Behind-the-Scenes at Polina Edmunds’ SKATING photoshoot

16 Dec

2014 Olympian Polina Edmunds was on the cover of the December SKATING magazine, but we could only fit so much of her shoot into print. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at her magazine photoshoot:

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All photos by Hans Rosemond.

2014 Grand Prix Final Concludes

13 Dec

Official results
Facebook photo gallery

BARCELONA–Competition concluded today atthe 2014 Grand Prix Final with Team USA coming away with two medals. Ashley Wagner moved up from sixth place to win the bronze medal, while Madison Chock and Evan Bates won silver in their Final debut.

Wagner has now medaled at three consecutive Grand Prix Final events. She was just .25 points under her international personal best free skate score (her free skate earned 129.26 points today). The Moulin Rouge program featured a clean triple flip-triple toe combination while Wagner also tried a triple loop-loop-triple Salchow for the first time. While the Salchow was scored as under-rotated, Wagner noted the importance of competing the program with the element before next month’s U.S. Championships.

“That was my first time doing it in competition so there were some nerves and some lack of experience to go with it,” Wagner explained. “It’s been in my program for a week before this competition. With more repetition, I’ll be able to get that confidence built up before nationals.”

Wagner also got a great boost of confidence by rebounding after her short program, in which she missed the flip-toe combo, and getting onto the podium alongside Russia’s Elizaveta Tuktahysheva and Elena Radionova. Her total score equaled 189.50 points.

“This performance showed exactly what I’m capable of,” she said. “This season has been full of great moments and not-so-great moments so the key to the second half the season is sweeping the not-so-great moments under the rug and bringing out two strong performances. That’s what these competitions are all about. I’m really pleased with today but I have a lot of work ahead of me.”

Chock and Bates rebounded from a fall in yesterday’s short dance to put together a strong free dance. While it wasn’t their highest score of the season, at 102.03 points, the duo felt it was their best overall performance to date.

“We had a great skate tonight. We were very happy with how we performed,” Chock said. “We had a rouge skate yesterday so it was nice to finish off the competition this way. It was a lot of fun, the crowd was so energetic. We are so happy to compete in front of such an energetic crowd that was so supportive of everything.”

Their total score equaled 167.09 points and they finished behind Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje.

“I think a year ago if you told us we’d be second at the Grand Prix Final, we would definitely both be ecstatic about that,” Bates said. “We put in a lot of work this summer so it’s nice to have it pay off.”

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani finished fourth in their second career Grand Prix Final (also 2011). They received a standing ovation for their waltz-inspired free dance and earned a total overall score of 158.94 points.

“We were pleased with our performance today,” Maia said. “The audience really connected with it and the standing ovation that they gave us really meant a lot to us. We’re going to take the two strong performances that we had here, go home, train really hard and build for the second half of the season.”

On Friday, Team USA’s junior pairs team Chelsea Liu and Brian Johnson finished sixth.

Universal Sports will air the pairs free skate and free dance from 4-7 p.m. ET Saturday, while NBC will air competition highlights from 4-6 p.m. ET Sunday, Dec. 21.

Team USA will now turn its attention to the 2015 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships set for Jan. 17-25 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Watch! 

Check out these free clips courtesy of icenetwork:

Ashley Wagner – Free Skate

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva – Free Skate

Yuzuru Hanyu – Free Skate

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje – Free Dance

What They’re Saying

Ashley Wagner (3rd place, 129.26 points FS, 189.50 total)

(on free skate) I think that’s a personal best for me. The short program was not what I wanted to put out but that long program, there was a lot of pressure on it to be a good performance. It goes to show that I am capable of being competitive with these stronger technical skaters. My biggest challenge right now is becoming a consistent skater and I need to start putting out short program performances and long program performances like that every time.

(please note, Wagner’s international personal best score for a free skate is 129.52 points set at the 2014 World Championships. Today’s free skate score represented a season’s best).

This performance showed exactly what I’m capable of. This season has been full of great moments and not-so-great moments so the key to the second half the season is sweeping the not-so-great moments under the rug and bringing out two strong performances. That’s what these competitions are all about. I’m really pleased with today but I have a lot of work ahead of me.

