By: Farah Sayed
At the end of October, Skate Canada, the second event of the season in the ISU Grand Prix, previewed the performances of some of the major contenders in the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. The American competitors showed strong potential for the upcoming season!
In ladies, Ashley Wagner, one of the favorites for the Olympic season, initially learned choreography for a new program featuring a medley from the musical La La Land. However, she felt a desire to bring back her programs from the 2015-2016 season, which include her Hip Hip Chin Chin short program and her Moulin Rouge! long program. Those programs won her a silver medal at the 2016 world championships, making her the first American woman to medal at worlds in a decade. At Skate Canada, her start in the short program was rough; although she completed rotations on her jumps, her second foot touched down multiple times during landings. Placing 7th after the short, Wagner fortunately rebounded with a solid free skate and placed third overall.
Jason Brown competed in mens and took home the silver for team USA. Just like Wagner, he has extensive experience in figure skating and has medaled at many international events over the years. He opened by skating to The Room Where It Happens, and although he didn’t land his quadruple toe loop in the free skate, he made up for it by landing the rest of his jumps during the program.
In ice dancing, team USA’s strongest teams, including Maia and Alex Shibutani and Madison Chock and Evan Bates, did not attend Skate Canada, but Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue were there to secure the bronze. This team has previously faced technical challenges, particularly with twizzle sequences, but they showed significant improvement and skated with a new personal best. Their emotionally charged programs showed their artistic strength as ice dancers, which is their biggest advantage as they head into the highly competitive season.
There are still a few more ISU competitions left before the Olympics, so skaters will have opportunities to improve and alter their programs. As the competition gets fiercer, it will certainly be interesting to see how the results play out.