Trophee Eric Bompard 2011: Predictions

My life is still filled with forms to fill out and stuff to write and a;iehf;adkfsakdfja;sdkfasdjkfla. Again, I can’t promise posts on all the competitions but I’ll do my best and I’ll make sure to do a predictions post every week. Normally, I would do predictions on who would make it into the final but with this 3 competition rule, everything gets thrown out of whack because I have no clue who’s in 3 competitions and I don’t have the time to check. I might just do the list blind and come up with a list of 6 skaters/teams for each discipline.  For now, here are my predictions for TEB 2011.

Men

Patrick Chan will undoubted win this competition, even if he does fall on his ass a few times. As much as I love figure skating, I don’t know if I can watch this discipline and have faith in the new judging system. As for silver, Nobunari Oda can very well take it… if he’s finally learned all the lessons from counting 101 that is. If not, then Michal Brezina seems to be on the rise and he could snatch silver from under his nose. If Oda can count, then I think he has the ability to steal bronze from heavyhitters like former European and World champion, Brian Joubert and current European champion, Florent Amodio. Brian Joubert has been a bit washed out in the past two seasons while Florent’s new LP is just WTF. The kid needs to leave Morozov, the Russian Gino is not doing him any favours.

Edit: Joubert has pulled out of TEB. (Source) That won’t affect my predictions though.

Predictions:

Gold: Patrick Chan
Silver: Nobunari Oda
Bronze: Michal Brezina

Ladies

TEB is going to interesting here. We’re going to have a rematch of Carolina Kostner vs. Alissa Czisny and then we’re going to throw Skate Canada winner, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva into the mix. Her arch-rival, Adelina Sotnikova couldn’t win against the likes of Carolina and headcase, Mirai Nagasu and I’ve got a feeling that with tougher competition, Liza will not be able to so easily clinch the gold. As much as I admire Czisny’s elegance, I find her performances and personality very forgettable. Czisny’s programs have better choreography but it’s just more exciting to watch Carolina. Both ladies have gained a great amount of consistency so this will be another tough call. Czisny won last time but can Carolina beat her this time?

Predictions:

Gold: Carolina Kostner
Silver: Alissa Czisny
Bronze: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (though I’d love it if she beat Czisny)

Pairs

Barring major disaster – actually – even if they fell a couple of times, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov should have this competition in the bag. There are no real threats for gold other than them even though their SP this yes is just not pretty. Really, Tanya and Max, we’re no longer wannabe emo teens. Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov may have enough to muster silver while bronze is a bit of a toss of between two headcase North American teams: Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford and Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig. I’ll just go flip a coin and decide who to put in that 3rd position.

Predictions:

Gold: Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Silver: Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov
Bronze: Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford

Ice Dance

The ice dance lineup isn’t that bad, there are quite a few interesting competitors. The gold should easily go to Olympic Champions, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. I really hope they’ve improved since Skate Canada (I’m sure they have) and more importantly, I hope they’ve made some changes to their programs. They’re really going to have to step it up if they want to be competitive with Meryl and Charlie. Davis and White’s FD this year showcases their athleticism and if Tessa and Scott don’t change their pause-ful Funny Face FD, they might find themselves in 2nd place this year. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat should have the support of the home crowd and possibly the silver medal but bronze will be an interesting matchup with the emerging young Italians – Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte and the rising young Russians – Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov. We may see how much Mother Russia is actually pushing for these two…

Predictions:

Gold: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
Silver: Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat
Bronze: Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov

Skate Canada 2011 – Chan wins another medal he doesn’t deserve (aka men’s LP)

A new development has come into my life and I find myself horrendously busy again. However, the development is so stressful that after a few hours of being productive, I’ve decided to take a break and watch some figure skating I’d say I’d watch. So here goes… the hot mess that was Skate Canada this year. I seriously miss Skate Canada 2009 when Chan didn’t get rewarded for shit skates. Sigh. Those were the days.

