5. Rika Hongo - "Carmen"
4. Elena Radionova - "Rachmaninoff No. 3"
This music is and will forever be the property of the Kween, but I think Elena made this work for her based off of one thing: her freakish consistency. She executed this 7-triple program six times in a row without error...six times without missing one jump. That is incredible! The difficulty was through the roof (two 3-3s, two lutzes), yet she made it look easy time and time again. The program itself is nothing spectacular; however, Elena's personality and love for the sport shines through so brightly when she skates that it enhances whatever it is she's doing and makes it enjoyable to watch. That choreo sequence was pure joy and that ending layback spin was always amazing. More than anything this program proved that Elena is the real deal when it comes to mental toughness and focus. Six times, people...love her or hate her, you have to admit that is pretty damn impressive.
3. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva - "Sandstorm"
After years of somewhat boring programs, Liza T finally hit gold with this one. Like Elena's FS, this program does not make the list on the merit of its choreography. In all honesty, 85% of Liza's choreography is all in her wrists and arms. There's just not a lot of substance there. Still, limited choreography or not, I really loved this FS for her. It actually brought out a different side of Liza T. She's always flirty and even a little sensual in her delivery, but this program allowed her to be playful and energetic as well. The music really grabbed the crowd right from the beginning and Liza always used that energy to her advantage. She looked like she was having a blast out there and the crowd loved it. Overall this was a great package...magic muumuu and all.
2. Ashley Wagner - "Moulin Rouge"
To be honest, the first time I saw this program I didn't particularly care for it. It wasn't until Ashley's performance at the Grand Prix Final that I saw its potential...and then she proceeded to give me LIFE with it at nationals. This program was a tricky one. When Ashley struggled, sometimes it fell flat; but when everything went right, it was bordering on epic. I love the moment she takes at center ice right before the "one day I'll fly away" part. This program was a great example of using vocals the right way. It totally enhanced the program overall. Ashley has become a master when it comes to presentation and her ability to portray a character. She knows how the sell the crap out of a performance and when she was on, she was on with this one. Her nationals performance gave me chills at the end. That final jump into the choreo sequence and the ending...amazeballs! Well done Diva Wagner.
1. Satoko Miyahara - "Miss Saigon"
Rounding out my top 10...
6. Samantha Cesario - "Carmen"
While this version wasn't as great as last year's, it was still spectacular. I'm really going to miss Samantha but this version of "Carmen" will live on until someone can top it. #SammiFierceForever
7. Polina Edmunds - "Tinkerbell"
I complained a lot about Polina's packaging this season but it had nothing to do with the program itself, which I thought was lovely, albeit less impactful. Those twizzles were awesome...
8. Gabrielle Daleman - "Aranjuez"
I actually thought this vocal version of "Aranjuez" was really nice. I think Lori did a lovely job with the choreography and composition of the program as well.
9. Zijun Li - "Moon River"
It was nice to see Zijun step outside of her classical music norm and tackle something different. I love this music and I thought it matched Zijun's soft and graceful style perfectly.
10. Julia Lipnitskaya - "Romeo & Juliet"
This program never really found its legs; however, I must give kudos to the step sequence in this program. I really loved that section of the music and the steps were nice as well.
Who had your favorite free skate of the season? Make sure to vote on the poll!
And just like that, Off Season Fun is over! It's time to get back into the swing of competition!
We still have a few months of waiting before we'll get to see the senior ladies but we've got a full season of Junior Grand Prix events to look forward to. There are a number of junior ladies hitting the scene this year that I am excited to see (Marin Honda (JPN), Polina Tsurskaya (RUS), Vivian Le (USA), Yuna Aoki (JPN)) as well as skaters I'm excited to see more of (Wakaba Higuchi (JPN), Maria Sotskova (RUS), Serafima Sakhanovich (RUS)). There's a lot of new and returning talent which should make for a competitive and entertaining JGP season.
The first event of the 2015-2016 Junior Grand Prix season is JGP Bratislava which kicks off next week in Bratislava, Slovakia from August 19-23. We're starting with awesome talent right out of the gate! We will see the JGP debut of Polina Tsurskaya (RUS) and Vivian Le (USA). I'm excited about both of these ladies. This should be a good first match up!
Hopefully the ISU will continue their awesome YouTube channel like they've done for the past few years and we'll be able to catch all of the action this season.