Saturday, April 30, 2011

Worlds 2011 Ladies Final McNotes (longer version)

OK, I guess it’s time for me to explain Meh for those of you who were baffled by my earlier post… or have been miles away from any skating coverage today.

Which requires another listing of the top finishers…

1) Ando (130.21/195.79)

She won, and she won fair and square. She won because she went out and did what she was capable of, which in her case is quite a lot. She’s not my favorite skater, but she’s very good, very consistent, and earned a great honor at a time when Japan could certainly use a lift—no matter how incidental.

2) Kim (128.59/194.50)

As tight as it was between she and Ando, she really needed to do all her elements for her artistic superiority to give her the win. But she popped the back end of a 3Sal combo, and then popped a triple flip. Game over.

3) Kostner (124.93/184.68)

She got her 3Flip back just in time to land one when she needed it most. That, along with 4 other triples (but still no lutz), coupled with one of her nicest long programs to date, equaled bronze for Kostner—the third world medal of her career.

4) Leonova (124.17/183.92)

Less than a point from the bronze was the redhead from Russia, slicking back most of the Annie-esque do today and nailing 6 triples in by far her best free skate of the season. Coming into today literally tied in the points with Kostner, Leonova out-elemented her by about 2 points… but Koster out-componented her by about 3 points. I know I just invented a couple of words there, but the 3-4-5 situation here left me rather frustrated…

5) Czisny (120.78/182.25)

See, it’s like this (at least on paper): Czisny fell on her first 3lutz, and although she skated the rest of her program with nary a hitch (and even got credit for the fallen lutz being fully rotated), it ultimately made the difference (to the judges at least) between 3rd and 5th. Me? I don’t think it should have been so close to begin with, simply because I think Czisny’s spins, technique and component skills exceed those of Leonova and Kostner. But it is what it is.

6) Asada (114.13/158.66)

Knock-knock. Who’s there? Triple axel. Triple axel who? Exactly. (Triple axel skulks away into the fog.)

That’s my way of saying Asada’s “signature jump” still isn’t back in all its glory. Throw in a few other errors, and you get a 6th place finish for the former world champ.

7) Makarova (105.60/167.22)

Yes, she fell (hard!) on a 3Lo, but that wasn’t the problem as much as it was a lack of technical difficulty compared to her peers. The last to skate, her finish compounded the frustration that seemed to be felt by the mostly-Russian audience when Leonova was bumped off the podium, resulting in one of the most subdued-sounding post-event crowds I’ve ever heard. Or not heard, in this case.

The rest of these skaters I’m listing scores only, for I haven’t seen their performances yet in their entirety…

8) Murakami (105.60/167.22)

9) Korpi (109.71/164.80)

10) Gedevanishvili (104.63/156.24)

11) Hecken (103.10/155.83)

12) Flatt (97.39/154.61)

…Except for this one. I saw the whole thing, unfortunately, and heard too how Flatt indicated after the free skate that her “leg pain” (which apparently kept her 3lutz at bay in the SP) was actually a tibia stress fracture that was officially discovered only last Friday.

So I hate to have to throw this out there, especially since I know nothing about the pain of a stress fracture, but… with an injury as seemingly “un-sudden” as that, shouldn’t she have ceded her spot to alternate Mirai Nagasu a few weeks ago?

So there it was. No completely clean performances in the final group (so Alissa, at least you were in good company), several missed opportunities, frustration all around—for me, at least. Which brings me back to… meh.

And then Davis/White won the freakin’ World Gold a few hours later… and the Shib Sibs, the bronze… which changed the meh to my goodness, how awesome is that??

For a little while, anyway.

More on the ice dance finals coming soon!

2011 World Ladies Finals Super, Super-Short Analysis (aka McNotes)

Ladies Final ended half an hour ago.

My take?


More later.

2011 World Ice Dance SD McNotes

Here are the top 10 finishers in the Short Dance, accompanied with a bit of know-nothing, “I just know what I like” commentary.

1) Virtue/Moir 74.29

Judy Blumberg (who was the analyst, I believe, during Universal’s coverage) thought they seemed slow, a little choppy, and were up on their toepicks too much. But their marks didn’t seem to show it much.