So Patrick Chan skated to Concierto de Aranjuez for his LP. Damn him, I really like that piece of music for personal reasons. He fell AGAIN on his quad toe but I’m sure the judges thought that it was what a reader smartly recognized as a “butt bounce” which is actually a transition element. His second quad was successful (he also tacked a 3T to the end of it) as was his 3A. I’m disappointed that he didn’t implode on it. It’s one of those things you can count on with Chan. That, an inflated score and consequently, medals he doesn’t deserve. The first combination spin was admittedly gorgeous (especially the flying camel). However, then came a random stumble in his footwork. I’m sure the judges thought that he was just expressing the anguish in the music but I thought that it was more funny than emo. Some commentor on youtube said: “that’s freaking incredible though that Patrick could nearly fall on his face and 2 seconds later be able to collect himself, maintain his speed to land a triple lutz.” Um, first of all, the landing on the lutz wasn’t that great and you should ACTUALLY be surprised at how he won the gold. Actually, no, no one is surprised at his marks and undeserved wins anymore. Chan skated the rest of his program clean, though his landings on some of his jumps were less than perfect. At least the choreography to this program was pretty good. But that’s all that Chan can boat about right now. According to PJ Kwong, Chan was wiping blood off his knee after the performance. You know there’s something wrong with that gold medal when…

Anyways, let’s move onto less depressing things. Depressing stuff is the last thing I need right now.

Well, I would say that Javier Fernandez’s story is not depressing. Here’s a talented skater who saw that his coach was neglecting him (and I mean, that weird purple/green/pink thing from last year?) and so he took matters into his own hands. He went to a renowned coach who no longer had superstar or up and coming pupils and connections with an awesome choreographer. Javier’s improved tons and I’m so excited to see his finally blooming on the world stage. I knew I made the right choice when I put him on the podium (albeit in the wrong position) in my predictions. In any case, Javier started his dramatic program with a 4T (hand down) followed by a luscious 4S. He did fall on a 3A, only to do a 3A-3T in the second half of his program. Good recovery! Unfortunately, his landings in the second half of the program were less than satisfactory and he doubled a loop (work on your stamina, Javi!) but at least he didn’t fall. He was clearly losing steam in the second half of his program but it was still a good first performance. Admittedly, he’s not as polished as Chan (so maybe Chan did deserve to win the LP) but the margin between Chan and Javier (along with Daisuke) in the SP should’ve been larger and from that, and Javi should’ve been able to take the gold.

Daisuke skated to a jazz piece that I’ve only associated with ice dancers. He tried his quad flip again but it was underrotated and two-footed. He was a bit forward on the landing of his 3A and had a hand down on his 3S. Daisuke definitely didn’t start his program well. His spins are often slow at the beginning of the season and this season was no exception. Performance-wise, though, Daisuke is impeccable as usual. Please note that unlike Chan, people actually cheered after he did his footwork. He 2-footed his second 3A though completed a clean and lovely combination jump. I’m not fond of the music (though I loved Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje’s FD to it in 2008), but Daisuke really has the potential to make it work. He unfortunately deserved the bronze (rather than gold or silver here) but Daisuke gets better as the season goes along and I hope that we’ll see a much better version of this soon.

Here are the results of the LP.

Here are the overall standings.

I’ll be blogging Cup of China predictions tomorrow.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Skate Canada 2011: Day 1

My cold-induced tiredness is setting on again and the scope of this post will be a limited so I apologize. In any case, let’s begin.

Ladies

I will never have any inclination to watch either Ashley Wagner or Rachael Flatt unless I am in the middle of a live stream. Unfortunately, to my chagrin, I found out last night at 2AM after 2 hours of sleep that my internet connection cannot support the sketchy Russian livestream that I am forced to resort to. I may try again on a different browser too but I don’t know if that will make any difference. I think I may be stuck in this Philistine place with no figure skating on TV and possibly no livestream either. F.M.L.

That aside, I am super proud of my little Liza, who is the LEADER  by almost 5 points after the short program. What a spectacular senior debut at age 14!

She opened with a beautiful 3Lz-3T combination, followed by a 3Lp (not perfect but landed cleanly) and her signature fierce tano armed 2A. Go Liza! I really enjoyed how she attacked her footwork sequence with a Yuna-esque drama and gusto. (Please take note, PJ Kwong, this 14 year-old girl can outshine Cynthia Phaneuf in charisma any day of the week and at any point in Phaneuf’s career.) Looking at the protocols, the judges were tough on her in her PCS in transitions. Admittedly, her program looked more like a checklist of elements rather than one of those skillfully woven programs that garner tons of points. It’s unfortunate because with that much star-power, Liza has the potential to do so much better. I still have the impossible hope of her working with Tatiana Tarasova, though if that’s not possible, David Wilson is sure to be able to bring out the best in his skaters.

