Archive for the ‘scott hamilton’ Tag

The Best of Spokane: Buttercups, Fizzles & Knives

There’s SO much to say about the past two weekends of US Nationals: triumphs, let-downs, new faces, and the like. Here’s a saucy snapshot of less obvious highlights that I’ll take away from Spokane, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Lutz is to Flutz as Twizzles are to…


jcm’s newly coined term: “fizzles” = botched twizzles.

What a crime that the U.S. Olympic Ice Dance Team selection essentially came down to this element, and that it trumped what the discipline should really be about…connection, interpretation, and expression! Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre’s fourth place finish (likely thanks to fizzles) was heartbreaking. I fear that this over-valued element will be a deal breaker in Vancouver too.

Skaters, Skaters, Skaters


Tiger Beat Award: Mark Ladwig. Pushing aside Bommentre…he’s my new skating crush du jour. Evora & Ladwig’s unexpected win and emotional reaction also raised his temperature on my hawtness meter.

Most promise: Christine Gao: I agree, “Gao” = “Wow”; Armin Mahbanoozadeh: grace, style, and still memorable despite a nagging hip injury; Yankowskas & Couglin: star quality, great expression and performance TO the audience.

Most Blades of Glory: Ben Agosto’s FD costume. Whew!? What are they thinking? Trying WAY too hard to be a Ruskie!

Sentimental favorites prooved they were just that (this time): Bradley, Navarro & Bommentre, Cohen, and Inoue & Baldwin ALL just missed the podium or Olympic Team selection.

Interesting program discovery: Bebe Liang’s LP, made up of Dvorak, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff selections. It was refreshing, as I hadn’t seen it all season. It was also perfectly suited to her: high energy, driven, and rhythmic. Although she gave a good performance, too bad she didn’t nail it. Will she have her moment?

Skating Great who went largely unnoticed: Lisa-Marie Allen, four-time Nationals’ medalist was the Technical Specialist.

Off-ice couples:
Out: Tanith & Evan
In: Amanda Evora & Jeremy Barrett (both earned a ticket to Vancouver!)
(Rumored) In: Tanith & Charlie (of Marlie), Nastia Liukin & Evan

From the Boards: Coaches


Most welcome new presence: Yuka Sato & Jason Dungjen. They both have a very calm and grounding presence for Jeremy, and the TV audience. I love her, and Jason has never looked better.

In: Jim Peterson. His visible emotion from the boards was deeply moving. His commitment to the sport and his teams is so evident in these reactions, AND in the result, as both U.S. Olympic pairs teams are his (and Lyndon Johnston’s)!

Out: Dalilah Sappenfield. In 2008 she had the first place novice, junior, and senior pairs. I’m sure she’ll reign again, but had a much lower profile this year.

Not so Gaga


Biggest missed opportunity (aside from Navarro & Bommentre’s already mentioned woes): Johnny could have come out as Top in his rivalry with Evan, and wrestled away the silver. Evan opened the door, and Johnny closed it. No, he likely couldn’t have beaten Jeremy here, but this time Evan was not unbeatable.

Most hootchie: Trina Pratt & Chris Obzansky. Their country OD, which oooozed Texan sexy (and bust!), made me both swoon AND gag just a little. They are Shpilband protégés, and show real promise.

It sucks to be them: Castile & Okolski. Their LP, although carried over from last season, was very beautiful and satisfying. It’s so sad their success has been sidelined by her injuries. I hope they make a comeback, if they stick with competitive skating at least another season.

Most underrated achievement: Inoue & Baldwin garnering a bronze medal, at ages 33 and 36, and with a throw triple axel! Like ’em or not, that’s astounding and worthy of note. Even though I’m not a fan, and cringed at John’s Plushy-esque gloat after Rena landed the 3ATh, I thought they were robbed of the silver.

Commentating & Public Opinion


Best quotes: “I keep saying, the sunshine that pours out of her…I wanna call her the buttercup of all time.” — Dick Button (about Mirai); “Such a precarious relationship between skater and ice...you’ve got knives on your feet…and (try to) make something impossible look easy.” — Scott Hamilton (during Sasha’s warm-up)

Village Idiot Award: Dick Button. Whew…he’s totally lost me. As a friend said, “he’s becoming a caricature of himself”. And, I used to really hang on his words.

Damned by faint praise: Emily Hughes (AGAIN!). In the old days Dick Button would repeatedly talk about “her great smile” (instead of any actual skating attributes.) Well, here are some new doozies used to describe her: “The victory is in being here.”, “She really worked towards a challenge, and you have to give that credit.”, “(She’s) the photo-negative (of Czisny.)”, “They (Hugheses) all skate for the right reasons, just because they love it.” WTF? You know she wants to win just as much as the other gurlz.

Most overlooked: Jeremy Barrett. The commentator’s focus was almost solely on Caydee Denney. YES, she is a sensational competitor and great for this sport, but he matched her element by element, skill by skill, and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Blatant commentator favoritism: Nagasu, Davis & White, Navarro & Bommentre, and Bradley were given the benefit of the doubt, while Flatt, Weir, and Inoue & Baldwin’s achievements were downplayed. It was pretty shameless. Flatt’s win felt like a let down, because of the way it was portrayed, following Nagasu.

Most tired opinion in the blogosphere: (to paraphrase) “I should have known to expect this from Sasha.” Sure, some may consider what she did brave, others foolish, but either way, as Sandra Bezic put it, you can’t expect a fairy tale comeback at Nationals without some competitive preparation beforehand. Even Super-Evgeni had Rostelcom Cup before Russian Nationals. What she did in the SP was amazing, and she should be lauded for doing as well as she did.

My Nationals’ podium predictions: I was 6 for 12 (exact placements), and 10 for 12 (correct skaters on podium). Meh! But, not too bad. The Cohen/Nagasu wildcards, and McBru meltdowns were impossible to foresee. ALL my wish list items were met, except the last one. Ah well…you can’t have everything!

Next up…Vancouver!!!

Advertisements

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!