2) Davis/White 73.76

Blumberg also noted that Charlie didn’t catch his blade properly during the twizzles, but otherwise it was deemed their best yet of the season… though they, once again, landed just ½ a point behind. Grrrr.

3) Pechalat/Bourzat 70.97

Has anyone noticed their opening moves in the SD are very similar to this year’s FD (minus the “she’s blind” thing)? Great effort; glad they’re poised for a medal at last.

4) Shibutani/Shibutani 66.88

The awesome rookie season continues. In 4th after the SD on your first senior Worlds?? WHAT?

5) Bobrova/Soloviev 65.88

Here I was, waiting to hear their Tom Jones music and then I see they changed it at Europeans…

6) Ilinykh/Katsalapov 65.51

Did they change their SD music too? Blumberg found it “distracting” and I agree, though they had some nice moments in there.

7) Weaver/Poje 65.07

Last time I saw them they were having a bummer of an FD at 4 Continents. Glad to see them back in fine form. Less than a point separates them and the two Russian teams, you might have noticed.

8) Cappellini/Lanotte 64.12

In their case, Que sera sera (part of their SD music) means “you are in about the same spot as last year headed into your free dance.”

9) Chock/Zuerlein 61.47

Great senior Worlds debut so far! Can we keep all three U.S. teams in the top 10?? Stay tuned… (Samuelson/Bates really have their work cut out for them when they return.)

10) Crone/Porier 61.01

I told them to change this SD program, but did they listen?? And then she flubs the twizzles too. Egads.

The Dance Finals are up shortly… more on those later tonight…

Friday, April 29, 2011

2011 Worlds Ladies SP Results/McNotes

I got out of bed, I watched (most of them), I posted… here are some quick notes on the Top 15:

1) Kim (65.91)

In her long-awaited return to competition, Kim skated beautifully to Giselle but fell out of her opening triple lutz, putting the combo elsewhere…and just barely out-scoring….

2) Ando (65.58)

Spot-on as always, now that she’s settled into this “Mission” program. 3lutz/2Loop was her combo.

3) Makarova (61.62)

Her clean SP included a 3T/3T, just barely out-scoring…

4) Czisny (61.47)

Clean short! Only error I could see was pitching forward on the 3F a little bit. Should have outscored Makarova, with whom she is very nearly tied for 3rd.

5) Leonova (59.75)

With another new hairdo (this time looking like Little Orphan Annie with a more relaxed perm), she lit up the home crowd with a clean skate which included a 3T/3T.

6) Kostner (59.75)

Kostner fell on her triple flip, but is currently tied with Leonova… Leonova is placed higher because the higher tech. score gets the nod in an SP tie.

7) Asada (58.66)

One guess as to why she’s down here in 7th… yep, blame that pesky triple axel. Asada’s 3ax landing was two-footed and, I’m guessing, possibly downgraded (anyone know for sure?)

8) Flatt (57.22)

No triple/triple here; her combo was a 3Flip/2Toe. But guess what? No triple lutz either… she doubled it (which required the knock-knock “oops-I-goofed” move right after the skate was over).

9) Korpi (55.09)

Maybe her horrific FS at Europeans was haunting Korpi, as she fell on the front end of her 3T/3T combo and never put the combo in elsewhere.

10) Murakami (54.86)

I missed this one, but judging from what I’ve seen of her crazy-packed “Jumping Jack” SP before, Murakami must’ve skated well below her average.

11) Meite (53.26)

Who? Why, that’s Mae-Bernice Meite of France, who skated cleanly and landed a 3T/3T.

12) Hecken (52.73)

I missed Hecken too, but I’m guessing she also skated clean and landed a 3T/3T (that’s the combo she did last year, anyway).

13) Phaneuf (52.62)

Apparently Phaneuf and Flatt were sipping from the same water fountain. She doubled her 3Lutz too. (And only does a 3Toe as her stand-alone triple.)

14) Lacoste (51.98)

With a clean skate which included a 3lutz and a 3Loop/2Loop, Canada’s fill-in for Myriane Sampson held her own at what I think is her first Worlds.

15) Gedevanishvili (51.61)

It looked like her triple lutz/double toe might have been 2-footed, and her 3Toe definitely was.