I’m already so proud of Liza’s debut in the short that I don’t really care about her overall result. Though prediction-wise, it would be absolutely wonderful if she won. As for the U.S. ladies sitting 2nd and 3rd, they haven’t been the most consistent long program skaters in the past seasons so there’s hope for a few of my other favourites.

And before I forget, Liza hands down had the highest TES score of the day but the highest PCS went to Akiko Suzuki, who despite having a mistake in her combination jump (3T-singled loop), skated with a confidence, determination and fire I never saw before.

Ladies short program results and protocol.

Pairs

Tanya and Max are in the lead after the short (and they have no viable competitors in this competition so it’s likely they’ll win) but whoever said that skating to an elevator-fied version of Evanescence (who was cool like… 10 years ago) was a good idea needs to be punched in the face. On the awkward scale, this ranks 7 out of 10 with Florent Amodio’s tiger Latin thing rated at 20. Still, anything above 5 (which is still pushing it) should not be shown in public and this counts as one of them. Other than Tatiana’s two-foot on her 3T the elements were well executed. The music and the choreography, however, do not capitalize on Tanya and Max’s talents. The program just looks like a desperado’s attempt to be cool.

I have yet to watch the other programs but looking at the rankings, I’d say that there’s not much hope for the new partnership of Dube and Wolfe while Sui and Han may still be hiccuping. The latter’s rather upsetting.

Ice Dance

Yes, this post follows a weird order and you’ll see why in a second.

Tessa and Scott obviously won the short dance here with a score that was slightly higher than Meryl and Charlie’s at Skate America. Other than the ending pose, I didn’t quite get into the SD (partly because the compulsory sequence is just dull, dull, dull) and I feel that these two will really want to tweak this program to get the audience in as they did with their FD at Worlds last year. No rock can be left unturned if they want that World title back because Meryl and Charlie are not going to sit quietly while their crown gets taken away. There’s been debate over Tessa’s dress colour (she DOES have a penchant for constantly switching dresses) and my two cents is that we should abandon the flapper tassels and go with a costume with a parrot colour scheme and a Carnival feel to it.

I probably would’ve blogged about Weaver/Poje in all fairness to the other disciplines who I didn’t blog in detail about the 2nd and 3rd placed skaters but I felt a need to watch this program immediately when FSOnline mentioned that Kaitlyn did tiger animal print right. Unlike this debacle:

Maybe he’ll say that the story behind this program is that he’s being a tiger. A magical tiger… in the winter… with wings……

Anyways, back to Kaitlyn and Andrew. I never thought that anyone can pull off animal print in any way, shape or form (even models) but I do admit that this dress sort of works though the tassels are excessive. But this SD… gosh… THIS is what a rumba SD should be like!!! I seriously think it’s my favourite so far. The compulsory pattern was for once, NOT BORING, the music and the team’s expression made it sensual and smooth and the choreography drew the crowd in and made them excited. I think we should look towards these two as what the SD should be. Their SD last year was fabulous and this year, I look forward to a polished performance of this SD. (There are obviously kinks they need to sort out, but all in good time.) Great job, you two!

Men

Now, the real shocker that absolutely delighted and thrilled me. Not only did Patrick not win the SP but both he and former World champion, Daisuke Takahashi were upstaged by a new Orserite: Javier Fernandez who I had pegged for bronze. To put it realistically though, Javier and Daisuke’s scores are separated by the tiny margin of 0.05 while Chan is only slightly more than a point away from top spot. The top 3 men are pretty much locked in a virtual tie and I won’t doubt that Skate Canada will allow Chan to win on a crappy performance.

Javier was sexy, suave and mysterious in his jazzy SP and his jumps (4T, 3F-3T, 3A) were high with fast spins in the air and just gorgeous. THIS is the man that many should have been if they had been coached properly and given the right choreography. (*cough*Tomas, Florent*cough*) Javier made a good coaching change at a fortuitous time (Orser no longer has any high profile students) and I hope that it really puts him as a contender for Sochi.

Daisuke’s new SP is definitely different from those from the last 2 seasons. It’s mysterious and passionate and well-executed. Daisuke didn’t try the quad but landed clean and gorgeous 3F-3T, 3A and 3Lz. The emotion and dedication is surprising at the beginning of the season but I’m very glad that Daisuke that we know and love has come back and ready to compete. I really wish I could’ve seen this live.

