UPDATE: Torontocast Releases Geo-Block

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Torontocast announced they’re releasing the Geo-Block on all of their servers.   That means listeners in the United States may be able to hear to our radio station without a Virtual Private Network present.

We’re not sure how long that will continue, but for now, we recommend purchasing a VPN subscription to prevent any disruptions to our internet radio stream.  Of course, none of this wouldn’t be necessary without putting pressure on SoundExchange and their heavy handed tactics on small broadcasters.

If you’re listening from the United States, you should be able to continue listening to Smooth Jazz and More, without a Virtual Private Network.  But we recommend maintaining your VPN subscription to prevent any disruption.

Recommended VPN Subscriptions:

VPN Express

OPERA web browser

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Smooth’s Podium Picks – Four Continents Championship 2019

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This is the final International competition before Worlds in March. The event returns to the United States for the first time since 2012, when it was held in Colorado Springs. It was also held in the US in 2006 and 2007. Last year, the event was held in Chinese Taipei. Last year, the event featured a number of skaters that weren’t going to the Winter Olympics. This year, a number of Olympians are using this event as a pre-cursor to next month’s Worlds.

sp-skate-a-20171119-870x676Men’s (Full Lineup): Japan’s Shoma Uno is the favorite this week in Anaheim. In last year’s event, he finished 2nd to eventual champion, Boyang Jin, who also returns to defend his title. Uno won his third consecutive Japanese title in December and was a 2nd place finisher in the Grand Prix Final. Jin, however, hasn’t had the season he hoped for in Grand Prix competition, with a 5th place finish in Helsinki and a 9th place finish in Grenoble, France. Jason Brown had a disappointing week at US Nationals with a 6th place finish, but he returns to 4CC to better his 3rd place finish last year. One skater that may make waves could be Korea’s Junhwan Cha. He had his best finish in Grand Prix action with a 3rd place finish in the Final with a personal best, 263.49.

Skaters to Watch: Nam Nguyen regained his Canadian men’s title last month and will be a contender for the podium. Teammate Keegan Messing looks to improve on his third place finish at nationals. Japan’s Keiji Tanaka was third at nationals and had two 8th place finishes in Grand Prix action. Teammate Kazuki Tomono had a third place finish at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow this fall and put in a personal best, 238.73. American Vincent Zhou was third at US Nationals last month.

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Shoma Uno (JPN)
2. Junhwan Cha (KOR)
3. Jason Brown (USA)

sp-jack-a-20171222-870x650Ladies (Full Lineup): Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto made a surprise splash last season by winning the 4CC crown. She returns to defend her title, and along the way, she continued her surprise run by upsetting two of the top Japanese skaters for the ladies national title in December. One of those skaters was Rika Kihira, who also surprised everyone in her first senior competitions, winning the Grand Prix Final. She came up short at nationals, finishing 2nd. Mai Mihara came up short of the podium at Japanese nationals, but with a 2nd place finish at Grenoble, France and as the 2017 4CC champion, Mihara makes it very likely of a Japanese sweep of the podium. One skate that could ruin that is American Bradie Tennell. She was upset last month at US Nationals by 13 year old Alysa Liu. But Tennell has put together a solid season, including a third place finish in Grenoble, France.

Skaters to Watch: One skater under the radar to look out for is Elizabet Tursynbaeva of Kazakhstan. She put up a season’s best, 200.74 at Finlandia and won her fifth straight national title. Korea’s Eunsoo Lim was 3rd at Rostelecom Cup, but was upset at nationals, finishing 3rd. Others to watch this week include Americans Mariah Bell and Ting Cui, Korea’s Yelim Kim (KOR) and Canada’s Alaine Chartand, who picked up her 2nd National title.

