HAPPY HOLIDAYS~!

Wishing you a happy and wonderful holiday, whatever you’re celebrating, or if you’re celebrating at all. Here are a few treats for this time of year.

Happy holidays~!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Favourite Programs of the Season So Far – 2011/2012 Edition

Finally! Some time! I actually started this post a while ago but it got bulldozed with the rest of the things I wanted to do in my free time in the last couple of weeks. I’m finally free for a glorious week or two but I’ll really try to keep up. I have a few posts in mind to write and I will deliver. In any case, the Grand Prix series has just ended and the season’s programs have been revealed. So far, these are my favourites:

(Yuzuru beckons you in with his adorable anime-character face…) More

Pure Love: Daisuke and Kittens

My darling friend and fellow figure skating aficionado, Ay-sa, sent me this video. Whoever decided to film this is my hero.

I think all the kittens were trying to get close to Daisuke’s divinity.

Hope this brings a smile to your day!

~The Rinkside Cafe

10 Questions I’d Like to Ask the Skate Gods

Life can be complicated and I think this adage can be used to describe figure skating as well. Some people turn to religion to answer all the questions on life, the universe and everything but in the world of figure skating, you could try and appeal to the capricious Skate Gods for help though they may end up ruining your hopes and dreams. Well, your figure skating-related hopes and dreams at least. I try to avoid the Skate Gods as I do have a few friends who claim to sacrifice babies and kittens to them… In any case, here are a few questions whose answers I’m dying to know.

1.Will we ever see a perfect layback spin a la Sasha Cohen ever again?

2. Will Nikolai Morozov ever realize that his choreography sucks? And that Evanescence was only “cool” like… ten years ago?

3. Who is that awesome person who puts on Glee mashups and music at Canadian events while skaters are waiting in the Kiss and Cry?

4. When will Plushenko ever be gone for good?

5. How can the coach who brought Michelle Kwan to stardom be such a misogynist douche?

6. Who do I have to ask permission from to pinch Yuzuru Hanyu’s cheeks?

7. Will the pairs event ever return to its former state of loveliness under the IJS?

8. How does a skater stop themselves from flutzing? (I should probably ask a coach rather than the Skate Gods this question.) And speaking of lutzes, when will the judges give Adam Rippon credit for the Rippon Lutz?

9. What is going on with Marina Zueva? Since the Olympics, her programs have lost that special spark and usual magic.

My most pressing question:

10. Exactly WHAT does Patrick Chan have to do to get a shitty score?

What questions would you ask the Skate Gods?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Pure Love: Romeo and Juliet by Yuzuru Hanyu

Still not perfect by any means but improving and getting there. A little too overdramatic in bits but that spread eagle into a 3A? That 3F that came out of nowhere at the beginning? Breathtaking.

Catching up on GPF skates though I don’t think I’ll have enough time to blog about very much until I get my holidays in two weeks.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Breaking News: Mao withdraws from the GPF

This appeared on PJ Kwong’s twitter just now:

I guess that Mao is withdrawing. Not sure if Adelina will take her place. I’ll post more updates as they come.

Sending prayers to Mao’s mum,

~The Rinkside Cafe

Update: This appeared on PJ Kwong’s Twitter. The Rinkside Cafe sends her condolences to the Asada family in their difficult time. I’m completely heartbroken for her.

Here’s an article from the Mainichi shinbun.

Grand Prix Final 2011: Predictions (Pairs and Ice Dance)

The predictions continue! Ugh. Why does the GPF have to come at a week where I’m crazy busy. Ok. Predictions and back to work. And maybe some dinner in between. As a result, this will have to be quick. Here goes!

Pairs

The Roster

Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy
Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov
Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Narumi Takahashi & Mervin Tran
Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang
Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford

Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy haven’t been completely consistent in their competitions this season and their Pina LP is a work in progress but it’s a great and creative vehicle that can take them to the world title again. If they skate clean, I know that they can fend off the onslaught of Russians. If they don’t, then I see Mother Russia backing Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov rather than Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov, who have actually been doing well this season. The Chinese pair might get on the podium if one of the three above screw up, though they’re definitely the best of the best so far. The Zhangs definitely lack the expression and consistency to be a captivating pairs team like the other Chinese teammates. They might’ve won silver in Torino, but they only have a ghost of a chance of winning a medal here.

Predictions:

Gold: Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy
Silver: Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Bronze: Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov

Ice Dance

The Roster

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
Meryl Davis & Charlie White
Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje
Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani
Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat
Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Sloviev

The V/M & D/W rivalry continues! It will be an exciting contest to see who will win. At the moment, I would tentatively put money on Meryl & Charlie because even though Tessa & Scott’s “Funny Face” FD is entertaining, it has too much posing and pauses and not enough skating while D/W’s routine is athletic, driving and showcases their speed and power. It also has really lovely transitions though the program as a whole needs a lot of polish maybe some minor changes so it’s not so dull at the beginning. I also can’t help but feel that the Shibutanis would’ve done a better job with this Die Fledermaus program. In any case, Tessa and Scott need to really vamp up their program

Looking at the list, I’ve got a feeling that one of the European teams will take bronze. Bobrova & Sloviev seem to be getting a few questionable scores and we all know that Mother Russia wants all the medals it can get in Sochi. That and Ilinykh & Katsalapov are still not rising meteorically as everyone had hoped. They’ve really gotten shunted into the back this year. As for Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat… they’re consistent but how they stack up to Mother Russia’s politicking might is beyond me.  I’ll draw a name out of a hat and see how it goes.

