Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fall 2017 Update I: Where's that TSL Interview...??


I haven’t forgotten the blog, and I definitely haven’t forgotten that figure skating’s Grand Prix (2017 edition) begins later this week. More about both of those things shortly. But first I’m gonna talk about something that, apparently, WAS forgotten.

Some of you may recall me sharing-- many, MANY months back-- that I'd been contacted to do an interview about Skating on Air with Dave Lease of THE SKATING LESSON (TSL). The results were to be posted on the TSL website and YouTube channel in coordination with my book being chosen as TSL's next book club offering.

Well, late last year we met up on Skype and recorded around 90 minutes worth of material. About the book, about televised skating of the past, and how things have changed even since the book was published, and plenty of stuff in-between. It was fun. Even though I'm terribly unaccustomed to being on the receiving end of questions!

I was initially told the edited piece would be uploaded for all to see within the next couple of weeks. Then "a couple weeks" became months. And as the 2016-17 season wore on, I tried several more times to get a response out of Dave, figuring perhaps the season had just become too busy and my "evergreen" (meaning "relevant anytime") interview was getting saved for the lull just before Worlds, or perhaps was now being saved for the off-season. Unfortunately, Dave has not responded to any of my efforts since last December.

If you've been to the TSL website lately you might presume, like me, that the site is no longer owned by Dave (though it continues to be called The Skating Lesson). The TSL channel has again become active on YouTube, with Dave back to hosting “This and That” on a regular basis since late summer. And of course, TSL's Twitter account remains active on an almost daily basis.

What's going on? I couldn't really tell you, since my final attempt to get an explanation from Dave was as fruitless as the others. At this point, you probably know more than I do!

All I know is that my TSL interview looks to have gone to that dreaded location where the sun don't shine, unicorns don't run with the rainbows, and unpurchased TV pilots meet their final resting place. We shall accept it and move on. OK? OK.

I'm sorry you didn't get to see it. I didn't think it was half-bad myself!

In the event that you’d like to read and/or listen to interviews about Skating on Air that HAVE seen the light of day, try these:

THIS takes you to Allison Manley’s review of the book—and “Episode 58” (on the list immediately to the right of the interview) is the accompanying podcast. If you’ve never given a listen to Allison’s interviews before—or haven’t done so in a while—you might want to clear some time. The Manleywoman Skatecast is no longer in production, but it remains a great body of work!

THIS is my interview with Vlad Luchianov, who maintained the World Figure Skating blog before becoming a regular contributor to IceNetwork.

THIS link contains a nice review of the book courtesy of the My Friend Amy blog (which still reviews books on the regular)…

And here's an interview she did with me too.

Oh, and while I’m in shameless self-promotion mode… if you’d rather just skip to the book’s Goodreads page…  (Oh hey, someone named Lucia just gave my book a 4-star rating this past September 28. Thanks Lucia!)

Or my publisher’s page (the preferred place to order it online):

Or finally the Amazon page, where you can order it and/or read 11 reviews averaging 4.5 stars…

As for Regular State of the Skate Stuff—stay tuned, because I plan to post an update (including Rostelecom Cup predictions) later in the week. A hint… it’s not ending. It’s EVOLVING.

Thanks for your support, as always!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Helsinki Hopefuls: 2017 World Figure Skating Predictions, Part 3 (Ice Dance)

Papadakis/Cizeron, Shibutanis, Chock/Bates, Cappellini/Lanotte, Weaver/Poje, Hubbell/Donohue, Coomes/Buckland, Gilles/Poirier, Sinitsina/Katsalapov, Guignard/Fabbri

(Two teams from this list are not at Worlds this year—Coomes/Buckland due to Penny’s continuing recovery from a shattered kneecap, and Sin/Kat because Bobrova/Soloviev’s return to the team & resulting success apparently bumped Sin/Kat from contention.)

What about 2017?

Since it’s ice dance, and I don’t have the skills to predict this like others can, I’m simply going to take what I know from this season & last season… work 3 “new” teams into the mix… and offer up this list without any further explanation. Enjoy:

GOLD: Virtue/Moir (CAN)

SILVER: Papadakis/Cizeron (FRA)

BRONZE: Shibutanis (USA)

4th: Chock/Bates (USA)

5th: Cappellini/Lanotte (ITA)

6th: Bobrova/Soloviev (RUS)

7th: Weaver/Poje (CAN)

8th: Hubbell/Donohue (USA)

9th: Gilles/Poirier (CAN)

10th: Stepanova/Bukin (RUS)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Helsinki Hopefuls: 2017 World Figure Skating Predictions, part 2 (Men)


Fernandez, Hanyu, Jin, Kolyada, Chan, Rippon, Uno, Aaron, Brezina, Hochstein
(The cross-outs indicate 3 of the 10, a.k.a. ALL the U.S. men from last year, will not be at Worlds this year.)

