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    Constable , Costume Police colleen o'neill's Avatar
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    All Things Ice Dance: Canadian

    Mods, I'm restarting this, but please amalgamate with the old thread if you prefer ( it's already quite long)

    After a number of very excellent and interesting posts on the Canadian Nationals Ice Dance competition threads and various post-competition discussions across other threads and forums ( which are bound to fade as successive competitions approach ), I felt I wanted to keep the discussion going , not only in light of the respective finishes at National's and the upcoming 4CC and World's, but in general as well.

    Here's a quote from one of ImaginaryPogue's posts on the Free dance thread that gets to the crux of the situation , for me. ( I've used bold text to stress what pertains to dance. The italics are 'Pogue's ) ..

    "b) In this case (G/P, Patrick Chan) there seems to be a more specific intent in the scoring, moreso than Nationals inflation. Plain-jane Nationals inflation - we saw that with Duhamel/Radford's skates. They'll be above 120 w/ a clean skate, but not that close to 130. You can even make the argument that Chan will break his own record with those skates (I'm not convinced), but there seemed to be a goal - get G/P on the podium, get Chan 300."

    It's like the old saying about Caesar's wife..not only must she be above reproach , she must be seen to be above reproach. As Caesar's wife , Skate Canada and this judging panel appear to make a great scarlet woman with a shady past.

    Even if there was no intent, the inexplicable , unbelievable bronze finish of G/P guarantees speculation and suspicion that somewhere , intent must have been at work ...or that this judging panel was particularly gullible and susceptible to hype. And if either possibility exists , what will it mean for our athletes going forward ?

    These athletes have all invested a great portion of their lives in the pursuit their sport ; their competitive careers are relatively short , and they risk career ending injury daily. As others have said before me , the very least they deserve is to be able to trust in fair judging and a fair competition. Neither the judging nor the competition schedule at Nationals this year afforded them that.

    If I was one of these athletes ( with the exception of G/P) I'd be very depressed about my prospects. Of course, I do hope to see them all emulate the attitude W/P displayed last year ..just work to perfect your own performance , so that you can't be denied . That's all they can do , after all ... even though that disgraceful 100+ score for G/P would seem to imply that there are no limits to the amount of preference or over-evaluation G/P will be shown , nationally. ( Unless there's a backlash , which I truly hope there will be )....I further hope that some of the annual changes in Ice Dance rules help prevent a repetition of what we've just seen.

    So, with this cloud over the scene, and despite it , what do we hope for some of these teams ? What can they do ? What should they do ? Just some initial thoughts...

    For R/H .. I would wish for them to get out from under. Change schools and continue to address their posture issues. Realize there's quite a bit of luck involved in their trip to World's ( see FD scores).

    For P/I .. I hope they are even stronger by 4CC. I'd wish for a different SD costume. It's a pretty dress, but because their SD is more restrained than most , it cries out for colour, just as the FD did. After being plagued by injury , do they need to rethink strength regimen ? ( I really don't know that much about their regimen ). I think they'd benefit from more of a group training environment, but don't know where that would be. They're already developing their own look and I'd hate to see that change. ( Progress, yes. Change , no. )

    For O/W .. keep going. Unlike NorthernDancers,( whose opinions I still respect ) I do see a lot more togetherness between them over last year,and particular progress for Thomas. Considering all they've had to contend with this year - having to be ready for Jrs. and Srs., and the G/P circus coming to town , I think they've done about as well as they could be expected to do. I hope they have a very respectable finish at Jr.World's. It's a deep field..but the GP, at both levels , can be fairly deceptive, so I wish them luck.

    Of course, that's not all I think or wish, but it's enough for tonight.
    Last edited by colleen o'neill; 02-03-2012 at 04:18 AM.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    For non-dance fans, or casual fans, the reason that people find G&P's score of 100.76 seems highly inflated:

    http://www.isuresults.com/results/wc2009/SEG009.HTM

    At the World Championships in 2009, the FD was won by Domnina & Shabalin with a score of 100.85, skating to Spartacus, second by Belbin & Agosto with 100.27 skating to Tosca, third by Davis & White with 100.03 skating to Samson & Delilah, V&M fourth with 99.98, skating to Pink Floyd.

