Thursday, July 22

Have you heard anything about Mirai's injury and the severity of it?

I haven't heard anything about it..

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Is this the last we'll have seen of Rockne Brubaker or do you think he'll realistically be able to find a viable (and injury-free) partner for this quad?

I think he will be able to find someone, but he probably won't find anyone in time to compete this season. It sucks that they waited to split until the end of June, but then again, I don't know that splitting any earlier (such as after Four Continents) would have resulted in any other options for partners.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

What happens if someone is supposed to do a jump out of footwork but doesn't? Is it counted as illegal?

It's not illegal, but the rules state that the GOE should be reduced by -3 if there are NO required steps/movements preceding the jump, and reduced by -1 or -2 for having a break between required steps/movements and jump, or having only one step or movement preceding jump.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

What do you think Yu-Na skipping out the Grand Prix means for other skaters, i.e. Mao, Mirai, etc.?

It shouldn't really mean anything besides giving Suzuki, Ando, and Leonova a bit of a break, as they all were assigned the same two events as Yu-Na. The fields for China and Russia still remain deep, though, with Nagasu skating at Cup of China and a handful of potential spoilers (Makarova, Meier, Wagner, Zawadzki) skating at Rostelecom Cup.

As far as the whole series, it might give Asada or skaters like Ando and Nagasu some early steam, but let's remember that Ashley Wagner and Alena Leonova did well in the series last year to make the Final and basically fizzle off by the time the most important events came around. Therefore, I don't think Yu-Na's withdrawal means too much.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

What will it take to make Lori Nichol use an original, not overdone song?!

Well I don't know her so I can't tell you :-)

I think often times with choreographers, they let the skaters pick out some music that they'd like to skate to and then work from that. Think about it, if the skater really likes the music then the job of the choreographer becomes that much more simple because they don't have to keep trying to convince the skater of their 'vision' for a program. However, because of this, you get skaters who don't want to sit around for hours and hours looking for obscure pieces like some fans do (myself included), and we get a 'Skatings Greatest Hits' selection over and over each season. Skating to something familiar is probably also more of a safe bet than something that hasn't ever been used, and let's remember the ages of many of the judges... enough said? :-)

I know it drives some people completely insane when there is an announcement of yet another Carmen, Malaguena, or Swan Lake, but I actually don't mind it. However, I wish I was a choreographer because I've definitely heard some great pieces over the last few years. Maybe some day..

Ask me a question about figure skating!

What do you think of Javier Raya's senior prospects? I always find it exciting when non-powerhouse nations produce promising young skaters.

He obviously needs more difficult jumping content before he's ever going to make the free skate at Worlds, but I was very pleasantly surprised with his short program at Junior Worlds. He has a strong foundation to his skating and the basics look very secure. I think Javier Fernandez will manage to get into the top 10 at Worlds in a year or two (earning a second spot for Spain), so hopefully Raya is able to improve by then. However, he's already 19 and aged out of juniors so I don't know how much further he will be able to go with the jumps. The flip and Lutz don't seem consistent based on his protocols, and he doesn't have a triple Axel. But then again, maybe he's working really hard this summer and will surprise me again come the start of the season.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Are there any up-and-coming Swiss spinmeisters?

Good question, and I honestly don't know. Switzerland is really going to have to go through a rebuilding process starting next season with Lambiel and Othman retiring and Meier making 2011 her last season, as well. There's been no real standout male skater (yet), while Romy Buhler had a really decent showing at the World Junior Championships after a so-so year. She doesn't follow along the lines of Biellmann, Krieg, and Ruh, though, as far as the spins.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Wednesday, July 21

Weir Wins Skater of the Year; Local Magazine Shares Thoughts on Johnny

So Johnny won the title of Skating Magazine Readers Choice Skater of the Year over the likes of Olympic Champion Evan Lysacek and Olympic silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Hey, good for him!

Many people always comment on how they think figure skating is perceived outside the fandom of the sport itself, and I came across something very interesting. I was flipping through the pages of UWeekly (an Ohio State University magazine), trying to find a popular section that showcases photos from bars around the Columbus area, when I found this 'gem':

IPhone screen shot from yours truly

Liberty: The Mens Short Program

Here's my thoughts from videos of the senior mens short program at the recent Liberty Open. 

