Saturday, February 27, 2010

If the Gala Performances Could Speak...

Scott and Sandra intimated these Gala Performances are where the skaters express what they have to say now that the Games are nearly over... so I've taken a guess at each skater's respective "script":

From bronze medalist JOANNIE ROCHETTE, in plum backless longsleeves studded with rhinestones, skating to Celine Dion’s “Vole” (Fly): People of Canada, your applause and kind words of love have helped to lift me through a most bewildering time. These Olympic Games will forever be remembered as life at its most bittersweet for me, but I don’t know that I could have gotten through it all without you. Merci avec tout ma coeur.

From silver medalist EVGENY PLUSHENKO, in black with what looks like a red lightingbolt, skating to what I’m told translates to “I’m Sick” in English (?):
Come on, you people know who really won the gold, yes? No? Well take that—I was going to show you what a real man can do, but just for that I’ll make it a triple toe loop! And look at this footwork; I don’t ever want to hear again how I don’t try hard enough on footwork. I have passion! I have emotion! I can even emote to lyrics in another language! I…. I… oh, hell. I go home now. See you in Turin… suckas.

From silver medalists DAVIS & WHITE, in t-shirt/jeans (him) and sleeveless deep blue (her), skating to David Cook’s version of ‘Billie Jean”: We COULD come out here and rock the house with a standard-issue MJ tribute, and pose and moonwalk on the ice and all that… but check this out instead. Smokin’ hot? Why yes, we are. Thank you for noticing.

From gold medalist YU-NA KIM, in long-sleeved silver-grey and skating to Masssanet’s Meditation de Thais:
I am finally so relaxed, and so pleased that I haven’t let my people down, that I’m going to pop a lutz here in the exhibition just because I can. See? I can do that now. By the way, have I ever told you why I love skating so much? It’s because those 300 members of the South Korean press you’ve heard about are not allowed to come out on the ice while I am on it. Aaaah Breathing room! Maybe they’ll let me skate home from the airport when we fly back in a few days…

From gold medalist EVAN LYSACEK, in his 2008-9 tux outfit, skating to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue:
I wanted to pay homage to the program that, I believe, put me in position to do what I did here in Vancouver… but damn, Scott just gave away my whole story. Thanks a lot, fellow OGM. Heh. Kidding. Like anything could piss me off these days.

From gold medalists VIRTUE & MOIR, in a Canadian hockey jersey and jeans (him) and a black classic ballerina tutu (her) that I was certain was going to become a tearaway tutu at any minute… skating to “Gonna Make You Sweat” (preceded by a little Tchaikovsky):
Hey everyone—this Gala thing is usually full of fun, funky performances they love to put on TV, but apparently we’re the only fun and funky ones they’re going to show tonight! Good thing our number is DA BOMB! (By the way, not to rub it in, but this C+C Music Factory song we’re skating to? Came out when we were TODDLERS.)

Six performances and out for NBC tonight. What about Asada? What about Dice-K? Shen and Zhao—heck, ANY pairs? Guess we blame the 4-man bobsled team this time… first gold medal in 62 years SHOULD buy you some decent airtime I suppose. But on the other hand, could’ve gladly watched another performance rather than hear about Canada’s comedy scene… no matter how much I enjoy Mary Carillo…

The Games are winding down, but keep coming back— we’ll keep bringing you more!

Friday, February 26, 2010

News Between the Edges

If you’re anything like me (and as Letterman would say, “God I hope that’s not the case”), you like reading the skating news of the day, big or small, at… but have fallen farther and farther behind as the “news” seemed to increase exponentially day by day. In fact—assuming I’d want to read all of these anyway, even after the fact (and yes, actually I do)—it appears I currently have some 26 articles to look over before I’m caught up. And there’s still 2 days of Olympic news to add to that! Crazy!

But headlines can be very helpful, and these two caught my eye… if you’re so inclined you might want to read them ASAP…

Actually, either one will do:
Olympic Champion Lysacek says Goodbye For Now

Bradley Excited, Ready to Go to World Championships

And the rumors are a-flyin’ that Belgosto will also sit out Worlds this year, allowing 4th place Nationals finishers Navarro/Bommentre to play the “alternate” role… I can’t find an actual news story to back it up, so we’ll just go all TMZ for a moment and speculate…

This will be Bradley’s second appearance at Worlds; he came in 15th back in 2007. And if Navarro/Bommentre go, it will be #2 for them as well… they finished 12th back in 2008.

As I mentioned over at the
Required Elements blog, I think we have the Nordic Combined to thank for the shortfall of penultimate group skaters. It just so happened that the USA did well in it this year; so amazingly well I think we got a couple medals for it… and that just happened to trump Akiko, Alena, and Laura. At least I think that was the thinking there…

Speaking of Laura (Lepisto)—I’ve got the details of her free skate score alongside Rachael Flatt’s on the desk here…here are the notables as it looks on paper:

Triple lutz for triple lutz: Flatt 6.0; Lepisto 5.6

Triple loop for triple loop: Lepisto 6.5; Flatt 6.3

Double axel for double axel: Lepisto 5.05 on one and 4.85 on another; Flatt 4.50 on one

Spiral sequence for spiral sequence: Lepisto Level 4/5.20; Flatt Level 3/3.5

Circular sequence for circular sequence: Level 3 for both; Lepisto 4.2; Flatt 3.90

Change foot combination spin level 4: 4.3 for Lepisto, 4.00 for Flatt

As for other elements, Lepisto scored big with a triple toe/triple toe at the top of the program that brought her a 9.80… triple loop/double toe… and multi-jump combo that was supposed to be anchored with a triple salchow, but she doubled it.

Flatt, on the other hand, had a triple flip/triple toe that was downgraded (so Lepisto’s 3/3 combo, while “simpler”, outscored Flatt’s by 3.50), as well as a triple lutz/double toe, triple salchow, and a multi-jump combo that was anchored by another triple flip (also downgraded).

Spins: Lepisto’s totaled 11.3 points; Flatt’s totaled 9.8.

Components: As I figured must’ve been the case, Lepisto outscored Flatt in all areas here…around .5-.6 per line item.

And that, apparently, is how a program with 5 triple jumps beat a program with 7 triples. Which is certainly not to say it’s all about the jumps. Looking at everything on paper proves quite the opposite is true… as it should be.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Vancouver Ladies Final: Long Live the Queen Yu-Na!

As seen on NBC Thursday night... OK, let's roll.

TUGBA KARADEMIR, Turkey… (NBC’s favorite lead-off girl)
Wearing: black sleeveless w/violet skirt
Music: Tango de los Exilados

3 salchow OK, looked like a botched combo though… 3toe OK to 2axel FALL… 3lutz changed to flip, popped… next jump 2’d… gets timing back on 2axel… 3 salchow OK… 2axel… combo spin slow…slow on step sequence too. She looks bummed… again.

78.80 FS; 129.54 TOTAL. FINISHED 24th.

Wearing: olive green/cream/gold heavily jeweled halter…
Music: Mission Cleopatra

3toe to 2ax… 3lutz FALL… 3Loop/2toe… 3Loop… flying sit… 3salchow 2/d… 2axel fall out… 3toe/2toe (no 2loop add-on)… spin series at end.

99.46 FS; 156.62 TOTAL. FINISHED 12th.

CHELTZIE LEE, Australia…

Wearing: sleeveless deep purple w/gold accents & criss-cross back…
Music: From Elizabeth: The Golden Age

This is her first-ever long program on an international stage? Wild… 3sal/2toe good, 3toe/2toe OK…2axel…2axel/2toe good…footwork takes a long jumping break… then to 3toe, splat, long time getting up because I think she’s so tired… but gets off another 2axel… then spin at the end… she looks defeated but as they all said in the booth, nothing to be ashamed of…

86.00 FS; 138.16 TOTAL. FINISHED 20th.

ELENE GEDEVANISHVILI, Georgia (Knew it! They HAD to show her… I think it’s in Scott’s contract)
Wearing: Red long sleeves w/cut outs
Music: Carmen

3lutz FALL… 3Toe/2toe?/2toe… 3salchow becomes a double with big fallout anyway… 2axel/2toe… 3salchow 2 hands down… 2axel/2toe… another 2axel out of spiral sequence… wow. Pretty lackluster. They say this is uncharacteristic of her, but have they been watching who I’ve been watching the past couple years? This was pretty par for the course.
93.32 FS; 155.24 TOTAL. FINISHED 14th.

Meanwhile we see all the final flight for a moment before they launch into their last big RIVALRY piece… another pretty cool “countdown” theme.

BUT—wow, they didn’t show 4 skaters I thought they’d show for sure! Let’s go find their scores (and I’ll add notes from the protocols if I can)…

LAURA LEPISTO of Finland did the best of the 4—at least the judges thought so…

126.61 FS; 187.97 TOTAL. WHAT??? FINISHED 6th with the “4th best” free skate of the night?! I’m so studying this one.

Then AKIKO SUZUKI of Japan…

120.42 FS; 181.44 TOTAL. FINSHED 8th… sure wish we could’ve seen that one.

Then ALENA LEONOVA of Russia…

110.32 FS; 172.46 TOTAL. FINISHED 9th.

Then who else? Oooh, CAROLINA KOSTNER of Italy…

ouch… OK, I can see why they didn’t show this one.
88.88 FS (nineteenth best of the night. Out of 24.); 151.90 TOTAL.

FINISHED 16th, with THREE deductions. I’m not a big fan, but still…you just don’t wish that on anyone. I’m not sure if I want to see that one. Makes her Worlds free skate last year sound like a medal-winner.


Wearing: red “strapless” (we should just call it “Skating Strapless”, right? Which is to say “Not Strapless in the least”) w/gold flowered bodice…
Music: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Back spiral into 2axel good… 3flip/3toe looked good… 3lutz from footwork that looked better than other night…spins still look a little slow, but I do think she’s emoting more… 3Loop nice…3lutz/2toe good…3flip/2toe/2loop yep… 3salchow, uh-huh, Scott’s fired up now… gosh this is going by fast… wow, done! Atta girl!

