Japanese Olympic Team Announced!

FSAKTE-JPN-OLY-2014

The Japanese Figure Skating Championships are one of the few more exciting National Championships out there because the entire competition isn’t just a one pony race. In the singles events, the field is tough and the sad thing is – if some of the lower ranked competitors were from some other country, they’d be going to Sochi right now. In any case, here is the video announcing the Japanese team for Sochi 2014.

In case you can’t quite pick out the names in the flurry of Japanese, they are: More

Sad News: No More Takahashi & Tran

narumi takahashi mervin tran 2012 Worlds medal

According to this article, Narumi Takahashi & Mervin Tran have split due to citizenship issues on Mervin’s part and in some part, Narumi’s injury this season. Narumi’s injury may have become a huge roadblock to an Olympic medal if Mervin did get Japanese citizenship but either way, I’m really sad to see these two go.

Let us remember their brightest moment in their career:

You will be missed. I’m so sad that such potential is now over. Please continue skating somehow.

~The Rinkside Cafe

Picks from 2011-2012

Icenetwork.com posted an article with picks by some of their correspondents. I decided to do the same ’cause it seemed fun. Agree or disagree? Link to your blog in the comments or just comment!

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Worlds 2012: Pairs LP

I never seem to be able to catch a break these days. Just when things were calming down, I find myself with a gazillion things to do again. So much for a vacation. In any case, I’ll try to finish up the Worlds posts. All I have left to write about is the ladies’ competition. But before that, let’s take a look at the results of the pairs LP.

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Worlds 2012 – Pairs SP

For me, both events were last night. I somehow missed most of pairs but my internet couldn’t handle the livestream so I missed watching the last 4 pairs to skate even though I was just in time to see half a death spiral from Sui and Han before my internet bailed on me. As for dance, the event went so late at night (or really early morning, really) that I couldn’t watch it in case I showed up to work half asleep. Luckily, I do have a day off tomorrow so hopefully, I can watch the ladies SP and dance FD live.

So… let’s start with the pairs post.

First of all, let me say this about the current pairs results: W.T.F. Takahashi & Tran are in 3rd while Volosozhar & Trankov are in 8th? A possible 3 spots for pairs for Japan next year even though they don’t have enough pairs teams to fill those spaces up? Mother Russia’s best hope for a medal right now is Bazarova & Larionov? Whaaa???

Let’s go through the top 5 performances as well as a few performances from important contenders.

In the lead is Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy with 68.63.

It wasn’t their best skate. Aliona two-footed the landing on the throw 3A (but at least they actually landed it this time) and Robin stepped out of the SBS 3T and their triple twist was a hair lower than I would expect from them but overall, it was better than the Russian splatfest that we’ll be looking at later. Only a point separates them from Pang & Tong, who are in second though S&S tend to be better long program skaters while the Chinese pairs have been known to come out short in the LP. Furthermore, S&S tend to get really shit choreography for their SP. I can’t decide whether or I like the pose-y step sequence here where they have good interesting movements with awkward bent leg poses that are just plain fugly. I’m not sure whether the good defeats the bad in this section of the program. Overall, this program is quite forgettable though it is an improvement over their kitschy country folk SP from last season. Ugh. I can’t remember a SP from them that I’ve ever liked from them. Nonetheless, I’m very excited to see their Pina program again.

Currently in second: Qing Pang & Jian Tong with 67.10

These two are trying to win another World championship despite not participating in the Grand Prix series this season. This is their first international competition and these two are off to a good start. Rank-wise. In terms of this short program, all I have to say is, “Bloody hell, that was boring.” According to this article, their choreographer is Lori Nichol, who seems to need a vacation or something. Anything to get her creative juices flowing again because I haven’t been impressed with anything she’s done for a while. While Pang & Tong have lovely flow and connection with each other, the choreography doesn’t make use of the music and in the end, the whole this is just pretty but with no substance. It’s like looking at a pretty dress in a store and you try it on, only to find out that it washes you out. In this case, the choreography for this program would wash even Gordeeva & Grinkov out so I doubt there’s anything Pang & Tong could do with it to make it any better.

The team in 3rd right now is a complete and total – but delightful – surprise. Narumi Takahashi & Mervin Tran – 65.37.

I’m very happy for these two seeing that they have the best SP hands down this season. For once, a pairs program is actually palatable. Happy sigh. What I’m most impressed with is that these two are really starting to look like a senior team while their itsy bitsy Chinese rivals are still struggling to look polished despite their big tricks. This program has the loveliest transitions and they looked smooth as butter in this performance. It’s a pity that Narumi two-footed the throw triple salchow but I suppose this minor mistake is preferable to a splatfest. Now, the two questions are: what would Japan do if they had 3 spots for pairs next season and is Mervin going to give up Canadian citizenship?