How about THIS year’s Top 10?

GOLD: Hanyu (JPN) … because he’s healthy this year (as far as I know), he’s an OGM, and I tend to think he’s carefully assessed the field this year (read: New guy Nathan) and will find what it takes to win… something he hasn’t done at Worlds since 2014.

SILVER: Chen (USA)… because I think he’s gonna medal, but I don’t think he can defeat a top-flight Hanyu… yet. P.S. I’ve heard some talk about him actually attempting SIX quads in his free skate this week, and I truly hope that’s not the case. C’mon, Raf (his coach), where’s that bubble wrap when we need it??

BRONZE: Fernandez (ESP)… because, simply stated, I think he’s been a little under par all season.

4th: Uno (JPN)… because his time is coming; in fact, it’s very close.

5th: Chan (CAN)… because despite having some exceptionally beautiful programs this year, his jump consistency has been spottier than ever. (Which is to say he’ll probably make the podium now that I’ve said this. Oh well. I stand by this guess.)

6th: Jin (CHN)… I know he’s the reigning Bronze Medalist, and that he’s got mad quads too, but his artistry-in-progress status puts him further down in the pack this season.

7th: Brown (USA)… because (sigh) without the quads—even if they’re wildly imperfect— this feels like a best-case scenario.

8th Kovtun (RUS)… when he’s “on,” look out. It doesn’t happen that often, but a top 10 finish would be a vast improvement over last season (when he finished way down in 18th place after a 21st-place free skate). So I’m wishing that for him… if only so it keep us from ever having to watch his “Hitchhiker” SP beyond this week.

9th: Bychenko (ISR)… because he still seems to be on an upward trajectory at age 29 (!!) but he’s never made the top 10 at Worlds before. Seize the day, Alexei.

10th: Kolyada (RUS)… because he was a surprise 4th last year, but to finish anywhere near that this season seems an even bigger surprise. Still, I’ve gotta root for this second coming of Ilia Kulik.

Who’d I miss? Michal Brezina (CZE) kind of feels like a top 10 coin toss at this point… Misha Ge (UZB) might be calling it a career after this season, so he might make a return appearance (his best finish was 6th, 2 years ago)… Denis Ten (KAZ) has his crazy, end-of-season ways of getting in there at times… and if none of them take advantage, Kevin Reynolds (CAN) or Keiji Tenaka (JPN) or Jorik Hendrickx (BEL) might be up for the challenge.  

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Helsinki Hopefuls: 2017 World Figure Skating Predictions Part 1 (Ladies/Pairs)

The ISU 2017 World Figure Skating Championships are upon us!!!
Who’s ready for it???

I’ll start by linking you to the broadcast schedule, which includes times for IceNetwork, NBC, and NBC SN…

And then I’ll offer the following disclaimer for my predictions (which start below with the Ladies and Pairs): I’m operating this “heavy machinery” (the computer) while medicated… picked up my son’s wicked cold over the weekend and now need drugs to keep my body temp under three digits (Fahrenheit). So if/when any of these guesses start to go waaay south, I’m going to claim delirium. You heard it here first! (Or DID you…??)


Last year’s top 10, in order: Mevedeva, Wagner, Pogorilaya, Gold, Miyahara, Radionova, Asada, Hongo, Daleman, Nagasu
(As the crossouts indicate, half the women from that Top 10 will not be at Worlds this year)

So who will be in this year’s top 10? Here are my guesses:

GOLD: Medvedeva (RUS)… because she’s damn near unbeatable right now, even if I will once again cringe during her 9/11 free skate.

SILVER: Pogorilaya (RUS)… because she finally realized how good she could be at Worlds 2016, and she keeps on improving.

BRONZE: Wagner (USA)… not because her skating is no longer the quality that got her silver last year, but because Pogo improved that much (though I’ll take Ashley’s programs over Anna’s ANYTIME).

4th: Higuchi (JPN)… just a feeling I have.

5th: Kostner (ITA)… she’s baa-aack, and she’s looking very good. I expect her artistic scores to carry her where her technical scores can’t.

6th: Sotskova (RUS)… she’s not quite “soup” yet, as they say, but she’s got consistent jumps and good lines.

7th: Mihara (JPN)… because she’s got the goods, at least most of the time.

8th: Osmond (CAN)… whew! She’s here, and she’s healthy! The quality of her skating isn’t what is was at the start of the season, but I love her power and flair (not to mention both her programs this year), and really want to see her up in the top 10. Or better.

