Monday, November 28, 2011


Just wanted to give a quick update on my book and share another excerpt. LIFE ON THE EDGE is still scheduled to be released in January. I'm hoping to receive the cover art shortly and will post it as soon as it's finalized! In the meantime, here's a little teaser, set during the 2001 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston.

I shivered and stared out the bus window at the brownstones on Beacon Street, trying to channel my thoughts on the clean run-through we'd done at practice that morning. Every time I envisioned myself completing an element, the police sirens would wail and spike my adrenaline further. 

The bus rolled up to the arena, and I shot to my feet before we even parked. 

Trevor laughed. "Ready to go, Em?"

Was I ready? I was physically prepared, for certain. But was I mentally ready to live up to everyone's expectations? To my own?

Those questions plagued me for the next hour. Hovering around Chris and me backstage, Sergei reminded us, "Trust your training. Trust your body." But the nagging thoughts wouldn't leave me alone. Before I put on my skates, I jogged up and down the hallway, clearing my head of the buzz that had followed us all week.

America's next great pair. Best technical skills in the world. A team that can finally challenge the Russians. All statements I'd heard during our interviews and from the fans. If I mucked up the short program, I'd go back to being known as the girl who choked under pressure.

Chris and I took the ice for our introduction, and the massiveness of the arena struck me. We'd practiced there earlier in the week, but full to capacity with screaming spectators, the building suddenly appeared ten times bigger. The Celtics and Bruins banners hanging from the rafters seemed miles away.

I closed my eyes and concentrated on breathing. In. Out. In. Out.

Dear God, please help me through this.

Here's a link to Teaser #1, which I posted last month. Let me know if you have any thoughts on these snippets!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Rostelecom Cup Free Dance Review

My eyes were barely open this morning as the first warm-up group took to the ice for the Free Dance at Rostelecom Cup. The shiny red sequins of Isabella Tobias' dress and the equally bright costume of Pernelle Carron helped wake me up, though. Last week saw no changes in the standings from the Short Dance to the Free Dance in Paris, similar to the old 6.0 days. Would we see any placement shuffling this week?

Pernelle Carron/Lloyd Jones - Lloyd has forgone the John Travolta "Saturday Night Fever" look. Now he's in a black jacket with a plaid-trimmed shirt that's half-untucked. Not sure if that's on purpose. Last week, I mentioned my general dislike of jazz, and this "Jazz Night" program isn't changing my feeling toward the genre.

Ekaterina Pushkash/Jonathan Guerreiro - Jonathan's one red glove still kills me. Nice twizzles. Lots of hand-in-hand choreography. What is all this angsty flailing about? Everything, especially the lifts, looks labored to me.

Isabella Tobias/Deividas Stagniunas - Good twizzles spaced close together. Their spin looks a little slower than usual. Nice arched position from Isabella in their straight-line lift. They look like they're having fun. Deividas gets momentarily off balance in the diagonal step sequence. Only a level one earned on those steps.

Ekaterina Riazanova/Ilia Tkachenko - Could drive a Zamboni through their dance holds in the footwork sequences. I like the straight-line lift where Ekaterina's in a reverse planking position. At Skate Canada, they received a music deduction for not having enough rhythm in their piece. I don't hear a difference in the music cuts here but they receive no deduction. Interesting.

Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev - Evil Queen costume! Gets me excited for a new episode of Once Upon a Time tomorrow night. I love this Gounod music from Faust, but I wish a more balletic team was using it. The diagonal step sequence looks sloooowwww. They skate heavy. What's up with the scarf thing around Dmitri's neck? It comes open like a cape near the end of the program. Intentional?

Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje - They seem like feathers floating across the ice after Bobrova/Soloviev. So light and smooth. They really put one hundred percent emotion into this program. The music and drama are starting to grow on me!

Meryl Davis/Charlie White - The circular step sequence is one of my favorite parts of the program. Lovely entrance, and I like the high leg kicks and the little steppy thing Meryl does here. This program puts a big smile on my face. Meryl and Charlie just look so happy and calm during the performance.

