Just for Fun: Taipei Survival Guide + Men’s Competition Predictions

So here is part II of my Taipei posts just to get people excited about Four Continents. So Taipei. It’s a bustling city so what do you need to survive?

1. An Easycard. You put money on this card and you can use it to pay your bus and subway fares as well as purchase stuff from certain major chain stores. The Taiwan subway system is also one of the best and most efficient in the world. I wish all subway systems were like theirs. For more information on the various modes of transport available in Taipei, see this blog post.

2. A 7/11. Make sure you know where the closest one to where you’re living is. Then again, it’s not that hard to find one. There’s about 2 on every block in Taipei. 7/11s in Asia are not your slushie/junk food stores. They sell almost everything there. Full meals, alcohol, ramen+hot water for you to eat in-store, underwear, shampoo, sanitary napkins, magazines, CDs, anime figurines, crazy drinks, you name it. You can live in one of these stores.

3. Mosquito repellent – Taiwan has a warm and rainy climate and if you’re going anywhere with trees and grass and whatnot (like lovely national parks or mountains), BRING MOSQUITO REPELLENT. Or you will regret it. Trust me.

4. Tickets to the Taipei International Flora Expo – it’s supposed to be super spectacular! (Yes, I know you don’t need these to survive but I suppose if you want to be a good tourist…) More information on their website. (OMG, it’s a whale!)

5. A hat or a UV-ray blocking umbrella and a bottle of water. It’s super sunny there sometimes! Make sure to have sunscreen, a hat and to stay hydrated. The hat and umbrella can double over for protection against the rain.

Anyways, onto figure skating…

With Patrick Chan possibly not competing at Four Continents (CBC has confirmed it here), the Japanese men: Oda Nobunari, Daisuke Takahashi and Takahiko Kozuka will be strong contenders for the podium. We may even see a Japanese medals sweep, which would delight me very much. A possible spoiler for this sweet possibility comes in the form of Jeremy Abbott, and I personally wouldn’t mind if that happened. Jeremy’s LP this year is beautiful but he’s been struggling this season with consistency, therefore losing his National title to basically a nobody with very little international experience in the top echelons of figure skating. If Jeremy can get his act together, he could very well be in contention for a medal at 4CC. The colour of his medal, however, may not be dependent on him, but on the performances of his Japanese rivals. Shawn Sawyer seemed to be doing well at Canadian Nationals but I don’t know if he can muster a medal. I hope he does well nonetheless. His programs this year are a joy to watch.

As for the Japanese men… Takahiko Kozuka emerged as the surprise winner at Japanese Nationals last month. However, Takahiko’s PCS are not quite high enough at the international level in order to make him competitive against the two favourites at Worlds at the moment, P-overinflated score-Chan and his fellow teammate, Daisuke Takahashi. Although his LP is absolutely gorgeous this season, we’ll have to see how the international judges perceive him before we can decide on whether or not he has a spot on the podium at Worlds this year.

As for Daisuke, he needs to get his shit together or he’ll lose his position as one of the favourites to win Worlds in his home country. If Daisuke’s consistency is still not there, he may lose his home ice advantage at Worlds this year (which would unfortunately give the World title to a young Canadian man who doesn’t have the right attitude to be World Champion – in my opinion at least, not that it matters). Many fans attribute his sub-par performance at the GPF and Nationals to injury from colliding with Kozuka so we’ll just have to see what happens.

Nobunari Oda has become a perennial bridesmaid for World medals. Almost there but not quite. He has the talent and the jumps but he doesn’t quite connect with the audience unless he has a Charlie Chaplin routine. Oda may look young but there may not be many years left in his career. Personally, I think he should up the corniness factor and create a program for next season dedicated to/celebrating his marriage and the birth of his son or something. Play up that sympathy card and the media, judges and audience will eat it up with relish.

EDIT: Thank you to Y who pointed out that Oda is not going to 4CC. In that case, I’ll be putting Jeremy Abbott in for bronze. As for my “misqueded” (whatever that means) snark on Chan, I still stand by it.

Podium prediction for the men’s competition at 4CC:

Gold: Daisuke Takahashi (*prays hard for this*)
Silver: Takahiko Kozuka
Bronze: Nobunari Oda Jeremy Abbott

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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Further Proof that PCS = Patrick Chan Score

I knew that Patrick Chan was going to take a nauseating lead at Canadian Nationals but being the optimist that I am, I thought that his triple axel implosions would limit his ridiculous scores. I am ridiculously wrong, unfortunately. Patrick Chan can double a triple axel and still get a score only 3 points away from the world record short program score. Disgusting.

PJ Kwong states in her commentary: “He sets the bar for footwork for this generation of men’s skaters.” I’ve never been afraid of calling her delusional before and I stand by my word that this opinion is part of her nationalistic delusion. Patrick Chan’s footwork is good but it’s not that good. His footwork especially in this program seems to have no connection to the music and neither does he. It sickens me that this short program (88.78) score would beat Daisuke Takahashi’s masterpiece of a performance and program at 2008 Four Continents (88.57) by a hair. I know that scores at national competitions are always inflated but with Chan, you never know how much his scores will be inflated. In any case, whatever PCS Chan may be getting, I will stand by my opinion in the face of nationalistic Canadian figure skating fans and tell them: “THIS is good interpretation, choreography and footwork.” Chan just doesn’t compare with this performance, quad or no quad:

The expression! The musicality! His relation to the audience! Sheer perfection.

