Thursday, July 8

Yu-Na Kim Skipping 2011? Other Toronto Tidbits

May it be possible that Olympic Champion Yu-Na Kim will not compete in the 2011 season? According to some trusted sources, it appears that way. Sounds like she doesn't even have new competitive programs choreographed for next year, and is instead making big money from shows and sponsorships, including another possible recent one million dollar endorsement. Kim will lead the All That Skate exhibition in two weeks in her native South Korea-- a show that also features five-time World Champion Michelle Kwan. Yu-Na has announced that she will debut a new exhibition, to La Roux's Bulletproof.

Now, I realize that it is still early July and her would-be competitive season (most likely the Grand Prix) doesn't start until the end of October, which makes plenty of time for Yu-Na to get back into top shape and create new programs. But, it just doesn't sound likely. I don't know if this signifies the end of her amateur career or just a break for the season... maybe she doesn't even know.

More news on this situation as I hear it.

In other Toronto news, sounds like Americans Adam Rippon and Christina Gao are on absolute fire with their jumps. Rippon promised he would include the quad toe loop in his programs next season, and I hear it is looking great in practice. Watch out for him to go straight to the top next season-- seriously. Gao (who was 5th at US Nationals last season) also seems to be jumping well, as a source says "she's jumping even bigger than Yu-Na". Jeremy Abbott visited recently and was seen practicing his flamenco short program, and Brian Joubert is expected soon. Both skaters have spent time working with dancer Antonio Najarro in this off-season. Joubert's new free skate will be choreographed by David Wilson.

Edited to change the "a" to "another" as far as Kim's one million dollar endorsements go.

Weir Won't Compete in 2011

It shouldn't come as a shock to anyone that Johnny Weir has officially announced that he won't be competing during the 2010/2011 season, even though he was listed Grand Prix events scheduled in Canada and France. With all of the off-ice activities he's been involved in, I suspect that his "hopes to return" for the 2011/2012 season and also him keeping his mind on the 2014 Sochi games in his favorite Russia will quickly fade. Weir turned 26 last week.

Wednesday, July 7

Happy 30th, Michelle!

I don't know how it is possible but Michelle Kwan makes me feel old at 23 because I remember being seven years old and watching her 1994 Nationals performances... it most certainly does not seem like it was 16 years ago! Anyways, today she celebrates her 30th birthday and in honor of that I am going to link you to my tribute post I wrote exactly one month ago today, with my favorite performances from her career. Enjoy!

The Six Michelle Kwan Performances You Need To See

1992 Worlds: The Ordinals from the Free Skate

Here are the free skate ordinals of the top twelve ladies finishers from the 1992 Worlds. Originally, I had some confusion between 3rd and 4th places overall but then I realized I made a silly mistake. So, I'll keep up the scores as a reference but the actual issue is solved :-)

1 Kristi Yamaguchi
5.9 5.7 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.9 5.9 5.8
5.9 5.8 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9
 1   1   1   1   1   1   1   1   1  
2 Nancy Kerrigan
5.5 5.2 5.5 5.3 5.4 5.4 5.6 5.7 5.6
5.7 5.6 5.7 5.5 5.7 5.8 5.9 5.8 5.8
 3   4   3   3   2   2   2   2   2  
3 Lu Chen
5.6 5.2 5.2 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.6 5.5 5.4
5.5 5.1 5.3 5.3 5.3 5.5 5.5 5.4 5.8
 5   7   8   6   5   5   4   7   4  
4 Laetitia Hubert
5.5 5.2 5.7 5.5 5.5 5.7 5.5 5.5 5.7
5.6 4.8 5.6 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.6 5.6
 4   9   2   2   3   3   3   3   3 
5 Josee Chouinard
5.5 5.1 5.5 5.3 5.3 5.5 5.5 5.5 5.5
5.5 5.3 5.4 5.4 5.4 5.6 5.5 5.5 5.7
 7   6   5   5   6   4   6   5   5  
6 Tonya Harding-Gillooly
5.5 5.0 5.0 5.2 5.4 5.1 5.4 5.6 5.5
5.8 5.0 5.3 5.5 5.3 5.7 5.6 5.5 5.6
 2   8   11  4   7   8   5   4   7  
7 Alice Sue Claeys
5.3 5.5 5.4 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.3 5.3 5.6
5.4 5.4 5.5 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.4 5.3 5.5
 8   3   4   8   4   6   11  10  8  
8 Yuka Sato
5.4 5.4 5.4 5.2 5.3 5.5 5.3 5.3 5.6
5.6 5.8 5.4 5.4 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.2 5.6
 6   2   6   7   8   7   9   12  6  
9 Karen Preston
5.2 4.8 5.3 5.2 5.4 5.4 5.3 5.3 5.5
5.3 4.7 5.3 5.3 5.2 5.4 5.3 5.4 5.5
 9   11  7   9   9   9   12  9   9  
10 Patricia Neske
5.1 5.3 5.3 5.0 5.3 5.2 5.4 5.2 5.4
5.2 5.3 5.2 5.3 5.2 5.5 5.4 5.3 5.4
 12  5   9   12  10  10  10  11  10 
11 Surya Bonaly
5.3 4.7 5.2 5.4 5.3 5.2 5.6 5.6 5.2
5.2 4.7 5.1 5.1 5.1 5.4 5.4 5.4 5.3
 10  12  12  10  11  12  7   6   11 
12 Marina Kielmann
5.2 5.0 5.3 5.3 5.1 5.5 5.5 5.5 5.2
5.2 4.7 5.1 5.1 5.2 5.2 5.4 5.3 5.2
 11  10  10  11  12  11  8   8   12 

1992 World Championships: The Ladies Free Skate

Continuing my entirely-too-long review from yesterday of the 1992 World Championships with the ladies free skate.

