Skate Canada 2011: Predictions

Ok. I’ll make this quick because I seriously need to do some stuff and sleep before I can watch the ladies program. I hope Elizaveta skates in the latter group so I can have a little extra sleep. I’m awfully mad that I can’t watch the SD live because of work but I know that videos will surface. I don’t think I’ll live blog the events I’ll (hopefully) be watching live since my live blogs are totally inadequate when compared to others but I hope that my posts will be a bit more speedy. In any case, PREDICTIONS.

Men

I have no doubt in my mind that Patrick Chan will win. Even if he falls on his ass 3 times in a program, the judges will somehow award him enough PCS to give him a shiny gold medal. Just like last year. (Remember my outrage?) As for the rest of the podium, I sincerely hope that Daisuke Takahashi won’t give us a repeat performance of the Japan Open, though if he skates clean, he should be able to clinch the silver. I’m so cynical right now that I’m absolutely positive that even if Chan falls 3 times and Daisuke skates cleanly, Chan can still win the gold. If Chan does skate cleanly, be prepared for inflation of vomit-inducing proportions. As for the bronze, I’d say it would be a toss-off between surprise Skate America silver medalist, Kevin Van Der Perren, the newly Orserfied Javier Fernandez and last year’s hopeful phenom that’s starting to fade without a stable quad or 3A, Adam Rippon.

Predictions:

Gold: Patrick Chan
Silver: Daisuke Takahashi
Bronze: Javier Fernandez

Ladies


The ladies roster is exciting not because there are tons of high profile names. In fact, there really isn’t anyone who’s clearly an A-list skater. What’s exciting is the potential in this ladies field. FSOnline commented that a mini-U.S. nationals is happening because of the appearance of Mirai Nagasu, Rachael Flatt and Ashley Wagner. I’d never really place any bets on the latter two but Mirai is also a risky bet. A more mature Akiko Suzuki will emerge hopefully from a bit of a disappointing season last year. She’s a GP skater to look out for though I’m a bit worried about how she’ll do against the young phenom, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva who has a triple-triple and Papa Mishin’s backing in her arsenal. As for Cynthia Phaneuf, who PJ Kwong claims can “reach” her audience unlike Elizaveta (a statement I just disregarded because Liza has more charisma than Cynthia can ever hope for – not to mention Phaneuf’s performances makes drying paint look more entertaining), I wouldn’t be surprised if Skate Canada gave her tons of points of a good SP only to have that effort wasted when she skates a terrible LP.  I’m really not sure how this competition will go but I’ll give these predictions a shot.

Predictions:

Gold: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
Silver: Akiko Suzuki
Bronze: Mirai Nagasu

Pairs

 

The pairs competition will be exciting for once. The gold will definitely go to Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov even though Nikolai Morozov’s horrid choreography is ruining this pair. If my baby Chinese pairs (Wenjing Sui and Cong Han) team can skate clean and get over their hiccups in their junior GP assignments, they have the technical elements and potential to win silver. I don’t know how much influence Mother Russia will have in this competition but we should probably keep an eye out for Lubov Iliushchekina and Nodari Maisuradze. These two have a mature skating style, though I feel that Nodari is holding Lubov back at times for being a less than reliable partner and for not giving 110% in his performance. Narumi Takahashi and Melvin Tran will be fun to watch but their competitors are too good, which may dash their GPF hopes at least at Skate Canada.

Predictions:

Gold: Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Silver: Wenjing Sui & Cong Han
Bronze: Lubov Iliushchekina & Nodari Maisuradze

Ice Dance

The ice dance competition marks the return of Tessa and Scott to the Grand Prix circuit after skipping it last year for Tessa’s surgery. Barring major disaster or injury, they should be given the gold quite handily. With hometown advantage and the absence of Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat due to illness, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje should have a good start to their season as well with a silver. The bronze is a bit of a toss-off between Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko (more Russian names I can’t pronounce) and the newly formed team of Madison Chock and Evan Bates. The battle for bronze is a battle between Mother Russian and Queen Marina’s influence.

Predictions:

Gold: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir ❤
Silver: Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje
Bronze: Ekaterina Riazanova & Ilia Tkachenko

Ok. Chores and sleep. So much to do, so little time? Any opinions on the outcomes at Skate Canada?

~The Rinkside Cafe

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Rachael Flatt is on her way of being dumped by the USFSA?

I – and I’m not the only one – have frequently complained about Rachael Flatt, the most uncharismatic and boring ladies skater the U.S. has to offer at the moment. Rachael has consistency – which has led her to victory at U.S. Nationals – but her personality and her skating are about as exciting as watching paint dry. This season, however, we watched Rachael bomb starting with the GPF all the way to Worlds where she finished in 12th. Now, the USFSA (and Frank Carroll) are pissed that they don’t have a third spot for next year’s Worlds and now they’re pointing fingers at Rachael.