9th: Chen (USA)… because it sounds like her “boot issues” from 4CC are behind her, and a placement like this will comfortably give us the coveted “three spots” we need for next year.

10th: Daleman (CAN)… because Canada deserves to have two women in the top 10 this year. Them women are FIERCE.

Who’d I miss? Choi Da-Bin (S.KOR), Laurine Lecavelier (FRA), Rika Hongo (JPN), and of course Mariah Bell (USA) all could make a run for the top 10.


LAST YEAR’S TOP 10, IN ORDER: Duhamel/Radford, Sui/Han, Savchenko/Massot, Stolbova/Klimov, Tarasova/Morozov, Volosohzar/Trankov, Iliushechkina/Moscovitch, Moore-Towers/Marinaro, Scimeca/Knierim, James/Cipres
(The cross-outs indicate 2 of the 10 will not be at Worlds this year.)

This year’s top 10 as I see it?

GOLD: Sui/Han (CHN)… because they are as good (or probably better) than last year, when they won silver... and I can’t say the same right now about the reigning World Champs.

SILVER: Tarasova/Morozov (RUS)… their SP is dynamite; their FS, not so much (to me, at least)… but the judges have seen them very favorably all season.

BRONZE: Savchenko/Massot (GER)… because this relatively “new” team looks better and better, but they’re still capable of any variety of weird moments that might make the difference between silver and bronze.

4th: Duhamel/Radford (CAN): OH NO I DIDN’T! Yeah, I’m afraid I did… my prediction is that they will cap off a lackluster (for them) season with a podium miss. Sorry.

5th Stolbova/Klimov (RUS): I’m sorry, what programs are they skating again this year?

6th: James/Cipres (FRA): Wait, I can answer that last question for these two… Earned It (SP) and Disturbed’s version of Sound of Silence. I actually think they could place even higher, but their scores don’t always seem to match their caliber (grrr).

7th: Zabiiako/Enbert (RUS): Because the Cry Me a River pair could very well put all three Russian pairs in the top 10 (a feat they’re quite familiar with),

8th: Yu/Zhang (CHN): Because I can’t imagine the veteran-of-veterans, Zhang Hao, missing the top 10 with this partner.

9th: Seguin/Bilodeau (CAN): Because they’re freakin’ adorable and have charisma for days… if only they can keep their jumps under control.

10th: Knierim/Knierim (USA): Don’t hate me for trying to keep my expectations low for this hard-tested-in-life, but not-really-tested-on-the-ice (this season) team.

Who’d I miss?  Iliushechkina/Moscovitch (CAN) could crack top 10 again, and Denney/Frazier (USA) could pull a top 10 surprise too. And while they probably don’t stand much of a chance for it this year, keep an eye on the new Junior World pair champs representing Australia (yes, THAT Australia) Alexandrovskaya/Windsor.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Consider this a preview to the preview of Worlds 2017

Hey, I’m back!!
Now where was I when I left off…?

 (Wait. That doesn’t sound right.)

I’ll try again. So, who’s ready to check out next year’s Olympic territory at this year’s Four Continents Championship...

(Really? That was nearly a month ago!)

I'm so sorry. Let’s go with the headlines instead. Hey guys, breaking news: Gracie Gold split from coach Frank Caroll and relocated to Michigan

(What? More like ‘ALREADY LONG BROKEN’ news!!)

How about this: Reigning ice dance OGM Charlie White has developed quite the remarkable voice on Twitter—

(Girl, by now the news is that he’s on Facebook too, busting way past 140 characters. Come on.)

Wait, I’ve got it! Did you hear that Nancy Kerrigan is going to be—

(Part of the Dancing with the Stars cast which started Monday March 20? Yep. Got that too. She did very in week 1, by the way.)

(Hey now! Don’t be a hater.)

No! I’m glad she’s on the show! I meant Crap, I was late on that too.

(Oh. Also… U.S. Men’s Silver Medalist Vincent Zhou just won Junior Worlds.)

Really? That’s incredible!

(And the brother/sister dance team from the U.S. won Junior Worlds, too.)

But the Shib Sibs aren’t…

(No, dummy. Different brother/sister that won EVERYTHING they could get their skates on this season..)

Oh, the PARSONS! Right! And while I’m thinking about it, how did the Whip My Hair girl do?

(Starr Andrews?  She was 12th… Bradie Tennell was 7th… and U.S. pairs were 7th and 10th overall.)

Good Lord, if all that is a done deal, then it must almost be time for senior Worlds!

