Thursday, October 30, 2008

Skate (Oh!) Canada Some More: Men & Dance Predictions

So when a competition starts on Halloween, do skaters get to dress up (and skate) like the competitor of their choice? Because it could be quite funny to see Ryan Bradley “be” Lysacek. Or Weir. Oh, what am I saying… his SP will probably put him in a Batman suit regardless.

With that said, let’s take a look at Skate Canada’s men and dance disciplines:


Gold- Evan Lysacek (USA)
Silver- Patrick Chan (CAN)
Bronze- Sergei Voronov (RUS)

Underrotations aside, I think Lysacek’s the easy favorite here now that Buttle and Lambiel are gone. Which might very well mean that it goes to Chan or Voronov, based on what happened last week. Chan’s performance might be the most interesting to watch in any case; every Canadian fan must be eager to see how well he fills the Buttle void. Yannick Pansero and (possibly) Ryan Bradley are the only other names that might challenge the podium in an otherwise rookie-esque field.


Gold- Pechalat/Bourzat (FRA)
Silver-Davis/White (USA)
Bronze- Bobrova/Soloviev (USA)

According to Ice Network, the smart money is on Davis and White to win this event. Ah, well… much as I’d like to be wrong, I guess I’m putting the dumb money on Pechalat/Bourzat anyway. I’m simply trying to think the way the judges in dance seem to think, and concluding that they’d lean towards a “new” French team than a “new” U.S. team (of course I call Davis/White new the way the Grammys give well-established musicians the “best new artist” award once they finally have a breakthrough hit). Again, the absence of favorites Virtue/Moir means that bronze is up for grabs… and again, trying to think like a judge, I went Russian. Now, if I can only put faces with some of these names…!

Maybe this will help… the
Clip of the Day showcases Bobrova and Soloviev in their OD from last year.

That’s it for a few days. If you’re attending the competition in Ottawa this weekend, please eat some maple pie for me!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Oh, (Skate) Canada! My Ladies/Pairs Predictions

One down, five to go.

A glance at Ice Network’s event schedule for Skate Canada tells me I’d better get my weak little predictions started—especially if I want to break them into two parts!

So, starting with PAIRS:

Gold- Kawaguchi/Smirnov (RUS)
Silver- Dube/Davison (CAN)
Bronze- McLaughlin/Brubaker (USA)

Confession time: I changed my mind as I started typing this… or better put, when I reviewed last year’s SkCan tape earlier tonight. I’d planned to give this one to Dube/Davison, put McBru (my new nickname for the Americans, though I’m sure someone else thought of it first) in 2nd like last week, and put the Russian team in 3rd as they were last year. But watching Kawa/Smir tonight, and thinking about the throw quad salchow they almost landed last year, and factoring in Tamara Moskvina’s certain strong desire to see her team make a major move (and the way she seems to get what she wants in this regard!)… I re-evaluated, and came up with a victory for them. I expect to see the other two mentioned give a strong run nonetheless, with McBru almost certainly earning a spot in the GP Final with a bronze follow-up to last week’s silver.

And as for the LADIES:

Gold- Joannie Rochette (CAN)
Silver- Carolina Kostner (ITA)
Bronze- Alissa Czisny (USA)

I thought about changing my mind here too… not because Joannie gave a weak performance last year (she didn’t), but because she had a rather strong free skate—and still only finished 3rd, due to a 5th place SP. Can she put two great skates back to back? In her home country? She might as well prove it right now, since everyone’s going to be wondering it come Olympic time anyway. So I’m rooting for her to do just that.

I’m also rooting for her to beat Kostner because I still think Kostner was overrated much of last season. A rather snarky thing to say, maybe, but there it is nonetheless. As for Czisny? I suppose it’s a longshot… but SkCan was very good to her a few years back, so no better time to set up her renaissance if you ask me. She’s already won one event this new season (Nebelhorn Trophy) by a whopping 14 points. I smell a comeback…

In fact, she gets the
Clip of the Day so we can get a sneak peek at her free skate. This is from Liberty Open back in the summer. A couple blips, but it’s nice to see both her triple lutzes in such fine form.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Final SKAM 2008 Thoughts... More or Less