The big free skate showdown happens Saturday!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011 Worlds Pairs FS McNotes

Top 11 summaries from the Pairs Final… yes, it’s a Top 11 so I can include both U.S. teams...

1) Savchenko/Szolkowy, GER (144.87/217.85 TOTAL) Solid as a rock. A taut, pony-tailed, neon-pink rock.

2) Volosozhar/Trankov, RUS (140.38/210.73 TOTAL) What a year for these two! May this team, in the future, provide something the Germans didn’t really have this year: an apples-to-apples run for their money.

3) Pang/Tong, CHN (130.12/204.12 TOTAL) I say “apples-to-apples” because I don’t really think of P/T in the same skating style… more lyrical, less dynamic. Unfortunately Tong wasn’t getting his jumps off well in the first part of the FS (popping an axel here, doubling a triple there), which hurt their technical score.

4) Kavaguti/Smirnov, RUS (124.82/187.36 TOTAL) Not a bad outing for them, but with a fall on the throw 3Loop and a double-3 exit on the throw 3sal, they couldn’t enter medal territory this year.

5) Bazarova/Larionov, RUS (122.49/187.13 TOTAL) BazaNova’s problem this year has been the opposite of Kav/Smir—well-managed throws, but weaknesses in the SBS jumps. It happened again here; he fell on one SBS pass, and she stumbled around on the other.

6) Yankowskas/Coughlin, USA (117.18/175.94 TOTAL) – They should be so very proud of themselves! Save for a hand down on the throw 3sal, it was a glorious performance for them. Great way to send off their “Ave Maria” tribute.

7) Duhamel/Radford, CAN (114.20/173.03 TOTAL)

8) Moore-Towers/Moscovitch, CAN (106.31/163.17 TOTAL)

I’m talking about the two Canadian teams at once because I have the same thing to say about both of them… stick around! There was lots of promise within your skating this year; in fact, you almost qualified 3 teams for next year’s Worlds. With Dube/Davison out of the picture, Canada needs you.

9) Takahashi/Tran, JPN (100.94/160.10 TOTAL)—two falls (one on the SBS jumps and one on the throws) kept T&T from building on their 6th place SP finish.

10) Berton/Hotarek, ITA (99.52/157.15 TOTAL)—Only one in the top 10 I haven’t seen yet, but it sounds like they’re holding steady, finishing similarly to last year.

11) Evora/Ladwig, USA (101.27/155.91 TOTAL)—I came in as they were getting off the ice and heard their coach say “good fight”… never a good sign. I soon saw why via the replays reel: Ladwig’s wicked fall on the SBS 3Toes… Evora’s wipeout on the throw 3Flip… a hot mess of an SBS 2ax combo… aye carumba! Too bad.

2011 Worlds-- Men's FS McNotes

Men’s FINAL (Top 15)

Some very quick summaries, and sorry to say I haven’t studied the protocols yet so feel free to correct/confirm anything I put out here… sorry I couldn’t get this up sooner!

1) Chan, CAN (187.96/280.98 TOTAL)—not as perfect as Canadian Nationals, but still very well-deserved.

2) Kozuka, JPN (180.79/258.41 TOTAL)—he’s laid down a couple of spot-on beautiful free skates this season, and this was definitely one of them. Sooo excited to see him medal.

3) Gachinski, RUS (163.52/241.86 TOTAL)—OK, raise your hand if you’d guessed this teenager for bronze—or anywhere near the podium, for that matter. But admittedly he earned it.

4) Brezina, CZE (156.11/233.61 TOTAL)—I came in while this was in progress… did I see Brezina land TWO quads? (I know I saw him fall TWO times later on… probably stamina-related, with him barely competing this year.)

5) Takahashi, JPN (152.72/232.97 TOTAL)—At 4CC’s, Mark Ladwig suffered a boot malfunction that nearly took him and Amanda Evora out of competition. Here, Dice-K suffered a boot/blade malfunction (looked like the screws holding them together fell out or broke??) that nearly took him out of the event… and no better time to find this out, of course, than when you’re launching into a quad. He finished, but it was far from his best.

