Archive for the ‘olympics’ Category
I’m still in shock that Nobunari didn’t score high enough to even compete in the LP/FS (falling to 28th with his SP). What a tragedy, and what a bad taste that must leave in his mouth. At least this wasn’t Tokyo 2011! Redemption next year, on home ice? I hope.
Tara is really relaxing into this commentating. Nice to see.
A Stellar Senior Worlds Debut
Adam Rippon: He starts with a lot of freedom. Great 3/3. What a consistent skater…whoops, a step out of his nemesis, the 3A (he has something in common with Stéphane). Not as memorable a program as his SP, but it’s fresh. YES…he lands a perfect 3A in the bonus! Beautiful Tano and Rippon lutzes. Wow, he’s really killin’ this! In his footwork he looks a little bit tired, but starts to express a bit more with his face. Good enough for bronze? We’ll see. BUT, at least this bodes well for our 3rd berth. Now it’s all up to Jeremy.
Olympic Hangover Free Skates
Adrian Schultheiss: He reminds me of Van der Perren. Straight-jacket concept, eh? CRAZY! His jumps are looking good, including his quad. I appreciate him taking some musical risks here, including Pac-Man audio samples, but he’s skating VERY slow, and not really expressing much. The program just doesn’t hold together or have any continuity.
Van der Perren: 4/3/3 (19 pts)! That was thrilling. Clean 3A. (Those were for his ailing grandfather!) This is impressive. 2F. Argh. His footwork almost throw-away. Lots of hunched over jump landings, BUT clean! This was a damn good skate for him to end his competitive career! So sweet to see him so emotional at the end. His first combo was a great reminder of just how effective they can be for wowing the audience (a nod to Plushy).
Belgosto’s Commentating Devirginization
Tanith initially looks a bit horrified…hands clasped tightly, and rather frozen in position. Belgosto use the word “excited” 4 times in the first 20 seconds. Clearly green. However, thankfully she’s worked on lowering her Minnie-Mouse helium voice, which she has now passed down to Meryl Davis. She sounds MUCH more pleasing and mature here. I suppose when you’re not out of breath after a performance, that’s easier to pull off. I’m excited for this opportunity for Belgosto. Good for them.
However, I can’t help but feeling that dorky old “dad” (aka Peter Carruthers) has crashed the fun, groovy, hip kid’s parté up in “the loft”…led by Sparkly Boy.
OD’ing on ODs?
Crone & Poirier: They are very promising. I love that he plays so butch in this spanish number, but in the kiss-n-cry the purse falls out of his mouth. You go gurl!
The Kerrs: Hawt male kilt alert! Now, that’s worth some major points. Interestingly, it makes him as much (or more) interesting to watch than her, which is a bit unusual, as usually the ladies’ costume has more flash. I like that they are not playing it safe in that respect. Who misses Johnny Cash? Not me. I like this program. It’s very entertaining and showy, but you can tell their hearts are in it. I really want to see this team move up in the standings. I’m not sure what it’s gonna take. A clean skate! And, a little Sharon Stone in the kiss-n-cry from John…nice!
Davis & White (2nd): I must confess, despite how much I love this program, I’m a bit tired of it. I think this speaks more to how LONG this season has been, with the Olympics and all. Despite that, I’m reminded of how unique this piece is. Every arm movement is “indigenous,” and not just a stock gesture. They are SO damn consistent. No bobbles or fizzles. Twizzles of fire! They’re here to win, and get a season’s best. Overall, scores at Worlds have been even higher than in Vancouver. Perhaps they’ll stage an upset?!
To Quad, or Not to Quad
Jeremy Abbott: Calm, cool, and collected! He was methodical, but clean, not attempting his quad, but getting through all of his elements. An enormous improvement over Vancouver. I’m proud of him for reigning it in, and seemingly successfully adjusting his mindset in such a short amount of time.
Takahiko Kozuka: He displays very fast, well centered spins. Although this program is not my style, he has evolved this to a level where it all came together…the rocker vibe imbued his appropriately edgy look, carriage, costume, dynamic edging, all in a very authentic manner. I can’t wait to see more from him, in 2010-11. As per Paul Wylie: “he will wrap this up.” And, he does!
Nobunari Oda: He really is all legs and ass. Wylie’s comment: “tremendous knees on this athlete” sounded like gay code for…well, I’ll leave it up to your imagination. 3 popped single jumps, REALLY? This Kostner-scaled meltdown may be the worst I’ve ever seen from a man on this level…yes, even worse than Verner. His program music doesn’t help…like bad Russian Liberace musak. I really feel for him, and wonder what happened. A little too much saké beforehand?
Patrick Chan (2nd): Amazing attack! I love his danceability, particularly in this Tango program. He exhibits such a strong physicality, and doesn’t waste a second of the program. He’s REALLY on…nailing his 3A, and effectively erasing the Vancouver stain on his record.
