting rules if you aren't going to follow them? I don't see the point!
Yogeeta: Now let's just go through a quick run-through of Nate's Short Program. He starts with his triple axel and gets a whopping 2.29 GOE for it which is +2.86 unfactored. Now, that is a super generous score, given that Nathan's triple axel is his worst jump, and his triple axel in his Short Program only really meets one criterion, for me, in the GOE bullets, which is very good height and distance. His landing was not very clean, which strikes that bullet for me, and also if it doesn’t have a good landing then it's clearly not effortless throughout so...bye bye those two bullets. So I would only give him +1. Now, if we move on to his quad Flip, which Nate got 4.4 GOE, which is +4 unfactored. First thing off the bat; the jump does not have an edge to be found-- (Hosts laugh)
Karly: 404 Edge Not Found.
Yogeeta: I watched this both in the playback and in his program and...I didn't see an edge in either of those. It's not as if it was outside instead of inside, it was just mostly flat. So, I wouldn't have given it an edge call [e] but I would've given it an unclear edge call [!]. So, let's move forward assuming I had given it an unclear edge call; so because there is an unclear edge, that incurs a GOE deduction of anywhere between -1 and -3 to the judges' discretion. And due to the unclear edge, I would say it did not have a good take-off and thus was not effortless throughout, So I would score it at -1. I will give him his quad-toe-triple-toe because that is a thing of beauty, but just by rescoring two of Nathan's elements in his Short Program, I've dropped that score by over 5 points and we could go through this for his other elements; his spins, his step sequence, and we could do similar exercise for his Free Skate as well and we would see that these judges aren't actually following the rules that are dictated by the ISU.
Karly: Classic Nats scoring.
Yogeeta: I'm not saying that only Nathan was inflated here; this is Nats, everyone is inflated. But he was definitely inflated to a much higher degree, not just in his PCS as you guys discussed, but also in the grade of execution on his elements. I love Nathan, he's such a great skater, he also has such a good personality. It's just...Nathan Chen needs to be rewarded for what he puts out on the ice and when judges don't do that they're not only making his life more difficult, they're also giving a signal that 'oh, your flip edge isn;t correct but we're not going to call it so you don't need to out and fix it.'
Niamh: So, moving on from inflation and PCS inflation; thus we will begin our Jason Brown rant, which is rant 2 of this episode.
Karly: We will begin? It's your Jason Brown rant! (hosts laugh)
Niamh: Anyone that knows me will know that Jason Brown is possibly my favourite skater other than Yuzuru Hanyu. This has been a big season of change for Jason; he's moved to Brian Orser and Tracy Wilson up in Toronto from Kori Ade, who he had been with since he literally began skating. Kori was his only coach he's ever had, but after a tough season last season-- he didn't make the Olympics, withdrew from Worlds...He did have a good skate at Four Continents, but you could tell that he was going to make a change, you could tell that something in their dynamic had changed. So, with the change of a coaching team for the first time and new technique, he's been surprisingly consistent this season-- compared to other skaters that have changed. This Short is amazing, and I will fight anyone that says it isn't one of the best Short Programs of the entire Figure Skating field -- this season at least. And all I want is for him to bring back the double Besti squat choreo. (hosts laugh) This is the first time he's hit 100 in the Short; anyone who knows Jason knows he doesn't have the best technical content, it's been something he's been struggling with ever since he became a senior. But he does possibly have one of the most artistic capabilities in the field. Not even just America but worldwide. So even with Nats inflation, this score was only 4 points above his season's best, which is his personal best, which was 96.41 at Internationaux De France. Considering it was an equally stellar skate to that, if not better, 4 points for Nats inflation isn't much when you take that into account, especially when Nathan's 113 was 21 points higher than his season's best.
Karly: That's so many points!
Niamh: [Nathan's season best is] 92.99, which -- although granted, he did miss his combo in the Short at Grand Prix Final...
Yogeeta: Maybe I should've re-scored all of Nathan's elements, not just his jumps...
