Interesting…

… is a double edged word. You can be interesting in a positive way, in other words, be charismatic, be a good conversationalist, be able to do cool tricks/dances/whatever. But you can also be interesting in a horrifying way… like Michelle Bachmann. I decided to check out a few juniors at the JGP Austria today and found this interesting young man:

Han Yan finished 2nd in the JGPF last year and although his triple axel wasn’t solid in this program, that 3F-3T was very Yuna-esque. It doesn’t seem like a compliment because men’s skating involves harder jumps, but Yuna did triple-triples wayyy better than most men. His final triple lutz was lovely and high but I wonder if he can keep all of these fast and high jumps in the long program. Yan if only 15 so he still has time to develop his talent but I hope that his future is bright.

The other “interesting” thing – this time interesting in a bad way – was Sui and Han at the same event. They seemed to have downgraded their content – they did a throw 3Lp (which wasn’t landed properly) rather than their usual flip and they did a double twist rather than a triple – and there were also a lot of stumbles and mistakes. The former junior World Champions are currently sitting in 3rd place and I’m wondering what happened. Has Sui started her growth spurt and it’s hurting their careers? Just having an off day? And why on earth are they keeping the cowboy program? Cowboy programs have to be the tackiest things alive right after clown programs.

Any opinions? As well, any suggestions of other skaters to watch out for in the junior ranks?

~The Rinkside Cafe

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Wow, that was a MEGA Triple Axel

A video of Yuzuru Hanyu’s short program at Nebelhorn (which he won) has surfaced. The landing on his quad toe was shaky but the triple axel that followed it was HUGE and gorgeous. I also loved the footwork into the sit spin near the end. Sublime. I hope he can get that quad down and have a successful season. I would love it if he were one of the frontrunners for the gold at Sochi.

Go Yuzuru!

Edit: Yuzuru’s LP has surfaced as well. His quad still needs work and despite the promising debut of the program at THE ICE, it’s clear that Yuzuru has ways to go before this program can reach its full potential. With that added beginning that wasn’t shown at THE ICE, Yuzuru needs to work on his stamina to be able go through the rest of the program with good polish and flow. It’s unfortunate to see him lack the flow he displayed at the summer skating show because when he’s into the program, it’s absolutely spectacular. These speedbumps aren’t in any way a detriment to his season or his career. I think that having these bumps early on means that he can still develop the program, build it up to be even better and then peak at Worlds. Go Yuzuru!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Memories of Childhood…

My childhood was full of great figure skating memories, having grown up in the era of Kurt Browning and Michelle Kwan. This man, however, along with his rival – Mr. Platinum medalist – made men’s figure skating super exciting for a good chunk of my childhood. In this particular competition, Alexei Yagudin was beaten by the men’s skating curse in which the World Champion in the year previous to the Olympics will not get Olympic gold. He had to relinquish his World title to his rival before achieving gold in Salt Lake City. It’s just a pity that the person to defeat that curse was Evan Lysacek. Though I still take pride in the fact that his footwork here can still put Patrick Chan’s to shame.

Cheers!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Pure Love: Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao… dancing

Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao were the first ones to make me tear up after watching a skating program. (2003 Worlds – Turandot LP) The program was so well choreographed and skated to perfection with the most beautiful emotions behind it. Their love for each other and the trust between both partners was so evident and everything just fell into place despite Shen’s injury.

Aunt Joyce recently posted a video of the pair on a dancing show:

I only have a basic grasp of Mandarin so forgive me for any mistakes in the translation. The fluff at the beginning was about how they usually dance on ice but they’re transferring skills on the floor. I think Xue said something about feeling safe because she’s with her husband. Both of them expressed a wish to win the competition. So they danced and right off the top, the first judge tells them they should leave the competition because they’re just too good. Shen and Zhao said that they feel that they would like to learn about how to move on the floor. The transvestite/transgendered judge complained about Xue’s dress and how she reacted at one point even before Hongbo touched her. The rest of the judges, though, told them that they’re too good for competition and that they’ve basically won without having to compete because they’re just that good. They ended up dancing one more time and one of the judges noted that no one’s ever gotten a standing ovation and that is a testament of how good they are.

So, I guess we can interpret this as, they’ve won the competition without having to go through the entire thing. Pity we can’t see them dance some more though.

~The Rinkside Cafe

The Future: Yuzuru Hanyu

I’ve always been a fan of Yuzuru Hanyu. The guy is expressive, fun to watch and it amuses me to no end that he looks like an anime character. It’s been clear since his junior days that he has tons of potential and he wasn’t junior World Champion for no reason. Recently, videos have surfaced and it seems that this young man has a talent with triple axels. (Take that, Patrick Chan!) Not just triple axels but triple axels as the second part of a combination. 3As have been the bane for World Champions like Patrick Chan and Stephane Lambiel and here is this youngin’ doing them in combination with QUAD TOES.

Yuzuru also seems to have a 3A-3A combination under his belt. I believe this is a modified version of what will be his long program for the upcoming season. (EDIT: The original version of the video got taken down and there aren’t other copies of it as much as I know – Yuzuru’s performance of the Romeo and Juliet program, 2011, THE ICE. Here is another performance which is good but not as great as the version I have previously posted. If you have a link to the performance I mentioned, please link me.) For the performance that convinced me that he was something super special, click here.

Romeo and Juliet is overdone but this is really something special.  He’s just absolutely mesmerizing. His position in the air and jump technique have also greatly improved. All the jumps in that program look so effortless…

So, Patrick Chan, look out because this kid has the expression, the quad AND a triple axel. Now the question is, who will he have to shove off the Japanese men’s podium to get on the World’s team. Or will he be able to manage that at all?

What do you think of Yuzuru Hanyu?

~The Rinkside Cafe

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

Joy and Disappointment

Since their win at Junior Worlds, I’ve been keeping an eye out for the baby Chinese pair of Wenjing Sui and Cong Han. There’s obviously a lot of joy in their skating and their big tricks are breathtaking. It seems that they’re still staying in the junior ranks this season as they’ve starting competing in JGP Latvia. Here are videos of their SP and LP:

To start with the positives, I was very impressed by Sui’s expressiveness and polish – I could barely keep my eyes off her throughout both programs. She reminded me of a mix between Xue Shen and Qing Pang. Her lines have definitely improved and despite her tininess, there are moments where she looks as if she’s six feet tall just by the way she’s holding herself. However, with all of these mistakes, it’s very clear that these two have a lot of work ahead of them. Sui seems to be having issues with her jumps and the double twist in the SP and fumble on the triple twist in the LP was very uncharacteristic of them. All that tripping in the LP was certainly unacceptable and they would be completely slaughtered if they were competing in the senior ranks. (They did win this competition though.) I seriously hope that this team goes home and smooth out all their issues because I expected better from them and I will expect a lot from them in their competitions this season.

So, let’s just hope that this is a hiccup to their otherwise brilliant career.

~The Rinkside Cafe

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