Photo courtesy daylife.com
Canadian Patrick Chan debuted his new short program to Take Five and landed his first-ever quadruple toe loop with amazing flow into and out of the jump. He went on to fall on the triple Axel at the other side of the rink but it also featured complex transitions directly leading up to the element, which was nice to see. Most of the time we see triple Axels being preceded by a long backwards outside edge around the middle of the rink. He finished off his jump elements with a triple flip/triple toe with an ever-so-slight pause in between the two jumps. As I will discuss with some of the other men, the rule changes for spins this year seem to have many of the competitors going for (not so great) positions that will increase the levels, but at the same time kill the speed of the element. Not the case with Patrick, who showed good positions throughout all three of his required spins, including a deep layover position on the back end of his camel/change/camel. The end of the program features a long straight-line step that is mostly done on one skate throughout the first half. As always for Chan, his edge work looks effortless and his flow is among (if not) the best in the world. The program itself is once again wonderfully choreographed and full of content, but I still don't get much feeling out of Patrick besides me thinking, "wow, your basics are to die for." I still think he can break out of his shell and that the best is yet to come from him. For now, it seems like it's business as usual.

Armin Mahbanoodazeh skated to Mario Takes a Walk, part of Irina Slutskaya's 2006 Olympic season free skate. Armin is so tiny that you think there wouldn't be much power behind his skating, but then he goes and does a triple Axel as his first element that seriously looked like a double (I even had to figure out the slow-motion in my Quicktime player to make sure it was a triple, and that doesn't happen often!). The entrance, by the way, is absolutely ridiculous with an inside bracket right into the jump. He also completed a beautiful triple Lutz/triple toe and triple flip from steps. For his flying spin, Armin decided on a camel and finished off the element with a great donut position. His sit/change/sit also featured some cool variations and they were done well. The serpentine footwork showed some flair but I still get the sense that he, like Chan, is still holding back a bit. The program ended with a combination spin that included a camel spin that had his skating leg and free legs bent while his face and upper body were facing down towards the ice. Not the best description, but the spin was cool and he kept the centering throughout. Overall, I was really impressed with him and he skated great!

Alaska native Keegan Messing skated his short program to music from Robin Hood. Choreography at the beginning where he shoots an arrow-- is that required of this music? Nice triple Axel to start, and off to the other side of the rink for a triple Lutz/triple toe again with a slight pause in the middle of the two jumps. Flying sit spin is fast and low, and features a hop to increase the level in the middle. Spread eagle and steps into a triple flip that might have taken off from a slight outside edge, difficult to tell from the video. Another sit/change/sit and the content didn't matter at all because the new rules state that the flying spin and the change-foot spin must be different (sit or camel)-- Keegan did sit positions for both, making the later element invalid. It's (not so) nice to know that originally the USFS computers/callers/whatever didn't seem to be aware of the rule change and gave him credit for both elements.. it was later changed. Straight-line footwork includes a lot of use of his whole body and is well done. Russian split leading into the final combination spin which is fast and all of the positions aside from the back camel are well done. When I saw Keegan at the Junior World Championships, I couldn't get my thoughts away from how similar he skated to World Champion Elvis Stojko. He seems to have smoothed out a bit since then, but I still think he can go a long way with his basics and posture. I was surprised that even with the invalid element that this scored similar to Mahbanoozadeh. Keegan skates faster, but everything he does seems borderline sloppy to me. I think another year on the Junior Grand Prix is a good call.

Alexander Johnson finished the day in fourth place and skated to Caravan. He also started off with a triple Axel that didn't get much distance but he pulled it off just fine. The triple flip/triple toe loop combination had a deliberate jab of the toe pick into the ice on the flip--- sometimes we see skaters turn on the pick before vaulting into the toe jumps, so this was nice to see. Camel/change/camel spin has really nice positions and he ends in a catch-foot with a change of edge. Not a fast spin, but a nice one. Steps with a slight pause into the triple Lutz and it's okay. Flying sit with a low pancake-type position that slows as it goes. Circular footwork is nicely done but he doesn't really make it stand out like so many of the men have done.. seems a bit out of energy, actually. Combination spin to end and a really surprising Y-spin at the end of it with great stretch. One thing with Alexander is that I really picked up on his long pushes in each of his back crossovers. In a system where transitions and complex choreography are so important to the program, I'm not sure that my noting of all of the crossovers is such a good thing. In any event, the program was nice but he could have sold it much more.

