Sunday, November 28, 2010

Trophee Eric Bompard: Men's Freeskate

Today, two men qualified for the Grand Prix Final in an extremely impressive fashion, and I really don't think I could be much more excited! Takahiko Kozuka and Florent Amodio were the clear standouts on a day where most performances were uninspired. However, those two MORE than made up for it.

Zoltan Kelemen (Romania): Started with a fallout on a triple axel that also looked underrotated, though it wasn't marked that way. Triple lutz-triple toe, the latter of which again looked underrotated, in addition to being two footed. Good triple loop and a rather nice sit change sit - that really surprised me. Fall on a triple lutz, followed by a triple flip-single toe-double toe combo that had a weird fallout. Some footwork that was okay, but not great, and an underrotated triple flip-double toe. The triple salchow after that was fine, as well as a combo spin with decent speed. A good double axel for the final element. That was probably one of the most empty programs I've seen in a good while. I think I saw maybe one transition, and there didn't really seem to be much choreography. Didn't really care for the music either, but the crowd really seemed to like him. 58.10 TE 51.58 PCS -1.00 Deduction ; 108.68 FS = 161.70 (9th)

Anton Kovalevski (Ukraine): Why are they showing a judge on the screen when Anton is beginning his program? Weird... Fallout on an underrotated triple axel at the start, but came but with an alright triple lutz-double tano toe. His flip and lutz techniques are odd though (I've probably mention it before), he seems to stick his free leg out to the side a bit before picking in. Okay triple flip, and a cool double axel with the tano arm; I've only seen that a couple of times. The triple loop was really crooked in the air, but landed somehow  (little underrotated though). His flying sit spin with a twist variation was okay, and the first footwork sequence was kinda good. Oh gosh, the music changed and there was a random gunshot in it and it made me jump so high! I can't believe I forgot that from Russia. Triple toe-double toe-double toe combo was eeked out somehow and the triple salchow after that was good. Another flying sit with a variation and an okay, but rather blase footwork sequence. Finished up his freeskate with a decent double axel-double toe combo and an okay combo spin. Anton's spins and artistry could definitely use some work, and he could also work on rotating some of those triples more. Fixing the lutz and flip technique wouldn't hurt either. Overall though, he was much better than he was at Cup of Russia. 60.41 TE 57.72 PCS ; 118.13 FS = 173.92 Total (8th)

Nan Song (China): Opened with a triple axel-triple toe that was alright (I was surprised he pulled it off, since the axel wasn't really great), and a triple lutz-double toe-double loop that was okay, but the lutz was a little too big (he didn't control it well). A sit change sit that could have had better speed and positioning, but a good double axel after that. Singled an attempted triple loop and had a slow sit spin with a variation. Held onto that second triple axel, but the triple flip after that was good, but wrong edged. First footwork sequence was okay technically, but there's zero connection to the music or the audience.  Singled a flip after that, but held onto a triple salchow and tacked a double toe onto it. Second footwork sequence... meh. Nice spread eagle into a combo spin, which ended up traveling and being really slow. Not much stood out about this performance, and as far as interpreting the music, it may as well have been a practice session. I'm beginning to think that skaters that lack artistry should take acting classes... couldn't hurt, right? 61.73 TE 56.92 PCS ;118.65 FS = 181.53 Total (6th)

Kevin Reynolds (Canada): Again, the dang camera is fixate on the crowd instead of the one actually skating! Finally, back on Kevin, then he goes for a quad salchow; looked a little underrotated to me (otherwise fine though), but it received full credit. After that he went for the second quad, a toe loop, which he fell on after underrotating it. Triple axel (maybe underrotated)-triple toe was alright - I definitely wasn't expecting him to land that. I like the position in his change foot upright spin that is similar to a layback. Triple loop was fine, but he singled the second triple axel attempt. Tough triple lutz afterwards, also deemed underrotated. Flying sit was alright, but I don't really like the over the top movements in the footwork, especially the way he was using his head. Nice triple salchow, though the triple flip-triple toe-double toe was kind tight. Second footwork sequence was much better than the first, to me at least, and he finished with a combo spin with a bit of traveling, but it had some nice positions. Kevin has nice lines in some of the movements in this program; I think they should emphasize that more. He could probably place really well if they worked more on his spins and components (I've heard that Kevin's been working on it, but I'm not seeing much still). Maybe he'll get the whole package together eventually. 70.42 TE 64.58 PCS -1.00 Deduction ; 134.00 FS = 200.13 Total (4th)

Peter Liebers (Germany): Really great triple toe at the beginning, though it was probably a planned quad. Good speed into his first triple axel, but he fell out of it, and put a triple toe on it, but the latter didn't count. Walley into a tough triple lutz, but the footwork after that was okay. Flying sit was okay, but then a fall on a second triple axel attempt which was underrotated, though he didn't get dinged for that. Triple salchow-double toe after that was alright, followed by a tight triple loop. Combo spin was slow, with not so great positions, and then another fall on an underrotated triple flip. He wrapped things up with an okay double axel and second footwork sequence, but that last flying sit combo spin was so slow. That's a shame, I was hoping to see him skate at least fairly clean. This program could be so fun with some more interpretation. 54.37 TE 56.64 PCS -2.00 Deductions ; 111.01 FS = 177.54 Total (7th)

Chafik Besseghier (France): Huge reaction from the crowd was his name was announced. Quad toe attempt opened up into a scarily popped single, and the same thing happened for the first triple axel. I think he's letting crowd expectations get to him, but I can't really blame him - it's his first senior international and it's in his home country! Fallout on a triple lutz, but the footwork after that was done well, though it only received a level 1. Death drop was mostly good, and he held onto his second triple axel attempt and added a double toe to it. It seems like he's regained control of this performance, thankfully. Nice triple loop, followed up by a nice, albeit relatively simple triple toe-triple toe. Triple salchow was also nice, and the second footwork sequence was alright. Pulled off a double axel-double toe-double toe, though it was tight on the back half of the combo. Slow combo spin and a slightly better sit change sit at the end. Not too shabby of a skate, all things considered. Those pops in the beginning had me scared for his safety though. He might really be something with more experience. 55.34 TE 60.02 PCS ; 115.36 FS = 185.69 (5th)

Brandon Mroz (United States): Quad toe as his opening jump, which he leaned a bit forward on, but landed. Triple axel-triple toe was good, and then he landed a crooked triple lutz. Footwork that was nice, but appeared really slow on tv. Good triple loop, and a death drop that was fine. Brandon looks sleepy. Fallout on the second triple axel (it leaned a bit in the air). Triple lutz-double toe was alright, as well as a triple salchow. I really don't like most of the music in this program. Triple flip (edge called)-double toe-double loop, good. Camel spin with a donut variation, had a little trouble catching the foot, but okay other than that. Ended with another alright footwork sequence and decent combo spin. It was a good overall skate, but Brandon just doesn't do anything for me. 76.05 TE 65.80 PCS ; 141.85 FS = 214.31 Total (3rd)

Florent Amodio (France): Really great triple axel to start off, followed by a two footed triple axel-double toe, overall okay. Triple loop was a little rough, at least compared to how his jumps usually are now. The face he makes when he starts his footwork sequence is great - it's funny seeing a serious hip hop look on him, and the footwork was alright overall. Flying sit with okay speed and positions through, followed by an easy triple salchow-triple toe. Good triple lutz and triple flip, but the latter was edge called. Triple lutz-double toe-double toe was alright, and finished the jumps with a double axel. Haha, he was obviously happy after he landed that. Footwork good, (what I saw at least...cameraman went to Morozov. Gr!) and a sit change sit and combo spin that were both alright. That was really good! When Florent is on, his jumps really sing - they look so effortless. Not a whole lot going on transition-wise, especially in the latter half, but he performed it well and was technically solid. Unfortunately, the more I see this program, the more I see how much Morozov rehashed Takahashi's Hip Hop Swan Lake. This program is fun, but not a masterpiece, nor as good as Kozuka's. 77.26 TE 76.50 PCS ; 153.76 FS = 229.38 Total (2nd)

Takahiko Kozuka (Japan): He opened with a quad toe, which was two footed, but looked about rotated and it wasn't a bad two foot (clearly underrotated, scratchy,etc). First triple axel was a little held, but alright. Good triple lutz-double toe, followed by a combo spin that slowed, though it had good positions. Very pretty footwork that was really well done - his skating skills really are highlighted there. Triple axel-double toe-double loop was good, and a great triple flip. Triple lutz-triple toe, also good and really late in the program. Okay triple loop, and fine triple salchow, then a good death drop. Great footwork, again, rather beautiful to watch. Final combo spin slowed but picked up speed on his last scratch position. He's so excited about how he skated! He still could improve more on expression, but he has said he is working on it and I do believe it is getting better. I did see some facial expression starting to occur in this freeskate, and I think the artistry picked up more towards the end. Overall, beautiful performance (there were so many gorgeous movements!), and hopefully just what Takahiko needs to boost his confidence. 89.63 TE 80.80 PCS ; 170.43 FS = 248.07 (1st) Monster score! He couldn't believe it, and his reaction was absolutely priceless.

*Sidenote: Brian Joubert withdrew before the freeskate due to having a stomach flu. I wish him a speedy recovery!

