Re: Yuzuru’s Gold – Paradigm Shift or the End of an Era?

So as you may know, I wrote a post with something of a recap of the men’s event along with a lot of commentary about the Chan vs. Hanyu race for gold and how the International Judging System (IJS) came into play. Other than the limits of the PCS and whatnot, I think the IJS may also have something to do with what come commentators think is a shift in the world of figure skating.

plushy and yuzu

With Yuzuru’s historic victory as not only the first Japanese but Asian man to win figure skating gold, some articles (here and here) have noted that Yuzuru’s win represent a paradigm shift from East Asian countries learning from the traditional (and Western) figure skating powers of Russia, Canada and the U.S. to the other way around. In one of the articles, Udo Doensdorf, a German sports director, talks about money and how Japanese skaters are well-supported financially, given the interest in the sport in the country. While this is true, I think that we also need to consider is a small coincidence in timing with the one event that changed figure skating forever. That one event, of course, is the 2002 Salt Lake City figure skating scandal. (For a summary of what happened, refer to my Skating 101 post here.)

For Japan (or even other East Asian countries), figure skating medalists at Worlds or the Olympics like Chen Lu and Midori Ito were rare but their very existence and their achievements point to some degree of interest in figure skating back when the Canada, Russia and the U.S. were still dominating the sport. However, around the 2000s, we start seeing quite a few East Asian skaters on the podium with Japan taking medals in singles skating and China for pairs, followed by the one-woman South Korean dynasty that is Yuna Kim. I don’t know the precise details of the history of figure skating in each country but we do know this:

  • Bin Yao, pairs coach extraordinaire, skated in the 1980s and was one of the first pairs teams in China. Despite his own personal failures as a competitive figure skater, he began to develop an excellent pairs training program which budded near the turn of the millennium and really bloomed in Vancouver of 2010.
  • As for Japan, this country is usually touted as a success story and proof of modernization theory – in other words, Japan developed a capitalist economy, modernized and westernized a lot earlier than its other East Asian neighbours, which may explain why Emi Watanabi and Minoru Sano won medals in the ladies and men’s events at the World Championships as early as the 1970s. Japan had a medal drought until the 1980s/90s with Midori Ito and Yuka Sato but then Japanese skaters really took off near the 2000s.
  • Yuna Kim is a bit of an outlier in this argument seeing that she basically started the interest in figure skating in her country single-handedly in the 2000s.

In any case, what we see with China and Japan are two nations who had some interest in figure skating relatively late in the game compared to the Big Three (U.S., Russia and Canada). Interest in figure skating began to gain some momentum in the late 80s/90s and then took off in the 2000s. This could be an indication that the development of figure skating training programs in these countries began in 80s/90s and began to really make a name of itself near the turn of the millennium. While this may seem like a fun fact, it also means that these countries had less experience at the elite level under the 6.0 judging system.

For China and Japan, this late-comer status may have given them a small advantage which they have capitalized on in the past two and present Olympic cycle, which is that they probably had less attachment to the 6.0 judging system which allowed them to adapt to the IJS much faster than the Big Three. As a result, we have coaches from Japan and China train young skaters in a way that would help them succeed under the new system, resulting in a generation that are slightly better prepared for the idiosyncrasies and challenges of skating under the IJS. If you look at the success stories coming from Asia, many of them are teenagers or in their early 20s, meaning that they most likely entered their junior competitive career skating – where things start getting a little serious – solely under the IJS. Many of these skaters moved to North America or Europe to train eventually but their careers began in their home country.

For the Big Three, the transition may not have been as smooth as we see older skaters trying to adapt to this new system. For a while, it seems as if their transition was successful. The young teenagers still had to wait a little bit to dethrone the big names but by the beginning of the Olympic cycle going into Vancouver in 2006, we start seeing these teenagers come into the scene with their youth and their experience under the IJS and taking the skating world by storm.

