Thursday, April 26, 2012

World Team Trophy 2012: Five Observations

A few things that came to mind as World Team Trophy unfolded last week...

1) Free live (almost) worldwide streaming?? Well played, ISU.

It’s a classic marketing move—not to mention a great reason to inhabit your local supermarket every Saturday afternoon. Got a new product? Then you’ve gotta offer free samples. And while “new” may not be the most accurate description of WTT (considering it made its debut three years ago), I believe this is the first time it’s taken place with a notion of of upcoming Olympic event suspended over it. Streaming it for free was probably one of the best ideas the ISU has had all year (with developing its own YouTube channel being the other one that comes to mind). Whether or not they ever do it again remains to be seen… but two years ahead of Sochi, when the “team” Olympic idea still needs a lot of selling, I suspect the ISU will get its money’s worth on that decision.

2) Smells Like Team Spirit (or at least looks and sounds like it)

I was looking at a clip of Evan Lysacek at the 2009 WTT, and although it’s not shown as prominently as it was this time around, there’s a similar Kiss’n’Cry scene with big patriotic hats, bigger flags, silly glasses, etc. But back then, when competitors such as Scott Moir and Tanith Belbin intimated to the press that they’d been given little notice and more than a fair share of pressure to participate, I have to think this year the spirit was more sincere by default. Even without 2009 in the mix, how can a fan DISlike seeing so many Kiss’n’Cry moments where the “cry” is replaced with world class skaters donning animal costume heads?

3) What We Learned (from the competitors)

There were those that seemed energized by their Worlds success (Suzuki, Wagner, and a who-knew-he-could-be-even-better Takahashi)…

Those that weren’t at Worlds, yet did better than reigning medalists (Adelina Sotnikova and Gracie Gold, both of whom outskated Alena Leonova)…

And then there were those that appeared exhausted—for lack of a better word—though not without good reason (Chan, Abbott, Kostner, the aforementioned Leonova)

4) What We Learned (from the event itself)

That competing as a team in a sport that is usually anything BUT team-oriented can be a fun and rewarding experience.

That turning in a sub-par performance is a little easier to take when you have a shredded mylar wig awaiting you in the Kiss’n’Cry… not to mention a half-dozen teammates in matching wigs.

That holding WTT at the end of the season is a little like the NFL’s Pro Bowl: a little anti-climatic, a mixed bag in terms of performance and enthusiasm, and fair-to-middling interest from the viewing public… though the die-hard fans will always be there. (Especially if they continue to make it easy to do so.)

That WTT should always be held in Tokyo… At least until another country gets as skating-crazy as Japan currently is!

That, as successful as WTT may be… the success of the Olympic edition of the event remains to be seen. (Sorry; I know my skepticism is showing.)

5) What About The Others?

There’s currently no place at the WTT for Kim Yu-Na, should she re-enter the realm of competition. Or Savchenko/Szolkowy (though they were there, and went around visiting each team’s box for moral support). Or Michal Brezina, or Denis Ten, or Javier Fernandez. The WTT was reportedly developed “in the hope of encouraging countries to develop top figure skaters in all disciplines” (according to Wikipedia). But for the Kazakhstans, and Uzbekistans, and Finlands, and United Kingdoms of the world—of which there are plenty—what are the chances they’ll ever get invited? Last week, Misha Ge of UZB made an interesting case on Facebook and Twitter for creating a team event that would be slightly less exclusive; that could have a “team” representing the best of the less dominant countries in the sport.

I’m not sure how serious he was—or if he plans to pursue his idea to any length—but I wish he would. It would be interesting to see how willing the ISU is to accommodate other voices… and really embrace the team spirit concept!

P.S. #1: I’ve neglected to mention that I’m now on Twitter (as of a few weeks ago)… and I usually mention new blog postings there. So if you’re there too, please look for me @KLBSt8ofSk8 … I need more followers in a big way!

P.S. #2: The skating season may be over, but the posting at the blog continues throughout the off-season… at least once or twice a week. Plus I intend to give State of the Skate a makeover (after 4 years on the blog circuit), and you wouldn’t want to miss that, would you?

So don’t forget to drop by now and then as spring rolls into summer…

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WTT: Team Russia, Team Italy, and Team France

The clock’s a tickin’, so here’s a quick rundown of Team Russia and a quicker rundown of the two teams I’ve yet to mention:


MEN: Zhan Bush & Maxim Kovtun, neither of which competed at Worlds (Bush is the Russian Junior Champ and was 5th at Junior Worlds; Kovtun was 3rd at Russian Juniors). The two that DID compete there—Sergei Voronov (now injured with an ankle fracture) and last year’s World Bronze Medalist Artur Gachinski— finished 17th and 18th, respectively. In doing so, Russia can only send one man to next year’s Worlds. (Gee, wonder who they’re likely to go with assuming he’s uninjured…?)

LADIES: Alena Leonova & Adelina Sotnikova… Leonova won silver a few weeks ago, her first-ever world medal. 15 year-old Sotnikova is not yet age-eligible to compete there, but her place as a three-time Russian National Champion should carry a fair amount of weight, wouldn’t you think?

PAIRS: Bazarova/Larionov, who finished 6th at Worlds.

DANCE: Ilinykh/Katsalapov, who finished 5th at Worlds.


MEN: Samuel Contesti & Paolo Bacchini. The older of the two (29 year-old Contesti) had another top 10 Worlds finish; 26 year-old Bacchini ended up 21st at Worlds 2011 (but didn’t compete in Nice).

LADIES: Carolina Kostner & Valentina Marchei. What a team these two were at Worlds! Kostner wins, Marchei gets her highest finish ever (8th), and together they earn Italian ladies a third spot for next year. Bravissimo!

