Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ten Notable Competitive Performances From the Past Ten Days

Here I sit with the JGP Istanbul already in the rear-view mirror, and both JGP Austria and the U.S. Int’l Figure Skating Classic (A.K.A. The “B” Event) waving goodbye from about halfway down the block... how to catch up without feeling overwhelmed because the senior GP hasn’t even started yet? Narrow it down to 10 mostly-American performances that stood out for one reason or another, and write about them... maybe in alphabetical order, for simplicity’s sake. Like this:

Max Aaron (Gold medal, Int’l FS Classic): Holy quad salchow, Batman! What a way to start the season—with two new programs that “announce your presence with authority” as they say. The SP is Daft Punk’s Tron; the FS is West Side Story. Watch for him at Nebelhorn Trophy a couple of weekends from now.

Jason Brown & Leah Keiser (One gold apiece, JGP Istanbul): The biggest news here should be that the barely 15 year-old Keiser took on her first-ever JGP event and won, even defeating recent JGP Gold Medalist Satoko Miyahara in the process (she took bronze). But I feel like I’m burying the lead when I add, way down deep in the paragraph, that Brown finally attempted a triple axel in Istanbul!! Sure it was 2-footed, and ultimately ruled as under-rotated. But he tried it, missed it by a bit, and still won! (And is pretty much a lock for the Junior GP Final, which he won last year.)

Nathan Chen (Gold, JGP Austria): Now 13 and looking like he’s been waiting to become age-eligible for this series for years, tiny teenaged Chen took Austria by storm and handily won his JGP debut. Next up for him: JGP Croatia.

Chock/Bates (4th, Int’l FS Classic): Now in their 2nd season, Madison & Evan were in the lead with their Cirque du Soleil SD but two significant stumbles on his part during their Dr. Zhivago FD contributed to a miss on the medals this time around. Still fun watching them grow and improve, though. Next up: Cup of China.

Davis/Ladwig (5th, Int’l FS Classic): This was the international debut for Mark with Stephanie (as opposed to loooongtime partner Amanda Evora), so I wanted to mention them despite their 5th-out-of-6 finish. Lots of minor mistakes happening here, but most were timing-related and surely were the result of being a new team. They have just a little time to regroup, though; USFS has them scheduled for both Skate Canada and NHK.

Fedorova/Miroshkin (Silver, JGP Austria): I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this young Russian pair features the first side-by-side Biellmann spins I’ve ever witnessed in pairs skating! (Of course when a man executes one, I refer to it as a MANNBIEL...)

Gilles/Poirier (Gold, Int’l FS Classic): The rising, not-so-young (both are now 20) stars of Canadian ice dance grabbed the win here with an FD well-stamped with Christopher Dean’s innovative choreo. Skate Canada is next for them as well.

Gracie Gold (Silver, Int’l FS Classic): She lost to Agnes Zawadzki, but I wanted to mention Gold’s new FS just the same (Zawadzki is still using last season’s Rhapsody in Blue). Gold is using cuts from the soundtrack to Life is Beautiful this time around. If it sounds familiar, that’s because Jeremy Abbott worked from the same soundtrack for his 2010-11 free skate. But so far, I have to say I liked Abbott’s cuts much better. Gold’s worked nicely for the first half of her FS, but not so much the second. Was it because she wasn’t skating her best? I’ll have to take another look at Skate Canada (where she, too, is scheduled to compete).

K/G-S* (Bronze, Int’l FS Classic): First off I must give a shout-out to Oak Park, Illinois, which is home to both G-S and myself—I’d forgotten this until the Ice Network graphics dept. reminded me during this event. Anyway, K/G-S are skating to a couple of Adele songs this year in their FD (Turning Tables & Rumor Has It) and looking pretty good—good enough to earn a medal here. Should be interesting to see if they’re able to keep progressing as they have over the past 3 years and make a real run for the national podium in January.

*= Kriengkrairut/Giulietti-Schmitt. Please forgive any spelling errors... this is why I’m abbreviating it for the remainder of their Olympic-eligible career.

Miller & Cesario (Silver and Bronze, JGP Austria): (Hannah) Miller and (Samantha) Cesario were not able to catch Russia’s latest contribution to the IT GIRL pool Elena Radionova, but they both brought in highly respectable performances of their own, claiming silver (Miller) and bronze (Cesario) in the process. Not sure what’s next for either of them, but I’m crossing fingers for Cesario’s continued success in particular (as I believe she’ll age out of juniors after this season).

OK! Feeling more caught up now?? I know I am. But no time to rest on laurels... JGP Slovenia (featuring Courtney Hicks, among others) will be upon us before the week’s out! Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wedding Gift Ideas for Kwan? Future Coaches for Rippon? Read On...

Did you watch all the skating action? Or at least follow along as to who won?

I didn’t... I was at a school reunion honoring a beloved choral director, crash-coursing my way through Bruckner’s Locus Iste and other works of musical art that I haven’t attempted in over two decades. So I’m still catching up, hoping to be good to go by the time JGP Bosphorus (in Istanbul) gets underway Thursday.

In the meantime... let’s touch on a couple of major skating headlines from last week:

1) Michelle Kwan is engaged! (As you probably heard, well, everywhere)

So here’s my question for you: if you were invited to her wedding, what gift would you bring for Kwan and Lt. Clay Pell? Monogrammed towels? Popcorn popper? Silver bookends shaped like skate blades? Post an idea in the comments... if we get a big enough list going I can review the ideas on Twitter or in future SOTS posts.

2) Adam Rippon changes coaches. (Yes, again.)

You know it’s become something of a pattern when you put “Adam Rippon coaching change” into Google and several different “changes” pop up. In case you’re wondering, there have now been FOUR different coaches in Rippon’s life in 5 ½ years, ever since leaving his first-ever coach in February 2007:

Nikolai Morozov (2/07-11/08)

Brian Orser (1/09- 4/11)

Jason Dungjen (5/11- 8/12)

Rafael Arutyunyan (9/12- )

Which brings me to my other question for you (a two-parter):

a) Do you think Rippon will change coaches a fifth time between now and Sochi (Feb 2014), and if so...

b) Who might he go with? I know much of it depends on how he fares over the coming season, but after winning his first senior medal at Nationals this past January, I would’ve thought he was settling into Detroit for the long haul. Then Worlds happened... 13th place happened... and it occurs to me that we’re just as likely to predict this correctly NOW as we would be in about 5 months, so why not?

Again, if enough answer these questions I'll take 'em to Twitter or a future SOTS post.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

JGP Linz, Austria: a Little Bitty Preview (Cowboys not included)

Missed my goal by a few hours, but I’ve still got a couple things to mention about Junior Grand Prix Austria (Linz) before it gets any older...

The first thing to know—unlike JGP USA (Lake Placid) a couple weeks ago, it is NOT streaming on Ice Network. But the ISU channel on You Tube (which you can access HERE) will once again feature each athlete’s performance shortly after it is completed.

Or, if you just want to track the results, go HERE.

The other thing(s) to mention, of course, are the U.S. competitors at the event...

BOYS: Nathan Chen & Jay Yastanto. Chen, if memory serves me right, has competed at the Novice level very successfully the past couple of years and is only now old enough to hang at the junior level! You may have seen him on TV a few years back when NBC presented the U.S. Nats exhibition and showcased Chen’s routine (he was dressed like a cowboy... a little bitty cowboy).

GIRLS: Samantha Cesario & Hannah Miller. Cesario was “the other” U.S. skater using Black Swan last season, but injury kept her from competing at Nationals.

PAIRS: Britney Simpson/Matthew Blackmer, Jessica Calalang/ Zach Sidhu, & Brianna De la Mora/ Taylor Wilson.

DANCE: Whitney Miller/Kyle MacMillan & Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons

Enjoy the double dose of competition this weekend!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Little of the Who/What/When/etc. of the Inaugural IFS Classic

There are not one, but two international competitive skating events taking place later this week. And if you’re like me, you got a quizzical look on your face when you first heard the name of one event: the 2012 US International Figure Skating Classic, taking place in Salt Lake City... the who? The WHAT? Since when??

This release, which has been up at Ice Network for a few weeks now, provides some details. My paraphrasing of it: the IFS Classic appears to be kind of like the Four Continents Championship (est. 1999) in that it’s an opportunity for primarily “lesser known” elite skaters to earn points competing at the international level. The main differences I see are just that a) it’s held at the opposite end of the skating season, and b) it allows for some European skaters in addition to those you might see at 4CC. I suppose calling it the “FIVE Continents Championship” would’ve been too confusing, so... here we are.

Oh, and Ice Network appears to hold the online rights to the IFS Classic. So kiss the delayed/ “on demand” video goodbye, if only for this event.

The LADIES will feature Gracie Gold (National Junior Gold Medalist) and Agnes Zawadzki (Senior Bronze Medalist) for the U.S. and Canadian champion Amelie Lacoste; other notable names include Elena Glebova of Estonia (13th at Worlds), Ireland’s Clara Peters (29th at Worlds), Mexico’s Ana Cantu Felix, and Melissa Bulanhagui (who formerly represented the U.S. but now skates for The Philippines).

The MEN will actually have four U.S. reps-- Max Aaron (8th at Nats), Timothy Dolensky (Junior Silver Medalist), Armin Mahbanoozadeh (4th at Nats), and Ross Miner (Bronze Medalist)—while Canada will send two: Jeremy Ten (Canadian Bronze Medalist) and Liam Firus (6th at Nats). Luis Hernandez of Mexico (4-time national champion), Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, and Christopher Caluza (another former U.S. rep now skating for The Philippines) are among the others scheduled to compete.

PAIRS will bring the international debut of the U.S.’s Lindsay Davis/Mark Ladwig (he formerly of the long-term Olympian team Evora/Ladwig), as well as Felicia Zhang/Nathan Bartholomay (8th at Nats). Canada will send two teams—Moore-Towers/Moscovitch (4th at Nats) and Lawrence/Swiegers (National Bronze Medalists)—while Great Britain’s Kemp/King (19th at Worlds) and Israel’s Montalbano/Krasnopolsky (17th at Worlds) round out the relatively small lineup.

ICE DANCING gives us three U.S. teams in Anastasia Cannuscio/Colin McManus (6th at Nats), Madison Chock/Evan Bates (5th at Nats), and Lynn Kriengkrairut/Logan Giulietti-Schmitt (4th at Nats, and whom I respectfully request to refer to as either Lynn K/Logan G-S or simply Lynn/Logan for the duration of the season. I enjoy their work, but my aging fingers have enough of a workout as it is.)

Canada is sending current National Bronze Medalists Piper Gilles (formerly of the U.S.)/Paul Poirier (formerly of Crone/Poirier) and Alexandra Paul/Mitchell Islam (5th at Nats)... and Australia is sending its top dance team, Danielle O’Brien/Gregory Merriman (20th at Worlds).

As for Ice Network streaming times, the seniors schedule looks like this (all times Eastern):

Thursday 9/13: Short dance at 2:15 PM; Men’s short at 4 PM

Friday 9/14: Ladies short at 2:45 PM; Pairs short at 5:45 PM

Saturday 9/15: Free dance at 3 PM; Men’s free at 4:45 PM

Sunday 9/16: Ladies free at 4:25 PM; Pairs free at 7:35 PM

So let’s see how this goes. Oh, and that OTHER international competitive skating event I mentioned is JGP Austria... the third stop on the Junior Grand Prix circuit this season. My goal is to preview that event before it actually gets going later this week... stay tuned!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Recapping the U.S. Love at Lake Placid

I’m going to take advantage of this tiny lull in the JGP action to do a few different posts over the next few days... catching up on recent finishes as well as upcoming events (both competitive and otherwise).

I’ll start with the JGP Lake Placid recap (from Labor Day weekend):

BOYS: If you only know Josh Farris’ skating from his disappointing results thus far at Senior Nationals—one time of which happened as the guy skated with AN ANKLE FRACTURE-- you don’t know his skating yet. With two successful triple axels and a successful, first-ever quad toe in his free skate, Farris ran away with the gold medal here. In silver was Keiji Tanaka (joining the vest-and-tie club for his FS to The Untouchables), and bronze went to the teeny tiny Canadian Roman Sadovsky (skating to Man (more like Boy) in the Iron Mask). Further down in the standings was the other U.S. rep James Schetelich, finishing 12th with his FS to The Mission.

GIRLS: All three U.S. girls did quite well here, with Courtney Hicks earning a silver for her interp of Concierto de Aranjuez, Angela Wang pulling all the way up to a bronze from down in 8th, and Kiri Baga holding down 5th. But none of them came close to stopping Satoko Miyahara of Japan, a tiny whisper of a girl who has the triple/triples (of course) AND showcases them in a lovely manner—currently using an all-piano Romeo & Juliet (the Rota version) as her free-skate vehicle. (By the way, if you’re curious how Baga’s pairing with Taylor Toth is going thus far, check out this link from the recently-held Detroit Open.

PAIRS: The Canadian team of Purdy/Marinaro were impressive enough in the FS to claim gold over SP winners Davankova/Deputat of Russia. Then came three of the four U.S. teams: Aaron/Settlage (skating to Carmen) for bronze, Denney/Frazier (using La Strada) for 4th, and Pfund/Reiss with 5th. Oltmanns/Santillan, the 4th U.S. team, finished 12th.

DANCE: U.S.’s Aldridge/Eaton used a Fiddler on the Roof FD to surpass the SD leaders, Russia’s Kosigina/ Moroshkin (brandishing an MJ medley). Canada’s Poulin/ Servant took bronze with a unique (retro) look, unique (retro?) music choices, and an FD that felt more “dancy” to me than the others. Further back, in 6th and 7th place, were U.S. teams Pogrebinsky/Gudis (to an FD which included Masquerade Waltz) and Heritage/Fast (who used a Beatles medley as their FD.)