Short Program on the Chopping Block?

I was on my Facebook when a skating friend of mine sent me an invite to a group called, “Save the Short Program.” I was a little confused because to date, there has been no scruples against the short program in any way, shape or form. In fact, I’d say that prefer the SP at times because it has a certain amount of predictability but what is always pleasant is when skaters and choreographers combine good skating with choreography that is fresh, unusual and well thought out. (To me, this is a fine example of what I’m talking about.) Either that or the SP is easier to swallow in case the competition turns into a total splatfest.

speedy

So, I decided to investigate and according to this article, the rumours are true. And that’s not all. The infamous Octavio Cinquanta (or $peedy as he is known in figure skating circles) wants to…

1. Cut the SP because other sports are not based on two rounds.

Aren’t there several segments of a gymnastics competition? And correct me if I’m wrong but for certain time-based events like the luge, don’t teams get more than 1 run? Then there are events like rowing and other sports where there are heats and final races. In show jumping, there’s a preliminary, final and possible tie-breaker round each with their own jumping courses, designed in varying levels of difficulty and with various time limits. The preliminary round generally separates the front-runners from the rest of the pack, while the final round is generally harder but has a similar time limit. The tie-breaking jump off course is generally short and tests the riders under duress and is used in the event of a tie-breaker (which seems to be often enough when the front-runner ride clean and well).

Similar to show jumping, the segments in figure skating tests the skaters on different things.

The short program is very structured, has very specific jumping passes, spins and step sequences and is meant to test a skater (and choreographer’s) ability to express a coherent theme with very specific elements in a short period of time. The name of the game in the SP is perfection: because of the set number of elements, mistakes are costly. You might not necessarily win a competition with a SP but you can definitely lose one with the SP (as we saw with Mao in Sochi *sob*).

The long program is designed to test the athlete’s stamina and ability to execute all the elements, interwoven in a more complex way. The LP gives skaters a chance to create a more complicated story and show the judges all the big tricks they can do. In singles skating, we can see clearly from the LP which jumps skaters are able to execute. Compared to the SP, the name of the game is doing better than your competitors and not necessarily perfection. If you look at Yuzuru Hanyu and Patrick Chan’s performances and results at the Sochi Olympics, you can see what I mean when I say this about both programs.

2. Cinquanta wants to somehow combine both programs together into a super mega ultra uber program?

We’ve heard $peedy tell us that he knows little about figure skating but he seriously can’t be this ignorant… right? (Seriously, we’ve seen this guy at skating competitions, you’d think that by now he’d learn something just by sitting there as a spectator – I mean, does he play Candy Crush on his phone during these things or something?)

Ok, Cinquanta and darling readers, let’s get educated (or at least take a refresher course for those who already know this).

A) The LP equates to a mile of cardiovascular activity.

B) In the LP, skaters can reach up to the maximum heart rate of 209 beats per minute.

C) In some spins, figure skaters can experience the same amount of G-force on their arms as a drag racer or up to 4Gs. In simpler terms, 4g is four times the earth’s gravitational force at sea level pulling at your body. According to this science site, astronauts aboard a space shuttle reach around 3.5Gs.

D) According to this ASAPScience video, a quad requires a skater to reach 350 revolutions per minute in the air while landing with around 7 times their body weight on the ice. Astronauts have been known to pass out in tests in which they spin at 320 revolutions per minute.

E) And let’s just take a moment to remember that especially in pairs and ice dancing, skaters need to do their programs and remain vigilant at all times. They have knives on their feet almost quite literally.

We’ve seen skaters about to keel over on the ice at the end of their programs. I’m not sure if they can handle anything beyond what’s already set out in the LP.

Fellow friend, Ay-sa, doubts that this suggestion would pass by the council within the ISU but it seems as if figure skating fans and specialists are taking a tough stance to this proposed change. Backed by previous champions, a technical specialist and a journalist, this petition is calling on Cinquanta’s resignation. It seems as if the ISU has gone against its constitution to allow Cinquanta to run for president again despite his age ineligibility at the next elections.

What are your thoughts on this petition and $peedy’s proposed SP cut? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside CAfe

 

Perfection in Sochi: Carolina Kostner

I haven’t really blogged about the events so far at the Olympics, partly because I just want to enjoy them and partly because I’m at a loss at how to talk about the programs and performances without videos for you to watch. Videos of Olympic programs are hard to come by right now because of copyright issues but if I can find anything, I will do my best to make a highlights post.