With 2014 comes the 10 year anniversary of the implementation of the IJS in international figure skating. When this Olympic cycle ends, we will likely see the complete end of an era with the last of the 6.0 skaters retiring. Skaters like Brian Joubert and Evgeni Plushenko are probably the last of the 6.0 skaters in the field and by the next Olympic cycle, we will likely see only youngin’s who have grown up with the new judging system. That is not to say that 6.0 skaters weren’t successful in the new system but with their age and an older skating style (heavy focus on jumps, less transitions and sometimes very personality-based), 6.0 skaters either had to adapt quickly or lose relevance and momentum in their career.

So perhaps we will see the Big Three look towards Japan for best practices in figure skating but this might just be part of an overall process of getting over the growing pains of getting rid of the influence of a skating style from a bygone era to adopting a new one. Although Canada is a bit of an exception to the decline of the big three under the IJS, we are starting to see skaters from these countries flourish again but with younger skaters who have never been touched by the 6.0 judging system.

Do you think that Yuzuru’s win marks a shift in the way countries are improving their figure skating programs or are we just seeing the vestiges of the 6.0 system finally cast off? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Advertisements

Opinion: Ashley Wagner Deserves to be on the U.S. Olympic Team

us nationals ladies podium 2014 2

From my post on the announcement on the American Olympic team, you would know that the U.S. Figure Skating Association made a very unusual decision to name Ashley Wagner, who placed 4th at Nationals, to the Olympic team in lieu of Mirai Nagasu who placed 3rd. In this Slate article on the Harding/Kerrigan incident and the marketability of athletes, the author suspects that this decision might have something to do with how Wagner’s been played up in the media lately. Others, on the other hand, suspect that race might be the issue.

Personally, I find this talk of of the Wagner/Nagasu controversy a little frustrating partly because 1) the USFSA has somewhat set themselves up for it by the way they construct their Olympic/World Championship teams and partly because 2) the people who wrote these articles probably didn’t pay attention to the 2012/2013 season OR the events earlier this season, namely the Grand Prix events.

To elaborate, if you’ve read my Skating 101 post on Olympic berths and how we decide how many spots and which skaters to send to the Olympics, you’ll know that each country’s figure skating federation gets the final say on which skaters to send to the Olympics and the World Championships. Each country has their own criteria and for the U.S., the decision is often solely based on the results of their National Championships. Other countries, like Japan, take the Grand Prix series, which happens earlier in the season, into account while others, like Russia or Italy may choose to send their highest ranking competitors at Nationals and have them duke it out in the European Championships for a spot. What is most striking about the way Japan, Russia or Italy (and many other countries) chooses their Olympic team is that other competitions have some influence over the final decision, lowering the stakes of the National competition.

Overall, the National competition is, in my opinion, the least important competition of the season. The National competition is not an ISU-sanctioned event, and therefore the scores and results there don’t count towards the points that skaters gather over the season to determine their world rankings. (This system is separate from the results of the World Championships and is basically a way to rank the competitors based on the points they garner through various international competitions throughout the season.) Furthermore, any scores, even world record-setting scores, at National competitions don’t count when determining world records, partly because the scores for top skaters are rather inflated at Nationals. In other words, scores at Nationals are kind of weird at the top. Finally, the biggest reason why the National competition is one of the least important of the year: chances are, the competition at Nationals is really watered down. Very few countries have multiple exciting and A-list competitors in one discipline. Right now, Japan is an exception to that with their singles disciplines but that may change next season when a huge list of veterans begin their retirement.

