Thoughts on some programs at the U.S. International FSC

Meryl and Charlie 13 USFSC SD

While I was wandering the intertubes, I found these videos on youtube (channel: uzd fs) from the U.S. International Classic, probably a pre-season competition for skaters to get their programs out there and judged. There were a few skaters of interest and I decided to check out their skates. Without further ado…

Gracie Gold

The good news is, Gracie has shown more personality and expression in this program than all of her other previous programs combined. Bad news is, I’m starting to see signs of “windmill skating” common to Lysacek and Plushenko. Someone please fix this.

Come on, Gracie. You can do better than this.

Also, if you want to have a more “mature” program, I don’t care if you’re trying to be a witch or whatever but choose your music wisely. As in, don’t go for “Sleeping Beauty.”

Overall, I’m still on the fence about Gracie Gold. I can’t doubt that the 3Lz-3T is impressive but she lacks personality, consistency and an awareness of her limbs that would allow her to use them more effectively and expressively. I think with Ashley Wagner, it will a little bit before she feels the pressure of being the one to bring back the Olympic gold in ladies figure skating for the U.S. but I can’t say with certainty right now that her future will be filled with medals of all sorts.

Meryl Davis & Charlie White

Classic Meryl and Charlie SD – consistent music, happy-go-lucky mood, lovely costume for Meryl + a tux for Charlie and the fastest and best straight line step sequence in the business. Compared to their Giselle SD last year and their Happy Feet OD from a few years back, this SD lacks that extra sparkle. I think it’s an early in the season thing and so I expect them to be a lot better when I see this program again.

Meryl and Charlie’s FD this season is puzzling to me. No, seriously. These two are primed to win Olympic gold… (Sorry, Tessa and Scott fans but in terms of politicking, the USFSA has only the ice dance gold to hope for while Skate Canada will probably want the men’s gold which they’ve never won.) … and yet this FD isn’t doing very much for this team. The flowing parts of the music, which took up most of the program seemed to highlight Meryl’s lack of extension and awkward lines and every single lift looked cluttered, as if there was too much going on. Again, Meryl’s lines didn’t help.

For most of the program, I was waiting for the drama and the rushing music to happen – and we’ve heard Scheherazade enough to know that they exist (I mean, honestly, remember this?) – and it did, but only at the very end of the program. Like maybe 20 seconds or so? Maybe the sound on the video was terrible but I didn’t feel that the music or the choreography came to an amazing crescendo in the end. Either I just need to watch this program in a few weeks at Skate America where it’s improved and the sound quality is better on the videos or maybe they really need to use new music cuts and revamp their program a little bit. Either change will be greatly welcome.

However, let’s make a note of  a few silver linings – I love that exit out of the dance spins, it fit the program very well and it looked very pretty. I think I’ve read a few comments that have described the program as “pose-y” but I will defend these two and say that I disagree. Maybe my definition of pose-y/too much posing is different but I define a program with too much posing as one with moments where skaters stop on the ice or walk on their ice picks and pose. Notable examples – almost all Nikolai Morozov programs and some moments in Tessa and Scott’s “Funny Face” program (incidentally, perhaps my least favourite program from this team) when the music is very staccato. (If you’ve watched the movie, the music is from the part where Audrey Hepburn does that weird dance in the cafe/salon/bar/whatever it’s called.) Looking at this FD carefully, Meryl and Charlie skate and are only really stationary at some bits at the beginning of the program, which is normal. I would only really pick on the pose-yness of a program if the pauses are in the middle… *cough* Morozov programs *cough*

Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje

Kaitlyn & Andrew generally do good SDs and this one wasn’t bad either. There were a few blank areas in the choreography where the steps could’ve been more intricate but the program was well-timed to the music. One critique: I know this team was injured but despite it all, they were still zooming across the ice at Worlds last season. I need them to do the same during the Finnstep sequence.

On a final note, Kaitlyn pulls off the flapper look really well. Gorgeous colour on the dress.

For the past two seasons, I’ve been a big fan of Kaitlyn & Andrew’s FDs. “Je Suis Malade” was a refreshing program during a year of ice dance programs I’d rather not remember while their final version of “Humanity in Motion” was brilliant. Kudos to their choreographers. However, this year, I’m not a fan of the music. The vocals are flat, which is a pity because they’re emotionally intense and captivating but the boring singing ruins  everything for me. The ending was also a little sloppy but that’s a minor pre-season fix compared to the music.

CODA

So before I end this piece, I’ll put this message out there before I get lynched by angry fans. These are my opinions, feel free to discuss them. In the Olympic year, I expect all skaters to bring their best because this is the title and medal that they want most. At the same time, this level of intensity brings out a new desire in me: more than seeing my favourites win, what I want most is great skating. From everyone. I want to see competitions won by the tiniest of margins as the result of great performances by everybody rather than the clusterfuck that was the men’s competition in Vancouver. Or the 2006 Turin ODs.  That’s all.

Any thoughts?

~The Rinkside Cafe

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