Congratulations to Takahiko, Florent, and Brandon on their medals, and congratulations to the gold and silver medalists on their Grand Prix Final Qualification!

Freeskate Results
Overall Results

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Trophee Eric Bompard: Men's Short

 Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone! I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday and made the most of it! I had a nice Thanksgiving with my family, and mostly just relaxed with them and went out for dinner. But onto the skating... this wasn't really the most spectacular men's short but it wasn't bad either. Let's get started!

Zoltan Kelemen (Romania): Double axel was just okay, and then a fall on the back half of a triple lutz-triple toe (likely downgraded or at least marked underrotated). The camel change camel spin was okayish, not really great speed but the position wasn't bad. Nice triple flip for his last jumping pass, then some decent footwork. Flying sit spin was okay, but the combo spin... meh. Overall Zoltan didn't really leave much of an impression on me, but it is nice seeing a skater from Romania (I can't remember any others). 28.32 TE 25.70 PCS -1.00 Deduction = 53.02 Total (10th)

Chafik Besseghier (France): Pretty decent speed across the ice. Really nice quad toe-triple toe combination, as well as a pretty good triple axel, though it looked a little weird to me in the air, but was landed nicely. I liked the twizzle transition, it was pretty cool. Flying camel was okay, but slow at the end. Slow combo spin after that, with not so great positions. Footwork and sit change sit were both alright. Surprisingly good performance for someone that's never competed at this level internationally. It seems that alot of skating fans, including myself, have never even heard of him! That said, while pretty impressive technically (at least on jumps), his spins and performance quality are still lacking. It also wouldn't hurt to change that costume... very 80's skating! :P
40.59 TE 29.74 PCS = 70.33 Total (4th)

Peter Liebers (Germany): Started off with a triple lutz-triple toe combination; the lutz looked easy, but he had to fight for the toe. Alright triple axel and then a flying camel with a donut position that made it rather slow. An okay Sit change sit with a hopover to change feet, followed by a walley into a triple flip that was really nice, except the unfortunate clear outside edge. I like this music, though Peter isn't selling it that well here. Pretty nice footwork, seemed to have good difficulty, to me at least. good combo spin until near the end, where is slowed. Better than I've seen him skate most of the time, so good for him. Hopefully the freeskate will go just as well. 36.24 TE 30.29 PCS = 66.53 Total (6th)

Anton Kovalevski (Ukraine): Opened with a triple axel that he put his hand down on, and looked at least a little underrotated. Decent recovery with a triple lutz-triple toe, though the latter was wonky. Hard fall on an underrotated triple loop. Flying camel spin, really sloppy. Actually, most of what Anton has done in this program has been sloppy to some extent. Footwork that wasn't particularly well done, but it probably got a decent level on it. Slow combo spin, but the sit change sit after was better. I really question this choice of music not just for him, but in general. He did at least attempt to interpret it though. 28.69 TE 28.10 PCS -1.00 Deduction = 55.79 PCS (9th)

Nan Song (China): Triple lutz-triple toe with a big space in between the jumps, but he eeked it out. Poor flying camel, but decent skating skills. Very nice triple flip, and the sit change sit was definitely better than the prior spin. Footwork was okay, but 'm not getting any kind of interpretation from this program at all. Finished with a combo spin that was alright. Jumps were pretty much there, but there's no zest to this program. 33.83 TE 29.05 = 62.88 Total (8th)

Florent Amodio (France): Beautiful triple axel at the beginning of the program, as well as good speed/basic skills. His triple lutz-triple toe was also nice, and an easy (but wrong edged) triple flip. Flying camel spin was okay, and I really liked the first variation where his torso is twisted upwards. Selling the footwork sequence, which was on the good side. Nice, fast sit change sit in his combo spin, though the solo sit change sit was slower.  Really good performance today; my only issue was the wrong edge on the flip, and Florent could probably sell it even more, particularly in the first half of the program. He kissed a little flower girl on the cheek while still on the ice... how cute. =) 39.52 TE 36.10 PCs = 75.62 Total (2nd)

Kevin Reynolds (Canada): Quad salchow-triple toe; the salchow looked like it may have been underrotated to my eye. Nice triple axel, but then a crash on the quad toe. Flying spin that had a really nice quality in the air and was okay for the rest of it. Slow sit change sit that got even slower at the end. Okay footwork, but not a whole lot of performance to it or this program in general. Ending spin was kinda good. All in all... Kevin needs all his jumps to really contend. Apart from that, not a lot about his skating really stands out to me artistically or technically. He looked confused at his scores - I'm thinking that they downgraded both quads or something. 35.02 TE 32.11 PCS -1.00 Deduction = 66.13 Total (7th)

Brandon Mroz (United States): Held onto the quad toe-triple toe, though both looked like they might be a bit underrotated. His triple axel was alright, but then the heel of his free foot hit the ice and he stumbled a bit. That was pretty weird. Slow camel change camel, but then a big triple lutz. Slow flying spin, and okay footwork. Combo spin at the end wasn't great, but it got better in the last parts of it. Brandon doesn't really do much for me artistically (or technically really), but it does seem like he is trying to be more expressive, at least in his face, and I appreciate the effort. 40.53 TE 31.93 PCS = 72.46 Total (3rd)

Takahiko Kozuka (Japan): Opening triple lutz-triple toe was a bit cautious, but fine. He held onto the triple axel, but the following flying sit was nice. Again, his skating skills are ridiculously good, and I love how he moves his body - it reminds me of how Lambiel moves, in a way. Nice triple flip for his last jump. Slow camel change camel, but the positions were okay. Really nice footwork, with fun crowd play thing at the end of the rink. An alright combo spin to end. Not Takahiko's best skate, but he got the job done, and most of the elements were good. I think his expression was a little better here than it has been previously; he did mention to the press that one of his goals this season was to improve on that aspect of his skating. 40.35 TE 37.29 PCS* = 77.64 Total (1st)

*So glad to see that Takahiko's components were scored higher here than they usually are!

Brian Joubert (France): Quad toe attempt, two-footed and badly underrotated. For some reason he tacked a single toe loop onto it. Fallout on the triple axel after that. Flying upright spin was alright, and I think it was different at Cup of China; maybe going for a higher level here? Good triple lutz and surprisingly good speed on the cannonball variation of his combo spin! Footwork was alright, much less frivolous movements than usual for him. Sit change sit at the end of the program got really slow at the end. Poor Brian. It seems like his quad has abandoned him the last couple of competitions, and I'm really surprised that he isn't even managed to rotate it. Artistically, he does the choreography in the program (obviously), but it doesn't really seem to mean anything; he isn't bringing any life to it. I might like it better if Brian put the zest he has occasionally had into this program.  30.84 TE 36.11 PCS = 66.95 Total (5th)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Trophee Eric Bompard - A Preview

Only a couple more days until Trophee Eric Bompard starts! I've dying for this since about halfway through the men's freeskate at Cup of Russia, and I am really looking forward to what will hopefully be a much more exciting men's event. Here's the rundown on who to look out for.

In Pairs Savchenko and Szolkowy are easily favorite for gold - unless they explode entirely, I doubt anyone will be able to touch them. For the rest of the field it will simply be a fight for silver and bronze.

As for Ice Dancing, the heavy favorite is definitely the French team of Pechalat and Bourzat; it is doubtful that anyone will truly challenge them here, but Chock and Zuerlein will definitely be looking to follow up their bronze at Skate Canada with another medal here. Several of the other teams only finished 5th at their earlier Grand Prix showings this season, so it could be interesting to see how they stack up in Paris. 

The Ladies, contrary to the pairs and ice dance events, have no clear favorite for the title here.  Alissa Czisny, Mirai Nagasu, Kiira Korpi, and Cynthia Phaneuf seem to be the most likely candidates for a win here, but none of them are exactly models of consistency. Also, although I wouldn't place any bets on her (or more likely, Fantasy Skating picks), it wouldn't do well to count out reigning World Champion Mao Asada, even with her jump troubles as of late. I really hope Mao really get her feet back under her here; seeing her struggle the way she has is disheartening, especially because she is a much better skater than that. 

And finally, the Men. The men's event in Paris features Brian Joubert, Takahiko Kozuka, Florent Amodio, Kevin Reynolds, and Brandon Mroz. Mroz will be looking to build upon his silver medal win at Cup of China, and possibly qualify for the Grand Prix Final. Joubert, while not one to be counted out, usually doesn't skate well in his home country ( He's even admitted to disliking competing there!), so we'll see what he puts out this time. Also, if he wishes to really challenge for the title here, he better have worked on getting his spins up to a higher level of difficulty - all but one spin were deemed level 1 in the long program at Cup of China, which really cost him. Amodio is another one looking to build on success from his prior Grand Prix this season - his third place finish at NHK is a fairly impressive result, given that he was against Takahashi and Abbott there, and he even beat Abbott in the freeskate! If he can put the jumps together again here, that combined with his performance quality should be enough to get him on the podium. Reynolds, while having multiple quads with a good deal of consistency, isn't exactly consistent in everything else. He tends to land great quads, only to have mistakes on triple axels or simpler elements later on, so I'm not very convinced that he'll manage a medal here.Lastly, Kozuka is a definite threat here, after a solid win at Cup of China. His jumps, spins, and basics are all there - he could just use some more expression in competition (some does seem to come out in exhibition). However, when Kozuka is on, his skating is absolutely mesmerizing.  

