Archive for the ‘skaters’ Category

SOCHI Dream Podiums & Predictions

Well, Olympics and figure skating fanciers, it’s that special time again, as we’re on the cusp of another Winter Games: Sochi 2014! Care to share any dream podiums or predictions? My dream podiums contain sentimental or personal favorites. Predictions are simply that…predictions, no preferences applied.

Here are mine:

MY DREAM PODIUMS:

ladies: nbc olys sm 2
Mao Asada
Carolina Kostner
Akiko Suzuki

men:
Daisuke Takahashi
Jeremy Abbott
Jason Brown

dance:
Davis/White
Virtue/Moir
Cappelini/LaNotte

pairs:
Pang/Tong
Savchenko/Szolkowy
Voloshozar/Trankov

team event:
USA
Canada
Russia

PREDICTIONS:

ladies:
Mao Asada
Julia Lipnitskaia
Yuna Kim

men:
Yuzuru Hanyu
Patrick Chan
Tatsuki Machida

dance:
Davis/White
Virtue/Moir
Bobrova/Soloviev

pairs:
Voloshozar/Trankov
Savchenko/Szolkowy
Pang/Tong

team event:
Canada
Russia
USA

Nice Worlds’ Reflections: My Questions Answered

Shortly after the World Figure Skating Championships were a wrap in Nice, France, I messaged a friend who attended my frustrated questions and musings about the results to see if he could offer an insider point of view. They included questions about the Chan/Takahashi, Davis & White/Virtue & Moir, and Weaver & Poje/Pechalat & Bourzat rivalries. I wondered if seeing their performances live might shed light on the results in a way that my tv viewing couldn’t.

Well, Aaron over at Axels, Loops & Spins answered all of my questions in rather grand fashion. I was pleasantly surprised by his thorough responses, via his blog.

Read his responses in Post Nice Reflections

Find out…

“What happened to the House of Sato/Dunjen?…”

“Were Kavaguti/Smirnov decked for their public commentary on the ice?”

“Did Weaver/Poje deserve the bronze?…”

…and more!

The View From My Seat: San Jose 2012 Nationals

I enjoyed capturing the magic of the US Nationals Long Programs and Free Dances from my 16th row seats. My Canon PowerShot SX 2010 IS, although not a professional SLR, gets me close to the action, with its 14X zoom.

There were so many unforgettable moments, more predictably including the tributes to Rudy and Michelle, and LPs/FDs by gold medalists Jeremy Abbott, Davis & White, and Denney & Coughlin. But, brilliance from dark horses Ashley Wagner and Adam Rippon, as well as up-and-comers Jason Brown, Jonathan Cassar and Doug Razzano, and a rallying comeback from Carolyn Zhang were equally thrilling. My top 20 photos reflect some of these moments, and more.

I hope you enjoy the view from my seat!

"Gold": Samuelson & Gilles (8th)

"Sibling Swing": Shibutanis (Silver)

"Longing Lift": Chock & Bates (5th)

Continue Reading The View From My Seat —>

Best Skating Programs of the Season: 2010

The Grand Prix Landscape

It’s that time of year, when we’ve witnessed 4 of the 6 Grand Prix events, and can now step back and assess the choreographic and program landscape, to compare and contrast what the skaters have put out there. Just a few of these skaters (and a single musical selection) are repeaters from last season’s list.

I was loath to include ANY latin programs, since I already feel like a sponge, saturated and dripping from them this season (likely no thanks to Lysacek and Rochette’s success in them last season?). But, alas, a few virtuosic ones eek’d through. Ugh…let’s please hang them up for the remainder of this Olympic cycle!

What’s the real clincher in making the list? Programs that made me want to watch them again. As I noted last year, it’s impossible to separate out the performance quality of the skater, but these nods aim to be more about the program and choreo itself. The timing and execution of the elements (especially jumps) to key musical accents and phrases is critical for memorable emotional impact. And musical selection alone, as per my own subjective taste also of course plays a role.

Lori Nichol and Marina Zueva tie this year with the most nods (3 each). I also encourage you to compare my nods to Tony Wheeler’s own compelling list. We agreed on three as most notable. Sometimes it’s VERY clear what’s peerless! The list does not include Kim Yu-Na, Joanie Rochette, Virtue & Moir, or any other skaters/teams who are not decisively retired and may emerge at their Nationals.

Men’s SP

Daisuke Takahashi: Historia de un amor, Que rico mambo, and Mambo No. 5 by Perez Prado; Batucada by DJ Dero; (Choreo: Shae-Lynn Bourne). Too predictable a choice? This brilliance can’t be denied.

Runner-Up: Shawn Sawyer, Assassin’s Tango by John Powell (Choreo: David Wilson)

Honorable Mentions: Javier Fernandez’s Histoire d’un amour/Nu Pogodi, and Tomas Verner’s Singin’ in the Rain!

