45. Zijun Li CHN
2017 World Team Trophy free skate
Eventful - that's probably one word you can use to describe Zijun Li's season. A few coaching changes led her to Alexei Mishin, who not only fixed her lutz edge but also helped her regain her fight and motivation for skating. And after a World Championships where she herself thought she may have been left off the team at the last minute, Li came into World Team Trophy a few weeks later determined to make a statement.
And a statement it was.
But let me step back first. This program itself was a statement - it was the first program that I can remember from a top skater with Chinese vocals. That's a daring choice to begin with, especially since it's sure to not be a piece of music that the judging panels and most skating fans would be familiar with.
Li's performance of this program at World Team Trophy turned out to be an emphatic statement that she's really back in form and ready to attack the Olympic season. Since her surprise seventh-place debut at Worlds four years ago, her skating had seemed to plateau. But she found another gear this season in both her short program and free skate. And this free skate gave her the highest score she's received since 2013.
It was incredibly refreshing to see her renaissance - Zijun Li may have found her voice.