Four Continents 2015: Highlights and Recap

Ok! This is super late and I’m down to the wire in terms of my personal deadline for this post but hey, better late than never, right? For my lovely readers, thank you so much for your patience and support – it really does mean a lot to me! As for the recap and highlights – let’s get right to them! More

Predictions: Skate Canada International 2014

duhamel radford

So, it seems as if I’m three quarters of the way through my bandwidth limit for this month so I will likely be more conservative this week with my internet consumption. Consequently, I probably won’t be watching the first group for most of the events. However, I can still provide predictions to the event so… onward! More

Worlds 2011: Pairs – The Ones to Watch

I apologize again for the delay in coverage, my life has been a whirlwind for the past week but I promise to write something about the other disciplines and their outcomes at the World championships. I’ll do the men’s competition last because I need to brace myself… I may need to vomit at Chan’s scores, although I wouldn’t be surprised if he was somewhat deserving of them. Somewhat is the key word there.

Anyways, to pairs skating. We could talk about how Savchenko and Szalkowy regained their World title after their disappointing (but not disastrous) season last year but this competition was really about the up and coming stars and 2011 Pairs silver medalists: Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov. PJ Kwong had them pegged as bronze medalists but I was banking on Pang and Tong making tons of mistakes in the long (despite an impeccable short) while V/T skated clean. And I was right. (In fact, I was 3 for 3 on my podium predictions for pairs.)

Let’s begin this discussion with the short program.

Tatiana and Max were one of the first to skate and they began their international competitive career with a bang. They skated cleanly and at the end of the day, was 3rd after the SP. If they had begun their career a little earlier, I wouldn’t be surprised if they pushed upwards to 1st or 2nd, especially with Mother Russia hosting the event.

Aliona and Robin made a small mistake in the SP (they weren’t synchronized in one set of the combination spin) and ended up in 2nd. A bit surprising to me since I thought that their superior skating skills and transitions (and that GIANT throw triple flip) would have carried them above Pang and Tong. Looking at the protocol, I’m a bit confused as to what happened but I do think that they deserved a higher score than they got.

Pang and Tong skated flawlessly. They were even synchronized in their spins – something the Chinese pairs always seem to screw up. I admit that I prefer the choreography and music of this SP (this has become my new favourite SP of the season) over the Germans but I can’t help but think that Aliona and Robin’s programs were a lot harder. Still, with the Zhangs and Shen & Zhao gone, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chinese federation paid these two a lot of money to compete for another year. Besides, we still don’t know whether Sui Wenjing is 13 (or somewhere below 15) or not.

Also, this result also marks the fact that Kavaguti/Smirnov are official dumped dumped dumped. And even the legendary Moscovina can’t help them anymore. They also abandoned the meat costumes for this competition.

In the LP, things shifted a little bit.

Aliona and Robin skated perfectly. They were flirty, sneaky and actually a lot of fun to watch. I didn’t like this program at the beginning of the season but they’ve really grown into it and learned how to sell it. The Russian crowd was totally into it!

Tatiana and Max skated a great long, with only one mistake – a step out from Max on a triple salchow. However, I must say, that triple twist in the program – best triple twist EVER. It looked so completely and utterly effortless. Still, their scores were not that much lower than Aliona and Robin’s, which was a bit surprising. I would have liked to see the margin between them to a little bit bigger. I blame the hometown advantage, although that is not to say that Tanya and Max aren’t good. They’re going to be a force to be reckoned with next season.

As expected, Pang and Tong made a lot of mistakes during their LP, as they have done all season. Tong singled their first triple axel and put his hand down and their second sbs jump was only a double toe. Not something you would expect from last year’s World champions. These two are starting to unravel and I’ve got the feeling that they just want to retire and get on with life. Then again, they rallied after the disastrous beginning and finished beautifully. This skate was the first time I realized that this program was choreographed pretty well to the music. Especially with that throw triple loop near the end.

All in all, Volosozhar and Trankov made this competition a lot more exciting than it would have been. I wish the young team of Iliushechkina and Maisuradze were at there to make a splash. Not to mention they might be more beneficial to Mother Russia in the long run. Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov seem like a decent pairs team – they have lovely lines and a graceful elegance – at the moment but Vera’s jumps are barely getting off the ice and she looks as if she still has some growing to do and goodness knows what they will do to her jumps. I also wish that my little Chinese team could have been there but Sui might be underage. Still, they’re fun to watch.