All in all, I'm really looking forward to seeing how this event plays out and who the final Grand Prix Final slots go to. Here's to hoping that the skating is better than at Cup of Russia!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

30 Days of Skating - Day 13: 5 Favorite Pairs Teams

I'm a little out of my element with pairs (and even more so with ice dance),  so I don't have too many favorites as far as the pairs are concerned and so like with the ladies, I am only going to hone in on one favorite, which has to be Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao.

I think it is extremely impressive that they made the difficult transformation from being a pair that just had the big tricks to a pair that really captured the audience's hearts with their artistry. One performance of theirs that I particularly love is their freeskate at Worlds in 2004 - it is simply magical.

Also, as amazing as Shen and Zhao became as skaters, another reason that they're my favorite pair is their personal story *. The sacrifices they and their families made for them to get where they are now make their success all the more satisfying to see , and their love story is as close to a fairytale as true life can get. Their victory in Vancouver is definitely one of my favorite moments (if not THE favorite moment) of all the Olympic Games I have watched.

* There's no way that I can accurately summarize it here, as I haven't read the backstory in it's entirety for a good while, but the book The Second Mark features the detailed backstories of Shen and Zhao, as well Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze and Salé and Pelletier. I highly recommend reading if you have even a minor interest in any of those pairs or the 2002 Olympic scandal.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tomas Verner - Post freeskate interview at Cup of Russia

Tomas may not be my favorite skater, but he really is charming and just comes off as such a nice guy that I end up rooting for him to skate well, whether I intend to or not. Best of luck to him the rest of this season!

30 Days of Skating - Day 12: 5 Favorite Ladies Skaters

Well, sort of. I haven't had many ladies favorites for the last few years, as the discipline seemed to deteriorated in general and with the lion's share of skating coverage on the web (and when live, at strange times depending on where the competition is held), I haven't been watching it nearly as much as I used to. There are a few recent ladies skaters that are undeniably excellent (Yu-Na Kim, Mao Asada), but none of them have really captured capture me like the living legend that is Michelle Kwan.

I started watching Michelle when I was still really little - I was only 6 years old when she claimed silver in Nagano.  But as I have mentioned before, while I did watch some skating even then, I only became a die hard fan after the 2002 Olympics and unfortunately, by then Michelle had already started skipping the Grand Prix most of the time, so I don't remember as many of her performances as I would like. I know that naming Michelle Kwan as your favorite skater is really rather typical of a skating fan, but there's a reason she is so beloved; she truly skated with passion and heart. She consistently not only gave solid technical programs, but really gave you an honest, emotional performance. By doing that, Michelle engaged the heart of many of those watching, at home or live. I think that is what makes her so utterly unforgettable, more than her status as the most decorated American ladies skater of all time. I am not the crying type, but she's made me burst into tears during her performances so, so many times. There really is just some sort of magic to her skating. I think one of my few regrets about Michelle's career is that she never won that elusive Olympic gold medal; I can't think of any recent ladies' skater who has deserved it more than she does, and I am quite sure that I am not the only one who misses the days when she was competing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cup of Russia - Men's Freeskate

Somehow despite Cup of Russia having what was definitely what I considered to be the most lackluster men's event of the Grand Prix season thus far, Tomas Verner has managed to absolutely make my day by defying the odds and defeating Patrick Chan. Kudos to Tomas! That said, here are my thoughts!

Tatsuki Machida (Japan): Started the program off with a two footed quad toe attempt, also underrotated. Triple axel-triple toe combo; the axel was good, but I thought the toe was two footed. Triple lutz was okay and so was the footwork, but nothing really special about it. Flyin sit spin was alright, as well as the following triple flip. Unfortunate slip on the entrance to the triple loop had Tatsuki falling before really getting off the ice. Singled the following axel, which I can't really blame him for since it wasn't long after that fall, which I think may have knocked the wind out of him (or at least really shook him up.). Slow on a flying sit change sit spin, and it was sloppy in general. Triple lutz-double toe was well done and so was the triple salchow-double toe afterward. Second set of footwork was better than the first, but he could use some work on his camel positions in his spins, though the last combo spin was okay overall. That whole performance just seemed really tired, even down to his posture. No life in this program today, which is disappointing because it really seemed like Tatsuki had some connection to it at Cup of China. 60.80 TE 60.84 PCs -1.00 Deduction ; 120.64 FS = 177.01 Total

Anton Kovalevski (Ukraine): Leaned on the first triple axel in the air and fell. Fallout on the triple lutz, but put a double toe with a tano arm variation on the end for some reason (was counted as a sequence, with no credit for the toe loop). Second triple lutz was okay, as well as the triple loop, though the latter leaned in the air. Sit change sit spin with variations was okay. First footwork sequence was alright but half of it really didn't suit the music. There's really no oomph in his skating, at least not today. Triple toe-double toe-double toe, okay. Triple salchow was fine, but a not particularly impressive flying sit after that. Second footwork sequence looks labored to me. Geez, the music in his program is so random! And besides the randomness of it, the stronger parts of the music overpower his presence on the ice. Double axel-double toe was okay, then a sloppy combo spin. Meh. Anton has a strange lutz technique... he goes in without the outside edge and then switches onto it shortly before he picks in. I think some have said Rachael Flatt has the same technique? Either way, not really a fan of it. 56.19 TE 60.30 PCS -1.00 Deduction ; 115.49 FS = 175.54 Total

Ivan Tretiakov (Russia): An okay triple axel to start, followed by an okay triple axel-double toe. Triple flip-triple toe combo, but had difficulties on both jumps. Flying camel that was slow as sin... man. What the heck is this music? Nice triple lutz, then triple loop that he held onto. Alright footwork and a triple flip-double tano toe-double toe that was okay too. Singled the salchow, but a good double axel afterward. Second set of footwork was slow, as well as the last two spins. None of the positions were particularly nice either. Ivan's skating is relatively smooth, but it is slow. Overall, that was really, really dull.  There wasn't really a lot to be interested in but the jumps and most of those weren't even very impressive. 66.52 TE 57.72 PCS ; 124.24 ; FS = 189.85 Total

Samuel Contesti (Italy): Good triple axel at the beginning. Skating skills already better than the two prior Europeans.  A good triple flip and an alright triple lutz as well, followed by a slow camel spin with a change of foot. I kind of liked the first step sequence, it was smooth.  Okay combo spin and a good triple axel-double toe-double toe. Two footed the triple loop after that, but recovered with a nice double axel. This second footwork sequence is really slow for this section of the music. An alright triple salchow-triple toe combo and triple toe-double axel sequence, and a slow spin to end. Not bad, but I did think the score ended up a little high on technical.75.11 TE 66.50 PCS ; 141.61 FS = 207.30 Total

Javier Fernandez (Spain): Javier started the program with a quad toe, which he actually did land, but after he landed it he fell... it was really strange.  Pretty good triple axel after that though, but popped a triple lutz into a single in an odd looking manner. Okayish spin and then that drunken pirate footwork, which I thought was alright. Single axel-double toe and a single flip, followed by yet another popped jump, a double loop. His jumps are just gone today. Heard that he may have been injured though, so I'll keep an ear out for that. Recovered with a nice triple salchow-double toe-double toe combo, as well as a good triple toe-double axel sequence. Another set of alright footwork, but his performance quality is lacking today. Finished with a decent sit change sit and a rough combo spin. That was pretty much a mess. Poor Javier. It appears he maintained his sense of humor in the kiss and cry though. 52.68 TE 65.92 PCS -1.00 Deduction ; 117.60 FS = 184.06 Total

Konstantin Menshov (Russia): Another Michael Jackson program? Hm. Opened with a triple toe, which was most likely a planned quad. Triple lutz was alright, but it has the same weird technique as Kovalevski. Double toe loop. Music switched from Smooth Criminal to birds chirping. That's not confusing at all... anyway, held onto a triple axel, and did a spin that was actually kind of good. Weird triple salchow, but it was landed. The flying sit spin was okay, but got rather slow at the end. Footwork wasn't terrible but it did seem a bit labored. Just barely held onto to triple loop and fell on a triple toe. Double axel-double toe-double toe was okay, but a sloppy combo spin followed it and there was another footwork sequence that wasn't very good. 51.39 TE 63.42 PCS -1.00 Deduction ; 113.81 FS = 181.15 Total

Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan): Triple toe at the start, which was a planned quad toe. Good triple axel, maybe a tiny bit underrotated. I love how Yuzuru's jumps tend to float seemingly effortlessly through the air. It reminds me a lot of how Johnny Weir's jumps were under Priscilla Hill. Alright triple flip, though a little tight , but edge called again - that's something he should probably work on. Sit change sit traveled some but it had good speed and positions.Triple lutz-double toe was okay, not quite the usually ease that he has with the jumps. Footwork was alright, but not really stand out. Good triple axel-triple toe and triple lutz-double toe, but the latter didn't count (due to repeating the triple toe and triple axel already.). Good triple loop, but a little slow on the following combo spin. Random slip and fall at the beginning of his second footwork sequence, but the rest of it was fine. Good triple salchow and a sloppy combo spin to finish up. Not a bad skate at all, but he's capable of better. A lot of his jumps didn't quite have the usual ease to them - nerves maybe? 67.20 TE 66.22 PCS -1.00 Deduction ; 132.42 FS = 202.66 Total

Sidenote: I did the math and had Yuzuru managed the quad toe and thus had the second triple lutz-double toe count, it would have added 14.34 to his base value, which would put him at 217.00 total, just barely behind Jeremy Abbott (assuming the rest of the jumps were performed and graded the same as they were). And if Yuzuru had done the quad as well as he did at NHK (where it garnered an 1.29 in GOE) and/or gotten good GOE on the lutz combo, he very likely would have overtaken Jeremy for the bronze. Dang.

