Friday, November 12

2010 Skate America Live Blogging: Mens Short Program

Oh my God, weren't the pairs so much fun? Eh, maybe I'm just grumpy. Now we are getting Terry Gannon in a lovely little purple v-neck underneath his suit. Oh, and Peter Carruthers. Too bad we can't hear what they are saying.. well, I suppose those with Universal Sports can.

So, some thoughts about the pairs. I feel like Moore-Towers/Moscovitch are definitely getting the push from the judges now that Dube/Davison are out for at least the season.. maybe for good. The components were a bit on the high side for all the teams two through four for me, but I certainly would have had the Chinese highest among that group on transitions and probably even choreography. Okay, enough about the pairs. Now on the hopefully MUCH more exciting men-- which, if you don't ever read my blog and don't know-- are by far my new favorite discipline.

Viktor Pfeifer looks tired as they show some of the skaters waiting at the boards. He lives in the same time zone as I do-- its almost midnight and probably past his bedtime. Introduction of the officials and judges.. no one that noteworthy. Denis Ten's participation got a KAZ judge on the panel though-- good for him. Oh Ann Musing from Belgium is on this panel. I take it back, I'm sure Van der Perren will now have components scores in the 8s from one judge-- just calling it before it happens to avoid the mystery. Carriere and Armin have a laugh. Or maybe it was Stephen and Viktor. Not sure.

Okay, I've been watching What the Buck videos today and I feel like his snark is rubbing off on my writing starting at the beginning of this post-- you've been warned here. I'm still a nice guy.

Murakami (JPN) warms up a triple loop. Mahbanoozadeh (USA) does a double loop. I'll call him Armin the rest of the time. Too much to type in real-time! Now hes going through the motions of a toe loop. Pfeifer (AUT) does a double Lutz. and an Axel. Carriere (USA) does a double Axel. He started skating after the Harding/Kerrigan 94 drama-- I mean, who didn't? Sawyer (CAN) is one of my favorites. His hair is extra fluffy today. Maybe his product got lost in the luggage. He was going into an Axel as they cut away from him. Song (CHN) lands a triple Axel as he's being introduced. Mike Mancuso and Tonia Kwiatkowski are the commentators that I couldn't figure out before. Seems like we are going to get their commentary the entire time. Tonia goes over the rule changes and changes in required elements-- holler to her. My home town is about 10 minutes from hers. Shawn warms up his flying camel on both edges. Carriere does another double Axel at the last second-- he has a tremendous skid on the take-off.

Daisuke Murakami
Mention of how he skated for the USA until 2007/2008. He has the lowest ranking of any of the non-host country selections in the mens field on the Grand Prix this year, as I mentioned in the preview. Toccata and Fugue-- of course, the Vanessa-Mae version. Big smile as he gets into his opening pose. Thunder-sounding remix effects in the music. Triple Lutz/triple toe.. both jumps had nice height and distance. He really used the toe pick to vault himself well. Triple Axel landed a bit on the inside edge and fought to get a nice run out. Triple flip.. okay, jump jump jump. Not sure about the take-off edge there. Sit spin that travels a mile and then a change pancake/cannonball/whatever spin that also travels slightly. Camel/cannonball/change sit/y-spin.. average and as the commentators mention, slowed down. Footwork starts out on one foot and the rest is completed with good flow and ease. Flying camel with a layover and then catchfoot with a change edge... difficult and one of the better flying camels I have seen from the men this year. He's happy about it. He had a disaster result at Japanese Nationals last year, but he probably can finish in the top 5. There's so much talent in the country- Takahashi, Oda, Kozuka, Hanyu, Mura, Nanri, whoever else wants to break out this year.

67.01. That's not bad at all. Components average just over a 6.00.

Armin Mahbanoozadeh
Mancuso says he's 19, the image on the screen at the same time says he's 20. I liked this program at the Liberty Open much earlier in the season. Triple Axel that pitched forward and he quickly put a hand down-- he got rid of the difficult entry into that, disappointing. Triple flip/triple toe-- not too much run out on the end but both jumps done. Flying camel change edge/catchfoot. The change edge was really shaky but the catchfoot was strong. Now he gets into it. Nice posture and the speed is picking up. Triple Lutz is done. Sit spin with a variation change sit.. strong positions and centering. Footwork matches the music well and he's moving well. The crowd gets into the end of the sequence- lots of empty chairs. Camel/GREAT variation/change/sit low and centered again/scratch. I absolutely love that variation where he has a bent leg and arms and faces the ice. He looks so young! The first part looked cautious but he let loose after the triple/triple. Could have a little more content in between the elements.