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Rika Kihira (JPN)
2. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN)
3. Mai Mihara (JPN)

wenjing-sui-and-cong-hanPairs (Full Lineup): Olympic silver medalists Wenjing Sui & Cong Han make their season debut. They sat out the Grand Prix season, as Sui recovered from a stress fracture in her foot. They look to grab their fifth 4CC title. Seven other teams vie for podium spots, including teammates Cheng Peng & Yang Jin. The team took silver at the Grand Prix Final in Vancouver, where they put up a season’s best, 216.90. Newly crowned Canadian Champions, Kirsten Moore-Towers & Michael Marinaro are favored to medal. They were 3rd at Skate Canada with a season’s best, 200.93. Two American teams could make it close. Newly crowned US champs Ashley Cain & Timothy Leduc were 3rd at Skate America this season. Defending 4CC Champions Tarah Kayne & Danny O’Shea look to recover from their “near-miss” at US Nationals, where they fell from 1st to 4th after a final failed lift.

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Wenjing Sui & Cong Han (CHN)
2. Cheng Peng & Yang Jin (CHN)
3. Kirsten Moore-Towers & Michael Marinaro (CAN)

gettyimages-635550800Ice Dance (Full Lineup): This will be a battle between American and Canadian teams. At the top of the list is the current Grand Prix Final champions, Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue. They look to continue their successful run internationally, which included wins at Skate Canada, Skate America and their 1st national title. Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje is one team that could stop their win streak despite sitting out the Grand Prix this season. They won their third Canadian championship and last won at 4CC in 2015. Teammates Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier are coming off their best season with two consecutive 3rd place finishes in the Grand Prix circuit and finishing a close 2nd at Canadian nationals. Americans Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker are the defending 4CC champions, but could see a tough path towards a repeat this year.

Teams to Watch: Two-time World medalists Madison Chock & Evan Bates return to the ice after missing the first half of the season, as Chock recovered from injury. They finished 2nd at US nationals. One team that could make a difference is Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Sorensen, who will skate for the first time internationally for Canada. Other teams competing this week are China’s Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu and Japan’s Misato Komatsubara & Tim Koleto.

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue (USA)
2. Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (CAN)
3. Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier (CAN)


Results from US Nationals

Mens – 1/3 – Chen wins, while Zhou and Brown switched spots.
1. Nathan Chen
2. Jason Brown
3. Vincent Zhou

Ladies – 0/3 – Alysa Liu triple axeled her way to being the youngest US ladies champion.
1. Bradie Tennell
2. Mariah Bell
3. Courtney Hicks

Pairs – 0/3 – Cain and LeDuc wins, while the Knierims and Kayne & O’Shea fall from the podium.
1. Alexa and Chris Knierim
2. Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea
3. Ashley Cain and Tim LeDuc

Ice Dance – 3/3 – CALLED IT, 1-2-3
1. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue
2. Madison Chock and Evan Bates
3. Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-luc Baker

Juniors – 2/4 (Full Results)

Men – Ryan Dunk
Ladies – Gabriella Izzo
Pairs – Kate Finster and Balazs Nagy
Ice Dance – Eliana Gropman and Ian Somerville

Europeans

Men – 1/3 – Fernandez ends his career on top.
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP)
2. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS)
3. Alexander Samarin (RUS)

Ladies – 0/3 – Samodurova upstages Zagitova for the win.
1. Alina Zagitova (RUS)
2. Sofia Samodurova (RUS)
3. Alexia Paganini (SUI)

Pairs – 2/3 – France wins their first pairs title in 82 years.  Russians go, 2-3.
1. Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres (FRA)
2. Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov (RUS)
3. Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise (ITA)

Ice Dance – 3/3 – CALLED IT, 1-2-3
1. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (FRA)
2. Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin (RUS)
3. Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA)

Posted in 4CC, Figure Skating, Figures skating, Four Continents, Ice Skating, International Skating Union, Skating, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Year, Another Birthday!

Ah, yes! January 28th is here again.

I’ve completely stopped counting birthdays after I turned 39, so I have no idea how old I am.  The great comedian Jack Benny wasn’t too fussy about celebrating birthday either after he turned 39.  The running gag was that he celebrated his 39th on his radio program and thought it was so much fun, he decided to do the same thing the next year, because “There’s nothing funny about 40.” Jack would continue to celebrate his 39th birthday, 41 times. In 1974 when Jack Benny passed away, the headlines read, “Jack Benny Dies – at age 39?”