According to this article, Flatt was reprimanded and fined for not telling the USFSA about her injury, which consequently resulted in Mirai Nagasu’s absence from Moscow, which she could have been an alternate. Frank Carroll thought that Mirai could have given the U.S. that third place and it seems as if he’s sending a strong message that Mirai’s headcase days are over and that she’s reformed. With the news of Rachael’s censure, it feels as if a new tide of change will be sweeping the U.S. ladies field:

  • We may finally see the end of Rachael Flatt’s successes. She’s left Tom Z but as Mao has proven, it will take a lot more to correct her jumping technique and her plain boring personality (and her personality isn’t going to help her PCS one bit…). She should have followed everyone’s advice and stop skating because at this point, she may see a downward trend in the results of her skating career.
  • If Frank Carroll’s statements about Mirai are true, she may be catapulted above Alissa for the next season. If Mirai is sent to one of those minor “practice” competitions like Nebelhorn, it may be a good indication that Mirai is being serious about her skating with Frank’s full political support behind her. A combination not to be taken lightly.
  • If Rachael is truly dumped, retribution will occur through a bronze medal at Nationals for flat skates from Flatt. That will be sufficient to keep her out of the World team. I don’t know if  any U.S. lady other that Nagasu, Czisny or Flatt can challenge for the podium at the moment but keeping Flatt off the podium would probably spell the end of a successful career.
  •  Frank Carroll is after Rachael Flatt’s blood. Go Frank, go.

Any opinions out there? Debates are fun!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Look Alikes: Rachael Flatt

I’ve been watching a lot of Rick Mercer on youtube (it’s my new procrastination tool) and I just watched a clip where he goes to a forest with Green Party leader, Elizabeth May to go cut down a tree. (For those of you who don’t know about Canadian politics, the Green Party started out as a party all about environmentalism. And even though they have 7% of the vote, they have yet to get a seat in Parliament. Oh yes, and she was apparently born in the U.S. but we don’t see Stephen Harper accusing her of “just visiting”…) In any case, while I was watching, I thought that May looked a bit like Rachael Flatt.

Here’s May:

And here’s Flatt:

It’s a bit hard to tell I guess with the age difference but maybe it’s just the hair, eyes and face shape. What do you think?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Dear Rachael Flatt: Chemical Engineering is a Wonderful Subject

Please take note of that, Rachael Flatt. Ontd_skating has recently posted an article on how Flatt would like to change coaches from Tom Z. Personally, I don’t know if that’ll help in any way, shape or form.

We all know that Flatt is a consistent skater and her medals and achievements are proof of that. Technique-wise, she’s proven to be pretty decent. She has a triple-triple and a double axel-triple toe and that’s quite an accomplishment for a senior skater, considering some of the top ladies have a triple-lutz, double toe or loop as their best combination. However, the problem with Flatt is that she lacks something that you can’t learn: star quality and the ability to exude your wonderful personality on the ice. Sure, the girl is consistent but Flatt is horrendously boring to watch. Yes, Mrs. Flatt, we know that she’s getting straight A’s and she’s going to Stanford but where’s the drama and passion in her programs?

I mean, let’s take a look at some other skaters.

Katarina Witt

The commentators said that Debi Thomas noted that “She’s [Katarina] tough.” Well, she’s more than that, she’s a fierce bitch and she knows it. She had the drive, passion and desire to win and she expressed that every time she skated. Katarina was a skater with grace, beauty, a tough personality and an ability to convey drama and her passion on the ice. Just watch her skate last with the drive to beat the crap out of Debi Thomas. Katarina skates with a conviction that led Americans to write her love letters with promises to take her away from the evil Commies of East Germany.

Michelle Kwan

I still get teary whenever I watch her Spartacus program. As Dick Button liked to say, Michelle had “heart” and that smile she had on her face when she did her signature change of edge spiral showed it all. Emotion, beauty and passion. The Kween is the Queen because of her ability to show all of that in 2 or 4 minutes and that’s what made her mesmerizing.

Yuna Kim

The most recent Olympic gold medalist may not have the best extension (although she’s improved quite a bit since she’s trained with Oppegard) but she’s fierce on the ice. She’s shown that she’s a capable flirt, Bond girl and storyteller with huge jumps. When you watch Yuna, you get sucked into her drama (and Koreans make awesome dramas… LOL).

Anyways, back to Rachael. It’s admirable that the girl has brains but unfortunately, she has no charisma and leaving Tom Z isn’t going to help you with that. I mean, there’s an epic gunshot in this piece of music but it might as well be the sound of someone turning a page at the library. What’s the story? Who are you supposed to be? What are you trying to convey?

