Emily Hughes returns to this year’s U.S. Figure Skating Championship after skipping last year’s due to a hip injury. In her first appearance last fall, she took seventh at Skate America. She finished a surprising seventh at the 2006 Olympics. Hughes won silver at the 2007 U.S. Nationals before being sidelines by the injury. Her strengths are her pose, her precise jumping skills and just the way she connects with the audience. Few skaters seem to captivate fans like Hughes. (She likely inherited this from sister Sarah, who shocked the world when she skated her very best performance on the most important night. The result was a gold medal in 2002.) Hughes is also a student at Harvard.
Consider this an introduction to Emily Hughes on ice. Feel free to add your own favorite in the links below.
1. 2007 Four Continents Long Program
This program is the whole package…good jumps with solid landings. Her legwork and body move almost in dance without any awkward transitions or even hesitations. Check out the spin combination at 2:14. Her arms move so lightly they almost look like wings. This is one of those few total performances that a skater may only do once or twice in her life. (Here’s hoping she may have one or two more inside!) This performance helped Hughes earn a silver.
2. 2006 Nationals Exhibition Skating
This performance served as a coming out party for Hughes following her first national competition as a senior competition. She won a bronze medal and a trip to the Olympics with the performances that previewed this one. This music is challenging…she’s skating to a range of Gloria Estevan music. The upbeat tempo really uses her energy and shows how the audience loves her. Considering exhibitions are usually designed to be more beautiful and less challenging, Hughes used this chance to scream “Hey World…I’m Here, too!” Again, very smooth transitions and good disciplined elements.
3. 2006 Olympics (Torino) Short Program
Check out the footwork at about 1:30 and the wonderful spiral at 2:20. This performance also includes an excellent example of one of my favorite moves, the areal split. You can just feel her excitement and how happy she is to be skating at the Olympics. This program made her a sure-bet for the top ten. The spins in this program are perhaps her best spins ever. Pay close attention to the ending. She takes familiar moves and adds her own touch to it.
4. 2006 Olympics (Torino) Long Program
Some ice skating purist won’t like the inclusion of this routine, but it is one of my favorites. She does take a pretty painful stumble coming out of a jump…the kind that causes an audible gasp. Ignore that and the rest of the routine will show you that she is capable of pulling of a surprise in Spokane and in Vancouver. Check out the beautiful spin at 2:14. Instead of competing with Sascha Cohen for the rotation speed, Hughes slows down a bit. The result is a beautiful spin that leaves you breathless. Even with the fall, the performance doesn’t have any awkward transitions as the music changes. She includes some more difficult elements at the end.
5. Skating Rocks/Tell Me Lies
This is a second exhibition skate. I usually would not include two exhibition routines, but this one is so good I made an exception. This link is also included because it is a very recent performance, coming just a month before Emily Hughes will compete for a spot on the national team. She does a backward entrance into a jump which is very impressive. She looks strong and confident. If I were a betting woman, this routine might convince me to put some cash on the line.