Everything you need to know about 2019/20 figure skating season

From Yuzuru Hanyu to Nathan Chen to Alina Zagitova and the quad-jumping debutants, your guide ahead of the new figure skating season

8 min By Sanjeev Palar and ZK Goh
Japan figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu

Fire on ice!

That's what we can look forward to when the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating kicks off in October.

Olympic champions, world champions, and continental champions are all set to star in the 2019/20 season with the likes of Yuzuru Hanyu, Nathan Chen, Rika Kihira and many more gearing up to dazzle us with their brand new routines.

While Hanyu and Chen are expected to pick up from their where they left off last season, battling for male supremacy on the rink, the ladies field could be in for a complete shake up with the arrival of the newly promoted quad-jumping juniors who make their senior debut.

Here's what you need to know ahead of the upcoming figure skating season.

Four turns that could turn the tables

Reigning Olympic and world champion Alina Zagitova has won virtually every major figure skating title on offer. But this season, she will be up against a brand new challenge - the newly promoted quad-jumpers from the junior ranks.

The Russian finished her season on a high, by winning her maiden world title in Saitama, Japan. That made up for the runners-up result at the European championships, where she was outscored by compatriot Sofia Samadurova.

When Zagitova won Olympic gold at PyeongChang, there was a lot of buzz surrounding her "heavy-loading" of the second half of her program, where she essentially performed all her jumps towards the end of her routine when they are scored higher.

Although the rules have since changed to prevent this from reoccurring, this season she will have to contend against skaters with a different jumping strategy - landing a quadruple jump.

The quad generation

Last season, skaters in the Junior Grand Prix circuit pushed the boundaries in Ladies' skating by successfully landing quadruple jumps.

Quads have been a regular feature in the men's category of late, and has only just started to make its way into the ladies events, starting with the girls in the junior series.

Russian teenager Alexandra Trusova became the first female skater to land a quadruple Lutz in international competition. Last season the 15-year-old had three quadruple jumps in her arsenal - quad toe loop, quad Salchow, and quad Lutz - and used them to defend her World Junior Championship crown, becoming the first female in history to land two quads in one program.

But she's not alone, compatriot Anna Shcherbakova can also land a quadruple Lutz together with a triple loop – a notoriously difficult jumping combination. The 15-year-old finished behind Trusova in the World Junior Championships.

There's also Alena Kostornaia, who is mastering the triple Axel, the hardest type of the triple jumps. Despite not jumping a quad, she managed to edge out Trusova to win the Junior Grand Prix Final title.

All three will make their senior debut, bringing with them their fantastic jumping repertoires. All three are also coached by Eteri Tutberidze, who led Zagitova to Olympic glory, so the reigning world champion will have a good idea of what's coming her way. Will we see her add a quad jump to her routine to fend off the debutantes?

Time for Medvedeva to shine

It's been over a year since Tutberidze's former golden girl, PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva, swapped coaches with a move to Canada to join Brian Orser.

She underwent a season of rebuilding under her new coaching team, suffering some of the poorest results in her career, but ended the season on a positive note, finishing third at the World Championships.

As Orser shared with Olympic Channel back in December last year, "it takes a year and a half to two years for everything to start to gel.”

So this season will be crucial to see if the 19-year-old can continue to make progress as she aims to get back to the top form that saw her win back-to-back World Championship titles.

Medvedeva, who has been appointed as an ambassador for Team Russia at next year's Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, told us that she's also working on adding quads to her routine but "it's not really so easy to do those quad jumps and it takes really a lot of time and power."

Nonetheless, she seems pretty optimistic about her current form.

"I'm pretty sure that this upcoming season is going to be really much better than the last one." - Evgenia Medvedeva to Olympic Channel

There's more than just Russia

Russia already boasted a strong field of female skaters last season even before the arrival of the junior trio. Despite this, it was a Japanese who clinched last year's Grand Prix Final title.

Rika Kihira edged out Zagitova for the top step on the podium in Vancouver, and she did it on her senior debut. The 17-year-old had a stunning year, winning both her Challenger Series and Grand Prix events as well as clinching the Four Continents crown.