6) Oda, JPN (150.69/232.50 TOTAL)—At first I was thinking this was Oda’s best Worlds free skate to date… then I saw the scores and realized that must’ve been a triple/triple at the start, not a quad/triple like I thought. It wasn’t that he did badly… it’s that he didn’t do enough.

7) Amodio, FRA (152.04/229.68 TOTAL)—The last skater of the night was probably looking for a lot of whoopin’ and hollering by the time he got to the last couple minutes of his program. Instead he got a lot of distracted people wondering to themselves “Why on earth did he put vocals in his competitive free skate??”

8) Joubert, FRA (156.38/227.67 TOTAL)—Got a nice quad in, and stayed upright in general, but he was too far back for it to do him much good.

9) Dornbush, USA (151.88/222.42 TOTAL)—As with Nationals, he turned in a great, clean, everything-but-a-quad kind of performance to Sherlock Holmes. Probably never guessed he’d be the best-finishing American at this event when he was still competing Juniors just a handful of months ago!

10) Fernandez, SPAIN (149.10/218.26 TOTAL)—One of only two on this list that I haven’t seen yet. He skated very early, but apparently did pretty well with his Pirates program. When was the last time Spain had a guy in the top 10? Nice going, Javier!

11) Miner, USA (147.53/217.93)—I underestimated you, Mr. Miner… just slightly less content than Dornbush, but every bit as clean. I shall remember this going forward J

12) Verner, CZE (140.93/216.87 TOTAL)—This is the other one I missed. He was smiling big as I came in and saw him leaving the ice, but I guess that wasn’t representative of the skate. Too bad; he was having a pretty good comeback year and I was hoping he’d make the top 6.

13) Bradley, USA (142.26/212.71 TOTAL)-- Perhaps I overestimated Mr. Bradley. It was a flawed free skate for sure, but maybe, given all that’s transpired between January 2010 and now, 13th at Worlds is truly the best he can do.

14) Ten, KAZ (138.99/209.99 TOTAL)—Unfortunately, Denis Ten couldn’t hold onto the promise of his SP. Two wipeouts on two 3ax attempts did him in.

15) Liebers, GER (137.86/205.59 TOTAL)—Turns out Dornbush wasn’t the only guy here with a Sherlock Holmes free skate. In my opinion Liebers paled by comparison, but it was still a good clean effort that deserved to be rewarded.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2011 Worlds-- Pairs SP McNotes

Quick update for those who can't watch live, and/or want to comment on the Pairs SP:

The Top 12 are as follows:

1) Pang/Tong 74.00 (Didn't see it yet but it sounds like their best performance of this all season)

2) Savchenko/Szolkowy 72.98 (Didn't see this yet)

3) Volosozhar/Trankov 70.35 (Dang, they did it again... just as strong as they were at Russians.)

4) Bazarova/Larionov 64.64 (Didn't see this yet)

5) Kavaguti/Smirnov 62.54 (They looked pretty good throughout, but Smirnov had a weird fall on a non-element that disrupted things for a couple moments)

6) Takahashi/Tran 59.16 (skated clean and brought a throw 3lutz I think?)

7) Duhamel/Radford 58.83 (unfortunately, the "highlight" of their pretty-good program was a bloody nose Radford endured during their triple twist...)

8) Yankowskas/Coughlin 58.76 (she had a step out on the SBS triple toe; he was yet another one who had a weird fall on a non-element. They'd be in at least 6th without the fall.)

9) Berton/Hotarek 57.63 (Didn't see yet)

10) Moore-Towers/Moscovitch 56.86
(Didn't see yet)

11) Evora/Ladwig 54.64 (Amanda went down on the SBS 3T)

12) Hausch/Wende 53.90
(Didn't see yet)

More to come, bright and early tomorrow morning (eastern time)!

Men's SP McNotes (contains spoilers)

Quick update for those who can't watch live, and/or want to comment on the Men's SP:

The top 15 is as follows...

