Thoughts on some programs from the Nebelhorn Trophy

Elena Radionova 13 Nebelhorn SP

New videos from the Nebelhorn Trophy popped up on my youtube homepage today so I decided to watch them and give my two cents to the people of the internets. Just as a warning, I didn’t watch all the videos but the ones with skaters who might make a splash on the podium for events this season. Here goes…

Oda proves that he’s still got It…

Nobunari Oda won the men’s competition easily and he’s off to a good start. Oda’s not an actor like Daisuke or Yuzuru but he’s shown that his knees are still in good shape to be able to land those jumps smooth as butter. The choreography isn’t all that special but those jumps are solid. I have a feeling that Oda and Takahiko Kozuka will be fighting for that last spot at the Olympics this year. And maybe, Oda will be able to put up a pretty good fight this year. Someone should set up two bets: one to see which three Japanese men make it to the Olympics and the second to see if Oda loses his spot because he broke the zayak rule. Again.

So many surprises this season and the season hasn’t even started yet! Even better, the surprises are good ones! I have never seen Oda skate a program with so many transitions! This time both his jumps and skating were as smooth as butter! He has a long way to go before he gets to Jeff Buttle’s level but I like this change in Oda. Keep up the good work! Also, dude, the upper leg on your skating leg is NOT parallel to the ice on some of your sit spins. Come on, Oda, you have something good going on! No more junior mistakes! And please learn to count so you don’t violate the zayak rule anymore!

Two-Time World Champion Miki Ando gets Beaten by 14 year-old Elena Radionova

I haven’t enjoyed Miki Ando’s programs in a while. (One of her coaches may have had something to do with that…) I also didn’t expect her to come back to figure skating but I guess with Mao’s inconsistency, Miki does stand a chance in the hunt for gold. Or maybe not since she placed second in this competition after a little creature who I will rave about later. In any case, this program isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread but it’s elegant and clean. Miki looks a little rough around the edges in some of her spins and especially in the footwork but it’s still early in the season so I’ll be forgiving.

The long program gave me the painful reminder that Miki is better at the short program and it’s clear that she needs a little more work before she can really compete with the big guns this season. The second half of the program was a little hard to watch as she lumbered through that step sequence and fumbled a few of the jumps. The program itself is a little bland and in the end, I’m not really surprised that she won silver after seeing what the gold medalist put out.

Elena Radionova. My goodness. This little wisp of a thing blew my mind away… WITHIN THE FIRST TWENTY SECONDS OF HER PROGRAM. Those edges are what I’d expect from ice dancers. I watched Elena right after I watched Miki Ando do her SP and boy, did she make Miki’s step sequence look juvenile in comparison. This was a fabulous program – intricate but not cluttered, complex and well-skated. A pleasant surprise and a breath of fresh air. As for her long…

Wow. I did not expect a 14 year-old do be able to pull of a program like that. I decided to watch her programs from the Junior Worlds last year where she won gold but honestly, she wasn’t nearly this good last year. However… I’ll concede that I’ve taken note of her talent before in this post. Sad that she fell on the double axel but this girl is brilliant. I would grant her the title of the future of figure skating as I did with Yuzuru Hanyu but with girls, it’s so much harder to gain that title on this humble blog because of all the things that puberty can do. Still, I will keep an eye out for this one in the future.

Mixed Feelings about Mother Russia’s Top Team in Pairs

When I first saw that they were skating to “Masquerade Waltz,” I was very afraid. I actually really like this piece of music and it ranks as one of my favourite pieces of classical music ever. I could just imagine these two infusing the cheesy angst and drama that I’ve seen from them the past two seasons *cough* Evanescence *cough* so I had my doubts. Luckily though, my bar has been set so low in terms of choreography (not skating) for these two that I actually deem this program to be decent. It’s not a work of art like Shen & Zhao’s “Turandot” or anything by G&G or “Out of Africa” by their main rivals, Savchenko & Szolkowy but Volosozhar & Trankov have skated to worse programs and this is really not that bad for them. Also, were they trying to make it seem as if Max was trying to choke Tatiana in one of the pairs spins?

And this, ladies and gentlemen, will likely be the program that will win the gold. Please do not miss the sarcasm in that previous sentence. The skating was fine but the program… I’m at a loss for words because I’m just confused. Seriously. Just think what you will. I give up when it comes to these two.

This season is really starting to look good. I look forward to seeing the skaters improve on the road to Sochi.

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