Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Worlds 2010 Gala Guide: The Couples

Here’s what I found of gala performances for pairs and ice dance… this time I didn’t include the members of the Italian team that got to skate as well.


Zhang/Zhang (finished 5th) skated to something that might have been called “On the Wings of Song”… I heard those words among the endless Italian commentary.

Mukhortova/Trankov (finished 4th) used an operatic duet: he skates during the man’s vocal, she skates during the woman’s… they skate together on choruses… and had trouble with the same elements as in their regular programs.

Kavaguti/Smirnov (finished 3rd) used a variation on Blue Danube from their free skate; like many of the singles skaters, they hit the prop cabinet before taking the ice (tossing around a bouquet of flowers during the routine).

Savchenko/Szolkowy (finished 2nd) used an instrumental version of Somewhere…

Pang/Tong (finished 1st) also use an operatic duet; watch for the “oops” moment they have about 1:25 into the clip.


Kerr/Kerr (finished 5th) skated to Exogenesis: Symphony, Part 3 by Muse (same artist as was behind their free dance from 2008-9)… compelling as always.

Pechalat/Bourzat (finished 4th) did a bouncy number to Andy by Les Rita Mitsouko.

Faiella/Scali (finished 3rd) skated to a very pretty Italian ballad whose name I could not decipher by way of the graphics.

Davis/White (finished 2nd) with David Cook’s version of Billie Jean (though I don’t think they plan to use this number much on the upcoming SOI tour)

And Virtue/Moir fans, I tried to find their Gala skate but was strangely unsuccessful… very sorry. Again, if you have a link that would make this collection of clips complete, please share!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Worlds 2010 Gala Guide: The Singles

So they didn’t make it the Universal TV coverage, and only still photos from it are on the Universal website. But in case you were wondering, here are a whole bunch of links you might like…

NOTE: some of these performances are tainted by excessive commentary, chatter, or whatever was said. For those who think Hamilton or Button talk too much during a performance… you’d be pleading to hear them after tolerating a little of this. If anyone finds “quieter” links, please share!

Carolina Kostner finished 6th but got to perform, apparently, because she’s Italian… skated to a female cover of Ain’t No Sunshine about as well as she’s skated to anything lately, which is to say… well, you know.

Cynthia Phaneuf (finishing 5th) did great with a twisted, jazzy cover of Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams. I wonder if she ever imagined she’d make the cut to skate the Worlds Gala this time? She was 15th last year.

Miki Ando (finishing 4th) ah, a routine to Mozart’s Requiem that sort of seems to tell her own life story of chasing a dream, not getting it, trying again, etc… complete with a 15 second break with her just laying on the ice motionless (that’s the home-from-2006 Olympics part, in my interpretation).

Laura Lepisto (finishing 3rd) is in white but has a black hood/scarves of some kind she’s using as props…apparently it’s a Zorro-inspired number… they flutter like flags as she goes around a round of jumps, then she sets them down and does the rest of her skate. Oh, then she goes & gets them again after about a minute. Welcome to rhythmic gymnastic figure skating, y’all. Music is Tina Arena.

Kim Yu-Na (finishing 2nd) is doing the same Meditation piece NBC showed us in Vancouver. Looks very similar, including the popped lutz.

Mao Asada (finishing 1st) is in black and fuschia and brandishing a fierce fan as she skates to Paganini’s Capriccio #24. It’s definitely props day at the Gala. Someone should have told Kim; she could have done Meditation with a cage of live birds. Speaking of Asada though… did you hear that according to a recent Phil Hersh article, she is "looking for a new coach after two seasons with Russia's Tatiana Tarasova"...?

And the guys were there too…

Samuel Contesti (finished 7th) is here for the same reasons Kostner is… and skates to a cowboy-themed piece that includes the ever-charming Cotton-eyed Joe. But he does an even poorer job of checking his landings than he did in competition and steps out of most everything. Still cute if you’re a fan.

Jeremy Abbott (finished 5th) skated to Michael Buble’s cover of At This Moment. Unfortunately, if you click his name you’ll see that the audio’s been disabled on the clip I’ve got here (and I couldn’t find another one). You could always check and see if his Nationals version of the same routine is still available… (UPDATE: for reasons I don't get, clicking on the Jeremy link take you to Joubert's program instead. I tried fixing it, but it's not working. Sorry about that! You can put "Jeremy Abbott 2010 Worlds Gala" into your You Tube browser if you really want to see it... he did great except for a fall on his last jump (triple toe); not bad for someone who'd mentioned on Twitter that he'd "jacked his hip in practice" and might be doing "the first ice DANCE solo in history"!)

Michal Brezina (finished 4th) – this is one of the clips that really suffers from the overchatter, but somewhere in the background you can hear that he skated to Michael Buble’s Feeling Good (This is where I’m compelled to remark that to me, Buble is a poor man’s Harry Connick Jr., and I say that well aware of the irony as most consider Connick Jr. a poor man’s Frank Sinatra. Hmm. Maybe we just need more skaters using Sinatra…)

Brian Joubert (finished 3rd) does an uptempo routine very similar to his Rise SP (it’s Sandstorm by Darude). There appear to be some classic sick footwork sequences in it; sadly, the camera shots used for these parts were too wide to tell for sure (ugh, the directing on these feeds… another post for another time).

Patrick Chan (finished 2nd) takes on Coldplay’s Vive la Vida (and had some jump trouble, though he was far from the only one). Interesting choice for him; I wouldn’t have guessed he’d go so contemporary. The choreography was interesting at times but he seemed rushed at other times.

Daisuke Takahashi (finishing 1st) skated to Luv Letter by DJ Okawari, which a nice lyrical mid-tempo piano number that suits him well. He landed 3 lovely triples and didn’t look anything close to tired like most of the pack.

Next post will cover the pairs and dance teams that skated the Gala…

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Worlds Free Dance: Belgosto Take a Shot at Calling It

Covering the dances shown on Universal Sports with Belgosto (Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto) alongside Andrea Joyce…

Cappellini/Lanotte (ITA)— had the big twizzle crash of the day as you may have seen by now, but they also had a mere level 2 on both their circular steps and their diagonal steps… and 2 points’ worth of deductions (1 for the fall; 1 for an extended lift). FINISHED 11th.

Crone/Poirier (CAN)—Belgosto praised their music choice (Nocturne/Bohemian Rhapsody) for its lyrical quality—something they think was needed—levels 3 & 4 (mostly 4s) on everything; no negative GOEs. FINISHED 7th.

Zaretsky/Zaretsky (ISR)—I’m still trying to figure out why their Schindler’s List program sounds so much, in parts, like Via Dolorosa. Someone enlighten me!! All levels 3 & 4; Belgosto indicates they exits from their moves are still a little rough and that’s the difference between this team and the crème de la crème. Got a season’s best score; FINISHED 6th.

I skipped over the Loft Chatter for now, but if there was anything of note I’ll jot it down when I listen to it.

Pechalat/Bourzat: They ditched the Bourzat-as-Clock/Requiem piece in favor of the Circus Medley they used in 2008-9… oh yeah, I remember this! It’s much more fun and charming. Wish they’d used this in Vancouver too. All levels 3 & 4, and I must say in looking at it again those last 30 seconds of the program remind me a LOT of Torvill and Dean’s “Barnum” program from 1983. Maybe just me though? Belgosto mentions it’s a lot easier to do a dramatic program for the FD because it’s easier to look pained at that point. Heh. FINISHED 4th.

Davis/White: Belgosto says the part of the program they wanted to work on the most was the slow part (circular step sequence), and it must’ve worked because they got the highest GOEs of the program on that part. It’s funny to hear Belgosto both exhale with such excitement when it’s done. Ben notes that he’s never seen Charlie look tired after a performance… until now. 3 points higher than Vancouver, though still… WINS SILVER.

Virtue/Moir: Only real bobble was from Moir in their twizzle sequence; it’s also the only part of their program that got a level 3… (by the way, D/W’s only level 3 was on the diagonal step sequence) Belgosto credits Moir with not putting his foot down and being able to tough out the balance when his twizzle was faltering… but Tanith won’t pick a side as to who is her favorite. (at least, not on camera) WON GOLD.

Faiella/Scali: Apparently Belgosto trained with them for a short while at the start of the season, and can’t say enough great things about them. Ben calls them “great storytellers” that can really create wonderful characters. Two things put their medal chances in danger: a) their dance spin, and b) their twizzles, both of which only received level 2. Fortunately they did everything else quite well. WON BRONZE. (“It was a miracle,” we heard Scali say in English before leaving K & C.)

Kerr/Kerr: They of the constantly struggling twizzles… sigh… this time they went for the blade-grabbing variety, and she missed hers, which contributed in bringing them all the way down to a level 1. Booo. Doubt if they’d really have a shot at bronze even if they’d nailed that, though. FINISHED 5th.

More Worlds recap to follow!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Final Day, Final Flight, Final "Free Skate". And it Showed.

All that's left are the ladies, so let's get to it (in order of appearance today)

Suzuki (in 20th): 3Flip/2toe/2loop good… 3 toe to 2ax good…3lutz good…3 flip in slow part popped…3lutz double 3’s out… 3loop to 2ax good… then 3salchow good too…looks pretty happy during her awesome straightline sequence; is she in character or happy for real because she’ll pull way up after this?? Great comeback; too bad it was so early it missed the Universal telecast. 111.68/160.04… FINISHED 11th

Hecken (in 13th): 3Toe/3toe good (seems to be the hot triple combo now; remember when it was rare?)… 3lutz big fall… 3salchow good… 2axel good… 3 salchow/2 toe good…2ax/2toe/2toe good… then another 2axel… when will the ISU decide to start limiting those, I wonder? Footwork, combo spin, done. She’s not as delighted as I’ve seen her in the past, but I think this was just fine for her. 98.74, a new SB/151.94 Total. FINISHED 12th.

Leonova (in 14th): 3flip/3toe fell on 2nd one…3 lutz double 3’s out/hands down… 3 loop ok…3 loop looked maybe 2-footed… 3 flip OK to 2axel…footwork feels pretty deliberate today… 3 sal/2toe/2loop w/hand up ok; slow going out…3 flip might have been 2 footed as well…another exhausted one, but at least she held that closing pose this time.
98.50/152.86 Total. FINISHED 13th.

