André is the media darling. It's a little tedious, keeping up the sweet appearance. He would love to step out of the limelight for a while, but the sponsorships are too lucrative and he has a foundation to fund as well. (It's never easy, making up for pedigree with training).
Lyrical figure skater Peggy Shippen has made a smashing debut and is rumoured to be switching to ice dance if they can find a partner for her. (Her own thoughts on the matter are curiously scripted, her ice blue eyes inscrutable.)
The rumours around Simcoe are as ensnaring as his actual performances, and take up almost as much stage time as he does. The shark smile he wears at the end of his routines only feed them, though he cryptically denies any of the allegations in his interviews.
Selah is a solid competitor, but his routines are a little cerebral. He leans into this, and his technique is crisp, clinical and polished. He loses points on artistry, but he was never vying for podium anyway.
Anna is a firebrand through and through. She is the only one who shows up earlier than Ben at the practice rink, and she barely acknowledges him with a nod when he arrives. Headphones in, eye on the prize. When she loses a tenth of a point, her face drops in the kiss and cry and her coach has to squeeze her arm to remind her to smile. Which she does. With closed lips.
Abigail is overlooked and it's a crime. A string of bad luck, one uncaring coach after another, though her fan base hopes to rectify this with a solid petition. If anyone's got what it takes to claim a medal, it's her.
Ben is in two worlds, and can only think of one at a time. Fanatical about his routines, though struggles to find a place to air his frustrations with his coach. He's not as polished as André in front of the cameras, and their fans are at each other's throats. Ben and André themselves are nothing but congenial on the ice and off, and probably both wish they could switch places.
Townsend! Does anyone see him, really? He's yet to fully come into his own, though his routines are technically sound. There's a sense of untapped potential, and if his physical stamina stays as it is, he might yet peak long after his co-competitors have aged out. (All his costumes are black, sombre with dark glitter. A uniform, of sorts.)
Mary and Abe make an interesting ice duo. A rocky start to their season, a sense that maybe the trust wasn't there yet. Still, their routines have been picking up speed and with the amount of ice time they manage to get for practice, they're a solid bet by the time qualifiers roll around.
Akinbode came out of nowhere. Versatile, agile and dedicated to his craft, his intensity makes him a captivating performer. He saves his strongest trick for last, to showcase his stamina. He keeps the audience on the edge of their seats until the end, and it never fails to land.
Caleb is a born entertainer. It's the greatest critique the jury has for him. "When will we see the real Caleb?" skating blogs ask. "He's great for a laugh, but can he go the distance?" Caleb runs a mile with Ben every morning to the rink, even after he doesn't make qualifiers, then lifts a personal record in the weight room while Coach Washington drills Ben's technique. Let the world have their clown. Caleb shines best when he's on his own.
Assistant Coach Sackett watches it all and makes endless notes in his clipboards. Without him, they'd be lost, and they all know it. It's Sackett who tries to needle Caleb into trying harder, even though he knows Caleb doesn't want to compete against Ben (and Caleb won't admit it). It's Sackett who slips Anna a pack of tampons when she's rummaging in her bag frantically. It's Sackett who squeezes André's shoulder, hands Abigail a Kleenex, and gives Peggy the quiet she needs to think. Coach Washington will take the glory and the trophies. Sackett's noteboard is covered in handmade thank-you cards.