Monday, October 4, 2010

What You Need to Know About the 2010 Japan Open

As we inch closer to senior GP time, non-traditional skating events are starting to pepper the globe. We’ve seen them before, and sometimes they can reveal some pretty interesting things…just check out this story about the recent French Masters (featuring the newest, improvi-est version of Brian Joubert) for proof of that.

And/or, take a look at these notes on the Japan Open (held last weekend) that I just wrote up after watching some of the clips…

Who was involved: “Team Japan” consisted of Daisuke Takahashi, Takahiko Kozuka, Mao Asada, and Miki Ando… “Team America” (meaning Canada and U.S.) was Adam Rippon, Joannie Rochette, Jeffrey Buttle (pro skaters… that’s part of the “non-traditional” thing), and Cynthia Phaneuf… “Team Europe” featured Sarah Meier, Michal Brezina, Julia Sebestyen (yes, she’s apparently a “pro” now), and Evgeny Plushenko (reinstated or not, he’s apparently free to skate in this event).

What we learned: Rippon (who won the men's side) looked absolutely ready to compete with a spot-on new free skate to Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and 2 successful triple axels… while Dice-K (in 2nd) was hot and cold, nailing his quad toe in competition for the first time since returning from knee surgery (that was the “hot” part) but flubbing several other elements, not unlike some of his GP performances from last season. Ando looked… well…the same, which is to say “fine, but…meh.” I do think her new FS (to Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16) is an improvement on last year’s though. Perhaps the most important sight to see this weekend was Asada—in her first big outing (I think?) since settling on Nobuo Sato as her new coach. Did she skate well? No, not at all—she fell twice, and her triple axels were simply MIA (it was other jumps that she fell on). But just to see her in a light-colored, sleeveless, airy-looking dress… skating to Liszt’s Liebestraume, which also seems downright effervescent compared to last year… it did my heart good just the same.

Which is why, flaws and all, I’m making it the
Clip of the Day.

P.S. If you’re saying “What?! No mention of All That Skate L.A.?”… not to worry. I plan to do so later in the week.

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