Mrs. VanDerPerren (aka Jenna McCorkell, in 15th): 2axel good…3lutz good… 3flip/2toe good…long break before 2ax/2toe/2toe…3flip nice…3toe was 2’d…2ax OK but not as good as earlier… fatigue? But she finishes out the rest of the program well.
98.78, SB/150.90 Total. FINISHED 14th.

Ando (in 11th): 3 lutz/2loop (was she at least considering the triple loop this time?)… 3salchow to 2axel good… 3loop OK… 3lutz… then 3salchow, but where are combos?…3toe … 2ax/2loop/2loop (last one was downgraded)…it was clean but I think she dumbed it down a lot by taking out all but one combo (and one w/a 2ax sequence; I never feel right calling that a combo…) 122.04/177.82… she was only 2 points off her season’s best, so maybe the combo-lite skate was a good strategy. 122.04/177.82 Total. FINISHED 4th.

(Note on Ando: only a level 2 on her straight line steps, and her flying spin was also a level 2. That couldn’t have helped either.)

Kim (in 7th): 3lutz/3toe great…3flip great…2axel/2toe/2loop good… spirals OK today… spreadeagle to 2ax/3toe…3sal FALL…3lutz fine…Tara thinks the sparkle is missing… and then a 2axel at the end became a waltz jump? Not even a pop? Ai-yi-yi. (no credit for that, by the way)130.49/190.79 Total. WON SILVER.

Helgesson (in 9th) : 3flip/2toe/2loop good…2toe??... 3loop/2toe… she skates counterclockwise…3toe?... 3loop… Tara thinks she’s kinda slow…spirals…2 2axels in sequence…3salchow saved… flying sit… footwork… combo spin… wow, pretty good all things considered! No lutz and only one flip, but it was clean. I won’t even fault her for skating to a Whitney Houston song… but if she moves on to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” next year, I’m abandoning her :-) 105.47/161.79 Total. FINISHED 10th.

Phaneuf (in 8th): 3 toe to 2ax good…3 lutz nice!...3loop/2toe… 3loop good…3salchow good… 2axel good… 3toe/2toe/2loop… wow! I don’t think I’ve ever seen her skate that cleanly. She’s ditched the 3flip and only had the one lutz; those are the only things that’ll hold back her tech score… 118.04/177.54 and the big news is that she’ll be no lower than 10th, which qualifies 2 ladies for Canada at Worlds 2011. Nice. FINISHED 5th!

(Note: Phaneuf also had spins and footwork at a level 2).

Sebestyen (in 10th): 2ax good…3lutz doubled…3flip popped—weird, she doesn’t do this often. 3salchow OK…3lutz good…2 2axels in sequence good… 2toe/2toe I think to close it out. Gee, did she only do 2 triples? 91.56/147.66 Total. FINISHED 15th.

Chatter during the resurfacing. Johnny’s got a swiss cheese thing going with the sleeves on his sweater. Peter drops a Brian Orser impression (telling Yu-Na “Well… you got it done” as she got off the ice) that I find hilarious because I’ve thought Brian sounded just like Pokey the Horse (from the Gumby shows of the ‘50s/’60s) for YEARS, and Peter pretty much nailed it. Apparently no one else in “the loft” thought so.

Peter tosses to break… he needs to lay off the “we’re just chillaxing” vibe… we get it. If you have to keep telling us how relaxed everyone is, I don’t believe it anymore.

Peter asks about the sleeves when they come back from break. Apparently they are in honor of the ladies… Johnny addresses the “have to be pro-American” flack that apparently dusted up yesterday… I missed most of it (had the sound turned down on their chatter parts yesterday because I’m on deadline with other non-skating work), so whatever.

Warm-up group is up…they talk about the pressure on Nagasu, and I’m reminded of when she was in 1st after the short at a GP event, and then dropped out of the medals…

Kostner’s up first (in 4th). Is this a new dress since Vancouver? Not sure. 3flip/3toe nicely done…3loop fell out…2axel ok…3flip 2-footed we think… 3toe/2toe squirrely (and downgraded)… 2axel/2toe/2toe… 3salchow low landing…Tara hints some of these might be underrated… scores should be interesting; only the first combo contained stellar triples, and I just noticed she’s ditched the lutz. Amazing to me how skaters can just toss out the jumps they don’t do well anymore, rather than fight to improve them because they HAVE to.

115.11 is her new SB/177.31 total; she’s already in 4th and the crowd goes nuts in the wrong way cuz of course she’s already off the podium. They should be pleased though… infinitely better than last year. Maybe she can start a new chapter now. FINISHED 6th.

They spoke briefly to Kim coming back… in short, she sounds like she just wants to get out of here and go home. Yeah, no doubt kiddo.

Asada (in 2nd): 3axel good…3axel/2toe… 3flip/2loop… 3loop good… (my daughter was just in here; says her music is “scary”… I’m with her!)… 3flip/2loop/2loop… 3toe (missed in Vancouver) good…2axel OK… death drop… if her triple axels are good; even if one of them is, then she’s got it I think. 129.50/197.58 Total; she’s above Kim… we’ll see about the rest. (2nd triple axel was downgraded) WON GOLD.

Flatt (in 6th): 2axel good… 3flip/2toe, no triple (leg looked wide again like in SP)… 3lutz good… Tara doesn’t think SHE looks like herself either. Lots of strangers wandering around the ice it seems. 3loop good…2nd 3lutz popped... 3toe?/2toe/2loop… 3sal/2toe good… 106.56/167.44 Total. No soup for her. FINISHED 9th.

Lepisto (in 3rd): 3toe/3toe good…3lutz good (looked underrated but no one called it as such in protocols)…3loop is 2loop/2toe…2axel good… another 3loop becomes a double…2axel good…3sal is 2sal/2toe/2toe…any more triples please? Only 3 sofar…Oookay, guess not. Decent start, ran out of steam; we’ll see if her PCS marks keep her in the medal hunt or not. 114.32/178.62 Total.

WON BRONZE. Yeah, I know.

Nagasu looked kind of worried at the boards w/Frank Carroll… hmmm. (in 1st)
3lutz steps out, no combo. Uh-oh. 2ax/3toe nice…3flip nice…killer layback spin after a while…3lutz and her feet are all twisted up coming down, hops around… 2toe anyway… 3 loop to 2ax good… spreadeagle to 2ax and she was way off axis, FALL… 3toe OK. Aww… not sure if she can stay on the podium with this. Love Carroll: she apologizes and he says “It’s fine; you’re not dead…”105.08/175.48 Total; drops to 7th. Wow. We won’t get that 3rd spot after all. Sigh. That’s rough.... especially since they HAD it, right there...

Makarova (in 5th): 3toe/3toe good…3flip good; a little wide…2axel OK… 3loop good…2axel good… nice layback position…little rough on spirals…3salchow/2loop/2toe…3salchow fall… but pretty decent debut. Could she hop up to medal with that? 107.58/169.64 Total. FINISHED 8th.

OK, well, sub-par tired skating is over.
1) Asada. Good girl. You earned it.
2) Kim. Nice comeback and the rivalry is (sort of) back on. Now go take a nap.
3) Lepisto. There, is everybody happy now?
4) Ando. Ok except for you Miki. She’s not happy. 4th and 5th placements at these events kind of blows.You’ve a right to be bummed, even if you brought it on yourself.
5) Phaneuf!!! Best surprise of the night. I wish you could have medaled with that.
6) Kostner. All things considered, this is a miracle but hard-fought & won.
7) Nagasu. Sigh. Back to school you go.
8) Makarova. Really decent debut; I’ll look for you on the circuit next year.
9) Flatt. Yep. You too, kiddo. Hit the books. And by that I don’t mean THE BOOKS.
10) Helgesson. Who?? I’m just kidding. Imagine being the first one from your country to crack the Worlds Top 10 in over 50 FREAKING YEARS. That’s amazing.

Still promise to get back to the free dance from Friday… that’ll be tomorrow, probably.

The off season for Olympic-eligible figure skaters has officially begun for ALL of them. The off season for skating bloggers is non-existent! Thanks for reading, and keep coming back… we always find something to talk about here.

P.S. I’ll probably have plenty to say about the Loft Chatter (from Carruthers and friends)… trouble is I haven’t watched much of it yet. If you have favorite exchanges for which I should keep my ears perked, let’s hear ‘em!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Worlds Day 4-- when Kim Yu-Na Became Kim Yu-Huh?

LADIES SP as it happened… (well, 20 of them, anyway)

CHELTZIE LEE (AUS)—3salchow/2toe was good, 3toe good too, 2axel also…nice layback at end… wish she’d held her end pose for even I really do like her style, in that she does have some! Of course her jump difficulty needs to increase, but hopefully that will come. LOVE this SP dress, as I think I said at Olympics time. 51.36; IN 17TH.

SARAH MEIER (SWI)—Huge fall on the 3lutz, and by that I mean she completely flattened to her back and bumped against the wall… looked like it REALLY hurt. But, almost in tears already, she keeps going… then pops her salchow, and tentatively at that. Again, thought she might stop. But on she went, and managed a 2axel (nice one) among other things. 45.06; FINISHED 26th and missed the cut for the Free Skate. Damn, what a crappy way to end a season. And possibly an amateur career.

CYNTHIA PHANEUF (CAN)—2axel wide-ish leg… 3lutz hand down but 2toe combo anyway… 3toe good… lovely everything else, and no fall on footwork this time (as happened in Vancouver)… quite a pretty program and she has wonderful presentation. Now, if I could just talk to her about a new haircut… :-)
59.50; IN 8th.

KWAK MIN-JUNG (KOR)—Fall on 3lutz… 3sal/2toe good… 2 axel good… has sort of junior-ish presentation for now, but of course that’ll improve… but she looks quite upset coming off the ice. Brian (Orser, he coaches her too) tells her “good thinking” about adding the toe loop to her salchow (the lutz was supposed to be a combo I guess)… but still, plenty of tears in the K&C. 47.46; IN 23rd.