So, we are set for the Grand Prix Final! The ice dance field will be: Davis/White, Virtue/Moir, Pechalat/Bourzat, Weaver/Poje, Bobrova/Soloviev, and the Shibutanis. Virtue/Moir have outscored Davis/White in the Short Dance this year, but Davis/White have outdone Virtue/Moir in the Free Dance. Will the pattern continue at the GPF? This rivalry is one for the ages, and Virtue/Moir have made it known they badly want to win the GPF title, the one title they don't have on their resume'. It will be an epic battle in Quebec!

I'll be reporting from the event with lots of photos and tidbits from practices and the competition. Besides ice dance, I'm most looking forward to the Senior Men and Junior Men events. In my Mid-Season Grand Prix Review, I forgot to add a special mention of my favorite program from the Junior Grand Prix circuit this season - Josh Farris' short program to "Clair de Lune."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rostelecom Cup Short Dance Review

And so we've come to the final stop on the Grand Prix series, the last chance for skaters to punch their ticket to the Grand Prix Final. The top three ice dance teams at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow have been far ahead of the other teams in this field score-wise during the season, so the podium members look pretty set here. The big surprise so far is Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev being in third place, three points behind Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje. The Russians received big scores at Cup of China, but some technical problems here have hurt them. More on that in my review below. . .

Isabella Tobias/Deividas Stagniunas - Their Shakira music is one of the more catchy medleys of the Latin choices this season. The upside-down split rotational lift is a favorite of mine and looks incredibly dangerous. Circular steps looked sharper to me at Skate America, but they earn a Season's Best score here.

Ekaterina Pushkash/Jonathan Guerreiro - He must've trimmed his hair because I find the floppiness less distracting than it was at Skate Canada. If she would cover up the one mesh boob on her bodice, her dress would be fabulous. They look more trained than they did at Skate Canada, but the the dance moves done while posing need a lot more Latin flavor. Move your hips, kids!

Ekaterina Riazanova/Ilia Tkachenko - Love the back of her dress but there's too much skirt. First segment of music is somewhat depressing. Second segment sounds like Latin disco. Ilia has wonderful posture. Program gets a little messy at the end, and I'd like to see them get down into the moves more, too.

Pernelle Carron/Lloyd Jones - Pernelle fake slaps Lloyd as part of the choreography to start. So awesome. Their rhumba patterns should move out faster. Pernelle is really getting into the dance, and I feel more of a Latin spirit than I did with the prior two couples. Circular steps get sloppy and only earn a level one.

Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev -  I like Ekaterina's new sassy ponytail. Now get a sassy costume to go with it! Good power on the first rhumba pattern. Problems on the twizzles from Dmitri. Ekaterina's bent-over-at-the-waist posture continues to be a distraction. Did Dmitri just grab his leg and do an 80's dance move? They look a bit perplexed at their score, but dropped levels on almost all their elements did them in.

Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje - Still hoping Kaitlyn cuts the sleeves off the tiger dress. Also, unlike Riazanova, I think she needs more skirt. Something about the short cut of the skirt with her long legs doesn't look right. Great straight-line lift with no vulgar positions - always a plus! I like the move where Andrew stretches his leg out and holds the position.. They look sharp and doing three GP events will have them very seasoned for the Final.

Meryl Davis/Charlie White - Love the shape of the skirt on Meryl's new dress, but I liked the top and back of her Skate America dress better. Also liked Charlie's black shirt at Skate America more than this metallic one. The black shirt was more fitted and gave him a sleeker look. Not sure about Charlie's partial facial hair. Should go all or nothing with the scruff. Now on to the skating . . . I think I speak for many D/W fans worldwide when I say we had a freakout when Charlie tripped early in the program. We've all been scarred for life after his infamous 2008 Cup of Russia disaster. Thankfully, Charlie moves right past the stumble and recovers in time for the twizzles. They really sell the program, and I think their music is a breath of fresh air after some of the tired and overused pieces we've been hearing in the short dances this season.

The suspense in the Free Dance will be seeing if Weaver/Poje can best Bobrova/Soloviev again and whether Davis/White can match or improve their monster score from Skate America. Will be back with my thoughts on the competition tomorrow!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Calling by Ashley Lynn Willis

One of my writing critique partners, Ashley Lynn Willis, recently published her first novel, a paranormal romance titled The Calling. The book is currently burning up the charts on as many readers are discovering just how talented a writer Ashley is.