Continue Experiencing the Best Programs of 2010! —>

Is Kristi Yamaguchi Jewish?

On our way to Palm Springs we discovered a wondrous thing: the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame Kristi Yamaguchi relief sculpture portrait and placard. It deems her “one of the most electrifying skaters in the modern era.” That’s not a word I would associate with her…perhaps “consistent,” “committed,” “graceful,” “inspiring,” “smooth”?

I mean no disrespect to Kristi, but as you can see, this portrait bears as much a resemblance to her as to the love child of Tracy Gold and Joan Rivers. On that note, a friend noted that she looked Jewish. Maybe she is?

But, judge for yourself…

Weir & Lysacek Immortalized

All the recent Weir/Lysacek mud-slinging, via the media is so silly and meaningless to me, I won’t even detail the ongoing bitch brawl here (and you likely already read it elsewhere). Clearly, they’re milkin’ this opportunity to increase their media presence (ie: “No press is bad press”).

BUT, when I came across this photo, I felt it said it all. They are in a sense forever linked, in their “rivalry,” and burgeoning off-ice, celebrity careers. So, what better way to to forever immortalize them as yin-yang/brothers/lovers/
soulmates (take your pick) in a fabulously flashy, fey, artistic portrait, ala Kings of 80’s Cheese: Hall & Oates?!

I’m not sure if NoMad Blogger created it or not (it appears not, as she included the zimbio.com credit), but I take no credit for this masterpiece. If you know the source (perhaps Toller Cranston?), please provide it, and I’ll gladly update the credit.

I now give you…

Weir & Lysacek, ala Hall & Oates (Image courtesy of zimbio.com)

jcm Nominated for “Blog of the Year”: Vote Now!

I am thrilled to be one of the Top 6 nominees for “Blog of the Year,” in Axels, Loops and Spins’ 3rd Annual Loop Axel Awards! Although AL&S has apparently pre-determined his winners, if you like what you see/read/hear here, please vote for me there (under “Comments,” or click on his “View my complete profile” and email him directly), to help sway the deal for jumping clapping man! And, while you’re there, enjoy seeing Aaron’s other Awards. Last year Lifeskate.com deservedly won for best blog.

I’m takin’ a shameless page from Kathy Griffin’s “book,” and launching a guerilla marketing campaign for votes (Avenue Q also won the Tony this way in 2004!). Of course, I think I should be up for “Best New Face,” and “Best Outfit” too.  ;-) Thank you kindly for returning to jcm, (and even more for your votes)!

The Best of jcm Rink Side


Here’s a look back at some highlights of my skating posts, balancing legit commentary with high camp. Click here to see all/only my skating-related posts:

A Rivalry Reignited: Torino Worlds Ladies FS, and other Worlds’ posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

“GAY Stars On Ice & Friends!” PRESENTS: (My response to the “Stars on Ice” “family friendly” assertion, and supposed Johnny shut-out.)

Vancouver Games: Week 1 Supersized Recap, and other Olympics’ posts: 1, 2

jcm’s Olympics’ Podium Predictions Contest, and Winners (What other blog gives away money…and for free!?)

The Best of Spokane: Buttercups, Fizzles & Knives

Skaters Who Blew Through the Technical Ceiling (A robust technical overview.)

Ghoulish Figure Skating Clinics (Some Halloween season fun…yes, at the mercy of skaters.)

Olympic Reigns Ending: Likelihoods or Naysaying? (I nailed it! Bet your money on my soothsaying next time.)

Yu-Na Gets A Makeover! (Yes, I even made-over Yu-Na.)

[UPDATE: AL&S has announced that senior ice dancer Todd Gilles' entertaining Vlog "Blips of Todd..." is the winner.]

Cohen & Czisny’s Opera on Ice Duet

When I originally read the “Stars On Ice” program lineup, the highlight, hands-down, was the prospect of a Cohen/Czisny performance of Delibes’ Flower Duet,” from Lakmé. It was the only number that came close to the inventiveness of my GAY Stars on Ice… lineup! (Yuka Sato’s “Clair de Lune” was also enticing.) Well, since I don’t plan to attend the show live, thankfully a youtube video of it has surfaced, however janky and incomplete it may be.

Unfortunately, it feels quite underrehearsed, which is odd for the two perfection queens of the ice. But, it’s still quite pleasing, considering their peerless, but comparable spiral positions. Hello Charlottes…I’ve missed you so! It’s quite the “Anything you can do, I can do better” routine. Good thing they don’t attempt any of those pesky jumps.

Also, my hopes for some hint at the implied (or projected?) lesbian subtext of the duet were dashed. No surprise there. Although, I’m still tempted to bill this the “Spiral Bump” routine (ala Donut Bump).