Unlike his character on the radio, who was cheap, vain, petty, and self congratulatory, I wouldn’t consider myself as having those characteristics. But I never was thrilled with celebrating birthdays. It just seemed to be a reminder that nothing continues to be the same.

Today, I received a birthday dinner coupon from a restaurant down the street.  I’ll take advantage of it and enjoy the rest of the day off.  As I said last year and I’ll say it for as long as I live, I’m not looking forward to getting older. As we all get older, our bodies become harder to manage. We look back at the years and ask each other, “how did we get this old?” Some people grow graceful. I, for one, am taking the time to get everything I’ve always wanted to do out of the way before it all goes to shit.

Thanks, everyone for your continued birthday blessings!

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Here are some folks who were also born on this day!

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Actress Ariel Winter in 1998.

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Golden State Warriors Point Guard Andre Iguodala in 1984.

Elijah Wood
Actor Elijah Wood, of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy in 1981.

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Singer Nick Carter, formerly of the Backstreet Boys in 1980.


WWE Superstar, Sheamus in 1978.

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Singer Joey Fatone of the group, NSYNC in 1977.

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Rapper Rick Ross in 1977.

Sarah McLachlan
Singer Sarah McLachlan in 1968


Rapper Rahim in 1968.

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Figure Skater Denise Beillemann in 1963.

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Liberal Radio Talk Show Host Randi Rhodes in 1959.

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Movie Director Frank Darabont (The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption.) in 1959.

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Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 1955.


Playboy Model Barbi Benton in 1950

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Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs Head Coach in 1949

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Actress Susan Howard from the TV show, Dallas in 1944

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Businessman Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world in 1940.

Alan Alda
Actor Alan Alda, who played “Hawkeye” in the TV series, M*A*S*H in 1936.

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And former baseball player and NY Yankees announcer, Bill White.  He announced this famous home run call in 1978.

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Space Shuttle Challenger
On This Day In History: The space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift-off from the Kennedy Space Center in 1986. The images to this day still haunt me.

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Seven crew members perished, including Christa McAuliffe, who was trying to become the first school teacher in space.

On this day in 1956, Elvis Presley made his first TV appearance.

After this performance, censors would televise Elvis’ next performance from the neck up.

Also born on this day were,

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Painter, Jackson Pollock in 1912

Arthur Rubinstein
Pianist & Composer, Arthur Rubinstein in 1887

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and Henry VII who would rule England during the “House of Tudors”, in 1457.  His son, Henry VIII would succeed him.

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Smooth’s Podium Picks – European Figure Skating Championship 2019

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This year’s Euros take place in Minsk, Belarus. We could see a strong showing by Russia, but we could also see some interesting showings by France and Italy.

w_900x700_131803449237411Men (Full Entries) – Spain’s Javier Fernandez makes his final skate performance this week. He announced last month that Europeans will be is last competition. He’s gunning for a seventh straight men’s championship, and even though he wasn’t in this season’s Grand Prix, he’s still the favorite to repeat. His main competition will be from Russia’s Mikhail Kolyada, who had two 4th place finishes in Helsinki and Rostelecom Cup. He was third at Europeans twice in the last two years and hopes to make the top of the podium this time around. Teammate Alexander Samarin was 3rd at Russian Nationals to get a spot this week. He was also 3rd at Internationaux de France this season. Israel’s Alexi Bychenko looks to get back to the podium as well. He has two 5th place finishes after a 2nd place finish in 2016.

Skaters to Watch: Latvia’s Deniss Vasiļjevs barley missed the podium in last year’s Europeans with a 4th place finish. Georgia’s Morisi Kvitelashvili had his best Grand Prix competition with a 2nd place finish at Rostelecome this season. Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic had personal best scored in Grand Prix competitions and finished off the podium at the GP Final. Italy’s Matteo Rizzo is also a podium contender with a 3rd place finish at NHK Trophy.