I just finished reading The Calling and found it hard to put down. It was one of those books that kept me up late every night because I had to read the next chapter. Here is a synopsis of the story:

Mandy Hardy lost more than a breast to cancer; she lost her fiance' when he dumped her a week before her mastectomy. Her ego bruised and her self-esteem battered, Mandy's sure she'll never fall in love again.

Justin Seward is a headstrong Coast Guard rescue swimmer with a heart of gold and the supernatural ability to command the seas. He had to hide his feelings while Mandy was engaged to his best friend. Now that she's free, he's vowed to make her his.

Together, they may hold the key to each other's salvation. But when Justin's past catches up with him, and Mandy's ex-fiance' wants vengeance, they realize they might not live long enough for happily ever after. 

You can purchase the e-book for the unbeatable price of 99 cents on these sites:


Barnes & Noble


A paperback version is also available on:


I contributed a poem titled "Sea" for the opening of the book and feel very honored to be included in Ashley's debut novel. I know this is only the beginning of a very long and successful career for Ashley Lynn Willis!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Trophee Eric Bompard Free Dance Review

I still want to call this event "Trophee Lalique," however many years after the sponsorship changed. The results of this year's ice dance event at TEB were pretty easy to predict, save for the battle for bronze. Would Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte build on their strong showing at Skate Canada and take third or would Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov work out their technical issues and win their second straight bronze medal?

After last week's tight race between the top three couples at NHK, this competition was a bit of a letdown. It was no surprise that Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir ran away with the victory and Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat faced no threats in finishing second. The only surprise was the big gap between the Italians in third and the Russians in fourth place. On to my thoughts on the free dances:

Sara Hurtado/Adria Diaz - During the warm-up I like to guess the program from the costumes, and I guessed something with a Jewish theme from what looked like a yarmulke on Sara's head. The program turned out to be Tristan and Isolde. Oops. It was a decorative hair piece. Wish they would've used Wagner's opera instead of the Maxime Rodriguez piece. The part of the program I remember most was a straight-line lift that had a bit of a vulgar-looking entry.

Kristina Gorshkova/Vitali Butikov - Oh joy, it's a tango! I guessed "Rhapsody in Blue" from the costumes. They seem to do a large number of crossovers into the twizzles as opposed to the top teams who can twizzle out of nowhere. This program is one big blue blur of bad tango.

Xintong Huang/Xun Zheng - MORE TANGO! Their costumes are shockingly understated. Zheng looks classy! Their combination lift moves across the ice well, but their straight-line lift features yet another position of questionable taste. I admit my attention was not fully on this program as I had one eye on the IceNetwork live sectionals scores.

Madison Chock/Evan Bates - Jazz is one of my least favorite music genres, but I'm digging this jazzy Chopin. There's a playful and convincing connection between Madison and Evan in the program. I think they got the best package of lifts in Canton this year. A fall in the twizzle section momentarily disrupts the program, but I love the lightness and flow exhibited in the performance. This free dance is one of my top three favorites of the season.

Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov - Costumes say Romeo and Juliet rather than "Ave Maria." Their twizzles are spaced quite far apart on the ice. Seems like an easy way to avoid being in sync. Nikita looks like the stronger member of this team. Overall, they need to be more tidy in their technique. The panel must think so, too, as they deliver a very low technical mark.

Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte - Their La Strada program has a cute vibe and good flow. Can't help wondering how much deeper Meryl Davis and Charlie White could've taken this music, though. The Italians bring a whimsical feel to the performance, and I love the ending. Could've done without the crotch-grabbing rotational lift.

Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat - Fabian changed the pants of his costume since Skate America and now they look like blue jeans. Egyptian hand movements always remind me of The Bangles singing "Walk Like an Egyptian." I can't take the program seriously even though I know they're trying to be authentic.

Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir - Wish Scott would ditch the tie, and I'd rather see Tessa in a more casual, cute outfit representative of the period of the movie. The facial mugging is very Broadway-ish, but it's a little too much for my taste. They skate with good speed and are clearly the class of the field technique-wise.