In any case, I wouldn’t be surprised if the U.S. upped the stakes for their national competition to make the event more exciting to watch. A high stakes competition is a good way to get skaters to skate as well as they can and generate enough interest and revenue from ticket sales. There’s also the historical factor of how the U.S. used to have a huge list of amazing ladies skaters (and how obsessive the USFSA is of finding The Next American Ladies Champion), which would warrant this type of competition but frankly, the U.S. seems to have a good arsenal of ice dancers nowadays while the competition in other disciplines seems a little watered down. Sure, the struggle for gold at Nationals might seem exciting but as of now, the only figure skating medal that the U.S. can really bet on in Sochi is the ice dance. Gold, in fact. Medals from the men or pairs event are unlikely but as for the ladies…

Well, in the international arena, the ladies competition at the Olympics will be quite interesting. I’m pretty sure Yuna Kim will be part of the podium and I wouldn’t be surprised if she got the gold medal. Mao Asada had a little trouble at Nationals (bronze) but her season so far has been a story of gradual improvement. As for the bronze, I would have said last year that Carolina Kostner would be a good contender but with her bronze at the European Championships (rather than the gold), I’d say that the Olympic bronze (and possibly silver) are fair game. If I had to say who the top contenders are at the moment, I’d name the two young Russian ladies, Julia Lipnitskaia and Adelina Sotnikova, possibly Gracie Gold and… Ashley Wagner.

Ashley Wagner 2012 SA LP

If any of these journalists or viewers who are making this huge fuss about Wagner’s appointment to the Olympic team had paid any attention to the beginning of the 2013/2014 season, you’d see that out of all the U.S. ladies, Wagner was the most successful in the senior Grand Prix circuit.

Exhibit A: Wagner was the only American lady who qualified for the senior Grand Prix Final event. (See my roster post for the GPF)

Gracie Gold, the National Champion was 3rd alternate, Mirai Nagasu did not qualify at all while the silver medalist, Polina Edmunds only competed in junior Grand Prix events, meaning she has yet to compete with the veterans and the people who will actually go to Sochi.

Wagner qualified for the GPF because she was in the top 6 of best rankings in her Grand Prix assignments.

Ashley Wagner: 1st at TEB, 2nd in Skate America
Gracie Gold: 3rd in Skate Canada, 4th in the NHK Trophy
Mirai Nagasu: 3rd at the Cup of Russia, 8th in the NHK Trophy

Polina Edmunds: 1st in both the Junior Grand Prix events in Belarus and Mexico.

Exhibit B: In terms of her skating, Wagner has been skating relatively clean during the GP series. Someone at The Skating Lesson has offered a reason for Wagner’s lower scores for her clean/almost clean skates (read the post here). I haven’t been paying to much attention to Wagner’s programs this season but I hope she resolves the issue in time for Sochi.

Edit: According to this article, Wagner is changing her long program by skating to Samson and Delilah (her LP from last year) with hybrid choreography derived from her Romeo and Juliet and Samson and Delilah programs.

Exhibit C: Not quite proof but the big flaw in the high stakes national competition – just like at any high stakes standardized test, its greatest flaw in measuring achievement is that it can only measure the test taker’s ability on that particular day. It’s just like if you had a terrible day and you took the SATs and got a bad score because things just kept going wrong and you couldn’t focus on the test. Maybe Ashley just had a bad weekend during Nationals. Who knows. But that shouldn’t eclipse her success just weeks ago at the Grand Prix Final.

I’m not a huge fan of Ashley Wagner but by looking at what she’s done so far in the season, I think the U.S. Figure Skating Association would be foolish if they didn’t send her to Sochi. And let this be a lesson to them for setting such high stakes at their Nationals competition: it stirs up controversy over Olympic selection and the outrage is generally from people who don’t follow the sport closely. In the end, I hope that Wagner and all Olympic figure skaters deliver so that we have an exciting competition in Sochi.

What are your thoughts on the Wagner/Nagasu controversy? Who did you think should have been on the U.S. Olympic team? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Japanese Olympic Team Announced!

FSAKTE-JPN-OLY-2014

The Japanese Figure Skating Championships are one of the few more exciting National Championships out there because the entire competition isn’t just a one pony race. In the singles events, the field is tough and the sad thing is – if some of the lower ranked competitors were from some other country, they’d be going to Sochi right now. In any case, here is the video announcing the Japanese team for Sochi 2014.