In the bottomless pit from which I like to pull weak attempts at catchy ways to recap stuff, I’ve come up with what I’m calling the “more or less” files… which I will now apply to the SKAM ladies and pairs events. Here’s how it works:

+ MORE Yu-Na Kim victories… because every time I see her skate I’m in disbelief that the best she’s been able to get at Worlds thus far is Bronze. Twice! Just goes to show how very deep the talent pool is right now. (Or, how twisted judging continues to be…)

-- LESS (or ideally, NO MORE) throw triple axel attempts from Inoue/Baldwin. Why must Rene be subjected to this every program? Why must we, for that matter? I don’t mean to liken them to one-trick ponies, but have they even come close to landing one in competition since 2006 Worlds? I wish they could simply accept their place in history (which of course is nothing to sneeze at) and be done with it, but that would likely require them to retire completely… something they don’t yet seem ready to do. (Come on, John… you’re practically the same age as my husband, for crying out loud.)

+ MORE McLaughlin & Brubaker. Just more more more! I’m in total agreement with everyone who has mentioned them. The speed alone… my God, how much faster and more powerful they are than just about any U.S. couple in recent memory. They seem quite capable of breathing new life into the Story we know as West Side, and that’s saying something. My only complaint is that they’ll already be done with their GP assignments by this time next week. I miss them already.

--LESS of the Cutting Edge Crew, known better as Mukhortova and Trankov. If they hadn’t already mastered the love-on-ice/hate-off-ice thing, I’d be reminded of that film every time the camera gets a close-up on Mukhortova… she could be twins with Moira Kelly, were Kelly a platinum blonde. Anyway, that Lady and the Hooligan free skate was a hot mess. Even if they’d landed twice as many jumps, there’s not enough fake chemistry in the world to help them pull off something intended to be so charming. Toe-pick, indeed.

+ MORE press for Rachael Flatt. I know I’m not the first to say this, but a) she was the best U.S. lady at this event, and b) she’s the reigning U.S. silver medalist AND Junior Worlds champion. While I did notice some odd posture issues with her for the first time (did anyone else hear their mother in their head when watching her?), I was incensed to hear NBC make that “she kind of flies under the radar” comment that they did. They made the exact same comment about Savoie at the Olympics. Hey, NBC? You ARE the radar. If you want to play up Ms. Flatt, you have the power to do so. Or you did… now you’ve got to wait until Nationals. Nice work!

-- and I’ll wrap up with one more comment about NBC: LESS impromptu interviews with Andrea Joyce. Or at least cut away to a different camera while she dashes into place. We know it’s live TV… but we also know how these events go by now, don’t we? There’s no need to show Mirai Nagasu standing quietly off to the side one moment, then looking startled the next moment as Andrea descends upon her. I’d even take a close-up shot of Mukhortova and Trankov in the stands before I did that!

Clip of the Day features Yukari Nakano’s free skate from last weekend, simply because I think she might be the Rachael Flatt of Japan. Don’t worry, Yukari… you’re on OUR radar! (And you had the better Giselle, to be certain. That’s the last time I’ll predict Ando to win an event this year…)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Random notes and Letters: SKAM Dance/Men's Postmortem

Got to get just a few notes in about SKAM before the news gets too old and starts to take on that musty smell… so I’ll focus on the men & dance this time.

My notes about the dance competition are rather spare, and consist of a series of “Did anyone else wonder…” observations:

-- Did anyone else wonder who that perfectly lovely twosome was out there in the muted colors… before they realized it was the same quirky-cool twosome that resembled space aliens in their last major international event 7months ago? (In case you did, and never figured it out… it was the Kerrs.)
-- Did anyone else wonder why Tosca is considered to be the dramatic breakthrough of Belbin & Agosto when they spent last year swathed in black and dancing to Chopin—hardly what I’d call light and/or whimsical?
-- Did anyone else wonder why Belbin & Agosto even worry about picking dramatic music when Pink Floyd continues to be dramatic enough for at least one top couple per year? (Yes, Delobel & Schoenfelder, I’m looking at you. I want the Bonnie/Clyde routine to make a comeback! Work on it.)
-- And in general… does anyone else wonder if Tanith Belbin ever gets tired of pushing her long, sweeping bangs out of her face?