PAIRS: Berton/Hotarek, who finished 11th.

DANCE: Cappellini/Lanotte, who finished 6th.


MEN: Brian Joubert & Florent Amodio. Although neither one of them brought a world medal to home ice, both Joubert and Amodio skated in a don’t-you-DARE-count-me-out kind of way, earning 4th and 5th (respectively) for their efforts. Did anyone else hear that Joubert may not be retiring yet after all?!

LADIES: Mae Berenice Meite & Yretha Silete. The latter was 12th in her Worlds debut this year; the former was 14th in her Worlds debut last year.

PAIRS: Popova/Massot… are the current National Champs, but since they only had the second-highest French pairs finish at Europeans (they were 8th; James/Cipres were 6th), they were chosen for this event while James/Cipres represented at Worlds.

DANCE: Pechalat/Bourzat… well, you probably know their story. Their skate-like-an-Egyptian free dance isn’t my favorite; nonetheless I was delighted to see them finally make the Worlds podium in their ninth (NINTH!) attempt.

OK… think I’ve finally made mention of all WTT competitors… let the event begin!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

World Team Trophy, Chan Splits (with his coach), and Alissa Speaks

So it’s World Team Trophy week.

Sorry I can’t inject that sentence with any more excitement and still be true to myself…especially when thinking about this event in relation to the Olympic “team event” that is reportedly making its debut in Sochi. Certain words take the place of enthusiasm; words like “blech” and “ridiculous” and “incredibly unneccessary.” (Although the ISU got smart this week and has made WTT available to view free worldwide, unless you happen to live in Japan (host country) or South Korea…
read more here. )

But the skaters competing in Japan later this week are simply there to give their best shot to their final (final) event of the season, so perhaps it’s best to continue taking a quick look back at where most of them have just been—Worlds:


Daisuke Takahashi: Is it out of line to say that many considered (silver medalist) Dice-K the unofficial winner in Nice? If so, let me preface any apology with the fact that the Examiner’s Jackie Wong called his free skate
the #1 program of the entire competition. WTT will allow us to witness one more showdown—of sorts—between these two before they call it a wrap for the season.

Takahiko Kozuka: Unfortunately Kozuka was the odd man out in Nice in more ways than one… Dice-K took the #2 spot he’d occupied last year, Hanyu claimed bronze, and Kozuka had a subpar week that left him finishing all the way down in 11th (his worst finish in his five years of competing at Worlds). Nonetheless, Kozuka was assigned to WTT so he’ll get a chance to redeem himself in front of the home crowd.

Akiko Suzuki: I may have said it before, but I’ll say it again anyway… if Ashley Wagner had to lose World bronze to anyone in the world, I couldn’t be happier that it’s Suzuki. Her love of life and sport overtake her presence when she’s out on the ice, making her a consistent joy to watch. And in case you were wondering (like I was),
this article confirms that she plans to remain Olympic-eligible through 2014.

Kanako Murakami:
Her season didn’t get off to a roaring start (4th and 6th place at her two GP assignments), but Murakami soldiered on, finishing in the Worlds Top 5 when all was said and done.

The same cannot be said for teammate and former World Champ Mao Asada, who finished 6th for the second year in a row and will not be involved in WTT. If you’re interested in reading more about Asada, might I suggest this article courtesy of
my pal Vlad at the World Skating Blog?

(Oh, and speaking of struggling well-known skaters… count Alissa Czisny among those that are NOT retiring anytime soon, as per
this article from last week. But I digress.)

Takahashi/Tran: With Japan’s first-ever world medal still burning a hole in their collective pockets, T&T could make Japan a stronger factor than usual in this part of the competition.

Reed/Reed: After climbing as high as 13th at last year’s Worlds, the Reeds took a serious enough nosedive this year to keep them from even qualifying for the final (finishing in 24th).


Patrick Chan: He’s making headlines (again) this week because Christy Krall has resigned from his coaching team,
as you may have heard by now. But Chan remains the World champ, and occasionally snarky skating fans like myself are curious to see what sort of odd-freaky-fall-mishap might plague said Champ in this final event.

Kevin Reynolds:
I was particularly happy for Reynolds at Worlds. A 12th place finish was not his best-ever, but his performances were well above this year’s average for himself. The fact that it just barely nabbed a third spot for the Canadian men next year was a well-deserved bonus.

Cynthia Phaneuf: On the other hand, Phaneuf could really use something to cheer about. Two years ago she finished the season #5 in the world; this year she essentially had to do a “skate-off” to simply get back to the world team—and she didn’t make it. Will WTT prolong her agony, or cast a little of it away?

Amelie Lacoste: On yet another hand… Lacoste WON that 4 CC “skateoff” that earned her a first-ever trip to Worlds, but was disappointed with a 16th place finish. Can the current Canadian ladies champ team up with Phaneuf and shake the doldrums out of their corner of the team?

Duhamel/Radford: Finishing 5th was the best these two have done yet at Worlds (and the best Duhamel has done with two different partners!) Can they hold up their end of Team Canada at this event? Stay tuned!

Virtue/Moir: Edging out Davis/White surely wouldn’t mean as much here as it did at Worlds… but I doubt that’ll keep V/M from trying. Look for yet another dancing cagematch between the top 2 teams on the planet.

We’ll look at the Russian Contingency ASAP (read “before WTT begins if at all possible".)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Attending/Competing at the Adult Figure Skating Championships This Weekend? Read On...