Daisuke Takahashi (1st): My friend John, who I enjoyed watching this event with, bills Dice-K as The Japanese Elvis. He repeats, but even improves on his greatness from Vancouver. I REALLY want Daisuke to take the gold here…Patrick has a lot more time. If you look under “flair” in the dictionary, you will find his name. He moves like a serpent, shifting his body every which way, and using every part of it to express.
Major Universal Sports/Comcast Fail!
The Pairs LP started airing before my scheduled TiVo recording even began, discluding the entire third-to-last group, and ALL but the last two Men’s SPs were covered up by a Russian news program. WTF!? A Plushy conspiracy? Thank god this didn’t happen with my Olympics recordings, but it still has me fuming. Perhaps it’s my local cable providers’ fault. Whosever it is, off with their heads!
Berton & Hotarek: I don’t disagree with Tony Wheeler, an excellent (newish?) skating blogger (also from Ohio…must be somethin’ in the water). This italian team is very promising, delivering one of the finest short programs, and deserving notice here. Next step: upgrade to a triple twist. How lovely too to see John Zimmerman on their coaching team. (He and Shae-Lynn should have won AT LEAST the first night of “Thin Ice”!)
Evora & Ladwig (Maranda): Her expressive face really sells this couple. She also has beautiful extension, and their program has a gentle, and sincere loving quality…well, it is “Love Actually.” Their footwork and final lift feels a bit slow, but some of that could be attributable to camera angle/perception.
Denney & Barrett (Barney): Great speed and attack. This is definitely the team we’ve grown to love from the past two Nationals! Her triple toe is a bit Tara (ie: rollerskater-ey, fast but low), BUT she nails it, unlike in Vancouver. They leap to 6th, and with a personal best!!! Wow, with this performance, and Evora & Ladwig’s great showing, I have a flash of irrational hope that they might they climb high enough to regain 3 berths.
Savchenko & Szolkowy (Szolchenko – 3rd): Not inspired, but acceptable. He doubles his triple toe, and their spin unison is off, but it keeps their placement high enough to pretty much be a sure thing for the podium, and not out of reach of gold, if Pang & Tong open the door. I wonder if his botched jumps this season are a confidence issue, or more one of some apathy creeping in.
I just discovered a colleague’s very stylish blog, and was inspired by her post asking “What Defines You?,” and her subsequent personal list. As a bit of a Top 10 List addict, I was fast on my way to rounding up my own. I’ve left jcm off the list, as it’s eminently clear that this blog defines me, but that’s just too easy, eh? Here they flow, in random order:
My 7th Birthday Photo
This photo (May ’77, Cincy, OH) conjures up the warm, sentimental feelings of uncomplicated youth, and a loving connection with my family. Although my folks aren’t pictured here, their nurturing presence is all around (and on the other side of the camera). The Winnie the Pooh cake was likely by my special request. I love the retro feel of the old square prints, with rounded corners.
There is a simplicity to my memories of childhood, and of these such moments…no crowded party, or branded birthday theme (seemingly requisite these days), just closeness and joy. I’m so thankful to have the foundation that my upbringing provided me. Funnily enough, CJ has a photo that is almost exactly the same (parallel lives?). Now, just two months from my 40th bday, I suppose I’m a bona fide “adult”!?
“Peristeriona” Ceramic Vase
This vase holds all the memories of CJ’s and my beautiful around-the-world journey together…Hong Kong to Greece to Senegal. It was something I had dreamt of doing for decades, while I racked up frequent flyer miles!
We purchased this in a charming little shop on Sifnos, an authentic, less touristy Greek Island option that we both long to return to one day. The yellow and black colors call to mind the brilliant glow of the sun, and the contrasting shadows, on the traditional white structures and breezy hillsides.
CJ and I have the gift of travelling very well together, and our time on this island was one of our most special yet…divine food, a white-knuckle scooter ride through the hills, and lots of R&R by the sea.
In preparation for the Vancouver pairs competition I dug up some of the performances from the 80s to jog my memory on how that competitive field looked, and how far that discipline has come. At the time, I was graduating from elementary (’84) and high school (’88). I MUST have watched these Games with my mom, but don’t remember any of these performances. Upon review, it’s no wonder why! And, in the midst of all the complaints about the CoP System, a peek back at the 6.0 system shows some politicized judging at it’s worst.
Valova & Vasiliev Reign
First, I came across this priceless human interest story, featuring ’84 Sarajevo champions Valova & Vasiliev (he the coach of Mukhortova & Trankov). After starting out like a Bel Ami video (prurient giggling by babbling brook), it shows them buckled down at the Leningrad Institute of Physical Culture, “a veritable medal factory.”
What a glimpse into the thriving machine that was Mother Russia (the Soviet Union). Boy, they sure appear to have them under a tight thumb (not that that grip is any looser these days). And, what a reminder of Moskvina’s longevity. The video also features their flawed, but gold-medal Classical Beatles LP, which ran out of gas at the end (as compared to the Carruthers’ flawless performance).
Fast forward four years to the Calgary Games (1988), and V&V display the most deliciously dated program and costumery imaginable, with their “The Final Countdown” LP. I was giddy to discover this pinnacle of the “Eye of the Tiger” alpha-male jam genre was used for a program. This program leaps to the top of my skating camp classics! One part Star Trek crew (with diagonal, cross-breast bands), one part bumblebee, their costumes, complete with black tights for her are in the worst taste…but, what could be better?! Her blouse/skirt one-piece sort of drips off her backside, saying “look at my ass,” ala Weir. Perhaps this is where he takes some of his Rusky fashion inspiration? Their SP costumes are even more ridiculous: Flash Gordon + A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. How precious that Dick refers to her as “plump,” and feigns it as a compliment.
American Pairs Best
Back to Sarajevo, this time with the Carruthers’ flawless LP. The program and music hold up pretty well, even in hindsight. But, it featured the (homemade?) costume he recently donned on NBC’s Vancouver “Figure Skating Review & Preview.” They have amazing attack and speed throughout, and their overall unison would have to be counted among some of the best we see even today. I don’t feel it suffers by comparison to V&V in “expression.” I sure miss these pairs’ elements: “hydrant lifts,” “lateral twist lifts,” and their penultimate move (“pulls”). It was also interesting to learn what a “Tango Camel” is. Their SP, to Herb Alpert/Muzak-style quasi-disco is a hoot, although well skated.
Watson & Oppegard’s Calgary LP features Peter’s hawt frosted doo (shades of Donna Mills in Knots Landing). His costume is also priceless. To think I had an outrageous crush on him, AND he was considered quite the on-ice heartthrob? On what planet does a straight man present this way? So hard to believe he is now married to Karen Kwan.
Their triple twist has NO height…she practically completes it on the ground. And, I’m amazed they held onto the bronze with a fall. In the deep pair’s field in Vancouver this would NOT have medalled. Peter seems to acknowledge this here. Their warmth towards each other in the kiss-n-cry is touching, but don’t miss the glimpse of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader look-alike! Their latin disco SP (ala “Copacabana”) is a gay ol’ time, or gringe-worthy…depending on how you see it.
While we’re on the issue of falling in competition. Check out this amazing profile, featuring Sports Psychologist, Dr. David Coppel. Dr. David…any room on your white couch for head cases Sasha or Alissa?
Perhaps to cope with the gravitas and intensity of the Vancouver Games, I’m feeling the need to REALLY unwind and revel in some whimsy and trash. (Yeah, Yu-Na wasn’t the only one who was feelin’ the pressure peeps!)
First up, Current TV’s fabulous That’s Gay: Johnny Weir tribute, complete with an Official Sports’ Sexuality Spectrum infographic, showing (straight) football at one end and (gay) skating at the other (I’m gaga for infographics!):
Shocking Skater Faces
Next up, SCARY skater faces from Vancouver (I love Shen & Zhao too much to post the #1 photo of them.) This album been floating around, but one just can’t get enough of these. Here are the best.:
Should Siblings Ice Dance Together?
This album sure makes you question whether siblings should indeed ice dancer together. Particularly, in the Tango Romantica Compulsory Dance, selected for Vancouver, where chemistry and heat are required. Vancouver had four such teams: Kerrs, Zaretskys, Reeds, and Beiers. Here, the Kerrs turn up the heat.:
So, being a total graphic design geek, I was fascinated to discover that jcm’s stats started looking an awful lot like Whistler during the Games (art mirroring life?). Yes, the Olympics were a huge shot in the arm for jcm, and likely every skating/sports blog. The day of the men’s SP (February 16) was my busiest day yet. Now, enjoy the Canadian landscape, as the athletes play upon my stats!:
jcm Goes Down (no, NOT that way!)
On February 18th, WordPress.com was down for 110 minutes, taking over 10.2 million blogs with it. Did you hear that…“10.2 million blogs.” When I read that, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had NO idea the scale of this phenomenon, and this is just one blog server!
I also learned the following: “(WordPress.com has) seen a meteoric rise over the past 4 years with thousands of new blogs still being added every day. According to Quantcast, around 220 million people visit one or more WordPress.com blogs every month.”
