Saturday, March 13

Updated: Chinese Third Pair Competing at World Juniors: A Solution?

If you're not yet familiar with the situation, check my blog entry from March 10th.

George Rossano from Ice Skating International Online has updated his website with further details on the situation.

As I originally assumed, the ISU had no idea about the error in letting the pair compete (! yes, really) until a reporter brought it to their attention in private. Also no surprise is Rossano reports that he hears the ISU will most likely quietly change their World Rankings by removing the points that the third Chinese team earned, as well as possibly voiding their result in the final placement.

The thing that both frustrates and amazes me at the same time about this whole ordeal is the admitting that the ISU had NO CLUE about their own breaking of the very rules they created. The rules are up on their website for any common fan like myself to read in full, so why couldn't Peter Krick or whoever else is responsible have pulled up the documents and double-checked the maximum entry formula? It literally took me two minutes maximum to navigate my way through the communications on isu.org to re-read the rules and make sure I didn't miss some loophole about additional skaters being added to the event, and there were several other "just fans" across figure skating message boards that also questioned the three entries. Seriously, what a stupid mistake.

French Men Test Skate for Second Spot to Worlds

This page from the French Federation website announces a test skate on March 15th between Brian Joubert, Yannick Ponsero, and Alban Preaubert determining who will accompany 12th-place Olympic finisher Florent Amodio to the World Championships next week. Joubert finished a disappointing 16th place in Vancouver after medaling at every Worlds since the 2006 Olympics, and every European Championship he's ever attended-- starting in 2002. He won bronze at the event in 2010, while Ponsero and Preaubert were sixth and seventh.

So who earns the second World Championship spot?

My bets are still on Joubert. Aside from his 2006 and 2010 Olympic experiences, he's been one of the more consistent skaters when it comes to the big events. Ponsero tends to skate extremely well in one portion of an event, only to completely fall apart in the other portion. While I would love to see him hold it together for both programs in the test skate, it seems pretty unlikely. Preaubert has a style all to his own but his overall skating skills and quality of the elements are not up to the level of the other two skaters. He would definitely be relying on several errors from both men in order to grab the second spot.

I created a poll which you can find at the top right corner of the blog, asking who you think will win the second French entry to Worlds.

Sonia Bianchetti: "The role of a judge now is as exciting as that of a cashier in a supermarket!"


Sonia Bianchetti, a former ISU judge, referee, and official of 40 years, responds to my interview with Patrick Ibens, sending me the following letter:

Hi Tony,
I read with great interest your interview with Patrick Ibens. It is a fantastic  interview and most of what he says is absolutely true. Only on one point I disagree.  I do not think that only 10% of the judges are honest. Unfortunately there are, and there have always been dishonest judges, but not in that proportion. At least I hope not!  

It is very sad, though, that a good, honest and competent young judge such as Patrick decides to stop judging.  And from some comments I have received, many other judges might follow his example.

I can easily understand the reason why. The sport is changed, the system has changed,  and the judges do not get the same stimulation, the same involvement, the same input as with the old 6.0 system.

The role of a judge now is as exciting as that of a cashier in a supermarket!

Until the IJS was adopted, judging was a real challenge.  The judges had to try their best to come up with the correct result, using both the marks for Technical Merit and Presentation in the proper way.

Now with the new system it's all gone. At the end of an event a judge does not even know where he placed a certain skater. It is not his business! The only concern of the judges now a days is to be sure to remain within the famous “corridor”.  If a skater tries to do something special hardly any judge dares to reflect it in his marks.  Never take the risk to be out of the corridor because you will not be given the chance to explain your point of view.

Some judges like this some others hate it and feel it is even humiliating in view of their competence and experience. I am one of these!

Besides, having the ISU decide that a judge is only allowed to arrive on the spot of the competition on the day before the event and has to leave the day after the event, makes the social appeal of the sport gone. I wonder how many judges will be willing to fly may be 12 or more hours, judge two days and fly back, without even being able to see the rest of the competition.

Very interesting is Patrick’s opinion on the Program Component marks.
 What I hate the most about this system is that it is made to save the “not-so-good” judges, while the really good judges who are marking the way it’s meant to be (every component separately) risk the chance of being out of the corridor of average marks, and risk getting some assessments. A judge who basically does not know anything can give all the wrong marks or completely guess and their marks fall into an average! But someone who wants to have wide margins between components might be singled out for doing so. For example, when scoring the first three groups at the World Championships, you give between 5.50 and 7.00 and you are in the safe corridor. When the last groups come on the ice, give between 7.00 and 8.50 and you’re safe again!”
I could not agree with him more!

This is exactly what we can witness in every event.  The PC marks do not reflect the skating but rather the starting order and the reputation of the skaters.
As long as the marks for the program components will have to be valued on an absolute scale, there is no way they can be correct.   
I fully agree with Patrick’s words: "our sport is out of the “sport”. Sport is that one is better than two, two  is better than three. You can only come up with that result by comparing. If you call it speed skating, then there’s a clock but of course there are no marks for skills and artistry– they only have to be fast!  Scoring only on a scale of 10 is impossible in a competition."
As I said many times,  the purpose of a figure skating competition is to determine which skater gave the best performance on a given day.

In a sport like figure skating it is practically impossible to quantify objectively the quality of any element of a skater’s performance.

The only way to be consistent through the whole event is to be thinking all the time whether the marks given now make sense compared to the marks given before - and that is a comparison.

Under the IJS the judges are now asked to evaluate performances on an absolute point scale without comparison to any other performance. While this may be conceivable  when evaluating individual elements of a program, for the Program Components it is not.  These are entirely different ways of thinking.

Only by comparing the various programs with one another, can a judge decide which one deserves more.  So "absolute" judging makes no sense, especially in program components.

Even more so when you talk of junior events. Can any ISU expert truly believe that it is possible for the judges to properly assess on an absolute scale the correct mark for each of the five program components to each of the 55 young girls who skated their short program today at the Junior Worlds in The Hague? 

If there is one, I would like to meet him.

Have a nice week-end
Sonia

2010 World Junior Championships Ladies Free Skate and Final

Kanako Murakami of Japan was able to move up from second place in the short program to win the gold medal. The United States' Agnes Zawadzki made an impressive climb in the standings from eighth in the short program to the silver medal overall, and Russia's Polina Aganonova was able to hold on for the bronze medal. Her two countrymates Polina Shelepen and short program leader Anna Ovcharova finished in fourth and fifth place.

2011 World Junior Championships Allotted Entries:
JPN - 3; USA - 3; RUS - 3
CAN - 2; SWE - 2; GER - 2
All other countries - 1

Complete Free Skate Results from the ISU

Overall Final Standings

Rochette Out: World Championship Roster Update - March 13

Vancouver Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette of Canada has withdrawn from the event and is replaced by Myriane Samson.

The pairs field has been lowered by one, to 27 teams, as Austrian pair Martini/Kiefer have been removed from the list.

Full rosters of all four disciplines can be found on the ISU event page.

