Hello from Hoffman Estates, Illinois! I can't believe this is the 10th anniversary of my first Skate America. That was an unforgettable event in Pittsburgh where I had the unfortunate experience of seeing Tatiana Totmianina's horrific fall. There were lots of great memories, too, like watching Alissa Czisny have a wonderful Grand Prix debut. But enough reminiscing - let's talk about this year's event!
I love being at the arena for the very first practice of the competition. The morning started with the men, and the first group had two of the big contenders, Tatsuki Machida and Denis Ten. I hadn't seen either of their long programs yet this season, and I was super impressed by both. Great attention to detail in the choreography and wonderful musicality. They really showed they were in a different class.
The American men were in the second group, and I was so excited to see Jeremy Abbott do a partial run-through of his Adagio long program. It's one of my favorite pieces of music, and I knew he would do it justice. Check out the three sections of his run-through: Part I, Part II, and Part III.
Jason Brown did a full run-through of his long program and was rock solid with only one fall on a Lutz. See a portion of his run-through here. He had really good speed, and I loved the way the program built all the way to the end. The music is very powerful.
The ice dancers were up next, and I was struck by the height of Stepanova and Bukin. They looked eight feet tall next to the other couples. They have such gorgeous lines, and I loved their twizzles where they did one set very low to the ice. I can see this team being the next Russian powerhouse.
The last group featured the three American teams. I love Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus' Danse Macabre free dance. Its my favorite free dance of theirs. They looked fast and smooth. Alex and Maia Shibutani looked ready to fight for the top spot with their Paso Doble run-through. Very intense. Also on top of their game were Madison Chock and Evan Bates. They gave so much personality to their An American in Paris free dance and were flying across the ice.
Here's the link to all my photos from Thursday's men's and dance practices: THURSDAY PHOTOS