The Highlights of 2010

2010 has been a great year for figure skating. The Vancouver Olympics were absolutely amazing and it’s sad that the year is about to end. Let’s hope that 2011 will be just as amazing. For now, let’s stroll through memory lane and think of a few good times in 2010.

(More under the cut since this is a bit of a long post…)

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The Junior Russian Divas Revisited

So Russian Nationals was this week and there were a few interesting developments. Volosozhar and Trankov won the pairs competition and they look to be a pair to look out for next year. Bobrova and Sloviev won the ice dance competition although the baby Russians, Ilinykh and Katsalapov lost silver to a relatively unknown team whose names I probably can’t pronounce. These two did not have the meteoric rise that I thought they would have this season but next season might be the beginning of a fruitful career. The Russian men are a non entity so I’d have to say that the most exciting competition belongs to the Russian ladies.

Ksenia Makarova failed to defend her title as National champion as it was taken away by a young and talented lady by the name of Adelina Sotnikova. Adelina has a long way to go before she can even reach last year’s junior world champion, Kanako Murakami, though both of them lack polish and performance quality. She also doesn’t seem to be very tight in the air, which I’d like to see corrected. I wonder if she can manage those jumps once her growth spurt hits her because I’ve got a feeling it’s going to hit hard. It would be a pity if that happened because she’s such a classic Russian balletic skater and she’s very elegant for her age.

I hate the dress for her SP. It makes her look so immature and just simply juvenile.

Alena Leonova won silver but she’s a bit of a non-entity. Using Aunt Joyce’s adjective, I’d call her skating pedestrian and simply forgettable. One of my friends hates her Slutskaya hair and that’s pretty much all she can think about when she watches Alena skate. I think she’s subconsciously recalling the days when Irina Slutskaya beat Michelle Kwan. *shudder*

Anyways, onto another topic. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva – a diva on ice who got buried in the SP and made a comeback in the LP, undoubtedly, with some help from Papa Mishin. Despite Mishin’s choreography, I can’t help but like Johnny Weir’s twin sister Elizaveta. All she has to do is look at the camera and you can tell that she just spews star quality. I just wish that she would move to another – bigger and better – figure skating mafia don coach, in other words, Tatiana Tarasova. Tati can take her star quality and turn it into something great, not to mention Liza is in need of good choreography. I think she’d be able to pull of Bells of Moscow better than Mao… Or even the Masquerade Waltz. I’m shivering from excitement as I’m imagining it. So please, Liza, do a Yagudin and go to Mother Tanya.

Aunt Joyce has all the videos for the ladies short and long programs on his blog.

Enjoy~!

The Other Moir…

I was looking around youtube and found this! Scott’s brother and cousin at Canadian Nationals. Danny Moir wiped out in a section. I find this rather entertaining considering that Tessa once wrote that she wanted to go to the Olympics with Danny. Well, I guess fate, destiny or just pure luck changed all of that. Sheri reminded me a lot of Emily Samuelson. They have the same kind of feet which makes lovely toe points. I believe she does synchro skating now. In any case, here it is:

Enjoy~

~The Rinkside Cafe

The Evolution of Possible Olympic Medalists

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov have only been partners for half a season but they’re making significant progress on the Russian pairs skating front. Their unison, technicality and flow is extremely impressive for a team that has just gotten together. (They also beat Kavaguti and Smrinov by a mile at Russian Nationals.) Then again, both Tanya and Max were very talented with their previous partners. I can see this team go very, very far once they arrive on the international scene next year. Sochi 2014 might be their Olympics to lose considering that there’s been a lack of *really* good pairs skaters that have the tricks *and* chemistry since the implementation of the CoP system. If they were able to compete now, I’d rank them above Pang and Tong who are having trouble this season and they might make Savchenko and Szalkowy sweat a little bit.

In any case, let’s take a look at their progress (and the speed of their progress).