Alban Preaubert (France): Began with a fall an an underrotated quad attempt, but followed with a nice triple axel-double toe. Triple loop was fine too, along with an okay flying spin and footwork (those were only level 2's though). Another good triple axel and an alright triple flip-double toe. Doubled an intended triple lutz, and then did a rough triple salchow-triple toe-double toe. Footwork wasn't particularly good again and then a spin with decent speed, but traveled. One last decent triple flip and a much better combo spin at the end. Blah. I still like him better with humorous programs.68.32 TE 66.86 PCS -1.00 Deduction ; 134.18 FS = 204.68 Total

Artur Gachinski (Russia): Quad toe attempt popped into a double. Triple axel-double toe-single loop; the first two jumps of the combo were nice. Scratch on the landing on the second triple axel and an okay flying camel, but his donut position is either weird or simply poor. Good triple loop and triple flip. Some of the first footwork sequence was alright, but then it sputtered into simple, silly things. How did that get a level 3? Okay spin and then a doubled lutz. Triple toe was fine, as well as a double axel-double axel sequence. Second footwork sequence was exactly the kind of thing Plushenko does, unsurprising as he and Artur share the same coach (That got almost a point and half on GOE! O.O). Combo spin was so slow at the end. That program, in my mind, was a hot mess. All that was was a rehash of Plushenko on a 17 year old boy. The dramatic arms on landings and the sliding of the hands across the face are NOT artistry to me. I wish Artur's coach would put effort into giving him his own skating style instead of trying to clone Plushenko. 61.43 TE 69.16 PCS ;130.53 FS = 202.94 Total

Tomas Verner (Czech Republic): Triple lutz-triple toe for a nice start. Held onto that first triple axel, followed up with a good triple loop. Footwork was alright, as well as the flying sit. Some of the music cuts are abrupt, but I think this Michael Jackson medley suits Tomas pretty well. It's amusing and just seems to work well on him for some reason or another. Good triple axel-double toe and an alright triple lutz. Very nice triple salchow, but then a fallout on a double axel. Triple flip-double toe-double loop, good enough but got edge called. Decent spin and okay footwork that was fun. The part with the Thiller laugh cracks me up so much. An alright combo spin to end. Pretty good skate! Better than I expected, that's for sure. 78.09 TE 78.12 PCS ; 156.21 FS = 230.11 Total

Jeremy Abbott (United States): Fall on the opening quad toe and it was underrotated :-/. There went all hope of him winning this, unfortunately. Fallout on the triple flip after that too, but got it back together for a good triple axel-triple toe combination. Okay flying upright spin, then nice footwork sequence, followed by a nice double axel. Fallout on the second triple axel. Triple loop-single toe-tight double toe, the latter deemed underrotated. Sit change sit was alright, but the last variation was slow. Fall on the second triple lutz (underrotated). Ugh. The wrong Jeremy definitely showed up today. Triple salchow was good though, as well as the second footwork sequence. I really love that transition where he slides on his knee and turns and looks straight at the judges; it's exquisite. Nice combo spin to end. Poor Jeremy. He looks unhappy. He's way better than this, but I guess it's better than peaking too early again this season. I definitely hope to see a clean performance of this program at some point; it could be gorgeous.  64.26 TE 77.34 PCS -2.00 Deductions ; 139.60 = 217.21

Patrick Chan (Canada): Fall on the quad and it was also underrotated. Triple axel-triple toe was pretty good, tough might've been a little tough. Good triple lutz and footwork with great flow, but again, that highkick needs a break. Nice flying spin, but fell on the following triple axel and triple lutz. What a splatfest he and Jeremy are having today... not good. Okay spin and an alright triple flip.  Triple loop-double toe, good. Double axel-triple toe, with the latter being wonky, but it didn't count anyway because of the second triple lutz not having a combo on it. Alright footwork with the highkick again. Good ending combo spin. 66.95 TE 81.30 PCS -3.00 Deductions ; 145.25 FS = 227.21

So glad to see Tomas edge out Patrick for the title, even if it did take Patrick doing too many combos. I still don't understand why Patrick gets such good scores with so many errors, but I'm just relieved to see him not get gold for it this time - I was convinced he had it, with the scores he gets. Good for Tomas; hopefully this will give him confidence and help him keep getting more consistency under his belt. As for the event as a whole though... Let's just say that I'm already eagerly looking forward to Trophee Eric Bompard next week.

P.S. Something I noticed... in this very underwhelming men's event, there was one common denominator missing that all of the other Grand Prix's this season happened to have; that being that at least one of the top three Japanese men (Takahashi, Oda, and Kozuka) were competing in each of those events . Interesting, no? ;)

Freeskate Results
Overall Results

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cup of Russia - Men's Short

Well, that was fairly underwhelming for the most part. There were a few bright spots though, so let's get started!

Ivan Tretiakov (Russia): Slightly odd entry into his triple axel, but it ended up okay. Triple flip-triple toe ; flip was a bit rough, but not bad overall. Triple lutz was on the good side. Slow spins overall, though the positions were okay. Footwork was fine too, looked like a decent level. Overall, just a rather boring skate, no personality and little speed. 36.43 TE 29.18 PCS = 65.61 Total

Konstantin Menshov (Russia): So much more speed than Ivan, even in the first few seconds of the program. Triple axel looked crooked in the air, but it was landed really well. Triple lutz/flip (I missed which... I don't do mornings!)-double toe, good. Doubled the loop. Slow flying camel with a poor variation. Footwork was alright, but had these weird noises in it, like sirens. Combo spin was on the slow side, but the sit change sit was better, at least until the final variation. Some attempt at entertainment in this program, but I didn't really dig it. I felt like it mostly fell flat. 36.27 TE 31.07 PCS = 67.34 Total

Anton Kovalevski (Ukraine): Awkward costume... it looks really, really, really junior. Fall on the triple axel, then a triple lutz-triple toe with the second foot down on the toe. Maybe underrotated? Triple loop wasn't bad , though his flying camel was slow and that knee catch variation looked terrible. So much arm waving in the footwork... blah. Sloppy change foot spin and the spins in generally weren't very good. 31.01 TE 30.04 PCS -1.00 Deduction = 60.05

Tatsuki Machida (Japan): Fall on the opening triple axel. Huge triple flip- 2 and 1/2 toe... maybe that flip was too huge. Dang it. Slow combo spin and the second spin was sloppy too. Hand down on the triple lutz. Okay footwork, but this whole program felt really rushed. Tatsuki had a lot of speed going into the jumps, but maybe it was too much, or just didn't have enough control. What a shame. I rather liked his freeskate at Cup of China. 26.76 TE 30.61 PCS -1.00 Deduction = 56.37 Total

Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan): Pretty good triple axel, maybe a little bit underrotated? Lovely triple lutz-triple toe. Rather good combination spin with mostly nice positions, except that A-Frame (one of these days I may write a post on that stupid thing!). Good triple flip, though may have been edge called. Alright footwork, and a camel with a donut variation, which was nice enough until it lost some speed. Really nice speed and good positioning on the sit change sit. His basic skating is so pretty too... very smooth. I don't believe I would mind just watching him skate around the rink. 37.86 TE 32.38 PCS = 70.24 Total I definitely would have had him a bit higher on components. If nothing else, the Skating Skills should be in the 7's. Good enough for first at this point.

Javier Fernandez (Spain): His skating seems so slow compared to Yuzuru that I actually wondered if my feed was lagging :-/. Sorry, Javier. Alright triple axel, looked a little far back on the takeoff. Triple lutz-triple toe, rough on the tail end and looked underrotated. Eeked out the triple flip. Flying sit with variations, eh.  Sit change sit was a little better. Footwork stopped a good bit and wasn't particularly good, although Javier tried to interact with the crowd in it. BAD camel positions in the last spin. All in all, a rather messy performance. 34.07 TE 32.39 PCS = 66.46 Total

Artur Gachinski (Russia): Quad toe-double toe was gorgeous! A little forward on the landing of the triple axel, but it was great in the air. Okay triple loop. Sit change sit with a twist variation was okay, as well as the footwork. Donut position in his camel spin is odd, and he almost lost the combo spin entirely during some of the variations. Absolutely no surprise that Alexei Mishin coaches him. Plushenko was in the stands too, by the way. 39.35 TE 33.46 PCS = 72.81 Total

Alban Preaubert (France): Pretty good triple flip-triple toe to start off. Triple axel looked a little weird in the air, but it ended up being kinda good.  Sit change sit was okay, and the triple loop was good. Flying spin was alright and the footwork was kind of fun. Massive traveling on that final upright spin. Pretty good skate for him, and I think this type of music suits him better than the classic he is using for his freeskate this season. 31.21 TE 34.29 PCS = 70.50 Total Slightly ahead of Hanyu... hm.