A quick reminder of the standings heading into the free skate:
1.) Yamaguchi; 2.) Chen; 3.) Kerrigan; 4.) Harding-Gillooly; 5.) Hubert; 6.) Chouinard; 7.) Preston; 8.) Claeys; 9.) Neske; 10.) Bonaly; 11.) Sato

We start with some opening thoughts by the Canadian commentators. Barb Underhill comments that she thinks there was help from the judges as far as the Americans went in the short program. She had been saying all throughout the short program how impressed she was with the judges for marking the skates and not the reputations, but she wasn't happy with Harding completely missing her combination and ending up 4th.

Karen Preston from Canada, 7th place after the short program and the music is If I Were King.
Triple Salchow/double toe, double flip, triple fLutz is nicely done, triple loop outside the circle but held on, spiral into another triple Salchow with a fall-out, step sequence with a double flip right in the middle of it, double loop, double Axel landed really forward as usually typical with Karen. Triple toe loop again landed slightly forward but completely.
Choreography started only after stroking back and forth for the first three jumping elements. Spins are nice but the combination spin was very slow. She has trouble with the back camel centering and position. Spirals are nothing to write home about and done very quickly. Nice choreography once it started, but Paul Martini comments that there wasn't really any fire.. I agree. She really didn't leave any impression. In the kiss and cry, she comments that her knees started to get really stiff.

5.2 4.8 5.3 5.2 5.4 5.4 5.3 5.3 5.5
5.3 4.7 5.3 5.3 5.2 5.4 5.3 5.4 5.5

She moves into first place of those that have skated.

Alice Sue Clayes from Belgium (Atlanta, Georgia) skating to Coppelia. She wasn't shown in the short program, but she finished 8th there. 4th at the 1992 World Junior Championships.
Triple loop well done, steps into triple Salchow also well done, double Lutz, triple toe/double Axel sequence is beautiful!, Ina Bauer is very nice into a double flip, double Axel, triple toe loop/double toe loop, double Axel.
Spins are decent, spirals are forgettable but weren't they all back then?
Cute middle section with some toe pick choreography, and as a whole the program really impressed me! She didn't rush anything, and she filled the program with a variety of transitions. She was just coming off the junior scene and I think she fit right in to this World Championship field. Definitely a big surprise.

5.3 5.5 5.4 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.3 5.3 5.6
5.4 5.4 5.5 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.4 5.3 5.5

Overtakes Preston for the current lead.

Long-time Canadian international judge Jean Senft talks about the importance of spinning and clips of Swtizerland's Nathalie Krieg with her perfect centering and 5000 variations of position are shown from a practice session.

Patricia Neske from Germany. 25 years old at this event and 9th after the short. Music is Miss Saigon. Also skating for the country of her parents heritage although it sounds like she also grew up in the States. Yup, she's from California.
Triple toe loop is huge to start, single Axel half loop triple Salchow with a step-out, nice double Axel with steps into a double flip, double loop, triple Salchow, nice double Axel, double Lutz, triple toe loop step double toe loop, double Axel step double toe loop.
Great spins again-- some of the best in the competition, and she has a refinement about everything she does. It's all very solid and she relaxes you. I think she could have engaged herself more into the performance but once again, it was all very nicely done.
Commentators mention as she waits for her marks that she was a strong compulsory figures skater and finished as high as 4th in the World (in 1989). Also mentions that she skates during her lunch break from her job as a bank teller, so she obviously wasn't skating 30 hours a week! Good for her.

5.1 5.3 5.3 5.0 5.3 5.2 5.4 5.2 5.4
5.2 5.3 5.2 5.3 5.2 5.5 5.4 5.3 5.4

Japan's Yuka Sato is next. 11th place after the short program and her music includes La Bayadere.
Nice triple toe loop to start, double Lutz, triple loop step into double toe loop, nice double Axel/double toe loop, popped her second loop into a single, triple Salchow, another triple Salchow that only gets around 2 1/2 times and a hard fall, double Axel.
Nice fast spins with great centering and the program was full of footwork-- something she always excelled at when it really wasn't an important element.
She was one of my favorites in the short program for her performance quality and gorgeous basic skating-- this was no different. All of her arm movements are finished and programs back then didn't always have cohesiveness or tell a story. She was able to do that and have the music work as a whole. I really, really liked her skating at this Championship! Underhill says Yuka reminds her of (a much more polished) Elizabeth Manley. I definitely see it in the energy that she gave the entire program.

5.4 5.4 5.4 5.2 5.3 5.5 5.3 5.3 5.6
5.6 5.8 5.4 5.4 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.2 5.6

At this point, Sato moves into second ahead of Preston and behind Claeys.

