Threestyle’s New Syndicated Radio Show Comes to Smooth Jazz and More

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For the first time in our internet radio station 21 year history, Smooth Jazz and More will be airing the syndicated show on our airwaves, “The Threestyle Jazz Radio Show”.  The program, hosted by the group ‘Threestyle’, showcases new music from the group, and interviews interviews from various music artists.

The Germany-based smooth jazz group is comprised of guitarist Robert Fertl, saxophonist Magdalena Chovancova and twin sister & drummer, Gabriella. Since 2010, they’ve released 10 solo albums and the track, “Ready to Go” off the album ‘Reasons 2 Love’ reached #1 on the US Billboard Smooth Jazz Chart.

During their careers, the group collaborated with a number of guest music artists, ranging from jazz and pop including Grammy winning guitarist Paul Brown, guitarist Nils and former Yellowjackets contributor, Jimmy Halsip.  In March, 2018; ‘Threestyle’ was selected as our featured artist, and the group also contributed to the Smooth Jazz and More Podcast.

“The Threestyle Jazz Radio Show” will make it’s debut on Sunday, November 13 at 4pm with a repeat broadcast at 8pm.

November 13 – Singer, Erin Stevenson
November 20 – Singer, Damon Dae
November 27 – Keyboardist and composer, U-Nam

Posted in Internet Radio, Internet Radio Station, Radio, Smooth Jazz, Smooth Jazz and More | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond the Music, Irene Cara’s Career Struggled To The End.

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The music world was devastated to hear the news of Irene Cara passing on Saturday at the young age of 63. Her publicist announced her passing on Twitter.

Her humble beginnings began as a child living in the Bronx, New York. Her music career started with an appearance on Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour in 1967.

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From there, she made appearances in Broadway musicals and on local television.  In 1971, she starred as one of the original “Short Circus” on the PBS children’s show, ‘The Electric Company’.  The show also starred Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno, Lee Chamberlain and Bill Cosby. She left the show after the first season.

From there, she starred in two films which had moderate success with audiences. 1975’s “Aaron Loves Angela” was about a Romeo & Juliet-style romance between a black teen and a Puerto Rican girl. 1976’s “Sparkle” was a film about three sisters from Harlem who battle success and drugs as a singing group.  (A remake of the film was made in 2012.)

Cara also made appearances on the TV show, “What’s Happening”, and the mini-series, “Roots: The Next Generation” and “Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones”.

It was in 1980 that Cara would begin to find international success with the release of film, “Fame” a movie that chronicles of the lives of several teenagers who attend a New York high school for students gifted in the performing arts. Cara played one of those teens, ‘Coco Hernandez’ a student who was accepted in the Drama, Music, and Dance departments.

But the rigors of school life, relationships, and the entertainment world lead to a crushing conclusion for her. The film featured Cara’s signature voice on the title track, which would win the Oscar for Best Original Song.

Two years later, Cara would put her own stamp of approval on music she co-created with the film, ‘Flashdance’, the story about a steel worker who moonlights as a dancer, and dreams of joining a Pittsburgh ballet troupe.

The title track would go on to win Cara the Oscar for Best Original Song and a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Winner Irene Cara at 56th Academy Awards Show 1984

With all of the success for Cara, you think it would lead to even more opportunities for her. But very soon, she would question the music industry’s ‘standards and practices’ in business. In 1985, she sued Al Coury, a record company executive for $10 million dollars in unpaid royalties, claiming he exploited her trust in him by inducing her to sign contracts that cost her more than $2 million dollars.

According to her suit, ‘agreements between Coury and Paramount in 1983 for Cara’s appearance in ‘Flashdance’ and with Universal the same year for her role in the film ‘D.C. Cab’ were designed to benefit Coury and did not give Cara her fair share of profits.’

It took years for Cara to reach a settlement, and during that time, she spent all of the money she had on lawyer fees, eventually leaving her broke. The suit also slowed down her music career to a halt, since she wasn’t recording any new material. Though she ultimately won $1.5 million from the lawsuit, she may have lost more than she gained from overall opportunity cost.

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During interviews, Cara claimed that she was ‘blacklisted’ by the music industry. The word around town was that she was “difficult to work with”, so nobody wanted to hire or collaborate with her. She also claimed that this was related to the lawsuit. She never found the same level of success, and progressively took smaller and smaller roles, and eventually only got work as a voice actor. Her acting career also faltered, and she also didn’t get any soundtrack songs to advance her career.

Cara also failed to leverage her success on movie soundtracks into her own personal songs and albums. Her main studio albums, ‘Anyone Can See’ (1982) and What a Feeling (1983) didn’t give fans much of what they wanted to hear. So, despite having massive commercial success for soundtrack songs “Flashdance… What A Feeling,” “Fame” and “Out Here on My Own,” they didn’t translate commercial success for her two studio album projects. Her third album, ‘Carasmatic’, was shelved by Elektra Records. When it was finally released, it was a critical and commercial failure and it arrived years after it her peak time, so it already faced an uphill battle.

Though she downplayed it during her life, it had said that she’d been a known user of cocaine, which was possibly connected to the stress of her case. She also divorced her husband at an already tumultuous time in her life.

The lawsuit and circumstances afterward did not completely ruin Cara’s career. After her personal and professional downfall in Hollywood, she started recording and performing overseas, and found some success. She also did some stage work. But music artists sympathized with her plight, as was displayed on Saturday once the news of her passing was announced.

Irene Cara Portrait Session

Despite the prestige of winning the Oscar and a Grammy, we will never know Irene Cara’s true potential, which could had been on the level of Madonna or Beyoncé.

Her music and entertainment career will forever be the classic, “What If?”