Niamh: 21 points! The second half of a combo is not worth 21 points! It's worth possibly 5 at most. So, honestly, it was criminal what they'd done to Jason's scores across this competition. In comparison to Nathan...His PCS, his Step Sequence and his Spins were consistently put behind Nathan...Basically every single one of his elements. And considering Jason probably scores one of the highest in the entire field of Men's internationally on these elements, and Nathan scores one of the least of the top 6, maybe. I don't understand what America is doing! (hosts laugh)
Karly: None of us do.
Niamh: Nathan was going to win anyway. It didn't make a difference if he put 3 points behind on PCS. He was going to win no matter what. (Sarcastically) He could have turned up and done a single Axel in the middle of the ice and left and he was still going to win. (hosts laugh) Nathan is the better skater, technically [in technical elements], there is no denying, but I don't understand why the USFSA is trying to promote Nathan as this top skater artistically.
Yogeeta: I would like to insert the comments from Charlie White saying that Ice Dancer wish to have Jason Brown's skating skills during his commentary.
Niamh: And even with Charlie White's comment, across the two programs, Nathan was given nearly an entire mark higher skating skills PCS. It was something like 0.79. That's nearly an entire mark! Something's smells like inflation to me! (hosts laugh) And I understand, of course, that the USFSA is going to promote the defending World Champion to insane amounts going into Worlds, especially when Nathan's biggest rivals are two Japanese skaters and Worlds is in Japan. It makes sense, but they can do so in a more subtle manner. And in regards to Jason's technical content, which is somewhat of great discussion I guess, especially with his change to Toronto; the quad still isn't here, he popped it into a double salchow, which is common for him, it's been a common trend -- not just this season but across all attempts at quads, he does tend to pop them into doubles. And I know people were discussing whether he was debating to trying for it again, I can't remember who brought that up, during the triple Salchow and maybe that's why he popped it into a single but that's not confirmed so for all we know he just lost focus or whatever. However he has been landing them in practice throughout this competition more consistently than he has been at any other competition this season, and he has said that what he is at training is five or six steps ahead of what he is in competition. So, hopefully, it's a sign of good things to come.
Yogeeta: So, Vincent Zhou. What can I say about Vincent that I haven't really said before? I will say, I like his programs, and I think they are a good fit for him. Like, the under-rotation issue isn’t a new issue, he’s had it for seasons, and I wish it was something that instead of Tom [Zakrajsek] complaining about the judges picking on Vincent, would actually do something about it. But, they’ve been plaguing him for a while, and they’re under-rotated in real time. His quad Salchow in the Short was clearly under-rotated - even the commentators in real time said it was under, but it wasn’t called for some reason, to my complete and utter perplexion. And, I think that was the wrong decision on the part of tech callers to not call it - I think it was more under-rotated than the quad Lutz was.
Karly: Especially considering that his quads have been called under internationally, so it really is - you can see the Nationals inflation happening.
Niamh: His programs are nice this season. The performance and interpretation aspect of his skating have definitely improved, from what he was in Juniors to what he is now. But, Exogenesis is just such an overdone piece of music that, especially in Team USA, you need to do something utterly incredible for it to be memorable, otherwise it just falls flat.
Yogeeta: Yeah, I agree. I honestly never want to see another program to that music ever again.
Karly: I will say I do like his programs. I especially like his Free Program, I feel like it fits him really well, and he performs it really well.
Yogeeta: I agree. I know some people say it reminds them of Boyang’s [Jin] Short Program from last season, but I think the cut that Vincent uses for this season doesn’t have that many throwbacks to it, and honestly, it fits him really well. It’s just those quads... just, those quads.
Karly: Okay, so moving on to fourth place…
Karly: I love Tomoki. Okay, so Tomoki Hiwatashi is our pewter medal winner and I’m so excited for him to be on the podium, even though it’s fourth. His programs are great, even if one is Michael Bublé. [Niamh laughs.] May he rise as the inheritor of Jason’s [Brown] russian splits, because in his Free Program, he does an Ina Bauer, into a russian split, into a triple Salchow, and he did it well.
Niamh: What kind of transition monster is he?
Yogeeta: Transitions? In the US Men’s economy?
Karly: More likely than you think. [Laughs.] He killed his programs here. He was absolutely lovely to see. I love his programs and I’m so happy he got assigned to Four Continents.
