Friday, November 27, 2009

As The Calendar Turns (Towards Vancouver)… Roundup #1

For some, Black Friday= early rising, marathon shopping, awesome deals.
For skating fans, Black Friday= A Friday in late fall without any GP events.

What on earth are we to do—watch Skate America reruns on Universal Sports? Watch college football? Catch up on gardening? Play with our children? Read??

If you tend to lean toward that last one, I’ll try to help you out. While I was whipping up Thanksgiving pies over the past few days, life rolled on for Olympic hopefuls around the globe. Here are the headlines:

No BelGosto at the Grand Prix Final.
According to
this Phillip Hersh article and other reports, an infected wisdom tooth of Belbin’s that requires immediate oral surgery means no GP Final for them. Rumor has it that the 1st GP dance alternates, Khoklova/Novitski, have passed on their invite to the GPF (citing illness), which means Canada’s Crone/Poirer are next in line.

Also, no Jourbert at the GPF.
Might I just start this briefing by saying injuries are especially dreadful to read about—and live through, I suppose—when the injured one reports, at one point, that “he could see bone”. Aack!

In any case,
here’s the Ice Network article that explains Brian Joubert’s withdrawal/injuries. Next one in line to go to the GPF, should he accept such a mission, is Tomas Verner. Just what you want to hear at the last minute when you’re recovering from the flu… yep, let’s hop a plane to Tokyo, breathe other people’s germs for hours on end, exert tons of energy I wasn’t planning to have to exert again for a while, and get sick all over again in time for Olympic trials. Sounds good. Where’s my Zorba costume?

Verner is probably not much of a whiner, so you’d likely never hear him say that outloud. But as others have said before me—why would any skater hoping to make that season’s Olympic team really want to make the GPF a priority? Perhaps they should allow each competitor to simply throw on their costume and perform from their home rink while it’s shown via webcam…

Oh, and by the way—no Lutai anywhere for a year.
Here’s the article talking about his ban due to the post-Skate America incident. After what happened to Nobunari Oda a few years back when he was charged with a DUI while on his moped, I suppose we saw this coming. Unfortunately for Lutai (and unlike Oda), he wasn’t competing strong enough for this ban to have much impact on the skating world.

*PURE SPECULATION ALERT*… do you suppose somewhere deep inside the guy might’ve just said look, Plushenko’s gonna get the bid, I’m not skating that well anyway, let’s just take myself out of the running now…?

On a lighter note, for PETA’s sake…
If you’ve ever wondered
What Tai Babilonia looks like (almost) naked , click on the link because this is your lucky day. All I have to say here is that I hope I look that good (almost) naked when I’m 49.

Finally-- ICE CASTLES… the trailer is here!
In lieu of a Clip of the Day, I’ve got the
Ice Castles trailer at the ready if you click on the link. I recently heard they still weren’t sure if this film was to be a theatrical release, a direct-to-video, or a TV film… does anyone have an update? It would seem the TV option is out if they’re sporting a trailer…

Monday, November 23, 2009

Skate Canada '09: The OTHER Battle of the Blades

Things For Which I Am Thankful After Watching Skate Canada:

in PAIRS...

+ Thankful that Muk/Trank still give me plenty to joke about despite the fact their FS is infinitely more watchable this year. (Like what? Well, that's for another post.)

+ Thankful Denney/Barrett have had such a nice debut GP season… coming in 5th at Skate Canada was as impressive as could be with a TOUGH and experienced field.

+ Thankful the Germans completely changed their free skate… not that I minded the previous one, but I do suspect this one (“Out of Africa”) will be more competitive with Shen/Zhao.

in DANCE...

+ Thankful to catch Canada’s Weaver/Poje in the Free Dance. I hate to say this, but when they took the ice just after USA’s Samuelson/Bates I felt like a baton had been passed between the wanna-bes and WILL-bes, if that makes any sense. (I'm just not liking SamBates’ choice of FD music again, for the 2nd year running.)

+ Thankful again for Virtue/Moir’s Mahler FD, though I’ve decided someone needs to get Tessa a shorter, more practical OD dance skirt for Christmas. The current one has a very laborious appearance to it. I think it might have been a weighted tablecloth in a previous life.

for the LADIES...