SARAH HECKEN (GER)— 3Toe/3Toe good, 3salchow good (w/double fist pump)…2axel good too… it’s so much fun to watch her skate well; she gets so happy… 55,20; IN 13th.

JENNA MCCORKELL (GBR)—2axel OK…3lutz/2toe looked good…3flip good!...already looks very happy…all the way through in fact… (she missed the finals cut in Vancouver, so this was probably especially sweet)… they cut to a shot of her hubby, Kevin VanDerPerren… 52.12; IN 15th.

VIKTORIA HELGESSON (SWE)—3toe/2toe I think looked OK…3 loop nice…2axel too…has one of those “laybacks” that is more like a headback… sigh. 56.32; IN 8th.

KSENEIA MAKAROVA (RUS)—had a good 3toe/3toe… then a good 3flip… and a nice 2axel… and a fast combo spin too. Get the door; I hear the future knocking… 62.06; IN 5th.

3lutz/3toe (!)…3Flip good… 2ax good… fab layback…wow! It’s hard to believe this is the same Mirai that was competing just 4 months ago; let alone last season. Gets a 70.40 and it’s great to see she and Frank Carroll both staring at the score shrieking “WHAT?!” IN 1st.

KIM YU-NA (KOR)—3lz/3toe great… 3Flip not her best (and cheated)… then she mangles the hook into her next spin; has to start again, and this resulted, I think, in one of her spins (at the end?) not getting any credit. Then she had trouble with her spiral sequence (!) to the point where it was downgraded to a Level 1… then everyone’s jaw drops as she gets a 60.30; IN 7th. Yep. It’s true.

AKIKO SUZUKI (JPN)—3Flip FALL… 3Loop double three out to 2toe…also has a bit of trouble with her spirals (looks very tired)… 2axel fall out…oy. One event too many I guess. 48.36; IN 20th.

RACHAEL FLATT (USA)—3flip/3toe became a 3/2…. Too bad; I think she must’ve done it because her 1st landing was a little wide… 3lutz OK…2ax is fine…audience doesn’t really seem to be with her until the footwork. 60.88; IN 6th.

JULIA SEBESTYEN (HUN)—3lutz/2toe huge as usual… 3Flip downgraded?... 2ax ok… she seems to have extra punch in her footwork, and she’s probably the oldest one here… take that, whippersnappers!

ALENA LEONOVA (RUS)—Fell on opening 3flip... then tried to make her next pass a combo,but did a lot of unintentional hopping around on the 2nd jump…2axel OK. This program seemed especially manic this time, but maybe that’s because it’s the last SP we’ll likely see this season. 54.36; in 12th…

And now, my odd request for tomorrow’s free skate: Don’t win, Mirai! Kimmie Meissner won a Worlds title right after the 2006 Olympics at age 16, and we all know what’s happened to her since then. Let’s pull for Asada (assuming Kim cannot make up the 10+ point deficit, which she probably can)… even with the Bells of Moscow dragging around her neck, it would be remarkable if she could claim her second World title. Or if she falters, let ‘em give it to Lepisto (in 3rd)—they’re dying to anyway.

Finals start tomorrow (Sat) at 7:30AM eastern, you can catch them online all morning or from 10-12:30 on Universal’s TV channel.

Not the shortchange the ice dance finals, but I’m giving the Extreme Cliff Notes version right now and will delve a little deeper over the weekend:

1) One event where my predictions were right… (Virtue/Moir, Davis/White and Faiella/Scali went 1-2-3)

2) For added fun, Davis/White actually won the FD with an even better skate than at Vancouver… and then Virtue/Moir had the not-Vancouver-but-not-bad performance right behind them.

3) Pechalat/Bourzat pulled a “Kerr” and went back to an old program (the circus-inspired dance from 2008-9). Then pulled down their season best score… and scored better in the FD than Faiella/Scali… but still didn’t overtake them. At least we didn’t have to hear “Requiem for a you-no-what” again.

4) Cappellini/Lanotte may have had the most disappointing FD of the night, when Cappellini went down on the twizzles sequence. They recovered fairly well, but she was downright inconsolable afterwards. Rough event for them; after starting up in 7th on the CD, they were 12th in the OD and 14th in the FD, resulting in 11th overall.

5) Khoklova/Novitski withdrew from the event, which didn’t hurt as Samuelson/Bates pulled up to 9th overall (3 spots next year guaranteed), and Navarro/Bommentre finished 14th. (I couldn’t find a reason for the withdrawal, though… anyone know?)

More coming soon on all that… gotta get to bed so I can catch as much of the ladies tomorrow as possible. Is the season really this close to (finally) being over?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day Three (of 2010 Worlds): OD and Men's final...

My Original Dance notes are as follows: No one fell.
There… do you really need to know anything else? :-)

Well, there’s a little movement in the standing that’s worth talking about…

+ Faiella/Scali had some twizzle trouble that might have put their potential bronze medal in jeopardy…
+ Except that then Pechalat/Bourzat went out and had practically the same mistake. So those two are still 3rd and 4th.
+ Khoklova/Novitski had a sub par OD as well… it was enough to drop them to 6th overall, nearly 4 whole points behind…
+... The Kerrs (yay!), who made the interesting decision to abandon their Johnny Cash number in favor of their Scottish, kilts-for-two folk dance from several years back. Twizzles were OK, everything else clean too… and they’re in 5th and less than a point out of 4th.
+ The Zaretskys (ISR) came up a notch and are now in 7th…
+ Crone and Poirier (CAN) did the same and are now in 8th…
+ Cappellini/Lanotte (ITA) are the other ones that had an off day in the OD. Home country crowd booed as they fell from 7th to 10th overall.
+ Though Samuelson/Bates (USA) seemed to skate well and had the 10th best OD (and the 10th best compulsories)… their OD score was several points below their season’s best (look for protocols), and they are in 11th overall. The good news is that they are only .05 behind #10 (Cappellini/Lanotte)…and unlike last year with Davis/White missing the podium by about that much, there’s still another phase of the competition to come.
+ For anyone who follows Cathy and Chris Reed, representing Japan… they came back from 23rd in compulsories to have the 14th best OD and pulled all the way up to 16th overall. Pretty unusual move for ice dancing!

And later in the day, the men’s season came to an end. Here’s what I saw:

Ryan Bradley: 4 toe landed, though waay pitched forward… 2nd attempt (at other end of rink) FALL. 3ax 2’d I think… 3lutz ok… lots of footwork, eventually taking him to 3 flip OK… 3Loop way off axis, but he saved it… (where are the combos??) Ah, ask and ye shall receive… 3sal/3loop nice… then a 3/2/2 (I think)…big combo spin… end. I suppose he will be the court jester in just about any ice show he can find in his pro career. (Should add that Weir mentioned yesterday that he’s about the nicest guy in the biz right now, always with a joke (no kidding!), and “loves a good video game”.)
123.14/179.24 Total. FINISHED 18th.

Javier Fernandez (SPAIN): I didn’t see but the last 1/3 of his program and in fact he looked rather tired… but based on crowd reaction (and his own) I think made a good impression. On the replays it appears he fell out of his Quad toe, but 2 Triple axels were clean as well as other jumps…144.01/215.66. FINISHED 12th.

Denis Ten (KAZ, also Joined In Progress)… 3Loop popped…3lutz/2toe rough… 3 sal to 2axel sequence… he looks tired. But good combo spin at the end with a MAN-Biel (male Bielmann spin)…looking at the replays, I see he fell on a triple flip I think. 125.06/202.46 Total. FINISHED 13th.

Sergei Voronov (RUS)… 4 toe landed!...then the bad pop on 3axel… saw a FALL on another 3axel…(sorry, had some interruptions on watching this one)… nice 3flip/3toe… spreadeagle (?) into 3 sal/2toe/2loop… 2axel… 127.18/200.60 Total. FINISHED 14th.

Oh boy, Italy’s Samuel Contesti is here and he brought his panpipes again!…3axel fall out…3flip good…3lutz good. Combo spin…circular FW…change-foot sit spin… 3ax hand down, still combo’d it w/3 toe that was OK… split to 3Loop… 2axel… 3sal/3toe scratchy, but done… one more crazy 2 axel combo that finally failed him and he went splat on the last one. Aw… sloppy work but he looks like he had fun, and he’s feeling the homecrowd love. Good. 140.26/218.66 Total. FINISHED 7th.

Adam Rippon’s up next: 3flip/3toe NICE…3axel flip out again (same problem as in SP; adds 2toe anyway…really flexible and creative change foot spin… 3loop… GREAT 3axel!! ‘Tano 3lutz… then “Rippon” 3lutz/2toe/2loop… Russian split to 3salchow!! Wait for it … combo spin…OK, he’s done and I can say it: THIS almost..COMLETELY.ROCKED. except for the 1st axel. But otherwise… SO excited for this guy’s future. 151.36/231.47 Total. FINISHED 6th… awesome debut.

Adrian Schultheiss is here too, and he brought his crazy pills: 4 toe-got it. (I’m still pulling for top 10 with this guy. 3axel/2toe good… 3lutz (?)/2toe… ah, learned to love this circular FW and all it’s wicked Pac-man funkiness. 2nd 3ax good! 3flip good, real nice run out… 3loop little forward but OK…. 3salchow good. Last jumping pass (a 3/2/2) is completed but shaky all around… aaaaugh!!! (that’s me re-creating his primal scream at the end) 145.91/ 218.26 Total… FINISHED 9th. (He’s so nice for fulfilling my goals for him…)

Kevin VanDerPerren just did a freaking quad/triple/triple… and a triple axel after that. Jeez! Then a 2flip… will he have anything left for the rest of the FS? Looong break till next pass.. 3flip... then a 3flip/2toe at the other end…3 loop… 2axel… dang, I would never have guessed him to skate so relatively strong … 3salchow barely hung on, but still… ! Immediately threw his hands over his mouth in shock at the end. Then bent down and kissed the ice, I think. Way to go! (NOTE—this wasn’t same FS as he used in Vancouver… Wylie informs us his music is “familiar to anyone who’s ever been to Disneyworld”… I’ve never been, so I’ll have to take his word on that.)
144.88, season’s best… 218.43 TOTAL. FINISHED 8th.

