Saturday, August 14

I know you like Mao's Nocturne SP a lot. But do you enjoy any of her other programs?

Since she's turned senior, I really like her 2008 and 2009 short programs as well. As far as free skates, aside from last season I thought all of them were alright, but nothing has really blown me away yet. When she skates well (such as the Olympics SP and first half of the Olympics LP), there's an intensity about her that really draws you in. I just wish the programs would have been better :-(

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Friday, August 13

What do you think Mao Asada can do to improve her overall performances, besides the obvious of skating to music that suits her personality?

All she needs is confidence. Check out her 2006 Skate America short program--- she shows there that when she's on and enjoying herself, she has a little bit of everything. I could watch that program on repeat for days..

However, I will say that ever since she's made the triple Axel a big part of her overall plans, it's really taken away from the performance because of having to stalk it for so long before she even jumps into the air. Remember that ridiculous entry she was trying a few years ago, I believe in her Czardas free skate? It came so quick, but it obviously wasn't giving her tremendous success with the jump. I guess that's the price you pay when you're trying a triple Axel in the first place.

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Do you know a place where I can watch all of the Vancouver performances? I can't find them on youtube or anywhere else..

I was going to say that if you are in the US, you could always check out, but it seems that they've already transitioned their site into the London Games. I'm not sure if they archived the videos anywhere, but I do know the IOC has been on top of making sure the Olympics performances don't end up on YouTube.

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Do you think Rachael Flatt wil be passed by some of the promising younger skaters next year?

If she fails to deliver consistently early on in the season, yes. It all goes back to my thoughts about the USFS really needing someone to step it up and make a big name for themselves leading into Sochi. While I think Nagasu has a little breathing room, I'm not so sure about Rachael. I still have my hopes for Wagner, but she needs to stop blowing the short program at Nationals.

Christina Gao doesn't really have a solid all-around package yet, but she does the triple flip/triple toe like it's nothing. If she/her team thinks about her going for two of those in the free skate and most of the other jumps go well, I think the USFS will be more than willing to push her up and maybe even on to the World team.

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Do you think Miki Ando could do better with a different coach? She has done well with Morozov, but would someone be better to help her improve her on-ice presence?

For sure. I think she threw a lot of the nice qualities she was starting to gain in 2006 away when she moved to Morozov, and now it's all about focusing on the jumps and doing difficult elements but not really doing much as far as the components marks go.

I thought the judges were absolutely crazy when they gave her the components they did at the 2009 Worlds free skate, especially on choreography and interpretation. She just went through the program like it was a practice and didn't make any attempt at connection with the music or the crowd. But, like always, a great skate means that the program is suddenly full of transitions and choreography that wasn't there any other time during the season ;)

For what it's worth, I think Miki is extremely nervous around Nikolai and always wants to do well for him. She needs someone that makes her feel less pressure AND can give her more of a complete package.

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What I Missed: Summer Competitions and More

Apologies for the disappearing act that I have pulled over the last week or two. I moved from outside the city into the middle of downtown, and it was a little bit hectic for a while; however, I am settled in and good to go!

So, what have I missed? Honestly, it doesn't seem like there was much.

First, Nicole Bobek was scheduled to be sentenced last week for her role in an east coast drug ring. The only news to be released so far is that the ringleader received 16 years. For the minimal information article (which inclued the infamous Bobek mugshot from last year), see the website.

Several competitions took place last weekend. The Quebec Summer Championships saw some of Canada's top athletes in their first outings of the season.

Cynthia Phaneuf skated her new short program and won the portion with 53.85 points over Amelie Lacoste and Myriane Samson, who were ranked fifth and third in the National Championship last season. Phaneuf opted to not skate the long program, which was won by Lacoste. Amelie tried a triple loop/triple loop combination, and while she received negative Grades of Execution from the judges, she successfully landed the combination five years ago at a Junior Grand Prix event in Bratislava-- an event that was won by Olympic Champion Yu-Na Kim. Lacoste earned 89.42 points in the free skate.

Shawn Sawyer looked to be the easy favorite in the mens short program, but problems with the triple Axel, a doubled Lutz attempt, and a triple/double combination left him in sixth place. The surprise winner was Samuel Morais, with 60.45 points, followed by Ian Martinez and Elladj Balde. Marc-Andre Craig, who took a break from the sport for a season after 2008, won the free skate with 113.34 points. Craig has had some slight success in the past, including a fourth place finish at the 2006 Four Continents Championships. Martinez and Morais followed in the standings, while Sawyer was not entered to compete in the long program.