Just a quick note here to say that I'll be at the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships in Bensenville, IL (Chicago suburb) this Friday/Saturday, April 13 & 14, selling & signing copies of Skating on Air: The Broadcast History of an Olympic Marquee Sport (AKA that book you always see over on the left of the page).

And... if you come purchase a copy from me and mention STATE OF THE SKATE, I'll knock $5 off the price for you! Such a deal! Think of all the concession stand hot chocolate you could buy with that extra cash...

Anyway, I hope to see you there!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The U.S. Team: Looking Back at Worlds/Forward to World Team Trophy

It’s been a week… and already in that week it seems a case of no rest for the weary (meaning the top skaters of the world, although those of us who followed it live surely came away with a certain degree of mental exhaustion). Why? Well mostly because it ain’t over yet… the 2011-12 figure skating season, that is. At least, it ain’t over for a very notable handful of competitors.

The World Team Trophy didn’t debut until 2009, and it hasn’t been held since then—but that’s because it was due to happen last year, in Japan, only 6 weeks or so after the devastating earthquake & tsunami. It wasn’t cancelled so much as it was postponed until 2012… April 19-22, 2012 to be exact.

Seeing as it’s coming up in less than two weeks now, the “teams” for WTT started getting named this past week… so let me try to pull double duty here and share some thoughts—as they relate to last week’s Worlds-- about the U.S. entrants. (Japan, Canada, Russia, etc… I’ll address those competitors soon as well.)

NOTE: I haven’t yet studied any Worlds protocols; I hope to do so soon.

Dance representative for WTT: Davis/White

"We don't need things like this (coming in 2nd) to motivate us more," (Meryl) Davis said. "We really want to make sure we're putting out the best we possibly can, and I think that every year we're happy with our progress, happy with our improvement. I think we'll come out even better next season." – From Lynn Rutherford’s
IceNetwork article this past week

When it comes to the U.S. and ice dancing, let’s be honest: especially when compared to the other disciplines, we don’t have a whole lot to complain about right now. Sure, last year’s Worlds yielded better results, but those results would’ve been extraordinary for almost any country. When the strongest (or ONLY) negative visual that springs to mind is one of the Shib Sibs becoming unhinged during their FD twizzles, all signs point to a pretty good event overall: three teams in the top ten, including one that’s barely been together a year… and one team on the podium for the third year straight, still putting stunningly good performances together as they sustain an active battle for gold.

Pairs rep: Denney/Coughlin

"We are looking forward to having more time together," (John) Coughlin said. "This season, we had to put together programs that were achievable in such a short amount of time. For the next season, we are going to push ourselves."

It's a long push to the top. And, for U.S. pairs, a Sisyphean one.
– From Phil Hersh’s
3/30/12 article

Admittedly I had to look up “Sisyphean”—it means endless and unavailing, as labor or a task. What can be said to that when the U.S. hasn’t medaled in pairs in at least a decade? Considering both our entrants this year were new and almost-new teams, I guess the initial wish is for them to simply stick together next season. They both held their own in Nice, and for that we should be proud (especially Marley/Brubaker; I wasn’t sure they could break the top 10 this time out). But… it would be lovely to expect and receive a little more next time.

Men’s reps: Abbott and Rippon

“I've always worked with a sports psychologist, but the past year and a half it’s been much more in depth. I think that's been helping and I've been gaining confidence. I think it will happen for me; I will make it happen." --Jeremy Abbott, from Lynn Rutherford’s
IceNetwork article this past week

As exhilarating as it was to see Yuzuru Hanyu skate great, blast past the competition and grab that bronze medal, I couldn’t help but look at his scores and think That should’ve been Jeremy. That COULD’VE been Jeremy.

I think I was comparing the jump content between the two when that thought tumbled out of me. Maybe it’s the two stages of a career that make the difference: Hanyu is 17 and likely only wanted to make a great impression at his first-ever Senior Worlds… Abbott is 26, is known (unfortunately) for failing to deliver to potential at the biggest events of his sport, and is likely playing it year by year as to whether or not he even continues competing. Two different places; two different mindsets.

By the way, in that Rutherford article Abbott also mentions that he plans to keep one of his two programs for next season. Feel free to speculate on which one it’ll be—my fingers are crossed for the FS—but the between-the-lines news there is that he’s apparently already renewed his competitive lease for another year. In a season that once again threatens a return by reigning OGM Evan Lysacek, I think we might need to stock up on popcorn in the off-season… could get really interesting.

“I lost a lot of points in the short program making the two jumping errors, and it hurt me that I didn't land a clean quad in the long. I know what I really need to work on and not lose points on the little downgrades here and there." --Adam Rippon, from Lynn Rutherford’s
IceNetwork article this past week

To me, Rippon came apart in much the same way he’s come apart at previous U.S. Nationals—an uncharacteristically bad SP (including a rare botch on the Rippon Lutz). Yes, he finished in 6th two years ago, when he had a just-happy-to-be-here mentality as a last-minute replacement for Johnny Weir. But now he’s 22 and seems aware of his incredible potential… it’s probably a tough thing when one’s world shifts like that.

By the way—there was a little dust-up on Twitter when Phil Hersh called out Rippon’s coach Yuka Sato for telling Rippon “That was good” as he exited the ice after his sub-par free skate. (I think, specifically, Hersh called for a “reality check” and suggested Rippon was a big boy now and could/should be told the truth.) The dust-up came when a couple of others indicated Sato had NOT said those words, and that a little truth in journalism once in a while would be appreciated (I’m paraphrasing). If anyone has watched the performance recently and can account for what was actually said, please let me know.

