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…)

Men’s SP – Daisuke Takahashi, In the Garden of Souls

Daisuke really takes it up a notch in this program. In fact, Daisuke seems to have branched out this season without losing everything we love about him. His SP this year is passionate, a bit sombre and mysterious and Daisuke has proven that he can connect with the audience and enchant them with a program that isn’t energetic and fun. This is a program that only someone as talented as mesmerizing as Daisuke can pull off and it’s like eating something that melts in your mouth. I love the transitions and the unexpected jumps and all the little intricacies. I don’t care if Chan is the one winning the actual gold medals, this program trumps Chan’s boring Take-5 SP every time.

Men’s LP – Yuzuru Hanyu, Romeo and Juliet

I have been obsessed with this program since I saw a shortened version of it on THE ICE. I don’t like the competition version of it as much but I still love it tons. (I picked it above Daisuke and Jeremy Abbott’s LPs.) There’s just a beautiful drama to the entire program that Yuzuru can convey. (I think we’re looking at Daisuke’s successor in skating drama and flair.) My favourite part is still the last step sequence. (And that spread eagle into a 3A. And that double tano 2-T at the end of that combination!) I look forward to seeing a perfected version of this program. I also think we’re looking at the kid who’s going to shove Papa Oda off the Japanese National podium this season. But for now, only time will tell.

Ladies SP – Kiira Korpi, Over the Rainbow

I had a hard time deciding this one because I don’t really like any of the ladies SPs very very much. I had to dig deep and look through a lot of programs and finally, I decided that this one was my favourite. I actually took notice of Kiira Korpi this year when I was watching her LP live. After a string of unbearably horrible skaters in the first group, Korpi’s elegance and polish was very refreshing, as is this program. Choreographically, it’s nothing too special though a lot of movements are timed perfectly to accentuate the crescendos in the music but what really shines through is the grace that’s reminiscent of Nancy Kerrigan. It’s sad that she has stamina issues because there is such a polish and refinement to her skating that a lot of the top ladies lack. I do hope for some sort of improvement in the future, even though I doubt she’ll win any World medals.

Ladies’ LP – Mao Asada, Liebestraume

I know this is a reused program but Mao’s consistency makes it look like it’s brand new. That and I think that giving this program another try with this newfound consistency is giving her confidence which allows her to relate and emote a little better with the music. The smile at the end of the program says it all. What a trooper.

Pairs SP – Narumi Takahashi & Mervin Tran, Imagine

These two have really grown on me. I still like Sui and Han but these two have developed the polish and maturity that the itty bitty Chinese pair lack. The choreography and transitions in their “Imagine” program are lovely and I hope to see a perfect performance someday. The transition into that opening triple twist is just magnificent and even though it looks awkward, I like that little tumble/flip into the death spiral. Young talent. Now, let’s see if Mervin is willing to give up his Canadian citizenship for Sochi.

Pairs LP – Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy, Pina

Aliona and Robin may not have the best sense of fashion but they never rest on their laurels. They are the world champions that really try to push themselves and the sport as an art. This year’s LP is unique and interesting and I hope they perfect it to regain their world title.

Ice Dance SD – Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje, Mix of Rhumba and Samba songs

These two rock the new SD format in ice dance and won the honour of having the best SD (IMO) of the season two years in a row. Despite the animal print dress (which I normally would lambaste until it went to the deepest depths of hell), the program has the sensuality and energy that a lot of teams lack. I find the rumba CD pattern a tad boring but these two pull it off wonderfully. There’s a great connection between them and it’s dripping sex. That and these two are improving leaps and bounds. They might actually make the World podium one day if they continue to progress as they are.

Ice Dance FD – Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje, Je Suis Malade

I’m not that fond of most of the FDs this year. Marina Zueva has yet to churn something absolutely breathtaking since the Olympic season and ice dance nowadays seems to be all about the big tricks. Gone are the days with seemingly simple lifts that don’t have a clusterfuck of transitions. The only FD that I find completely palatable this year is Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje’s. The choreography isn’t stunning but the passion that these two have exhibited and their obvious growth shines through in this program. Kaitlyn and Andrew zoom across the ice this season with a great confidence. They remind me of Meryl and Charlie – they’ve grown leaps and bounds all of a sudden. This could be their breakthrough year though the breakthrough wouldn’t be as obvious as Meryl and Charlie’s with big wins all over the place. Still, I’m very proud of these two and how much they’ve improved. This FD really highlights their ability to emote and their connection to each other (things that Crone/Poirier  and Meryl and Charlie have always failed to do).

Special mentions:

Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte, La Strada

I like how this FD highlights not only the fun that comes with the music of La Strada but there’s some sort of portrayal of the theme of humanity that’s in the movie because it’s actually quite a touching and somewhat sad movie.

Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat, the um… unique “Egyptian” FD

I think Edward Said is going to have a field day with this FD. I put this in my “special mentions” section because it’s just so… memorable. I’m not quite sure what the story is beyond the Pharaoh and the mummy but it’s a rather entertaining FD.

Akiko Suzuki, Die Fledermaus

Akiko has yet to skate this cleanly but what confidence and a what a lovely newfound grace. Please skate this cleanly and beautifully one day, Akiko.

Daisuke Takahashi, weird jazz music that ice dancers have used a couple times

Just mesmerizing.

Jeremy Abbott

Intricate and lovely. If only Jeremy wasn’t such a headcase.

Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov, Clair de Lune

This was my favourite pairs program last year and it would’ve been my favourite this year if Pina wasn’t so interesting. This gets an honourable mention because this year, the program is looking a lot better and Yuko looks less like a creepy voodoo rag doll.

Anyways, I’ll be posting a couple of things before my holidays are over.


~The Rinkside Cafe


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