Ever since the ladies team event has ended, I’ve been trying to find what I think was the highlight of the night: Carolina Kostner’s perfect SP. She finished 2nd in the short, but I think that the #1 lady right now, Julia Lipnitskaia was a tad overmarked on the PCS. Either way, this skate shows that Carolina has maturity, elegance, musicality and just pure magic that the young Lipnitskaia has yet to develop.

EDIT: So, as expected, the video got taken off. I’ll try to look for another one. If you have a video link, link me in the comments! New link found!

Enjoy~!

What did you think of the team events so far? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Mao Asada: Nocture then and now

As many of you have noticed, I’ve taken a little bit of a break from blogging, mainly due to the busy-ness of my life but things have slowed down a little bit and I will likely be writing more posts when the figure skating season kicks in. In any case, I thank all my readers for their patience and ongoing support.

mao 2006 nocturne

This blog post will be all about Mao Asada’s new SP for the Olympic season. (I get chills from typing that.) Mao is using Chopin’s Nocturne again. These pretty twinkly piano pieces are definitely her strength and unlike her last Olympics, she’s sticking with what she’s strong with this time. Her new SP needs time to develop, especially in terms of her jumps so I’ll refrain from passing too much judgment on the program for now.

Her original Nocturne SP from the 2006/7 season is in my favourites library. I love how ethereal she is and the elements are fitted well into the program. I especially love that arabesque spiral. She looks as if she’s floating on the ice. This is how spirals should be in figure skating. Too bad they nixed it in the short program though I guess it can be a good thing seeing that very few skaters have the extension to pull off half decent spirals nowadays.

 

Here is her new SP from The Ice 2013. There’s a maturity to her skating that you didn’t see from the original Nocturne and according to the commentators, she’s trying to express the feeling of first love. Honestly, I think she’s grown past that and she could just express what this piece is all about: a celebration of the night. Oh well, to each their own. Also, that step sequence at the end is superb. The quality of skating there is lovely. Let’s hope she gets her jumps back to pull this SP off.

What do you think of Mao’s Nocturne SPs?

~The Rinkside Cafe

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.

Japanese Nationals: All Hail Queen Mao and King Daisuke~!

The Grand Prix series are over but that means that a slew of national competitions are a-coming. For the more avid figure skating fans, we know that national competitions are not created equal. Some of them are a lot more exciting to watch than others, while some national competitions are only worth watch because of one event. For Japan, they have one of the best national competitions because of their singles field. The top 3 contenders in ladies and men are competitors who have the potential to clinch a medal at Worlds – either this season or in a future season.

In terms of the podium, the rankings were pretty predictable once Papa Oda withdrew from injury. With that note, let’s start with the men.

Daisuke obviously won gold at Nationals but not without his fair share of mistakes. His SP was mesmerizing and complete with a lovely 4T-3T that was – finally – clean. His flow and expression are absolutely gorgeous and I think this is the best he’s ever skated this SP so far.

His LP, however, was not as great. From the outset, you could tell that this was not going to be his best skate. He was leaning too forward in the air in his 4T at the beginning of his program but at least he recovered well for his lovely 3A. What I love about Daisuke is that he always sells his program because of his wonderful musicality and expression. In comparison, I think the only time I’ve seen Chan really relate to his music was with Phantom of the Opera at 2011 Worlds and even then, he can’t quite compare to Daisuke. Then again, it’s the judges opinions (sadly) that matter. Unfortunately, this performance was also marred with a fall on the second 3A and a 3Lz. Not his best but we know that he can do better.

On the bright side, this is the first time that I actually *got* the choreography. Maybe I’m just dense or I wasn’t watching closely enough but the movements are choreographed very precisely to the music. I’m very impressed that Daisuke managed to keep up with it with all those mistakes. In any case, ganbare Daisuke, even though you won’t win Worlds. Even if you skate clean and Chan falls. At least we’ll have another beautiful gem to add to the figure skating library.

In second was the shy and understated, Takahiko Kozuka.What was impressive about his SP was that there were interesting intricacies and his jumps were so fast and tight in the air. What did not impress me was 1) his penchant for skating to elevator music 2) the fact that the song is called “Inner Urge” but there was no sexiness to it and 3) he had just as much expression as PChan in his “Take 5” program which in other words, means not a lot. It’s such a pity because this kid has wonderful edges and great flow but I’m not quite feeling his pointing and head nodding and large arm movements. I think there was more expression in his face when he did that fist pump after his program ended. Sigh. Come on kid, take some acting classes. Anything. Please.