That’s pretty much it with what I have to say about pairs. The world should really watch out for Volosozhar/Trankov because with the Olympics in Sochi, you never know what they could achieve.

Comments? Opinions? Please share!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Skate America: Pairs LP – Final Flight

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy have just skated their LP and they should take the gold handily. The only thing I have to say is: “Aliona, did you really have to take the Pink Panther theme so far that you had to blind us with those hideous costumes?!?” Couldn’t she just wear a fierce bitch pink dress and just skate with it? My eyes hurt… the crazy sequins… the hot pink tights… ughhh.I mean, they did the only clown program I tolerated (clowns on ice are the worst, followed by a cowboy themed program which only my baby Chinese pair can get away with) but I don’t know if I can stand around watching that program again with those costumes. My eyes literally hurt. I’m not joking. In any case, their LP started with the biggest triple flip I have ever seen. Their choreography was filled with lovely transitions and spread eagles into elements. They were fast and the ending was pretty cute.

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch delivered a sloppy program with hands down on a throw triple salchow. There were some two-foot landings but somehow their scores were higher than Sui and Han. I would’ve put them ever so slightly below my baby Chinese pair because I do admit that the choreography and interpretation to their LP is pretty impressive. Those super long lifts at the end to the crescendos of the music are genius. These two are making a splash this year after teaming up in spring 2009. I hope to see them beat the mediocre Dube and Davison once they get their injured asses back on the ice. I’m not quite sure how Kirsten’s Heidi costume has to do with Les Miz though.

Wenjing Sui and Cong Han delivered one of their best performances for this LP. Admittedly, they are slower than some of the senior teams but they’ll get that speed in time. Their quad salchow was two footed but the fact that these two aren’t completely wiping out as most teams do when they attempt the element is already pretty impressive. With this 3rd place finish, they’ll probably end up in the finals along with the baby Russians. I’m looking forward to the growth of this team. They’re still rough around the edges and aren’t completely polished but their results are impressive for a team that have just come out of the junior ranks. The fact that their TES is right up there with some of the top teams shows that there could very possibly be a bright future for them. (Go for the gold in Sochi 2014, you two!)

Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett must be oh so disappointed that they were oh so close to the podium but missed it because of a fall on a throw triple loop (it might’ve been a salchow, my memory fails me at the moment). Unlike Aliona, Caydee sported a tastefully gorgeous blue dress (’cause they were skating to Rhapsody in Blue) which was more than easy on the eyes. If it were a full-length dress, I would totally wear it. Their program was otherwise solid but that fall was a total wipeout. These two scored higher than my baby Chinese pair on PCS but lost to them in terms of TES. (Actually, Sui and Han’s TES were only second to Savchenko and Szolkowy’s. =D) A pity because these two are really a decent team despite having such a short partnership.

Anyways, here are the results.

Gold: Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy
Silver:
Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch
Bronze:
Wenjing Sui and Cong Han

I will post a picture in the morning. Just to justify my mean comments on Aliona’s costume. Those who saw it would agree I hope.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Skate America: Pairs and Men’s SP

I watched the final flight for the pairs and men’s SP live.  Here are a few thoughts on the top 3 of each discipline:

Pairs

As much as I do like Savchenko and Szolkowy, that score was a little bit ridiculous. They’re currently in the lead. Aliona doubled her triple toe, their side-by-side spins were horrendously out of sync and she almost couldn’t hang on to the landing of their triple flip (which was HUGE). I would’ve ranked them 4th, below my baby Chinese pair but alas, figure skating doesn’t work that way. Their former World champion status does have some weight.

I didn’t watch the first flight, so I missed Moore-Tower and Moscovitch‘s SP (I’ll watch it tomorrow when the youtube videos surface) but they’re in second. Now that Tessa and Scott are not skating until perhaps Canadian nationals, I feel a bit of a resentment towards team Canada for the Chan debacle. I do admit that I did like Moore-Tower and Moscovitch’s LP at Skate Canada though. Having music from Les Miz helps too. (I’m currently playing “On my own” on repeat…)

Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett delivered a lovely performance. I didn’t think the music suited them but their throw triple lutz was gorgeous and their movements were nice and polished. Except for Denney’s awkward entry into her triple toe. (I’m seriously hating all the commentary that’s going on with the skatebuzz stream. I rather liked watching events with no commentary at all.)

