Saturday, March 20

2000 World Championships Flashback: Day Five

I almost forgot about the topic of the day five installment of my 2000 World Championships flashback until I was looking through the final results of the event.

Julia Obertas and Dmitri Palamarchuk of Ukraine were 20 seconds from the finish of their second senior World Championship long program when disaster struck. He tripped on an edge during an overhead lift and it sent both skaters plowing into the ice so hard that he temporarily lost consciousness. The team twice won the World Junior Champions and were the reigning World Junior silver medalists coming into the event, and they found themselves in 10th place after the short program. The fall obviously forced the team to withdraw from the competition.

American television (ABC) showed a clip of the fall and Palamarchuk being taken off the ice, but when I was looking for the clip on YouTube, I came across the entire free skate from British Eurosport-- something I'd never seen before. I can't find any articles about the incident from a quick glance on Google, but the video will tell the story.

You can watch it here:

Belbin/Agosto/Davis/White Quartet Number in Stars on Ice

Tanith Belbin (TanithJLB) just "tweeted" the following:
Beautiful day to be in FL. Finished up choreography for the Belgosto/Davite quartet number tonight.Should be pretty,Hope the fans like it!
The Stars on Ice quartet number between Belbin, partner Benjamin Agosto, and teammates Meryl Davis and Charlie White is news to me. Should be interesting!

Eastern US Times for World Championships Events

Prepping my mind for what ridiculous hours I am going to be up watching live coverage of the World Championships starting Tuesday morning, I took a look at the ISU event schedule and converted the event times to EST. Here they are, hope it helps American readers out.

Tuesday March 23rd:
Compulsory Dance 7:00AM-10:50AM
Pairs Short Program 1:00PM-5:50PM

Wednesday March 24th:
Mens Short Program Part 1 4:30AM-8:05AM
Mens Short Program Part 2 8:55AM-12:45PM
Pairs Long Program (First Group) 1:45PM
Pairs Long Program 3:00PM-5:15PM

Thursday March 25th:
Original Dance 7:45AM-11:55AM
Mens Long Program (First Group) 1:15PM
Mens Long Program 2:45PM-5:50PM

Friday March 26th:
Ladies Short Program Part 1 4:00AM-8:10AM
Ladies Short Program Part 2 8:30PM-12:40PM
Free Dance (First Group) 1:45PM
Free Dance 3:00PM-5:30PM

Saturday March 27th:
Ladies Long Program (First Group) 7:30AM
Ladies Long Program 9:00AM-11:55AM

Oh Wednesday and Friday, how you make me wake up in the middle of the night. But hey, the World Championships happen once a year and they just happen to be in a country that has a time zone five hours ahead of me. If they are going to show every single skater live, I most certainly won't miss it!

I added yet another poll question asking if you would follow my live thoughts on each skater if I posted them on here. The stats for my blog (being so new) aren't bad at all, and I hope you enjoy what I have to say. Please answer the poll at the top right corner of the page!

2000 World Championships Flashback: Day Four

Whoops, I never finished my day four flashback yesterday so that means day four comes now (better late than never, I suppose?) and day five will be up later today.

My greatest memory from the 2000 World Championships is what I am going to feature today, and it happens in the ladies free skate. Yes, Michelle Kwan had a great skate to win her third world title and Irina Slutskaya put up a strong challenge, but THE skate of the final group belonged to home-country girl Vanessa Gusmeroli, in my opinion. She had the skate of her life just two months earlier at the European Championships, and repeated it in Nice with another amazing performance. Unfortunately, at both events, she had to settle for 4th place, but these two free skates still remain two of my favorite performances ever, by anyone. I included both of them below. The World Championship performance comes first.



Videos from Thin Ice

I was curious whether videos from last nights Thin Ice "competition" would be found on YouTube, and as of right now they are. In case you didn't get a chance to see, here they are (and once you watch all five, pick your own winner in my poll at the top right of the page!):









Chinese Pairs Debacle from Junior Worlds Corrected

Who knows how I missed this yesterday-- the ISU has finally done something about their mistake of letting three Chinese pair teams compete at the World Junior Championships after the country only earned two spots.

If you go to the official final results, you can see the corrected standings plus this note that the ISU has left at the bottom regarding the change:
Note: Due to a wrong entry the pair - Xiaoyu Yu / Yang Jin - from China, placed originally 8th in the final result, had to be deleted. In the corrected versions of each result of segment and Final each of the lower placed couples will move up accordingly. Due to the deletion of the pair Xiaoyu Yu / Yang Jin from China, which was originally qualified for the final Free Skating, only 15 pairs will be listed for the final result as having skated the Free Program. 
This has no change on the amount of teams that each country has earned for next years Championship, but I'm still curious if the prize money was switched around, especially for the Estonian couple who technically now finished in 16th place.

Friday, March 19

Thin Ice Broadcast Comments

Thin Ice thoughts from the ABC broadcast. Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

Skater introductions. Bourne looks overly happy, and Sale has a really big (fake) smile. Blah. Opening moves for each team... some lifts and spins and Weiss throws in a backflip.

Judges- Witt, Button, Yamaguchi. They all look good. Kurt Browning introuced as co-host, does a step sequence and double Axel with a microphone in his hand. Somewhat impressive, no?

Bourne and Zimmerman skate first. Introduction video. Closer by Ne-Yo.. She's an ice dancer so obviously no jumps in this program. Some side by side moves into a lift and some more posing moves.. Yamaguchi likes them.. says they engaged their bodies into the performance.. Witt says she loves when promises are kept.. a sassy couple. Great skating, cool choreography. Button says they entertained-- they are two sexy people. Shae-Lynn you caress the ice.

