Skating Off-Season News Roundup: 2020 Championships & a Coaching Semi-Change
ISU announces the locations of all the 2020 ISU Championships; Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford drop one of their coaches.
After weeks of releasing all the details about how next season’s going to go, this week the International Skating Union looked ahead. As much as they can, they assign the huge ISU Championship competitions two years in advance, to give their hosts enough time to prepare, and it was time to allot the 2020 European, Four Continents, World Junior, and World Figure Skating Championships, as well as the top synchronized and speed skating events. They often don’t get all of them assigned, and Four Continents especially often gets assigned later. But while not all the 2020 ISU Championships got a location this week, all four figure skating ones did.
For two of them, they managed it by returning to recent hosts. Skating remains popular enough in South Korea they’re often willing to shoulder the costs of hosting an ISU Championships, and this will be their third time hosting Four Continents in six years. It’ll be Tallinn’s second time hosting Junior Worlds within the same amount of time. Graz is used to hosting skating competitions, but 2020 Europeans will be their first ISU Championships, although elsewhere in Austria, Vienna has hosted a few, most recently 2000 Europeans. Canada, meanwhile, usually hosts Worlds at least once a decade, though Montreal, too, will be hosting its first ever ISU Championship in 2020 Worlds.
The ISU was not neglecting the upcoming season either; releasing the official announcement for the Challenger Series. For the most part it doesn’t tell us much we don’t already know. It does, however, specify the minimum number of entries needed for each competition to count, in other words, for the skaters participating to be able to earn technical and overall scores and ranking points that would make them eligible for the world’s top events.
This week also saw the biggest piece of coaching news so far this summer, and it’s an unusual one: Meagan Duhamel & (newly engaged!) Eric Radford have fired only one of their coaches. Of course, firing Bruno Marcotte would’ve been a more complicated matter, since he and Duhamel are married. But Richard Gauthier has apparently fallen victim to their need to change something after a lackluster season and before an final Olympic one. Provided there isn’t anything they’re not telling us, that begs the question whether that’s the right change for them, or the easy one. They are at least bringing one new coach into their circle, in the form of John Zimmerman, and he’s a good one. Although they’ll have to spend time in Florida to work with him, which may bring its own complications.
As the Russian federation continues to publish skating documents, and skaters and officials to give further comments in their wake, we got further news this week on one skater. Adelina Sotnikova hadn’t been listed anywhere on the national team, raising questions as to whether her comeback had ended early, especially amid reports that it had, due to injury. But then she showed up on the list, with federation president Alexander Gorshkov claiming that was just a technical error. Of more significance is comments from coach Evgeny Plushenko, helpfully translated by FS Gossips alongside a melancholy Instagram post from the skater herself. He, at least, sounds optimistic, saying they’ll decide soon whether this season is feasible. Yesterday she even posted a video of herself doing conditioning:
A similar story is coming from Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov, except they in all likelihood won’t return. Yet they reiterated this week that they still haven’t decided that for sure. FS Gossips translated some comments from them as well, saying they’ll do some show skating and then see what shape they’re in come the all. Four months after giving birth, she’s back on the ice, and looking pretty good:
We don’t have any online videos this week of new competitive programs skated in front of an audience. But we do have more announcements, including one for Korea’s top rising star that played on their news. With the exception of a brief comment from choreographer David Wilson, it is, of course, in Korean, but the names of the music pieces are still recognizable. Even if the clip uses’ Louis Armstrong’s version of “What a Wonderful World” while identifying Jun-Hwan Cha as skating his short program to the OneRepublic version. At least they sampled the right music from Gustov Holst’s “The Planets,” his long program music. It’ll be interesting to see if he can beat Satoko Miyahara’s program from last year, but he may be using different selections than she did.
Another man is skating to old programs, except he actually only ever used one of them. When he got the concussion in the summer of 2015, Joshua Farris had been planning to reuse his much-loved Ed Sheeran short from the previous season, and had gotten a new program choreographed to Ottorino Respighi’s “Pines of Rome.” On his website this week, he confirmed he’s going to skate the programs he would’ve skated that season had he been able. Farris isn’t the first skater to use, “Pines of Rome,” but it’s still an uncommon choice, and certainly nobody minds getting to see that program after all.
Spanish ice dancing team Olivia Smart & Adria Diaz, meanwhile, apparently decided to combine two pieces of musical sexism:
Adrian and I are excited to announce this Olympic seasons Free dance music. We were inspired by a medley of two songs that have a powerful connection and understanding towards eachother. With it being 'A mans world.' And feeling like 'A Natural Woman.' We are excited to show our own conversation between these songs. ❤️🇪🇸🌎 #smartdiaz #teamespaña #roadtopyeongchang Photo by @naskademini
Fans were already unhappy about the Spanish federation going back on the criteria they’d set to send them to Worlds over his former partner and her new one. But that, at least, was not their fault, and they did earn an Olympic berth they may or may not end up eligible to use. Both these songs have found use on the ice before (“A Man’s World”) especially, and some might not mind them. But for those of us who know better, this is going to be a trial to sit through, and won’t endear them to us any further.
At least we’re getting a much more pleasant free dance from the top Japanese team. Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed wrote a blog this week which yuuki was kind enough to translate. We don’t yet know which pieces by multi-talented modern Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto they’re using. But knowing the program’s about the cherry blossoms blooming is much more important. For a team not yet qualified for the Olympics, but with a good chance of remedying that at Nebelhorn, it’s also a not-in-your-face display of patriotism that everyone around the world can enjoy.