My baby Chinese pair (Sui Wenjing and Han Cong (Sui should be pronounced “sway” rather than “su” by the way) did rather well and they’re only 1 point away from the podium. Their performance was definitely better than their Cup of China showing but having only a double axel as their jumping pass definitely hurts their score. Not being in China probably hurt their score too but in any case, they need to bring it in the LP if they want a medal. It would be very sad if they couldn’t make to the final because of the fact that they’ve been in competitions with more difficult competitors. Iliushechkina and Maisuradze will probably make it to the GPF but they were only 4th at junior Worlds last year while Sui and Han won the event.

Full results here.

Men

The entire night seemed to be filled with triple axel implosions. Tons of falls, step-outs and hands down on the triple axel. Adam Rippon stepped out of his axel but delivered a solid performance. His Rippon lutz was as impeccable as ever. Even if this guy ended up with some lame Morozombie program or some Lori Nichol I don’t give a f#%& for this skater choreorgraphy, I’d still look forward to seeing him skate just for the sake of seeing his Rippon lutz. It’s just too bad that Adam’s not rewarded in points for doing such a difficult manoeuvre. I demand points for this guy!

Daisuke Takahashi didn’t implode on his triple axel but he seemed to be tripping on his own feet once he came out of it. It was really weird. He also stepped out of his triple lutz but got tons of audience support on his step sequence. My inner fangirl was squealing at the sight as well.

Nobunari Oda produced a clean program and was in the zone. He channeled his warlord samurai ancestor well. He is the current leader by 1 point over Daisuke. I expect Daisuke to bring it in his long though. I’m also still waiting for Oda to produce that quad-toe, triple-toe his often does in practice. I’m looking very forward to seeing this battle of the Japanese men.

Full results here.

I’m looking forward to the ladies and ice dance event although I just wish that skatebuzz would stream everything with no commentary. That woman will not shut up for ANYTHING. Seriously. I watch the live stream so I don’t have to hear NBC or CBC commentary. It’s so distracting and I find myself annoyed at the commentators not staying silent when I’m watching a beautiful program. At least I have the consolation that she shut up back in 2008 when Tessa and Scott did their FD at Worlds. It just proves how amazing they were.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Skate America: Predictions

I have a small break before I have to work myself to a state of collapse. In any case, let’s just look forward to what seems to be an exciting weekend this week at Skate America! The stakes are getting high as we enter into the second half of the grand prix series since being on the podium might now be a guarantee for a spot at the finals. In any case, here are the predictions…

Men

This week we’ll see a clash of the Japanese men with Nobunari Oda vs. Daisuke Takahashi. Oda’s programs don’t quite have the flair this season and Daisuke, being awesome and World champion should win this handily unless he goes insane and falls a whole bunch of times during his programs. Somehow he doesn’t have the power of the Patrick Chan score so if he does fall *knock on wood* he won’t have P-stupid-Chiddy’s overinflated scores. In any case, I wish Daisuke well. Adam Rippon should also be in hunt for a medal. I’ll be rather excited to see his programs again.

Ladies

I looked at this list and got really, really scared. Carolina Kostner has to be consistent or else Rachael Flatt will end being the front runner for gold. Despite her consistency, Rachael is useful for bathroom or food breaks… ‘Nuff said. Kanako Murakami will be skating again and I wish she had the jumps and the political force behind her to beat the entire competition but alas, that has yet to come. Sigh. In any case, I’m still a bit scared of putting too much faith in Carolina because it’s heartbreaking when a favourite lets you down. I had given up on her for awhile and then she shocks me. I hope she can shock me again so I can get rid of my cynical opinions on her skating.

Pairs

My baby Chinese pair is competing again! It’s only been a week since their silver medal from the Cup of China but I want them on that podium again. Because they are good enough, throw quad salchow or not. The gold however, will probably belong to Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy. They had a rough season last year with the return of Shen and Zhao but I don’t blame them. Who wouldn’t be nervous? Shen and Zhao’s “Turandot” LP from 2003 Worlds still makes me emotional and I bawl my eyes out almost every time I watch it. In any case, Savchenko and Szolkowy want Olympic gold and they want to stick around to get it. As a result, they have to maintain their A-game and winning this competition in a field with relatively weak competitors is crucial to getting their confidence back up. These two are a fabulous team and they have to start believing in it. Their “Out of Africa” LP is actually one of my all-time favourites. I hope that their programs this year can live up to it…

Ice Dance

Meryl and Charlie will probably win even if… well… Meryl and Charlie will only lose if they get injured and have to withdraw is the way I see it. There will be an interesting match-up between the #2 and #3 Canadian ice dance teams of Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje and Vanessa Crone & Paul Poirier. Weaver/Poje are so much more fun to watch and these two have become pretty evenly matched. I wonder what dress Kaitlyn will wear for the SD this time… The Shibutanis will also make another run for the podium and I’m awfully curious as to what will happen. It will be a tight race for silver and gold. I hope the Shibushibus and Weaver/Poje triumph over the mediocre, face contorting, juniorish pair.