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP)
2. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS)
3. Alexander Samarin (RUS)

alina-zagitovaLadies (Full Entries) – Russian ladies had a cosmetic shift in their ranks, as two-time European champion Evgenia Medvedeva was shut out of this weekend and Worlds due to the emergence of junior skaters at Nationals. Even Alina Zagitova was flustered, falling to 5th at Nationals. However, the reigning champion gets in this weekend on a technicality and is the favorite to repeat. Injuries to Italy’s Carolina Kostner and Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx makes it likely that a Russian sweep is possible. Stanislava Konstantinova was 2nd in Helsinki and Sofia Samodurova made the podium in her first two senior events, reaching the Grand Prix Final, where she finished 5th. Who could break the Russian sweep? It could be Switzerland’s Alexia Paganini. She was 7th last year and had a 4th place finish at Rostelecom.

Skaters to Watch: France’s has two skaters to keep a close eye on. Mae Berenice Meite won her 5th National title and is looking to make the podium for the first time. Laurine Lecavelier had a 5th place finish at Skate America.

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Alina Zagitova (RUS)
2. Sofia Samodurova (RUS)
3. Alexia Paganini (SUI)

vanessa-james-and-morgan-cipres-1Pairs (Full Entries) – This year’s competition will be a battle between the two top teams in pairs. France’s Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres finally reached the top of the podium with a thrilling come-from-behind win in the Grand Prix Final. Russia’s Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov fell to 3rd in that competition, however they are the reigning two time Euro champs and look to do a “three-peat”. Italy’s Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise had two 2nd place finishes to reach their first Grand Prix Final, where they finished 5th. They look for their first podium spot at Euros. Austria’s Miriam Ziegler and Severin Kiefer had two 4th place finishes in Grand Prix action. They were 7th last year.

Teams to Watch: Russia’s Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovkii had a successful season as a first time senior Grand Prix team. They reached the podium at Internationaux de France, finishing 3rd and missed out on the Grand Prix Final, finishing 4th at Skate Canada. This team may just make the podium this weekend. Another Russian team that could pose the possibility of a Russian sweep in pairs is Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin. They were 3rd in Helsinki and Rostelecom reaching the final, where they finish 6th.

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres (FRA)
2. Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov (RUS)
3. Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise (ITA)

22iceskating-cul1-articlelargeIce Dance (Full Entries) – France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron go for a 5th straight European championship this weekend. They managed only one Grand Prix event this season due to injury, a win at Internationaux de France. They’re considered the favorites to win, but they have stiff competition. Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri put in five international competitions this season, and it paid off. They made the podium twice, at Skate America (2nd) and in Helsinki (2nd), reaching the Final where they were 3rd. Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin were on fire this season, winning their first two Grand Prix events in Helsinki and Rostelecom, but they lost steam in the Final, finishing 4th. They were third last season. Teammates Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov won their first National title and look to bounce back from missing last year’s Euros.

Teams to Watch: Poland’s Natalia Kaliszek and Maksym Spodyriev put in lots of competitions this season. Their best finish in Grand Prix action was a 5th place showing at Rostelecom. France’s Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac were 4th at Skate Canada, but are trying to crack the top ten at Euros.

Smooth’s Pick –
1. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (FRA)
2. Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin (RUS)
3. Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA)

Posted in European Championships, Figure Skating, Figures skating, Ice Skating, International Skating Union, ISU, Skating | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Smooth’s Podium Picks – US Figure Skating Championships 2019

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This year’s Nationals has a dark cloud hanging over it with the sudden death of former pairs skater, John Coughlin. The former two-time US pairs champion committed suicide over the weekend.

f5f12b886cc840eebac48a524340e4b6Coughlin was banned by US Figure Skating pending an investigation on alleged abuse.  SafeSport, a non-profit organization designed to prevent abuse by coaches and trainers in sports, listed him as being “Interim Measure – Restriction”. The organization upgraded it on Friday to “interim suspension”, leading to USFSA’s ruling.  The following afternoon, police were dispatched to his father’s home in Kansas City following a report of a suicide.