Surya Bonaly from France, 10th after the short program and the music is Espana Cani and 50 other pieces. The commentators mention at the beginning of the program that there was talk of Surya wanting to turn pro (after the Olympics, I'd guess) and she didn't even want to skate her long program at this event but the French Federation told her that she had to. She wasn't happy with her short program marks. Shock? I think not.
Real telegraphed QUAD toe loop attempt that looked about a half-turn short and two-footed but not a bad effort, triple Lutz with a turn-out into double toe loop, double Axel, triple Salchow with a fall-out, telegraphed triple flip cheated and landed on two feet, popped loop into a single, triple toe loop/triple toe loop and the second jump is cheated, triple Lutz is cheated.
Nice spins with some unique variations and a great Biellmann, but obviously the skating in between all of the elements was really not up to the level of anyone else near the top of the standings. Spirals, just as with the short program, looked like they were a struggle to hold the edge. Moments of an attempt to show choreography but she had no understanding of listening to the music yet. Skates with so much speed but it's all very sloppy.
Suzanne Bonaly apparently left the rink before the free skate and wasn't there with Surya. They think mom is the big problem. The commentators talk about how she did an interview earlier in the week and was happy to answer questions but then her mom came along and was giving her a hard time. Surya mentioned she wanted to come to the States to work with Frank Carroll again which is news to me.. I never knew those two had worked together. Commentators also mention Vanessa Reilly had Bonaly 22nd in the short program, and also had her way lower than her actual placements in the Albertville Games.

5.3 4.7 5.2 5.4 5.3 5.2 5.6 5.6 5.2
5.2 4.7 5.1 5.1 5.1 5.4 5.4 5.4 5.3

Two first place marks from the judges. I mean, I get that she was trying really hard stuff technically and she did have nice spins, but most of the jumps were cheated and it wasn't like she had her presentation to rely on. Oh well, she goes into fifth.

Another Cutting Edge segment by Sandra Bezic as the final group of ladies warm up. Sandra says that there is a mis-conception about ladies being feminine and not athletic but then she compares the Olympic-winning free skates of Petrenko and Yamaguchi-- where both did five triples. I guess they had to waste time somehow.

Laetitia Hubert of France skates first in the final group. She's 5th after the short. Stairway to Heaven and Bohemian Rhapsody are included in her music.
Nice triple loop to start, triple fLutz with no chance at all and a hard fall, triple flip at the other side of the rink with a pitch forward but landed, triple toe loop/triple toe loop combo with a real fight at the end, triple Salchow again landed forward, double Axel (already attempted five triples at the two minute mark), triple Salchow/double toe loop, single Axel with some hops into a triple toe loop and she fell.
As I mentioned in the short program, she always gets as close as possible to the boards when she's doing her crossovers to build up speed, and she nearly went down in the beginning of this program due to the same issue! Choreography is kinda blah compared to the fun short program and her basic skating is really choppy. Spins, once again, were at the mediocre to poor level but she flew around he rink for the entire four minutes.
Now, the ironic thing. Laetitia landed the triple toe/triple toe at the beginning, meaning she repeated the jump once already. She fell on the toe loop at the end-- something she wouldn't have even gotten credit for had she landed it! May she have finished with the bronze medal if not for that stupid mistake? I don't think she was up to the level of many of the other skaters yet, so I still wouldn't have given it to her.

5.5 5.2 5.7 5.5 5.5 5.7 5.5 5.5 5.7
5.6 4.8 5.6 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.6 5.6

Eight first place marks. I loved Laetitia later on in her career, but I think she was judged generously for (somewhat) keeping it together after her Albertville disaster. Three judges even went up for presentation… humph. Maybe Vanessa Reilly really was the only one who knew what she was doing :-)

Nancy Kerrigan free skate. 3rd in the short, commentators reiterate that they don't agree. Born on the Fourth of July by John Williams, and she has a really nice white wedding-looking-at-the-top dress (it looks better than my description, trust me!)
Double Axel to start, doubled flip, triple toe loop/triple toe loop and she squeaks the second one out, nice triple Salchow, single Lutz.. toe pick didn't go in right and she stepped out, spread eagle into a triple loop with a big fall-out, triple Salchow again and not in combination,
The first part of the program was really nice, but then of course it turns into this change of music and mechanical choreography for the circular steps. The music itself isn't that bad, but the way she interprets it just looks awkward to me. Nice spins and good use of the ice. Kerrigan spiral held in a big circle to end the program, which gets a huge response and standing ovation. Besides those weird movements that surrounded the footwork, the program was really beautiful. Confirmation from the commentators that until Harding-Gillooly skated her short program, Laetitia Hubert was in front of Nancy. Because of the ordinals, the day ended with Kerrigan 3rd and Hubert 5th. Did I mention I don't miss ordinals?

5.5 5.2 5.5 5.3 5.4 5.4 5.6 5.7 5.6
5.7 5.6 5.7 5.5 5.7 5.8 5.9 5.8 5.8

Josee Chouinard from Canada, 6th in the short program.
Turns into triple Salchow and it was perfect, triple flip and she falls hard-- supposed to be a triple flip/triple toe loop attempt, down to the other side of the rink for a triple toe loop/double toe loop, little preparation for the triple Lutz and she stepped out, double Axel with a real stiff forward landing and a few steps into a double loop that gets lost in the air and she has a big fall-out, triple Salchow/double toe loop, triple toe loop a little forward again.
Middle slow section was especially nice even though Josee's skating isn't always the smoothest. Change foot on the combo spin was rough and had to hop on her toe pick, and it traveled. At the end, she really lost her speed and muscled her way through the footwork. This program was okay, but it didn't make nearly the impression that her short program did.

