Shocked. Heartbroken. Devastated. Words cannot describe my sadness over the events of last Friday in Paris, and as many have noted, the violence that is going on all around the world. I don’t know if there’s much I can say to help or improve the situation at all but I’ll share a quote from the late Jack Layton, a famous Canadian politician and just an all-around decent guy.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
In the wake of the tragedy, I’ll spare a bit of space here to say, don’t just pray for Paris, think. Use your head to light the dark corners of ignorance and sweep away the webs of misunderstanding that divide us. Use your heart to feel the pain of all those affected – Parisians, Lebanese, refugees – and remember that at the end of the day, we’re all just people trying to find happiness in the life that we’re dealt.
Moving onto the debrief on TEB, I guess I should start with the news that, as far as I know and from news articles, it seems that the ISU is still in the midst of making a decision on how to treat the results of TEB in terms of whether or not skaters qualify for the Grand Prix Final. Day 2 of TEB was cancelled in the wake of the attacks as France began a three day period of mourning. There were quite a few surprises in the short program and if the results of the SP become the final rankings then my predictions were completely and utterly wrong. Nonetheless, whatever they decide, let’s take a look at what went on last weekend.
- I can now expect a 3A implosion from Patrick Chan again. Somehow this makes me nostalgic for the Olympic cycle leading up to Vancouver 2010.
- Shoma Uno really reminds me of a tiny Daisuke. I just wish he wasn’t skating to repetitive mindless club music.
- Maxim Kovtun is looking a lot less like a windmill this season but I can’t quite buy his SP to “I Can’t Dance.” He’s improved since last season but he doesn’t skate with the control or fluidity of some of the top skaters like Hanyu or Ten.
- Denis Ten’s injuries still seem to be plaguing him. Although his step sequence was lovely in his SP, his jumps were not landed with his usual grace and finesse. With a bad finish at Skate America, I think the coming weeks will be good for Denis as a time to recuperate and slowly train back up to his usual level. I hate seeing Denis like this. I know he can do so much better.
- Pleasant surprise of the evening: Roberta Rodeghiero. She landed jumps smooth like butter though I’d like to see her work on her spins.
- Elizaveta Tuktamysheva’s 3A is not consistent at the moment and neither are any of her jumps. I thought that her SP at Skate Canada was a bit of an early season blip but I think that Liza’s lost all momentum from last season.
- Julia Lipnitskaia’s jumps concern me. Although she landed two of her three jumping passes quite well (3T+3T and the 2A), she leans quite forward on the takeoff of her 3F and landed it quite awkwardly. Since Sochi, she’s watered down her jump content in the SP. Although she was in 2nd after the SP, I do not doubt that her scores would have dropped her off the podium. Furthermore, now that she’s having trouble with her jumps, it’s much more obvious that’s she’s concentrating really hard on landing them and is even less invested in the performance, for which she’s known for a… poker face expression.
- On a better note, I’m happy to see Gracie Gold skating to programs that suit her better. I think Gold has improved since last season in terms of ice coverage and edge control and it really shows when she performs her step sequence.
- Kanako Murakami will inevitably disappoint me this season, mostly because this tango program is vastly inferior to her tango medley program from 2012/13.
- Interesting note: The competitors in 2nd to 5th place were basically in a virtual tie for the silver medal.
- Volosozhar & Trankov do not look too polished and I’m not sure if I really like their Bollywood SP. I’m not sure if it’s because I feel that they’re not comfortable skating to it, or that their program feels more gimmicky instead of natural like Davis & White’s 2009/10 OD or that there is so… much… posing. I don’t doubt that this program will eventually garner crazy amounts of PCS and even with the watered down content, I have a feeling that this vehicle was meant to challenge Duhamel & Radford’s crazy TES with PCS.
- I think this is the best I’ve ever seen James & Cipres skate! They definitely have great unison and a better awareness of their limbs and movement which gives them that “polish” a lot of teams lack. Going forward, I’d like to see Cipres commit to the performance a bit more. Vanessa outshines him throughout the entire program.
- Seguin & Bilodeau are generally not a team with a style I like but they skate with such joy that it’s hard not to smile when you watch them. Their SP suits them really well and I love their speed across the ice.
- I love the edginess and intricacy of Peng & Zhang’s SP this season (especially that transition into their pairs spins) but I worry about this team. Peng has trouble consistently landing her jumps and in terms of content, they will need to up it some more if they hope to get on the World podium now that Duhamel & Radford have raised the bar really high.
- Major pet peeve: music with bad singing. Yes, it’s all subjective but the terrible vocals in Della Monica & Guarise’s SP really distract from their skating.
- I don’t know how it’s gotten this bad but I dread recapping and watching ice dance events now. I used to feel this way for Pairs.
- For the past 2 Olympic cycles, the reigning Queen of Ice Dance has been Marina Zueva. I have to say, I think I’m ready for a shift to a reign of Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon. I’ve really loved their teams and the programs they’ve choreographed for them last and this season.
- Hubbell & Donohue have a great vehicle for their SD this year. They have the chemistry but I’d like to see this team work more on their edges and the position of their free foot. At the moment, they skate like two people who happened to know the choreography and less like a team. They lack unison and a lot of the time they look like they’re randomly flinging their limbs rather than a complete, controlled motion that’s set to the music.
- I can’t deal with Gilles & Poirier’s SD. The peace signs. The random hand flicking to the music as if they were wind-up dolls. I just can’t.
- Stepanova & Bukin skate with such speed that they remind me of a polished version of Davis & White.
- Igor Shpilband seems to have gone from trashy to zzz in the SD. Considering his past works *cough* Pechalat & Bourzat’s Big Spender SD *cough*, I’m okay with this.
- I like how Coombes & Buckland are skating with better edges, speed and power, most likely the result of training with Shpilband but the music of their SD is really disjointed.
In any case, the Cup of Russia is going on this weekend and as warned previously, I am not covering any events going on in Russia until the beginning of the next Olympic cycle. (If you’re not sure why, long story short, it’s a form of protest against the judging in Sochi for the ladies event.)
What did you think of TEB this year? Let me know in the comments! I’ve really enjoyed reading what you’ve been writing so far this season!
~The Rinkside Cafe