Fill fill fill with what is rapidly becoming “the loft crew” (Carruthers, Lipinski, Weir) as the ice gets resurfaced. Peter desperately needs to find another word for Wow… drinking game people, take note!

Meanwhile, here’s the online Thesaurus alternatives for “wow” (as a verb):
bowl over, break one up,
charm, cheer, crack up, entertain, go over big, kill*, knock dead, knock someone's socks off, make laugh, make roll in the aisles, slay, tickle, tickle pink, tickle to death…

Sorry, Peter… but remember when I interviewed you for my book Skating on Air, and you said you didn’t remember any particular phrase you leaned on too much? I’m just saying…. (Oh, wait, he also indicated he didn’t really read skating blogs.)
Anyway, back to work:

Jeremy Abbott: (I’m nervous for JeremEEE). 4 toe… underrotated; FALL. (sigh) 3flip little forward, no combo (uh-oh)… 3axel/3toe good (whew)… 2axel out of footwork FALL (wha…??). 3axel/2toe good (exhale)… 3lutz/2toe/2loop ok (hang in there)… 3loop had to fight for it a little (I said HANG IN THERE)…3salchow OK (thank you)… “he missed the hardest jump.. and the easiest jump,” noted Wylie. Word.
151.05/232.10 total… just barely over Rippon… FINISHED 5th.
And that guarantees 3 spots for next year. Yea!

Takahiko Kozuka: FALL on 4toe…3axel popped/2toe. Oh, pull it together… 3lutz/2toe/2loop ok…footwork galore, till 3sal/2toe…3axel #2 opened up into some incomplete mess… 3 flipOK…3loop OK…3lutz OK…nice spin at end, but I’m only counting five triples to Abbott’s and Rippon’s seven each.
132.53/216.73 Total. Ouchie. FINISHED 10th, which seemed low even under the circumstances.

Brian Joubert: quad #1/2toe Done…quad #2 Done… can he get the 3ax landed too? Yes… 3lutz? No… fall (Wylie indicates it comes too soon in the program after the axel. Hmmm)… 3flip is a mess… another 3lutz (w/2toe); this one’s OK… 3loop ugly…3sal/2toe/2toe OK…is this redemption? Hard to say.
154.04/241.74 Total. WON BRONZE… and you know what? I think he should have had silver over…

Patrick Chan: 3ax/2toe OK but put other foot down near end… 3flip/3toe OK…3lutz good… 3 axel good… 3lutz/2toe/2loop good… 3loop FALL… 3salchow, off-balance yet again… 2axel. 159.42 /247.22 Total. WON SILVER.

Michal Brezina: 3axel good… 3flip nice… 3salchow, yep… 3axel/2toe good.. 3flip/2toe not so much… 2axel… 3lutz good…2ax/2toe/2loop good… simpler than others, but also much cleaner. 154.31/236.06 Total. FINISHED 4th. (I see Ripon/Brezina smackdowns in the future…”

Daisuke Takahashi attempted a 4 flip where his other quad used to be. Do the judges even know how to score that?! Everything in his program is stellar, 3flip/2toe… 3loop… 3flip/3toe has some trouble. But then triple salchow…2nd triple axel was better than the first…3lutz OK… 2ax/2toe…Done, and a quad flip!!??!?!
168.40/257.70 total. WINS GOLD.

Ladies get started bright and early; Free dance follows in the afternoon….

2010 Worlds: Pairs FS As it Happened...

Sorry these are late!

I came in on Evora/Ladwig (USA)… missed a little, but it sounded like they blew a throw and maybe had trouble on a SBS? I’ll have to check back when time allows. 165.96 total; FINISHED 9TH in their Worlds debut (not too shabby).

Berton/Hotarek (from Italy; apparently coached by John Zimmerman among others)— she went down on the SBS 3toes…2twist lift… sbs 3sals were OK… DSpiral was ugly…throw 3sal OK…throw 3 loop OK (I can’t tell much about the quality of the landings from the hi angle they’re shot at)… 149.78 Total; FINISHED 11th.

Langlois/Hay (CAN) she didn’t fall on SBS 3sal, but very low landing and stepped out… throw 3sal she had big 2-foot… SBS 3 Toes FALL for her… throw 3lutz another big two-foot; she’s just very very unsure now… reverse overhead lift… another lift… death spiral… Not their best. 154.72 Total; FINISHED 10th.

Bazarova/Larionov (RUS) Good start, we’re told (it was JIP)… throw 3toe good… she falls on SBS 2ax SEQ… nice carry lift with fancy acrobatic exit… nice throw 3Loop… nice d.spiral too… good lift; I don’t know what to call that position though… pairs spiral seq good… pairs spin…really pretty good except for that one SBS pass… 172.04 Total; FINISHED 8th.

Zhang/Zhang (CHN)…SBS 2ax/3toes OK…SBS 3sal good…3twist… dspiral good… throw 3 loop & throw 3 salchows both good… everything’s clean; they finally look kind of happy. They’re still not my favorites by a longshot, but I’m glad they got it done anyway. 195.78 Total; FINISHED 5th.

P.S. as Weir pointed out in the “Loft segments”, she has a new haircut.

Dube/Davison (CAN)… 3twist good, 2ax seq good… star lift… she 2’d the SBS 3salchow… nice d.spiral… throw 3 lutz? Good… 1-handed press lift…throw 3Loop good…little glitch on pairs spin at end, but overall closer to what they wanted at Olympics, I’m sure… 177.07 Total; FINISHED 6th.

Denney/Barrett (USA)… nice 3twist… he falls on SBS 3toes… throw 3lutz great… SBS 2ax seq good… d.spiral good; not great… SBS spins good & fast…Carruthers mentions need for more stretch on the lifts… throw 3 loop great (always love that it’s on the swell of the music…) Not perfect, but nothing to be ashamed of either. 172.47 Total; FINISHED 7th.

Kavaguti/Smirnov (RUS)… went for the throw quad salchow this time but had the same old SPLAT as usual (I think Carruthers referred to it as a “bambi fall”… if so I see what he means). Doesn’t look like she dislocated anything this time though… God bless her for continuing to try, though a part of me kind of wishes she’d refuse at this point. Rest of program was OK except for a pitch forward and two hands down on the throw triple loop. They lose a little ground, but hang in for medals. 203.79 Total; WON BRONZE.

Mukhortova/Trankov (RUS)… I was hopeful they could pull up and over their teammates, but she popped the second half of an SBS 3toe combo… and then in one of the more unusual mistakes of the event, Trankov actually fell while getting Mukhortova into the throw 3salchow. Ah well… 197.39 Total; FINISHED 4th.

Savchenko/Szolkowy (GER)… seemed the most likely candidates to phone it in, as they didn’t seem very enthused on SP day. But—no, I don’t think they did badly here at all. Like everyone else it was far from perfect, and like many, the most noticeable error was on the SBS 3toes (she doubled)… but they do two 3t’s in sequence, and they got back in sync and both nailed the second jump. Good for them, as it was very close between 2nd and 3rd and that probably made the difference on their medal color. 204.74 Total; WON SILVER.

Pang/Tong (CHN)… In a testament to how worn out everyone is, even these two had an error when she doubled an SBS jump (3toe )… and I gasped a little, concerned that they might toss their gold away. But they got back and the Impossible Dream horse and rode that sucker out of town with all the grace they could muster, which of course is TONS… even if they took 2 weeks off of training after Vancouver just so they could get the energy to challenge here. Seems to have been effective. 211.39 Total; WON GOLD.

Up Thursday: Ice Dance OD in the AM, and Men’s Final in the afternoon…

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2010 Worlds Day Two: Men's SP: The Young and The Vindicated

SO much to talk about! And yet before I forget:

RATINGS UPDATE: The Sunday episode of Thin Ice actually did a little better than Friday’s show: 4.3 million viewers, 2.9 rating/5 share… but Sunday is traditionally the most watched night of TV all week, so this looked kind of weak compared to other offerings.

And to really put it in perspective, consider these numbers pulled down by the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars (featuring U-NO-WHO): 24 million viewers, 15 rating/22.5 share… anywhere from 4 to 5 times as many viewers for a show like that.

Meanwhile, over at Universal Sports, there was a whole lotta competing going on.

MEN’S SP HIGHLIGHTS (and lowlights):

Artem Borodulin (RUS) automatically gets the “worst luck ever” award when he has to stop his program, then withdraw completely because his blade broke. Damn… what are the odds? Hope he hasn’t affiliated himself with a particular brand back in Russia...

Adrian Schultheiss (SWE) consequently has to get out there a little early, but was given enough time to adjust… 3lz/3toe yes… 3 ax yes! I’m still in shock about this music… so different from his free skate (which includes “Insane in the Brain” and a straitjacket!). Last triple good! Ooh, and a knee slide end coming out of his flying spin at the end! Wow! After the free skate he gave at the Olympics I’d love to see him make top 10 here. Glad the broken blade thing didn’t throw him off his game; maybe it did him some good? He gets a 72.35… Season high! Good boy! (I sound like Dick Button) IN 12th.

Ryan Bradley (USA) is next… I didn’t put him as a medalist, dark horse or anything, if only because he’s got a broken bone in his foot… but here in the SP he falls on his quad, then doubles his triple axel. Last triple looked OK but…this won’t get out of the 60s, will it? That’s my guess. Let’s see… season high on this for him is 66.22, so…56.10. OUCH. IN 21st.

Skip through several guys to… Jeremy or JeremEEE? (Abbott, of USA) Let’s see if he can get it back. 3 flip/3toe good…3ax YES, a tiny bit scratchy…3lutz YES… he’s back!!! I saw a smile as he did that cool part of his FW where he’s kind of hopping modern-dance style in front of the judges!! Crowd LOVES this piece… they were cheering as soon as the music started, really. Oh so happy. High 70s maybe? Not sure it’ll go 80’s with the axel; it might get dinged a little… oh, 81.05! Jeremy so funny in K& C; smiles, shrugs, says OK… IN 6th.

Sergei Voronov (RUS)—saw a quad/double w/hand down…But then whoa! The Universal online feed cut to black and we hear what sounds like Peter Carruthers talking to people as if they are getting ready for a show… yep, it’s Carruthers, and the “people” are Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski. (These three contributed to the action all day in the “Universal loft”.) When do we see more skaters? Hmm… Voronov had 73.42. IN 11th.

