Skate Canada 2023 Recap & Commentary
Week two of the ISU Grand Prize Series was an exciting one at Skate Canada 2023 in Vancouver, B.C. — and slightly easier to watch in the United States than Skate America since replay was available on Peacock… for one day. <sigh>
In this episode, we dig into who topped the competition, how badly some of the men are men-ing this season so far, the questionable judging in some disciplines in Vancouver, and — most importantly — WHY WE STAN DEANNA STELLATO-DUDEK!
The marquee moment of Skate Canada 2023 has to be the free program from Deanna Stellato-Dudek & Maxime Deschamps that scored a phenomenal 142.39 (which is higher than the free program score Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara got 2023 Worlds where they won!)
This vampire-themed program could not look better on them, and seeing how conditioned and solid they look this early in the season solidifies them as not just World podium favorites, but in the running for the World title! You love to see it!
The podium was rounded out by Maria Pavlova & Alexei Sviatchenko of Hungary with a solid showing, and the relatively new pairing of Lucrezia Beccari & Matteo Guarise of Italy.
Queen Kaori Sakamoto came to Canada on a mission and absolutely completed it. Unlike the shaky start she had last season, Kaori skated two gorgeous programs at Skate Canada and showed the fight and professionalism we’ve come to appreciate from her so much.
A resounding victory was well earned amongst a very strong field, which saw particularly impressive showings from both Korea’s Chae-yeon Kim and unexpected replacement for the competition, Rino Matsuike of Japan—who may have given the most genuine and joyful skates of anyone at Skate Canada—to earn bronze.
Maddie Schizas from Canada also gets a special “WOW!” for her redemptive free program that moved her up to fourth place overall and absolutely brought down the house. Also, a big and impressive showing from Lindsay Thorngren needs to be appreciated! Such growth, confidence, and poise in both of her programs — so very exciting to see!
Ice Dance Competition
We got to see the grand debut of Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier — who perhaps solidified their status as co-favorites for the World Title this season with two sumptuous programs that bring all the drama we’ve come to expect from this team… though less “camp” than expected in the Rhythm Dance than we would have expected.
They faced the fan-favorite disco Brits, Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson, who brought their ever-evolving “Rocky” program to Vancouver and came up big for silver. In third, a beautiful and unique free program from Allison Reed & Saulius Ambrulevicius brought the first Grand Prix medal to their home country of Lithuania in over a decade.
There was also a “competition within a competition” happening between three American teams — Oona Brown & Gage Brown, Emilia Zingas & Vadym Kolesnik, and Eva Pate & Logan Bye — who landed 4th, 5th, and 6th.
With such deep American field of ice dance teams, these three teams are all in the hunt for one of the two World spots that will be open with Chock & Bates having one on lock. The Browns took this round by a smidge, but it’s a long season… it’ll be interesting!
The men did so much “men-ing” in this competition, it’s difficult to sort out (and special thanks to Jackie Wong at Rocker Skating for bringing this phrase to prominence on social media because it could not be more on point!)
On the bright side, we saw two solid programs from Japan’s Sota Yamamoto — who had a fantastic short program and stayed clean enough in the long program to secure a victory.
After a disappointing short program from another great Japanese skater, Kao Miura, he came back with an almost clean and quite powerful free skate that moved him up to take silver.
In bronze, after a messy but very choreographically exciting short program, Matteo Rizzo came back with a mostly clean free program that moved him up from 8th up to bronze.
Worth noting as well was the long program performance from Mikhail Shaidorov of Kazakhstan, which may have been the cleanest of the night… and, in our opinion, definitely deserved higher marks from the judges.
Now for the not so good parts. Korean superstar, JunHwan Cha, should have been a lock for a medal at this competition. Sadly, nothing went right in his long program after a hard fall on his usually flawless quad salchow and he dropped to 9th overall. As the reigning World silver medalist and one of the best skaters going right now, this was painful to watch. He’s had a rough early season after a coaching change… and has left us hoping he’ll regroup soon.
Also, after a flawed by glorious short program from Japan’s Kazuki Tomono, his free skate never quite solidified and dropped him just out of the medals. With the incredibly deep field of Japanese men all vying for three World spots, this was a tough one to see since every competition matters leading into Japanese nationals.