Our favorite performances in icenetwork era, and mine is...(see below)

Our favorite performances in icenetwork era, and mine is...(see below)

We've seen some incredible skating over the last 11 years. We asked our writers tell us what their favorite performances were since the launch of icenetwork in 2007.

(To me, this meant a performance I had seen live and in person. And my choice was easy.)

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Wait for It: Stars on Ice shines brighter as show goes on, leaving you wanting more

Wait for It:  Stars on Ice shines brighter as show goes on, leaving you wanting more

The first half of Sunday’s Stars on Ice show at Allstate Arena in suburban Chicago felt like an interminable rock concert with skating as an incidental accompaniment to music blared at twice the necessary volume.

The decibels didn’t drop much in the second half.  But, despite a difficult two days of travel, the skaters amped themselves up after intermission with programs richer in choreography and polish.  Those performances thankfully dampened the music, putting the skaters at the center of the icy stage and allowing the visual to take the expected precedence over the aural.

By the penultimate star turn, with new world champion Nathan Chen doing “Nemesis,” his competitive short program this season, this was a show that clearly understood the maxim to always leave the audience wanting more.   As Stars finished with the entire cast - 13 U.S. Olympians - combining on “You Will Be Found” from “Dear Evan Hansen,” the two hours of entertainment had become more and more compelling.

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With time on her side, Alina Zagitova, a young woman vibrant in red, catches' judges fancy

With time on her side, Alina Zagitova, a young woman vibrant in red, catches' judges fancy

As the Olympic figure skating season moves into the national championship phase, a few more observations about the Grand Prix season and Grand Prix Final:

1.  All you Alina Zagitova detractors (that includes you, CBC) aren’t going to like this: the new Grand Prix Final winner, age 15, looks better every time I see her.

Part of it owes to the costuming and free skate program pattern that emphasize her strengths, which are jumps.

The vibrant red in the tutu-qua-dress and long gloves Zagitova wears grabs the eye, says she is portraying a ballerina and limns her movement so beautifully it is easy to forget she does no jumps in the first half of the four-minute free skate to the Russian ballet classic, “Don Quixote.”  And while I hope the rules are changed to eliminate such 100 percent back loading, who can fault her coaches for taking advantage of the point bonus that comes with those jumps?

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Still no room at the top for U.S. singles skaters

Still no room at the top for U.S. singles skaters

I left for a long-planned vacation in New Zealand just as the figure skating Grand Prix was starting.

By the time I returned, two weeks later than planned, the season was mostly over, and I had other immediate priorities than trying to catch up.

Now that I have had the chance to take a closer look in time for this week’s Grand Prix Finals – junior and senior - in Marseille, France, it’s plain that most of what happened was pretty predictable – and that I didn’t miss much.

*Led by Evgenia Medvedeva, the wondrous reigning world champion who just turned 17 but has added an air of maturity to her soulful expressiveness, Russians are dominating women’s skating more than ever, producing four of the six senior GPF qualifiers for the second time in three years and the top three spots in this season’s standings.  More tellingly, there have been six different Russian women in those two sets of four.

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Stunning at nationals: both the Shibutanis' free dance and judges' decision are electrifying

Stunning at nationals: both the Shibutanis' free dance and judges' decision are electrifying

ST. PAUL, Minn.  – It was hard to know which was the more stunning part of Saturday afternoon’s the ice dance final at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

The electric brilliance with which Maia and Alex Shibutani, the @ShibSibs, performed their free skate to Coldplay’s “Fix You?”

Or the judges doing the right thing, rare in ice dance, with scores that made the Shibutanis champions ahead of designated darlings Madison Chock and Evan Bates, the defending champions and reigning world silver medalists?

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