+ Thankful Cynthia Phaneuf’s Free Skate finally came to an end at some point. It DID end, right? Four falls…egads. Also, OW. By the way, Laetitia Hubert called… and wanted to remind her that it could be worse—this could’ve
been at the Olympics

+ Thankful the judges still have someone they can overmark when Carolina Kostner isn’t around. Laura Lepisto for bronze? Seriously? Methinks I should go study the protocols between her and Mirai Nagasu if I think I can do it without getting too pissed off.

+ Thankful that Alissa Czisny can fall twice in the free skate but, because no one skated clean, still come away with silver. The APB she has out for back-to-back solid programs remains in effect. (If you’re interested in re-visiting her flawless short program, though, here it is as the Clip of the Day .)

and for the MEN...

+ Thankful both Abbott and Takahshi skated as well as they did, grabbing spots in the GP Final while Patrick Chan faltered. (I know Chan couldn’t qualify anyway, but if he’d won this event I don’t know if either of those guys would’ve made it.)

+ Thankful for watching Denis Ten execute the Bielmann spin few men are capable of, for it inspired a new term for my skating lexicon: MannBiel . (Try it in a sentence this holiday weekend…)

So what inspired YOU to give thanks after watching the action in Kitchener?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Once More, With No Popped Jumps... Skate Canada '09 Predictions

And here we are, already at stop #6 on our (or their) Grand Prix adventure! My how time flies when you’re trying to calculate point deductions and positive GOEs. Lots of interesting showdowns to come this weekend… first, here are the showtimes:

For IceNetwork:

Friday, November 20

11:50 am - Pairs Short Program

1:15 pm - Ladies Short Program

6:30 pm - Compulsory Dance

7:55 pm - Mens Short Program

Saturday, November 21

12:00 pm - Original Dance

1:30 pm - Pairs Free Program

4:00 pm - Mens Free Program

7:00 pm - Ladies Free Program

Sunday, November 22

12:15 pm - Free Dance

For Universal Sports:

Friday 11/20, Pairs and Ladies short - 8 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

Saturday 11/21, Pairs Free and Men's Short - 5-7 p.m.

Men's Free - 8-9 p.m.
Sunday 11/22, Ladies Free - 4-6 p.m.

And again it will also be on NBC 2-4PM Sunday…

As for predictions?


Gold: Virtue/Moir (CAN)
Silver: Pechalat/Bourzat (FRA)
Bronze: Samuelson/Bates (USA)

Does anyone know why Faiella/Scali withdrew from this? They’d have been my pick for silver behind V/M (with that sublime Mahler FD), but without them, I’ll go French with the only French couple present (Delobel/Schoenfelder were supposed to be here too, once upon a pre-preggers time). As for bronze, I’m really guessing but it would be nice to see Samuelson & Bates on the podium, especially if they’re front-runners for the third US dance spot in Vancouver.

For MEN:

Gold: Patrick Chan (CAN)
Silver: Jeremy Abbott (USA)
Bronze: Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)

Redemption, part un: JeremEEEE had a lousy skate last time out. Dice-K had a lousy skate last time out. Who will be more determined to show it was a fluke? Well, with Dice-K we have to wonder if, maybe, it wasn’t a fluke because he’s simply not back up to 100% yet. Then again, Abbott seems determined not to “peak too early”, and maybe he’ll somehow unintentionally psych himself out of doing his best. I’ll pick the latter for silver and Takahashi for bronze, if only because Abbott may have more control over how well he skates (assuming he’s healthy).
And I might be over-estimating Chan— I’m kind of putting him in the same spot I did with Takahashi at NHK, bouncing back strong after an injury—but then again, Chan’s injury didn’t keep him off the ice nearly as long. It’ll be nice to see what he has right about now on home ice. A dry run for Vancouver, maybe?


