Sunday, October 24

NHK Trophy Roundup: the Good, the Bad, and the Terrible, Part 1: Ice Dance

As usual, this comes a little late in comparison with the end of the actual competition. My apologies.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White won convincingly here (by nearly 25 points), although I can't say that I was blown away by either program. The short dance had a nice beginning to Musetta's Waltz, but I got bored during the La Traviata second half. The free dance is a mixture of tango selections, but I felt the music didn't build quick enough at the end and they seemed much slower than usual. I understand that last seasons Phantom of the Opera was an absolute marathon of types for the full four minutes (and that led to looking really sloppy at times), so I can appreciate this program allowing them to really finish off moves while still having some sharpness and tension about it. I guess the verdict is still out on this one, although I suppose I can see myself liking it as it gets more mileage.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were the surprise silver medalists. Aside from troubles in the twizzle sequence in the free dance, they skated a solid competition. The only notes that I have for their short dance are that the first lift looked really awkward and that their twizzles in general are so much more listless than most of the other top teams. I suppose that means I somewhat enjoyed the dance itself! As far as the free dance, I patted myself on the back for guessing their music selection (Moulin Rouge) correctly just based on the costumes, but I ended up a bit underwhelmed with the program. While Davis/White looked slow, this team looked like they were crawling at times, and the lift elements at the end (that are not scored for points, luckily) looked sloppy. I probably would have gone a little bit lower on the components in both programs, but I think they really benefited from skating a strong short dance while other teams behind them all had small to severe errors. Maybe I am just being grouchy with them because they chose to end their free dance with the Tango de Roxanne, which I only heard 50 other times during this competition..

Maia and Alex Shibutani were able to climb from fifth place in the short dance to second in the free dance, winning the bronze medal overall. Their short dance featured nice, deep edges, but I wrote that it looked like they were being a bit too careful with everything-- that is, until she was doing the quick shoot-the-duck part of their compulsory pattern and he tripped over her. Her dress had a small piece of fabric dangling down by a string throughout the rest of the program, which was somewhat distracting but obviously not intentional. However, they came back strong in the free dance, with highlights including a near-perfect set of twizzles, a nice dance spin, and a cool rotational lift where she rotated behind his back. They should be very proud of their efforts!

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, the current World Junior Champions, were fourth. He had a slight bobble in one of the Golden Waltz sequences during the short dance, but this team (well, more specifically Elena) has the "it" factor. They skated their free dance to Don Quixote and used the all-to-familiar pieces that have been used by millions before. I think the audience agreed with my own opinion that this was another program that fell a little flat, because their reaction (even by Japanese fan standards) was polite at best. There were issues with the twizzles and she tripped a bit going into the dance spin (which included the Artur Dmitriev-pair spin position), but I wrote that she totally reminded me of Oksana Baiul here not only in the way that Oksana made you watch her back when she first burst onto the scene, but also in the way that Elena holds herself and presents her arms. I think this team is going to be a major contender come Sochi, but not quite yet this year.

Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte had the disastrous Worlds in their home country last year, and the problems seem to have continued right on into this season. He struggled with the twizzles in the short dance, and she struggled in the free dance, almost repeating the incident from Worlds when she got too close and actually fell because she ran into him. To make things worse, she tripped during part of the choreography just a few seconds after, and then later completely missed a lift after balancing incorrectly. All of the mistakes obviously killed their technical score and any chances they had for the podium. I have a note from the free dance that reads, 'it isn't working', and I think that sums up my feelings for both programs. I really, really like this team and I think it wouldn't be a bad idea if they just completely ditched the free dance.

I saw the rest of the teams and just wanted to feature two of the free dances that stuck out in my mind. Lucie Mysliveckova and Matej Novak finished sixth overall to this extremely bizarre mix of music/concepts.. I don't even know how to share my thoughts about it:

Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland skated their free dance to The Lion King, which I thought was going to be extremely cheesy upon seeing the music listed. However, I really enjoyed their performance, even if their basics and overall content and quality are obviously way behind the top teams. They had some excellent highlight moves that were among my favorites of all the elements in the competition.

Unfortunately, as I try to direct link the video from YouTube, it now says that it is private and there doesn't appear to be any other version posted. If you come across it eventually, definitely watch it!

The ladies, pairs, and men will come tomorrow. I promise. I have three days off and it is the perfect opportunity to check out all of the NHK videos I have yet to see :-)


Anonymous said...

I think I/K sold their program like they were doing great which accounted for the high PCS. Third highest of the free dance. Shibutani's had a high tech but not so high PCS. Do you think that is because they were American team 2 and not because they were less PCS than I/K??

Anonymous said...

The Shibutanis maybe seemed cautious in the short dance because they didn't want to repeat the mishap at Nebelhorn, where Maia fell in her twizzles? Incidentally, Alex took the fall this time. :-(

Their free dance is great, but the short dance just doesn't want to go smoothly for them.

I really like C/L's short dance when they're on, but they seemed so out of it in Japan. Sloppy. I'm kind of hoping they'll drop this free dance. It's doing them no favors.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I watched the show in Japan and was really impressed by Shibutanis. Their movements capture every part of the music tone and attracted audience throughout the performance. BTW Tony are you going to watch Skate AMerica in Portland?