Takahiko’s long program went pretty smoothly even though he fell on his second 3A. However, I thought that the bigger problem was again his inability to emote. Joe Hisaishi is a genius and a lot of the Japanese crowd have watched Nausicaa and the Valley of Wind. It’s not a boring movie/manga. It’s actually quite deep and if you read the comic, the characters are absolutely fascinating. This program, however, is not. I can’t get over how boring it is to be able to appreciate the finer points of the choreography. It’s such a pity because I love the music (even though I don’t love the film – the comic was so much better) and I think the skater is talented but he’s just not working it.

My darling boy, Yuzuru Hanyu took the bronze without shoving Oda off the podium. Oda was off with injury and Yuzuru naturally took his place. The youngster did encounter problems in his SP, however, he tripled his quad and 2-footed it and ended up in 4th place. The good news? At least he knew how to count and understood the zayak rule and doubled his 3T at the end of his combination. In that respect, we can confirm that he’s better than Oda. His 3As are seriously impressive as well. He always makes the entrance into them difficult but he lands them beautifully. For a youngin, he sells his programs the way that Takahiko can’t and even though this wasn’t his best performance, I have to say that it was mesmerizing to watch. Like Daisuke, this kid has really good flow and expression.

Yuzuru did recover in the LP with my absolute most favourite program of the season. He singled the last salchow – there’s always some sort of problem with that salchow – and was clearly slower in the 2nd half but he gave that program his all. His passion clearly shone through and I think what makes this program so amazing is that Yuzuru really does portray Romeo. As much as I hate the play, I love the music and Yuzuru is that young, impulsive, passionate Romeo we see in the story. He’s convincing and sells the program like no one else. The music is overused but I think this kid has really made it his own. If Yuzuru improves his stamina, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run past Takahiko on the podium next year. This kid already has a lot more fans.

Mao, our darling trooper, competed at Nationals despite her personal tragedy. She was second in both portions of the competition but managed to scrape a win. Her SP was clean but no 3A. The choreography wasn’t exactly the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen but Mao’s athleticism and speed shows through. Strangely enough, she was only second to Kanako by 0.16.

Mao skated a lovely program but lost steam in the last part of her program. She doubled a 3S and a 3Lp (she also stepped out of this) and didn’t do the 3A. Nonetheless, this is a good skate for her and the smile and the teary look she had said it all. This girl is so brave. She never gave up even when her career looked like it was in shambles after a successful Olympic season and now she’s skating through the hurt of her personal tragedy. You go, Mao-chan!

Akiko Suzuki came in second place – not unexpected but this girl is also a trooper but in a different way. Being perennially in second place is tough because let’s face it – the worst demon you ever have to face is yourself. The feeling of always being second place brings about thoughts of giving up. Then there was Akiko’s disastrous season last year when she was beaten by the young Kanako Murakami. Akiko’s return to the Japanese podium is definitely a triumphant one and she should be seeing it as an all-around victory, rather than another silver medal. Akiko still has a lot to work on but the way she’s holding herself with more confidence this season marks a change for the better.

You can actually see this so clearly in her short. Akiko started her program badly by singling the 3T at the end of her 3T-3T combination. However, from the outset, there was a commitment and passion in her. This girl wants to win and she’s not giving up. The best quality to Akiko’s skating is that she never lets any of her mistakes affect the rest of her performance. She seemed to skate with an even bigger determination after her botched combination. Don’t be upset with yourself, Akiko, you can do better next time!

There were quite a few mistakes in Akiko’s LP and she didn’t quite skate with as much gusto as she did her SP but she still managed to win that portion of the competition somehow.

Kanako Murakami had to settle with the bronze this year, though this is not unexpected since her season hasn’t been as successful this year as it was last year. Some of this could be attributed to boot problems. However, Kanako still managed to win the SP but placed 6th in the LP. Still, she managed to scrape a bronze medal. I’m not sure if I should be losing hope for Kanako at this point in her career. On one hand, she’s young but on the other, she’s always lacked consistency in her LP. I guess this is another one of these “time will tell” things.

From the results of Japanese Nationals, I think that public sympathy and clean skates should be able to propel Mao back to her World title while Akiko should definitely try her best to get on the World podium this year. Some of her competitors will have to make mistakes but she’s definitely within reach of the top 5. As for the men, I think that Daisuke will be able to give us some spectacular performances at Worlds but ultimately lose against Chan, who could fall numerous times and still win.

What are your thoughts on the strong Japanese singles field?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Skate Canada 2011: Day 1

My cold-induced tiredness is setting on again and the scope of this post will be a limited so I apologize. In any case, let’s begin.