(on her fourth Grand Prix Final) I’ve been here. I have a lot more experience in some of these other girls. But quite honestly, it doesn’t get easier the more times you compete at a competition. It’s still stressful and up against a really strong field. I’ve been focusing on getting my technical elements stronger and working on the performance side of my skating.

(on her approach to today’s free skate). The great thing about being in last place is that you can’t get any worse than last place, you can only go up from there which definitely helps keep me calm. I think that I’m going to have to use this experience as a learning tool. I need to be able to skate that calmly and confidently at nationals when it really counts for something. It’s all a bonus here but I don’t want to miss out on going to worlds or getting that national title back because of the pressure that I put on myself.

(on executing a clean triple flip-triple toe) The good thing about keeping it together is that I had the (triple) loop-half loop-(triple) Salchow ahead so I knew the program wasn’t over yet. The great thing about that program is that the flip-toe and the loop-half loop-Salchow combination are really my two most difficult elements. The rest I have been doing for years and years and years. I can stay pretty calm throughout that program, it’s just two elements with a lot of stress.

(on triple loop-half loop-triple Salchow) That was my first time doing it in competition so there were some nerves and some lack of experience to go with it. It’s been in my program for a week before this competition. With more repetition, I’ll be able to get that confidence built up before nationals.

(on continuing to compete) People keep asking why I’m sticking around and I have so many people who are doubting if I’m capable of being competitive. This is the way I train at home, this is the skater I am. This is what I know I’m capable of and I know that if I allow myself to skate and train the way I know I can, I will be able to go up against the best in the world.

FREE DANCE

Madison Chock and Evan Bates (2nd place, 102.03 FD points, 167.09 total)

(on free dance) Chock – We had a great skate tonight. We were very happy with how we performed. We had a rouge skate yesterday so it was nice to finish off the competition this way. It was a lot of fun, the crowd was so energetic. We are so happy to compete in front of such an energetic crowd that was so supportive of everything.

Chock – Compared to last night, we feel 100 times better. We felt great out there tonight. We were ourselves and we were in synch. It felt so good to do our free dance. WE had a lot of fun tonight. We skated for our own enjoyment and we’re glad that the crowd enjoyed it too.

Bates – We’re going to get some feedback from this event, regroup and prepare for the U.S. Championships in January. I felt like tonight as our best performance of the season, which is really nice, after a tough outing yesterday, to come back strong. That shows resilience and shows that we are a strong team and that one performance is not going to define us as a team. One little back in the road and then we are back on track and now we prepare for the U.S. Championships.

(on competing at the Grand Prix Final) Bates – This week was a huge learning experience for us. We’re going to take a lot away from this that will help us in the future.

(on medaling here) Bates – It’s amazing. I think a year ago if you told us we’d be second at the Grand Prix Final, we would definitely both be ecstatic about that. We put in a lot of work this summer so it’s nice to have it pay off.

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (4th place, 95.04 FD points, 158.94 total)

Maia – We were pleased with our performance today. It was our strongest free dance of the season. The audience really connected with it and the standing ovation that they gave us really meant a lot to us, especially when you can’t control the scores. We’re going to take the two strong performances that we had here, go home, train really hard and build for the second half of the season. It was great for us to be back at the Final and we’re looking forward to being here for the next few years.

Day 2 from the Grand Prix Final, JGP Final

12 Dec

Official start orders and results
Facebook photo gallery

BARCELONA–Competition continued Friday with the junior free skates, men’s short program and short dance. Team USA is in medal contention in dance with Madison Chock and Evan Bates in second and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani in third.

Amidst cheers of “Ole” and “Guapo” (meaning handsome), the ice dancers took the ice to perform a native Spanish dance, the Paso Doble, as the pattern of their short dance. With each passing element – from lifts to twizzles to step sequences – the crowd responded positively, and loudly.

After their short dance, for which they earned 63.90 points, Maia said “The crowd is amazing here. It’s so great to be here at the first major international competition in Spain for skating. It’s a real honor for us. The crowd was fantastic. They really responded to everything we were doing and it felt like we were able to take them through our performance as we were going through it.”

Added Alex, “We would hope that the with a Paso Doble (and) Flamenco short dance that we would hear some ‘Ole’s’ and that was certainly the case tonight.”