As for the men’s event… well, perhaps it’d be best if I put it in the form of a brief letter:

Dear Men’s Event at 2008 Skate America,

Thanks so much for all the contradictions you fulfilled in the course of just two days. For example, we worried once again that it would become a “quad contest”; turns out none of the top guys brought theirs this time.

We thought it would surely be a case of Evan vs. Johnny for 1st; turned out it was Evan vs. Johnny for 2nd.

We wondered if the newly trimmed panel of judges would prove to favor the European skaters against our will; turns out they favored the Asian skater against our will.

We came in with all the hope a new season brings; we came out feeling like we’d just been on another date with the Charming Significant Other Who Always Promises To Change And Then Never Does. (And Then They Stuck Us With The Bill.)

We come away with lessons learned: Skaters, don’t underestimate new guys… judges, don’t over-estimate new guys…under-rotaters, go home and fix those jumps because that’s the way the game is played right now, and you can’t fault people for trying to play by the rules… judges, don’t forget to really look… and listen… and find a way to reward the ones who are currently finding the most visible joy in this sport… for they are the ones that will fill the stadiums with a gleeful noise for years to come.

Five more chances to get this Grand Prix right for us lowly viewers. Step it up, everyone…we’re counting on it!

-- With love and concern from Kelli

Rachael Flatt, the highest-finishing of the U.S. ladies last weekend, is featured in the
Clip of the Day.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

And They're OFF! (The Skaters? Judges? You Decide.)

What a weekend to be out of town—and not in Everett, Washington.

We made a quick jaunt over to Cincinnati, trying to make the most of our kids’ Fall Break and our limited vacation budget. While I think we were successful in that regard, I remain sans laptop with wireless access, and was therefore unable to follow SKAM in “real” time. I managed to get my season pass to in time to watch most of the Friday night action, but couldn’t stay up long enough to watch round 1 of the Johnny/Evan show (though I logged on long enough the following AM to watch their respective SPs)…

Anyway, I’m a little more caught up now on who-did-what-and-what-everyone-thinks-of-it, and will try to make up for my 3-day absence with several shorter posts in the coming week. Gotta get all the SKAM talk over and done with in time to make some meager SKCAN (Skate Canada) predictions, after all…whew! Such a whirlwind this part of the season is already, and now I’m blogging about it too?! Whose idea was this?

Oh, it was mine. Much as it was my idea to say “I didn’t say he’d WIN” about Kozuka in my last post, and here I am, eating my words a few days later. Chomp chomp.

For a
Clip of the Day I’ll give you the McLaughlin/Brubaker FS that won them silver this weekend… for two reasons: 1) It went unseen and unmentioned on NBC’s limited coverage of the event, and 2) It was one of only 3 predictions I got right. Which puts my batting average at a pitiful .250 and makes me instantly jealous of Aaron over at Axels, Loops and Spins going 8-for-12 ;-)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

On Their Marks: SKAM Dance/Ladies Predictions

Before I get to the remaining two disciplines, I guess I have to predict a different bronze medalist for the men. (Thanks a lot, Van Der Perren :-)

OK, I’ll go with… Takahiko Kozuka for the bronze. Mostly because Japan is really riding the wave nicely these days, and I’m assuming Kozuka’s no exception.


DANCE: Gold- Belbin/Agosto (USA)
Silver- Delobel/Schoenfelder (FRA)
Bronze- Kerr/Kerr (GBR)

Tanith and Ben won this event last year, so predicting another victory for them isn’t much of a stretch. But more importantly, this is their first time out of the box since a) their 4th place disappointment at Worlds, and b) their well-publicized coaching switch. If I were them, I’d be chomping at the proverbial bit to show everyone what they’ve got this year, and how they shouldn’t be underestimated. I imagine it wouldn’t hurt to beat the current world champs either—and while I’ve grown quite fond of Delobel/Schoenfelder over the past few years, and thought their title was well-deserved, I do think they are beatable.

As for the Kerrs, I just want to see them on the freaking podium already.

