Archive for the ‘the rink’ Category
A Fond Farewell
Navarro & Bommentre: I will miss this program, and this team. Although part of me wishes Belgosto had competed so we could finally capture our North American sweep, I’m happier that NavBomm could compete, and enjoy their presumable competitive farewell at such a high level.
The skate didn’t have as strong an emotion for me as it did at Nationals, but part of that may be that the camera work feels less personal and nuanced here, and Nationals is just a more “homey” and warm setting for skaters and fans. That being said, they gave a strong skate, with only a small lack of twizzle unison, and a blade catch for him during a transition. They get -1 deduction, presumably for a lift that was too long. If this is the end, you have given fans so much pleasure, and I can’t wait to see what you’ll do in Pros! Next up…as per their backstage interview: Italian wine, cheese, culture, art. Well deserved pleasures!
Other Early Highlights
Crone & Poirier: He has one of the best backs of the men in this competition! I love this program…gentle, lyrical, and intimate, starting with “Nocturne.” He especially is a very engaging performer, and really communicates with her throughout. I was amazed to discover that he’s a singles’ skater too (as is she), as the requirements of ice dance are so different. I love the transition into their mid-section, a lyric version of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I’m developing a skating crush on him…seems to be such a vulnerable guy in the kiss-n-cry. Great speed on their spins! I get a kick out of their Coraline-looking coach!
The Zaretskys: A dramatic, somber couple, and program. I feel their costumes are actually TOO stark, and the accent colors too subtle, and too much of a dark wall to draw me in. The tempo of the music is also largely the same throughout the program, not providing the emotional ups-and-downs that a program like Marlie’s provides. Their spins feel slower than the prior Canadians, and I was surprised they were placed ahead of the them…but, by only 1 pt.
Torino, Land of…Cars?
Ah, Torino…unromantically billed as “the Automobile Capital of Italy.” But, I love the images of Torino’s skyline, offset by the surrounding Alpine mountains, and with the Mole Antonelliana towering beautifully above. The Mole is even more striking when seen against a pastel pink and blue sky. It is considered the tallest museum in the world. Stylistically, it doesn’t have what I would consider typical Italian architecture, and almost looks more eastern in character to me. Perhaps this is the Jewish influence, as it was originally constructed as a synagogue.
Now, onto the competition. In keeping with prior scheduling gaffs, coverage begins smack dab in the middle of Kostner’s program. Perhaps I should be more forgiving, as it appears to be truly “live.” Sadly, I miss out on seeing Makarova’s moment. Thankfully, it can be found here, complete with her Johnny arms and telegraphed jumps, as well as some great spins and energy throughout.
Mao Asada (2nd): Andrea Joyce states that “She’s gotta keep this rivalry (with Yu-Na) going.” Great 3A! Her jumps are SO solid. If Yu-Na opens the door, Mao’s apparently going to run screaming through it. Next season: Giselle, or anything from classical ballet rep, please! If Yun-Na is Queen, Mao is Princess…or, better yet, Dark Queen! Very well centered and fast spins. In the slow-mo on the 3A, it looked like it was short 1/8, NOT 1/4 of rotation, so it shouldn’t be downgraded. Wow, a low score, 5 points below her personal best. Why? It looks like the 3A was downgraded after all. (I have some scoring gripes about these 3A downgrades I’ll address in a future post.)
Miki Ando: I will not miss this “Requiem” program. OMG, down on her 3Lz! This is NOT good…well, it is for Nagasu and Flatt. I can SMELL that 3rd US berth (lucky Ashley)! There’s just nothing special about her skating. She’s just going through the motions. The catch foot spin (ie: half-Biellmann, where the skate is placed and held near the head) has to be the ugliest move in skating. It should be banned! Wow, a smile from Morozov at the boards? That effectively took her out of medal contention, barring meltdowns from others.
I’m still in shock that Nobunari didn’t score high enough to even compete in the LP/FS (falling to 28th with his SP). What a tragedy, and what a bad taste that must leave in his mouth. At least this wasn’t Tokyo 2011! Redemption next year, on home ice? I hope.
Tara is really relaxing into this commentating. Nice to see.
