Thursday, November 22, 2012

This Year's Model vs. Last: Skaters at TEB 2012

This year’s Trophee Eric Bompard brought a healthy dose of surprise (Takahito Mura winning gold), disappointment (Jorik Hendrickx having to WD with an ankle fracture after a 4th place finish in the SP), and head-scratching (Tomas Verner’s continued inability to string two powerful clean jumps together, let alone six or seven). But when it came time to compare last year’s free programs with this year’s, I went straight to pairs and dance. (Mostly because I didn’t cover those at all last week.) Here are a few notables:

Kavaguti/Smirnov (won gold in pairs): Clair de Lune (last year) vs. February by Levashkevich (this year)... I’m very fond of Clair, but as with most programs, I’m not very fond of using the same music for two years straight. What’s more, it’s a very delicate work that, for me, fed into the idea that Kavaguti is a fragile athlete—not a very useful characterization for anyone! But in the two times I’ve seen the February program I can already see choreography (not to mention skating skills) that demonstrate a stronger, while still beautiful, pair of skaters.

Berton/Hotarek (won bronze): Adagio in G Minor by Giazotto/Albioni (last year) vs. Flamenco by Amigo (this year). This one is tough! Last year’s Adagio was lovely and worked very nicely for them, but using any Adagio for the entire duration of a free skate is challenging. On the other hand—I’m enjoying Flamenco (which seems to be a variety of cuts by modern-day guitar virtuoso Amigo), but I’d probably enjoy it more if it didn’t bear such a resemblance to other classical guitar choices for skating... or in the case of Peng/Zhang, the same choice. Nonetheless, I’ll choose Flamenco by a nose. Or is that by a ROSE (in the hair)?

James/Cipres (finished 6th): “Nostalgia” by Yanni vs. Pearl Harbor OST... Different story here in that it’s an easy choice. For one thing, I am not a Yanni fan. At all. For another, James/Cipres are really coming together as a pairs team this year, if the early returns are any indication. Yeah, they got 6th at TEB, but it was a lop-sided 6th (meaning a weak SP but a pretty solid FS)... so... if Hans Zimmer’s Pearl Harbor soundtrack is helping them get it done, how can I choose anything but this year’s model?

Riazanova/Tkachenko (won bronze in ice dance):  Blizzard OST vs. The Godfather... consider me four for four this week on choosing current programs over old ones! I took a look at R/T’s Blizzard FD a couple days ago to refresh my memory, and about 30 seconds in was all I needed. One simple melodic theme... repeated about 375 times. Yeah, it built as the program progressed, as most music does, but it was kind of like drawing a pattern with a pen, then the same pattern with a sharpie, then the same pattern AGAIN with a paintbrush, and a bigger paintbrush...

So, Godfather? Which has one very identifiable passage that R/T only use twice in their entire program, as I recall? Yep, works for me.

P.S. NHK Trophy gets underway in a matter of minutes, as I finally get this posted! The SP/SDs will run throughout the wee hours, so for me, that means... I’ll try and get a briefing posted before watching the highlights. Heaven knows I’ll be lucky to stay awake long enough to catch even one program on the live side!

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