The Battle of the Carmens

Why oh why am I doing this to myself? This is wayy too early in the morning to be up but I’ll be out all day tomorrow which means that I’ll miss all the figure skating events. As a result, I don’t think I’ll be covering the competitions in Skate Canada though I may do a post on a few highlights.

In any case, I’m pretty sure that if you’re following the GP series that you know that I’m not referring to the Battle of the Carmens at the 1988 Olympics between Katarina Witt and Debi Thomas. This new battle is between two ice dance teams and winning this battle will actually determine the winner of Skate Canada, unlike as previously thought.

In any case, the anticipation should be high for the free dance at Skate Canada. Reigning World Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are in a virtual tie – leading by 0.01 points – with Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte. It’s a bit of an unusual situation and it seemed as if there were a lot of downgrades since the lack of distance between these two teams is really down to Tessa and Scott’s low technical elements score (TES). In a normal situation, Tessa and Scott would be leading by 5 to 10 points but unfortunately, they can’t rely on that lead to get them gold here.

I’ve already done a post on my thoughts of Cappellini & Lanotte’s Carmen. If you’re too lazy to read it, I’ll summarize it here: Anna and Luca’s Carmen is a very traditional one about the passion and the drama. Unfortunately, it fails to capture the complexity of Carmen as a character outside of her role as a seductress. And I hate the fact that Anna as Carmen dies at the end with a look of agony on her face. To end my blurb on this program, I’ll post this excerpt from the opera in Act IV when Carmen meets Don Jose and knows that her death is drawing near:

L’on m’avait avertie
que tu n’étais pas loin, que tu devais venir;
l’on m’avait mÍme dit de craindre pour ma vie;
mais je suis brave! je n’ai pas voulu fuir!

– Carmen

This season, Tessa and Scott decided to go for a more contemporary/modern dance interpretation of Carmen. They remark upon a few differences between the usual interpretation of Carmen and their interpretation in this article: “In the end of our story, it’s Carmen who has the power and she has her freedom; and Scott’s character, Don Jose, is just ruined.” Well, you could say that even in death, Carmen is triumphant: she is still free which is what she values most and Don Jose, who according to Carmen’s card predictions will die soon after her, is a man who has lost everything – his mother, his position in the army, the lover who he held so much passion for and most likely, Micaela, a potential wife who truly loved him and a symbol of his peaceful and “pure” past life. So Tessa, just because Carmen dies doesn’t mean she “lost” in any way.

What I do like about this interpretation is that it is the closest to what I think is Carmen, the entire character in Bizet’s opera (Prospere Merimee – sorry for the lack of accents – who wrote the original story had created an even more complex character it seems) – not Carmen the seductress or Carmen the gypsy. Carmen and the entirety of spirit.

I suppose I’ll end with a quote again from the opera, this time from a section that isn’t used very much in programs though Tessa and Scott do use it extensively. This moment comes at the end of Act II when Don Jose is freed from jail and is about to leave the tavern Lillas Pastias (and Carmen):

Ah!  le mot n’est pas galant,
mais qu’ importe!
Va, tu t’y feras quand tu verras
comme c’est beau, la vie errante,
pour pays, l’univers,
et pour loi, sa volonté,
et surtout, la chose enivrante:
La liberté!  la liberté!

– Carmen

Who do you think will win the Battle of the Carmens at Skate Canada?

~The Rinkside Cafe


Just when I wrote about why I’m excited about this season, I now have a reason to dread this season. Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, the team who had gotten me back into the world of figure skating fandom is skating to… Carmen.. FOR THEIR FREE DANCE. BLOODY HELL, CARMEN???? SERIOUSLY???? This is a headdesk moment.

Many skating viewers have noted that V/M have taken a very “white bread” route and at this point, I really couldn’t agree more. Not only is Carmen an old warhorse, it’s also basically their flamenco/Latin routines redone. I’m really sad to say that I’m starting to lose faith in this couple. They’re supposed to be innovators, creative and on a level that’s beyond all the other skaters. They’re supposed to push and challenge themselves to overcome their weaknesses and they’ve done the complete opposite. You guys are better than the dime for dozen skaters who can take the easy route and skate to a warhorse. I’m disappointed in you two because I know you guys can do better. Wayyy better.

This blog post by Morozombie provides an interesting music suggestion.