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Smooth’s Podium Picks 2022 – Grand Prix Espoo

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The sixth and final leg of the senior Grand Prix heads to the city of Espoo, which is located just outside of the capital city of Helsinki, Finland. Espoo is the corporate home to Finnish technology giant, Nokia and chocolate manufacturer, Nestle.  It’s also the birth home of Finnish figure skater, Laura Lepistö. She was the 2010 world women’s bronze medalist, the 2009 European champion, and a two-time (2008 and 2010) Finnish national champion.

Men: There are two spots still left for the Grand Prix Final in two weeks. One of those slots could be slated for American Ilia Malinin, who currently sports the highest totals in Grand Prix competition after his win at Skate America back in October. There are three skaters in contention for the top spot.
Japan’s Shun Sato needs to win outright for any chance at the Final. He finished 3rd in Sheffield two weeks ago. France’s Kevin Aymoz makes his Grand Prix season debut. He battled illness and was unable to skate in Angers. Georgia’s Morisi Kvitelashvili is currently ranked 7th in the world, but had a poor showing in Sheffield, finishing 8th. At best, he can play spoiler.

Skaters to Watch: Canada’s Keegan Messing finished off the podium in 4th place at Skate Canada, and looks to finish with a strong performance this weekend. American Camden Pulkinen had his best Grand Prix finish at Skate Canada in 5th place and wants to improve his ISU standing. Finland’s lone entry is Valtter Virtanen, who makes his first Grand Prix appearance since 2018, where he finished 11th in Helsinki.

FULL LIST: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Picks:
1. Ilia Malinin (USA)
2. Morisi Kvitelashvili (GEO)
3. Keegan Messing (CAN)

Women: Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx continues her historic rise in women’s skating after the country’s first Grand Prix gold medal in Angers, France. She can achieve another milestone with an appearance in the Grand Prix Final if she wins another gold medal. There are three slots still up for grabs. One skater in contention is Japan’s Mai Mihara, who won her first Grand Prix gold medal in Sheffield. Teammate Rika Kihira returned to the ice after a long break due to injury and finished in 5th place at Skate Canada. Georgia’s Anastasiia Gubanova won a surprise bronze medal in Sheffield and a win could lift her into GPF contention.

Skaters to Watch: Keep your eyes on Canada’s Madeline Schizas. Despite her 7th place finish at Skate Canada, she still has a strong program planned for this weekend. Americans Bradie Tennell and Lindsay Thorngren are both skating for nationals as well as valuable international experience. Finland has three skaters competing this weekend, with 2022 national champion Jenni Saarinen the top contender of the three.

FULL LIST: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Picks:
1. Loena Hendrickx (BEL)
2. Mai Mihara (JPN)
3. Anastasiia Gubanova (GEO)

Pairs: Only eight teams will compete for one final spot in the GP Final, and it’s security isn’t guaranteed among the teams based on points. The team most likely to grab the spot this weekend is Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini of Italy, who finished 4th in Angers. They also competed at the Warsaw Cup last weekend and finished 2nd. Anastasiia Metelkina and Daniil Parkman of Georgia also had a fourth-place finish in Sheffield. A first or second place finish in Espoo can secure their spot in the Final. Germany’s Alisa Efimova and Ruben Blommaert were forced to withdraw from Skate Canada due to injury. They can play spoiler and bring home important points in the ISU world standings. Other competitors include Anna Valesi and Manuel Piazza of Italy and Americans Anastasiia Smirnova and Danylo Siianytsina.

FULL LIST: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Picks:
1. Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini (ITA)
2. Anastasiia Metelkina and Daniil Parkman (GEO)
3. Alisa Efimova and Ruben Blommaert (GER)

Ice Dance: Canadians Piper Gillies and Paul Poirier captured their third straight Skate Canada title last month, and they can punch their ticket to Torino with a victory this weekend. Their competition should come from Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who captured silver at Skate America back in October. Bronze will be up for grabs with a few teams looking to reach the podium. Americans Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko missed their chance after finishing 4th in Sheffield. Natalie Taschlerova and Filip Taschler of the Czech Republic also competed in Sheffield and placed 5th.

Teams to Watch: Shiyue Wang and Xinyu Liu is China’s lone entry this weekend. They finished 7th at NHK Trophy. Finland will be represented by two teams. Juulia Turkkila and Matthias Versluis (Shown Above) looks to be the more experienced of the two, having won national titles in 2019 and 2022. They finished 7th in Angers. Yuka Orihara and Juho Pirinen skates in only their 2nd Grand Prix event this weekend. They finished 8th at NHK Trophy last week.

FULL LIST: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Picks:
1. Piper Gillies and Paul Poirier (CAN)
2. Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker (USA)
3. Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko (USA)

Last Week’s Results

Men: 3/3 – CALLED IT! 1-2-3!
Women: 1/3 – Rion Watanabe was my lone correct pick, with Kaori being upset by Yelim for gold.
Pairs: 2/3 – Riku & Ryuichi and Emily and Spencer were my solid picks.
Ice Dance 0/3 – Completely shut out, with a huge upset by the Canadians over Chock and Bates.

Season to Date

Men: 7/15
Women: 3/15
Pairs: 9/15
Ice Dance: 8/15

Posted in Figure Skating, Figures skating, Finland, Grand Prix, Ice Skating, International Skating Union, Skating | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smooth’s Podium Picks 2022 – NHK Trophy

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The Grand Prix series heads to the other side of the globe and the country of Japan for the NHK Trophy.  Slots for the Grand Prix Final have been clinched, and more will be determined this weekend.