Gold: Savchenko/Szolkowy (GER)
Silver: Mukhortova/Trankov (RUS)
Bronze: Dube/Davison (CAN)

Redemption, part deux: Sav/Szol also had a miserable outing last time we saw them. In fact, didn’t I hear last weekend (during Skate America coverage) that their coach was working on a new program with them? Hmmm. If any of the poor skates by champs this season were flukes, I’d say theirs was surely one of them (Yu-Na Kim last week being the other one). So, I could have this all messed up, but I’ll still put them on top, ahead of Muk/Trank. (But if Sav/Szol blow it this time… no more benefit of the doubt!!) Americans Denney/Barrett could give Dube/Davison a technical run for bronze, but D/D should have the overall polish to take it with that lovely Way We Were program.


Gold: Joannie Rochette (CAN)
Silver: Akiko Suzuki (JPN)
Bronze: Alissa Czisny (USA)

Redemption, part trois: Rochette already did some redeeming with her FS last time, but in front of the home crowd in a Vancouver Olympic year, I’m sure she intends to blow the roof off the joint here (as they say). After seeing how well she fared under pressure last year, I’m pulling for her to repeat… as for Czisny with a bronze—honestly it could be her, or Zhang, or Nagasu, or Laura Lepisto for that matter. But right now I think it’s Czisny I want to see succeed the most, so there you go.

Oh, and if you still want to know what the Magic 8-Ball is predicting for the ladies:

Gold: Czisny
Silver: Nagasu
Bronze: Rochette

Speaking of Czisny… remember this Clip of the Day from Skate Canada 2005? Apparently the 8-Ball does...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Grand Prix '09 Bubble Time...

BY THE WAY… you may have read this already, but Russia’s Andre Lutai (who just finished 10th out of 12 at this past weekend’s Skate America) was arrested in Lake Placid after the event. According to articles such as this one , the charges stealing a car and driving while intoxicated. Whoops.


Last year around this time I put together a list of the already-in, the might-be-in-after-they-skate-this-weekend, and the might-be-in-but-it’ll-be-a-long-weekend-until-they-know-for-sure… with regards to the Grand Prix Final, that is. Here is this year’s edition:

Already qualified: Nobunari Oda (30 points), Evan Lysacek (28), Brian Joubert (24), Johnny Weir (22)

Could still qualify after competing next weekend: Michel Brezina (11 points), Daisuke Takahashi (9), Samuel Contesti (9), Jeremy Abbott (7), Kevin VanDerPerren (7), Stephen Carriere (6), Alban Peaubert (4)

On the bubble: Tomas Verner (20)


Already qualified: Yu-Na Kim (30 points), Miki Ando (30), Alena Leonova (24)

Could still qualify after competing next weekend: Akiko Suzuki (15 points), Joannie Rochette (11), Alissa Czisny (9), Caroline Zhang (9), Mirai Nagasu (7), Laura Lepisto (7), Cynthia Phaneuf (5)

On the bubble: Ashley Wagner (24), Rachael Flatt (22), Mao Asada (20), Yukuri Nakano (20)


Already qualified: Shen/Zhao (30 points), Pang/Tong (30), Kavaguti/Smirnov (26),

Could still qualify after competing next weekend: Mukhortova/Trankov (15 points), Dube/Davison (13), Savchenko/Szolkowy (11), Denney/ Barrett (9)

On the bubble: Zhang/Zhang (24), Volosohzar/Morozov (24), McLaughlin/Brubaker (20), Inoue/Baldwin (20)


Already qualified: Davis/White (30 points), Belbin/Agosto (30), Cappellini/Novotte (26)

Could still qualify after competing next weekend: Virtue/Moir (15), Pechalat/Bourzat (13), Faiella/Scali (11 points), Bobrova/Soloviev (9), Samuelson/Bates (9),

On the bubble: Kerr/Kerr (24), Khoklova/Novitski (22), Crone/Poirier (20)

No Clip of the Day, but Skate Canada predictions are tomorrow, so it’ll be back soon!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Notes From The Drawing Board (Skate America 2009 Recap)

Did you notice I didn’t make any Magic 8-Ball predictions for Skate America?

It occurred to me sometime after I posted my guesses that I’d the big black plastic orb behind… but then I had the nerve to think Hey, I’ve been doing pretty good this year… who needs help from a childhood toy, anyway?

But looking at this week’s results… a paltry 5 for12 (guessed winners in all disciplines and Rachael Flatt for silver), it would appear I dismissed it too soon.