1) Chan 93.02 (still inflated I believe, but he was indeed outstanding... and with a 12-point lead I think he's got this one, if you know what I mean)

2) Oda 81.81 (Fell out of 4Toe and had a stumble on his FW; in my opinion he was overmarked)

3) Takahashi 80.25 (no quad but a clean skate; IMO he was undermarked)

4) Gachinski 78.34 (nice home-country surprise; this was almost entirely on the strength of his 4T/3T... he was the only one to do it besides Chan)

5) Amodio 77.64 (no quad, as usual, but a good clean skate)

6) Kozuka 77.62 (in a virtual dead heat w/Amodio, despite putting both hands down on his 3axel

7) Brezina 77.50 (almost tied for 5th as well; no quad, clean outing for him)

8) Verner 75.94 (fell on 4T attempt, unfortunately)

9) Joubert 71.29 (Fell out of his 4T and DID NOT PUT A COMBO IN ANYWHERE ELSE, which is why I think he was wildly overmarked.)

10) Ten 71.00 (glad to see he finally did pretty well, but he was on too early for me to see)

11) Dornbush 70.54 (too early for me to see as well, but I hear he was clean)

12) Bradley 70.45 (another clean skate including a 4T/2T; looked fully rotated to me but haven't heard officially...)

13) Miner 70.40 (That's right, the U.S. guys are all within .14 of each other!!)

14) Fernandez 69.16 (Pretty good, but stepped out of the back end of his 3/3 combo)

15) Van Der Perren 68.34 (Fell on his 4T attempt, which doesn't leave a lot to fall back on, so to speak,for VDP)

Two surprises that did NOT qualify for the FS: Sweden's Adrian Schultheiss (25th, with two falls), and Austria's Viktor Pfeifer (26th).

Pairs SP coming shortly!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Psst... One More Way to Watch Worlds (for Free!)

If you're like me-- meaning, you're planning to catch Worlds online and have NOT yet paid the necessary subscription fee to Universal Sports or IceNetwork (because procrastination is your strong suit), read on...

Vlad, the ubertalent behind the World Figure Skating blog, has set up a page full of links to FREE, live coverage via Russian TV. If you're OK with Russian graphics and commentary-- or, perhaps, prefer it no matter what language you speak!-- you might want to give it a try. Check out the page here!!

I'll be doing so tomorrow morning... and will report back if I encounter any problems and need to go find my credit card instead. Happy viewing all... and thank you Vlad!!

2011 Worlds Predictions (Ladies Edition)

Is the Ladies’ event at Worlds still the headliner above all other disciplines?

It is when Kim Yu-Na competes in it.

Right about now, the decision to keep Kim out of international competition all season looks like a great one. When it was first announced, some of us wondered if she’d really come back to competition… or if the announcement was the prelude to A Break, a la Weir, Rochette, and Lysacek.

It wasn’t. Kim is rehearsed (see this practice Clip of the Day of her Giselle SP) and appears ready to reclaim the World title… pretty exciting stuff for skating fans, and the additional month-long delay has likely built up the anticipation. Will she prevail? I think she will…

Gold—Kim Yu-Na (S. KOR)

Silver—Miki Ando (JPN)

Bronze—Mao Asada (JPN)

True, it’s been a year since she faced any competitive pressure… but it’s hard to think of someone who successfully fended off the Olympic albatross pressure cooker coming to Worlds a year later and quivering much about it. Even if her performances are sub-par, there’s a good chance she’ll come out on top (if the “winning” performances of others earlier in the season are any indication). And if, by chance, she doesn’t regain the title she last had in 2009? A simple shrug, a statement of “Maybe taking most of the season off wasn’t such a great idea,” and a firm resolve to compete for at least one more year should do the trick. (I’m only sort of kidding.)

As for silver and bronze, here’s the thing: I’m not crazy about the idea of Ando winning much of anything, but technically speaking, she’s an excellent athlete who has had a very good year (GP Final notwithstanding). If she skates well, a return to the Worlds podium would be a worthy reward. And then there’s Asada, an excellent athlete and artist who has had a pretty dreadful year competitively speaking. The complete results to her “rebuilding the jumps from scratch” approach remain to be seen, but I’m willing to bet she’ll skate well enough for bronze this week.**

** I believe Alissa Czisny could medal here. I really do. But in studying my predictions from earlier in the season, it appears that she’s done her best work when I underestimated her. So—Skate Gods, avert your eyes—I’m “underestimating” her, just in case, and hoping she a) doesn’t put too much pressure on herself, and b) skates to her own satisfaction.

