Friday, November 19, 2010

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.

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