Madison Chock and Evan Bates finished second behind Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje with 65.06 points. The reigning U.S. silver medalists suffered an non-element fall at the end of their program for a 1.00 point deduction.

“There are always the ups and downs. We’ve been having a lot of great performances and a lot of ups,” Bates said. “It’s only natural for there to be a little bump in the road somewhere. It happened tonight. It’s a big learning experience for us and a lot we can take from a skate like that in those circumstances. We’re going to rebound tomorrow and hopefully skate a great free program.”

Chelsea Liu and Brian Johnson, Team USA’s lone junior competitors, finished sixth with 124.81 total points. The team rallied nicely from a tough short program the day before to total 85.81 points for their “Yellow River Concerto” performance. Their free skate mark was the fourth-highest of the day.

“We feel a lot better than yesterday,” Liu said after the performance. “Based on yesterday’s skate, I feel we did the best we could at this moment. It was a pretty good skate overall so I’m happy.”

The team realized the importance of supporting each other today and throughout the skate, especially in the wake of the challenge’s faced earlier in the event.

“Yesterday was kind of a fluke for us,” Johnson explained, “I had to put that in my mind, like, ‘I know we can do better.’ We kept supporting each other and helping each other where we needed it. She helps me a lot. In the middle of the program she’s like, ‘You’re doing great.’ We knew we could do this.”

The senior events will go final Saturday. Ashley Wagner is in sixth place going into the ladies free skate.

All events will be streamed live on http://www.icenetwork.com, while Universal Sports will air the pairs free skate and free dance from 4-7 p.m. ET.

Team USA’s Schedule (ET)

Saturday, Dec. 13

11:25 a.m. – Ladies free
Wagner (skating 1st) – 11:32 a.m.

1:25 p.m. – Free dance
Shibutani & Shibutani (skating 4th) – 2:01 p.m.
Chock & Bates (skating 5th) – 2:09 p.m.

What They’re Saying

Chelsea Liu and Brian Johnson (6th place, 124.86 points)

Liu – We feel a lot better than yesterday. Based on yesterday’s skate, I feel we did the best we could at this moment. It was a pretty good skate overall so I’m happy.

(on favorite moment) Liu – At the end, when we are on time spot on with the music. That was the happiest moment.

(on how they rebounded from yesterday and the deduction in the short program lift) Johnson – Evidently I did four and a half turns [four turns is the maximum]. In the moment I had no idea. I have to train a little harder because I’m tired at the end. I have to stay focused throughout the program so things don’t happen like the lift.

Johnson – Yesterday was kind of a fluke for us. I had to put that in my mind, like, ‘I know we can do better.’ We kept supporting each other and helping each other where we needed it. She helps me a lot. In the middle of the program she’s like, ‘You’re doing great.’ We knew we could do this.

Liu – It’s very important, because our short wasn’t very good, to support each other through it. Even though we have no pressure, we are still very nervous.

(on first U.S. Championships together) Liu – We really haven’t thought of a specific goal. We have talked about goals, just not exactly set, set ones. For Greensboro, we are going to try to skate good programs. As long as we try our hardest and perform our programs, which is one thing that our coaches, Todd and Jenni, focus on a lot, if we execute like we need to do, we will be happy.

(on competing here with senior level athletes) Liu – It’s been over half a week and I’m still in my own little daydream. They’re amazing skaters and I’m hoping that one day I can be like them too. I know I’m full of potential to be at their level and compete against them but I have to work hard and get to their level too. I don’t really have a favorite (team) but I love all of them. They are all amazing. They have separate good qualities of their own partnership. They all have really strong points.

Todd Sand (coach) – I think they’re going to take a lot from this event. I think they will be very happy with the results in Greensboro if they skate well. I think what they need to do is learn how to handle these big events.

SHORT DANCE

Madison Chock and Evan Bates (2nd place, 65.06)

(on short dance) Bates – There are always the ups and downs. We’ve been having a lot of great performances and a lot of ups. It’s only natural for there to be a little bump in the road somewhere. It happened tonight. It’s a big learning experience for us and a lot we can take from a skate like that in those circumstances. We’re going to rebound tomorrow and hopefully skate a great free program.

