Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ten Notable Competitive Performances From the Past Ten Days

Here I sit with the JGP Istanbul already in the rear-view mirror, and both JGP Austria and the U.S. Int’l Figure Skating Classic (A.K.A. The “B” Event) waving goodbye from about halfway down the block... how to catch up without feeling overwhelmed because the senior GP hasn’t even started yet? Narrow it down to 10 mostly-American performances that stood out for one reason or another, and write about them... maybe in alphabetical order, for simplicity’s sake. Like this:

Max Aaron (Gold medal, Int’l FS Classic): Holy quad salchow, Batman! What a way to start the season—with two new programs that “announce your presence with authority” as they say. The SP is Daft Punk’s Tron; the FS is West Side Story. Watch for him at Nebelhorn Trophy a couple of weekends from now.

Jason Brown & Leah Keiser (One gold apiece, JGP Istanbul): The biggest news here should be that the barely 15 year-old Keiser took on her first-ever JGP event and won, even defeating recent JGP Gold Medalist Satoko Miyahara in the process (she took bronze). But I feel like I’m burying the lead when I add, way down deep in the paragraph, that Brown finally attempted a triple axel in Istanbul!! Sure it was 2-footed, and ultimately ruled as under-rotated. But he tried it, missed it by a bit, and still won! (And is pretty much a lock for the Junior GP Final, which he won last year.)

Nathan Chen (Gold, JGP Austria): Now 13 and looking like he’s been waiting to become age-eligible for this series for years, tiny teenaged Chen took Austria by storm and handily won his JGP debut. Next up for him: JGP Croatia.

Chock/Bates (4th, Int’l FS Classic): Now in their 2nd season, Madison & Evan were in the lead with their Cirque du Soleil SD but two significant stumbles on his part during their Dr. Zhivago FD contributed to a miss on the medals this time around. Still fun watching them grow and improve, though. Next up: Cup of China.

Davis/Ladwig (5th, Int’l FS Classic): This was the international debut for Mark with Stephanie (as opposed to loooongtime partner Amanda Evora), so I wanted to mention them despite their 5th-out-of-6 finish. Lots of minor mistakes happening here, but most were timing-related and surely were the result of being a new team. They have just a little time to regroup, though; USFS has them scheduled for both Skate Canada and NHK.

Fedorova/Miroshkin (Silver, JGP Austria): I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this young Russian pair features the first side-by-side Biellmann spins I’ve ever witnessed in pairs skating! (Of course when a man executes one, I refer to it as a MANNBIEL...)

Gilles/Poirier (Gold, Int’l FS Classic): The rising, not-so-young (both are now 20) stars of Canadian ice dance grabbed the win here with an FD well-stamped with Christopher Dean’s innovative choreo. Skate Canada is next for them as well.

Gracie Gold (Silver, Int’l FS Classic): She lost to Agnes Zawadzki, but I wanted to mention Gold’s new FS just the same (Zawadzki is still using last season’s Rhapsody in Blue). Gold is using cuts from the soundtrack to Life is Beautiful this time around. If it sounds familiar, that’s because Jeremy Abbott worked from the same soundtrack for his 2010-11 free skate. But so far, I have to say I liked Abbott’s cuts much better. Gold’s worked nicely for the first half of her FS, but not so much the second. Was it because she wasn’t skating her best? I’ll have to take another look at Skate Canada (where she, too, is scheduled to compete).

K/G-S* (Bronze, Int’l FS Classic): First off I must give a shout-out to Oak Park, Illinois, which is home to both G-S and myself—I’d forgotten this until the Ice Network graphics dept. reminded me during this event. Anyway, K/G-S are skating to a couple of Adele songs this year in their FD (Turning Tables & Rumor Has It) and looking pretty good—good enough to earn a medal here. Should be interesting to see if they’re able to keep progressing as they have over the past 3 years and make a real run for the national podium in January.

*= Kriengkrairut/Giulietti-Schmitt. Please forgive any spelling errors... this is why I’m abbreviating it for the remainder of their Olympic-eligible career.

Miller & Cesario (Silver and Bronze, JGP Austria): (Hannah) Miller and (Samantha) Cesario were not able to catch Russia’s latest contribution to the IT GIRL pool Elena Radionova, but they both brought in highly respectable performances of their own, claiming silver (Miller) and bronze (Cesario) in the process. Not sure what’s next for either of them, but I’m crossing fingers for Cesario’s continued success in particular (as I believe she’ll age out of juniors after this season).

OK! Feeling more caught up now?? I know I am. But no time to rest on laurels... JGP Slovenia (featuring Courtney Hicks, among others) will be upon us before the week’s out! Stay tuned.

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