The full name of the scene is: Viens, Mallika, les liens en fleurs…Sous le dôme épais. In the context of the opera, “Lakmé and her servant Mallika are left behind and go down to the river to gather flowers…As they approach the water at the river bank, Lakmé removes her jewelry and places it on a bench (while they bathe)” (Wikipedia). It is one of the examples of grand opera’s and mainstream culture’s obsessions at the time with eastern exoticism and orientalism (also evident in Madama Butterfly).

The duet was also famously used to set the tone in the beautiful, overtly lesbian scene with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon, in “The Hunger.” It uses it to full effect.

Below is the libretti excerpt. What do you think? Is the lesbian subtext intended, or projected by the viewer or culture of the time?

Under a dome of white jasmine
With the roses entwined together
On a river bank covered with flowers laughing in the morning

Gently floating on it’s charming risings
On the river’s current
On the shining waves
One hand reaches
Reaches for the bank
Where the spring sleeps and
The birds, the birds sing.

Under a dome of white jasmine
Ah! calling us
Together!

A Rivalry Reignited: Torino Worlds Ladies FS

Expect the Unexpected


Miki Ando: When the commentators talk about Miki’s “blank” eyes, what they’re not getting at is that she just doesn’t have the same “acting” ability as someone like Yu-Na or Phaneuf (ie: compare their Cleopatras). It’s not just about “spunk,” or “personality”…these girls know how to tell a story with each glance and gesture. I think that’s a gift, but surely it can be nurtured, if there is a willingness. However, Miki doesn’t seem to tap into that deeper well, and may just not be capable of that degree of nuance. That being said, she skates a clean program, albeit sans her 3/3 (instead a 3Lz/2T), and rather emotionally dull. A respectable end of season for her, whether she medals or not!

Kim Yu-Na (2nd): It seems all the world is hanging on this performance. The moment she starts it becomes evident that Miki was largely just skating around doing elements. Even though it’s clear Yu-Na is skating “safe,” she still gives each move a purpose. She starts strong, but falls on her 3S, and gives up on her final 2A, popping it. Honestly, I like that she has a chink in her armor (pardon the pun). This does enliven the rivalry with Mao, and frankly, doesn’t allow fans and viewers to just assume she’ll skate clean (ala Kristi, or M.K. when not at the Olympics). It makes her vulnerable, and almost more interesting to me. My friend Richard jokes that “Queen” isn’t enough…she should have a planet named after her: “Yu-Na.” Her name even sounds a bit cosmic.

(AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Cynthia Phaneuf: Again, Phaneuf’s Cleopatra makes Miki’s look emotionally junior. She skates a clean program, and lands 6 triples! How unexpected. I hope this gives her renewed confidence for next season. She competes so hot and cold, but is SO talented. She does telegraph her jumps a bit too much, but who cares, if she can skate like this!

Continue Expecting The Unexpected —>

Mahler Reigns Again: Torino Worlds Ice Dance FD

A Fond Farewell


Navarro & Bommentre: I will miss this program, and this team. Although part of me wishes Belgosto had competed so we could finally capture our North American sweep, I’m happier that NavBomm could compete, and enjoy their presumable competitive farewell at such a high level.

The skate didn’t have as strong an emotion for me as it did at Nationals, but part of that may be that the camera work feels less personal and nuanced here, and Nationals is just a more “homey” and warm setting for skaters and fans. That being said, they gave a strong skate, with only a small lack of twizzle unison, and a blade catch for him during a transition. They get -1 deduction, presumably for a lift that was too long. If this is the end, you have given fans so much pleasure, and I can’t wait to see what you’ll do in Pros! Next up…as per their backstage interview: Italian wine, cheese, culture, art. Well deserved pleasures!

Other Early Highlights


Crone & Poirier: He has one of the best backs of the men in this competition! I love this program…gentle, lyrical, and intimate, starting with “Nocturne.” He especially is a very engaging performer, and really communicates with her throughout. I was amazed to discover that he’s a singles’ skater too (as is she), as the requirements of ice dance are so different. I love the transition into their mid-section, a lyric version of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I’m developing a skating crush on him…seems to be such a vulnerable guy in the kiss-n-cry. Great speed on their spins! I get a kick out of their Coraline-looking coach!

The Zaretskys: A dramatic, somber couple, and program. I feel their costumes are actually TOO stark, and the accent colors too subtle, and too much of a dark wall to draw me in. The tempo of the music is also largely the same throughout the program, not providing the emotional ups-and-downs that a program like Marlie’s provides. Their spins feel slower than the prior Canadians, and I was surprised they were placed ahead of the them…but, by only 1 pt.

Continue to Final Flight —>

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