A Light and Funny Interlude

There is no figure skating today and after my heavy post on the vote fixing conspiracy yesterday, I though I’d post something fun. I was searching for an interview with Igor Shpilband randomly when I found this. Apparently a whole bunch of figure skaters from Novi as well as Shpilband did the Harlem Shake. There are a number of well-known ice dancers in there apparently but with the poor quality video and most of the skaters dressed up in ridiculous costumes, I can’t identify any of them.

If you can identify a skater, let me know in the comments!


~The Rinkside Cafe

Team Canton Update: Shpilband goes to Novi and Chock & Bates goes with him

A new article on icenetwork.com has surfaced and it seems as if Igor has not defected back to the Russians… yet. In any case, he has moved to Novi Ice Arena in Novi, Michigan which isn’t supposed to be too far from Arctic Edge. With Marina too preoccupied with the top Canadians and Americans, I guess it doesn’t come as a surprise that a somewhat no-name team like Madison Chock & Evan Bates have left Arctic Edge with Igor who may be able to politick them somewhere. Nonetheless, this couple has long ways to go – they need to solidify their partnership and actually give it some chemistry. One of the biggest problems of Samuelson & Bates was that they felt like a brother and sister couple, which was detrimental to their programs despite Emily’s perfect toe points.

Either way, they’ll have to fight their way to the number 1 position – something that won’t happen until Meryl & Charlie retire – if they are to get any sort of backing from the USFSA. You saw how the judges sank the Shibuntanis so easily through their mistakes this season. Being the #2 Americans made those low scores even easier to dish out. In any case, I admit to having my reservations about this team. We’ll just have to see them in the new season

to see how they improve. Because, seriously icenetwork, finishing 5th in a GP event is not a compliment to your career since there are only 8 teams per competition which means they were in the bottom half of skaters.

Anyways, thoughts?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Team Canton Update: Virtue & Moir Staying with Marina – Confirmed

Although the article in my last post stated that all the top teams were staying with Marina Zueva, Skate Canada had yet to give its confirmation though as I said before, I think most of us would suspect that if any of the top 3 teams would defect to Igor, it would be Davis & White. In any case, according to this article, Skate Canada has now confirmed that the top Canadians are staying with Zueva. Unsurprising since I think they’re Marina’s favourites with her comparison of Tessa and Scott with the legendary Ekaterina Gordeeva & Sergei Grinkov and all.

Aunt Joyce has noted in this post that Igor was the technician who brought the Latin flair into a lot of Team Canton’s programs. I hope that Marina can find a suitable replacement because she cannot let any of the talent at Arctic Edge go to waste. On the flip side, I really don’t mind NOT seeing another Latin program from these teams. The Shibutanis need to figure out how to do sexy despite their siblinghood, Davis & White has yet to deliver a Latin routine that really excites me while I’m getting tired of the romantic or Latin themed programs from Tessa & Scott. Seriously, I want to see something different from them this season. Shock me and skate to something with heavy dramatiks (typo intentional) or skate to a story that isn’t romantic or sexy. Please, just stop being white bread. I have yet to be super excited for a V/M program since their Olympic season and they really need to bring fresh life into their skating. They said they were going to be innovative and take ice dance to whole new levels… so it’s time to be incomprehensibly creative like the French. Besides, this is the season to do it – branch out to show versatility and then stick to your big guns for the Olympics.


~Rinkside Cafe

Edit: Here is the official statement from Skate Canada.

Updates on Team Canton and Igor Shpilband

More news is coming in on Igor Shpilband’s dismissal. The most important piece of information so far is the three top teams (and the ones that Marina and Igor concentrated on) – Virtue & Moir, Davis & White and the Shibutanis are staying with Marina according to this article. It seems that Marina and Igor have been having disagreements over scheduling and Igor seemed to want to open a school separate from Marina despite being business partners. According to Charlie’s mum, the disagreement seems to be mainly between the two coaches and the students are unfortunately caught up in the drama.

The drama gets upped a notch as Mother Russia puts in her two cents and announces that they would welcome Igor with open arms and provide him with all the working conditions he needs to help out Russian skaters. We’ll need to wait and see if he does respond to this offer. On one hand, it sounds like a good one especially with Igor losing what seems to be his favourite team (Davis & White) and Mother Russia so desperate on getting a foothold back onto the ice dance podium. On the other hand, Igor did defect from the Soviet Union for a reason… Now I’m wondering if Ilinykh/Katsalapov would leave Morozov if Igor went back to Mother Russia. It’s too soon to say but I admit that this is a scary prospect for my two favourite teams.

In other news, John Kerr tweeted this:

At this point, this would be true… if the Kerrs were at the top of the ice dance world. Let’s face it, the Kerrs had been stagnating technically from 2008 all the way to when they retired. Their main European rivals, Pechalat & Bourzat, on the other hand had improved on their edges, presentation and unison year by year while the Kerrs remained sloppy and rough around the edges. Unlike the Kerrs, the top two teams at Team Canton are heads and shoulders above the rest technically. Pechalat & Bourzat may have done the rumba pattern better than Team Canton at Worlds this year but they still lack speed, polish, charisma and programs that people can actually relate to in order to topple the top 2 teams. At the moment, the French really are the only ones who are somewhat near the level of V/M and D/W… in a sense, they’re like Joannie Rochette in 2009 – not quite at Yuna and Mao’s level but better than the rest of the pack beneath the top 2. To say that the Olympic title is wide open is a statement that comes a little too soon. We have yet to see if there are any veritable challengers despite this coaching drama.


~Rinkside Cafe

Igor Shpilband Fired

I think everyone is reeling at the information that Igor Shpilband, coach of Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, Meryl Davis & Charlie White and the Shibutanis, has been fired from the Arctic Edge Figure Skating Club in Canton. According to this article, the skaters felt that “Igor wasn’t there anymore for them.” There are also hints of disagreements between Marina and Igor but the figure skating club seems to put out the idea that the main problem was that the top three teams were having issues with Igor. I also found it interesting that Igor seemed to try his hardest at contacting Davis & White rather than the other two teams. I had always had the impression that he was backing the top Americans while Marina was more inclined to back the Canadians. Still, what boggles my mind is how this separation could happen at such a pivotal moment. I mean, seriously, why??? What are the politiks behind it? Since the last Olympics, Marina and Igor have been the REAL rulers of the ice dance world, not V/M or D/W. No coaching team has been able to touch them since. I’m not sure what drama this will cause in the world of ice dance – what will happen to the teams?

Thoughts? Opinions?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Some Highlights from the 2010/2011 Season

I just started with this picture of Miki Ando because I thought this shot was simply gorgeous.

There were tons of ups and downs in the 2011/2012 season. Seeing that this is the first part of my wrap-up posts, I probably will not be writing about the men’s event at Worlds as I said I would. I apologize but it’s been so long after the fact and I still can’t bring myself to watch the event. (On another note, I saw Patrick Chan doing an interview on a Chinese TV channel the other day…) So, I say, let’s not dwell on the not so pleasant events of this season (there’s enough unpleasantness in the world to deal with anyways) and think of some of the highlights this season. 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

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