Sunday, March 29, 2009

Slightly Quicker Notes: Worlds, Day 5

Can I keep it short this time? Yeah, I kind of have to. So…

+ Glad to see a clear cut winner this year in Yu-Na Kim. She sparkled, didn't she?

- Not so glad to have to seek out US Champion Alissa Czisny on You Tube when NBC failed to make room for her performance on their broadcast. (
Here it is as the Clip of the Day… she finished 11th overall, in case you hadn’t heard.)

+ Glad to see Dick Button and Michelle Kwan partnered up as commentators.

- Not so glad that they only showed up a smattering of times, and most of that time seemed to be spent in Bob Costas pretending he could pull a press-stopping announcement of return from Kwan.

+ Glad to see the “complete package” (Joannie Rochette) edge out the “jumping clinic” (Miki Ando), with both women being rewarded for their considerable efforts.

- Not so glad to see my prediction for gold, Mao Asada, off the podium… but that’s only because my overall guesses proved so abysmal. I definitely think the right people won the right medals in this event.

+ Glad to see Rachael Flatt do so well in her senior Worlds debut.

- Not so glad to see Carolina Kostner’s meltdown. I’m not fond of her work, but no one wants to see someone so off her game, she executes more single jumps than triples.

+ And finally—glad to see so many exciting performances in L.A. with the Olympics less than a year away...

- Not so glad that those performances were all but hidden away online
Now that it has come to a close, we’ll dive deeper beneath the icy surface in the days to come. The suggestion box is open!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Not-So-Quick Notes, Day 4: The Spoils of "Doing the Math"

I spent a lot of time watching live skating on my computer screen yesterday. A LOT of time, come to think of it.

I saw ladies’ short programs that spanned the gamut—from those with triples-free routines, no chance of making the finals, happy-just-to-be-there skaters, to, well, Yu-Na Kim. My god, what a range that is.

And later on in the evening (Much later—I’m on eastern time here; it ended sometime after 1AM), I saw some truly spectacular ice dancing. The lifts! The spins! The twizzles! The drama! The judging!

Or should I say “the judging?!?”

I should, and I did, but… I’ll save that can-o-worms for later.

In the middle of all this computer-gazing, I stepped away for a couple of hours to have dinner with my husband and kids. Alissa Czisny, Rachael Flatt and a few others of note skated their respective SPs during that time lapse, so of course I returned to the computer as soon as I was able, clamoring to see if the worries were confirmed.

They were. Though Flatt wasn’t bad, somewhere around 3rd at the time, Czisny was in 8th… with several “favorites” left to go. She ended up in 14th before the night was through.

I didn’t watch any of the SPs I missed—not yesterday, anyway. I didn’t really feel like it, especially after the double letdown that was Belbin/Agosto settling for silver, and Davis/White settling for a crowd loudly booing their discontent when they missed bronze by four hundredths of a point.

I did, however, go to’s article about the ladies’ SP, where I found not only what two elements Czisny fell on (triple flip and double axel, if you’re keeping score at home), but a quote from her about the significance of the number 13:

"Everybody keeps reminding me and I can't think about that, because I can't control the outcome,” she responded.

(In case you don’t know what we’re talking about: a team can only send three ladies to Vancouver next year if their team placements from this year’s Worlds add up to 13 or less.)

And honestly, what else can Czisny say? She’s already dealing with the pressure of being U.S. National Champion with a free skate that only included three triples… during a pre-Olympic season… at a time when some attribute the decline in interest/viewership to the lack of a true Olympic-eligible “star”. What better than to up the ante a little more; to remind a young athlete repeatedly that the US will lose one of its coveted “spots” if she falters?

It starts to sound like the plot of a mediocre TV movie, doesn’t it?

And that’s a pity, because all Czisny (or Flatt, for that matter) did to deserve this was skate the best they could on a night back in January when their peers didn’t do quite as well. With neither one being considered much of a podium threat this year, they should be able to relax and savor their “moment” on the ice just a little.