Predictions:

Gold: Meryl Davis & Charlie White (prove me wrong, Tessa and Scott!)
Silver: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
Bronze: Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Sloviev

What are your predictions?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Grand Prix Final 2011: Predictions (Men and Ladies)

So I decided to take a look at the ISU website, thinking that the GPF was a week or two away. Nope it’s in the upcoming week. aoifjisjfsdljflkajdla. Time to take a break from the stresses of life and make predictions. Woot!

Men

The roster (in no particular order):

Daisuke Takahashi
Patrick Chan
Yuzuru Hanyu
Jeremy Abbott
Javier Fernandez
Michal Brezina

Substitutes:

Nan Song
Takahiko Kozuka
Adam Rippon

The men’s field this year is super exciting. Half the field here (Jeremy Abbott, Yuzuru Hanyu and Michal Brezina) are less likely to get on the podium but any mistake from the other three (Patrick Chan, Daisuke Takahashi and Javier Fernandez) and they will be sure to give them a good run for their money and perhaps even snatch a medal from under their noses. I have no doubt that Patrick Chan will fall and then be rewarded with insane scores and probably win gold. However, Daisuke’s been having a good season so far and I’m looking forward to seeing his SP again. He may give Chan a run for his money in the SP if Chan falls. Daisuke doesn’t have a quad, but his performances surely cannot be inferior to Chan’s, though that’s not up to me. It’s a pity that Takahiko Kozuka’s not here though there’s very little chance of a Japanese men’s podium sweep.

It’s also a pity that there only a slim chance that Yuzuru will medal but having two solid skates at the GPF will definitely bolster his chances at shoving Oda off the Japanese National podium this year. Unlike what Kanako Murakami did to Akiko Suzuki last year, Yuzuru would be shoving off a skater who may not have much to offer any more. Especially since Oda continually fails his “Counting 101” class. Also, compared to Kanako, Yuzuru has the polish, flow, performance and skating skills to make a decent splash in the senior scene. We’ll just have to see how the rest of the season goes. If Yuzuru is promising, the Japanese Federation may want to position him to take the reins of Japanese men’s figure skating should anything happen to Daisuke on the road to Sochi.

In other news, Javier Fernandez should medal here. He’s been skating solidly though he does have some stamina issues. Leaving Morozov was a good move and if he wins a medal at the GPF, it’s likely that we’ll see him at the top of the men’s podium at Euros. Then again, even if Michal betters Javier here, there’s still a good chance that Javier will be European Champion with Brian Orser (and great skates) behind him.

Jeremy Abbott, as always, will be a wildcard. I don’t know if he can garner the PCS when he’s up against Chan and Daisuke but Jeremy’s just as talented as the aforementioned men and his programs are like fascinating art pieces with the most intricate details. The only thing preventing Jeremy from being the best is Jeremy. You never know when he’ll implode and because he does, you never see his full potential and as a result, you never really know how he stacks up to the top players. Come on, Jeremy, I want to see you push through and skate well.

In any case, here are my predictions for the men’s competition:

Gold: Patrick Chan
Silver: Daisuke Takahashi (Please prove me wrong and skate fabulously, Daisuke!!!)
Bronze: Javier Fernandez

Ladies

The roster (in no particular order):

Mao Asada
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
Alissa Czisny
Carolina Kostner
Alena Leonova
Akiko Suzuki

Substitutes:

Adelina Sotnikova
Mirai Nagasu
Ashley Wagner

The ladies competition doesn’t have the most exciting roster. (Then again, there isn’t much of a way to make it any better because of the current ladies field.) It’ll be hard to make a prediction, though, especially for the bronze medal.

Mao Asada wasn’t the best at the Cup of Russia but this season has proven that more than anything, she’s a trooper that won’t give up. Good for you, Mao. She’ll probably work her non-existent ass off for the GPF and hopefully she’ll be in top form. Her Liebestraume program is just lovely. If she skates clean, no one can touch her. Ganbare, Mao-chan!

Other than Mao, the other one to watch at this competition is Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. She’s bested her arch-rival, Adelina Sotnikova, with her GPF results and if she medals at the GPF, we may be looking at the new Russian National Champion this year. Liza’s been solid all season and her star quality is something you cannot deny. I don’t care if PJ Kwong calls her old fashioned, I’ll take her over boring Cynthia Phaneuf any day. (I remember 2009 Skate Canada when I was *literally* yawning throughout Phaneuf’s LP because I was so bored. It wasn’t even exciting to watch her fall because you knew that it would happen.) I didn’t think that Liza could beat Alissa Czisny or Carolina Kostner but she proved me wrong and I’m happy she did. The question at this point is, can she beat Mao? At the moment, I think the answer is no, especially with the PCS the judges have been giving her. The choreography for her LP is terrible but at least she makes it work.
As for the rest… Let’s see… Let me write off Alena Leonova now to not waste any time because she’s never going to win anything against this field. Akiko Suzuki has been making mistakes throughout both her programs and unfortunately, she probably won’t be rewarded with decent PCS because she will probably be the #2 Japanese lady at Nationals this year. It’s sad because this girl is skating with a wonderful confidence this season. Carolina Kostner has also been skating pretty well this season and has bested Alissa Czisny at TEB (and in my opinion, at Skate America as well). I think I’ll peg Caro for bronze, though any mistake from her and Alissa or Akiko will be there to snatch it away from her. (I would also love it if Akiko proved me wrong…)
Predictions:
Gold: Mao Asada
Silver: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
Bronze: Akiko Suzuki