Samuel Contesti (Italy): Double lutz-triple toe. Oops. Well, aside from the doubling of the lutz, it was pretty nice. Held onto that triple axel, and then I think the triple flip was two footed or something. It was definitely wonky. Flying sit was okay until the end, where it slowed down. Footwork was kind of good I guess, but the spins at the end were mostly slow. Program was sort of fun, but not particularly stand out. Lots of tech problems. 31.12 TE 34.53 PCS = 65.69 Total

Tomas Verner (Czech Republic): The invisible umbrella he skates with on his way to the first jump was really a cute detail. Good triple-triple combo, but I thought the toe might be a little bit underrotated. Triple axel was alright, and his triple lutz was good too. Slow flying camel though, but his footwork was nice. Combo spin was okay but a little on the slow side, and his sit change sit was a lot better. It was a nice performance, but I know Tomas can sell this better. It wasn't quite there yet for me. 36.95 TE 37.15 PCS = 74.10 Total

Jeremy Abbott (United States): Triple lutz-triple toe... good! Followed that up with a gorgeous triple axel - wow! He is really on today. I was afraid that the other Jeremy was going to show up :P. Sit change sit with variation was really fast compared to everyone else's spins. Good triple flip. A little bit of footwork into a flying upright spin, kinda nice, and the footwork sequence was pretty good too. Great combo spin at the end.  (I have heard that both he and Chan had spin issues in the short... I'd love to see the protocols now.) Still a lot of arm movement going on throughout the program, but I liked it so much better here than at NHK. It felt more believable. 39.07 TE 38.54 PCS = 77.61 Total

Patrick Chan (Canada): Quad toe-triple toe was fantastic. And then... a fall on a triple axel. Good combo spin, and a very nice triple flip. Thought his flying spin was good too, and the change foot spin was on the good side , but a wee bit slow at the end (but once again, apparently there was a spin issue I didn't catch.). He really did have nice footwork, but I'm really tired of seeing that high kick move in every program that he does. It's a cool move, but it's getting seriously redundant.  42.54 TE 40.42 PCS - 1.00 Deduction = 81.86

Huh? I didn't think Patrick should be above Jeremy, because of that fall, even with the quad-triple being so well done. I also thought that Jeremy's spins were a lot better. I don't really see much artistry in Patrick's skating either, but oh well. Different strokes for different folks. ;)

Overall... that was pretty boring. My highlights were definitely Jeremy,Yuzuru, and the fact that the seats remind me of legos.

Short Program Results

30 Days of Skating - Day 11: Top 5 Favorite Male Figure Skaters

Decisions, decisions... I could probably list ten or fifteen favorite male skaters! I'll try for a top five though, and maybe some honorable mentions, so that I don't fully exclude some that I really like, but that don't quite make the top five. The top five are....

Daisuke Takahashi: If you've read more than one or two posts on this blog, I'm sure you saw this one coming from a mile away. :P What can I say? Daisuke has gorgeous jumps, amazing footwork, very nice basics, and really skates with passion. I first noticed him when he skated at the Paris Grand Prix at least 5 years ago, but not for the reason you'd think; He was having a rather rough free program, even having a wipeout during footwork or something, and I actually heard some people in the crowd laughing, which really made me feel badly for him. After a somewhat disappointing Olympic debut, Dai really amazed me at 2007 Worlds, where he claimed silver after a very inspiring freeskate. He's been a favorite ever since. (Also, may I say; Who's laughing now? ;) )

Johnny Weir: Yeah... I know. The last few seasons haven't been Johnny's best, for many reasons, but he still holds a special place in my heart. I first saw him when I was 11,  when he skated to second place in the short program at 2003 Nationals, but injured himself in the freeskate and consequently had to withdraw. Like Daisuke, I felt terrible for him, but one day when I was about to leave the house, I found Eastern Sectionals on tv just in time to see Johnny on the ice. I was really happy that he came back after the "Dallas Disaster", and was thrilled when he not only made Nationals, but won it with a flawless freeskate. After that, Johnny did have a couple more excellent seasons, and of course some that weren't so great, but he has left me with some magical memories and performances to look back on, along with frustration that he never really reached his full potential.

Jeffrey Buttle: I don't remember thinking anything in particular about Jeffrey, until the 2006 Olympics, where he won the bronze after falling twice in the free, which really didn't sit well with me with Johnny placing behind him with no falls, and whatnot. Now that emotions aren't so high (I wanted a medal for Johnny SO badly!), and I've watched the performances again, I actually can see why Jeff placed ahead of him and why, despite usually making at least a couple of errors, Jeff has so many medals. He really does skate beautifully and has a magic that was rarely tarnished, even when there where technical problems. Thankfully, I did learn to appreciate his skating a couple of years before his retirement, and I was so thrilled when he finally put a clean competition together and won a World title. He really did deserve it, and I have to say, I still miss his presence on the competitive circuit.

Stephane Lambiel: I do remember seeing Stephane win his first World title on tv in 2005 and thinking he did well, but he didn't quite capture my attention at that point in time. Like Jeffrey, I didn't understand his placement at the Olympics at first, with he not even attempting any triple axels. Again though, after some time passed and I rewatched the competition, I really enjoyed Stephane a lot! His musicality, his step sequences, and spins are just wonderful. He paid/pays so much attention to the artistry of the program, I still go back and watch competitions where he'd had technical trouble because the actual performance was still fantastic. Unfortunately, this past Olympic Games were the one exception that I can recall where the life was sucked out of the performances. Even so, as a whole, his skating is pure, lovely, and entertaining, and I will miss seeing him compete.

Adam Rippon: I first heard about Adam right after he won his junior National title. Many people that mentioned him were saying how his style was similar to Johnny Weir's... so I decided to check him out once junior World's videos were up on icenetwork. I was very impressed by his skating; even without a triple axel, he could break the 200 mark! As time has gone by, I definitely think Adam has continued to improve, technically and artistically. He's very comfortable to watch; usually he inspires a sense of confidence that the jumps are going to get done, unlike many skaters. I think that he is becoming an ideal all around skater, as he seems to have few weaknesses. One of the things that stands out most about him for me, is the sense of joy in his skating. I love the freedom and passion in it. It is something that so often gets lost in the grind of competition,so I love seeing it in him; it is incredibly refreshing. I think Adam has what it takes to be at the top of the sport, and I am really looking forward to seeing him compete over the next few years.

Honorable Mentions: Takahiko Kozuka, Jeremy Abbott, Florent Amodio, and Nobunari Oda.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

30 Days of Skating - Day 10: Last competition/show you attended

Unfortunately, I have never been to an elite level skating competition, but the last skating show I went to was Kimmie's Angels on Ice on August 25th, 2007. I was extremely fortunate enough to have that show close enough for me to go to, and managed to get VIP tickets, allowing me to see the practice before the show and go to a special dinner, etc. It was a really great experience, and the best parts were definitely being able to be so close to the ice and being able to meet some of my favorite skaters, including Jeffrey Buttle and Johnny Weir. I was really impressed by the skating in general - Jeffrey Buttle left me in awe with his "Go the Distance" program! Even some of the skaters I wasn't as excited to see were really impressive in person, like Steven Cousins and Brooke Castille and Benjamin Okolski. I hope that someone can get a skating tour similar to this running again, now that Champions on Ice is gone. I'd love to see more live skating like that!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cup of China - Men's Long

Better late than never I suppose. ;)

Peitong Chen (China): Triple axel fallout, same for the following triple lutz. He really gave the lutz up though; it could have been held onto. Good triple loop. Footwork doesn't really stand out. Two-footed the triple salchow, and decent sit change sit. Managed to pull off a double axel-double toe combination, but fell on the triple flip shortly thereafter. Okay triple toe, spin, and another footwork sequence. Peitong really doesn't leave much impression. Fall on his second triple lutz and okay spin to end. Blah. 46.14 TE 51.70 PCS ; 95.84 FS = 150.69 Total

Jialiang Wu (China): A nice opening with a pretty good triple axel-triple toe, and a triple salchow that looked more like a double. Second triple axel was alright, and the first triple lutz was fine. Slowish spin, and alright footwork until he tripped. Ouch. Squeezed out a triple lutz-double toe, and did an okay triple loop. Another slow spin... Double axel-double toe-double toe was okayish. Fall on an underrotated triple flip. Slow footwork and then fell during a flying sit... what?!? Geez, and that was the ending! Poor Jialiang. I liked this program a million times better at his other Grand Prix this season! 65.88 TE 51.92 PCS -3.00 Deductions ; 114.80 FS = 172.56 Total

Peter Liebers (Germany): Sherlock Holmes soundtrack... could be interesting. Very nice opening quad toe. Triple axel-triple toe, alright. Walley into an okayish triple lutz.  Footwork is kind of interesting, and his flying spin was well done. Held onto a double axel somehow, but had a nice triple salchow-double toe combo after. Very crooked triple loop that he fell out of, unsurprisingly. He lost some speed on the next spin, but it really wasn't bad overall. Another fallout on his triple flip, which was marked underrotated. Double axel-double toe-double toe was nice. Footwork was fine, but his final spin died out. Pretty decent overall, and  I like the concept of a Sherlock Holmes program, but Peter could definitely try to sell it more. 59.16 TE 57.00 PCS ; 116.16 FS = 175.94 Total

