Happy New Year!

2016 was rough so I’m sure people are happy that they’re turning the page. As always, I feature an up and coming skater on New Year’s Day here and this year, I actually had my pick ready for months.

Midway through the Grand Prix series, I stumbled upon a video of Jun Hwan Cha. Admittedly, I was curious of skaters coming out of South Korea as I wondered if Yuna Kim’s success has done anything to increase the sport’s popularity among young people there. Having lived in Hong Kong for a year, I know how hard it is to foster a sport like figure skating in a place where it’s not part of the local culture. Space is precious in most Asian countries as most people live in densely packed cities in tiny apartments. I didn’t realize how spoiled I was, growing up with two neighbourhood rinks run by the city, free to use by anyone who owned skates.

According to an article in the December 2016 International Figure Skating Magazine, Cha doesn’t have any idols but he does train with Brian Orser, which bodes well for his jumps and skating skills. It was also interesting to see him use Yuzuru’s difficult entry into the 3A in his LP this season. He can’t compete in Pyeongchang 2018 but the future looks bright for this young man.

Here’s a a lovely 2017! To everyone, I hope that you have a safe and prosperous new year!

~The Rinkside Cafe

 

Mid-Season Favourites

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Now that the GP circuit is done, we have a pretty good sense of what these new programs have to offer. As I do every year, here are my favourite programs so far.

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Worlds 2016: General Thoughts

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The U.S. ladies drought is over!

I am currently still feeling the after-effects of an exhausting but wonderful weekend (crowds and excitement are super draining for an introvert) and a really delayed flight back home. Still, I thought I’d share some random musings about Worlds before I get into the posts on each specific competition.

  • The crowd and people were so lovely. At almost every event I attended, I managed to strike up a conversation with the people sitting beside me. It was so nice to be among fans.
  • My predictions are all over the place but for 3 out of 4 of the competitions, it seems that the podium is composed of 1 team/skater who clearly did better than the rest for gold, my personal favourite for silver and a complete surprise for bronze. The only exception is the ladies event, partly because almost everyone skated really well that evening and partly because Ashley isn’t a personal favourite but whatever.
  • The ladies long program was an evening of great skating. I feel so lucky to have been there.
  • Despite some of my favourites (sentimental and otherwise) being off the podium, I am anticipating some great Grand Prix rosters. I am seriously considering attending Skate Canada this fall.
  • Watching programs live gives you a very different sense of a skater’s ability both technically and as a performer. I have been to Skate Canada long ago but with higher stakes and a field of tough competitors throughout, you can really see some of the key differences in ability when you watch the events live.
  • The Kween and I occupied the same building at some point. Keep breathing…
  • I have a lot of cheesy music stuck in my head now. I’m pretty sure Celine Dion has been stuck in my head for the last 6 hours.
  • Yuzuru fans are really, really, really, really, really intense. Some of them were parked in front of the small medals podium right before pairs with small blankets as if they were on hanami (flower-viewing, usually associated with cherry blossoms – people reserve spots very much in advance by laying down a large blanket and the parks become super crowded). They got kicked out since the arena gets cleared for each new competition but when I left after the pairs LP, people were already lined up at the metal detectors waiting to get into the ladies competition, which was going to start in more than an hour. They were all Asians and likely fans of Yuzuru. I ended up squished against a pillar for the men’s LP small medals.
  • I still love Boston as much as I did when I visited 5 years ago. Great city.

I am about to fall asleep on my laptop so I will end here. How did you enjoy Worlds 2016? At home or live? Tell me in the comments section!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Guess where I’m going?

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Yes, that is the interior of the super touristy food market, Quincy Hall in Boston.

I truly adore Boston as a city – the random traffic lights that no one follows, New England architecture, lobster, clam chowder and I high fived a donut last time I was there. #lifegoals  I have very fond memories of the city and since it’s a pretty short flight away, I thought, why the hell not? So I’ll be seeing half of Worlds live and I’m super excited! I will be posting  pictures and stories whenever I can!

#Worlds2016

~The Rinkside Cafe

Mid-Season Favourites for 2015/2016

It’s a little late but I thought, why not? It’s time to make my mid-season picks for my favourite programs! As always, I will select my favourite short and long program from each discipline.

Men

There are moments in the step sequence where it looks like the blades are controlling Adian and not the other way around, which is something I’d like to see him improve on but there’s something very nostalgic about this program. It’s very Yagudin-esque somehow. At the very least, Pitkeev and his programs this season are a good reminder that not all Russian men skate like windmills having convulsions on ice.

Do I really need to say anything about this program and this skate?

Ladies

The choreography to this program is quite lovely and it suits Zijun Li very well. It shows off her delicate, airy quality – packaging at its best.

I love the step sequences in this program and for once, the vocals aren’t terrible. Whoever sings this was a pretty good Cio-Cio san. From start to finish, this program puts you under the spell and oddly enough, there aren’t noticeable slow parts that leave you bored in the middle. In general, a well-balanced program.

Pairs

For me, Seguin and Bilodeau are a fun team to watch but they lack polish – they don’t always finish their movements, lack extension and don’t point their toes (grrr). This Cirque de Soleil program, however, manages to cover up these flaws with this whimsical, fun theme that really suits their energy and style. A prime example of great packaging for a team.

I love the music of Samson and Delilah and I love this program. There’s drama but not too much of the cheesy variety and the little choreographic touches like when Sui slides under Han’s legs – gorgeous. Another program showing packaging at its best. These two have grown up to be mature, sophisticated performers and this program is the perfect vehicle for them to show that to the world.

Ice Dance

I often get really frustrated when skaters have programs set to Hallelujah. More often than not, they’re exhibition programs that are meandering, empty and filled occasionally with big tricks to get applause from the audience. This is definitely not one of those programs. The Ravensburger Waltz is fitted really well into the programs and they all blend into a gorgeous, flowing work of art. That final lift almost doesn’t look like a lift since it flows so well, which makes it even more breathtaking because it’s so unexpected.

I don’t know what it is about this program – maybe because it’s just the right program to soothe my soul during this time of my life. “Fix You” is a bit of a sad song but then it becomes so uplifting and the dance is the same. It starts out on a more sombre tone only to build towards an optimistic ending.

5 Reasons I’m Excited for this New Season

First off, HAPPY 5TH ANNIVERSARY!

WordPress has informed me that this blog is now 5 years old – wow! Thank you to all my readers who have supported me and this blog! Love and hugs to you all!

And since the blog is turning 5, I’ve decided to ease into the season with a listicle of 5 reasons why I’m excited for the 2015/2016 season.

1. MAO-CHAN

Let’s start us off with the best reason why – Mao Asada is back and is starting off well with a strong skate at the Japan Open. Honestly, my heart wept with joy in the first five seconds purely by her lovely edges and by the end, I was tearing up. I think I forgot what great skating was last season.

2. It’s no longer the first year in the Olympic cycle.

So let’s hope that the young ones have gained their experience and use the lessons they learned last year to dazzle us all. Remember, Tessa and Scott had their breakthrough program in the second year of an Olympic cycle. Then Meryl & Charlie had their breakthrough the year after and it was all uphill from there.

3. The possibility of pairs skating reaching new heights.

A lot of people grumbled last year when Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford won the World Championships and admittedly, I’m not a fan of their style either. Nonetheless, I decided to treat their decisive win as a promising prelude to the next season. Duhamel & Radford won mostly because of how they pushed the technical limits of pairs skating and I have to say that that in itself was exciting. I’d love to see other pairs do other side by side jumps other than the standard toeloop or salchow. The last season showed indications that other teams were slowly catching up to the current World Champions – Wenjing Sui & Cong Han, who have been known to do quad twists and throw quad salchows were only 2 points lower than D&R in the LP last year at Worlds.

4. Redemption stories.

A few more skaters are coming back this year, including Patrick Chan and Adelina Sotnikova.

After taking a year off, Chan is ready to go back into the fray and perhaps best the current Olympic Champion. He had a rough start at the Japan Open but it’s been a while since I’ve seen difficult choreographic elements and step sequences skated so well that I didn’t really mind the imperfect program. I’m very excited for Skate Canada International this year and if someone could tell me what there is to do in Lethbridge, Alberta, I may consider going. Also, I confess, that now that Chanflation seems to have calmed down a bit and since it’s a new Olympic cycle, I’m willing to bury the hatchet. It’s not like he won the Olympic gold on Chanflation anyways.

Speaking of Olympic gold, Adelina Sotnikova’s is one I still refuse to acknowledge. I am still very angry at the judging for that event but I have also decided that my embargo on posts on competitions in Russia will end after the 2018 Olympics. We will have a clean start after PyeongChang. As for Sotnikova’s skating – she can prove to us all she wants that she deserved the gold by beating the competition this season but as it stands, I stand by my belief that the Adelina Sotnikova we saw in Sochi still did not deserve the title of Olympic Champion.

5. Growth and new programs!

More than anything, I love seeing skaters grow and the thrill of new programs. A new season, a fresh start – cheers!

What are you excited about this season? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Breath of Fresh Air

As some of you might know, I’ve been recharging over the summer and I think I’m about ready to dive into the next season. Life is still up and down for me but I think some good figure skating will help me cope with some of the down days. A youtube recommendation reminded me that there are promising young skaters coming up the pipeline and I happened upon this video.

Marin didn’t do as well in her LP at this competition but I quite enjoyed watching this SP. She’s a breath of fresh air and she reminds me of a young Carolina Kostner, full of potential though far from perfect. I look forward to watching her skate in the future.

What are some young skaters who, in your opinion, look promising? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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