A Top Five finish for one U.S. lady and a Top Eight finish for the other would be a joy, as it would give us three spots for next year’s Worlds. And it happens to be quite do-able this year. So that’s my official prediction for Czisny and Rachael Flatt.

And if anyone cares, the rest of my guess for the Top 10 consists of (in no particular order) Carolina Kostner, Kanako Murakami, Kiira Korpi, one of the two Helgessons (Joshi or Viktoria), and one of the two Russians (Makarova or Leonova). But if Cynthia Phaneuf takes it upon herself to sneak back in there, that would be just fine with me.

Questions? Comments?

Let’s go watch some skating :-)

Monday, April 25, 2011

2011 Worlds Predictions: Ice Dance

Previously on World Figure Skating Championships, Ice Dance division…

A Canadian team took the world (and Olympics) by storm, only to find itself hindered by injury the following season. During its hiatus, an American runner-up team won everything in sight, presumably hungry as ever to shake off silver and become the first U.S. gold medalists EVER in ice dance. And a French team (off the Olympic podium altogether) assembled arguably the most engaging free dance of the year, claiming a couple titles to call their own… and wondering if they could, perhaps, pull the upset come springtime.

Who will win??? Here’s my take:

Gold—Virtue/Moir (CAN)

Silver—Davis/White (USA)

Bronze—Pechalat/Bourzat (FRA)

I haven’t seen any more of Virtue/Moir’s programs this year than you probably have (meaning that which they completed at Four Continents). But, like Kim Yu-Na over in the Ladies event, they have two huge advantages on their side: 1) The promised potential of excellence, and 2) the deep anticipation to see such potential (even moreso with Worlds being delayed). No, they don’t have much mileage on either program—and if 4CC’s counts, the “mileage” isn’t particularly solid. But they’ve proven they can rise to the occasion before, and I think they’ll do it again.

In all honesty, I hate saying that because I would LOVE to see Davis/White take this thing. My relatively untrained eye thinks they are just as deserving, and I’m a little concerned that if they don’t win this year or next, they’ll never get it done (especially with the likes of the Shib Sibs closing in on their success). But their tango FD, while 16 shades of difficult that are incredibly well-executed, seems a little too introspective to put D/W on top. Have they been able to shake something new into it since we last saw them skate it in February? I certainly don’t mind watching to find out.

As for Pechalat/Bourzat, I don’t think they’ll defeat the top North American teams. But all things being equal, I think they’re a lock for their first-ever world bronze—especially with the Kerrs (sigh) and 2010 Bronze Medalists Faiella/Scali out of the running. Their biggest competition now looks to be Bobrova/Soloviev (RUS), and possibly Crone/Poirer (CAN)—but if C/P are still retaining their short dance to “Fallin’” (from earlier in the season), forget it.

And I didn’t forget about the rest of the North Americans! I think Canada’s Weaver/Poje and USA’s Shibutanis should make it into the top 10 pretty easily, and USA’s Chock/Zuerlein has a shot at it as well—though some of those placements will likely ride on whether or not Hoffmann/Zavosin compete (Hoffmann was hospitalized recently while training in Russia). Does anyone know if they’ve withdrawn or not?

Ladies’ predictions tomorrow! By the way, qualification rounds started today in Moscow; check if you’re interested in the results.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

2011 Worlds Predictions (Pairs Edition)

Time to take a guess at the fate of some of the best pairs skaters in the world…

By my count, there are 22 teams competing in Moscow next month. Five teams are completely new to me, though I’d like to think I’m familiar enough with the roster to know which ones will make the top 10. As for my guess on the medalists…

Gold-- Savchenko/Szolkowy (GER)

Silver—Pang/Tong (CHN)

Bronze—Volosozhar/Trankov (RUS)

My reasoning on gold is pretty straightforward: Sav/Szol have won everything they’ve entered this season. I haven’t always thought they deserved the win, but obviously the judges have—and that’s what counts. Reigning world champs Pang/Tong have held up fairly well themselves, winning almost everything they’ve entered. But their performances throughout the season have been arguably flawed compared to previous years, and the one time they settled for 2nd was to Sav/Szol at the GP Final. I adore them, but I think they reached their competitive peak about a year ago.