But instead, they’re stuck doing the math: if she pulls up to fifth, I’ll have to finish no worse than eighth… if she can do no better than tenth, I’ll have to end up in third or else…

One more instance when points just shouldn’t matter, I guess.

Maybe tonight, since it appears that 3rd spot is already gone, they'll be able to go out and do a little moment-savoring after all.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Not-so-Quick Notes from Worlds Day 3: Lysacek Shines On

I haven’t seen much of the OD highlights yet—particularly the top two—but I did see Davis/White and Virtue/Moir’s respective dances (both of which used the Charleston; I hadn’t seen V/M’s OD before and didn’t realize the similarity). I was glad to see D/W close the gap between them even more—not just because I’m rooting for them for bronze, but because V/M just seemed to lack some fluidity. As for D/W, I hold my breath every time recalling the time earlier this season that Charlie turned stumbling into a hat-trick… but (whew) they did fine.

I was, however, fortunate enough to catch the majority of the men’s finals… where…

-- A Kazakhstanian star was born by the name of 16 year old Denis Ten (17th in the SP and a stunning 6th in the FS, resulting in 8th place overall)

-- Yannick Ponsero, my bronze medal pick, showed me why I’m not a gambler: he skated miserably, making noticeable mistakes throughout and finishing 16th. Easily his worst showing of the season.

-- Speaking of worst showings: aw, Jeremeeee… I read that his 11th place finish was the worst Worlds finish by a current US champion since World War II. Ouch. Just goes to show how unpredictable this sport can be.

-- Kevin VanDerPerren, at age 26, skates with all the earmarks of someone who is just hanging in there for one more Olympics. (He finished 14th; his best finish ever was 6th, two years ago.)

--Some indication of just how strong the FS was at the top of the heap last night: Nobunari Oda skated pretty clean from what I recall, and got a rousing ovation … but actually placed lower in the FS (8th) than he did in the short!

-- Samuel Contesti (Frenchman skating for Italy; 2nd in Euros this year and 5th here at Worlds)… where have you been all our lives?? Terrific stuff out there.

-- Big props to Tomas Verner, who finally did his Tango routine some justice, even if he dropped off in the last part of the program and resorted to doubling some triples. He may have finished just off the podium, but considering what happened with his FS last year at Worlds (and what seemed to haunt him throughout this season), it was a most impressive way to finish.

-- However, the biggest props for finishing well after a sub-par season have to go to Evan Lysacek. Way to get it done—quad free and spot-on with everything, resulting in the first US win in mens’ singles since Eldredge won it in 1996—some 13 (gasp!) years ago.

-- Memo to Patrick Chan and Brian Joubert: both of you had your side to the ongoing quads-vs-no-quads-just-triples+artistry debate earlier this week, and guess what? As has happened many times before, it came down to who could skate cleanly before it came down to anything else, and neither of you pulled out your best work (though Chan admittedly came a bit closer).
Patrick, you’re still quite young, and you still had a breathtakingly good season. Learn and move on, and you’ll be fine. Yeah, I sided with you on that whole debate, but we’ll get into that another time.

And Brian… I think instant karma called, and left about 4 messages on your voicemail. Or was it only 3….?

Sorry—couldn’t resist that one. "We all shine on..."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Not-So-Quick Notes: Worlds, Day 2

It’s hard to write a lot about a competition so big, still in progress… at least it is if you aren’t a “twitterer” (twittee?) like some of my fabulous fellow bloggers. But since I was able to catch some of the action and see some of the results, here are just a few quick observations as I sit here waiting to see some pairs competitors I recognize:

-- So far, it looks like I’ve underestimated both Belbin/Agosto and Evan Lysacek… both are sitting in second after their respective first rounds.
-- (As I just saw McBru blow their first side-by-sides… sigh)
-- (And she blew the second SBS too… double sigh)
-- Khoklova/Novitski down in 5th after the CD makes my 1st place prediction a hard sell right about now! Good thing there’s more movement in the standings (from dance to dance, I mean) than there used to be…
-- (Aaugh! A popped throw jump by McBru too? Seriously??)
-- I missed the top pairs in the SP last night—just on too late for an Eastern time-zoner like me. Only caught the Americans and Duhamel/Buntin from Canada…
-- (Gotta give a WHOO to Denney/Barrett, who are doing… ah, don’t jinx it... OK, no comment yet.)
-- I was, however, fortunate enough to catch most of the last flights of men in the SP today, even if I had to do so in between dishes, kids’ baths, bedtime, etc., and…
-- (Sorry, very distracted by Denney/Barrett again, because WOW DID THEY JUST NAIL EVERY SINGLE ELEMENT IN THEIR FREE SKATE OR WHAT!!!) I wonder how much they can move up, being newbies and all…
-- Anyway, the men were interesting as usual. Seems to be a lot of angst over the fact that Joubert came out on top with a performance that he himself seemed quite upset with…
-- (hang on, the scores are up… how could that not be their season’s best??) Anyway, I was kind of surprised to see Joubert up there too, but since I happened to pick him to win the whole thing how can I complain J
-- Nice time for Tomas Verner to turn in one of his better SPs of the whole season! (He’s in 4th.) Ditto for Brandon Mroz, in a very respectable 8th.
-- (As Dube/Davison wrap up—not looking like they’re going to get that bronze I predicted, huh?—here come Pang/Tong, who I noticed a lot of bloggers have pegged for gold. Wow, an actual music miscue—haven’t heard one of those in a while. Hope it doesn’t affect their concentration. So far so good…)
-- As for Mr. Abbott: when I saw him take a hard fall in the warmup on a triple loop, and the camera followed him around a bit afterwards, he looked nothing like the “relaxed” guy I’d read about coming into Worlds. And he REALLY didn’t look happy at the end of that program (which left him all the way down in 10th). I’m going to have to go lower case this time as I say… poor Jeremeeee.
-- Oh, and my bronze pick Yannick Ponsero? Yep, that’s him… all the way down in 11h. He could still come up considerably on the free skate—he’s gone from 9th to 1st in other events, after all—but bronze is probably out of his reach at this point. Cue my “spoilers”…especially Kozuka and Lysacek.
-- (Speaking of spoilers, there goes Craig Buntin spoiling their awesome Tosca program by falling on an SBS jump… after flipping out of an earlier SBS…dang; wish they could do better.)

Well, now, that wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be. The hardest part is stopping, as the final flight of pairs is still to come and I need to get to bed… again. More tomorrow night if I can squeak it in…

Monday, March 23, 2009

Going Back to Cali: Worlds Ladies/Men Predictions

Enough procrastinating; enough waffling on these last picks before Worlds gets underway in less than 24 hours! Can you tell that I’m always the last one to figure out what to order in a restaurant? Criminy!

For the LADIES…

Gold-- Mao Asada
Silver-- Yu-Na Kim
Bronze-- Joannie Rochette

I want this to go to Yu-Na—I really do—as I think she brings more of the “complete package” that we love to talk about in skating. But if Asada hits her two triple axels, I don’t think Yu-Na stands a chance (as we saw at the Grand Prix Final). If Asada hits just ONE of her triple axels—something no other lady in contention has this year, to my knowledge (except maybe Ando?)—I think it still might be a lock for her. Yes, I remember what happened at 4CC’s just a month ago, but, well, this isn’t 4CC’s. This, in a word, is pressure. And even when the pressure (or whatever it was) caused Asada to have one of the most frightful “waxels” in the history of triple axel attempts, she still won.

As for bronze, I had Kostner sitting in that spot until just now… but I’ve decided to go with the one I think is more deserving this year. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong… but Rochette has had a stellar year thus far, and wasn’t far behind the top two on that bronze she just picked up at 4CCs (the same top two that I just named above). If our US reps can’t make it to the podium this time, I’m hoping our neighbor to the North will pull it out instead.

Possible spoilers include Kostner, Fumie Suguri, and Miki Ando. As for the US ladies (Alissa Czisny and Rachael Flatt), all I’m going to predict is that one of them might make Top 5, and both should at the very least be in the Top 10. Remember, the placements need to add up to 13 or lower in order for the US to qualify 3 ladies for the Olympics instead of 2…

And last but not least by a longshot, the MEN…

Gold— Brian Joubert
Silver— Patrick Chan
Bronze-- Yannick Ponsero

This is tough with a capitol T, and even as I type this I’m not feeling especially confident in my choices.