OK, they’ve moved on at Universal; now we’ve got Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) getting all his jumps clean and an awesome death drop… Paul Wylie and Andrea Joyce are on the VO commentary. Ooh that was great…but dammit, Italian world video feed, how dare you get off of him too early to show his coach! That’s unacceptable.

Kozuka may have bested Jeremy with that… yep, 84.20. If I was guessing, I’d say he got better points on the axel and the spins… Jeremy’s were great, but Kozuka’s were outstanding. IN 4th.

Nobunari Oda (JPN)—Ooh, he popped the triple axel. And now popped his lutz too. You knew it would happen as soon as I called him for bronze, huh? Oh my God… a THIRD pop… yep, Paul just said he won’t make the cut with this… good Lord, what is it with this guy?? Maybe he should only skate half the season. Even his footwork was rough. This is even worse than when Lu Chen’s lovely “Take Five” program blew up at ’97 Worlds. Wow. What do you say…A 50.25! That was generous. I know it was all in PCS numbers but… doesn’t matter; he’s already in 20th. Buh-BYE. You mean we won’t even SEE his Chaplin??? Well yes… yes, that’s exactly what I mean. I need to stop trying to predict stuff. (NOTE: He ended the day in 28th; his TES (tech element score), as 16.90, was the second lowest of the entire field of 46 skaters. Give me a week or two back on the ice, and I could jump at least as well as that).

Patrick Chan (CAN) is back to form. Nice 3axel… nice 3/3… 3 lutz good… yep, he’s looking fierce. Brilliant stuff. He’ll make top 3 in this part of it for sure. 87.80. IN 2nd.

And then, Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) is up… and he’s so dang good I forgot to take notes :-)… but everything was clean, snazzy, spectacular. Take my word. 89.30. IN 1st.

Up next is Samuel Contesti (ITA); ooh, forgot he’s the “local” favorite (I use quotes because he’s actually French). 3/3 is OK but slow… 3axel okay… 3flip was “tight” according to Wylie… he did it in “winning ugly” style, but at least he did it. 78.40. IN 8th.

Oh boy, here comes Brian Joubert (FRA). Which one showed up today? Let’s see… 4/3 toe—got it! 3 axel—done! 3lutz brings a fist pump from the now humbled Joubert. I was over this SP of his a long time ago, but I’m glad he pulled it out. 87.70… IN 3rd, and I can hear the “value of a quad” debates from here!

Kevin Van derPerren (BEL)—Andrea Joyce gets off my favorite comment yet about the Bones getup: “…Van der Perren in a costume that seemed a good idea... back in October…” HA!He pulls off a 4t/3toe! No kidding! But then falls on his 3axel. 3flip is OK but as usual, his spins and footwork are very pedestrian. 73.55; IN 10th.

Michal Brezina (CZE) is squeaky clean throughout with great speed and run-out on his jumps; I suspect this could be in the point range of JeremEEE’s… yup, 81.75. IN 5th.

Adam Rippon (USA)’s here. Walley into 3 flip/3toe nice…and the axel? Eh, double-threes out. Better than a fall anyway. “Rippon Lutz” w/ arms up beeeauty and no boards crash this time. 80.11!!!!! Unexpectedly good and grand. IN 7th.

Denis Ten (KAZ)… all jumping passes are clean; oh boy; I suspect this will be his best turn all season with this program. I’m pretty impressed how many of these guys saved the best (or near best) for last, at least w/regards to the SP. Could sneak into the top 6 with that…? Nope, 77.40 and IN 10th… at age 16. Crazy.

Oh, and we’re back to hearing open mics on Carruthers & Co. online. “Where’s Abbott?” he asks while they’re in black…Sorry; it’s probably not as amusing to y’all but one of the little perks of working in TV production is sitting in a control room waiting to roll tape, and the mics are open in the studio, and you can sometimes hear all KINDS of things you never expected…

Peter, Tara and Johnny chew the fat for a while… analyze Ryan and Jeremy… talk about Worlds vs. Olympics… then they had 10 minutes to fill so we did a “director’s cut” on Johnny’s Olympic FS. He certainly sounds like someone who is talking about competing in the past tense… until we’ve got the whole “unfinished business” bit he talks about at the very end… whatever.

I know the Pairs FS was today as well, but my notes are unfinished… will post them as early as I can in the morning!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Worlds Predictions Day Two (Men's/Ladies); Worlds Itself Day One

Before I give a few observations about the opening events at Worlds, let’s do some guessin’…

For the MEN:

Gold—Daisuke Takahashi
Silver—Patrick Chan
Bronze—Nobunari Oda

By this point in the season, I think I’m back to picking more of who I’d like to see win than who I think (based on recent results) has the best shot at it. With Dice-K, it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s the top-finishing Olympian at the event. But as I think I’ve said at least once before, La Strada is probably my favorite men’s free program of the whole season. And the nice thing here is that even if he misses his quad again, he still stands a decent chance at the top. Chan will rebound a little, I think, but I’m doubtful that it will be enough for gold. And Oda’s Chaplin has gotten the short shrift of late—such a shame that he’ll be remembered more for his broken lace in Vancouver than much of his skating, which was still quite good. He’s missed the mark at Worlds for many years now, so I’m hoping this nifty program of his finally serves him well enough for a medal.

But this event is probably the least predictable of all. Brian Joubert could come back strong here, or he could have mentally checked out for the season. Jeremy Abbott could find the third time’s the charm and skate at Worlds as he’s wanted to for three years… or he could be haunted by Olympic-sized ghosts. Takahiko Kozuka is marvelous, and as capable of medaling as anyone. And I can think of at least three rookies—France’s Florent Amodio, Czech Republic’s Michal Brezina, and even the U.S.’s own Adam Rippon—who could make significant splashes in this somewhat smaller pond.

And the LADIES…

Gold—Kim Yu-Na
Silver—Mao Asada
Bronze—Miki Ando

I don’t suppose I’m going out on much of a limb here. We already know that Asada, at her best (read: with all three triple axels), cannot defeat Kim these days. Kim may be the most burned-out athlete of all of them right about now, but I suspect even a Kim Yu-Na at 80 or 85% will come out a winner this season. I suppose logic would dictate that Olympics finisher #4 (Mirai Nagasu) will move into the bronze void left by Joannie Rochette, but I’m afraid I don’t see it just yet. Ando’s skating has become less inspiring to me as each performance goes by this season, but world medals are familiar territory to her and I think she’ll hang in there. As for the possible spoilers… on my list this time are both U.S. ladies (Nagasu and Flatt), plus Akiko Suzuki (I’d LOVE to see her take bronze rather than Ando, but I don’t think she has enough tech. difficulty to pull it off under normal conditions)… and I guess we have to include Laura Lepisto, since she pulled down the fourth-best free skate in Vancouver.


+ Compulsories are over for Ice Dance, and as I understand it they could really be over, if the vote this summer is cast as such by the ISU. We’ll have to get back to that in the off-season.

+ Virtue/Moir, Davis/White, and Faiella/Scali went 1-2-3, but it was a nice surprise to see the North Americans so close in points (44.13 for V/M; 43.25 for D/W) given how much we’ve heard all year about how D/W’s weakest link is their compulsories.

+ The difference in score between # 4-5-6 (Pechalat/Bourzat, Khokhlova/Novitski, and Kerr/Kerr, respectively)? Less than .25. Yeowsers.

+ Samuelson/Bates are currently in 10th, with a score just .10 above last year’s (which had them in 13th after the CD). Navarro/Bommentre are in 14th.

+ In pairs SP, both Pang/Tong and Kavaguti/Smirnov skated clean, and finished 1-2 for the day.

+ Mukortova/Trankov were clean as well, though they are currently 4th behind Savchenko/Szolkowy despite his doubling on the SBS 3toes. Discontent body language abounded (especially from Trankov)at the sight of those scores.

+ Zhang/Zhang skated like they want the season over with already. They’re currently in 5th.

+ USA’s Denney/Barrett skated like they never want the season to end. They went clean, and are in 6th. Russia’s youngest team, Bazarova/Larionov, are a surprise 7th.

+ Dube/Davison are in 8th after yet another fall from Dube on the SBS 3salchow… their PCS (artistic) mark being the only thing that kept them ahead of USA’s Evora/Ladwig (again skating clean, as they did in the SP in Vancouver)… and France’s team of Vanessa James and Yannick Bonheur, who might be something of a surprise in 10th (though if you watch their Olympic performances, not such a shock).

The men skate tomorrow morning…

Monday, March 22, 2010

2010 Worlds: Who's Left? Who's Watching? Who'll Win? (Dance & Pairs)

The Olympics season is such a long one for skaters these days… I suppose several of the Worlds entrants were road-testing their programs at national and international events as far back as 7-8 months ago… and not just the lower-level skaters; Jeremy Abbott, to name just one, was competing his current programs at the DuPage Open over the summer.

So it always seems like no small miracle to not only make it Worlds, but to even think about doing some of your best work there… especially if you were also at the Olympics a few weeks ago. But regardless of who shows or doesn’t show in a particular discipline, a Worlds title in an Olympic year is just as earned as it is in the other years… and maybe more important, placements are just as valuable in order to earn the max number of spots for a team. The top two U.S. men, for instance, still have to finish without exceeding 13 in their placements to get 3 slots again for next year. In other words, anti-climactic doesn’t equal unimportant.

Having said that, here’s what you need to know about actually SEEING Worlds this year…

+ They’re not on NBC. I don’t think there were ever any plans to put them on NBC this time; when I spoke to NBC Sports Exec Producer David Michaels late last year in one of our interviews for my book, the plans to carry Worlds on NBC’s Universal Sports sub-channel were already in place. So it has nothing to do with how skating did for NBC during the Olympics…

+ The Universal Sports coverage will be LIVE, but it will be in primarily 2-hour blocks, featuring most likely the final 2 flights of every event. Since Worlds is in Torino this time, everything will subsequentially air during daytime hours in the U.S.

+ If you’re looking for wall-to-wall coverage a la Ice Network—since Universal Sports owns the rights (Internet rights too), the wall-to-wall will be found at (I presume it will be the world feed with no commentary, as it is for most of IceNetwork’s GP coverage).