Friday, March 12

ISU Standings of Ladies Competing at the 2010 World Championships

Here are the current ISU World Standings of the 55 ladies competing at the World Championships as of March 17th.

1 Yu-Na Kim KOR
2 Carolina Kostner ITA
3 Mao Asada JPN
5 Miki Ando JPN
6 Laura Lepisto FIN
7 Akiko Suzuki JPN
8 Alena Leonova RUS
9 Rachael Flatt USA
10 Julia Sebestyen HUN
11 Kiira Korpi FIN
13 Mirai Nagasu USA
15 Elene Gedevanishvili GEO
20 Elena Glebova EST
20 Sarah Meier SUI
23 Sarah Hecken GER
24 Jenna McCorkell GBR
25 Cynthia Phaneuf CAN
26 Ksenia Makarova RUS
27 Ivana Reitmayerova SVK
32 Viktoria Helgesson SWE
40 Tugba Karademir TUR
50 Sonia Lafuente ESP
52 Myriane Samson CAN
54 Yan Liu CHN
62 Min-Jung Kwak KOR
63 Teodora Postic SLO
64 Tamar Katz ISR
69 Anastasia Gimazetdinova UZB
73 Cheltzie Lee AUS
74 Kerstin Frank AUT
89 Ana Cecilia Cantu MEX
91 Irina Movchan UKR
92 Manouk Gijsman NED
94 Gwendoline Didier FRA
97 Isabelle Pieman BEL
105 Karina Johnson DEN
120 Martina Bocek CZE
147 Tamami Ono HKG
162 Victoria Muniz PUR
170 Sonia Radeva BUL
178 Charissa Tansomboon THA
180 Crystal Kiang TPE
192 Mirna Libric CRO
194 Lauren Ko PHI
Unranked Georgia Glastris GRE
Unranked Yoniko Eva Washington IND
Unranked Clara Peters IRL
Unranked Zanna Pugaca LAT
Unranked Beatrice Rozinskaite LTU
Unranked Fleur Maxwell LUX
Unranked Sonja Mugosa MNE
Unranked Sabina Paquier ROM
Unranked Marina Seeh SRB
Unranked Abigail Pietersen RSA
Unranked Bettina Heim SUI

According to ISU rule 579, the 55 skaters will be split into two sessions, the top 28 ladies in the ISU World Standings "skating later", and then the lower 27 ladies "skating earlier", as they call it. Rule 548 determines that the warm-up groups will be 5/5/5/6/6 skaters in the earlier session, and 5/5/6/6/6 skaters in the later session. The final two groups (12 skaters) will consist of the 12 highest-ranked ladies in the ISU World Standings. The other 16 ladies in the later session will be those skaters ranked 13th through 28th highest in the ISU World Standings. All other ladies will draw for skate order in the earlier session, and those with no ISU World Standing will be drawn for the first spots of the skating order.


So, if you followed through all of that, you get the following:

The first two warm-up groups plus the first skater of warm-up group three will be composed of those ladies that have no world ranking:

Unranked Georgia Glastris GRE
Unranked Yoniko Eva Washington IND
Unranked Clara Peters IRL
Unranked Zanna Pugaca LAT
Unranked Beatrice Rozinskaite LTU
Unranked Fleur Maxwell LUX
Unranked Sonja Mugosa MNE
Unranked Sabina Paquier ROM
Unranked Marina Seeh SRB
Unranked Abigail Pietersen RSA
Unranked Bettina Heim SUI

The final five skaters in group three as well as all skaters in groups four and five will fill out the rest of the ladies skating in the earlier session:

73 Cheltzie Lee AUS
74 Kerstin Frank AUT
89 Ana Cecilia Cantu MEX
91 Irina Movchan UKR
92 Manouk Gijsman NED
94 Gwendoline Didier FRA
97 Isabelle Pieman BEL
105 Karina Johnson DEN
120 Martina Bocek CZE
147 Tamami Ono HKG
162 Victoria Muniz PUR
170 Sonia Radeva BUL
178 Charissa Tansomboon THA
180 Crystal Kiang TPE
192 Mirna Libric CRO
194 Lauren Ko PHI

Groups six, seven, and eight will be composed of the later session ladies, ranked 13th through 28th highest in the world standings:

20 Elena Glebova EST
20 Sarah Meier SUI
23 Sarah Hecken GER
24 Jenna McCorkell GBR
25 Cynthia Phaneuf CAN
26 Ksenia Makarova RUS
27 Ivana Reitmayerova SVK
32 Viktoria Helgesson SWE
40 Tugba Karademir TUR
50 Sonia Lafuente ESP
52 Myriane Samson CAN
54 Yan Liu CHN
62 Min-Jung Kwak KOR
63 Teodora Postic SLO
64 Tamar Katz ISR
69 Anastasia Gimazetdinova UZB

Groups nine and ten are composed of the 12 highest-ranked ladies in the world standings:

1 Yu-Na Kim KOR
2 Carolina Kostner ITA
3 Mao Asada JPN
5 Miki Ando JPN
6 Laura Lepisto FIN
7 Akiko Suzuki JPN
8 Alena Leonova RUS
9 Rachael Flatt USA
10 Julia Sebestyen HUN
11 Kiira Korpi FIN
13 Mirai Nagasu USA
15 Elene Gedevanishvili GEO

Changes to the roster may have an effect on these groupings.

Last Updated: March 17

ISU Standings of Ice Dancers Competing at the 2010 World Championships

Here are the current ISU World Standings of the 27 teams competing at the World Championships as of March 17th.

1 Davis/White USA
3 Virtue/Moir CAN
6 Kerr/Kerr GBR
7 Pechalat/Bourzat FRA
8 Faiella/Scali ITA
9 Khoklova/Novitski RUS
10 Samuelson/Bates USA
13 Zaretski/Zaretski ISR
14 Crone/Poirier CAN
15 Cappellini/LaNotte ITA
20 Navarro/Bommentre USA
21 Zadorozhniuk/Verbillo UKR
24 Bobrova/Soloviev RUS
27 Rubleva/Shefer RUS
29 Mysliveckova/Novak CZE
32 Hermann/Hermann GER
36 Reed/Reed JPN
47 Yu/Wang CHN
52 Hoffmann/Zavozin HUN
53 Mallory/Rand EST
55 Carron/Jones FRA
57 Chitwood/Hanretty GBR
63 O'Brien/Merriman AUS
94 Good/Sorensen DEN
114 Geil/Matsjuk AUT
119 Reed/Japaridze GEO
Unranked Maitz/Ucar TUR

According to ISU rule 579, the 27 teams will be split into two sessions, the top 14 ice dancers in the ISU World Standings "skating later", and then the lower 13 dancers "skating earlier", as they call it. Rule 548 determines that the warm-up groups will be 4/4/5 teams in the earlier session, and 4/5/5 teams in the later session. The final two groups (10 teams) will consist of the 10 highest-ranked ice dancers in the ISU World Standings. The other 4 teams in the later session will be those skaters ranked 11th through 14th highest in the ISU World Standings. All other teams will draw for skate order in the earlier session, and those with no ISU World Standing will be drawn for the first spots of the skating order.