Coughlin was a huge contributor to the sport, participating in coaching and TV commentating.  NBC had also banned him from commentating on this weekend’s Nationals.  Coughlin won US pairs titles in 2011 with Caitlin Yankowskas, and in 2012 with Caydee Denney.

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tonya-harding-nancy-kerrigan-3ad91b583e57dcbeThis year is also the 25th anniversary of the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, which also took place in Detroit.  Tonya Harding eventually won US Nationals that year, but it was later revealed that her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly fostered a plot to sabotage Kerrigan’s chances at Nationals. Four people, were implicated including Gillooly, and sentenced to prison terms. Harding later admitted knowing about the plot to attack Kerrigan to FBI investigators. As a result, she was stripped of her 1994 US ladies title by US Figure Skating and banned from all skating sanctioned events for life. Kerrigan would win silver at the 94′ Olympics. Harding would end up in 7th.

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There are many new faces at this year’s championships in Detroit. Here are our picks.

Full List of Competitors Here!

ddl54ti4krg2pmlswo7uaprr5eMen’s – This weekend is all on Nathan Chen’s watch. The two time US Champion goes for a third title after a successful Grand Prix season, winning his second title. Just how many quads will he pull off this weekend is the question everyone will be asking. Chen’s main competition will be from Jason Brown, who had a solid Grand Prix season despite not making the final. He had a 2nd place finish at Internationaux de France, but finished 6th at Skate Canada. Vincent Zhou had a bit of a step back in his second year as a senior skater. He was 4th at NHK and 5th at Skate America. He also finished 6th in the Winter Olympics at PyeongChang. Alex Krasnozhon had much promise last year, but finished 10th at Nationals last year. He looks to improve his standing this weekend.

Skaters to Watch: Camden Pulkinen won the US Junior championship last year and finished 6th at Junior Worlds. He makes his senior debut this weekend. Jimmy Ma and Sean Rabbitt also return to contend this weekend.

Smooth’s Pick
1. Nathan Chen
2. Jason Brown
3. Vincent Zhou

901719990.jpg.0Ladies – The division has been decimated with injuries and retirements.  Gone are Ashley Wagner, Mirai Nagasu, Karen Chen, Gracie Gold and Angela Wang. That leaves the field wide open, with reigning US Champion Bradie Tennell getting the opportunity to repeat. Tennell had a very good Grand Prix season, finishing third at Internationaux de France, but falling short of the podium at Skate America. The rest of the field consists promising young skaters. Mariah Bell looks to return to the podium after falling to 5th last year. Starr Andrews made an impressive debut at last year’s Nationals, but struggled in international competition, with her best finish being 7th at Skate Canada. Courtney Hicks has been skating under the radar for years, but this could be her best chance to make the podium. She was 9th last year and her best finish was in 2013, where she finished 4th.

Skaters to Watch: Keep your eye on Alysa Liu, who hit a triple axel in competition. She won her regional and sectional competitions and could make waves this weekend. Other skaters that will contend are Amber Glenn, Hannah Miller and Emmy Ma.

Smooth’s Pick
1. Bradie Tennell
2. Mariah Bell
3. Courtney Hicks

ct-spt-alexa-chris-knierim-figure-skating-olympics-20180213.jpgPairs – The lineup of teams looking to contend could turn out to be a blessing for US pairs skating. Reigning pairs champs Alexa and Chris Knierim look to make it two in a row and three titles in their last four. They grabbed the podium at NHK (3rd), but missed out on the finals with a 4th place finish at Skate America. Former champions Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea look to prevent that from happening. They also missed out on the Grand Prix final with a 5th place finish at NHK, but finished 2nd at Internationaux de France. Ashley Cain and Tim LeDuc look to return to the podium after a 4th place finish at last year’s Nationals. They had their best showing in Grand Prix action with a 3rd place finish at Skate America this season. Haven Denney and Brandon Frasier fell off badly after winning the pairs title in 2017, finishing 5th. They will contend for the title, as well.