Required Elements has posted an awesome rundown of what airs online/on TV and when, so please go check that out and come back :-) Compulsory dance kicks off at 7AM Eastern time TUESDAY online… no TV coverage of the CD this time.

Moving on to predictions, part 1…

Gold—Virtue/Moir (Canada)
Silver—Davis/White (USA)
Bronze—Faiella/Scali (Italy)

Barring a bout with food poisoning, shark attack, or other Act of God, I’m guessing the gold and silver medals are sewn up already. With Dom/Shab and Belgosto, last year’s #1/2, both out of the running, I can’t imagine anyone else for the job of holding down those top two places on the podium. (And V/M and D/W weren’t close enough in the Olympic standings for me to think there will be a big battle for gold.) As for bronze, the Italians’ closest competition in Vancouver was Delobel/Schoenfelder… who are not here… and I believe they were five points ahead of Pechalat/Bourzat, which seems a little much to be negligible. But we shall see Pech/Bourz would be my best bet to challenge for that bronze; I’d love to say the Kerrs were in the running, but it just wasn’t close enough. (Curses to those twizzles of John’s, which never help!

Also, I’m hopeful that Samuelson/Bates will break into the Top 10 for the first time… they were 11th last year. Navarro/Bommentre were 12th at Worlds 2 years ago, but here I think they would do well to stay in the Top 15.


Gold—Pang/Tong (China)
Silver—Savchenko/Szolkowy (Germany)
Bronze—Mukhortova/Trankov (Russia)

A lot of folks out there believe Pang/Tong were robbed of Olympic gold this time around… and I can see why they say that. As far as this event goes, P/T actually did win it, at the last post-Olympic worlds. I’d hazard a guess that both they and Zhang/Zhang will be moving on after this season, so I’d enjoy seeing them wrap up their eligible status this way. Sav/Szol, at this point, would do well to end the year with silver as it just hasn’t been a stellar season. Are you surprised by my bronze pick? I’ve concluded that I’m not very comfortable watching Kavaguti/Smirnov anymore… I know they’ve had better overall scores, but proportionally it just feels more and more forced…and Kavaguti’s desire to do well for her coach and herself must’ve taken a beating in Vancouver. It’ll be interesting to see if they repeat as medalists, but for once I wouldn’t mind seeing Muk/Trank triumph, just as they did at the start of the season. Of course dark horses abound—everyone from Kav/Smir to Canada’s Dube/Davison (if she can get that dang triple salchow) to Canada’s Langlois/Hay (but if they stick with the double twist rather than triple, probably not). I wouldn’t put either American pair in that race yet, though. The goals with them are to earn 3 spots for next year; that’s good enough for now (and I’d say attainable, if Evora/Ladwig can keep the confidence infused within them as they did in Vancouver).

For the
Clip of the Day, I’ve got Pang and Tong’s exhibition performance from the 2006 Worlds Gala… listen to what is said about their history at the end of the performance. I hope they do well if they’re moving on to pros after this—they’ve lived under one of the biggest shadows pairs skating has ever seen, and still managed to grow beautifully in the process. No small feat.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thin Ice Results Show: More Fun Than A Bucket of NCAA Balls? You Tell Me...

When you skate… on the Thin Ice…

I forgot to include that theme song for this show among my dislikes on Friday. It sounds like a cut from a British prog-rock album circa 1977. Who knows the artist on this ditty? Am I close? I just don’t think it makes for very appealing TV theme music… though I’m sure it would be perfect at a cast party for Sweeney Todd. (I've NO idea why I picked that show.)

OK, so the show has a similar start to Friday, except that we learn early on that the TV voter faves from Friday were… Shizuka and Stephane?! A little surprising. Combined totals had DuWeiss in the lead, Shiz/Steph tied for 2nd with Bourne/Zim, and SalLauzon 4th and BerezElletier 5th. Was the message sent by viewers Don’t separate our Sale/Pelletier?

First up today was (in reverse order of placement) BerezElletier. Since Steven Cousins is Their choreographer/David’s best friend/Elena’s main man, he gets prominent billing as we head into Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Cassanova”, with Elena sporting pigtails and some serious Daisy Dukes (Oh, and did anyone catch David cackling the line “It’s a LOVE STORY!!” at the end of their piece… I presume it was a nod to their Olympic program. Or maybe I was overthinking it. Anyway, BerezElletier seemed a little more at ease this time, but… not enough to blow it out of the water. 8’s from Kat/Dick/Kristi… a little higher than Friday.

Then came SalLauzon with “Hey Soul Sister” by Train… if they mentioned a choreographer here, I didn’t catch it because I was distracted by Jamie’s face in that little massage table thingie while she talked. So far there’s a lot of nonsense talk from everyone about who’s the boss in their respective partnerships… of course whenever the “boss” is the female, it’s considered Hi.LAR.I.OUS. The performance was a nice melding again; there was one lift that seemed a little awkward to me, but technically I think it was OK. Judges went 9-9-9… again, up a tic from Friday. I don’t remember anything after that because all I could see was Jamie’s big earring hooking up (quite literally) with a piece of Hasslebeck’s hair as they did the post-interview. They must’ve been dying for that camera to get off them immediately!

(By the way, I have to admit I’m entertained by the fact that Hasslebeck seems to have seen all the accolades of the skaters and thought “Dammit, they’d better mention my Emmy!!” as if that would put her in the ballpark. Or the same town. Or the same freaking PLANET. But I digress.)

Next up—hey, Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”! I didn’t hear Johnny Weir was making an appearance… oh, guess he’s not. You mean someone else can skate to this? You mean someone else can skate to it AND be choreographed by the red-hot David Wilson? The other teams should be jealous. Anyway, Bourne/Zim were shiny and sexy and rocked it fabulously, especially considering they apparently just added a pairs lift TODAY. 10’s all around from the judges, including the joy of hearing Dick say “You pierced the mystique of Lady Gaga.” Classic.

Then we get another dose of Shizuka’s amazing new hair (ooh, flipped the other way this time… you’d think I never saw a bob haircut in my life, huh?) as she and Stephane work with another hip-hop choreographer doing skating for the first time? (Hi Hat is the name). They skate to Beyonce’s “Get Me Bodied” and yes, there’s more of an attempt at skating together… they even did perfectly synced SBS 3toes, damn!...but they kind of went on their own at spin time. Dick Button pointed out that there were still some “disjointed moments”, which of course elicited boos from the crowd… which prompted him to bark back “I know more than you do!” Word. Votes went 9-8-8; again up just a bit.

Finally, DuWeiss are up, and since Mike is wearing a suit w/no suitcoat, we get a hint… and yes, it’s a story piece about a guy who seems to love his briefcase more than Marie-France in a lavender slipdress. Immediately I think of the So You Think You Can Dance number
from a few years ago (let’s just call that the Clip of the Day), but ironically this number’s choreographer is from Dancing w/the Stars (Mark Ballas, who won the trophy with Kristi). Big difference is that in this version, which is skated to “Broken String” by James Morrison, I think the woman wins out. (Which is to say the briefcase gets the boot. Just in case you weren’t sure. ;-) Oh, and Weiss pulled off not only a triple flip, but a back flip OVER a lunging Marie-France. Votes of 10-10-10.

Big goofy delay at the end, where they had to go to the judges to cover for a while they finished tabulating… but, that’s the magic of live TV. Finally, the peel-off got started as they named the order of who was getting which cheesy oversized check…

And the order remained the same, except for one flip-flop:

1st-- DuWeiss

So there you have it… is it “the future of figure skating”, as advertised? I kinda doubt it… but if it successfully triggers a manageable revival of pro skating competitions, well, as Dick would say, hat’s off to them. The early ratings news from Friday put Thin Ice in 3rd with 4.1 million viewers, 2.7 rating/5 share, which at first glance isn’t too bad… in the same slot a week earlier, Supernanny pulled down 4.9 million viewers, 3.2 rating/6 share. But either show was bound to face tough competition from March Madness over on CBS, so under the circumstances I think Thin Ice didn’t, uh… crack.

At least, not until we see what the numbers were for tonight. Carry-over is everything!

Coming all too soon (like tomorrow sometime)… the start of WORLDS PREDICTIONS!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Laying It On Thick For "Thin Ice"... oh, and Plushenko Lays Off Plans for Worlds

Before I get into Thin Icethe review, I’d better alert you (if you didn’t hear it already; I’m no news-breaker)...

That Evgeny Plushenko, aka Plushy, Big Whiner, Platinum medalist, etc. is the latest (and maybe last, if only cuz they’re outta time) to withdraw from Worlds. I was hoping he’d also be announcing his early withdrawal from the Sochi Games he’s already committing to, but no dice on that one just yet. Gee, predicting Worlds Men just got a whole lot more interesting…

Anyway—here’s a peek at ABC’s Thin Ice from Friday 3/19:

I missed the first couple of minutes, but found a few things to like/dislike right away… (and by the way, I apologize in advance if my report is similar to my blogpal Laura over at Required Elements… we so often seem to be on the same page! I’m purposely not going to look at her report until after I’ve posted mine.)

+ LIKE: that they got this on the air at all… gosh, has it already been 3 ½ years since the last Ice Wars?
+ DISLIKE: the line early on about imagine replacing the classical skating music of the Olympics with hot pop tunes… as if the entire audience has never heard of such a concept, or seen Stars on Ice… or caught any of the exhibition gala from the Olympics, two weeks ago…
+ LIKE: Kurt Browning. DANG is he fun in roles like this. If he hadn’t clearly been born to skate, I’d be saying instead that he was clearly born to host. He even made Elizabeth Hasslebeck palatable. Well, until she was on her own, anyway.
+ DISLIKE: the fact that they somehow managed to get the stats wrong on Dick Button. Not 45 years in broadcasting, folks…try 50. (He made his commentating debut at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley.)

OK, on to the performances…

Shae-Lynn Bourne/John Zimmerman led things off with “Closer” by Ne-Yo… and made sure to do their part to dial the sexy-meter up to 11 (it would seem that’s what the show meant when it said “Our goal is simple: Entertain us”). B/Z manage to balance the ice dance/pair hybrid thing nicely, drawing a row of 9s from judges Button, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Katarina Witt.

