On the ice of the GPF
For those people that do not know about the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final (GPF), which would be quite a large number of people, it is an ice skating competition that kicks off each skating season of events and is also considered one of the most important ice skating competitions, the other being Worlds. The Grand Prix lasts from late October to early December; this year the Grand Prix Final ended on the 11th of December with the Gala exhibition. This year the final was held in Marseille, France. The Grand Prix Final has four disciplines, Men’s figure skating, Women’s figure skating, Pairs’ figure skating and Ice Dancing. Each of the events has six competitors and two parts, Short Program(SP)/Short Dance(SD) and Free Skate(FS)/Free Dance(FD). The six participants are selected in six smaller competitions that, including the GPF, make up the Grand Prix. In Skate America, Skate Canada International, Cup of China, Trophée de France, Cup of Russia or also known as the Rostelecom Cup, and NHK Trophy, over 100 skaters and dancers fought for one of the six spots in their category. Each skater or pair with any hope of winning enough point to secure themselves a spot at the Grand Prix Final will need to have their country invite them or be seeded in last year’s Grand Prix and be either in the top two-thirds of the previous season’s World’s or, if they are new to the senior circuit, pass a minimum set by the event.
All the ice skating events are judged by a performance score (anything not included in the technical score i.e Performance/Execution, Choreography, Interpretation and so forth) and a technical score (the elements that are performed and the grade of execution). The two programs, SP and FS, each have a set of rules that are also taken into accounting when scoring.
This year for Men’s Yuzuru Hanyu (Olympic champion and three-time GPF winner) and Javier Fernández (two-time world winner, two-time GPF silver) both, as all predicted, qualified. Patric Chan (three-time world winner), Adam Rippon (U.S. national champion), Shoma Uno (last year’s bronze) and Nathan Chen holding the other four spots.
The winners of the men’s figure skating event were not who most expected, Yuzuru taking the gold medal was the only thing that went as most had predicted. Yuzuru won gold with a total score of 293.90, winning the GPF gold four years in a row, Nathan Chen, in his first senior season, went from 5th after his short program to beating Yuzuru by over 10 points in the free stake, leaving as commuters like to say leaving no points left on the table, finishing with a total of 282.85 and a silver medal. Shoma Uno went from 4th in the SP to 2nd in the FS and brought Japan back a bronze along with Yuzuru’s silver with his total of 282.51. Finding himself in in fourth overall with his score of 268.77 after his 3rd in the SP and 4th in the FS is Javier Fernández who was expected to win silver or gold this year. Patrick Chan was thought to have easily placed in the top three was 5th with 266.75 points, after a not so stellar Free Stake. Rounding the six out is Adam Rippon in 6th with 233.10 total points.
In the Women’s event Evgenia Medvedeva (last year’s winner) won gold again with a total point value of 227.66. Satoko Miyahara took second with a total of 218.33 and Anna Pogorilaya made third with 216.47 points. Kaetlyn Osmond held 4th place with a 212.45 point total. In fifth was Maria Sotskova having a total of 198.79 and Elena Radionova, taking 6th with a total of 188.81 points.
On the podium this year all the winners in the single skates, other than Yuzuru Hanyu (21), are under 20. Nathan Chen and Evgenia Medvedeva are both 17 with this being Chen’s first senior season, Shoma Uno is 18 along with Satoko Miyahara and Anna Pogorilaya. Japan and the United States of America tied in having the most people in the men’s with Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno and U.S.A’s Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon. Russian easily had the most in women with their four competitors, all under 20, Evgenia Medvedeva, Anna Pogorilaya, Maria Sotskova and Elena Radionova. Adam Rippon was the only men’s competitor known for having no quadruple jumps, spinning four times during one jump, in his program and this year he added one. Yuzuru Hanyu became the first person to win Grand Prix Final Gold four times in consecutive years. All this and more happened from December 8th to 11th, you can find videos of the Short Programs and Free Skates here or on Youtube.