Friday, January 4, 2013

Part 2 of Ten Toepicks For Figure Skating 2012... (aka The Other Five Toepicks)

Here come my Other Five Toepicks from 2012 (before we get much deeper into 2013!)

+ Pairs skating success stories may have stalled out over in China, disappeared in Japan (now that Takahashi/Tran are no more), and are on medical leave in the U.S. (until John Coughlin recovers from surgery).  But the biggest and best news is back to happening over in Europe, where Savchenko/Szolkowy and Volosohzar/Trankov—representing Germany and Russia, respectively—have emerged as two of the best-matched, most competitive teams the world scene has witnessed in years. As evidenced at the most recent Worlds, veterans Sav/Szol retain the upper hand in this battle... for now. But time (and experience) is building on Volo/Trank’s side, to the point where February 2014 might just prove to be the perfect timing for a run on Olympic gold.

+ Any hopes that Ottavio Cinquanta’s reign of figure skating terror would actually end “on time” were dashed over the summer, when it was announced that the ISU granted his request to stay on as president through 2016. Fortunately (I suppose), this here blog doesn’t attract the kind of readership that would’ve made it dangerous that I used my pulpit to suggest skating fans punch Cinquanta in the face.  To my knowledge, no one did. In public, anyway.

+ The Class of 2010 (and to some degree, 2006) began staging its comeback in bigger, bolder ways with the days until Sochi shrinking away. Kim Yu-Na showed us she could walk the talk with her recent return to competition; Mao Asada never really left the field but, arguably, her quality of skating had... until now. As for the men, where Evgeny Plushenko has gotten back out there a time or two with success, Evan Lysacek apparently wanted to but has been hindered by injury, and Johnny Weir did—without much success—then was hindered by injury, and now has found his way to a FoodNetwork celebrity cook-off as he heals... what can I offer but a thoroughly disgruntled mumbling of the words Advantage Plushy.

+ I suppose no year-end skating wrap would be complete without a mention of the State of the (Televised) Skate... which took another hit this year, as Universal Sports Network made it more difficult than ever for fans to keep up with figure skating in the U.S. if they were not fortunate enough to have access to the channel. 

An interesting note to this issue: Back in November, a rep from the marketing department at USN wrote me to ask if it would be OK to post about USN’s offerings on State of the Skate. I asked if she could first clarify what was actually available from USN to the majority of my readers. She never responded, nor to my knowledge ever posted anything directly to the blog.

Maybe that clarifies things just a little TOO much, huh?

+ It’s been said that one advantage to the COP scoring system is that it allows for more surprises in the medals, as skaters typically considered out of the running—or in many cases, never really in the running to begin with—can find themselves near the top with a great free skate. But that strategy (for lack of a better word) sort of worked in reverse for several fine athletes this past year:

Takahiko Kozuka (2nd in Worlds 2011/11th in Worlds 2012)

Artur Gachinski (3rd in Worlds 2011/18th in Worlds 2012)

Alissa Czisny (5th in Worlds 2011/22nd in Worlds 2012)

The Shibutanis (3rd in Worlds 2011/8th in Worlds 2012)

Which way will the tides turn as THIS season heads for home? Nationals from many countries have already taken place, with the Canadian and U.S. Nats right around the corner. Let’s take a closer look at the latter next week. 


Snoopy15 said...

Towards your last point, I think it's more shocking that Kozuka isn't even on the World Team this year...
That is truly some statement to the depth of Japanese figure skating.

Kelli Lawrence said...

I'm still in denial about that one, Snoopy15 :-( From silver to 11th to not even there... noooo!!!