One more event, Rostelecom Cup in Moscow next week, and then the best of the best will gather in Quebec City for the Grand Prix Final. I'm excited to make my first visit to the historic city and see it all decorated for Christmas!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Little Ice Music

Even though I've only stepped on the ice once in my life, I love to choreograph skating programs in my head, many times to music that hasn't been used. Since I'm not a skater, I've taken to using some of this music for the fictional skaters in my stories. I would very much like to see programs performed to these songs/classical pieces in reality, though!

Here are some of my wish-list instrumental works for competitive programs: (each piece is linked so you can listen)

"Enjoy the Silence" by Tanghetto - Yes, it's a tango (which I've become very weary of), but it's a different spin on it and a great remake of the Depeche Mode hit.

"Victoria's Secret" from the Due South TV show soundtrack

"Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix" from Samson and Delilah performed by Stjepan Hauser

Piano Concerto 2nd Movement by Grieg - I've heard other parts of Grieg's Piano Concerto in skating programs but not this movement.

"Overture" from Prince Igor - "Polovtsian Dances" is the popular piece from Prince Igor, but I think this piece could work well for skating, also.

"Morning's Promise" by David Sun

"A Pine Forest in Winter" from The Nutcracker - The Grand Pas de Deux from The Nutcracker is the usual skating music, but I think this piece is more beautiful.

And some of my wish-list songs for exhibition programs:

"Sparks" by Coldplay

"Blue Dress" by Depeche Mode

"Overcome" by Better Than Ezra

"A Bad Dream" by Keane - could Lynn/Logan or Meryl/Charlie please skate to this? :)

"Decode" by Paramore

"Sunshower" by Chris Cornell (also on the Great Expectations soundtrack)

As you can probably tell from my music choices, my favorite exhibitions are moody or romantic. Fun and upbeat ones are great, too, but they don't stick with me like the more emotional programs do.

If you've seen performances to any of the music listed above, please let me know in the comments section below! I've watched a lot of skating over the years, but I'm sure there are some programs out there I've missed.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

NHK Trophy Free Dance & Pairs Free Skate Review

I love when the crazy Asia-North America time difference works out and I can actually watch a few Grand Prix events live without staying up until the wee hours of the morning. The Free Dance was up first on Friday night (Saturday afternoon in Japan), and it started with the news that Alexandra Paul and Mitch Islam had withdrawn due to injury. Wishing Alexandra a speedy recovery from the cut she suffered in a collision at practice!

The first group's six-minute warm-up got off to a scary start with another collision, this time between the Reeds and Lynn Kriengkrairut/Logan Giulietti-Schmitt. Cathy Reed's blade barely missed Lynn's head but appeared to nick her arm. Disaster was thankfully averted with some quick reflexes and all parties went on to skate. My thoughts on the free dances as they were performed:

Cathy Reed/Chris Reed - After Meryl Davis and Charlie White's iconic Bollywood original dance in 2009-2010, I'm not sure anyone else should try an Indian-themed dance. The blue screen of death afflicted my sister's laptop during the Reeds' performance, so I missed most of it, but I wasn't excited by the part I saw.

Lynn Kriengkrairut/Logan Giulietti-Schmitt - Lynn's dress is gorgeous. They have great lifts and always make pretty pictures on the ice. Some of my best photos have been of the lovely positions they hit. Loved their first lift especially - Lynn in a split and Logan in a shoot-the-duck. The step sequences looked like they could move out a little faster. Program has a sassy feel to it, and I thought they had good connection with each other and really bought into the music.

Lorenza Alessandrini/Simone Vaturi - Tosca! How is this going to be uplifting? Cool move at the end of their dance spin where Simone picks up Lorenza and continues to whirl her around, but I'm wondering how that's legal. I guess it's not considered part of the spin but there wasn't a clearly defined transition between the two moves. Toward the end of the program, there's a whole sequence of steps that are very empty. The program overall looks messy.

Nelli Zhiganshina/Alexander Gazsi - Romeo and Juliet - another uplifting story ;-) They've changed part of their music since Skate America. Now using "Kissing You" with vocals in the beginning of the program. Perhaps this makes the program seem less angsty?

Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani - Their first lift is my favorite, when Maia pops up into a standing position. Best twizzles of the night. They're putting more oomph into this program every time they skate it. I think one section of the choreography near the end (before the final lift) could use a little something more, but overall the program has good highs and lows. Can see them hitting it out of the park as we get deeper into the season.

Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje - The music isn't my cup of tea, but they performed the heck out of the program. They have some pretty lifts. I like the simplicity of Andrew's costume. The droopy strap on Kaitlyn's dress kinda bugs me.

Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov - This version of Ave Maria is not pleasing to the ears. Their lifts are all from the Morozov bucket o' lifts. Nothing we haven't seen before. Program gets sloppy as it goes along. Judges redeem themselves from last week's questionable scoring and rightfully put this free dance in third place.

On to the Pairs Free Skate!

Natasha Purich/Raymond Schultz - Doesn't start well for the young Canadians as they have to abort the twist. The problems continue as Natasha loses the side-by-spin and stands still while Raymond continues to spin. Natasha looks very young, so I look up their bios and see she's only sixteen. Rough skate but it's only their first senior Grand Prix event.

Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir - Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2! Could listen to this music every day. Their twist looks a little smaller than I'm used to seeing from them in the past. Marissa almost has the landing of the throw triple axel. They show their reliable strength in the lifts and the huge throw triple salchow. Love Marissa's spirals and her elegance.

Lubov Iliuschechkina/Nodari Maisuradze - Lubov is so tiny. She does not look twenty. One of their lifts resembles Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig's signature lift where Mark holds up Amanda on her thigh. Whenever Eastern Europeans skate to show tunes, I think of Oksana Bauil's 1994 Olympic free skate and Vern Lundquist rambling about the irony of it.

Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov - I love me some "Clair de Lune" . . . just not with Tamara Moskvina's crazy contorted lifts and Yuko's bad posture. Yuko's skirts are always so long that they fly up and cover her entire back. I find it distracting. They skate well, but everything they do looks messy to me.

Caydee Denney/John Coughlin - Caydee falls on the throw triple loop - haven't seen that happen very often. Their lifts need some work. The final lift is placed too close to the end of the program and they miss the ending beat of the music. I wasn't sure about the guitar version of "Nessun Dorma" at first, but it's growing on me.

Stefania Berton/Ondrej Hotarek - Impressive three-jump combination to open the program. Ondrej doesn't look much taller than Stefania, but he appears to have good upper body strength. Those of us who were at Skate America 2007 in Reading saw the gun show he put on at practice.

Narumi Takahashi/Mervin Tran - I'm familiar with "Concierto de Aranjuez" but not "Concerto de Quebec." It's rather lovely! They do Meryl and Charlie's lift where Meryl stands on Charlie's leg and looks regal. Beautiful posture from Narumi. Their jumps and throws are messy, though. The score looks a tad high for all the mistakes on key elements.

Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy - The teal green color of their costumes is divine. Unfortunately, the performance is not. Unlike at Skate America, the program is riddled with errors. Doubled jumps, side-by-side singled axels, an aborted lift. Still love the intricate choreography but they didn't put the same amount of pizzazz into this performance as they did at Skate America.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Grand Prix Mid-Season Review

As we prepare for the second half of the Grand Prix season, I thought I'd take a few moments to reflect on what we've seen so far this year. There have been some surprises (Kevin Van der Perren's medal at Skate America, Javier Fernandez nearly taking gold in Canada, Bobrova/Soloviev's scores in China) but also much of the predictable happenings we've come to expect (Chanflation, cries of "wuzrobbed" in ice dance, Brian Joubert missing a GP event with injury).

The level of skating was a bit uneven in the first three events, but Skate America, Skate Canada, and Cup of China did have their moments. We have yet to see some of the big names (Mao Asada, the aforementioned Brian Joubert, Ilinykh/Katsalapov, Tomas Verner, etc), so I expect the competition to heat up in the next three weeks.

I haven't been blown away with many of the program choices this year, but a few have stood out for me. My favorites of the season thus far:

Jeremy Abbott's long program - "Exogenesis Symphony" by Muse

Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy's long program - Pina soundtrack

Meryl Davis/Charlie White's short dance - Samba and Rhumba medley

Daisuke Takahashi's short program - In the Garden of Souls

Madison Chock/Evan Bates's free dance - Prelude in E Minor by Chopin

Amanda Evora/Mark Ladwig's long program - Daphnis & Chloe/Reverie

Which programs have been your favorites this season? Leave your comments below!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cup of China Short Dance: Shanghai Surprise

We're almost to the halfway point of the Grand Prix season (it flies by too fast!), and the Short Dance event gets more and more . . . interesting, I guess is the word . . . every week. This week's Grand Prix stop is Shanghai, China, which means it's time for the annual excitement over what the Chinese ice dancers will wear (more on that later). The dance field in China brings us some intriguing storylines - How will Emily Samuelson and Todd Gilles look in their debut as a team? Will Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev be promoted as Russia #1 after their not-so-great showing at Worlds last season? Can Maia and Alex Shibutani build on their bronze medal at Worlds and show they've continued to mature?