(Do you agree, 8-Ball? It is certain, it says… wiseguy.)

Anyway—if you watched any of the men’s SP coverage on Universal Sports Friday night, you may have heard Sandra Bezic make frequent use of the phrase “back to the drawing board”… in honor of all the competitors who either left their best jumps in the warm-up, on the practice ice, or never brought them in the first place. So that got me thinking… what might that illustrious “drawing board” really have on it—at least as far as Skate America developments go?

+ Lysacek’s Firebird costume. I know Vera Wang designed it, and she’s awesome… but all the black and all the feathers and all his pre-existing wingspan don’t equal a firebird. They equal a freaking CONDOR. (See above illustration) Caw-CAW!

+ Dan Zhang’s oomph. Must she suffer through Sing Sing Sing for her pairs SP if she’s not feeling it? Must we? Maybe we can sneak her some vitamin B12 next time…

+ The fine line between Adrian Schultheiss’ creativity and sensibility. I could go with the Swede’s free skate including Insane in the Brain as well as the theme from House M.D. (a.k.a. Teardrop by Massive Attack)… but to throw in a few lines from what sounded very much like… a PAC MAN game? Ya lost me.


+ My own sensibility… considering Susanna Poykio a dark horse for bronze? She finished second to last, for crying out loud. Nice going, Kelli.

+ A picture of “Canadian Quad King” Clay Aiken—who knew? (Whoops, guess I was looking at Kevin Reynolds…)

+ Navarro and Bommentre’s free dance music choice. Don’t get me wrong; I like U2 and “One” as much as anyone. I just don’t know that a mid-tempo rock piece is going to do much for them, especially internationally. Do any of my dance experts have an opinion on this?

+ Ryan Bradley’s “For Sale” sign for his program. Now this was what I expected at his last event and never got… an Amadeus free skate that he could really sell to the audience.

+ Duhamel/Buntin’s luck. First they had to contend with a badly cut hand at last year’s Trophee Eric Bompard… but at least that time they were able to finish. This time Meagan Duhamel fell on a throw triple salchow and banged her head in the process, forcing a withdrawal. Daaaang. Oh, Canada indeed!

+ Florent Amodio’s anonymity. After re-watching his short program (today’s Clip of the Day) , I’m not certain if I liked as much about his skating as I thought, or if he simply stood out because he was relatively error-free. But I AM certain that I will no longer confuse Amodio with Samuel Contesti. (what?? Yeah, don’t ask.)

+ Elena Glebova’s last name. I doubt she’d be delighted to know this, but when my kids first heard her name read on TV, they thought it was “Elena Bla-bla-bla.” Unfortunately that one’s bound to stick with me for a while.

And of course, the most notable thing left on that drawing board was Yu-Na Kim’s stunning consistency. On the one hand, I felt bad that NBC was hyping her to the nth degree only to see her fizzle for the first time in ages… but on the other hand, they showed a seemingly perfect athlete from overseas falter while an American girl (Flatt) put down her best skate of the season to date—not winning overall, but certainly making a statement with her free skate victory. How lucky could NBC get… after all the negative press about the USA’s lack of a current female skating star, they get to show on live TV how our ladies can still make it a ball game come Vancouver time!

Of course, we don’t even know if Flatt will make the Olympic team yet, but I’m just saying…

Friday, November 13, 2009

Unversal Schedule Update...

Another PS... I was informed that the times I'd obtained for Universal's coverage weren't accurate. Check out this link to Universal to get a more current schedule!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Skate America Best Bets

I’m late on it this week, so best get right to it! Starting with airtimes…


Friday, Nov. 133:00 p.m.: Compulsory dance

7:30 p.m.: Pairs short program

9:00 p.m.: Men's short program

Saturday, Nov. 14

2:00 p.m.: Original dance

3:45 p.m.: Pairs free skate

7:00 p.m.: Ladies short program

9:00 p.m.: Men's free skate

Sunday, Nov. 15

4:30 p.m.: Free dance

On Universal Sports…

Fri. Nov. 13
7:00-8:00 PM (LIVE)
8:30-9:30 PM (LIVE)

Sat. Nov. 14
2:00-3:00 PM (LIVE)
4:00-5:00 PM (LIVE)

Sun. Nov. 15
5:00-7:00 PM Skate America

And…NBC, Sun. Nov. 15
2:00-4:00 PM (Ladies final)

As for predictions…


Gold: Belbin/Agosto (USA)
Silver: Khokhlova/Novitski (RUS)
Bronze: Cappellini/Lanotte (ITA)

Not much to say here; Belgosto should sew up their GPF entry easily by the week’s end… and I’m basing silver and bronze on the number of points each team got in earlier events this season (K/N scored about 12 points higher than C/L).

