Skate Canada International follows from last week’s Skate America, second of the six Grand Prix events leading up to the Final. It was an exciting competition across the four disciplines with emotions running high for both the skaters and the crowd in Mississauga, Ontario: here’s a rundown of the event!
🥇 Shoma Uno (Japan)
🥈 Kao Miura (Japan)
🥉 Matteo Rizzo (Italy)
🥇 Rinka Watanabe (Japan)
🥈 Starr Andrews (USA)
🥉 Young You (South Korea)
🥇 Piper Gilles / Paul Poirier (Canada)
🥈 Lilah Fear / Lewis Gibson (UK)
🥉 Marjorie Lajoie / Zachary Lagha (Canada)
🥇 Riku Miura / Ryuichi Kihara (Japan)
🥈 Emily Chan / Spencer Akira Howe (USA)
🥉 Sara Conti / Niccolo Macii (Italy)
In first place with 273.15 points was Shoma Uno of Japan, competing as the reigning world champion. In his short program to ‘Gravity’, he showed a new side to his skating in a style that we seldom see from the athlete, whose programs often use classical pieces. He opened with a strong quad flip, but a hand down on the quad toe-loop led to a 4T-1T combination and an overall deduction for the jumping pass: a costly error that put him in second place after the SP. Nonetheless, he showcased strong musicality, with commitment to each movement within the choreography, especially the dynamic and flowing step sequence. He is a skater who can achieve the challenging duality of softer, more delicate steps and powerful intensity within the same performance. His free skate choreographed by Kenji Miyamoto saw him returning to a baroque style which he has shown time and time again is his forte; although the performance had several errors coming out of jumps, Shoma had both the highest technical elements and program components out of the men. There was a sensitive refinement to the ‘Air on the G String’ section, which he transitioned into the stronger latter half of the program, picking up on the changes of tempo and tone with skill. He landed the 4T-3T combination with ease: a feat that he hasn’t managed to achieve many times in competition.
Winning the silver medal was compatriot Kao Miura, who we saw competing last week in America and coming second behind Ilia Malinin. He showed top quality in his skating once more, with three strong jumping passes in the short program and +2.29 GOE on his triple axel. He furthermore secured level fours in his other elements as well. Kao delivered another powerful program to almost certainly secure a spot in the GP Final in his free skate. Telling the tale as old as time and skating to ‘Beauty and the Beast’, he emulated the male protagonist of the story with intensity and explored various emotions throughout the program. Again, his triple axel was strongly rewarded with +2.74. We should see him continue to improve and become an equally strong artist in no time, and wish him the best of luck in his preparations between now and the Final in early December.
Matteo Rizzo of Italy came third, adding a quad loop to his arsenal in both his short and free programs. His Måneskin SP has verve and charisma which displayed his strong sense of musicality: his dynamic step sequence will become a crowd-pleasing moment in the events he competes at this season. His free skate to a Bruno Mars program shows the versatility of his skating, opening with the more lyrical ‘Talking to the Moon’ which included a quad loop that earned a GOE of +1.80. He ended with the upbeat ‘That’s What I Like’ and showcased his charm as a performer, achieving a marginal lead over Keegan Messing to take the bronze medal.
Keegan Messing performed for a home crowd at Skate Canada International in what will be his last competitive season. The short program displayed the trademark energy of his every movement; despite the hard fall on the opening 4T, he followed up with a stunning 3A, and ended with a level 4 step sequence and spin. He wasn’t able to deliver a flawless free skate, but it was an incredibly strong performance despite small errors, beginning the skate with a quality 4T. There is a poignancy of him skating to ‘Home’ in Canada in front of his family, and it was a program which the audience adored, applauding him through the last few elements of the program, which included a gorgeous spread eagle and hydroblade. Camden Pulkinen from the US wasn’t able to produce his best skating in the competition, popping the opening quad toe-loop of his short program, which nonetheless displayed the elegance of his skating; ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ and its slower tempo enabled him to display the beautiful lines of his skating in the step sequence. There were several errors in his jumping passes in the free skate, in which he returned to the style of a Piazzolla tango. Nonetheless, he delivered a performance which picked up on the intricacies of the music and displayed originality whilst opting for a piece popular amongst skaters. Lukas Britschgi of Switzerland came sixth in his Grand Prix debut, struggling in the short program on the jumps, but delivering a stronger free program, landing two quad toe-loops. He will be performing next week at the GP of France. Deniss Vasiljevs of Latvia was a favourite for a podium place as European bronze medallist, but had a tough competition. Despite his quad salchow looking quite strong in practices, he popped it in his short program to ‘An Englishman in New York’, and had issues coming out of the triple axel. The beautifully choreographed program enabled him to exhibit his talent as a performer and artist, securing level 4s in all his spins. He struggled in the free skate, with multiple jumping errors and a rare deduction on a spin. Despite the mistakes, he encapsulated the grandeur and scale of Dvorak’s ‘New World Symphony’ with elegant musicality and poise as always; to find out more about the process of creating the program, check out our interview with his coach Stéphane Lambiel.