LADIES: Gold- Miki Ando (JPN)
Silver- Yu-Na Kim (KOR)
Bronze- Kimmie Meissner (USA)

Now hear me out, because you probably think I’m crackers for not going with the obvious favorite (Kim). My thinking here simply runs along the same “hungry” lines as I did on other categories… with Ando forced to withdraw from Worlds, and always needing to hold her own in the deep, deep frozen pool of Japanese singles skaters, I’m guessing she’s ready to come roaring back. Add to that the fact that she already earned silver here last year, and you get an unstoppable drive for gold.

Unless it’s not her night, in which case Kim might make mincemeat out of her :-(

As for Meissner, I’m rooting for her to turn it around and will gladly be wrong if she repeats last year’s victory.

Clip of the Day is Takahiko Kozuka’s FS from last season’s Worlds; watch it and note what to watch for this weekend. Thumbs up for the Beatles medley… thumbs down for the missed triple salchow and lutz. (OK, I didn’t say he’d WIN… yet.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Win, Place, Show: SKAM Pairs/Men Predictions

Tick tick tick… SKAM keeps getting closer, so I studied its schedule today. If I’m going to make some predictions, the least I can do is get them in before each particular event gets underway.

So before I get to it, I should offer the disclaimer that I have a proven track record of inadequacy when it comes to podium predictions, Oscar/Emmy/Grammy guesses, forecasting the future for friends, etc. In other words, you might want to seek out a more reliable blog if you plan to do some wagering.

As long as you understand that, I’m ready to roll with two of the four disciplines:

PAIRS: Gold- Savchenko/Szolkowy (GER)
Silver- McLaughlin/Brubaker (USA)
Bronze- Duhamel/Buntin (CAN)

None of last year’s medalists in this event are returning, so I’m choosing (unsurprisingly?) the #1 ISU-ranked pair in the world to win. And I’m putting Inoue/Baldwin out of the medals because this is their first time performing so early in the season in quite a while—I just don’t expect them to be at the level they might be at for, say, NHK Trophy.

Mukhortova and Trankov (Russia) could work their way into a medal, but if there’s still the acrimony with this pair that reportedly existed last season, I’m suspicious it could turn up in their skating.

MENS: Gold- Johnny Weir (USA)
Silver- Evan Lysacek (USA)
Bronze- Kevin Van Der Perren (BEL)

If you saw my
GP Showdowns to Watch post back in June, you know I mentioned the Johnny/Evan “rematch” as the main event of Skate America. What I didn’t do back then was pick a winner of said rematch. I’ve gone with Weir to win here primarily because I figure he might be a little hungrier to beat Evan than vice versa. I know he bettered him at Worlds last spring, but I think it means something a little different on U.S. soil. Or ice, as the case may be.

I’m picking Van Der Perren for the podium based on his track record, or the simple fact that he has one compared to most others in this event. It wouldn’t surprise me much, though, to see one of the relative newbies break away from the pack and take an upset bronze.

The clock keeps on ticking, so I’ll be back with ladies and dance predictions sometime before compulsories start on Friday…

Until then, enjoy this
Clip of the Day featuring Evan Lysacek’s free skate from 2007 Skate America.

Monday, October 20, 2008

All Systems Go? The ISU Grand Prix Checklist


Finally! Time to say screw football… the Grand Prix is starting! No, not that Grand Prix (why does it have to be synonymous with a Formula One Racing event?)… Skate America! Skaaate AMEEERIIIICAAAA!!!!

Well now that that’s out of my system, it’s time to break out the Grand Prix Checklist:

+ Tape of last year’s SKAM… check.
+ Time to watch and review last year’s SKAM…um… whoops. Need to work on this one.
+ Check to see when SKAM airs and highlight it with a big yellow neon marker… check.
+ Grimace when I see SKAM only gets two hours of air time… check.
+ Cry when I remember I should be grateful for those two hours, because it’s the only two hours of air time the Grand Prix will get in the U.S. all season… check.
+ Look up list of competitors to see who’s dropped out and who’s replacing them… check. (5 replacements so far, by the way.)
+ Be the first skating blogger to make predictions on who will win medals… oh, crap, I’m too late.(Should I still try if I promise not to consciously crib my blogmates?)
+ Subscribe to Ice Network for the first time… oh, crap, now I’m too early?!

Wow—who knew prepping for 120 minutes of sequins and spirals could be so complicated? Oh, wait, that would be me.

Which leaves only one more thing to say: BRING IT ON.