August 2010 – Practice

September 2010 – Russian Test Skate

Early December 2010 – Russian Regionals

Late December 2010 – Russian Nationals

FOUR CONTINENTS
Men: Takahiko Kozuka, Daisuke Takahashi, and Yuzuru Hanyu.
Ladies: Miki Ando, Mao Asada, and Akiko Suzuki.

Akiko Suzuki is Officially Dumped – Japanese Nationals

So the results of the ladies competition for Japanese Nationals are in. With great heartbreak, I must announce that the new Japanese National ladies champion is Miki Ando. Mao placed was 10 points behind Miki in the free skate and dropped to 2nd place and though Akiko Suzuki was 4th in the free skate, she lost a bronze medal to the new rising star, Kanako Murakami. As a result, Akiko has lost her spot at Worlds but has a spot at the Four Continents. At least she has another chance to compete this season. That Fiddler in the Roof LP is wonderful.

In any case, this is Team Japan’s line-up for 4CC and Worlds:

Four Continents

  • Men: Takahiko Kozuka, Daisuke Takahashi, and Yuzuru Hanyu
  • Ladies: Miki Ando, Mao Asada and Akiko Suzuki

Worlds

  • Men: Takahiko Kozuka, Nobunari Oda, Daisuke Takahashi
  • Ladies: Miki Ando, Mao Asada and Kanako Murakami

The Reeds and Takahashi/Tran are in both competitions, of course.

Merry Christmas!

I would just like to wish all my wonderful readers a very Merry Christmas! Thank you very much for reading the blog, I didn’t think that anyone would really be interested in my random figure skating ramblings. It makes me really happy knowing that people actually read this stuff that I write. Anyways, a few holiday treats to share~

Merry Christmas~

~The Rinkside Cafe

Japanese Nationals

Mao seems to have recovered from her poor performances on the Grand Prix circuit. The only major mistake in her short program at Nationals was 2-footing her triple axel. The smile on her face at the end of the program said it all.

Miki Ando is in 2nd place and Kanako Murakami is in 3rd. I fear that Akiko Suzuki is on her way of being  dumped (she’s currently in 7th) in favour of the new rising star that is Kana-chan. I wish Miki Ando was the one excluded from the World team but being the only lady who won 2 golds in the GP circuit, that’s very unlikely. Kanako’s bronze at the GPF above her teammates makes her a strong contender for a spot at Worlds. Seriously, let’s just give at least one of Canada’s 3 spots to the Japanese men and women. If Akiko Suzuki came to Canadian Nationals (and I wish she would), she’d beat everyone. Anyways, here are more videos:

Oh Miki, you are a good skater with a lovely personality… please get better choreography.

Kanako lost concentration and singled her axel.

Akiko’s skate wasn’t too bad. Just an underrotated and stepped out of a 3Lz.

Daisuke has secured a position on the podium after finishing 4th in the SP. He recovered in the free skate and ended up with bronze. The Japanese though, have a new National champion… Takahiko Kozuka! Nobunari Oda finished in 2nd, obviously.

Aunt Joyce has the videos of the men’s SP posted here. Here are the LP of the top 4 men:

Enjoy~!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Just for Fun: Top 5 Choreographers

So my last post was about top 5 coaches (who were at times choreographers) but today, this will be a post about choreographers (who may be coaches but I’m highlighting their choreography skillz.) Now, without further ado…

1. Marina Zoueva

I worship this woman. I swear that there is no tacky bone in her body, which is a miracle because she’s involved in a sport that spews tackiness. Katia Gordeeva wrote in her book that when Marina was their coach or choreographer, she always wore clothes in the latest styles and it seemed that Marina was always so fashionable compared to her. I don’t blame you, Katia, for feeling that way. This woman is so cool that she can go shopping for Hermes scaves and think up fabulous programs like these without being culturally offensive:

The woman is such an artist. She looks at videos and ballet magazines to come up with moves like this:

In their book, Tessa and Scott said, “Marina brought a ballet magazine into the arena and flipped it open to a picture of a ballerina, arms spread, balanced on one knee on the back of her partner, who was bent over a squat position. […] ‘She [Marina] said, “I think you can do this,” ‘ Tessa recalls. “We were thinking ‘You’re crazy, that’s never going to happen.’ ” But it did, and it’s become an iconic move at the 2010 Olympics. Oh Marina, your creativity and trust in your skaters is amazing. Her singles programs are absolutely wonderful as well!

