Skate Canada Autumn Classic & Lombardia Trophy Review: Ladies

It’s a quiet Saturday and I don’t have much to do, so of course I’m watching figure skating. I’m going to give some hot takes on the ladies at Autumn Classic International and Lombardia Trophy in one post, since both events happened at the same time.

First of all, I’m so annoyed that there were no pairs at either event. It just makes zero sense to me. Maybe Powers That Be know something I don’t, but from an outsider’s perspective, I don’t like it. New pairs can’t thrive if there aren’t any competitions for them to try!

Anyways, since there weren’t any pairs to talk about, I had more time to watch the ladies’ programs at both events, so here are my thoughts.

Before I jump in about Autumn Classic, I need to address a little controversy that’s been floating around the skating world. Until recently, I wasn’t even aware that cultural appropriation existed, but I learned quickly when Rika Kihira and Evgenia Medvedeva announced their programs. First of all, I think you have to be very careful when you choose to skate a program from another culture, because it can seem offensive if you don’t do it right. But if you can manage to skate your program in a respectful way, I don’t see anything wrong with it. I’m not crazy about Evgenia skating to “Memoirs of a Geisha” – the program isn’t bad in my opinion, but the film itself is very controversial. I’m not personally offended by the choreography, but that doesn’t mean other people don’t have the right to their opinions.

I enjoyed Rika Kihira’s performances; she looked sharp, fresh, and ready to slay another season. I’m not sure about the programs yet, but I think they might grow on me as the season goes on. Also, I really love both her costumes; they carry a regal air of confidence.

I love Evgenia Medvedeva’s short program! She really seems to feel the music, and her movements are so graceful and lovely. She looks very comfortable with the choreography; there’s a pleasant ease to it. Her bird-wing unitard is fabulous – I couldn’t imagine designing something so iconic. The free skate could be good, but I still want to see it develop a little. The kimono looks expensive and probably took a lot of time to make, but I frankly just find all the decorations on the bodice too distracting. I do really love her lipstick though.

Eunsoo Lim looks like an angel, but she’s made of steel. She just left Rafael Arutunian’s camp after all the drama at Worlds and showed up like a total boss here. Of all the Korean girls, she is definitely my favorite. Her jumps aren’t the most solid, but she got them done here, and her class and elegance makes up for it in spades. Also, I need to marry her so I can borrow her stunning SP dress. And can I have her skincare secrets pronto?

It feels like it’s been 80 years since I saw Karen Chen, but it was well worth the wait! I really enjoy watching her because there’s a great balance between the classic American ladies’ figure skater look (think back to the almighty Kristi Yamaguchi) and a modern, artistic approach to skating. She’s refreshing and I hope to see her programs keep growing as the season goes on, because I love what I’m seeing.

Forget jumps for a minute. Mae Berenice Meite is a queen and we don’t deserve her. I’m so excited about her programs; they just exude sass, flair, and sizzle. I just love her so much.

Now on to Lombardia Trophy.

Anna Shcherbakova is my favorite of Eteri Tutberidze’s new trio of ladies, and she didn’t disappoint! I agree with the people saying her SP is too heavy for her; she’s a young, bright, beautiful girl and they’re dressing her up like a grieving widow. The free skate is much more suitable and plays to her strengths. I’m not into skaters doing mid-program dress changes, but this one is not disruptive to the program. Also, her movements and flexibility remind me of Yulia Lipnitskaya, which stirs up fond memories. However, I’m worried about how long her jumping technique will work for her.

I didn’t expect Elizaveta Tuktamysheva to look quite this good at the beginning of the year, but she didn’t come to play. As for thoughts on the short program…the dress is gorgeous, she looks like a Slytherin queen. But you can’t just put random steps to a piece of music. I really hope she switches to a new SP where the music, you know, actually goes with the choreo. However, I really enjoyed her free skate. She has this stylish vintage flapper vibe, and it works for her. I still hope that by some miracle she will end up on the World team this year, because I admire her determination and love for the sport.

I had no idea Young You was trying a triple Axel, and I was even more surprised that she landed it so well. I remember seeing her win nationals as a tiny baby years ago, but I was still shocked to see her all grown up and ready to go.

Yelim Kim is a beautiful skater and there’s nothing more I need to say.

I was really impressed by Starr Andrews. The short program was solid and the free skate was fairly clean. I think this is a good step forward for her. The US has only two spots for Worlds, but she could be a dark horse. I’m just putting it out there.

I fell in love with Sofia Samodurova last year, and now she’s breaking my heart. I thought she was terribly underscored in both programs. I liked last year’s programs a little better than these, but I enjoy watching her so much. She has a special spark on the ice and I really want to see her keep skating for a few more years. The thing I hate most about Russian and Japanese ladies’ skating is becoming a fan of a brilliantly talented girl, then watching her miss the team to Europeans and Worlds because there are 10 other girls in contention for three spots. I hope Sofia can hang in there, because she’s such a star.

It was a rough event for Wakaba Higuchi, there’s no denying it. But her programs are the best programs I’ve seen so far. She has such unique, powerful musicality. I know when people say “musicality”, they’re usually referring to soft, elegant skaters like Satoko Miyahara. But Wakaba relates so well to her music and channels power through every movement. So I hope she can pick herself up and improve at her next competition!

Also, I didn’t think I was going to comment on the men’s skating, but I saw a lot of discourse on Twitter about it. So yes, I think Yuzuru was lowballed in PCS, which is unfair because he’s gotten much higher marks for these same programs last season. On the other hand, Kevin Aymoz’s PCS were completely fair and the people hating on him need to shut up, because he’s a good skater and he has no control over the judges’ scores. Thank u, next.

So that’s about all for now. I’m planning to do mini reviews of all the Challenger events every weekend, but now I remember how hard it is writing these blog posts! I will try to keep up with the skating world as much as I can and hopefully make a few more posts before the Grand Prix starts up. Next weekend, I’ll be taking a look at Ondrej Nepela Trophy and U.S. Classic. Until then, happy skating, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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