 Samuel Contesti (Italy): Opening triple axel was alright, as well as his triple flip. Put both hands down on his triple lutz and then had a slow spin. I'm kinda liking the footwork. Much better spin this time (until the end of it, at least,), and an okay triple axel-double toe-double toe. Samuel is mostly getting the jumps, but his technique seems weird to me. Triple loop was fine, and after that he did a nice double axel. Second footwork sequence seems kind of simple to me, and rather lackluster. Triple salchow-triple toe was good, and an okayish triple toe-double axel sequence. Not a whole lot of zest to the performance, which is kind of odd because he's sometimes kinda fun to watch. 73.16 TE 65.08 PCS ; 138.24 FS = 198.84 Total

Jinlin Guan (China): Fell on his first element, the quad toe, but it did look rotated to me. Very nice triple flip, but then a weird hop out thing on his triple salchow. Decent spin. Triple lutz was pretty good, and then a nice spin with good variations. First footwork sequence is alright, if unremarkable. Triple flip-double toe-double loop, okay. Turnout on the triple loop, though after that he pulled of an alright triple lutz-triple toe combo. Light and easy double axel-double axel sequence, and some zest in that second set of footwork, which is great to see. Topped it off with a pretty good ending spin. Not too shabby... Jinlin needs a triple axel or two, but that wasn't bad at all. 70.89 TE 62.08 PCs ; FS 131.97 = 196.92 Total

Tatsuki Machida (Japan): Fall on opening quad toe. Good recovery with a nice triple axel-triple toe combination though, and then a nice enough triple lutz. Footwork was alright, and his flying sit really had nice speed. He seems to have good speed and flow across the ice too. Good triple flip and an okay triple loop. Second triple axel got tilted in the air and he fell. Flying sit change sit into a cannonball position, pretty good. Single lutz-double toe, argh. Triple salchow-double toe-double loop was nice for the first two jumps, but got rough with the loop. Second footwork sequence was much more enjoyable than the first, and he ended with a good combo spin. There's something inherently likeable about Tatsuki's skating to me. I'm curious to see how he'll develop. 69.73 TE 66.44 PCS -2.00 Deductions ; 134.17 FS = 200.95 Total

Ross Miner (USA): Starting with an alright circular footwork sequence, interesting way to start for sure. Triple axel was pretty good, easily the best I've seen him do. Following that up with a good triple lutz-triple toe combination, and then a triple flip-double toe, also well done. Fairly well done spin, and an alright triple loop. Walley into what I thought was a nice triple lutz, but the technical controller called it underrotated. Triple salchow-double toe-double toe. Second footwork sequence was alright, but it lacks flair and his position during the twizzles really drives me insane. High kick pick in for his triple flip, resulting in a fall and was marked underrotated. Nice spin, but afterward his double axel came out on two feet! Weird mistake for a guy who can land a triple axel. Ended with a sub-par spin and finished after the music had already ended. Definitely the better than his previous Grand Prix, but Ross did lose steam toward the end. Still, I'm glad to see him skate pretty well. 64.01 TE 67.02 PCS -1.00 Deduction ; 130.03 FS = 197.13 Total

Sergei Voronov (Russia): An attempted quad became a 3 and 1/2 toe loop, and the landing of it injured his knee, leading him to withdraw. Poor guy. I may not be a fan, but who would wish this on any skater?

Brandon Mroz (USA): A nicely done quad toe to open.Triple axel-triple toe was okay, and same for the first triple lutz. Not really a fan of that first footwork sequence. Again, triple loop was done well enough, and his death drop was okay, but it got rather slow at the end. Second triple axel, better than his first. Triple lutz-double toe was alright, as was the triple salchow. Triple flip-double toe-double loop, same as most of his other jumps - fine. Another spin that was on the slow side, but I liked his second footwork sequence better than the first. His final spin was a little better than the others, I think. Very good skate for Brandon; it's really nice to see him smile ( He doesn't usually seem too happy in the K&C, from what I remember.) He does get the jumps done, but they aren't really aesthetically pleasing - at least not to me. They don't sing. I'm not a particular fan of the program either. Oh well. Good for him. 78.98 TE 67.98 PCS ; 146.96 FS = 216.80 Total

Tomas Verner (Czech Republic): Michael Jackson medley. Nice triple flip-triple toe to start, followed by a good triple axel-double toe. Doubled his intended triple loop. Cute footwork, but slow spin after that. Determined to hold onto his second triple axel, which was marked underrotated in the protocols. Scratchy triple lutz, but then a lovely triple salchow. Double axel with excellent timing to the music. Triple flip-double toe-double loop, good, but edge-called on the flip. Nice spin, and great music for the second footwork sequence. I loved the Thriller laugh and his mouthing it! Very fun program, and pretty well skated overall! Tomas even moonwalked on his way off the ice! 68.94 TE 75.56 PCS ; 144.50 FS = 214.81 Total

Brian Joubert (France): Quad toe to start, which was deemed underrotated. Easy triple salchow and an alright triple axel-double toe combo. Okay flying upright spin and variation, but it looked really simple. His first footwork sequence was done well enough, but it was only a level 2. His costume (which he definitely used in a prior season) is really distracting me from the actual performance. It doesn't suit this music well at all, at least I don't think so. Edge called triple flip-triple toe, the latter of which he fell out of. Great double axel and an okay triple lutz. Another simplistic spin and more decent footwork, but it bores me. Triple loop, fine, then a triple salchow-half loop (downgraded)-double salchow. Sit change sit combo spin ending with an upright position, performed well enough but again, rather simple. I'm not really loving this program. Maybe Brian just needs to interpret it more and change the costume, but it was all rather blah to me. Plus I don't understand why he watered down his technical content so much. I mean the flip usually gets an edge call on it, so I understand only doing one of those, but his triple lutz is usually huge and his triple axel is usually fine, so why only one of each of those? His spins were done well enough though, but they were so easy... three level 1's and one level 2. Peitong Chen, who ended up in last place, tried harder spins than that. That, quite frankly, is ridiculous for someone who has medaled at World's as many times as Joubert has. 62.99 TE 72.50 PCS ; 135.49 FS = 210.29 Total

Takahiko Kozuka (Japan): Hand down on his opening quad toe and held onto his following triple axel.  Good triple lutz-double toe combination, followed by a slowish spin. Lovely footwork, very lyrical. Triple axel-double toe-double loop, good! Triple flip was well done, and the triple lutz-double toe combination afterward was fine too. Triple loop, well done, and held onto that triple salchow. I love his death drop, he does it so well, and his second footwork sequence was very nice. Ended very well, last position in his final spin being his usual scratch spin. A solid skate. Haha, he's so adorable in the kiss and cry! 81.41 TE 74.70 PCS ; 156.11 FS = 233.51 Total

Freeskate Results 
Overall Results 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Skating updates

It appears that Johnny Weir is making more serious attempts to get his jumps back, after losing some of them due to lack of training following the Olympics.

Triple Axel and triple Axel-triple toe (cheated triple toe)

The axels look clean to me =)!I'm so glad to see that's he's buckled down enough to get his triple axel back. Seeing him do double and triple toes in All That Skate LA was really disheartening. Of course, by no means do I think this means that Johnny is going to compete again, but it'd be great for him to have his normal triples for shows at least.

Also, it appears there are two open slots in the men's competition for Trophee Eric Bompard next week, due to withdrawals by Michal Brezina and Sergei Voronov. Still no word on who will be replacing them, but it seems a recent Grand Prix bronze medalist is certainly willing to go if asked. ;)

Blast from the Past - Worlds 2007:The Men

Of all my figure skating tapes and dvds I've made over the years, I have to say that my dvds of the 2007 World Championship are some of the ones that I have watched the most . That said, it is certainly not without good reason: I quite enjoyed the men's event that year, even with Johnny Weir (yes, a favorite of mine) finishing in 8th place. The highlights are, for me at least, are...

Stephane Lambiel: After a less than perfect (but still fabulous) short program, he went on to have some difficulties on his jumps in the freeskate as well, but despite the mistakes, I love the passion in that performance and it remains a favorite of mine to this day. In addition, there is this fluff that really makes the passion in his programs at that event even sweeter, in my mind at least.

Jeffrey Buttle: Like Stephane, he also had a rough time technically in the free, but as with Stephane, I really enjoyed his overall performance. I think that those performances standing up as favorites even with the mistakes really underscores the fact that these two men were adapt at not letting technical errors ruin the program as a whole, which is definitely something you can't say about very many skaters these days.

Tomas Verner: His freeskate here definitely put him on the map. I didn't have any recollection of him before that, but it was a nice surprise to see a relative unknown step up to plate on the biggest competition of the season. Hopefully Tomas can put the puzzle pieces back together and get back to these kind of results.

Daisuke Takahashi: His near flawless freeskate (save for a hand down on his opening quad toe loop) was absolutely gorgeous, and the best part the fact he pulled it off in his home country! Daisuke skated a lovely program to Phantom of the Opera, which was full of solid jumps and great artistry. Brian Joubert may have won the World title, but Daisuke definitely had the performance of the night.

