Archive for the ‘belbin & agosto’ Tag

Vancouver Games: Week 2 Recap (Part 2)

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.

Continue reading recap —>

Vancouver Games: Week 2 Recap (Part 1)

As week of the Olympics launched, we were still treated to a barrage of continuing debate over Evan vs. Plushy. I did, however like this particular comment on the outcome: “Judges judge the beginning, middle, and end of the jumps, and although it (Plushy’s quad) was an amazing athletic feat, the GOEs reflects all three of these things.” (Excerpted from a Yamaguchi/Carruthers post-competition online chat.) BTW, I was pleased to her commentator Susie Wynne briefly on Terri Gannon’s “FSR&P” show. I miss her!

Although I respect Evan’s apparent “good training,” it too has been discussed ad nauseum. Fine, so he trains well, and runs through his programs 3+ times a day, and does cardio every other day, and… I imagine this is an effort to try to drill it into viewer’s heads that figure skating is actually HARD WORK! Well, when you look at a skater like Lambiel doing his Olympic ice run through, perhaps some of the other skaters do need to take note of Evan’s training. He doesn’t attempt or land a single jump in this run through.

Ice “Prancers”: OD Top Four

As Tracy Wilson said, ice dancing used to be mocked as ice prancing. Well, these days, with the degree of technical difficulty and artistic brilliance, that’s a less commonly held sentiment. Now, ice dancing is hipper than ever, particularly thanks to coaches Zoueva & Shpilband (“The House of Z&S”)…which embodies the best taste musically and choreographically, as well as peerless training.

The Original Dance event was VERY impressive. Not a single team that was aired made a substantial mistake, and I only witnessed a single fizzle from John Kerr (which was very minor). What a change from Torino. It’s likely because ice dancers are just more comfortable with the demands of the CoP now, whereas last time they were still adjusting and pushing themselves, apparently too far.

Domnina & Shabalin (DomShabs): Aside from ALL the controversy surrounding this “Aboriginal” program, it just didn’t technically or artistically stack up next to the programs that followed. The transitions appeared rough around the edges, and not of the highest difficulty. Their characterizations and interaction were über cutesy and clowny (I love me a good clown, in the right context!). I’m very surprised they didn’t make the easiest change to her costume under-color, from the controversial red to any other friggin’ color. At least some adjustments were made, thankfully including the removal of his brown face makeup. I wondered why Aboriginals would do an Eskimo kiss (their final move). Well, in 1982 Inuits (“Eskimo” is considered pejorative) were officially recognized as Canadian Aboriginals. BTW, where were their CD tribal Snuggies in the kiss ‘n cry this time?

Davis & White (Marlie): They were on fire, and threw all caution to the wind! Their twizzles were smokin’. This youtube sensation continues to draw in audiences (and more skating fans…please). It’s one of the few ice dances I find myself returning to again and again, because it’s so fun, infectious, and fresh. Good for them for crafting something that truly reflects the dance and culture it aims to revere.

Virtue & Moir (Voir): Perfection! They delivered flawless character, confidence, carriage, and edging. Their choreography was strongly linked to the music, down to flamenco head snaps, dress whips, and arm accents. The integration of their moves is astounding, true ice DANCING!

Belbin & Agosto (Belgosto): I wonder if they are wishing they had stayed with Z&S, as they seem to have the magic touch with the top teams, and are creating programs that are unique and unbeatable. This Moldavian folk dance (by Linichuk) felt emotionally junior. Their technique is so strong, a more sophisticated program would have landed them higher, I fear. They should have been placed in third for this dance, but with three points to make up, I felt it was unlikely they’d medal. I’m disappointed, but their program didn’t make me want to defend them as much as I otherwise would. I noticed Tanith say “it’s OK,” after the scores were posted. I can’t tell if she really is OK with it, or if she’s just resigned to being the forgotten team here. Frankly, I almost sensed that energy out there on the ice, that they knew it wasn’t their time. (Am I projecting?) We all knew that even if they skated great in the FD, they were up against the wrath and waning medals of Mother Russia.

jcm’s costuming thumbs-up: There was a lot to like here! Marlie’s Indian, elegant and perfectly suited to the program, with her Choli (beaded top), Lengha (split skirt) and his Sherwani (wedding jacket); Voir’s Flamenco, her red silk charmeuse dress and his waist-coat were romantic and lush. I couldn’t keep my eyes off them; Delobel & Schoenfelder’s (DelShoes) Can-Can, complete with tulle skirt for her and scarf, beret and vest for him, all with pink accents. Thumbs-down: (surprise!) DomShab’sAboriginal”, nuff said.

Continue reading recap —>

Your Vancouver Olympic Podium Predictions

The Writing’s on the Wall


Well, not that it’s a surprise, but the collective opinion of contest participants consider Yu-Na, Plushenko, Shen & Zhao, and Virtue & Moir the ones to beat. Out of 28 submissions, Shen & Zhao received ALL BUT ONE first place prediction ordinal, and Yu-Na received all but three. Sound like a load of expectation and pressure? Sure does! But, they’ve proven to be able to carry that gracefully, far more often than not.

The few renegade, dark horse nods were appreciated, such as the lone ones predicting gold for Flatt (by Aaron at AL&S) and Delobel & Schoenfelder (by Jahiegel), and silver for Dube & Davison (CEB’s, one of only four nods they received)…perhaps goodwill gestures, or just a contest strategy in betting on underdogs? Receiving a single vote each were Nagasu, for bronze, and Weir, Kostner, and Zhang & Zhang, all for pewter.

Interestingly, although Rochette and Ando received a few first place predictions, not a single one was given to Asada! Just not her time, eh? She, Lysacek and Savchenko & Szolkowy were very strongly settled in second place. And, you have confidently placed Belbin & Agosto just off the podium (except my mom, who has them in first…wishful thinking?).

In the mens, you have predicted the first double medal since the U.S. sweep in 1956 (Cortina d’Ampezzo), and only the third double medal in history. And, Chan and Takahashi are considered to be in a near dead heat for pewter. They are the masters of the component score, but apparently not considered consistent enough in their jumps.

The contest is now closed. You can post further predictions for fun, but they won’t be elligible. Here are the combined results of your predictions. They seem reasonable…now let’s see how this REALLY plays out!

Drum Roll Please…


Ladies

1) Yu-Na
2) Asada
3) Rochette
4) Ando

Mens

1) Plushenko
2) Lysacek
3) Abbott
4) Chan/Takahashi

Pairs

1) Shen & Zhao
2) Savchenko & Szolkowy
3) Pang & Tong
4) Kavaguti & Smirnov

Ice Dance

1) Virtue & Moir
2) Davis & White
3) Domnina & Shabalin
4) Belbin & Agosto


Davis & White vs. Belbin & Agosto: A Comparison

Aunt Joyce’s Ice Cream Stand has shared a fascinating video (posted on youtube by a cangp08), allowing you to cross-compare the Compulsory Dances of the top two U.S. Ice Dance Teams, currently competing at Spokane Nationals. Although it’s not possible to fully absorb the details of both performances in this manner, you CAN easily compare overall speed and expression.

[UPDATE: Sadly, the referenced video has been removed from youtube. If it reappears, I will repost it, or please notify me if you find it elsewhere. In the meantime, I’ve posted a similar Belbin & Agosto / Virtue & Moir comparison video to at least share the split-screen technique.]

With this CD, Davis & White scored an American record (45.42), and Belbin & Agosto (Belgosto”) were second (45.02).

After reviewing it, I have to agree with the result. Technically they are VERY comparable, although D&W appear to have slightly steadier/smoother edges. But, for me the deal breaker is that D&W embody the spirit of “Golden Waltz” more fully. They skate more completely as one, and exude greater effervescence, giving their dance more lilt and “lift” (not in the literal sense). Their connection is not surprising, given that they’ve skated together for 13 years!

Here’s a technical question for a CoP geek greater than I: Does Belbin & Agosto’s lift at the end of the program provide garner any additional points? Or, is it considered purely interpretive in this context, as this waltz itself is supposed to allow the judges to compare CDs apple-to-apples?

All this being said, the point difference is so minimal that the results of the OD and FD will surely decide this title. In this top two race, I’m not rooting for either team over the otherso, may the best team win!

However, in the race for the bronze, I’m very pleased that my favs, Navarro & Bommentre, came out on top in this round (37.60). The team generally favored for the bronze, Samuelson & Bates, are close behind, in fourth (37.36).

jcm’s USFS Nationals’ Podium Predictions

Chime in with your own predictions! If you wish to take part in my Olympics’ Podium Predictions Contest, click here.

Ladies

(2 berths)

1. Rachael Flatt
2. Sasha Cohen
3. Ashley Wagner

IF Sasha withdraws:

1. Rachael Flatt
2. Ashley Wagner
3. Alissa Czisny

Although Sasha has confirmed her attendance as recently as last week, I’m providing a backup plan, as I’m still suspicious. If she competes, I predict her jumps will be sketchy as always, but her artistry and spirals will elevate her past Ashley. I love Alissa, and über-rooted for her at ’09 Worlds in LA. But, since she effectively lost our third spot there, I feel she had her shot (as well as her moment as Nationals’ Champion), and will karmically sit this one out.

Men’s

(3 berths)

1. Evan Lysacek
2. Johnny Weir
3. Jeremy Abbott

I think Evan has just been too consistent and confident to rule out, despite my biases (see below). Although Jeremy has more scoring potential than Johnny, I give Johnny the edge because of his season thus far. With Ryan Bradley & Brandon Mroz threatening to unleash a gauntlet of quads (ie: planning 3 quads each!) they could really shake things up, but I’m not betting on it. I don’t think Adam Rippon will get control of his 3A enough this time, but he will easily reign in the next Olympic season. And, Stephen Carriere has seemingly faded as a real threat.

Pairs

(2 berths)

1. McLaughlin & Brubaker (McBru”)
2. Denney & Barrett
3. Inoue & Baldwin

McBru will get on top of their programs enough to eek out another Nationals’ title. Denney & Barrett will play second fiddle this one LAST time. And, Inoue & Baldwin will just miss making the Olympic team. Although I salute their staying power and persistence, I don’t root for them this time, whether they land their throw 3A, or not. I just don’t think they have Olympic podium potential anymore, even on their best day.

Ice Dance

(3 berths)

1. Davis & White (Marlie”)
2. Belbin & Agosto
3. Samuelson & Bates

It’s becoming clearer and clearer, this may be Marlie’s first time to wrestle the Nationals’ crown from Belbin & Agosto in a head-to-head. Samuelson & Bates technical skating (ie: twizzles and speed) will land them bronze, a rung down from last season’s result. Fresh from Juniors, the Shibutanis and Chock & Zuerlein could shake things up for the bronze medal!

Wish List

These are my personal favs, and special requests.:

Flatt: to become a first-time Nationals’ Champion, and make the Olympic team
Weir: to become a four-time Nationals’ Champion, or at least get to Olympics
Abbott: to skate his best this season, and make the Olympic team
Jonathan Cassar: to get some tv air time, and be introduced to skating viewers
Denney & Barrett: to become first-time Nationals’ Champions
Navarro & Bommetre: to make the Olympic team (fingers crossed!)

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