Kihira's ability to land a triple Axel helped her to numerous victories last season, and she's already stated her intent to nail a quad this season, which is good news for the Japanese fans.

Kazakhstan's Elizabet Tursynbaeva managed the first quadruple Salchow in a senior women's competition on her way to winning silver at the World Championships in Japan. And the 19-year-old should be one to watch closely having spent the summer working on her quads.

View this post on Instagram

Step by step😌 #4S

A post shared by Elizabet TurSynbaeva (@elizabet_.t) on

The battle to be King of the rink

Nathan Chen was clearly in top form last season.

The American won both his assignments en route to the Grand Prix Final title and capped of the season with his second World Championship crown - all this while balancing life at Yale University.

We can expect Chen to pick up from where he left off, especially as the lack of ice in summer hasn't hindered him from skating new tricks.

How fit is Hanyu?

After another season plagued by injury, Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu will be hoping for a trouble-free campaign.

He's had the time to rest his right ankle, that was aggravated during his skate to second place at the worlds, after injuring it at the Rostelecom Cup in Russia last November.

Coach Orser feels confident that the 24-year-old will bounce back to take the fight to Chen this season, adding "he's probably already figured out some math on how we can get those extra points."

Uno goes his own way

PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist, Shoma Uno meanwhile, has decided to part ways with his long-time coach after a disappointing worlds outing which saw him finish fourth.

The 21-year-old has decided to make it on his own and will compete without a main coach this season.

Uno was the first skater to successfully land a quadruple flip in international competition and will need to break new boundaries if he is to take the fight to Chen and Hanyu. Perhaps land the first quintuple jump in history?

Another skater who's shaking up things is Vincent Zhou. The 18-year-old moved from California to Rhode Island where he will attend Brown University this fall.

The American still intends to head to the Winter Olympic Games in 2022 and enlisted the help of Kihira's coach Mie Hamada to work with him towards realising his dream of winning Olympic gold.

Zhou intends to primarily train alone while at Brown, with sporadic visits from his Japanese coach.

“I have great self-awareness, so I trust that I can figure out some things alone. However, my coaches, including coach Hamada, will be visiting me for short periods of time when their travels and schedules permit.” - Vincent Zhou to NBC Sports

Eyes on Sui and Han, James and Ciprès withdraw

In the pairs, all eyes will be on China's world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, while French duo Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès have withdrawn from the Grand Prix series to compete a reduced season.

Sui and Cong had an injury-hit 2018/19 season, but rebounded strongly upon their return towards the end of the season to clinch gold at the World Championships.

Then there's the ever-present threat from the Russians: world silver medallists Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov and world bronze medallists Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert.

Papadakis/Cizeron dominance to continue?

Will anyone challenge the supremacy of France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron in ice dance?

The Olympic silver medallists haven't finished off the podium in senior competition since their debut season in 2013/14.

Since 2014/15, their honours include five French national titles, two Challenger Series wins, six Grand Prix victories, the 2017/18 Grand Prix Final title, five European Championships, four Worlds golds and one silver, and PyeongChang 2018 Olympic silver.

Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia, the current Worlds silver medallists, and U.S. duo Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are best-placed to challenge them.

Speaking to the Olympic Channel's Meryl Davis after winning bronze in Saitama earlier this year, Hubbell said: "Zach and I have progressed so much in our partnership this year."

Can that progress help them leapfrog the French team?

The 2019/20 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating season calendar

October 18-20 - Skate America, Las Vegas

October 25-27 - Skate Canada, Kelowna

November 1-3 - Internationaux de France, Grenoble

November 8-10 - Cup of China, Chongqing

November 15-17 - Rostelecom Cup, Moscow

November 22-24 - NHK Trophy, Sapporo

December 5-8 - Grand Prix Final, Turin

Add these to your favourites
Yuzuru HANYUYuzuru HANYU
Nathan CHENNathan CHEN
Figure SkatingFigure Skating
More from

You May Like