Yogeeta: I’m so excited for him. I saw him live at the Grand Prix Final, and he was great. I’ve been a fan of him since last season so I’m so happy to see him rise and just grow into a better skater. He’s definitely working a lot on his technical aspects; he also has really strong performance skills, and has the other strong basic skills. So, hopefully he’ll be able to keep that balance this season as he goes up into the senior ranks.
Niamh: And Judge 3 giving Tomoki 180 in the Free is a solid mood. That’s literally 10 points higher than the actual score he was rewarded.
Karly: I am Judge 3. [Hosts laugh]
Yogeeta: Speaking of our other Junior men.
Karly: Oh my God. We have, the two that I want to talk about are Camden Pulkinen and Andrew Torgashev; they are both just absolutely beautiful skater, with great skating skills, and they have the artistry that I personally prefer in Men, that a lot of the American men lack. I enjoyed watching every bit of their skates, Ii just wish they could both do better on their jumps. I especially love Camden’s skating, and Torgashev has his insane edge equality; I just really hope Camden can get redemption for his Free Program which he hasn’t performed well here or Junior Grand Prix Final.Also, Torgashev’s ‘Moulin Rouge’ is uh… fire. [Laughs.]
Yogeeta: I really hope they get chosen to go to Junior World Championships, The USA is going to be holding a camp with 6 Junior men to decide who gets to go so I very much hope at least Camden gets to go, because he so much deserves it. Hopefully, Andrew will also get chosing, and Tomoki, but honestly who knows what will happen. [Note: The US Junior teams have been announced since the time of recording]
Karly: The US has a lot of good Junior men, honestly.
Yogeeta: Historically, US Junior men’s field has been really strong. It’s just US Men tend to focus a lot on the artistry and not the technical, like the Nathan Chen phenomenon is a new thing to the US men’s. Typically, US men have been more like Jason Brown, and not like Nathan Chen. I would like to give a shout out to my tragic Russian son, Alexei Kraznozhon, who actually skated well here after some really bad outings this season. It’s good to see that he’s actually been taking his recovery from his injury one step at a time. He didn’t try the quad here, which honestly, is for the best, because I do not need throwbacks to Junior World Championships.
-end segment- 50:05
START: US Ice Dance
Karly: Moving on to Ice Dance, American Ice Dance. It’s like our strongest field.
Yogeeta: US Ice Dance is like the strongest Ice Dance field in the world. There is no other country, I guess Russia probably comes close? But the Russian and US Ice Dance fields are the best in the world. Here, to no-one’s surprise, [Madison] Hubbell and [Zachary] Donohue won gold, but I hear you guys have opinions on whether or not they should have.
Karly: My opinion is that [Madison] Chock and [Evan] Bates should’ve won, that's my strong opinion, and I will defend that when we talk about them.
Yogeeta: Well, Hubbell and Donohue, in their Rhythm Dance Madison actually messed up her second set of twizzles. I am a [Shibutani] stan, so I am a twizzles supremacist, and she wobbled on the second set if you paid attention to her feet. But they got higher GOE on their twizzles than Chock and Bates did, who I think had a much cleaner set of twizzles. Now, I will say that as much as an expert on the GOE bullets that I am, the Ice Dance GOE bullets are much more complicated and there are more of them, and I would argue that some of them are a bit more subjective as well. But I would still put Chock and Bates ahead on their twizzles over Hubbell and Donohue. Now, onto their pattern in the Rhythm Dance. So, the tech panel at US Dance didn't even need to be there, apparently, because who was paying any attention to patterns? Not me, not them! So, Hubbell and Donohue, and Chock and Bates both received perfect scores on their Tango Romantica, but Hubbell and Donohue didn't really deserve them. Their rockers were very flat in the first section, so I honestly would have only given them two of the four key points there. And in the second [section] Madison's three-turn after the cross leg in the first key point is a bit flat, and her outside edge in the second key point was also flat, so I would have also only given them two of the key points there as well. So, I would have actually put Chock and Bates as the winners after the Rhythm Dance. If we look at Chock and Bates Tango Romantica instead, they also, as I said, received all the key points for the pattern which actually was much more reasonable. I honestly would have only taken away one of their key points, which was in the first half where Evan was a little flat on the second key point. But everything else they were pretty good at. So, I would have honestly given them the win but I've honestly never been more excited for Chock and Bates than I am this season. For people who know me, I was never the biggest fan of Chock and Bates and I honestly was never really into their programs before but I like both their Rhythm and their Free Dance this season - which is more than I can say about any other Ice Dance team because I like very programs this season in the field of Ice Dance. But I love both of their programs, I think their move to Montreal was actually a good idea and it's working really well in their favor because they've gotten some really cool programs of it - and they haven't lost their really great, creative lifts!
