Thursday, 19/7/2018 | : : UTC-7
Skate Today


The 2014 ISU Challenger Series links together eleven events previously staged as individual “B” competitions. It offers senior skaters more opportunities to compete at the international level and earn World Standing Points.

The new Series debuted September 10-14 with 45 skaters competing for medals and points at the US International FS Classic in SLC, Utah.




  1. Alexandra Aldridge+Daniel Eaton (USA) – gold medalists.

In March 2014, the Michigan duo made a bold change. They left the Detroit Skating Club and moved to Canton, MI to train with Marina Zueva’s team. “We’re striving to bring a new style, a new maturity to the ice,” Eaton said

Aldridge+Eaton eked out a slim .34 lead in the Short Dance. The straight-line lift earned a Level4. “The Carmen characters were most important, and I think we kept them from beginning to end. That’s exactly what we came here to do,” smiled Aldridge. They were in first place.

During the free program, Gone with the Wind ‘s Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler dominated from the opening polka to the tragic ending.

“We’re really working on showing the characters because last season that’s where we struggled the most. I think we’re making huge strides,” offered Eaton. The skate earned Level4 for the spins and twizzles.

The total score was 141.70. The team next competes at Skate Canada.


  1. Nicole Orford+Thomas Williams (Can) – silver medalists.

The Canadian team was 3rd at the 2013 International Classic. “We want to be on the podium again this year, and maybe change up the color of the medal. We already have a bronze, so this year we want to step it up,” quipped Williams.

After the Short Dance, Orford offered her analysis. “We were definitely a bid shaky – not our best, or what we’d hoped to do. We performed all the way through, and I don’t think we let the wobbly spots show.” They were second.

Mark Pillay used the powerful Titanic music to choreograph the free program. The spin, twizzles, and two lifts earned Level 4. The straight-line lift had a hiccup and only earned Level1.

“Everything was feeling really good. Right toward the end, we messed up our big Titanic lift moment, so that was disappointing,” said Orford.

Williams added, “I got a little too far back on my leg. I was trying to get on to one foot and into the position too quickly, and I was way too far back on my heel. I had to put my free foot down to stop the momentum.” The total score was 141.02. The team next competes at the Skate Canada Autumn Classic. 


  1. Anastasia Cannuscio+Colin McManus (USA)bronze medalists.

The Delaware based team competed at its third International Classic. “We’re definitely hungry for a medal. The first year we were new to the senior international scene. Last year the field was tough with names like Davis+White. This year we would like to see a medal of any color,”
Marie-France Dubreuil choreographed the Spanish Flamenco Short Dance. The team was disappointed with their “stupid mistakes”. McManus explained, “ The first mistake on the twizzle was me, and then she put her foot down on another element. Nothing earth shattering – just stupid little mistakes that cost us.” They were 4th.

Since the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships and Champs’ Camp, Cannuscio+McManus have made numerous changes in their free program, Danse Macabre. The results were Level4 twizzles, a spin, and two lifts. “We

made a lot of changes in the past month, and we wanted it to be solid and perform it, not just think about the elements. I think we did that; it felt comfortable,” smiled Cannuscio. The total score was 126.44. The team next competes at Skate America.




  1. Polina Edmunds (USA) won her first senior international gold medal.

The 2014 Olympian skated at the SLC complex numerous times, but never in the Classic. “I’ve competed here since I was six. My regionals were almost always held in this rink, so it’s interesting to be back, skating in a place that doesn’t seem to change, but I change a little each season.”

Edmunds described her short program performance. “I did a clean program, but had a little bobble on my Flip, so of course, I want to fix that. For the most part it was a good program, and I’m happy I pushed through it. I skated how I train, and I’m excited to move forward with this program and keep building the artistry.”

Choreographer, Rudy Galindo, chose two selections from the Peter Pan soundtrack for Edmunds’ free program –“Tinker Bell” and “Fairy Dance”.

After a flawless short, the negative GOE marks stared back from the protocol page. The 2A and 3Lz were under rotated, and then she fell on the 3Lo near the end of the program. Her two opening combinations earned over 21 points. Edmunds was 2nd in the free program.

