Saturday, June 19

Weekend Update, Without Tina Fey

This was an extremely busy weekend on my schedule hence the lack of updates in the last 48 hours or so. However, I did attend the Skate for Hope exhibition today and I'll write a little review of it tomorrow afternoon. I also recorded both of Johnny Weir's programs on my IPhone, so there is no zoom or real high quality stuff, but it's a start. I'll link them tomorrow as well.

Friday, June 18

Thank You, Japan - Part Two

The continuation of my favorite performances by Japan's biggest stars :-)

Yuka Sato - 2000 World Professional Championship Artistic Program - "Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun"
I actually had another program I was going to use (her 2002 Hallmark "Song of the Homeland"), but it isn't on YouTube so I had to do some searching. While it's true that many of Yuka's programs as a pro are very similar in that they were light and slow, it didn't mean that she let up at all on the triple jumps, amazing footwork, or great basics. This program is one that she had used several seasons before but brought back for the competition, and it helped her easily win. Nobu Sato is just a mastermind at teaching his skaters the most perfect basics.

Nobunari Oda - 2005 World Junior Championship Short Program - "Super Mario Brothers"
This is one of the first times that most of the world became familiar with Nobu, and a program to Mario?! Just awesome. It is really interesting for me to go back and watch this, because I see such a relaxed quality to his skating that I think he lost in the last season or two. Look how huge the triple Lutz is here-- it looks like he'd easily be able to rotate a quad! There is also some really cool choreography in the program (check out how he leads into his double Axel, for example), and I think it was the perfect vehicle for him as a junior. Definitely my favorite of anything he has done! Oh and by the way, he's back training with Lee Barkell, who was his coach during this time. I hope he finds that relaxed and confident quality once again.

Miki Ando - 2005 Cup of Russia Short Program - "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence"
This was one of those transformations of Angela Nikodinov-type proportions. Miki went from skating right through the music and doing her triple/triple combinations to coming out in early 2005 with two very well choreographed programs and really attempting to listen to them. The problem though? She somehow seemed to lose all of her confidence in that process and apparently she was miserable in Cleveland (my hometown!) so her stay only lasted for a season. This is my favorite program of hers by more than a mile.

Mao Asada - 2006 Skate America Short Program - "Nocturne"
I've already written about and featured this program several times before so this should come as no surprise. I am really, really hoping that either Tarasova or Nichol gives her a program of this nature for next year, because it fits her so much more than all of the depressive and dark stuff that Tatiana seems to love. Pleaseeeee.

Yukari Nakano - 2007 World Championship Short Program - "Memoirs of a Geisha"
This is another program that I have highlighted previously on my site, when I did my tribute to Yukari upon her official retirement announcement. I could obviously see the fault of her wrapping her jumps so severely that sometimes she under-rotated them, but I didn't care. Yukari was just so gentle and sincere in her presentation that the technique didn't even matter. This particular program suited her perfectly, and it was great that she was able to hold it together and skate clean in front of her home country. Even though she barely missed out on two Olympic Games in a row, sometimes there's just so much more than that. She's produced so many great performances throughout the years, and I will really miss her competing.

Daisuke Takahashi - 2008 Four Continents Championship Short Program - "Swan Lake"
"This is the seasons signature short program as far as I'm concerned," says Paul Wylie. How can you disagree? Okay, one thing I do hate is when skaters have all of their jump elements done within the first 40 seconds of the program, but this is one case where I could care less. He goes from showing off his great traditional skating skills and jumping ability to making the program so modern and cool... but those footwork sequences are far from easy. This might be one of my favorite programs of all-time, even if Morozov was behind the choreography. I guess he has good ideas, sometimes :-P

Takahiko Kozuka - 2010 World Championship Short Program - "Bold as Love"
One of my favorite programs of the Olympic season, and Takahiko has become one of my favorite skaters. This program is already amazing, and the thing is that he can do so much more with it, which Kurt Browning and Tracy Wilson discuss here. When he gets some confidence and realizes that he is one of the best in the world, watch out. Takahashi was the World Junior Champion in 2002 and look at the season he had in 2010. Kozuka won the Junior title in 2006.. 2014, anyone? :-)

Thursday, June 17

ISU Congress: Now We Might Be Getting Somewhere

The Globe and Mail is reporting that among additional changes from the ISU Barcelona Congress this week include the doing away with the randomizing of the judging panel, where only certain scores count. The number of judges on each panel seems like it has changed from year to year in the IJS system, but it got to the point at this Olympics where only five of the nine scores counted. This means, if my former math classes have taught me anything, that in all reality, SIX of the nine judges could score "skater A" higher than "skater B", but if four of those judges scores are thrown out (due either to not including at all, or being the high/low score that is tossed), it means that it could then turn into a situation where "skater B" has three judges giving them the higher overall total, while "skater A" is now left with just two judges instead of the original four. Doesn't make much sense. I know it's not an ordinal system, but the scores obviously do add up.

When I first started this blog, I included an interview with Patrick Ibens, one of the nine people assigned to judge the mens short program at the 2010 Olympics. While it originally was planned to be a discussion about Lysacek vs. Plushenko and his general thoughts about the competition as a whole, it turned into a big Q/A session about the current state of judging and why there are so many problems with the system; he was hardly at a loss of words about these issues! This recent update is definitely a step in the right direction, but we also need the abolishment of the anonymous judging. Judges should be able to mark the skaters how they feel it necessary, without reprimands from their own federations for not holding a skater up or down.

Update: Timothy Goebel has updated his Facebook account mentioning that the "spiral is out". I would guess this means that the plan to reduce the short program elements for the ladies from eight to seven is successful, and it might also mean that the spiral in the free skate will now be scored on the same scale for each skater, and then a GOE is applied to that one scale depending on the quality of the element. If I remember correctly from the 200+ page original Agenda, the plan was to remove one of the footwork sequences in the mens short program, as well, and then assign the same set scale for the second sequence in the free skate. There seems to be no mentioning of that change, but I can't see the ladies having seven elements and the men keeping eight.

Are you going to Skate for Hope? Please go & report back. Would ♥ to read your comments. Please! :-)

Saturday is a really busy day, but I'm going to try. :)

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Thank You, Japan - Part One

Thanks to the Japanese readers of my blog who really helped achieve record numbers for the site (in its three month existence) in the last two days! As a "tribute" of sorts, I am going to share with you my favorite performances of some of the biggest stars of the sport from the country. I hope you enjoy!

Midori Ito - 1993 World Professional Championship Technical Program - "The Rose of Pain"
This competition took place right before I developed such a big passion for skating, but thanks to YouTube, I saw this particular performance a few years ago and was blown away by it. I wouldn't say that Midori was ever considered a very artistic skater, but her effort here is really great. This performance also includes quite possibly the best triple Axel I have ever seen by a lady.

Fumie Suguri - 2001 Goodwill Games Free Skate - "Moonlight Sonata"
I couldn't decide whether I wanted to include this program or her "Jupiter" free skate from the season prior, but the decision became easy when there was no good clip on YouTube of the latter :-) I remember waking up bright and early each day to watch the Goodwill Games live, and one of my favorite performances from the competition was certainly Fumie's free skate. Rosalynn Sumners says that her opening choreography is "the kind of skating that takes [her] breath away," and I couldn't agree more.

Shizuka Arakawa - 2001 Skate America Free Skate - "Violin Fantasy on Puccini's Turandot"
So, you might be asking why I didn't choose either of her World Championship or Olympic gold medal-winning performances to this same music. I remember watching Arakawa at the 1998 Olympics and then in the Grand Prix series a few seasons later and thinking she showed promise, but that she had absolutely no connection with the music. Then, she shows up to this Skate America and I think the entire American skating fandom really took note of the potential in this girl. Shizuka was still a bit reserved in this early outing, but the quality of her basics and her trying to sense the music really shined through. I still love watching it!

Takeshi Honda - 2002 Olympics Free Skate - "Concierto de Aranjuez"
I've posted this before as one of my favorite performances of all-time, and I still can't say enough about how amazing this program is. It really makes me wish that Takeshi would have stayed with Lori Nichol rather than venturing to the Nikolai Morozov side of "choreography". This really is a masterpiece.

Yoshie Onda - 2002 World Championship Exhibition - "Just Wave Hello"
We saw Yoshie so many times during the 2001/2002 season in the USA, and while I think the general consensus was that she showed amazing technical ability and consistency, everyone knew she had such a long way to go with the artistic side of skating. After a great 5th place finish at that seasons Worlds, Yoshie skated in the exhibition and had such a relaxed and fun time. I wish she would have been able to show the confidence that she had here in the following seasons.

Part two will follow, with Yuka Sato, Nobunari Oda, Miki Ando, Mao Asada, Yukari Nakano, Daisuke Takahashi, and Takahiko Kozuka!

What's your favorite use of a modern song in skating?

Favorite most recent uses.. Kozuka's "Bold as Love" and Kerrs' "Crawling" from 2010.

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Wednesday, June 16

And how would you score the 2006 olympic winning programs using the 6.0 system?

Arakawa-- 5.7/5.8 (yeah, that would have been enough to win on that night honestly); Plushenko-- 5.9/5.8; Totmianina/Marinin-- 5.8/5.8; Navka/Kostomarov-- honestly, I'd have to re-watch it. I probably haven't seen it since the actual airing of it ;-)

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Do you know that when Daisuke come back to Japan? I heard Lambier will fly to Japan in a few days. When Lambier comes to Japan, will Daisuke tgether he?

I don't know the answer to this one. Sorry!

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Op-Ed: The Ladies Triple Axel Debate and Mao Asada

I receive many comments or questions on my Formspring account asking whether I think that the Japanese Skating Federation is bribing the ISU or trying to change some of the rules to benefit only one skater: Mao Asada. I think I replied only one time regarding the situation and then deleted the rest of the similar comments that followed because they get so repetitive. However, in my last post I relayed the following update from the ISU Congress:
Senior ladies competitors have the option of doing a double OR triple Axel as the required Axel jump in the short program, which now means that they can do a possible of four triples in this portion. Prior, a triple Axel would have to be done in combination.
So, what do I think about this rule? Honestly, I am sick of people saying that this one change is going to make Asada start winning every competition as it gives her an advantage over the other competitors. Last time I checked, it's still a very huge risk and the chance of a downgrade remains extremely high. I don't even care if she's the only lady attempting the triple Axel for the next twenty years. Let me take all of you back nearly nineteen years ago to the 1991 Skate America competition:

Tonya Harding completed a triple Axel/double toe loop as her combination, back in a period of time in skating when most ladies couldn't even do the full set of 5 different triple jumps (minus the Axel), so their required solo jump from steps was a DOUBLE. They couldn't even do a triple until the 1996 season! Should she have been held back (as she was) from attempting a triple Axel on its own back then?

The men saw changes throughout the years from not even letting them try quadruple jumps in the short, to allowing them to do the quad out of steps, to letting them do the quad in combination, and just recently to possibly allowing TWO (different) quadruple jumps to be performed if the skater is capable. And what have we seen lately as far as quads and the men? I'm pretty sure the ridding of 6.0 also saw the reduction of quadruple jump attempts we saw, but that didn't equal the ISU reducing the maximum jump content that the men could do within the short program. The only time that happened, in a sense, was during the 1989 and 1990 seasons, thanks in part to an error by the ISU when it came to the wording of required elements. The men were able to do a triple Axel as their triple jump out of steps, and also repeat the triple Axel as part of their combination in the short program. The double Axel was still a requirement, so you saw the top competitors performing a triple Axel/triple toe, triple Axel, and a double Axel. That is harder or at least equivalent content to what many of the men were doing the rest of the 1990's! Here's Todd Eldredge's short program from the 1990 Worlds:

Now watch his 1991 Worlds short program. The rule change required that he do a less difficult jump out of steps than what he was doing in 1990!

Anyways, getting back on the actual topic rather than analyzing the ISU's silly mistakes. Two ladies showed 20 years ago that it was definitely possible to do the triple Axel. Yes, there was a 10 year break in ISU competitions before we ever saw it performed "cleanly" again (2002 Skate America: Ludmila Nelidina and Yukari Nakano), but that's besides the point; the bar just seems to have been raised so much slower with the ladies, and that might very well be why we haven't seen many skaters working on the difficult jumps. I understand that the IJS really has penalized under-rotated efforts, but the situation was the same in many of the years leading to the end of the 6.0 system. I think the only skater that attempted the triple Axel in the short between Harding and Asada was Nakano, and she had a very close attempt at the 2003 Four Continents Championship:

In closing, I'm all for the rule change and I'm excited that it has passed. Asada can now go back to working on her triple/triple combinations and include one (along with a triple Axel) in her short program if she so chooses, and good for her. Readers know I favor neither Kim or Asada as far as that battle and my own personal preference goes, but you better believe I am completely in favor of a skater taking huge risks if they are capable of the content. Now, I just hope that Mao has more enjoyable programs next season!

ISU Congress Updates

At the top right of the page, I added a section with real-time updates from Twitter whenever there is a "tweet" that includes ISU Congress. The German Ice Skating Union (DEU) has posted several updates, and the Japanese media has also done some reporting of changes.

Key issues:

The ISU has voted to keep the age rules for senior and junior competitors as they are currently listed. (DEU via Twitter)

The compulsory dance is done away with, as is the original dance. The short dance now takes place as the first portion of the ice dance competition in senior and junior-level competitions. (DEU via Twitter)

Senior ladies competitors have the option of doing a double OR triple Axel as the required Axel jump in the short program, which now means that they can do a possible of four triples in this portion. Prior, a triple Axel would have to be done in combination. (Japanese media according to Twitter postings)

That's about it for now. The ISU says a document will be published Friday night with all of the changes made at this Congress, but the daily updates are definitely nice for the impatient types. :-)

How would you score the 2010 olympic winning programs using the 6.0 system?

Hmm. Lysacek - 5.8/5.8; Kim - 5.9/5.9; Shen/Zhao - 5.8/5.9; Virtue/Moir - 5.9/6.0.

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Tuesday, June 15

Takahashi and Lambiel Start Choreography

We all know by now that two-time World Champion Stephane Lambiel is choreographing a new short program for current World Champion Daisuke Takahashi. They have started work on this program, and while I am not going to reveal the actual title of the music (or at least the piece that has been choreographed so far), I can tell you that it is from a famous classical score composed during the romantic period, and it hasn't been used too much within skating. I hear that the footwork sequences are looking to be amazing. More small news throughout the week, but I am going to let Takahashi decide when he wants to announce his music.

You Think This Girl Likes Surya Bonaly?

I was clicking around YouTube watching videos of some of the skaters on the 2010 senior Grand Prix circuit that I'm not completely familar with, and I found a performance from French lady Mae Bernice Meite. Besides the obvious comparison of ethnicity to Surya Bonaly, she's channeling Surya in her early senior days almost completely-- with the pony tail, costume style, the way she holds herself and her arms, and the way she goes into and lands her jumps. It's seriously like watching Bonaly in 1990 or 1991 again! Can we expect future stomping off the podium and backflips during the middle of her routines when things don't go her way? :-) Just kidding, I really did like Surya. Meite is scheduled to compete at Skate America, even though her World Ranking is currently 68th (lowest out of any of the initial ladies invites, I'm pretty sure). She also has a chance to skate at her home event, Trophee Eric Bompard, as two of the three host selections have yet to be named.

Here's her long program from the 2009 Junior Grand Prix Budapest

And for comparison, Surya Bonaly's long program from the 1990 European Championships. She attempted two quads in this program, and yes she uses "The Feeling Begins" towards the end that Baiul, Kwan, and many others would use in later years!

Monday, June 14

How would you score the 2002 olympic winning programs using the new system?

I can go back one day and make a spreadsheet if you are really interested. I love doing those hypothetical situations (the "what if" it was IJS game), but there's also not a real way to score it equally. Some skaters were doing more than the current allowed jumping passes, some (most) were doing all level one elements because that's all they needed back then, etc. But it's still fun :-)

Quick thoughts.. I think that I would have Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze blowing Sale and Pelletier away in the short program, and that is a BIG difference compared to just being able to finish in the top 3 in 6.0 and, as Terry Gannon would always remind us, "control your own destiny" in the free skate. I still think the long program would have gone to B/S. If I scored S/P higher, it would probably not be enough to catch up from the short. At least that's what I think would happen!

Men.. I actually did score the top men in a game one of the skating forums had a few months ago. Yagudin obviously still won IMO, but I think that Plushenko was extremely lucky with his short program placement. Abt and especially Honda really had beauties of free skates in terms of what are now the components scores, while many of the other men probably wouldn't have faired as well. However Timothy Goebel, aside from skating skills, really had plenty of transitions and choreography in his free skate that I guess I neglected to recognize back in the day. I was surprised!

Dance.. who knows. Everything is so different now. Maybe Drobiazko/Vanagas would have been rewarded a little bit for not falling in the free dance :-)

Ladies... Hughes would have been way out of contention after the short program, probably skating in the next to last group (thinking off the top of my head-- Butyrskaya, Sebestyen, Suguri, Gusmeroli would have all been ahead of her I think. Robinson, Meier, Fontana all probably had a shot, too.) I'm sure all of Sarah's triples would have to be watched in replay to make sure they were rotated enough, and even at that point, she'd probably get negative GOE for most. Kwan probably would have gotten the downgrade on the triple flip in the short (and maybe even placed behind Cohen), and Slutskaya would have most likely ended up as the leader by a few points. Suguri would have ended up with the final group spot that Hughes really had, and I bet Fumie would have really challenged for a medal because she had a great free skate that season. Sebestyen had the skate of her life in the short program, and deep outside edge on the triple flip aside, I could see her even beating Butyrskaya in that portion. Anyways, I don't know who would have won overall, probably Slutskaya.

But as I said, as much as it's fun to think about all of it.. skating was completely different eight years ago!

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Sunday, June 13

Favorite ice dance pair?

I loved some of Delobel/Schoenfelder's programs throughout their career and really rooted for them, but I thought they were actually scored somewhat generously in Vancouver. Honestly, I watched the Olympics with a completely open mind as far as the ice dancers went because I didn't have a real favorite left.

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What are your thoughts on Ryan Bradley? And do you have any news on him?

I like him, but I think there are some weaknesses to his skating that he could have worked on ten years ago. He has found a way to mask these issues by skating to comical routines where the focus is on the choreography rather than the details of the elements, but he has extremely slow spins, his footwork is usually done very slowly and without much difficulty compared to pretty much any of the top men in the world, and he carries the lack of speed throughout the program itself. I respect that he goes for the audience reaction rather than completely focusing on the IJS, but he definitely fared better (IMO) in the 6.0 system. I saw him live at his very first Nationals in 2000, and I was really excited to see how he would progress. Honestly, I think he is one of those skaters where his skating looks very similar now as it did then. I promise though, I do enjoy him. :-)

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What happens if a skater withdraws/ retires and can't go to a GP they are assigned? Does the federation pick someone to replace them?

If it is a host nation (USA, Canada, China, France, Russia, Japan), then they are allowed up to three competitors/teams in each discipline. If a home country skater withdraws, then yes, they are able to replace them with another skater of their choosing. However, say that Jeremy Abbott withdraws from Cup of Russia. It does not mean that another American skater will fill his spot. It would most likely be someone within the top 24 seasons best list from 2010 or someone in the top 24 World Standings who does not yet have two events.

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On the Subject of Yannick Ponsero..

I was discussing the Grand Prix assignments with a French friend, and apparently the reason for Ponsero receiving no Grand Prix assignments is because he has decided to retire. This, again, is no official announcement, but just relaying what I have heard.

If we all remember back to the beginning of March, Yannick decided not to take part in the would-have-been three-way test skate for the second spot to the World Championships. He went on record afterwards saying that essentially, it would have been a waste of his time to travel such a far distance to compete in a test skate that was already pre-determined for Brian Joubert to win. Probably not the best idea, but if he had retiring in mind already, I'm sure he saw the whole thing even more pointless. I have a feeling he wasn't even training much, if at all, in between the European Championships and the test skate, as he had to feel his season was already over.

If I hear anything concrete, I'll definitely update this post.

Grand Prix Assignments 2010/2011

They are published!

Highlights, who was screwed, who got lucky, and all that fun stuff:


Kevin Van der Perren (BEL) is listed for two events- Japan and USA. I originally thought he was retiring after the 2010 Worlds but then readers suggested he wanted to stay in for next season, but only compete at the big events (Euros, Worlds) so we will see if he decides to compete so early.

The French men: Florent Amodio, in a WTF moment for me, only has one event (Japan) right now. Alban Preaubert has two: Canada and Russia, Brian Joubert also has two: China and France, and Chafik Besseghier has France. There is still one 'to be determined' slot for Bompard, but that's it! One reader suggested that Yannick Ponsero's not showing up at the French test skate for Worlds was a big slap in the face to the Federation, and unless he's retired and I've missed that announcement, it seems to be true. Amodio most certainly should have two events and I'm hoping he gets the other TBD.

The Canadian men: Patrick Chan (Canada and Russia) and Kevin Reynolds (Canada and France) each get two events, Jeremy Ten gets one in Japan, and Shawn Sawyer gets one in the USA. As usual, the third Skate Canada spot is TBD and will probably be decided at Nebelhorn Trophy early in the season. I thought Sawyer would get two events for sure, and it seems like Vaughn Chipeur (the second entry at the Olympic Games) is either done or Skate Canada is telling him he should be done-- but I somewhat saw that coming.

The Russian men: Artem Borodulin only has one event, in Japan, even though he was chosen over Sergei Voronov (who has two: China and France) for the Olympic Games, but had the unfortunate broken blade incident at Worlds and had to withdraw in the middle of his short program. First-year senior Artur Gachinski oddly gets two events right away, too, in Canada and Russia (even though he is in the top 24 World rankings), and Evgeny Plushenko (!) is listed for Cup of Russia. We will see how long that lasts. I expect him to go into hiding/get fat/do whatever with his life until the 2013 Grand Prix series. Sound familiar? And once again, there is a TBD spot for Cup of Russia.

The Japanese men: The only thing really surprising is that Daisuke Murakami has an event: at Skate America. I guess skating for the USA for so long, even with a not-so-good World ranking and a low finish at Nationals (19th, to be exact), still earns you the right to compete over other skaters! I'm not bitter.. just surprised :-) Yasuharu Nanri, who talked of retirement after last season, is listed for Skate Canada.

The American men: No Ryan Bradley, no Evan Lysacek, no Grant Hochstein (staying junior?), no Keegan Messing (again-- staying junior?), no Richard Dornbush (aged out of junior), etc. Johnny Weir is listed for two events, in Canada and France, but I think everyone obviously questions if he will return. Skaters with two events: Jeremy Abbott (Japan and Russia), Ross Miner (Japan and China), Adam Rippon (Canada and USA), and Brandon Mroz (China and France). Stephen Carriere is listed for Skate America, and there is a TBD for the event. I'm guessing they might be saving it for Lysacek if he does decide to return. Fewer spots for the American men than I predicted, by far.

Kristoffer Berntsson from Sweden stays in and gets one event, in Canada. Teammate Alexander Majorov is most likely staying junior, as he is the only other skater in the top 24 World rankings without any assignments besides previously mentioned Ponsero. While on the subject of Swedes, Adrian Schultheiss has events in Japan and the USA.

Everyone else is pretty much as predicted. Alexandr Kazakov from Belarus had an amazing World Championship and it is nice to see he was rewarded with an event- France. Peter Liebers from Germany, as I predicted, still received one assignment-- the same event. Biggest surprises are obviously Ponsero with no events, Amodio, Borodulin, and Sawyer with just one event so far, Bradley with no events, etc. I'm sure plenty of spots will open up in the next few months, as usual.


The Canadian ladies: one event for Diane Szmiett (Japan), Amelie Lacoste (USA), and Myriane Samson (Russia), while Cynthia Phaneuf has events in Canada and France. Two TBD spots at Skate Canada, one probably being held for Joannie Rochette if she decides for some reason to continue, and the other for the highest finisher at Nebelhorn Trophy, or some other early fall event. I'm surprised Lacoste didn't receive two, and I think she will probably get one of the Skate Canada spots over Samson after her disaster World Championship.

The French ladies: Lena Marrocco gets Japan and Mae Bernice Meite gets USA, yet I'm pretty sure they are no where near the high rankings in either World Standings or Personal Bests. Politics? Candice Didier is listed for her home event, along with two TBD. Interesting.

The Japanese ladies: Many spots-- Mao Asada in Japan and France, Kanako Murakami in Japan and USA, Haruka Imai in Canada and France, Fumie Suguri! in Canada and France, Miki Ando in China and Russia, Akiko Suzuki in China and Russia as well. A TBD spot is also listed for NHK Trophy. No surprises at all, except the Fumie Suguri is still around.

The American ladies: Rachael Flatt has events in Japan and the USA, Ashley Wagner- Japan and Russia, Caroline Zhang- Japan and the USA, Alissa Czisny- Canada and France, Alexe Gilles- Canada, Agnes Zawadzki- Canada and Russia, Amanda Dobbs- China, Kristine Musademba- China, Mirai Nagasu- China and France, and a TBD spot at Skate America. Christina Gao must be staying junior, and I'll guess that the Skate America spot comes down between Amanda Dobbs and Angela Maxwell (if she's going senior?). Dobbs would have consecutive events in China and the USA, though, so I don't know how well that would work out. It's been done before but they switched up the events this year so that these things wouldn't happen.

The Russian ladies: Well, I guess all of the juniors are staying junior. Alena Leonova has two events, in China and Russia, as does Ksenia Makarova (Canada and Russia), but the only other spot is a TBD at Cup of Russia.

Lots of skaters with one event besides those already mentioned: Yan Liu in China, Joshi Helgesson in China, Anastasia Gimazetdinova in China (I think she'll be 30 by the time that event rolls around, or very close to it!), Jenna McCorkell in the USA, Min-Jung Kwak in the USA, Elena Glebova in Russia, Valentina Marchei in Russia, and Sonia Lafuente in France.

Skate America's field looks to be wide open with unpredictable skaters (Lepisto, Kostner, Flatt) headlining, as does Skate Canada (Phaneuf, Lepisto, Makarova being the big "seeeded" skaters). China and Russia feature deep fields in both. China has Ando, Suzuki, Kim, Leonova, and Nagasu, while Russia has the exact same minus Nagasu. Japan and the USA also have many of the same ladies on the roster: Gedevanishvili, Kostner, Murakami, V Helgesson, Flatt, Zhang. Half of the field!

I am surprised Cheltzie Lee didn't get an invite to one of the events after the North American coverage she received this year (a la Karademir, who also didn't get any.. maybe she retired?). I'd guess J Helgesson, McCorkell, and Glebova are high in line to earn second events if there are withdrawals.

Pairs: (aka- ahhh. Smaller fields. Not so much to analyze early in the morning!)

The Chinese pairs: Pang and Tong are listed for two events! I'm pretty sure they said they were retiring, but in any event they are on the Japan and China rosters. Zhang/Wang are competing in Japan, Dong/Wu in Canada, Zhangs in China and France, and Sui/Han in the USA. I thought the World Junior Champions would definitely be assigned two events, but I'm pretty sure there is still a rule saying that only pairs teams can compete junior and senior in the same season on the Grand Prix, and maybe this is what they are opting to do. There still is a TBD spot for China, though. Actually, every single host nation has left one spot TBD.

On the subject of the TBD spots- Japan only has one pair to my knowledge, Takahash/Tran. They are assigned to Russia and I'm sure they will also skate in Japan.

The American pairs: Denney/Barrett skate in Japan and the USA, Inoue/Baldwin appear to be continuing and have an event in Japan, Castelli/Shnapir in Canada, McLaughlin/Brubaker in Canada and the USA, Evora/Ladwig in China and Russia, Yankowskas/Coughlin in China, and Simpson/Miller in Russia.

The Canadian pairs: Besides Dube/Davison (Canada and Russia), each team has one event. Lawrence/Swiegers in Canada, Hole/Johnson in China, Moore-Towers/Moscovitch in the USA, and Brodeur/Mattatall in France. The third Skate Canada spot should definitely go to Duhamel/Radford.

The Russian pairs: Volosozhar/Trankov can't skate until the end of the season so they obviously do not have events. I don't know which country Mukhortova/Blanchard plan to skate for (I'd guess Russia over France) but they also don't have events yet-- although they could if they did pick Russia. If she wants to skate for France, she would have to wait until early in the 2011/2012 season to compete.

No real surprises otherwise. There are a handful of young Russian teams competing, and both Italian teams (Della Monica/Kocon  and Berton/Hotarek) earned two events. The new team of James/Coia is already listed for France, while the other pair of Canac/Bonheur might have a shot at the TBD spot.