Archive for the ‘skate america’ Tag

Best Skating Programs of the Season: 2010

The Grand Prix Landscape

It’s that time of year, when we’ve witnessed 4 of the 6 Grand Prix events, and can now step back and assess the choreographic and program landscape, to compare and contrast what the skaters have put out there. Just a few of these skaters (and a single musical selection) are repeaters from last season’s list.

I was loath to include ANY latin programs, since I already feel like a sponge, saturated and dripping from them this season (likely no thanks to Lysacek and Rochette’s success in them last season?). But, alas, a few virtuosic ones eek’d through. Ugh…let’s please hang them up for the remainder of this Olympic cycle!

What’s the real clincher in making the list? Programs that made me want to watch them again. As I noted last year, it’s impossible to separate out the performance quality of the skater, but these nods aim to be more about the program and choreo itself. The timing and execution of the elements (especially jumps) to key musical accents and phrases is critical for memorable emotional impact. And musical selection alone, as per my own subjective taste also of course plays a role.

Lori Nichol and Marina Zueva tie this year with the most nods (3 each). I also encourage you to compare my nods to Tony Wheeler’s own compelling list. We agreed on three as most notable. Sometimes it’s VERY clear what’s peerless! The list does not include Kim Yu-Na, Joanie Rochette, Virtue & Moir, or any other skaters/teams who are not decisively retired and may emerge at their Nationals.

Men’s SP

Daisuke Takahashi: Historia de un amor, Que rico mambo, and Mambo No. 5 by Perez Prado; Batucada by DJ Dero; (Choreo: Shae-Lynn Bourne). Too predictable a choice? This brilliance can’t be denied.

Runner-Up: Shawn Sawyer, Assassin’s Tango by John Powell (Choreo: David Wilson)

Honorable Mentions: Javier Fernandez’s Histoire d’un amour/Nu Pogodi, and Tomas Verner’s Singin’ in the Rain!

Continue Experiencing the Best Programs of 2010! —>

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Hallelujah! Shen & Zhao Return

icenetwork.com verified what the ISU Grand Prix09 season lineup first revealed! Chinese pair Shen & Zhao are back in the game! They will appear at Cup of China, and Skate America, and are aiming for a ticket to Vancouver in ’10. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that they beat out their compatriots Zhang & Zhang, their biggest competition, to win both titles.

Shen & Zhao

Out of all the comeback news (officially announced to date, that is), this is arguably the most welcome, and they are arguably the most loved skaters attempting this return to competitive ice. They are among my favorite pairs teams of all time, and made My Desert Island Skates list, with their inspirational Turandot long program, at ’03 Worlds. That performance will not soon be forgotten by those who witnessed it. Watch it here, if you missed it.

Shen & Zhao off iceWhen they made their competitive exit after the ’07 season (with 3 World titles and 2 Olympic bronze medals in their cache), they were still in top form, and on top of the competitive field. Only Hongbo’s achilles injury and recovery threatened their future viability. Hopefully, although they’ve been very busy with skating shows and off-ice commitments, with a break from the demands of competition they will return to top form. Thankfully, China is guaranteed three berths at the Vancouver Games, so this return will not rob Pang & Tong, or Zhang & Zhang an opportunity to have their moment.

I extend to them (and their fans) a sincere “Welcome back!” and, “GO GET ‘EM!”. As much as I love Savchenko & Szolkowy, I’d love to see Shen & Zhao take the gold in Vancouver. They will easily be the sentimental favorites, but hopefully more. I feel it’s their turn, and were it not for the extensive training they missed, due to Hongbo’s injury, would have been theirs in Torino.