Men: Japan’s Shoma Uno took home the gold at Skate Canada and looks to clinch a spot in the Grand Prix Final this weekend. It will be a tough competition as Grand Prix de France Champion Adam Siao Him Fa of France also looks to clinch his place in Torino. Japan’s Sota Yamamoto took home silver in Angers and can sneak in to a spot. South Korea’s Cha Juhnwan won bronze at Skate America and will look to grab a spot on the podium. Italy’s Matteo Rizzo found the podium at Skate Canada, finishing with bronze medalist and has an outside chance at representing his home country in his home tournament next month.

Skaters to Watch: Kazuki Tomono took home bronze at the Grand Prix de France, giving Japan a chance to possibly sweep the podium this weekend. Tomoki Hiwatashi is the United States lone men’s entry this weekend. He finished 9th in Sheffield last weekend.

Full List: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick:
1. Shoma Uno (JPN)
2. Sota Yamamoto (JPN)
3. Cha Juhnwan (KOR)

Women: Japan has a strong team of women skating this weekend led by Olympic bronze medalist, Kaori Sakamoto. She won convincingly at Skate America in October and could clinch her spot in the Grand Prix Final next month. Her teammate Rinka Watanabe pulled off a huge upset, defeating Sakamoto at Lombardia Trophy this summer. Both are favored to medal this weekend. Rion Sumiyoshi took home bronze in Angers earlier this month, giving the country a chance to sweep the medals. South Korea’s Kim Yelim took silver in France, and could break up the podium sweep with a convincing performance.

Skaters to Watch: Look out for American Starr Andrews. Her break out performance for silver at Skate Canada was no fluke, and could reach the podium with another outstanding skate this weekend. Teammate Amber Glenn is another skater looming under the radar. She found the podium at Skate America, taking bronze.

Full List: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick:
1. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN)
2. Rinka Watanabe (JPN)
3. Rion Sumiyoshi (JPN)

Riku Miura and Ryuichi KiharaPairs: Only six teams will be competing this weekend. At the top of the list are the home favorites, Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara. They took home gold at Skate Canada, and a win this weekend could become the first Japanese pairs team to make the Grand Prix Final. Americans Emily Chan and Spencer Akira Howe pose the biggest threat. The team won silver at Skate Canada last month. France’s Camille and Pavel Kovalev took home silver at Grand Prix de France two weeks ago, while Germany’s Annika Hocke and Robert Kunkel placed third.

FULL LIST:  CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick:
1. Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara (JPN)
2. Emily Chan and Spencer Akira Howe (USA)
3. Camille and Pavel Kovalev (FRA)

Madison_Chock_and_Evan_Bates_2_16x9_rzdjdIce Dance: 10 teams square off this weekend, with Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates the odd-on favorites to book their ticket to Torino for the Final. Competition should come from Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen, who were silver medalists at the Grand Prix de France. France’s Evgeniia Lopareva and Geoffrey Brissaud took bronze at the same event. Japan has two teams entered into the competition, with 2022 Four Continents silver medalists Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi the country’s best chance to medal.

Teams to Watch: Americans Caroline Green and Michael Parsons had a 4th place finish at Skate Canada and look to land on the podium for the first time. China’s Shiyue Wang and Xinyu Liu marks the country’s first entry on the Grand Prix circuit this season.

FULL LIST: CLICK HERE! 

Smooth’s Pick:
1. Madison Chock and Evan Bates (USA)
2. Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen (CAN)
3. Evgeniia Lopareva and Geoffrey Brissaud (FRA)

Last Week’s Results

Men: 1/3 – Correct on Shun Sato taking bronze, but a historic gold for Grassl and Italy.
Women: 0/3 – Correct on Mihara and Levito making the podium, but switched positions.
Pairs: 3/3 – CALLED IT, 1-2-3!
Ice Dance: 1/3 – No upset special, but a big win for Guignard and Fabbri.

Season to Date

Men: 4/12
Women: 2/12
Pairs: 7/12
Ice Dance: 8/12

Posted in Skating, Figures skating, Figure Skating, Ice Skating, International Skating Union, NHK Trophy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

25 Great War Movies for Veterans Day

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This Veterans Day, I’ve decided to make a list of my 25 greatest war movies.  Now some movies on the list really aren’t actual war films, as they may have no violence depicted.  But the theme of military veterans struggling to make it after years of combat is considered timely.  The films are in order by year and not in order of 1-25.

All’s Quiet on the Western Front (1930) – Young Germans are persuaded to fight for their country during World War I, but soon quickly realize that war isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. One of the most powerful anti-war films ever made, it’s still packs a punch 90+ years later with its brutal scenes of war.

The Grand Illusion (1937) – A clash between the aristocracy and the working class comes together in an unlikely place, a German WWI POW camp. One of the greatest films of all time, director Jean Renoir put together a story of the absurdity of war and its class warfare origins.

Casablanca (1943) – An expat bar owner reluctantly helps out an old flame and her new husband with resistance ties escape from the Nazis. The quintessential romantic drama with WWII as a backdrop, it’s been on hundreds of top 10 all-time list selections.

The Best Years of our Lives (1946) – Three veterans must adjust to life after WWII. One of the most realistic films about veterans and the struggles they face after life on the battle field. Real live veteran Harold Russell won the Oscar for his portrayal of a Naval veteran.

The Red Badge of Courage (1951) – An adaptation of Stephen Crane’s novel about a Civil War Union soldier who struggles to find the courage to fight in the heat of battle. Directed by John Houston, the movie’s lead character was WWII veteran Audie Murphy, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on the battlefield.

Stalag 17 (1953) – After two Americans are killed while escaping from a German P.O.W. camp in World War II, the barracks black marketeer, J.J. Sefton, is suspected of being an informer. Based on the stage play, director Billy Wilder puts together one of his best films, with William Holden winning a Best Actor Oscar for his performance as the cynical American POW.