Ladies Reps: Wagner and Gold

"It was the short program that did me in, but at the same time, it wasn't a disaster; it was just that I didn't get that triple [flip]-triple [toe] in there, and that was when I really needed it. It gives me something to build on." -- Ashley Wagner, from Lynn Rutherford’s
IceNetwork article this past week

"It's hard for me to say, but I think I can probably hold my own." --Gracie Gold, from Phil Hersh’s
4/6/12 article

Wagner, arguably the only bright spot for the U.S. after the dance final was over, pretty much did as she’s done in previous Nationals-- nearly took herself out of the running on the toughest jump pass of her SP, then skated up a storm the rest of the time… only to come thisclose to a medal, or a Worlds berth. This year she wrote a new page for herself with her National title, and all but proved it wasn’t a fluke when she emerged as the 4CC champ a couple weeks later. Yes, she resorted to some old patterns here (the two-foot on her 2ax/3Toe being another one), but considering her previous best Worlds finish was 16th… four long years ago, when she last qualified for it… I prefer to think that Wagner is well on her way to even better things.

And then there’s Gracie Gold, another U.S. competitor who has had a pretty awesome season on the Junior circuit. So awesome, in fact, that she’s been tapped to skate at WTT in a spot that was probably reserved for Alissa Czisny until her free skate came and went last Saturday. From her headline-ready name to her current ability to “hold her own” with the top triple-triplists of Russia, there’s already a certain savior feel to the articles written about her… like a decade of disappointment could be erased if only Gold keeps doing as she’s doing. I worry about that, especially for the sake of a 16 year old who may or may not be able to work that sort of pressure to her advantage. But for now, at least it gives WTT an unexpected—and hopefully, happy-- sense of purpose.

As for the aforementioned Czisny, well, by now everyone with a lingering interest in the sport is probably aware of her 22nd-place efforts in Nice. As for the WHY behind those efforts? When the only thing she’s really said publicly is that she was physically fine, and “doesn’t know” what happened, the speculation could’ve run rampant by now.

There weren’t any quotes from Czisny in Rutherford’s IceNetwork article. And any lingering talk about her may fade quickly, now that the season’s officially crossing into overtime without her. The bruises left behind, both on Czisny herself and elsewhere? That’s a different story.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Saturday Worlds 2012 Review: Ladies Final

PLEASE NOTE: I'll get more into the details/analysis of many Worlds performances & scores later in the week-- but please feel free to leave comments or questions in the meantime!

Heaven help me, I nearly saw every last lady in the free skate… so here’s what I’ve got:

Caught 1st lady in progress: Mikonsaari (FIN)…looks about 11 yrs old. (She’s actually 18.) 66.24/110.40 (Finished 24th)

Korobeynikova (RUS) FS- Otonal… 3F… 3lz/2t… 3F opened up, landed forward… 2ax/2t… popped her 3Lo… 3sal/3T? prob UR and double 3 out… 2ax… interesting, diff positions on layback… 83.27 (way off SB by 20 or so)/129.98 (Finished 19th)

Buhler (SWE) FS: the Gypsy Baron… 3lz pulled it out… 3sal fell out… 3T was 2T/2T/1T I think… 2ax nice… 3T 2’d again, awkwardly… popped 3sal/2t… 2ax/2T… interesting approach to Bielmann, but nearly lost edge doing it. 72.19/116.21 (Finished 23rd)

Popova (UKR)/Sur les ailes du temps (?)… 3F?/2T… 3Lo good… 3T double-3 out… 3T/2T… 3sal/2t… 3sal good… nice 2ax… very nice position on layback, though the catch-foot positions were lacking. Petrenko’s her coach… 89.76, 5 off SB/136.36
(Finished 17th)

Hecken (GER) (FS- Valse #10 Chopin … 3F save… 3sal big step out… 3T/2t w/double 3 in between… (used to be 3T/3T didn’t it?)… 3F? FALL…3sal/2t/2t good… 2ax/2t…2ax again… choreo through that part was really lacking… still love the happy way she looks through most of her skating. 82.81, 4+ off SB/129.20 (Finished 20th)

Frank (AUS) FS (Hanz Zimmer selections)… hmm flesh-colored gloves… not sure what I think of those. 3lz hand down?... 3T/2T good… 3sal/2t 2’d the sal… 3sal/2t… 3T opened to big incomplete pop… 2ax… 2ax fall out… 80.37/126.17 (Finished 21st)

Lafuente: 3F good… 3Lo nice… 3T/2T… sit spin position needs work… 3Lo/2t… needs to take more time with her spreadeagle… 2ax/2t… 3T… 2ax good… nicely done; would love to see her connect w/audience more. 92.88 SB/140.24 good for her! (Finished 15th)

Turkkila (FIN) age 17 Scheherazade… ooh she’s too young for this music. 3T/2T nice… 3sal/2t good… 2Lo w/arm variation… 2ax/2t/2Lo messed up on last one… 3sal step out… 3T good… 2ax good… pretty decent debut! 87.81 new SB/135.56 (Finished 18th)

Glebova (EST) Spartacus… 3lz good… interesting set up for 3Lo… 2ax/3T I think… 3sal/2t/2t… 3sal/2t 2’d both… 2ax… 3F hand down… pretty good skate from her. 95.24/144.28 (Finished 13th)

Lacoste: Evita (piano version)… 3Lo good… 3ltz/2Lo was 2’d both… 3sal FALL… 3F 2’d… 3Lo/2Lo… this arrangement reminds me of Alissa’s George Winston medley from last year… 2ax FALL… 3sal/1T… Oh, she’s so bummed. Hate that. Lots of pressure for her; if she’s not in Top 10 only 1 can go next year. 89.23/138.60 (Finished 16th)