30 Days of Skating - Day 9: Code of Points - Give your opinion

I'm warning you now, this is probably going to be very wordy. With that said, let the rant begin!

I think there is a lot of good and bad to the Code of Points system. I love that it helps skaters see which technical elements in their skating need work, and I think that it has made footwork and spins so much more important than they were under the 6.0 system. I also think that the Grade of Execution marks are a really good idea generally; I mean, certainly someone who does a really high, easy triple axel deserves to earn more points on that element than someone who just barely lands it . On the flip side, GOE's have clearly been used to prop skaters up before (I.e. Skate Canada 2010, Mr. Chan.), giving positive GOE when the jumps were scratchy or simply sufficient. And of course, there are other instances where GOE marks are used to keep some skaters lower in the standings.

I also feel that underrotation, downgrade, and wrong edge penalties are a nice idea in theory, and I appreciate it encourages better technique,  but there have been several times where I have been absolutely certain a jump was rotated or on the proper edge (rewatching the element several times to be sure, so that I wasn't just blowing smoke), and a skater has been penalized for it being 'incorrect'. That is bogus to me, and possibly a way of helping judge's favorites stay ahead. And again, on the opposite end, sometimes a skater is obviously on the wrong edge or has clearly underrotated, yet doesn't receive so much as a slap on the wrist.

Having the Program Components Score highlight five different areas of focus is another great idea... in theory. In practice however, there is rarely much variation between the different sections, regardless of whether a skater actually performed or not. If a skater has a program full of transitions, of course the Transitions score  should reward it, but if that same skater performed the program without connecting to the music and audience at all, their Interpretation score should be lower, and vice versa. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case; the marks all tend to be very similar, regardless of if there were no transitions or if it was an absolutely lifeless skate.

This system hasn't solved most of the problems with the 6.0 system; it's just made the problems more complex. I think the real issue here is that it is the same people running the sport that made that hot mess that was the 2002 Olympic Pairs scandal. Didier Gailhaguet is the French Federation President again for crying out loud, despite his involvement and being suspended for a period of time. The fact that he can come back after all of that and being in a high position, in addition to the anonymous judging, seems to leave judges without much fear of punishment for cheating. And certainly, now that the system has been in effect for a few years, the judges have learned how to cheat, if they so desire, but now they can do it more effectively using GOE and the PCS.  The system may be new, but the way it is used is exactly the way the 6.0 was used before it. 

I think that the best way to make the judging more fair is to remove the veil of anonymity and make the judges take responsibility for the marks they give out, and putting into effect more severe consequences for cheating (including a lifetime ban for multiple repeat offenses). Unless this happens, I don't think that much is going to change in the way this sport is judged. 

You've heard mine, but what is your opinion?

Skate America: Men's Freeskate

Viktor Pfeifer (Austria):Good triple toe-triple toe to start. I'm rather surprised that he picked that for a combination, but it was performed well. Okay double axel and a triple flip that had a wonky takeoff. Triple flip-triple toe, with a delay between the jumps but otherwise okay. Circular step sequence was so very slow. Triple salchow-double toe - somehow pulled it off despite a bit of a slip on the salchow. Turnout on a triple lutz, but a fine triple loop soon after. Camel spin with a change of edge into a catchfoot that had a nice position, but it lacked speed. Fall on a double axel. A spin featuring a cannonball position was slow, and then blase footwork. Weird sit variation change sit into that weird upright spin that he did in the short as well. That was a really flat performance and he skates really slowly. 53.02 TE 55.44 PCS -1.00 Deduction ; 107.46 FS = 162.47 Total

Shawn Sawyer (Canada): Triple axel attempt... two footed but probably the best one I've seen him do! It was marked underrotated in the protocosl though... Boo! Triple flip-triple toe was good, but then a triple lutz that looked two footed and flutzed to me. Triple salchow with a tano arm I think? It was scratchy. Lovely sit with a twist variation and then an amazing spiral. Footwork into a triple loop. Double flip-half loop-triple loop sequence, good aside from the doubling of the flip. Character driven footwork, which is especially cool to see since I love Alice in Wonderland. Nice double axel, and then a cantavalier into an outside camel with more variations.  More good footwork, and then a double axel-double toe-double loop (underrotated) that overall was fine. Another nice spin featuring his split spin to end. Go Shawn! That was actually fairly clean, and it's really nice to see this program without a fall. Someone threw him a Mad Hatter hat which he wore in the Kiss and Cry, haha. I love it. 63.10 TE 66.58 PCS ; 129.68 FS = 186.62 Total

Stephen Carriere (United States): Good double axel in the beginning, but then a fall on an underrotated (and downgraded) quad that had a less common entry. Had a minor slip on the footwork, but it didn't really interrupt it and the rest of it was fine. An alright triple lutz, then a flying camel that could use more height, and the donut variation could be better, though it did have nice speed. Had to hold the triple flip a bit, but it wasn't bad. Double axel-triple toe, nice, then a triple loop-double toe with a tano arm-double toe. Good speed on the sit change sit, but the A-Frame strikes again. Another footwork sequence that was okay, but it didn't leave much of an impression. It seems like a lot of these guys aren't really using the footwork to connect to the audience and draw them into the performance. Good triple salchow, and a rough triple flip, but he managed to eek out a double toe on the end. Spin with a cannonball variation then a hop into a sit variation with a foot held in the back. Pretty good skate for him, best I've seen him do in the last couple of seasons. He needs his triple axel back though. In an icenetwork post-event article, Stephen said, and I quote, "The triple axel hasn't been my best friend; it's been a pain in the butt, literally." 62.28 TE 63.78 PCS -1.00 Deduction ; 155.06 FS = 184.20

Nan Song (China): Quad attempt popped into a double toe, but managed a triple axel-triple toe after, despite the lack of speed on the entry. No speed at all going into the triple loop, resulting in a fall. Okay spin with a hopover. Held onto the triple lutz-double toe. Twist spin and another sit variation, not bad. Fallout on the second triple axel, but the jump itself was good. Okay triple flip that was edge called, and pretty footwork, though a bit slow. Another triple lutz that was held onto, but possibly two footed. Triple salchow-double toe was okay, though a delay in between the jumps. Spread eagle to flying camel into a sit that was okay. He really ran out of gas at the end and didn't seem to get his feet under him in general. Cute moment making a stuffed animal wave in the K&C. 60.55 TE 58.34 PCS ; 117.89 FS = 180.10 Total

Kevin van der Perren (Belgium): I'm awfully glad there's mesh on this costume this time and if you've seen it, I'm pretty sure you agree with me. :P Pretty good quad toe to start things off, pitched forward a bit but he absolutely refused to put a hand down. Good for him. Really nice triple axel too! Triple flip-triple toe, the latter being two footed. Much better twist in this program, but there was a slow variation after that. Footwork... meh. Hydroblade into a triple salchow, nice, but he could get down lower in that hydroblade (don't get me wrong though, it's nice to see one again, as they've become scarce.). Held onto a triple loop, then popped the lutz into a double. Triple flip-double toe was good, though the flip wasn't as easy as the first. Flying spin into slow sit change sit, but fine double axel-triple toe. Slow camel variation into sit then variation. That combo absolutely crawled at the end. I forgot about the second footwork sequence somewhere in there... just didn't stand out I guess. He really needs work on the spins, footwork, and maybe stamina. 69.87 TE 62.54 PCS ; 132.41 FS = 194.63

Adrian Schultheiss (Sweden): Solid quad toe, wow. I didn't realize he had one. Triple axel-double was nice too, and the triple lutz-double toe was fine, though he could reach back more on the lutz. Flying camel was fine until he lost the spin on a variation, resulting in only a level 1 and a negative GOE. Doubled his loop after that, then footwork that was alright. Good triple salchow and an okay combination spin but again, level 1. Singled an axel. Triple flip and triple lutz-double toe were managed. Footwork was okay, and then a final spin with a twist position and another variation, a little slow at the end. That was one of the better performances I've seen him do, and it's nice to see after his concerns over his coach the prior night. (Who, by the way, was at the rink for the freeskate and thanked the doctors and crowd for the support in the K&C.) 60.21 TE 64.28 PCS ; 124.49 FS = 188.20 Total  

Denis Ten (Kazakhstan): He has some fight in him, but that was pretty much a disaster. Five falls. Insanity. I feel bad for Denis. :-/ 54.69 TE 61.92 PCS Deductions - 5.00 ; 111.61 FS = 176.11 Total

Daisuke Murakami (Japan): Edge called triple lutz-triple toe, which aside from the edge, was nicely done. Solid triple axel-double toe. Triple flip had a bit of a scratch, then an okay camel spin with a catch foot variation. Footwork was sold nicely, he definitely succeeded in getting the crowd involved, and it was pretty good. He smiles a lot during his programs, at least at this competition, which I do think helps add some expression to it. Another triple axel which was pretty good, as well as a triple salchow that was nice too.  Triple loop, fell out of and put both hands down on, counted as a fall. Good triple toe and double axel, along with another footwork sequence which was alright. Deathdrop was a little slow at the end, but overall it and the final combo spin were okay. More than I expected from him coming into this event, based off his Nationals placement. 68.83 TE 68.16 PCS - 1.00 Deduction ; 135.99 FS = 203.00 Total