Rinka Watanabe of Japan won the Women’s event, although errors in her first two jumping passes of the short program saw her coming into the free skate in sixth place. With pieces as popular within skating as ‘El Tango de Roxanne’, it is always a challenge for skaters to bring something original and individual to the program, yet she matched the intensity of the piece well throughout the performance and landed the combination jump in time to the music. Her free skate wasn’t completely clean, but she delivered a strong opening triple axel. There is a flow to her skating, with good transitions and solid spins. There is room for growth on the artistic side, and her PCS will no doubt continue to develop over the course of the season. She has shown herself to be a contender for podium places at all events this season, beating world champion Kaori Sakamoto at the Lombardia Trophy in September.
In second place was Starr Andrews of the United States, who delivered a clean short program with level fours across the spins and step sequence. She skated clean in her free program to ‘Je Suis Malade’ apart from a slight error in one of her combination jumps, bringing her own interpretation to the piece and delivering a memorable performance. The transitions between the jumping passes were well suited to the flowing piano chords which opened the program. Starr showed quality in her other elements as well, earning a high GOE of +1.15 on one of her spins, which was beautifully centred and executed with speed.
Winning the bronze medal for the women’s event was Young You of South Korea, who was a favourite to win in the eyes of many after placing 6th at the Olympic Games. As proven through her performance to a tango in her short program, her musicality has improved considerably over the past seasons, with the step sequence’s choreography paying homage to the dance style. Her free skate brought a sense of modernity to Vivalid’s ‘Four Seasons’. She wasn’t able to deliver a clean skate, with under-rotations on several jumps. Nonetheless, she maintained quality throughout, expressing the music and its changes of tonality well. Her penultimate element was a jump combination, which foregrounds her remarkable stamina and strength.
Other notable competitors included Rika Kihira of Japan, who returned to competition after a season off due to injury, and has stated that she hasn’t been training triples or even doubles for very long. There were errors in the latter two jumping passes in her short program, but demonstrated skilful attention to the nuances of ‘The Fire Within’. Her free skate was clean, and was an emotional and moving performance to the soundtrack of ‘Titanic’. Her musicality is stellar, and there is a soft delicacy to her skating which is captivating. The composition of the choreo sequence leading into the step sequence allowed for her to express the atmosphere of the program and emote fully in the climax of her free skate. We wish her a good recovery journey, and look forward to seeing her wholly healed and back at her best.
Gabrielle Daleman of Canada gave a strong short program, showing delight at her performance. The former world medalist nailed her trademark 3T-3T in both programs, but wasn’t able to skate clean in the free, with multiple jump errors. Nevertheless, she put out a strong ending to her skate with a solid step sequence and spin. Fellow Canadian Madeline Schizas similarly had a great short program which put her in first place, skating with intensity to ‘Black Swan’ and coming into the competition with the experience of being both a national champion and Olympian. She performed to the timeless music of the West Side Story soundtrack for her free skate, which fits her well. However, despite opening with a strong 3Lz-3T combination, she was unable to retain this throughout, with multiple errors in her following jumping passes. It will be exciting to watch how she grows into this program; we can see the step sequence to Rachel Zegler’s rendition of ‘I Feel Pretty’ become a memorable moment, and a place in the program where she can match the playful and lighthearted tone of the music.
Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Canada won the Ice Dance event with 215.70 points, first in both the rhythm and free dances. Their rhythm dance had electric energy to it, and their experience as athletes was evident in the high quality of each of their elements, all earning a positive GOE. Their opening element, the choreo rhythm sequence, worked to capture the crowd’s attention from the very first movements of their program. Their free dance to the music of Lloyd Webber’s ‘Evita’ captured the world of the iconic musical with skill; Piper Gilles portrayed the central Eva Perón with sensitivity. Both skaters depicted the narrative arc of the musical and ended with the emotive ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’. They were awarded positive GOE for all of their elements, and high PCS as well.
Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Great Britain won the silver medal, with a comfortable margin of over 13 points above the bronze medallists. They delivered a clean rhythm dance showcasing wonderful musicality, which was displayed from the way they transitioned between the different pieces of music within the program. They opened with a creative transition between their twizzles, and closed with a charismatic choreo sequence that was given +6.00 GOE. Their free dance was to a Lady Gaga medley, and was another clean skate. Lilah and Lewis captivated the audience from the very outset of the performance, retaining the energy throughout the program. The crowd seemed to love their skate, which made for a season’s best and personal best of 125.38 points. We are excited to see them perform in front of a home crowd in Sheffield soon.
Coming into third place were the Canadians Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha. Their rhythm dance contained a boundless energy which brought the spectators with them, and displayed neat twizzles and lifts; the quality of these earned them solid GOEs. They are both strong performers and crowd-pleasers who cover the ice with speed. Despite coming into the free dance in fourth place, they delivered a moving performance which enabled them to rise up a place. Their free dance was set to music from the soundtrack of ‘Nureyev’: a piece which always demands balletic elegance from skaters. The beautiful choreography of the program showcased the strength of their lyricism and grace, and they committed to every position with stunning extension. There was a fluidity in their lifts, and this flow was maintained throughout the free dance.
Third after the rhythm dance and fourth overall were Caroline Green and Michael Parsons of the United States. They skated with charisma and confidence in their rhythm dance, matching the energy of their samba music well to deliver a very strong performance. Their opening twizzles were given a solid GOE of +2.27. Their free dance was another clean skate for the Americans, with level 4s in their lifts. Performing to ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, they paid close attention to the intricacies of the music, from the suave jazzy notes to the more delicate and quieter aspects of the piece. They both showed personality in the exuberant ending of the program.
The pairs event was won by Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan, taking the lead by almost thirty points overall. They came into Skate Canada International following a successful last season and as World silver medallists. There was a step out on the landing to the throw triple lutz in the short program, but it was a strong skate nonetheless. The program to ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ opened with softer, lyrical music which built up to a powerful ending, and they delivered both of these aspects of their performance with skill, earning the highest PCS within the Pairs field. Their free skate was a beautifully choreographed program to the poetic music of Sleeping at Last. Aside from the mistake in their side-by-side combination jump, they showed quality in their other elements, such as the throw triple lutz and triple loop, which both earned strong GOE bonuses. It was an emotional and touching performance which displayed their strength as a team, coming back from Riku’s injury. No doubt they have established themselves as strong contenders for top podium places in the competitions throughout the season, and we look forward to seeing them at the NHK Trophy in a few weeks’ time.
Emily Chan and Spencer Akira Howe of the United States won the silver medal; both are powerful skaters who encapsulated the nuances of their short program to ‘Nyah’. There was a slight deduction for their throw triple loop, but the skate achieved a season’s best of 67.39. Their free skate was set to music from ‘Ghost’, and they delivered another strong performance. They were not mistake-free, earning negative GOE for three elements, one of them being a fall from the side-by-side triple toe-loop. The performance was the third highest overall, however their results from the short program placed them above Conti and Macii. They skated with sensitive attention to the pieces making up their free program, building up to the emotive chorus of ‘Unchained Melody’, and earning level fours on all lifts.
Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii of Italy came in third place; despite being unable to deliver a clean short program, with an error in the opening element, they matched the grandeur and passion of ‘Oblivion’ well, skating with intensity. Their free skate depicted the world of Cinema Paradiso, expressing the music with sensitivity and grace. It wasn’t a clean skate, owing to a fall from the throw triple loop and two other negatively marked elements, however they emoted strongly and picked up on the poignancy of the piece. They achieved a bronze finish with over ten points above Brooke McIntosh and Benjamin Mimar of Canada, earning a season’s best of 119.52 in the free skate.