Archive for the ‘virtue & moir’ Tag

Torino Worlds OD: Boys and Their Fizzles

Belgosto’s Commentating Devirginization


Tanith initially looks a bit horrified…hands clasped tightly, and rather frozen in position. Belgosto use the word “excited” 4 times in the first 20 seconds. Clearly green. However, thankfully she’s worked on lowering her Minnie-Mouse helium voice, which she has now passed down to Meryl Davis. She sounds MUCH more pleasing and mature here. I suppose when you’re not out of breath after a performance, that’s easier to pull off. I’m excited for this opportunity for Belgosto. Good for them.

However, I can’t help but feeling that dorky old “dad” (aka Peter Carruthers) has crashed the fun, groovy, hip kid’s parté up in “the loft”…led by Sparkly Boy.

OD’ing on ODs?


Crone & Poirier: They are very promising. I love that he plays so butch in this spanish number, but in the kiss-n-cry the purse falls out of his mouth. You go gurl!

The Kerrs: Hawt male kilt alert! Now, that’s worth some major points. Interestingly, it makes him as much (or more) interesting to watch than her, which is a bit unusual, as usually the ladies’ costume has more flash. I like that they are not playing it safe in that respect. Who misses Johnny Cash? Not me. I like this program. It’s very entertaining and showy, but you can tell their hearts are in it. I really want to see this team move up in the standings. I’m not sure what it’s gonna take. A clean skate! And, a little Sharon Stone in the kiss-n-cry from John…nice!

Davis & White (2nd): I must confess, despite how much I love this program, I’m a bit tired of it. I think this speaks more to how LONG this season has been, with the Olympics and all. Despite that, I’m reminded of how unique this piece is. Every arm movement is “indigenous,” and not just a stock gesture. They are SO damn consistent. No bobbles or fizzles. Twizzles of fire! They’re here to win, and get a season’s best. Overall, scores at Worlds have been even higher than in Vancouver. Perhaps they’ll stage an upset?!

Continue OD’ing —>

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


GP Final: A Look Back

Kudos to Team USA on an historic first GP Final gold medal in Ice Dance for Davis & White, an historic three men competing, with TWO landing on the podium (Evan Lysacek, gold; and Johnny Weir, bronze), and Ashley Wagner holding on to the pewter with a strong LP.

Pairs

I’m very amused that Kavaguti (partner of Smirnov) apparently returned to the surname Kawaguchi, at least while in Japan (“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”?). Perhaps she’s trying to avoid getting tarred and feathered in her homeland? Have you ever watched her in the kiss-’n-cry? She appears so vacant, and I can never tell if she’s going to burst into tears or laughter.

I really wish Szolkowy hadn’t touched down in the SP. This, and the fact that they (he and Savchenko) didn’t skate their best in the LP, robbed us of an apples-to-apples comparison to Shen & Zhao. Have you heard any scoop if Savchenko and coach Ingo Steuer are a couple? I’ve been getting that vibe in the kiss-’n-cry lately, but haven’t seen it qualified anywhere.

I wept watching Shen & Zhao’s LP. Their comeback is the most beautiful gift to this sport. They just have an ability to tug my heartstrings, and their “Adagio” LP really milks that. Perhaps their off-ice love imbues their skating with that extra something special.

It was nice to see Mukhortova & Trankov deliver two very strong, clean performances. Zhang & Zhang just seem to be languishing. Now is the time for them to RETURN to a program from a past season to salvage this more important Olympic season. And, something to keep the focus on their athleticism, and off their (mostly her) artistic and expressive deficiencies.

I predicted the correct teams on the podium, just in the wrong order. Not too bad, although very predictable.

Ice Dance

To my eye, Virtue & Moir should have come out on top both after the OD and FD, but this is the one discipline where the most subtle nuances between a performance or team often elude me, or feel highly subjective, because they are so comparable. Davis & White appeared more controlled in the OD, skating with less abandon, but that may just be the nature of an indian dance, versus a spanish flamenco number, which has inherent abandon. I understand that D&W may have skated with greater speed, but that is harder to perceive on tv, since the cameras trace the movement.

However, enormous accolades to D&W on their win! It’s especially interesting that they landed this distinction, not Belbin & Agosto. I do wish I cared more about D&W’s skating. I experience it on a more cerebral level, and it feels more technically strong than transcendent. But great work nonetheless!

I have a skater crush on Fabian Bourzat of France. Yum! His wavy hair and powerful legs get me.

Again, I predicted the correct teams on the podium, but, only the bronze medalists were in the right placement.

Mens

The men’s SPs made for a positively exhilarating competition! Now it’s REALLY heating up. This is the first moment where I felt that real Olympic vibe coming on. I believe Johnny’s SP is the best I’ve ever seen him skate. It was the most honest and revealing performance he’s ever given. In the past, his SPs may have been clean and even inspired, but they were more detached and inward (ie: “The Swan”). Daisuke Takahashi and Evan were perfection in the SP. Daisuke’s SP music is so rhythmically complex, and sophisticated, noone else could make it work like he does. Nobunari Oda didn’t have the luster of past competitions in either program, but skated cleanly enough, continuing to feature his miraculous jump landings…“like buttah”!

I was SO proud of Johnny for reaching his personal best in each scoring phase, as well as delivering the fourth highest total score of the season! I imagine this will be a great confidence booster for him. His legs did seem to be a bit tight in his jumps throughout (ala Butyrskaya). I hope he can soften his knees at Nationals, to offer up his signature smooth ride-out.

I LOVE Jeremy’s Abbott’s new ice-colored satin shirt. It has the glow and allure of a champion of the Winter Games, a great direction visually. He skated beautifully in the LP, after his initial quad fall. He has an ability draw me in to his lines, edges, and the ebb and flow of his footwork. When a skater like him or Kim Yu-Na use a mix of fast AND SLOW footwork, I find it much more effective.

Poor Daisuke. He could beat all of the men with two clean skates, but this LP wadn’t it, of course! It’s still not clear to me if this is training or more mind-related. We’ll see as the season progresses. We know he has it in him! Tomáš Verner is such a head case right now. I fear this could be a confidence killer. I hope he moves forward and learns from it. It would be hard to attend an event you didn’t initially qualify for.

Here, I only predicted correctly two of the medalists, and in the wrong order.

Ladies

I thought Ashley skated beautifully in her SP. She seemed to have good energy and was at least superficially clean. But, I understand there was a two-footed landing and edge deduction. However, her grace and facial expressiveness always make me care about her program and performance!

Miki Ando and Joannie Rochette were duller than dirt in their SPs. They’ve got to shape up.

It was heart-wrenching to see Joannie and Alena Leonova tank in the LP. This does not bode well for Joannie in Vancouver. Akiko Suzuki delivered the goods, and then some! I had hoped she would get the silver, and felt she was undermarked (or Miki was overmarked) in the LP. It is criminal that her PE, CH and IN component scores were nearly 1 point lower than Miki’s. Perhaps her transitions are simpler, but that should just influence TR (and SS at most).

Although Kim didn’t skate near her best, Miki’s LP fell completely flat for me, as it has all season. Yes, this does make the ladies’ field more interesting, for Kim to not win by slam dunk, but (whew!) close call.

Again, I only predicted two of the medalists, and in the wrong order.

Commentating Gripes

Since I tivo’d some of the competition on multiple channels I had the opportunity to see the men’s and ladies’ LPs commentated by Scott Hamilton on one channel, and Peter Carruthers on the other. The experience was night and day! Hamilton made the experience enjoyable and engaging, Carruthers, quite the opposite (annoying and disjointed). I really dislike his offering as a commentator, especially when covering the ladies. Give me ANYONE else, please!

I also found it amusing that when Evan was .10 behind Daisuke in the SP, the commentators called it a “virtual tie”, BUT when Kim was .56 behind Miki in the SP, they talk about it as if it was a near apocalypse. Puh-lease!!!

Next up: possible musings on Japanese, French and Russian Nationals at the end of December, and Canadian, US and Chinese Nats in January!

Cast your GP Final votes!

Select your final picks for the Grand Prix podiums in each discipline (select three medalists per poll)! Since these polls don’t allow you to order your votes, please share those in comments. Review all GP season-to-date results here. My predictions may be rather predictable, but I gladly welcome surprises…go underdogs! (I’m recalling Sandhu in ’03, Asada in ’05, and Abbott last year.)

My bets:
1) Oda
2) Lysacek
3) Takahashi

My bets:
1) Yu-Na
2) Rochette
3) Ando

My bets:
1) Shen & Zhao
2) Savchenko & Szolkowy
3) Pang & Tong

My bets:
1) Virtue & Moir
2) Davis & White
3) Pechalat & Bourzat

My analysis

I feel Jeremy Abbott will peak closer to Nationals and Olympics (or, at least I hope so), so I’ve left him off the podium here (guessing he’ll garner the pewter medal). He himself has stated that he doesn’t want to peak too early, so I feel that being the reigning champion here will prevent him from really being on the attack. With Joubert, Plushenko and Chan absent, these men better take advantage of this opportunity to build their confidence. Can anyone tell me when the last time was that the USA had three men at the GP Final (and if we ever have)? This seems to me a big, but much overlooked achievement. It hasn’t happened in at least a decade, as per my perusal of results as far back as they appear to go online. [UPDATE: Aaron at Axels, Loops & Spins has confirmed that the USA has never sent three men to the GP Final!]

My ladies predictions are the same as last year’s Worlds. I don’t think Wagner has enough momentum yet to medal here, but she’s gaining on the competition.

I think Shen & Zhao will best Savchenko & Szolkowy this time, but it will be VERY close. This has to be the most difficult to predict match up in all four disciplines!

And, when stacked next to each other (which hasn’t yet happened this season), I think Virtue & Moir will edge out Davis & White. With Belbin & Agosto, Delobel & Schoenfelder, and Domnina & Shabalin out of the picture here, this will hardly be telling of the Vancouver smack down.

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.

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