Patrick, oh Patrick. At this point, I think I would’ve been slightly disappointed if he didn’t get a ridiculous inflated score because then my predictions would be wrong. He put his hand down on his quad toe (I think the judges mistook that as some sort of creative choreography or something) and then doubled his triple axel (though that doubled jump was probably so beautiful the judges cried). At least his combination was clean. Oh yes, and his step sequence probably made the judges wet their pants. I’m not even going to try and express the ridiculousness of this score. A crappy skate should NOT be rewarded with points on par with two beautiful performances that were a lot better than this mess. Whatever. Not that anyone’s bitching about this inflation will get us anywhere because it’s all been done before.

Anyways, I’m super excited about the rest of Skate Canada, though I dunno if I have the energy or the internet connection to watch it live. Cross your fingers for me!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Skate Canada 2011: Predictions

Ok. I’ll make this quick because I seriously need to do some stuff and sleep before I can watch the ladies program. I hope Elizaveta skates in the latter group so I can have a little extra sleep. I’m awfully mad that I can’t watch the SD live because of work but I know that videos will surface. I don’t think I’ll live blog the events I’ll (hopefully) be watching live since my live blogs are totally inadequate when compared to others but I hope that my posts will be a bit more speedy. In any case, PREDICTIONS.

Men

I have no doubt in my mind that Patrick Chan will win. Even if he falls on his ass 3 times in a program, the judges will somehow award him enough PCS to give him a shiny gold medal. Just like last year. (Remember my outrage?) As for the rest of the podium, I sincerely hope that Daisuke Takahashi won’t give us a repeat performance of the Japan Open, though if he skates clean, he should be able to clinch the silver. I’m so cynical right now that I’m absolutely positive that even if Chan falls 3 times and Daisuke skates cleanly, Chan can still win the gold. If Chan does skate cleanly, be prepared for inflation of vomit-inducing proportions. As for the bronze, I’d say it would be a toss-off between surprise Skate America silver medalist, Kevin Van Der Perren, the newly Orserfied Javier Fernandez and last year’s hopeful phenom that’s starting to fade without a stable quad or 3A, Adam Rippon.

Predictions:

Gold: Patrick Chan
Silver: Daisuke Takahashi
Bronze: Javier Fernandez

Ladies


The ladies roster is exciting not because there are tons of high profile names. In fact, there really isn’t anyone who’s clearly an A-list skater. What’s exciting is the potential in this ladies field. FSOnline commented that a mini-U.S. nationals is happening because of the appearance of Mirai Nagasu, Rachael Flatt and Ashley Wagner. I’d never really place any bets on the latter two but Mirai is also a risky bet. A more mature Akiko Suzuki will emerge hopefully from a bit of a disappointing season last year. She’s a GP skater to look out for though I’m a bit worried about how she’ll do against the young phenom, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva who has a triple-triple and Papa Mishin’s backing in her arsenal. As for Cynthia Phaneuf, who PJ Kwong claims can “reach” her audience unlike Elizaveta (a statement I just disregarded because Liza has more charisma than Cynthia can ever hope for – not to mention Phaneuf’s performances makes drying paint look more entertaining), I wouldn’t be surprised if Skate Canada gave her tons of points of a good SP only to have that effort wasted when she skates a terrible LP.  I’m really not sure how this competition will go but I’ll give these predictions a shot.

Predictions:

Gold: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
Silver: Akiko Suzuki
Bronze: Mirai Nagasu

Pairs

 

The pairs competition will be exciting for once. The gold will definitely go to Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov even though Nikolai Morozov’s horrid choreography is ruining this pair. If my baby Chinese pairs (Wenjing Sui and Cong Han) team can skate clean and get over their hiccups in their junior GP assignments, they have the technical elements and potential to win silver. I don’t know how much influence Mother Russia will have in this competition but we should probably keep an eye out for Lubov Iliushchekina and Nodari Maisuradze. These two have a mature skating style, though I feel that Nodari is holding Lubov back at times for being a less than reliable partner and for not giving 110% in his performance. Narumi Takahashi and Melvin Tran will be fun to watch but their competitors are too good, which may dash their GPF hopes at least at Skate Canada.