Czisny : 3lz FALL… 3Lo FALL… 3F OK, deep edge save… audience trying to clap for her through this part of music as she spins… 3T big break at waist but no fall… 3lz FALL… 3Lo FALL #4… 2ax FALL #5… is this meltdown over yet? Whew. Yes. OMG I think there will be 5 freaking deductions there. what do you say?? This time, big tears in the K/C. That was so sad. Can we take this season back? 75.80/124.11 (Finished 22nd)

SileteXotica… 2ax/?T… 3lz save of sorts… 3F FALL… 3Lo… ?? (Sorry, doing a Tweet check)… 3sal/2T… 3F/2T… 2ax… 99.76 new SB/148.18 (Finished 12th)

Marchei Big Bad Voodoo Daddy… 3lz/2t sweet… 3F hands down, complete stop… 3sal hands down again… 3lz good… 3F snowy but OK… 2ax, double 3 to 2T… (this costume’s a little too showgirl-ey for me)… 3sal to 2T (double-3 again)… 97.96/150.10 good for her! (Finished 8th)

Zhang Kexin
(CHN): Love the Magician(??)… 3F/3T nice… 3ltz ooh FALL almost hits boards?... 3lz/2t much better. ?? I missed that jump… 3Lo… 3sal/2t/2t?... 2ax good… 102.57 6 off SB/157.57 (Finished 7th)

McCorkell Where Have All the Flowers Gone… I like her hair… 3lz good… 3F good… she looks ready to attack these jumps, good for her… 3T/2T… not a lot of stretch on spirals… popped 3sal… popped 3Lo… 2ax/2t… 3T to 2ax good on both… 93.42/143.84 (Finished 14th)

Gedevanishvili (didn’t recognize her; hair is down)… 3lz FALL… next 3lz is popped mess… 2ax/2T… 3sal good… 3Lo FALL…3T/2T fell out of 2nd… 3T good… she cringes when it’s over; not pleased… 90.71; 18 pts off SB/149.20 (Finished 10th)

Helgesson: Sunset Boulevard… 3F nice… 3? Good… 3Lo very nice… 3T/2T good… I like this music for her; costume w/fur cuffs is nice too. 2ax awk. Step out… 3Lo FALL… 3sal good… did she finish behind music too much?? (I think she got a deduction) 94.35/148.54 (Finished 11th)

Wagner: 3F/2t/2Lo good… 2ax/3T prolly 2ft… 3lz nice… LOVE the staccato arms as usual… 3Lo… 3sal good… 3Lo/2T… 3F good… oh did we need that. Thanks. 120.35, 8 off SB…176.77. AND no worse than 7th for this event. Good girl. But Tweeter crowd cries underscored. I wouldn’t doubt that a bit. (Finished 4th)

Leonova… also unrecognizable (when she’s not looking saucy). 3T/3T great… 3Lo good… 3lz step out, unusual error (for this year)… 3F/2t good but sooo close to boards… 3sal/2t good… 3F good… 2ax good… I know she’s attacking her SLFW, but her posture is really frustrating—so much lurching, it seems… she’s very happy; I’d say that should keep her on the podium… don’t know that will win. 119.67 new SB/184.28 (Finished 2nd)

Asada: popped the 3ax… 3F/2Lo… 3lz pretty… 2ax/2T (supposed to be 3T)… 2’d 3F… 3Sal… 3Lo popped… aw, she’s giving it away, why, why??... 105.03/164.52 and she’s behind Ashley. Wow. (Finished 6th)

Murakami: 3lz good… 3Lo good… 3F cross/2ft… 3T/3T nice…3T to 2ax popped… another popped axel a little later… 3sal/2Lo/2Lo cool… looong wait on these scores… 112.74 new SB/175.41 (Finished 5th)

Kostner: 3Lo good… 3F lovely… 2ax/3T… 2F/2T (her only error?)… 2ax…3sal… 3sal/2t/2t I think… and YES, good for her, she’s finally got her gold. Right? 128.94 new SB/189.94 YEAY. Never thought I’d say that. (Finished 1st)

Suzuki: 3ltz good… 2ax/3T… 3T nice… 3Lo/2t/2Lo yesss… (maybe UR??)… 3sal good… popped lutz?/2T… 3Lo good… has she saved the best for last (score-wise)? 121.30 new SB/180.68 (Finished 3rd)

Makarova (in a new lavender dress replacing the fuchsia from earlier in season): 3lz incomplete step-out… 3T? big FALL like at start of season… 3Lo good… 3Lo/2t good… 3Sal FALL these falls look especially painful… popped axel… 2ax… last part of this feels particularly uninspired… probably post 2nd fall. Ah well… 90.97, 12 off SB/149.48 (Finished 9th)

Friday Worlds 2012 in Review: Pairs Final

Last Friday also brought us the PAIRS final. I think I’ve got most of the Top 10 here (though I'll eventually watch all of it):

FS: SBS 3T/2T good?... 3twist good… SBS 2ax she FELL but they strangely didn’t lose any rhythm/momentum… little off at end of SBS pairs spin… throw 3F NICE… good carry lift… her position on press lift looked a little awkward, but everyone else is she’s improved in this area (via Twitter) so what do I know… throw 3sal 2-ft… good debut I think! 111.28, about 5 off SB/170.90 (finished 10th)

FS: Beauty 3twist as usual… throw 3Lo very nice… SBS 3T good; they could use those 2t add-ons… SBS 2ax seq… she pops first one but gets 2nd; he’s good on both I think… throw 3F good… d.spirals need improvement (they got L1 on this in SP I think)… big carry lift very nice. WOW is she tan. Especially next to him. John gets a police bear in the K/C… haha (reference to his dad I think)… 117.89 and more jeers… 180.37 but John seems OK w/them. (Finished 8th.)