Teams to Watch: Deanna Stellato and Nathan Bartholomay are the wild card team this weekend. They were 3rd at Nationals last year and had modest success in Grand Prix action this season. Other teams contending include Jessica Calang and Brian Johnson, Erika Choi Smith and AJ Reiss & Chelsea Liu and Ian Meyh.

Smooth’s Pick
1. Alexa and Chris Knierim
2. Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea
3. Ashley Cain and Tim LeDuc

rs_1024x759-180212200226-1024.madison-hubbell-zachary-donohue-winter-olympics-couples.ct_.021218Ice Dance – Maia and Alex Shibutani will not participate at Nationals this season. But that doesn’t mean the US will be less competitive. You can bank on Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue to lead the way. They are the favorites to win this weekend. They’ve had the best streak of their careers this season, winning Skate America, Skate Canada and the Grand Prix Final. They go for their 2nd straight US title, but they’ll have strong competition. Madison Chock and Evan Bates return after a tough stretch where they finished 3rd at Nationals last season. Injuries also washed out their Grand Prix season. Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-luc Baker made headlines winning their first Grand Prix competition at NHK Trophy and a berth in the Final, where they finished 6th. Lorraine McNamarra and Quinn Carpenter will be looking to better their 6th place finish at last year’s Nationals. They reached the podium in Helsinki and came up short at Skate America, finishing 4th.

Teams to Watch: The brother and sister team of Rachel and Michael Parsons are trying to find their place after a 5th place finish at Nationals last season. The former world junior champions are the most likely team to make a push for the podium. Another team to look at are Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko, who placed 3rd at Rostelecom Cup this season.

Smooth’s Pick
1. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue
2. Madison Chock and Evan Bates
3. Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-luc Baker

Here are my picks in the Junior category.

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Men – Ryan Dunk – He finished 4th at Junior Nationals last year and had a 5th place finish at the JGP Armenian Cup this season.

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Ladies – Gabriella Izzo – She was 6th at Juniors last year and was 6th at JGP Canada this season.

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Pairs – Kate Finster and Balazs Nagy – The only team with international experience, they were 9th at JGP Czech Skate and 2nd at Midwestern Sectionals.

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Ice Dance – Eliana Gropman and Ian Somerville – The team was 4th at juniors last season and was 3rd at JGP Bratislava.

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How did I do last week at Canadian Nationals?

Men – 0/3 – Nam Nguyen won his second Canadian Men’s title.  Gogolev led after the short, but would fall to 2nd.  The favorite, Messing would end up in third.

1. Keegan Messing
2. Nam Nguyen
3. Stephen Gogolev

Ladies – 0/3 – I expected Alaine Chartrand to medal, but a 2nd championship was a huge surprise.  Both Daleman and Austman would sit outside the podium.

1. Gabby Daleman
2. Larkyn Austman
3. Alaine Chartrand

Pairs – 2/3 – No surprises here.

1. Kristen Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro
2. Camile Ruest and Andrew Wolfe
3. Lori-Ann Matte and Thierry Ferland

Ice Dance – 1/3 – We knew all three teams would medal, and it was a close finish.  But Weaver and Poje would squeeze a victory over Giles and Poirier.

1. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier
2. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje
3. Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen

Juniors – 3/4

Men – Aleksa Rakic (CALLED IT!)

Ladies – Hannah Dawson (CALLED IT!)

Pairs – Patricia Andrew and Paxton Fletcher Winners were Chloe Choinard & Mathieu Ostiguy.

Ice Dance – Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha (CALLED IT!)