Sandra says she hasn’t practiced well here at all—what? First time we’ve heard that.

117.85 FS; 182.49 TOTAL. And holy cow, she’s behind Lepisto?? 8 points worth of downgrades, they say… Ugh. FINISHED 7th. Something’s not right there.

Wearing: Teal & gold Cleopatra stuff… I’m sure you get the picture.
Music: Romeo & Juliet… KIDDING! It’s Cleopatra/Marco Polo. And I liked this program for Ando a lot, back in November, for about 6 days. So did she, I think.

3lutz/2Loop OK… 3salchow to 2axel… 3 flip… all seem OK… spiral break… 3 lutz OK… 3 salchow… are you bored yet? 3 toe loop…2 axel/2loop/2loop…

Yawn. OK, back to Flatt… interesting that it seems like what happened w/Nagasu at Nationals just happened here—everyone thought she did SO WELL, but then the evil downgrade gods (aka technical specialist) put her 2nd. Behind LEPISTO, and now I never thought I’d say this but I want to see that Lepisto skate. Won’t believe it till I see it. Oh look, Ando’s done…

124.10 FS; 188.86 TOTAL. FINSHED 5th… and by the way, Lepisto beat ANDO in the Free Skate. Chew on that for a bit…

YU-NA KIM, South Korea! OK, let’s get this party started.
Wearing: halter-style royal blue with jeweled neckline.
Music: Concerto in F by G. Gershwin

3lutz/3toe fine… 3flip looked good… 2axel/2toe/2loop…lovely spirals, and then into 2axel/3toe great… 3salchow good…oh she’s looking like this is fun, good!... 3lutz, “yah” from Sandra, grunt of joy from Scott, sounds good girl!! Everything just looks… so…easy… 2axel… flying spin… get ready to RUMBLE!!!! I cannot believe how cool this girl is under pressure. She just did what a half-dozen expected Olympic champs before her could never do. Holy crap. Perfection, anyone?

150.06 FS; 228.56 TOTAL… WOW WOW WOW. I’ll take that look between Brian and Yu-Na as my favorite mental picture of the Games… way to go. Both of you.

Wearing: Long-sleeve red/black w/black gloves; I wouldn’t be surprised if Taratsova put little weights in the fingertips of those gloves to ensure that she’d feel the weight of this music, which is…
Music: Bells of Moscow. Putting it on your IPod, are you? I didn’t think so.

3axel clean…then 3axel/2toe clean too, who would have guessed… good for her; that monkey’s sayonara… 3flip/2loop… flying sit…spirals; are you sick of this music yet? 3loop… 3flip/2loop/2loop and there was a little glitch on that… but not as bad as the 3toeloop glitch that came 20 seconds later… right there is maybe when it dawned on her that somehow, even with two triple axels in one program, she STILL wasn’t going to come close to Yu-Na…sigh… let it go, girl… 2 axel, OK she’s back… the straight line steps look very difficult, and I’d applaud if this music didn’t make me want to SLIT MY WRISTS… ugh.

Say something nice, Kelli… OK, I’m still impressed because to see her earlier this season was to think she should never consider so many triple axels…

131.17 FS; 205.50 TOTAL WON SILVER.

She looks pretty unhappy for someone who just “made history”. Sorry Mao. You deserved better than that program. Did I mention I loathed that music?

JOANNIE ROCHETTE, Canada… she’s looking OK, everyone. This should be good.
Wearing Blue halter w/cut-outs
Music: Samson & Delilah

3 lutz/2toe/2loop…3flip step out (shake it off, Rochette)…3loop good… fly sit combo…spirals… 3lutz YEA…3 toe to 3 salchow good!... 2 axel but had to get out quick and couldn’t do another in sequence as she’d planned…3salchow good… is there any place she can put that other 2axel back in? Hope that doesn’t make the difference, this is stellar…SO. PROUD. (And apropos of nothing, my husband thinks she has great “guns” (arms).)

131.28 FS; 202.64 TOTAL. WON BRONZE. And is a hero to so many it's just silly.

Wearing red w/black appliqué overlay halter
Music: Carmen selections

3lutz/2toe/2toe… 2axel/3toe great… 3flip, on into flying sit…hope she gets better than average for the layback…footwork to 3lutz good… bauer into 3loop to 2axel… another 2axel… 3toe nice… and I can say it now that the jumps are done: I can’t recall a cleaner final group in the Olympics… anyone else?? Cinquanta be damned; these girls have it going on.

Now—will SHE get downgrades this time? I have a feeling she might indeed end up higher on the list than Rachael. Medal? I’m thinking no… though I’d love her to top Ando…

Hey, she did! 126.39 FS; 190.15 TOTAL. FINISHED 4th. She might just be the happiest Olympian to ever finish in that “dreaded” slot.

Wow, it’s only 1:33 AM Eastern time and I daresay I’m done! Guess I get to thank NBC for that… CHACK CHACK CHACK. We’ll get those other performances looked at and do our own commentary sometime shortly after the Games, maybe? Oh, so much still to talk about!

Keep coming back, I’ll be here all week and then some-!

As they often say in TV control rooms at the end of the day… GOOD SHOW, EVERYONE!

Viewing Tips for The Spotlight Dance of Figure Skating

No offense to any of the other three disciplines we’ve witnessed in figure skating over the past two weeks, but for an awful lot of people… TONIGHT is why we’re here. Whether we’re talking Peggy in ’68 Grenoble, Janet in ’72 Sapporo, Dorothy in ’76 Innsbruck, Linda in ’80 Lake Placid… the list stretches on for another mile from there, but the point is the same: what people remember year in, year out, is the ladies’ event.

So here are a few things to help you enjoy your TV viewing experience a little better:

1) Since we know only the final flight of skaters (or maybe final two flights) are likely to be shown on NBC, go to NBC’s Olympics website (you should be able to do so by clicking on their little thingy on the left side of the screen) and guess at how many skaters in the lower groups will make it to air. My guesses:

--Tugba Karademir (in 21st, skating 1st), because she’s, um, skating first and I believe she’s been fortunate enough to have NBC cover all her Olympic skates to date—why stop now?

--Cynthia Phaneuf (in 14th, skating 7th), because she’s Canadian (‘nuff said)

--Either Kiira Korpi (in 17th, skating 8th) because she’s a pretty blonde…(sorry, trying to think like a TV producer here)

--or Cheltzie Lee (in 18th, skating 9th) because they covered her the other day

…but probably not both.

2) Might also be fun to guess at what 2nd-to-last group skater (if any) gets cut from the show. My money’s on Ksenia Makarova, Russia’s surprise national champion who nonetheless has been outscored by Alena Leonova. But when you see Scott’s former favorite, Georgia’s Elene Gedevanishvili, get ready to cop a squat… because she’s the last skater in that penultimate group, and I doubt NBC goes anywhere for long after that.

3) Make popcorn. I don’t mean that nasty microwave stuff, either. Real oil, real butter. Hey, it’s not like 26 million people are going to be watching YOU in a tiny slip of a dress anytime soon.

4) Keep track of how many times Scott says “Nicely done.” (Incidentally, there’s a pretty funny story about Scott and that phrase in my upcoming book release Skating on Air. Become a fan on Facebook! OK, shutting up about that now…)

5) Pay attention if Sandra audibly gasps. It’s usually not good news.

6) Have tissues ready for Joannie Rochette. Have more tissues ready if she medals.

7) Be ready to call in sick (or at least late) to work tomorrow, especially if you live on Eastern Time… this will probably go at LEAST as long as the Men’s final did last week.

8) Finally, if you’re so inclined, go register at as they’ve been telling me for several days about their access to all things Olympic… and I’m late in passing this along… so visit ‘em if you can. Thanks!

We’ll break tonight down as soon as I can get things written/posted! Oh… and whatever you do, DON’T go watching American Idol’s “results show”! It’s mostly filler on results night… you can always find out who got cut about 5 minutes after the show is over… and really, why would you want to see singer wanna-bees burst into tears when you can watch extremely hard-working, talented athletes burst into tears? Am I right, people??

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Between the Analysis: How to "Fan" my Upcoming Skating Book

I’m going to take advantage of this “dark” skating night to post a couple of things relatively quickly…

1) A brief book update: as some of you know I posted a little last week about my upcoming book release Skating on Air, which celebrates and studies the unique relationship between television and figure skating (particularly in regards to the Olympics). Thanks to
JCM’s suggestion (that would be Jumping Clapping Man, a splendid blogger if you haven’t discovered him already), I bit the bullet and went ahead with a Facebook page for it sooner rather than later.

So now there are three, three, THREE! ways to stay in the loop (should I start going old-school and saying “paragraph loop?”) as this book finds its way through the universe:

1) Become a fan of Skating on Air at Facebook—once you’re logged in, just search for it by name and you should find it (the “profile picture” isn’t there yet but I’ve got a temp one planned until the cover art is complete…

2) OR, contact me at
this email address and I'll put you on a mailing list for it…

3) OR, keep visiting State of the Skate for periodic updates, tidbits, teasers, etc.

And I’m still trying to figure out if/how I can post a Facebook widget in the sidebar here; if anyone has any expertise in that sort of thing please shoot a note my way! That stuff is really not my forte!

OK, if you got through all that stuff I have a treat for you… ready?

Enjoy this link about figure skating ”faces”!!

Back tomorrow! And thanks in advance for supporting the book!

Vancouver Ladies Recap, pt. 2

And...we're back!