In fourth – Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov with 65.02

If you had told me yesterday that these two were going to be the top Russians after the short program, I would’ve laughed in your face and told you to lay off the vodka. Weirdly enough, this is the reality right now. They are within striking distance of Narumi and Mervin in a fight for bronze though I know that Mother Russia bullshit judging will somehow come through and Volosozhar & Trankov will somehow muster at the VERY LEAST a top 5 finish.

In any case, onto the program. This program seriously has to be the least dramatic interpretation of Tosca ever. Sure, I didn’t get a chance to see it live this season at the Canadian Opera Company but we all know that Tosca is an angsty, dramatic opera. The music didn’t quite help since it sounded like an elevator-fied version of Tosca and both skaters did very little to express anything really. At least there was that amazing triple twist. And luckily Vera has good lines despite being beanpole thin. I find that a lot of girls who are built similarly (ie, Qing Pang and Carolina Kostner) have terrible lines, especially with their feet since it almost seems as if their ankles and feet operate as one unit. It looks stiff and the lines break off despite the fact that they usually have long limbs and it’s horrendously ugly when you get into the jump landing position. In any case, I guess these positives made up for Yuri’s stepout of his 3T and the really random collapse in the end (which did not incur any deductions since I suppose the program had already ended).

Fifth place belongs to Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford with a score of 63.69, who have been having a pretty good season.

I was actually quite pleased with this performance and despite the wipeout by Eric on the SBS 3Ts, I felt that the program was pretty good overall because of the commitment that both had put into the performance. They skated the program with attack (and you can’t properly pull off a flamenco routine without attack) but good flow despite the staccato nature of the music. Despite the fall, I would have put them above Bazarova & Larionov.

Special mentions:

Former junior World champions, Wenjing Sui & Cong Han are in 6th place currently, a strange place to be seeing that they’ve had a record of consistently beating Takahashi & Tran. Despite their mistakes (a fall from Sui on their SBS 3T) and the ongoing need for polish and skating skills, I was very happy with one aspect of their performance: Sui seems to have turned up the maturity level and was a natural flirt in the program. I hope she brings that to their flamenco LP.

It never helped that Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov were skating to a cheap version of an Evanescence song (which doesn’t help at all) and seriously, you’re reigning World silver medalists? Since when did you f&%$ up a death spiral of all things? That kind of f%$& up is reserved for amateurs with no core strength. It also doesn’t help that this program was rather painful to watch. I could feel my blood curdling during the step sequence as if I was listening to someone rubbing two pieces of styrofoam together. Ugh. 60.48 – 8th place.

The Russian splatfest continues! I had pegged these two for bronze since they were on the comeback but Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov have found themselves in… 11th place with 59.59. They started out quite well and despite Yuko’s confusing costume, I thought that this program suited them pretty well. It’s edgy and Yuko’s anything but soft and cuddly really so Tamara Moskovina was quite clever in using their lack of classical lines to their advantage. Everything was going well until the lift when somehow, Smirnov collapsed when he was about to set Yuko down which resulted in both of them falling and a -2 penalty. Is it bad that I derive a little bit of entertainment from the aura Yuko was exuding at the end of the program? She didn’t even want to hold onto Sasha’s hand and Tamara Moskovina didn’t look too happy either. I think Sasha better brace himself. Let’s hope their “Claire de Lune” LP will be better since I really do love the choreography.

Overall, this has been a surprising competition. Volosozhar & Trankov can still muster a medal if 1) they skate clean in the long and 2) if teams ranked second to seventh screw up (which is likely because very few of these teams are very adept at skating clean LPs and/or 3) Mother Russia pulls some bullshit judging. If the third point doesn’t come through, I can’t see them taking anything more than a bronze though I admit I do like the podium as it stands now. So, it’s all down to the LP. Maybe it’ll be just as random as the SP.

For all the scores and detailed breakdown for the pairs SP, click here.

What did you think of the pair’s SP?

~The Rinkside Cafe

The dance blog will be coming soon. I’ll try to finish it before the last two groups come out for the FD tonight.

Predictions: Four Continents 2012

Wahhhhhhh!!! It’s that time of year again! Euros has just passed and the rest of the figure skating world is testing the waters before the World Championships later on this season. Four Continents is here! It’s time for PChiddy to win another medal! Onwards to predictions!

Men

By now, I’m just expecting Patrick Chan to get ludicrous scores for everything he does. His recent 300+ score at Canadian Nationals indicates that Skate Canada is behind him full force. I have yet to watch those performances in fear of projectile vomiting onto my lovely laptop. Then again, I might be just a tad disappointed if Chan doesn’t get a crazy score just because the spectacle is somewhat amusing. There’s always a sense of excitement when you wonder many points can the judges award to a program that Chan bombed whether or not he’ll be in 1st place.

