What I’m seeing on my Twitter feed lately…

Lately on my Twitter, I’ve been bombarded by all these sad tweets and then inspirational retweets on love, life and whatnot. The culprit? Miki Ando. Here are some examples.


I’m not exactly a fan of bits of inspiration floating about the internets unless there’s some sort of humour involved. I’m a sucker for cutesy stuff but these tweets are vomit inducing for several reasons. The main one being that Miki’s angst may be because of her broken relationship with the infamous Russian Gino, Nikolai Morozov.

Keep on tweeting these quotes if you like, but here are my two cents: chin up girl, you’re way too good for him. Pretty, talented and with an admirable sparky personality – you’ve got it all.

~The Rinkside Cafe

New coaches for two Japanese men: Daisuke and Yuzuru

This is old news by now but I needed time to mull over things and form my opinion. In any case, we all know now that Daisuke Takahashi is going back to Nikolai Morozov who will be his assistant coach/advisor. (Thanks, Rino!) I’m weeping in my heart, just a little because first Lori and now the Morozombie. Aunt Joyce has expressed his opinion in this post and is not too concerned about the move because of these programs:

I, on the other hand, reasons that those programs are 4 years old and Morozov may have burnt out completely by now. When I think of Morozov, all I can think of is this fuckery:

I think I lose brain cells every time I look at that costume, let alone watch the entire program.

I really don’t have much else to say. Anyone else have comments?

Moving on to Yuzuru, it’s also really old news that he’s now training with Brian Orser and David Wilson. This new combination took a little more time to really settle into my brain. On one hand, Yuzuru’s relationship with his former coach, Nanami Abe was super sweet. I love how she always held his Pooh Bear tissue box and how he would put his medals around her neck. The Romeo and Juliet LP she choreographed this season was quite extraordinary and suited him perfectly – his age, his flair for drama and his ability to emote. Absolutely glorious.

On the other hand, Yuzuru needs his quads steady and his stamina built up if he wants to be a contender for the Olympics. At his age, he can go to two but at the same time, with a World bronze medal on his neck, he has the potential to go far at Sochi. I’m not too worried about Brian Orser’s commitments to Yuzuru despite the fact that Orser is also in charge of Javier. The difference between Javier and Yuzuru is that little Yuzuru has a skating federation with money and who cares a little more despite the fact that Yuzuru’s only the #3 man in Japan. I don’t doubt that he’ll rise further up in the ranks very soon despite Oda coming back and Takahiko working on a comeback. He already seems to be getting more fans than Takahiko and Oda probably still hasn’t passed Counting 101.  I’m also pleased with the fact that Yuzuru will probably be working with David Wilson for choreography and I love how Wilson makes programs that play up each skater’s strengths while downplaying their weaknesses.

Case and point? Yuna and her terrible extension. (Face it Yunabots, she’s not totally perfect – just like any other skater – and she really only improved this aspect of her skating after she left Orser.) Wilson made several programs that made that weakness a moot point while emphasizing her ability to be dramatic or flirty.

Nonetheless, my issue with Yuzuru’s coaching situation is mainly, Brian Orser. At this point, I’m doubting his abilities as a coach. Yes, there was Yuna Kim but here are some of his other “big name” students: Christina Gao who, like Yuna has poor extension and turnout, lacks confidence and star power and has gotten accepted at Harvard. The last point is not a detriment to her character but a potential reason for retirement, of course. There’s also Adam Rippon who does the most gorgeous Rippon Lutzes, was touted to be the next star in American men’s figure skating but barely has a quad or a triple axel at this point in his career. That is something that he should be very worried about if he wants to be competitive in the World stage right now. He seems to be worried since he left Orser. The latest pupil, Javier Fernandez had a promising start this season – two silvers in his GP events and then a bronze in the final but then something fell loose – 6th at the European Championships and then 9th at Worlds. He was good enough to win bronze but did not even break the top 5. Maybe my expectations were too high but the way this guy started his season was a breath of fresh air. Oh well, time will tell.

In any case, I will not forgive Orser if he turns Yuzuru into a “has been” skater. Yuna, her unexpected success and her popularity was what made Orser into the superstar coach he is now. Yes, Yuna was good and Orser made her better but she was also from South Korea, a place where competitive figure skating is unusual and a country that embraces their celebrities very ardently. If Yuna were from France, where there is a decent history of competitive figure skating and a strong union to back up their skaters, she would not have the underdog story which will make her even more famous that she was for winning things and beating the Japanese and she would not have opened up a new market to figure skating for the ISU. Part of Yuna’s superstardom, I may argue derives from her country of origin but the main point is that Orser also became a superstar with Yuna’s success. In some ways, I feel that Yuna made Orser into a larger than life coach than he actually was and his more recent students, I feel that there is validity in my worries over Yuzuru’s skating career. Then again, like everything else, time will tell.

Opinions? Please share!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Team Canton Update: Shpilband goes to Novi and Chock & Bates goes with him

A new article on icenetwork.com has surfaced and it seems as if Igor has not defected back to the Russians… yet. In any case, he has moved to Novi Ice Arena in Novi, Michigan which isn’t supposed to be too far from Arctic Edge. With Marina too preoccupied with the top Canadians and Americans, I guess it doesn’t come as a surprise that a somewhat no-name team like Madison Chock & Evan Bates have left Arctic Edge with Igor who may be able to politick them somewhere. Nonetheless, this couple has long ways to go – they need to solidify their partnership and actually give it some chemistry. One of the biggest problems of Samuelson & Bates was that they felt like a brother and sister couple, which was detrimental to their programs despite Emily’s perfect toe points.