Kristi: 9 Katarina: 9 Dick: 9

Shae says John is amazing and it's been such a treat to skate with him. I think she wants to do more than skate with him, but then again that seems to be her personality all the time.

Back from commercial. Berezhnaya and Pelletier. Story about 2002 SLC scandal, we all know the story well by now. Both say they deserve the gold more.. bla bla. I'm sure there's some honesty to their joking answers. "Like a bitch I would know" as he lifts her into a split move above his head, how funny. More posing and dancing in place.. seems it will be a trend tonight. Overhead two-handed lift to death spiral where he lifts her by the arm off the ice. Some cutesy moves. Another pairs lift that goes to one hand.. pretty nice.

Kristi.. I'm still getting over the fact seeing you two as a pair.. charming thing was how much fun you were genuinely having... let loose a little bit more though! Katarina.. get rid of this "doing"... no wonder you both won the gold medals... agrees that there needs to be more chemistry. Loved the joy in your faces and smiling throughout the program. Dick.. cut through the quick. Two shall skate as one-- entertain us. Entertained us with pairs skating lifts but it I've been around long enough that I don't give a rusty hoot what you think-- very elegant with pair lifts but not a performance where you two were entertaining us.

Kristi: 7 Katarina: 7 Dick: 8

Berezhnaya.. sharing the ice is more fun than sharing the drama. Pelletier.. controversy always been a part of our lives.

Sale and Lauzon.. both been skating with their real partners for a long time. Blah blah. Both teams have competitiveness with their real partners. Sexy Chick by David Guetta... really called Sexy Bitch if you didn't know. Cool lifts and then a Detroiter with two hands... still impressive. More posing and trying to be sexy. Also more gliding and doing moves with the arms. Seems to be the trend. I liked that program.

Kristi.. you guys had a unique way of melding pairs and ice dancing.. you have a great look on the ice, let it come out a little bit more.. Katarina.. Jamie to watch you out there, this partner switch on the ice really suits you well, one rule in life: man needs to make his woman shine, thanks Patrice for doing that. Dick.. name of that music is "Sexy Chick" and that works.. it's exactly right. It was a heck of a good performance.

Kristi: 8 Katarina: 9 Dick: 9

Ahead of David.. Jamie says that's how it should be. Patrice.. this is fun.. spicing up the story.

Fluff on Rochette skating her tribute exhibition to her mother later in the broadcast.

Arakawa and Lambiel. Fluff.. Stephane talks about first landing quad.. was by himself at the rink and wished his mom could have seen. Arakawa said she wants to try to do pairs skating but Japanese men are too short. He calls her a diva and she gets flustered. Kinda cute. Asked if somethings going on between them.. I think not!!! "Magic Touch" by Robin Thicke. She looks great. She does spiral and he does a slide fall.. both do splits.. they are skating far apart so Arakawa is the only one shown for a while.. does Ina Bauer into 3-jump combo. Lambiel tries quad.. and is pretty close. Lots of singles moves but it's a very disjointed program ... they are both definitely doing their own thing than a lot of skating together. Lambiel does a never-ending combo spin at the end while Arakawa skates around him. Lots of flashy moves but they really didn't skate as a pair.

Kristi... made the most of showcasing extremely strong singles skills.. Shizuka you have some moves! Katarina.. you have great skills, yes, but you need to skate more as a pair. Shizuka be a diva, you're Olympic Champion! Dick.. look this music is pop with an r and b soul.. wonderful and I loved it. Even when you're apart, the splits related to each other. Get it together, make it more of a pair.

Kristi: 8 Kararina: 8 Dick: 8

Stephane.. happy to land a quad in a skating show because that's rare..

Dubreuil and Weiss.. Michael says he was really excited to work with Fatima, the choreographer of their programs. Fluff of them learning the choreographer. "Meet Me Halfway" by Black Eyed Peas.. His hair looks like mine. Is it a surprise I like it? I like this program, too! They are focusing on performing for the audience and not really relating to each other, though. He does a cartwheel-type lift with her on his shoulders in the splits. Another backflip from him while she stands around and a triple toe. She's an ice dancer.. obviously she's not going to be throwing off triples. I think that might have been my favorite team, surprisingly.

Kristi.. great execution of the choreography... can relate how hard it is to translate hip-hop.. like how Marie-France holds her own while Mike does backflip. Katarina.. you both entertained me. Michael loose those baggy hip hop pants, show off your butt. Dick.. if I had hair like that I'd flaunt it too.. that was the best program I've seen in a long time. Change of tempo, all of it was great.

Kristi: 9 Katarina: 9 Dick: 10

Michael says the last person he expected the 10 from was Dick. Marie-France said it felt great doing the hip-hop.

Well, I agree with the top team from the judges. I'd have Sale/Lauzon second place over Bourne/Zimmerman. But it's a fun competition-- I'm not going to get bent out of shape over it!!

Rochette fluff.. Olympic story. Skating once again to "Fly" by Celine Dion. Standing ovation before she starts. I've seen the program many times.. not gonna go over all her elements because that wasn't the point of it.. but another standing ovation at the end. Kurt and Elisabeth talk to her.. Kurt asks if skating has become a shoulder to lean on.. she says she feels the ice is the best medication. Elisabeth asks where she draws strength.. Joannie says from her mother.. The rest of the skaters join Joannie to give her a hug.

The end.

To vote on the competition online, go here.

Around the Net - Articles & News for March 19

I missed the whole mornings-worth of news due to my "real" job, but really the only thing I seemed to have missed is that current Olympic silver medalist Evgeny Plushenko withdrew from the World Championships citing "injury". Maybe he has one, maybe he doesn't. I don't know. Maybe he wants to spend the next four years working on programs with plenty of transitions and three-jump combinations so that he will easily win the Olympics in 2014! If you want to read more about it yourself, go here.

PS- Sergei Voronov replaces Plushenko. Vornov is the skater who had a terrible result at the European Championships and had his Olympic Games spot given to Artem Borodulin. Updated mens starting-group info.

Honestly, nothing else seems that exciting or note-worthy from the articles I am reading. Another pair (Hecht/Trefil from Hungary) withdrew from the World Championships with no replacement, so that switches things up a bit with the pairs starting groups. Check that out here.

Poll Results Pertaining to Thin Ice

Two polls that I had up leading up to tonight's Thin Ice closed today.

The first asked which teams you think will win the competition, which concludes Sunday night. 45% of readers think that Shizuka Arakawa and Stephane Lambiel will win. Lambiel just turned pro after the Vancouver Olympics, and as well all know, Arakawa won the Olympics in 2006. Second place went to Shae-Lynn Bourne and John Zimmerman with 25% of the vote, and right behind them were the interesting match-up of Elena Berezhnaya and David Pelletier with 22%. If you are a new skating fan or live in a dark hole and don't know why that particular team is "interesting", look up the results of the 2002 Olympic pairs competition :-)

The second question asked whether it was fair of the ISU to extend their rules to allow Joannie Rochette skate an exhibition at the competition as a tribute to her late mother. 70% said yes it was fair, even though she withdrew from the World Championships which start on Monday.

Formspring.me: will you post another video preview of the upcoming world championships, and do u have some early favorites for both mens and women?

As of now, I don't think I'm going to do any videos. I think that writing about everything gives me the option to really discuss the good and the bad of each skater rather than just giving my quick major points on video. But you never know, I might change my mind :-)

Ladies- I think it's going to be very much the same as it was in Vancouver. I'm actually going to guess the podium as Kim/Asada/Ando, with Flatt, Nagasu, and even Kostner as possible spoilers.

For the mens event, I'll go with Plushenko/Chan/Takahashi.. just a first instinct but I think Chan will have gotten his act together and skate relatively well in Torino. I think Rippon can make a very big impression here and will be mixed somewhere in the standings with Oda, Kozuka, and Abbott if the latter can keep it together.

Thursday, March 18

2000 World Championships Flashback: Day Three

Today, I'm going to highlight the pairs free skate and the home-country skaters, Sarah Abitbol and Stephane Bernadis. Leading up to the World Championships, the team had been producing the best results of their lives-- a gold and two silver medals on the Grand Prix series, and another silver medal at the Grand Prix Final. They also moved up to the bronze medal position at the European Championships after two-time World Champions Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia were stripped of their title for a positive doping test (Elena took cold medicine with a banned substance). The Russians were banned for three months and not allowed to compete at the World Championships, leaving the door open for Abitbol and Bernadis to move up the standings.

The French team was in fourth place heading into the free skate, right behind Canada's Jamie Sale and David Pelletier-- a team having nothing short of a dream season. Then Tonya vs. Nancy part two happened, and there were some doubts whether Abitbol and Bernadis would be able to skate, let alone challenge for a medal that they were so close to. [And yes I know that some people think the whole attack was staged by the French Federation in order to get sympathy votes for a medal... I'll say that nothing really surprises me in figure skating, but it was a pretty severe gash on his arm to have faked..]

Here's their free skate from the event. They ended up winning bronze easily after Sale and Pelletier had a meltdown performance.

Universal Sports World Championships Broadcast Team

Earlier today, I blogged about Universal Sports television and their website being the only source for Americans to watch the 2010 World Figure Skating Championship.

The network posted a message on Twitter earlier today with the following information:
TV Broadcast team for 2010 World Figure Skating Championships include U.S. Olympians @JohnnyGWeir, #TaraLipinski, @TanithJLB and #BenAgosto
Wow, that should be interesting. Lipinski covered some events earlier in the season and did a very decent job, but we all know that deep down we are most curious to see what Johnny has to say about everyone. I wonder if he will just do commentary for the men, Lipinski for the ladies, and Belbin/Agosto for dance?

Follow the network on Twitter @universalsports.

Source: Duhamel Forms New Partnership; Buntin Retires

According to a Canadian skating source, the pairs team of Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin have gone their separate ways. The team was an impressive sixth place in the 2008 World Championships after less than a season of skating together, but fell to third in Canada this season and became first alternates to the Vancouver Olympic Games.

Buntin's plan from the beginning of the partnership was to retire from the sport after this season, and he will do so. Duhamel, on the other hand, will continue as a pairs skater with new partner Eric Radford. He and partner Anne-Marie Giroux finished eighth place at the 2010 Canadian Nationals in their first year of skating together.

Duhamel was the 2003 Canadian ladies junior champion, while Radford won the junior mens title a year later.

More details will eventually follow on Skate Canada's website.

Because of Stojko's Quad Rambling..

A few posts down on shared my opinions on Elvis Stojko's continuous comments on importance of the quadruple jump, and I mentioned Takeshi Honda's amazing free skate from the 2002 Olympic Games, to "Concierto de Aranjuez". Great. Now I'm probably going to spend all day watching it.

Oh-- and a big special thank you to Nikolai Morozov who completely ruined showcasing Honda's talents, starting the very next season with his "Riverdance" free skate.

WTF Judging Moment: Carolina Kostner 2004 World Championships

Don't get me wrong, I love Carolina Kostner when she's on-- unfortunately that has seemed pretty rare the last few seasons. I even thought she made a strong case to win the short program at the 2005 World Championships, but she ended up fourth behind Slutskaya, Cohen, and Kwan.

BUT one judging moment I will never understand is the way she was scored for her mini-disaster in the second half of her World Championship free skate in 2004 (she's had worse-- hence the "mini"). She was the final skater of the night and yes, I'm sure the judges blocked themselves in forcing them to give the scores that they did without going TOO low, but seriously-- 10 of her 14 technical scores were 5.7 or higher! Oh 6.0, one reason I am glad you aren't with us anymore.

Watch it here... and then watch Carolina's long program from her first European Championships (actually her first senior international event!) in 2003, when she was 15 years old.




US Broadcast of World Championships Entirely on Universal Sports

UniversalSports.com has released their 2010 World Championships broadcast schedule, and it includes full-event live coverage streaming on their website, while the top groups of skaters will also be broadcast live on the Universal Sports television channel. Great, if you have the station. I don't, but I was more than satisfied sitting in front of my laptop last year and watching commentary-free continuous feed from the 2009 World Championships.

The ambitious goal right now would be for me to watch the entire event live and post my thoughts here as it goes, but I suspect my head might be spinning by the time the 55 ladies short programs roll around next Friday!

Elvis Stojko Rambles on About the Quad

Stojko: Quad is a must - from the Timmins Daily Press. Elvis Stojko was the two-time Olympic silver medalist (1994, 1998) who as of late seems to be on a rampage to promote the quadruple jump. He's been vocal that he feels Evgeny Plushenko deserved the gold in the Vancouver Olympics, and now throws these.. great.. quotes in:
"It's absolutely ridiculous that most of the guys didn't try (the quad) and that it's not being rewarded," Stojko said. "They say the whole competition can't be based on one jump, but let me tell you, it can.
"If you take out a quadruple, it makes the whole program at least 50% easier to do.
"People say it's not a jumping competition. Fine let's make it a recital, take it out of the Olympics and make it a dancing event because then it no longer has the difficulty and that's what's keeping it in the sport."
He also says that he's earned his right to speak about the topic, and that while he appreciates Johnny Weir's "effeminate" style, that type of skating isn't going to attract young boys to the sport because they need something to identify with... Stojko thinks that "something" is definitely not Johnny Weir.

I understand that Stojko sees it as a set-back in the sport when (putting on my thinking cap back to 2002 Olympics..) I believe that everyone in the top 11 in the free skate tried at least one quadruple jump in their program. Skaters like Alexei Yagudin, Plushenko, Timothy Goebel, Elvis himself, and Chengjiang Li were even trying, and landing, at least two quads. The highest-ranked skater that didn't attempt  a quadruple jump was 12th-place Kevin Van der Perren from Belgium, who I'm pretty sure had just learned the triple Axel right before the Salt Lake City Games.

What Stojko needs to realize, though, is that the system of judging has obviously completely changed-- I'm sure he is well aware and understands that. But he also has to understand that in 2002, pretty much every single footwork sequence and spin, whether it be a change-foot, flying spin, or combination spin, would be marked as a level one today because there was almost no effort put into many of these elements. The footwork took 10 seconds maximum for most skaters and it mostly involved turning in one direction; spins often had just enough revolutions to even count by the standards at the time, and without any of the variation we see today. I don't even do those elements and I can tell you that they obviously require more energy than previously, and he has to take that into consideration. And that's not even including any of the five program components... maybe I'll get into how 2002 programs looked vs. now some other time.

I don't think that the way judges look at the programs has changed THAT much, though. Look at fourth-place finisher Takeshi Honda from Japan and fifth-place finisher Alexander Abt from Russia. Honda fell out of his quadruple toe attempt, while Abt fell on it, yet both skaters easily stayed in front of Stojko in the free skate (even with Elvis' two quadruple toe loops). Why? Honda, in my opinion, had THE long program of that year-- it was absolutely amazing in every sense. Abt, if it weren't for his stamina problems, would have been right on-par with Honda but still also had a very strong all-around program. 

Also, he uses Johnny Weir as an example of what the judges like. Weir's clean short program and almost-clean free skate aside from an error on a spin landed him in sixth place in Vancouver-- I wouldn't say that the judges obviously go for his style. (I know I'm in the minority but) I felt he was marked right around where he should have been.

The ball-game has changed, Stojko. 

Around the Net- Articles for March 18

Portland, Oregon to Host 2010 Skate America - from United States Figure Skating. The event will take place from November 11-14 at the Rose Garden Arena.

Chan takes inspiration from Lysacek's rise to gold - from The Globe and Mail. Patrick Chan talks about his respect for Olympic Champion Evan Lysacek and his own Olympic experience, as well as his hopes for next weeks Worlds. Chan is usually known for a good quote or ten, but the best part of the article comes in his final quote:
“I can tell you that I’ll be a little scared if I do beat Evgeny [Plushenko],” he said. “I’m sure that that would definitely push all his buttons.”
Seoul City to honor Canadian skating coach - Olympic Champion Yu-na Kim's coach, Brian Orser, will get honorary citizenship from the city. There have only been 607 people from 59 nations to receive the honor since it started in 1959.

Wednesday, March 17

Music for Thin Ice Announced

Read all about it here. Highlights-- Sale/Lauzon are intriguingly using the PG-version of David Guetta's "Sexy Bitch" (this one titled "Sexy Chick"-- it's a family show), Bourne/Zimmerman are skating to Johnny Weir's precious "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga, and Dubreuil/Weiss are using two pretty cool songs in my opinion: "Meet Me Halfway" by the Black Eyed Peas, and especially "Broken Strings" by James Morrison and Nelly Furtado-- not a really well-known song. Check the link for the rest, including choreographers for each team.

All ten of the songs are relatively new or have been released within the last few years. This show might not be all that bad, as much as I hate the showy type skating.

Susanna Poykio Retirement

Finnish ladies skater Susanna Poykio announced today her retirement from skating, citing back injuries as the major reason for her decision. She wants to pursue her studies in fashion and language. Here is a link to a Finnish article about the retirement (I Google translated it but the link dies.. sorry). Poykio, who is 28, was on the podium at the European Championships twice in her career, and has finished as high as eighth in the World Championships.

Here's a link to my favorite Poykio performance, from the 2005 Europeans. She won the silver medal behind Russian Irina Slutskaya. [Embedding of the video is disabled]

World Championship Roster Update March 17

Ladies: Joelle Forte representing Azerbaijan has been removed from the roster, no replacement. Katsiarina Pakhamovich of Belarus has also been removed with no replacement. Updated starting order groups. Australian Cheltzie Lee is now bumped into the earlier session of skaters.

Ice Dance: Hoptman/Phylchenkov of Azerbaijan have been removed from the roster, no replacement. Updated starting order groups.

Update:

Men: Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic has also withdrawn; Pavel Kaska is the replacement. Updated starting order groups. Kaska sneaks in as the last skater in the later half of the short program, and Adam Rippon moves into the final two flights of skaters.

Interesting enough, one more withdrawal from the mens field, and the warm-up groups of the later half of the short program change from 5/5/5/5/5 to 6/6/6/6, meaning Denis Ten and Adrian Schultheiss would find themselves skating somewhere in the final two flights, as well.

2000 World Championships Flashback: Day Two

Day two of my week-long look back at the 2000 World Championships features Russian Evgeny Plushenko as an 17-year old. All season long, Plushenko was handily beating his chief rival and country-mate Alexei Yagudin (who, at the time, was the two-time reigning World Champion himself). An early-season pro-am competition, the Grand Prix Final, the Russian National Championships, and the European Championships all saw Plushenko besting Yagudin, but Evgeny showed up in Nice and surprisingly lost the first portion of the competition (the qualifying round) to Canada's Elvis Stojko. Yagudin won the other qualifying group, and also won the short program over 2nd-place Plushenko. The standings from the first two portions of competition meant whichever of the two men won the free skate would win the gold medal, and many looked to Plushenko to once again come out on top, as Yagudin had changed his free skate from "Broken Arrow" to "Tosca", and was debuting it at this competition.

But, that was not the case. After a doubled quadruple toe loop attempt, Plushenko went on to try the quad two more times: turning one into a triple, and falling on the third. He rallied back to land two triple Axels and the rest of his jumps later in the program, but he not only didn't win the gold medal, he fell off the podium completely, finishing in 4th place! (Stojko won silver and American Michael Weiss won bronze.)

Don't send me hate mail! This World Championship memory isn't one where I celebrated Plushenko's loss; I was shocked about his failure to medal after such a great season coming into the event. Honorable mention to Michael Weiss' short program where he landed the quad toe for the second time in his life, but ended up stepping out of a DOUBLE Axel, of all things! He still ended up third in the portion and held on for the bronze medal overall, so it wasn't a complete disaster.

Watch Plushenko's free skate and Weiss' short program:


Around the Net- Articles for March 17

Thin Ice competition preview from Tulsa World. Nothing we haven't heard already, except maybe that one team is using "Hot and Cold" by Katy Perry, but
This will be the first time, other than exhibitions and pro tours like "Stars on Ice," since the 1980s when professional skaters are allowed to compete against each other, according to executive director Terry O'Neil. 
Huh? Don't lie out loud, Terry! There was every possible form of pro competition for many years, especially throughout the mid-90s and into the early 2000s.

2010 Skating With the Stars in Harlem scheduled for April 5th. A chance to skate in Central Park's Wollman Rink with Kristi Yamaguchi, Jeremy Abbott, Sasha Cohen, and others. Tickets start at just $300!

Ready to take on the world - The Abington Journal talks to World Championship-bound skater Adam Rippon.

Winning Americans from The Bridge at Texas A&M, which incorrectly identifies Evan Lysacek as "the first American to win gold for Men's Figure Skating." Oops. The writer probably wasn't born when the last gold medalist, Brian Boitano, won in 1988. Don't get too excited-- that's the only mentioning of skating.

Abbott adjusts attitude for worlds in Torino - from icenetwork.com. Interview with US Champion Jeremy Abbott as he prepares to leave for Worlds and also his plans for after the event.

Tuesday, March 16

Formspring.me: who is your favourite ladies skater as of current?

Joannie Rochette. I've been a big fan since the 2003 season and I love the way she can have such beautiful basics and effortless crossovers without moving her arms, and at the same time power into all of the jumps as easily as she does. She has a little bit of everything in my opinion.

Formspring.me: have you ever thought of becoming a professional reporter in figure skating?

Depends if you are going to offer me a job based on my response :-)

I would love to do something within in the sport. Reporting-- eh. I don't know. I like being able to write in a loose way and incorporate my feelings and opinions rather than always reporting the same boring stuff you are going to find on 500 other websites. There's already enough of that online!

I'd love to start coaching and choreographing one day, but I need to brush up hardcore on my own skating skills first :-)

Formspring.me: Hey, I was trying to get you to read this article (if you haven't already) in youtube, but obviously, they don't allow any links. http://www.iceskatingintnl.com/archive/results_vancouver/Asada%20Triple%20Axel.htm Your two cents?

I have seen this. I think it would be easier for me to go back and watch the actual video than look at the pictures, but I will say that I always thought that Asada cheated her toe loop on the end of her combinations, in terms of pre-rotating (very much like Kimmie Meissner did-- and I NEVER understood why she got credit for fully-rotated toe loops). These pictures show that she really does severely turn the jump before getting in the air.

The bigger issue obviously is the triple Axel, and hmm.. she skids the take-off, which actually is pretty common. I don't think it is that severe of a skid, but that along with the quarter turn cheat minimum on the landing should honestly be enough to downgrade the jump.

It just bothers me that the whole basis of her skating the last few years has been stalking the triple Axels and throwing away valuable other points in the components and losing other, easier, triple jumps. If she had a full set of triples AND great choreography AND speed, it would be a different story..

2000 World Championships Flashback: Day One

Every day leading up to the 2010 World Championships, I thought it would be a fun little activity to remember back to some of my most fond memories from the 2000 Championship, held in Nice, France. These memories aren't necessarily because of great skates, but just the things in general I remember most, as a 13-year old, about the event!

Day one, however, is definitely a great skate, and it happens to come from my favorite skater of all-time: Russia's Maria Butyrskaya. She was the defending World Champion heading into the event, but had a rough season throughout the Grand Prix and also lost her National Championship to Irina Slutskaya (she skated in the event just days after her car was blown up, supposedly by Russian mafia). Maria rebounded in the free skate at Europeans as well as in the qualfying round of these Worlds, but skating a clean short program had been a problem all season. She drew last to skate, and here is her performance:

Formspring.me: i saw 6 korean skaters in the top 200 rankings for ladies, r the koreans a legit threat to compete with japan?

Well, let's see. Kim is obviously ranked first, and then you have Koreans at 43rd, 62nd, 70th, 109th, and 116th, like you said.

The only other skater I think that in the next few years has a chance to work their way up is the other Worlds entry, Min-Jung Kwak. She's only 16 and needs a little work on the basic skating, but is already managing scores of 100+ in the free skate. Na-Young Kim had an impressive showing at Four Continents in 2008, but hasn't really done much since, and she's already 19. Seems young, but I think she would have already made big progress if she was going to.

Of course, there is always the option of someone coming out of nowhere to really shake up the top of the standings in the next few years, but I look more to Russia or Japan as far as that is concerned. The Korean representative at the World Junior Championships only managed 37th place, even though it was her first international competition.

South Korea is once again close to earning the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, so I'd be looking more towards the next cycle of four years (2014-2018) rather than the upcoming one.

Gregor Urbas Retirement

One familiar name missing from the upcoming World Championship roster is Slovenian Gregor Urbas. A fixture at the competition since 2001, Urbas has decided to retire from the sport at age 27, having recently suffered back problems. His highest placement at Worlds was 17th in 2008, and he managed a top-ten finish at the European Championships in 2007. He competed in the recent Vancouver Olympic Games, finishing a disappointing 27th. Urbas says he would eventually like to take part in skating shows.

Here is a Youtube video of Urbas' free skate from the 2008 World Championships:

Weir at the Olympics- Poll Result

It isn't a blogging day if there is no news on Johnny Weir, so here goes. I asked readers how they felt Johnny was scored in Vancouver: Too high? Too low? Just right? Who cares?

Two-thirds of you thought he was scored TOO LOW, while about 20% thought he was scored fairly. Personally, I was one that thought Weir was just slightly overmarked. The 'who cares?' option even got more votes, so maybe I'm just a really big hater!

Thoughts?

Rochette Allowed to Skate Tribute in Thin Ice

Philip Hersh is reporting that Michael Slipchuk, Skate Canada high performance director, sent an e-mail out containing the following re: Rochette:

"The ISU has agreed to relax ISU rule 136 for Joannie, due to the unique and extenuating circumstances of this particular request,  and allow her participation in an exhibition number only (not a competition) at MGM Grand at Foxwoods, USA.

Therefore, Skate Canada has also granted a sanction for her participation in this event."

Updated 4:00 PM: Skate Canada press release.

World Championship Roster Update March 16

Ladies event: Natalia Popova has been replaced by Irina Movchan for Ukraine. Updated starting order groups.

Pairs event: Volosozhar/Morozov from Ukraine have withdrawn and are not replaced. Updated starting order groups.

Dance event: Domnina/Shabalin finally taken off the roster for Russia, and replaced by Rubleva/Shefer. Copely/Stagniunas of Lithuania have withdrawn and are not replaced. Updated starting order groups.

Yu-na Kim Failing Out of University?!

I told you earlier that it was going to be a slow day, so I went searching for interesting skating articles and found this one. Is this for real? I mean, sounds to me like Korea University is in Korea, and last time I checked, Kim trains in Canada. Also, last time I checked, University tends to go from September or so until May or June, which are mostly prime months of the figure skating season.

"Kim barely made it to class last year. Although Korea University runs special morning curriculum for athletes, Kim mostly trains and competes overseas, so it was almost impossible for her to attend."

YOU THINK?!


This article just seems weird to me. If she did fail two classes last year, why would she continue to be enrolled during the busy Olympic season? Is there some kind of requirement for Korean athletes that they have to go to school, even while competing?

Like I said, it's a slow day..

Lambiel and Arakawa Pre-Thin Ice Interview

The Day (Connecticut) interview and video of World Champion Stephane Lambiel and Olympic Champion Shizuka Arakawa, one of the five newly-formed teams competing at the Thin Ice competition starting Friday.

Lambiel talks about the pairing and I learned that "Hi Hat" is a hip-hop choreographer. Ignore the terrible five second voice-over in the video, and you can see glimpses of their "Get Me Bodied" routine that the team has planned.

Monday, March 15

Tour Says it's Not Discriminating Against Weir

Read the article from Universal Sports.

It wouldn't be a day in the figure skating blogging world without some kind of mentioning of Johnny Weir, or so that is how it seems it's going to be! Anyways, if you haven't followed the drama leading up to these statements by the Stars on Ice tour, the summary is that GLAAD is going after the tour because they originally made comments saying that Johnny is not "family friendly", an apparent (?) cover for a suggested issue with Weir's sexual orientation -- one that he has never publicly disclosed.

I mean, really?
Give me a break. This is figure skating. It isn't football or hockey, or anything like any other sport for that matter. There are many homosexuals in the sport whether they are public about it or not, and whether fans or other skaters choose to admit it or not. I don't need someone to come out and tell me they are gay in order for me to know they are, and that extends way past just people within the sport.

Anyways, I haven't seen a single document that suggests the Stars on Ice tour said anything about Johnny's sexuality being an issue. I think that's just an assumption, and a really stupid and hilarious one at that. Again, it's FIGURE SKATING. The only thing SOI representatives said in the above link is that there is "not enough room" for Johnny in the tour, with former US Champions Todd Eldredge and Michael Weiss, current Olympic Champion Evan Lysacek, and current US National Champion Jeremy Abbott.

Okay, maybe that is a lame excuse to keep Johnny off the tour, and maybe there is indeed a deeper issue-- but we have no reason to think that.. at least I don't. I briefly went over my own thoughts on Weir in my Jamie Sale video response blog, so I'm not going to ramble on repeating them. I'm sure he can be "friendly" enough for the family-oriented tour, but I also don't even think that skating with Stars on Ice is what he wants to be doing with his spring months. He has plenty other opportunities coming, and skating seems to be the last thing on his mind for right now, even if his agent is quoted as saying she inquired about him joining SOI.

I think some other people are making a much bigger deal about this than Johnny would. Both he and the tour will be just fine.

Updated: Actually, this interview Weir did with Inside Edition makes it sound like he actually does care. But now he is saying that the tour organizers called him "too flamboyant." Again, if not "family friendly" or whatever it is that SOI said he was has all of these deeper meanings, then I am learning something new every day about the ability for people to interpret comments. Now I change my mind about what I wrote above and think that Johnny is just going off of the GLAAD assumptions and making this a big deal himself. It's ridiculous.

If I Were a Judge... World Junior Championships Ladies Short Program

I've always loved to score programs myself and see how far off I was from the judges. The first set of programs for my blog were the top three ladies short programs from the 2010 World Junior Championships. I used the levels assigned and downgrades, etc. as determined by the technical panel at this link, and then gave my own grades of execution and components scores. For reference, here are the actual results of the top three.

My results:
1. Anna Ovcharova 60.50; TES- 36.90 PCS- 23.60
2. Polina Agafonova 56.70; TES- 33.50 PCS- 23.20
3. Kanako Murakami 55.00; TES- 32.20 PCS- 22.80

Watch the videos and judge for yourself, courtesy of YouTube users MaDDaMforum, and QuadSurya via KNSB.tv.

Ovcharova


Murakami



Agafonova

Plushenko Plans to Skate in 2014

According to this USA Today article, three-time Olympic medalist and 2006 Champion Evgeny Plushenko of Russia wants to skate at the 2014 Sochi Games, in his home country. He will be 31 years old.

Crazy or realistic?
First off, who is really honestly surprised by this talk? He barely lost out on a second Olympic title last month (if you live under a rock and somehow haven't heard), and that came after three years of doing show skating and not training the most difficult jumps or element-filled competitive programs. When I first heard about the comeback last year, I was worried that it would fizzle off and he would decide after an early-season competition that he had just taken too much time away from the competitive scene to really be a contender. But he somehow got it back together and was very reliable with his quad toe loop and triple Axel jumps in the end. I don't think that another three year break just to show up in the Grand Prix series of the 2013/14 season would be a wise decision for him or his body (he's been doing quadruple jumps for nearly half of his life!), but he knew he was capable of getting it back together for Vancouver, so why not do it again?

Of course, this isn't to say that right now the plan seems great (revenge..?) and in three years he and his body will have the same motivation, but I really do have a feeling he will stick to it and once again be right in contention in Sochi. I don't see any Russian senior or junior man that is really pushing to get to the top of the world any time soon, so once again-- why not? As long as he doesn't complain as much next time for not seeming to understand how the new judging system benefits well-roundedness rather than a single jump element :)

Oh, and let's see how next weeks Torino World Championships fare for him. He last won the title in 2004.

Denney/Barrett, Rochette Included in Stars on Ice Florida Tour Dates

US National Pairs Champions Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett have posted a message to their Facebook page letting fans know they will be included on the April 1-4 tour dates of the US Stars on Ice tour. Canadian Olympic Bronze Medalist Joannie Rochette has also been included in the Florida tour dates.

For a complete list of skaters and their tour dates, visit the Stars on Ice website.

Brian Joubert Wins French Test-Skate

From a reliable French source, Brian Joubert has won the test-skate to determine the second mens entry for the World Championships next week. Alban Preaubert is the first alternate to the team. More details as they become available.

Also, don't be surprised if the reason behind Yannick Ponsero's withdrawal had nothing to do with my previous suggestion that he hadn't been training regularly after the European Championships; rather, it has been suggested that Ponsero felt Joubert was going to win no matter how they skated, so he didn't waste his time.

Updated 2:30 PM: Official article (in French) finally posted.