For MEN:

Gold: Evan Lysacek (USA)
Silver: Tomas Verner (CZE)
Bronze: Brandon Mroz (USA)

This one’s risky, as Verner is sure to bring his quad (which looked great in Paris) and Lysacek reportedly is leaving his back in L.A. But I’m still going with Evan because he’s got the better all-around track record. Must admit I’m mighty fond of Verner’s work, though, and would always welcome a victory for him. The field is pretty weak after these two throw down their performances, but I’ll root for Brandon Mroz to make a turnaround from his Rostelecom disaster.


Gold: Shen/Zhao (CHN)
Silver: Zhang/Zhang (CHN)
Bronze: Volosozhar/Morozov (UKR)

It seems rather unfair that Zhang/Zhang have had to duke it out with Shen/Zhao in both of their GP events while Pang/Tong got to shine (and win) in separate competitions… but, in any case, a no-brainer here for gold and silver. Bronze is tougher, as I’d like to see McBru or Duhamel/Buntin with it, but I think V/M’s a more consistent team.


Gold: Yu-Na Kim (KOR)
Silver: Rachael Flatt (USA)
Bronze: Susanna Poykio (FIN)

Another no-brainer for gold here, though if that turns out to be wrong there sure will be a lot of interesting press (She IS beatable!!!). The rest of the field, frankly, seems void of any serious competition. Suguri’s a possibility I suppose, but I’m hoping Flatt will make the splash that she needs to make on her “home turf”. And no, I haven’t forgotten about Sebestyen, but I think she can be outskated again in the long run—if not by Poykio, perhaps by Alexe Gilles (who I’d love to see with a medal). Sentimental favorite would have to be Emily Hughes—how great that doing this event gives her a “bye” for Nationals!-- but it seems like a top-5 finish for her would be victory enough.

Speaking of Hughes, this Clip of the Day was taken from a Disson show on NBC from about a year ago. Looking forward to Lake Placid this weekend…

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Men Who Put the NO in Nagano (NHK Review Pt. 2)

For the second week in a row, I did fairly well in my podium predictions—9 for 12 at Cup of China; and now 8 for 12 at NHK Trophy. But also for the second week in a row, 3 of the predictions went completely up in smoke when one of the singles’ events went through the meat grinder in terms of expectations and placements. At Cup of China, it was the ladies… this time, we had Joubert and Weir back to form… sort of glad to see it… but what about the other top male contenders?

T.A.M.I.A. ALERT—the Triple Axel Missing In Action network appeared to claim a few more members—everyone from Takahashi (noooo!) to Kozuka (huh?) to Joubert (must be nice to have that quad as backup—didn’t realize he and Lambiel had that much in common). Oh, and other than Johnny Weir, who snapped out of his Sparkly Boy haze long enough to put down two almost-clean programs and claim silver… TAMIA was affecting our Americans just as badly. Adam Rippon still looked great this time, but going 1-for-3 on the axels won’t cut it. Not even when those around you are too busy polishing the ice with their keisters to land much of anything. Speaking of Mr. Abbott…(oooh, snap)

The stumbles of JEREM-who?-- With that awesome, free-flowing Day in the Life SP, I was convinced he was back to the form that served him so well around this time last year. But then came that FS…okay, we all know it was a hot mess. But kudos to Abbott for creating the best “What the hell was THAT??” look of puzzlement I’ve seen in a long time. Did you hear him talking about how “at least I didn’t peak too early this year” afterwards? I almost wonder if his subconscious was messing with him the whole time out of a fear that if it went well, it might bode poorly for later in the season.

