Olympic Ads: Team USA

Like any smart person on the internet, I have an e-mail account for stuff that’s not important or ads. You know what I mean, the e-mail you put in when some shop asks you to fill out a survey or whatnot. In any case, I have never bought anything from Ralph Lauren in my life but for some reason, I keep getting e-mails from them. One of them featured an ad with some figure skaters, including Mr. Windmill, Evan Lysacek as well as Meryl Davis & Charlie White.

ralph lauren team usa

I’m really not sure what this ad is supposed to achieve considering none of the athletes look attractive in any of the clothing in this shot. Also, where is Evan’s trademark orange glow? I mean, what is Evan without his orange-ness?

Anyways, have you seen any ads in your country featuring figure skaters? Send them my way and I’ll feature them in a post! Until then…

~The Rinkside Cafe

Two Olympic Champions: Two Comebacks?

So, the Olympic season is upon us and of note this season, two Olympic champions are coming back. Sort of. And the “sort of”s mean different things in the two situations.

Yuna Kim 13 SP

Yuna Kim is the first Olympic champion is coming back to compete for a full season. Well, actually, a slightly less truncated season. It was announced recently that Yuna will be off the ice for 6 weeks due to a foot injury and as a result, will miss Skate Canada International. (Article here.) Sad, but with her result at Worlds this year, Yuna has shown us that she can come back and win it all without a shadow of a doubt. If Yuna can show the judges that she can skate two clean programs after her foot injury, I think she’ll have a good shot for gold. And yes, she will have to skate clean at the Olympics. Her jumps are fantastic, as always, but her extension still needs work and she really needs to push herself a little more in expressing the music. Her rivals will bring their all (or at least I hope they will) and I’m sure Yuna will want nothing but perfection in all her performances anyways.

I expect Carolina Kostner to be nipping at Yuna’s heels with her improved consistency, lovely flow and wonderful expressiveness – those who aren’t totally blinded by their fandom will have to admit, it was hard to keep your eyes off of Carolina last season. (Especially during her Bolero LP.) As for Mao, well… she’s been brave and she’s been trying and I hope to see her in tip-top shape. I’d love to have a season that harks back to the golden days of the Yuna/Mao rivalry (without the nasty racist comments) just for the sake of being able to watch purely beautiful skating. Rivalries are wonderful when they push two competitors to be at their best all the time.

evan lysacek windmill

Windmill Guy Seizures on ice Evan Lysacek

Evan Lysacek is supposed to be coming back this season but all in all, I highly doubt that Evan will either 1) be able to compete seriously and 2) be able to defend his title if he somehow makes it to the Olympics.

Exhibit A: Evan is only assigned to one Grand Prix event.

Grand Prix events are a season starter and a way to establish yourself in the game. Grand Prix wins may not lead to medals at Four Continents/Euros or Worlds but it helps the judges and fans figure out who the A and B and under-list skaters are. Many of those who come out on top during the GP series will be frontrunners at Worlds or in other events in future seasons. However, coming back and doing two GP events show that 1) you are serious about your comeback and 2) you think you can win with or without the home ice advantage that skaters like Lysacek get. Lysacek is assigned to Skate America and the roster is often compiled to give the home favourites an easy win so I’m guessing he may get on the podium at the very least at Skate America just to prove he still “has it” OR he’ll conveniently get an injury and not compete at all

Exhibit B: Lysacek won without the quad in Vancouver

Sorry, Windmill dude, but the quad is securely back in the men’s arsenal. As much as I resent Chan’s inflated scores and performances, I will give him credit for helping to put the quad back on the map in men’s programs. You can’t beat Chan without a quad nowadays and Chan is the one to beat. I will also admit the Chan is definitely the lesser of two evils between him and Lysacek because Chan can skate… without looking like a windmill. (For more information, check out Morozombie’s awesome post.) In any case, Lysacek faces tougher competition this season in Sochi than in Vancouver and he can’t sweep the rest of the competition away like Yuna can.

Wildcard: Lysacek’s legendary work ethic

Unlike some of Frank Carroll’s students, Lysacek does not suffer from a poor work ethic. Commendable, yes, but why Frank hasn’t made him work on not looking like a windmill skating to overused music is confusing to me. In any case, Lysacek can prove me totally wrong. Usually, I’d encourage skaters to do it but my dislike of his skating style makes me think that I may have to drink myself into oblivion if he wins another Olympic gold. And I don’t even drink. Often, that is.

What do you think of these two comebacks?

~The Rinkside Cafe

The State of the Union – Pre-Euros, 4CC and Worlds

Ahhh! Euros are here already? Ok. Start!

In my head (and I’m sure I’m not the only one) the figure skating season (or more precisely, the ISU-sanctioned competitions) is divided into two. First you have all the Grand Prix events culminating in the Grand Prix Final and then we have the major international competitions: the European Championships, Four Continents and Worlds. (The Olympics are sort of an anomaly while the World Team Trophy is a cheesefest for the ISU to earn a little more money and by the looks of the last competition, a way to right a few erroneous results at Worlds, though the title isn’t as prestigious.) I divide the season like this because the two halves sort of run with slightly different rules or at least the placements get shaken up a bit.