    The GPF was won in the 2008/2009 season by Delobel & Schoenfelder with an FD of 95.75.

    Now travel to the 2011 Worlds: 3rd in the FD were the Shibutanis with 96.91

    Vanessa & Paul scored 90.12, and were ninth in the FD. Their best ever score was 91.47.

    In 2008, scores were higher, but a team could do 3 short lifts and one combo lift instead of 2 short lifts and one combo (or 2 additional short) lifts.

    So even if the score is determined by the better of a pair of dancers, rather than the worse of the two, and you allow for the usual nationals inflation, a stellar performance by a team when one is good and the other is clearly just trying to keep up should be in the 90 to 95 region at the highest even with national inflation, like Piper's previous partner Zach Donohue earned with his new partner, Madison Hubbell, at the US Championships, 94.04, to win 3rd place. (And Madison & Zach are on a similar level to each other, rather than one member of the couple being clearly weaker).

    Here's the protocols for Canadian Nationals.

    http://results.skatecanada.ca/2011-2...gesDetails.pdf

    You have G&P scoring in the mid 8's to 9's for PCS.

    One judge gave them a 9 for PCS in Performance and Execution. Here's the guideline for 9 to 10 for that component:

    �� move as one, superb
    matching
    �� elegant /sophisticated
    style
    �� refined line of body and
    limbs
    �� precise execution of body
    movements
    �� both spellbinding
    �� projection exceptional (to
    audience or in
    themselves if music
    requires)
    And a majority of judges gave them performance grades in the 8's where the guideline is

    �� coordinated movements,
    excellent matching
    �� superb carriage and lines
    �� effortless change of
    difficult holds
    �� project strongly
    How could you justify either of those when one partner is visibly weaker than the other, and a great deal of the dance was hand in hand (which is not a difficult hold).

    I have no idea why the judges scored it that way, but the inflation was really difficult to justify IMO, and was not fair to Ralph & Hill and Paul & Islam, or for that matter to Weaver & Poje and Virtue and Moir, since G&P should not have been that close to them.

    But most importantly, it was not fair to Poirier and Gilles, because how will they know they need to improve during this hiatus before they can compete internationally? Did it help Crone & Poirier when they were overhyped last year, when their coach was claiming they were superior to D&W ? How could it not be a huge letdown to finish 9th and not know what you had done wrong in your training?

    Does anyone here think that score inflation of more than a point or two serves any team well? If so, I hope you will tell us.
    Last edited by dorispulaski; 02-03-2012 at 06:30 AM.

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    Constable , Costume Police colleen o'neill's Avatar
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    doris..you're a gem.

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    Such scores for G/P are also jarring to me because they have ZERO international experience. So you can't even have reputation judging this time around. At least with C/P, they came off a solid GP season with a bronze at the GPF.

    There was quite a bit of score inflation at U.S. nationals but really the inflation was across the board with H/D receiving scores that the Shibs have been receiving in international competition. It seem that G/P were the only ones to benefit from score inflation at Canadians — even the top two pairs didn't get such a boost or benefited from repetition scoring.

    I personally think this pair has a lot of potential, but I would have ranked them behind R/H and P/I. In fact if I had a toe-to-toe battle between G/P and H/D in the U.S., I would choose H/D — they have actual programs with dancing as opposed to flashy programs with a bunch of tricks.
    Last edited by Mrs. P; 02-03-2012 at 12:52 PM.

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    Apparently, I'm behind in Canadian Dance since I did not know that P. Gilles (Piper Gilles, part of the trio of Gilles' from the US) was not only dancing, but in Canada . Did I miss something? I thought she was a singles skater for the US....would someone far more aware clarify things? Thanks.

    Okay, it was Alexe who skates singles.

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    While I agree that G&P were overscored at Canadians, I would disagree that they should have been behind the R&H or P&I. P&I were said to be very slow and given the amount of training time they've lost to injury this season, that's hardly surprising. Everyone who was there has commented on how much speed G&P had and that was evident, even on TV. And while I would agree that their FD is more a collection of tricks than an actual dance, I would remind you that the same could have been said about any number of World/Olympic Champions. This was a difficult and entertaining program. Yes it had some rough edges due to the newness of the team, and yes it was over-scored, but I believe the placement to be correct.