(But not before watching this lovely
Clip of the Day featureing Miki Ando’s silver-medal winning from last year’s event.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Agony of an Injury-Based Retirement

Sometimes it’s hard to leave the sport you love, and sometimes it’s downright painful… in the most literal sense of the word.

Earlier this week, U.S. skating fans heard the
sad news that Naomi Nari Nam—first a teenage singles phenom, then a pairs skater making a stellar comeback—is retiring from competitive skating for good. Turns out the hip injury that ended her singles’ career several years back (and prompted surgery last year) is to blame for her somewhat premature departure.

Then a couple days ago, word gets out worldwide that the senior men are losing yet another reigning Olympic medalist. Stephane Lambiel, citing a persistent leg injury, called a
news conference to call it quits.

I know there’s a lot that can—and has—been said about such departures and the commentary they make on the state of skating in general. The thing that struck me as most poignant, though, was the timing. These were announcements that came on the edge of a new season. These are not typical retirements; rather, these are ones that come after a special kind of soul searching. I can only imagine the way both Nam and Lambiel continued to train over the past several months, hoping and praying they could keep working through the pain; knowing, perhaps in the back of their mind, it would be very unwise to do so. Still they tried, till the last possible week/day/hour, to make it work.

How do they put out that fire? How do they grind it to a halt when they’re not ready? The funny thing in Lambiel’s case, as you’ll recall, is that he did grind things to a halt midway through the 2006-7 season (citing a lack of “inner fire”, wasn’t it?), but then rebounded in time to snare the bronze medal at Worlds.

Once you start a year’s worth of something you’re so passionate about, I guess it’s hard to stop. Even if it’s agonizing to continue.

In these two cases, though, it was too painful to begin. That’s the sort of thing that makes all of us ache for them.

For the
Clip of the Day here’s NNN and her partner Themistocles Leftheris at the 2007 Four Continents. (Sigh… I miss trying to pronounce, or even type, that name already.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Affording Vancouver... in (Wow!) Less Than 500 Days

Is it me, or does 500 days seem a pretty small increment of time?

An article that ran in the
Kansas City Star a week ago counted a little less than that—497 days, to be exact—till the start of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Which surely translates to a small lifetime for those who want to watch it… no time at all for those hoping to participate in it… and something in between for those of us that want to write about it.

If you hope to go to said Games this is the article you’ll want to read, as it contains an easy breakdown of the cost to attend the 17 different events. Among the most pricey (leaving out the opening/closing ceremonies, which top out at well over $1000):

+ Hockey ($25-$775)
+ Figure Skating ($50-$525)
+ Ski Jumping ($80-$210)

As for those of us who are budget-minded and plan to blow most of their money watching quad-jump attempts, here are the cheapest three to catch in your down time:

+ Biathalon ($25-$70)
+ Cross-Country Skiing ($25-$70)
+ Bobsleigh ($30-$85)

Is it any wonder the Olympic TV coverage seems to favor the more “expensive” events?

And I was surprised to see hockey tickets run even higher than figure skating tickets, until I remembered where the Olympics are being held! :-) (Hey, I spent my honeymoon in Canada AND attended a hockey game while there… I get it. At least a little.)

So if you’re making plans, go sit down with your 3 or 4 grand (in Monopoly money, if necessary) and figure out the best way to slice that pie up. Three days of skating here, two days of skeleton there… who could ask for anything more?

For the
Clip of the Day I thought I’d go back to the last time the Winter Olympics came to Canada… and go with a pairs skate for the first time in a while. This is the Watson and Oppegard free skate that won them the bronze medal (that’s Peter Oppegard, perhaps better known nowadays as a coach).

Monday, October 13, 2008

ISU Take Note! Five OTHER Ways to Save Money

So you may have heard that the ISU announced an already-controversial decision last week to shrink the judging panel at several major competitions in an effort to cut costs.

Me? I think there’s got to be a better way. So allow me to place my tongue firmly in cheek as I share with you “Five OTHER ways for the ISU to save money…”

5) Remember the Boston “Cheesefest”, where fans voted for the winners American Idol-style? Just do that for all Grand Prix events this season, with the in-house audience as the votecasters, THEN go back to the traditional judging (and number of judges) for Worlds. Hey, it’s not like it’s an Olympic year or something… and with the exception of Skate America, they’re not even going to be televised in the traditional fashion. Where's the harm?

