The Judges’ Table Does World Team Trophy 2017

Congratulations on surviving the 2016-2017 season! It’s officially over. We’ve come a long way. Remember watching So Youn Park and Pogrebinsky/Benoit at Skate America? Since then, we’ve had another Yuzuru Hanyu world record, multiple WRs from Evgenia Medvedeva and between Virtue/Moir and Papadakis/Cizeron in Dance, a shakeup among the top pairs, and a decent number of retirements, including Kanako Murakami, who retired during this event’s exhibition.

Before getting to World Team Trophy, I want to thank all of this year’s judges and readers for a successful second season at The Judges’ Table. Over the last two years, The Judges’ Table has seated 75 unique judgesSeventy-five. It’s been incredibly exciting to be able to share so many different perspectives with all of you. And if you’re reading and haven’t judged yet – what are you waiting for?! After I review everyone’s bold predictions for this season, we’ll do a few throwback events to rejudge some figure skating events from the last 20-30 years (last summer we covered the 2002 Olympics pairs event and the 1994 Olympics ladies free skate). Sign up so you can judge, too!

This is especially relevant if you’re not seeing your perspective represented here. We’ve had participation from fans of nearly every competing skater/team (except somehow two-time US champion Gracie Gold??). So if you’re a Gracie fan, or there’s another perspective that’s missing – maybe you’re a competitor, commentator, Team USA gymnastics coordinator, or just another sleep-deprived fan with new ideas – we want you here!

Alright, enough of that. Let’s meet the judges who sat at The Judges’ Table for World Team Trophy!

Banana W. (@quadsal)
Tell us a little about your experiences with figure skating or as a fan, if any. I went to GPF 2015 and kind of cried the entire time. Also, a lady from the JSF laughed really, really hard at me once.
What’s your favorite grossly underscored skate of the last five years? Akiko Suzuki’s career??

Grace W. | Tumblr
Tell us a little about your experiences with figure skating or as a fan. Although I have no personal skating experience, my first live experience was watching the Men’s FS and Free Dance of the 1998 Worlds in Minneapolis, MN when I was 5 years old. I am going to 2017 Worlds in Finland!
What’s your favorite grossly underscored skate of the last five years? I would have to go with Ashley Wagner’s short program at the Olympics. I totally agree with her reaction and thought that should have been scored higher.

Meghan D. (@DadeMeghan) | Figuratively Speaking
Tell us a little about your experiences with figure skating or as a fan. Michelle Kwan was my first skating obsession. Like, I literally had a replica of her necklace that I bought with her book at the book fair. And I wore it. Proudly.
What’s your favorite grossly underscored skate of the last five years?  Justice for #TinyQueen!

Noelle D. (@madforskating)
Tell us a little about your experiences with figure skating or as a fan. I watched the 2014 Olympics not knowing an axel from a salchow but just got so obsessed with it that I needed to know everything about figure skating. I’ve actually never gone skating before – I leave that up to the pros! I’ve been to one skating event in person (Skate America 2015). 
What’s your favorite grossly underscored skate of the last five years? Weaver/Poje’s free dance at 2015 Worlds (and every other event). Four Seasons of pure heaven.

Roshni B. (@RoshniBhudia)
Tell us a little about your experiences with figure skating or as a fan. I watched the last group of men at 2014 US Nats and was instantly hooked. I then watched the Olympics, Junior Worlds, and Worlds and finally found a sport I enjoyed watching. I hope to one day go to a competition, but that probably won’t happen until after I graduate college.
What’s your favorite grossly underscored skate of the last five years? There’s way too many to pick just one, but I boiled it down to 3: Weaver/Poje’s 2015 Worlds FD and Satoko Miyahara’s SP and FS at 2016 Worlds.

LET’S GET JUDGING. Click “continue reading” below to continue. When you’re finished reading, leave a comment to let us know what you thought about WTT, how you think the real judges did, and how you think our judges did. If you disagree, sign up to judge an event later in the year and share your thoughts!

Be honest: how much of this event did you *actually* watch?
Banana: … Singles lol, some pairs and dance! All the Go-chan segments!!

Grace: Everything!

Meghan: All of the last groups in each discipline, and selected skaters from the earlier groups (if not live on NBSCN or YouTube).

Noelle: I watched almost all the ladies and men, and the top 3 pairs and ice dancers.

Roshni: A little over 80%. I skipped a few of the men’s and ladies free skates, and some of the pairs and dance short and free programs.