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) – British POWs are forced to build a railway bridge across the river Kwai for their Japanese captors in occupied Burma (Myanmar), not knowing that the allied forces are planning a daring commando raid through the jungle to destroy it. The first of director David Lean’s epics, which brings together a powerful group of actors, including Alec Guinness, William Holden and Sessue Hayakawa.

Paths of Glory (1957) – During WWI, after refusing to attack an enemy position, a French general (George Macready) accuses the soldiers of cowardice and their commanding officer (Kirk Douglas) must defend them from a trumped-up court martial and firing squad. Director Stanley Kubrick’s attention to detail makes this one of the most powerful anti-war films. The film was so controversial for its anti-military message that it was banned in Spain, Switzerland and France for many years.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – The story of T.E. Lawrence, the British officer who successfully united and led the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks. David Lean wins the second of his Best Director for this visually stunning epic war drama. Peter O’Toole would begin his long, prestigious acting career as a leading man in this WWI classic.

The Longest Day (1962) – The events of D-Day, told on a grand scale from both the Allied and German points of view. This was 20th Century Fox studio’s most expensive productions to date, and producer Darryl F. Zanuck spared no expense in making this epic as real as possible. The film had four different directors (American, German, British and French) and an international ensemble of actors, many who were WWII veterans on all sides of the war.

The Great Escape (1963) – Based on a true story, allied prisoners of war plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German POW camp during World War II. This was Steve McQueen’s “breakout” role to super stardom, best remembered for his motorcycle ride across the German countryside, which is considered one of the best jump stunts ever performed.

The Dirty Dozen (1967) – During World War II, a rebellious U.S. Army Major is assigned a dozen convicted murderers to train and lead them into a mass assassination mission of German officers. Real life US Marine vet Lee Marvin gives a gutsy performance as the officer leading a rag-tag group of military prisoners on a secret mission. This was also former NFL running back, Jim Brown’s acting debut.

Patton (1970) – The World War II phase of the career of controversial American general George S. Patton. Played with passion by George C. Scott, he won the Academy Award for best actor for the role, however he declined the Oscar. In a letter to the Motion Picture Academy, he stated that he did not feel himself to be in competition with other actors. The opening monologue, delivered by Scott as General Patton with an enormous American flag behind him, remains an iconic and often quoted image in film.

The Deer Hunter (1978) – An in-depth examination of the ways in which the Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of several friends in a small steel mill town in Pennsylvania. Only three years after the fall of Saigon, this was one of the first films to deal with the horrors of the Vietnam War. The notorious Russian Roulette scene was one of the most intense and controversial moments in movie history.

Apocalypse Now (1979) – Based on the short story, “Heart of Darkness”, an Army officer is given a secret mission to kill a renegade Colonel in Cambodia. Director Francis Ford Coppola took four years to complete the film, and encountered immense difficulty during the shooting, which included the US Military not cooperating with the production and it’s stars Martin Sheen (Heart Attack) and Marlon Brando (Weight).

The Big Red One (1980) – A battle-hardened Army Sergeant leads a young group of soldiers during different European campaigns of World War II. Director Sam Fuller used his own war experiences in the original 1st Infantry Division to show the rigors of war to his viewers. Though severely edited when released, it was re-edited with 47 minutes of footage and re-released to much fan fair in 2004.

Das Boot (1981) – An inexperienced U-boat crew has to survive a secret mission and a young German woman is torn between loyalty for her home country and the French resistance. Directed by Wolfgang Peterson, the film is one of the most realistic films depicting life in a submarine from a German standpoint.

Gallipoli (1981) – Two Australian sprinters face the brutal realities of war when they are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I. This was one of the first films that depicted the Australian war effort during WWI, although it modified events for dramatic purposes and contains a number of significant historical inaccuracies.

Platoon (1986) – A recruit who volunteered for military service in Vietnam, finds himself caught in a battle of wills between two sergeants, one good and the other evil. The film is a shrewd examination of the brutality of war and the duality of man in conflict. Director Oliver Stone used his experiences serving in Vietnam to help make this film his masterpiece. He would make two other films based on the Vietnam experience, “Born on the Fourth of July” and “Heaven & Earth”.

Full Metal Jacket (1987) – A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue. Director Stanley Kubrick revisits the horrors of war as he did in ‘Paths of Glory’ 30 years earlier. Real life Marine drill instructor R. Lee Emery steals the first 45 minutes of this film with his improvised performance as the brutal Gunnery SGT Hartman.

Glory (1989) – Colonel Robert Gould Shaw leads the Union Army’s first all-black volunteer company, all the while, fighting prejudices from both his own Army, and the Confederates. Though the story itself was fictional, the movie was one of the most powerful depictions of the Civil War ever producer, with powerful performances by Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) – Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action. Unlike traditional World War II films that were subdued in its depiction of war, director Steven Spielberg puts the viewer right in the middle of the invasion in stunningly graphic detail.

The Hurt Locker (2008) – During the Iraq War, a Sergeant recently assigned to an army bomb squad is put at odds with his squad mates due to his maverick way of handling his work. This film was historic, in that it was the first movie to win Best Picture by the Motion Picture Academy with a woman at the helm as director. Despite that, this was an incredibly powerful film about capturing the heroism of the average soldier while facing the nightmares of war.

Inglorious Basterds (2009) – In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner’s vengeful plans for the same. Director Quentin Tarantino puts together a revisionist history take on World War II events, and adds his own flavor from his previously made films.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012) – A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L.s Team 6 in May 2011. Director Kathryn Bigelow gets behind the directors chair for another military drama and uses a woman CIA agent as her main focus of the story.