Every time I think someone will win because they are “hungry” as a result of previous results, my predictions have been off. So let’s not say that Joubert is starving, famished, or any other word that implies he needs a croissant tout de suite. Let’s say instead that he has perhaps THE short program of the year, coupled with at least one quad in the free skate that the mighty fantastic Mr. Chan doesn’t have just yet. With the kind of year Chan is having, I will not be shocked if a Canadian defeats Joubert for the second year running… but nonetheless, my money’s on Joubert this time.

As for bronze—wow, almost as tough as predicting gold, with so many worthy contenders! But I’m going out of my comfort zone and picking Ponsero, the current French champ who seems to be getting the hang of back-to- back great performances in this later part of the season. And his quad is one of the best in the business right now-- a thing of beauty when he hits it.

My spoiler list could run for days, but I’ll narrow it to four: Takahiko Kozuka (whose subtlety I love but might get a little lost in the home stretch this season), JeremEEE Abbott (obviously on a great run), Nobonari Oda (great comeback but still a little unpredictable), and—don’t rule him out yet—Evan Lysacek, who seemed to get a lot more judicial love at 4CC’s than he’s received all year. Maybe he’s turned a corner, and will peak for the season at the perfect time…

For the
Clip of the Day—sorry if I’ve shown this already, but here’s Ponsero’s recent FS from Euros.

Check back throughout the week for occasional updates and—more likely—prolific commentary. If I can find any skating to watch, that is…

P.S. If you’re still seeking out your own video sources for Worlds, go to and click on TV ALERTS… you should be able to find some ideas there.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Goin Back to Cali: Worlds Dance/Pairs Predictions

If you’ve been following this blog in any fashion over the past skating season, you know this much about my predictions: they’re nothing to bet the rink on. But try, try again, as they say… so let’s see what happens when we put ‘em all together for the 2009 Worlds:

Gold-- Khoklova/Novitski (RUS)
Silver-- Domnina/Shabalin (RUS)
Bronze-- Davis/White (USA)

Until I looked it up just now, I didn’t realize Dombalin had yet to even medal at a World Championships, let alone win. So if they were to get silver here as I’ve predicted, that would have to rank as a victory of some sort.

I’m going with Khokitski not because I adore their dances this year—I don’t—but the judges seem to. And they’ve been building momentum all season, from last year’s world bronze to present. As for this year’s bronze, I think/hope it will be a virtual tie between D/W and V/M (Virtue/Moir), but I’m giving the edge to D/W for the sheer Americana of it!

Possible spoilers include Pechalat/Bourzat, Faiella/Scali, the Kerrs, and yes, Belbin/Agosto too… I’d like to predict higher for them, but it’s been so long since we saw them compete I’m just not comfortable with it.

And for PAIRS:
Gold-- Savchenko/Szolkowy (GER)
Silver—Pang/Tong (CHN)
Bronze-- Dube/Davison (CAN)

On the other hand, I’d forgotten that Pang/Tong have won a medal of every color, including gold in 2006. This has been a pretty good year for them; definitely better than that of their Chinese teammates (Zhang/Zhang), so I’m predicting another Pang/Tong podium visit…silver this time, behind the virtually unstoppable Sav/Szol German team. (Just don’t mention the Grand Prix finals.) Dube/Davison haven’t been back on the competitive track long this season, but they won bronze last year and I think they’ll at least be able to hold steady with that this time.

Possible spoilers include the aforementioned Zhang/Zhang, Kawaguchi/Smirnov, and Mukhortova/Trankov… the last of which has succeeded this season largely on the consistent strength of their SP. With so much stiff competition, though, I don’t think this will be enough to earn them their first medal.

Clip of the Day reminds us how Khokitski won bronze last year.

Predictions of mens and ladies medals to follow tomorrow!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Going Back to Cali: The Worlds Schedule

It’s the first day of spring!!!