    To which I would add this disclaimer: I have known Paul Poirier since he was 9 years old and I am not the most unbiased poster when it comes to his skating.

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    Speaking of Canadian Ice Dance...

    I tried to read the All Things Canadian Ice Dance topic but got lost in the rhetoric. Anyway, here is one of Canada's past (maybe best looking couple!) ice dance teams that contributed to Canada's success in ice dance. This explains why Canada has such a strong tradition in ice dance champions:

    Barbara Berezowski and David Porter - 1975 Skate Canada FD

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UAgk...feature=relmfu

    The footage is old, but fun to watch.

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    Constable , Costume Police colleen o'neill's Avatar
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    Ladskater.. There's no escape....resistance is futile..you will be assimilated..

    Canada is at a very interesting juncture in regard to our ice dance coaching prospects . Can we , will we develop a first rate school ( or more than one ) of the calibre of say , Z/S or K/C ? We have a number of possibilities in L/R , W/L, D/L... and Islam ... ( that I can identify so far ) ... I'm in a wait-and-see mode with all four of these coaching schools. I have ties to none of them and have never been active in the skating world, so all I have to judge by is whatever I've been able to glean by observation, reading articles about the coaches , and by what their students show on the ice.

    With both W/L and D/L, I have the added benefit of having followed their competitive careers throughout the years, which gives me a bit of insight I don't have with the L/R , or Islam schools. With all four, the proof of whether or not they're developing into top-notch senior coaches will still reside in what their skaters show . And as always, there's going to be a certain amount of luck that can contribute to their success, or hamper it ... e.g. David Islam , however good he is as a coach, and much as he may have hoped for it , could never have forseen that he'd be able to pair a couple that are so physically compatible and posess such classic proportions that they already look just beautiful together before they even make a move... OTOH, at the moment , W/L have some very promising couples that are at the nail-biting stage , waiting to see if the girl will outgrow the boy..and so on.

    L/R : I'm certainly not writing off L/R , because for the first time since they became prominent nationally, in this past year they've shown some willingness to address the flaws their past course of training has produced . This is evident in the improvement in R/H. We have to wait and see how far reaching that change will be, in attitude and training ...( I want to stress that this is an entirely separate question from whether ,or to what degree Skate Canada shows them , or anyone else , special favour. ) ... They do seem to have a well developed PR machine , but that can be a detriment as much as an asset,( as others have noted ) if their teams don't deliver to the max... And again , I stress that I think their strengths lie in power, speed, edges, and occasionally some nice choreographic originality. ( lately branching out to Prs. choreo )

    In my mind , they're still in contention, but can no longer be considered front runners , by any means.
    At Canadians,they had 2 teams in the top 8 at Sr . , one team in the top 8 at Jr .

    W/L : ... Formed the goal of developing a good school on the west coast early in their careers. And seem to have been quietly working toward that goal for years , even while still competing. Having trained with Z/S , they were in a position to observe, first hand, all that goes into creating a school of that calibre. Northern Dancers points out the supporting education they've acquired, and I heard recently that Megan , in particular , was working on further developing her expertise in choreography ( already very adequate , at least up to Jr. level, and they've done some choreo in other disciplines)...Now, I don't know if that report is true , or not ... but it would seem to be consistent with the way she's approached her coaching career to date... ( I've also read rumours that Keith Gagnon will be joining their coaching staff. With his skill as an ice dancer and university degree in dance , I can only think he'd be an asset to their team. ) In 5 yrs, they've built a very successful school up to the Junior level , producing many promising couples.

    With Orford / Williams and Van as / Shindle set to enter their first full year at the senior level , this will be our chance to get some kind of an idea of how equipped W/L are to handle the transition. O/W form part of the closely marked trio at 4th, 5th, and 6th place at Canadians , and though they were 6th overall, there was less than a point between 4th and 6th, and O/W actually placed 5th in that portion.... And if H/G have in fact retired ( I think ?) VA/S have to be considered our 7th team.

