20 of the Best Skating Programs from the Fall of 2016

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13. Cheng Peng & Yang Jin (CHN): Short Progam

When news of the Great Chinese Partner Swap first broke last summer, Cheng Peng & Yang Jin were generally considered the losers in the deal. The assumption, after all, was that Hao Zhang’s favor with the Chinese coaches and officials had gotten them to take Xiaoyu Yu away from Jin and hand her off to him, possibly against her wishes. Peng & Jin were the discarded partners thrown a bone in the form of each other. Yu & Zhang have so far been the higher-placing pair of the two. But Peng & Jin have shown the ability to hold their own, even making the Grand Prix Finale alongside their former partners.

This short program, choreographed by Lori Nichol, is a huge part of why. Goofy, clever, and tailored well to the contours of Jimbo Mathus’ “My Drag,” it instantly turned Peng & Jin from the discarded skaters to the ones forcing the audience to sit up and take notice. It is especially remarkable for how well it showcases Cheng Peng. Generally thought to be the weakest of the four, she now has a chance to do something it turns out she’s good at. We’ve seen her smile during this program more than she ever did, and she genuinely seems happy. It might even be helping her jumps to have her spirits raised.

If they continue to skate this program as well as they’ve skated it so far, and can put together a decent freeskate performance? Who knows how far they’ll go.