Dunkirk (2017) – Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Commonwealth and Empire, and France are surrounded by the German Army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II. What makes this film so effective is it’s use of sound and editing. It was shot on IMAX 65 mm and 65 mm large-format film stock. It has extensive practical effects, and employed thousands of extras as well as historic boats from the evacuation, and period airplanes.

Posted in Movies, Veterans Day, War Movies | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Smooth’s Podium Picks 2022 – MK John Wilson Trophy

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It’s hard to believe that a country rich in figure skating tradition, from John Curry to legendary ice dancers, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, has never hosted a senior Grand Prix event. That all ends this week, as Sheffield makes that dream a reality. Thanks to an opening in the schedule, the ISU brings it all together. Great Britain will have three singles skaters and one team in each division participating.

morisi-kvitelashviliMen: Georgia’s Morisi Kvitelashvili makes his 2022-23 Grand Prix season debut this weekend. He’s the odds-on favorite in the men’s division, having just missed the podium at last year’s world championships and a gold medal win at Rostelecom Cup in 2021. Lots of competition heads his way, with Italy’s Daniel Grassl standing in his way for gold. Grassl missed a spot on the podium at Skate America in October. Latvia’s Deniss Vasiljevs also is a contender despite a poor showing at Skate Canada, where he finished 10th. Japan’s Shun Sato competes for the second week in a row and looks to gain position for the Grand Prix Final. He finished 2nd at the Internationaux de France last weekend.

Skaters to Watch: Canada’s Roman Sadovsky had a 5th place finish at Skate America and can pull a spoiler with a good showing. American’s Jimmy Ma and Tomoki Hiwatashi each can do the same. Great Britain has two entries in the men’s competition in Edward Appleby and Graham Newberry. Both make their senior Grand Prix debuts.

FULL ENTRIES: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Picks
1. Morisi Kvitelashvili (GEO)
2. Daniel Grassl (ITA)
3. Shun Sato (JPN)

FSKATE-FOUR

Women: American Isabeau Levito leads a 12-skater field of ladies. She almost pulled off the upset at Skate America, finishing 2nd in only her third senior international competition and her first senior Grand Prix. Japan’s Mai Mihara comes into Sheffield at the healthiest she’s been since 2020. Injuries affected her performances, having finished 4th twice in Grand Prix action in 2021. South Korea’s You Young skated to a 3rd place finish at Skate Canada last month and is a contender for the top spot. American Gabby Izzo skates in her 1st senior Grand Prix event and has shown lots of promise in the Challenger Series, having finished 3rd at the US International Classic in 2021.

Skaters to Watch: American Bradie Tennell had to make the heartbreaking decision to pull out of last year’s US Nationals due to injury. In fact, he’s been dealing with injuries since 2020. But she makes her triumphant return to the ice this weekend. Her best finish was at Skate America, where she finished 2nd twice in 2019 and 2020. Canada’s Gabby Daleman was well on her way to a podium spot at Skate Canada, when she suffered a disastrous free skate which dropped her from 2nd to 10th. Great Britain’s entry is Natasha McKay, who is a 5-time national champion and is making her senior Grand Prix debut.

FULL ENTRIES: CLICK HERE! 

Smooth’s Picks
1. Isabeau Levito (USA)
2. Mai Mihara (JPN)
3. You Young (KOR)

Knierim_Frazier_021922_1440x810_UpdatedWorldsPairs: Only seven teams will compete this weekend, with Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frasier the heavy favorites. The defending World pairs champs, cruised to victory at Skate America in October. They face a challenge from two teams this weekend. Italy’s Sara Conti and Noccolo Macii skated to their first senior Grand Prix podium, a 3rd place finish at Skate Canada. Germany’s Letizia Roscher and Luis Schuster had a very good short program at Skate America, but errors in the free skate dropped them from 3rd to 7th place. Americans Katie McBeath and Nathan Bartholomay make their Grand Prix debut this weekend. The team looks to improve on their 5th place showing at nationals.

FULL ENTRIES: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Picks
1. Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frasier (USA)
2. Sara Conti and Noccolo Macii (ITA)
3. Letizia Roscher and Luis Schuster (GER)

Lilah FEAR Lewis GIBSONIce Dance: This weekend’s ice dance shapes up to be an exciting competition, with the top to teams in the ISU standings squaring off. Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri have been on a roll, having won at Grand Prix de France last weekend and look to make it two in a row. But the home country will have a large crowd presence with Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson. The British team finished 2nd at Skate Canada, and a win will bring them closer to their first Grand Prix Final. Canada’s Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha put together their best performance in senior Grand Prix competition with a 3rd place finish at Skate Canada. Americans Oona and Gage Brown took home a World junior ice dance championship and finished 2nd at Nationals last season. Their first senior Grand Prix event will determine whether they are ready.

Teams to Watch: Canada has two young teams that could contend for position. Alicia Fabbri and Paul Ayer finished 7th at Canadian Nationals and will skate in their first senior Grand Prix event, while Haley Sales and Nikolas Wamsteeker have three Grand Prix appearances, all at Skate Canada with their best finish in 9th. Americans Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko hasn’t reached the podium in a Grand Prix event since 2020, when they finished 3rd.

FULL ENTRIES: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Picks
1. Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson (GBR) * This is my upset special! *
2. Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA)
3. Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha (CAN)

Last Week’s Results

Men: 0/3 – All skaters picked were on the podium but in different slots.
Women: 1/3 – Correctly picked the “Birthday Girl” for the win.
Pairs: 1/3 – Stellato-Dudek becomes the oldest Grand Prix medalsist.
Ice Dance: 2/3 – Two out of three ain’t bad, especially the top two.