Akiko Suzuki, Japan (black and red sleeveless with silver squiggles)

Music: Andalucia (from Riverdance)

3Flip/2toe she put a hand down, so no combo… uh-oh… then 3Loop/2toe, good girl (she improvised)… flying camel good… 2ax fine…layback’s not so hot… here comes the footwork; she’s really got a great sense of fun on all her footwork passes I think… but the ast combo spin seemed slow. (If she could just give her spins the same energy as the footwork!) I’m sure with the lower tech base score these won’t be stellar scores…

61.02. CURRENTLY in 11th. (Worth noting that she’s my only Top 10 pick that isn’t in the top 10 yet… the one that snuck in there was Elene Gedevanishvili of Georgia, who’s in 9th at the moment (not shown on NBC).

Speaking of which, where was Alena Leonova—oh, she was chacked! Those bastards!! OK, just so you know… she used Barynia (Russian Folk music) and it looks like she got a negative GOE on the lutz.

62.14. CURRENTLY in 8th, so I suspect she’ll make the cut to be televised on Thursday.

As the final group (including Joannie Rochette) warms up, NBC brings out Dan Janssen to discuss his hardships w/losing Jane (his sister) in ’88… you know, when he lost his focus and crashed to the ground. At first I think this is a pretty smart move on NBC’s part, but in retrospect, maybe they should’ve saved that conversation for if/when Rochette fell apart? I don’t know—it’s not like this is a commonality many Olympians can sit around and chat up…

JOANNIE ROCHETTE, CANADA (in beautiful black & silver w/red rose on back)

MUSIC: La Cumparsita (Rodriguez)

Wow, and we thought Kim’s SP was highly anticipated…I gasped when it looked like she slipped a little on the way to her 3lutz… but she nailed it, in combination… 3 flip too… great flying spin… 2 axel w/nice spiral coming out… spiral sequence is next… then layback… some people are probably saying “thank you Scott and Sandra for not talking over this one AT ALL..The combo spin looks fierce… and she did it!

Oh, if she can only hold it together for a two more days…Mercy, does Scott sound broken up. No wonder he didn’t talk… I’m not sure he could. Joannie briefly looks out to the camera in the K & C and addresses “us” in French, but all languagesl understand anyway… especially those of us who have lost our own mothers.

71.36. A new personal best. CURRENTLY in 3rd.

JULIA SEBESTYEN of HUNGARY is now faced with following her. In four(!) Olympics, wonder if she’s ever had to contend with something like that unfolding right in front of her… (wearing sleeveless pink or bright red? Not sure; blame my TV)

Music: Songs from a Secret Garden

Nice, huge 3lutz/2toe… incomplete rotation on 3flip, though… 2axel was fine… layback was slllooow at end, and the Bielmann didn’t help.

57.46. CURRENTLY 13th. In 3 Olympics her best finish was 8th (2002), and her worst finish was 2006 (18th). Assuming she’s hanging it up after this Olympics, I hope she does all that she’s capable of in her final finish. (And wow, talk about someone who should write a book about her experiences…From Nagano to Vancouver... I'd buy it.)

While waiting for Julia’s scores we get a few seconds of Rachael Flatt competing at age 3… terribly cute, of course. But oh, man, too much talk about her being “The Rock”. Don’t jinx her!!!! If she falls I'm blaming NBC. Just let her skate.

RACHAEL FLATT, USA (in sleeveless fuschia with silver pin stripes)

Sing Sing Sing

3Flip/3toe YESSS…but the end of her 3lutz looked almost wide in terms of the free leg (Sandra called it “tight”)… not 2-footed right? Nice control on the spirals… little slow on layback, or is that her normal speed…? A good 2axel… great footwork as always, and a great combo at end… whew. Clean. I think. If she gets downgrades don’t be shocked…

But no, she gets 64.64! Yay!… cool… and I think she has a new lucky number! (by the way, in checking protocols I see she got zero downgrades but received a -1 GOE on the lutz from most of the panel.) CURRENTLY IN 5th.

(in red or pink—again, blame my old TV—with a long-sleeve mesh top)

MUSIC: Nocturne No. 20 (Chopin), Violin Concerto (Tchaikovsky)

3Flip/2toe is OK… 3lutz has 2 hands down…2 axel looked super tilted in the air but she saved it (but the tilt must by why she got several negative GOE votes on it)… layback looked WEEEAK… she’s still smiling, but looked tentative on this footwork… the last combo didn’t look particularly sharp either (and more negative GOEs ensued). Blah. OK, let’s guess what she’ll get (without getting involved with NBC’s interactive “you be the judge” stuff… um, how about a 61? That’s what I’d give; I suspect they’ll do more like a 66.

Ooh, 63.02 so I wasn’t that far off after all CURRENTLY 6th.

MIKI ANDO of JAPAN, last skater de nuit (in black and red w/silver cross in middle)

MUSIC: Requiem (Mozart)

She goes for the 3lutz/3Loop, but had to put 2nd foot down a second later… 3flip pretty good… spins, and spirals, and just before launching into her straight-line sequence there’s another crappy layback/Bielmann thing. Suddenly I miss Alissa Czisny SO. MUCH. Her footwork is fine… so where does she fit in here?

Thanks Sandra for mentioning the crappy layback. The way they’re analyzing these landings you sure can tell NBC doesn’t want any “Nagasus” (surprise scorings resulting from replay hyper-analysis) Ah, the loop on the back end of the lutz will be downgraded … maybe the flip too…

64.76; only .12 over Flatt. CURRENTLY 4th, and she’s 7 points behind Rochette so it would appear the top 3 will really have to struggle for anyone else to break in there.

Hang in there everyone—one more big one to go! Thanks to all the ladies for an amazing show of talent.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Vancouver Ladies Recap, part 1

As NBC played it and I followed along... part 1 of 2 with THE LADIES.

First up: Cheltzie Lee, AUSTRALIA Really pretty sparkly indigo strapless dress…

Music: Feeling Good - Tribute to Michael Buble

Cheltzie has the dubious honor of being better known of late for NOT being Tamar Katz, the Israeli skater who qualified for the Olympics but was somehow denied the opportunity to go… her spot went to Australia. Cheltzie probably doesn’t know this, but her skate is what Sandra and Scott use to explain to viewers what a) skaters are expected to do with this short program, and b) what the judges are looking for. Lucky for Cheltzie, she doesn’t make many errors for them to point out. Her technical level is pretty average—3Salchow/2toe, 3Toe, 2Axel, but she delivers most everything cleanly.

52.18. CURRENTLY 18th.

Tugba Karademir, TURKEY Crimson w/cap sleeves…

Music: Selection from "Bazaar Istanbul" by A. Kusgoz, H. Turkemenier

When they showed Cheltzie Lee I thought “oh well this must be their ‘Tugba’ for Vancouver (lesser-known skater w/interesting story, skating early, leading off the coverage)… but then whoa! Tugba herself! Anyway… had trouble with her 3Flip/2toe…3salchow was fine… got dinged a bit for her double axel too. Not sure that she’s improved much technically in the past 4 years, but she remains engaging.

50.74. CURRENTLY 21st.

Mirai Nagasu, USA (black & gold sleeveless…)

Music: Selections from Pirates of the Carribean

3 lutz/3 toe was doubled… it looked like a solid 3flip… Ina Bauer into 2ax lovely…Sandra says her spins may be the best in competition… really nice, well-centered spin at end… and a nosebleed? Yikes. Nice start, though! Unfortunately she got an edge call on the lutz and lost a few points there. Bah.

63.76. CURRENTLY IN 6th.

Laura Lepisto, FIN (Plum with violet bands)
Music: Imagined Oceans

3T/3T; the 2nd jump was doubled (at least according to Scott; was it always to be a double?)…shocker… flying sit good… layback travels a lot and I’m not crazy about the leg positions… 2axel OK…working the facial expressions in the spiral sequence…little trouble hooking onto last spin but saved it well.

61.36. CURRENTLY IN 10th.

Mao Asada, Japan (in red sparkly bodice w/solid red skirt)
Music: Masquerade

Oh boy, got the 3axel/2 toe as good as I’ve ever seen it…next, a 3flip, also good… already smiling by layback/Bielmann… everything else looks spot-on too, especially the spiral sequence (which got her positive GOE’s of 2 by most!). Wow, the happiest I’ve seen here in months and with good reason. Dang, she even got Taratsova (her coach) to smile. Good for her.

73.78…CURRENTLY IN 2nd. But look out…

Yu-Na Kim (black/gold/silver Bond girl,baby)
Music: Bond Medley, natch

3lutz/3Toe great speed, (got very high marks) …3flip great, especially if you’re thinking of that nasty spill she took earlier in the day. … layback…. Spiral… 2axel… flying sit… FW… change foot combo… it’s all good, and mucho fun.

78.50… best SP score for lady EVER! CURRENTLY in 1st.

I’ll post about the last 6 tomorrow…

Vancouver Ladies' Night... Is the Feeling Right?

Let's see how my guesses have been working out so far…

PAIRS—2 of 3 made podium; 1 exact (I picked Shen/Zhao for Gold)

MEN—1 from wish list & 2 from “real” list; none exact

DANCE—all 3 from “real” list; none exact

With slightly less detail (because time’s of the essence—gotta get this posted!), here’s an alphabetical-order list of the skaters I expect to see in the TOP 10 by the end of the free skate… with my predictions at the bottom of the list:

+ Miki Ando, Japan… Age: 22… 2007 World Champion.

PROS: Very strong technically (once had a quad salchow in her jumping arsenal)

CONS: Tends to be less artistically inspiring than others; might be seeking redemption too hard here (she finished down in 15th last Olympics).

+ Mao Asada, Japan… Age: 19… 2008 World Champion.

PROS: Triple Axel, Triple Axel, Triple Axel. (That is to say “she’ll throw at least one and, when fully successful, it brings a TON of points.”)

CONS: Asada is gloriously talented, but it has been a rough year for her… and her current programs (short and long) are so plodding and triple-axel focused she skates as if she left her natural joy and effervescence on the plane.

