2015 men’s Junior Grand Prix series- Colorado Springs & Linz

Just when I start getting comfortable, looking forward to going on YouTube every weekend to watch it back… they announce that next weekend, there’ll be a week off 😛

But considering how the grand prix at Austria ended this week, it’s probably good to have a break in between. So I’ll get some distance from some amazing performances.

Before I completely forget… the final group of skaters at Linz were amazing.
But there were two free skate performances that had me cheering and going crazy.

Nathan Chen had an amazing week the week before… his short program set a junior grand prix record.
His short program to my favorite Michael Jackson song “Smooth Criminal”… he really brought out the character and nailed all his jumps. Then the free skate he had two quads. I only counted one 😛 but either way, it was very exciting to watch him.
The only thing that took away from that excitement was the fact US figure skating on Twitter said he was in first place after the short program… I decided then that I’d mute them while the competitions are going on because I want to see the results unfold live to get the full impact.

But as good as Nathan Chen was, seeing Vincent Zhou give one of the best performances I’d seen in this series and immediately after, seeing Dmitri Aliev from Russia earn himself a ticket to the final in Barcelona… this is why I love seeing this sport and I don’t think I’d felt this type of exhilaration in a long time.

The final score for Dmitri was over 225 points with Vincent at 211+… these are really great scores. Both of them did better than most of the skaters in the senior ranks who typically get 4th and 5th place.
But then, everyone can have a really good day.

Dmitri’s short program was stronger than what he brought at Riga two weeks before, so that helped a lot. [I had a tweet that said he had a self-assurdness about him that made me believe he could be the next great skater for Russia]. But seeing his emotion at the end of his free skate, as much as I believed Vincent Zhou had this won and wanted this win for him… Dmitri deserved it. I hope he stays strong and brings his best self to the Grand Prix Final.
Even if it means beating out someone from the US 😛

Vincent Zhou did The Godfather score, was very composed and he really lived the character of the piece. That’s something that definitely sets him apart. And he was the one who did “Crystallize” by Lindsey Stirling for his short program. He improved a lot since the last time I saw him.

Another skater I liked at Linz was Oleksiy Melnyk- another import from Eastern Europe [this time, Ukraine] competing for the US. Very talented and he did a great performance in his James Bond theme free skate.
There was a skater from Finland that’s originally from St. Petersburg, Roman, Galay. He was so expressive to his music from the Pearl Harbor soundtrack.

Yunda Lu from China, I saw weeks ago, and he’d gotten even better. Very strong on both performances.

Nicola from Switzerland had a tough free skate, but I was impressed with his short program.

There was also a familiar face in the kiss & cry. Tomas Verner was there to support another skater from the Czech Republic, Jiri Belohradsky. He looked like he could be Misha Ge’s twin, although his skating skills aren’t quite at that level yet. I see the potential in him for sure, but he didn’t have the strongest showing.

Colorado Springs was a different animal for a number of reasons… the greatest was the extra altitude. There weren’t many clean skates- if there was any at all. Many of them looked like they tired really quickly. One skater from Canada, Antony Cheng, had to leave the ice and pick up where he left off because he got a nosebleed. [He also fell twice, so he had 7 points deducted].

Going through my tweets, I remembered one moment… where it was just hard to stay invested.
I’ve gotten used to the fact that Evgeni Plushenko doesn’t own the music he skates to… but for some reason, seeing Yaroslav from Ukraine skate to “Maybe I, Maybe You”… I just couldn’t stay focused. But after hearing rumors that Plushenko’s having more back pain and waiting around to hear whether another surgery might be needed… it’s fair to say that I couldn’t concentrate. Especially because that’s one of… no, it is my favorite show program of his.
Yaroslav brought the right amount of emotion to it, but he couldn’t make me forget about Plushenko.
That’s my own fault 😛 my apologies

There were a lot of great Japanese skaters that I liked.
Sota Yamamoto and Mitsuki Sumoto, with both of them, I was thinking they could take Yuzuru Hanyu’s place after he retires.

And Israel had a couple of participants that did really well. The one who got 2nd place had 3 quads in his program… Daniel Samohin.
Artem Tsoglin had strong jumps, but needed to work on his performance.

Daniil Bernadiner from Russia was the only skater in that competition that I saw previously. His placing was the same as it was at Bratislava, but I did see some improvement.

James Min from Australia was another of those young prodigies. In his short program for sure. His free skate, he had some technical issues.

Tomoki Hiwatashi from the US was fun to watch. He did his free skate to “I feel good” by James Brown. Lots of personality.

Another memorable performance: Britian’s Hugh Brabyn-Jones doing his free skate to “Stairway to Heaven”… it’s not the easiest music to skate to, but he gave everything to it.

One highlight of the Colorado Springs competition… aside from learning that they had a US figure skating museum there [hello, bucket list] was when John Coughlin joined the commentator in the booth and gave his comments on the skaters when they were showing the replays.
He’s a champion pairs skater and he really had a lot of great insight. As great as some commentators are, I feel like I learn so much more from those who had competed.
Scott Hamilton is very enthusiastic, but I felt like I learned much more from Johnny & Tara.

I wonder if they’re still going to be negative on those skating to lyrics 😛
I still hear a lot of classical pieces, plenty of instruments.
But Hans Zimmer, Charlie Chaplin and The Artist soundtrack are very popular this season.
Also “Cry me a river” by Michael Bublé.

At this point, I still have Notre Dame du Paris and The Godfather theme in my head. The vocal performance in the former… it’s so beautiful paired with Dmitri’s skating.
In fact, I think I’ll share the link of his free skate.

and Vincent Zhou’s as well

and Nathan Chen’s “Smooth Criminal” short program from last week

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