Ladies

I will never have any inclination to watch either Ashley Wagner or Rachael Flatt unless I am in the middle of a live stream. Unfortunately, to my chagrin, I found out last night at 2AM after 2 hours of sleep that my internet connection cannot support the sketchy Russian livestream that I am forced to resort to. I may try again on a different browser too but I don’t know if that will make any difference. I think I may be stuck in this Philistine place with no figure skating on TV and possibly no livestream either. F.M.L.

That aside, I am super proud of my little Liza, who is the LEADERĀ  by almost 5 points after the short program. What a spectacular senior debut at age 14!

She opened with a beautiful 3Lz-3T combination, followed by a 3Lp (not perfect but landed cleanly) and her signature fierce tano armed 2A. Go Liza! I really enjoyed how she attacked her footwork sequence with a Yuna-esque drama and gusto. (Please take note, PJ Kwong, this 14 year-old girl can outshine Cynthia Phaneuf in charisma any day of the week and at any point in Phaneuf’s career.) Looking at the protocols, the judges were tough on her in her PCS in transitions. Admittedly, her program looked more like a checklist of elements rather than one of those skillfully woven programs that garner tons of points. It’s unfortunate because with that much star-power, Liza has the potential to do so much better. I still have the impossible hope of her working with Tatiana Tarasova, though if that’s not possible, David Wilson is sure to be able to bring out the best in his skaters.

I’m already so proud of Liza’s debut in the short that I don’t really care about her overall result. Though prediction-wise, it would be absolutely wonderful if she won. As for the U.S. ladies sitting 2nd and 3rd, they haven’t been the most consistent long program skaters in the past seasons so there’s hope for a few of my other favourites.

And before I forget, Liza hands down had the highest TES score of the day but the highest PCS went to Akiko Suzuki, who despite having a mistake in her combination jump (3T-singled loop), skated with a confidence, determination and fire I never saw before.

Ladies short program results and protocol.

Pairs

Tanya and Max are in the lead after the short (and they have no viable competitors in this competition so it’s likely they’ll win) but whoever said that skating to an elevator-fied version of Evanescence (who was cool like… 10 years ago) was a good idea needs to be punched in the face. On the awkward scale, this ranks 7 out of 10 with Florent Amodio’s tiger Latin thing rated at 20. Still, anything above 5 (which is still pushing it) should not be shown in public and this counts as one of them. Other than Tatiana’s two-foot on her 3T the elements were well executed. The music and the choreography, however, do not capitalize on Tanya and Max’s talents. The program just looks like a desperado’s attempt to be cool.

I have yet to watch the other programs but looking at the rankings, I’d say that there’s not much hope for the new partnership of Dube and Wolfe while Sui and Han may still be hiccuping. The latter’s rather upsetting.

Ice Dance

Yes, this post follows a weird order and you’ll see why in a second.

Tessa and Scott obviously won the short dance here with a score that was slightly higher than Meryl and Charlie’s at Skate America. Other than the ending pose, I didn’t quite get into the SD (partly because the compulsory sequence is just dull, dull, dull) and I feel that these two will really want to tweak this program to get the audience in as they did with their FD at Worlds last year. No rock can be left unturned if they want that World title back because Meryl and Charlie are not going to sit quietly while their crown gets taken away. There’s been debate over Tessa’s dress colour (she DOES have a penchant for constantly switching dresses) and my two cents is that we should abandon the flapper tassels and go with a costume with a parrot colour scheme and a Carnival feel to it.

I probably would’ve blogged about Weaver/Poje in all fairness to the other disciplines who I didn’t blog in detail about the 2nd and 3rd placed skaters but I felt a need to watch this program immediately when FSOnline mentioned that Kaitlyn did tiger animal print right. Unlike this debacle:

Maybe he’ll say that the story behind this program is that he’s being a tiger. A magical tiger… in the winter… with wings……

Anyways, back to Kaitlyn and Andrew. I never thought that anyone can pull off animal print in any way, shape or form (even models) but I do admit that this dress sort of works though the tassels are excessive. But this SD… gosh… THIS is what a rumba SD should be like!!! I seriously think it’s my favourite so far. The compulsory pattern was for once, NOT BORING, the music and the team’s expression made it sensual and smooth and the choreography drew the crowd in and made them excited. I think we should look towards these two as what the SD should be. Their SD last year was fabulous and this year, I look forward to a polished performance of this SD. (There are obviously kinks they need to sort out, but all in good time.) Great job, you two!