+ Rachael Flatt, USA… Age: 17… 2010 U.S. Champion; 5th in Worlds 2009.

PROS: Very good technically, spirited, not rattled easily in competition

CONS: Not a lot of international experience at the senior level, sometimes dinged for lack of speed and artistry.

+ Yu-Na Kim, S.Korea… Age: 19… 2009 World Champion.

PROS: Excellent all-around skater, great competitor, currently ranked #1 in world.

CONS: No triple axel (compared to Asada), sometimes has trouble with triple flip jump, enormous pressure as the “heavy favorite”

+ Carolina Kostner, Italy… Age: 23… 2008 World Silver Medalist.

PROS: Her height (she’s 5’6 ½ “, very tall for a skater) and her speed create great, powerful lines that tend to boost her artistic scores (though some would say they’ve been overinflated)

CONS: weak jumping at times; past year of competition has not been good to her.

+ Alena Leonova, Russia… Age: 19… 2009 World Junior Champion.

PROS: Bubbly personality on the ice is very Irina Slutskaya-like.

CONS: Possible that she peaked early in the season and won’t be at her best here.

+ Laura Lepisto, Finland… Age: 21… 2009 European Champion.

PROS: Has many nice moments, stylistically speaking… holds her own at international events… and not trying to be catty here, but she’s a fairly dependable European female skater at a time when there aren’t that many.

CONS: She’s not a particularly strong jumper; consequently her technical level isn’t as high as others.

+ Mirai Nagasu, USA… Age: 16… 2008 U.S. Champion.

PROS: Great all-around skater.

CONS: Very little international experience on the senior level; frequently receives “downgrades” for cheated jumps.

+ Joannie Rochette, CANADA… Age: 24… 2009 World Silver Medalist.

PROS: A powerful skater with artistic, well-crafted programs who has the proven potential to do well under intense pressure.

CONS: Has also gone the other way under the pressure… but more importantly, her mother just died of a massive heart attack over the weekend… how she’ll hold up throughout the multiple-day event is anyone’s guess.

+ Akiko Suzuki, JAPAN… Age: 24… 2009 Japanese silver medalist.

PROS: Has gained a ton of momentum this season after anorexia forced her to rebuild her career. Consistent with a lively style to her skating.

CONS: Not a lot of international experience to build from.

PREDICTIONS? If I stay true to form, the podium will have a lot of “my” picks on it but not in the same order…

How I’d LIKE to see it:
Gold—Yu-Na Kim
Silver—Miki Ando
Bronze—Joannie Rochette

How I think it WILL look:
Gold—Miki Ando
Silver—Yu-Na Kim
Bronze—Mao Asada

I should explain this one a little. Aside from trying to play a little reverse psychology with the forces of the universe, I’m thinking of the expectations heaped upon Kim… and wondering if anyone could transcend that kind of pressure. If she falters, and/or Asada does the same, I can see Ando winning in much the same conservative (for her, anyway) fashion that Shizuka Arakawa did 4 years ago.

Oh, and as for the U.S. contingency? I’m thinking 5th-8th range for both… and don’t be surprised if Nagasu places higher of the two.

See you back here for the breakdown, either later tonight or early tomorrow (or both!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Do You Wanna Dance Final? (Vancouver Free Dance Analysis)

Here's how the dance card played out...


MUSIC: Nocturne/Bohemian Rhapsody

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD IT… in the movie Wayne’s World… or, more recently, when covered by
The Muppets.

REMEMBER THEM FOR: The big standing lift (my term, not theirs) that just soars across the ice much like Domnina/Shabalin did last year in their Spartacus FD.

TRY TO FORGET: the fact that NBC didn’t cover any of their other dances. Shame, shame…

SCORE for the FD: 85.29. FINISHED 14th.


MUSIC: Canto Della Terra, sung by Brightman & Bocelli

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD IT… when you were rocking out at Opera-PaLooza last summer.

REMEMBER THEM FOR: “best in the bizness” footwork (says Tracy) and great lifts. Is it because it’s the Olympics that I liked this music much better than I have all year? It didn’t seem as ploddingly mid-tempo this time. Hmmm.

TRY TO FORGET: Um… I got nothin’.

SCORE for the FD: 88.94. FINISHED 11th.


MUSIC: Krwlng by Linkin Park

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD IT… I’m going to go with “at a Linkin Park Concert”

REMEMBER IT FOR: The interesting story of messed-up John seeking help from his “savior” Sinead. Also for the part where she lifts John. Always cool.

TRY TO FORGET: That John botched his twizzles AGAIN, dammit. (Is that because he’s supposed to be “messed up”? Um, I don’t think the judges will buy that.)

SCORE for the FD: 92.23 FINISHED 8th.


Kika, Requiem for a Dream

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD IT… The Requiem part you’ve probably heard in about 29 other programs in the past 2 years… a true new one for the warhorse stable.

REMEMBER IT FOR: being one of those heavy-handed free dances they build stereotypes upon.

TRY TO FORGET: That he’s a clock in this “dance”. A CLOCK. And the big inverted lift near the end got a little goofed up.

SCORE for the FD: 94.37. FINISHED 7th.


MUSIC: La Quete by J. Brel

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD IT… as The Impossible Dream

REMEMBER IT FOR: The cute thing they did with the dialogue, costumes, etc. to tell their story in 20 years of skating together. Also for Tracy exclaiming, mid-program, “When did she have her baby?!”

TRY TO FORGET: That while this was a sentimental hit, it was far from their best.

SCORE for the FD: 97.06. FINISHED 6th.


MUSIC: Firebird by I. Stravinski

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD IT… if you’ve been within spitting distance from any skating rink, anywhere, ANYTIME.

REMEMBER IT FOR: Another great quote from Tracy about how their costumes say it all: Here’s the top, now let’s go over it.

TRY TO FORGET: The aforementioned costumes and incessant flapping of wings. Do you get it, everyone? She’s a bird!!! Oh, and as for him… we have now found the yin to the yang of Ben Agosto’s white Elvis-esque costume that we’ll se later. With any luck the two getups will fly to Vegas after all this is over and live happily ever after.

SCORE for the FD: 93.11. FINISHED 9th.


MUSIC: Phantom of the Opera

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD IT… if you haven’t lived in a vacuum over the past 25 years.

REMEMBER IT FOR: being powerfully gorgeous.

TRY TO FORGET: Charlie really DID bang his head on the sink. Did you see the gash? Ouch. (Slammed my head on sink while getting ready... hahaha)

SCORE for the FD: 107.19!! Holy crap. But a one-point deduction…?! I hope that doesn’t make the difference… (it didn’t.) WON SILVER! Nicely done.


MUSIC: The Emigrants by N. Rota

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD IT… or, then again, maybe you haven’t.

REMEMBER IT FOR: Being the dance that was sandwiched between Davis/White and Virtue/Moir. If you can remember it, that is. Poor kids.

TRY TO FORGET: um... what?

SCORE for the FD: 99.11. FINISHED 5th.


MUSIC: Mahler’s
5th Symphony

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD IT… if you’re a fan from way back, I believe this is what Katia Gordeeva skated to in her first appearance without Sergei (from the CBS special Celebration of a Life)

REMEMBER IT FOR: Being so glorious, so spot-on, so moving, that politics never had to rear its ugly head as far as gold was concerned.

TRY TO FORGET: That they’re not from the U.S.. (KIDDING!!!! Don’t hate me Canada!)

SCORE for the FD: 110.42. Good Lord. Beat D/W by 6 points. WON GOLD.


MUSIC: Ave Maria/Amen

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD IT… cascading from the heavens? (No clue.)

REMEMBER IT FOR: That cool thing where she arches off his skate near the end of their routine

TRY TO FORGET: That they used to look really, really adorable before the costume devil got hold of them.

SCORE for the FD: 99.74. FINISHED 4th.


MUSIC: The Double Life of Veronique

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD IT… if you caught the 1991 Polish film some of it was featured in… or, you may have noticed a little MORE Requiem For a Dream sneaked in there too.

REMEMBER IT FOR: being a valiant, if under-rehearsed, effort.

TRY TO FORGET: The lack of speed… his hair (I’m coming after him with the scissors next)… and those oh-so-subtle lifting aides belts. (“I think we’ll see a new rule next season,” Tracy says)

SCORE for the FD: 101.04. WON BRONZE.

OK, so the big question bubbling around with my Every-4-Year Fans right now is: were Tanith and Ben hosed out of bronze? Well on the one hand… when was the last time they defeated Domnina/Shabalin? Three years back? So there’s that. As for tonight’s performance, well… let’s just say I’m glad B/A already have a medal.

Ladies’ predictions already?! Yep, better get them in tomorrow… come back and check mine out!

Vancouver: Original Dance Notes, part 2

OK... where were we?


THEME: Indian Folk Dance

RECOGNIZABLE MUSIC? In India … absolutely (You Tube has SPOKEN!)

HIGHLIGHTS/LOWLIGHTS? It’s ALL good. Authentic costumes, excitement and joy throughout, new moves (for ice dance, anyway) executed with confidence… and extra points for Meryl’s FIERCE earrings; I never noticed before how they almost cover the entire ear (wonder how long it took to get used to skating w/those monstrosities!)

IF THIS OD WAS A WILD INTERNATIONAL PARTY… They would be splendid hosts with whom everyone would hope to get a few minutes’ audience

SCORES: 67.08
Personal best; and 2 points ahead of you-know-who. PULLED UP TO 2nd.


THEME: American Country Dance…

RECOGNIZABLE MUSIC? It was for me; John Denver was one of the only artists everyone in my family liked when I was a kid. (Though Dolly Parton (?) didn’t have anything to do with the version of “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” that I’m familiar with)

HIGHLIGHTS/LOWLIGHTS? It’s cute… I think that’s been my prevailing thought all season. It’s cute, but I prefer the Kerrs. Nothing really stands out in this one, except the thought that we needed D/W back in there to twizzle when the music sped up near the end. (And it’s trivial, but I thought the braids were a good choice for her.)