Season to Date

Men: 3/9
Women: 2/9
Pairs: 4/9
Ice Dance: 7/9

Posted in Figure Skating, Figures skating, Grand Prix, Great Britain, Ice Skating, International Skating Union, Predictions, Skating | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smooth’s Podium Picks 2022 – Grand Prix de Internationaux de France

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The Grand Prix series moves east across the ocean and into the beautiful city of Angers. Located in the western portion of France beside the Maine river at the edge of the Loire Valley, this city has the look of medieval buildings, castles and traditional European style architecture.  This will be the first Grand Prix without home favorites, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, who have scaled back their competitions after winning Olympic gold in Beijing.  Also missing is men’s skater Kevin Aymoz, who earlier pulled out of Skate America last month due to injury. A total of 58 Skaters/Couples representing 15 ISU members have been entered for this event.

Men: This is an open field with no clear favorites. Japan’s Kazuki Tomono has success in the senior Grand Prix, finishing 2nd at NHK in 2020 and 3rd at Rostelecom Cup in 2021. This season, he won at Coupe du Printemps and finished 4th at Nebelhorn. Teammate Sota Yamamoto makes his fifth entry in the Grand Prix with three NHK Trophy appearances. This summer, he finished 3rd at the Challenge Cup in Tilburg, Netherlands. France’s Adam Siao Him Fa looks to bring home a medal in his home tournament. He finished 8th at last year’s Internationaux de France.

Skaters to Watch: Canada’s Wesley Chiu competed at Skate America two weeks ago and finished 6th. South Korea’s Lee Sihyeong makes his first appearance in the senior Grand Prix. He has a 2nd place finish at Nebelhorn Trophy. Ivan Shmuratko will be skating for more than a medal; he’ll be skating for pride for his native Ukraine.

FULL LINEUP: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick:
1. Kazuki Tomono (JPN)
2. Adam Siao Him Fa (FRA)
3. Sota Yamamoto (JPN)

ISU World Figure Skating Championships - Montpellier

Women: Reigning World silver medalist Loena Hendrickx headlines the field in the Women’s division in hopes to become the first Belgian skater to win an ISU Grand Prix event. She began her season by winning at Nebelhorn Trophy. Her main competition should come from 2022 Four Continents silver medalist Lee Haein of South Korea. She just missed the podium at Skate America, finishing 4th. Teammate and Four Continents bronze medalist Kim Yelim started her 2022-23 season strong by winning the US International Classic and at Finlandia Trophy. Japan’s Mana Kawabe won silver at last year’s NHK Trophy and began her season with a bronze at the US International Classic.

Skaters to Watch: France’s Mae Berenice Meite has been besieged with injury the last 18 months, but this weekend, she returns to the ice. This is her 13th year in senior Grand Prix action with her best finish being two 5th place finishes at the former Trophee Bompard in 2012 and 2013. American Audrey Shin is not to far long from her surprise 3rd place finish at Skate America in 2020. She won at the Cranberry Cup this summer. Japan’s Rino Matsuike looks to make the Grand Prix podium for second time in her career. She finished 3rd at NHK in 2020.

FULL LINEUP: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick:
1. Loena Hendrickx (BEL)
2. Lee Haein (KOR)
3. Kim Yelim (KOR)

Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime DeschampsPairs: Canada’s Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps captured silver in last month’s Skate America, and are the favorites heading into the third Grand Prix event. A win will inch themselves closer to qualifying for the Grand Prix Final in Torino, Italy in December. Their challenge should come from Karina Safina and Luka Berulava of Georgia. The reigning World Junior Champions came close to making the podium in last year’s senior World Championships, finishing 4th. Germany’s Annika Hocke and Robert Kunkel won pairs gold at this season’s Finlandia Trophy. They also found the podium at the Nebelhorn Trophy, finishing 3rd. Americans Maria and Ivan Mokhova barely missed the podium with a 4th place finish at Skate America in their 4th competition as a pairs team. Italy’s Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini started their season off with two wins this season (US International Classic and John Nicks Pairs Challenge).

FULL LINEUP: CLICK HERE!!

Smooth’s Pick:
1. Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps (CAN)
2. Karina Safina and Luka Berulava (GEO)
3. Maria and Ivan Mokhova (USA)

Ice Dance: Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri look to finally get a break thru after four 2nd place finishes in Grand Prix competitions over a five-year stretch. The two-time ISU European bronze medalists lead a 10-team Ice Dance field and are the favorites to win this weekend. Canada’s Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen are just one team that stand in their way. They began this season by winning the Finlandia Trophy title. Finland’s Juulia Turkkila and Matthias Versluis will be skating in only their third Grand Prix event since 2018, when their best finish was 6th in Helsinki. Georgia’s Maria Kazakova and Georgy Reviya were World Junior silver medalists in 2020. This will be their first senior Grand Prix event.

Teams to Watch: Americans have two teams making the trip across the Atlantic. Eva Pate and Logan Bye have three 2nd place finishes this season (Lake Placid, US International and Ondrej Nepela Memorial). Katarina Wolfkostin and Jeffrey Chen had personal bests at Budapest Trophy, where they finished in 3rd.

FULL LINEUP: CLICK HERE!!

Smooth’s Pick:
1. Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA)
2. Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen (CAN)
3. Maria Kazakova and Georgy Reviya (GEO)

Last Week’s Results

Men: 2/3 – Japan men go 1-2.
Women: 1/3 – Rinka jumps 6 places to win. Starr Andrews wins her first GP medal.
Pairs: 1/3 – Japan pairs continues their hot streak.
Ice Dance: 3/3 – CALLED IT, 1-2-3!!

