Challenge Cup 2024 recap » Scoreography Podcast » Pictured skater: Yuna Aoki from Japan

Challenge Cup 2024 Recap

We recap Challenge Cup 2024 in Tilburg, Netherlands, including remarkable skates from Yuna Aoki, an expected win from Kaori Sakamoto, and somewhat surprising golds for Conti & Macii and Mikhail Shaidorov. We also touch on Tallink Hotels Cup in Estonia, Korea’s Winter Sports Festival, and the announcement of Canada’s Worlds team.
February 26, 2024

Recap of Challenge Cup 2024, plus Tallink Hotels Cup, Korean Winter National Sports Festival, and the Canadian Worlds Team Announcement

In this week’s episode, we’re breaking down one of the last senior competitions leading into the 2024 World Championships — the 2024 Challenge Cup in Tilburg, Netherlands. While this was not a huge competition, there were several noteworthy entrants that made this competition one to notice — especially in the women’s division where Kaori Sakamoto nearly lost to fellow Japanese skater, Yuna Aoki.

Women’s Competition

Yuna Aoki came to Tilburg and showed audiences that she absolutely should be considered amongst the best and brightest skaters in Japan, with two almost-flawless programs. Her short program, which she choreographed herself, included a spectacular triple lutz + triple loop combination that she repeated beautifully in the free skate. With a 209.37 total score, she landed only 3 points behind World Champion, Kaori Sakamoto — who had a few errors in both programs. 

In third, France’s Lorine Schild continued to perform well and likely ended her season here with a bronze medal. In fourth, Ekaterina Kurakova did well, but still seems to be lacking what judges are looking for from her in the PCS scores. We’re hoping her team can determine what may be causing these marks soon to help Kurakova get back into the mix.

Pairs Competition

Here we saw a competition within a competition between arguably the two top Italian teams — Conti & Macii and Beccari & Guarise. After a tough season so far, Conti & Macii came here looking stronger and more organized than we’ve seen in a while. While still committing a few errors, they were able to take the gold definitively and possibly lock in their placement at the World Championships — though Italy has not yet named them to the team.

Beccari & Guarise had a solid short program, but had some issues in their free skate that left them settling for silver. In bronze position, it was nice to see Kovalev & Kovalev of France come back after a terrible Europeans to earn a podium spot. 

Men’s Competition

Mikhail Shaidorov continued his strong season here with a clean free skate and a gold medal. His programs, while still needing a lot of work in terms of components, are strong and working well for this young skater leading into Worlds.

In the silver spot, Japan’s Tatsuya Tsuboi earned his highest international score to date and set himself up well going into next season as part of the deep Japanese men’s field. Coming in for bronze, Kazuki Tomono — who may have been considered the favorite ahead of the event — had some messy skates that left him farther back than he’d hoped. We’ve loved seeing the evolution of Tomono’s style this season, and are hoping to see more consistency from his jumps in the future,

Ice Dance Competition

As could have been predicted after Europeans, Demougeot & Le Mercier of France came and handily won the gold with two excellent skates. This is a team on the rise, and absolutely one to watch — especially going towards the 2030 Olympics.

In silver, it was a treat to see the continued progress of Spain’s Olivia Smart & Tim Dieck. They’ve been fun to watch grow all season, and here we saw their most solid twizzles yet. In bronze, Canadians Fabbri & Ayer skated beautifully and continued to make their case to be perceived as one of Canada’s top teams. We’re hoping to see more growth and new material from them next year that pushes them towards that goal.

Chapters

0:00 — Intro
2:11 — Women’s Competition
2:29 — Yuna Aoki
6:01 — Kaori Sakamoto
7:45 — Lorine Schild
8:52 — Ekaterina Kurakova
12:20 — Niina Petrokina
13:27 — Pairs Competition
13:46 — Conti & Mac
15:42 — Beccari and Guarise
16:17 — Kovalev and Kovalev
16:36 — Martins & Bedard
17:23 — Men’s Competition
17:30 — Mikhail Shaidorov
18:10 — Tatsuya Tsuboi
18:39 — Kazuki Tomono
20:37 — Ice Dance Competion
20:44 — Demougeot and Le Mercier
21:45 — Smart & Dieck
23:10 — Fabbri & Ayer
25:11 — Tallink Hotels Cup in Estonia
25:32 — Kao Miura
26:58 — Hana Yoshida
27:14 — Rion Sumioshi
28:25 — Korean Winter National Sports Festival
28:51 — Chaeyeon Kim
30:00 — Canadian Worlds Team Announcement
33:37 — Q&A Response
34:41 — Gold in our Hearts
35:37 — Wrap-Up

Scoreography — A Figure Skating Podcast hosted by Wendy Buske and Adron Buske

Scoreography Podcast

Scoreography is a show about the art, athleticism, culture, and entertainment of Figure Skating. We discuss current competitions, the sports history and legacy, up-and-coming skaters and absolute legends, and the action outside of the rink. 

Whether you’re new to the sport’s fandom, a once-in-awhile watcher, or a seasoned skating veteran, you’ll find something to enjoy in our program. 

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