201 POSTS!!!

I’ve just been churning these posts out in the last couple of days that I haven’t even noticed that October 2nd marked the first anniversary of the Rinkside Cafe and that my last post on the free dance at Skate Canada was my 200th post!

So let’s take a look at some interesting facts in celebration, shall we?

All-time number of views (as of when I’m writing this): 35, 406

Number of published posts: 201 (counting this one!)

Highest number of views in a day: 463 (October 23rd, 2011)

Top posts

  1. Look-alikes: Jana Khokhlova & Fedor Andreev
  2. In Soviet Russia, Polar Bears Use You!
  3. Hey Amy Chua, what happened to Caroline Zhang?

Top search terms:

  1. kiira korpi (That’s certainly unexpected!)
  2. mosquito repellent (Ok… um… what?)
  3. rinkside cafe

All in all, I’d like to thank my readers and my fellow figure skating fan friends who have helped me along the way!

~The Rinkside Cafe


Skate Canada 2011: Ice Dance

So yesterday, a kind netizen posted the FDs just as they were done. I love that person, whoever you are.

As expected, Tessa and Scott won the free dance. They were graceful and charming though the numerous pauses (numerous here meaning more than one) are a bit disconcerting because more pauses (a la Nikolai Morozov) = less skating = possibility of getting less points from transitions, choreography etc. And when you think about Meryl and Charlie’s program, which despite having its own flaws, is quite different in that it brilliantly showcases the team’s speed, power and it’s so fast paced that there’s no time for pausing. Meryl and Charlie’s program this year is athleticism at its best and we know they can bring that to the highest potential to keep that World title. As charming as the program now, Tessa and Scott need to tell Marina that this program needs to step it up a notch or two. Their FD score at Skate Canada is about a point lower than Meryl and Charlie’s FD score from Skate America. I really hope they have that in mind. Other than that, terrific job, guys!

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje showed a lot of technical improvement with their deep edges and speed across the ice with their angsty “It’s complicated” romantic FD. I’m so proud of these two and how they’ve improved so quickly over the last few seasons. I still think that it was stupid of Skate Canada to hold them back in favour of Crone/Poirier. These two obviously have a better connection with each other, charisma and the drive to improve. I think that they’ll be worthy successors to the Canadian dance crown after Tessa and Scott relinquish it in their retirement (which will not be soon, I hope). These two remind me of a young Meryl and Charlie but with more passion and connection.


Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte took bronze and skated to La Strada for their FD. The thing about “La Strada” is that it’s a film that’s really beautiful, tender, deep and tragic although the music is upbeat and fun. I’m very glad that this team decided to show the tenderness that was present in the film even though this program was a lot more romantic that the film ever was. I’m very glad that these two have had an opportunity to shine ever since Faiella and Scali retired. Anna and Luca are 24 and 26 but they bring an energy and freshness that’s reminiscent of teenagers even though their skating skills are far from that. Also,  Anna’s outfit is fabulous. It’d wear it for a casual day out if I owned it.

I hope you enjoyed the FD as much as I did!

~The Rinkside Cafe



In case you had to suffer through choppy pixellated images like I did on that sketchy Russian stream. I’m really hating where I am right now because of the lack of figure skating and available online sources. But at least this will make me smile.

I’ll blog about the men and dance competitions tomorrow.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Skate Canada 2011: Pairs Result

Tanya and Max won the LP with their “Black Swan” program, which also gave them the gold. Not that anyone was in doubt that they would win it. The program wasn’t perfect but at least it was more watchable than their 1990s emo-teen music short program. I think that Aliona and Robin have the edge over this team at this point in the season. Savechenko and Szolkowy are more technically sound and their programs, though sometimes a total miss, are generally choreographically superior. In this particular program, I find a bit of an issue with that long pause in the middle of the program where there’s a lot of posing and not a lot of skating. Seriously, are we back in the 1980s? Oh well. To each their own. We’ll see how this plays out.