IF THIS OD WAS A WILD INTERNATIONAL PARTY… They’d probably hang with Sam/Bates and do shots together all night



THEME: Jewish Folk Dance

RECOGNIZABLE MUSIC? Yes, but oh, what is it called? (Hava Nagila, which means “Let us Rejoice”.)

HIGHLIGHTS/LOWLIGHTS? Tracy said “nice soft feel for that dance.. good character…” Little problem at end of twizzles. Like Can-Can’t for the French team, I wanted to get jazzed about this skate because the music demands it… but…not so much in the end.

IF THIS OD WAS A WILD INTERNATIONAL PARTY… everyone’s looking to these two to start a big fun circle dance

SCORES: 55.24 THEY STAY IN 10th.


THEME: Spanish Flamenco


HIGHLIGHTS/LOWLIGHTS? She changed her skirt! It no longer looks like dark room drapes. And I think she can work it easier as well. NICE inverted lift. Great arm movements on twizzles. And that quick lift/spin-in-the-air thing at the very end went well. They do look on fire here, si?

IF THIS OD WAS A WILD INTERNATIONAL PARTY… They’d be the strong, silent, mysterious but wildly attractive couple noodling at the piano



THEME: Moldavian Folk Dance

RECOGNIZABLE MUSIC? To birds and those who enjoy their 45 RPM records played at 78 RPM

HIGHLIGHTS/LOWLIGHTS? Let’s just say their new costumes were as busy as the music. They skated fast, and strong, and with all the energy the music called for, but it was a little like Hava Nagila with a double shot of espresso… when one would have been plenty. (And did they flub the lift at the end? Not sure.)

IF THIS OD WAS A WILD INTERNATIONAL PARTY… People would want to pick away the details of their costume (e.g. Tanith’s bling near the collarbone) and make lively instruments out of them, like tambourines… Ben would enjoy sharing; Tanith, not so much.


...and anyone who thinks they’ll make the podium at this point needs a kick in the head with Tanith’s bright red Moldavian folk boot. Even she shrugged at the results. I think they know… so let’s hope they forget the bad costumes they’ll be wearing for the FD, and just have a glorious moment or two out there…

And there you have it… this international party is officially over. Stay close by… the Free Dance will be here before you know it! And by the way, here’s the skate order for those dancers featured on NBC Sunday night…

Last to skate in Group #3… SAM/BATES

Group #4… ZARETSKYS… KERRS… PECHALAT/BOURZAT… DELOBEL/SCHOENFELDER… (KHOKLOVA/NOVITSKI, not shown Sunday but are in 9th and skate last in this group)


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vancouver: Original Dance Notes, part 1

Here's what we've got sofar; part 2 comes tomorrow!


THEME: American Country Dance…


Yes if you’re a Dixie Chicks fan

HIGHLIGHTS/LOWLIGHTS? Cute and engaging throughout; Tracy seems impressed with their overall skating skills.

IF THIS OD WAS A WILD INTERNATIONAL PARTY… she is an extra from Sweethearts of the Rodeo and he is… Woody from Toy Story (OK, I’m stealing that idea from Evan’s own Tweet)

SCORES: 53.99 New season best! THEY PULL UP TO 11TH.


THEME: French Can Can

RECOGNIZABLE MUSIC? At least some of it should have reminded you of hinge-kicks

HIGHLIGHTS/LOWLIGHTS? I have to say I was underwhelmed overall. When I first heard they were doing this I thought now THAT might rival some of my other favorites. But for whatever reason (not enough time, as Tracy indicated?)… it didn’t..

IF THIS OD WAS A WILD INTERNATIONAL PARTY… he’d be the moody poet playing his fake accordion in the corner, and she’d be the flirty girl who overdressed and yet still could not attract his attention.

SCORES: 58.67 Could’ve been much better. STAY IN 6TH

NOTE: these “mug shots” of the skaters being used on the live score coverage at are hysterical. What crimes did these athletes commit to get such unflattering pictures??


THEME: American Country Dance

RECOGNIZABLE MUSIC? Well, Johnny Cash music has “been everywhere”, has it not?
HIGHLIGHTS/LOWLIGHTS? Non-touching step sequence good… twizzles not so good… anytime she “lifts/flips” him is good… the end “stop” is still awesome.

IF THIS OD WAS A WILD INTERNATIONAL PARTY… She’d be sent back to her dorm to change into longer pants, and when she returned, John would be engulfed surrounded by women wanting him to confirm Sinead was only his sister.

SCORES: 56.76 Oh… sigh. STILL IN 8th.


THEME: Italian Folk Dance

RECOGNIZABLE MUSIC? Maybe if one frequents open-air markets surrounded by musicians playing for spare lire

HIGHLIGHTS/LOWLIGHTS? The castanets should get a mention…Non-touching sequence looked very clean…overall very comfortable feel

IF THIS OD WAS A WILD INTERNATIONAL PARTY… they would be mistaken for gypsies, and one would come up with a deck of tarot cards when they realized they could charge $10 a pop

SCORES: 60.18. Will they defeat Dombalin here too? THEY STAY IN 5th.


THEME: Aboriginal

RECOGNIZABLE MUSIC? Not even Aboriginal groups seem willing to admit to recognizing it.

HIGHLIGHTS/LOWLIGHTS? Highlight—when it ended. Oh, and when Tom candidly asked “So aside from them looking ridiculous, how does it affect the judging?” LOL

Anyway, here’s a theory: the whole idea was for us to focus on the nonsensical stuff about their performance so we wouldn’t notice the mediocrity of the actual dance—the lack of speed in parts, the over-reliance on “cutesy” moves, simplicity of steps…

IF THIS OD WAS A WILD INTERNATIONAL PARTY… They would be the “hired entertainment” who’d be sent packing when guests complained about the lettuce disappearing from the salad (and it “somehow” traced back to them)

SCORES: 62.84. DROP to 3rd. Don’t seem to care.
(Part 2 continues tomorrow morning)...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Daily News: A Book (about Skating), A Rant (about a Rant), and A Ratings Report

Here's a shameless plug #1 from Yours Truly while I’ve got y’all here…and I’m not particularly good at this self-promotion thing, but bear with me…

Because I’ve written a book (!) About figure skating (!!) That I think just about every fan of the sport will enjoy.

It’s currently titled SKATING ON AIR: THE BROADCAST HISTORY OF AN OLYMPIC MARQUEE SPORT… and is scheduled to be released by McFarland Publishing near the end of the year. Here are some quick things to know about it:

+ It tells the story of how figure skating reached the masses in the first half of the 20th century… rose to headliner status on TV, particularly with Olympic broadcasts, in the second half of the century… and is struggling to maintain that status nowadays in light of a multitude of changes, both in the sport and otherwise, through the past 15 years.

+ By way of interviews with over 30 sources (including on-screen talent and figure-skaters-turned-broadcasters), it seeks to explain the unique relationship shared between TV and skating—including the ways TV has changed the sport and vice-versa.

+ Consequently it’s filled to the brim with interesting stories about “the old days” of covering the sport, the various battles for broadcast rights, the struggles to make coverage more progressive… and of course behind-the-scenes accounts of the stories you probably remember best… maybe some you’d forgotten about too.

+ It features a foreword by CBS’ Verne Lundquist... who, as you might recall, used to cover this Olympics thing for CBS alongside Scott Hamilton and Tracy Wilson.

I’ll share more about this book from time to time on the blog, and next week will try to find a lull in the Olympic coverage to tell a little more about it… but in the meantime, please send me a note
at this email address if you’re interested in SKATING ON AIR and would like to keep tabs on it (send any questions there too!). And please… spread the word if you’re so inclined. Thanks!

And now the news…

I don’t know if every skating blogger out there feels compelled to chip in their 2 cents about the Plushenko medal aftermath, but here are just a few things I’ll throw in there that I haven’t heard discussed much yet:

1) Plushy seems to, in essence, be blaming the “new” judging system for rewarding Lysacek with gold. In fact, his statement to Andrea Joyce shortly after the competition implied that with the 6.0 system, his efforts would have been properly acknowledged. Funny how he didn’t mention that the “new” system was in place in Torino… you know… where he DID win gold? It just so happened that back in 2006, no other men could come close to his level of excellence, so the quad/no quad thing was almost a moot point (too many butts were hitting the ice, to be blunt).

2) Speaking of that pesky quad… remember when people were speculating as to whether or not Plushy would do TWO quads in his free skate? For example, when it was learned he’d drawn the last skate of the night… the question became “do you think he’ll do two quads?” “Well, it’ll probably depend on what his competitors do, and how well they do it.”

Guess what? He only did one quad… never came close to trying a second. Had he LANDED a second quad, he might be the gold medalist right now. But he didn’t. He decided one was enough. He either miscalculated… or underestimated. Either way, this isn’t anyone’s problem but his.

3) And even Evan didn’t say anything about this, and I guess it was the wise choice to do so… he DOES have a quad, but in the interest of his own physical health (namely the stress-fracture that was brought on by training it in the past), he opted not to do it.

I might mention this is quite different from, say, Patrick Chan proclaiming
I have it, but I don’t need it because my skating is overall so much better than yours.

The latter I can see Plushy taking issue with. But is he now trying to call Lysacek out for not “taking the dare”, as it were? Essentially saying
injury schminjury, come on, be a MAN?

Wasn’t Plushy the oldest competitor in the men’s event? Suddenly it doesn’t seem like it.

4) One more thing, and this is more about the reported Russian reaction in general… for all the media, politicians, skating federations, etc. over there that appear to be up in arms over the decision the judges made, might I point to
EXHIBIT "A" —an article that ran just after the 2002 pairs judging scandal got underway in Salt Lake City…including this quote:

Alexander Kuznetsov, figure skating coach, said: "The Russians would never have brought up this issue. (RE: the scandal)

"The Russians would have proven their right to victory at the next competition.