67.61.. and by .60 he goes into first. Spins were stronger and the program itself had a much better impression, so I'm fine with that.

Viktor Pfeifer
Music from The Mask. Last season I started to notice how solid his stroking and carriage is. Skid into the double Axel... it was tiny even by his standards. Triple Lutz/triple toe-- Lutz may have been ever so short on rotation but the triple toe was nice. Doubled the flip. Camel that fights to go on the change edge into a change camel where he holds the leg in a bent spiral position. Pulls the vest out to reveal a green and yellow vest underneath. Footwork like the others is done on one foot for the first 2/3 or so.. the sequence as a whole was fine, but didn't seem as effortless as the previous two performed it. Flying sit travels and he goes into a cannonball variation. A few steps into a camel/sit twisted variation.. that was cool/change sit in another variation and then the same upright he's always done where he grabs the blade and holds it to the side at hip level. This frustrates me.. I remember he had the most perfect one foot Lutz entry and position in the air with his arm over his head in his 2006 short program.. seriously +3 worthy.. and now everything is pretty much listless. That final position in the combo spin always kills the flow, too, even if it is unique. The Moonlight Sonata short from last year showed off his basics much better than this.

55.01. Twelve points behind the others.

Stephen Carriere
Withdrew from US Nationals.. He has some random scruff on his face going on, with some big patches of no hair. So he lost his razor and Sawyer lost his hair product. I see. Triple Axel WAY leaning as soon as it went up and a big fall. Back kick into a triple Lutz/double toe. Got a little stuck in between the jumps and could only do a double. Fun program, though. Nice triple loop-- back on track. Flying camel is traveling and not the greatest position.. catchfoot makes it a little better. One foot footwork-- what, you're surprised? This is moving nicely though and in both directions. I liked that. Flying sit is fast/hop up/sit/change variation with the leg wrapped and blade held.. back part of that was slow and listless. Camel/sit travels/hop/sit/change forward sit/Emanuel spin that I think they actually call an A-frame spin. Good to know. Nice fast positions there. I like that he sold the program throughout the entire performance, not just AFTER the jumps were done. But a triple/double, fall on the triple Axel, and an issue with two of the spins-- pretty messy overall. The Axel might be downgraded if you include the skid into it with the landing. I think he's making fun of one of the judges looking so serious and stern at him-- at least he sees the humor in it.

59.14. Third place. Best components on the night and rightfully so. Strong program and great quality to his skating.

Shawn Sawyer
Assassin's Tango for the second year. Alright triple Axel was close at NHK-- let's see how it goes here. Blah. Underrotated and he fell. It should definitely be called a double. Triple flip/double toe. Oh hey Stephen Carriere jump content. Nice cantilever with his hands on the ice. Double Lutz-- what is going on Shawn? Camel change edge in beautiful positions/change/camel in a nice catchfoot/donut and another change edge-- nice center, and good speed. Great spin. Flying sit travels in the beginning to a variation. Maybe a slight stumble right after the beginning of his footwork but if it was he covered it well to look like choreography. Nice dynamics and content in the footwork itself. Camel/sit that he holds forever/change/ split upright spin... never gets old. He has a runny nose. Maybe he has a cold. Maybe I want to make excuses for him because I want him to do well always. Eh.. very little in terms of the jumps but the components scores should be quite a bit ahead of the rest of the field so far. Flip, in replay, looked like it really pre-rotated off the toe pick.

56.94. No favors on the technical mark, and his components are just a point ahead of Carriere.

Nan Song
Requiem for a Dream.. has still not woken up. Basics right away are below average. Triple flip with a big step-out. The posture and arms really all over the place. Bent spread eagle into a triple Axel and he lands that one. Flying camel change edge into a bent knee variation... not terrible, not good. Triple Lutz is nice-- should have added the combo there. Flying sit spin/change sit with a little twist variation-- again average. Very reserved in his presentation and not a lot going on with the actual program, but the footwork moves well and he tries to sell the end with some dramatic arms. Camel/sit traveling/change sit with a kinda a-frame variation and upright. Messy. I don't know why so many people want to skate to this music. It's perfect to drive to in the middle of rush hour when other drivers insist on not going to speed limit, but you can only be so dramatic with it on the ice. On top of that, he's not a particularly expressive skater to begin with. I'd go down into the 4's for some of his components, but I think the judges will be nice and keep him above the 5's.