FS: I’ve loved this music all season. Nice 3twist. SBS 3sal they both stumble on them… SBS 3T to 2T good… throw 3sal … throw 3T good… will this be enough to keep them on podium? I’m thinking no… if only because of content (components are lacking)… 124.32 new SB/189.69 they got bronze! So happy!

I haven’t seen their FS yet, but scores were 122.83/182.42 (finished 7th)

FS: SBS 3T little out of sync but good… nice 3twist… throw 3T fall … SBS 2ax he had hands down... very smooth carry lift/exit… throw 3Lo good… last lift very nice too… good d.spiral. 118.66/183.68 (finished 6th)

FS: SBS 3T/2T/2T good… then I miss a bunch of it (Tweeting, sorry)… throw 3sal is 2’d… throw 3Lo good… 107.77/168.16 (finished 11th)

FS: Lovely 3twist… SBS 3sal nice… SBS 3T/2T good… she’s a tiny bit late coming out of SBS spins… nice throw 3Lo… throw 3sal great… he’s pumping his arms a lot before final spin even happens… is that part of the wing-flapping? LOL /140.90 is SB/201.38 Oh yeay, everyone’s smiling again. (BUT… finished 2nd)

FS: 3twist good… SBS 3T/2t/2t out of sync; she popped 2nd T (but they got it back)… SBS 3Sal good… nice throw 3sal… throw 3Lz good… and right on music… 121.72/185.41 (new SB) liked her “Yes! That’s good!” as soon as it went up… (finished 5th)

FS: throw 4sal clean?? Couldn’t tell; he was in the way on this angle (I later heard it wasn’t clean)… SBS 3T/2t/2t good; hers a little slow…4twist but also incomplete… D.Spiral not great… SBS 2ax good… throw ? very far, low landing but clean… totally botched lift near end; I’m telling you these two must be freaking exhausted. 116.17/179.44 and they get big jeers for that score. Oh, but these kids will be back… (finished 9th)

FS: Throw3F great… SBS 3T seq (w/other 3T?) good… endless held spiral. SBS spins good…until she lost it near end. 3twist good.SBS 2ax he popped his… little mistakes; do they have enough of a lead to afford these? Pairs spin looks slow and a little labored… last lift fine… throw 3sal at end good as usual. I think they ended a few seconds early? Lots of shrugging at end. Little miss on the choreo, I think. 132.86 seen as low… but 201.49 they must’ve barely beaten V/T. (finished 1st, but only by .11)

FS: SBS 3T he FELL big time and took a while to catch up… then right into SBS 2ax seq and it was fine (thank you experience)… 3twist yikes, almost wiped out… throw 3sal nice… I do like the Scheherazade on them; wish I got to see it more than once this year… throw 3Lo step out, very unlike her… I think their year off is showing. Somewhere, KimYu-Na is nodding… 118.95/186.05. (finished 4th)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Worlds 2012: Friday/Saturday in Review (The Men)

Wow… from a skating perspective, Friday seems like SO LONG ago as I sit here on Sunday night. And yet I still need to post my notes from both Friday and Saturday! Let’s get started and I'll add them in as I get them edited a bit:

MEN’s SP/FS (Please note that I missed Group 1 in the SP and a few in the FS too)

Voronov… FS only, to I Pagliacci… 4t I think but feed is freezing up… 3ax good… 3ax double 3’s into 2Lo… 3F… 2ax/3t/2t… 3Lo/2t… 3Lo…3sal (2’d??)… 143.23/210.04 (17th overall)

Liebers FS only, to Resistance, Hurt/Muse… 3F good… 3ax/2t… 3lz good…3ax looked almost OR… 3sal/3t fell out of 2nd… 3Lo good… 2ax… 3T… music doesn’t sound like best Muse choice, but he still seems an innovative sort. 125.92 new SB/184.13, also new SB. (20th overall)

Raya (#2 skater from Spain) FS only, to Cinema Paradiso… 2ax… 3F/2t… 3F fall out… I may have missed stuff here? Was Tweeting… 2ax/2t/2t… 3T had to step out; slipped off toe at start… 3sal I think?... seems like a good outing for him. Still love the Spanish crowd dressed as the flag. 110.26/167.48… OK his content is below the rest, but still good work. (24th overall)

Reynolds SP: 4sal/3T looked good… 3ax good… nice positions on back cross-foot spin… steps to 3lz good… seems to have jazzed up his spins. This looks as good as any SP I’ve seen from him this year, but he always gets lower marks than I expect. Low 70s here?? Yes… 72.95 new SB
FS: ChronoTrigger… 4sal (sorry Adam Rippon, but that’s how ya do it)… popped 4T to 2?... 3ax 2ft… 3Lo good… 4T/2T (wow, is he at the ½ way mark yet?) … 2ax/3T… 3lz… 3sal/3Lo/2Lo… more solid effort than I’ve seen from him in general on a FS. Maybe a 3rd spot for CAN next year? (turns out yes) 144.25, new SB/217.20… and he bumps Rippon back a spot. (12th overall)

Ten SP: 3ax pretty… 3F/3T 2nd one tipped way forward, had to hop it a little… 3lz good. He seems to have made a breakthrough this year on his consistency. 76.00
FS: Adios Nonino… 4T good!...3ax fall out (looked good in air)… 3ax/2T… 3Lo … 3lz/ 1/2 lo/3sal just like Rippon… 3Lo/2T… 3F 2’d… 2ax. 153.70 and even Frank Caroll looks shocked. 229.70 is a new SB for him. (7th overall)

