Archive for the ‘worlds’ Category

Skaters Who Blew Through the Technical Ceiling

We can all recall witnessing those mind-blowing moments, when we thought that skaters had finally hit the technical ceiling, or reached the outer extremes of what their sport would allow, and yet they managed to push past it again!

Sonja Henie’s “herstoric” first single axel, and Dick Button’s historic first triple jump (3Lo) seem like child’s play now. The technical achievements, primarily in jumping, aren’t the only thing that keeps me watching this sport, but truth be told, they are one damn good reason. I notice that anymore I can hardly get through a televised professional skating show, from start to finish. Apart from their over-produced, cookie-cutter feel, they also lack the on-the-edge-of-your-seat thrill that these competitive elements offer. There is of course a downside to the big jumps and constant raising of the technical bar, and that is the toll that takes on a skater’s body, sometimes shortening a career (case in point: Lipinski and Yagudin), but even more simply, robbing the audience of clean programs.

I could find no single online link that detailed the jumping “firsts” and records of the last three decades, so I created one! What’s so striking about this listing is that it calls out how rapidly our sport changes. Surely, the rate of these new developments will have to slow, as there are some absolute limitations, barring technological interference (more like those seen in today’s competitive cycling and swimming). The 10 year gap between Midori Ito’s and Ludmila Neledina’s triple axels may be evidence enough that this slowing has already begun. [Click here for a jump abbreviation legend.]

Quad Firsts


1988 – Kurt Browning (CAN): single quad (4T, with a three-turn on the landing: Worlds). Neither Alexandr Fadeev’s quad (’84 Olympics) nor Josef Sabovcik’s quad (’86 Europeans) were ratified, due to flawed landings.

1994 – Min Zhang (CHN): clean quad at the Olympics.

1997 – Guo Zhengxin (CHN): two quads in one program (4T + 4T/2T: Worlds). These were also the first single quad, and quad combo in one program.

1998 & ’99 – Timothy Goebel (USA): quad salchow (’98 JGPF); three quads in one program (’99 Skate America)

2001 – Sasha Cohen (USA): documented ladies’ quad in practice (4S: Skate America).

2002 – Miki Ando (JPN, age 15): ladies’ quad (4S: Jr. Worlds). Surya Bonaly’s quad toe (’91 Worlds) sadly was underrotated.

Also notable:

2006, Brian Joubert (FRA): three quads in one program (4T/2T + 4S + 4T: Cup of Russia). [I have heard this wrongly cited by commentators as the first time.]

A comprehensive listing of notable quads: Wikipedia

Ladies’ Triple Axel Firsts


1988 – Midori Ito (JPN): single triple axel (NHK Trophy). [She landed 18 total triple axels in competition. See her land 10 double axels in a row here.]

1991 – Tonya Harding (USA): two triple axels (SP & LP) in one competition (Skate America). The SP 3A was the first ladies’ 3A combination (+ 2Lo).

1992 – Midori Ito: triple axel at the Olympics.

2008 – Mao Asada (JPN): two triple axels in one program (GPF).

For ladies, a 3A is still notable, as only six have landed them in competition, including these three others: Yukari Nakano (JPN), Ludmila Neledina (RUS), and Kimmie Meissner (USA). Yes, there’s even a video collection of them.

Jump Combination Firsts


1981 – Midori Ito (age 12): ladies’ triple/triple (3T/3T: Jr. Worlds).

1990 & ’91 – Kurt Browning: triple salchow/triple loop (’90 Nations Cup); three triple/triples in the same program (3A/3T + 3F/3T + 3S/3Lo: ’91 Worlds).

1991 – Elvis Stojko (CAN): quad/double (4T/2T: Worlds).

1996 – Eric Millot (FRA): triple loop/triple loop (Worlds).

1997 – Elvis Stojko: quad/triple (4T/3T: GPF)

1998 – Timothy Goebel: American quad/double (4S/2T: JGPF).

2001 & ’02 Evgeni Plushenko (RUS): quad/triple/triple (4T/3T/3Lo: ’02 Cup of Russia, and three times since). According to Wikipedia, he supposedly landed a four jump combo at ’01 Worlds (4T/3T/2Lo/2Lo), and a six jump combo in his EX at Europeans (3/3/2/2/2/2), but no posted videos verify this (the ’04 CoP now restricts combos to a max of three jumps). [It is estimated that he has landed over 100 quads in competition.]

