The Future is Here! All Hail Yuzuru Hanyu – Olympic Champion!

Yuzuru Hanyu 2014 OWG LP

The men’s competition in Sochi was packed full of surprises for better and worse. The result is still a little bit of a shock but somewhere deep down, I think I was expecting it. Or maybe, a lot of us just managed to see what a talent this guy was back at the beginning of the Olympic cycle and he certainly proved us right. Thanks, Yuzuru!

Also, the men’s figure skating Olympic curse seems to be in full effect after taking a small break in Vancouver. (For those of you who don’t know, the “curse” is that the man who was World Champion from the previous year/season will not win Olympic gold. All the figure skating “curses” were broken in Vancouver but so far, they seems to be in full effect.) Anyway, let’s start this brief recap of the men’s figure skating competition with one of the biggest game changers… More

A Series of Cute Videos

A roundup of cute videos.

A documentary of sorts on Yuzuru Hanyu. The narration gets kind of hilariously serious at times. Also, CAN I COINCIDENTALLY MEET YUZURU ON THE SUBWAY ONE DAY???

 

Queen Marina being diva coach extraordinaire.

 

Meryl and Charlie talking about community.

 

Tessa and Scott being adorable.

 

Yuna Kim and a puppy in a commercial.

 

A funny commercial with Evgeni Plushenko.

Enjoy~!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Comments on Euros 2013

Bobrova Soloviev 2013 Euros SD

I’m still sorting through some of the programs at Euros but here are some comments I have so far:

  • The Platinum King, Evgeni Plushenko might actually be at the end of his competition days. He fell in the SP and aggravated a chronic back problem, according to CBC and withdrew in the LP. I won’t quite miss any of his programs in particular but I can’t help but feel a sense of awe looking back at his career and the wonderment that came over me when I was a child, watching him and Alexei Yagudin duking it out.
  • In ice dance, the judges have struck the gavel. As I mentioned in the previous post, it’s a whole new ballgame and Mother Russia is putting her foot down. Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte have been set aside in favour of the Russians. C&L have been beating Ilinykh & Katsalapov at competitions – the Other Carmen program was in general, miles better than that Ghost monstrosity – but it seems as if the tides have turned.
  • Speaking of the Ghost program, it seems as if Morozov toned down the cheesiness a bit. It’s actually somewhat watchable now. Ilinykh & Katsalapov also won the free dance here.
  • Despite Igor Shpilband’s claims that the judges prefer Cappellini & Lanotte’s Carmen better than Tessa & Scott’s it seems as if they’ve made some changes to the beginning of the program. There’s a little more groping but overall the transitions and movements are a little cleaner. Still though, it feels like a haphazard stringing of the opera in terms of the music cuts and performance.
  • Carolina Kostner is holding onto her European title despite Mother Russia’s attempts for the top spot with her little divas. I admit that last Olympic cycle, I wanted Carolina to win. Seriously. I loved both Mao and Yuna but I was sick of the deranged fans who were attacking each other and making those stupid videos on how either of the cheated or whatnot. Carolina was a breath of fresh air. Canon in D and her 2004/5 LP remain in my favourite figure skating programs library.
  • Mother Russia has made herself known that she wants her pairs gold medal back. I kind of feel bad for Aliona & Robin.

Any thoughts on Euros?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Predictions: European Championships 2013

Wahhhhhh!!! Euros start tomorrow. Or wait, it’s already tomorrow in Europe. AHHHH! Ok, here are some predictions.

plushenko blows a kiss

Plushenko beckons you to read on… More

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

Some things to look forward to next season~!

September has already come around and the junior grand prix series has already begun! However, senior competitions only start in late October, but until then, here are a few things we can look forward to in the upcoming season.

The Team Canton drama continues!


At the top of the ice dance competition are three Team Canton pairs: Olympic Champions, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, current World Champions, Meryl Davis & Charlie White and the newbies, Maia and Alex Shibutani. The former two will continue their long-lasting rivalry for the top, which is always exciting because I love both teams and I love how they push each other to do better each season. As for the Shibutanis, I wonder how they will fare with a solid and regrouped Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat and the Russian ice dance phemons, Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov. The Shibutani’s bronze medal at Worlds this year was one part skill and several parts luck. Looks like another exciting season in ice dance!