Not everyone can perform like Daisuke but Shawn Sawyer was pretty good in that respect at Canadian Nationals. This was a solid performance and his triple axel was better than Chan’s attempt at one.

Without Tessa and Scott to make Canadian Nationals worth watching, I’ll place my hopes on U.S. Nationals, which will definitely be more exciting, regardless of my nationality and the ire incurred from me saying this: the Americans have a better National figure skating competition than the Canadians, hands down. If you have an issue with my lack of nationalism, read Benedict Anderson’s “Imagined Communities”. It’s a brilliant book.

Wishing for Tessa and Scott…

~The Rinkside Cafe

Live blogging – NHK Trophy Men’s LP (Final Flight)

I missed the first flight. I’m sorry if I got the jumps wrong. I’m a bit rusty from the summer and I had a friend on msn. It was distracting. >_<

Denis Ten

Step out on the triple axel. Shaky landing on a triple lutz. I’m not really liking this slowed down version of Totentanz. Really off centre loop. Ah, now the music picks up. Pulls it together for the circular step sequence. Doubles (?) a triple axel but rebounds with a good triple loop. Fall on the triple lutz, I think it was doubled as well. Step out on the triple salchow, single (?) toe combination. Ok, he’s totally falling apart… he just doubled another jump. And please don’t imitate Yuna’s bentleg camel, it’s fug, even when she does it. Wow, a biellmann. Stumble in the middle of the midline step sequence. Awww… the music ended before the cool guitar part. Good effort, I guess. He’ll learn to be more consistent with Frank Carroll though.

Yuzuru Hanyu

Yay! It’s Yuzuru! Gorgeous triple. Underrotated triple axel. Lovely recovery. Gorgeous spins. Will he do a biellmann like Ten? Ina bauer into a triple flip. (Sorry about the holes my friend was talking to me on msn.) Footwork full of diva. Beautiful triple axel, double toe. A bit forward on the takeoff for the triple lutz. Popped loop. Slowing down a bit in his spins. He’s losing energy but the audience is behind him. Lovely loop. Final combination spin… He seems happy with that performance. I want to pinch his cheeks and steal his gloves… just by the way. He is a developing diva. I can’t wait to see him in a year or two.

Florent Amodio

This guy has become popular during the summer. Beautiful triple axel. Another beautiful triple axel and tano armed double toe. Lovely triple loop. And he’s skating to Justin Timberlake’s “Apologize”? Now he’s bringin’ the gangsta. LOL. Love this guy. Go Florent!  Pimp it out! I didn’t even notice he was doing a step sequence… There’s a lot of pauses in this program and standing around… Beautiful triple triple. And another triple something. And another (flip?) Triple lutz, double toe. Popped double axel. XD MJ is in da house! Final combination spin… Awesome program! It was so much fun!!! I want to watch that again… This guy is such a charmer, even in the kiss and cry.

Shawn Sawyer

His lines remind me of Johnny Weir. Two-footed triple axel. Fall and underrotated triple lutz. Solid flip. And salchow (?) Spiral, even though men don’t do them. It’s sad he has better extension than some of the ladies. Double loop. Really putting in the acting skills. Good thing too ’cause this music is super heavy. You could easily drown in it. Triple flip, step out, triple loop. Interesting camel variation. (Yes, I know, I skipped a jump.) Double axel, double toe. Really cool Y spin to end. We might just see Florent on the podium though…

Jeremy Abbott

Love Jeremy’s new costume. Guys should dress like that all the time. Sans the sparkles. Lovely triple lutz. *closes msn window* It was distracting. Wonderful triple axel, triple toe. I love “Life is Beautiful”… circular step sequence into a double axel. Popped an axel. Triple loop, double toe, double loop. Good recovery. Triple flip, double toe. Gosh, I love this music. Triple salchow. This program suits him very well. There’s also a hint of Kurt Browning in it. I approve. Beautiful performance. I can’t wait to see this again.

Daisuke Takahashi

He’s being totally intense from the outset… Quad? Yes! Triple axel right on the music! Triple loop, landed on the toepick. OMG. Daisuke footwork (circular step sequence) = heaven. My inner fangirl is screaming. This tango is so perfect for Daisuke. Triple flip, double toe. Another beautiful triple axel with a double toe. Triple lutz or flip. Popped salchow. Triple flip, double loop, fall. The fangirls scream. LOL. Midline step sequence. He’s one of the few people whose step sequences are fun to watch. Better than the Japan Open but I still want to see this clean. My gosh, he’s popular. He has enough flowers to open up a shop. Definitely overscored but I’m glad he won.

Podium:

Gold: Daisuke Takahashi
Silver: Jeremy Abbott
Bronze: Florent Amodio

Full results here.

I will blog about the rest of the NHK trophy tomorrow.