So, if you followed through all of that, you get:

The first warm-up group will begin with the only unranked ice dance team:

Unranked Maitz/Ucar TUR

There will be three more teams from the earlier half skating in the first group, and the rest of the teams will fill out warm-up groups two and three:

29 Mysliveckova/Novak CZE
32 Hermann/Hermann GER
36 Reed/Reed JPN
47 Yu/Wang CHN
52 Hoffmann/Zavozin HUN
53 Mallory/Rand EST
55 Carron/Jones FRA
57 Chitwood/Hanretty GBR
63 O'Brien/Merriman AUS
94 Good/Sorensen DEN
114 Geil/Matsjuk AUT
119 Reed/Japaridze GEO

Group four begins the "later" half and features the five teams ranked 11th through 14th highest in the world standings:

20 Navarro/Bommentre USA
21 Zadorozhniuk/Verbillo UKR
24 Bobrova/Soloviev RUS
27 Rubleva/Shefer RUS

Groups five and six are comprised of the top-10 ranked ice dance teams in the world standings:

1 Davis/White USA
3 Virtue/Moir CAN
6 Kerr/Kerr GBR
7 Pechalat/Bourzat FRA
8 Faiella/Scali ITA
9 Khoklova/Novitski RUS
10 Samuelson/Bates USA
13 Zaretski/Zaretski ISR
14 Crone/Poirier CAN
15 Cappellini/LaNotte ITA

Changes to the roster may have an effect on these groupings.

Last Updated: March 17

ISU Standings of Men Competing at the 2010 World Championships

Here are the ISU World Standings of the men competing at the 2010 World Championships.

3 Daisuke Takahashi JPN
5 Patrick Chan CAN
6 Nobunari Oda JPN
7 Jeremy Abbott USA
8 Michal Brezina CZE
10 Brian Joubert FRA
11 Kevin Van der Perren BEL
13 Takahiko Kozuka JPN
14 Samuel Contesti ITA
15 Adam Rippon USA
17 Sergei Voronov RUS
18 Denis Ten KAZ
21 Adrian Schultheiss SWE
22 Kevin Reynolds CAN
23 Artem Borodulin RUS
26 Florent Amodio FRA
27 Ryan Bradley USA
29 Javier Fernandez ESP
41 Jinlin Guan CHN
47 Paolo Bacchini ITA
48 Jamal Othman SUI
50 Peter Liebers GER
58 Anton Kovalevski UKR
61 Abzal Rakimgaliev KAZ
66 Pavel Kaska CZE
68 Peter Reitmayer SVK
73 Viktor Pfeifer AUT
90 Ari-Pekka Nurmenkari FIN
93 Min-Seok Kim KOR
96 Kevin Alves BRA
111 Mark Webster AUS
112 Maciej Cieplucha POL
115 VIktor Romanenkov EST
117 Stephen Li-Chung Kuo TPE
133 Boris Martinec CRO
146 Humberto Contreras MEX
163 Zoltan Kelemen ROU
168 Alexandr Kazakov BLR
Unranked Sarkis Hairapetyan ARM
Unranked Damjan Ostojic BIH
Unranked Georgi Kenchadze BUL
Unranked Matthew Parr GBR
Unranked Tigran Vardanjan HUN
Unranked Maxim Shipov ISR
Unranked Girts Jekabsons LAT
Unranked Saulius Ambrulevicius LTU
Unranked Joffrey Bourdon MNE
Unranked Andrew Huertas PUR
Unranked Ali Demirboga TUR

According to ISU rule 579, the 49 competitors will be split into two sessions, the top 25 men in the ISU World Standings "skating later", and then the lower 24 men "skating earlier", as they call it. Rule 548 determines that the warm-up groups will be 6/6/6/6 men in the earlier session, and 5/5/5/5/5 men in the later session. The final two groups (10 skaters) will consist of the 10 highest-ranked men in the ISU World Standings. The other 15 men in the later session will be those skaters ranked 11th through 25th highest in the ISU World Standings. All other men will draw for skate order in the earlier session, and those with no ISU World Standing will be drawn for the first spots of the skating order.


So, if you followed through all of that, you get:

The first and second warm-up groups will include all of the unranked men, plus one skater from the "lower half" skating last in the second warm-up (12 skaters total). They will include the following:

Unranked Sarkis Hairapetyan ARM
Unranked Damjan Ostojic BIH
Unranked Georgi Kenchadze BUL
Unranked Matthew Parr GBR
Unranked Tigran Vardanjan HUN
Unranked Maxim Shipov ISR
Unranked Girts Jekabsons LAT
Unranked Saulius Ambrulevicius LTU
Unranked Joffrey Bourdon MNE
Unranked Andrew Huertas PUR
Unranked Ali Demirboga TUR

AS WELL AS one of the following skaters, and the rest will fill out groups three and four:

68 Peter Reitmayer SVK
73 Viktor Pfeifer AUT
90 Ari-Pekka Nurmenkari FIN
93 Min-Seok Kim KOR
96 Kevin Alves BRA
111 Mark Webster AUS
112 Maciej Cieplucha POL
115 VIktor Romanenkov EST
117 Stephen Li-Chung Kuo TPE
133 Boris Martinec CRO
146 Humberto Contreras MEX
163 Zoltan Kelemen ROU
168 Alexandr Kazakov BLR

Warm-up groups five through seven begin the "later half", and will include the following 15 skaters:

17 Sergei Voronov RUS
18 Denis Ten KAZ
21 Adrian Schultheiss SWE
22 Kevin Reynolds CAN
23 Artem Borodulin RUS
26 Florent Amodio FRA
27 Ryan Bradley USA
29 Javier Fernandez ESP
41 Jinlin Guan CHN
47 Paolo Bacchini ITA
48 Jamal Othman SUI
50 Peter Liebers GER
58 Anton Kovalevski UKR
61 Abzal Rakimgaliev KAZ
66 Pavel Kaska CZE

The final warm-up groups eight and nine include the ten highest-ranked men:

3 Daisuke Takahashi JPN
5 Patrick Chan CAN
6 Nobunari Oda JPN
7 Jeremy Abbott USA
8 Michal Brezina CZE
10 Brian Joubert FRA
11 Kevin Van der Perren BEL
13 Takahiko Kozuka JPN
14 Samuel Contesti ITA
15 Adam Rippon USA

Changes to the roster may effect these groups.

Last Updated: March 19.

ISU Standings of Pairs Competing at the 2010 World Championships

Here are the pairs ISU World Standings for teams competing at the World Championships.