(Indeed. It all starts about a week from now.)

Aaaugh! I’ve gotta get caught up!

(I think you kind of just did.)

Oh! Well, that was helpful.

(Not to mention convenient.)

What should we do next?

(I don’t know about you, but I think some Worlds previews would be nice for whatever readers you still have…)

“Previews”? Plural? You really think I can get more than one written over the next 7 days?

(Hey, SOMEONE here has to be optimistic…)

Fair enough. What else you got, oh optimistic one?

(Well… let’s ask readers to post in the Comments if they’d like you to address anyone or anything in particular. Or if they’ve got their own declarations to make about the upcoming events in Helsinki.)


(That’s where Worlds is happening, you know…)

I DO know, thank you very much.

(… and why #Helsinki2017 and #WorldFigure both appear to be the Twitter hashtags.)

Are you sure? Two “official” hashtags seems very unlikely.

(Let’s hope someone sets us straight in the comments, then. No time to research THAT—you’ve got other prep work to do!)

All too true. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships-- Predictions Pt. 2

Predictions continue with Senior Dance (SP starts at 6 PM ET on the evening of Friday 1/20):

GOLD: Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani
SILVER: Madison Chock/Evan Bates
BRONZE: Kaitlyn Hawayek/Jean Luc-Baker

DARK HORSE: Anastasia Cannuscio/Colin McManus

Yeah, I shook this up a little. Not at the top, where I think the Shib Sibs will keep a steady presence and C/B (who had a rough GPF, you’ll recall) will stay at 2nd. But where’s Hubbell/Donohue (who outscored C/B at said GPF)? I’ve got them being edged out of the podium by way of Hawayek/Baker… not because of their respective free dances (both of which I’m quite fond of), but because H/D’s short dance. I appreciate the “history of hip-hop” theme, but even with the changes made since the start of the season it still feels like a frantic lesson… and if the judges happen to agree, it could be the point or two difference between 3rd and 4th.

And finally, predictions for the Men (whose SP starts at 8:30 PM ET, just after the SD)

GOLD: Nathan Chen
SILVER: Max Aaron
BRONZE: Jason Brown

DARK HORSE: Vincent Zhou

Because if Chen doesn’t win it this year (with a skating-while-injured Brown, and no Rippon at all), it’s gotta be because zombies attack him in the locker room or something.

But after that, who…?? Brown suffers from a stress fracture, and even though it wasn’t diagnosed until December I’m still wondering how much it might have impacted his very “off” NHK performance. So I’m looking for Aaron to repeat as silver medalist this year. And teenager Zhou’s got the goods to shake up the podium, especially if Brown is unable to deliver.

I’ll post more after U.S. Nats are over! Till then, I’m @KLBSt8ofSk8 if you want to chat or follow on Twitter.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships- Predictions Pt. 1

Predictions start with Senior Pairs (SP starts at 5:30 ET on the evening of Thursday 1/19):

GOLD: Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier
SILVER: Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc
BRONZE: Tarah Kayne/Daniel O’Shea

DARK HORSE: Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran

Both Cain/LeDuc and Denney/Frazier have been bringing it competitively this season better than most U.S. teams, but I’m leaning Denney/Frazier for gold because they have more to draw on in terms of experience (Cain/LeDuc just formed over the summer).

In any case, keep an eye out for the team of Deanna Stellato/Nate Bartholomay… he’s formerly of the 2014 Olympic team (w/Felicia Zhang), she formerly of the singles skating world—if you remember skating at the most recent turn of the century, that is. Persistent injuries took her out of the sport at age 17, but 16 years later—yes, age 33 now—she’s back! I’m not sure of their chances this year, but then again, the good thing about the always-fluid state of U.S. pair skating is that that Nats podium often appears wide open…

Pairs are followed by Senior Ladies (SP starts at 9:05 ET Thursday evening, right after the Opening Ceremony):

GOLD: Ashley Wagner
SILVER: Mariah Bell
BRONZE: Gracie Gold

DARK HORSE: Amber Glenn

Wagner because it’s hers to lose this year.
Bell because it’s time for her to make a big move up the ladder. Skate America and the silver medal she earned there proves she’s got it in her; the injuries keeping Edmunds and Pierce out are paving the way as well.
Gold for bronze because she’s had a rough year thus far and while recent reports indicate she’s ready to claw her way back, I don’t trust that she’ll be all the way there yet.  

Glenn over Mirai Nagasu for that Dark Horse slot because she was a better competitor so far this year. Mirai’s programs this year I like better than any other recent season, and I’m always rooting for her to put it all together, especially at Nats, but… well… we’ll see.