The changes in placements don’t quite affect the top echelon of A-list skaters or the B-list and below but it does shake things up with the lower end of the A-list. This is partly because of the way the competitors are stacked up at each half. The Grand Prix events have few A-list skaters and so it’s pretty obvious most of the time who are podium contenders are. Some skaters don’t start out well early in the season and don’t make it into the final but are a force to be reckoned with in the second half. This is especially true if the skater is from a country with a strong figure skating union and has the union’s political support. In the second half, political support has a bit of a stronger effect on the placements. The ultimate cream of the crop  of the top GP contenders will likely get higher scores and/or placements while those who are slightly below may find themselves lacking even more points from their PCS. Sometimes, political support can change the placements between two contenders from the same country.

In any case, to make everything short, it’s a slightly different ball game when it comes to Euros, 4CC, Worlds and to some extent, the Olympics. This year, the World Championships take on another level of significance because the placements this season will determine the number of spots each country gets for the Olympics. So without further ado, here are a few comments on the state of figure skating just before Euros are about to start.

Carolina Kostner 2013 SP

Carolina beckons you in. More

The World is Ending…

I am in tears. Life (or my recent part-time job, really) has really taken away a lot of free time and when I decide to check back on the figure skating world, I find this article. In short: Evan Lysacek is coming back and he’s going to be at Skate America. I was actually considering to go to this particular competition since I’m a lot closer to Skate America this year than Skate Canada. I really wanted to see Yuzuru but I’m not sure if I can bear to open my wallet to watch both the beauty that is Yuzuru and the windmill that is Lysacek.

There’s always the possibility that Evan will go the Sasha Cohen route and fake (or actually have) an injury and not compete. After all, even at his “peak”, Evan was quadless and had shaky triple axels. Chan, despite his inflated marks, can actually land quads and occasionally skate clean. In the past season, more men have added quads to their repertoire in an attempt to step up their game and dethrone Chan. If Lysacek wants to remain competitive in the men’s field, he’s going to have to pull up that quadruple jump. Nonetheless, we all know that Lysacek has a crazy robot work ethic which might allow him to land the jump, and unfortunately give him the sort of integrity that would drive him to compete at Skate America.

Apparently he’s going to show up with programs to the music of “Poeta” and “Samson et Dalila”. I hate your guts, Evan Lysacek. How dare you ruin this:

and this:

Now excuse me while I continue to cry in a corner.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Look-Alikes: From SYTYCD Season 7

I was watching a re-run of So You Think You Can Dance season 7 and noticed that two of the contestants looked a lot like two figure skaters who used to date each other. Clues to who they might be? Both are Americans who have won medals at the Olympics.

Skater #1 looks like Lauren from SYTYCD:

Doesn’t she look like Tanith Belbin?

Then there was Robert from SYTYCD7.

He looked like the young Orange Bro Evan Lysacek and so I had a hard time liking him.

Any other look-alikes that I should know of?

~The Rinkside Cafe

The Problem of Evan Lysacek

Figure skating is a very subjective sport. There are figure skaters you like and figure skaters you don’t like but I try to give all of them a chance every time they compete to get into my good books (not that getting into my good books means anything); however, there is a very, very small minority that are so incorrigible that they are on my blacklist. So far, there are 3 skaters on that list and the only way they can get off that list is through a very, very specific form of redemption. 1 has a chance of getting off that list if he deflates his head and ego, the second can have her name struck off the list if she quits and does something good in the world through her brains rather than her boring figure skating.

The third name on the list, Evan Lysacek, will remain there until the end of time. His Olympic gold medal “achievement” in Vancouver is something I try to forget or I may forever lose my faith in the sport. What’s wrong with Lysacek you ask? Well, his personality  and “bro-gate” scandal (as lovingly named by the wonderful people on ontd_skating) aside, this is my biggest problem with his skating: it’s so predictable. In fact…

Recipe for an Evan Lysacek Program:

  1. Black Costume (or mostly black – though there are a few exceptions) with a fake orange tan
  2. Dramatic and/or overused music
  3. Camel-sit-canonball/pancake/shotgun combination spin
  4. Angsty hair groping AND/OR self-touching
  5. The reenactment of a seizure on ice AND/OR superfluous arm movements
  6. Wonky triple axel technique

Mix all of them together and you get one of his programs. Repeat for every year he decides to compete. The program will make you look like a giant contorting epileptic spider on the ice, but if everybody else screws up, you might just win the competition.

Case AND point:

I decided to take a look at this when Aunt Joyce posted it on his blog and I laughed when I watched it. Evan’s freestyle dance had, without fail, seizure-like arm waving and random high kicks.