In case you can’t quite pick out the names in the flurry of Japanese, they are: More

GPF 2013: Figure Skating Politics

Aliona and Robin GPF 2013 LP

When I was watching the Grand Prix Final, this article from Figure Skating Lessons kept popping up on my mind as the competitions played themselves out. More precisely, point no. 1 really hit home as some really surprising results came  in. Like Haymitch’s sponsor gifts from the widely popular Hunger Games series, scores and placements in figure skating can send a message to skaters and there were a few messages that were pretty clear at this competition.

Before I elaborate, I’ll just underscore the importance of the GPF as a competition. Many of the world’s finest skaters have competed at the final and it will likely be the biggest international showdown before the Olympics. This competition gives a rough idea of what the standings may look like in Sochi and there isn’t going to be a competition where a lot of the big names meet until then. A lot of A-list skaters tend to skip the European Championships or Four Continents in order to be at their peak and ready for the Olympics.

In any case, here were some “messages” I feel like were being expounded by the judges at the GPF.

1. Bad skates cannot be rewarded.

Patrick Chan. Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov. Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev. The former two skater/teams were supposed to be a lock on gold while the last team was supposed to be a lock on bronze. I made my predictions for the GPF with full confidence that their PCS would be able to buoy their scores in case anything went wrong but that wasn’t the case.

 

Chan two-footed his 3A really awkwardly and doubled his lutz in the short.

Tatiana fell in two jumping passes in the LP.

Soloviev fell in the FD.

Normally, I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these transgressions were forgiven, especially for Chan and V/T, and their grasp for the gold medal maintained by their PCS. (I mean, we still remember Chan being booed at the 2012 World Championships in Nice for a reason.) However, that forgiveness from the PCS didn’t happen and those with locks on certain medals ended up a tad lower than I expected. Wow. I seriously didn’t think that would happen.

But then again, this is the Olympic year and it’s nearly been 12 years since the Salt Lake City figure skating scandal. Despite being a decade-old scandal, the empty or emptier arenas and the end of the golden age of figure skating keeps the scandal fresh in the minds of fans. This is an interesting message to send to skaters and fans alike that bad skating will be duly noted in the scores but whether or not PCS inflation for specific skaters will happen at the Olympics is another matter. We’ll just have to wait and see.

2. Meryl Davis & Charlie White will likely get the ice dance crown in Sochi.

Tessa & Scott and Meryl & Charlie faced off against each other for the first time this season at the GPF and wow, am I impressed. Both teams delivered two great performances and this is what I’ve been looking for from all skaters this season.  Bravo!

In any case, I think we know who the judges prefer this season and overall, I’m not surprised. Meryl & Charlie won both the SD and FD by very small increments. In the SD, V/M scored higher on the TES but only trailed their rivals by 0.7 overall. In the FD, a level 3 diagonal step sequence proved to be costly for V/M and with a slightly lower PCS, D/W won that portion of the competition as well. In the past few seasons, Tessa & Scott have been having trouble beating their rivals and training mates but I think V/M have finally gotten on track and are giving their rivals a run for their money.

However, the lower PCS for V/M should be a point of concern if they want to win the Olympics. Now that they’re back at where they need to be technically, I fear that politics have come into play. This season, Canada has the ability to win two gold medals in figure skating in the men’s and ice dance competition. The only difference is that Canada has already won the ice dance Olympic gold in Vancouver but they’ve never managed the men’s gold even with brilliant stars like Kurt Browning and Jeffrey Buttle. It will be difficult to back two gold medal contenders at the Olympics and I think Chan is the household name that Skate Canada wants to sell this season, which may not bode well with V/M. The PCS score allows judges to diversify the figure skating podium along nationality, lowballing skaters who may not be ranked #1 in their country or lowballing certain skaters in one discipline to allow another to triumph in another discipline.