"As far as I know, Russia's never protested a result in the last several years."

This doesn’t count as a formal protest, I know…but at least we know now that Russia’s as capable of crying foul as we are.

It’ll be interesting to see how long this carries on. Even in Salt Lake, the pressure was on virtually everyone involved to get the spotlight off the scandal so the other events (figure skating included) didn’t get lost in the shadows.

Though, hint to Russia… if you want NBC to benefit from this dust-up, by all means, keep those quips and statements to the press coming!


It’s getting confusing… in cross-checking numbers for a given night I’m finding different numbers, and if it’s an overnight-ratings-vs.-true ratings difference, I’m not sure which is which. So here’s what I can tell you with any certainty:

+ The best ratings night yet (including Opening Ceremonies, I think) was this past Wednesday. Unfortunately, we can’t attribute it to figure skating as it wasn’t on; this victory goes instead to the likes of Lindsay Vonn and Shaun White. But from what I read, this was the first time the Olympics had defeated American Idol since it had to go head-to-head with it several times in Torino.

+ Looks like Thursday (Men’s free skate) pulled in the best skating-night Olympic numbers thus far; a reported 25.3 million viewers was the average the night Lysacek won his gold.

+ Overall, ratings are up considerably from tape-delayed Torino… but down from similarly-time-zoned Salt Lake City. Not sure if the 8-YEAR time difference was accounted for, though… or that a lot of the high numbers from SLC had to do with that little judging scandal I just referred to above.

Coming up on Sunday night… that beloved ORIGINAL DANCE!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Men's Final in Vancouver: Who Did What & What Did It Get Them?

Ladies and gentlemen, the Men’s figure skating event at these Olympics—also known as the World’s Greatest Metrosexual Pissing Contest (Kidding!! Don’t judge me!!!)—has left the building. But not before throwing down some pretty interesting results. Here’s my take on that which I was able to see…


Wearing his electric blue from Nats. Music: Symphony #3 (Saint-Saens)

Tape delayed a little but we’ll take it: 4Toe FALL. Glad he went for it… I think… oh what’d he mess up, 3Flip/3Toe? Waaaaah—that’s been his money jump of late. This could be rough. 3Axel/3Toe—oh, good! that was OK. Then such lovely FW, but even that little 2axel he throws into the end of it looks wonky compared to normal. Next comes 3Ax; was adding a 2toe on that OK? Thought only one could be in combination… I could be wrong. Anyway, he landed both. Then 3Lz/2Toe/2Loop… nice 3Loop….good 3Salchow… well not so bad! That was a great rally that probably came from that positive spirit he carries so well. He doesn’t look particularly jazzed, but I hope he considers this: everyone was worried about him adding the 2nd axel, and guess what? Those may have been the best jumps he had all night.

149.56 FS 218.96 TOTAL FINISHED 9th in one of the best pull-up performances of the night. Any pride in finally making Top 10 in a major international event? I hope so.


(Caught this on the overseas feed) Wearing brown/black? Not sure now… Music: Ancient Lands

Well this oughta be delightful… 4Toe, awkward fall… next was supposed to be another 4Toe, it’s tripled…3axel flips out into a 2sal (looks like a combo but unplanned) Not sure…this slow part must feel for him like he has peanut butter on his skates… 3Flip… 3Lutz/2toe… 3loop hangs on… Footwork… 3salchow… a spin, and now we’re gearing up for the final slog of footwork... whew, good for him, looks like some life is left in him. No successful quad or triple axel, but still not a total wipeout.

132.22 FS 200.22 TOTAL FINISHED 16th.


Wearing: Black and silver Music: Guitar concerto by Michael Kamen

Whoa—trying a quad? 2-foot but yeay! (Funny, I never said that when Michael Weiss 2-footed his quad…) 3axel/3toe… 3lutx/2toe… DEEP sit spin in his combo. Hmm… did his free skate always have this much electric guitar? Guess the boy enjoys his rock, doesn’t he…3salchow/2toe/2loop… 3axel tilted in the air, oh, no… BAM. Anyway—3Flip… 3Loop landed but squirrely… 3lutz… he looks happy despite the BAM.

151.60 FS 231.19 TOTAL. FINISHED 8th, so Taka and JeremEEE’s respective coaches (father and daughter Sato) can take some pride in the side-by-side finish (though the 12-13 point spread between them is one of the widest of the night).

Finished 8th.


Wearing: red/black Music: Pasodoble (but it sure sounded like Bobby McFerrin taking on Concierto de Arurez or whatever it’s called).

He’s grown 2 ½ inches this year and a full shoe size? No wonder he’s had troubles. Well that, and the fact that he looks younger than his last name… anyhoo, 3axel flip out… then on to a 3axel/2 toe that’s better… 3lutz good… 3flip falls out… a donut-on-stick spin… 3 loop… 3lutz/2toe/2Loop… then 3sal right into 2axel… Another 2axel later… and a Bielmann (I call them MAN-biels when a guy does ‘em)… not best, but not embarrassing at all.

135.01 FS 211.25 TOTAL FINISHED 11th.


(Only saw a little of this on the overseas feed…)

Wearing: some sort of green/grey-green/mesh thing on top that initially makes me think of camouflage… maybe he’s trying to disappear? Music: Heroes (Safri Duo)

3axel/3toe(?) had hand down… put 2 hands down on 3flip/3toe… then later on he popped a 3Loop… 3sal/3toe that’s better…another 3 salchow…then 2axel… the UK commentators say he appears out of shape, still battling injuries… is this program done yet? It is? Whew.

116.94 FS 189.84 TOTAL FINISHES 17th. Buh-BYE, Mr. VDP.


Wearing the maroon thing w/suspenders and tons of man-cleavage.
Music: Amelie/Chopin/Cirque du Soleil

He’s supposed to be a Marionette?! Why didn’t I know that? 2 axel… 3 axel overrotated… nice spin… Oh boy, now we’re suddenly headed to FunkyTown (footwork sequence)… 3 salchow/2toe, as Scott indicates he has a 4Salchow…? Hmm. 3lutz good… 3flip… another 3lutz is 2’d. Nice job! I’m digging the boys of the future.

134.94 FS 210.30 TOTAL FINSHED 12th.


Wearing black sparkly, almost quilted-looking fitted tunic Music: Phantom

Starts w/ 3 axel/2 toe, good but shouldn’t he have 3/3 on this?... 3 flip/3Toe… 3 Lutz falls out… nice death drop… 3axel FALL… 3lutz(?)/2toe/2Loop… 3sal near end… not sure about some of the other jumps. Aw… he looks a little dejected. The no-soup-for-Canada thing continues…

160.30 FS 241.42 TOTAL FINISHES 5th, and I’m sorry, but 4th best FS of the night?! NOT.

Wearing pink/tan argyle number Music: An American in Paris

GORGEOUS 3axel… 4toe changed to 3flip… 3salchow…forward flying sit… it’s been fun watching this number evolve this year. 3axel/3toe NICE. Then 3fip/single toe… 2 axel… 3lutz FALL…popped axel combo of some kind… Scott says he’s outta gas and changing everything. See you in Sochi, my friend.

137.93 FS 216.73 TOTAL FINISHED 10th.



Wearing: Vera Wang’s Black & Silver Snake Special (ask for it by name!)
Music: Scheherazade…

Oh, boy, lots of talk about being very tight in the warmup. I wasn’t nervous before, but now I am… can he keep it together as well as I presumed? 3Lutz/3toe great…3Ax great! No, seriously, he really worked on fixing the problems with that jump and I’m convinced great axels are no longer a fluke with him...3salchow good… Footwork good, of course…take a breath, Evan… everyone… 3axel slight pitch forward, but only 2toe (was thinking that’s a mistake, but how many triples are in this thing??)…then…3Loop Landed… 3Flip/2toe/2loop… 3Lutz nice… to 2Ax…hold it together buddy… work it work it work it…spin nice! YES.
(I’m chuckling at the little hair that kept sticking up when he spun… put me in the mind of Alfalfa from Little Rascals. But only for a moment.)

In counting these up, it appears he did have eight triples, so maybe that axel combo is always a 3/2 instead of 3/3…in any case, WELL DONE!

166.96 FS 257.26 TOTAL WINS GOLD.


Wearing—Chaplin duds… because… Music: Chaplin medley

3lutz was good… 3axel/3toe had a double-3 between them… 3Flip… Sandra indicates the whole Chaplin thing might be seen as too junior for the Olympics, though I hope that’s not true…there was a weird break in the choreography; made indicative he’s not “into this” as much as usual… but… NICE 3axel… then a 3lutz/2toe/2Loop combo… then 3flip/2toe… then suddenly sat down on a 3Loop, and skated over tot the referee. He looks hurt. Could he have done something freaky to his knee? Oh—no, just a boot lace issue. (JUST a boot lace!) Shades of Tonya Harding, except… Team Oda knows how to handle it, and he gets back out there in plenty of time. Now, where were we? Does a spin, does a 2axel, does a nice backspin combination. Whew.

153.69 FS 238.54 TOTAL FINISHES 7th.


Wearing: Black and white and looks to me like he belongs on a chess board for some reason… Music: La Traviata

Lots of talk about him skating “tight” before he started… 4toe hand down… 3lutz very scratchy… 4toe another one of those SUPER DEEP knee saves, to a 2Toe… 3Flip/3Toe… 3Loop, another deep knee save… 3 jump combo seemed in slo-mo… 2axel… nice spin of course (at the end), but that headless spin ain’t gonna save you.

162.09FS 246.72 TOTAL FINISHES 4th, though he missed bronze by only about half a point. Yowza. And we thought it was tight at the top!