Who had the best performance of the event?
Banana: I don’t know if this counts but um, Go-chan. Kidding. KANAKO WITH HER EXHIBITION? 😥 It’s just so meaningful and so very her; I’ll really miss her so much.

Grace: The overall complete package for me was Weaver & Poje’s FD. I love love love their opening stationary lift, Kaitlyn’s dress is simply exquisite, and they have some beautiful musical moments in the program. This was definitely the best they had performed it all season.

Meghan: For me, it was James and Cipres in the short and the free. They had a disappointing Worlds but they killed it here with two clean skates! Kudos to them for bringing some modern music to the pairs field and for being the most attractive team in the history of ever. Sprinkle that salt, Morgan!

Noelle: Medvedeva was of course great, but I’m going with Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, especially in the free dance. The judges tried so hard to squeeze them out this year but they came back so strong and I couldn’t be happier for them.

Roshni: I would have to give that to James/Cipres. Both their short and free skates were phenomenal, and I was so happy for them. Other than the throw 4S, it was almost perfect, and I hope they are able to keep the momentum going next season.

Who improved the most from the last time you watched them skate?
Banana: Does the ladies field count because this was so much better than Worlds? Just kidding. I can’t think of anyone in particular!

Grace: Wakaba Higuchi! She was one of my favorite skaters on the Grand Prix circuit and I was disappointed with her worlds performances. She put together two great skates here and hit two new personal bests by wide margins. She also has one of my favorite short programs of the seasons, using music from La Califfa that I just love!

Meghan: HOLY CRAP WAKABA HIGUCHI! I have always loved her skating, but she was fantastic here. She is one of the few skaters who can backload her programs, and it’s barely noticeable. She has quality skating all around, and I was excited she was so consistent here.

Noelle: Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres had a rough outing at Worlds but really pulled things together here. I’m not their biggest fan to be honest but they are improving and they should be proud of what they delivered. Also Wakaba Higuchi was just WOW.

Roshni: Wakaba Higuchi in both programs. She was able to control her nerves and relax at this competition (obviously, since there’s less pressure). Her skating is smooth, and she has artistry to boot, which will continue to improve as she gets older. When I watched her free program on YouTube, there’s a shot of Team Japan cheering and Hanyu clapping and cheering for her, and it was great moment in my opinion.

Which performance was the most underscored?
Banana: Wakaba Higuchi’s SP! I honestly would have put her in second. She has the tech, and this program shows off how much she’s grown within the past season.

Grace: Ashley Wagner’s FS. Her PCS were nearly identical to Mihara, Daleman, and Radionova’s. Sorry, but in comparison Ashley deserved a bit more, especially while Mihara’s PCS jumped nearly 7 points from worlds where she performed a great skate similar to the one here.

Meghan: I’m admittedly not an ice dance expert, but I never understand Kana Muramoto/Chris Reed’s low scores. I feel they are engaged in their music and I’m engaged in their performances. You can tell they feel lowballed too. I hope they can make a breakthrough next season.

Noelle: I’m going with Ashley Wagner in both programs. Seems to me like they’re trying to hold her down to make room for the Canadian, Japanese, and Russian girls. And honorable mention to my princess Zijun Li.

Roshni: Ashley Wagner’s SP. It was close, but I don’t think she should have gotten the under rotation on the 3T. It was most likely the camera angle that led to the judges decision on this, because there have been times when she was closer to under rotating the 3T, but still got credit for it. Also, how was one of her spins a level 3? I’m also really pumped that she’s bringing Hip Hip Chin Chin back for next season (hopefully with clapping during spins).

Which performance was the most overscored?
Banana: Haha, answering this question is difficult if only because it makes me sound like a broken record! Straight 10’s in performance on a 9/11 program that’s kiiiinda tasteless and lacks subtlety? Sounds fake but okay.

Grace: Evgenia Medvedeva’s SP. Both Evgenia’s programs were overscored (especially in PCS) in both programs, but I just can’t reward a program that much that mimes jumping rope and throwing rocks (twice!) in it.

Meghan: WTT: Where meaningless numbers are haphazardly arranged next to each other. Let’s be real, most of these numbers were inflated gifts. While this in fun to watch, I’m not sure these scores should be counted in actual ISU PB/SB statistics, considering their questionable appropriateness.

Noelle: Well everybody’s going to say Medvedeva or the girls in the final flight, so I’m going with Tarasova/Morozov’s SP. There was no energy whatsoever and yet they still scored a 34 for PCS. I like these guys but that program did not sparkle. Also Yuzuru Hanyu’s SP was a similar situation and I found his PCS quite high too.