5.5 5.1 5.5 5.3 5.3 5.5 5.5 5.5 5.5
5.5 5.3 5.4 5.4 5.4 5.6 5.5 5.5 5.7

Moves into third, behind Kerrigan and Hubert. Eh.. this whole event is a mess!

Kristi Yamaguchi from the USA, leader after the short and reigning World and Olympic Champion. Music is Malaguena, and this is before it was completely overdone. Sandra Bezic, who was commentating on US television, choreographed this.
Triple Lutz/triple toe loop and she made it look easy even if her jumps are tiny, nice double Axel, steps into a nice triple flip, split jump into a triple toe loop, triple loop, down on the triple Salchow, nice triple Lutz near the end of the program!, Russian split into a double Axel.
She doesn't have the power and speed across the ice that some of the other ladies did at the time, but she had a great mix of technical ability and presentation as to where many of the others really excelled in one sense but not the other. She was lightyears ahead of most of the other ladies here, and she performed it well with just the one mistake on the Salchow that always gave her problems.

5.9 5.7 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.9 5.9 5.8
5.9 5.8 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9

All first place ordinals.

Lu Chen from China, 2nd after the short. Capriccio Espagnol.
Nice triple Lutz to start, triple toe loop/double toe loop, double Axel, spiral transition into a popped double loop that came down on two feet, doubled Lutz that got too close to the boards, double flip with no running edge, triple Salchow is nice, triple flip is done and steps into a double toe loop.
Stroking and carriage is sloppy at this point in her career (she's 15!), spins are decently centered but all simple and slow. Like in the short program, she has nice choreography but she doesn't really feel the music. It's one of those "I was told to move my arm like this so I will" type of things. Still skates with lots of speed and attack. Four triples and a string of doubled jumps in the middle of the program, not a complete disaster. She really progressed so much in the years that followed this.

5.6 5.2 5.2 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.6 5.5 5.4
5.5 5.1 5.3 5.3 5.3 5.5 5.5 5.4 5.8

Interesting once again-- the standings as of right now are Yamaguchi, Kerrigan, and Hubert.

And now Tonya Harding-Gillooly once again closes the show. Robin Hood.
Great triple Salchow to open, doubled Lutz, triple Axel attempt and a hard crash to the ice, double toe loop/double toe loop combination-- she had been doing triple/triple earlier in the season, double loop, triple Salchow again and can't really hold the landing edge, double Axel.
She changed the music arrangement around from Albertville and only had about three weeks to practice the new program. The commentators insist that it wasn't a good idea, and while I think this program works better than the random arrangements she previously had, it really lost all of its steam in the second half of this performance. However, she once again showed some of the best spins in the competition.

5.5 5.0 5.0 5.2 5.4 5.1 5.4 5.6 5.5
5.8 5.0 5.3 5.5 5.3 5.7 5.6 5.5 5.6

Harding-Gillooly ends up sixth. Chen moves ahead of Hubert for the bronze medal. Poor Laetitia. She was third until the final skater in the short program, and she had the bronze medal until the final skater in the free skate. Both times, that skater was Tonya!

Final standings:
1.) Yamaguchi; 2.) Kerrigan; 3.) Chen; 4.) Hubert; 5.) Chouinard; 6.) Harding-Gillooly; 7.) Claeys; 8.) Sato; 9.) Preston; 10.) Neske; 11.) Bonaly

Tuesday, July 6

1992 World Championships: The Ladies Event

A review (thank you, YouTube members 3Axel1996 and Benben35) of the 1992 World Championship ladies short program. I started watching skating a year later, so it was my first time seeing some of these programs. The Worlds took place in Oakland, California, and some of the major stories leading into the event included:

-Kristi Yamaguchi was already the reigning World Champion and had just won the Olympic title in Albertville three weeks prior. Oakland is ten miles from her hometown so she obviously has huge fan support throughout the week. She would turn professional after the event.

-Olympic silver medalist Midori Ito of Japan decided to retire from amateur skating after the Games, leaving the fight for the rest of the medals somewhat open. (Note: Midori would come back to compete in the 1996 World Championships as the ISU allowed pro skaters to reinstate as amateur if they so chose).

-Among the possible medal threats were two French ladies: Surya Bonaly and Laetitia Hubert. Bonaly was no longer working with Didier and Annick Gailhaguet and was now being "coached" by her mom-- the commentators suggested that Surya was likely just coaching herself and that she may have been dumped by the Gailhaguets rather than the other way around. Hubert was coming off of her roller coaster Olympic experience where she was 5th in the short program and then 15th in the free skate, which, if you've seen the program, was probably even too generous. She earned the nickname "Human Zamboni" sometime shortly after; I think that is descriptive enough.

-Tonya Harding-Gillooly (yes, using her married name) fired coach Dody Teachman and choreographer Barbara Flowers after the Olympics and returned to Diane Rawlinson. She also realized (or used the excuse) that her blades had been incorrectly mounted and not properly sharpened earlier in the season, including while competing in Albertville, so she had them corrected before Oakland. During the three week span between events, she also had a new short program choreographed, to Moon River. Her prior short program that she had used all season, you ask? It was titled People are Still Having Sex. Oh, Tonya! For what it's worth, the music was kind-of cool.