Men

Now, the real shocker that absolutely delighted and thrilled me. Not only did Patrick not win the SP but both he and former World champion, Daisuke Takahashi were upstaged by a new Orserite: Javier Fernandez who I had pegged for bronze. To put it realistically though, Javier and Daisuke’s scores are separated by the tiny margin of 0.05 while Chan is only slightly more than a point away from top spot. The top 3 men are pretty much locked in a virtual tie and I won’t doubt that Skate Canada will allow Chan to win on a crappy performance.

Javier was sexy, suave and mysterious in his jazzy SP and his jumps (4T, 3F-3T, 3A) were high with fast spins in the air and just gorgeous. THIS is the man that many should have been if they had been coached properly and given the right choreography. (*cough*Tomas, Florent*cough*) Javier made a good coaching change at a fortuitous time (Orser no longer has any high profile students) and I hope that it really puts him as a contender for Sochi.

Daisuke’s new SP is definitely different from those from the last 2 seasons. It’s mysterious and passionate and well-executed. Daisuke didn’t try the quad but landed clean and gorgeous 3F-3T, 3A and 3Lz. The emotion and dedication is surprising at the beginning of the season but I’m very glad that Daisuke that we know and love has come back and ready to compete. I really wish I could’ve seen this live.

Patrick, oh Patrick. At this point, I think I would’ve been slightly disappointed if he didn’t get a ridiculous inflated score because then my predictions would be wrong. He put his hand down on his quad toe (I think the judges mistook that as some sort of creative choreography or something) and then doubled his triple axel (though that doubled jump was probably so beautiful the judges cried). At least his combination was clean. Oh yes, and his step sequence probably made the judges wet their pants. I’m not even going to try and express the ridiculousness of this score. A crappy skate should NOT be rewarded with points on par with two beautiful performances that were a lot better than this mess. Whatever. Not that anyone’s bitching about this inflation will get us anywhere because it’s all been done before.

Anyways, I’m super excited about the rest of Skate Canada, though I dunno if I have the energy or the internet connection to watch it live. Cross your fingers for me!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Skate America 2011: The surprising men’s competition

I guess you can never underestimate the old adage of “ice is slippery” because I thought that the men’s competition atĀ  Skate America was going to be a straightforward thing but how wrong I was. Things really started going haywire when Takahiko Kozuka was 2nd after the short program. Not only was he in second place but he trailed behind by almost 9 points. To add to that danger, though, skaters ranked 2 to 5 after the short program were pretty much in a virtual tie with 0.66 separating Takahiko and the man who finished 5th, Richard Dornbush.

The problem was that Takahiko fell on an underrotated quad and he put his hand down on his triple axel. The rest of his program was less painful to watch but it seems as if Taka has some sort of penchant for skating to boring elevator music in his SP. For this particular program, I think Takahiko has to stop playing safe, watch some videos of Kurt Browning and channel the goofball flirt into his skating. We can’t all be as awesome as Kurt Browning but at least make your best effort to do so.

Michal Brezina was the surprise winner of the short. Skating to Japanese Kodo drums, I can’t help but feel that he’s trying to channel Tomas Verner’s 2007/8 martial arts program. Michal opened with a HUGE 3A followed by a clean and beautiful 3F-3T combination. Michal was going for the clean program and not going for a quad. His last jumping pass, a 3Lz was clean and lovely as was the rest of his program. The only problem is, the attempt of putting kung-fu on ice looks rather juvenile and immature. This is something you would skate to in a junior competition. People would gush about how cute it is but at the senior level, you look a bit immature. Not something you want to exude on the ice.

In the long program, the real shocker was Kevin Van Der Perren, who won the long program to take the silver overall. No one expected this from an old guy who’s been around for a while but wasn’t ever really noticed. He started out confidently, landing a beautiful quad toe. He stepped out of his high triple axel but recovered and landed a triple flip. I was most impressed in the second half of his program when he landed a 3S-3T-3T combination, a shocker as I remember that Kevin often had stamina issues. I guess I spoke too soon about stamina issues as he doubled his next jump but rallied and landed his next combination cleanly. Even though I wanted Takahiko to win this competition, I’m very happy for Kevin and his silver. I really admire his tenacity and dedication to the sport.

Taka rallied in the long while Michal Brezina demonstrated his trend of being more of a short program skater rather than the LP kind. In the end, Takahiko’s efforts gave him the bronze while Michal won the gold overall despite placing 3rd in the long.

 

 

Anyways, I need to quickly write Skate Canada predictions before the competition starts in a few hours, do a few chores and get a few hours of sleep before I can live stream the ladies event. Damn this time difference.

~The Rinkside Cafe

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