4) Until further notice-- instead of real gold/silver/bronze medals, craft all the non-Olympic year medals out of delicious chocolate… maybe Godiva for gold, Lindt for silver, Hershey for bronze?

3) Three words: GET MORE SPONSORS!!!!
(Kinder version: Try harder to GET MORE SPONSORS!!!)

2) Change the rules so that judges are paid by the hour rather than the event, then shorten every program… by every skater… by one minute. It’ll put weak skaters out of their misery sooner, make strong skaters leave us begging for more, and just think of how it’ll help everyone in high altitude areas!

And 1) Request that Vera Wang design a line of “budget” competitive wear, with all skaters passing their costume savings along to the ISU. Five dresses to choose from for the ladies, three outfits for the men. Think of how much simpler it would make things for the skaters! Think how much it would bum out bloggers like me who might otherwise be dishing the skaters’ choices :-(
But hey, if Wang can do it for Kohl’s department stores, she can do it for skaters.

And with the help of this
Clip of the Day, might I suggest the ladies’ choices look something like… this?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Alexe Gilles: One Tall Order

When it comes to knowing “3 Things” about current U.S. Junior Champion Alexe Gilles, here’s what I feel like telling you outright:

1) She’s tall!
2) She just won gold at Junior Grand Prix South Africa!
3) Did I happen to mention she’s TALL!

You’ll have to excuse my excitement, but in my mind, it really is newsworthy that Gilles checks in at a stately 5 feet 7 inches (that’s approximately 2 meters, I believe). She may not be THE tallest lady to ever compete among the elite—Lisa-Marie Allen comes to mind as one who is likely to hold that distinctive title—but once Gilles enters the senior ranks, she’ll be an inch above Carolina Kostner… three inches above Kimmie Meissner… and a solid 5 to 8 inches above most of the others. And she’s only 16-- she might not even be done growing!

As someone who pretty much lost the small array of jumps she DID have when she reached 5’7” (en route to being 5’10 ½”), I just have to marvel at “giants” like Gilles. Even if she only makes it to the final flight at Nationals one time, she’ll prove to a wide audience of so-called lanky young girls that you don’t have to be a pixie to succeed in figure skating. (And likewise, you don’t have to learn to play basketball if you don’t really want to!)

So anyway… two other things to know about Ms. Gilles (for real this time):

1) She has two other sibs in skating—and they’re both ice dancers, though partnered with others.

2) Jill Trenary is listed among her coaches.

And one more thing—her free skate music is simply noted to be “bongo music”, which I found amusing… and then refreshing, after watching her in action at this year’s Liberty Open (the
Clip of the Day ). No warhorses here!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Election Daze, NBC Olympics Style

As I sat there with the latest U.S. Presidential Debate ringing in my ears last night, it reminded me to remind YOU to vote. If you haven’t voted already, that is. And IF the poll is still open…

Of course I could only be talking about the NBC Vancouver site, which you can find right
here. What event are you looking forward to in Vancouver in 2010? is the question they posed approximately one month ago. It was a nail-biting time back when I voted; as I recall snowboarding was in the lead for several days. (Curses, you crazy snowboarding bloggers and newsgroups who were trying to stuff the ballot box!)

But at last glance, figure skating held an overwhelming lead with 84% of the vote. Good thing, too, as the last thing a TV network needs right now is the message that no one’s that interested in this sport.

Ever since I voted, I’ve been unable to tell whether the poll is still open (all I’ve seen are current results). But even if it’s closed, go check it out anyway. Not only might it do your heart some good to be reaffirmed of skating’s continued popularity… you have to see the funny-but-not-really mistake that NBC made. As pointed out at the
Required Elements blog on September 9, NBC gushes (rightly so) about Mao Asada being the one to watch when it comes to predicting possible Olympic medalists in Vancouver… but uses a photo of Yukari Nakano instead. You’d have thought someone at NBC would have caught the mistake by now. But as of this post, they haven’t. Now paging ridiculous, party of two…?!