-The American ladies had been on the podium at the World Championships for 22 years in a row coming into the 1992 Worlds. The streak would end with this event.

-There was all the talk about the big fields and having to reduce the sizes at the ISU Championships during this years Congress, even though back then there were 40 ladies entered!

-Notorious crazy judge Vanessa Reilly was judge number two on this panel. I'll make note of some of the mentionings of her placements as the review goes on. :-)

-The required elements were a bit different in 1992. The flying spin only needed to have six revolutions, as did the layback spin. The jump out of footwork had to be a double-- the only triple allowed was in the jump combination. The spiral sequence was such a throw-away element, as most of the ladies held their positions for a second maximum. You'll see a lot of complaining from me later on.

And now for the performances, along with the links so you can watch yourself. Most of the videos are from the Canadian broadcast of the event, while some of the lower-ranked ladies are from personal home videos.

American Nancy Kerrigan was first of the big names to skate, with starting position 5 of 40.  In the American broadcast, we get the special treat of seeing shots of her legally blind mother with her face pressed up against the television screen provided for her in the arena.. something we'd see much more of in the following years. Anyways, her music is listed as Paradise and The Master by Mark Militano, a former skater who ended up composing all (or at least most) of Kerrigan's short program music. Double Lutz/triple toe loop to open.. landed forwards on the toe loop and put her hands down and fell out. Trademark Kerrigan spiral as part of her sequence and a nice layback with a classic position. Spread eagle into double Axel. Flying camel spin, and typical Kerrigan build-up music into the circular footwork. Nice shoot-the-duck entrance into her double Lutz with her hands up beside her head, and a decent combination spin to finish. 3Axel1996 notes that there was question whether Kerrigan was allowed to do both a double Lutz as part of the combination and then another double Lutz as her individual jump, but the rules weren't exactly precise back then (example being that the men, a few years earlier, were able to do triple Axel/triple toe, triple Axel, and double Axel as their three jump elements in the short program because of unclear rules!). Normal program for Nancy, a bit cheesy on the choreography but it was the early 90's-- she wasn't the only one to suffer this problem.

5.5 5.0 5.2 5.1 5.3 5.5 5.4 5.3 5.4
5.7 5.7 5.6 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.7 5.7

After Kerrigan's marks, we see a Cutting Edge segment with Sandra Bezic. Wow, an underrotated triple Lutz was a problem even back in 1992! Surya Bonaly is used in the example to show that she only rotated 2.75 times before hitting the ice. Other mistakes and one clean jump are also shown from Bonaly, and another skater at the end that I can't identify.

A home video of Anisette Torp-Lind from Denmark is next, skating to Espana Waltz. Double Axel, triple Salchow with a fall-out into double toe loop, classic layback nicely done, circular footwork with a stumble right in front of the judges, flying camel not much lift and not a strong position. Torp-Lind is one of the skaters with spirals that are barely held as I mentioned in the opening. Double flip is tiny but done.   Combination spin with all mediocre to weak positions, especially the camel once again. She carries herself decently and has good speed throughout. Pleasant, but weak-ish spinning.

4.7 4.5 4.8 4.3 4.3 4.5 4.8 4.5 4.6
5.0 5.2 5.2 4.9 4.9 5.1 5.2 5.0 5.3

Another home video, this of Joanne Conway from Great Britain. Jazzy music. Triple toe landed forwards into double toe that had to be muscled out but done. Double Axel big and overrotated.. had to step out.. fast layback with good centering, spirals again typical pre-IJS: lots of positions and none that are great, double flip, flying camel is okay. Flashy choreography again to straight line footwork that has a nice variety of turns in both direction and a lot of personality throughout. Combination spin to end. Not bad. Kept up the speed and energy.

4.8 4.8 4.6 5.0 5.2 4.4 5.1 5.1 4.9
5.1 5.3 5.1 5.2 5.4 5.1 5.3 5.3 5.3

Kristi Yamaguchi of the USA is next. Blue Danube. Triple Lutz not the best of landings and no flow into double toe. No deduction, just not great. Steps into double flip with right hand tano-ed, layback with catchfoot at the end... working the IJS way ahead of its time! Spirals are actually held for more than a second in the beginning but all very basic and average positions. Circular footwork with nice flair, Nice combination spin with good positions. Double Axel again almost out of control but she fought for it. Flying camel with an illusion to end. Standing ovation. I think the program is nice but this performance really just screamed "business as usual" to me rather than anything memorable. I'm sure it was hard to keep the energy up after her Olympic win. I think the marks were just slightly generous. I probably would have gone for 5.7/5.8.

5.8 5.7 5.8 5.7 5.7 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.8
5.9 5.9 5.9 5.8 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.8 5.9

Lu Chen from China skating to Unchained Melody and Beetlejuice since they relate so well together. It happened a lot in the 80's and early 90's-- don't ask. Mentioning of her struggles in the short program as she starts: 11th in Olympics, 9th in World Juniors. Barb Underhill says that Chen comes closest to Yamaguchi in combining grace and athleticism. Nice speed into triple Lutz/double toe loop-- her typical no run-out landing on the Lutz but it was huge. Spirals seriously make me wonder why it took until 2010 for them to be removed from the short program. Layback good center but only a so-so position. Music changes to Beetlejuice now and it's fun but she still has the same serious look in her face. Relatively simple steps into double flip. Flying camel again so-so with not much fly. Circular footwork with no real energy even though the music begs for it. Double Axel is good. Fast combination spin with some interesting variations but just mediocre positions throughout. Good (but not great) technically, and really reserved. No sign of the artist she would be just a few years later.. just average basics.