The Archbishop Mitty HS student aims “to work on the artistry and performance and bring out some of the detail of the program instead of just making sure I do all the elements.” The total score was 176.35. Edmunds makes her GP debut in 2014/15 at the Cup of China.


  1. Courtney Hicks (USA) – silver medalist.

The California budding photographer was the 2013 Classic Ladies’ champion and returned to SLC to defend her title. She won the free, placed 3rd in the short and finished 2nd.

Hicks’ only error in the short was the botched up required 2A, which resulted in zero points. She opened with a 3F+3T combination, and then added two Level4 spins and a clean 3Lz.

“Axels don’t like me in SLC. I fell on it last year. I need to work on keeping my focus all the way to the end,” said Hicks.

Jonathan Cassar choreographed Hicks’ free program to the Anna Karenina soundtrack. Her performance was flawless and earned her a personal international best score of 115.24.

“I tried to get into the performance, but because of the altitude, I was kind of dying. I think it helped because my character (Anna Karenina) dies at the end,” commented the jubilant skater.“ Her total score, also a personal best, was 174.14. Skate Canada is her next assignment.


  1. Riona Kato (JPN) – bronze medalist.

The sixteen year old recently made a major move. “I came to America to train in California, so I enjoy competing here. It is very hard to breathe here, but I’m going to do my best and make everyone who works with me happy with my program.”

Kato’s flawless short program earned two Level4 spins, a personal best 61.55 and second place. She was happy with her performance. “It was a nice skate today. My skating is much better this season.“

Phillip Mills choreographed Kato’s free program to Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto #3.The step sequence and two spins earned Level4. Unfortunately, the jumps were not working. “Today wasn’t good. I was really nervous to compete, and my six-minute warm up was really bad. I couldn’t jump like I do normally,” commented the very disappointed teenager. Her total score was 161.65. Kato next competes at the NHK Trophy.




  1. Alexa Scimeca+Chris Knierim (USA) – gold medalists.

The Colorado team aims to take a giant leap after last year’s mediocre performances. The season’s main focus is on development of their program characters. Another major challenge is the required Star Lift. Scimeca is learning to trust her instincts and is developing a Leap of Faith.

The 2013 US silver medalists had a disappointing short skate, which included in-sync falls on the 3S and negative marks on the lift and 3FTh.

Knierim said it best. “It was rough. We lost a lot of technical points, but we did stay in character throughout the program. The Star lift is new for us this year, and it’s definitely challenging.” Scimeca added, “The balance point was just a hair off, and I couldn’t hold it up any more.”

The newly engaged couple snapped back with a first place performance to An American in Paris, choreographed by Julie Marcotte. The three lifts and 3Tw were all Level4. The team recently added a flip side exit to the Star Lift after a suggestion by a Cirque du Soleil choreographer at Champs’ Camp.

“I feel we redeemed ourselves from the short program. We were humbled and it brought us back down to earth and made us focus,” said Scimeca. The total score was 163.24. The team next competes at Skate America. 


  1. Jessica Calalang+Zack Sidhu (USA) – silver medalists.

The Californians were the 2012 US National Junior silver medalists. The team participated in only its second international competition. “This year we’re working on our connection with each other and the audience and our skating itself, “ Zidhu told a group of journalists.

Calalang+Sidhu were in first place after the short. The spin, death spiral, and step sequence earned Level3 and the required Star Lift a Level4. Except for the opening under rotated 3S, it was a cleanly skated program.

“It feels great to be in first. We had a little mistake in the beginning, but we tried to put it past us and keep performing,” smiled Sidhu.

The Romeo and Juliet free program had several glitches, but the three lifts were all Level4. “I missed the jumps and the throws were a little sketchier than usual, but our presentation was good, and that’s what we’ve been trying to improve,” said Sidhu.

Coach Todd Sand added, “I think it’s a great start for them. It’s tough skating here in the altitude, but I thought they fought through it well. It’s definitely a great place to start to build on.” The total score was 104.26. The team next competes at the Challenger Series, Skate Canada Autumn Classic.