Season to Date

Men: 3/6
Women: 1/6
Pairs: 4/6
Ice Dance: 5/6

Posted in Figure Skating, Figures skating, Grand Prix, Ice Skating, International Skating Union, Skating | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smooth’s Podium Picks 2022 – Skate Canada International

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The Grand Prix Series moves north of the border to Mississauga, Ontario; just west of Toronto.  This will be the 5th Skate Canada International competition, with the last event taking place in 2016.  That year, Patrick Chan won his 6th and final men’s Skate Canada title, while Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won their 3rd of 4 pairs titles.  Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won their 6th of seven Skate Canada ice dance titles that year.   Canadian women haven’t won at Skate Canada since 2017, when Kaetlyn Osmond won the event in Regina, Saskatchewan.

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Men: Olympic bronze medalist Shoma Uno of Japan hasn’t been on the radar much since winning his first world championship in March. That downtime may be the best thing for him, as he comes into the event as the favorite. The field will be stacked with contenders, beginning with teammate Kao Miura, who nearly pulled off an upset at last weekend’s Skate America, finishing 2nd. Canada has two chances for gold with Keegan Messing, who started his season with a win at Nebelhorn. Stephen Gogolev has dealt with a number of injuries since 2021. He gets a fresh start this weekend. Internationally ranked Jin Boyang of China was a late scratch after recovering from surgery. He was expected to compete for a medal this weekend, and no skater will replace him.

Skaters to Watch: Italy’s Matteo Rizzo won in Budapest, making it his 2nd win in the Challenger Series event. His best finish in Grand Prix action was in 2019, where he finished 3rd at Cup of China. Latvia’s Deniss Vasiljevs had two 4th place finishes in 2021 Grand Prix action and was 3rd at last year’s Europeans. The United States has two entries this weekend in Camden Pulkinen and Jimmy Ma.

Full Entries: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Shoma Uno (JPN)
2. Kao Miura (JPN)
3. Keegan Messing (CAN)

SchizasWomen: New and familiar faces compete this weekend. Olympian Madeline Schizas of Canada started her season with disappointing finishes in the Cranberry Open (4th) and Nebelhorn Trophy (5th). Still, she is the slight favorite going in this weekend. South Korea’s You Young tries to improve on her two-3rd place Grand Prix finishes last season. She finished 2nd at the US International this summer. American Lindsay Thorngren has three competitions under her belt this summer, with two 2nd place finishes in Tiburg and Philadelphia. She finished a disappointing 6th at Finlandia. Japan’s Rika Kihira had been dealing with a serious hip injury that kept her off the ice for a year. She makes her triumphant return to the Grand Prix series this weekend.

Skaters to Watch: Keep your eye in Japan’s Rinka Watanabe. She has a triple axel in her arsenal and has two 1st place finishes in senior events this summer.  American Ava Marie Ziegler finished 2nd in last season’s junior nationals. She won in Budapest this fall. Canada’s Gabby Daleman also makes a return to Grand Prix action after a three-year hiatus. She finished 10th at 2019’s Skate Canada.

Full Entries: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Rinka Watanabe (JPN)
2. You Young (KOR)
3. Madeline Schizas (CAN)

icetime2.1026-e1635246809406Pairs: Only eight teams will be competing this weekend. The favorites are from an unlikely country in pairs, Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan. Last season, the pairs team finished 2nd at the World Championships and found the Grand Prix podium twice (2nd at Skate America, 3rd at NHK). Their main competition will be from Canada’s Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Ethier, who finished 3rd in last weekend’s Skate America. Canada also has a 2nd team, Brooke McIntosh and Benjamin Mimar make their senior Grand Prix debut this weekend. Americans Emily Chan and Spencer Akira Howe have some impressive finished this summer with 2nd place at the John Nicks Pairs Challenge and the US International Classic.

Full Entries: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara (JPN)
2. Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Ethier (CAN)
3. Emily Chan and Spencer Akira Howe (USA)

gilles-piper-poirier-210918-1180Ice Dance: Canada’s Piper Gillies and Paul Poirier has won Skate Canada twice in their competitive careers, and they look to win their 3rd straight title this weekend. Their biggest challenge will come from Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Great Britain, have been on a successful run winning four straight competitions this young season. Their best Grand Prix finish was at Skate Canada in 2019 and at NHK in 2021. Competition from within comes from Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha, who are former world junior champions in 2019. They finished 6th at Skate Canada in 2019. Teammates Marie-Jade Laurault and Romain Le Gac finished 3rd in last week’s Skate America.

Teams to Watch: Japan’s Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto compete at their first Skate Canada event. Their best Grand Prix finish was a Covid-affected win at NHK Trophy in 2020. Americans Caroline Green and Michael Parsons sed the podium at last year’s Skate Canada. They did win the Four Continents Championship earlier this year.

Full Entries: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Piper Gillies and Paul Poirier (CAN)
2. Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson (GBR)
3. Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha (CAN)

Last Week’s Results

Men: 1/3 (Ilia Malinin pulls off a historic win.)
Women: 0/3 (Sakamoto held off a Levito challenge to win the event.)
Pairs: 3/3 (CALLED IT, 1-2-3)
Ice Dance: 2/3 (Americans and Canadians go 1-2)

Posted in Figure Skating, Figures skating, Ice Skating, International Skating Union, Predictions, Skate Canada, Skating | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Email Marketing isn’t, SPAM, Dude!

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Smooth Jazz and More depends on our listeners to continue broadcasting. Much of our outreach is thru “word of mouth,” ads and promos on our web stream and website, and email marketing and distribution. I use the latter constantly generate interest in our radio station and, more importantly, try to raise funds to keep our internet radio station afloat. I also look to independent artists to provide them with an outlet to present their music.

I’ve been using Mailchimp for the station’s email marketing for about a year and a half now. It’s been a very valuable tool to get the message to getting our station noticed.  After I send a newsletter, I receive a report that tells me how many readers opened it, how many clicks on the links I provided, when an email cannot be delivered to an email server and whether the reader has unsubscribed.