Armin Mahbonoozadeh (United States): Music is from Avatar, interesting choice. I think his costume reflects the character well, without looking too over the top. Walley into a triple toe to begin, followed by a lovely triple axel! Next was a great triple lutz-double tano toe, and a good triple loop. He really has excellent speed going into his jumps. Footwork was nice and relaxed, pretty.  Second triple axel in combination with a double toe; well done. Flying sit to twist to a back sit variation, lovely. Spread eagle into a triple flip, nice again! Followed that with a great combination spin with interesting variations. Triple salchow, fine, and then a small mistake in singling the intended second triple lutz, but Armin tacked on a double toe- tano double loop, making up a few lost points. The second footwork sequence was very nice, and the final combination spin featured a lovely donut position, sit position, and then a scratch to end. So much more than what I expected out of him! That program was absolutely awesome. I loved it even more upon seeing it again on the NBC broadcast! He even got a standing ovation. 73.62 TE 69.94 PCS ; 143.56 FS = 211.17 Total

Adam Rippon (United States): The opening of his freeskate really reminds me of Johnny Weir's Otonal :). Adam seemed a little off from the start, and then he singled an intended triple axel and tacked a single toe onto it. Cue Lisa entering the nervous zone entirely. After that he did a spread eagle into a nice double axel, and then a Rippon triple lutz, but had a slight wonkiness on the landing with the free leg. Footwork was really pretty, but not as nice artistically as it has been at his prior competitions.  Flying sit into a twist position was nice, and then a triple axel with a hand down. Triple flip-triple toe, the latter called underrotated was alright aside from that, but he needed to RELAX! Another spread eagle into a tano triple lutz-single toe-double loop with a tano. That lutz was a little off though. A fall on a triple flip was followed with a good spin, and nice footwork, but again, not as inspired as usual. Next was a triple salchow that looked nice, but was apparently underrotated. Another good spin to end. Poor Adam. :/ That was so shaky! I don't think I've ever seen him skate so poorly. He said in the K&C that he had no idea what had happened. Such a shame. 57.94 TE 72.24 PCS - 1.00 Deductions ; 129.18 FS = 203.12 Total

Daisuke Takahashi (Japan): Popped open his quad into a triple and stepped out of it. He managed to hold onto his first triple axel, thank goodness. Nice triple loop and an okay flying sit combo. Footwork was good; I think most would agree that his footwork sequences are a highlight of his programs. They always seem to incorporate the spirit of the program and draw you in.After that, triple flip-double toe, okay. Then an unfortunate wipeout on the second triple axel, which was downgraded. Next, a flying layback, pretty with decent speed. Good triple lutz I thought, but edge called? Huh. Good triple salchow, and then a triple lutz (again edge called)-double toe. Again, the footwork was wonderful and then closed with an alright combo spin. Certainly far from his best technically, but with his transitions and interpretation, I thought the actual performance was still pretty good, even with the fall, stepout, and a couple slightly scratchy landings. I dunno about the edge calls though; if the lutzes were on the wrong edge, it wasn't very obvious. Oh, and also like Armin, I enjoyed the program even more on the second viewing. 64.95 TE 85.00 PCS -1.00 Deduction ; 148.95 FS = 227.07 Total

A side note: Daisuke has said something after the competition about adjusting to the spring of his jumps being more powerful again (He had been jumping for again for only a few months before last season started) , so hopefully that is what is making his jumps less consistent than usual.

Nobunari Oda (Japan):Fall on the quad to start. Don't get me wrong, I like Nobunari, but that fall made me retain hope of Daisuke winning (As if you didn't know he was my favorite by now!:P) and thus, breathe a sigh of relief. Triple axel was alright, if a bit held on the landing. Triple flip-triple toe was fine, but didn't have his usual ease to it. Footwork was alright, and the first spin was good. Triple axel again, fine, but no combo on it makes it count automatically as a sequence, leaving Nobu with one legal combination left. Triple lutz-triple toe good, but triple toe was called underrotated. Triple loop, alright, but then he does too many combos with a triple salchow-double toe-double loop, receiving absolutely no credit for it. Good double axel to finish up the jumping, and ended the program with another well done footwork sequence and two spins, including a flying camel combo. I hate when he forgets to count the combinations! I feel bad for him, but I'm also really surprised that he hasn't learned to remember by now; I mean, it cost him a trip to the 2006 Olympics AND two World bronze medals (if I remember correctly.). 68.17 TE 79.64 PCS - 1.00 Deductions ; 146.81 FS = 226.09 Total

Freeskate Results
Overall Results

Monday, November 15, 2010

Brief thoughts of Skate America: Ladies Free (Final 6)

I did not take extensive notes during the ladies free, but I certainly did have a few thoughts on it.

Before I get started, I just wanted to give a quick shout out to Ms. Murakami; We're all indebted to her for helping keep Kostner off the top step of the podium, even if she still has some rough patches in her skating. Thanks Kanako!

Amelie Lacoste: Well... there goes that Fantasy pick! (Come on.. if you picked her, you were so thinking it too!:P)

Caroline Zhang: Gorgeous dress. Sorry to see that she's gained some weight... it's not gonna do her any favors on her jumps, especially with the technique corrections still in progress. The triple flip-double toe didn't seem so bad, but then the mega highkick into a 1 and 1/2 lutz results in that spectacular fall into a near split position. Dang Zhang! I don't think I've ever seen a singles girl manage to do that kind of a fall. One bright point though... she really does have a lovely layback spin, unlike most of the ladies I've seen recently.

Rachael Flatt: Her highkick on her flip and lutz made me insane today, worsened by the fact that she landed them cleanly aside from that, excepting the underrotated first lutz. It may sound mean, but I wish that the highkick would give her more trouble on those two jumps so that she'd be forced to learn a better technique for them if she wished to remain competitive. Other than that though, I was bored.

Joshi Helgesson: I kind of liked her dress.I think she underrotated the back end of two of her combos, but I appreciate the fact that she completed a triple lutz without a highkick, very, very much.

Kanako Murakami: She does the high kick too.... good heavens! (Why do these girl's coaches abide in this kind of poor technique? I was working on a single flip before I had to quit skating, and every single time that I would dp the highkick to try to tap in harder for more height,  my coach would screech at me not to do it. Every. Single. Time. And I never even tested!) Watching her and several other of these ladies makes me long for Dick Button's commentary- I can just imagine his reaction to their laybacks. ;)  It's good to to see a lady with some spunk though, although I do think it sometimes makes her skating appear sloppy. There's a glimpse of Yukari Nakano's infamous leg wrap in at least one of her combinations too, albeit to a lesser extent (thankfully!). I quite enjoyed her footwork though; that was pretty smooth, interesting, and well done.

Carolina Kostner: I am amazed that Scott Hamilton and the other commentators are trying so hard to make her lack of difficulty sound like a good thing! The upbeat outlook on that didn't do her many favors though; falling on her first triple loop and doubling the second, and even singled a double axel,  making her scant technical content even more watered down. She even was sloppy on a spin. She isn't my cup of tea to begin with, but that was a really poor freeskate. I'm so thankful that the judges didn't give her the win this time.

Overall, from what I've seen and heard from this event and the other Grand Prix's thus far, the ladies certainly have been lackluster this season. I'm certain that I am not alone in missing Michelle Kwan.

30 Days of Skating - Day 8: Favorite Ladies Program

Just like with the men, picking just one favorite ladies program is too difficult for me... so once again, here are a handful of favorites of mine.

Michelle Kwan 2004 Nationals Freeskate.

Passion, power, perfection. This one has made me cry so many times it's ridiculous.

Michelle Kwan 2003 Worlds Short program AND freeskate.

I've watched my tape of that World's over and over again, but it never really lost it's charm and magic. Also, a tidbit: I got to meet Michelle not long after that World's, at the Champions on Ice tour (Oh, how I miss that tour... so much better than Stars on Ice!). Upon meeting her,  for once in my life, I was speechless. My 11 year old self could only barely squeak out that she was my favorite skater. Haha... sweet memories. =)

Two more recent ones would be...

Kimmie Meissner's 2006 World's winning freeskate, which unfortunately, I can't seem to find on youtube. :|
Alright, so she may have had some technique issues, but this is a more sentimental one for me. Kimmie was in the same club as I was when I was really little, and skated at the rink I switched to a few years later occasionally too. I remember seeing her there after she had just won her novice National title and I had seen her exhibition on tv, so I went to congratulate her, etc. She was very sweet and humble and seems to have kept that demeanor as she's gotten older. Anyway, it was really, really amazing to see someone I had actually MET and shared the ice with win a World title, and it really couldn't have happened to a nicer girl.

Mirai Nagasu's Olympic Freeskate
And... the same case of it not being on youtube.:| NBC has it online somewhere though, I'm sure.
One of the few of the current crop of girls whose skating I particularly like, Mirai's hard work after National's really payed off with a fantastic freeskate at the Olympic Games. Plus, I never, ever would have guessed she would snag fourth place at only 16 years old. Here's to hoping that Mirai can skate like this again AND with some consistency.

Sadly, for the most part it seems like the ladies aren't skating great these days, even on the elite level. There's hardly any I'm even remotely interested in. The men are now what the ladies used to be, in my opinion.