Lucine (Monaco) SP: 2ax, 3F/3T double-3 in between… nice 3lz
FS: Jungle Book… 3F/2T… 3Lo good… 3lz good…3Sal… 3lz/2t… 3F/2t (all these are just fine)… 2ax… very cool hydroblade move right at end, almost directly into 2ax. Glad I read about this program on IceNetwork… truly entertaining and unique. 121.44/181.37 (23rd overall)

Caluza (Phillipines, formerly of US) SP: 2ax (planned), 3lz/3T, 3Lo. 61.87 new SB
FS: Piano Concerto in E Minor/Grieg… 3Lo good… 3lz/3t good… 3F good… 2ax… nice arms on him; he seems quite musical… 3lo/2t/2Lo w/arm variation (barely got off ground tho)… 2ax… walley into 3lz/2t (another arm variation?)… got a little carried away on SLFW and had a small stumble… 2ax hand down… so fun to watch him so happy with his work… he stomps around and nearly loses his balance out there. 122.23 new SB/184.10 (21st overall)

Ge (UZB) SP: The Swan… 3ax looked 2-ft… 3F/3T good… 3lz good. Good work; I heard he has a back injury and is on pain meds…but he’s still a ham in K/C.65.29 new SB
FS: War and Love… 3ax very squirrely, may be 2ft… 3F/3T… 3lz…another 3lz FALL…3F… 3Lo… 3sal/2t/2Lo… 2ax. Pumps the drama in this program just as he did at 4CC… it would be nice to see him on the GP circuit next year at least once. 121.12 /186.41 (19th overall)

Song SP: 4T/3T good!.. 3ax pitch forward… 3lz FALL… 69.58
FS: Hungarian Rhap #2 Liszt… 4T/3T LOVELY… 4T FALL… 3ax good… 3ax/2t very good; his 3ax technique is great… 3F… 3F? 2’d..3sal OK… 2ax/2t/2t…good effort from him/great year overall. 146.75/216.33 (well off SB but who cares) (14th overall)

Pfiefer SP: 3lz w/arm up… nice 3sal/3T… 2ax kinda saved it… bootstrap came loose on one leg, spontaneously he pushed up the pants leg on his costume during final 30 seconds of performance? Then pushes other one up during the bows. Too funny. And nice legs, I might add… 60.61, easily SB.
FS: Elephant Man… Tano3lz nice… 3Lo good… 2’d his 3F… 3lz/2t nice… 2ax from front edge, rare… 3sal/3T nice too…3T/2t/2t… 2ax… nice leg positions on his camel change camel… 121.93 new SB/182.54 (22nd overall)

Cieplucha (POL): 2ax, 3lz/2t… 3Lo, all nice. Oh but bleeding on hand? Already had one bandage on finger… he’s the Les Nessman of skating (WKRP reference; sorry, my age is showing)… 57.18 new SB, but missed the cut for the final by .04 (!). Looks like Scott Davis (former US champ) is a coach?

Joubert SP: 4T/3T no speed coming out but good… 3ax snowy w/lurch forward but OK… 3F good. Nice to see him light up here instead of crumble under expectations. 83.47 and he’s officially in the mix. Good for him.
FS: Matrix... 4T good… 3sal… 3ax/3T very good… 3ax good… 3sal/2t… 2ax?... 3lz… 3F yes into 2ax. Jump like there’s no tomorrow man. Oh, good for you!!!! Kissed ice. Au revoir and I’m very happy for him right now. That’s the way to close it, medals be damned.
161.11, shatters his SB/244.58…but he’s still behind Yanru. (4th overall)

Marjorov (SWE) SP: 3ax good…3lz FALL messy (on belly)… 3F another weird fall/slam into boards!... 56.57 Not sure he’ll make the cut… (and he didn’t).

Rippon SP: 3F/3T good but too close to boards for my taste… 3ax fell out, off axis in air (old habits…)…. Rippon lutz fall out too. BLAH! Damn. 73.55; not as bad as I thought it would be…
FS: 4sal FALL, still UR… 3ax double-3 out/2t… 3Lo good… 3ax drags back foot and stops a fall… 3F/3T good… 3lz/1/2 loop/3sal good… great Rippon lutz… 2ax… not sure he came out of last spin as planned, but it’s a program that got better as it progressed. Too bad he missed the big jumps though. Will he stay w/Sato/Dunjgen? 143.08 (3+ off SB)/216.63 (13th overall)

Chan SP: 4T OK but strange landing, no combo… 3ax good… 3lz/3T fine. Nearly lost it in the FW part. 89.41. There’s some room there…
FS: 4T nice… 4T/3T good… 3ax good… 3lz/1/2 Lo/3sal very wonky… 3Lo good… 3F… 3lz… total waxel moment; what the hell was that supposed to be (2ax I think)… of course regains self for FW… Hmm. Probably got it, but if it’s by a lot I’ll be pretty cranky. Nice fedora in K/C. 176.70/266.11 (1st overall)

Contesti SP: 3lz/3T looks awkward in air but it’s OK… 3ax hand down… 3F good.73.55 tied w/Rippon…
FS: Another La Vie en Rose? 3ax good… 3F good… 3lz good…let’s see if he can keep the energy going… 3ax/2t/2t good for this late in program… 3Lo good… 2ax… 3sal/3T fell out of last… 3T?... 2ax good. But really, much better than usual. His technique and/or stamina seems improved. How strange it must be… a Frenchman, skating for Italy, IN France. But he’s quite happy. 151.34 new SB…224.89 (10th overall)