In any case, Flatt is supposed to start her undergrad at Stanford next year and she hopes to major in chemical engineering. An admirable feat and a subject that will no doubt be difficult. I’ve watched science students go insane and break down from all the stuff they’ve had to memorize and study. If you want to keep that 4.0 GPA, you’re going to have to work for it, Rachael. And I don’t mean work for it like you do in high school. High school work is for sissies compared to the amount of work you get at university. You might have skating practice at 5AM but there might be days where you’ll be awake until 5AM writing a paper or doing readings. I understand that Ivy League school inflate marks but don’t count on an easy pass, especially in the sciences. It’s not high school anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had tons of work even as a part-time student. So seriously, do some good for the world and just concentrate on your studies. If you manage to be a good researcher, people will find your work a lot more interesting than your figure skating.

~The Rinkside Cafe

A Few Thoughts on Four Continents: Men and Ladies

Ok, this is way overdue and someone reminded me that Worlds is 10 days away, so I really should finish this post so I can get on with Worlds predictions in a day or two. So… Four Continents, some thoughts:

Men

Daisuke Takahashi has proven that he’s still pretty important in the international scene despite his defeat at Nationals. Some attribute his poor performance at the GPF and Nationals to injury caused by his collision with Kozuka but as a veteran figure skater, I don’t know if one should cut Daisuke some slack seeing that he should be able to skate through the pain if he were well trained.  *Points to Yuko Kavaguti at the GPF where she dislocated her shoulder, Xue Shen (2003 Worlds), Evan Lysacek (skated 2009 Worlds with an injury on his toe)* In any case, Daisuke has now regained his footing and he should be a veritable threat to P-huge ego-Chan for World gold. Though you never know, Chan could fall on his triple axel but still get rewarded points because he falls so prettily.

Yuzuru Hanyu was definitely a surprise winner for silver. With Daisuke’s imminent retirement, Oda’s role as a perennial bridesmaid for a World medal and Kozuka’s lack of popularity with the international judges, I’d say that this kid is beginning his senior career with a bang and with some polish, he may be a veritable threat to the Sochi podium. He’s like a little Daisuke and I look forward to watching his future performances.

Jeremy Abbott rallied his efforts and managed a bronze, thus preventing a Japanese podium sweep. Jeremy hopes to begin his season a lot better because he started his season with old boots and apparently he’s felt off for the entire season as a result. His loss at Nationals hit him hard but his exclusion from the World team is simply a foolish decision. I don’t see either of the no-name American men going to Worlds capable of doing what Jeremy did in this competition, which is to beat at least one Japanese man. Who knows, maybe the USFSA will come to their senses and send him to compete at the World Team Trophy.

One confuzzling result was Takahiko Kozuka‘s 4th place finish. Kozuka has been strong all season but I don’t think we should completely disregard him as a threat to the World podium. He was 2nd in the LP and would’ve won a medal if he didn’t screw up his SP.

Ladies

Asian sweep! It’s almost a Japanese sweep, except Mirai is Japanese-American.

Miki Ando won the competition over her fellow teammate, Mao Asada. It seems that she might be Yuna Kim’s main challenger at Worlds but overall, I think that Mao will benefit in the long run from reworking her technique. She produced a clean triple axel in her SP and she’s been steadily improving throughout the season. Personally, I feel that’s more important than defending her title. If she gets through this season with a positive mindset, I think we’ll see a more confident and better Mao next season.

One surprising development was that Alissa Czisny, winner of the GPF, came out at the bottom of all three American ladies at 4CC, overall and in both portions of the competition. Alissa may have peaked too early and I fear that she won’t be much of a contender at Worlds. Mirai Nagasu on the other hand, rallied her strength to kick Rachael Flatt’s flabby ass off the podium. Amen. Her exclusion from the World team may have been a good motivator and I hope to see a better Mirai in the future.

Also, if anyone cared, Akiko Suzuki is basically officially dumped in the international scene as well despite her successes last year. *sadface*

Anyways, I need to eat and run. I will ramble about ice dance and pairs in my next post.

What did you think about the results of Four Continents? I’d love to hear your opinion!

~The Rinkside Cafe

How fitting…

… two of my least favourite figure skaters placed together in a couple-y situation. This was apparently Rachael Flatt’s debutante ball and one of her escorts was Patrick Chan.

I’m almost tempted to bring up the topic of debutante balls to my feminist friend or my Marxist prof just to hear them lambaste the tradition, which in my mind would extend to these two as they perpetuate it. Anyways, academic attacks on seemingly archaic traditions aside, the lovely people at ontd_skating have more pictures of the event in this post here.