Sui and Han recovered from their short program score and executed a successful quad twist. They actually had the highest TES score of the night, though they really must work on their presentation and on keeping the flow and finishing their movements so they don’t look as sloppy. Hopefully this will come as the season progresses.


Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radforth won the bronze at Skate Canada.


Here are the results and protocol for the long program.

Here are the overall standings.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Skate Canada 2011: An up and coming star makes her mark

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva won the ladies competition at Skate Canada yesterday. This is a great debut for the 14 year-old who many (especially Mother Russia) are expecting to be a contender at Sochi. Her rival, Adelina Sotnikova will compete at the Cup of China next week. I feel another Yuna-Mao-esque rivalry is set to appear on the ladies stage. I’m super excited!

Elizaveta however, did not win the long program despite skating a clean performance. That honour went to Akiko Suzuki, who despite a few minor mistakes skated with a grace, poise and maturity we’ve never seen from her before. I’m very glad that the judges are finally giving her some decent PCS for once. She’ll need it if she doesn’t want to be swept away by the Japanese figure skating federation in favour of other ladies, like the young Kanako Murakami.

Ashely Wagner wasn’t a complete headcase and rounded out the podium (she did fall near the end of the program but watch the double tano 2T tacked onto her first combination, it’s rather lovely!)  and incidentally was the highest ranked American female at the competition. Mirai fumbled quite a few times and while I only saw blurry shots of her skate, it seems that Rachael Flatt fell flat on her ass and ended up last.


Here are the long program results and protocol.

Here are the final standings.

I’m so happy that the figure skating season is here! I think I can livestream the free dance tonight and I’m super excited.

~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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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


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.


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



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.


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.


Gold: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir ❤
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

Skate America 2011: The surprising men’s competition

I guess you can never underestimate the old adage of “ice is slippery” because I thought that the men’s competition at  Skate America was going to be a straightforward thing but how wrong I was. Things really started going haywire when Takahiko Kozuka was 2nd after the short program. Not only was he in second place but he trailed behind by almost 9 points. To add to that danger, though, skaters ranked 2 to 5 after the short program were pretty much in a virtual tie with 0.66 separating Takahiko and the man who finished 5th, Richard Dornbush.

The problem was that Takahiko fell on an underrotated quad and he put his hand down on his triple axel. The rest of his program was less painful to watch but it seems as if Taka has some sort of penchant for skating to boring elevator music in his SP. For this particular program, I think Takahiko has to stop playing safe, watch some videos of Kurt Browning and channel the goofball flirt into his skating. We can’t all be as awesome as Kurt Browning but at least make your best effort to do so.

Michal Brezina was the surprise winner of the short. Skating to Japanese Kodo drums, I can’t help but feel that he’s trying to channel Tomas Verner’s 2007/8 martial arts program. Michal opened with a HUGE 3A followed by a clean and beautiful 3F-3T combination. Michal was going for the clean program and not going for a quad. His last jumping pass, a 3Lz was clean and lovely as was the rest of his program. The only problem is, the attempt of putting kung-fu on ice looks rather juvenile and immature. This is something you would skate to in a junior competition. People would gush about how cute it is but at the senior level, you look a bit immature. Not something you want to exude on the ice.

In the long program, the real shocker was Kevin Van Der Perren, who won the long program to take the silver overall. No one expected this from an old guy who’s been around for a while but wasn’t ever really noticed. He started out confidently, landing a beautiful quad toe. He stepped out of his high triple axel but recovered and landed a triple flip. I was most impressed in the second half of his program when he landed a 3S-3T-3T combination, a shocker as I remember that Kevin often had stamina issues. I guess I spoke too soon about stamina issues as he doubled his next jump but rallied and landed his next combination cleanly. Even though I wanted Takahiko to win this competition, I’m very happy for Kevin and his silver. I really admire his tenacity and dedication to the sport.

Taka rallied in the long while Michal Brezina demonstrated his trend of being more of a short program skater rather than the LP kind. In the end, Takahiko’s efforts gave him the bronze while Michal won the gold overall despite placing 3rd in the long.