Bates – It was a program we had to kind of work for. There’s a lot to be said for skating in that kind of situation, skating last a Grand Prix and being top seed. It’s a new situation for us and there may be a learning curve with that. I think tonight will serve us well in the future.

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (3rd place, 63.90 points)

(on short dance performance) Alex – We feel really good. It was definitely our best skate of the season. After the Grand Prix Series and our two Challenger Series events, we went home and worked really hard, made some adjustments to the program based on the feedback we received. As every program does throughout the season, it’s just getting strong and stronger. We’re really happy with our performance tonight.

(on the crowd support) Maia – The crowd is amazing here. It’s so great to be here at the first major international competition in Spain for skating. It’s a real honor for us. The crowd was fantastic. They really responded to everything we were doing and it felt like we were able to take them through our performance as we were going through it.

Alex – What’s going on the world of skating right now, perfect example would be Spain, I think the boundaries are getting wider and wider and we are accepting more and more people into our wonderful sport. I think you can tell from the energy, the prep and the set up for this competition has been one of the best we’ve ever experienced. They’ve definitely been getting the word out via social media and the crowd tonight was fantastic. We would hope that the with a Paso Doble (and) Flamenco short dance that we would hear some ‘Ole’s’ and that was certainly the case tonight.

(on changes made to the short dance) Maia – We changed our diagonal step sequence to a midline step. We are really happy with how it fits into the program. It’s really integrated now. We were able to add more choreography and more arm movements.

Day 1 from the Grand Prix Final

11 Dec

Official start orders and results
Facebook photo gallery

BARCELONA–Competition began Thursday in Barcelona with all four junior shorts and the pairs and ladies short programs. Team USA was represented by Chelsea Liu and Brian Johnson in the junior pairs event, while Ashley Wagner took the ice at her third consecutive Grand Prix Final.

Wagner sits in sixth place after missing her triple-triple jump combination but otherwise turned in a strong program. Her 60.24 points are just three out of medal contention after the short program.

“The quality of the program was really good. The only thing it was really lacking was the triple-triple combination,” she said. “I was able to get level 4s on all my spins, level 3 on my step sequence. The program as a whole was solid but it just goes to show that now with these younger girls, you need a triple-triple jump to be competitive. It’s something I’ll need tomorrow.”

Russia’s Elizaveta Tuktamysheva leads with 67.52 points while Elena Radionova is in third with 63.89.

Liu and Johnson had a bit of a rough outing for their Mary Poppins themed short program. Liu suffered two falls, on the throw and side-by-side jumps, while Johnson only completed a single Lutz in their side passes. His mistake cost the team an extra 1.00 point deduction and their score totaled 39.05 points. Liu and Johnson, who have only been skating together since June, are looking forward to rebounding in the free skate Friday.

“We will put this behind us,” Johnson said. “We have to move on. We know we can do it.”

Leaders after the short program are Canada’s Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau.

For complete quotes from Liu, Johnson and Wager, scroll down.

Friday will see the completing of the Junior Grand Prix Final, while the other the dancers will take the ice. Madison Chock and Evan Bates are the event’s number 1 seed while Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani will compete at the Final for the first time since 2011.

All events will be streamed live on http://www.icenetwork.com, while Universal Sports will air the ladies and men’s short programs from 8-10 p.m. ET.

Team USA’s Schedule (ET)

Friday, Dec. 12
12:15 p.m. – Junior pairs free
Liu & Johnson (skating 1st) – 12:22 p.m.

1:45 p.m. – Short dance
Shibutani & Shibutani (skating 3rd) – 2:04 p.m.
Chock & Bates (skating 6th) – 2:31 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 13
11:25 a.m. – Ladies free
Wagner (skating 1st) – 11:32 a.m.

1:25 p.m. – Free dance

What They’re Saying

Chelsea Liu and Brian Johnson (6th place, 39.05 points)

(on short program) Johnson – “It was not what we were expecting. We had been doing a lot in practicing and training.”

Liu – “Overall, we don’t have much pressure. We didn’t really expect to make it here and since we did, we are trying to do our best. Bad days happen, but we tried our best and that’s what counts.”

(on regrouping for free skate) Johnson – “We will put this behind us. We have to move on. We know we can do it.”

