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


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