I think I’ve reached a zen state about politicking and I know that it will always be a part of this sport which I love dearly. Judging art will always be affected by the political or social climate of the time and is therefore, subjective – I find Bach a little dull at times but I love the elegance and “shiny” quality of Mozart but for one of my best friends, she shares the opposite opinion. Right now, I’m really tired of the negativity and hate from both sides of the V/M and D/W fanbase. What I see here is the triumph of ice dance where two teams have been pushed to create and skate in ways that are far superior to what we’ve seen before. Personally, I don’t really care what medals they win, they both deserve gold for what they’ve done to the sport and they both triumph if they’ve delivered a beautiful program.

What were your thoughts on the politics of the GPF? Let me know in the comments!

Also, thank you all so much for the support I’ve been given during the GPF. Your comments and views motivate me to write and I’m so happy that you enjoy my random ramblings!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Yuzuru Hanyu leads after the SP in the GPF + Yuna News

My morning started with great news: I checked my facebook and lo and behold, I saw this:

PJ tweet dec 5 2013

In my half-awake daze, my brain could barely process this news.

yuzuru hanyu 13 gpf sp

Yuzuru Hanyu is leading?

As in, he beat the unbeatable Patrick Chan in the short program?

AND Yuzu beat Chan’s world record score that was set two weeks ago at TEB?

Tell me I’m not dreaming…

Image taken from the ISU GPF page

isu gpf2013 mens sp

NOPE! I WASN’T DREAMING!?!?!?!

Not only was it a world record but Yuzu’s got a 12-point lead??? What on earth happened???

Well, first this happened:

Chan did a clean quad toe-triple toe (slightly awkward landing on the former), a severely two-footed triple axel with a hand down and a… double lutz with a shaky landing? He hasn’t skated like this so far this season. This competition should’ve been a piece of cake for him seeing the crazy high scores he’s been getting this season but I guess he cracked a bit in the SP.

Anyways, enough about Chan, here’s the real star of the night:

Flawless except for a slight bobble on his final jump but Yuzuru skated that program with ATTACK. Maybe that sense of attack added to the edginess of the program or maybe he decided that he’s just going to go for it and try to beat Chan but wow. I’m not sure what prompted this decision but it paid off. I don’t expect him to skate that well in the long given Yuzuru’s record of tiring easily in the second half of his long program but I wish him the best and I hope he proves me wrong. I have never regretted my decision to peg him as the future of figure skating at the beginning of this Olympic cycle. Ganbare, Yuzuru-kun!

In other news, the Korean media seems to have recorded Yuna skating run-throughs of her SP and LP for the Golden Spin of Zagreb:

As anyone can see, Yuna still has great jumps. The only thing I feel somewhat iffy about is what I feel to be the lack of growth. Sure, Yuna is great and all but no skater is perfect just as no artist will ever achieve perfection. Before I start receiving a torrent of hatred for saying this, let me iterate that perfection is an endpoint you steer towards but never reach because if you ever reach perfection, you stop because there’s no goal anymore. I think anyone who does any art for fun or for job-related matters can understand.

In any case, it’s been an entire Olympic cycle and yet, I still feel as if I’m watching Yuna circa 2010. She still doesn’t turn out her feet and her posture and lines still need polish. You can say they’re small things but they add up and really make a program shine so much more. I mean, remember Michelle Kwan when her hands reached out to you when she did her iconic arabesque spiral? I still tear up occasionally. Or when Midori Ito did those huge jumps with a giant smile on her face? I smiled with her? Or those absolutely gorgeous spirals and layback spins in the most exquisite position from Sasha Cohen? Shivers.