Enjoy~!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Grand Prix Final: Ladies LP Live Blog

I need a dose of happy right now. Let’s get this show on the road. On a more random note, I want one of those panda ball plushies.

Rachael Flatt

Ok… let’s hope I don’t fall asleep. Nice 2A-3T combination. She looks a bit anxious going into this next jump. Fall. Spin faster, girl. Smooth 3F, although is it just me or am I seeing traces of Caroline Zhang toe technique in her? She just doens’t kick as high. As much as Rachael can try to act, she doesn’t exude personality on the ice. Doubled a triple lutz. Doubled? 3F (the screen flicked for a second). Singled loop. She should’ve withdrawn and let her injury heal. This is not a good skate for her. 3S-2T-2T – all really low, had to save the landing on that 3S. Sigh. That was a bit of a waste of time.

Miki Ando

She looked pretty good in warm-up. I was afraid her injury had put her down for the count. High and fast 3Lz-2T. Solid jump afterwards. (I missed it, sorry.) I actually really like that sideways sit spin she’s doing this season. And now, here is a lot of skating in one spot or pausing. 2A and what I think is a 3T but I didn’t see because the stupid screen flicked for a second. It keeps doing that. Nice 3F. Almost two-footed the next jump. Solid 3T. Nice 2A-2Lo-2Lo. The crowd loves her. Miki’s spins have improved a great deal over the years but her choreography still leaves a lot to be desired. Great skate for Miki. Too bad she’s buried too much in the standings. Her fate now belongs to the other skaters.

Akiko Suzuki

Her dress is my favourite ladies costume of the season. It looks better in movement than when she’s still though. She looks confident and happy going in. Lovely opening 3Lz. Beautiful 2A-3T. She always has a great energy going into her programs. Solid 3Lo. Her spins have really improved in terms of speed. Great 3F-2T. Doubled a 3F. Refocused for a 3Lo-2A. Great 3S. She has a lot more speed and power this year but she’s been having stamina issues in her LP this season. It looks like she’s on the right track now. Love how she puts so much energy and emotion in this step sequence. Wonderful performance by Akiko. That is what I wanted to see in the men’s competition. Bravo!!! This girl does not want her spot taken by Kana-chan, that’s for sure.

Kanako Murakami

Go Kana-chan! I love watching her before she does her program. She’s always smiling and happy, which makes me smile. =D First triple-triple of the night – 3T-3T. 3Lz clean. Popped 3F. Great recovery, 3F-2T. Lovely Kerrigan spiral. She really got into her knees in that 3Lo. Very Oda-esque. Beautiful 3S-2Lo-2Lo. This is the first time I’ve seen her skate her LP with as much performance quality and attack as her SP. Good skate by Kana-chan. And she’s beaten Akiko! Wow! Great start for her in the senior ranks. She is now guaranteed a medal.

Carolina Kostner

3T to open. Nice 2A. Another 2A. She’s really centered in her first combination spin. Beautiful 3S. Popped 3Lo but tacked on a 3Lo. Good recovery with a 3Lo-2T. Beautiful arabesque spiral. I’m really missing these spiral sequences in the ladies competition. 3S-2T-2T. Lost a bit of speed in the final combination spin. A very light and airy program. I love the choreography. Great skate by Carolina. I miss her huge 3F-2T combination though. I wonder hwo the judges will award her scores seeing that she had no flip or lutz. She’s beaten Kanako by 0.01. Wow.

Alissa Czisny

3Lz-2T opening. Clean 3F-2T. Look Morozov, people do pause in their programs, but not for more than 2 seconds! Great rotation speed in that flip (?). Alissa has wonderful spin positions and lines. Solid 3Lo. Great extension on the spirals. Best of the night. Another toe jump. Step out of a 2A. Another solid jump. Beautiful Y-spin and fast too! Omg… a pretty layback into a biellmann. Wonderful skate by Alissa Czisny. I also had doubts about the costume but it’s lovely when it’s moving. She know she’s won this competition. Good job!

Podium

Gold: Alissa Czisny
Silver: Carolina Kostner
Bronze: Kanako Murakami (!)
4th: Akiko Suzuki
5th: Miki Ando
6th: Rachael Flatt

Detailed results here.

I was hoping for a Japanese sweep of the podium but the skating for this discipline was sublime. Great performances for most of the skaters! Alissa has proven herself a competent and consistent skater and Kanako has really made a mark on her first year as a senior! A bronze medal over her 2 veteran teammates! Congrats! Now this is what I want from a skating competition!

Ok, I’ve had 1 hour of sleep in the last 48 hours. It’s about time I get some sleep.

‘Nighty night!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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