Skating Highlights of the Week: Korean JGP Qualifier and Other First Looks
Young You looks to be the top Korean lady on the Junior Grand Prix circuit during qualifying; the world gets a look at new programs in Detroit and Sun Valley.
This has been one of the most painful weeks in recent figure skating history. It had already hadn’t been the pleasantest of summers, with the current ongoing Chinese shenanigans. But all that lost importance on Thursday, when Denis Ten, the best skater in his country’s history and beloved both there and all over the world, met his death at the hands of a pair of would-be thieves. When his funeral was held this weekend in Almaty, so many mourners showed up they couldn’t all get into the building.
But the season must go on. In the country where one of Ten’s ancestors fought for freedom, South Korea’s junior age-eligible skaters especially had to put their grief aside to skate in the country’s Junior Grand Prix qualifier in Seoul. In the U.S., too, there was a significant summer competition. Unfortunately, not much footage of it is available right now. Fortunately, that’s not the only place in the country we got to see new programs.
South Korean JGP Qualifier
South Korea’s top junior, Eunsoo Lim, is now old enough to move on to the senior circuit, leaving three JGP veterans to face off against each other, as well as other girls who were only now old enough to compete. Lim’s placement at the World Junior Championships left them with a parting gift of two spots at all seven events, which meant two events for the top five in Seoul, and one for the next four. South Korea also has a men’s spot as six events, which they originally intended to divide evenly between the top three, though that ended up changing. There was also a newly formed junior ice dance team, who also showed up to officially earn themselves two events. Plenty of Korean fans made videos of the stream, even though the sound quality wasn’t the best.
The performance of the competition was ladies winner Young You’s short program. She tackled the tango with a new level of maturity and flawlessness, and instantly established herself as Korea’s new top international junior skater until further notice.
She then opened her free program by going for the triple axel! That was one of multiple jumps that didn’t work out, and this program reflects her more regular and more juniorish character style. Still, done better, it’ll be fun to watch on the JGP.
Noone skated a clean free anyway, but second place Haein Lee came the closest. Newly aged in and newly breaking through, she took second mostly by being a very solid skater.
Underrotations and such kept Yelim Kim down to third. Both her programs this year are to softer romantic standards, which she’s pretty good with.
Reigning junior national champion Seo-Young Wi took fourth. She too is newly aged in, and still has more sharpness and connection to her music to developed, but she’s got some grace and technical ability.
Young-Hyun Cha ended up winning the men’s event mostly through consistency, though he hasn’t quite grown into his new Billy Elliot short yet.
He didn’t get a new free, instead keeping his Philippe Candeloro impression from last season, despite it not really being more than just an impression.
Si-Hyeong Lee set himself apart in the men’s short with a more balletic James Bond than we’re quite used to. Unfortunately, he then apparently suffered boot issues and had a free (to Love Never Dies!) so bad he dropped to fourth. Strict application of the rules would’ve kept him off the circuit for that. But since he really was the most talented guy there, Korean officials decided to give third place Jae-Seok Kyeong only one event, and allow Lee to have one too.
With Korea’s only senior-level ice dance team currently having a nasty breakup, it’s good to see a new team here, even if Jeong-eun Jong & Seong-min Choi didn’t have the strongest of debuts. Their rhythm dance went a bit better than their free.
Over in the U.S., Ten’s death hit the news with another event already underway: Skate Detroit, one of the club competitions where many a skater will begin their season. Unfortunately, despite a livestream, there aren’t many videos currently available, but we do have the top senior and junior free dances.
As Christine Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko move into the senior ranks, they’re also expanding their style. This free dance is much like the ones they’ve done in the past, but with more variety and buildup.
After winning the junior dance at the Chesapeake Open last month, Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik came to win the junior free dance event here too. Now we can see why they’re a team to watch.
Over in Sun Valley, Idaho, a season of ice shows was also continuing on; every summer they do a series, which a special guest star each week. Except this week, it was Nathan Chen, and he gave the audience a first look at his programs, and one fan recorded them.
The Fanfare Ciocărlia version of “Caravan,” while more authentic to a real culture, isn’t the easiest version to get across on the ice. But Chen’s gone for the harder music options before. He tends towards the wilder side while skating it, which more or less works.
But it’s the free, or even this shortened version of it, that’s really making a statement, because this son of immigrants is skating to Woodkid’s “Land of All,” a song from a movie about Mexicans trying to cross the U.S. border. Chen is already performing it with zeal.
And finally, while many paid tribute to Denis Ten with words, or even tears, one of his friends went a step farther. Miki Ando skated and posted a heartfelt tribute to him on the ice:
— ♡MIKI_m_ANDO♡ (@M1K1_ANDO) July 20, 2018
— ♡MIKI_m_ANDO♡ (@M1K1_ANDO) July 20, 2018