As you’re probably aware, the world kept right on spinning as the ISU Grand Prix progressed between October and November—even when it came to the rest of the figure skating world. Among the most noteworthy developments (in chronological order):
+ Lepisto is out for the season… again
For those who say nerves have been the downfall of many a great skater— in a literal sense, that applies to athletes in general. Here in Indianapolis we’re still waiting to see if nerve damage to the neck of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning can ever heal well enough for him to play at all, let alone this football season. And over in Finland, nerve damage is also at the heart of what’s keeping 2010 World Bronze Medalist Laura Lepisto out of her sport of choice. In her case, it’s apparently nerves in one of her feet that need to heal before she can take the ice again… which she says is unlikely to happen this season. Lepisto will turn 24 next April.
+ Lady is a Champ: Bonhomme wins Battle of the Blades
For followers of the hit Canadian TV series Battle of the Blades, things really came full circle this particular season. As I mentioned here at the end of August, the planned “twist” was for one of the hockey players-turning-figure-skaters to be, for the first time ever on the show, a female (Tessa Bonhomme). But the entire show (not to mention hockey fans) were dealt a savage blow when, less than a month before its season premiere, fellow competitor Wade Belak died at age 35. The show soldiered on, however… and by its conclusion in November, the winner was none other than Bonhomme (skating with David Pelletier). If you’re curious how she and Pelletier looked out there in front of the cameras, check out this clip from week 7.
+ Phaneuf joins team Orser
If you’re a veteran elite figure skater who has remained with the same coach/coaches since the early days, chances are slim that you’ll jump ship, even if your skating is in a sub-par slump. But if you’re Canadian champion Cynthia Phaneuf—who, aside from that national victory, has been unable to duplicate the jumping consistency that helped her come in 5th at Worlds in 2010—you don’t have much use for the odds at this point. So in the wake of back-to-back disappointing GP outings (7th at Skate Canada; 9th at NHK Trophy), the 23 year-old Phaneuf has parted ways with Annie Barabé and Sophie Richard to relocate to Toronto, and train with Brian Orser. She had been coached by Barabe/Richard since age 9. Orser’s other high-profile students include USA’s Christina Gao and Spain’s Javier Fernandez; in the past, he coached Adam Rippon and (of course) Kim Yu-Na.
+ Kwan is among the HOF nominees
Some might say “It’s about time!!” but, in all fairness, it happened as soon as possible: Michelle Kwan is among the new batch of nominees to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Now that Kwan has been out of competitive figure skating for six years, she is eligible… along with fellow nominees Rudy Galindo (1996 National Champion and ’96 World Bronze Medalist) and Robert “Bobby” Specht, who medaled nationally in pairs (1941) and won the men’s title in ’42. Jef Billings (designer) and Lori Nichol (choreographer) are nominated too, under the “creative impact” category. The official HOF Class of 2012 will be announced later this month, with the induction ceremony taking place at 2012 U.S. Nationals in San Jose.
+ Lysacek Won’t Be at Nationals… Either
Speaking of 2012 U.S. Nationals—if you were crossing your fingers for Evan Lysacek to make good on his early-season assertions to be competing in San Jose, it’s time to put your fingers to better use. Whether he wants to be there or not, it appears that U.S. Figure Skating and the Creative Artists Agency (which now represents Lysacek) could not reach the proverbial agreement necessary to get him out there and see how he ranks nearly two years past Vancouver. According to icenetwork.com, CAA is citing “contractual obligations” for Lysacek’s absence. Chicago Tribune’s Phil Hersh continues to track the gory (read: money-related) details of Lysacek’s “negotiations,” so you can read much more about them here.
+ Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Plushy
And speaking of Vancouver… Evgeny Plushenko continues to rattle his platinum medal-lined cages every so often to make sure we know he plans to be competing in 2014. The latest rattle came last week, when he announced he’s “leaving politics” in order to train for Sochi. What, you didn’t know he was in politics? Feel free to read the ESPN.com article that details his involvement a little further. Don’t care WHERE he is or WHAT his plans are? Well, join the club… that’s why my mention of him ends here.