At her ability now, Yuna’s good enough to win the Olympics but she’s already won that. I think she needs to think along the lines of the top two ice dance teams of the moment: to push the sport to a level where it’s never been before. Try doing something interesting with the choreography, push yourself to express a song/theme/story that you’ve never skated before. Yuna’s done a tango before as well as a program to flowing music and as a figure skating fan, I want more.

Anyways, I’m off! I may put up a comments post after the GPF is over and I’m thinking about the Skating 101 series for fans that have recently joined us for the Olympic season.

As always, thanks for reading!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Favourite Programs of the 2013/2014 Season

It’s that time again! The Grand Prix events are over save the final and that means that we’ve seen most of the programs for this season! I have to say, I’m very impressed with the programs this season as the skaters have stepped it up to bring their A-game to the Olympics.

I’ll start off the post with a special mention since there’s usually a picture after this introduction blurb. The special mention goes to Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi for their programs – both the SD and FD. In terms of choreography, they’re nothing remarkable but there’s something unique about taking the storyline of the SD and continuing in the FD. I think this team knew they probably weren’t going to win a lot of important events but I’m glad they took this creative risk. Kudos for that!

zhiganshina gazsi 2013 sdfd

Now, onto my favourite programs of this season by event…

Men’s Short Program: Daisuke Takahashi, Sonatina for Violin in C-sharp Minor

This program does feel a little front-heavy but this clean performance and Daisuke’s commitment to the program shines through and by the time he does his step sequence, I forget all about that. After a year of disappointing programs and performances by Daisuke, this was a breath of fresh air and I’m glad this program shows off what he does best: his musicality and expression. That crisp quad toe and triple axel definitely helped the flow of this program as well.

Men’s Long Program: Han Yan, Gourmet Valse Tartare & The Blue Danube

None of the men’s programs really stood out for me in terms of choreography but I did like the light and airy quality of this program and how Yan was able to carry it out.

Special mention: Han Yan’s short program. I didn’t know that he was capable of such edginess. I swear his movements and expression were almost Daisuke-esque.

Ladies Short Program: Elena Radionova, Anna Karenina soundtrack & Two Steps from Hell

I can’t tell you how impressed I was with this program and this young lady when I first saw her skate this at the Nebelhorn Trophy. Just, wow. You can see just how much power and edge control she has within the first minute and it’s hard to believe that a 14 year-old can carry this music right until the end. You can’t take your eyes off her and this isn’t easy music to skate to. Subdued, quiet and yet very elegant, Elena skates to this music with a quiet strength that belies her age. What I love about this program is how the elements are woven in seamlessly and you forget you’re watching a program choreographed to gain points from judges. I seriously watched and re-watched this program after I found it and I hope you enjoy as much as I do.

Ladies Long Program: Mao Asada, Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2

Mao hasn’t skated this program perfectly this season but I love this program because it shows off the best of Mao: the talent and the growth. The elements flow well into each other and there are all these complicated transitions that Mao does as if they were child’s play – the pseudo-spin into the camel spin, the footwork into the 3F at the beginning… Mao skates them as smooth as butter. There’s a strength and athleticism from her that we haven’t seen as much before and you can just see that her crossovers and strokes carry her faster and farther. Mao’s also shown that her musicality has improved- that upper body movement in the first three seconds and the darker tone of the music are expressed a lot better and without any awkwardness like in her “Bells of Moscow” LP in Vancouver. Mao’s journey has been one of growth and improvement and I wish her the very best this season.

Pairs Short Program: Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang, The Eternal Vow (From the Soundtrack of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)

The thing about this program is that if you break it down into its elements, you can see that “checklist” of required elements. There aren’t that many transitions between the elements and quite a bit of forward two-foot skating. However, this program is unusual in that a lot of elements (i.e. the death spiral, pairs spin) aren’t left to the end as they usually are and for a relatively new team, the music was one of those more subdued pieces and therefore, more difficult to pull off without losing the audience’s attention. What really makes this program shine is the connection that exists the two partners despite the vast age difference and the long flowing lines in the choreography that fits the music very well. For a team that has yet to reach the highest level of skating, this simpler program dazzles with the chemistry between the two partners, very well-executed elements and well thought-out choreography that suits the music and the skaters.

