Last-Minute Grand Prix & Music Developments
Evgenia Medvedeva has gotten and debuted a new program; Courtney Hicks among those getting onto the Grand Prix circuit after withdrawals.
The final Junior Grand Prix event is currently underway in Italy, and next week will see the senior series start in Russia. This is the part of the season where the final music announcements start coming out, and withdrawals and replacements on the circuit also happen. Both have happened in recent days, especially with multiple Russian and American ladies, but not just with them.
Program News and Changes
We’ve had a lot of program changes as skaters have gotten cold feet about their Olympic season vehicles. But now, unexpectedly, there’s been one for the ladies gold medal favorite. Evgenia Medvedeva has abandoned her original faith-based free and converted her Anna Karenina show program into a competitive one, which she debuted at the Japan Open last weekend:
She has not laid off the miming, though at least she doesn’t stop the program for it, and for the most part, it works to tell the story. She seems more connected to that, too, that the more abstract one of her original long.
Their ISU profiles have also provided up with music information about the two Russian ladies we still haven’t seen yet. We already knew Anna Pogorilaya’s free was one of many programs this season set to Swan Lake, and that her short was to Spanish music. But we now also know that said Spanish music is Maxime Rodriguez’s “Esperanza.” This is common skating music that suits her style, and contrasts well with Swan Lake. Meanwhile, Polina Tsurskaya will follow up her kept “Light of the Seven” short with a free set to Chopin’s Nocturne in F Minor and “Song of the Little Sparrow.” These pieces of music certainly suit each other, though it’ll make for two pretty similar programs for Tsurskaya.
Another ISU profile reported another late program, this time for a skater who’d already gotten one program late. Mariah Bell abandoned a new free skate back during the summer, getting her current West Side Story program late. As recently as the International Classic a month ago, she was still using her short from last year. But apparently she’s not keeping that any longer, instead skating to the Florence & the Machine version of “Stand By Me.” Which is kind of stunning enough a cover it’s good to see it find use by a skater.
Grand Prix Changes
At Skate Canada, there are three withdrawals and replacements, one with rather alarming news attached. In the ladies, Italian skater Roberta Rodeghiero and Korean Nah-Yun Kim are both out. Both have had issues with injuries already, so this is unsurprising. One of the replacements, Courtney Hicks, medaled in Russia last year. But that was largely because Julia Lipnitskaya fell apart while trying to complete a home sweep, and she didn’t skate well for the rest of the season. The other replacement, Australia’s Kailani Craine, is glad to just get on the circuit. As with Popova & Mozgov in Russia, perhaps either might have contended for a medal in a less stacked field, but this one makes that unlikely for either.
In terms of the competition, the recent switch in the men’s lineup would be lesser news. Frenchman Chafik Besseghier, who wasn’t like to factor in, is out and replaced by German Paul Fentz, who like Craine is very much just happy to be at a Grand Prix event. But the news about Besseghier is in fact that he was hospitalized on Friday with a collapsed lung! Although he is currently out of the hospital, he is by no means recovered, even using a device to breathe. At last report, he was waiting for news on whether or not he’ll require surgery. He currently remains on the roster for his second event at home. Even if he is able to skate this season, he faces a tough battle to hold on to the Olympic berth he earned at Worlds, and this won’t help there.
We also have a couple of withdrawals and replacements the opening event in Russia. The third host slot there originally went to Sofia Evdokimova & Egor Bazin, but she’s apparently now out with broken ribs. So after impressing enough people, Betina Popova & Sergei Mozgov are set to make their Grand Prix debut together. In a weaker field, they might have even been outside contenders for the podium. Here, however, there’d probably have to be a couple more withdrawals before they had a chance at that. Even so, it’ll be interesting to see how they do, especially because even if they don’t rise this season, there’s a good chance they will the next. Meanwhile Rostelecom Cup, too, has an already injury Korean skater unsurprisingly pulling out, in this case So-Youn Park. As she did last year, Anastasia Galustyan of Armenia has gotten onto the circuit as a replacement. She’s highly unlikely to be a factor.