Oh, and one more thing I’ve gotta say about Jeremy Abbott… I’m digging the new costumes.

LA STRAKAHASHI—Part of what disappoints so much is when you see all the essentials of a killer program, but the jumps just aren’t there on a given day. That’s how I felt about Dice-K’s take on La Strada. Like Oda’s Chaplin, this is a piece so rippling with personality, I don’t even mind having to eat some crow for saying he has “quad consistency” on his side (I suppose His Evgeniness might be the only one to truly live up to that). I do mind the other falls suffered by Takahashi, though. Daaang.

In other disciplines…

Kudos, DENNEY/BARRETT—though they didn’t make the podium, they still delivered the breakout work I was hoping to see (especially with such a solid SP as the first competitors of the whole event!). And… did anyone notice that, with Firebird as their SP and Scheherazade for the FS they happen to be using the same music this season as one Evan Lysacek? (Though the cuts are surely different)

As for Ice Dance, I was impressed with all three on the podium. Crone/Poirier I admittedly didn’t watch closely their first time out this season, but I enjoyed their music and their kind of unique-looking twizzles. The Kerrs… I’ve liked them all along, and am glad they had a chance to scoop up two medals thus far this GP season. And Davis/White… well, I’m letting “the Phantom” grow on me. Anyway, great effort by all three, and I just hope the top teams who aren’t competing this GP season don’t effortlessly breeze by teams like these when Olympic time comes near.

In lieu of a clip, here’s an article of the day … this weekend marks the 30th (!) anniversary of Skate America; the article features recollections from Scott Hamilton, Peter Carruthers, and Lisa-Marie Allen (who finally got to win a major international competition there in ’79!). Come for the stories, stay for the photo archives from the event formerly known as Norton Skate. Predictions for this weekend coming soon!

Monday, November 9, 2009

P.S. Skate America: Cohen Out, Hughes In

Just had to add this headline that I spotted on IceNetwork's home page shortly after posting my longer piece. As with Trophee Eric Bompard, Cohen is withdrawing from this weekend's Skate America competition due to injury. (That's "strike 2" for those keeping tabs on her comeback.)

EmilyHughes has been announced as her replacement, so she steps into the pinch-hitting-for-a-major-player role for at least the second time in her career.

Oh, and if you check out Laura's Required Elements blog, you'll see there was a story over the weekend talking not about this injury as much as Cohen's return to having John Nicks as her coach. Interestingly, the Ice Network release still lists her coach as Rafael Arutunian... so perhaps even more news from Camp Cohen is yet to come.

Come On Feel the Skate Noise…NHK Review part 1

So, are you pro-skate noise (as NHK seemed to be this year) or anti-skate noise? Informal poll… please feel free to comment!

There seem to be two schools of thought on this. Some think having mics near the ice increases the athletic aspect of figure skating, reminding the audience that they are working out there as we hear every toepick, every scratchy landing, every deep edge. Others think it detracts from the grace and elegance of the sport, and have about as much interest in hearing the grunts of an elite tennis player going for a difficult shot. (And others probably couldn’t care less either way, so I suppose that’s a third school of thought.)

Me, I wish they’d dialed it down just a little bit this weekend… but otherwise I thought it was an interesting change of pace. (Won’t I feel silly if I’m the only one out here that noticed it!) And if you listened to the skate noise hard enough, it told you all you needed to know about this weekend’s NHK Trophy (roll the observations…)

The sure steps of A CZECH IN NAGANO: With so much crashing and burning by the top men, the silver (or bronze) lining sometimes comes in the form of a newer talent breaking through—in this case, all the way to the medals. Nice to meet you, Michal Brezina.

The carefree glides of A RUSSIAN IN CHICAGO: OK, she’s sold me. Alena Leonova’s breakout work near the end of last season was no fluke. I said she was a dark horse for a medal this time; does the fact that she succeeded mean she’s just a “regular, lighter horse” now? She already seems to be the best all-around Russian singles lady since Slutskaya… even if she’s got a long way to go in order to win Slutskaya-caliber hardware.