Roshni: Easily Medvedeva in both programs. She skated her short better at worlds, and even then didn’t break the world record, and she shouldn’t have here. I’m also glad I don’t have to see her offensive FS anymore (I didn’t watch it, and I really don’t think I need to). She has potential, but she really needs programs that are more suited to her personality and a better choreographer. To finish, we never found out who was calling her. #WhosCallingEvgenia

Out of those skaters and teams who finished in the bottom half of their events, who had the best performance?
Banana: Karen Chen’s SP! It really plays to her strengths and is breathtaking! Really sad about the 1Lo but I felt like the program went by quickly, probably because I couldn’t tear my eyes away.

Grace: Zijun Li’s FS! She has such a lovely quality about her and deservedly got a great score. I thought the judges completely low-balled her at Worlds (her PCS wasn’t even 50 points!) and with stunning moments like her Ina Bauer and one armed Biellmann to close the program, it was great to see her be rewarded here.

Meghan: Congratulations to Zijun Li for her fantastic free skate. She is chronically underscored and I loved to see her great skate get the appreciation she deserves. I loved her programs this year and I hope she can take this momentum into next year.

Noelle: Zijun Li! Beautiful, lovely Zijun who finally got a decent score! She’s been buried so deep for years but she’s fought her way back into contention and I’m so proud.

Roshni: Zijun Li’s FS. She should have been 3rd at Rostelecom Cup, but whatever. So happy for her to score a personal best after quite some time. Her jumps look like they’re improving and she told totally get the “Best Dressed Award” The switch to Mishin looks like it’s working and I want her to continue to improve next season. #StopUnderscoringZijunsPCS2k17 #JusticeforZijun

Of those who competed in this event, who has the most to gain next season?
Banana: A bunch of the youngins. Shoma, Boyang, and Nathan, definitely. Evgenia too. They’re all coming in strongly into the next season with consistently (?) good international results, especially considering it’s their first Olympic season. I think Mai is going into the new season with good momentum too, having done really well at 4CC, in her Worlds FP, and here!

Grace: James/Cipres. They are running into next season with a ton of momentum gained this season, first from Europeans and then from the competition here. They had a small setback at worlds, but I see them having a fantastic season next year.

Meghan: Shoma Uno had a fantastic year; grabbing his first Japanese title and first World and Four Continents medals. IMHO, Shoma has best combination of components, consistency and performance quality of any of the top men, including Hanyu. I hope Shoma goes on a run next year.

Noelle: I definitely see Shoma Uno dominating next season. He’s really one of the few guys who can rival Hanyu for that Olympic gold. Also, James and Cipres have put themselves on the map with a huge jump in PCS so they can definitely threaten next season.

Roshni: Boyang Jin. He’s got the quads, which everyone knows, and he’s improved on his artistry this season. His Spiderman SP and FS have brought out a side in him that wasn’t really shown last season. I would love to see more entertaining programs from him next season. Lastly, wearing the Spiderman costume in the K/C was awesome.

Of those who competed in this event, who has the most to lost next season?
Banana: Yuzuru Hanyu. There’s an extraordinary amount of pressure on Yuzuru going into the next season since he’s reigning World, GPF, and Olympic champion, as well as because he’s him, lol. He’s had an unfortunate amount of Troublesome Jumps within the past quad, hopefully next year no lutzes nor salchows haunt him.

Grace: Karen Chen. I had just about zero faith in her to deliver at worlds and she rightly proved me wrong in a big way. But she had another disappointing showing here, and she needs to start to show some consistency in the Grand Prix series if she wants to be considered part of the top ladies group.

Meghan: I will interpret “most to lose” as “who’s in danger of not making it to the Olympics” since that is what 2018 is all about, after all. Moore-Towers/Marinaro will have a battle on their hands for Canada’s Olympic pairs team and sadly for Mihara and Higuchi the Japanese ladies field is much deeper than their two Olympic spots.

Noelle: I would have to say Elena Radionova. She’s in the Hunger Games of Russian girls and she’s going to have a fight on her hands if she wants to make that team next year.

Roshni: I would have to say Evgenia Medvedeva. If she gets her growth spurt next season, and has issues landing her jumps, it’s definitely going to dent her and all the success she’s achieved so far. If she doesn’t get her growth spurt, then she will still be kept on her toes because the other girls are slowly but surely catching up to her technically. Her margins of victory will continue to get smaller at major competitions next season. 

What surprised you most about this event?
Banana: Oh gosh, probably the fact that the scores count, lol. Can you believe we have a new WR in ladies (again). lol it’s okay I don’t know what numbers are anyway.

Grace: So many seasons best performances! Some of it might have had to do with the judges being generous, but a lot of skaters performed exceptionally well at the very end of a long season.

Meghan: It’s amazing how many skaters peaked here (Here’s looking at you, entire last group of the ladies free skate). It was a great way to end the year and hopefully a good start to the Olympic year for the skaters.

Noelle: Tarasova/Morozov’s SP going awry since that was their weapon all season, James/Cipres skating their FS lights out for the second time this year, all the ladies slaying the FS, Zijun finally getting scored halfway to fair!!!

Roshni: Karen Chen. I’m guessing we all expected her to do well here, but she didn’t and I really hope she doesn’t have boot problems or is injured. Sending rest and luck to her for next season.

The experts always get to make “bold predictions.” Make an additional bold prediction about something that will happen NEXT season.
Banana: No one experiences pain and suffering, there is no sadness, just happiness and good programs. 😥

Grace: Canadians will podium in all 4 events at the Olympics. Going bold here – no Japanese man will be on the Olympic podium (I doubt it, but crazier things have happened!). Adam Rippon will make the Olympic team, and won’t retire for another few seasons (please oh please!).

Meghan: Sui/Han will keep Bridge Over Troubled Water (please Jesus, please). Adelina will be on Russia’s Olympic team. Javier Fernandez will get his Olympic medal. Tessa and Scott won’t win their second Olympic title.

Noelle: Okay, I have a lot of them. Shoma wins the Olympics. Weaver/Poje come roaring back through the circuit and take an Olympic medal. Pairs will be a bloodbath and Sui/Han will win. Japan will have a medalist in the ladies event in 2018.

Roshni: Pogorilaya and Wagner will come back with a vengeance next season after not so great skates at worlds. I expect to see both of them on the podium either at the Olympics or Worlds next season.

Bonus question! We all know the most important part of WTT is the Team Spirit Award. If it were up to you, which country would have won? 
Banana: I completely understand why Russia won it (we got a bunch of iconic K&Cs after all), but TEAM EVERY1!!!! China’s dedication to horse masks and Spiderboyang pretty much says everything about it lol.

Grace: Team China wins my Team Spirit Award! When I was in Helsinki for worlds, my friend told me that when announcers say “the scores please,” if you listen closely it can kind of sound like “this horse please,” which I cannot unhear now… And then after Boyang’s SP what pops up? A horse head! I laughed so hard, so for this reason alone, Team China wins the award. 

Meghan: If I were to name a podium for Team Spirit, it would be France, China, and Russia.

Noelle: Jason Brown was enough team spirit for everyone, but Russia was adorable! I loved when Elena, Vlad, and Maxim played Ekaterina, Dmitri, and Zhulin.

Roshni: “ie between Team China, Russia, and France. China: horses, Spiderman appearance, colorful wigs, and Jin squared pair skating in the gala. Russia: Lena in place of Bobrova, Bobrova very spirited in the K/C throughout the competition. Don’t forget Coach Kovtun and Russian Tug-of-War. France: Minions and frogs. Need I say more?

Anything else to add about this event?
Banana: Dang, it always startles me how well-rounded Shoma is? Which is weird because it’s not as if I don’t watch him.

Grace: I wish the Japanese ladies would have delivered like this at Worlds to secure 3 spots. It’s gonna be a bloodbath next season with Satoko Miyahara and Marin Honda factoring in along with Mai Mihara and Wakaba Higuchi for only 2 spots on their Olympic team. My Olympic fever is starting to brew and I cannot wait until next season!

Meghan: Mid- ice intros need to be mandatory for every ISU event ever, thanks. Also shoutout to the Japanese fans for being amazing and to their federation for those gorgeous medals!

Noelle: This was such a great sendoff to all the programs. A little bittersweet but I’m already pumped for next year. Also, I’m so happy to be part of The Judges’ Table! I’ve always thought it would be cool and I finally got the nerve to sign up. It was so much fun and I hope to keep doing it next season! (Awww, glad you’re here!)

Roshni: Sad we have to wait until 2019 for the event, but I have now officially survived my 3rd full skating season!! 🙂 Now to study for finals… 😦

What did you think about this year’s World Team Trophy? How did our judges do? Leave us a comment to let us know, then sign up to judge a throwback event this summer!

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