Saturday, November 6

Abbott vs. Joubert: Who Is More Awkward?

Photo from

I don't often get snarky in my posts, but this one just asks for the snark. (My thoughts on Cup of China are coming eventually for those checking the page for that.)

Jeremy Abbott and Brian Joubert both worked with dancer/choreographer Antonio Najarro on their short programs this season. Abbott is skating to a piece called Viejos Aires, while Joubert has opted for the Malaguena from Once Upon a Time in Mexico.
Najarro has had success working with figure skaters in the past, as he is responsible for the original dance of 2002 Olympic Champions Anissina/Peizerat, but I can't say that I am loving either of the mens new programs. I think my biggest issue is the way that they both move their arms and how awkward and uncomfortable (and don't forget silly) it all seems to be.

So, the question: which program looks more awkward to you at this point? Moreover, do you think both skaters should keep the programs and hope they start to adjust to them as the season progresses, or is a complete re-work a good idea? Or am I just grumpy and crazy, missing out on the masterpieces that they already are? ;-) Feel free to share your own thoughts and don't miss the poll!


Anonymous said...

Wow, watching both programs back to back like that, you can REALLY tell the difference in their respective skating skills. (Sorry Brian, but alas, it's an open secret).
So, which program looks more awkward to me at this point? Brian's.
Moreover, do I think both skaters should keep the programs and hope they start to adjust to them as the season progresses, or is a complete re-work a good idea?
Actually, I could start liking Jeremy's if he can tone down those hands a bit.
Brian, I don't know. His handwork is REALLY just too awkward...

Anonymous said...

In terms of choreography, there is little to choose between them, but I found Brian's less awkward, probably because his skating lacks Abbott-like fluidity.

That being said, I wouldn't complain if they keep those programs. Though I don't think Najarro's choreography is fit for figure skating, I like to watch something different. If everyone skates a program like that of David Wilson's, it would be really boring.

LosPants said...

I actually find Jeremy's hand movements to be more awkward. Brian's are more in tune with his SP music (the clapping, imitating the bull). I love Jeremy but his hand movements were really distracting and I felt like I didn't pay attention to his actual skating because I was so distracted by his arms. Or maybe that's just the ADD in me.

Anonymous said...

I'm OK with both programs. They are not my all time favorites, at least not now, but to me they are watchable.

Brian sells all that macho stuff way better than Jeremy, but Jeremy's overall quality of skating speaks for itself no matter what he skates, imho.

'you think both skaters should keep the programs and hope they start to adjust to them as the season progresses'(c)

I think, neither understands what he needs to adjust to, and that is why the programs don't look 100% convincing. They simply don't get the concept, and neither do I.

If I were to explain what kind of movements I expect to see in this kind of programs, I wouldn't know.

Anonymous said...

Najarro struck out here. Neither program is suitable for the skater. Both programs should be ditched at this point.

Najarro's camp also designed the monstrosity Jeremy is wearing. If he keeps the program, I hope he ditches the costume in favor of something more flattering to his line.

I really thought at least one or the other would do well with Najarro's choreo. Both are world class skaters. This is a Najarro fail.

Anonymous said...

Brian's Choreo reminds me a kempo anime, which I am very much familiar with.



Anonymous said...

At the beginning of Abbott's program my 6-year-old asked "Mommy, is he supposed to be a vampire?"; seeing the camera zoom in on his face at the end of the program she proudly proclaimed: "I told you, he is a vampire!". Abbott's costume/hairdo/facial expression need to be completely reworked. The program might turn out just fine with this corrections.

Anonymous said...

Besides his overdone hand movements, don't know if Jeremy's hairdo gives any positive impression, either. I hate the slick, extremely parted hair. Nor his costume. I wouldn't mind this program that much if the whole appearance package is redone.

Anonymous said...

Well, neither is a masterpiece at this point. Brian's might improve with time. I need to see it a few more times to decide. I miss the old Brian. I kind of liked Jeremy's exhibition version of this SP at Yu Na's All That Skate. But now the program looks so heavy. The spins were slow and ugly. The steps were clunky. (and I agree with everyone else about Jeremy's costume and vampire look)

Anonymous said...

Full disclosure: Abbott is my favorite skater. Love to watch his skating.

Not a big fan of Joubert, but this Najarro program suits his skating (better than Abbott's does his). Joubert to my eyes has always had excessive hand/arm movements so the Najarro choreography works to some extent for him.

