Saturday, May 21, 2011

Retirements, Reverse Retirements, Breakups, Teamups… 9 days in the Life of the 2011 Skating Off-Season

Maybe it’s because Worlds took place as late as it did this year, but wow, are the off-season announcements coming at us fast and furious these days! I was still working on my Worlds post-mortem when this wheel started turning… so rather than sprinkle these around, I’ve got what I think is the scorecard to date listed below (as well as a little bit of commentary):

May 10th--
Ryan Bradley announces his retirement

Surprise factor (on a 1-10 scale): 2
…although, as seems to be the trend these days, he’s “retaining eligibility” should he decide to return to competitive skating.

Impact factor on his discipline: 3
While his showmanship and sense of humor is most definitely valued (especially at Nationals year after year), Bradley’s never had much of an impact on the international scene… after all, he never made an Olympic team, never cracked the Top 12 at Worlds and only won 2 medals (neither of them gold) in all his years of senior GP competition.

May 12th--
U.S. ice dancers Hubbell & Hubbell announce break up

Surprise factor: 6
This is mostly because I can’t, off the top of my head, recall any sibling teams that have broken up and then continued with other partners… as appears to be the Hubbells’ plan.

Impact factor: 2
Because the Hubbells may have been rising stars, but they hadn’t yet placed higher than 6th at a senior GP event. Let’s see what happens when they change partners and keep dancing…

May 13th--
Italian ice dancers Faiella/Scali announce their ”return”

Surprise factor: 9
What the what??! Apparently their “retirement” had all the duration of a maternity leave.

Impact factor: 6
Yes, they’re older had a bummer of a season in 2010-11, but that World Bronze they won wasn’t THAT long ago.

May 17th--
U.S. Pairs skaters Denney and Coughlin announce partnership

Surprise factor: 7
If I was spending more time on skating message boards I suppose this number would be lower, as I heard there were rumors circulating about this possibility about as soon as the Yankowskas/Coughlin split went public. But silly me, I thought Coughlin was simply ready to move on…

Impact factor: 6
All we’ve got to go on are past histories with former partners, which makes this prediction little more than a stab in the dark. But if those past histories have anything to do with the Dennlin future, there could be some interesting things to look forward to. Providing they stay together long enough to find out, that is.

May 18th--
Evora/Ladwig commit to the 2011-12 season

Surprise factor: 5
In a sea of short-term partnerships, these two just completed their NINTH season together. Perhaps the bigger surprise is that they aren’t retiring. But with all the podium partner shakeups, I’m guessing they want to make a run for the national title more than ever.

Impact factor: 4
It’s hard to know if E/L can surpass their surprise top 10 Olympic finish; aside from their first-ever GP bronze medal this season, it wasn’t a stellar follow-up year for them. But if just one pairs team can be inspired next season by their beautiful lifts, all the better.

So... which headlines (if any) took YOU by surprise?

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