Archive for the ‘contest’ Tag

And the Winners Are…

No, not of the Worlds… of my Worlds’ Podium Prediction Contest!

Congratulations to the winners:

“pjmurray” of Blazing Blades won both the ladies’ and pairs’ divisions. His ladies’ prediction had multiple ties but early voting gave him the advantage.

“Aaron” of Axels, Loops & Spins won the ice dance division, despite predicting Khoklova/Novitski to win (who didn’t even medal). Like with the CoP, his points just added up!

“dh” won the mens’ division, with a near win in the pairs.

Photo by Becca Staed

Photo by Becca Staed

It looks like being a prominent figure skating blogger stands you in good stead (to borrow an overused Dick Button phrase) in skating contests! Perhaps that’s no surprise, as they’ve got their fingers on the pulse of who’s hot and who’s not.

Although my predictions don’t count, I enjoyed a 5 point lead in my mens’ division submission.

Prizes will be distributed within the next week. Thanks again to those who participated. Keep an eye out for possible future predictions contests. And, look for my World’s recap posts and personal LIVE photos later in the week!!!

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The Weight of the Worlds

My Worlds’ Podium Prediction Contest is technically closed, but I’m allowing a 1-day grace period for dawdlers (til midnight tonight), and you can still post to it for fun after today. Thanks to those who took part in voting! The winners will be announced the week following Worlds, and the prizes given out shortly after. Skaters hit the Worlds’ ice this sunday for official practice sessions!

The contest outcome should be interesting. It’s amusing to see all the same skaters in the mix, shuffled around in a seemingly randomly manner. Although this of course makes sense, as unexpected results are exactly that, and impossible to foresee. For example, who’s going to bet on Tomas Verner as the champion? If the perfect storm strikes his more favored contenders and he has the skate of his life it could happen… but it’s a long shot.

Photo by Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press

Photo by Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press

The submissions clearly show that both Patrick Chan and Yu-Na Kim have the weight of the Worlds in expectations on their shoulders (pardon the pun). This is exactly why it can be so difficult for a skater to come into an event as the favorite, although neither have won Worlds before. This clearly has been Yu-Na’s season, so it really is hers to lose. Patrick’s near meltdown at the Grand Prix Final makes him ever less so the obvious choice.

The most interesting submission is Aaron’s for ice dance, in which he predicts Khoklova/Novitski winning it, and Virtue/Moir nowhere to be found in his top 4 standing. Her recent surgery must have at least this fan doubting a quick return to top form.

Dan Pelle/The Spokesman ReviewAnd, the submissions pretty evenly weigh out in the Abbott vs. Lysacek rivalry (with noone predicting either of them will walk away with the gold). That’s probably about right, as From Kidquest, April '07it seems that the side of the bed they get up on, or direction the wind blows will decide who trumps who, and whether Evan will land his quad or not. I remember years and years of watching Michael Weiss attempt the quad. I’m guessing his rate of success was about 5-10% (I can still hear Dick Button balking at his repeated and mostly failed attempts). Well, with Evan I imagine it’s more like 35-40%, but still feels a bit like a gamble each time.

I’m not in favor of our sport becoming ALL about the jumps, but I do think it would be interesting to have access to actual jump stats that gave you a true X for X ratio of attempts versus successful landings. This ISU page (I LOVE this page) comes close to that level of detail, but not quite. I’m thinking more on the level of those crazy baseball fans that sit with their pencil and tables during every game and track EVERYTHING! I guess I’m only a thread away from being like one of them, huh?

Just an amusing aside. Getting “jumping clapping man” up and running has been such an interesting journey for me so far, even though I’ve only been at it for a couple of months now. The stats you can access in your dashboard are amazing. It’s quite a powerful tool. Well, it appears someone (perhaps you) recently found my blog by using the follwing search engine key words: “japan zhang naked ice dancing”. I wish I actually had something to offer that would fulfill the “naked ice dancing” portion of this search. But, certainly not the “japan zhang naked” part.

The Final Countdown…5 Days!

BTW, if you’ve never sampled one of the finest pieces of musical fromage, The Final Countdown, by the Swedish rock band Europe, now is your chance. My former coworkers brought this little bit of happy into my life:

Yes, this song reached No. 1 in 25 countries, including the UK. WTF?

As most of you skating fans already know, the first big wallop was dealt to the Worlds line-up in the withdrawal of last year’s ice dance champions Delobel & Schoenfelder. Her should injury apparently didn’t heal quickly enough for them to compete.