Wearing: unique ensemble w/black+white checked shirt Music: La Strada

I heard he was going for the quad, don’t do it man… just say no… UGH! He did it anyway. Splatto. Let’s see how he does from here… 3ax/2toe… 3Loop… this footwork section KICKS. ASS. (Sorry.) 3flip/3toe, and comes to a dead stop on the 2nd one… 2 axel… 3 axel YES!!!!! 3 Lutz…. YES!!! 3 lutz/2toe… “gaining strength since that fall,” they say…Scott also says he had “one gigantic mistake”; I presume it means because it may have cost him gold? And gotta disagree; the mistake didn’t suck the life out of the program. Dice-K sold it delightfully. ‘Cept for the splat.

156.98 FS 247.23 TOTAL WINS BRONZE… first medal ever by a Japanese man! And much as I adore Dice-K, I hope he was silently thanking Takeshi Honda for leading the way…

Around this point they showed Plushy warming up backstatge… while it looked like JeremEEEE was sitting on the floor in the background I suspect he was TWEETING (or at least texting). Oh to be that fly on the wall that Jeremy was in that moment…


Wearing: Black and whte, very “sparkly boy” of him Music: Fallen Angels

Starts with 3Flip… 3axel’s a beauty… 3salchow… 3axel/2toe… 3axel/2toe w/arm.overhead… a stumble at the end of a spin? Then 3 loop after long stretch of footwork… 3lutz/3toe… then, 3lutz/2toe/2toe… 2 ax… death drop…oh, nice speed at the end with the spin! Oh, good boy! (I sound just like Button!)

156.77 FS 238.87 TOTAL FINISHES 6th

… and I can tell that as Sandra starts to explain how Weir’s program has been regarded as “too simple” by many, she wants to say something about how there’s no box on the component side for MAGIC. All I’m gonna say without looking at any protocols is that I tend to think Chan is a little overmarked in general, glorious components or not, and I think Weir should have been ahead of him here. (Don’t judge me, Chan fans! LOL) Oh well… he seems happy enough with his wreath of roses and audience reaction.

Wearing…red and black w/a faux tie Music: Tango Amore

Starts w/what else? 4toe/3toe. Then comes a triple axel with a THUD of a blade landing flatly… then another 3ax/2toe… 3loop… death drop… oh here we go with the stupid arms and posing, flirting with crowd, pelvic thrusts, YO, Plushy, this isn’t your “Sex Bomb” number and you aren’t in an exhibition…Then back to the reason he’s here… 3lutz, tilted in air… 3 lutx/ 2toe, also tilted in the air……triple salchow… more goofiness.. is that how you spell “goofiness”… well I guess Microsoft Word thinks so… if this guy doesn’t bother to end his routine in some manner other than stop briefly and walk away smugly, as if to say “there, peons, I am done wasting my time with you, now give me my medal,” I’m gonna lose it! Oh, he stops long enough to blow a kiss to someone. Of course, that someone is the world. Where’s a bucket and a mop…

As we await the scores, someone emails me saying “Please don’t tell me Plushenko’s going to win this…” Just in case there was a chance, I waited before sending back my reply… a few minutes later I sent back “OK, I won’t!!!!! “

165.61 FS 256.36 TOTAL… WINS SILVER.
Lysacek GETS GOLD!!!! It’s the upset of the century! Wins by only a point or so, but—ha-HA! Another breathtaking event that didn’t disappoint, and even managed to surprise the snot out of us. Holy cow!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Men's Review Coming... Tomorrow morning

It's still not quite ready yet, but I'll be putting up details of tonight's/last night's free skate tomorrow. In the AM. PROMISE... please check back!

Vancouver: Who Will Dance To the Top?

Here comes my disclaimer...

I admittedly don’t have enough knowledge about the details of ice dancing to make the most educated guesses. Still, as I see it, there are no less than FIVE potential contenders for the podium:

Virtue/Moir of Canada, who finished 3rd at Worlds…

Pros- Home crowd favorites, good compulsory dancers

Cons- Home crowd pressure; no Olympic experience to draw from, and their free dance (to Mahler’s 5th Symphony) has received some criticism as not having “danceable” music… though it’s been well-scored all season anyway.

Belbin/Agosto, of the U.S., who won silver last Olympics and were 2nd last Worlds…

Pros- Olympic experience, reputation

Cons- Free dance (to “Ave Maria”/”Amen”) has been scored below expectations, then re-worked, then they still lost to Davis and White at Nationals. Percerption may be that they’ve already peaked as competitors.

Delobel/Schoenfelder, of France., who were world champs in 2008…

Pros—Multiple Olympic experiences to draw from, considered to be good compulsory dancers, may be extra anticipation building over their absence

Cons—Due to her shoulder injury (followed by pregnancy), they have not competed in over a year. What to expect here? Who knows?

Davis/White, of the U.S., recent Grand Prix Final champs who missed bronze last year by mere hundredths of a point…

Pros—From the recent Nationals victory to the “Bollywood” OD You Tube sensation, these two are white-hot right now…and unless they slip up in a big way, a complete snub by the judges on the Olympic stage might be a VERY bad move.

Cons—Considered weaker in compulsory dances, no Olympic experience

Domnina/Shabalin, of Russia, who are the reigning World Champions…

Pros—Strong compulsories, Olympic experience

Cons—Shabalin’s bad knees are always a wild card… also a wild card is just what their OD will look like after all the hullabaloo of late. Will it work for them, against them, or ultimately be much ado about nothing?

So, as with the men’s event, I’m going to run two sets of predictions. How I’d LIKE to see the podium by event’s end… and I admit some national bias here, but it’s also because I know more about what these performances look like (neither the Russians nor the French were on the GP circuit in the fall):


As for how I suspect the podium WILL look…
Silver— Virtue/Moir
Bronze— Davis/White

Why? Because in my heart of hearts, a) I don’t believe The Powers That Be will allow a North American sweep (and CERTAINLY not an NA victory), and b) I wonder if V/M’s compulsories will make the difference between them and D/W getting the upper hand. Hmmm… looks like I’ve got V/M for silver either way, huh.

I still hope I'm wrong about some of these choices. Odds are good that I don't know what I'm talking about-- remember that! And yes, if you were reading my predictions back at Nationals time, you're right... my theory about how the judges feel regarding the two top US teams has been completely rewritten... that theory now reads Davis & White have proven themselves; they are the present, not the future. Reward them appropriately. (Unless they screw up.)

I should also mention that everyone should be sure to watch Kerr/Kerr (from the U.K) either way—they steal the show anywhere they’re at; unfortunately, their overall skating skills are apparently just a tad below everyone else’s so they are unlikely to crack the Top 5 unless there is another demolition derby awaiting the Original Dance (as there was in Torino, of course). You never know...

I’ll be working hard to get Men’s Free Skate analysis & notes up tonight after the big event..!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Tale of Two Tweeters… and Five Additional Things about Last Night

Here’s what Johnny Weir had to say in the hours before the SP yesterday (via Twitter):

Looking forward to the short. Practiced well today. Just gonna try to fly. I hope everyone has their fingers crossed for me. Love you! =)

And after the SP…

I'm so happy! Thank you to everyone who felt me tonight, I love you. So looking forward to doing it again in the long!

And JeremEEEE, who has been relentlessly upbeat (and pretty frickin’ hilarious at times) on his Tweets, posted this in the hours leading up:

Today is the Big Day!!! Thank you everyone for the great wishes! AND I am So ready to be a rock star tonight!!!! KILL IT! DO WORK! :D
The Excitement is mounting, and I'm ready for the challenge! It's time to attack it with poise and control! Time to rock it! BRING IT ON!!!
And (sigh) what he posted after… (I must admit I wondered if he’d post anything. Certainly would have been understandable if the last thing he wanted to do was address thousands of “followers”…)
To add insult to injury I got the pleasure of doing doping after my extraordinarily beautiful performance tonight! YAY! lol :(
Thank U all 4 UR love & support! I love sharing my sk8ing & joy w/ you all! Im only sorry 2night I had 2 share my disappointment and regret!
I promise with all my heart that there will be a reason to smile on thursday! My goals are out of reach, but my Olympics is not over yet!
And actually here’s one more from him, hot off the TweeterPress…
The sun is shining here in Vancouver, and I am loving life! Good practice today! On to tomorrow! Damn the Torpedos... No regrets!
Well, there you have it. As soon as he learns how to spell “torpedoes” he’ll be good to go :-)
Now that I’m slightly more awake than I was when I posted my notes last night (!), I’ve got a few additional things to mention… and they don’t have much to do with the protocols, if only because I haven’t studied them yet…

1) I’m hoping NBC plans to show Vaughan Chipeur’s free skate tomorrow night, even though he barely made it into finals (currently in 24th). His skating isn’t often what I’d call breathtaking, but from everything I’ve read about him he’s a hardworking guy outside the arena as well as in, scraping together every dime he has to put into this sport…kind of like a Canadian version of Mark Ladwig (the pairs skater who got his business card featured on-air yesterday). Also, one of his coaches is the terrific former U.S. men’s champ Scott Davis. I don’t know that Chipeur has adapted all the elements that allowed Davis such awesome spins in his time, but in watching Canadian Nats a few weeks ago I spotted one at the very end of his free skate (one possessing a couple different “jump over” moves) that is incredible…gotta have rubbed off a little from Davis?

2) I’m still in disbelief that Kevin VDP wore the Bones costume to the Olympics. It’s kind of like when you have a relative that you know is a little eccentric (or maybe a LOT), and you’ve gotta take them to a big shindig, and you just PRAY that they don’t embarrass you… but next thing you know, you see them at the dinner table using their steak knife as a toothpick. Didn’t he retire this sucker last season? And does this mean we can count on another “classic” for the free skate (I’m thinking either the Pirate look or the one that says “EXIT” on the back)…?