Rochette Officially Out of World Championships

Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette appeared on Quebec TV show La série Montréal-Québec last night, saying that she hasn't yet withdrawn from the World Championships next week. However, today The Globe and Mail is reporting that she is officially out (updated with comments from Joannie). Rochette is the center of drama with the ISU over skating an exhibition in the Thin Ice competition on March 19th and 21st, but choosing not to skate at the World Championships, which start a day later.

Joubert Falls in Test Skate Short Program; Preaubert Clean

French article summary of the short program. Brian Joubert landed a quad toe loop/double toe loop combination but then fell on his triple Lutz out of steps, while Alban Preaubert skated clean. Yannick Ponsero did not skate and therefore it comes down to the two skaters' free skates later today to determine who will be going to the World Championships. Actual scores from the program have not yet been released.

I wonder why Ponsero was not attending? It could be likely that after the European Championships, he felt that his season was over and hasn't been training seriously. I don't think anyone could have predicted the meltdown that Joubert had at the Olympics..

World Junior Championships Ladies Medal Ceremony

Check out a cute moment between gold medalist Kanako Murakami and silver medalist Agnes Zawadzki, when Zawadzki accidentally stepped on to the bronze medal position of the podium, which belonged to Russia's Polina Agafonova. The beginning of the national anthem of Japan is also included in the video, by YouTube user MaDDaMforum. Check out their user page for more World Junior Championship videos!

Also check out Murakami's reaction to Akiko Suzuki's free skate score at the 2009/2010 Japanese National Championships. Suzuki finished in second place by a slim margin, and with it came a ticket to the Olympic Games. Kanako seems like such a genuinely happy person! (The moment occurs at the very end, 8:17 in the bottom video.)




French Test-Skate

Today is the day that the second French mens entry for the World Championships is determined. The short program has already taken place, and the free skate is a little bit later. I'll list the results and any details as they become available.

80% of readers think that Joubert will win, while 15% voted for Ponsero, and 5% for Preaubert.

Sunday, March 14

ISU Eligibility of Joannie Rochette Threatened

Read more about the situation on Philip Hersh's blog.

To summarize, Rochette is taking part in the exhibition at this weeks Thin Ice competition, skating a tribute to her mother who passed away during the Olympic Games last month. The ISU is threatening that the competition is not sanctioned and since she withdrew from the World Championships, which start the day after Thin Ice ends, they could demand for Rochette to show medical evidence for the withdrawl.

My thoughts..
Hersh used the obvious rebuttal I had for the situation, with the ISU allowing three junior pairs teams from China to compete at the recent World Junior Championships, when only two teams qualified. I think Joannie will probably get away with being able to skate the tribute to her mother, but Hersh has it right: everyone, skating fan or not, knows her story after the events of Vancouver. It probably isn't going to sit well with ANYONE if they do in fact take away her eligibility.

Ryan Bradley Will Skate at World Championships

Questions have surrounded American skater Ryan Bradley and whether he had obtained a serious enough foot injury to take him out of the upcoming World Championships. Bradley was the first alternate on the United States team, and was assigned to the event when Olympic Champion Evan Lysacek withdrew. However, a post by Ryan on Twitter at 6:05 PM states, "I will see you all in Turin ;)" That pretty much answers the question, no?

2010 World Junior Championships Ladies Short Program Thoughts

Video from day 4 from wcjunior.com.

Kanako Murakami from Japan - Triple toe/triple toe combo, low knee landing and body forwards on both jumps (the second jump was downgraded), triple flip with minimal steps and a break before the jump, double Axel with a nice quick change of edge on the landing, flying sit spin done well, spirals are okay, on the change of edge spiral she really leans forwards and down with the upper body rather than having it right in line with the ice, layback spin, straight-line footwork with some flair in the choreography but she's just skating to it-- not really selling it. Her posture in general seems a bit hunched forwards. Final combo spin might be the strongest element of the program- it was well done. In my opinion, choreography is the strongest component for her. All of the other areas are just average, but she has the jumps and quality in the spins. Does any lady have the strongest basic skating that takes from Machiko Yamada, though?

Polina Agafonova from Russia - Korobushko and she's tiny. Circular footwork sequence to start- that's different. Deep edges within it but it seems like she's doing it very carefully. Triple Lutz/triple toe.. not the longest run-out edge on the toe loop but it looks clean. Triple flip- again done but not the best run-out. Flying sit spin.. Layback which is held forever up into a really nice Biellmann- excellent! Spiral sequence with good positions and edges, right into a double Axel. Landed on the toe and it was tiny, but done. Fast final combination spin, especially on the first half. Better posture than Murakami but skates quite a bit slower and with much less power. However, I really liked her!

Anna Ovcharova from Russia - Looks like she would tower over her teammate. steps and a stag jump into a triple flip, with a hop afterwards that made me think it was a combination jump... everything is really frantic so far in the program.. some steps into a triple Lutz/double loop, good layback spin which also ends in a Biellmann spin, flair throughout the spiral sequence which includes the spiral Shizuka Arakawa did where she holds her free leg up in a Y-position and without assistance from her hand on the change edge.. and she holds it a long while. Double Axel okay.. footwork is good, flying sit spin is low to the ice and right into two interesting variations, and right into her final combination spin.. nice positions on all of her spins but traveling quite a bit after the change foot. It's difficult for me to analyze a skaters skating skills in a program like this because through a lot of her crossovers she was pumping her arms back and forth matching the upbeat music, but it also could be a way to mask some troubles she has within the basics. She was okay, but I'm surprised such a program scored as high as it did. I liked her teammate much better-- not that she was bad, I just don't ever really prefer programs with this kind of upbeat jazz. It just always makes things look sloppy to me.