A Stellar Senior Worlds Debut
Adam Rippon: He starts with a lot of freedom. Great 3/3. What a consistent skater…whoops, a step out of his nemesis, the 3A (he has something in common with Stéphane). Not as memorable a program as his SP, but it’s fresh. YES…he lands a perfect 3A in the bonus! Beautiful Tano and Rippon lutzes. Wow, he’s really killin’ this! In his footwork he looks a little bit tired, but starts to express a bit more with his face. Good enough for bronze? We’ll see. BUT, at least this bodes well for our 3rd berth. Now it’s all up to Jeremy.
Olympic Hangover Free Skates
Adrian Schultheiss: He reminds me of Van der Perren. Straight-jacket concept, eh? CRAZY! His jumps are looking good, including his quad. I appreciate him taking some musical risks here, including Pac-Man audio samples, but he’s skating VERY slow, and not really expressing much. The program just doesn’t hold together or have any continuity.
Van der Perren: 4/3/3 (19 pts)! That was thrilling. Clean 3A. (Those were for his ailing grandfather!) This is impressive. 2F. Argh. His footwork almost throw-away. Lots of hunched over jump landings, BUT clean! This was a damn good skate for him to end his competitive career! So sweet to see him so emotional at the end. His first combo was a great reminder of just how effective they can be for wowing the audience (a nod to Plushy).
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?!
To Quad, or Not to Quad
Jeremy Abbott: Calm, cool, and collected! He was methodical, but clean, not attempting his quad, but getting through all of his elements. An enormous improvement over Vancouver. I’m proud of him for reigning it in, and seemingly successfully adjusting his mindset in such a short amount of time.
Takahiko Kozuka: He displays very fast, well centered spins. Although this program is not my style, he has evolved this to a level where it all came together…the rocker vibe imbued his appropriately edgy look, carriage, costume, dynamic edging, all in a very authentic manner. I can’t wait to see more from him, in 2010-11. As per Paul Wylie: “he will wrap this up.” And, he does!
Nobunari Oda: He really is all legs and ass. Wylie’s comment: “tremendous knees on this athlete” sounded like gay code for…well, I’ll leave it up to your imagination. 3 popped single jumps, REALLY? This Kostner-scaled meltdown may be the worst I’ve ever seen from a man on this level…yes, even worse than Verner. His program music doesn’t help…like bad Russian Liberace musak. I really feel for him, and wonder what happened. A little too much saké beforehand?
Patrick Chan (2nd): Amazing attack! I love his danceability, particularly in this Tango program. He exhibits such a strong physicality, and doesn’t waste a second of the program. He’s REALLY on…nailing his 3A, and effectively erasing the Vancouver stain on his record.
Daisuke Takahashi (1st): My friend John, who I enjoyed watching this event with, bills Dice-K as The Japanese Elvis. He repeats, but even improves on his greatness from Vancouver. I REALLY want Daisuke to take the gold here…Patrick has a lot more time. If you look under “flair” in the dictionary, you will find his name. He moves like a serpent, shifting his body every which way, and using every part of it to express.
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.
I just discovered a colleague’s very stylish blog, and was inspired by her post asking “What Defines You?,” and her subsequent personal list. As a bit of a Top 10 List addict, I was fast on my way to rounding up my own. I’ve left jcm off the list, as it’s eminently clear that this blog defines me, but that’s just too easy, eh? Here they flow, in random order:
My 7th Birthday Photo
This photo (May ’77, Cincy, OH) conjures up the warm, sentimental feelings of uncomplicated youth, and a loving connection with my family. Although my folks aren’t pictured here, their nurturing presence is all around (and on the other side of the camera). The Winnie the Pooh cake was likely by my special request. I love the retro feel of the old square prints, with rounded corners.
There is a simplicity to my memories of childhood, and of these such moments…no crowded party, or branded birthday theme (seemingly requisite these days), just closeness and joy. I’m so thankful to have the foundation that my upbringing provided me. Funnily enough, CJ has a photo that is almost exactly the same (parallel lives?). Now, just two months from my 40th bday, I suppose I’m a bona fide “adult”!?
“Peristeriona” Ceramic Vase
This vase holds all the memories of CJ’s and my beautiful around-the-world journey together…Hong Kong to Greece to Senegal. It was something I had dreamt of doing for decades, while I racked up frequent flyer miles!