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

Smooth’s Podium Picks – 2019 Canadian National Skating Championships

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Canadian figure skating has been going through a transition of power thru its ranks. Gone are pairs medalists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. Patrick Chan won’t be going for another Canadian men’s title. World ladies champion Kaetlyn Osmond is sitting out this season, along with Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in ice dance. That means a whole new line up of skaters, many full of promise for the sport in Canada. This year’s championships are taking place in St. John’s, New Brunswick starting on Monday.

jr_2018-02-16-032641_teamcanada-e1518794041240Men (Full Lineup) – At the top of the list is Keegan Messing. This season, he qualified for his first Grand Prix Final (for the injured Yuzuru Hanyu), finishing 5th. He finished 2nd at Nationals last season, so he should be the odds-on favorite this weekend. His main competition will be Nam Ngyuen, who was 3rd at Nationals last year. His Grand Prix season had him finishing 6th at Skate America and 5th at Skate Canada. Roman Sadovsky is an up and coming star for Canada, who was 7th last season and could reach the podium. He was 12th at Skate Canada. Nicholas Nadeau is coming off an injury plagued season and is making his debut. He participated in his only competition this season at Finlandia Trophy, where he finished.

Skaters to Watch: Keep a watchful eye on Stephen Gogolev. He won the Junior Grand Prix title with an impressive free skate this season. Joseph Pham, who had a 3rd place finish at JGP Czech Skate this year should also be of consideration. Both skaters will be making their senior debuts in 2019.

Smooth’s Picks
1. Keegan Messing
2. Nam Nguyen
3. Stephen Gogolev

daleman_gabby-1040x572Ladies (Full Lineup) – As we mentioned previously, Kaetlyn Osmond is sitting of this season after winning the World ladies title and finishing 3rd at the Winter Olympics. That leaves three elite skaters ready to fight for the top spot. Gabby Daleman is the defending champion. However, she’s had battles with her mental health and was forced to sit out the Grand Prix season to get better. Despite all her health issues, she’s still the favorite to repeat this weekend. Her biggest competition will be from Larkyn Austman, who surprised everyone last year with a 3rd place finish at Nationals and a place on the Olympic team. This season, Austman has been struggling with injuries, but should be at 100% percent for this weekend. Alaine Chartrand struggled last year to a 4th place finish at Nationals, missing out on the Olympics. This season is no different, as she finished 9th at State America and 8th at Skate Canada. Regardless, the 2016 Canadian ladies champion is still a favorite to make the podium this weekend.

Skaters to Watch: Veronik Mallet has been away from the ice for almost three years due to injury. She makes her return to competition this weekend. Her best finish at Nationals was 3rd in 2015. Alicia Pineault also showed some promise, as she had a 10th place finish at Skate Canada this year.

Smooth’s Picks
1. Gabby Daleman
2. Larkyn Austman
3. Alaine Chartrand

1_8ioyuvvopk4pg6ab8gam1qPairs (Full Lineup) – With the retirement of Duhamel and Radford & the surprise end of Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau collaboration, the changing of the guard leaves Kristen Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro as the team most likely to benefit from their departure. They had a solid Grand Prix season, finishing 3rd at Skate Canada and 4th at NHK Trophy. They also missed a top 10 finish at last year’s Winter Olympics, finishing 11th. After two consecutive 3rd place finishes at Nationals, they’re the overall favorite this weekend to take the top spot. Only five other senior teams are participating Nationals this weekend. Camile Ruest and Andrew Wolfe haven’t had a top three finish in their tenure as a pairs team, with their best being a 5th place showing at Internationaux de France in 2018. Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud were 5th at Nationals last season, with a 5th place showing at Skate Canada.

Teams to Watch: The two other teams are newly formed. Justine Brasseur and Mark Bardei makes their debut as a pairs team. Brasseur was previously paired with Mathieu Ostiguy for four years. Lori-Ann Matte and Thierry Ferland are the reigning Canadian Junior champions and will make their Senior debut this weekend.