Brezina SP: 3ax good… 3F/3T… 4sal (just when I was thinking he was gonna play it safe…) 87.67 new SB
FS: up close his costume looks weird, seemed to see his chest & a tank top showing? 3ax great… 4T FALL… 4sal hands down fall out… 3ax/3T very wonky but got both… 3F/2T saved flip… 3Lo double 3’s out… he’s losing bronze to Hanyu w/this isn’t he… 3lz good… 3sal/2t… Awww, I dunno. I’m afraid he didn’t earn it, but if he gets bronze, it’s all about the SP. 151.88 off SB by a couple/239.55 and he’s nowhere near the medals. (6th overall)

Dice-K SP: 4T/3T good on 1st; hand down/twisted up on 2nd… 3ax good… 3lz nice. That mistake on the 3T was what I was talking about in my predictions. Judges want an excuse to put him behind Chan (and Brezina in this case), they got it. 85.72
FS: 4T NICE… 3ax great… 3sal good… 3ax/3T… 3F/2T… 3Lo… 3lz/2t/2Lo… 3F… aw, that is a thing of beauty. 8 triples + quad. RU kidding me?!? Make Chan earn this damn gold! YES. I better see some SICK numbers here… 173.94/259.66, but is that sick enough?! Don’t know. (It wasn’t. 2nd overall)

Abbott SP: Oh god he’s hamming out there pre-starting pose. In character. I hope this doesn’t backfire. 3F/3T FALL on 2nd. Dammit. Probably should’ve gone for double toe on combo. Good on 3ax. 2’d the 3lz and double-3s out. Frack. Really?! FRACK. Mid 70s? 74.85, yep. Hangs his head. Ohhhhh…
FS: 4T little wide but got it… 3ax/2t little low on 1st… 3F good… 3ax fall out… 3lz/3T good… 3Lo popped… 3lz low landing, saved it… little stumble on last part, don’t think it was official FW… saved 3sal. Lots of saves, but I think he’ll take it. Fought fought fought. 151.34 (off SB by 5)/226.19 (finishes 8th)

Van der Perren SP: 3F/3T… 2ax? Oh come on now… 3lz… slowest. Last. Spin. Ever. 66.38… and he’s miserable.
FS Man in Iron Mask… 4T good (not 2ft??)… 3ax good… 3lz… 3F… I missed some stuff, tweeting… but he’s smiling so I’m glad he’s doing what he wants to out there… 3Lo/2t… 2ax… another traditionally slow spin to end, but yeay for him. Bonne chance VDP! 147.66 easy SB/214.04. Good for him! (15th overall)

Gachinski SP: 2T/2T (bad lean on 4T attempt)… 3ax good… 3Lo good. 68.50
FS: Interview w/Vampire… 4T FALL… 4T FALL again, looked like a similar problem… 3ax/2t/2Lo better… another 3ax good… 2’d something… 3sal… 3Lo good… 2ax to 2ax seq… 136.56/205.06. (18th place, and BTW... Russia will only get 1 spot for 2013 Worlds due to his and Voronov’s performances.)

Amodio SP: 4sal FALL… 3lz/3T good… 3ax OK, low landing… 79.96
FS: 4sal low, hand down?... 3ax/2t w/arm variation good… and, let the FW/posing begin… 3ax nice… 3lz/2t/2t… 3sal/3T late in program, cool… 2’d last 3lz… 3F good. 2ax then—SLFW bam bam bam samba samba etc. 163.07 new SB/243.03 (5th overall)

Hanyu: 4T/3T… 3Ax, I think landing OK but maybe dragged foot?... popped Flip oh dear… 77.07
FS: 4T good… 3ax nice… ? good… 3F good… complete splat during FW… then 3ax/3T… then 3lz/2t… 3sal good… well done little Weirette. 173.99 new SB/251.06 (sigh… this could’ve been Jeremy.) (Finishes 3rd)

Kozuka SP: 4T crossfoot FALL… 3ax had it, then FALL… jeez louise. 3lz/3T. 71.78
FS: 4Tpopped into 2T… 4T/2t very wobbly but got it… 3ax hand down/small step out… 3ax/2t/2Lo have no idea how he landed that… 3F 2’d… 3Lo good… 3sal good… 3lz/3T good… great combo spin at end. Hope he can move up a little w/that? Not sure. 146.85 about 9 off SB/218.63. (Finished 11th)

Fernandez SP: nice shot of Olympic tattoo on leg! HOT!... 4T low landing but good… 3lz/3T good… 3ax double 3 out, but could be enough here… 81.87
FS: great 4T… 4sal double-3 out… 3ax FALL… 3ax/3T short landing but OK… 3lz was doubled, combo dropped?.. 3sal/another wonky messed combo, he’s getting sloppy… 2F/2T/2Lo… 2Lo… ooh, looking pretty tired on this FW… yep, he’s unhappy w/that. I’d contend that unlike Abbott & wonky landings, he didn’t really fight as much and let program get out of his control. (No, don’t slap yourself in the face Javier. You’ve had an awesome year.) 144.00/225.87… did he fall behind Abbott? Yes he did. (Finished 9th)

Verner SP: 4T 2’d… 3ax good… OK, this is the Carmina Burana hip-hop we heard of a long way back… 3lz/3T had to hop on that last one… 70.38.
FS: Sing Sing Sing; La Vie En Rose… has suspenders AND ascot… 4T was 3t’d… 3F… 3ax good… uh-oh, one sleeve became uncuffed during circ FW…ah but he fixed it at start of La Vie part…3ax OR stepped out… 3Lo good… 3F/2T… 3F? nice… 3sal little low… looking little tired here at SLFW… 140.28 (4 off SB) 210.66... (Finished 16th)