The young Russian divas go head to head with the big girls!

These two Russian phenoms are Russia’s hope for Sochi and their future looks bright. From Papa Mishin’s Moscow school, we have Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, a girl with charisma and solid jump technique but could do with better choreography. On the other end, we have Adelina Sotnikova, a graceful girl from the St. Petersburg camp and current junior world champion. Both have the potential to be great but who will survive puberty better than the other and who has what it takes to rise up in the senior ranks? These two have the potential to make a HUGE splash this season seeing that current World Champion, Miki Ando, is not competing and Yuna Kim may not compete either. Mao has yet to prove herself to be consistent and Carolina Kostner cannot simply stagnate at triple toes, salchows and loops with these two European threats. Keep an eye out for these two!

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!

Yes, you heard it, the Russians are making their presence known after their poor medal showing in Vancouver. The platinum, sex-bomb king, Evgeni Plushenko has regained his amateur status and is eligible to compete.

 


The new pairs team of Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov have the potential to be World Champions. I have no doubt that they will do very, very well this season.

As well, the young team of Ilinykh & Katsalapov have switched coaches after their less than meteoric rise in the senior ranks. I’ve always said that a change in coaches would be good for show and technique and Nikolai Morozov was given the role of Papa Russia for the upcoming Olympics. I just hope that this team doesn’t get drowned in horrible Morozombie choreography.

Team USA (ladies) ups their game

(A picture of Maia and Mirai at U.S. champs camp.)

Recent articles have indicated that the U.S. ladies are practicing their triple-triples to be more competitive with the Japanese and the upcoming onslaught of Russians. Frank Carroll has been sending strong messages about Mirai Nagasu’s progress and Alissa Czisny probably wants to use her momentum from the past season to carry her onto the World podium this upcoming season.

Mao Asada’s progress?

With a new jump technique and the stress of the earthquake in Japan, Mao had a season of ups and downs. Still, she’s shown improvement in her shows this summer and more importantly, she’s shown that she hasn’t lost her love of skating. I’m so happy that she’s going to keep her Liebestraume long program because it really deserves a flawless performance. Go get ’em, Mao-chan~!

Akiko Suzuki will hopefully make a comeback!

After getting shoved off the podium by ingenue Kanako Murakami (who she cheered for last season at Japanese Nationals), Akiko Suzuki should find herself back on the Japanese podium as well as the world team. I’m glad since her “Fiddler on the Roof LP” was fun to watch and her energy and love of skating is so evident in every program she does.

Who can beat Patrick Chan?

Chan’s scores lately have been absolutely bloody INSANE. Will the Platinum King show the young Canadian who’s boss? Or will Daisuke Takahashi make a comeback after his up and down season? Or will an ingenue come and shake things up a bit?

The young pairs

Sui and Han look as if they’re having a little bit of trouble in the junior ranks but will they be able to push ahead when the senior season comes around? What of the team of Iliushchekina and Maisuradze who have so much potential? Will Vera Barazova be able to land and complete her tiny jumps when puberty coming on?

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming season?

I may do another post if I have more ideas…

~The Rinkside Cafe

Seriously Canada?

For a country that prides itself on being fair and nice and all, they sure know how to go insane and inflate figure skating scores for Patrick Chan. Videos of his LP have yet to surface appeared and here are his scores:

SP – 88.78
LP – 197.07
Total – 285.85

Now, let’s stop for a bit and take a look at a few CoP records:

Men – highest score in an ISU-sanctioned competition:

SP – 91.30 (Evgeni Plushenko 2010 Euros)
LP – 175.84 (Daisuke Takahashi 2008 Four Continents)

Let’s just say that one skater got those scores for a competition, the total would be: 267.14
The actual world record for the highest total is 264.41 (Daisuke Takahashi 2008 Four Continents)

His scores have become more and more unreasonable. Next thing you know, he’ll be the first to get a score of 300+ or something. *knocks on wood*

I’ll try not to complain in my next post.

~The Rinkside Cafe

The Highlights of 2010

2010 has been a great year for figure skating. The Vancouver Olympics were absolutely amazing and it’s sad that the year is about to end. Let’s hope that 2011 will be just as amazing. For now, let’s stroll through memory lane and think of a few good times in 2010.

(More under the cut since this is a bit of a long post…)

More

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