20 of the Best Skating Programs from the Fall of 2016

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14. Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir (CAN): Short Dance

The short dance isn’t a segment that lends itself too much to memorable programs. It’s supposed to be a mix of rhythms. First, the one the compulsory pattern dance within the program is skated to, and then a choice of others, all set by the International Skating Union each season. This season, when they chose the Midnight Blues for the compulsory pattern in senior competitions, they gave skaters a choice of swing or hip hop to combine it with. The possibility of hip hop on the senior level for the first time brought some excitement. But it’s still hard to make a good whole out of the rhythms.

That didn’t intimidate Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, though, or coach Marie-France Dubreuil and her team. They instead used the setup to create a tribute to Prince. Hardly the only one this season, or even the only one skated by Olympic champions. But this one manages to take three very different Prince songs, match them to the right rhythms, and turn them into a show worth watching. The quick-toed sexy hip hop section to “Kiss” that opens the program is a highlight. That it’s not the team’s normal style makes it even more of an accomplishment. They found a perfect Prince song for the Blues in the form of “5 Women.” Then they found the exact right way to seamlessly transition it into “Purple Rain.” The nostalgia for that song is currently so strong it enhances the program’s ending.

It’s no wonder that when they took this dance to the Grand Prix Finale, they got the highest international short dance score ever out of it. It might not even be the last time they break that record this season.