What do you think about this music choice?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Worlds 2012 – Ice Dance FD

I’m not sure if I can deal with the clusterfuck that is the ladies’ SP right now so I’ll leave you to read the delightful post by Morozombie, who is my new favourite figure skating blogger who seriously sounds like my darling friend and reader, Ay-sa.

As for dance, the results were a little more palatable though the results for bronze are seriously pissing me off. Let’s go through the final top 5, shall we?


Skate Canada 2011: Ice Dance

So yesterday, a kind netizen posted the FDs just as they were done. I love that person, whoever you are.

As expected, Tessa and Scott won the free dance. They were graceful and charming though the numerous pauses (numerous here meaning more than one) are a bit disconcerting because more pauses (a la Nikolai Morozov) = less skating = possibility of getting less points from transitions, choreography etc. And when you think about Meryl and Charlie’s program, which despite having its own flaws, is quite different in that it brilliantly showcases the team’s speed, power and it’s so fast paced that there’s no time for pausing. Meryl and Charlie’s program this year is athleticism at its best and we know they can bring that to the highest potential to keep that World title. As charming as the program now, Tessa and Scott need to tell Marina that this program needs to step it up a notch or two. Their FD score at Skate Canada is about a point lower than Meryl and Charlie’s FD score from Skate America. I really hope they have that in mind. Other than that, terrific job, guys!

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje showed a lot of technical improvement with their deep edges and speed across the ice with their angsty “It’s complicated” romantic FD. I’m so proud of these two and how they’ve improved so quickly over the last few seasons. I still think that it was stupid of Skate Canada to hold them back in favour of Crone/Poirier. These two obviously have a better connection with each other, charisma and the drive to improve. I think that they’ll be worthy successors to the Canadian dance crown after Tessa and Scott relinquish it in their retirement (which will not be soon, I hope). These two remind me of a young Meryl and Charlie but with more passion and connection.


Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte took bronze and skated to La Strada for their FD. The thing about “La Strada” is that it’s a film that’s really beautiful, tender, deep and tragic although the music is upbeat and fun. I’m very glad that this team decided to show the tenderness that was present in the film even though this program was a lot more romantic that the film ever was. I’m very glad that these two have had an opportunity to shine ever since Faiella and Scali retired. Anna and Luca are 24 and 26 but they bring an energy and freshness that’s reminiscent of teenagers even though their skating skills are far from that. Also,  Anna’s outfit is fabulous. It’d wear it for a casual day out if I owned it.

I hope you enjoyed the FD as much as I did!

~The Rinkside Cafe



In case you had to suffer through choppy pixellated images like I did on that sketchy Russian stream. I’m really hating where I am right now because of the lack of figure skating and available online sources. But at least this will make me smile.

I’ll blog about the men and dance competitions tomorrow.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Skate America 2011: Pairs and Dance

The pairs competition at Skate America was a 3-tiered event: the first tier belonged to Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szalkowy and Zhang Dan & Zhang Hao who were contending for the gold. Then there was Kirsten-Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch and Caydee Denney & John Coughlin fighting for the last spot on the podium. And then there was the rest, who don’t really register on my radar. And for an event like pairs, where there haven’t been very many inspirational teams, those who do register on that radar are very few in number, so it’s not a total insult. =P

In any case, let’s start with the SP… More

Finlnadia 2011: Chock and Bates (FD)

I apologize for the delay in my blog post about Chocks/Bates’ FD. The busiest part of my week is over so now I have a bit of free time.

This new partnership isn’t an absolute mistake and it’ll take some time to solidify but it seems as if they’re on the right track. Unfortunately, though, their FD was pretty unmemorable (they are probably pretty low on Marina and Igor’s priority list at this point) and I had to rewatch it today because I had forgotten my thoughts on it and what happened in the dance when I watched it a few days ago.

The program itself isn’t bad, it’s certainly more interesting than the Shibutanis’ FD since it’s not a watered down version of Tessa and Scott’s program but these two really need to tell more of a story with it. Commitment, commitment, commitment. It’s the beginning of the season so I’m sure that’ll come as the season progresses. Madison is definitely the better performer of the pair as she’s more expressive but she should take a few lessons from Evan on how to hold herself and how to move her arms. Evan’s arms and lines with his arms were completely mesmerizing to me. I think the key word for this team is time even I’m not sure if the politics of the sport will let them go very very far.

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