5.3 5.6 5.7 5.5 5.5 5.7 5.6 5.3 5.6
5.5 5.6 5.6 5.4 5.4 5.6 5.7 5.3 5.6

Patricia Neske from Germany, skating to Morning to Morning by David Foster. Triple Salchow with a step-out into double toe loop, nice double Axel, flying camel with a stretch variation. Spiral sequence is done to the music but, as usual, nothing too difficult. A basic combination spin but all very good positions and fast. Circular footwork is okay.. easy steps into double flip.. nicely done. Gentle choreography into a layback that is perfectly centered, fast, and has a deep back arch. Best spins so far and a soft quality to her but nothing really stood out aside from the great spins. She had some strong results back in the days of the compulsory figures but dropped once they were removed from competition after 1990.

4.9 4.6 5.2 5.0 5.0 5.1 5.3 4.9 5.3
5.2 5.2 5.4 5.3 5.3 5.5 5.4 5.1 5.5

Nathalie Krieg from Switzerland next, who would have been 14 at this event. Jazzy music. Triple toe loop with free leg still really wrapped/double toe loop but clean and rotated. Really grinds to a halt before the double Axel--- popped and came down after 1 rotation on two feet. Fast layback with a catch-foot... big audience applause for that. Of course in the tradition of Denise Biellmann, she continues the great Swiss spinning. Spirals with some decent positions. Steps into double flip with hands on face.. lots of energy.. flying sit done well... still carrying loads of energy and I think she clipped the boards and fell. It looks like it was right in the beginning of a serpentine-ish footwork sequence... right back into character and into a combination spin with a perfect Biellmann and y-spin... ends in a full split. Spins obviously way ahead of her time and the character was definitely there.. just maintained maybe a bit too much energy which caused the fall. The audience loved it. Lots of transitional moves throughout even though it wasn't asked of back then!

4.2 4.4 4.3 4.0 4.8 4.9 4.5 4.5 4.7
5.1 5.4 5.3 4.9 5.4 5.4 5.2 5.2 5.2

Laetitia Hubert from France next. Her music is Petite Fleur and In the Mood, which work well together.  Won the World Junior Championship just a few months before this event. Already showed how fast she flew around the rink back then. Starts off with spirals which were never her strength.. no position held longer than a second and all of the positions weak. Always gets as close as possible to the boards on crossovers. Triple loop/ double toe loop.. big and well done. Layback is slow and drops the free leg into an ugly position with slight travel. Music picks up, as does her speed-- if that's even possible! Double Axel with plenty of speed coming out. Combination spin is average. Double flip is okay, and coach screams go go go go at the boards before the straight line steps, which have nice personality. She definitely had fun with this program. Flying sit which is also just okay. Mentioned that she was 26th in the short in the 1991 Worlds, and she was the one who ran into Midori Ito in the warm-up there. Throughout her career, her skating was so fast that her arms really flailed around without much refinement. She was even messier here than in her later days. Spins and spirals were really nothing to write home about but I think the judges really loved her speed.

5.5 5.6 5.6 5.3 5.4 5.6 5.5 5.4 5.4
5.5 5.5 5.7 5.3 5.4 5.7 5.5 5.4 5.6

Teammate Surya Bonaly is next. We are reminded that she was third in the short program in Albertville. Seagull-sounding waves to begin but then it's Zorba the Greek. I would have never guessed. Double Axel with little preparation.. typical Surya. Triple Lutz slightly underrotated (just as they showed in the Cutting Edge clip) and fell. Serpentine footwork with a lack of energy probably because of the fall but still a nice sequence. Layback is nicely centered and fast. Back to wave sounds for spirals, some shakiness throughout. She was never one to look too secure on deep edges. Combination spin that includes a 1/2 Biellmann and a "Sasha" spin before Sasha did it so I'm not sure of the exact technical name! Double flip with hands extended over head.. flying sit with nice traveling entrance. The program actually had nice pacing, but her basic skating was obviously suffering.. story of her career. Andre Brunet was forced to sit with her in the kiss and cry even though he wasn't coaching her.

5.1 4.5 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.0 5.0 4.9 5.1
5.5 5.0 5.2 5.3 5.6 5.5 5.5 5.4 5.5

At this point, she's 7th. Vanessa Reilly has her 17th :-)

Yuka Sato from Japan next. Polovetsian Dances. Triple loop with a fall-out into double toe loop and the landing not held. Flying sit rough start to it and only 5 clean revolutions. Another deduction there. Double flip with hands at sides. Combination spin is fast with okay positions. Music slows, and there's a definite artistic quality. Yuka used a variation of this music 10+ years later to win the Hallmark Championship that I attended. Spirals and some moves in the field thrown in.. all very nicely done. Music picks up again into straight line footwork, which shows off her great basics and deep edges. Double Axel is nice... layback is fast but just an okay position. As a whole, I really liked the pacing of this program and she looks happy even with the mistake. Great basics, great sense of the music. One of my favorites of the day.