Pairs Long Program: Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang, Yellow River Piano Concerto

I tried, really, I did, to find another pairs LP I liked better but I couldn’t. I think the reason I like this team and their choreography is because they remind me of pairs skating at its best: elegance, chemistry and big tricks. Here we have another program skated to subdued music but you’re mesmerized by their flow and carriage across the ice. That quad twist was just amazing as well. I seriously hope these two can somehow get to the Olympics.

Ice Dance Short Dance: Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron, Cool Cat in Town, Burlesque soundtrack

These two are a non-entity in the top echelons of the skating world but I really enjoyed this jazzy, energetic Finnstep SD done without using irritating music – a sin that a lot of teams seem to be committing this season. (I fully admit that I HATE the song, “Big Spender” and “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” purely on the subject matter and lyrics of the song. The tunes are pretty annoying as well.)

Ice Dance Free Dance: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, Petit Adagio, Waltz in Concerto No. 2, Allegro Moderato

Tessa & Scott have yet to skate this perfectly but I like the concept of this program in that it combines difficult choreography with the story of their career. The details, the elegance and the “clean” feeling of this program makes it breathtaking. It was really difficult choosing between this program and Meryl & Charlie’s Scheherazade program (I love the tension and crescendo) but I think there’s more of a storyline here even though D/W have the pre-written story of One Thousand and One Nights. I will do this though…

Special Mention: Meryl Davis & Charlie White, Scheherazade

Ice Dance Special Mention: Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov, Swan Lake

Yes, I’ll admit to liking this. Even if the music is overused. And there’s a few pauses in the choreography. And even if Morozov probably choreographed it. Now excuse me while I wallow in shame.

What were your favourite programs from this season? Let me know!

Also, I’ll be coming up with a favourite costumes post soon as well!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Comments on the Trophée Eric Bompard 2013

This is a little late since I’ve been working on a few personal projects lately but here it is! My comments on TEB 2013~!

Elena Nikita 13 TEB FD

I love this lift by the way. So dramatic and fits well with the program.

General Comments on the Men’s Field

My predictions were pretty much spot on except for my bronze medal predictions. There isn’t much to say in terms of the individual competitors so I’ll boil it down to 3 points:

1. Patrick Chan looks unbeatable right now. His scores are off the charts. Lately, Kurt Browning has been questioning the PCS of Meryl & Charlie and say, Cappellini & Lanotte so I’ll do the same. There are some things that Chan should’ve been marked higher like skating skills and transitions than Yuzuru in the SP (gosh, Chan, those running edges off his jumps… even I have to admit they’re gorgeous) but in terms of choreography and interpretation, I’m not sure why Yuzuru is marked a lot lower. Just sayin’.

2. Yuzuru’s scores in the SP were close to Chan’s (Chan – 98.52, Yuzuru – 95.37) and Yuzu won the silver overall. In terms of the ranking for GP events, which factor into the JFSA’s decision to send skaters to the Olympics we have…

Yuzuru – 2 silversOda – 1 silver, 1 bronze (would’ve been silver if he could count his jumps)
Daisuke – 1 gold, 4th place
Takahiko – bronze, 6th place

Yuzuru hasn’t won gold at the GP so far only because he’s been competing against Chan at every GP assignment, who’s pretty much a lock on gold. In terms of him going to the Olympics, I’d say he’s in a good place but we might have to wait for the Grand Prix Final or even Nationals to get a sense of which 3 men will be going since Tatsuki Machida has yet to compete at the Cup of Russia and like Daisuke he’s also won a gold medal at Skate America. For now, I think that Takahiko might be out of the running for the Olympics.