Stephen Carriere was fifth and skated to a medley from Chicago. He started off with a triple Axel that had nice height and distance, but he didn't stop the rotation and had to step out of the landing. Triple Lutz with a bit of a curve on the landing edge and he did a double toe as the second part of the combination. Triple flip (which is at the same part of the rink as most other skaters that did their triple from steps) looked to be on a severe outside edge but again, it was at the other end of where the video was recorded. Music picks up and he does a flying camel with a donut position. It slowed down and the position could have been more stretched but it wasn't bad. The straight line footwork got the audience into the program but there wasn't a whole lot of difficulty. Sit/change/sit with lots of cannonball/pancake variations and again seems just a bit slow to me. Combination spin with an 'Emanuel' spin that kills the speed and some playful choreography right up to where the technical panel was sitting to end. Seems like there was a lot of personality throughout the program, but most of the choreography was upper body movements while he was on two feet or doing simple turns. Unfortunately, even though he's a former World Junior Champion and senior World team member for the US, I think he's going to get lost in the shuffle behind some of the other up-and-comers. He was, however, picked by the USFS to compete at Skate America, so maybe they aren't ready to throw him into that shuffle just yet.

For the Ice Network summary of the mens short program, which includes details of how Chan almost missed his program, read here.

Just a final thought after seeing these programs as well as some of the other lower-ranked performances. The new rules are producing similar patterns already from what I can see. The first being the removal of the second step sequence from the short program for the men. Instead of leaving more time for in-betweens and choreography, it seems like many of the men have opted to do a never-ending pattern on their one step sequence. Also, the spin rule changes have many of the men attempting donut spins now-- something we hardly saw before. This has to do with the fact that in years past, most men attempted both a flying sit spin and a sit/change/sit spin in their short programs.. something that is now illegal.

I looked back at my 2010 Worlds mens short program notes, and I made a comment during Ryan Bradley's program that he was the first skater to do camels in either his flying or change-foot spin. He skated 33rd of 48! Also, Among the final two warm-up groups there (the highest World-ranked skaters), only Adam Rippon featured a flying camel into a donut position. All of the other men did both flying sits and sit/change/sit spins. Welp, you've been warned about the possibility of some really ugly camel spin positions throughout this year!

Tuesday, July 20

Hochstein, Kelemen Earn Grand Prix Berths

American Grant Hochstein has been assigned to Skate Canada while Romanian Zoltan Kelemen has been assigned to Trophee Eric Bompard. Both skaters are replacing withdrawn Johnny Weir who has decided to take the season off. The ISU also lists Belorussian Alexandr Kazakov as being withdrawn from Bompard.

Update 7/21: Anton Kovalevski of Ukraine has earned his second event, replacing Kazakov at Bompard. He also competes at the Rostelecom Cup the week prior.

Yu-Na Kim has not officially withdrawn herself from the series yet, so her name remains on the Cup of China and Rostelecom Cup rosters.

Yue Zhang/Lei Wang of China have also received their second event, replacing McLaughlin/Brubaker at Skate Canada. Unfortunately for this team, they also skate at NHK Trophy just a week before coming to Canada. The new Grand Prix schedule definitely sets up horrible traveling situations for skaters receiving back-to-back events. McLaughlin/Brubaker's other event, Skate America, has not yet been replaced, but another American pair will take their spot.

In ice dance, Italians Lorenza Alessandrini/Simone Vaturi have received Skate America as their second event, replacing the now-retired Zaretiskis. The Italians will also compete at Skate Canada two weeks prior. Czech team Lucie Mysliveckova/Matej Novak have received their first assignment at Rostelecom Cup, replacing the split Ukrainian team of Zadorozhniuk/Verbillo.

Limited Updates Through This Weekend

Sorry about the lack of actual news vs. Formspring answers lately.. nothing too exciting has been going on. If the Liberty Open competition has some videos that start popping up, I will review the new programs. If not, I'll probably link to reports elsewhere on the web in a few days.