2. Tamara Moscovina

I know that Tamara Moscovina is a legendary pairs coach, as pointed out by ay-sa, but there were so many coaches (and now I realize that there are so many wonderful choreographers as well) that I decided to put her here. Moscovina once competed with Papa Mishin. O_o Wow. That must take guts. Tamara Moscovina has coached and choreographed some of the most famous Russian pairs including Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze who unfortunately, had to share their glory with a Canadian pair whose choreography, though relatable and fun, was full of foward two-foot skating and lacked transitions. Before we start yelling at each other over the controversy, let’s just remember this program, choreographed by Moscovina (and Igor Borbin), which is considered to be *the* definitive pairs program:

3. Lori Nichol

Lori tends to be a hit or miss; some of her later programs lack impact but others are just plain magical. I think this program just says it all:

4. Shae-Lynne Bourne

Shae-Lynne, I believe, has only just started her choreography career but she has talent. Her programs are intricate and difficult, but when they’re skated well, it looks absolutely effortless to skate and watch. Her ice dance programs have a more lyrical style to them and I find her programs fun to watch. The combination of Jeremy Abbott and Shae-Lynn Bourne last year was an absolute most perfect marriage:

I’d like to see her choreograph Mao Asada someday…

As for an ice dance program by Shae-Lynn:

5. David Wilson

David Wilson is such a personality, I remember his hilariousity on “Be Good Johnny Weir”. No wonder Yuna feels so happy and inspired around him.

(Skip to 6:41)

Ass circle. XD LOL. I love you, David Wilson. This was the final product after Galina had modified it. Sadly, there was no ass circle.

And since I mentioned Yuna Kim…

6. Sandra Bezic

It would be a bit of a crime if I forgot Sandra Bezic. Some of the programs she’s done for Chen Lu are simply epic and Kurt Browning didn’t win the Olympics with this but this is an absolute classic:

Anyways, I wish you a Merry, Merry Christmas~!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Just for Fun: Top 5 Coaches

I was inspired by this post by From the Boards and thought that I’d compile my own list of top 5 coaches (and I’ll do  a second part with choreographers later) ’cause it’s fun! I’ll try and make my list a little dissimilar to spice things up! So without further ado…

The Rinkside Cafe’s picks for Top 5 Coaches

1. Tatiana Tarasova

Tati may not have been able to focus her attentions on Mao because she had to take care of her sick mother (and if you can sympathize with Joannie Rochette, I think you can also sympathize with Tati), but Mao’s choice for her as coach was not illogical at all: Tati has coached more skaters to World Championhood and Olympic Gold more than anyone else. Some of her past students include Alexei Yagudin, Katia Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, Shizuka Arakawa and Illia Kulik. At the moment, I think she’s only “advising teams” (although her mother passed away in the summer) but all in all, Tati, with her diva fur coats and hair, is undoubtedly, a force to be reckoned with.

2. Frank Carroll

Frank Carroll is a legend thanks to Michelle Kwan. He and Lori Nichol used to be a dream team. It’s just a pity that the student that would finally give him Olympic Gold is the epileptic arm-waving, giant bad Vera Wang-clad contorting spider called Evan Lysacek. Carroll is known to make his skaters do full run throughs which makes them improve very, very fast. Right now, his star students at the senior level (Mirai Nagasu and Denis Ten) are known headcases but I’m hoping that he could work some magic on them.