In fact, I’m not all that sure about my silver prediction for them… at least two of the three Russian contingents are very strong, and could nudge Pang/Tong to bronze (though I’m staying with P/T because their artistry is so stunning). As for which Russian team will make it to the podium? I’m picking Volosozhar/Trankov on a bit of a gamble. I’ve only seen them compete once—at Russian Nationals a few months ago, where they won—but so impressive were they there, I wondered if they could actually bring the upset victory all the way to Worlds. I’m hedging my bets on that one now, though I still think they’ll medal over the great-but-still-a-little-fragile Kavaguti/Smirnov. As for the U.S. teams (Yankowskas/Coughlin and Evora/Ladwig), the latter of which came in 9th last year and former of which is making their Worlds debut… I think they are capable of that top 10 I mentioned earlier… though I don’t think I can predict more with any real clarity!

For all readers around the world celebrating Easter this weekend, have a blessed holiday! I don’t plan to post tomorrow, but will be back with dance predictions on Monday.

Friday, April 22, 2011

2011 Worlds Predictions (Men's edition)

What do we know about the men coming to compete at Worlds in 2011?

Let’s see… we know that the Japanese team is excellent—so excellent that any one of the three could make it to the podium in a very tough field. We know that quads were landed rather successfully at Europeans a couple months ago, though said quads were not always backed up with artistic integrity. We know the Canadian team is a mixed bag. We know that two out of three on the U.S. team are a very mixed, very green bag.

How this extra month of training has affected lot of them? Anybody’s guess. But here’s my attempt:

Gold—Patrick Chan (CAN)

Silver—Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)

Bronze—Takahiko Kozuka (JPN)

It just feels to me like the stars are aligned for Chan this year. After two successive stints in the runner-up position, I think he’s got it if he skates even remotely close to the way he threw it down at Canadian Nationals. I’d expect to see Tomas Verner, Brian Joubert, Florent Amodio and Nobunari Oda filling out the midsection of the Top Ten (not necessarily in that order), with Ryan Bradley possibly putting in an appearance between 8th and 10th place. As for the rest of the U.S. men—who are strong and talented beyond a doubt, but possess neither a quad toe loop nor masses of artistic chutzpah yet—I think a top 12 finish (for Richard Dornbush) and a top 16 finish (for Ross Miner) would be very impressive.

Of course my predictions leave us completely out of the running for 3 spots on next year’s team, but I’ve got to call ‘em like I see ‘em! How about you?

Coming Saturday… pairs predictions.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The "Great"-ness That is Figure Skating-- from the P.O.V. of Jahnke, Meissner, and (especially) Bobek

Before I (finally! Yea!) dive into the world of Worlds predictions, here are a few not-so-odd odds and ends to mention… each with its own “Worlds connection”:

Ryan Jahnke (1 Worlds appearance in 2003; finished 13th ) periodically sends info to bloggers like myself which helps promote his ingenious brainchild, You might recall that, a while back, he invited skaters, fans and the like to answer the question “What’s so great about figure skating?” on video and submit it to MSM for use in a compilation piece. Well it’s finished now—so whether you’re in it, know someone in it, or just want to see what everyone had to say (including Jahnke himself and a few current U.S. competitors), check it out here.

When I promoted the fundraiser Skate For Love last week, I admittedly was just going by the information provided by the show’s PR staff. Otherwise, I’d have been sure to mention that the show was to feature an appearance by none other than Nicole Bobek (3 Worlds appearances; best finish was 3rd in 1995). Bobek’s name of late has been more synonymous with drug abuse and criminal charges than her athletic efforts, but she appears to be, as Jahnke might say, rediscovering what’s so great about figure skating. I couldn’t find last week’s performance, but you might want to check out this Clip of the Day nonetheless… she performs in a straight-to-YouTube sort of way just about 6 weeks ago. No triple jumps yet, but otherwise, it’s essentially vintage Bobek through and through. And for more about this happy(ier) sort of ending she’s carving for her post-competitive days, be sure to check out this article.