Predictions on who will go to the Olympics for Japan: Yuzuru Hanyu, Daisuke Takahashi, Nobunari Oda

3. Florent Amodio has officially become a non-entity in the upper ranks. In past seasons, he’s been able to take a few medals during the GP series but this season doesn’t seem to be looking good for him. If I were CBC, I’d be nice and say that he finished 7th at TEB but the harsher reality is that he finished second last overall and last in the LP. The sad thing is that we know he can do better than that but sadly, it doesn’t seem as if he’s been on top of his game this Olympic season. Until he proves me wrong, I’ll have to leave him out of my podium predictions.

The GP series confirms two ladies as THE lady for their respective countries

We all know that it’s important to be at the top of your field nationally. When you’re in that position, you get much more support politicking-wise and up goes the PCS. For a little while, the ladies field for Russia and the U.S. have been in disarray since there hasn’t been a lady that has led consistently throughout the years. In Russia, there were a lot of talented young ladies but no one was sure which ones would survive puberty. In the U.S., there were a lot of talented ladies who were terribly inconsistent.

This season, however, we have seen that Adelina Sotnikova has survived puberty unlike her rival, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, and that Ashley Wagner has continued her consistent skating from last year. Now that these two have emerged at the top of their country, the question remains, can they make a grab for the podium at Sochi?

Duhamel & Radford officially lose their lock on Olympic bronze

pang tong 13 teb lp

The funny thing about pairs skating for the last two seasons is that the field has been quite shallow. We all know that two teams are above the rest in terms of their technical ability and those two are Savchenko & Szolkowy and Volosozhar & Trankov. The bronze in the past few seasons have gone to a team that can’t quite touch the top two teams but are a head above the rest of the field. At last season’s World Championships, that team was Meaghan Duhamel & Eric Radford and as a result, I was pretty sure that this team was good enough to keep their hold on bronze. Now that Qing Pang & Jian Tong are back, it seems as if D&R will have to fight a little harder to get that bronze. Pang & Tong are seasoned veterans and great at portraying emotion and stories on ice. They are older, which can be a detriment in a sport that’s really hard on the body and dominated by teenagers but maybe like Shen & Zhao, they’ll prove to us that they get better with age. The showdown for bronze at Sochi should be exciting now

Tessa & Scott: One step forward, one step back

For Tessa & Scott, this season is going to be a constant battle against Meryl & Charlie. They can win the gold medal at any event but the real question will always be if their performance will be able to match up against their rivals. For TEB, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that their scores in the SD are very close to Meryl & Charlie’s season’s best. In fact, my favourite comment on their SD came from the ice-dance.com Twitter:

ice-dance com tweet 13 teb sd

I think they put the twizzles in another place in the program and as a result, everything flows a lot better. I think it was the first time I really enjoyed their SDs and didn’t feel that it needed a little extra pizzaz.

Wasn’t that lovely?

The bad news is, they seemed to have done something wrong with their lifts in the FD which resulted in a TES score that was lower than Ilinykh & Katsalapov’s. They’ll definitely need to keep on working but it would be a great comfort to fans if they beat Meryl & Charlie at least once before the Olympics. It would also keep the rivalry more exciting going in…

Dance of the Night: Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov

Ok, I’ll admit it: I enjoyed their Swan Lake FD. When they performed it at the beginning of the season, the program didn’t have as much mileage and the huge pause at the beginning looked awkward. (It also doesn’t help that I hate pauses in programs.) This performance from I & K, however, was dramatic and exciting and the best they’ve skated in their senior career. What was impressive was they they managed to top Pechalat & Bourzat, home ice favourites and a contender for Olympic bronze. This might be a sign that the winds are changing and there may be a new #1 Russian ice dance team soon…

Anyways, that’s it for now. I’ll be a little busy with a few personal projects for the next week or two so the “Skating 101” posts that a friend had been suggesting might take a little while to churn out. In any case, what are your thoughts on TEB this year? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries