Subscribers to TFTI’s Weekly Protocol, and those who follow Twitter closely, will have heard by now many an opinion on certain of this season’s programs. But with this and with the diminution of the middle ranks particularly in dance since last season, it’s also difficult to present any “favorite programs of 2016” list that offers much in the way of fresh discoveries for the readership.
For Two for the Ice, where 2015 was a year of great promise in the North American disciplines at senior, 2016 has been more sober. There are good teams doing good work, but fewer, overall — a quick glance at the national championship rosters in fact suggests that pairs is seeing a relatively bigger surge than dance, though time will better indicate which couples will gel and last.
So rather than rehash existing endorsements of, for example, a free program from Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier or a return inclusion of three of last year’s five dance finalists, let’s instead take a moment to revisit the teams who left the scene in 2016. In many cases, links go to a best performance of a best-liked program of those available; in a few cases for those teams of longer tenure, some commentary explaining a choice. While it’s bittersweet to explore what’s been and is no more, we can also enjoy the lasting legacy of video — and, for some skaters, look ahead to or continue following a new partnership, or a skating-related career post-competition, whether coaching the next promising generation or hitting the professional circuit.
Exits, Splits and New Unions: A Non-Exhaustive Review
Note: While some significant junior changes also occurred this year, TFTI has only logged changes in the senior fields given the fairly typical volatility within the lower ranks.
Alexandra Paul and Mitch Islam (CAN, dance)
Not a definitive program or skate to single out from a substantial body of work — but a piece that’s worth acknowledging for the unmet promise it held, particularly for a team usually given to exceptional Nationals short dance performances.
Andréanne Poulin and Marc-Andre Servant (CAN, dance)
Their most sophisticated material, including a final two Shae Zukiwsky free dances, came with a little more senior seasoning. But it’s tough not to enjoy the creativity of this modern take on the Yankee Polka, especially given the seamlessness of its transitions between dance rhythms.
Madeline Aaron and Max Settlage (USA, pairs)
Aaron and Settlage’s ballet orientation was never used to better effect than in this Coppelia short — perhaps in its best outing at their senior Grand Prix debut.
Alexandra Aldridge and Matthew Blackmer (USA, dance)
Mackenzie Bent and Dmitre Razgulajevs (CAN, dance)
Lauren Collins and Shane Firus (CAN, dance)
Catherine Daigle-Roy and Dominic Barthe (CAN, dance)
Brianna Delmaestro and Timothy Lum (CAN, dance)
Their 2014-15 junior free dance offered up one of the most committed Charlestons to hit the ice dance stage.
Gretchen Donlan and Nate Bartholomay (USA, pairs)
Madeline Edwards and ZhaoKai Pang (CAN, dance)
Plenty of enjoyable skates with this team, but the choice here was easy: the free dance that netted them 2014’s World Junior bronze.
Vanessa Grenier and Maxime Deschamps (CAN, pairs)
Though sometimes technically inconsistent, the pair could also be relied upon for some charming programs, including this short from their first senior season.
Elisabeth Paradis and François-Xavier Ouellette (CAN, dance)
Choreographically, it’s easy to see the groundwork for the team’s later, more widely seen free dances. But they fared well with this take on two lesser-used selections from Pink Floyd at their first senior Nationals in 2013 (footage of which seems unfortunately to be unavailable today).
Shalena Rau and Sebastian Arcieri (CAN, pairs)
Carolane Soucisse and Simon Tanguay (CAN, dance)
Something a bit different from the lyrical style that characterized the team’s senior material.
Aya Takai and Dominic Barthe (CAN, dance)
And in preparation for the start of the new year — and second half of this season — a quick review of those teams to rise from the ashes of departures past:
Sarah Arnold and Thomas Williams (CAN, dance)
Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc (USA, pairs)
Vanessa Chartrand and Alexander Seidel (CAN, dance)
Angelina Ekaterinina and Sebastian Arcieri (CAN, pairs)
Sydney Kolodziej and Maxime Deschamps (CAN, pairs)
Camille Ruest and Drew Wolfe (CAN, pairs)
Mira Samoisette and Dominic Barthe (CAN, dance)
Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus (CAN, dance)
Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Nate Bartholomay (USA, pairs)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated January 6 to more accurately reflect status on one split team.