Although they are among my favorites in the current crop of competitive ice dance teams, this certainly bodes well for the U.S. teams, further opening up the possibility of us having two teams on the podium. They will have to skate their best to achieve this, but it is possible.

This would be the first time since the 1966 Worlds, in Davos, Switzerland that two American ice dance teams would share the podium at Worlds, receiving the silver and bronze that year (and would be only the second time EVER!). This have never been achieved at any Olympics. So, my fingers are crossed for a repeat on this rare piece of Worlds’ history

With the withdrawal, I now predict that Davis & White will win the silver, and Belbin & Agosto the pewter (updating my previous prediction). Of course, I hope I’m wrong about B&A’s placement.

While ice dance is the focus, here’s my favorite team-of-all-time’s winning ’92 Olympic Free Dance. They had the perfect balance of technique, expression, restraint, creativity, elegance, beauty, and sensuality:

It is your last chance to enter my Worlds Podium Predictions Contest. FYI, your email address will NOT be used for any purpose, or distributed to any list, and will only be visible to me (not readers) via your username. This is ONLY for fun. Don’t miss out… voting ends March 20th.

15 days til Worlds…and counting!

Don’t miss out on my Worlds Podium Predictions Contest, with up to $80.00 in gift certificates at stake (and, you pay nothing to play)! And, if you want to experience the Worlds vicariously through “jcm”, click here to check out the groovy Staples Arena “Seat Viewer” (pictured below are our seats in section 117). And, be sure to keep an eye on my tweets in the sidebar for LIVE results.

Staples Arena, LA: View from Section 117

Staples Arena, LA: View from Section 117

With the US junior team scoring 6 of the 12 medals, including 2 gold medals, at the recent Junior Worlds, hopefully our senior team will feel that as wind at their backs, offering them some momentum going into Worlds. Our skaters have clearly been faring much better at Junior Worlds than Worlds of late.

Jeremy Abbott: Photo by Leah Adams

Jeremy Abbott: Photo by Leah Adams

Surprisingly, when lifeskate.com’s Susan asked Johnny Weir in a recent interview what he was encouraging his fans to do at Worlds (given his first absence from them in 5 seasons) he spouted “support Evan Lysacek… loving Evan Lysacek!” Good for you Johnny! (Although, personally I’m rooting for Jeremy Abbott… out of the American men.)

Will there be any fate-changing withdrawals? Canadian pair Langois & Hay have already withdrawn, although they weren’t realistic medal contenders. Will any ice dance teams suffer the same fate? Delobel & Schoenfelder (FRA), Belbin & Agosto (USA), and Domnina & Shabalin (RUS) have all struggled with injury this season. Frankly, I’m surprised that ice dance injuries at the top level outweigh those in pairs. The new CoP, and the demanding lifts in particular are making ice dance far more grueling then in past generations. I still laugh when I recall, around the time the CoP was instituted, and the Salt Lake Winter Games, a critic or commentator (was it Button or Wynne?) said they thought the new lift requirements were causing the male skaters to look like they were carrying their partners around like handbags! How true!

The recent Junior Worlds Ladies Champion Alena Leonova is the perfect case in point for what a gold medal will require at Worlds, where the competetive bar is even higher…TWO solid programs. Although her programs and skating style are mundane in my taste, her 3rd place SP and 2nd place LP trumped Caroline Zhang’s 10th place SP and 1st place LP, and Elene Gedevanishvili’s (GEO) 1st place SP and 11th place LP. Although Zhang (and Wagner’s) quality is much higher than Leonova’s, she was clearly more consistent, and I don’t mind the Russian skating federation and community enjoying a ray of sunlight, given the dark cloud that seems to have been over the prospects of their singles skaters (in particular) over the past few years. However, what I want to know is, where was the new tsarina of the ice Adelina Sotnikova, the ’09 Russian Champion. Now, she is something to behold, and on par with Zhang in expression, extension and artistry! The true future of Russian Ladies’ skating.

Tweens!Speaking of Junior Worlds, you may recall last season’s grumblings after US Nationals that three of the top four finishers in the ladies’ competition were not even old enough to compete at Worlds. I wondered, what did this say about the sport and the CoP? Was it further elevating the tweens, and not leveraging any of the assets of experience or maturity of other longer-standing skaters (even less so than in the past). Three of the US Nationals medalists, Nagasu (1), Flatt (2) and Zhang (4 – pewter) instead could only compete at Junior Worlds. Wagner (3), Liang (5) and Hacker (6) were sent to Worlds. Who knows how Nagasu, Flatt and Zhang would have fared, but clearly the three that went only secured us two spots for this year’s Worlds and may have lowered our profile moving into the Olympic season. Was it lack of competitive experience, lack of maturity? OR, is it the oft discussed, plain-old slump in the highest level of US Ladies’ skating? In response to the latter, clearly the heightening of the skating profile in other countries’ programs (JPN, KOR), has made them competitive players in the field.