If anyone finds an effective e-mail link to point out the mistake to NBC, please pass it on. My previous attempts to contact them via one of their websites was unsuccessful, so this time around I’m choosing to simply mock them a little. :-)

From the now-for-something-completely-different files: the
Clip of the Day is Emmanuel Sandhu’s elimination from SYTYCD Canada. The bad news is that this clip doesn’t show much more than, well, the bad news and his requisite “this isn’t the end, it’s only the beginning” sound bite. The good news is that it all happens in the first 90 seconds of this lengthy clip.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Is She, or Isn't She, or... Whatever, Sasha

Remember when the phrase “keeping your options open” didn’t really apply to skating?

It used to be so easy… watch them compete, watch them win an Olympic medal, watch them turn professional. Then watch them until they retired completely, and you couldn’t watch them anymore. Of course, back in “those days” gas was less than two bucks a gallon, and it was still considered safe for Chicago suburban kids like me to walk half a mile home from school every day. (In the snow. Barefoot. And uphill, both ways… oh, wait, that’s my dad’s story.)

Times have changed indeed. Yes, some still officially call it a day via a press conference (thanks again, Jeffrey Buttle). And some never really say what they’re doing one way or the other, but choose instead to fade quietly and keep a relatively low profile until people stop asking… usually because they already know the answer.

Then there are those that like to keep us guessing, or so it would seem. Consider this excerpt from an
LA Times article that ran 10/2:

(Sasha) Cohen, who lives in Newport Beach, said she's "definitely" thinking about Vancouver but hasn't made a decision yet.

"I'm training really hard right now, and I will keep reassessing," she said.

Sounds like someone’s still on the fence regarding a return to competition. But then you have to consider
THIS article , which ran in the OC Register just one day later:

"I really want to compete next (season)," Sasha Cohen said after a rehearsal for Friday night's McDonald's Family Tribute on Ice at the Galen Center.

"I've been skating a lot and I'm looking forward to being competitive again."

So she’s hopped off the fence and started training triple-triples again. Right?

Actually, these two near-contradictory articles are a sort of microcosm of Cohen’s alleged indecisiveness for the past 2 years. She’s in, maybe; she’s out, definitely maybe. She’s acting, she’s traveling, she’s touring, she’s… thinking about it. “Reassessing.” Keeping those options open.

I’d like to join the chorus of thousands who must surely be saying by now we’ll believe it when we see it. She’s done a wonderful job of playing coy with the media for over two years running. Isn’t it time for Cohen to either quietly buckle down and plan her bona fide return, or accept her place in figure skating history and move on?

Speaking of which, here’s her 2006 Olympic short program as the
Clip of the Day… a perfectly marvelous skate that obviously helped her find that so-called “silver lining” by the time Torino was over.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Emmanuel Can't "Dance", but Curran Can Scrabble

Another “3 things to know” follows, but first—here's quasi-breaking news for those of you dying to know if Emmanuel Sandhu will turn up in the Top 20 of So You Think You Can Dance Canada. In a word—nope. Sorry. He was reportedly cut in a later round of auditions. Film at eleven… or whenever I can find something on You Tube.

Anyway…next up in my showcase of up-and-comers is Curran Oi, who skates out of Boston. Yes, I’m featuring him because he’s competing in the JGP this weekend… but, I admit, it’s also because he has a great name. I can’t wait to see him on TV, skating so well the crowds are chanting “Oi! Oi!” Won’t that be cool?

Here are your three things to know:

+ He mentions a fondness for both Scrabble and Boggle—twice in the same bio! My translation: do not challenge him to a game of Scrabble or Boggle. You will lose. Probably twice.

+ He lists Friends as his favorite TV show. With a birth date of 10/19/90 that means he was not even 4 years old when this show first started its long run in prime time. Take one step forward if that makes you feel really, really old. (Yes, I’m looking in the mirror when I say that.)

+ One of his other passions, outside of the aforementioned Scrabble and Boggle: “fusion energy”. Hey, me too! It’s like I have a twin…

Clip of the Day features Oi’s free skate from this summer’s Liberty Open. It’s a single-cam home video; I look forward to the day he gets the multi-camera TV treatment. His current FS uses music from On the Waterfront. Who else used that recently—was it Buttle? Someone please help me out with that question before it drives me nuts :-)