Just for Fun: Taipei Survival Guide + Men’s Competition Predictions

So here is part II of my Taipei posts just to get people excited about Four Continents. So Taipei. It’s a bustling city so what do you need to survive?

1. An Easycard. You put money on this card and you can use it to pay your bus and subway fares as well as purchase stuff from certain major chain stores. The Taiwan subway system is also one of the best and most efficient in the world. I wish all subway systems were like theirs. For more information on the various modes of transport available in Taipei, see this blog post.

2. A 7/11. Make sure you know where the closest one to where you’re living is. Then again, it’s not that hard to find one. There’s about 2 on every block in Taipei. 7/11s in Asia are not your slushie/junk food stores. They sell almost everything there. Full meals, alcohol, ramen+hot water for you to eat in-store, underwear, shampoo, sanitary napkins, magazines, CDs, anime figurines, crazy drinks, you name it. You can live in one of these stores.

3. Mosquito repellent – Taiwan has a warm and rainy climate and if you’re going anywhere with trees and grass and whatnot (like lovely national parks or mountains), BRING MOSQUITO REPELLENT. Or you will regret it. Trust me.

4. Tickets to the Taipei International Flora Expo – it’s supposed to be super spectacular! (Yes, I know you don’t need these to survive but I suppose if you want to be a good tourist…) More information on their website. (OMG, it’s a whale!)

5. A hat or a UV-ray blocking umbrella and a bottle of water. It’s super sunny there sometimes! Make sure to have sunscreen, a hat and to stay hydrated. The hat and umbrella can double over for protection against the rain.

Anyways, onto figure skating…

With Patrick Chan possibly not competing at Four Continents (CBC has confirmed it here), the Japanese men: Oda Nobunari, Daisuke Takahashi and Takahiko Kozuka will be strong contenders for the podium. We may even see a Japanese medals sweep, which would delight me very much. A possible spoiler for this sweet possibility comes in the form of Jeremy Abbott, and I personally wouldn’t mind if that happened. Jeremy’s LP this year is beautiful but he’s been struggling this season with consistency, therefore losing his National title to basically a nobody with very little international experience in the top echelons of figure skating. If Jeremy can get his act together, he could very well be in contention for a medal at 4CC. The colour of his medal, however, may not be dependent on him, but on the performances of his Japanese rivals. Shawn Sawyer seemed to be doing well at Canadian Nationals but I don’t know if he can muster a medal. I hope he does well nonetheless. His programs this year are a joy to watch.

As for the Japanese men… Takahiko Kozuka emerged as the surprise winner at Japanese Nationals last month. However, Takahiko’s PCS are not quite high enough at the international level in order to make him competitive against the two favourites at Worlds at the moment, P-overinflated score-Chan and his fellow teammate, Daisuke Takahashi. Although his LP is absolutely gorgeous this season, we’ll have to see how the international judges perceive him before we can decide on whether or not he has a spot on the podium at Worlds this year.

As for Daisuke, he needs to get his shit together or he’ll lose his position as one of the favourites to win Worlds in his home country. If Daisuke’s consistency is still not there, he may lose his home ice advantage at Worlds this year (which would unfortunately give the World title to a young Canadian man who doesn’t have the right attitude to be World Champion – in my opinion at least, not that it matters). Many fans attribute his sub-par performance at the GPF and Nationals to injury from colliding with Kozuka so we’ll just have to see what happens.

Nobunari Oda has become a perennial bridesmaid for World medals. Almost there but not quite. He has the talent and the jumps but he doesn’t quite connect with the audience unless he has a Charlie Chaplin routine. Oda may look young but there may not be many years left in his career. Personally, I think he should up the corniness factor and create a program for next season dedicated to/celebrating his marriage and the birth of his son or something. Play up that sympathy card and the media, judges and audience will eat it up with relish.

EDIT: Thank you to Y who pointed out that Oda is not going to 4CC. In that case, I’ll be putting Jeremy Abbott in for bronze. As for my “misqueded” (whatever that means) snark on Chan, I still stand by it.

Podium prediction for the men’s competition at 4CC:

Gold: Daisuke Takahashi (*prays hard for this*)
Silver: Takahiko Kozuka
Bronze: Nobunari Oda Jeremy Abbott

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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Grand Prix Final: Ladies LP Live Blog

I need a dose of happy right now. Let’s get this show on the road. On a more random note, I want one of those panda ball plushies.

Rachael Flatt

Ok… let’s hope I don’t fall asleep. Nice 2A-3T combination. She looks a bit anxious going into this next jump. Fall. Spin faster, girl. Smooth 3F, although is it just me or am I seeing traces of Caroline Zhang toe technique in her? She just doens’t kick as high. As much as Rachael can try to act, she doesn’t exude personality on the ice. Doubled a triple lutz. Doubled? 3F (the screen flicked for a second). Singled loop. She should’ve withdrawn and let her injury heal. This is not a good skate for her. 3S-2T-2T – all really low, had to save the landing on that 3S. Sigh. That was a bit of a waste of time.

Miki Ando

She looked pretty good in warm-up. I was afraid her injury had put her down for the count. High and fast 3Lz-2T. Solid jump afterwards. (I missed it, sorry.) I actually really like that sideways sit spin she’s doing this season. And now, here is a lot of skating in one spot or pausing. 2A and what I think is a 3T but I didn’t see because the stupid screen flicked for a second. It keeps doing that. Nice 3F. Almost two-footed the next jump. Solid 3T. Nice 2A-2Lo-2Lo. The crowd loves her. Miki’s spins have improved a great deal over the years but her choreography still leaves a lot to be desired. Great skate for Miki. Too bad she’s buried too much in the standings. Her fate now belongs to the other skaters.

Akiko Suzuki

Her dress is my favourite ladies costume of the season. It looks better in movement than when she’s still though. She looks confident and happy going in. Lovely opening 3Lz. Beautiful 2A-3T. She always has a great energy going into her programs. Solid 3Lo. Her spins have really improved in terms of speed. Great 3F-2T. Doubled a 3F. Refocused for a 3Lo-2A. Great 3S. She has a lot more speed and power this year but she’s been having stamina issues in her LP this season. It looks like she’s on the right track now. Love how she puts so much energy and emotion in this step sequence. Wonderful performance by Akiko. That is what I wanted to see in the men’s competition. Bravo!!! This girl does not want her spot taken by Kana-chan, that’s for sure.

Kanako Murakami

Go Kana-chan! I love watching her before she does her program. She’s always smiling and happy, which makes me smile. =D First triple-triple of the night – 3T-3T. 3Lz clean. Popped 3F. Great recovery, 3F-2T. Lovely Kerrigan spiral. She really got into her knees in that 3Lo. Very Oda-esque. Beautiful 3S-2Lo-2Lo. This is the first time I’ve seen her skate her LP with as much performance quality and attack as her SP. Good skate by Kana-chan. And she’s beaten Akiko! Wow! Great start for her in the senior ranks. She is now guaranteed a medal.

Carolina Kostner

3T to open. Nice 2A. Another 2A. She’s really centered in her first combination spin. Beautiful 3S. Popped 3Lo but tacked on a 3Lo. Good recovery with a 3Lo-2T. Beautiful arabesque spiral. I’m really missing these spiral sequences in the ladies competition. 3S-2T-2T. Lost a bit of speed in the final combination spin. A very light and airy program. I love the choreography. Great skate by Carolina. I miss her huge 3F-2T combination though. I wonder hwo the judges will award her scores seeing that she had no flip or lutz. She’s beaten Kanako by 0.01. Wow.

Alissa Czisny

3Lz-2T opening. Clean 3F-2T. Look Morozov, people do pause in their programs, but not for more than 2 seconds! Great rotation speed in that flip (?). Alissa has wonderful spin positions and lines. Solid 3Lo. Great extension on the spirals. Best of the night. Another toe jump. Step out of a 2A. Another solid jump. Beautiful Y-spin and fast too! Omg… a pretty layback into a biellmann. Wonderful skate by Alissa Czisny. I also had doubts about the costume but it’s lovely when it’s moving. She know she’s won this competition. Good job!

Podium

Gold: Alissa Czisny
Silver: Carolina Kostner
Bronze: Kanako Murakami (!)
4th: Akiko Suzuki
5th: Miki Ando
6th: Rachael Flatt

Detailed results here.

I was hoping for a Japanese sweep of the podium but the skating for this discipline was sublime. Great performances for most of the skaters! Alissa has proven herself a competent and consistent skater and Kanako has really made a mark on her first year as a senior! A bronze medal over her 2 veteran teammates! Congrats! Now this is what I want from a skating competition!

Ok, I’ve had 1 hour of sleep in the last 48 hours. It’s about time I get some sleep.

‘Nighty night!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Grand Prix Final: Live blog of the Men’s LP

Florent Amodio

By the time I decided to do a live blog, Florent had done most of his routine. He skated pretty decently with a step out on one of his jumps. (3A, that was saved luckily and followed by a 3T) This program was fun the first time you saw it but after that, it’s just glaringly obvious that this program is really, really empty and back-heavy to get that bonus for his jumps. This kid needs better choreography. It looks like he’s pretty consistent now and once he has those jumps down pat, I say he should just dump Morozov. This guy is too entertaining to be a Morozombie.

Tomas Verner

And Tomas has a new costume… It reminds me of Sue Sylvester’s tracksuits on Glee. I thought he was channeling Michael Jackson, not Sue. Or is this an omen that Glee will do a MJ episode soon? Solid 3T… might’ve been going for a 4T though. He’s go the crowd with him. A good 3A-2T combo and 3Lp. And now the ticking begins. I’m still very confused about this so-called music. I know that Tomas wanted a new start this season, but his Godfather LP was so much better than this. He was so sexy skating it too. Clean 3A in the 2nd half of the program. Nice 3Lz. Gorgeous 3S… same with the 3Fp. Wonky landing on a 3Lz but saved it and added a 2T. This is a pretty good skate for Tomas compared to his skates from last year but he seriously needs better programs. He is so much better than this.

Takahiko Kozuka

Takahiko’s LP is what a program should be: balanced, intricate and gorgeous. I hope he skates it well. Saved the landing on his 4T but two-footed it. Good use of the knees on the landing of that 3A. Hmmm… unusual lack of flow going into that 3Lz-2T combination. Come on Takahiko, calm down! Saved the landing on both parts of that 3A-2T combination. Good recovery on that 3Lz. Triple-triple combination, two footed the 2nd half of the combo. Good recovery on the 3Lp and 3S. I love that there are no commentators this week on Skatebuzz… you can hear his blades across the ice. Not a bad skate for Takahiko Kozuka but a far cry from the perfection we saw at TEB. The judges were not kind with his PCS.

Daisuke Takahashi

Daisuke is in da house! And he’s sportinig a new costume. Please beat Patrick Chan. *crosses fingers* Two-footed quad flip. Gorgeous 3A. Shaky takeoff on that 3Lo. As usual, he puts everything he’s got in this circular step sequence. Creating sultry angst on the ice… 3F-3T, saved the landing. Wipeout on the next jump. *cries* Good recovery on that 3Lz. Tentative 3S. Come on Daisuke… Another fall on a 3F. He looks miserable in that ending pose. What is going on???? Ouch. He trails Kozuka right now and will not win the gold as I had predicted.

Patrick Chan Score

Looking very dapper in his new costume. Clean 4T. 3A-2T. 3Lz. Noooooo… This is my worst nightmare coming true… The music is giving him a lot but he’s not giving himself completely to the music. Come on Chan, we know you have skating skills but skating is more than that. Saved landing on that 3Lz and added a 2??? 3T-3T. Nice 3Lo. 2A, slow in the air. Good finish and ending combination spin. The kid has talent, it’s just a pain that he’s so douchey. Playbacks… He totally pre-rorated most of the first rotation on that 3A with the 2T tacked on the end. Huge lead for first.

Nobunari Oda

Go Nobu!!! You are a samurai. You will get your revenge on someone who took a medal from you. Wrongfully too. Fall on a 4T. *cries* No… Gorgeous 3A-3T. Good recovery. Another triple-triple combo. Nobu, if you’re going to skate to classical music, please learn to use your limbs to form beautiful lines. Good combination spin. Ina bauer into a triple flip. Beautiful. Huge triple axel. Somehow got the crowd for a second and lovely 3Lo. Nice 3-2-2 combo. Fall on a double axel. Stumble on his footwork.

I’m about to cry out of grief and rage right now. CBC can go rejoice. I need a dark corner so I can brood and go emo.

Podium:

Gold: Patrick Chan
Silver: Nobunari Oda
Bronze: Takahiko Kozuka

4. Daisuke Takahashi
5. Tomas Verner
6. Florent Amodio

Detailed scores here.

I’ve just got one question: what happened to our wonderful Japanese men? Especially our darling World champion? We can’t have Chan win the Worlds while his head is still over-inflated.

Excuse me while I have 10 minutes to myself to weep.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Live blog of the SD – NHK trophy

Don’t expect live blogs all the time. I just happen to have a bit more free time than usual today. The pictures in this post are from practice by the way. (Photo credits go to the wonderful photographers at ice-dance.com)

Dora Turoczi and Balazs Major

Hmm… excuse me while I take a food break. Decent lines. Nothing too interesting.

Xiaoyang YU and Chen Wang

This program is horrendously tacked together. A bit sloppy at the end.

Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland

I remember this team. They have glimmers of brilliance. They need to mature a bit but I guess this is part of the process. Lovely waltz section, good lines. Need more speed. Bit choppy on the last lift. I thought their scores should be a bit higher than the Chinese team.

Chris and Cathy Reed

I like the Adams family theme of this routine – for a second, I thought Chris was supposed to be Morozov aka the Russian Gino. (You can do better than him, Miki!) The first lift is awkward but it fits with the theme. These two feel really slow during the waltz section. Screwy twizzles, fall from Chris. Midline step sequence faster and more watchable.

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov

Finally, a team to be excited about. I see these two making a splash this year. Prove me right? Bit far apart oon the first set of twizzles. I’m glad the choreography doesn’t start with the waltz sequence right away like all the other routines. The music is a bit jarring but they’re a lot faster than the previous teams. Very smooth lift. Stumble on the mid-line step sequence. A bit sloppy at the end but a pretty good performance overall. Their superior skills are reflected in their scores.

Weaver and Poje picture to mark the beginning of the warm-up!

(Meryl and Charlie are officially my favourites for this competition but I love Kaitlyn’s dresses!)
FINALLY! Warm-up group 2! *Is super excited for Weaver/Poje, Davis/White and the Shibushibus.*

Lucie Mysliveckove and Matej Novak

Lucie looks as if she slept with in those curls. Oh em gee. No. These two remind me of the tacky team aka Allie Hann-McCurdy and Michael Coreno. No, stop with that =O face. I’m starting to get a headache. Stop it with the stupid facial expression, Lucie! Elena and Nikita were a lot better. The 2nd part of their music reminds me of a theme song to a really tacky sit-com TV show. Twizzles really out of sync. Ughhh… this team just spews tackiness and I thought I had seen the last of the super awkward tacky hick style when Hann-McCurdy and Coreno retired. Excuse me while I go wash my eyes out. I was so distracted by their tackiness, I didn’t note to much about their skating. Woot for replays. Their footwork is a bit sloppy. They don’t seem to know where the other’s feet are. I fear they may injure each other if they don’t work that out. Ok, those twizzles were out of control. I think the guy left out one rotation on the first set. Would’ve marked them lower.

Maia and Alex Shibutani


Yay!!! It’s the Shibushibus~! These two remind me of Tessa and Scott without the romance. Love Maia’s dress. They’re adorable, I want to pinch their cheeks. They both have such lovely lines. Fast twizzles. They may have less experience, but Meryl, take note of Maia’s lines. Wonderful unison on the mid-line step sequence. And Marina Zoueva is a goddess for seamlessly putting the waltz into the program. Whoa. Freak fall from Alex. Costuming problem for Maia, but at least the little bit of cloth is hanging on a thread. No deductions if it stays on. Not a good start for them. Very smooth transitions during the lifts. Hopefully they’ll be placed 2nd after the Russians despite the fall. Yep.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje

Can I steal Kaitlyn’s dress? You can totally wear that to a nice night out. No tacky costumes here. So excited to see how these two have grown.I hope to see them as Tessa and Scott’s successors for the Canadian National title one day.  Love the music choice. They’ve gained some speed since last season. .  Beautiful chemistry.  Still love their music choice on the 2nd part of the routine. Wow, they got  some audience support… for a second or so. Good unison in the step sequence. Favourite SD so far.  Simple and elegant. Love. Woot! They’ve beaten the Russians!

Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte

Lovely couple. The bottom of the dress is a bit strange… Love the song! Que sera, sera! Slowed down on the last part of the waltz… They’re nice and close on the mid-line step sequence. . Nice interpretation of the music on the 2nd half. Twizzles a out of sync but difficult. Adorable! 3rd after Kaitlyn and Andrew and Elena and Nikita.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White

Even when you watch them during the warm-up, you can tell they’re so much better than the rest of the competition. It’s Marlie!!! *squeal* Fast twizzles, in unison, definitely the best of the night. Meryl has improved her line and extension slightly. So much faster and smoother than the other teams.  Is it just me, or Meryl a bit stiff? They aren’t skating with the attack that I know they’re capable of. Meryl has a smile practically plastered onto her face. Lovely new lift, very intricate.  For some reason, I can see Tessa and Scott skating this more than these two… Overwhelming lead. No need to panic about winning this thing, they can fall 3 times and still win.

Top 3:

1. Davis/White – 66.97
2. Weaver/Poje – 58.69
3. Ilinykh/Katsalapov – 56.89

General comments:

Meryl and Charlie are very obviously going to win this thing. There might be a bit of a tussle for 2nd place but Kaitlyn and Andrew’s strongest segment is the FD, so I hope to see a silver medal around their necks at the end of this competition. The little Russians whose names I cannot pronounce for the life of me are doing rather well, as expected. I look forward to their Don Quixote FD. Capellini/Lanotte are only 1.2 points behind Elena and Nikita but I don’t see the Italians surpassing them. The Shibushibus will probably remain in 5th as well… I think they would’ve had a chance at 4th place if they didn’t fall. Pity their season had to start like that. Hopefully they’ll get better as the season progresses.

Results/scores can be found here.

I think I’ll go to bed rather than watch the pairs. There aren’t very many exciting teams. I’ll wake up and hopefully there will be no madness and Pang and Tong will be in the lead.

‘Nighty night!

~The Rinkside Cafe