Archive for the ‘johnny weir’ Tag
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!
All the recent Weir/Lysacek mud-slinging, via the media is so silly and meaningless to me, I won’t even detail the ongoing bitch brawl here (and you likely already read it elsewhere). Clearly, they’re milkin’ this opportunity to increase their media presence (ie: “No press is bad press”).
BUT, when I came across this photo, I felt it said it all. They are in a sense forever linked, in their “rivalry,” and burgeoning off-ice, celebrity careers. So, what better way to to forever immortalize them as yin-yang/brothers/lovers/
soulmates (take your pick) in a fabulously flashy, fey, artistic portrait, ala Kings of 80′s Cheese: Hall & Oates?!
I’m not sure if NoMad Blogger created it or not (it appears not, as she included the zimbio.com credit), but I take no credit for this masterpiece. If you know the source (perhaps Toller Cranston?), please provide it, and I’ll gladly update the credit.
I now give you…
Expect the Unexpected
Miki Ando: When the commentators talk about Miki’s “blank” eyes, what they’re not getting at is that she just doesn’t have the same “acting” ability as someone like Yu-Na or Phaneuf (ie: compare their Cleopatras). It’s not just about “spunk,” or “personality”…these girls know how to tell a story with each glance and gesture. I think that’s a gift, but surely it can be nurtured, if there is a willingness. However, Miki doesn’t seem to tap into that deeper well, and may just not be capable of that degree of nuance. That being said, she skates a clean program, albeit sans her 3/3 (instead a 3Lz/2T), and rather emotionally dull. A respectable end of season for her, whether she medals or not!
Kim Yu-Na (2nd): It seems all the world is hanging on this performance. The moment she starts it becomes evident that Miki was largely just skating around doing elements. Even though it’s clear Yu-Na is skating “safe,” she still gives each move a purpose. She starts strong, but falls on her 3S, and gives up on her final 2A, popping it. Honestly, I like that she has a chink in her armor (pardon the pun). This does enliven the rivalry with Mao, and frankly, doesn’t allow fans and viewers to just assume she’ll skate clean (ala Kristi, or M.K. when not at the Olympics). It makes her vulnerable, and almost more interesting to me. My friend Richard jokes that “Queen” isn’t enough…she should have a planet named after her: “Yu-Na.” Her name even sounds a bit cosmic.
Cynthia Phaneuf: Again, Phaneuf’s Cleopatra makes Miki’s look emotionally junior. She skates a clean program, and lands 6 triples! How unexpected. I hope this gives her renewed confidence for next season. She competes so hot and cold, but is SO talented. She does telegraph her jumps a bit too much, but who cares, if she can skate like this!
Major Universal Sports/Comcast Fail!
The Pairs LP started airing before my scheduled TiVo recording even began, discluding the entire third-to-last group, and ALL but the last two Men’s SPs were covered up by a Russian news program. WTF!? A Plushy conspiracy? Thank god this didn’t happen with my Olympics recordings, but it still has me fuming. Perhaps it’s my local cable providers’ fault. Whosever it is, off with their heads!
Berton & Hotarek: I don’t disagree with Tony Wheeler, an excellent (newish?) skating blogger (also from Ohio…must be somethin’ in the water). This italian team is very promising, delivering one of the finest short programs, and deserving notice here. Next step: upgrade to a triple twist. How lovely too to see John Zimmerman on their coaching team. (He and Shae-Lynn should have won AT LEAST the first night of “Thin Ice”!)
Evora & Ladwig (Maranda): Her expressive face really sells this couple. She also has beautiful extension, and their program has a gentle, and sincere loving quality…well, it is “Love Actually.” Their footwork and final lift feels a bit slow, but some of that could be attributable to camera angle/perception.
Denney & Barrett (Barney): Great speed and attack. This is definitely the team we’ve grown to love from the past two Nationals! Her triple toe is a bit Tara (ie: rollerskater-ey, fast but low), BUT she nails it, unlike in Vancouver. They leap to 6th, and with a personal best!!! Wow, with this performance, and Evora & Ladwig’s great showing, I have a flash of irrational hope that they might they climb high enough to regain 3 berths.
Savchenko & Szolkowy (Szolchenko – 3rd): Not inspired, but acceptable. He doubles his triple toe, and their spin unison is off, but it keeps their placement high enough to pretty much be a sure thing for the podium, and not out of reach of gold, if Pang & Tong open the door. I wonder if his botched jumps this season are a confidence issue, or more one of some apathy creeping in.
There’s been SO much press and discussion about Johnny’s “STARS On Ice” exclusion, and of him wanting to produce his own alternative show, complete with his Lady Gaga. I didn’t trust that any producer could get this off the ground as a tour…MAYBE as a one-time tv special (Johnny, please prove me wrong!). So, with my wildest fantasies sparked, I took the bull by the horns, and dreamt up something truly “family friendly” (nudge nudge, wink wink): “GAY STARS On Ice & Friends!” Instead of creating an entirely new name, it’s a more effective rubbing-in-the-face to alter it slightly…and “RAINBOWS On Ice” just doesn’t have any ring to it.
Some would argue that “STARS On Ice” IS essentially “GAY STARS On Ice…” already, in everything but name. However, the reaction to Johnny’s request for inclusion has clued us into the fact that this is not the case, at least as per some of the mainstream target audience. No, surprisingly, Johnny hasn’t verbally “come out,” but he upholds “gay” where it counts, and I, and gay kids everywhere applaud him for that.
My concept is for an independent skating show that would travel to only the hippest urban spots, aka the biggest gay cities: SF, NY, LA, Chicago, Boston, Washington, Dallas, Miami, etc. Oh, and the top-billing sponsor (ala Smuckers) goes to the maker of Twinkies® and Ho-Hos®…not to mention Sno Balls®! Yes, that’s “Hostess’ GAY Stars on Ice!”
The programs and performances would tip the scales in favor of the campy, flamboyant, and festive. BUT, there would be plenty of true, heartfelt gravitas as well, with a strong nod to high-classical repertoire (ie: from full-length ballet, and opera). It would honor and encourage the young aesthetic and spirit, AND the old gays.
What would be forbidden? Typical Pro/EX-skating fare: cheesy-sexy-faker rock (ala Michael Weiss, Josef Sabovcik, and just about any American pair’s EX), alpha-male, testosterone-filled movie soundtracks (ala Eldredge), karate-inspired numbers (ala Stojko), vanilla hip-hop (ala Belbin & Agosto, and Evan Lysacek), and so on. Basically, all the stuff that makes me yawn and avoid most Pro shows altogether these days.
What makes something “gay“ (besides the skater)? In short…1) a triumphant rising-from-the-ashes return of a diva (see Bobek and Harding); 2) male face makeup and glitter (ie: Johnny doing Gaga); 3) pride anthems (see Sandhu and Sawyer’s programs); 4) a nod to the older gay generation(s), who paved the way and, yes, we know, had it much harder (see Cranston); 5) plenty of pop and opera diva icons; and all this:
Program (Act I)
Vogue — Complete Cast
If You Were Gay (from Avenue Q) – Brian Boitano & Brian Orser
One (LIVE, by Adam Lambert) – Denise Biellmann
Bad Romance (LIVE, by Lady Gaga) – Johnny Weir
It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green (by Kermit) – Rudy Galindo
Guess Who I Saw Today (by Nancy Wilson, AMAZING video!) – Weir, Gregory
You Gotta Have a Gimmick (from Gypsy) – Tonya Harding
Sag Mir Wo die Blumen Sind (Where Have All the Flowers Gone?) (Marlene Dietrich) – Katarina Witt
Sisters (from White Christmas) – Stéphane Lambiel & Rudy Galindo (featuring a throw triple axel)
Act II: Le Lac Des Cygnes (from Swan Lake) – ALL the boys in tutus (ala Les Ballets du Trockadero)
Pairs: Jean-Samuel Gagnon, with top 3 correct = 15 points
Men’s: MIZ, with top 2 correct =
Ice Dance: MF (perfect!), with top 4 correct = 16 points
Ladies: LJ, with top 3 correct =
Your Amazon.com prizes will be sent via email to you winners this week, and once you confirm your email address. (Please respond to the private email you received.)
Many winners benefited from early submissions, as their were multiple ties in several disciplines.
Personally, jcm predicted the ice dance top four, as well as the ladies and pairs top three correctly. Not too bad. However, I failed miserably on the men’s.
The Collective Opinion of Participants
As per the collective opinion of contest participants, the ice dance result ended up EXACTLY (top 4) as predicted. The ladies top three were correctly predicted. The pairs’ gold was a slam-dunk. But, overall the pairs, and especially the men’s were, as we all know less predictable.
Thanks for taking part, and keep your eyes open for jcm’s next contest!
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.
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.
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…
1) Shen & Zhao
2) Savchenko & Szolkowy
3) Pang & Tong
4) Kavaguti & Smirnov
1) Virtue & Moir
2) Davis & White
3) Domnina & Shabalin
4) Belbin & Agosto
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!
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!