Predictions:

Gold: Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Silver: Wenjing Sui & Cong Han
Bronze: Lubov Iliushchekina & Nodari Maisuradze

Ice Dance

The ice dance competition marks the return of Tessa and Scott to the Grand Prix circuit after skipping it last year for Tessa’s surgery. Barring major disaster or injury, they should be given the gold quite handily. With hometown advantage and the absence of Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat due to illness, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje should have a good start to their season as well with a silver. The bronze is a bit of a toss-off between Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko (more Russian names I can’t pronounce) and the newly formed team of Madison Chock and Evan Bates. The battle for bronze is a battle between Mother Russian and Queen Marina’s influence.

Predictions:

Gold: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir <3
Silver: Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje
Bronze: Ekaterina Riazanova & Ilia Tkachenko

Ok. Chores and sleep. So much to do, so little time? Any opinions on the outcomes at Skate Canada?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Japan Open – Part II: The Men

The men’s competition was certainly interesting… Although my favourite bit of men’s skating was this:

And he wasn’t even competing! (Nor have I seen the full program. Anyone have the link to the full program?)

In any case, this is how the competition went:

On the men’s side, Patrick Chan came in first skating to “Concierto de Aranjuez” – an overused piece of music but I still love it for other reasons. The lovely people at ontd_skating informed me that he fell even before I watched the program and prepared myself for another overmarked bad skate. The _skaters’ pronouncement was verified on the first jump – a quad toe – and I smelled a triple axel implosion coming up. As predicted, it happened but only after he completed a clean 4T-3T combination. I have to admit, the flying sit spin was high and beautiful and that was followed by a nice 3Lz-2S and a clean 3Lp and then a 3F. His roll didn’t continue because he fell on his 3Lz. After a clean 2A (because he can’t do a triple), we were treated to one of his “famous” step sequences, which, I felt, was inferior to Yuzuru Hanyu’s in terms of emotion and choreography. The choreography for this program wasn’t bad but I feel that the overall program would be a lot better with a few more intricacies and transitions. Replace Jeff Buttle with Chan and you might just get magic.

I didn’t expect much from Artur Gachinski but the young man gave a pretty solid skate. Opening with a fall on a quad toe, he came back with a strong spread eagle into a 3A followed by a 3A-3T combination. He had an interesting choice of music with selections of “Interview with a Vampire” but this program didn’t really excite me at all. The jumps were clean and there were some random hand movements and sometimes it was accompanied with a shaking of his mane. He sort of reminded me of a less shy and more platonic version of Takakhiko Kozuka. I want to see more expression from this guy and I certainly hope he’s capable of it. Just a random note, the pikachu he was holding in the kiss and cry was cute. I want one.

Takahiko Kozuka came in 3rd with a program skated to music from “Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind,” the music is lovely although the film is absolutely lame compared to the stunning manga. Shy little Takahiko also fell on a 4T attempt but rallied his strength for a gorgeous triple axel. The jump layout seemed similar to his Lizst LP from last season as the proceeding jump was a 3Lz-2T combination. Takashiko seemed to get the crowd going in his step sequence but it’s such a lively violin bit, I wished he put a little more energy into it. At least the 3A-2T-2Lp afterwards as beautiful. Same with the footwork into the 3F. The rest of his triple jumps were fluid and gorgeous and the entire program was in general, well skated and solid.

Of course, we all wish that Takahiko could be less shy but what can you do? This program isn’t as intricate and well-timed/choreographed as last year’s LP but this performance seemed a little undermarked. The quality of Takahiko’s elements (minus the quad) was definitely superior than Chan’s and Gachinski’s. I hope that this program gets tweaked here and there over the season and I also hope that Takahiko starts feeling it a little more. This guy is a fine skater and it would be a pity if his skills were unnoticed by the world because he’s a bit shy.

The darling boy, Jeff Buttle came in fourth. The first half of the program was pretty good. The music choice was unique and Jeff is captivating to watch, as always. He opened with a 3F-2T (slightly forward on the landing on the 3F but still managed to land everything cleanly). Lovely 3A after that but the best part? The twizzle into a camel spin. Pure love. Jeff’s skating still melts like butter on the tongue. But then, the 2nd half of his program came and after his 3S, Jeff doubled all of his jumps. He must’ve had stamina issues, which is disappointing beause this is a lovely program. Subtle, unpredictable and entertaining. This is who Takahiko Kozuka needs to be. I hope to see an improved version of this program in the future as it’s on the road to being one my favourites.