My goodness! Can you imagine the amount of revenue that would generate, if all these blogs were business-oriented, OR how many mouths that would feed, if all that blogging time were translated into food or services! Maybe I should stop blogging, and start…
Pairs: Jean-Samuel Gagnon, with top 3 correct = 15 points
Men’s: MIZ, with top 2 correct =
Ice Dance: MF (perfect!), with top 4 correct = 16 points
Ladies: LJ, with top 3 correct =
Your Amazon.com prizes will be sent via email to you winners this week, and once you confirm your email address. (Please respond to the private email you received.)
Many winners benefited from early submissions, as their were multiple ties in several disciplines.
Personally, jcm predicted the ice dance top four, as well as the ladies and pairs top three correctly. Not too bad. However, I failed miserably on the men’s.
The Collective Opinion of Participants
As per the collective opinion of contest participants, the ice dance result ended up EXACTLY (top 4) as predicted. The ladies top three were correctly predicted. The pairs’ gold was a slam-dunk. But, overall the pairs, and especially the men’s were, as we all know less predictable.
Thanks for taking part, and keep your eyes open for jcm’s next contest!
Wow, I feel like I just came up for air for the first time in 2+ weeks. Watching ALL of the Olympic figure skating and “FSR&P” shows, and reading seemingly every mainstream article on the skating has been a bit like sitting down and eating 10 chocolate cakes in a row. It is supremely divine, but I think I have a bit of a tummy ache, and a ‘lil burn-out. Ah well…another month before Worlds, and I’ll be fresh again!
A Veritable Thanksgiving Buffet: Ladies SP
The short program competitions for every discipline were loaded with many clean and memorable performances. The ladies were no exception. My hope was that the free skate evening would maintain that high level, rather than dropping off, as most of the other disciplines had done. (Thankfully, that was the case.)
Somehow, despite his dementia, I’ve grown fonder once again of Dick Button. His reference to catch foot spirals as being reminiscent of a turkey leg being pulled apart at Thanksgiving was priceless. Emily Hughes (not present) is likely the most guilty of conjuring up this scrumptious holiday tradition, since she POWERS through her spirals, complete with over-extended double-jointed standing leg, and little grace.
I repeatedly discover that being a fan or friend of figure skaters on facebook is a blessing, AND a curse. It sets you up for a MINEFIELD of spoilers. Shortly before the ladies skated their SPs, I popped onto fb for a quick peek, and caught fatal glimpses of Kim and Brian excitedly hugging. Curses!
The Yu-Na Phone, OR the Mao Dog and Sushi Roll?
Take your pick! Their product endorsements, and tribute foods have been oft-discussed on NBC. If they were to be any sign of the final result, it was pretty clear the phone trumps the hot dog!
Before I look back at the SPs, musing on the top three result, I knew I’d be exceedingly happy with the final podium remaining the same after the FS. Given the level of quality of their skating over the Olympic off-seasons, Kim & Mao deserve this. AND, given the unprecedented courage it took for Joannie to not only get through her program, but deliver it beautifully deserved its own medal. SO, as much as I wanted to see an American woman creep onto podium, I didn’t believe it was their time. (And I hoped…please, keep Miki off!)
Cheltzie Lee of Australia gave a career best SP performance, which had the good luck of getting televised. After all the controversy over Israel’s Tamar Katz NOT getting sent to Vancouver, this is some wonderful pay-back, as Cheltzie would not have been there, had it not been for Tamar’s disclusion.
The Top 6 Gurlz: “CoPulation”
Mirai Nagasu delivered a clean SP, with a her requisite sparkle…a bit dimmer than at Nationals, but still evident. She did not go for her 3Lz/3T, but instead played it safe with a 3Lz/2T, which was so VERY Kwan (no real sizzle or height, but solid). Her spins were the finest in the competition, and she had great control and positions throughout. The program is emotionally a bit junior, and her costume is rather off-the rack, but hell, she IS junior! It was a GREAT showing, especially considering it was her FIRST competition on the world stage! Hey, commentators, please retire the tired back story about her sleeping in the storage closet at her parents’ restaurant. She doesn’t need sympathy, she’s already a successful world-class athlete.
Mao Asada (“Mini T,” as in Tarasova) finally showed glimmers of the former Mao we all knew and loved. She somehow broke the clouds a bit on this Russian dirge. I actually saw her crack a smile several times. That we haven’t seen from her for at least a season! Her 3A/2T was clean, but had little movement across the ice (especially when compared to Kim’s 3Lz/3T). But, again, it was the first time one was landed in an Olympic SP by a woman, so let’s give credit where credit is due! And, the 3A was a thing of beauty. Mao almost makes it look too easy. I wonder if that’s why it’s underscored. As a friend pointed out, her feet are so close together, her legs so tight, her body perfectly straight…it’s as if she’s a pencil spinning on it’s end. This minimizes the visual dramatic effect of the 3.5 turns in the air, and robs it of the dramatic Ito effect (or Harding). Her spin speed and positions, and spiral extensions rival Kim’s.