(on new partnership) Liu – “We are both strong individual skaters and have good teamwork. Sometimes, I get mad at him, but he’s a boy, so … Both having experience helps too. He went to junior worlds and me being with my old partner, we had international experience. This year it was more about getting out there and trying to do good programs versus our placements. It’s good but win but that’s not the focus.”

Ashley Wagner (6th place, 60.24 points) (WATCH FOR FREE on icenetwork)

(on short program) “The quality of the program was really good. The only thing it was really lacking was the triple-triple combination. I was able to get level 4s on all my spins, level 3 on my step sequence. The program as a whole was solid but it just goes to show that now with these younger girls, you need a triple-triple jump to be competitive. It’s something I’ll need tomorrow.”

(on free skate tomorrow) “I need to get the triple-triple combination. It’s tough because there is so much pressure on that jump. Everybody’s talking about it, a jump that has to be in the program. Tomorrow I have to have that combination and I have to skate strong and solid like I know I can. I know I have the second mark but that’s only going to take me so far at the Grand Prix Final.”

(on triple-triple combination) “The entrance (to the first jump) that I have really helps the combination when it’s correct. When I get nervous and pitch forward a bit, it makes it hard to get the triple toe off. I need to figure out how to compete with that jump. The entrance has to be very precise and I chose that take-off so I’m aware of the risks but if I get nervous and I hold back, it makes it tough to get the triple toe off. I have no reason to hold back, especially at the Grand Prix Final. It’s a privilege to be here and this is icing on the cake of a good Grand Prix season.”

Watch Elizaveta Tuktamysheva’s first place short program for free on icenetwork here.

Wednesday Update from the Grand Prix Final

10 Dec

Hola from Barcelona, Spain! The first practice day just wrapped up with all Americans taking the ice Wednesday. While Barcelona is a city of impressive architecture, great food and lots to do, the focus for now is on the competition which will feature the best athletes from the Grand Prix and Junior Grand Prix series. Team USA is represented by Ashley Wagner (ladies), Madison Chock and Evan Bates (ice dance), Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (ice dance) and Chelsea Liu and Brian Johnson (junior pairs).

To join the conversation with @USFigureSkating, use #GPF14. Be sure to follow @AshWagner2010, @chockolate02, @MaiaShibutani, @ChelseaLiu2018, @Evan_Bates, @AlexShibutani and @ShibSibs on Twitter!

Visit icenetwork for complete event coverage and a live competition feed (for SeasonPass subscribers)

Official start orders and results
Facebook photo gallery


What They’re Saying

“This is pretty amazing. This is our first time in the finals in our first season together and that’s an awesome accomplishment right there. We are here to do the best we can.” – Chelsea Liu

“Our first practice was really strong. We are really excited to be back at the Grand Prix Final. We’ve practiced hard since our grand prix events and our senior Bs. Our goal this week is to show how strong we’ve become.” – Maia Shibutani

“We are going to stay an extra day in Barcelona which is rare for us after a competition. We will be able to do a little sight seeing and relax for a day before we get back to work for nationals.” – Alex Shibutani

“The ice feels really good. We are so excited to be here. We are ready to skate and perform!” – Madison Chock

“The Grand Prix Final is an opportunity for me to go out and experience new jumping passes in competition. I put in a triple loop-half loop-triple Salchow in the second of the program. It’s a very difficult jumping pass so this is a chance for me to try out the new elements and the adjusted jumping layout to get prepared for nationals.” – Ashley Wagner


Team USA’s Schedule (ET)

Thursday, Dec. 11
11:25 a.m. – Junior pairs short
Liu & Johnson (skating 1st) – 11:32 a.m.

3:30 p.m. – Ladies short program
Wagner (skating 2nd) – 3:44 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 12
12:15 p.m. – Junior pairs free

1:45 p.m. – Short dance
Shibutani & Shibutani (skating 3rd) – 2:04 p.m.
Chock & Bates (skating 6th) – 2:31 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 13
11:25 a.m. – Ladies free
1:25 p.m. – Free dance

Some Sights from 2014 Golden Spin of Zagreb

10 Dec

Photos courtesy of Lorrie Parker.

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SKATING magazine – December Issue

4 Dec

Here’s a sneak peek of the cover for the December issue of SKATING magazine.

December SKATING Cover

 

Watch their Actable video below:

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