Florent Amodio. Oh em gee, even within the first 5 seconds you could tell that this entire program is a hot mess. I mean, you had all the elements of figure skating jokes all in one program. Skin-tight animal-print costume? Check. Gyrations and self-touching? Check. Poorly executed jumps? Check. Distracting arm motions? Check. Strange roaring noises in the music? Check. I guess you could say that this entire program was something of a train-wreck. It was horrifying but you couldn’t tear your eyes off of it. At least he did manage a 4S and a beautiful 3A at the beginning… And I guess it’s… entertaining… I wonder what the judges will think of it when the season starts. Florent can do so much better, Nikolai Morozov.

Finally, we have Daisuke, who surprisingly came in last. What is going on with Team Japan? He’s skating to the blues music that was once used by Grishuk and Platov (and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje). He underrotated and 2-footed his opening 4T and his 3A was less than impeccable. This is not the Daisuke I want to see. He did rally and performed a lovely 3S. His jumps are a bit slow as they always are at the beginning of the season but his first step sequence feels a bit toned down compared to his previous exuberant displays of serious skating skills. Daisuke popped his 2nd 3A and the second half of his program was full of jumps with shaky landings, two-foots step outs and a fall. His bombage wasn’t as serious as Miki Ando’s but it’s disheartening to see Daisuke discouraged and looking defeated mid-way through the program.

I seriously hope that this was just some strange fluke and that his skating for the rest of the season will be a lot better than this. In his exhibition skate, he went back to being the talented and mesmerizing Daisuke that we all know and love. Let’s hope we see more of that Daisuke.

MEN (final standings)
1. Patrick Chan CAN – 159.93
2. Artur Gachinski RUS – 152.71
3. Takahiko Kozuka JPN – 148.21
4. Jeffrey Buttle CAN – 138.33
5. Florent Amodio FRA – 138.25
6. Daisuke Takahashi JPN – 130.79

TEAM (final standings)
1. Team North America – 518.64
2. Team Europe – 517.94
3. Team Japan – 479.57

Overall comments:

I certainly hope that the performances results of this competition reflect the performances we’ll see during the season. Right now, only time can tell.

~The Rinkside Cafe

The Japan Open

The Japan Open is often a pleasant prelude to the figure skating season for me but I’m never extremely excited about it. In the past two years, the competition hasn’t been that exciting as there were only a few skaters to be excited about. This year, however, that seems to have changed. The lineup is as follows:

Team Japan: Miki Ando, Akiko Suzuki, Daisuke Takahashi, Takahiko Kozuka

Team North America (pretty much Team Canada): Joannie Rochette, Alissa Czisny, Patrick Chan, Jeff Buttle

Team Europe (pretty much Team Russia) : Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Alena Leonova, Artur Gachinski, Florent Amodio

It looks like Team Europe may be at a disadvantage since most skaters in that team fall short when compared to competitors in the other two teams. (I can’t help but be slightly excited over Elizaveta though.) However, Team North America have two retired or semi-retired athletes who may not have the heavy arsenal of jumps that that other competitors may have. Then again, who knows who may surprise us. If all of Team Japan is consistent, then they could very well take the title very handily. If they fall short, Team North America can very well snatch the victory from right under their noses.

Some things to look forward to next season~!

September has already come around and the junior grand prix series has already begun! However, senior competitions only start in late October, but until then, here are a few things we can look forward to in the upcoming season.

The Team Canton drama continues!


At the top of the ice dance competition are three Team Canton pairs: Olympic Champions, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, current World Champions, Meryl Davis & Charlie White and the newbies, Maia and Alex Shibutani. The former two will continue their long-lasting rivalry for the top, which is always exciting because I love both teams and I love how they push each other to do better each season. As for the Shibutanis, I wonder how they will fare with a solid and regrouped Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat and the Russian ice dance phemons, Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov. The Shibutani’s bronze medal at Worlds this year was one part skill and several parts luck. Looks like another exciting season in ice dance!

The young Russian divas go head to head with the big girls!