1 Savchenko/Szolkowy GER
2 Pang/Tong CHN
3 Zhang/Zhang CHN
4 Kavaguti/Smirnov RUS
5 Mukhortova/Trankov RUS
7 Dube/Davsion CAN
18 Kemp/King GBR
19 Langlois/Hay CAN
20 Dong/Wu CHN
23 Denney/Barrett USA
24 Evora/Ladwig USA
27 Morand/Dorsaz SUI
28 James/Bonheur FRA
30 Sergejeva/Glebov EST
31 Bazarova/Larionov RUS
32 Hausch/Wende GER
39 Kostenko/Talan UKR
47 Sunyoto-Yang/Sulindro-Yang TPE
52 Cermanova/Hanulak SVK
54 Crenshaw/Tsagris GRE
63 Berton/Hotarek ITA
67 Sulej/Chruscinski POL
79 Ivanova/Zalevski BUL
82 Bakirova/Kamianchuk BLR
87 Montalbano/Krasnopolski ISR

According to ISU rule 579, the 25 competitors will be split into two groups, the top 13 pairs in the ISU World Standings "skating later", and then the lower 12 pairs "skating earlier", as they call it. Rule 548 determines that the warm-up groups will be 4/4/4 pairs in the earlier session, and again 3/3/3/4 pairs in the later session. The final two groups (7 pairs) will consist of the 7 highest-ranked pairs in the ISU World Standings. The other 6 pairs in the later session will be those pairs ranked 8th through 13th highest in the ISU World Standings. All other pairs will draw for skate order in the earlier session, and those with no ISU World Standing will be drawn for the first spots of the skating order.


So, if you followed through all of that, you get:

The first, second, and third warm-up groups will include the following 12 pairs:

30 Sergejeva/Glebov EST
31 Bazarova/Larionov RUS
32 Hausch/Wende GER
39 Kostenko/Talan UKR
47 Sunyoto-Yang/Sulindro-Yang TPE
52 Cermanova/Hanulak SVK
54 Crenshaw/Tsagris GRE
63 Berton/Hotarek ITA
67 Sulej/Chruscinski POL
79 Ivanova/Zalevski BUL
82 Bakirova/Kamianchuk BLR
87 Montalbano/Krasnopolski ISR

The first two groups of the second half (groups five and six) will include the following 6 pairs:

19 Langlois/Hay CAN
20 Dong/Wu CHN
23 Denney/Barrett USA
24 Evora/Ladwig USA
27 Morand/Dorsaz SUI
28 James/Bonheur FRA

The final two groups of the short program (groups seven and eight) will include the following 7 pairs:

1 Savchenko/Szolkowy GER
2 Pang/Tong CHN
3 Zhang/Zhang CHN
4 Kavaguti/Smirnov RUS
5 Mukhortova/Trankov RUS
7 Dube/Davsion CAN
18 Kemp/King GBR

Withdrawls or addition of pairs will have slight impact on these groups.

Last updated: March 19

Thin Ice - Some More Information

I don't usually "fan" many things on Facebook, but for a while, the only source of information about next weeks Thin Ice competition was on the shows fan page. A status update at 8:50 PM lets us know that the team of Arakawa and Lambiel are skating to "Get Me Bodied" (incorrectly titled on the page) by Beyonce and "Magic Touch" by Robin Thicke and Mary J. Blige. The choreographer is listed as Hi-Hat-- not sure who that is.

World Junior Championships Original Dance/Mens Free Skate Thoughts

If you missed my link earlier today, you, too, can watch the top three performances from both the original dance and mens free skate. As always, my thoughts about each of the performances.

Original dance (and again, my least favorite/least knowledgeable of the disciplines.. but here's my take):

Paul/Islam from Canada - I've never seen this couple, but the obvious comparison as soon as the music starts that the concept and costuming behind this program are similar to the choice made by senior-level teammates and Olympic champions, Virtue/Moir. Off a bit on the first set of twizzles but they ended up together. Highlight lift when she's basically in a split and he ends up on one foot is nice, but not held too long.. His legs are just as skinny as hers! I think it makes his line a little sloppy.. if she has bad line, it's covered by her long dress but I have a feeling she's decent. Overall, pretty good. Everything could use a little more finishing off in general, but I enjoyed them. I think the first time I heard a variation of their music was during the 2002 season when Lithuanians Drobiazko/Vanagas used it as part of their original dance. I loved it and was afraid after a few seasons it would never be used again -- but it's sure picked up again in the last two years!

Monko/Khaliavin from Russia - Hello, costumes. Nice twizzle sequence, and both skaters' basics look to be pretty good. Dance lift was OK, but definitely didn't stand out like the previous team. The music goes from slow to really fast and I feel like all of the elements are done a bit slow compared to the speed they are using throughout the rest of the program. Not much else to say, and I think it's funny that these folk-ish type programs almost ask for the skaters to be somewhat frantic with their movements, maybe sometimes even masking polish or finishing of moves. Not my preferred style of program, but at least it was something different, I guess. I think they are a bit stronger than the Canadians on their basics, but I liked the overall concept and interpretation of Paul/Islam better.

Ilinykh/Katsalapov from Russia - Well they won this portion easily, let's see if I agree. They really FLEW into their first set of twizzles, but on the second set he really looked to be off. Awkward and not too attractive position on the lift but I actually really liked the complexity they used to get into it. It's unique. Strongest basics of the top three teams, by far. They get tons of power out of their pushes and going into their elements-- a big contrast from their teammates who seemed to slow down going into them. The program went by extremely fast for me and I enjoyed it. Interpretation was alright, and I have no doubt it'll get tremendously better as they start to compete in seniors. Definitely a deserved first place.

PS- my MacBook is telling me that twizzle is not a word. ;)

Mens free skate:

Nan Song from China - Wild triple Axel and really leaning but held on, another triple Axel combined with a triple toe- definitely better than the first. Triple Lutz/double toe/double loop with hand over head. Decent basics and posture, and his spins look like they are centered well, even if a bit slow- now hasn't China come such a long way from 10 years ago on things like that!? Triple loop was really wound up on the take off, his upper body way ahead of his lower body but he landed it just fine, double Axel, back spiral for a second into triple Lutz, pitched way forward but he held on, triple Salchow/double Axel sequence nice. Generally slow throughout the whole thing. Another double Axel, pitched forward a bit but again clean. That was good, better than I imagined it would be actually.

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan - fast into the triple Axel, well done. triple Lutz/double toe with both hands over head, steps into triple flip, pitched forward but on one foot. Nice centering and positions and decent speed on flying sit spin. Very nice triple loop, decent amount of transitions going on.. definitely like this program better than his short program that I felt didn't do much for him. Triple Axel/double toe past the half-way point, had to really ride the edge on the landing of the Axel before adding the toe loop but still it was nice, triple Lutz nice again, Ina Bauer, triple Salchow/triple toe with no distance but pulled it off just fine, good combo spin again with a Biellmann, spread eagle into a double Axel. Sit change sit to end the program-- many different variations of position.. a bit slow, but well done. Only thing I can see with his basics is that he hunches forwards just a bit on the crossovers in order to gain more speed, but he maintains the speed throughout the program. Choreography and transitions were the strong point and he interpreted the music well. I don't think he will be a huge impact in Japan just yet, but with Takahashi maybe(?) retiring, he definitely can get some senior Worlds experience.. maybe starting next year?