Elena Berezhnaya/David Pelletier—yep, you read that right—skated together, but not before (of course) there was a re-telling of everyone’s favorite skating scandal. It then segued into cute cartoony music -- you know the kind—as, in the pre-produced piece, they had The Russian and The Canadian mock debating over who deserved gold more:

DAVID: Our skate was so hypnotizing; it just took people five days to realize that we were the best.

ELENA: When David looks at me, he just sees gold.

Once all that was out of the way, they skated to Katy Perry’s “Hot and Cold”…not badly at all, though they didn’t seem nearly as comfortable with each other as Bourne/Zimmerman (Gee, can’t imagine why). And I wish the choreography hadn’t been so telegraphed… you could see the carefully-worked-on-with-a-hip-hop-guru moves coming a mile away. But it was an interesting thing to see. Got 7’s (and a round of BOOOS) from Kristi and Kat, and an 8 from Button.

Next up: Jamie Sale/Patrice Lauzon… both skating without their regular partners, who happen to be their respective spouses. Jamie claims a lot of trash talking is going on between she and Pelletier over this event. Lauzon says he and his wife (skating later) have a weeks worth of massages riding on which one does better at this event. They skate to “Sexy Chick” by David Guetta, and it occurs to me I don’t recall seeing Lauzon ever skate to modern music…yes, he’s just as handsome doing that as he is the soft romantic stuff. They go 9-9-8 with the judges (Kristi is proving to be the most choosy of the bunch… go figure.)

They were followed by Shizuka Arakawa/Stephane Lambiel, the only all-singles “pair” in this event. Arakawa has a new (?) bob haircut that looks GORGEOUS on her, and is quite cute the way she explains she was always curious about skating pairs but “Japanese men are quite short… and I’m tall!” (and of course, “tall” in figure skating is around 5’5”.) Stephane talks about how tough the quad is—well, why not? Everyone else is these days. Then they shoot some questions and editing around to make it look like these two are interested in each other. I’m thinking no…have I mentioned her hair is GORGEOUS? Anyway, they skate to Robin Thicke’s “Magic Touch”, and it’s safe to say they didn’t have nearly enough time together to learn much in the way of skating as a pair. At first they kind of skate together, then it becomes a showcase of their best stuff: she does a triple salchow/double toe/double loop, he does a quad (oh, so that’s why…) and puts a mere hand down… probably better than he pulled off in Vancouver. They also show off some spins (duh). Of course they get complimented on the obvious (elements!) and dinged on the equally obvious (learn to skate like a pair!) 8’s all around for them.

Finally, here comes Marie-France Dubreil/Michael Weiss… and Fatima (was she the same choreographer that telegraphed the moves for Elena and David earlier? I dunno, but they spend enough time showing how this number came together off the ice that I’m expecting Lysacek to wander in from the DWTS set, saying “Uh, Mike, I’ve already got this studio booked for the next 3 hours”… So their music is the Black-Eyed Peas’ “Meet Me Halfway”, and Good God, something terrible has happened to BOTH of their lustrous heads of hair. I think a can of sculpting gel took their dressing room hostage. Oh, were they skating? Yeah, it was pretty good….got a lift or two managed, and she stayed out of the way while he did his back flip AGAIN (he did one in the opening of the show too). Skating last served them well… it would appear these judges were indeed saving room! 9-10-9 from them.

The score totals: Dubreil/Weiss have 28, Bourne/Zimmerman have 27, Sale/Lauzon have 26, Arakawa/Lambiel have 24, and Berezhnaya/Pelletier have 22. BUT now we’re supposed to go vote, vote, VOTE for our faves so they can have a winner for the people by Sunday’s show.

And as we’ve been hearing all week, Joannie Rochette closed out the evening with her ISU-approved performance of “Fly”. And a standing O from the crowd & judges. And hugs all around. Nice way to end the show.

Except for when Browning presented the cast at the end by saying “These are your Thin Ice skaters…” and I couldn’t help but hear it as if he was following it with a wave to a whole other group with the words “And THESE are your fat ice skaters…. Vote now!”

Sometimes I have no choice but to amuse my own bad self.

(P.S… if you want to catch the 2nd part of Thin Ice it’s on 7PM Eastern this Sunday.)

Skaters on "Thin Ice", Evan Explains His Diabolic Schedule on "Bonnie Hunt"

NOW I get why ABC is running Thin Ice this weekend.

It’s why the 2006 4CCs was on at the same time as the Super Bowl. It’s why ESPN used to run its Grand Prix coverage on Monday nights while ESPN-owned ABC aired Monday Night Football. The NCAA tournament is on CBS for the next few days… it’s counter-programming, baby! No one wants to watch both at the same time! (Except maybe… me? Hey, I called some of the evening’s biggest NCAA upsets Thursday night! But I’ll manage…)

Anyway… THIN ICE, on ABC Friday night @ 8PM Eastern. Kurt Browning is co-hosting, and Tweeted this tonight:

This will be great, tomorrow night on ABC a competition called Thin Ice will be really fun for skating fans. Do not expect the normal.

I’ll post more about it after it airs.

Remember when I posted about Johnny Weir turning up at The Bonnie Hunt Show a couple weeks ago? Apparently it was the start of a trend…

+ Earlier this week, Brian Boitano went to visit Bonnie to promote Season 2 of What Would Brian Boitano Make?, demonstrate pizza-making with Bonnie… and participate in a whole lotta hilarious innuendo and double entendres when Bonnie acted instantly tipsy with a cocktail he made her. Funniest moment for me: when Boitano, after kind of playing dumb about the innuendo for a while, started talking to Bonnie while “handling” his rolling pin in, shall we say, a special way(!!). Quite the riot.

+ Then on Thursday’s show came “golden boy” Evan Lysacek. It was pretty priceless (Evan seemed a little nervous and a little cool at the same time; viewers posting about his appearance were prone to calling him ADORABLE)… so I’ll just list some of the highlights (though as with Weir’s and probably Boitano’s appearances, you can probably see the clip at the Bonnie Hunt Show website…)

--Talks about passing the gold medal around at parties and getting champagne on it

-- Talks about Plushy…still very classy about it all, saying he can’t imagine how hard it’d be to focus for an entire year on coming back JUST to get another gold, and then not getting it… hopes he’ll soon be able to see what an achievement coming back for silver was… luckily no one discussed either one’s hair this time…(Evan’s was looking fairly normal on the show; not over-slicked as in competition and not…um… whatever they did to it when he did Leno’s show pre-Olympics

--Talks about his stress fracture and how it related to his decision not to quad…

--Dancing with The Stars and how everyone said it would be easy for him as a skater, but it isn’t…

-- RE: His schedule this spring…He’ll be in L.A. Mon/Tues and with SOI the rest of the week…”Yeah, I know… “ he says as Bonnie & audience gasp. He insists he wasn’t too worried about the schedule insanity…until he saw how many red-eye flights it’ll require. Then he said “OK, so I’ll just work everyday without sleep! I can do that!” So, um… we’ll see how this goes. With all the injuries incurred by DWTS vets, could his stress fracture be re-agggravated?

-- He describes his partner Anna as a “red-headed Ruskie”… as I figured, she’ll be on the road with him training his dances…

--Talks about his mom not being able to watch him skate live, and the room Procter & Gamble set up for her to watch him in Vancouver

--Talks about his doing things 3 times, to “trick all his senses” into knowing it’s competition time (putting on costume, skates, etc.)

--Bonnie gave him a prop can of “use it or lose it” spray tan they played with for a while… she took note of the HUGE ring he apparently got from his parents as a b-day gift…

--Then he took the spray can and put some on his arms “for a little glow”…

--Offhandedly, as she sets up a family photo of his she’s about to show, says “you’re pretty cute” to Evan… to the delight of a semi-squealing audience (I think they were a little too old on average to squeal like teenagers)…

-- Evan smiles and almost just as offhandedly says “I love you” to Bonnie…

-- After the pic talk comes her asking if he’s dating anyone… then she backpedals saying “should I not ask that?”
--“You can ask whatever you want… ‘I don’t have to answer it…” he replies. “Well, I feel like you’re flirting with me and I want to know if you’re on the market” (audience freaks again)…

-- “I am flirting w/you, correct… and on the market, correct… correct on all counts…” (Gotta wonder what happened with Nastia Liukin, then... ah, but I digress…)

-- Then she “lets him know she’s willing to take her nightie off three times”… have I mentioned she’s literally twice as old as him, and she does stuff like this all the time on the show? (It comes out of her self-deprecating style of humor and, I suppose, the concept that none of her guest would ever seriously consider her for a date.)

-- Nonetheless, he makes sure she knows that he knows the Viennese Waltz now... “So I’m not messing around,” he assures.

OK, so THAT’s cleared up!

Here’s the little clip of his DWTS rehearsal that’s making the rounds…
Clip of the Day!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Post-Olympic Grad Skating School is in Session... Pairs Free Skate Group 1 is Up

I’m going to take advantage of this tiny lull before Worlds gets underway (and my unabashedly lousy predictions are attempted) to try a round of that POGSS I mentioned last week.

No, POGSS is not a trendy Irish beer… um, at least I don’t think so. It’s an acronym I made up for Post-Olympic Grad Skating School.

Today, I’ll be sharing some notes I made when watching back the first group of pairs from their Vancouver free skate. I tried to note something about every pair I saw, but I apologize in advance if that doesn’t happen… to be honest, some are a lot more memorable than others. In good ways and bad ways!

Let me know if you took a look at/had thoughts on any of these…

Maylin Hausch/Daniel Wende, Germany
Ages 21/25… FINISHED 17th in Vancouver
I thought they were Denney/Barrett (of the US) at first glance, but then I said to myself “Jeremy Bennett wouldn’t wear something that goofy-looking.” Unfortunately, their costumes seem to have upstaged their skating for me… I have no other notes on them.

Ekaterina Kostenko/Roman Talan, Ukraine
Ages 25/22… FINISHED 20th in Vancouver
They skated to Moonlight Sonata… slow, blah, and had a terrible death spiral.