The next group shown watching at the boards.

62.21. Into THIRD. What? 6.54 on the skating skills mark. These judges are crazy. Had he done the triple toe on the end of the Lutz, he would have been right near the top. His interpretation mark is higher than Armin's... etc. So many problems here.

Second warm-up: Denis Ten (KAZ) three turns into a double flip. Sorry, I'm not really watching the warm-up because I'm too busy being baffled by Song's components scores. Back for Van der Perren (BEL), and they switch to Takahashi (JPN) as he's about to jump. Nice simple red (well sparkly) top with a deep V neck. Oda (JPN) does a triple flip that's just a bit too big and has no run out. Still comparing Song's components to the others and being annoyed.

I see Scott and Sandra here commentating. Oh yay. Just kidding. I usually like what Sandra has to say but I'm just not as easily excited over things as Scott.

Denis Ten
With choreography by Stephane Lambiel for this short program. I didn't have an opinion either way at NHK, let's see this time around. Triple Axel way outside the circle and a fall. Triple Lutz/triple toe with a turn in between.. he was off balance so lucky that he could get the toe loop off. Triple flip with the three turns entry and a hand down. Camel change edge gorgeous/quick sit/upright/change sit --- well centered and all good positions. Really nice camel. Sit with his upper body twisted change sit with a low back and he holds the free leg-- again nice speed. Kwiatkowski says he's not connecting to the music and I agree-- the first half he really just skated right through it and there wasn't much choreography. Straight line footwork is good and a flying camel with a bent leg into a donut/catchfoot position-- that slowed down but again the positions were good. Little bit better than NHK even with his mistakes here, but I'm still not blown away. He's too reserved for the Lambiel choreography to really get the crowd engaged in my opinion. It might come with time.

Frank always just stares at his skaters and smiles, as if he sometimes has to bite his tongue really hard. Didn't he say he had to do that with Mirai in China? I definitely see it.

64.50.. third for now.

Adrian Schultheiss
Still going with the longer hair and a bit of scruff. Didn't love this program or music at NHK, but I still like that he goes for stuff so unique. Triple Lutz/triple toe with a pause in between the two jumps but it ended up fine. Triple Axel pitched forward and a hand down. Flying camel with an ugly change edge and the catchfoot is all over the place-- I don't know if he will get more than level one for that. Sit twisted variation change sit back down and leg held.. better. Footwork with a slight pause into the triple flip. Combination spin with a cool variation that I don't even know how to describe.. good centering throughout that. This music is sooo repetitive. Circular footwork shows off his biggest problem in my opinion-- he moves slowly and not as easily as most other elite skaters, and it only gets magnified during that element. The program just kind of ends after that, too. I don't know, he always has a story behind his programs and I'd like to hear about this one. It just doesn't really work for me. He doesn't have a coach here apparently? I know he's been training in LA the last few weeks but I assumed someone would join him here. I really feel bad for him sitting there-- he got up like he wasn't going to wait for the marks and then started talking to himself and sat back down. The wait for the marks is taking forever, too.

63.71. He seriously looks like a lost little boy standing there. Poor thing. But he's in fourth-- not that big of a disaster.

Adam Rippon
Speaking of looking like a little boy.. there's Adam. That pumping on the crossovers has got to go-- it's the only thing I don't like about his skating. Fall out on the triple Axel that seemed to me like it also had a big skid take-off-- everyone seems to be doing it tonight. Triple flip/triple toe is nice. Flying camel with a beautiful fast donut position-- the best of all the men. Triple Lutz with both arms over his head is so effortless, I don't know how. Sit change sit went by quickly-- nice center and speed. The footwork is good too but I am not overly moved by this short program. There are a lot of music cuts are all over the place and I don't think there's a real idea behind it. I much prefer the free skate. He ends with a nice fast combination spin. Blah.. I don't know what to say. The performance just didn't do much for me tonight.

He says he's happy with everything else as he talks to coach Brian Orser.