This year another interesting situation has arisen. All three US ladies competitors at Junior Worlds have been competing on the senior level for at least a year (Zhang and Wagner for 2), including Nationals and the Grand Prix. Zhang already won the Junior Worlds gold in ’07 (and two silvers more recently), and Wagner the bronze in ’07 (and again in ’09). AND, Hacker is “retiring” from competitive skating on this level to focus on her studies at Princeton University and downgrading to their skating program. Are we not preventing the true juniors from emerging from the field and getting international competition under their belts: the less seasoned up-and-comers Gilles, Maxwell, or Rizo (for example)?

The surprising reality is that Zhang is younger than ALL of these noted “up-and-comers”, so we are reminded that her on-ice maturity belies her years, and is rare indeed (last seen so prodigiously in Cohen, I believe). And that, because of the depth of her senior experience, she sprang to success at that level not because of her age, but because of her ability and hard work.

'08 Nats Ladies Podium: Tween Envy?

'08 Nats Ladies Podium: Tween Envy?

The key problem is that the selection all comes down to a skater’s birth certificate. Skaters are allowed to participate in juniors at the international level until they turn 21. By that time, most skaters have moved on to seniors, or in our time, have even retired from competitive skating (?@!#$). Skaters can’t participate as seniors internationally until they turn 16. But, on the national level many ladies as young as 14 compete as seniors. It creates lots of confusion about the REAL distinction between juniors and seniors, especially in countries where the talent pool is very deep, and where they may continue to compete in both (ie: Japan, US).

Lowering the ceiling for juniors (ie: to 18, for example, as the drinking age so too should be), and doing away with the minimum international age requirement for seniors could be a strong solution. Having the rules be the same internationally, as well as at all national levels would remove much of the confusion. And, in countries that have a shallow pool of skaters or very small programs, special clauses could be put into effect to fairly protect and nurture them.

jcm’s ’09 World Championships’ Contest

TO PLAY:

worlds_2009_logoPost your predictions for the top 4 medal placements (including the fourth place “pewter” medal), in any or all 4 figure skating divisions in the “Comments” for this posting. If username does not link to your email address, be sure to include your email address as well, so I can contact you should you win (since I moderate all comments, I’ll extract your email address before it’s posted, so it won’t be made public). All participants may post updated votes up until March 20th (Extension: til midnight, March 21st), especially to eliminate any withdrawn skaters, however, this may effect the contest results in the event of a tie (see below.) I will announce withdrawals on the site in the “Comments” for this post, if they emerge.

SCORING:

  • 10 points for correct top 3 placements (gold, silver, & bronze) for 1 division
  • 5 points for 1 correct medal placement (ie: “Jane Doe – silver medal”)
  • 2 points for 1 correct medalist in any top 3 placement (ie: you post “Jane Doe – silver medal”, but Jane wins bronze)
  • 1 point for 1 correct fourth place “pewter” medalist

PRIZES:

amazon_logo_tallThe winner for each division will be awarded a $20 online Amazon.com gift certificate, the week following Worlds. (A total of $80.00 prizes are at stake!)

The small print:

If there are any withdrawals in any division that effect a prediction, your 4th place (“pewter”) vote will automatically move up into bronze position. (This is why the 4th place vote is essential.) If there are 2 withdrawals in any division that also effect your predictions, I will only count the top 2 votes for that division. If there are no withdrawals in a division, the fourth place medalist vote will be used as a tie-breaker, and to add 1 point, if correct (see above.) The earlier post (including any updates) breaks any tie, if all 4 placements are the same in 2 or more submissions.

You can review the top tier contestants in all 4 divisions here:

http://www.isuworlds2009.com/media_comp_topmen.php

http://www.isuworlds2009.com/media_comp_topladies.php

http://www.isuworlds2009.com/media_comp_toppairs.php

http://www.isuworlds2009.com/media_comp_topteams.php

(This contest is not bullet-proof, but since it’s just for fun, hopefully I’ve accounted for all possible scenarios, to allow for ideal fairness.)