Smooth’s Picks
1. Kristen Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro
2. Camile Ruest and Andrew Wolfe
3. Lori-Ann Matte and Thierry Ferland

GillesPoirier-Short1_resizedIce Dance (Full Lineup) – The top two ice dance teams in the absence of Virtue and Moir also happens to be in the top 10 ISU world rankings. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (#8) are looking for their first National title after finishing 2nd four times, including last year. They also were third in both their Grand Prix assignments this season. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje (#10) are looking for their third National championship. They finished third at last year’s Worlds and was 7th at the Winter Olympics. Both teams will battle for the top two podium spots. Third place will be with the remaining six teams participating. Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus look to make the podium after two 4th place finishes at Nationals. Haley Sales and Nikolas Wamsteeker are also looking to be one of those teams after a 6th place showing at last year’s Nationals.

Teams to Watch: After failing to gain citizenship to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics, Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen will skate as a Canadian ice dance team. The three time Danish champions finished 13th at last year’s World championships. Molly Lanaghan and Dmitre Razgulajevs make their second appearance on the senior level. Last year, they finished 7th at Nationals.

Smooth’s Picks
1. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier
2. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje
3. Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen

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Here are my picks for Juniors

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Men – Aleksa Rakic – The 14 year old from BC had a 6th place finish at JGP Czech Skate this season.

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Ladies – Hannah Dawson – The versatile skater who also participates in pairs was 10th at JGP Canada this season.

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Pairs – Patricia Andrew and Paxton Fletcher – The team finished 2nd at last year’s Junior Nationals.

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Ice Dance – Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha – The team goes for a third Canadian Junior National title. They were 4th in the world on the junior level last year.

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

UPDATE: Torontocast Begins Geo-Blocking Listeners in the United States

The last three years has been a roller coaster for small broadcasters like myself.  It all started in 2016, when our long-time broadcast provider, Live365 abruptly shut down.  Then we moved to Radionomy, where we had to endure months of poor customer service and bad technical issues.  18 months later, we moved to SoniXcast, where we stayed for only eight months due to inconsistent technical problems.  We finally found a place we could call home in Torontocast, where we’ve experienced top notch customer service and technical support that is the best we’ve encountered.

You would think it was too good to be true.  But then we were informed by Torontocast that they received a letter from SoundExchange, the Internet arm of the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) saying they were not in compliance of music royalties.  The company initially informed us that they were going out of business.  But after a couple of days, they recanted, and informed everyone on the network that they were implementing a “geo-block” on listeners from the United States.  On January 12th, Torontocast began blocking listeners in the US.  In order to be complaint, all Torontocast broadcasters would need to purchase licencing.

I, too, thought about hanging it up after 17 and a 1/2 years of broadcasting.  But decided not to.  That’s is exactly what corporate broadcasters want…less competition.  So, we’re not going anywhere, anytime soon.   We will continue to look at ways to provide our broadcasts to our US listeners.  This includes shopping around for other internet broadcast providers, including Live365.

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What you can do to continue listening to “Smooth Jazz and More” uninterrupted.

  1. Purchase a VPN app for your smartphone. – We recommend VPN Express, which offers users and affordable data plans and daily and monthly rewards.  Click on the link here.
  2. Download a web browser that has VPN capabilities. – We recommend the OPERA web browser, which has free VPN access for Canada and other countries.
  3. Please donate to Smooth Jazz and More. – You can start by contributing to our GoFundMe Fundraising Campaign. You can also purchase items at our gift store at Café Press. US Music Royalties have increased over 300% percent since Congress allowed legislation protecting micro broadcaster like us to expire. We need any funds you can give to help offset any increases that will come our way. If you’ve donated, thank you for your support.

In the meantime, WRITE TO CONGRESS!  Tell them you support micro broadcasters and want legislation protecting them from unfair music royalties, or at least, have non-profit royalty rates rolled back to the ones that existed prior to 2016.

 

And while you’re at it, TWEET OR WRITE A LETTER TO SOUNDEXCHANGE!  TELL THEM TO STOP BULLYING SMALL INTERNET BROADCASTERS!

 

 

 

Posted in CRB, Internet Radio, Internet Radio Station, Music, Music Industry, Music Royalties, Radio, SoundExchange, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment