Friday, December 12, 2014

Time for the 2014 "Skating on Air" Book Giveaway!!

Who wants to win a book??

‘Tis the season of giving, and I’ve still got some copies of Skating on Air: The Broadcast History of an Olympic Marquee Sport up for grabs. If you want a copy for a friend/family member, or still need one for yourself... this could be your time!

Here's how this works: 

1) This year I’m giving away two paperback copies (no Ebooks, though you can certainly find those for sale right here.)

2) If you've previously won a copy from my giveaway or someone else's, please refrain from entering this time.

3) If you win, I'll make every effort to ship it to you before Christmas (No promises on when it arrives though). And, of course, I'll sign it for you-- or for someone else if it's a gift!

4) To enter, please shoot me an email at KLawrence997-at-gmail-dot-com. Put Skating on Air 2014 Giveaway in the subject head. I'll send you back a confirmation email when I see it.

5) I plan to do the drawing NEXT FRIDAY EVENING (12/19).

Questions? Please leave 'em in the Comments.

Good luck! 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Best go to Barcelona! 2014 Grand Prix Final Preview/Predictions

What fun must it be to have made the GPF this year! I mean, how often does the competitive circuit envelop a whole new country? And such a breathtaking city?

By the time I get this finished and posted, the Junior GP events will already have started. But the Pairs SP kicks things off for the senior crew at 2:15 (Eastern Time) this afternoon. Check out this schedule... and if you want to keep score on my predictions to tease me about them in the comments later, here they are:

GPF Predictions

GOLD: Stolbova/Klimov (RUS)
SILVER: Duhamel/Radford (CAN)
BRONZE: Kavaguti/Smirnov (RUS)
Dark Horse: Sui/Han (CHN)

Because... while the Canadians have the most challenging elements of the field in their arsenal (including a throw quad salchow that has yet to be landed at a GP event), I think Stol/Klim are seen as the more polished, complete package.

GOLD: Tatsuki Machida (JPN)
SILVER: Javier Fernandez (ESP)
BRONZE: Takahito Mura (JPN)
Dark Horse: Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)

Because... Javi’s dealing with a lot, competing in such a major event at home for the first time after having almost single-handedly brought this sport to Spain’s masses. Much as I’d love to think it’ll roll off his back, his semi-sloppy free skates thus far indicate he’ll be a gamble for gold here. (I still hope he wins, though. That would be beyond cool.)

GOLD: Weaver/Poje (CAN)
SILVER: Chock/Bates (USA)
BRONZE: Papadakis/Cizeron (FRA)
Dark Horse: Shibutani/Shibutani (USA)

Because... while Wea/Po and C/B are pretty compatible when you look at their scores from their winning GP events, I can’t see the reigning World Silver Medalists losing to anyone in this field... so long as they don’t collapse a lift or spin out of orbit on a twizzle, that is.

GOLD: Elena Radionova (RUS)
SILVER: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS)
BRONZE: Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS)
Dark Horse: Anna Pogorilaya (RUS)

Because... it’s a preview of Russian Nationals for a reason. And much as I’d love to see Ashley Wagner crash this particular podium party, I don’t think she can amass the kind of points needed to do so.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @KLBSt8ofSk8... I’ll be tagging my comments with #GPF14.Enjoy the happenings as Act I of the 2014-15 skating season draws to a close!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Other Things-We-Didn't-See-Coming in Osaka: 2014 NHK Trophy in Review

I’ve decided that this year’s NHK was about surprises.

(OK, MOST of this season’s GPs were about surprises, as is often the case in a post-Olympic season, but go with me on this.)

In fact, I’ve boiled it down to TEN NHK surprises. Here they are:

1) Daisuke won!! I thought he retired?! (Oh wait, not THAT Daisuke..) OK—Murakami won!! Wow! When’s the last time she did this well?? (Oh wait, not THAT Murakami...)

The moral of this story is: if Daisuke Murakami continues to skate as solidly as he did at NHK, he might need to change his name. Poor guy. By the way, in case you were wondering (I certainly was)... his best GP finish prior to this event was 5th, at Skate America... four years ago!

2) Yuzuru Hanyu competed, only 3 weeks after slamming into a fellow human at high speed. And, while holding his own better than some might have expected, didn’t skate anywhere close to his best and finished 4th. And (thanks in part to Murakami’s unexpected victory) managed to squeak in as a qualifier for the GP Final.

Actually, only one of those three statements came as a surprise to me.

3) Eighth-place finisher Jeremy Ten (Canada), at age 25, landed his quad toe for the first time in competition—with an immediate step or three turn-out, as I recall, but landed just the same—and to follow his Twitter feed right after NHK was to know that he couldn’t care less about anything else. It was a fun thing to see.

