My Favorite Figure Skating Performances of the 2015-2016 Season

Just like last year, I interrupt our regularly scheduled theater and television programming to turn the attention to my favorite sport, figure skating, as we revisit my favorite performances of the season. In no particular order…

Ashley Wagner (USA)
2016 World Championships Long Program
Music: Moulin Rouge

This year, I was lucky enough to attend the World Championships in person in Boston. The event only takes place in the United States every 7 years or so, and it was my first time attending a major competitive event other than US Nationals. The entire experience was amazing, but one of the highlights was definitely watching my current favorite ladies skater win the silver medal (and end a 10 year medal drought for the US ladies at Worlds and the Olympics) with this amazing skate. I was screaming my face off in the crowd and I’ll never forget it.

Adam Rippon (USA)
2016 World Championships Long Program
Music: Beatles medley 

Adam had an amazing season. He won his first US title in January, and in Boston it was so apparent that he was carrying himself with the newfound confidence of a National champion. Our US men really crushed it in the freeskate, and it was impressive to watch. Adam finished 6th with this effort.

Julianne Seguin & Charlie Bilodeau (Canada)
2016 Canadian Nationals Long Program
Music: “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum 

I just adore this young Canadian pair, and they’ve really been making a name for themselves over the past two seasons. Despite finishing 2nd at Nationals with this program, unfortunately Julianne then suffered an injury that forced them to withdraw from Worlds.

Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani (USA)
2016 US Nationals Free Dance
Music: “Fix You” by Coldplay 

Maia & Alex have been a presence in US ice dance on the senior circuit for over 6 years now. They have had a lot of ups and downs, but this season, with this fantastic free dance, they really broke through and overtook their rivals to become national champions for the first time. A shake-up like that in the standings is very rare in ice dance, and they followed it up by finishing 2nd at Worlds. This program is just fabulous, and in my opinion they never skated it better than they did here.

Satoko Miyahara (Japan)
2016 Four Continents Short Program
Music: “Firedance” from Riverdance

I adore Satoko. She is arguably the most consistent ladies skater out there right now- she had 6 straight clean (meaning without a major mistake) competitions to end her season, including a win here at Four Continents. This short program really brought out her feistier side, and I loved watching it grow over the course of the season.

Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan)
2015 Grand Prix Final Long Program
Music: “Seimei” from Onmyoji 

Yuzuru, the 2014 Olympic champion, set an incredible world record with this performance, making me very pleased with my decision to stay up past my bedtime to watch the competition live. What makes it even more incredible is that it came on the heels of a clean, world record short program, and both of these world records broke the ones he set a mere 2 weeks earlier at the NHK Trophy. After NHK, fans thought it could be years before we would see 2 consecutive programs of that caliber again, but no. Bow down.

Wenjing Sui & Cong Han (China)
2016 World Championships Short Program
Music: “Spanish Romance”

This program is stunning, and boy did they nail it here. Pairs skating at its very best, and it led them to a second consecutive World silver medal.

Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue (USA)
2016 Four Continents Short Dance
Music: “Hallelujah” performed by k.d. lang

This short dance really stood out this season because in a year overcrowded with generic waltz music, this team chose to do something different and romantic. I loved watching this program every single time.

Mirai Nagasu (USA)
2016 Four Continents Long Program 
Music: The Great Gatsby 

This program suited Mirai so well, and she nailed it so much here that she dropped the proverbial mic at the end. This was such a comeback season for her, and she won the silver medal here and went on to finish 10th at Worlds.

Max Aaron (USA)
2016 World Championships Long Program
Music: Black Swan 

This season will forever be remembered as the season I fell a little bit in love with Max Aaron. After starting his season with a surprise win at Skate America, he faltered a bit, but came back when it mattered to nail his freeskate at Worlds. This was so exciting to watch live, and he went on to finish 8th.

Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (Canada)
2016 World Championships Long Program 
Music: “Hometown Glory” by Adele 

After winning their first World title last year after an undefeated season, Meagan and Eric struggled a bit this season to recreate that magic. Combined with the most dense pairs field the sport has seen in years, no one really expected them to successfully defend their title in Boston, but they rose to the occasion and threw down their best freeskate ever to win.

Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (France)
2016 World Championships Free Dance
Music: “Rain, In Your Black Eyes” by Ezio Bosso and “To Build a Home” by The Cinematic Orchestra

After a meteoric rise to the top of the ice dance world in the 2014-2015 season, Gabriella suffered a severe concussion in practice that took this team out of competition for most of the season. They managed to return better than ever, winning their 2nd consecutive World title. This team is truly something to behold, especially in person—their basic skating and edge quality is stunning (in particular Guillaume’s) and they have a raw, freedom of movement you cannot teach. I have watched this skate over and over again since.

Javier Fernandez (Spain)
2016 World Championships Free Skate 
Music: Guys and Dolls 

This isn’t just one of my favorite performances of the season, it’s one of the best freeskates ever. Javi was another 2015 World champion who was not expected to successfully defend his title, largely because of the phenomenal season his training mate Yuzuru Hanyu had had leading up to the championships. However, Yuzuru left the door open, and Javi more than rose to the occasion with the best freeskate of his career. He absolutely brought the house down- we were all on our feet a solid 10 seconds before he finished his program. I’ll never forget it. And THAT’S how you defend your World title.


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