Thursday, November 5, 2015

What's Left After Lethbridge: Skate Canada 2015 in Review (Men/Dance)

NOTEWORTHY DANCE (from Skate Canada):

+ Truth is, I don’t have a whole lot to say about the dance event aside from props in general to the top three. Russia's Bobrova/Soloviev came back from some 20 months away from competition and, aside from some (occasionally significant) speed issues, they had the “like they never left” sort of comeback they had to be hoping for. Scores were very compatible with their most recent GP appearances; third place suited them well here. (And the Anna Karenina FD is lovely.)

+  And I knew I would be very fond of The Shibutanis’ “Fix You” FD (which now has an instrumental passage from another great Coldplay song, “The Scientist”) from the moment I heard that’s what they’d chosen this season. Particularly for them—a brother/sister team that has built-in challenges avoiding overtly romantic themes—this contemporary song of healing and hope is ambiguous enough to work beautifully for siblings. (Not to mention a build and climax that work beautifully for ice dancing.)

+  Still, I was kind of surprised to see their scores a little closer to Weaver/Poje than they were at Worlds—where they finished 5th to Wea/Po’s 3rd. Perhaps they are already getting judicial recognition for the “Fix”--? As for Wea/Po, they’re looking as solid and charismatic as ever, and they won SkCAN by over 5 points. But everyone knows they are displeased, to say the least, with the World Bronze Medal (especially considering how they’d won everything in their path last season up to then), and will be satisfied with nothing less than World/Olympic gold. I wish them well—the narrowing-of-the-gap here has more to do with the Shibs’ progress than any regression on Wea/Po’s part—but dang, it is crowded at the top.

NOTE ABOUT THE NOTEWORTHY MEN: Unofficially, I was thinking around the time of making my predictions that NONE of the men that eventually ended up on the podium would skate a clean FS. Wrong!! Two of the three did(!!)... it was the SP that got mucked up by many. Like...

+  Yuzuru Hanyu, whose artistry could not help him any higher than 6th when clean jumps eluded him. Didn’t help that Patrick Chan was back in the house... though his SP was most definitely what he wanted, either. As for their respective free skates—I love them both, and Chan’s was quite possibly the best he’s ever done with a FS at Skate Canada. But Hanyu landed multiple great quad jumps, where Chan landed only one. I know Hanyu was the one with a fall (on—surprise!!—a triple lutz), but he only beat Chan’s FS technical score by 3 points and some change... and then Chan doubled down on the Olympic Gold Medalist with components (95 points to nearly 89, respectively). So even if they’d been neck-and-neck after the SP, and all other things were equal, Chan STILL would have won? It’s enough to make a busy woman want to spend time studying the protocols from this event rather than, say, go make chicken tacos for the kids. (But I didn’t yet... sorry... the struggle is real!)

+  I really felt for Daisuke Murakami (representing Japan, finishing with bronze). As the improbable SP leader who had the dubious honor of skating his FS right after Chan brought the house down, I admit that I was among those who thought he might do well to deliver a middle-of-the-pack free skate (or worse) and finish off the podium. Except he didn’t—he defied the odds and did very well, with his best quad (the salchow) in fine form! But when everything was totaled and bagged, his score still couldn’t come close to Chan’s or Hanyu’s. It’s no wonder, then, that I heard James Ingram singing the opening lines of THIS as Murakami learned his third-place fate...

+  Murakami’s bronze, of course, kept 4th-place Adam Rippon from the podium. While that’s not great news for fans of the current U.S. silver medalist, it was a clear improvement from last year’s SkCAN finish (10th). The bugaboos haven’t changed—quad lutzes still unsuccessful (with no other quads in the arsenal), triple axels 2-for-3 here—but what was better this time was his attack. He went for everything—no pops, no doubles-meant-to-be-triples. We’ll see if he can keep it up and/or improve; he’ll get another GP shot at Rostelecom Cup.

+ You know who had a higher technical score in the FS than Rippon? His teammate, Timothy Dolensky. Making his GP debut at SkCAN, Dolensky had a troublesome SP (finishing 11th of 12) but skated lights out in the free to finish 7th overall. He doesn’t compete with a quad, but his triple axel (and 3axel/3toe combo) were spot on. ThisIceNetwork article discusses Dolensky’s debut—but savor the performance; he is not scheduled to compete on the circuit again this season. Not yet, anyway...

That does it for Skate Canada! Cup of China predictions are next! 

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