What better time to announce the schedule for a WINTER sport’s biggest event of the year??

Competition starts Tuesday; I’m listing East Coast starting times as well as West Coast—East is the one that’s three hours later :-)

Tuesday, March 24:
1PM (PT)/4PM (ET): Compulsory Dance
7PM (PT)/10PM (ET): Pairs Short Program

Wednesday, March 25:
9AM (PT)/12PM (ET): Men’s Short Program (1st half)
1:30PM (PT)/4:30PM (ET): Men’s Short Program (2nd half)
7:30PM (PT)/10:30PM (ET): Pair’s Free Skate

Thursday, March 26
12:30PM (PT)/3:30PM (ET): Original Dance
5:35PM (PT)/8:35PM (ET): Men’s Free Skating

Friday, March 27
8:45AM (PT)/11:45AM (ET): Ladies Short Program (1st half)
1:20PM (PT)/4:20PM (ET): Ladies Short Program (2nd half)
6:30PM (PT)/9:30PM (ET): Free Dance

Saturday, March 28
4PM (PT)/7PM (ET) Ladies Free Skate

Sunday, March 29
2PM (PT)/5PM (ET): Exhibition

As for where you might actually SEE all this skating if you live in the U.S.: Aye, there’s the rub. If you’re blessed with the Oxygen Network on your cable/satellite system, get ready for plenty of coverage, you lucky, lucky soul. If you’re not, well… you get 2 hours next Saturday night on NBC. Period. That goes for IceNetwork subscribers too; Ice Network isn’t covering anything, as I understand it.

So get ready to find somewhere else for your fix. That’s what I’ll be doing – we just started getting NBC’s Universal Sports channel here, and at first I thought that would be my window to this year’s Worlds. How disappointing to find it is, instead, the home to nearly every other winter Olympic sport under the sun…

Nonetheless, I will still make some stabs at predictions. Look for them all to trickle in by the time things get started on Tuesday.

For the Clip of the Day, enjoy Virtue & Moir’s free dance from last year’s Worlds.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Will You Be "Skating WIth The Stars" this year?

Before Worlds Fever overtakes the blog in the coming days, I wanted to mention an upcoming benefit while it still makes sense to do so…

The fifth annual Skating With the Stars gala is set to take place on Monday, April 6, from 5:30-9PM at Wollman Rink in Central Park (NYC). Featuring “a spectacular roster of Olympic and World Medalists” including Dorothy Hamill, Sasha Cohen, Sarah Hughes, Viktor Petrenko, Todd Eldredge, Alissa Czisny, Kimmie Meissner, Evan Lysacek, Timothy Goebel and Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, the fundraiser serves Figure Skating in Harlem’s pioneering youth development program.

And if that list of skating stars wasn’t luminous enough for you, the big names that have attended in the past are impressive too: Kelly Ripa, Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Kimberley Locke (formerly of American Idol), and R&B singer Kelly Rowland.

This year’s Gala will honor both skating legend Tai Babilonia and New York State First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson; the night will include a dinner buffet and auction as well. Tickets start at $300 and are available by calling (212) 675-9474.

You can find out more at
this link .

For the
Clip of the Day , here’s Savchenko & Szolkowy winning gold at last year’s worlds…will they win it again this year? Predictions are coming soon…

Monday, March 16, 2009

A New "Castle", and a New Base of Skating Fans (Hint: Their Eyes Are Smiling...)

There’s a St. Patrick’s Day treat to follow, but first I thought you might like to know this bit’o’news:

Remember Ice Castles, the 1978 classic film that we just discussed here in December? It’s back—that is to say, a remake is on the way.

According to this week’s
Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew at, Taylor Firth has been cast as everyone’s favorite skater-gone-blind Lexie Winston in a new version. Apparently Firth—who recently finished 13th at this year’s senior U.S. Nationals—was requested to audition via an e-mail to her coaches that they found in the SPAM filter, of all places.

The film is being produced by Sony Pictures and actually boasts the same director as the original Ice Castles (Donald Wrye); others in the cast include Rob Mayes as Lexie’s boyfriend Nick Petersen, and Morgan Kelly as Lexie’s coach. A warning here: Morgan Kelly is, judging by the IMDB profile I looked up, a relatively attractive, 32-year-old MAN… so I’m left to wonder if he’s going to be the romantic spoil here instead of the sports reporter who wooed Lexie in the original. I hope not… a male coach smitten with his female student is not someplace a film like this should go.

Another warning of sorts: Firth, while clearly an accomplished skater who has competed at the senior level for three years, has never acted before (according to the article). The same was not said of Lynn-Holly Johnson from the original; not only had she done commercials and other small parts, she’d even played blind and deaf before (in a production of The Miracle Worker).

Shooting recently began up in Halifax, Nova Scotia… so we’ll see how this goes. No word on what they’ll do with Colleen Dewhurst’s character :-)

As for the aforementioned “treat”…

This article written by J.Barry Mittan for Skate Today features something you don’t see every day: a full-length article about the top figure skater out of… Ireland!

Her name is Clara Peters, and she apparently made history as the first Irish skater to compete at an ISU championship, finishing 38th at Europeans out of 40. “I didn’t want to come in last, and I didn’t,” she says charmingly.

In addition to finding out more about Peters and her Euros experience, the article addresses skating’s rising popularity in Ireland. Somewhat ironically, the pride of the Irish herself now lives and trains out of … Newark, Delaware.

A double Clip of the Day for you!

This one shows Taylor Firth skating her SP back at the 2007 U.S. Nationals…

this one is Clara Peters skating her SP at the 2009 Euros.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all! I’m off to bake my annual batch of Irish soda bread.

Friday, March 13, 2009

5 Best Hamilton/Celebrity Apprentice Moments (There Was Time For Five??)

It’s not my intention to overload you with Celebrity Apprentice observations; if I had my way, it would’ve been one recap per week, for several weeks, until Scotty Hamilton had raised a bazillion dollars to the Cleveland Clinic and faced off with Annie Duke in the finals. But, quicker than you can spell EEE!, the gig is up. So it’s a two-part recap this week, then back to watching Cold Case while taping Desperate Housewives for me… how about you?

What follows is my list of 5 Best Scotty Celebrity Apprentice Moments—had he been on longer, the list could’ve grown to 10…

5) The opening shots of the whole series, when the “team” rolled in and all the guys (and many of the women) appeared a full FOOT taller than Scott.

4) When Andrew “Dice” Clay tried to divert attention from himself by saying Scotty was the one who should be fired (in episode 1). Especially ironic, the way Trump looked to Scotty as if firing him was the farthest thing from his mind.

3) Scotty’s shout-out to Doug Wilson, the recently retired TV director who handled most of ABC’s skating broadcasts for decades. Scott was working the cupcake trailer in the first episode, then shreiked “Doug Wilson! I can’t believe you made it!” as Mr. Wilson responds “Hey, when you call Scotty, I come.” Hee. I couldn’t believe it made it into the show; but then again, they did have to pad for a 2-hour episode…

2) When Trump delivered one of his banal “succeess tips” (If you don’t stand up for yourself, people are going to walk all over you!) and crowed about how he expected GOLD medal winner Scotty to have an easier time of it than Khloe Kardashian. Well, yeah, you’d think…

And 1) When Scott and his nemesis (at least for one day) Tom Green acknowledged the fact that they had one unique commonality—they were both testicular cancer survivors. There was an odd sort of sweetness to that moment in the midst of all the huffing and puffing, even moreso than the moment in there where Scott looked to Trump as if to say “Do you believe this guy?” and Trump gave him a wink as if to say “Hang in there kid, I’ll take care of this in a minute.” If that’s what he was saying, he didn’t lie…

One more tidbit: in case you were wondering how Hamilton’s newest book is faring in the wake of his airtime, it’s been hovering between 4,600 and 5,000 in Amazon’s rankings this week after peaking with a 1,073 rank in the past month or so.

In more uniformly interesting news…we’re just about a week away from Worlds!!!!

So here’s a performance from last year’s Worlds as the
Clip of the Day . I’ve run a few of these before, so let’s let this one be a surprise as to who it is.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Scotty Wants That Last Jump Back: So Long, "Celebrity Apprentice"

Well, that was quick.

No sooner did I start to settle in to that shuffle of a dance that has become The Apprentice’s trademark over the past 5 years—the posturing, the backstabbing, the footage cleverly edited to make you think things will roll hither when it ends up rolling yon—did the unthinkable happen:

Scott Hamilton made one crushingly boneheaded decision (yep, I said it), and it was enough to get him “fired” from The Celebrity Apprentice in only its second week of the season.

Did you see it coming?

If you read
this exit interview Hamilton did with, maybe you’ll get the feeling—as I did—that he felt a little “done in” from the moment all those other Kings of the Universe (aka Team KOTU) apparently looked to him when pressured to choose a new project manager.

And then, if you saw the show, it would appear that Tom Green might’ve taken care of the rest… except that it arguably wasn’t Green that did Hamilton in as much as it was Hamilton himself. I think I physically winced when he came up with “EEE” as the name of the Zappos cartoon character. And as he himself says in the TV Guide interview, it would have been so simple for someone to just suggest a Z in front; to make it “ZEEE”…

But it was not to be. And if you’ve ever watched any of the Apprentice incarnations, you know that if one fatal project flaw is found, it’s almost guaranteed that flaw’s originator is out the door, no matter how many can attest to the belief that Green acted like a jackass… or that Dennis Rodman didn’t contribute much of anything (which by the way was very untrue, according to Hamilton).

So our Olympic Gold Medalist comes away from this experience too early, but relatively unscathed and widely seen as one of the nicer, calmer presences in the show’s history. What I find ironic about that, though, is that Hamilton used to be the crazy attention-getter of any scenario back in his younger days—isn’t that what I’ve heard from the friend of mine who watched Hamilton grow up on the ice in Bowling Green? Isn’t that what I read, to some degree, with his autobiography Landing It?

Interesting what time, agonizing medical turmoils, and a lot of perspective will do for a fellow.

More thoughts to come on the Hamilton foray into prime-time. For now, in lieu of a Clip of the Day I’m offering
this link to Telvision Without Pity, one of my favorite TV recap sites. To read about the episode in harrowing, hilarious detail, you have to check out TWoP!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

If A Plushenko Falls Back Into Olympic Training, Does Anyone Care?

So he’s baaack. Maybe.

At least one article has run over the past couple weeks reporting that 2006 Olympic and three-time World Champion Evgeny Plushenko has announced his “comeback to figure skating” with, of course, a Vancouver Olympics goal in mind.

And if it sounds like you’ve heard this one before, it’s because you have:

After seeing the poor results of Russian skaters in the 2007 World Figure Skating Championships (which was the worst since 1960), Plushenko was worried about Russia losing its status as a dominant force in figure skating, and was also concerned that Russia might even lose spots for its skaters in the 2010 Winter Olympics. He announced in April 2007 that he has decided to return to competitive skating for the 2007-2008 season, to keep Russia at a competitive level with other countries until the next generation of Russian skaters can take over.

But he didn’t come back.

Is it different this time? Or is everyone too wary, and/or too worried about the state of skating in general, to jump up and down at the prospect of another former superstar pondering a return?

Maybe we should simply look at the calendar to determine our excitement level:

JAN-APR: The speculations run rampant, and every news outlet is there to capture them.

MAY-AUG: The training time kicks in, but the news outlets aren’t thinking as much about skating and nobody’s really sure who’s in or who’s out. (A caveat to this would be if Sasha Cohen really makes her big announcement in June/July as she’s been hinting.)

SEPT-DEC: For every two people that DO commit to Vancouver, one will succumb to injury brought on by the escalated training schedule.

Just a thought…

But in case the idea of Plushenko’s return already brings joy to your heart, here’s his Olympic-winning LP as the
Clip of the Day.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Going Back to Cali 2009: Injured Reserve List Update

You’re counting it down, aren’t you… 18 days till (Senior) Worlds in Los Angeles, 17 days, 16… if only because it temporarily keeps you from thinking about the stock market… or the unemployment lines… or the fact that Conan’s off the air for a few months.

And that means there are less than 3 weeks for the devil we know as injury to snake in and around the ice rinks of the world, keeping the ailing down, tugging at the ankles/knees/shoulders of the healthy ones. Who will have to bow out? Who’s still undecided? And which way are they leaning?

Answer to the first question: Canada’s Langlois and Hay, who has been in recovery mode all season since a broken leg took them out of it last summer.
This report from ESPN confirms that they’re officially calling this season a wash, and setting their sights on 2010 and, hopefully, Vancouver.

Answer to the second and third questions can be found in these two sides of the coin:

Delobel and Schoenfelder are undecided but it’s not looking good, according to
this article from Delobel’s shoulder is still healing to the point where she hasn’t even returned to the ice yet. Yikes.

Belbin and Agosto, on the other hand, claim to be in quite good shape in
this article from the LA Times:

“We'll definitely be there, absolutely," she (Belbin) said. "We've been training hard. If anything, this injury and this setback have given us a lot of fight. Ben pushed through it and we're more invigorated than we'd be without it, even."

Think they’ll be able to end the season on a good note? Here’s their Nationals FD from last year as a
Clip of the Day , just as a reminder of what they’re capable of.

Monday, March 2, 2009

2009 Junior Worlds: A Bush League of Their Own

When I read over the weekend at that the U.S. had won the most medals this past week at Junior Worlds—with six—my gut reaction was Well yeah, I certainly hope so, given that so many of them are SENIORS.

I expected Ashley Wagner to medal (she did, with a bronze). As many times as she’s been there, I expected Caroline Zhang to win (almost; she won the FS and managed to earn a silver overall). And how silly a predicament would it have been for Adam Rippon if he had not successfully defended his “Junior” title from last year?

There are strategies in place, to be sure; strategies involving points, and placements, and Senior GP assignments, and all the things that are supposed to boost a given team’s relevance. But does the Junior Worlds really have to be anything other than a showcase of true up-and-comers (as opposed to been-there-already-but-just-slumming-for-the-moment-because-this-is-where-the-powers-that-be-put-me)?

Every sport has its bush league; some “leagues” are more refined than others. In baseball, for example, you usually have to work your way through a pretty intense network in order to get that call-up. My younger brother spent 10 long years as a minor-league pitcher, and only six treasured weeks (near the end of his run) at the top of the heap, playing for Pittsburgh. Making it “to the show” is a day-to-day thing, though, relying heavily on injuries, recoveries, team performance AND personal performance, among other things. A player might just as easily start the week back in triple-A ball as they would continue in the majors.

Should skating be the same way? I don’t think so. If only because it’s a completely different beast: individual vs. team, international vs. national, Olympics-driven vs. World Series-driven…

But what’s really bugging me right about now is this: everyone comments on how regulated everything’s become in skating: code of points, age limitations for seniors, twizzle counts for ice dancers, etc. Why does the junior level, the veritable triple-A of the skating world, have to be such a gray area right about now? When true juniors are standing on a scary enough precipice as it is, knowing it’s do-or-die time as far as their chances go to become a part of skating’s elite? How are they supposed to know how they’ll fare if they’re denied the chance to compete?

I’ll step off the soapbox now, so I can squeeze in a quick mention of Celebrity Apprentice Starring Scott Hamilton and Some Other People. It started. Scotty wasn’t the first fired (that honor went to Andrew Dice Clay, thank God). Scotty is definitely the shortest one in the boardroom. Scotty looked great in a little chef hat shilling “disgusting” (as they were called) cupcakes from a trailer. The show came in 3rd behind a Jesse Stone TV movie and the 2-hour Brothers and Sisters “event”… I think this has become typical for The Apprentice, no matter how Donald Trump tries to brag otherwise.

For the
Clip of the Day I’ve got a 2006 Junior Worlds performance by a then-junior by the name of Yu-Na Kim. Ah, the good old days…