  1. Madeline Aaron+Max Settlage (USA) – bronze medalists.

The Arizona raised team is competing in its first international senior event as reining US Junior Champions. Since Scimeca+Knierim are training mates in Colorado, “it feels like home.” It’s comforting to be out there with people we know, “ smiled Aaron. Madeline’s older brother, Max, is a singles competitor.

The young team earned Level4 for their step sequence and Star lift. They spoke enthusiastically about the comic ballet program, Coppelia. “We’ve been wanting to skate to this music for a long time,” said Settlage.

Choreographer, Julie Marcotte made Aaron and Settlage watch the King and I movie; they fell in love with the music and story for their free program. “It totally suits us both,” chimed the pair.

The lifts earned Level4, but the twist, throws and jump passes drew negative GEO marks. The mistakes didn’t dampen theirs enthusiasm. “It wasn’t our best, but we’re not worried yet because it’s just the beginning of the season. We have a long time to build up everything and make ourselves even better.” The total score was 138.52. The team next competes at Skate America.




  1. Max Aaron (USA) won his third consecutive Classic gold medal.

Max reflected on the occasion. “It means more this year. I was in the position to defend my US title (in Boston) and wasn’t able to do it. I’m learning how to defend a title here. Hopefully this will help me out next time, and there will be no mistakes that cost me the Olympic team.”

Over the summer, the Colorado trained athlete changed his work out regime and food selections. “The body needs to show lines – less bulk,” he said.

On ice, Team Aaron worked on jumps – more highlighting / less telegraphing and transitions. The SLC competition will test the fruit of his labor.

The short program, “Footloose”, was choreographed by Mark Pillay. “We let him pick the music and do his thing, I want people dancing in the stands and enjoying themselves.” smiled the skater.

Aaron’s gorgeous 3A earned 11.35 points, but a hand down on the quad and a collapse on the step sequence spin, produced negative GOE marks. “I got all turned around on the step ending. I do a bunch of arm and head movements, and I got caught between them.”

In the free Skate, the 2013 US champion assumed the role of the Gladiator and used his jumping strengths to maneuver through the powerful music. The two quads and two combinations (3A+2T, 3T+1Lo+3S) contributed to over half his element marks.

Aaron evaluated his performance. “My main goal here was about components and transitions. Then I took another silly fall. I need to work on my mental game.” He earned a 240.22 total score. Max Aaron next competes at Skate Canada.


  1. Ross Miner (USA) – silver medalist.

The Boston athlete had a difficult 2013/14 season. A nagging ankle injury forced a GP Series withdrawal. A non-stellar performance at US Nationals before a hometown audience resulted in a 7th place finish.

Miner wants the new season to be different. “It’s great to be this well trained. The goal for SLC is to have confidence in that training,” said Miner.

The 2012 Classic bronze medalist kept last season’s short, “The Way We Were”. “I didn’t get everything out of it; it’s been fun refining it,” smiled Miner.

Ross was penalized with a zero score for the botched quad Salchow attempt. “I just didn’t commit to make it happen.” On a more positive side, he added, “I was happy with the 3A. I haven’t done one that well in competition in a while.” His spins and step sequence were all Level4.

Lori Nichol choreographed the free program, “Romanza” by Andre Bocelli. “It’s a new style for me,” said the skater. “So far, the response has been really positive. I know it’s good. I’m just really enjoying skating it,” commented Miner.

After the skate, Miner nodded his approval, ““I’m really proud I got all three Axels done. I haven’t done that in competition in a long time,” The total score was 209.78. Miner next competes at NHK Trophy.


  1. Daisuke Murakami (JPN) – bronze medalist.

The Frank Carroll coached skater was frustrated after his short program. His 4S was under rotated, and he fell on the 3A. “I didn’t land anything in the warm up. Then my program was very subpar,” said Murakami.

“I definitely didn’t go full out, but this is my first competition of the season, so I’m pretty happy I’m sitting in 2nd place,” added the skater.

Murakami’s free skate to Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 opened with a clean 4S and 3A+2T that earned 23.30 points. Midway through the program, he lost his stamina and the jumps and step sequence faltered. “I have to go home and train really hard and build up my strength for the second half of the program,” said Murakami. The total score was 204.67. Murakami next competes at the NHK Trophy.

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