We purchased this in a charming little shop on Sifnos, an authentic, less touristy Greek Island option that we both long to return to one day. The yellow and black colors call to mind the brilliant glow of the sun, and the contrasting shadows, on the traditional white structures and breezy hillsides.
CJ and I have the gift of travelling very well together, and our time on this island was one of our most special yet…divine food, a white-knuckle scooter ride through the hills, and lots of R&R by the sea.
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)
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.
(GO Rachael & Mirai! Joannie has pulled out, and will be replaced by Myriane Samson.)
1) Savchenko & Szolkowy
2) Pang & Tong
3) Kavaguti & Smirnov
4) Mukhortova & Trankov
(I think SzolChenko will have a fire in their belly after Vancouver.)
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!
In preparation for the Vancouver pairs competition I dug up some of the performances from the 80s to jog my memory on how that competitive field looked, and how far that discipline has come. At the time, I was graduating from elementary (’84) and high school (’88). I MUST have watched these Games with my mom, but don’t remember any of these performances. Upon review, it’s no wonder why! And, in the midst of all the complaints about the CoP System, a peek back at the 6.0 system shows some politicized judging at it’s worst.
Valova & Vasiliev Reign
First, I came across this priceless human interest story, featuring ’84 Sarajevo champions Valova & Vasiliev (he the coach of Mukhortova & Trankov). After starting out like a Bel Ami video (prurient giggling by babbling brook), it shows them buckled down at the Leningrad Institute of Physical Culture, “a veritable medal factory.”
What a glimpse into the thriving machine that was Mother Russia (the Soviet Union). Boy, they sure appear to have them under a tight thumb (not that that grip is any looser these days). And, what a reminder of Moskvina’s longevity. The video also features their flawed, but gold-medal Classical Beatles LP, which ran out of gas at the end (as compared to the Carruthers’ flawless performance).
Fast forward four years to the Calgary Games (1988), and V&V display the most deliciously dated program and costumery imaginable, with their “The Final Countdown” LP. I was giddy to discover this pinnacle of the “Eye of the Tiger” alpha-male jam genre was used for a program. This program leaps to the top of my skating camp classics! One part Star Trek crew (with diagonal, cross-breast bands), one part bumblebee, their costumes, complete with black tights for her are in the worst taste…but, what could be better?! Her blouse/skirt one-piece sort of drips off her backside, saying “look at my ass,” ala Weir. Perhaps this is where he takes some of his Rusky fashion inspiration? Their SP costumes are even more ridiculous: Flash Gordon + A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. How precious that Dick refers to her as “plump,” and feigns it as a compliment.
American Pairs Best
Back to Sarajevo, this time with the Carruthers’ flawless LP. The program and music hold up pretty well, even in hindsight. But, it featured the (homemade?) costume he recently donned on NBC’s Vancouver “Figure Skating Review & Preview.” They have amazing attack and speed throughout, and their overall unison would have to be counted among some of the best we see even today. I don’t feel it suffers by comparison to V&V in “expression.” I sure miss these pairs’ elements: “hydrant lifts,” “lateral twist lifts,” and their penultimate move (“pulls”). It was also interesting to learn what a “Tango Camel” is. Their SP, to Herb Alpert/Muzak-style quasi-disco is a hoot, although well skated.
Watson & Oppegard’s Calgary LP features Peter’s hawt frosted doo (shades of Donna Mills in Knots Landing). His costume is also priceless. To think I had an outrageous crush on him, AND he was considered quite the on-ice heartthrob? On what planet does a straight man present this way? So hard to believe he is now married to Karen Kwan.
Their triple twist has NO height…she practically completes it on the ground. And, I’m amazed they held onto the bronze with a fall. In the deep pair’s field in Vancouver this would NOT have medalled. Peter seems to acknowledge this here. Their warmth towards each other in the kiss-n-cry is touching, but don’t miss the glimpse of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader look-alike! Their latin disco SP (ala “Copacabana”) is a gay ol’ time, or gringe-worthy…depending on how you see it.
While we’re on the issue of falling in competition. Check out this amazing profile, featuring Sports Psychologist, Dr. David Coppel. Dr. David…any room on your white couch for head cases Sasha or Alissa?