Dishin’ Up Surprises at Rostelcom Cup

Pairs’ SP

What a relief to see the old (yet new) “McBru” back!!! They appeared so relaxed and calm. Their 3T had great height, and is close to competitive with the best in the field. On an aesthetic note, I’d vote for Rockne to wear a single color/piece costume, as it would lengthen his line. His current two-tone top and tights ensemble instead accentuate his stockiness.

I was once again reminded that the gamine Yuko Kavaguti (of Kavaguti & Smirnov) is indeed THE most flexible contemporary ladies skater. Her extension appears unstoppable. Every position and even jump seems to be finished off with a spiral position or pointed foot. It is both beautiful, and yet coltish at the same time.

I was thrilled to discover that Pang & Tong’s SP music was from Bizet’s opera Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearfishers). I’ve never heard it used by a skater, and it was ripe for the pickin’. I’m, of course, a big proponent of using fresh operatic selections for skating programs (that of course excludes Carmen, Turandot, and much of Madama Butterfly). It is the tenor aria Je crois entendre encore”, sung by the character Nadir. Enjoy this most beautiful rendition of it, sung very idiomatically by the great french tenor Alain Vanzo. Amusingly, a pop recording of this aria was also made in ’05 by Alison Moyet (formerly of Yaz)

They proved to be in top form, even at this early phase. I hope they medal in Vancouver (just below Shen & Zhao, that is).

I have a new skater crush (which could land me in jail, as he was born the year I graduated from high school) on Alexei Rogonov, of up-and-comers Martiusheva & Rogonov. This team, new to the Seniors, has a beautiful aura and presentation. They have great “backs” (ie: posture), and she looks like a young Grace Kelly, and he a young Val Kilmer…well, sort of.

Men’s SP

It was so great to finally get to see Johnny’s new SP. Unfortunately, I do agree somewhat with Paul Wylie’s assessment that the sizzle was greater than the steak. BUT, in some ways I feel like this program presents Johnny in a light more true to himself than any before (ala pop star/diva-on-ice, or runway model)…that is, more flirtatious, and less restrained. I feel that Johnny was more passionate and told more of a story than he has for several seasons. The costume is certainly his most flamboyant to date, complete with man-corset. I love the daring black and hot pink color combo. However, the music itself (by di Blasio), which I believe is in part Plushenko’s old music (perhaps from his ’01-’02 LP?), resembles tinny elevator music. I didn’t see much of David Wilson’s stamp on this program, and it just doesn’t feel on the level of his programs for Yu-Na.

Speaking of “Plushy”…he layed out perhaps the most beautiful 3A I’ve ever seen (not to mention his 4/3 combo). It had a delay, before the set down. I suppose I have to learn to live with his wavy arms, as they are just part of his signature movement, and I’ve decided to surrender my previous judgement of him and welcome him back enthusiastically (not that he needs it). He offers a competitive excitement that I’ve missed, and I honor his chutzpah. Who else can sit out of this current COP field for four years, and come back like that? In the old days, when the bar was lower it was easier…now it’s close to miraculous.

My partner, CJ, was complaining that Plushy had “had his time”. I replied, “skaters aren’t like bread…they don’t have an expiration date!” Hell, my argument is always, if they can get back into fightin’ shape, it is their right, and our privilege to see things shaken up a bit!!!cow tipping

Also, amusingly, when Florent Amodio went down on his 3S, CJ called it “Salchow Tipping” (see right). BTW, it was great to see Florent on Senior ice. He has a lot of promise. And, keep an eye on that Artem Borodulin!

Ladies’ SP

Alissa is starting to put the sizzle back in Czisny again!!! She looked so composed, and yet so engaging. I was very proud of her for not rushing her jumps, and skating a nearly clean program. I hope this is a continuing trend!

Amber Wagner really has evolved into a very sophisticated and sexy skater. The details and nuance of her SP are notable. I felt she was a bit undermarked, especially as there were no visible mistakes. Perhaps her jumps were not as big or her glide as fast as Júlia Sebestyén’s (who staged a major upset, and is in first).

Many years back I often found myself rooting for Júlia. When she won her European title in Hungary, I was ecstatic. However, much of her glow wore off for me in recent years. Well, the joy and energy in her skating was visible again, and she looked positively renewed. Even her physical appearance and hairstyle are much more warm and “open” than in recent years, which offered a much less appealing (to me anyways), edgy, Euro-trash look.

Drag Me to HellMiki Ando’s SP is billed as the “Mozart Requiem”. Well, it’s really a musical mash-up, also incorporating what sounds like some generic horror movie soundtrack music. That was a disappointment. Perhaps I’m a purist, but Mozart’s Requiem doesn’t need anything added to it, and should stand on its own. On the whole though, I think the drama and severity of her program actually suit her style of movement and look. Having just watched my fifth suspense/horror film of the Halloween season, “Drag Me to Hell”, I kept expecting her program to summon up a demon (ie: the “Lamia”!). Cue evil laughter!

In the sea of the average Russian Seniors ladies’ skaters, Alena Leonova has won me over. No, I don’t consider her to be a real contender for an Olympic medal, I despise folk song programs (Americans don’t skate to Peter, Paul & Mary, or Woody Guthrie, why do singles skaters feel the need to explore their folk roots on ice? In ice dance, I know it’s often a requirement.), and her style is not very evolved, but she has the most infectious smile, and a genuine verve…shades of Slutskaya.

Signing off, for now…

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