I believe they got the lowest score for the freestyle portion that night…

Anyways, let’s end on a high note; in other words, a palate cleanser. A student of Frank Carroll who actually deserved to win Olympic gold. In my heart, she’s wins it every time she skates.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Just for Fun: Top 5 Coaches

I was inspired by this post by From the Boards and thought that I’d compile my own list of top 5 coaches (and I’ll do  a second part with choreographers later) ’cause it’s fun! I’ll try and make my list a little dissimilar to spice things up! So without further ado…

The Rinkside Cafe’s picks for Top 5 Coaches

1. Tatiana Tarasova

Tati may not have been able to focus her attentions on Mao because she had to take care of her sick mother (and if you can sympathize with Joannie Rochette, I think you can also sympathize with Tati), but Mao’s choice for her as coach was not illogical at all: Tati has coached more skaters to World Championhood and Olympic Gold more than anyone else. Some of her past students include Alexei Yagudin, Katia Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, Shizuka Arakawa and Illia Kulik. At the moment, I think she’s only “advising teams” (although her mother passed away in the summer) but all in all, Tati, with her diva fur coats and hair, is undoubtedly, a force to be reckoned with.

2. Frank Carroll

Frank Carroll is a legend thanks to Michelle Kwan. He and Lori Nichol used to be a dream team. It’s just a pity that the student that would finally give him Olympic Gold is the epileptic arm-waving, giant bad Vera Wang-clad contorting spider called Evan Lysacek. Carroll is known to make his skaters do full run throughs which makes them improve very, very fast. Right now, his star students at the senior level (Mirai Nagasu and Denis Ten) are known headcases but I’m hoping that he could work some magic on them.

3. Igor Shpilband

Team Shpilband and Zueva have worked miracles and have taken teams with potential and worked with them until they meet that potential. Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir had trouble with lifts, speed and power during their teenage year and look at them now! Under their tutelage (and Igor paired them up), Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto began to give notice to the world that North America is capable of producing good ice dancers in a European-dominated sport. In fact, thanks to team Shpilband/Zueva, North America has emerged as a powerhouse for ice dancing in recent years, therefore  beginning the campaign to rid the world of what Aunt Joyce likes to call “Eurotrash” programs, which is definitely a good thing. Also, Katia Shpilband, Igor’s daughter has become a competent figure skater at the intermediate junior level. Videos of her skating have yet to emerge on the internet but I must say, I’m excited.

4. Alexei Mishin

Although several current children’s books hail the Weir-Lysacek rivalry as the most epic rivalry in history, I care to disagree. Actually, any good figure skating fan would know that the most epic rivalry was between Alexei Yagudin and Evgeni Plushenko. Unlike Weir and Lysacek who only really competed with each other on the national level (with a lot of trash talking), Yagudin and Plushenko were competing with each other for The Top Spot in EVERY competition they were in together. For about eight years, if your last name was not Yagudin or Plushenko, you would not win gold or silver at Worlds. Bronze would have been a great achievement back then. In any case, these two and their talent and fierce and epic rivalry was created or fostered by Papa Mishin. You may criticize him for choreography with excessive arm-waving but his mind games and toughness has produced two legends of figure skating. Although Plushenko’s performance at the Olympics (and every competition during the 2009/2010 season) left much to be desired, it’s a pity that this legend had to be beaten by someone whose “artistry” involves re-enacting a seizure on ice. In any case, another star by Mishin is on the horizon by the name of Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. If she survives her growth spurt, watch out for her at Sochi.

5. A tie between…

Brian Orser

I was going to exclude Orser from the top 5 not because he’s not a great coach, but because he’s only coached 1 superstar and 1 upcoming star. Although Yuna Kim is a super-duperstar at the moment, Orser does not have the coaching record as some of the other coaches on this list. At the moment, he has 1 Olympic gold medal, 1 World gold and 2 World bronze. A fair achievement, by 1 skater but compared to people like Tati and Igor, he has a way to go with his coaching career. Still, Kim’s achievements have been great but we’ll have to wait and see how Orser fares with his other skaters. At the moment, Christina Gao is being buried by the Russian girls and Adam Rippon still has consistency issues. His reputation amongst Korean fans has gone down since the crazy drama with the Kim-Orser split. And he doesn’t have a South Park theme song. In any case, we’ll have to wait and see what else Brian has in store for us, although if anything, CBC will still be a huge fan of his.

Nikolai Morozov

Morozov is a badass Russian Gino who can do voodoo and somehow get gorgeous girls despite his gino-ness. I admit, some of his programs are some of the worst crap I’ve ever seen (aka Morozombie programs). Miki’s Ando’s programs are clear proof of that, however some of his other programs are pure, pure gold. Like this one, which is a collaboration with Tatiana Tarasova:

Despite his choreography with tons of pauses, weird arm movements, a lack of personality and jump-laden in the second half programs, Morozov’s legacy and coaching prowess stems from the fact that he produces consistent skaters with correct, huge and powerful jumps. Just look at Miki Ando and Nobunari Oda.

Anyways, what is your list of top 5 coaches?

~The Rinkside Cafe