The painful thud of YUKO KAVAGUTI—So she dislocated her freaking shoulder with that wicked fall on the throw quad salchow. Ai-yi-yi. Shades of Zhang/Zhang back in Torino when they had to stop and regroup… do y’all really have to keep trying this maneuver?

The hush of LAURA LEPISTO—I really like her interpretation and expressiveness; but without some decent jumps to back it up it feels like style w/no substance.

THE SLIPPERY SLOPE that is staying at or near the top: with the notable exception of Yu-Na Kim, the leader after the ladies’ SP in each of the Grand Prix events this season had ended up taking quite a tumble (often literally) with their free-skate efforts: Julia Sebestyen had a first place SP but a 7th place FS at Rostelecom Cup… Mirai Nagasu led after her SP at Cup of China, only to have the sixth-best FS. Given this, I guess Ashley Wagner did well to stay on the podium! But I would have liked to see how a clean skate on her part would’ve stood up to Ando…probably the difference between bronze and silver.

For the Clip of the Day I’ve got Jeremy Abbott’s splendid SP… certainly NOT the Free Skate…but we’ll talk more about him next time, as there’s plenty more to say about this event.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dice-K at NHK (and Some Less Catchy Predictions)

Totally selfish of me, but I must admit I’ll be pleased next week when the GP moves into North America for its last two stops. The IceNetwork live streaming times are so early for much of NHK Trophy, my best bet to catch some events as they happen is to stay up late!

More on streaming & airdates later. Here are the predictions:

Gold: Davis/White (USA)
Silver: Kerr/Kerr (GBR)
Bronze: Crone/Poirier (CAN)

No wild and crazy guesses here; D/W have already proven their ability to win this year; even if they are way off their game (as happened once last year in the GP with them), I don’t think they can be overtaken by The Kerrs. C/P were 20 points behind The Kerrs if you compare their earlier GP efforts this season.

For MEN:

Gold: Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)
Silver: Jeremy Abbott (USA)
Bronze: Brian Joubert (FRA)

This is much, much harder to call. I should add that if these three do indeed turn up on the podium, 4th and 5th places better be Takahiko Kozuka and Adam Rippon in some fashion. It hurts me not to predict them higher, but Dice-K’s got quad consistency—and I’m guessing he’ll be on fire in his first post-surgery major competition on home soil. Though I’m very much over Joubert at this point, he supposedly always does sub-par at TEB because of the pressure—if that’s true, maybe he can hold it together enough here for bronze. But not enough for JeremEEE to slip past him for silver.


Gold: Pang/Tong (CHN)
Silver: Kavaguti/Smirnov (RUS)
Bronze: Inoue/Baldwin (USA)

WHAT?! I/B for a medal?? Is the rest of the field comprised of junior-level skaters or something? Well… let’s just say I haven’t heard of many of them. If any break through well enough to medal, it’ll be significant for sure. (Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett, I’m looking at you…)


Gold: Miki Ando (JPN)
Silver: Yukuri Nakano (JPN)
Bronze: Ashley Wagner (USA)

What do I see when I look at the entrants here? A field with at least three dark horses… Laura Lepisto (FIN), Alena Leonova (RUS), and Sarah Meier (SWI). But among those three, only Leonova is on her second GP event, and while I think she’s an interesting up-and-comer, I don’t know if she can reach the podium unless Wagner has a bad day. And even then, Lepisto may be able to do what Meier did last week. (Or Meier, if she’s injury-free. Has anyone heard?)
I’m going with Ando for the top, but if the home country pressure gets to her, Nakano may have her day in the sun instead.

As for the Magic 8-Ball predictions: let’s go back to the MEN and see what we get…

Gold: Abbott
Silver: Kozuka
Bronze: Joubert

Does the 8-Ball have JeremEEEE fever a little early? "Without a doubt"--!

Here are those live streaming times for IceNetwork:

Friday, Nov. 6
12:30 a.m.: Compulsory dance
1:45 a.m.: Pairs short program
3:10 a.m.: Men's short program
5:05 a.m.: Ladies short program
10:45 p.m.: Original dance

Saturday, Nov. 7
12:15 a.m.: Pairs free skate
1:55 a.m.: Men's free skate
4:50 a.m.: Ladies free skate
11:00 p.m.: Free dance

And the times to watch if you have Universal Sports:

Friday, Nov. 6
5pm to 7pm
8pm to 10pm
11pm to 1am

Saturday, Nov. 7
2pm to 4pm
5pm to 7pm (Men and Pairs Free)

Sunday, Nov. 8
5pm to 7pm (Ladies and Men Free)

NBC will also be offering coverage from 2pm to 4pm Sunday.