3) Speaking of costume chatter, Kristi Yamaguchi and Peter Carruthers did a pretty good bit on the Universal show today where they teased about last night’s duds as well as Peter’s old outfits from the early 80s. You’re watching the show on Universal, right? The Figure Skating Review/Preview Show… or something like that… airing daily at 2PM Eastern? Hosted by Terry Gannon and various others you’re familiar with? If not, go seek it out—it’s worth it. Kind of like 2006’s Olympic Ice with a desk… and (cause she’s kinda busy doing other stuff) Mary Carillo.

4) And about last night in particular… if I didn’t know any better, I’d say NBC likely did some major hustling over the past couple of weeks in order to come up with a piece that featured both Lysacek AND Abbott. I recall a Tweet from Abbott right after Nationals that indicated NBC had whisked him away for an early-morning shoot… could have easily been the b-roll they showed of him out running in the dim twilight, working in the gym, etc. But on the other hand, I have it on great authority that much if not all of the Lysacek footage was shot weeks, even months, ago. NBC set their sights on Lysacek, so I think a surprise second defeat by Abbott left them scrambling a little. In any case, it was another good effort. I know not everyone is a fan of the “fluff pieces”, but having produced some of those things myself (not for skating, but other efforts), I always enjoy and respect what they do.

5) And finally, this about Dick Button hanging out with Bob Costas: whether you think our beloved “Uncle Dick” is on more than he needs to be, or yearn for 4 years ago when he shared what must’ve been a very crowded booth with Tom, Scott and Sandra… you’ve gotta hand it to Costas for being able to “gently” cut him off when time is up on their segment. There’s an art to mastering that skill! Especially with someone as famously loquacious as Button!

That’s the scoop for now. Later tonight—Ice Dance Predictions!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Men, Men, Manly Men Who Skate: Olympics SP recap

(NOTE: I've gone back and fixed the layout of this to make it more read-able... very sorry for that; it's amazing what passes as OK in one's mind when it's 2AM and one is still trying to type up notes without doing a face plant on the desk.)

Confession time… my night was thrown early on by a home emergency of sorts, as will be illustrated as I skate past some of the early performances. (But I do have them on tape; will study them in a later analysis. So, let’s see…

Florent Amodio (France), Viktor Pfeifer (Austria), Vaughan Chipeur (Canada)… I’m very sorry boys, but shortly before NBC got started tonight, my six-year old tripped coming up the stairs with a cup of red tempera paint and spilled it in two places on the living room carpet. Yeah, I know…tell me about it. I was alternating between blotting the carpet with white vinegar and rags, cleaning up the kitchen, and putting the kids to bed when you skated. So sorry… but I do have it recorded, and will look ‘em over in analysis. Here’s how they scored…

AMODIO—in 11th
PFEIFER-- in 23rd
CHIPEUR—in 24th

Next up: Evgeny Plushenko, Russia (wearing black & silver; skating to Concierto de Aranjuez)Plushy, did you not hear me?? I’M CLEANING. RED. PAINT. OUT OF MY CARPET. Can’t your SP wait?? No?? Time to go take on “your enemies”? OK, fine. I’ll call it without even seeing it: HUGE quad toe/3Toe… skate skate skate HUGE triple axel… skate crossover skate solid 3Lutz(?)… pose spin pose footwork crossover spin pose pose spin finger in the air You’re Done, suck on that. Got it. NEXT.

SCORE: 90.85. In 1st. By a macho whisker hair.

OK, later that same evening…

Daisuke Takahashi, Japan (wearing black with a jacket I can only describe as hyperdetailed—skating to EYE by Coba.)
3Flip/3toe good… 3 ax great… 3lutz swish! Oh, the footwork, the footwork… yum! What super expressions on his face! Everything rocks so very well. “That was hot”, says Sandra when he’s done. Yeah it was!

SCORE: 90.25. In 3rd. What? so close to Plushy?? Hope!!!

Stephane Lambiel, Switzerland (looking like an extra from Robin Hood... skating to William Tell Overture)

No triple ax, only double… quad toe VERY low in knee, barely pulls off 2/toe comto… 3lutz good… Footwork is awesome and of course so are spins, but oh well. Is he screwed? Let’s see…
SCORE: 84.63. Components rule… currently 5th.

Nobunari Oda, Japan (in black and silver with arrows pointing…??; skating to Totentantz (Liszt))
Deep, lovely triple ax… 3flip(?)/3toe awesome… 3lutz terrific… I’m seeing Yagudin influence in his footwork… anyone else? And is it possible his spins are even BETTER than before? Nice work!

SCORE: 84.85. Currently 4th.

Brian Joubert, France (in black with rhinestones down front; skating to Rise by Safri Duo)… shaking his head and talking to self before music begins. Hmm. Quad toe/3Toe—flip out on quad, no combo. 3 ax is OK. 3lutz… oh, what was that? Complete blow out. Looks like he was trying for a higher level spin in there. Ugh.

SCORE: 68.00. Oh, did I say in my predictions he’d finish 2nd? I meant, um… 18th. I’m sorry that I don’t feel sorrier for him, but I just… don’t.

Takahiko Kozuka, Japan (in “jeans” and red patterned shirt that Scott Hamilton covets… probably my fave costume of the night…. skating to Bold as Love (Hendrix))
Do the circle and slap, Mr. Sato… there ya go. 3Lutz/3 Toe YES! 3Ax little 2-foot, OK, still better than you’ve done most of the season…3Flip YES! This is such a cool program when you land the jumps, dude!

SCORE: 79.59. Atta boy! Currently 8th.

Samuel Contesti, Italy (Looking like Cotton-Eye Joe after a hard day in the fields… music is Wish Me Well (Willie Dixon & Memphis Slim) and Whammer Jammer (J.Geils))

3Lz?/3Toe good… 3 axel rough landing but OK… SPLAT on last triple. I think I’ve said before that this guy reminds me of Ryan Bradley… or do I say that about Preaubert? Anyway… I love that Scott gave a J. Geils shout-out. It wasn’t a total embarrassment of a skate, like, um others we’ve seen … so great job there, France, on your choice to let him “relocate” and skate for Italy.

SCORES: 70.60. Currently 14th.

Patrick Chan, Canada (in Black w/a super sparkly vest… skates to Tango de los Exilados.)

BTW I thought the little collection of coulda/wouldas for Canadian men was great. Just sayin’. OK… triple Ax w/step out… 3flip?/3toe good… 3lutz nice… here comes da footwork we all love from him… nice… super nice… um, stumble?? Yes? No? (Bueller? Anyone?) Did anyone else catch that? OK, there, Scott mentioned it. Plus a music violation? Yikes.

SCORES: 81.12. Currently 7th… and he won’t make the final flight with that. Aw. But I think it might help, and take the pressure off him.

Johnny Weir, USA (in his black and pink corset costume w/the tassle… skates to I Love You, I Hate You)

“Let’s see if he can back it up with some skating,” said Tom Hammond. Word. 3Lutz/3Toe great… 3 axel good… 3Flip good… I can see him working up to his big Footwork Stuff… saw a smile… DIVA it, boy, just DIVA it! Nicely done. The tassle is rocking!

SCORE: 82.10 Currently 6th. Interesting placement, but not shocking.

Kevin Van Der Perren, Belgium (in what I still say is My Son’s Halloween Costume From 2008—all bones, no quads or components. Hee. Skates to some classic pastiche I’m going to call ”Night on Crazy Bald Disco Mountain”)

3axel OK…3flip/3toe good… then triple loop… OK, I’m officially impressed because this guy had a SUCKYyear. Maybe it’s the skeleton costume…oh, finally, a smile… thank God. If he’d blown this event I was going to put him on a suicide watch.

SCORE: 72.90. Currently 12th.

Tomas Verner, Czech Republic (in his I’m-not-a-waiter Zorba outfit; skates to.. .umm… ZORBA)
Sandra graciously says he “struggles with consistency sometimes.” How about ALL the time…such as when he turned his quad into a double? Anyway, 3axel FALL… I cry for this guy. Triple F/3toe ok. He’s in a cab going to the dark side of town with Joubert. See you guys… and please, be real men and don’t withdraw from the free skate.

SCORE: 65.33. Currently 19th. Oy.

Evan Lysacek, USA (wearing black w/feathers…skating to Firebird)

Ca-CAW! OK, had to get that out. But seriously, if I hear about him and the IV’s from 2006 one more time I’m plucking his shoulder feathers out… 3Axel NICE one, looks much better!... 3lutz/3toe awesome. 3Flip stellar… Fly, Evan, fly!! He’s having fun now, not too much fun Evan, you’ve fallen on footwork before… now the spin; he’s looking like he did when he won Nationals in 2007. Wow. So emotional it takes me by surprise… Wipe your happy tears with the feathers!

SCORE: 90.30. No kidding!? That’s cool. Currently 2nd.

Jeremy Abbott, USA (wearing plum shirt/vest; skating to Jeff Beck’s version of A Day in the Life)

Did he fix his collar yet? Yes he did. OK, let’s see how he does going right behind Evan’s throwdown… 3Flip/3Toe nice. Triple Axel—singled?? Not even really popped, but singled??!?! Why??? Oh, damn… 2’d the lutz after that… what?? Oh… my stomach hurts. Did he HAVE to skate that bad? Did he have to leave his best back in Spokane?

He looks like a man in shock. We are fans in shock, staring back. No one wins this staring contest.

SCORE: 69.40. Ouch. Bloodletting. I think Verner and Joubert’s cab just ran him over. Come sit with us in Blogland, Jeremeeee. I have band-aids in all sizes. Currently 15th.

Finally… Michal Brezina, Czech Republic (wearing black and white, skating to Puttin on the Ritz)
Nice Triple axel… great 3Lutz… 3Flip/3toe. That’s all the notes I took, but he’s a snazzy fellow… Takahiko/Brezina showdown in 2014?

SCORE: 78.80. Currently 9th!

More analysis and other stuff to come tomorrow!