Archive for the ‘adam rippon’ Tag

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 —>

Sighs of Relief: Torino Worlds Men’s FS

Noooooo-bunari Oda!


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).

Continue Olympic Hangover —>

Da Boys Duke it Out: Torino Worlds SPs

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.

Continue Reading About Da Boys —>

Best Skating Programs of the Season

My last post (focusing on skaters) offers a natural dovetail into this one. Especially for those of you who haven’t yet seen much/any of the ’09-‘10 season events to date (Grand Prix, as well as earlier Nebelhorn, Finlandia, or Liberty), or don’t feel skilled at identifying stand-outs, this serves as a short-list to acquaint you with the best programs. It’s impossible to completely separate out the skater or performance as a factor, but that isn’t the focus here. Also, these aren’t podium predictions, but they are in order of preference.

By Artist Larisa Gendernalik

Program Diagram (Artist Larisa Gendernalik)

I’m covering only competitive programs, not exhibitions, and am skipping Compulsory Ice Dances. The focus here is on music selection and choreography (transitions, pacing, movement, ice coverage). I’m most drawn to programs that have a dramatic arc, musical contrast, or a strong emotional impact or levity. Here is one interesting look at the choreographic process, or evolution of a program.

Although fresh music selections were preferred, some tried-and-true selections still made the cut, because I love them so, or because their approach is new. For example, no Phantom of the Opera or Scheherazade programs were selected, and most latin/flamenco numbers (Suzuki, Rochette, Cohen and Chan SPs, Lambiel LP, etc.) need to be tabled for a good decade, as that style is so overused. Also, I’m allergic to Russian folk tunes and country music, of which there are many in the Ice Dance OD. Good costumes supported the selections, but weren’t pivotal. David Wilson wins here, with eight programs included, and Lori Nichol a close second, with five. Do they ever sleep?

Choreographers

David Wilson with Kim Yu-Na, and Lori Nichol with Salé & Pelletier

Men’s SP:

1) Adam Rippon: Dear Father, from Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Neil Diamond (Choreo: David Wilson)
2) Evan Lysacek: Firebird, by Stravinsky (Choreo: Lori Nichol)
3) Stéphane Lambiel: William Tell Overture, by Rossini (Choreo: Salomé Brunner)

Men’s LP:

1) Jeremy Abbott: Symphony No. 3 in C minor (Organ Symphony), by Saint-Saëns (Choreo: Pasquale Camerlengo) – my overall season favorite
2) Jeffrey Buttle: Eclogue, by Finzi (Choreo: David Wilson) – why’d he retire!@#$
3) Nobunari Oda: Charlie Chaplin (Choreo: Nikolai Morozov)

Ladies’ SP:

1) Kim Yu-Na: 007 Medley (Choreo: David Wilson)
2) Alissa Czisny: Mask of Zorro (Choreo: David Wilson)
3) Caroline Zhang: Zigeunerweisen, by Sarasate (Choreo: Lori Nichol)

Ladies’ LP:

1) Kim Yu-Na: Concerto in F, by Gershwin (Choreo: David Wilson)
2) Akiko Suzuki: West Side Story, by Bernstein (Choreo: Shae-Lynn Bourne)
3) Joanie Rochette: Samson and Delilah, by Saint-Saëns (Lori Nichol)

Pairs’ SP:

1) Pang & Tong: Le Pêcheurs de Perles, by Bizet (Choreo: Nicolai Morozov)
2) Shen & Zhao: Who Wants to Live Forever, by Queen (Choreo: Lori Nichol)
3) Langlois & Hay: Fascination (Choreo: David Wilson)

Pairs LP:

1) Shen & Zhao: Adagio, by Albinoni (Choreo: Lori Nichol)
2) Dube & Davison: The Way We Were, by Hamlisch (Choreo: Wilson)
3) Pang & Tong: Impossible Dream, by Hisaishi (Choreo: Bourne, Wilson)
+) Savchenko & Szolkowy: Out of Africa, by John Barry (Choreo: Ingo Steuer) updated 11.2.09!

Ice Dance OD:

1) Davis & White: Indian Folk Dance (Choreo: Marina Zueva, Igor Shpilband)
2) Navarro & Bommetre: Brazilian Folk (Choreo: Renée Roca)
3) Chock & Zuerlein: Afro Cuban Folk (Choreo: Igor Shpilband)

Ice Dance FD:

1) Virtue & Moir: Symphony No. 5, by Mahler (Choreo: Zueva, Shpilband)
2) Faiella & Scali: Gli Emigranti, by Rota (C: Paola Mezzadri, Ludmila Vlasova)
3) Belbin & Agosto: Ave Maria / Amen, by Caccini / Rossini (C: Natalia Linichuk)

Neither Domnina & Shabalin’s, nor Delobel & Schoenfelder’s programs were considered for this, since both have yet to perform their new programs in intl. competition (if you find videos, please share them). It was difficult to leave out Ashley Wagner’s (Polovtsian Dances) and Sasha Cohen’s (Moonlight Sonata) LPs, and Jeremy Abbott’s (Beatles) SP! On the flip side, there is a bit of a drought of memorable programs among the ladies’ SPs.

Click on these links to view complete programs by discipline (some details are not up-to-date): Ladies’, Men’s, Pairs’, Ice Dance.

Are there any glaring omissions, or your favorites that I overlooked?

The Golden Age of Yu-Na

Any More Superlatives Left?