Also notable (and possible firsts):

1998 – Tara Lipinski (USA, age 15): triple loop/triple loop + triple toe/half loop/triple salchow in one program (Olympics).

2002 – Sarah Hughes (USA) two triple/triple loops in one program (3S/3Lo + 3T/3Lo: Olympics).

2004 – Shizuka Arakawa (JPN) two triple combos in one program (3Lz/3T/2Lo + 3S/3T: Worlds). She also landed a 3/3/3 in practice!

More Ito, Pairs’ Firsts, & Spin Records


1984 & ’89 – Midori Ito: first woman in competition to land five major jumps (’84), and six major jumps (’89).

2003 – Lucinda Ruh (SUI): Guinness World Record for the most continuous spins (115) on one foot (NY).

2006 – Rena Inoue & John Baldwin, Jr. (USA): throw triple axel (US Nationals, and Olympics)

2007 – Natalia Kanounnikova (RUS): Guinness World Record for fastest spin (308 rpm) recorded on ice (Rockefeller Plaza)

2007 – Tiffany Vise & Derek Trent (USA): throw quad salchow (Trophée Eric Bompard). However, I believe Wikipedia may again be wrong, as Zhang & Zhang (CHN) appear to also have landed an earlier 4STh (’06 National Games).

The Future?


2007 – Weir & Galindo (USA): same sex throw triple axel (Champions on Ice, practice); 2009 - Weir & Lambiel (SUI): same sex 3ATh (practice)

2009 – Evgeni Plushenko: triple axel/quad toe loop attempt (practice)

[My sources are not infallible, so I welcome informed corrections.]

Nearly Missed Skating Glories & Curiosities

So often we focus on “what could have been”, or titles that we feel were taken undeservedly. Well, this time I’m going to take a look at it from the cup half full perspective, or “what almost wasn’t”.

Wylie Squeaked into Albertville?


Rewind to the ’91-‘92 US Nationals. Many (including Dick Button) felt Paul Wylie was outskated by Mark Mitchell, however, he was awarded the silver, ahead of Mitchell’s bronze. Before the scores were posted, Button felt Mitchell’s triple axel would be the deal breaker. The US men had three spots to the ’92 Winter Olympics in Albertville, secured the previous year by ’91 National Champion Todd Eldredge. However, Mitchell was left off the team due to a medical bye given to Eldredge.

Because of Wylie’s mediocre performance at Nationals, and the fact that he had never finished higher than ninth at Worlds (four years prior), critics questioned his placement on the Olympic team. He had also surprisingly never won a National title.

However, he was sent to his second Olympics, and won the silver medal, with two very strong performances. What a way to make an exit from amateur competition, especially from a career without any international titles (excepting the ’88 Trophee Lalique). His SP was flawless, and his LP, although not containing a real jump combination, had only one error in a two-footed landing.

Alternatively, the USFSA left Wylie off the team for the ’92 Worlds, naming Mark Mitchell in his place, where he placed 5th, ahead of Eldredge.

From Middling to The Top


Sarah Hughes won the bronze at US Nationals the year she was Olympic Champion (’02). She, in fact never won gold at Nationals, receiving two silvers and two bronzes, behind Kwan (and Cohen). (Ironically, I rooted for Angela Nikodinov to snag that third ticket to Salt Lake, as I was always a fan of her quiet elegance. In hindsight, I’m sure glad Hughes prevailed, given the outcome.)

Shizuka Arakawa won her Olympic Gold SEVEN seasons after winning Japanese Nationals (in both ’97-‘98 and ’98-‘99). But, she never again won Nationals, curiously loosing them to a Chisato Shiina in ’99-‘00. Ever heard of her? (Shiina was in 14th place the following season, and then seems to have disappeared.) After that Arakawa lost to Suguri, Ando, and Asada.

Like Hughes, she won the bronze at her Nationals the year she was Olympic Champion (’06). And, she won nothing else in the seasons in which she won both her World and Olympic titles. Fascinating! She was on the ’98 Japanese Olympic Team, but did not make the ’02 Team. It seems extremely rare for a skater to attend two Olympics, but miss one inbetween. (Anyone know stats on this?)

Alexei Yagudin NEVER won Russian Nationals. He brought home four silvers, and a bronze, loosing to Ilia Kulik the first two times, and then Plushy the following three. Plushy has SEVEN golds from that event! However, when it really mattered at the ’02 Olympics, he delivered the goods, and brought home the goldthankfully before his hip gave out.

Emanuel Sandhu’s International Moment


Building up to the ’03-‘04 GP Final, Sandhu was the SECOND substitute, but thanks to Jeffrey Buttle and Timothy Goebel’s withdrawals, and Brian Joubert’s inability to step in quickly as first substitute, he competed and seized the gold! He was one of only two skaters (the other being Brian Joubert) to beat Plushy in that quadrennial. This win was even more notable, given that he had not medaled either of his GP events that season! He never returned to that level of glory again in his skating career.

The “Chinese National Games”


Did you know that there is a quadrennial competition in China called the National Games? Some of the top Chinese pair skaters do not participate in the Chinese Championships, preferring to compete solely at these National Games instead, for which they receive byes. (The Chinese Championships serve to qualify some skaters for these National Games.)

The big name teams competed at the National Games in those seasons, thereby filling up these podiums with teams unfamiliar to the West. Therefore, instead of names like Zhang, Pang, or Tong, etc. as Chinese Champions, in ’05, we see pair Ding Yang & Ren Zhongfei, in ’06, Zhao Rui & An Yang, and in ’09, Dong Huibo & Wu Yimin! Ever heard of any of them?

A Russian Star Still Under Wraps


As a curiosity…I could find no record of last year’s (’08-‘09) Russian National Junior and Nationals champion Adelina Sotnikova attending the recent ’09-’10 Junior Worlds (or, any record at all of her at isu.org)? That is because, amazingly, at 13, she was STILL too young for the event! The current requirements are for the competitor to have reached the age of 13 by the previous 1 July. She was born on July 11, 1996. Perhaps this 10-day discrepancy will proove fateful, allowing her time to evolve at this tender age, before her international debut. I’m sure she’s being nurtured well, as she could be Russia’s future, eclipsing Alena Leonova.

Have any memories of nearly missed glories, or curiosities you’d like to share?

Worlds: The Gospel According to jcm

jcm at Staples CenterBloggin’
Now I know why bloggers do LIVE blogging at events. Because, once you return home, the memories are so vivid, and the experience so rich, the post threatens to be Biblical in length. Since I didn’t take my laptop with me and wanted to balance Worlds with getting out on the town, and exploring nightlife/restaurants with friends, I now attempt to squeeze an elephant through a funnel (so to speak).

jcm and AaronAn historic moment happened at Staples Center, with the first meeting of jumping clapping man, and Aaron of Axels, Loops & Spins. You could call it the figure skating bloggers’ Convention of the Century (jk). It was great to catch up on favorite moments during our seemingly short break, over my gin and tonic. We enjoyed texting throughout the competitions… as we were also Tweeting to our blogs. I respect his expertise and knowledge greatly. He is a master, and I a mere “grasshopper”.

Musical Chairs
The most amusing moments progressed after we discovered Richard Callaghan sitting 15 or so rows down from us, in Section 117, at the men’s free skate competition. Sometime around the half-time break some new arrivals walked down to him and flashed their tickets. Apparently sitting in their seats, he and his companion (a very handsome 20-something) stood up and moved back about 10 seats (to about 5 in front of us). Then, about 1 set later the actual owners of those seats also showed up, bumping Callaghan and his companion again, into a completely different section. Wouldn’t you think a world class coach would have his own seats? Apparently not.

The LIVE Difference
My respect for skaters and their sport goes through the roof when I attend a skating event in person. It’s an experience that just can’t be matched by TV or youtube watching. You don’t get the filtered, highlights-only version you do via those media. You come face-to-face with the full range of best and worst moments, and witness skaters both rising brilliantly to the occasion and others dropping the ball miserably. And, you see it up-close and in-person, with all the sweat, tears, and ice. For some it prooved to be their night, and for others, a night with only lessons to take away.

Photo by jumping clapping man

Photo by jumping clapping man

In particular, seeing top skaters Savchenko/Szolkowy, Yu-Na Kim, and Tomas Verner LIVE really drive home what separates the greats from the near-greats. They cast their spell, time seems to stop around you, you are transported, if a pin dropped you’d hear it, every move has intent and connection to the music, and the emotional catharsis as they complete their program is immense… the hoards rising out of their seats, perhaps accompanied by tears, and a long standing-O ensues. Even some skaters I don’t enjoy all that much on TV “read” better LIVE, like Miki Ando, whose dramatic and rapid arm movements always feel busy, but here they had more visual room to fill out, and just felt more natural.

Photo by jumping clapping man

Photo by jumping clapping man

All of the factors that have to align for these skaters to seize the moment is daunting: training conditions, travel factors, sleeping in foreign countries, jet-lag, ice quality, boot fit, blade sharpness, health, personal mood, meals/food, crowd response, skating order, and on and on. The gravity of these factors become even more evident when you yourself travel to a competition and then witness the performances before you.

I’ve heard commentators allude to the concept of “winning the warm-up”, but you only fully grasp the concept when you witness one LIVE. Oda and Voronov had fantastic warm-ups. The crowd followed each swarming movement and applauded each jump landed.

Meltdowns
Who would ever have guessed that Jeremy Abbott, a skater who some thought could walk away with the gold, and ’08-’09 season US Nationals and Grand Prix Champion would finish 11th (the worst Worlds’ finish by a current US champion since World War II)? Or, that Carolina Kostner would finish 15th in the LP, after landing 5 singles (“pops”), and not a single triple? Boy did she ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Had her boyfriend just text’d her “It’s not you, it’s me”!?

Triumphs
Personal triumps belonged to Elene Gedevanishvili (now coached by R. Wagner and Elaine Zayak), and Alena Leonova, who both skated very strong LPs. Gedevanishvili was touted as a future champion by Scott Hamilton and Johnny Weir when she hit the scene seasons ago, but was sidelined by lack of training after being forced out of her homeland of Georgia. Glad to see she’s back in the game! And, Leonova was clearly thrilled to perform so well in her first Worlds. She is not a beautiful skater, but like Butyrskaya before her, a fighter and emerging competitor. An honest, thrilled reaction in the kiss-and-cry always has me rooting for a skater, no matter where they are from.

Also, we were deeply moved when, after a terrible fall and crash into the boards, FRA’s Candice Didier was helped off the ice by medics, but returned before her 3 minutes were up to complete her program, securing France’s Olympic berth. She is a slight girl, so how she pulled through to do some very extended spirals while injured was beyond me. The audience rose to it’s feet and showed its true appreciation.

Fellow Fanatics
It’s wonderful to connect with skating lovers all around you at competitions. We sat next to a wonderful couple from San Diego. We shared turns spotting skating celebrities seated nearby (Tara L., Boitano, Mukhortova, Lysacek, etc.), memories of past competitions (they had seen Hamilton and Zayak win at the ’81 Nationals), and factoids about skater’s records and top finishes.

Celeb Spottings
Our seats were da bomb. We were in Section 117. Thankfully, for the saturday’s ladies’ LP, Kwan, Costas and Button were parked on a landing a stone’s throw away. That added to the drama and gravitas of the event. Since the event was in LA, I think nearly every skating champion and celeb from the past few decades must have been there. I jokingly swore that the only former US greats that weren’t in the arena were Fleming, Kerrigan, and Harding.

Photo by jumping clapping man

Photo by jumping clapping man

Like in the recent Oscars, where 5 former winners in each main acting category introduced the new nominees, the podiums were flanked by former champions: Angela Nikodinov, Lisa Marie Allen, Tiffany Chin, Debbie Thomas, and so on. I hope they continue this tradition (I presume its new).

The Quad
Yet again a competition was won without it (aka Lysacek). It seems most skating fans and skaters have a love/hate relationship with it. In many ways it attempts to pull focus from of other equally valuable components. However, when witnessed LIVE, the beauty of the quad is breathtaking. It offers a thrill like no other… well, perhaps like downing a pack of Red-Bull. Ponsero, Oda, and Verner landed textbook quads in the competition, and sold me on their worth.

Photo by jumping clapping man

Photo by jumping clapping man

Exhibitionists
The Exhibition highlights included Joubert’s performance to Rufus Wainright’s Hallelujah. What an unexpected choice that was. And, it was the first time I’ve seen him really let his guard down and do something vulnerable and moving. When Joubert skates, even aside from his jumping ability, he gives off such a magnetism and confidence it is truly disarming. Verner claims he is “shy”. You wouldn’t believe it when you see his Michael Jackson program. It is so engaging and amusing, one of my easy favorites of the night, including Thriller, Off the Wall, Remember the Time and more. Oh yeah, and Kim’s The Gold by Linda Eder won hearts, as usual.

Fan sign maniaBerth Suspense!
After Abbott flopped and Mroz skated well but not winningly, it was unclear whether we would secure 3 berths for US men at the Olympics. As Evan’s LP drew nearer and nearer, we knew he had to be on the podium to secure them. Thankfully, he blew any concerns out of the water.

Amazingly, if you look at the final scores for the US ladies, we were just 1 double axel away (Alissa Czisny’s) from securing 3 berths for the ladies in Vancouver.

— “This is the Word of jcm”

What the Buck?…on Worlds

This guy’s outrageous delivery (one part Chuch Lady, one part Paul Lynde) and perpective on Worlds had me rolling! He makes me look like as butch as the Marlboro Man, and as comatose as Droopy. (For the weak of heart: beware, it does include vulgarity. For the caddy: DIVE IN!):

Buck Hollywood on ’09 Worlds

And, here’s another knee-slapping and jcm-relevant one from his archive:


Worlds: the Best & the Worst

Worst Makeover: Oksana Domnina’s dye job. Remember the beautiful woman she used to be, with that lightness and spark? Now I feel like she’s “putting on” the apparently requisite mean-russian-chick-act (think Totmianina, or Weir… jk, I love Johnny). Or, perhaps she thought she would be taken more seriously as a non-blond. Looks like she may have been right. Tanith… perhaps you should go back to brown? Although, I suppose Shae-Lynn Bourne’s ’03 Worlds’ gold prooves my blonde conspiracy theory wrong.

Most Likely Separated at Birth: Evan Lysacek & George Hamilton. Evan, please loose the tan! And, Sarah Meier & Katie Holmes. Look out Sarah, Tom’s the really needy type.

Hamilton & Lysacek: Tanned Wonders

Biggest Star-in-the-Making: Russia’s Andrei Lutai: beautiful positions, true dancing ability, and great presence on the ice.

Most Overplayed Songs: The Swan, by Saint-Saens (in at least 3 programs), The Matrix (in at least 5 programs), Romeo & Juliet, by Rota (in at least 3 programs). At least pull out the Prokofiev R&J peeps!

Most Overscored Skates: Kavaguti/Smirnov LP: perhaps their difficult lifts rack up the points, but it was messy and unsteady to me. Rochette’s Concerto Aranjuez LP: she has a refreshing maturity in this field, but she was also far from perfect, and I felt should been awarded the bronze medal behind Ando.

Biggest Surprise: Denis Ten (KAZ) LP. I’m sure his fans weren’t surprised, but I had never seen him skate. He’s one of the shortest male competitors, but commands the ice (ala Scotty Hamilton). He nailed a perfect, graceful and inspired program, which blew the roof off Staples Center.

Most Proud Moments: Denny/Barrett (USA) clean and energetic LP (again!). Rachael Flatt’s solid LP: she has to be the most consistent US ladies skater since Kwan.

Truest Jumping Clapping Moments: Lysacek’s winning Rhapsody in Blue LP. These are the skating moments I live for… emotional, triumphant, historic (ie: first US mens’ World champion in 13 years), happen “in the zone”, and feel almost pre-destined, since they seem to emerge with such ease. Yu-Na’s transcendent Scherazade LP. She is a already a legend to me, in the Chen Lu, Kwan category.

Photo by jumping clapping man

Photo by jumping clapping man

Biggest Gasps: Kavaguti/Smirnov’s missed quad throw. It looked like she almost did a face plant into the ice. But, since she is a human rubber band, she just bounced back up.

Biggest Disappointment: One of my pairs favs Pang/Tong were off the podium this time. I hope they rebound at the next Worlds and Olympics.

Most Historic Moment: Rochette won the Canadian women’s first World Championships medal in 21 years, since Liz Manley won the silver medal in ’88. Yu-Na Kim became the first World Figure Skating Champion from Korea.

Photo by jumping clapping man

Photo by jumping clapping man

Best Eye Candy: Joubert, Contesti, Szolkowy, Van Der Perren, Ponsero, Tong, Kovalevski, Buntin, Brubaker, Fernandez… who can decide? I am amazed that this current star quality alone doesn’t draw thousands more skating fans to the sport (calling all those HStM fans out there!?). When Contesti skates, it’s like being wooed by the leading man in a great romantic comedy. I can’t wait to see what he does next season.