5.1 5.1 4.8 4.8 5.1 5.3 5.0 4.8 5.4
5.4 5.6 5.3 5.3 5.4 5.7 5.4 5.3 5.5

Karen Preston from Canada. Music is The Seasons by Glazunov. Back spiral into nice double Axel with big height. Triple flip/ double toe loop, forward on the landing of the flip but it was clean. Combination spin with all classic positions and average speed. Spiral sequence as music slows down. Leg is actually high but the positions aren't amazing. Layback spin with variations again average speed but nice. Straight line footwork is average once again.. looks a little heavy on her skates through all of the elements.. not as smooth as they could be. Double loop as the individual jump is okay. Flying camel with big traveling to start but it ended up centered... standing ovation. Annie Bellemare channeled her look completely ten years later.

5.0 5.1 5.2 5.4 5.4 5.6 5.5 5.2 5.5
5.2 5.1 5.1 5.4 5.3 5.5 5.4 5.2 5.7

Marina Kielmann from Germany is next. Mentionings that she was 15th in Olympics short, and problems in previous 2 European short programs as well, so this is definitely where she struggles. Marina is TALL. Spirals to start including a skid spiral. Really choppy basic skating, probably partially because of her roller skating background. Double flip with hands over head nice steps into it, Triple Lutz with a pre-rotation the size of Sarah Hughes' lutz/flip and underrotated into double toe. Wasn't pretty but to the naked eye casual fan, I'm sure it looked fine. Combination spin is well done. This is a different program from the Olympics three weeks prior. Circular footwork done in her main turning direction but it has energy. Double Axel step out-- of course!. Flying sit with a HUGE travel and fast rotation, layback with mediocre position. Her roller skating really gave her a strange technique on the ice. It was a nice program but again a mistake after landing the Lutz combination. The roller skating history, in my opinion, just gave her too many technique issues to work through.

5.0 4.3 4.8 4.8 5.1 5.1 4.9 4.9 5.0
5.3 4.9 5.1 5.2 5.5 5.4 5.4 5.4 5.4

11th place, but Reilly has her 23rd.

Josee Chouinard of Canada next. Well-done combination spin to start, and builds up the energy already. Double flip with hand over head and a step out, too much energy into it! Triple Lutz/double toe.. the toe had no run out at all and up on the toe pick, but clean. Great presentation. Music slows and the layback is nicely done... spirals are not great positions but she held the first few very nicely to the music. Picking back up.. flying sit is okay.. straight line step with audience clapping.. nicely done.. Double Axel is big and nicely done as well. Standing ovation from the Canadian part of the audience again.. and a nice ovation as a whole. Nice program.. another one of my favorites of the day. Stupid mistake on the flip but at least she pulled it back together.

5.2 5.1 5.3 5.2 5.4 5.4 5.7 5.4 5.5
5.5 5.5 5.6 5.4 5.5 5.7 5.7 5.5 5.6

Tonya Harding-Gillooly closes the show with her new program to Moon River. The aforementioned drama in her life is highlighted first. Spiral sequence to start.. mediocre positions but she held them! Amazing! Layback spin is well done with nice position. Picks up speed.. Ina Bauer into double flip.. loud cheers. No triple Axel anymore.. double Lutz with a step-out... no combination. Serpentine footwork doesn't really relate to the music but it's good... flying sit.. one of the best with a huge fly.. double Axel nicely done. Combination spin with great speed and nice positions. Besides the error on the jump combination everything was very good! Another program that shows Tonya was very capable of skating to the gentle and lyrical music.

5.2 5.0 5.3 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.3 5.3 5.4
5.6 5.3 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.8

The final standings after the short program were
1. Yamaguchi; 2. Chen; 3. Kerrigan; 4. Harding; 5. Hubert; 6. Chouinard

Hubert led Kerrigan until the very last skater (Harding), I'm pretty sure, and then their positions flipped.

How would you have judged it?

Can you also recommend a source, or more, when I want to learn a bit more about differentiate jumps, footwork, spins,, transitions, edgesand to know how good a program actually is?

Reading the rules and communications on the ISU website ( and then comparing the performances on YouTube to the protocols you can find from each event is helpful. For example, the protocols from the 2010 World Championships can be found here (where it says Judges Scores, for each portion of the events):

I learned by watching skating when I was young and listening to the commentators call out the jumps and spins and all of the other elements. This was before the internet was huge and there weren't so many resources online back then. When it came to transition into the IJS, I really just read up on everything to understand it better.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Do you think Dube & Davison will ever win another world medal?

Nope. The "Blowers Daughter" program they did was magical, but besides that, they haven't really had any memorable programs in my opinion. I did like their "Galicia Flamenca" short program, and while I think their free skate that they are re-using in 2011 ("The Way We Were") is nice, it seems like it's an attempt to bring them back to the magic of the 2007/2008 free skate-- and it's falling flat of that.

I see them getting stuck in the "second-to-last" group (5th through 8th) for the remainder of their careers. I really liked them once upon a time, but she in particular gave me the impression of saying "oh well" to their lackluster performances all last season.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Of the skaters past or current, who is the one you would most love to see skate in person that you've yet to see?

Daisuke Takahashi, Takahiko Kozuka, Savchenko/Szolkowy

Ask me a question about figure skating!