Abbott, on the other hand, has always before seemed a very lyrical skater with beautiful dancer-like movements of the hands and arms. I understand he's trying to stretch and do something outside his comfort zone, but I'd rather he just pick music he loves and choreography that accentuates his best qualities and skate to his potential.

When I saw this program first from "All That Skate Summer" I liked the actual skating, but I wanted more skating and less arms -- especially at the end. I didn't think the NHK version an improvement.
JAbbott "Viejos Aires" from ATSS -- like it better than NHK performance.

Like the other commenters I think the theatrical NHK costume didn't show off Abbott's superb line and detracted from his skating. I'd prefer something totally pared down like this:
Jeremy Abbott's 2010 Short Program at DuPage

I think both skaters will probably keep working at these programs. I wish for bigger things for Abbott and don't know that this SP will compare to his biggest rivals Chan and Takahashi in the judges eyes.

Tony, I enjoy your blog alot. Thanks for an opportunity to comment on a favorite skater.


Anonymous said...

Watching both programs I think about Lambiel
I don’t like Jeremy's skating because it remind’s me Lambiel Otono porteno
Abbot only copies his style and many of Lambiel’s motion. May be it connects with Antonio Najarro‘s choreography
Find few minites to see it

For me Brian is more interesting
Excuse me my English

Anonymous said...

Najarro also choreographed Stephane Lambiel's Poeta, which was a masterpiece, IMO. Perhaps Najarro's choreography best suits a specific type of skater (which Abbott and Joubert aren't)?

jumping clapping man said...

i would NEVER characterize jeremy abbott as awkward. that's a total mischaracterization.

joubert is not inherently awkward, but yes, the beethoven LP doesn't quite for for him yet. hopefully he can increase his connection to it, and learn how to add more expression to some of the greatest and most joyful music ever written.

mm said...

At this early point in season, quite a few programmes look awkward on a quite a few skaters. That is expected, I believe. I also always enjoy witnessing how programmes and skaters grow throughout the season - that's one of the reasons why I follow as many competitions as possible.

My experience tells me if a skater shows up with something of near perfection at the beginning of the season, I tend to get bored / disappointed by the end.

Both Jeremy and Brian chose to try out something way out of their comfort zone - this is brilliant and so exciting. (Considering that they are seasoned veterans, especially.) They both look equally awkward at the mo - this is even more exciting to me! I do see there are lots in the both programmes and choreographies that can be explored further. I hope they do keep them and prove their versatility as skater at the Worlds.

jumping clapping man said...

this context AND costume serves jeremy's piece better. here it's much more organic feeling:

Anonymous said...

Watching these only makes me miss Lambiel's competitive Latin programs even more. Now we know it's not only the choreographer/ choreography that makes a program shine, it's also largely dependent upon the skater's interpretive skill and intrinsic feel for the program.

Neither Joubert or Abbott look comfortable let alone transcend the choreography. Najarro and these two aren't good fits IMO, I think he lucked out in his choreo for Lambiel and thought all skaters are capable of interpreting Latin programs. Soooo not the case.

Tony said...

Najarro lucked out with both Anissina/Peizerat and Lambiel, for sure.

I think Teresa (4:17 on 11/7) has the same thoughts that I do. I love Jeremy (and think his free skate is brilliant), but this risk of taking another approach, much like Joubert's Beethoven free skate, just doesn't do it for me. Brian was criticized for his lack of CONTENT within his programs, not the programs themselves. I don't think that a total makeover in terms of program genre or concept is always needed, but I guess it's better than seeing the exact same movements to different music year after year.

jumpingclappingman-- when Abbott is outside of his comfort zone (as I think it is clear in his short program), those arm movements and general presentation are awkward! :-P Everything else he's done, even the Carlos Santana short from a few seasons ago, has been fine. I'd characterize him more as "tentative and cautious" in those, but definitely awkward in this!

As many of you have commented, I'd ditch the costume as well. I believe in my blog review of NHK, I mentioned that it made him look much bigger than he really is. As far as the hair thing, I remember a Tweet by Jeremy during the event saying that he used "a bottle of gel and a half of a bottle of hair spray"-- maybe an over-exaggeration, but maybe not ;-)

I also saw a Tweet from him asking for costume ideas, so that gives me some hope it relates to the short program mess.

Anonymous said...

- I also saw a Tweet from him asking for costume ideas, so that gives me some hope it relates to the short program mess. -

He later wrote he was looking for Halloween costume suggestions, not skating :)))))

Looks like his followers misunderstood him.

Tony said...

Well, that's too bad! LOL.