73.94. Into first, basically right in line with how he was scored at Skate Canada (where he was clean).

Kevin Van der Perren
Art of War. He promised upon getting off the ice from his short program at NHK that he would never skate "that bad", or something along those lines, ever again.. hopefully he was right. Triple Axel is nice-- always with those bounces up and down on the back edge leading into the jump. Triple Lutz/triple toe.. long preparation for it and the Lutz was kind of bent but he made the toe look easy. Double flip... seriously? Always something. Flying sit with a twist variation. Interesting here.. it looked like his free skate hit the ice on the landing and I think that means he would get no points.. IF I saw right. Camel change camel is right up against the boards and both spins are poor.. adds a catchfoot to the end of the latter. I love this music but the footwork has no dynamics or relevance to the music really.. it could be so much more effective. He's moving alright but not with an effortless flow. Camel again right by the boards/upright/change into a sit/variation. I hate the set-up of this program-- below average spin positions right up against the boards, stalking the jumps, etc. Pretty empty in terms of content, too. Axel was a beauty, though. These components scores better be right in comparison to some of the earlier skaters.. but I'm sure they won't be.

62.22. Too high on the components, even if he is down in sixth.

Daisuke Takahashi
He already has the crowd going in the first five seconds, and already showing the amazing flow he carries over the ice, gaining speed easily. Triple flip/triple toe-- good, not great.. he never really holds that landing edge for very long. Triple Axel that he basically landed but then had problems on the landing edge and somewhat flipped out. Flying layback spin-- difficult but not really a great position. I guess it's good for a guy. :-) Music picks up and he steps out of the triple flip from steps. Sit change sit with a variation. None of the spins are really standing out tonight. Footwork has the music really picking up and he makes it look simple-- nice control and use of the upper body throughout that. Camel change edge/change sit/upright headless. That one was alright. He laughs and hits his head at the end. It was fun, but I'm definitely not going to like it as much as I liked last years short program or his Swan Lake from a few seasons ago. I've been so grumpy this entire group. Almost bed time!

78.12.. seasons best. Hmm. Don't know how I feel yet. Story of my life!

Nobunari Oda
Okay Mancuso, he didn't compete at NHK. He was at Skate Canada. Check your stats. This is a program I went back and liked much more the second time around. RIDICULOUS triple Axel entry and he lands so deep with steps right out. Great. Triple flip/triple toe-- God, he snapped right up into that flip. Flying camel with a change edge layover in a deep position and catchfoot.. BEAUTIFUL triple Lutz jump. All three jumps top quality. Flying sit a frame spin/change sit twist variation. Second half was alright, first was very good. He's still not really selling this. Footwork has energy but not in his face. RIGHT up against the board at the end of the sequence. Sit spin/change sit and his spins looked much better in terms of centering here than they did in Canada. Everything is just so "another day at the office" for him during the performance-- I wish he'd lighten up. And look at that-- as soon as he's done, he has a huge smile on his face. I guess there's no happy medium with him just yet.

I wouldn't be surprised if he's working on a quad flip. He has the best triple in the world. For what it's worth, I'd have him first. Mancuso notes he was at Skate Canada now.

79.28. He's first, barely. He won the technical mark but was about three points behind Takahashi on the components mark. I'd have their transitions a bit closer together, but the rest of the scores look alright to me.

So it's Oda Takahashi Rippon surprise Mahbanoozadeh second surprise Murakami and Ten in the top six, with coachless Schultheiss Van der Perren Song Carriere Sawyer and Pfeifer rounding out the field.


Lisa said...

Thanks for doing the live blogging! I normally read your live blogs anyway, but Universal Sports isn't showing this live online and it's making me absolutely nuts! Consequently, your blog is my lifeline to Skate America at the moment. ;)

P.S. Thanks for putting me on your blog role! I really appreciate it. =)

physics girl said...

Armin, WOW! Love that camel too. And music that is not your usual screechy violin, very fun.

Anonymous said...

Of all Priscilla H's boys I like Armin M. the best.
She's one busy woman though! Respect.

Tony said...

I like Armin the best too, but I really admire Stephen's skating skills.

And you're welcome, Lisa!

physics girl said...

Scott Hamilton's commentary is always like "AaaahhhyyyiieeeeTripleLutz!!!!"

physics girl said...

Ahh, Dice-K. The difference in speed and carriage is so obvious when he comes out on the ice. Not to mention how his program actually links to the music (unlike KVDP, I agree). At the end he says "I'm sorry".

I would have sat with Adrian :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Tony, I think Oda's actually trying to break away from the comedic image he had since he was a junior. Ninjas don't smile! He looks cool and determined, his movements are sharp and precise, I like the program quite a lot.

Tony said...

Could be, but I'm still getting the no expression vibe from his face rather than looking intense. Ever since he's went to Morozov (and left), there seems to be that extra spark missing from his skating. Although, to Nikolai's credit, he at least gave him a free skate last year that forced Nobu to break out of that mentality, or at least hide it for four and a half minutes.