    For O/W ,I think Thomas has shown a lot of general improvement in the last year , and I hope they'll be working him seriously over the summer, to more closely equal Nicole in line and finish...we'll see. I haven't seen as much of VA/S, and think they also show a lot of promise , but maybe are not quite so close to the time for critical decisions as O/W. If O/W stay with W/L for the next year , it might not be a bad idea to engage an already established international choreographer for at least one of their programs. Just as a precaution.

    I don't think this coaching team needs to take a back seat to any of the others in Canada, right now.
    W/L had 3 teams in the top 8 at Sr's and 3 teams in the top 8 at Jr's ( 2 in the medals )

    D/L : ..have been set up for full time coaching for a little less time ; their team includes Pascal Denis. (I wish a bit more information about their school made it's way out of Quebec... So if anyone knows anything more, please share.) They're already making some strides as choreographers, outside of the work they do for their students.. which is no surprise , since I believe they've contributed a good deal to their own choreography over the years. I don't think they had a senior team in contention for top 8 at Canadians ( please correct me if I'm wrong.) But that's easily balanced out by the fact that they're working with a Danish team and with Hurtado and Diaz, to name just those I know of. Being former world champions will help them to attract talent , which is a plus.
    I was favourably impressed with the work they did with the Hasegawas , and P/O.. and those teams make up D/L's 2 teams in the top 8 at Jr's.

    David Islam , Kelly Johnson , Tyler Myles
    ... I almost left them out of my figuring...Though I've heard the Islam name for years ...oddly, I seem to know least about this team. I think I must include them because they coach one of the most talented couples in Canada right now.. Paul and Islam. Of course this couple had the year from hell, and I hope to see them pull out of it. It all makes me a bit nervous, because there are not a lot of other Team Mariposa students visible right now to help inform my opinion..They had the Novice champions this year, and I think, a few other promising couples at that level... I was very attracted to the work Pavol Porac did for P/I in their Jr. year and their first Sr. year ( one of the very best Wangos IMO) He had a nice sort of sensitivity , I thought ... but he seems to work elsewhere, now ( same rink as Bryce Davison ?)..I don't know that story.

    I liked that Islam was sending P/I for outside choreography.. Haguenauer, D/L..all good..but David Wilson's program for them this year , while it had some lovely actual "dancing" , was such a weird choice of music and concept , I can't believe anyone would saddle them with it. It was going to be a hard sell even if they had been in top form ( at least until they dropped that "abusive" label )... It was bound to be compared, not to V/M this time , but to W/P.. Then they had the added burden of yes, well-made , but too , too sombre costumes right up until Canadians..( the first FD dress was absolutely wrong for her )

    I know the bind the team was in with her injury , and sympathise.. Which is worse, have them sit out and fade off the radar completely , or send her out when she's not 100 % recovered, and have them appear at a disadvantage ? Choosing how to make the best of a bad bargain is always a tough call. In the end, they only had to lose one spot at Canadians.. ( on paper ) and the one international event they had after she was a bit more recovered was 4CC where everyone struggled due to illness, altitude ,or a combination thereof ( including Mitch ) and only V/M and W/P got through with anything like a normal performance level... P/Iwere probably only expecting 5th or 6th anyway, and if they can come out strong and well prepared for their first GP, they'll be able to erase bad memories. ( Look what C/L did this year.)

    The worrisome thing is , I don't know what tack the team will take, now ( and I don't know what the team wants for the school ,aside from P/I)... If there's going to be too much running here and there, to pull all the components together, that seems counter productive, and there is the fact that they have no real peers at their club to train with. They're at a place, even in their young career together, where they don't have time to waste in experimentation. R/H and O/W will not be standing still,( neither will G/P ).. On the bright side , if they want to move them on , I think any top level coach would be only too happy to take on all that talent.
    Last edited by colleen o'neill; 04-21-2012 at 01:13 PM.

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    1. D/L never won worlds - two time silver medalists. I always thought the judges were gonna give them the title in 2007, but they had two iffy elements (twizzles in both the OD and FD) and DenStav skated lights out in each of those programs.