Artur Gachinski from Russia - Not much speed into a possible quad toe? attempt, doubled it. Triple Axel/double toe. Skating pretty slow still and a lot of arm movements while stroking around the ice. Very nice second triple Axel, though. Triple Lutz/double toe/double loop-- little curled edge on the landing of the loop but landed.. Upright spin traveled a bit on the first half but the positions and center were better on the change foot.. Slowww into a nice triple loop.. triple Lutz looked like he started to rotate before the toe pick got off the ice but landed it, triple Salchow, flying sit spin, typical dramatic start to the straight-line footwork-- one of the better elements so far. Triple toe/double Axel sequence, final combination spin is okay. In replay he definitely twists the upper body on the Lutz jumps before he gets into the air.. My first time seeing him and I think he needs to skate with a  lot more speed and with that, his ice coverage will obviously become better. Hardly anything in terms of transitions, and the choreography was very much based on arm movements. Lots of things he can improve on, for sure.

Still No Answer on Chinese Pairs Controversy

Yup-- still nothing from Peter Krick or anyone else from the ISU on the matter of three Chinese pairs competing at the current World Junior Championships, when the rules clearly state that the country only earned two pairs entries.

A good point that was brought up by a skating friend was the case of the 13th ranked pair, Juliana Gurdzhi and Alxander Voeller from Germany. The top 12 pairs receive prize money from the ISU, as you can see in this article published as a preview for the event. The 13th place team, however, earns no money for their efforts-- so it goes from $1,500/US to nothing, quite a difference.

It is unlikely any of the Chinese teams will be disqualified for the extra entry, but at the very least, the German team should be awarded an aditional $1,500 for the ISU's mistake.

If there is no official release attempting to explain the matter by the ISU, I may very well go a little bit crazy. Then again, maybe they are waiting to make any kind of statement until after the World Junior Championships are completed. The last phase of the competition, the ladies free skate, is tomorrow. We will see...

Jamie Sale on Johnny Weir

Watch a video of 2002 Olympic pairs co-gold medalist Jamie Sale discuss her opinion on Johnny Weir.

Here comes the controversy, I'm sure, but I'm in the same boat as Sale on some points. I feel like the last few years Johnny has been more concerned with gaining attention for just about every reason except for his skating (and this comes from someone who really enjoyed him for many years). If he has the opportunities to do something outside of the sport (which he most certainly has them lined up), then good for him. Skating isn't everything and not everyone in the sport wants to be completely involved in it for the rest of their lives-- I totally understand it from that perspective. But when you are competing, it really should be all about the skating, and nothing else. To his credit, he was one of the most talked about athletes during the Vancouver Olympic Games, and he put down two great performances. To the casual "every four years" fan, it probably seemed like he should have medaled, and I'm quite sure MANY people were watching the mens event for the sole purpose of seeing him. At the same time, I think a lot of people watching were doing so not based on his skating, but rather how he was "rocking the tassel" or changed his controversial long program costume to faux fur for the event. For those 'fans', it's almost like they were asking "What ridiculous thing is going to happen next with him?" I work at a bar and many of the patrons know my passion for skating. You can be sure that I heard several comments about Weir during the time of the mens competition in Vancouver, and most were to that effect. Eh, maybe any press is good press for figure skating at a time when viewing numbers have been decreasing from season to season.

Sale brings up wearing a Russian jacket and being all about Russia and not the United States, which she could have left out to still get her point across. I read just a few days ago on Johnny's official website Q&A that he received a Russian team jacket from 2006 Olympic pairs champion Tatiana Totmianina, and he viewed it as good luck-- hence why he wears it. Maybe a little bit of it is indeed to draw some attention to him, but there were more intriguing things he's done that she could have chosen to talk about in my opinion.

I asked a non-skating fan that has suffered through watching some of the major competitions with me over the last few months their opinion on Weir to get an outside perspective. The comments I received back were that, "he is a performer more than a competitor.. he seems to be using skating as a vehicle to get to other things." It's somewhat nice to know that someone else (that I promise has had no influence from me on this!) also feels how I do, and it sounds exactly like what the host during the Sale interview had to say, as well.

Everyone should be themselves. I understand Johnny's personality, I really do. I just think he overdoes the real level of "himself" sometimes. But I'm sure he could care less what Jamie Sale, or anyone else such as a blogger like myself has to say about him... that's not such a bad quality to have.

2010 World Junior Championships Free Dance and Final Results

Russia's Ilinykh/Katsalapov easily won all three portions of the competition, scoring 90.82 points in the free dance for an overall total of 188.28. Paul/Islam of Canada climbed from fifth in the compulsory dance to second in the original dance, and maintained this position in the free dance to win the silver medal overall, with 172.37 points. Another Russian couple, Monko/Khaliavin, were able to hold on to the bronze medal despite only finishing fifth in the free dance. They scored 168.81 points overall, less than a point ahead of both fourth-place finishers Shibutani/Shibutani of the United States, and Italian couple Alessandrini/Vaturi. The Italians ranked third in the free dance.

2011 World Junior Championships Allotted Entries:
Russia - 3; United States - 3
Canada - 2; Italy - 2; Ukraine - 2; France - 2

Complete Free Dance Results from the ISU

Overall Final Results

Day Four Summary from the ISU

2010 World Junior Championships Ladies Short Program

13-year old Anna Ovcharova of Russia won the ladies short program, scoring 59.80 points. Japan's Kanako Murakami is in second place with 59.00 points, and another Russian, Polina Agafonova, sits currently in third, scoring 56.28 points.

Kate Charbonneau of Canada is fourth, and the American Kiri Baga is fifth. The other two American entries, Agnes Zawadzki and Christina Gao, placed eighth and ninth in the short program.

The ladies free skate is tomorrow afternoon.

Full Short Program Results from the ISU

World Championship Roster Update

Just a small update for now, but be sure to see more updates in the next few days.

16-year old Yoniko Eva Washington representing India has been added to the ladies competition, bringing the total count to 57 skaters! Washington was born in Oman, but now resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She was 53rd of the 53 competitors at last years World Championships.

World Junior Championships Day Three

Video highlights of the original dance and mens free skate on wcjunior.com

Day three summary by the ISU

My thoughts on the top three original dances and mens free skates a little bit later. The ladies short program is currently taking place.

New Poll Question

I'm starting to get this blog really put together, and I thought it would be fun (if anyone is actually reading yet!) to include a weekly or something of the sort poll question. You can find this weeks question at the top of the right column of the page, and it has to do with the upcoming Thin Ice competition on ABC. So, who will win? Since it's five "pairs" teams that have never skated before, it literally is anyones guess. I'm not a huge fan of the show-y and exhibition skating, but it should still be interesting. Maybe I'll get around to a prediction or two as the show draws closer..