These two Russian phenoms are Russia’s hope for Sochi and their future looks bright. From Papa Mishin’s Moscow school, we have Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, a girl with charisma and solid jump technique but could do with better choreography. On the other end, we have Adelina Sotnikova, a graceful girl from the St. Petersburg camp and current junior world champion. Both have the potential to be great but who will survive puberty better than the other and who has what it takes to rise up in the senior ranks? These two have the potential to make a HUGE splash this season seeing that current World Champion, Miki Ando, is not competing and Yuna Kim may not compete either. Mao has yet to prove herself to be consistent and Carolina Kostner cannot simply stagnate at triple toes, salchows and loops with these two European threats. Keep an eye out for these two!

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!

Yes, you heard it, the Russians are making their presence known after their poor medal showing in Vancouver. The platinum, sex-bomb king, Evgeni Plushenko has regained his amateur status and is eligible to compete.

 


The new pairs team of Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov have the potential to be World Champions. I have no doubt that they will do very, very well this season.

As well, the young team of Ilinykh & Katsalapov have switched coaches after their less than meteoric rise in the senior ranks. I’ve always said that a change in coaches would be good for show and technique and Nikolai Morozov was given the role of Papa Russia for the upcoming Olympics. I just hope that this team doesn’t get drowned in horrible Morozombie choreography.

Team USA (ladies) ups their game

(A picture of Maia and Mirai at U.S. champs camp.)

Recent articles have indicated that the U.S. ladies are practicing their triple-triples to be more competitive with the Japanese and the upcoming onslaught of Russians. Frank Carroll has been sending strong messages about Mirai Nagasu’s progress and Alissa Czisny probably wants to use her momentum from the past season to carry her onto the World podium this upcoming season.

Mao Asada’s progress?

With a new jump technique and the stress of the earthquake in Japan, Mao had a season of ups and downs. Still, she’s shown improvement in her shows this summer and more importantly, she’s shown that she hasn’t lost her love of skating. I’m so happy that she’s going to keep her Liebestraume long program because it really deserves a flawless performance. Go get ‘em, Mao-chan~!

Akiko Suzuki will hopefully make a comeback!

After getting shoved off the podium by ingenue Kanako Murakami (who she cheered for last season at Japanese Nationals), Akiko Suzuki should find herself back on the Japanese podium as well as the world team. I’m glad since her “Fiddler on the Roof LP” was fun to watch and her energy and love of skating is so evident in every program she does.

Who can beat Patrick Chan?

Chan’s scores lately have been absolutely bloody INSANE. Will the Platinum King show the young Canadian who’s boss? Or will Daisuke Takahashi make a comeback after his up and down season? Or will an ingenue come and shake things up a bit?

The young pairs

Sui and Han look as if they’re having a little bit of trouble in the junior ranks but will they be able to push ahead when the senior season comes around? What of the team of Iliushchekina and Maisuradze who have so much potential? Will Vera Barazova be able to land and complete her tiny jumps when puberty coming on?

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming season?

I may do another post if I have more ideas…

~The Rinkside Cafe

Some Highlights from the 2010/2011 Season

I just started with this picture of Miki Ando because I thought this shot was simply gorgeous.

There were tons of ups and downs in the 2011/2012 season. Seeing that this is the first part of my wrap-up posts, I probably will not be writing about the men’s event at Worlds as I said I would. I apologize but it’s been so long after the fact and I still can’t bring myself to watch the event. (On another note, I saw Patrick Chan doing an interview on a Chinese TV channel the other day…) So, I say, let’s not dwell on the not so pleasant events of this season (there’s enough unpleasantness in the world to deal with anyways) and think of some of the highlights this season. More

Worlds 2011 Predictions: The Men

So here is part II of my predictions for worlds that will happen in T minus 4 days. Hopefully I’ll be able to watch most of the event.

So the men. With Evan Lysacek, Evgeni Plushenko, Johnny Weir and Stephane Lambiel gone after the Olympics, the men’s field has thinned out a bit compared to last season when there were about 10 different guys who could’ve made it onto that Olympic podium.