My birthday is on the 23rd so until this weekend, there probably won't be very many updates to the site. In the event that you want to know my address so you can send me presents, e-mail me ;-)

Did you see Mao's new exibition in DOI? Please let me hear your impression on it. Akiko's new SP Jalousie is available in youtube as well. I think both of them are just FABULOUS! Better to watch their 27th performances. :)

I did see Mao's exhibition and I liked it a lot more than most of her recent competitive stuff. I also liked that the dress didn't go all the way up to her neck like usual; it was really beautiful. That, along with her music choices for her competitive programs, gives me great hope that she will be back on track and happy next season.

I like Akiko's new short program. It has some crisp, precise movements that are perfect for the music. I am glad she didn't retire.. she still has a lot left in her!

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Can you clarify what is meant by a "scratchy landing"? Is it meant literally - the blade scratches across the ice - or does it connote something more?

It just is a term usually used meaning that there isn't a smooth, backwards outside edge coming out of the jump. Sometimes skaters land on the flat of their blades or under-rotate the jump, and to fix it, they have to adjust the landing skate after it is already on the ice-- causing a scratchiness by trying to adjust themselves from an awkward, off-weight position to the correct position. Hope that helps!

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Aw, I'm kinda surprised you didn't like Lu Chen's Beetlejuice/Unchained Melody SP. I thought Tom Dickson's odd music combo worked well... it sounded like a dream that turned into a nightmare.

I get the concept, and I love the Beetlejuice soundtrack. The problem for me was how little Chen seemed to be into the performance at that time in her career. I know that the short program had been her problem spot in 1992, but she just looked so focused and didn't really sell any of it. I was surprised that the commentators talked about how much artistic quality she had, because I would have never guessed she turned into the amazing artist she became, based on these performances!

Ask me a question about figure skating!

How realistic do you think Mroz and Carriere's chances are of successful comebacks? Do you think they will be able to challenge Abbott and Rippon?

Mroz, maybe. I think he got it together by the free skate at Four Continents, but of course that was too late. I think he needs better programs this year, or at least programs that don't make him look extremely uncomfortable. There's still something flat about his skating for me.

Carriere.. eh. You can never count him out, either, but I think he's done. I never really got into his skating.

I think that Rippon is going to be the strong force for American skating starting next season. Abbott might have his typical strong showing early in the year and/or at Nationals, but seriously.. look out for Adam.

As far as the third spot (assuming Evan retires), look out for the three Junior Worlds men (Hochstein, Messing, Mahbanoozadeh) to really make their marks. Armin already made the final group for the free skate at last years Nationals but wasn't able to hold it together there or at Junior Worlds. I like Grant the most out of any of them, but he's going to need more difficult content to become a serious threat. Messing, on the other hand, is like an exact Elvis Stojko clone and doesn't have the best basics but seems to be developing very well as a jumper. Ross Miner, if healthy this time around, could also be up there.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Is it just me or does Morozov seem like he's trying to make Javier Fernandez into Joubert 2.0?

Or was he trying to make Joubert into Yagudin 2.0? I liked Nikolai and his ideas when he wasn't used by every other skater, but I think he got very repetitive a long, long time ago-- hence the similarities, I'd guess.

The funny thing is that I think Fernandez's "Pirates of the Caribbean" free skate is one of the better programs Morozov has done in a while, even if it is still kinda empty besides the drunken footwork. It might help that Javier obviously enjoys the program, and he is a great performer.

Skaters that don't really have personalities usually have disastrous programs with Nikolai. I always use poor Takeshi Honda as the example. The difference between his 2002 "Concierto de Aranjuez" and 2003 "Riverdance" is sickening. He went from having a masterpiece of a free skate to a miserable program that he never seemed to get comfortable with (even if he did pull off three quads once with it).

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Monday, July 19

Kim said in a press conference today in Korea that she'll be participating in the Worlds, nothing else, for this season

I heard. So I was wrong by... suggesting... she wouldn't compete this year. :-)

Before I get hate mail, I do like Yu-Na and I hope she remains competitive for a while still, but I still think there is a chance that she doesn't show up at Worlds. However, she said she is aiming towards that competition (in Japan), so I hope she sticks to it. I suppose if that is her first competition of the season, it will add crazy hype by her debut of two brand-new programs.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Are you a fan of the skidding spiral move that skaters like Robin Cousins and Stacey Pensgen used to perform (sorry, Stacey's the only other skater coming to mind!)?