Thursday, March 11

2010 World Junior Championships Mens Final

Yuzuru Hanyu from Japan was in third place after the short program but skated his way to the gold medal, earning 147.35 points in the free skate, for a total of 216.10. China's Nan Song was able to make his way onto the podium from fifth place in the short program. He finished with an overall score of 205.25, and won the silver medal. Artur Gachinski of Russia was sixth coming into the free skate, but scored 133.99 in the portion and it was enough to earn him the bronze medal, with a combined score of 199.19.

Keegan Messing of the United States held second place heading into the free skate, but his score of 128.13 in the portion and combined total of 197.03 dropped him to fourth overall. Teammate Grant Hochstein, who held the lead after the short program, only managed seventh place in the free skate and finished fifth overall.

Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, who, along with teammate Abzal Rakimgaliev, were the only skaters in the field to have competed in last months Olympic Games, fell from fourth place after the short program to ninth overall, only managing 103.46 points in the long program-- almost 40 points below his personal best.

2011 World Junior Championships Allotted Entries:
3 - Japan; 3 - Russia; 3 - United States
2 - China; 2 - Canada; 2 - Sweden; 2 - Kazakhstan
1 - All other countries

Free Skate Detailed Results from ISU

Complete Final Results

More on the Chinese Three Team Debacle

As I posted yesterday, the Chinese Federation sent three pairs teams to compete at the World Junior Championships, but under ISU rules, they were only allowed to enter two teams. Read here if you want to be completely caught up.

Today, George Rossano from Ice Skating International Online lets me know that when his colleague Alexandra Stevenson (who is attending the event) asked this question around the arena, no one was able to give an answer because it was new news to everyone!

May we see a disqualification to one of the Chinese teams? Probably unlikely, as the ISU would assume the final responsibility of making sure everything was accurate. I'm so intrigued to see if they even address the issue during these Championships.

EDIT 3:10PM: Rossano addresses the issue on his website. Peter Krick, as ISU Figure Skating Sport Director, should be held responsible for the situation but no one is speaking.. yet.

2010 World Junior Championships Original Dance

The Russian team of Ilinykh/Katsalapov continued to dominate in the original dance, scoring 59.94 points in the portion for an overall total of 97.46. They received components scores up to 7.50, the only team here to score above a 7. Paul/Islam from Canada climbed from fifth to second place, with an overall score of 89.22 points. Another Russian team, Monko/Khaliavin, moved up one spot and are currently in third place, with 87.72 points. Americans Shibutani/Shibutani fell from second to fourth, and Russians Pushkash/Guerriero dropped from third to sixth overall. Guerriero was the 2009 World Junior Championship bronze medalist, with former partner Ekaterina Riaznova. The competition concludes with the free dance tomorrow.

Original Dance Results from ISU

Overall Standings

And I Swear I Didn't Look Before-Hand!

The World Junior Championships mens short program was the first time I saw American skater Keegan Messing, and I couldn't get over how much he reminded me of Elvis Stojko, as I wrote about in the previous post. I decided to do a Google search for "Keegan Messing" "Elvis Stojko" just out of curiosity to see if anyone else had thought of that in the past, and what do you know? From Messing's bio on IceNetwork, "[I] would like to meet Elvis Stojko because 'he's the one that got me into the sport, and I've always respected his skating.'"

Well, that definitely explains everything to me!

World Junior Championships Day Two Video

Again, thanks to wcjunior.com, the highlights of the second day of competition can be seen here. Included are the top mens short programs, and the medal-winning pairs free skates.

Some thoughts on the mens short:

Keegan Messing from the United States - First off, his seasons best up until now was 45 points! I'd say he definitely got something together. Scrunched up triple Axel in the air but he actually got a decent landing and run-out from it. triple Lutz/triple toe reminded me of Elvis Stojko not only in his hairstyle but he had the same jumping technique. Good spins that are pretty well centered, well except for the final change camel position. He's not very light on his feet yet-- he's actually pretty loud with his edges. Program is okay but I don't think the music does much for him or would for anyone. He really reminds me of a young Stojko-- is that good or bad?

Grant Hochstein also from the United States - Already much more polish and sense of the music than Messing. Nice transition into his flying combo spin, and some unique positions even if the speed was really lacking. Nice footwork, really smooth and quite a bit of difficulty within the steps-- and all three spins came from no preparation at all, just one element transitioned right into them.. that was nice. Jumps seem to be okay, no triple Axel here as Messing had but everything else was much stronger in my opinion. I think if I scored it myself, I'd have a bigger separation than just three points..

Yuzuru Hanru from Japan - Also has the triple Axel, and a pretty nice one at that. Flying sit spin was all over the place in the beginning but he managed to center it. Not very many steps or difficulty into his solo triple flip. Footwork is pretty basic, nice camel/change/camel with donut positions on both feet, but again some problems centering and it was slow.. final combo spin included a Biellmann-- definitely the best of his three spins but you can see that's obviously an area he can use much improvement. Okay choreography, and just okay for me overall. I have to remember these are junior skaters, many of them with very little or no senior experience, so maybe I'm being grumpy towards them. That, and it's early. That'll be my excuse :)

Looking at the judges scores, Hanru beat Hochstein on every single components score. Definitely don't agree at all, but when do I ever agree completely with the judges?

And my thoughts on the pairs long program:

Takahashi and Tran from Japan were my favorites in the short program. One thing I would suggest for them is to incorporate some of the nice transitions they do in the early part of the program into or out of the elements rather than doing crossovers and isolating them from anything else. As far as jumping on this day, they rotated everything but she had a bit of trouble holding the throw triple toe loop and then also wasn't really able to hold the double toe in the latter part of their jump sequence. The program is a nice one though... work on the basics as individuals and interpreting the music and they are well on their way.

Sui/Han from China - She jumps so small on the double Axel sequence, but then seconds later they absolutely bomb into the throw QUADRUPLE Salchow, which she two-footed but seriously who would have expected that? Side-by-side spins went way out of unison and he seemed to travel on every position change, but that has always been a problem for the young Chinese teams. Another set of transitions and she flew in the throw triple flip... seriously, the height and distance she manages out of nowhere is really something. On the replay of the throw quad, it looks like she pulled out of the jump just a split second early and it caused her to have to brace the landing, hence the two-foot. But I have no doubts that they nail the jump pretty often in practice. Even though some areas were really frantic, I liked them a lot and I hope that they manage through the growth spurts.

Stolbova and Klimov - No height at all on the twist or the throw triple toe loop but she managed it, side by side triple toe loops in perfect unison but then she went down on the double Axel in sequence, and doubled the side by side triple Salchow 20 seconds later. He has better posture than she, and equally as good extension through the spirals. Decent choreography but again I feel like they are skating through it rather than listening to it-- that'll come with time, I suppose. Not much height again on the throw triple Salchow but she held the landing position and free leg very nicely almost in a complete circle. Strong and typical Russian! Spins are okay.. I think he's way ahead of her but if she works they have the potential to be pretty good.