Biggest Crowd: The ladies free skate drew a capacity crowd of 12,064!

And the Winners Are…

No, not of the Worlds… of my Worlds’ Podium Prediction Contest!

Congratulations to the winners:

“pjmurray” of Blazing Blades won both the ladies’ and pairs’ divisions. His ladies’ prediction had multiple ties but early voting gave him the advantage.

“Aaron” of Axels, Loops & Spins won the ice dance division, despite predicting Khoklova/Novitski to win (who didn’t even medal). Like with the CoP, his points just added up!

“dh” won the mens’ division, with a near win in the pairs.

Photo by Becca Staed

Photo by Becca Staed

It looks like being a prominent figure skating blogger stands you in good stead (to borrow an overused Dick Button phrase) in skating contests! Perhaps that’s no surprise, as they’ve got their fingers on the pulse of who’s hot and who’s not.

Although my predictions don’t count, I enjoyed a 5 point lead in my mens’ division submission.

Prizes will be distributed within the next week. Thanks again to those who participated. Keep an eye out for possible future predictions contests. And, look for my World’s recap posts and personal LIVE photos later in the week!!!

The Hottest Fan Sign in Staples Center

The hottest fan sign in Staples Center!

Show Me Da Moneeeeeehh!

The following was lifted from isu.org. Just in case we forget what’s at stake here… this is the list of the booty! And, if you haven’t ever heard of the World Standing Bonus, Tomas Verner, Carolina Kostner, Savchenko/Szolkowy, and Meryl Davis/Charlie White are currently in the lead to walk home with a big wad, whether they win this competition or not (assuming they don’t fall too far).

Worlds’ Prize Money:

Men and Ladies:
1st place US$ 45,000
2nd place US$ 27,000
3rd place US$ 18,000

Pairs and Dance (per couple):
1st place US$ 67,500
2nd place US$ 40,500
3rd place US$ 27,000

World Standings Bonus:

By competing in the ISU World Figure Skating Championships the athletes earn points towards the World Standings as well. The three skaters/couples per discipline having earned most World Standing points during the 2008/2009 season will be awarded with the World Standings Bonus. The following amounts will be awarded to the concerned skaters/couples:

Ladies & Men:
1st: US$ 45,000

Pairs & Dance (per couple):
1st: US$ 67,500

So far, Tomas Verner is leading the Men’s standings with 1824 points ahead of Takahiko Kozuka (1800 points) and Patrick Chan (1765 points). Carolina Kostner has 2054 points and is ahead of Yu-Na Kim (1960 points) and Mao Aasa (1880 points). Savchenko/Szolkowy have 2138 points while Qing Pang/Jian Tong got 2040 points so far. Currently in third place are Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov (RUS) at 1931 points. Meryl Davis/Charlie White lead the bonus race for the ice dancers with 1888 points with Federica Faiella/Massimo Scali (1739 points) and Sinead Kerr/John Kerr (1578 points) following in second and third.

On Top of the Worlds

(I’m fast trying to use up my Worlds’ puns.) And… we’re off… to the Magic Castle, in the City of Angels!!!

My LA ’09 Worlds music mix is all baked and ready to go. It includes the following gems, featuring some skatin’ tunes, and recent party favs, among others. Yes, there is plenty of fromage here.:

LA '09 Worlds Mix

Be sure to follow my LIVE tweets Worlds results updates.

I’m most rooting for favorites Yu-Na, Nobunari, Aliona & Robin, and Tessa/Scott! For the U.S., my fingers are most crossed for Alissa, Jeremy, Meryl/Charlie, and Caydee/Jeremy. Yes, I’m on first-name basis with them all ;-).

Evgeni (Plushenko) predicted the following:

“It’s going to be (France’s Brian) Joubert for sure on the podium, (American Evan) Lysacek and (Jeremy) Abbott,” Plushenko said. “How? I don’t know, but those three guys.”

Now I have to get making my fabulous “Alissa Put the Sizzle Back in Czisny!” sign (or insert other punny exclamation), to support our girl, and perhaps even get me on TV to boot.