The Cafe’s Picks:

Men: Daisuke Takahashi
Ladies: Carolina Kostner (For the love of God and all that is holy!!! Unless Kanako can miraculously take the gold.)
Pairs: Savchenko & Szolkowy
Ice Dance: Davis & White

Cup of China – Pairs and Men

I’ll have to keep this brief because I’m supposed to be doing a whole bunch of other things right now.

Pairs

My darling baby Chinese pair won silver! They suffered from a couple of falls on their jumps but from the replay, I’m pretty sure they did a clean throw quad salchow – it was less than an inch away from being two footed but I think they did it – and a gorgeous throw triple flip. They had the highest TES score of the competition.  A good start for last year’s junior World champions. While Sui and Han got the highest TES scores, Pang and Tong got the highest PCS despite a fall from Pang on the opening double axel and she didn’t do the second 2A. They remain lyrical and lovely to watch but they’ll need clean programs if they want to reclaim the World title. This is just a guess but Savchenko and Szolkowy are hungry after their Olympic and World upset. I think that they’ll want that World title back and I’ve heard that they want to go to Sochi. Yankowskas and Coughlin delivered a lovely performance to Ave Maria although I felt that the bronze should’ve gone to the baby Russians (Iliushchekina and Maisuradze) who have endeared themselves to me by snatching the gold at Skate Canada which saved me from complete defeat from my predictions. Their LP showed some improvement from last week and I’m glad.

So, now that Pang and Tong have secured another victory, they are assured a spot in the Grand Prix Final in Beijing. The baby Russians will likely get a spot but we’ll have to wait until the other competitions to confirm that.

Podium:

Gold: Pang & Tong (GPF bound)
Silver:
Sui & Han
Bronze:
Yankowskas & Coughlin

Men

One of my friends likes to point out that P-overinflated score Chan’s scores were pretty much equal to that of Takahiko Kozuka’s a few years ago. And then the Olympics were in Canada and PChiddy started getting ridiculously high scores for shitty skates and Takahiko, being the #3 Japanese man, had to settle with lower scores. However, let it be known that unlike Chan and his Skate Canada gold, Takahiko deserved to win gold this week. The thing about Takahiko is that unlike Daisuke, he’s not flamboyant and unlike Oda, he had trouble with his quads so he would often screw up in his LP. However, this kid has lovely edges and this LP just flowed seamlessly from one element to another. It was gorgeous. Congratulations Takahiko! I will make sure that I won’t write you off again as I did this time.

As for the others… Brandon Mroz surprised everyone by winning the silver, beating Tomas Verner and kicking Brian Joubert off the podium. The kid has lovely jumps – he is so straight and fast in the air – but his other elements are so s l o w… He is also guilty of random superfluous arm movements despite his lovely lines.

As for Tomas and Brian… all I can say is that their LPs confused me. Tomas skated relatively well in his standards to a Michael Jackson medley but I think I was highly confused at the ticking that was supposed to be his music for about a quarter of his program. I also don’t quite know how a shiny blue shirt and glove is supposed to represent MJ. Can a MJ fan enlighten me? I hope that perhaps Tomas can rework his routine to put a little more pizazz to it. Getting rid of the random ticking might be nice too. The program looks as if he’s taken the sparkle quality and vocals from his MJ EX and used it as his LP.

Brian Joubert – I was surprised there was no hip thrusts or crotch grabs but I guess their absence was suitable for a program to Beethoven’s ninth. Joubert stated that he wasn’t used to this program and he certainly dis look like a fish out of water. I’m glad he’s trying to reinvent himself and skate to programs that would prove that he’s not all jumps and actually has some skating skills but somehow it was just weird watching him skate to the 9th symphony. Maybe that’s why he wasn’t on the podium.

Podium:

Gold: Takahiko Kozuka
Silver: Brandon Mroz
Bronze: Tomas Verner

~The Rinkside Cafe

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