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.

Shy little Takahiko Kozuka shines!

I underestimated this guy at the beginning of the season but I’ve always loved this little gem of a LP choreographed by Marina Zueva:

His medal at Worlds was a surprise but a pleasant one indeed. I’m very happy that his skill is being recognized in the international scene. I look forward to his future work.

Queen Marina and King Igor establish their reign in the discipline of ice dance.

This season, Meryl Davis and Charlie White defeated their longtime rivals and Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Despite this upset, the biggest winners at Worlds today in ice dance were Marina Zueva and Igor Shpilband because they seriously owned the podium. Maia and Alex Shibutani’s medal was unexpected but Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat’s fall in the FD gave them a chance to medal and the brother/sister team did not hesitate to make a grab for that bronze medal. So, congratulations, Marina and Igor. Your next task is to survive the Russian onslaught for the upcoming Sochi Olympics.

Mother Russia finally has a good pairs team in their arsenal.

Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar debuted as a new team at Worlds and they made a huge splash in the international scene in pairs figure skating by winning silver. It’s clear that the Russian Figure Skating Federation supports this team because they’ve already dumped Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov at Nationals. Watch out world, Mother Russia wants that Olympic pairs gold medal back.

Now, the question is, why didn’t Tanya and Max pair up sooner? For the next season, let’s hope that they get better choreography because they can do a lot better than what they did this year.

Savchenko and Szalkowy regain their confidence.

A bronze medal at the Olympics might be a pretty darn good achievement but for Aliona and Robin, it wasn’t the colour they were looking for. These two are skilled pairs skaters and probably had the hardest technical content in their programs last year but it seemed as if they lost some faith in themselves when they heard that Shen and Zhao were coming back. I don’t blame them for being a bit scared but I’m glad that they’re pushing themselves hard for another chance for Olympic gold. Their win at Worlds is a testament of their determination and desire to be on top once more.

A few young stars emerge!

Although she finished 8th at the World championships, Kanako Murakami showed that she had great potential with a win at Skate America and more importantly, a bronze medal at the Grand Prix Final. She also managed to kick Akiko Suzuki off the top 3 list of Japanese ladies at Nationals this year, which is a quite a big feat.

Alex and Maia Shibutani snatched an unexpected bronze at Worlds at their senior debut – a better debut than Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir who finished 6th at their first World Championships. The brother/sister team however, do owe their win to an highly unexpected fall by Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat. On another note, Maia and Alex’s FD is absolutely lovely.

Another emerging star is the highly expressive Yuzuru Hanyu. Yuzuru seems to be right on track with his jumps – ontd_skating reports that he did a 4T-3T, 3A and 3Lz in the final night of “Friends on Ice” – and his future appears to be bright, especially with his unexpected silver medal at Four Continents this year.

Wenjing Sui‘s age may be a controversy but she and Cong Han certainly did well this season with a bronze at the senior Grand Prix Final and medals at their senior Grand Prix events. These two are exciting to watch with their big tricks and jumps. Let’s hope that they gain some polish before they head to the Olympics in Sochi. They’re going to be facing a lot of tough Russian competition in their career in the senior ranks for the next couple of years.

Lubov Iliushchekina and Nodari Maisuradze may have the most difficult names to pronounce but these two are pretty well polished for a team starting out in the senior ranks. This team has a lot of potential and the next season will really decide their future. I hope that it will be a successful one.

Fedor Andreev comes back to the figure skating world… with Jana Khokhlova!

I was a bit sad when I found out that team Khokhlova/Novitski broke up last season. Their footwork was sloppy at times and their choreography and costumes were more likely to be atrocious than not, but they did give us a few gems, like their FD from the 2007/8 season and 2008/9 season. Jana’s flexibility also made for some spectacular lifts as well. As for Fedor Andreev, his strength on the ice is something that I do admire and I’m glad that he decided to come back to the sport. This pairing has ways to go but they do have such wonderful chemistry together.

I’m sure that there’s more highlights but this is all I can muster for now.

What do you think are the highlights of the 2010/11 season?

~The Rinkside Cafe

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