Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Second Look: Cup of China 2009, Men & Pairs

Plushenko update: The majority of articles and blog posts I’ve read over are indicating Plushy’s ISU competition ban is a permanent one; only the article I linked last time said otherwise. Furthermore, most speculation seems to be that this “ban” is a remarkably easy way for him to get out of his Sochi promise. But let me play devil’s advocate for a minute: does anyone think the ISU was chomping at the bit to get Plushenko out of the picture anyway… the mindset being, perhaps, that he was doing the sport more harm than good with his behavior in Vancouver? Just asking…

I know you’ve been waiting SO patiently for my little report on Cup of China 2009 revisited, so here’s the first part of it:

When it came to the MEN of the event, the only one I really took note of at the time was Evan Lysacek… and his feathers, as he debuted his Firebird/Condor costume there. I didn’t mention, though, that his Scheherazade free skate was very well received—this despite some pretty wide landings and/or saves, and IIRC, some downgrades too.

Who else didn’t I mention then that’s worth it now? Sergei Voronov in the SP—he really sold it nicely and backed it up with steady, consistent jumping. He didn’t really deliver in the FS, but between he and Artem Borodulin, I think Russia might be well-represented in the coming years (even without His Evgeniness). And I also took note of Yannick Ponsero in the FS, whose performance included 1 successful, lovely quad, 5 triples, 2 falls, and numerous times he couldn’t stay on axis in the air if he’d been stapled to a French flagpole. Just crazy. The only thing that stays consistent with him is his radical inconsistency. I love his skating; I hate his skating. Wait, I think I hear a Johnny Weir short program coming on…

As for the PAIRS: with China as the host country, it’s no surprise that Shen/Zhao (in their very first comeback step) and Zhang/Zhang (in their umpteenth attempt to outskate them) were the biggest news of the event… especially when they easily went 1-2 there.

So, who else didn’t I mention then that’s worth it now regarding the pairs in attendance? Probably Evora/Ladwig, who finished here a very ho-hum 7th out of 8. With falls on SBS jumps, hands down on throw jumps, and out-of-sync SBS spins—and that was just the short program—it’s frankly no wonder they weren’t on anyone’s short list to make the Olympic team. I know they didn’t skate gangbusters at Nationals either (if they had, John Baldwin wouldn’t have had as much to whine about), but they still made a great deal of improvement by the end of this past season. We’ll see if it sticks with them when they debut their GP season at this exact same event next fall.

The other pair that might be worth a shout-out is Russia’s Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze, a young senior team from Russia that actually bested Zhang/Zhang in the SP here, coming in 3rd. While they couldn’t stand up to the pressure this time—they were 7th in the FS, and 5th overall—they showed a few flashes of greatness, particularly with their throws and something I wrote in my notes as a “layback lift”.

In fact, here’s their exhibition skate from that same event as the
Clip of the day. Look, they even try their hand at comedy here… and are more successful than, say, other Russian pairs skaters of late that come to mind (Muk/Trank and “The Lady and the Hooligan”, anyone?)

Speaking of the now-defunct Muk/Trank… Iliushechkina and Maisuradze are a team that could use a nickname. Anyone got one for them yet?

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