Hopefully it’ll be as fun as the Salt Lake Games. I recently dug up this fabulous photo. It was utter serendipity… we discovered that we had by chance worn the Olympic colors, and that since there were 5 of us, we were the LIVING Olympic rings!

The LIVING Olympic Rings

The LIVING Olympic Rings

And, I smell a controversy, although it may be great for conjuring up much needed skating viewership. If the presumed tactic reflected in this video is attempted again on Yu-Na in LA, I’ll be waiting in the kiss-and-cry with my knee bat! (Could it be Mao? Please, say it isn’t so!).

I was pleased to discover some fellow athletes’ words of support on the Worlds website, and a bit amused to find a few celebrity messages in the mix, such as this one from Miz Wilhelmina Slater (aka Vanessa Williams):

“This year’s ISU World Figure Skating Championships brings exciting talent to the ice in Los Angeles and I for one will be watching and sending my best wishes and support to all of the skaters. You have each worked hard to earn a spot in this competition and I congratulate you all on a job well done!”

And, I was thrilled to find in my e-mailbox yesterday a response from Alissa Czisny herself. I had extended a greeting of support, and also shared my #2 all-time favorite skate with her (Denise Biellmann’s Beau Soir, composed by Debussy, and choreographed by Robin Cousins), as its elegance and Denise’s spinning ability reminds me of her.:

“Thank you for your support of my skating and for your encouraging email. I appreciate the suggestion for the music, also! I wish you the best!”

Check back the week following Worlds for my highlights of the experience.

The Weight of the Worlds

My Worlds’ Podium Prediction Contest is technically closed, but I’m allowing a 1-day grace period for dawdlers (til midnight tonight), and you can still post to it for fun after today. Thanks to those who took part in voting! The winners will be announced the week following Worlds, and the prizes given out shortly after. Skaters hit the Worlds’ ice this sunday for official practice sessions!

The contest outcome should be interesting. It’s amusing to see all the same skaters in the mix, shuffled around in a seemingly randomly manner. Although this of course makes sense, as unexpected results are exactly that, and impossible to foresee. For example, who’s going to bet on Tomas Verner as the champion? If the perfect storm strikes his more favored contenders and he has the skate of his life it could happen… but it’s a long shot.

Photo by Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press

Photo by Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press

The submissions clearly show that both Patrick Chan and Yu-Na Kim have the weight of the Worlds in expectations on their shoulders (pardon the pun). This is exactly why it can be so difficult for a skater to come into an event as the favorite, although neither have won Worlds before. This clearly has been Yu-Na’s season, so it really is hers to lose. Patrick’s near meltdown at the Grand Prix Final makes him ever less so the obvious choice.

The most interesting submission is Aaron’s for ice dance, in which he predicts Khoklova/Novitski winning it, and Virtue/Moir nowhere to be found in his top 4 standing. Her recent surgery must have at least this fan doubting a quick return to top form.

Dan Pelle/The Spokesman ReviewAnd, the submissions pretty evenly weigh out in the Abbott vs. Lysacek rivalry (with noone predicting either of them will walk away with the gold). That’s probably about right, as From Kidquest, April '07it seems that the side of the bed they get up on, or direction the wind blows will decide who trumps who, and whether Evan will land his quad or not. I remember years and years of watching Michael Weiss attempt the quad. I’m guessing his rate of success was about 5-10% (I can still hear Dick Button balking at his repeated and mostly failed attempts). Well, with Evan I imagine it’s more like 35-40%, but still feels a bit like a gamble each time.

I’m not in favor of our sport becoming ALL about the jumps, but I do think it would be interesting to have access to actual jump stats that gave you a true X for X ratio of attempts versus successful landings. This ISU page (I LOVE this page) comes close to that level of detail, but not quite. I’m thinking more on the level of those crazy baseball fans that sit with their pencil and tables during every game and track EVERYTHING! I guess I’m only a thread away from being like one of them, huh?

Just an amusing aside. Getting “jumping clapping man” up and running has been such an interesting journey for me so far, even though I’ve only been at it for a couple of months now. The stats you can access in your dashboard are amazing. It’s quite a powerful tool. Well, it appears someone (perhaps you) recently found my blog by using the follwing search engine key words: “japan zhang naked ice dancing”. I wish I actually had something to offer that would fulfill the “naked ice dancing” portion of this search. But, certainly not the “japan zhang naked” part.

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