It’s not a big deal for me when a reader decides to unsubscribe from the newsletter.  It may be because they no longer want to follow anymore.  But when a music artist decides to target our internet radio station’s email marketing for SPAM abuse, that really pisses me off, because it threatens our future to stay afloat.  Now I don’t know why they would do that, other than they simply don’t know.

Usually, when you unsubscribe from an email, Mailchimp gives you a few reasons why you’re doing so. Choosing SPAM as the reason for unsubscribing automatically sends a message to the user that the email provider may target the account for abuse. In our case, it also may prevent the sender from sending future emails to their servers.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you know who your allies are, and who your enemies are. I won’t expose the person, but for the record, their music won’t be broadcast on my radio airwaves again. Their music was crap to begin with, so it’s no loss.

Posted in email marketing, SPAM | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Smooth’s Podium Picks 2022 – Grand Prix Series, Skate America

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The new cycle of figure skating actually began with the end of the Winter Olympics, where skaters and teams either retired, or decided to take a break from competition.  The war in Ukraine forced the International Skating Union to take a stand against Russia and Belarus, banning their skaters from competing.  As a result, there is a heavy drop off in competition for this season’s senior Grand Prix.  However, this is a chance for a new generation of skaters to gain valuable international experience in anticipation of the next Winter Olympics in 2026.   The first edition of the senior Grand Prix series takes place in Norwood, Massachusetts; where for the first time in three years, the event won’t be in a bubble.

10242020_2020skam_l_fs_016_ilia_malininMen: Late word last week that 2022 Olympic silver medalist Yugi Kagiyama of Japan pulled out of this season’s Grand Prix competition because of injury. That leaves the men’s field wide open. At the top of the list is American Ilia Malinin. Lots of buzz this summer over his successful quad axel at the US International Classic in Lake Placid, a competition he won easily. South Korea’s Cha Junhwan is the highest ranked men on the ISU World Standings. In the Challenger Series, he captured the Finlandia Trophy and finished 2nd at the Ondrej Nepela Memorial in Slovakia. Italy’s Daniel Grassl also has quads in his arsenal. He finished seventh at last year’s Skate America in Las Vegas. Canada’s Roman Sadovsky started his season with a successful 3rd place finished at Nebelhorn Trophy.

Staters to Watch: Keep your eye on Donovan Carrillo. He was the first Mexican skater to qualify for the Winter Olympic Games in 30 years. His spirited performance garnered new fans worldwide. He finished 8th at US International Classic. Japan’s Koshiro Shimada finished 2nd at Lombardia Trophy in Italy. His best Grand Prix finish was 9th at NHK Trophy in Sapporo.

Full Entries:CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Ilia Malinin (USA)
2. Cha Junhwan (KOR)
3. Daniel Grassl (ITA)

gettyimages-1345699789-e1640711827240Women: Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto has been on a whirlwind since winning bronze in Beijing back in February. She parleyed that success into a World Championship the next month. She could finally win a Skate America title after finishing 4th twice. Her biggest competitor will be from American Isabeau Levito, who started her senior international career with two competition wins (Philadelphia and Ondrej Nebela Memorial). South Korea’s Lee Haein skated in four events this year, including a 1st place win at the Triglav Trophy & Narcisa Cup. Japan’s Rino Matsuike makes her second Grand Prix appearance. She skated at the Rostelecom Cup, where she finished 8th.

Skaters to Watch: American Gracie Gold makes her first Grand Prix appearance in three years. The 2014 Olympian had an outstanding performance in Philadelphia this summer, finishing in 3rd place. Amber Glen also skates this weekend for the United States. She finished 3rd at the Cranberry International this summer. Germany’s Nicole Schott skates in what could be her final competitive season. This will be her first appearance at Skate America after six Grand Prix events. Her best finish was 7th place at GP Internationaux de France in 2017 and ’19.

Full Entries: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Isabeau Levito (USA) *Upset Special!!*
2. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN)
3. Lee Haein (KOR)

alexa_and_brandon_4Pairs: The lack of Russians and Chinese pairs makes this event a one team race. Last year, Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier won the country’s first World Championship since 1979. They go into Norwood as the favorites this weekend. However, they do have challengers. Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps of Canada captured the top spot at Nebelhorn Trophy this summer. It was Stellato-Dudek’s first title since 1999, when she won gold at the Junior Grand Prix Final as a singles competitor for the United States. A log jam is expected for the 3rd spot on the podium, with Canadians Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Ethier, Americans Valentina Plazas and Maximiliano Fernandez; and Letizia Roscher & Luis Schuster aiming for position.

Full Entries: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier (USA)
2. Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps (CAN)
3. Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Ethier (CAN)

downloadIce Dance: Americans look to make a rare sweep of the podium this weekend, with Madison Chock and Evan Bates as the favorites to win it all. A win would give them their first Skate America title since 2015. Kaitlyn Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker make their return State America since 2020. That year, they finished 2nd. Lorraine McNamara and Anton Spiradonov have skated in three competitions this summer with their best finish in Lake Placid. The rare sweep could be broken up by Canadians, Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus, who finished 3rd at Nebelhorn Trophy this past September.

Team to Watch: Japan’s Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi stunned many by finishing 2nd at the Four Continents Championships early this year. However, that performance was followed up with a 16th place finish at the World Championships. This weekend will be their first competition of the season. Canadians Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac will skate in their second Skate America competition. They last skated in 2019, where they finished 9th.

Full Entries: CLICK HERE!

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Madison Chock and Evan Bates (USA)
2. Kaitlyn Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker (USA)
3. Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus (CAN)

Posted in Figure Skating, Figures skating, Ice Skating, International Skating Union, Skate America, Skating | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment