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

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State of the Union 2014/15

After watching Obama’s interesting speech yesterday, I decided to write this post as my GPF recap post while also commenting on how I feel the season will go now that we’ve reached the mid-way point. The GPF was quite a telling competition and already, certain pieces are starting to fall into place as the Olympic cycle is slowly picking up.

elena radionova 14 gpf lp

Here are my thoughts on the GPF and what the competition is like as we go into the second half of the figure skating season. More

Yuzuru’s New SP

I apologize for the lack of posts, it’s been a bit busy lately as my life has, yet again, changed (for the better). I thank my readers again for their patience and support and I hope that you will continue reading!

In any case, I was wandering Twitter today for pictures of World Pride 2014 (I took my own pictures but I wanted to see if I missed anything) and while I was wandering Twitter, I found a video of Yuzuru Hanyu’s new short program.

EDIT: Old video got taken down. New video found. The program is relatively clean. I hate the meandering emptiness when he sets up the quad though.

Yuzuru is skating to one of my favourite piano pieces, Chopin’s Ballade no. 1. (Mao did a wonderful exhibition to it years ago as well.) From a little googling and lurking on figure skating forums, it seems that the choreographer is Jeffrey Buttle. I really love watching Jeff’s choreography. It’s such a breath of fresh air. However, this time around, this program gave me a bout of nostalgia. It has a very 90s 6.0 feel with touches of Ilia Kulik here and there. Overall, Yuzuru seems to have made an interesting decision in that he’s trying to show versatility and maturity coming off his Olympic season. The program looks shaky overall right now but I sincerely hope that Yuzuru can pull it off. I have a feeling that this program can be something magical when it’s skated to perfection.

Anyways, it’s late and I really shouldn’t be awake at this time so I’ll post the link to GP assignments tomorrow. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, let me know what you think of Yuzuru’s new SP in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Gracie Gold + Let It Go

Youtube suggested this video to me and it seems to be a recent performance by Gracie Gold to the super viral song, “Let It Go” from Frozen.

Overall, the program is pretty empty as are many exhibition programs and I’m wondering where Gracie’s huge jumps are (all of her jumps look a little shaky in this performance) but one thing strikes me very hard. Gracie is using the right tools to set herself up as America’s darling ice princess. (And we all know that America only love their skating queens if they style themselves up as ice princesses.) And what better way to do it than with the viral Disney song about an ice princess? Some parts of that routine were reminiscent of Michelle Kwan, especially the spirals placed in the crescendos of the music and that little whorl afterwards done by putting one’s hand on the ice.

Watch out for this girl, she has the perfect last name, political backing and the right packaging to take ladies figure skating by stormĀ  in the next cycle… if she can hold her technique together.

On another note, I love the costume.

What do you think of this program and Gracie’s progress? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov Skate Together

This video emerged showing the new partnership of Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov skating together. I believe Marina Zueva choreographed this routine (correct me if I’m wrong) and she seems to have styled them more elegantly with vestiges of Tessa & Scott showing in some (or actually, a lot of) moments in that routine.

However, they don’t quite have that unison and that connection that makes them look at if they breathe at the same time and Nikita looks dead and tired throughout this program. That may change but this is a pretty interesting first look at this pair. They certainly need polish but they’re not terrible as a whole. There was that dicey moment in that curve lift that scared me a little bit but overall they seem to work well with each other. I’d have to see more technical skating before I pass any more sort of judgments on their career success.

What do you think of this pair? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

More Details on the Ilinykh/Katsalapov Split

So sometime before Worlds this season, the shocking news that Olympic bronze medalists, Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov were going to split. (I mentioned this in this post.) There were some whispers that these might have been rumours (I’ve even heard that it was a rumour perpetuated by Marina Zueva for some strange reason) but months have passed and it seems that the split is official. Nikita is going to skate with Victoria Sinitsina while Elena seems to be training with Ruslan Zhiganshin, Victoria’s former partner.

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More photos of Ilinykh/Zhiganshin in practice can be found here.

So far, media reports (such as this one here) have quoted Elena saying that Nikita was responsible for initiating the split while she was against the idea. Apparently, Nikolai Morozov is not coaching either of the new teams but it is rumoured that Sinitsina and Katsalapov’s test skate with Marina Zueva has gone well and she will be their new coach. (When definite sources emerge, I will post links.) From the photos, it seems as if Yelena Kustarova is Ilinykh/Zhiganshin’s new coach.

Things are bound to clear up in the future so stay tuned to this new skating drama!

What do you think of these new partnerships and the split? Do you have more info or sources you can enlighten us with? If so, tell us in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Gracie Gold, Media Darling

For a while, I knew that as soon as Gracie Gold showed that she was a capable competitor, the USFSA would dump Ashley Wagner and throw their support behind the bubbly, pretty blonde with the perfect last name. This season, it happened when Gracie won U.S. Nationals and headed to Sochi as the U.S.’ leading lady. Even though she didn’t win any medals, Gracie has set herself up very well for the next Olympic cycle and to boot, she’s become a media darling. She’s been on Jay Leno and goodness knows what else on American television. Earlier this month, renowned Youtubers, Benny and Rafi Fine asked Gracie on Twitter to appear on an episode of “Teens React.”

finebros gracie goldI hope that Gracie does end up on an episode. I also hope that they manage to get Frank Carroll on “Elders React.” I mean, Mr. Carroll is a legend… he was Michelle Kwan’s coach!

In any case, Gracie is getting even more media attention nowadays with this…

A viral video from a guy asking Gracie to prom!

He appeared on a TV as a surprise and even got a chance to give her flowers.

As for her reply? “If it works out I would love to.”

If Gracie can stay healthy and skate her best leading up to Pyeongchang, I have a feeling we’re witnessing the birth of a huge star that is the next American Ice Princess.

~The Rinkside Cafe

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