Saturday, October 13, 2012

Five Highlights From Four of the Last Five Skating Events (WHEW!)

Here I sit, about 6 hours away from the first real vacation I’ve been on in 6 years (!!)... and still so much to say about what went on in figure skating last weekend (which is to say nothing of what’s happening this weekend and next weekend!!!). I’m not at all sure if I’ll be able to post in the coming week or so, but at least I can still get caught up a little...

So—There were five major international events last weekend, and I’m here to report on the five that stood out for me in each one. (Well, almost. Sorry Ondrej Nepala Memorial, you were the odd one out this time.)

Finlandia Trophy

Richard Dornbush (won silver): for looking fit, skating hard, and putting folks like me on the path to believing in you again (not easy after last season)...

Hubbell/Donohue (won bronze): for throwing down a decent flamenco routine. This one, Chock/Bates’ Dr. Zhiavago FD, and K/G-S’s Adele medley are the most likely candidates when determining the bronze medal at 2013 Nationals. Who would you go with at this point?

Kiira Korpi (won silver): for winning the SP—and the love of her home crowd—easily with her Girl with the Flaxen Hair program. She may not have taken home gold here, but she didn’t completely self-combust under the pressure either. Is Korpi poised to make a big move on the World stage this season?

Julia Lipnitskaya (won gold): for still earning her nickname of Gumbyskaya as she made her senior international debut, hyperflexing her way to a win right out of the box.

Johnny Weir (finished 4th): for coming through with a respectable, if not jaw-droppingly awesome, return to competition. Not an easy task for anyone!

JGP Croatia

Nathan Chen: For proving to be “only human” after all when an injury forced his WD from this event following the SP. Unfortunately, the injury also cost him a likely spot in the JGP Final...

Harrison Choate (won bronze): For earning his first-ever JGP medal!

Hannah Miller (won silver): For staying consistent in this early part of the season... consistently good enough to punch her ticket for the Final, that is!

Angela Wang (won gold): For really making me eager to see all the U.S. ladies at Nationals in a few months... she’s looking like a formidable challenger! Who will be ready to bring it when it counts the most?? (She's also headed to the Final, by the way)

Zaitsev/Stevens (finished 11th): Why mention the U.S. pair that had the weakest showing at this event? Because they happen to hail from my adopted hometown of Indianapolis, and any “local” skating news is good news in my book. Shout-out!!!!

Medal-Winners Open:

This was the event Kurt Browning referred to a few weeks ago; one where pro skaters competed and were judged, I believe, on the IJS guidelines... most of whom were long-retired from eligible skating by the time it came into play. (The results—and protocols-- can be found here if you’re interested:)

Kurt Browning (won silver): For breaking out the Singin’In The Rain routine he first presented on Canadian TV in 1994, and still making it sing proud...even though, at age 46, he was easily the “most experienced” competitor out there.

Jeffrey Buttle (won gold): For skating with more confidence and awesomeness (if that’s a word) than ever. Hard to believe he’s four years retired already. Especially since he competed in TWO events in Japan last weekend! (He won bronze at the Japan Open too...more to come on that.)

Kimmie Meissner (finished 6th): For taking on Romeo & Juliet when it might’ve been tempting to ease back into competing with less demanding music. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a piece she’d once hoped to compete with before her eligible career was stopped so dreadfully short...

Irina Slutskaya (won bronze): For holding her own against more recent Olympic Bronze Medalists (Joannie Rochette, who took silver here).

Alexei Yagudin (finished 5th): For actually holding down the back end of a three-way tie for bronze with a thrilling program where he played the role of a fugitive... and immediately made you miss the days when you could watch his footwork every other weekend. (Yagudin, Takeshi Honda, and Ilia Kulik all finished within one point of each other.)

Japan Open

Patrick Chan (finished 6th): For falling four times and finishing dead last... a far cry (and much more just) than falling three times and winning.

Evgeny Plushenko (finished 4th): For coming back in Japan much as Weir did over in Finland: credibly, but not remarkably. Not yet, at least. (I guess I’m one that likes to see these comeback kings prove to be mere mortals after all... too bad Evan Lysacek’s “proof” befell him before he even made it to Skate America. But thank goodness it gives well-deserving Armin Mahbanoozadeh a spot! OK, tangent over...)

Akiko Suzuki (won bronze): For previewing what looks to be a completely enchanting FS that immerses her in the role of a bird (complete with a STUNNING costume). I say “previewing” because her jumps looked half-baked and unsteady this time around, like she was still getting familiar with their places in the program. But by December... (between Suzuki and Mao Asada’s Black Swan FS, the birds are well-represented in Japan this year!)

Daisuke Takahashi (won gold): For returning to classical this year for his FS and abandoning his quad flip attempts to instead deliver not one, but TWO quad toes... and winning, in this case!

Ashley Wagner (won gold): For skating like a National Champion right from the get-go. Even if she hadn’t won with her new Sampson & Delilah FS, I’d feel good about where she’s headed this year.

FOR ANYONE TRYING TO FIND THESE LAST TWO EVENTS ON YOU TUBE: look under MWO 2012 for the Medal Winner’s Open, and JO 2012 for the Japan Open.

OK, I’m out for now. Senior GP is just about here!! Get psyched everyone!!!

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