Archive for the ‘evgeni plushenko’ Tag

jcm’s Torino 2010 Worlds Predictions

Here we go again…predictions, one last time this season! AND, the competition returns to Il Palavela, in Torino, site of the 2006 Winter Games.

Torino Redux


Ladies

1) Yu-Na
2) Asada
3) Ando
4) Nagasu
(GO Rachael & Mirai! Joannie has pulled out, and will be replaced by Myriane Samson.)

Mens

1) Takahashi
2) Chan
3) Oda
4) Rippon
(BREAKING NEWS: Plushy has just withdrawn. Evan, Stéphane, Tomáš, and Johnny were already out.)

Pairs

1) Savchenko & Szolkowy
2) Pang & Tong
3) Kavaguti & Smirnov
4) Mukhortova & Trankov
(I think SzolChenko will have a fire in their belly after Vancouver.)

Ice Dance

1) Davis & White
2) Virtue & Moir
3) Faiella & Scali
4) Pechalat & Bourzat
(I’m very excited about the french or italians finally landing on the podium!)

Now, please share yours!

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 —>

Vancouver Games: Week 1 Supersized Recap

I’m battling a terrible cold and sore throat. Staying up past midnight nightly watching these Games likely hasn’t helped. Why, oh why is the left coast on such a delay? More advertising dollars for NBC? Pathetic! I’m sure a lot of potential viewers drifted away because of this poor decision.

Opening Ceremonie$


When I sat down to watch the opening, all I could think of was how unlucky Vancouver was to have to follow Beijing. Beijing spent over $300+ million, and have a culture that is already primed to partake in such a large-scale, perfect orchestration of the masses. However, I respected Canada’s aim to keep it less expensive (even if that still meant a walloping $30+ million). After all, the Olympics are important for national pride, and international athletic competition and camaraderie, but it shouldn’t replace feeding mouths and rebuilding cities.

We Are the World…again, REALLY? At least J-Hud was in the mix, making it a bit more legit. In the initial, historic portion of the ceremony, I really appreciated the strong presence of the indigenous native nations, particularly the aboriginal people, and the nod to their cultural impact.

The greeter minions (see photo, in background), decked out head to toe in snowy white, looked like rather vacuous members of an Eskimo cult, or life-sized “It’s a Small World…” mascots, courtesy of Disney. One in particular caught my eye on multiple close-ups. He was highly entertaining, and had the infectious enthusiasm and gloriously bad dance moves of one of The Wiggles. I was reminded that believing you’re really good is half the battle in convincing others that you actually are. The female greeters also called to mind the great ole winter icon Suzy Chapstick.

In the parade of athletes, it was a pleasant surprise to see so many figure skaters bearing their flags: Kevin van der Perren (Belgium), Julia Sebestyen (Hungary), Alexandra Zaretsky (Israel), Song Chol Ri (N. Korea), and medal contender Stéphane Lambiel (Switzerland)! NOONE waved their flag with more fey elegance than Stéphane. I was struck by some of the more memorable athlete names: Hubert von Hohenlohe (sounds like a drunk ‘n merry Austrian prince), and Bjoergvin Bjoergvinsson (what were his parents thinking?)!

K.D. Lang was channeling Wayne Newton. She sounded fantastic singing Leonard Cohen’s (unfortunately overdone) “Hallelujah.” Her voice is very well-preserved, after 25+ years as a recording artist. The digital video images projected on the floor were stunning, especially when a simulated school of orcas (spouting out their air holes) passed across the ocean surface. The artistic highlight of the ceremony was the aerial dance “Who Has Seen the Wind”, performed by Montreal’s Thomas Saulgrain, to Joni Mitchell’s acoustic recording of “Both Sides Now.” It was spiritually transcendent, filled with sincere wonder, and his journey reminded me a bit of Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.”

The most compelling moment was the minute of silence, for Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili (Team Georgia in photo, above right). How rare it is for a group of that enormity to share in silence, and what a reminder it was that modern society works far to hard to fill up all the still or quiet moments in life. Silent meditation is so rife with meaning…as much or more so than activity. Near the end, Measha Brueggergosman did her best Jessye Norman impersonation, complete with protruding neck veins, unhinged jaw, and mother nature/goddess delivery. I enjoy her art, and appreciated her inclusion, but this presented her as an operatic caricature.

Overall, the host country did a great job of milking their budget, as it didn’t feel cheap at all, and the silly mishaps were easily forgiven.

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


Vancouver: A Final Shout-Out

Seven Days & Counting!


The light’s at the end of the tunnel now, with the opening ceremony just one week away. Now is the time I start wishing I had forked out the dough to attend (waaaahhhhhh!!!). Thankfully, I can live vicariously through blogger friend Aaron, at AL&S. He’s been selected as the Gold Blogger, all expenses paid! This honor couldn’t have been awarded to a nicer, more knowledgeable guy. I am so proud of, and excited for him (…can you say insane jealousy?). I’m lobbying to be his towel boy. Be sure to follow him online, if you want the real behind-the-scenes (click on button at right). Go Aaron!

I just posted my own predictions for my Olympics’ Podium Predictions Contest (which of course don’t count). I’m so pleased at the level of participation, and it’s especially nice to see a few fellow bloggers and family represent: incl. Aaron, Matthew at VR=A, and my mom! The men’s result is easily the hardest to predict. A coin toss or Magic Eight Ball consultation (ala State of the Skate) could probably offer an equally accurate result, given how deep that field is.

The Russian Surge


A lot has shifted in the skating world in the eight months since my post about the end of some long-standing Russian reigns. It revealed my not-so-covert desire for these “reigns” to be passed on. With Plushenko’s successful comeback since, that’s now much less likely in the mens. Even DomShabs” (or “Moksana”), who barely held it together at Russian Nationals will probably make it onto the podium, with a fight and some helpful nudges from a few biased judges. And, Kavaguti & Smirnov are raising the bar with each competition. Just shows you how resilient and determined the Russian skating community is.

Torino Ice Dance: OD Hawt Mess


We all remember the gasp-inducing affair that was the ice dance competition in Torino, with costly mistakes from several top teams. First, there was Denkova & Staviski (gold medalists one month later at Worlds!) falling out of contention with a botched spin, as well as some biased judging. Then there was Fusar-Poli getting dramatically dropped by Margaglio on their final lift. And, who can forget the stare-down that ensued afterwards, worthy of a Latin Telenovela!

Most tragic of all was Dubreuil getting hurled across the ice by Lauzon, also during their final lift. I wonder if any such slip-ups (or fizzles) will be deal breakers in deciding the medals. I certainly hope not, but it did make for some unforgettable and unexpected outcomes in Torino.

My Wish Short-List


I’m praying that Akiko Suzuki, Johnny Weir, Jeremy Abbott, and either American woman (see below) lands on the podium. Akiko and Sparkly-Boy are probably longshots, and really only viable for a bronze, but I can dream! I’d also really like to see Takahashi and/or Oda snag a medal. And, of course, many of us are also hoping for an historic U.S. ice dance gold!

Will he be "on", or lost in the icicles?

Historic Sweeps?


Speaking of ice dance, wouldn’t a North American sweep in ice dance be positively scrumptious?! I would also find it compelling to witness an Asian sweep (ala the Asian Invasion) in the ladies’ competition, in which case, maybe Morozov was right?

Ladies’ Dark Horse Trend


Will the next Sarah, Tara, or Shizuka please stand up? Who might be the unexpected dark horse for gold here? No, neither Tara nor Shizuka came out of nowhere (having won a previous Worlds), but they certainly weren’t the favorite. Judging from recent past results (offering varying degrees of surprise), perhaps we should really be putting our money on Ando, Flatt, or Suzuki, the current viable underdogs, rather than Yu-Na, Asada or Rochette?

My fingers are crossed that Flatt and/or Nagasu deliver. If not, as I speculated, this will be the first time in 11 Olympics (40+ years, since ’64) that an American woman doesn’t stand on the podium. Oy vey!

I wish all the best to each and every Olympic skater (and athlete). My truest hope…that they each may perform to the best of their ability, and walk away from the Games with only the best of memories of what they laid down on the ice, and experienced throughout!

Stéphane Lambiel to Debut New Competitive FS

Lambiel Takes On Opera

I was ecstatic when I read the following update from Stéphane Lambiel, regarding his competitive long program.:

“Lambiel says he is….only (interested) in impressing the judges with his new free program set to music from the opera La Traviata.”

(Read the complete article here.)

What an exciting prospect this is…the perfect melding of opera and skating, if done well. The score of Verdi’s opera La Traviata offers a sweeping and contrasting range of emotion, rhythm, tone, and melody: festive to tragic, grand to intimate, loving to vengeful, lilting to mournful. I hope his program music captures that breadth, and that he includes a portion of the atmospheric overture. I believe Europeans next week will be the debut of this program. The only other La Traviata programs I can recall are Cappellini and Lanotte’s FD, from the ’07 season, and Slutskaya’s FS, from ’03.

His comment means he is replacing his previous Tango FS, “Otoño Porteño” by Astor Piazzolla (arr. by Ensamble Nuevo Tango). It was a fine program, but not a real Olympic-stage grabber, and although passionate, too rhythmically monotonous for my taste, and a bit too much more of the same, considering his latin programs of the past. Thankfully, he will be keeping his William Tell Overture SP. It is one of my favorites!

Counting Him Out? Watch Your Back!

It seems most podium predictors thus far are counting him out for medal contention in Vancouver. Although Europeans will be the moment of truth on whether he is in top competitive form or not, he is too great a skater to ever count out.

The “only” in his comment was in regards to meeting Plushenko head-to-head for the first time since the 2006 Torino Olympics. He noted that “he is not interested in their rivalry”. It’s so hard to believe that that much competitive time has passed, and that they’re both back in the game now!

Go Stéphane!!!

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?

Ghoulish Figure Skating Clinics

Hosted by the Elite Masters!

Announcing an ALL NEW series of clinics, just in time for Halloween. Young skaters take notice, these are offered ONLY at jcm. They’re positively nightmarish, frightful, macabre, and diabolical!

Triple Axe-L Murder: OFF your chances at scoring high! If you’re a skater with great promise, and otherwise perfect technique, this is the clinic for you. Led by Mao Asada and Stephane Lambiel. Johnny Weir will provide stylish merch.

Miki at Rostelcom Cup, Russia (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)Spooky Arms Clinic: Hide a lack of choreography with this deceptively difficult technique. Learn this creepy art of “wavy”, sewn-on looking arms, with Miki Ando and Plushy. See results quick!

Mummy Wrapped Leg: Find out how to do the horrendous and altogether distracting leg wrap on your triple flips, lutzes, and toes, with Yukari Nakano. Word has it Midori Ito may show up to offer some special tips.

B-Movie Horror Melt-Down: Horrify the audience with over-the-top techniques, from the new queen of the on-ice melt-down, Carolina Kostner. Featuring a primer in how to “pop” jumps and throw it all away in four minutes. Alissa Czisny is the emcee for the evening.

Guillotine Leg Take-Offs: Sever your chance of getting on the podium with a monstrous raise and swift downward drop of ye old leg, before your triple lutzes and flips! Sarah Hughes became an Olympic Champion doing it. Now, learn by Caroline Zhang’s example.

Linda Blair Head-Spot: Are your jumps or spins feeling too fast or just plain easy? Incorporate a head-spot, with help from its sole elite exponent, Kevin van der Perren. It’ll be positively hair-raising, and will help slow ya down! Sponsored by Emanuel Sandhu.

Death By Drowning: Sink your programs with famous Russian coach and Tsarina Tatiana Tarasova. Why look vibrant and full of life on the ice when you could adopt a cold austerity, and dark, melodramatic programs? And you thought you couldn’t fall through rink ice?! (Cue evil laughter.)

Devilish Behavior: Flaunt your cockiness with lackadaisical program endings, and faux confident hand poses and finger points. Be the next alpha male on ice, thanks to input from Plushy and Brian Joubert.

Zombie Face: Capitalize on the recent mainstream obsession with zombies, and suck all the life outta your own programs with Caroline Zhang’s new techniques in lack of facial expression. Find out how to act like you just don’t wanna be there.

Savchenko & Szolkowy, Trophee Eric Bompard (AP Photo/Francois Mori)Freaky Perfection: Acquire a frightening Stepford Wives’ perfection, with Kim Yu-Na. Assure that your strength is your lack of weakness, and make people wonder if you can possibly be real.

Ghastly Costuming: Why save your Halloween costumes for Halloween? Wear them all season long! Learn how to dream-up and “work” costumes that get talked about more than your skating! Savchenko and Szolkowy offer the first half in applying clown makeup. Next up is Johnny Weir, showing you how to imagineer your own corset and Skeletor rib set. Rounding it out, Ekaterina Rubleva will share fun with feather boas!

Disclaimer: This was inspired in part by some recent highly creative posts by Laura over at Required Elements. In the spirit of Halloween, everyone should be able to laugh at themselves, right? (Yes, me included!) So, I took advantage of this holiday to lampoon the quirks of some of the best skaters in the biz, and even some of my favorites. It’s out of love for them and the sport…otherwise it wouldn’t be half as fun. I hope you had fun! Any other clinic concepts I missed (especially in Ice Dance)?

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.

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