3. Igor Shpilband

Team Shpilband and Zueva have worked miracles and have taken teams with potential and worked with them until they meet that potential. Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir had trouble with lifts, speed and power during their teenage year and look at them now! Under their tutelage (and Igor paired them up), Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto began to give notice to the world that North America is capable of producing good ice dancers in a European-dominated sport. In fact, thanks to team Shpilband/Zueva, North America has emerged as a powerhouse for ice dancing in recent years, therefore  beginning the campaign to rid the world of what Aunt Joyce likes to call “Eurotrash” programs, which is definitely a good thing. Also, Katia Shpilband, Igor’s daughter has become a competent figure skater at the intermediate junior level. Videos of her skating have yet to emerge on the internet but I must say, I’m excited.

4. Alexei Mishin

Although several current children’s books hail the Weir-Lysacek rivalry as the most epic rivalry in history, I care to disagree. Actually, any good figure skating fan would know that the most epic rivalry was between Alexei Yagudin and Evgeni Plushenko. Unlike Weir and Lysacek who only really competed with each other on the national level (with a lot of trash talking), Yagudin and Plushenko were competing with each other for The Top Spot in EVERY competition they were in together. For about eight years, if your last name was not Yagudin or Plushenko, you would not win gold or silver at Worlds. Bronze would have been a great achievement back then. In any case, these two and their talent and fierce and epic rivalry was created or fostered by Papa Mishin. You may criticize him for choreography with excessive arm-waving but his mind games and toughness has produced two legends of figure skating. Although Plushenko’s performance at the Olympics (and every competition during the 2009/2010 season) left much to be desired, it’s a pity that this legend had to be beaten by someone whose “artistry” involves re-enacting a seizure on ice. In any case, another star by Mishin is on the horizon by the name of Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. If she survives her growth spurt, watch out for her at Sochi.

5. A tie between…

Brian Orser

I was going to exclude Orser from the top 5 not because he’s not a great coach, but because he’s only coached 1 superstar and 1 upcoming star. Although Yuna Kim is a super-duperstar at the moment, Orser does not have the coaching record as some of the other coaches on this list. At the moment, he has 1 Olympic gold medal, 1 World gold and 2 World bronze. A fair achievement, by 1 skater but compared to people like Tati and Igor, he has a way to go with his coaching career. Still, Kim’s achievements have been great but we’ll have to wait and see how Orser fares with his other skaters. At the moment, Christina Gao is being buried by the Russian girls and Adam Rippon still has consistency issues. His reputation amongst Korean fans has gone down since the crazy drama with the Kim-Orser split. And he doesn’t have a South Park theme song. In any case, we’ll have to wait and see what else Brian has in store for us, although if anything, CBC will still be a huge fan of his.

Nikolai Morozov

Morozov is a badass Russian Gino who can do voodoo and somehow get gorgeous girls despite his gino-ness. I admit, some of his programs are some of the worst crap I’ve ever seen (aka Morozombie programs). Miki’s Ando’s programs are clear proof of that, however some of his other programs are pure, pure gold. Like this one, which is a collaboration with Tatiana Tarasova:

Despite his choreography with tons of pauses, weird arm movements, a lack of personality and jump-laden in the second half programs, Morozov’s legacy and coaching prowess stems from the fact that he produces consistent skaters with correct, huge and powerful jumps. Just look at Miki Ando and Nobunari Oda.

Anyways, what is your list of top 5 coaches?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Just for fun: Winter Solstice (+Lunar Eclipse)

Today is the day when the night is longest. Let us celebrate with programs to music that honour the night! There’s also a lunar eclipse going on so I thought I’d throw in some programs with moon-themed music.

I love watching young Mao~

Although older Mao is wonderful as well… (I prefer the World Team Trophy version of this program but I can’t find a video of it.)

Music about the moon in honour of the eclipse…

We won’t see the Dark Side of the Moon but the moon will go dark…

And don’t forget that the winter solstice also marks the beginning of winter:

Hopefully, when you go outside, you’ll be walkin’ in a winter wonderland~

And of course, we all need a bit of Michelle Kwan, who is still fabulous even though she’s retired.

Happy Winter Solstice~!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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