Friday, November 26

Trophee Eric Bompard: Mens Short Program Highlights and Thoughts

I lied on my Formspring. Ice Network actually does have the short programs and short dances up from Trophee Eric Bompard. I'm going to start with the men and hopefully get to the other three disciplines (well, pairs will be quick-- that's for sure), but I'm not promising anything. I'm tired!

Without further rambling, the mens short program..

Zoltan Kelemen (10th)- First things first. Out of all of the last-minute qualifiers to the Olympics, I was most happy about Zoltan making it. I watched the entire mens short program at the 2009 Worlds, and even though he didn't qualify for the free skate, he was one of my favorites of the day. However, it seems like ever since his surprise Vancouver qualification, the skating hasn't risen to that next level. He has some interesting choreography and nice use of his upper body, but I don't like this program as much as the previous. Still, it's not too bad. Without going for a triple Axel, you can't expect a high score (unless you're Stephane Lambiel).

Chafik Besseghier (4th)- Well, I said in my preview that he'd probably turn a few heads this week. I think he's already succeeded with that! He packs the transitions in, but they all seem to be done hastily and they look a bit disjointed from everything else. He doesn't command the ice yet (even with the huge jumps), but rather has this reserved, relaxed look in his face the entire time. Edges and posture can definitely use some work, and the spins were average at best, with a big travel on the last sit. Great jumping effort, though.

Peter Liebers (6th)- This program is 5000 times better than anything he's done prior, and he's also made great improvements in the quality of his skating. Clean on the jumps (nice deep edge, low landing on the Axel), but there wasn't nearly the interpretation here that he's capable of (and showed earlier this year). Everything was far too serious. The choreography is great and he shows a lot of movement with his entire body, which is nice. The flying camel struggled and the last scratch spin was off balance, but I'm happy he was clean on the jumps.

Anton Kovalevski (9th)- Nothing new from my comments at Cup of Russia, really. No speed into the triple Axel and he still struggles with it. All of the jumps looked heavy and really muscled rather than just letting them happen. Once again, I prefer the second half of the program and especially the footwork sequence. Everything else is just bleh. He hasn't taken it to the next level since he came on to the senior level, and it seems like he's destined for that first of second Worlds free skate start group (as he has been) once again this year.

Nan Song (8th)- Again, the same story here as at Skate America, where I thought he was tremendously over-scored on components. Jumps are alright today, but the spins are poor to average at best, and his arms can't figure out what to do when he is doing crossovers, so they kinda just flail around. Skating to this dynamic music doesn't work for him, and it hasn't ended up a masterpiece for anyone, honestly. I like his free skate much more.

Florent Amodio (2nd)- Morozov has definitely done something to his jumps-- all of them were absolutely gorgeous at NHK and it continues here. Fun, and he gives it that extra oomph with the confidence that he always carries. Very good performance but I'm missing that special something from him in this particular program. He had it in last years short, which was obviously very different.

Kevin Reynolds (7th)- I didn't read anything about the performances before watching, so I was willing to bet big money that the triple Axel was again his problem spot. Obviously I would have lost. I think all of his jumps looked like they could have been a little short here. This is a good program for Kevin, but there wasn't nearly the help from the crowd that he received in Canada. He still had plenty of energy after the fall and didn't give up on the performance, but the audience just really wasn't that into it. He was certainly confused by the low score in the kiss and cry.

Brandon Mroz (3rd)- High score for the small jump problems in my opinion. Quad toe looked to be a bit pre-rotated and obviously the Axel didn't have a run-out edge. Flying camel traveled (which the camera nicely zoomed in on). This music doesn't work for his all-business style of skating. Ryan Bradley, yes. Not Brandon. None of his other elements really stood out, either. Decent basics, average speed, but flat performance. Sorry. Anyways, not that we are counting that closely, but if he stays in third place and Kozuka holds the gold medal, a free skate score of 146.15 would qualify Brandon to the Final over Jeremy Abbott. He scored 146.96 in China. Interesting indeed! By the way, totally unrelated but Tom Zakrajsek has to be running on empty. He's been at every single Grand Prix stop.

Takahiko Kozuka (1st)- His skating skills blow everyone else out of the water so far. Jumps not effortless like he is capable of, but I think it's good for his confidence to keep landing the triple Axel. He had flashes of getting into the program, but I still don't care for the arrangement or some of the choreography, particularly at the beginning. It's like: I'll stand in place and do these movements, and then skate a few feet back and then stand in place some more. Eh. I expect a lot out of him I guess. LOTS of Japanese flags in the audience.. who knew?!

Brian Joubert (5th)- Not sure why he tried to make a combo out of that quad toe, he could have done it later and saved some points. The flying spin drives me crazy still, yes, and so does some of the choreography. It doesn't help when someone as interpretive as Amodio is using the same music (well at least part) for their short program, and on top of that he skated just about twenty minutes before Brian-- makes the comparisons almost unavoidable. I think Brian has good skating skills, but the problem is that he doesn't move as effortlessly as many of the other men once you start involving edge work and turns, and then his skating slows down greatly as well. I miss the intensity and fun of last years short, silly (and lacking) choreography aside. This program has no intensity behind it, and I think that is one of the things that really makes (made?) Brian stand out.


Anonymous said...

I think the French federation has just seen the future and his name is not Joubert. I bet they're kissing Amodio's ass right now.

I agree with you Tony, that the contrasts between the 2 SPs casts unfavorable light on Joubert. His skating is not beautiful to watch, in that he lacks musicality, interpretation, fluidity, and flexibility. But what bugs me the most about his skating is his stiff upper body. Notice how his head never moves in directions incongruent with his torso i.e. his body and head always move in same direction. It makes him look awkward and stiff compared to the other men. When Joubert's jumps fail him, he has nothing to offer to the audience or hold their interest.

About Takahiko, while I like his skating I'm quite disappointed that he's still not able to skate as a performer and sell his programs to the fullest. Why does Taka get accolades from skating insiders? I mean, Browning and Lambiel have pointed him out as their new favorites. I don't get it. Yeah he has great skating skills but IMO he and Chan are two skaters with superb skating skills who have trouble with emoting and interpreting programs.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that he still lacks in the area of emoting, what sets him apart from Chan for me is his fluidity, upper body movements and musicality - I feel Chan lacks the impact of the latter two (his upper body movements get levels, but they never feel very connected to his skating or the music to me and I find his use of upper body very weak). I think he just expresses differently, with his entire body and not his face.

I don't feel that this SP really showcases his best qualities, but he did tell the press that he was trying to show more personality, so I appreciate the effort. But Soul Man is just not the best vehicle for him. He has a lot more freedom in his show skating, which is just frustrating. I think several of his previous programs had great clarity and emotion, even if they were lacking in facial expression - but admittedly, I don't really pay as much attention to facial expression unless it's distracting (Belgosto comes to mind) or exceptionally striking.