And an interview with the winners. Cong Han is only 17 but understands and speaks English well enough to answer the first few questions-- good for him!

Yukari Nakano Retirement

Yeah, the news is already a week old, but here is the message, in English, that Yukari left on her official website in case you missed it.

I remember first seeing her during the American broadcast of the 2002 World Junior Figure Skating Championships. I had seen her name near the top of the junior results for a few years, but had no idea what her skating was like until her short program, and I instantly became a fan. It was the highlight program of the competition for me, and I re-watched it many times (all on video tape! No Youtube and barely any skating video clips at the time-- that whole business was actually just starting up). She followed up that program with a great free skate to win the silver medal.

The next time she was shown in the United States was during a disaster of a short program at the 2002 Trophee Lalique, which came three weeks after both she and Ludmila Nelidina of Russia successfully landed triple Axels in their free programs at Skate America. I remember in this particular short program, Yukari not only had difficulty with her jumps, but she also completely lost her center and fell out of a flying camel spin. Even though she finished last of the skaters in the portion, I once again really loved her soft skating to Michael W. Smith's Prayer for Taylor, and I actually bought the sheet music for piano not long after.

After winning the bronze medal later that year at the Four Continents Championship, I thought Yukari was still well on her way up the rankings. However, for the next few seasons, she really valued trying the triple Axel in every program, usually resulting in a fall and then letting it deflate the rest of her skating. She wouldn't become a big contender again until the Grand Prix series in 2005/2006, where she was a surprise winner of the NHK Trophy and went on to win the bronze medal at the Final. Due to a complicated and controversial scoring process throughout the current and previous season, the Japanese Federation chose Miki Ando to go to the Torino Olympics over Nakano. Yukari, however, was sent to her first World Championship after the Olympics, where she placed a very respectable 5th.

2007 featured my favorite performance of all-time by Yukari, her short program from the World Championships. Absolutely beautiful skating to Memoirs of a Geisha, and it remains one of my favorite World Championship skates by any lady! She once again finished 5th in the World, and continued her success early in the 2008 season, winning two silver medals on the Grand Prix circuit. Her greatest moment of the season came in the free skate at the World Championships, where she ended up finishing just off the podium, but not without possibly "the" skate of that particular night.

Even though Yukari was unable to qualify for the major competitions in 2009 and 2010, she had a great 2009 free skate to Giselle, maybe my favorite of that season. Some people could never get past the wrap of her leg she had on certain triple jumps, but it didn't bother me. She remained one of my favorite ladies skaters year after year, and I really think she was a great artist on the ice. Yukari may not have been able to compete at an Olympic Games, but she will definitely be remembered for a very long time and I wish her all the best in her future endeavors!

Wednesday, March 10

World Junior Championships Useful Links

There seems to be a surprisingly low number of links to articles concerning these Championships. I'd imagine most people are worn out after Vancouver..

Day 2 summary from the ISU

Ice Skating International Online Detailed Reviews by Alexandra Stevenson

Day 1 video highlights courtesy of wcjunior.com

Included in the video are the top compulsory dances, and then the top pairs short programs. I'm not going to comment on the dance, but here's some quick thoughts about the pairs... none of which I have seen prior!

Takahashi/Tran from Japan - Scratchy edges and their posture can be much improved, but a really nice overhead lift with a lot of distance and nice positions! All of the elements were pretty good and they kept in pretty decent unison on the side-by-side spins. Good music, and a good performance. I definitely liked them!

Stolbova/Klimkov from Russia - Shades of Petrova/Tikhonov from the early 2000/2001 season-- same music and he has the same shade of blue on that Tikhonov wore for the program... I'm actually pretty sure it's the same costume. Not much height on the twist, but it was OK. A bit stronger in the basics than the Japanese but they seemed to be mechanical in their approach to the program. Got real close on the side-by-side spins and had moments of being a bit off unison.. eh. They were OK but the music got too fast for them at the end.

Sui/Han from China - Difficult entries into the side-by-side Axels, very nice! In typical Chinese fashion, nice and high on the twist. Another difficult entry with a lift into their throw and she basically held on even with the hands down. Lift went up really shaky but ended with some nice positions, same music as Alena Leonova is using for her short program this year.. no real interpretation yet but some "cute" young choreography. For both being as young as they look, they are both already pretty decent singles skaters.

Overall, I thought Takahashi and Tran had the most enjoyable program, but they can really improve the quality of their skating. Sui/Han had some small issues. but they are already trying a tremendous amount of difficulty for being so young. None of the pairs really related to the music as it seemed they were all too focused on the elements, but this is a junior competition and all of them have time to grow.

Did the ISU Screw Up RE: Chinese Pairs Entries for World Juniors?

As per rule 378.2c, China should have only had two pairs entries in the 2010 World Junior Figure Skating Championships. In the 2009 championship, the Chinese teams placed 8th and 11th, totaling 19 points. A point total of 13 or less is required to enter three pairs into the competition. ISU-- explain? Or am I missing some modification to the rule in a later document?

This reminds me of the speculation before the 2005 World Championships that Viktoria Volchkova was going to be Russia's third entry in the ladies event, even though the country only earned two spots from the previous Worlds, and the reasoning was that Russia (who happened to be the host country) had found some loophole in the rules to allow it to happen. That scenario ended up being completely fictitious, but it actually happened this time!

EDIT 6:15PM: Communication No. 1565 Rule 3c also states that China was entitled to two entries in the pairs competition. Japan earned two spots this year and only used one, and Switzerland used neither of their two earned entries, but never before has a country with one or two entrants been given an additional spot on the basis that other countries were not sending their maximum allotted entries.

2010 World Junior Championships Pairs Final

Sui/Han from China maintained first place after the free program and won the gold medal with an overall score of 170.71. The Japanese team of Takahashi/Tran won the silver medal, scoring 157.23. Russia's Stolbova/Klimov were 3rd, with a score of 145.35 overall.

Sui/Han received credit for a throw quadruple Salchow in their free skate, with a -1.00 grade of execution, to score 109.77 points.

Full results can be found here.

Maximum entries (teams) for the 2011 World Junior Championships:
China - 3; Japan - 3; Russia - 3
United States - 2; Canada - 2
All other countries - 1

All three medal-winning teams are guaranteed at least one Senior Grand Prix event in 2010/2011 if they decide to skate at the senior level.

More Ranting on the 2010 Season Rules

Back to complaining about rule 579.4b, where the first free skate/free dance group of skaters in the major ISU Championships does their thing, and then there is a completely pointless break between that and the second warm-up. This is what is happening right now at the Junior World Championships. Teams placed 13-16 in the pairs short program have already completed their free skates, and now there was around a 35 minute break before teams placed 9-12 took the ice for the warm-up. The ONLY thing that this rule changes causes is an additional ice resurfacing (one after the first warm-up group and one after the third warm-up group, instead of the former just one resurfacing between groups two and three). There's no point in this tactic, but Communication 1562 seems to think that it somehow is "cost saving for ISU events".

