Other Skating News of the Week: More Program Changes!
Savchenko & Massot test out return to Caro Emerald short; Wagner returning to La La Land program she abandoned in the summer.
It’s proving an eventful week in skating. Even now the Grand Prix Final is getting underway in Nagoya, even as the sports world in general reels from the banning of Russia and uncertainty about their athletes attending the upcoming Olympics. And that’s not even all that happened this week. There was also a couple of more instances about one of this season’s huge themes: the abandonment of new programs and return to old programs. Only this time there are a couple new variations: one team’s not settled on just what they’ll be skating to after this week, and one skater is returning to a program she abandoned already, having never performed it in competition.
Savchenko & Massot Test Program Return
Aliona Savchenko & Bruno Massot are the latest skaters to return to an old program, but that return isn’t necessarily permanent. They’d debuted a flamenco short in the fall, which apparently he was never that comfortable with. So they’ve fished out their short program to “That Man” from last year, and we’ll see that later today in Nagoya. They won’t necessarily keep that program for the rest of the season though. After this weekend, they’ll make a decision what to skate to for the rest of the season.
This has happened to Savchenko from the time she was still skating with Robin Szolkowy. In 2010, their initial free program was terrible, and they had their classic Out of Africa program by their second Grand Prix event. In 2014, too, they changed their short before the Games. Though Massot as a partner is not Szolkowy, and there’s a serious question as to whether he should be trying to learn a new program so close to the Games.
It might not be a bad idea to stick with “That Man.” It’s one of the most delightful things we’ve seen Savchenko in, and her case that’s saying a lot. And even if a lot of skaters are reusing old programs this year, at least it’s still an unusual music choice. It’s not like they’re skating to Moulin Rouge.
Although now we do have one less program to that…
Wagner Returns to La La Land
We may have seen a lot of returns to old programs and making of completely new programs this season. But one thing we haven’t seen so far is someone abandon their new program, return to an old one, then later change their mind and return to the new one! Until now, because Ashley Wagner’s done it:
Wagner abandoned her La La Land free skate back in the summer, after expressing considerable excitement about it, and even letting skating blogger Jackie Wong do a mini-documentary about it. Her sentiments about returning to her Moulin Rouge free were pretty similar to the ones she’s expressing now the other way. Although she did say it was nothing against the program itself, which she even called a work of art. Instead she said she didn’t think she’d stay so enthusiastic about the music and character for the entire year. At least now she doesn’t have to do that.
She was hardly the only one to abandon a La La Land program. It seems skaters in general found the music harder to express and carry than they thought. Wagner is at least someone good at expressing music. She might still be the one to skate the definitive La La Land program.
But after the rough fall she’s had, there’s some worry that this is an act of desperation on her part. At this point she can’t even be sure she’ll make the Olympic team, though she’s still more likely to than not. It’s hard to determine what’s causing her to not skate as well as she used to, if it’s not just her getting worn down with age. This might not solve her problems. It might even backfire, if she can’t get the program ready in only a month’s time while coming back from injury.
On the other hand, it’s not a completely new program; she did at least have some time to train it back during the summer. And it is true the Moulin Rouge program didn’t have the impact it had back when she soared to silver with it at the 2016 World Championships. This might even be a move she feels she has to make.
And given how anticipated she made this program before leaving it unperformed, it’ll be nice to actually see it after all. So long as her only performance of it isn’t a bad one at Nationals.