The front runners, however, are definitely Daisuke Takahashi and Patrick Chan Score. The gold will probably be a toss-up between the two (although Nobunari Oda may win the short program and then do an extra jump combination in his long that won’t count towards his score and then fall down the standings) and the winner will probably be determined by:

  1. Whether Chan lands his 3 quads and more importantly, his 2 triple axels. Daisuke may attempt his quad flip but he’s never landed it with one foot in competition.
  2. Whoever has more political (and emotional) backing: the Japanese Skating Federation and the sympathy for the Japanese people (not to mention the JSF is probably one of the richest federations and Japan one of the biggest markets for the sport) or Skate Canada and how they’re telling everyone that Chan’s wipeouts on 3As deserve a +3 GOE because he fell so prettily. The winner gets a higher PCS. We all know how Chan has been getting bullshit marks all season (*cough*Skate Canada and Canadian Nationals*cough*) but during the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, ISU president $peedy Ottavio Cinquanta, seemed very eager to appease the JSF. So who knows what will happen!
  3. Whether training has been severely affected by the postponement of Worlds. Chan didn’t go to Four Continents probably because his coach did not want him to peak too early (just look at his 2007/8 results) but the tsunami seems to have thrown a monkey wrench into those plans. I wonder how the change in timing has affected Chan… Daisuke’s training wasn’t severely affected by the events in Japan (unlike the up and coming star, Yuzuru Hanyu) and he also skated at a fundraiser for tsunami victims rather recently. From the news clips, he looked pretty good. (On another note, I absolutely love, love, love Shizuka Arakawa’s dress. She looks wonderful in it.)

There may be a few people who have the potential to change things. One is perennial podium bridesmaid, Nobunari Oda. Nobu will need to skate clean and even though his programs aren’t as entertaining as his Charlie Chaplin LP from last year, he still has great jumping technique. (Those knees!) Also, if Nobu wants to win this, he may need to learn how to count his combos while doing a long program. Maybe he should take lessons from The Count from Sesame Street!

Ok, maybe not.

Another possible medalist is Takahiko Kozuka. He seems to be winding down after his win at Japanese Nationals but I’ve underestimated this guy too much this season to discount him from my predictions. He has the skating skills, he just needs to relate to the audience. One thing to note: Takahiko’s chances of medaling probably depend on how badly Daisuke, Chan and Nobu perform rather than on himself. The international judges have been sparing in his PCS and I think it’s about time this guy lives a little. Get your heart broken, do something crazy, go on a weird adventure, I don’t care – just bring out that angsty, passionate artiste from within because your skating skills are too good to go unnoticed at this point in your career!

On the European side, Brian Joubert, Tomas Verner and Florent Amodio seem to be the strongest contenders for a medal but I’m not sure how they’re going to beat the Japanese and Chan because they either have a) so-so skating skills b) shit and just weak choreography or c) a severe and chronic problem of being a headcase. I won’t be putting too much money on these three but maybe one of them will surprise us (in a good way) like Jeffrey Buttle did in 2008.

Oh yes, and the American men are F*&$%!. Most of them don’t really have experience in major international competitions and I don’t even remember the men’s podium at U.S. Nationals anymore. That’s how sad the men’s team for the U.S. is at the moment. I have no clue what the USFSA was thinking but Jeremy was trailing the bronze medalist by a little bit and I’m pretty sure that none of those guys can do what Jeremy did at Four Continents: beat at least one of the Japanese men. Say goodbye to a spot or two at Worlds next season…

Podium Predictions:

Gold: Daisuke Takahashi (for the love of God and all that is holy!!!)
Silver: Patrick Chan
Bronze: Nobunari Oda (or Joubert, Kozuka… who knows? They’re all equally able to implode.)

This World championships will be exciting and maybe unpredictable because of its postponement and its effects on the skaters. I can’t wait!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Seriously Canada?

For a country that prides itself on being fair and nice and all, they sure know how to go insane and inflate figure skating scores for Patrick Chan. Videos of his LP have yet to surface appeared and here are his scores:

SP – 88.78
LP – 197.07
Total – 285.85

Now, let’s stop for a bit and take a look at a few CoP records:

Men – highest score in an ISU-sanctioned competition:

SP – 91.30 (Evgeni Plushenko 2010 Euros)
LP – 175.84 (Daisuke Takahashi 2008 Four Continents)

Let’s just say that one skater got those scores for a competition, the total would be: 267.14
The actual world record for the highest total is 264.41 (Daisuke Takahashi 2008 Four Continents)

His scores have become more and more unreasonable. Next thing you know, he’ll be the first to get a score of 300+ or something. *knocks on wood*

I’ll try not to complain in my next post.

~The Rinkside Cafe

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