The Clip of the Day is Wagner’s FS from this event last year… “Electrifying program, but technically, not enough in there to compete with the two Japanese girls that we’ve seen so far,” says the UK Commentator at the end. What will this year bring us? Stay tuned…

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cup or China: The Tricks, the Treats, and the Just Plain Spooky

No dial tone.

Since Saturday morning, when I came down to see which free skate was on Ice Network… no dial tone. Which means no Internet, no posting, and of course… no Cup of China. At least, not on the computer. SPOOKY.

All I can say is… Universal Sports to the rescue! With the exception of a local high school football game that apparently gets to pre-empt dang near anything, I managed to catch wall-to-wall finals with the exception of the first 15 minutes of whatever they showed for dance. So now that I’ve got my phone line back, I’m able to make the following “Trick or Treat” observations, with a few "SPOOKYs" thrown in for good measure (it’s not to late for Halloween references, is it??):

1) TREAT: I’m rather stunned by this, but somehow I managed to be 9-for-12 this week, correctly guessing the pairs, dance, and men’s results. (Call this spooky too...?)

2) TRICK: And with the ladies, I was 2-for-3 but had the order all messed up (as I suspect most of us predictors did on that one)! Underestimated Suzuki… overestimated Rochette.

3) TRICK: As for Korpi in second—wow. Not that I can readily name who I’d give it to instead, but she hardly seemed to have silver-medal caliber performances.

4) TREAT: Fumie Suguri’s SP dress looks like it’s lifted straight off a cell from Disney’s Snow White. I half-expected her music to be a mash-up of High-Ho and Someday My Prince Will Come. (But seriously, I thought it was lovely on her. Can’t say I’m as crazy about Rachael Flatt’s pink SP dress, though… or the way either of them skated. Sell, sell, sell that Sing Sing Sing, Flatt!)

5) SPOOKY: While we’re talking costumes, did anyone else see the Ukranian couple in the OD? He was sporting a fake mustache that made the fake one worn by Peter on a later episode of The Brady Bunch look real. Criminy!

6) TREAT: Not as many
stupid camera shots of stuffed animals on the ice this year.

7) SPOOKY: That blasted overhead camera. While I applaud the attempt to do something different… unless they happened to go to it during a certain type of spin, or an interesting pairs step sequence, it just seemed bizarre and distracting.

8) TREAT: Frank Carroll, AKA The Busiest Coach at Cup of China. With Lysacek, Kostner, Liang and Nagasu all at the same event, he needed a Carroll Clone to keep up. Did you see him sitting with Nagasu after the SP, then as soon as the score was posted, said “OK, bye, I’ve go see Carolina”-! No wonder he’s so thin. When does he have time to eat?

9) TRICK: Lysacek’s shoulder thingies on both costumes. What is that, feathers? Fringe? Tassles? a Parrot? Get ‘em off. Yuck.

10) TREAT: Lysacek’s programs in general. I’m not madly in love with either one of them, but I think they suit him well and will serve him well this season.

11) TRICK: Misfit programs. Exhibit A: Zhang & Zhang doing Sing Sing Sing in the SP. Exhibit B: Suguri doing Spartacus in the FS. The former isn’t lighthearted enough; the latter, not powerful enough.

12) TREAT: Shen & Zhao. Just because.

13) TRICK: That thing in Belbin & Agosto’s FD where does a 360 (or close to it) on her way up to a stunning lift. This time I mean “trick” in a good way. That was pretty cool.

14) TREAT: Their whole FD. They’re taking something fresh and making it their own without going over the top, much as Virtue & Moir are doing with the Mahler piece.

For the
Clip of the Day here’s Akiko Suzuki’s exhibition piece from over the weekend. I hope this event wasn’t a fluke—really liking what I see here…