4) Josh Farris returned to the circuit after missing his previous GP assignment due to injury, but his jumps didn’t return with him.  The look of “Oh NO, what just happened?!” On Farris’ face after the FS was pretty painful to witness. All I could think was better this happen at NHK than Nationals... I know he’s using last season’s Schindler’s List FS, but the quality of movement in his new short program (to Ed Sheeran’s “Give Me Love”) was really stunning. There’s a new maturity to his look, too. Made me really want to see him do great things at Nats.

5) On the ladies’ end of things, the door was wide open for a non-Russian teenager to (for ONCE this Fall) grab the spotlight, as well as a victory. Except they didn’t.  I know Gracie Gold won, but it was mostly on the strength of her short program. Same thing for Alena Leonova—and yes, I give her big props for proving everyone wrong yet again (including me) and delivering just when she’d been counted out of the running. But neither one skated “lights out” in the free... and those nipping at their heels after the SP either skated a little subpar (Satako Miyahara) or a little more subpar (Kanako Murakami) in the free skate.

6) Edmunds stumbles again! Just as she did at Cup of China, Polina Edmunds had a great free skate—but it was the follow-up to a meager SP, and this time she ended up nowhere near the podium. When she gets to Nats, she needs to remember her short program from a year ago rather than a couple months back...

7) Li Zijun is using “my” music for her SP! I missed watching her at Cup of China, so it was truly a surprise to hear “Waltz of the Flowers” from Nutcracker (a.k.a. the music I used for my first-ever competitive program) when she took the ice. Can that really be the first time I’ve heard someone else use it?

8) Not much of a pairs showdown, was it? Sixteen points separating the winners (Duhamel/Radford) and second place (Kavaguti/Smirnov)? And Kav/Smir actually finished behind the Chinese team of Yu/Jin in the free skate?  Guess the real showdown will be in Barcelona...

9) Penny! Nick! Noooo! Or so I wailed when Nick Buckland went down (and even had a slippery time getting back up) in the final minute of their free dance. They were in second—second!!—heading into that, with a chance to make the final. GAH. And I like this FD SO MUCH for them...

10) Nikita & new partner, Nooooo! But also a little bit of KarmaHee. Or so I gasped (and then giggled) when Sinitsina/Katsalapov collapsed and crashed on one lift in that way we always fear and seldom see... then aborted another lift altogether. I haven’t followed the Ilinikh/Katsalapov breakup as some of y’all have, but from what I gathered at Rostelecom Cup, sympathy is heavily on Ilinikh’s side. Good thing Katsalapov’s FD flop didn’t happen in the home country, huh?

So there’s NHK in a 10-point list for you.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some GPF predictions to cobble together... 

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 GPF: Who's in? Who's on stand-by? Who's getting replaced?

Where’d I go????

Sorry about that. It was a monster week last week (or since Thanksgiving). So much so, in fact, that I’m still catching up on watching key performances! Got a half-dozen to go before I feel qualified to string together a few sentences about NHK 2014.

In the meantime, I thought I should at least post who is in each discipline of the senior GP final.

MEN: Maxim Kovtun, Javier Fernandez, Tatsuki Machida, Takahito Mura, Sergei Voronov, Yuzuru Hanyu
ALTERNATES (in order): Jason Brown, Denis Ten, Nam Nguyen

LADIES: Elena Radionova, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Anna Pogorilaya, Gracie Gold*, Julia Lipnitskaia, Ashley Wagner
ALTERNATES (in order): Rika Hongo, Satoko Miyahara, Kanako Murakami

* As you’ve probably heard by now, Gold has withdrawn from the Final, citing a stress fracture in her foot. Hongo, as first alternate, is taking her place. (Hongo wins a points tiebreaker with two-time GP bronze medalist Satoko Miyahara on account of Kato’s first-place finish at Rostelecom Cup.)

PAIRS: Stolbova/Klimov, Duhamel/Radford, Kavaguti/Smirnov, Peng/Zhang, Sui/Han, Yu/Jin
ALTERNATES (in order): Tarasova/Morozov, Denney/Frazier, Wang/Wang

DANCE: Chock/Bates, Weaver/Poje, Papadakis/Cizeron, Shibutani/Shibutani, Gilles/Poirier, Ilinykh/Zhiganshin
ALTERNATES (in order): Monko/Khaliavin, Hubbell/Donahue, Coomes/Buckland

(Those who qualified for the Junior GP Final I reported on back in October; those names can be found here .)

The GP/JGP Final action takes place in Barcelona this coming weekend. Got an opinion about who’s in the Final? Who isn’t in? Or do you have something in particular you’d like me to address about NHK? The comments section is ready and waiting for all of the above...