Host Nation Skaters Advancing to Finals: A History

My last post made me curious to look up the history of the major events where the host nation did not qualify a skater or team into the final phase of the competition, but were allowed to compete based on then-ISU rules.

2007: World Junior Championships, Oberstdorf, GER
Brigitte Blickling finishes 28th in the short program, is allowed to skate the long program, which she places 23rd, and ends up 24th overall, passing original free skate qualifier Katherine Hadford of Hungary.

2008: European Championships, Zagreb, CRO
Josip Gluhak finishes 28th in the short program, 24th in the long program, and 24th overall, passing original free skate qualifier Ruben Blommaert of Belgium.
Maria Dikanovic finishes 40th of 40 in the short program, 25th in the long program and overall.

2008: World Junior Championships, Sofia, BUL
Pavel Petrov Savinov finishes 46th of 47 in the short program, and 25th in the long program and overall.
Manuela Stanukova finishes 43rd in the short program, and 25th in the long program and overall.
Ina Demireva/Juri Kurakin finish 27th in both the compulsory and original dances, and 24th in the free dance to finish 24th overall.

2009: World Junior Championships, Sofia, BUL
Pavel Petrov Savinov finishes 37th in the short program, and 25th in the long program and overall.
Stefanie Pechlaner finishes 44th in the short program, 24th in the long program, and 25th overall.
Lora Semova/Dimitar Lichev finish 29th in both the compulsory and original dances, and 25th in the free dance and overall.

These are just a few examples from the last few seasons. As you see, most of the time the original qualifying 24 skaters or teams remained as the top 24, but a few times the host-country skater snuck in to move up a placement. Fair or unfair? Since it isn't really affecting ISU World Standings, most people would think, "who cares?" I was just always intrigued that a skater could leap-frog over many other skaters for the purpose of the ISU's official final standings.

Host Country No Longer Qualifies One Skater To Final, Apparently?

While checking out the mens free skate starting order at the 2010 World Junior Championships, I noticed that the host country (Netherlands) skater, Boyito Mulder, was not on the start list. Even though only the top 24 men qualify from the short program, it used to be that Mulder would also be able to skate in the long program, even though he finished 45th of the 46 skaters.

I never really understood how that worked, even if it made sense to attract attention to the events in countries where there are no real strong contenders. By being able to skate in the long program, these skaters would (most of the time) remain in last place and in the final results be published as the 25th place finisher, which wasn't exactly true. Yes, they were the 25th ranked skater to finish the competition, but using this instance as an example, Mulder had 20 skaters in front of him that he would have passed over to receive that "official" ranking.

I'd imagine that the rule that changed host-nation skaters from skating the entire competition was probably in the same document that lowered the number of qualifiers to the long program at the European and Four Continents Championships, in the singles disciplines, from 24 to 20, but I definitely miss it.

EDIT 1:20PM: Rule Number 579.6 has been completely crossed out for this season, not allowing a host-country skater not previously qualified into a final free skate/free dance. Good to know!

Feedback from the Patrick Ibens Interview

The feedback from my interview with Patrick Ibens has been absolutely amazing to say the least. I originally published it on WordPress.com, and in the less than three days it has been available, there have been nearly 10,000 hits to the article! If you haven't had a chance to read it yourself, you can do so by going here.

Fellow figure skating blogger Aaron Harris has written his thoughts on the interview, and maybe the most exciting feedback personally comes from Washington Post and ESPN journalist Amy Rosewater, who Tweeted about the article, calling it an "intriguing interview." Rosewater used to write for my then local newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and I remember being excited as a child and young teen that the paper would have some kind of focus on the sport, thanks in large part to Amy!

Two Americans Lead 2010 Junior Worlds Mens Short Program

Full Results from the ISU

Grant Hochstein leads the way after the mens short program in The Hague, with 71.35 points. Right behind him is teammate Keegan Messing, who scored 68.90. Both competed at the US Senior National Championships in January, finishing 7th and 9th. Japan's Yuzuru Hanri is third at 68.75 points, and Kazakhstan's Denis Ten, who finished just outside the top 10 at the Olympic Games, is fourth with 68.40 points. The third American skater, Armin Mahbanoozadeh, is currently in eighth place. The men finish their competition with the free skate tomorrow, while the pairs skate for the medals tonight.

2010 World Championships Entries Published

Please note that there are bound to be many changes in the next two weeks, but let's glance over the initial lists.

Ladies Entries

No surprises here. Not only are all three medalists from the Olympics in, but all of the entries except two are back to compete here (the differences being Austria is sending Kerstin Frank instead of Miriam Ziegler, and Poland is not sending a skater even though Anna Jurkiewicz was in Vancouver). Joelle Forte has her seemingly permanent TBC next to her entry for Azerbaijan. This may be the final competition for many of the skaters, including Belgium's Isabelle Pieman, China's Yan Liu, France's Gwendoline Didier, Great Britain's Jenna McCorkell, Hungary's Julia Sebestyen, Slovenia's Teodora Postic, Switzerland's Sarah Meier, Turkey's Tugba Karademir, and Uzbekistan's Anastasya Gimazetdinova. To my knowledge, only Sebestyen has confirmed this will be her final year.

Mens Entries

Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir from the USA are not competing, replaced by Ryan Bradley and Adam Rippon. Kevin Reynolds replaces Vaughn Chipeur for Canada. Chipeur had a disappointing Olympics and really his entire season has been poor besides his showing at his national championship. Florent Amodio is France's only sure entry, while Brian Joubert, Alban Preaubert, and Yannick Ponsero will have a test-skate to determine the second entry. Maciej Cieplucha will be Poland's entry. Peter Liebers replaces Stefan Lindemann for Germany, and Jamal Othman replaces Stephane Lambiel for Switzerland. Both Lindemann and Lambiel have retired, and this may also mark the final competition for Belgium's Kevin Van der Perren, Finland's Ari-Pekka Nurmenkari, Italy's Samuel Contesti, Japan's Daisuke Takahashi, and the United States' Ryan Bradley.

Pairs Entries

Olympic Champions Shen/Zhao have retired, and are replaced by Dong/Wu. No other surprises on this list, although Russia's Mukhortova/Trankov and the Ukraine's Volosozhar/Morozov will most likely make this their last competition as pairs. Olympic silver medalists Pang/Tong will probably retire after Torino, as well.

Dance Entries

The top two teams from the Olympics, Virtue/Moir and Davis/White will go head-to-head again, and although bronze medalists Domnina/Shabalin are on the entries list, they will not be skating in Torino; Rubleva/Schafer will replace them. France's Delobel/Schoenfelder made their Olympic comeback short and sweet, and have retired, replaced by Carron/Jones. Vancouver competitors Coomes/Buckland from Great Britain have been replaced by Chitwood/Hanretty, and Germany's Beier/Beier have been replaced by Hermann/Hermann. The United States' Belbin/Agosto have been replaced by Navarro/Bommentre.

Changes to the entry list will be noted in blog updates as they become available.