    2. My big worry about Islam and P/I is that they've had not one but two seasons marred by injuries. Islam's (dancer) prior partner (Lenko) retired due to injury - remember, Lenko/Islam were competing against Crone/Poirier at the junior level. Are they doing something wrong (in both cases, it was the female that was hurt). I like that Islam isn't totalitarian w/r/t choreography.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    It always worries me when the students in a school seem injury prone, especially at an early stage in their career.

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    Constable , Costume Police colleen o'neill's Avatar
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    I stand corrected about D/L 'Pogue , thanks. What was I thinking..? I knew that..A bit of wee hours wish fulfillment on their behalf ?..Anyway, I guess the point really is, their names alone should help them to attract students.. being world medalists ( I'm awake now. ) , and having had a much more prominent post-competitive career than , say W/L , should help them off to a good start.
    So I'll be really interested to see where they are in a 2 -3 more years with their students.

    With Team Mariposa .., if they've been primarily developmental coaches until now , are they planning to pass P/I along, or make them the couple that takes the school to a new level , as L/R arguably did ( or tried to do ) with C/P ?

    The injury question is a big one in my mind.. but I don't know enough about their former record to know if that's a broad concern , or if they just hit a run of bad luck...
    Last edited by colleen o'neill; 04-21-2012 at 01:17 PM.

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    My plan was to come back and mention Orford/Williams, and just for the record, they were fifth not sixth in the free dance at this year's Nationals, .36 ahead of Ralph/Hill, and .23 behind Paul/Islam. In case you all think I'm nit-picking, there was 1.98 points between fourth and sixth places. Unfortunately, the world team (with funding) is composed of the top five. Some might think Orford/Williams were predestined for sixth place because they were skating in the early session, and not shown on TV.

    I feel that Colleen has been far too generous in her assessment of the Canadian ice dance schools. We shouldn't flatter ourselves that any of our schools can, presently, bask in the glory of international success. Oddly we do have such a school in pairs, attracting pairs from all over the world. Just count the number of times you have seen Bruno Marcotte and Richard Gauthier in the K&C.

    This may happen, someday, in ice dance but, of course, it won't be because of the success of Virtue and Moir, or Weaver and Poje, because they left Canada to find success. Given the questionable judging at Nationals this year, (questioned by many,including myself), any of the the couples in fourth to sixth positions would be well justified in following the same path.

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Its because of the lighting. Same thing happens to me in my photo studio. So frustrating.

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    The blue is a much better colour on Nicole but the green is too yellow for her skin tones. Looking at her other costumes, the girl needs a new dressmaker. Whoever said she is a beautiful girl with a gorgeous figure. It should be a piece of cake to dress her. Instead she gets a mother of the bride dress in blue chiffon, a blue satin dress that looks like it came out of that "No dress over $19.99!" store on Yonge Street, and whatever that is she's wearing in the SD this season. These certainly aren't the worst costumes I've ever seen (every time I remember some of those outfits worn by A&P over the years, I'm tempted to poke out my mind's eye with a sharp stick), but she's a beautiful girl with lovely lines who could do a lot better.

    And you could say something very similar about Kharis Ralph too, although her tango dress was quite nice. Kharis is curvy. I know they were going for the look of the recent Disney musical production of Cinderella, but her dress for the waltz SD made her look matronly, and this season's dress is too pale. One would think that some knowledge of which colours work best with what skin tones would be a basic requirement in a dressmaker.

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    Ok.. So I'm back from the sidelines and the world of lurkers to the land of the connected with real keyboards! (Never quite mastered typing on a mobile device or tablet.) What a crazy Fall! Where do we begin? Certainly ice dance is very much alive and well in Canada. So much depth!

    First the Seniors:

    V/M: There are simply no words to describe this incredible, once in a life-time team. Wherever they end up this year, they have pushed the sport further technically and artistically. It is such a joy to watch them! I really hope I can find my way to Mississauga for Canadians, and maybe even London for Worlds just to see them. I'm sure both events will be magical, since there is nothing like seeing this team skate live.

    W/P: I'm so happy they are looking at their programs and adding more substance in the middle of the FD. I personally feel they should have made the GPF, in place of I/K. (That FD is so awful, I cannot begin to understand why they are receiving the marks they have been receiving. And when compared to V/M and even C/L, the program looks even poorer....bad quality pretending instead of genuine emotional connection. I/K could have done so much more with the same movie. It could have been hot and passionate and emotional with quality skating. They could pull that off. But instead we have a completely garbage program that does not deserve it's current rank. Badly conceived, badly designed, and badly executed.)

    I get lost with who might finish in 3rd spot. I think the battle for 3rd is between G/P and P/I. With P/I looking more like their old selves and training in Detroit with so many other teams to push them, and G/P still having a ways to go in developing their skating skills together and the quality of what they are executing, if both teams skate to their current potential, it's quite possible P/I will get the nod this year for that 3rd spot to Worlds. I would love to see P/I get a chance at 4CC and Worlds in a fully healthy state, physically and competitively. What they showed us at the beginning of the season was very promising.

    So that takes care of the top 4 spots.....and only 1 spot left for the National team. I think it will be a tight battle between R/H, O/W, and P/O. R/H have just horrible programs this year. It is so disappointing, and I'm surprised no one at Skate Canada has said something to them and their coaches about better choices. Is there no monitoring? The SD wasn't too bad, but the FD is just awful. After such a good year last year, this is particularly disappointing. I think they are in real danger of losing their spot. That being said, I haven't been too impressed with O/W this season either. They have had pretty mediocre scores internationally. There are likely a number of juniors in Canada who will score higher points than they did. 49ish and 51ish points is not a ringing endorsement in the SD. I don't like the FD that terribly much. It's not awful. It's just not lovely or memorable. Someone up-thread mentioned that she's dressed in a "look at me" so the eyes stay on her. I'm thinking that's probably on purpose. There was a time when as long as the girl was lovely, the team was good. In COP, both members of the team must be good. W has made some improvements, but he just doesn't know how to finish his lines, interpret music, hold his posture. It really looks like he is executing planned choreography instead of feeling the nuances of the music and the program, or truly interacting with her. P/O have made some very good progress this year. They are really very lovely. They have chemistry and musicality in spades, and some nice programs. They both really dance. I don't think they are good enough yet for 3rd or 4th, but they can certainly sneak to that 5th spot depending on how things transpire in competition. O/W and R/H both have more speed, but P/O have them both beat on skating skills, gorgeous lines, posture, connection, etc.

    As for the rest of the Senior crew, I hope we see V/S again at Nationals. Are they injured? I've heard almost nothing about them, and ice-dance.com indicates they won't be at Challenge. They were making solid improvements last year. It will be interesting to see the debut of P/S, who have had to prepare both Junior and Senior programs.



    And about the Juniors:

    Wow! There are now 22 teams or so at Challenge, and only 15 going to Nationals. By my assessment, there are between 10 and 12 strong teams that could finish in a variety of different orders. I can't call this event. It's not possible. There is some tremendous talent in Junior. I very much disagree with ice-dance.com's assessment that the teams that went to the JGP are automatically better than some of these other teams. The reality is that there is way too much depth and not nearly enough spots to really figure out internationally how the Canadian juniors really rank. My sincere and absolute hope (I know I'm probably dreaming in an alternate universe on this but....) is that the technical specialists do a fantastic job of consistently and accurately calling elements, and the judges are able to set aside reputation, bias, age, who the coach is, etc and just judge what they see in a consistent way. And then let the results fall where they should. No low-balling PCS because it's a new team, old team that didn't do well last year, or didn't go to the JGP. Follow the rule-book/COP guidelines. There is more in there than just skating fast! (Hint....line, edge quality, unison, musicality, stability, etc.) This is not only in the best interests of all the competitors, but also for Skate Canada. And it's makes for a great audience event. I'm going to have to splurge on a SkateBuzz fee (really annoyed by this....they should be finding sponsors to cover their costs!! part of my overall gripe with Skate Canada for having no vision or leadership in building funding and sponsors). I'm really looking forward to watching this event most of all at Challenge. (Except for maybe seeing Eman back in competition. Will he really show up? Perhaps he is older, wiser, and more mentally right for competition?)

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