Daisuke Takahashi will probably take silver even if he skated two perfect mesmerizing programs. At this point, I’ll look at the positive and just hope that Daisuke will skate his best because those programs deserve perfection and I know he can achieve it. So in short, screw Chan and just skate your heart out, Daisuke.

Bronze, however, presents a bit of a conundrum for me in terms of predictions. There’s no clear cut competitor who’s evidently ahead of the rest but behind Chan and Daisuke. It seems that a lot of the major figure skating unions are opting to put some fresh faces out there to give the youngin’s a bit of experience in a competition that doesn’t have as many high stakes. Most the competitors are pretty much in the C/D/F-lists anyways. It’s a pity that Jeremy Abbott withdrew from injury but I guess my best guess for bronze would either be Adam Rippon, the young talent that the USFSA has been promoting for the last few years and Nan Song, a surprising young skater from China and first alternate at this year’s GPF. Adam has been known to be inconsistent but he also has the USFSA behind him. At the moment, it’s a bit of a tossup.

Predictions:

Gold: Patrick Chan (Prove me wrong, Daisuke. Or at least try to.)
Silver: Daisuke Takahashi
Bronze: Nan Song

Ladies

I expect some favouritism to be shown for Ashley Wagner as she will have some home ice advantage at Colorado Springs but in the end, I don’t think she can trump the survivor and legend that is Mao Asada. Mao has shown herself to be the most resilient and courageous of competitors. She doesn’t have the “instant win” fairytale story that Yuna Kim had but in that sense, I think I find her more endearing that way. Life will always be full of ups and downs and sometimes you don’t win but Mao shows us that with hard work, courage and the determination to never give up, you can achieve great things. Hopefully, her newfound consistency will be present at 4CC and I can’t wait for another dazzling performance of her Liebestraume LP.

As for the bronze, Cynthia Phaneuf could surprise us (or perhaps not bore us) with some consistency now that she’s being coached by Brian Orser. To tell you the truth though, I don’t know think even Brian Orser can give people ***STAR POWER*** I mean, he couldn’t do that with Christina Gao and that girl had potential. Phaneuf on the other hand… let’s just say that the Olympics aren’t in Vancouver anymore and she has a snowball’s chance in hell to win a medal at Worlds. She might be able to pull through with a medal here but I sincerely hope that Kanako Murakami has practiced the shit out of her LP so she can snatch the bronze.

Predictions

Gold: Mao Asada
Silver: Ashley Wagner
Bronze: Kanako Murakami (please, please, please Kana-chan, don’t let me down)

Pairs

Gosh, this pairs competition is going to be lame. The itty bitty Chinese pair (Wenjing Sui & Cong Han) are going to be there as will Narumi Takahashi & Mervin Tran. The latter and Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford are the only teams to have made it to the GPF. There’s also the possibility that the crowd will favour Caydee Denney & John Coughlin.

I have no clue how this competition is going to turn out (and this doesn’t even make the competition that exciting which shows how lame this competition is) so I’m just going to make a wild guess.

Predictions

Gold: Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford
Silver: Narumi Takahashi & Mervin Tran
Bronze: Caydee Denney & John Coughlin (prove me wrong, itty bitty Chinese pair!)

Ice Dance

Oh my… a rematch between Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir and Meryl Davis & Charlie White. I think the big question on everyone’s minds is – if Scott didn’t fall in the SD, would they have won the GPF? The fall gave them a 1 point deduction but it definitely affected the presentation of the program, the score on skating skills, choreography, etc, which would account for the huge margin of win. I’ve got a feeling that they might let Tessa and Scott win 4CC to save some of their dignity but ultimately give the World medal to Meryl and Charlie. Who knows, Tessa and Scott are always free to prove me wrong and I hope they do so. In any case, the highlight for me would definitely be Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje’s “Je Suis Malade” FD, though this team will have to give it their all if they want to beat the Shibutanis who are definitely being bogged down by this year’s sexy SD but bolstered by home ice advantage. This will be one tough call, I must say…

Predictions:

Gold: Meryl Davis & Charlie White (taking home ice advantage and the fact that the Americans probably won’t win a gold in any other discipline)
Silver: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
Bronze: Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje

These were difficult predictions to make. What are you predictions?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Favourite Programs of the Season So Far – 2011/2012 Edition

Finally! Some time! I actually started this post a while ago but it got bulldozed with the rest of the things I wanted to do in my free time in the last couple of weeks. I’m finally free for a glorious week or two but I’ll really try to keep up. I have a few posts in mind to write and I will deliver. In any case, the Grand Prix series has just ended and the season’s programs have been revealed. So far, these are my favourites:

(Yuzuru beckons you in with his adorable anime-character face…) More

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