The first couple to take the ice was Samuelson and Gilles, only two months into their partnership. When they skated out, I thought they had accidentally worn their Led Zeppelin free dance costumes. The costumes and music don't have a strong Latin flavor, but with more time to train, they could make it a program that will stand out. Their lack of training time shows with some unison issues, but kudos to them for working hard and being ready to compete so soon after teaming up. They looked like they had a lot of fun returning to competitive ice after such long layoffs.

Xiaoyang Yu/Chen Wang - Holy Lemon-Lime Ruffles! The first Chinese team doesn't disappoint with their costumes. Yu's green and yellowish dress has a trailing ruffled skirt, while Wang's matching shirt has sort of an accordion design with an opening in the center, exposing his chest. They skate to "Mambo Italiano" for the rhumba patterns, but I think the music might be too fast for the steps. They also treat us to our first helping of "Let's Get Loud."

Charlotte Lichtman/Dean Copely - Charlotte looks fab in pink. Their straight-line lift is really cool and one of the highlights of their program. Dean stumbles during the circular footwork but does a great job regaining unison with Charlotte for the remainder of the steps. Thought they put good energy into the program. Their score is very low and I concur with Dean's Kiss & Cry reaction of "Oh my God." Protocols show brutal levels on three of the five elements.

Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland - Will always remember this team for their Lion King free dance last year. They have a nice sultry start to their program, setting the mood for the Latin rhythms. And here comes our second helping of "Let's Get Loud." There's some wildness in their skating, but they are a cute couple.

Xintong Huang/Xun Zheng - Holy Yellow Lace! The second Chinese team sees Yu/Wang's costume voids and raises them. Huang's yellow dress has two flowers strategically placed on her chest, while Zheng's lacy yellow shirt has orange shoulder ruffles. Huang is rocking the "O" face during parts of the dance. They have good speed in their first rhumba pattern but as the program nears the end, they are slowing considerably. An aborted lift puts them behind their countrymen in the standings.

Pernelle Carron/Lloyd Jones - I'm so over their music, which has been used in countless Latin programs by singles skaters (Ryan Bradley, Daisuke Takahashi, etc.). I admit I blanked out a little during this performance as I recalled Dai's awesome footwork to this music in his short program last year.

Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev - Ekaterina's orange and black costume would've been more appropriate last weekend at Skate Canada with Halloween on the horizon. I can't stop staring at Dmitri because he reminds me so much of Hoyt on True Blood. The middle of their program transitions to "Eres Todo En Mi," used by Jamie Silverstein and Justin Pekarek in their 1999-2000 Original Dance (moment of silence please for their all-too-brief career). The Russian team's score answers my question of whether their federation will be promoting them. The number looks rather high for what I witnessed on the ice.

Maia and Alex Shibutani - Love Maia's new sparkly black dress. She looks more comfortable with the rhythm than she did at Finlandia last month. Both she and Alex project nicely to the audience and show off their usual crisp style. Score is perplexingly much lower than the Russians. An examination of the protocols reveals lost levels on the lift and circular steps. But the head-scratcher is the difference in Program Component Scores - three points separate the Shibutanis and Bobrova/Soloviev. At the 2011 World Championships, Bobrova/Soloviev bested the Shibutanis by less than a point in PCS in the Short Dance. I don't see a basis for the large growth in that gap.

Bobrova/Soloviev have a very comfortable eight point lead going into the Free Dance. The Shibutanis have been known for scoring high in their free dances, so there's a chance they could challenge the Russians but it's going to be a challenge. The situation is much tighter for the bronze medal with a battle set up between the Brits and the French. Here's hoping everyone skates well and the Chinese teams bring the costume voids yet again!