Either way, they’ll have to fight their way to the number 1 position – something that won’t happen until Meryl & Charlie retire – if they are to get any sort of backing from the USFSA. You saw how the judges sank the Shibuntanis so easily through their mistakes this season. Being the #2 Americans made those low scores even easier to dish out. In any case, I admit to having my reservations about this team. We’ll just have to see them in the new season

to see how they improve. Because, seriously icenetwork, finishing 5th in a GP event is not a compliment to your career since there are only 8 teams per competition which means they were in the bottom half of skaters.

Anyways, thoughts?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Team Canton Update: Virtue & Moir Staying with Marina – Confirmed

Although the article in my last post stated that all the top teams were staying with Marina Zueva, Skate Canada had yet to give its confirmation though as I said before, I think most of us would suspect that if any of the top 3 teams would defect to Igor, it would be Davis & White. In any case, according to this article, Skate Canada has now confirmed that the top Canadians are staying with Zueva. Unsurprising since I think they’re Marina’s favourites with her comparison of Tessa and Scott with the legendary Ekaterina Gordeeva & Sergei Grinkov and all.

Aunt Joyce has noted in this post that Igor was the technician who brought the Latin flair into a lot of Team Canton’s programs. I hope that Marina can find a suitable replacement because she cannot let any of the talent at Arctic Edge go to waste. On the flip side, I really don’t mind NOT seeing another Latin program from these teams. The Shibutanis need to figure out how to do sexy despite their siblinghood, Davis & White has yet to deliver a Latin routine that really excites me while I’m getting tired of the romantic or Latin themed programs from Tessa & Scott. Seriously, I want to see something different from them this season. Shock me and skate to something with heavy dramatiks (typo intentional) or skate to a story that isn’t romantic or sexy. Please, just stop being white bread. I have yet to be super excited for a V/M program since their Olympic season and they really need to bring fresh life into their skating. They said they were going to be innovative and take ice dance to whole new levels… so it’s time to be incomprehensibly creative like the French. Besides, this is the season to do it – branch out to show versatility and then stick to your big guns for the Olympics.


~Rinkside Cafe

Edit: Here is the official statement from Skate Canada.

Updates on Team Canton and Igor Shpilband

More news is coming in on Igor Shpilband’s dismissal. The most important piece of information so far is the three top teams (and the ones that Marina and Igor concentrated on) – Virtue & Moir, Davis & White and the Shibutanis are staying with Marina according to this article. It seems that Marina and Igor have been having disagreements over scheduling and Igor seemed to want to open a school separate from Marina despite being business partners. According to Charlie’s mum, the disagreement seems to be mainly between the two coaches and the students are unfortunately caught up in the drama.

The drama gets upped a notch as Mother Russia puts in her two cents and announces that they would welcome Igor with open arms and provide him with all the working conditions he needs to help out Russian skaters. We’ll need to wait and see if he does respond to this offer. On one hand, it sounds like a good one especially with Igor losing what seems to be his favourite team (Davis & White) and Mother Russia so desperate on getting a foothold back onto the ice dance podium. On the other hand, Igor did defect from the Soviet Union for a reason… Now I’m wondering if Ilinykh/Katsalapov would leave Morozov if Igor went back to Mother Russia. It’s too soon to say but I admit that this is a scary prospect for my two favourite teams.

In other news, John Kerr tweeted this:

At this point, this would be true… if the Kerrs were at the top of the ice dance world. Let’s face it, the Kerrs had been stagnating technically from 2008 all the way to when they retired. Their main European rivals, Pechalat & Bourzat, on the other hand had improved on their edges, presentation and unison year by year while the Kerrs remained sloppy and rough around the edges. Unlike the Kerrs, the top two teams at Team Canton are heads and shoulders above the rest technically. Pechalat & Bourzat may have done the rumba pattern better than Team Canton at Worlds this year but they still lack speed, polish, charisma and programs that people can actually relate to in order to topple the top 2 teams. At the moment, the French really are the only ones who are somewhat near the level of V/M and D/W… in a sense, they’re like Joannie Rochette in 2009 – not quite at Yuna and Mao’s level but better than the rest of the pack beneath the top 2. To say that the Olympic title is wide open is a statement that comes a little too soon. We have yet to see if there are any veritable challengers despite this coaching drama.


~Rinkside Cafe

Igor Shpilband Fired

I think everyone is reeling at the information that Igor Shpilband, coach of Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, Meryl Davis & Charlie White and the Shibutanis, has been fired from the Arctic Edge Figure Skating Club in Canton. According to this article, the skaters felt that “Igor wasn’t there anymore for them.” There are also hints of disagreements between Marina and Igor but the figure skating club seems to put out the idea that the main problem was that the top three teams were having issues with Igor. I also found it interesting that Igor seemed to try his hardest at contacting Davis & White rather than the other two teams. I had always had the impression that he was backing the top Americans while Marina was more inclined to back the Canadians. Still, what boggles my mind is how this separation could happen at such a pivotal moment. I mean, seriously, why??? What are the politiks behind it? Since the last Olympics, Marina and Igor have been the REAL rulers of the ice dance world, not V/M or D/W. No coaching team has been able to touch them since. I’m not sure what drama this will cause in the world of ice dance – what will happen to the teams?

Thoughts? Opinions?

~The Rinkside Cafe