Archive for the ‘stéphane lambiel’ Tag

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 —>

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!!!

Skating Loves: “It’s Complicated” & More…

As the skating season drives madly onward, I find myself measuring my pulse, as I watch each Olympic hopeful, to see who makes my heart beat the faster. But, instead of falling easily head over heels for one favorite per discipline, I discover that it’s just not that simple. It dawned on me that the familiar facebook.com “Relationship Status” categories best define my feelings.

Inevitably, this does begin to hint at a wish list for Gold in Vancouver. I know, it’s supposed to be more about the journey than the destination, more about the battle than the glory, yadda yadda yadda. But, I’m an immediate gratification kinda guy, so I want the results! And, if you were honest with yourself, isn’t that where your head goes as you watch the Grand Prix events unfold?

However, this is in NO way a prediction of the champions, or a comprehensive look at the possible podiums (that will come much later), just an attempt to figure out who I may need to dump…or, if I can comfortably swim in this two-timing and non-monogamy! More simply, who am I really going to root for as this season progresses?

Pairs’ Status: “It’s Complicated”


My long-time, all-time favorites Shen and Zhao (CHN) have already proven themselves in their comeback bid. At Cup of China they accrued the highest total pairs’ score this season. More than any other pair, they have an ability to send me reaching for the tissues. Their on-ice connection is so deep, so passionate, so real…like a true expression of who they are individually, and as a couple. I felt that only his injury robbed them of the gold that would have been theirs in Torino. Shen & Zhao: (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)They have also grown immensely since they first hit the international scene. At first they seemed to be purely technical skaters, but then their artistry emerged. I love it when skaters evolve in this way, especially when their artistry doesn’t appear to be so innate (I also think of Sarah Hughes, who was positively coltish when she debuted at Nationals).

However, Savchenko and Szolkowy (GER) have worked so hard over the past four seasons, and consistently delivered (well, except at Trophée Eric Bompard) stunningly difficult choreography and technical content: transitions, triple jumps, and expression. They, with their coach Ingo Steuer have a very unique vision of who they are and what they want to put out on the ice. Their moves look like no other pairs team, including their refreshing mirror footwork. And, although noone’s talking about it, I believe Robin would be the first black figure skating Olympic gold medalist (or, perhaps of any color medal). That would be a wonderful history-making precedent! (I invite you to proove me wrong.)

Sadly, because of Sav/Szol’s meltdown at TEB, we don’t have a solid apples-to-apples comparison of how they’ll match up. And, the same may be true at the GP Final, since Sav/Szol may not make it there. Perhaps in Vancouver we’ll have another pairs’ tie, so I won’t have to settle on one team!

Men’s Status: “In an Open Relationship”


I feel as if my status with Johnny Weir (USA) has been downgraded to “Widowed” after Rostelcom Cup, and being largely let down by his new programs. So, I’m shifting my focus for now. There is such a buffet of exceptional men to choose from, I’m opting for the freedom of this “Open Relationship”.

Stéphane LambielStéphane Lambiel (SUI) was my first love out of the current competitive field. By now, we’re practically “old and married”. But, I’m so pleased he is returning this season, and his new William Tell SP suits his sophisticated yet youthful approach very well. The footwork is perfectly choreographed to the famous up-tempo portion of the overture. I would love to see him claim the gold that he missed in Torino.

After years of playing hard-to-get with Evan Lysacek (USA), I have finally caved and accepted it as my fate. He has proven his character and the depth of his competitive fire and fight, and reached a new level of elegance this season. With his 6′ 2″ stature, he glides across the ice like a statuesque ballet dancer. It’s quite a vision! He has finally opened up to his inner girl, appearing much more vulnerable and expressive (complete with Vera Wang). That’s oh-so-much more appealing than the more one-note masculine caricature he was in the past.

Who hasn’t been wooed by Charlie “Nobunari” Chaplin (JPN) this season? He certainly picked the right season to peek in, with his inner comedian emerging in full bloom. And, his oft discussed soft knees on jump landings are as beautiful as ever. The spring he gets in his jumps is not of mere mortals. His short stature is icing-on-the-cake, as it makes him all the more endearing and loveable.

Early last season Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) seemed on top of the world, and was laying down his cutting-edge hip-hop Swan Lake SP. No other competitive male dances like him on the ice, or uses their body as fully as he does in his footwork. He displays power, with a cool, contemporary edge. However, he has lost that momentum, and I’m not a fan of his new programs. I hope he can return to at least some of his former glory.

I am developing a crush on Adam Rippon, but I’ll wait til 2014 for the real thing. Jeremy Abbott’s new LP to Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony No. 3 is a revelation, but he still needs to “let it go” to draw me in more fully.

Ice Dance Status: “It’s Complicated”


Virtue & Moir (CAN) have the most palpable connection of any of the ice dance teams. Their passion and expressivity feel the most real to me…not a “performance”. Virtue & MoirTheir Mahler FD is perfection, and touches me because of the music selection alone, not to mention the execution. There is a stillness, and yet a controlled abandon to the program. Sure, their lifts and twizzles are at mach speed, but that’s not what makes you fall in love.

But, Delobel & Schoenfelder (FRA) are my sentimental favorites, and are at/near the end of their competitive careers. She is fighting an uphill battle to get back in shape after her pregnancy, and I haven’t yet seen their new programs, but, they have so much heart and warmth, and innovativeness. Their maturity and experience have surely nurtured these qualities.

I would love for the U.S. to snag its first ever ice dance Olympic gold medal, and I always enjoy Belbin & Agosto and Davis & White, but neither yet captivate me entirely. Tanith’s expression can ring a bit false for me, and I feel Davis & White need a few more years develop an even deeper and truer sense of storytelling and who they are. Navarro & Bommentre are personal favs, but not medal contenders.

Ladies’ Status: “In a Relationship with…”


This is the one discipline in which I’m relishing a honeymoon phase. And, she certainly ain’t no underdog. It is Kim Yu-Na (KOR). I can’t think of a skater who provides me with such complete satisfaction. She has owned this Kim Yu-Na (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)season, and the last, dominating as the clear favorite. I think the field is a lot less interesting with this sort of dominance, and I certainly root for the underdogs (and U.S. ladies), because that’s part of what makes the Olympics really come alive (ie: Arakawa, Hughes, Lipinski, etc.), but it will take a lot for another skater to stage an upset.

Yes, I love aspects of other skaters…Sasha’s spirals and extensions are unbeatable, Alissa’s spins and glide are perfection, and Alena has more spunk than Richard Simmons, but Yu-Na has enough of all that, in one package. If Mao could return to her former glory, well, then, my ladies’ status might need to change. But, hopefully, it’ll soon be upgraded to “Married”!

Disclaimer:

Please note that none of the relationships alluded to above are real. I am purely delusional, and having too much fun. And, it appears I’m somehow immune to the wooing of the current Russian crop of skaters.

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)?

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