So often in contemporary operagoing and opera critique there is a bemoaning of talent on the level of the famed “Golden Age”…at least the second Golden Age (‘60–‘70s). The first one was in the mid-to-late 19th century, but noone’s around to remember that, thank God! It gets rather tiresome, and it especially disrupts the explorations of people experiencing the art for the first time. If I am a proponent of such talk (and I know I periodically digress), just slap me.

So, what a relief it is that in the current skating world we have a talent so undeniably great no such critique needs to be endured. It’s not exactly a new concept to praise “PHENOM” Kim Yu-Na, but that’s because it is so justly deserved. Does one person constitute a Golden Age? In this case, yes!

I just finished watching her FS at Trophée Eric Bompard (not to mention her SP!). This girl LEFT OUT a triple flip and still ended up with a personal best AND world record final score of 210.03, beating Mao Asada by 36 points. The missed jump was no more than a hiccup, and had no impact on the overall program. (Imagine what her score would have been had she not skipped the flip!) Thankfully, her program and costume support her Tiger Woods-scaled perfection. David Wilson’s (choreo.) “Piano Concerto in F” LP (Gershwin) enables her to flirt with the audience, judges, and cameras (ie: benefiting us couch potatoes)! Honestly, it looks like only Jeff Gillooly could stop her from being Olympic Champion now.

The Joy of Skating

It is truly inspiring to experience the art and athleticism of someone who is so complete in every way. “The House of Orser”, as I like to call it, which includes both Yu-Na and Adam Rippon, clearly nurtures not only skating excellence, but also the joy of skating. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Both of these skaters were among the few singles skaters at this competition who really portrayed that spirit on the ice. And, congrats to Adam for being the only U.S. skater on any of the podiums! What a great way to start his senior intl. career! I loved his “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” SP. It had shades of Matthew Savoie’s “Mission” LP…with a real soul, and spirituality.

I can’t leave out Nobunari Oda, who gave 120% in both programs. It’s so good to see him back on top! His Charlie Chaplin LP has loads of character, and really tells a story, something that is getting lost in the demands of the current COP. And, Tomas Verner’s SP to “Zorba the Greek” was also effervescent, boyish, and charming (costume included…I want one!).

Yukari Nakano’s “The Firebird” (Stravinsky) LP deserves a big thumbs-up. Marina Zueva (choreo.) has actually selected a piece of music that is fresh in the ladies’ field, and created a real dramatic arc, with emotion inducing moments. Yukari’s exotic unitard also supports the uniqueness of the program, and accentuates her exceptional athleticism.

Let ‘Er Rip!

Since the television commentators can’t say it, I will! Tatiana Tarasova, however great a coach she may have been for Yagudin, is sinking Mao Asada (and, apparently wasn’t a great fit for Shizuka or Sasha either). BOTH her programs hang around her neck like dead weights, when her former effervescent spirit likely wants to “sing” across the ice. I feel as if Tarasova is trying to turn Mao into Russia’s Pride (since they don’t have a realistic female Olympic Champion), rather than celebrating what makes her special, and bringing out what would really allow her to thrive. It reminds me of a chef who takes a traditional dish and works way too hard to make it new or different, thereby rendering it unrecognizable, OR like a heavy-handed conductor who is so eager to leave an imprint on a piece of music that they rob it of its inherent attributes. Please, call Lori Nichol before it’s too late!!! Kim’s timing to peek is proving to be as good as Mao’s is bad, in this Olympic season.

Who kidnapped the real Caroline Zhang and replaced her with a fembot? Perhaps it was what the commentator referenced as her outlook on these earlier competitions as “practice”, but NONE of her former spirit was in evidence, and her face was utterly expressionless. It was as if she didn’t want to be on the ice. Any chance it could be attributable to Anne Patrice McDonough-style “stage mother”-related burn out? She did skate very cleanly, excepting one step-out on a landing. Dig deep Caroline, you are VERY special and highly skilled…don’t get bogged down by the COP and downgrade concerns so much so that you offer up a flatlined performance (worthy of a fast-forward on TiVo).

Pairs/Ice Dance Overview

Inoue and Baldwin landed their throw triple axel for the first time since 4CC in ’07. It was a beauty. I hope it gives them the needed kick in the pants to push themselves…I feel like they’re sort of going through the motions in the rest of their program, so if they’re going to beat out younger U.S. teams for an Olympic berth, they better really “bring it”, and proove they deserve to be there again.

I was horrified to see Savchenko and Szolkowy’s melt down. It was SO uncharacteristic, and I don’t believe they’ve ever done that before. But, perhaps it offered them some good learning, so they won’t “lose themselves” too much in their LP at the critical end of the season, leaving behind any details. I love their LP music (“You’ll Never Walk Alone”), but their costumes looked like they were ready for a Carmen Miranda or Brazilian Carnaval number!?

It was shocking to see Mukhortova and Trankov look as if they’ve spent the past year in pair’s therapy (“…and, Maria, how does that make you feel?”). Clearly they’ve successfully channeled their angst into their skating. Good for them. They do have a beautiful Russian classicism.

I was expecting Dubé and Davison’s “The Way We Were” LP to be on the level of Sale and Pelletier’s “A Love Story”, but I was let down. They have some great qualities, but there was very little story telling or one-ice flirting going on, for which the program begs. And, I didn’t get the feeling it is just early in the season…the program just didn’t seem to have that element at all, really.

In Ice Dance, I was only able to watch Virtue and Moir’s FD (“Symphony No. 5″, by Mahler), and it was/is an unqualified masterpiece. They will be nearly unbeatable in Vancouver. They embody passion, beauty, perfection, grace, to name just a few of their attributes. On the U.S. side, I have always been a Navarro and Bommentre fan, so I hope they can raise their placement as the season progresses.

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