Maria Sergejeva/Ilia Glebov, Estonia
Ages 17/22… FINISHED 19th in Vancouver
They used West Side Story and it was CRYING for better choreography. But these kids are pretty young; I think they were just given the music mighty early in their career… they seemed to get a little more energy in the back end of the performance; always a good thing. Had a pretty nice 1-armed star lift (?) near the end. Seemed to finish several seconds early… do the judges have a penalty for THAT yet?

Joanna Sulej/Mateusz Chruscinski, Poland
Ages 20/22… FINISHED 18th in Vancouver
They skated to Romeo & Juliet… a couple nice moments; he had a freak little fall near the end.

Stacey Kemp/David King, UK
Ages 21/25… FINISHED 16th in Vancouver
Speaking of Poland…I knew their coaches looked familiar—apparently Kemp/King work with the Siudeks (former Polish pairs champs and 1999 World Bronze Medalists) Kemp/King had an interesting contrast of good/bad skills… surprisingly good lifts (until you realize who their coaches are—the Siudeks had some of the best lifts in the business!), and an exceptional level 4 forward inside death spiral. But their side-by-sides are sorely lacking… double flip and flip combos were all they had, and even those weren’t that good (Stacey’s jump technique seemed especially off).

Of course the Olympic performances are tough if not impossible to track down outside of the NBC site… but here is Kemp/King’s SP performance from Euros as the
Clip of the Day. Unfortunately it showcases yet another trouble with the side-by-sides when King falters badly on their SBS spin. But the rest is pretty nice, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can get their singles skating skills on par with the rest of their work.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Don't Sweat It, Rochette... The ISU Clearly Doesn't Appreciate You Anyway.

UPDATE: Apprarently the ISU has, as of this afternoon, changed their tune on the matter I wrote about below... and Rochette will be allowed to skate on the ABC program after all. I just read that on IceNetwork's home page, anyway.

So to that, I say Better late than never, ISU. Thank you for your change of heart.

(But if you still feel like reading my rip on their previous decision, be my guest...)

In this corner… is Joannie Rochette and her recent decision to sit out Worlds this year—something I think many of us could see coming once the reality of her mom’s passing sunk in a little.

In this corner…is the ISU. According to this article by Philip Hersh, the ISU is putting the screws to Ms. Rochette because she’s not only withdrawing from next week’s Worlds, but planning to skate a tribute to her mother during the ABC 2-day reality series Thin Ice. Or should I say WAS planning.

And over here, in my corner, I’m going to do a little thing called SERIOUSLY?!

(Which may bear more than a passing resemblance to a recurring bit they do on Saturday Night Live called “REALLY?!?”)

It goes like this:

SERIOUSLY, ISU?! You’re going to decide now’s the time to flex your big powerful sanctioning muscles, and kick a young woman when she’s down? I mean, seriously

So you’re pissed off, ISU. I get that. Like so many other post-Olympic Worlds, you’re going to be missing several of your Olympic headliners. No Lysacek. No Weir. No Shen & Zhao. No Lambiel. No Belbin; no Agosto. And now, no Rochette either… and the week is still young, right?

And you’re probably pissed at ABC for being the home of Dancing with the Stars, and Thin Ice, and this new Skating with the Stars thing if it gets off the ground… because, God forbid, someone else make money off of top-flight skaters besides the all-mighty ISU. Seriously!

So this is what you do… seriously?! You wave sanctions and threats in Skate Canada’s face? You take out your frustrations on your new Olympic Bronze Medalist… someone who couldn’t possibly be expected under the circumstances to compete in Worlds anyway?

Someone who had to suffer the biggest emotional earthquake there is, then wore her personal heartache for 22.5 million to see as she channeled deep and did some of her best work ever? Over twenty-two million viewers; a number that could’ve been considerably lower if not for her misfortune.

I mean, seriously… all we kept hearing in the weeks before Vancouver was the disappointment of American ladies this, and the no-ladies-medalist-since-Manley that. Of course, no mere mortal would wish for something so profoundly sad to befall an athlete at the Olympics. But it happened… and she was North American… and like it or not, her terrible loss was NBC’s and CTV’s gain. And yours too, ISU.

But I’m sure that makes the ISU uncomfortable, so please, by all means, let’s not talk about the good she’s already done for skating and/or the Olympics. Let’s focus instead on the 3 ½ minute exhibition piece she wanted to skate in a show that happens to come a few scant days ahead of Worlds. Let’s look at that as Joannie Cashing In, rather than putting herself through one more week of competition when she’s emotionally spent and physically undertrained. No, seriously, ISU… let’s do that! Let’s make Rochette the villain! Just like you tried to do with Kim Yu-Na a couple months ago, when you threatened South Korea with sanctions and fines if they didn’t “persuade” Kim to gum up her pre-Olympic training regimen and hi-tail it over to the homeland for a pre-Olympic showdown with Mao Asada that was about as necessary as reading the directions on a public restroom hand dryer. Thank goodness South Korea scoffed at your strong-arming tactics there. How I wish Rochette and Skate Canada would do the same in this case.

Ya know, ISU, I’d so love to think that as a collective unit you’d learned something over the past 8 years. You’ve struggled (and I mean that loosely) through scandal, the efforts of the World Skating Federation, declining revenues, a rights agreement that’s hardly worth the paper it’s written on anymore, a new scoring system that remains the target of endless ridicule… you’d think you’d be thrilled that so many skaters put down brilliant performances in Vancouver in spite of all of this. You’d think the bump in learn-to-skate classes that’s sure to happen over the next year or so…and the ripple effect they’re likely to create over time… you’d think that would be enough, ISU, for you to realize the acute uniqueness of Rochette’s circumstances, and look the other way this time… and welcome her back into the fold next season, if in fact Rochette even chooses to keep her all-important “Olympic Eligibility” after all this nonsense.

You’d think so, but so far… not a chance.

Seriously, ISU?
You’re doing the wrong thing. Again.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

One Worlds Down, One Worlds to Go...

Not that one had absolutely anything to do with the other, but I’m kind of jazzed that the skater I featured yesterday—Agnes Zawadzki—surged from 8th place to capture the silver medal at Jr. Worlds earlier today, Her medal turned out to be the only one earned by the entire U.S. team at this event, so… between this success, and her U.S. Junior Nationals title, I think this would be a good time for the Ice Network to get a bio posted already on Ms. Zawadzki. Don’t you?

Final results on the ladies:

Kanako MURAKAMI, Japan
Polina AGAFONOVA, Russia

Kate CHARBONNEAU finished in 6th, while the other U.S. competitors (Kiri BAGA and Christina GAO) were 7th and 8th, respectively.

With this Worlds now in the books, and that Worlds (the Senior version) starting up in about 10 days… plus the weekly adventures of Lysacek, the daily adventures of Weir, and all the other quasi-retirements, coaching changes, and pairs/dance breakups bound to be announced over the next month or two… whew… does it seem like so much of the Olympic experience is slipping away already?

Well I think I have a remedy for that. POST-OLYMPICS GRAD SKATING SCHOOL (POGSS) will be in the headline from now on when I dip back into the Vancouver well, whether it’s to analyze the early groups of skaters that never had a chance of being seen on TV, or look at those that did from a different perspective… or post more highlights from Universal’s Figure Skating Review/Preview Show (haven’t forgotten about it!)…

Because if it takes four years to generate this kind of excitement about the sport, I tend to think we should milk it to the last drop!

Some Jr. Worlds clips are starting to find their way onto You Tube now… this gold-medal winner from Yuzuru Hanyu is today’s
Clip of the Day. (And sorry to bring up his name yet again, but does anyone else see a little Johnny Weir influence on Hanyu’s style?)

Friday, March 12, 2010

One Place Johnny Weir May NOT be this Spring: Stars On Ice....??

I suppose this first bit will be a lot weirder if Stars on Ice happens to be advertising in that little space you see alongside the text as you read this…

These days it seems that Johnny Weir is in the news as much, if not more, than any other figure skating medalist from Vancouver. Admittedly, he has not instigated as much of this press as one might think…and assuming the contents of
this article are true (I say that only because it’s a pretty serious accusation, and in my moments of naiveté I’m hoping it’s all a Big Misunderstanding), he’s certainly not to blame:

GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has learned from a source that wishes to remain anonymous that sponsors of the Stars on Ice Tour, which include Smuckers and IMG Entertainment, have refused to allow 3-time US National Champion and 2-time Olympian Johnny Weir to participate because they claim that he is “not family friendly.”

To say that Weir is “not family friendly” would be a clear jab at his perceived sexual orientation.

This raises so many more questions for me than it answers, but I’ll wait to see how this unfolds before asking them.

Jr. Worlds Update: The medals for Ice Dance were as follows:

Elena ILINYKH / Nikita KATSALAPOV (Russia)
Alexandra PAUL / Mitchell ISLAM (Canada)
Ksenia MONKO / Kirill KHALIAVIN (Russia)

With this kind of finish, it would seem that both the once and future (or I guess that’s “present”) kings of ice dance are keeping pace nicely. Among the U.S. teams:
Maia SHIBUTANI / Alex SHIBUTANI finished 4th, Rachel TIBBETTS / Collin BRUBAKER stayed in 7th, and Piper GILLES / Zachary DONOHUE ended the event in 9th.

And a tight battle between Russia and Japan has emerged after the Ladies’ SP …
Anna OVCHAROVA currently leads Kanako MURAKAMI by less than a point, with another Russian (Polina AGAFONOVA) about 2 ½ points back from there. If you’re wondering about the absence of U.S. ladies from that mix, remember that our original Top Contender (Ashley Wagner) withdrew from the event a couple weeks ago…

But her replacement,
Kiri BAGA, is currently in 5th… Agnes ZAWADZKI (1st in Junior Nationals this year) is in 8th… and Christina GAO (5th in Senior Nationals this year) is 9th. We’ll see what happens tomorrow!

Of those last three names the one I was least familiar with was Zawadzki’s, so I looked her up on You Tube… and am posting her only video (for now) as the
Clip of the Day, which was taken from last summer’s DuPage Open. The girl’s got some flair, for sure… and I don’t think that’s just because she and Alena Leonova apparently enjoy the same Broadway shows :-)