20 of the Best Skating Programs from the Fall of 2016

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11. Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres (FRA): Short Program

Since vocals with lyrics became legal for competitive programs in all disciplines in the fall of 2014, pop vocal programs made their appearances. But they still aren’t the most common choice. Certain kinds of skaters tend to make use of them, skaters who sell themselves on personality rather than beauty. Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres this year used music off the billboard for both their programs, choreographed by John Kerr and Silvia Fontana. Their free is to the Disturbed version of “Sound of Silence” and has won love from the fans. Accompanying that is a short set to “Earned It” by The Weeknd suits them even more.

It allows them to skate with attitude and sex appeal as well as aggression. James is probably sexier than anything to come out of 50 Shades of Gray, and Cipres can accompany her for the ride. That’s very much what he does her, along with some presenting of James. She’s at the center of this, one of the two of them we’re most invited to look at. Every move she makes brings a charge with him, the audience, or both, and she’s using it to own the ice. Like any good sexy diva, she’s a queen in more than one way.

We hope they bring a pair of programs like this to the Olympic next year. It’ll be the first Olympics with lyrics outside the ice dance competition, and they’d do that justice.