Karly: I love their lifts! Their curve lift in the Free Dance.
Yogeeta: To die for.
Karly: Exactly. And, obviously, this shouldn't decide who wins concretely, but the crowd was much more into Chock and Bates [Free Dance] than Hubbell and Donohue's "Romeo and Juliet." I'm sorry, but I do not like that program. I think it's boring.
Niamh: Honestly, if I hear another "Romeo and Juliet" in skating, I will quit.
Yogeeta: I just keep expecting disco and I never get disco, and now I'm just disappointed.
Karly: Tell me about it.
Niamh: I keep expecting the choreographed fall.
Karly: Choreographed fall or disco, which one do you expect? (hosts laugh)
Karly: But yeah, I was much more of a fan of Chock and Bates program, and they made me like "Fever." Which like the only other "Fever" that I approve of is [Kim] Yuna's.
Yogeeta: So this is Chock and Bates second outing this season because Madison's been recovering from surgery. I think that for a second outing this was spectacular for them. They've improved so much over the past few months compared to their past seasons, and honestly, this is the most fun I've seen them have on the ice before and I definitely think they've worked hard on actually putting out a performance and building the characters in that Free Dance that it's just so much fun. And, honestly, as you said, Kar, about the audience being more into Chock and Bates over Hubbell and Donohue, I think that very much plays into the Performance and Interpretation scores in their program components. But Hubbell and Donohue still got higher in both of those components over Chock and Bates, whereas I think those are the most subjective of the components and I think the judges should be paying attention to how the audience reacts when they are scoring those components because Chock and Bates was clearly the audience favorite of the night.
Niamh: So, in third place, we had Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker and these are probably another crowd favorite, I think, although their [Free Dance] isn't the most emotionally hitting. I personally do love the program but I have to admit it pales in comparison to Kevin Aymoz from France's program to the same music. I think if they maybe just skated to "In This Shirt" by The Irrepressibles, instead of adding the other song in the beginning, it might have hit harder. But there is a part of the program which is beautiful, it's simple, it's just them doing a spread eagle into an Ina Bauer but it gives me shivers every time I watch it just because of how perfectly on time with the music it is. And I could probably watch Jean-Luc Baker skate around a rink doing absolutely nothing special for an entire hour and still give him +10 GOE.
Karly: His edges! He's an amazing skater.
Yogeeta: He's such a great Ice Dancer. I just enjoy watching him.
Karly: And he is a small, powerful man. (hosts laugh)
Yogeeta: That he is.
Niamh: He is tiny!
Karly: He's small. How does he do this? Special shoutout to [Karina] Manta and [Joe] Johnson, I just loved their Free Dance. It was life-changing.
Yogeeta: Their such a great team. I've watched them grow over the past few seasons and like they're not the strongest technically, they don't have the strongest Skating Skills, they don't move as fast across the ice as the other teams and their elements aren't as complicated or as difficult - but they do them so well. And they're not afraid to do something and make themselves crowd favorites, like their Free Dance, is not the most technical, it's not the most difficult but it's so much fun!
Karly: They were definitely a crowd favorite, and I was very glad for that so just shout out to them.
Yogeeta: Okay, so Four Continents is this week and we're going to finally see the US Ice Dancers against the Canadian Ice Dancers. We're going to have our top 3 from US Nats and our top 3 from Canadian Nats finally face off and see who of the 6 will podium. We know that they're going to be the top 6 overall, there's no other Ice Dance team that's going to break that top 6 ranking among the other competitors here, but it's going to be so interesting. I really think that Chock and Bates made such a strong argument here at US Nationals that they can potentially beat Hubbell and Donohue, so I don't know if Hubbell and Donohue winning this is guaranteed anymore. And we have Weaver and Poje, and Gilles and Poirier who are so strong as well that they're definitely going to be strong contenders for podiuming here as well. I don't know how the judges are going to score Fournier-Beaudry and Sorensen on the international level but they're definitely going to get that Canadian backing now, so I expect them to get higher results than they did previously when they were skating for Denmark. So, who is going to podium for Ice Dance at Four Continents? I honestly cannot predict that whatsoever right now. It is one of the most difficult things you could ask me to do. I could tell you who's probably going to podium for Ladies, who's probably going to podium for Men, who's probably going to podium for Pairs - but, honestly, Ice Dance has such strong contenders who have the capability to make an argument for the podium. I'm really excited for Ice Dance at Four Continents!
Karly: Yeah, I think it's really interesting that we have the US teams versus the Canadian teams, but even within that we have Hubbell and Donohue versus Chock and Bates, who scores very similarly at Nationals. And then we have Gilles/Poirier and Weaver/Poje who went up against each other at their Nationals, so we have the teams versus each other and then it's like a tourney.
Yogeeta: Yeah, it's going to be so fun.
Karly: (sarcastically) Sure! Whatever you say.
Niamh: I think Four Continents just across the field, especially with the Men, at least, it's going to be a good competition. Or at least I hope it's not a cursed competition!
Yogeeta: I always have faith in Four Continents being a great competition.
-end segment- 59:37
START: US Ladies
Karly: Moving on to our final event from US Nationals - Ladies. We have our champion, 13-year-old Alysa Liu. She's adorable and I want to protect her. And she needs it. But in my honest opinion, she shouldn't really be here. She's only 13, she wasn't even Junior Grand Prix eligible this season, and she competed at Senior Nationals. I just don't- and I think this of Stephen Gogolev at Canadian Nationals too. Not to mention the pressure that winning this event, and having the tech content that she does, puts on her. As soon as the US sees a girl that could even have the smallest possibility of medaling internationally, they focus in on her and put all the pressure in the world on her. Even if it's a 13-year-old. And that's just not healthy.
Yogeeta: This isn’t a new thing. She's been in the media focus since last season-
Karly: Oh yeah, that's true.
Yogeeta: Because she won Junior Nationals at 12. People were hailing her already as the future of US Ladies. At 12 years old! And she's just continued to gain momentum in the media this season, due to- she was competing in the Senior level in other National events as well, with her triple Axel, and also attempting a quad Lutz. So NBC is out here, claiming her to be the next big thing in US Ladies, but she's only 13 years old, she honestly shouldn't be training a triple Axel. Or quads. And they're just putting her in the spotlight right now as well. She's since appeared on a bunch of morning shows and late night shows in the US, which means that she's not just a name for people who watch figure skating, but for the general audience. And that's just putting even more pressure on this young girl.
Karly: Yeah, it's just- the US and their pressure that they put on their Singles skaters needs to chill out. It's just not healthy.
Niamh: And especially, there's been talk - I can't remember the source - but I think her dad has literally said she's been struggling with hip injuries. She's 13! Please can we protect the health and safety of a child over your narrative of America being great!
Karly: Yeah, and there's already pressure on her for the Beijing Olympics, and she'll only be 16.
Niamh: It's doable, it's definitely doable, Alina Zagitova won in Pyeongchang at 15. But that's a lot of pressure for a child to live up to for the next four years, and every time she doesn't have a clean skate or has a bad competition, it's going to be the "but you have the Olympics".
Yogeeta: Yeah, Beijing is four years away, you shouldn't be claiming somebody as "the future winner of the Olympics" when there's so much that's going to happen over the next few years. We've seen what's happened to Alina Zagitova this season, her jumps, and honestly I just want Alysa Liu to survive the next four years, let alone attempt to win Beijing.
Well speaking of other ladies that have not fared well under US media attention, Bradie Tennell.
Karly: I feel like the US did to Bradie what they're doing to Alysa right now, although it is different since Bradie is 21, although pressure is still not healthy. But they did the same thing, they hailed her as the future of US Ladies figure skating, their newest chance to medal internationally, and Bradie just hasn't lived up to their insanely high standards.
Yogeeta: They started calling her out as this so-called queen of consistency, despite the fact that she only skated at Skate America and US Nats when they started calling her this. And now they're retreating from that, because she isn't the queen of consistency. No one is the queen of consistency. Holding a skater to such inhuman standards and then dropping them the second they don't live up to those expectations - and NBC wonders why the ladies field is dying. Honestly, I could name some of the top skaters in the world and none of them are consistent.
Karly: Moving on to third place in the Ladies, winner of the bronze medal, Mariah Bell. In my personal opinion, Mariah deserved silver.
Yogeeta: No one's gonna disagree with you on that. Just on a performance level, I would place Mariah above Bradie.
Karly: And honestly, if Mariah had been perfectly clean, which she wasn't in the short or the Free, she would've gotten her silver. But even with those mistakes that she made, I still think she deserves silver.
Niamh: Because Bradie wasn't clean either, so it's not as if it's a debate of "Oh, but Bradie was clean" because she wasn't.
Karly: You're right.
Yogeeta: Again it comes down to program components, and Bradie beat out Mariah in those components in both the short and the Free. One day Mariah will figure out her rotations. And then the US will know. They will know.
Karly: Then they'll know.
Niamh: 2020 US Champions Jason and Mariah Bell.
Yogeeta: Moving on to what was probably the highlight of the Ladies event, Hanna Harrell. I have never seen her skate before.
Karly: Her jumps are ginormous.
Yogeeta: She just came out there and she jumped, and I literally just watched with utter shock on my face. She's probably the best jumper of the US Ladies right now. She has a hammer toe on her toe jumps, but even so, she rotates so quickly, she gets such height and distance, she checks off those GOE bullets, like crazy for me.
Karly: I'm very excited for Ting to go to Four Continents. She's such a solid skater, she just lacks in consistency, which a lot of people do, as we've mentioned. But to watch her nail her Free Skate was just amazing.
Yogeeta: I'm so proud of Ting. Last season, Ting was such a technically driven skater. I would watch her and just be "wow, you have jumps but I don't get any feeling from your skating". She very much lacked a lot of the performance ability. And she really has worked hard to get that into her skating. That Free Skate was magical.
Karly: I'm very excited for her to go to Four Continents.
Niamh: How much do I have to pay for Starr Andrews to have another moment like she had last Nats?
Karly: Okay, mood. Like, same.
Niamh: Her Free Skate at last years Nats remains on of my favorite moments of figure skating I've ever watched. And every time she has a bad competition, it physically breaks my heart.
Karly: I feel that, I love Starr. And it makes me so sad that she doesn't get to train as much because of funding.
Yogeeta: Ah, at the end of the day it's always down to the funding.
-end segment- 1:06:17
START: Shout Out of the Week
Niamh: So, our shout out of the week is to FedEx, for managing to get Jason Brown's costumes to Detroit in time! Jason is apparently taking over from Javier Fernandez for being the chaotic mess of TCC. (hosts laugh)
Niamh: Am I wrong?
Niamh: And realized on Tuesday that his costumes were still in Croatia, which in case any of you are confused on geography, is the other side of Europe.
Karly: And if you're confused on when events are, he was last in Croatia during Grand Prix Final.
Yogeeta: Quite some time ago.
Niamh: How do you not realize your costumes are in Croatia?
Yogeeta: I guess he just didn't have a need to try them on.
Karly: For over a month, he just didn't-
Niamh: Nearly two months! Croatia was the beginning of December.
Karly: God, Jason, what are you doing?
Yogeeta: He needs to learn from Nathan and have 30 Vera Wang costumes at his fingertips.
Karly: God, don't even get me started on 30 Vera Wang costumes!
Niamh: I saw that on Twitter, someone was like "why couldn't Nathan just give Jason a costume". But just for timing, for context, Jason realized and rang his mom in panic on Tuesday. The men's short was on Saturday. His costumes had to be shipped to Paris, then shipped to Detroit, and then his parents had to drive five hours from Chicago to Detroit airport to pick his costumes up. 25 minutes before the Men's Short Program started.
Yogeeta: Oh my god.
Karly: Oh god. How did he do that?
-end segment- 1:07:50
Karly: Thank you for listening, we hope to see you again for our next episode which will be about Four Continents!
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