Anyways, I need to quickly write Skate Canada predictions before the competition starts in a few hours, do a few chores and get a few hours of sleep before I can live stream the ladies event. Damn this time difference.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Skate America 2011: Pairs and Dance

The pairs competition at Skate America was a 3-tiered event: the first tier belonged to Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szalkowy and Zhang Dan & Zhang Hao who were contending for the gold. Then there was Kirsten-Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch and Caydee Denney & John Coughlin fighting for the last spot on the podium. And then there was the rest, who don’t really register on my radar. And for an event like pairs, where there haven’t been very many inspirational teams, those who do register on that radar are very few in number, so it’s not a total insult. =P

In any case, let’s start with the SP… More

Skate America 2011 – Ladies: The Battle of the Headcases

Since I’m just a lone blogger, I don’t really have to sugarcoat anything but last weekend at Skate America, there were only 2 ladies worth watching, both perennial headcases. And they are Alissa Czisny and Carolina Kostner. So let’s take a look at what went on last week shall we?

Alissa won the short program with a score of 64.20

I must say, for someone who’s perennially well-dressed, this costume was a bit disappointing. The belt would’ve looked a lot nicer if it were higher on the body. At least the back was nice. Skating to “La Vie en Rose” (LOVE this song), Alissa started off with an almost Kwan-esque triple lutz-double toe. I saw *almost* Kwanesque because the Kween would’ve been less tentative and more confident doing that jump. The combination was followed by a beautiful 3F and a decent 2A (it was a little shaky in the landing).  The rest of the program was performed with ease and elegance. Maybe it’s the way Alissa is wearing her hair or the way she held her arms but there were quite a few “Kwanesque” moments in that program. Well done! I’m looking forward to seeing a polished version of this program later on in the season.

Carolina Kostner got a 60.23 for her short program, which put her second behind Alissa. Since I discussed Alissa’s skating costume, I must say, baby yellow is nice cute and decent for Carolina’s skin tone but she should find a better dress. Looking at the youtube comments, I’m not the only one complaining about it. Caro opened with a big triple-toe, triple-toe – though I wish she opened with her ginormous 3F-3T instead – followed by a shaky 3Lp. After watching Alissa – known as a great spinner – Carolina’s spins looked a bit slow but the speed going in and out of her double axel was unbelievable. Choreography-wise, this is a vast improvement from previous seasons. The elements are well-woven together (I had to rewatch the last half of the program to realize that her step sequence came at the end) and although this wasn’t her best performance, I really liked Carolina’s commitment to the program. There was drama and flirtation. Maybe opera on ice has really improved her presentation skills because I was not expecting that from Carolina. A program (and hopefully a skater) with good potential this season.

Now onto the long program…

Carolina actually won the long program with a score of 117.12. Her costume reminded me of the one from her 2007 Worlds SP to Canon in D. She opened with a huge 3Lp followed by a huge 3F. Carolina’s jumps became a little weaker in the second half of her program – she singled a 2Lp at the end of her 3S-2T-2Lp combination but like in her SP, she skated with commitment to the choreography. Admittedly, her choreography was less risky than Alissa’s but I thought that she was a little undermarked in the long and that she should’ve won the competition by a very small margin.

Alissa skated to “Valse Triste” (another beloved piece of music of mine) and received a score of 113.28. Although the choreography was a lot more intricate and elegant than Carolina’s Alissa fell on her 3F and had numerous shaky landings and possible underrotations (though some of them might not have been severe enough to merit a downgrade). She also doubled a salchow in the 2nd half of her program. Alissa’s program may have more potential than Carolina’s but I didn’t feel that she should’ve won the competition (even the at times annoying patriots at FSOnline thought that she wasn’t going to win at one point.) I think Carolina should’ve won by the same margin as Alissa did but my opinion doesn’t really matter at this point, does it?

Here are the overall rankings in the ladies’ competition.

What did you think of the ladies’ competition at Skate America? I’m a bit drowsy now from my cold but I think I’ll write about the pairs/dance competition next.

~The Rinkside Cafe

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