One of the names I did mention in last week’s Skate For Love promotion was that of Kimmie Meissner (3 Worlds appearances; best finish was 1st in 2006). As she’s alluded to in previous interviews, she’s still skating in the occasional show (such as this one) but putting a stronger focus right now on her undergrad studies at the University of Delaware. Remember, she’s all of 21 now! has an update on Meissner too—read more about here.

What do I think is so great about figure skating? I think I’ll hold off on answering that until Worlds is (finally! Yea!) complete in early May. But for predictions and other forms of discussion as to what I think and/or hope will be great, stay tuned over the next half-dozen days…

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Where in the World will YOU be Getting Your Worlds Figure Skating Coverage?

When it comes to coverage of 2011 Worlds, unique circumstances are certainly begetting a unique situation.

No, not so unique that NBC is planning to cover it. As with last year, mainstream TV is simply not in the cards for Worlds coverage these days. But here’s the long and short of it (at least for U.S. fans): you can either pay a nominal fee to see it streaming live online, or catch everything except the Pairs SP and the Short Dance on a same-day (or next-day) delay from Universal Sports.

Before I get into the debate that naturally accompanies such an announcement… here is the “Streaming” schedule (available at for $9.95, or at for $4.95 IF you are a current subscriber):

Wednesday, April 27
5:30 a.m.: Men's short program
10:45 a.m.: Opening ceremonies
11:30 a.m.: Pairs short program

Thursday, April 28
5:00 a.m.: Men's free skate
10:00 a.m.: Pairs free skate

Friday, April 29
5:30 a.m.: Ladies short program
10:30 a.m.: Short dance

Saturday, April 30
5:30 a.m.: Ladies free skate
10:30 a.m.: Free dance

And now the “TV” schedule (and by TV I mean for those of us that have Universal Sports within our reach):

Wednesday, April 27
6:00 pm: Men's short program

Thursday, April 28
6:00 pm: Men's free skate
8:00 pm: Pairs free skate

Friday, April 29
6:00 pm: Ladies short program

Saturday, April 30
6:00 pm: Ladies free skate
8:00 pm: Free dance

I’ve read most of the comments that have been posted at about the schedule. It appears to be a pretty even mix between those that endorse (or at least accept) this set-up, and those expressing various levels of “disappointment”… in at least one case, stating that rather than pay the fee, the subscriber intends to wait a few days and watch most of it on YouTube for free. That’s surely the sentiment of plenty of fans, and hardly news to the folks at IceNetwork and Universal Sports. I guess the presumption is that if you don’t mind seeing it a few days later, think of YouTube as the NBC of this event… free, but not exactly timely. (That’s IF you can find it—assuming Universal and IceNetwork are sharing internet rights on this event, they’ll have the authority to take down any Worlds post they like.)

As for me, it just so happens that the streaming video works better with my schedule than the TV coverage. I DO get Universal Sports where I live, but I’m also an IceNetwork subscriber, and will probably pay the 5 extra bucks… though I’m not sure I’d pay much more than that. I’m very curious what other skating fans think, and/or plan to do; after all, Worlds officially gets underway in about a week. So please post a comment if you like!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hughes, Meissner and Wagner "Skating for Love" This Weekend

Public service time at State of the Skate... if you are in or around New Jersey this coming weekend, or know a skating fan who is, please take note of a great cancer benefit called Skate for Love taking place this Saturday (April 16) in Morristown, NJ.

From the press release...

Skate for Love will bring together top skaters Emily Hughes, Kimmie Meissner and Ashley Wagner, whose performance will honor individuals who have lost loved ones to cancer as well as to celebrate the triumph of survivors and their families. Skate for Love was created to unite friends and families of cancer survivors whose lives have been touched by this disease.

Skate for Love began as the vision of two competitive figures skaters, Corinna Lin (16) and Madison Olivieri (15) who felt compelled to give back to their sport by creating this benefit. From a young age, Lin was touched as she witnessed the strength and spirit of sisters Sarah and Emily Hughes as they dealt with their mother Amy Hughes' battle with breast cancer. The Hughes courageous journey was the genesis for Skate for Love.

The event will host an impressive cast of champion skaters in addition to several skating celebrities who appear off-ice to show their support. Skate for Love will also feature live musical entertainment. Tickets for the event are very affordable and all the night's net proceeds will benefit the New Jersey affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure ®. For more information visit