...and even more presence. I also think with his "I love you/I hate you" as competition performance, there was a lot of presence and it actually was one of his better programs.

There were moments of 'presence' in the program, but not consistent throughout.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

"If he commanded the ice in competitions the way he does in exhibitions, it would be a start." That means, he has the ability to pull it off and needs a better choreographer? I also think, his exhibitions are outstanding with a lot interpretation...tbc.

I don't know if he needs a better choreographer, because David Wilson has done wonders with other skaters. I think he needs a psychologist (or a better one if he already has one) that will make him have the confidence he does when he's show skating. He looks like a deer in the headlights throughout most of his competition programs.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

"He skates relatively slow and doesn't have many difficult transitions." How fast

There's not an easy way for me to describe fast skating or at least average-speed skating, but Johnny really crawls into most of his elements and carries a very slow speed throughout his programs vs. many of the other men.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

What do you think of Chan keeping his Phantom LP for another season? And of skaters using programs for more than one season in general?

I don't always love skaters using programs for more than a year, but sometimes it is okay. I would have liked to see Patrick come up with something new, even though he probably feels that he can make Phantom even stronger with a full summer/fall of training and competing rather than dealing with injuries as he did at the beginning of last season.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Can You Do BAckFlips in Skates?

Absolutely not!

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Monday, July 5

Tugba Karademir Retirement

Tugba Karademir, the long-time competitor from Turkey has retired at the age of 25. Among her successes include two top-ten finishes at the European Championships, and competing in both the Torino and Vancouver Olympic Games.

Here's my favorite performance (and program) of hers, from the Torino Games.

Sunday, July 4

Formspring Roundup

So, now that there are less elements in the short program, am I right in assuming that the high scores from the past probably won't be broken?

You are probably correct.

Plushenko was spotted the other day coaching Mishin's group. Do you think he could help Patrick Chan out with quads (if the 2 were on speaking terms, of course)?

I'm sure Plushenko could help teach anyone how to do the quad toe loop. Mishin is the absolute master of technique, and I'm willing to bet after all these years that Plushenko has picked up on most of his methods of teaching.

Just wanted to let you know: Kevin Van Der Perren has officially stated that he will skate for one more season. His goals: medal @ Europeans, top 8 @ Worlds. I don't think that's realistic (even without Lambiel, Plushenko, etc.). What do you think?

You never know with Kevin! I really liked him when he was beginning to make his climb (he went from something like 31st at 2001 Worlds to 12th at the 2002 Olympics) but I think lately he's been very lazy about his training. He likes jumping and that is really obvious, but he skates around on two feet with no transitions and no trying to relate to the music most of the time. I never thought he would have the skates he had at the 2010 Worlds so I'm never counting him out, but I think it'll be tough.

Kevin can win a medal at Euros. He did so in 2008. I belive he can do well. My only question is whether or not he try to do quad triples and quad triple triples for a whole season!!?!?

Why not? He's most likely not going to be tiring himself out with difficult moves in the field and choreography :-)

Okay, I was being just a little bit smart with that reply. I'm sure he's capable of doing the 4/3/3 all season. He was landing the 3Sal/3toe/3loop pretty consistently back in the 2003/2004 season! It's the triple Axel that, ever since he has been a senior skater, has either been there or not even close-- he showed that again at this years Worlds.

Has anyone ever done 2 3-3s and a 3-3-3 or 2 3-3s and a 4-3-3?

Well, the only way to do two 3/3 jumps and a 4/3/3 would be if a skater could do a 4toe/3loop/3loop and something like 3lutz/3toe, 3flip/3toe, OR 4toe/3toe/3toe, 3lutz/3loop, 3flip/3loop, etc. So no, I don't think it's ever been done. Evgeny Plushenko probably did 4toe/3toe/3loop and 3axel/3toe before, but then his other combination would have needed to be a 3jump/3loop, which is difficult.

Same thing for 3/3/3 and 3/3 3/3. The latter two jumps on the three-jump combo and the latter jumps on both 3/3 combos would have to be toe, toe, loop, and loop. (ex 3sal/3toe/3loop, 3lutz/3toe, 3flop/3loop).

How do you compare Chan and Kozuka?

Simply, Chan has confidence and Kozuka has yet to find it. Both have gorgeous basics and a great understanding of how the blade works. I don't think Chan is an amazing artist, but he does what he needs to. Kozuka is still just too shy and I doubt he understands how good he really is.

Speaking of the scoring system, the rule changes coming up this year have been dubbed by some to be the "Asada" rules, because most think they will be favorable to Asada in that they will raise the value of a triple axel and other changes of that sort.

This little novel I wrote discusses those issues:

During his time, it seemed that John Curry's style was hard for some people to accept. It seems to me that Johnny Weir faces some of the same biases. What do you think?

I think that Johnny's skating might make some people uncomfortable, but not many... it's FIGURE SKATING! Again, the big issue for him with me (and many others, I think) is that for being thrown in with the top group of skaters, he lacks the choreography that almost all of them have. When he's skating in competitions, most of his programs fall flat and there's no real interpretation or presence-- if there is, there are only flashes of it. He skates relatively slow and doesn't have many difficult transitions.

I answered your question this way because I am guessing that you think part of the reason he is held down in the standings, so to speak, is because of these biases. If he commanded the ice in competitions the way he does in exhibitions, it would be a start.