No, I always thought it was ugly even if it was considered difficult to control and keep from tripping over the toe pick.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

How would you have ranked the top ladies SPs at 1993 Worlds? I seem to recall quite a few clean skates.

I'm going to do a review of the 1993 Worlds ladies like I did for 1992 very soon!

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Do the rumors about the potential Sasha Cohen & Rockne Brubaker pairs partnership have some validity in them? If it happened it seems they could be really amazing as a team, but it all seems very far-fetched.

I think they really did have a try-out, but I'm not sure how serious they were about actually pairing together if things ended up really successful. We've seen a few ladies skaters transition quickly into pairs (even those without any prior experience), but I don't see this team actually happening.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Sunday, July 18

Favorite skating movie? Ice Castles? Blades of Glory? The Cutting Edge? Other?

I liked Blades of Glory a lot. I haven't been amazed by anything else, but I don't watch a whole lot of movies.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Do you watch hockey? Who do you think has better skating skills-hockey players or figure skaters?

I don't watch hockey. The Columbus Blue Jackets don't exactly do well enough for me to ever take time to watch the games, so I can't really answer this question fairly. I'd imagine that the top figure skaters in the world probably have better basics than the hockey players, but they all start out learning the exact same way (either with a toe pick or not) so I could be wrong!

Ask me a question about figure skating!

What's your favorite transition move? Do you have any specific instances you really like?

I like back spirals that fit with the music. Suguri did one in her 2001 "Jupiter" free skate that was just perfect, and my favorite part of Kwan's "Fields of Gold" was always the back spiral towards the end. I don't know why... they always just stick out to me.

I also love the cantilever and if there is one thing I want to accomplish some day in skating, it's definitely being able to pull it off :)

Ask me a question about figure skating!

With M/B out, and E/L and D/B obviously our top two pairs, which other teams do you think will emerge as contenders?

I don't know that Evora/Ladwig are comfortably in that "top two" yet, even if they bested D/B at the Olympics. Remember how narrowly they beat Inoue/Baldwin last year at Nationals? We can never count Rena and John out as they are returning, but if anyone is going to play spoiler, I'd go for Yankowskas and Coughlin. They couldn't hold it together at Nationals and seem to have a history of crumbling, but they have this "it" factor about them in my opinion that most other American pairs teams in history have not had. I don't see any of the younger teams really making a huge mark just yet.

Ask me a question about figure skating!

you don't remember lysacek doing tons of besti squats in his free skate this year?

I haven't seen his Olympic-winning free skate since the actual live broadcast, and same with Nationals. While I agreed with his Olympic win, you might be able to tell I'm not exactly the biggest fan. Sorry for forgetting these riveting moves :-)

Ask me a question about figure skating!

what do you think about Yuna Kim's decision to only participate in the Worlds?

I had posted a few weeks ago that it might be possible she wasn't going to skate at all this season. I knew she hadn't worked on programs yet and it seemed logical that she needed some time to rest after the Olympic gold and all of the other stuff that has been happening since. If she shows up at Worlds, I wonder if that will be the only competition she does all year? The Four Continents are in Taiwan, and I don't know if she'd want to take such long trips weeks apart for big competitions. Maybe her life slows down greatly at the end of 2010 that she can get back to competitive training and working on new material.

However, not to be a total pessimist (and no hate mail- I LIKE Yu-Na), I wouldn't be surprised if she decides later on to forego Worlds this year, as well. We shall see..

Ask me a question about figure skating!

Do you know any good websites for figure skating stats and records?

http://winter-olympic-memories.com/

Has every single score of every single portion of competition from the Olympic Games. It is remarkable.

As far as other scores/results, the last few years have seen so many great resources disappear, however--

http://www.eiskunstlauf-ecke.de/archive.shtml

This website by Tino Eberl has competition records that go back 20+ years. While the rankings in individual segments and the scores themselves aren't posted, it's one of the only places you can find results for earlier competitions. I have a feeling much of Wikipedia's competition results listings were taken from this site.

Hope that helps!

Ask me a question about figure skating!