Jessica Dube/Bryce Davison debuted their new Mask of Zorro short program with a clean skate, including side-by-side triple Salchows; the element seemed to trouble Dube all last season. They finished with 56.71 points. Mylene Brodeur/John Mattatall finished in second with 54.30 points. Although they had trouble with their throw triple loop, they received similar total elements scores as Dube/Davison. The new pair of Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford were third. They managed side-by-side triple Lutzes as well as a throw triple Lutz, but had to abort a lift early and received straight -3 for the element. The free skate only featured two teams, one being Duhamel/Radford. Talk about amazing technical content planned-- and they did all the jumps once again: side-by-side triple flip/double toe/double toe combinations, side-by-side triple toe loops, a throw triple loop, and a throw triple Lutz. Duhamel managed to fall on the entrance to her flying camel spin of all things, and the team received no credit for the element. Their score of 104.54 was particularly impressive for the first outing. They have been assigned to the Nebelhorn Trophy and will most likely get the TBA spot for Skate Canada.

Full results off all events and protocols can be viewed here.

The Glacier Falls Summer Classic also took place last weekend, and the notable result was that of National Champion Rachael Flatt finishing second to Kristiene Gong overall. Flatt has been busy touring and enjoying plenty of off-ice activities this summer, so the result shouldn't be looked upon too severely. For full results, follow SylviaUnseen on Twitter, as the official website has not yet been updated.

The ISU updated their website with the Special Regulations and Technical Rules-- most of which were already summarized by me in the initial posting. Key regulations from this update include the jump combinations not receiving any additional credit (a 1.1 factor was considered initially); having to use a "fresh start" in a program no longer warrants a deduction (it used to be a 2.0 mandatory deduction, no matter the circumstances). The process for skaters to qualify into the ISU Major events is also summarized-- the qualifying round is back for those that don't earn a spot directly to the short program from the previous seasons' event results.

Yu-Na Kim is bringing her successful "All That Skate" to the States. There will be two shows in Los Angeles, taking place October 2nd and 3rd. Some of the top amateur singles skaters will be competing at the Japan Open the same weekend, so it'll be interesting to see who she attracts to this event. The Grand Prix series begins just a few weeks later; Kim has decided to skip the series and focus on the World Championships.

Finally, I missed some (lame) great drama on Twitter between Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir. What else is new in skating, seriously? has done a nice job of summarizing Lysacek's initial mistake and numerous excuses to cover it up. I'm just waiting for the day that Evan comes to terms with himself and realizes he's much more like Johnny than his "stage" voice and general comments would suggest. Oh, how I try to rational all the time.. it just doesn't always work.

Monday, August 9

Out of curiosity, how long on average does a skater's pro/show career after being competitive last? I know Petrenko is still getting around and he's...well he must be over forty and he can still rock a performance...I suppose major injuries would factor?

It depends on the skater. Opportunities almost died around 2002 in terms of pro competitions and North American shows/tours. There was still COI and SOI but that didn't really force anyone to continue to push themselves. 

Denise Biellmann was still competing 18+ years after her World Championship win with a triple Salchow and triple toe loop still in her arsenal, but that really wasn't common. Maria Butyrskaya turned pro after the 2002 season and then during the following pro competitive circuit, she struggled with her usually beautiful triple loop and triple toe. Again, I guess it all depends on how hard the skater wants to work once they don't have the pressures of amateur competition to deal with all the time.

Is there any particular reason why you think Mao is having trouble finding a permanent coach? She's been jumping around for a while now.

I have no idea. I have never heard that she is difficult to work with, but maybe she is taking extra time to find someone that gives her confidence and makes her really enjoy skating once again. I think she lost a lot of that with Tarasova.

How much of an indicator are summer comps for the season to come?

They can't be much of an indicator. One of the best examples I can think of is when Joannie Rochette competed in the Quebec Summer Championships in 2004 and missed almost every single jump in her free skate, to finish third. That prompted Manon Perron to dump Rochette, and Joannie went on to win a Grand Prix event, finish third place at the Grand Prix Final, and skate a perfectly clean free skate at Nationals. 

The summer comps are good for the Federations to see how well along programs are coming as well as see what kind of shape the skaters are in early on (and for some skaters this means assignments to fall competitions), but we really shouldn't look that much into them.

Did you know that Mao Asada has stated that she'll be doing triple lutz in her programs next year? Do you think she can beat the current world records held by Yuna with the triple axel rule?

No. There is one element less in the short program now and Kim's free skate record at the Olympics will be hard to beat by ANYONE, unless they are getting straight 9.50's or higher for components. The judges definitely got a little + GOE happy during the final groups of the Olympics.

how to face fear of falling and getting injured when practicing new jumps and extra rotations in those jumps?

I really don't think that is something you can teach. I was always fine with throwing myself up in the air and hoping I landed on that perfect back outside edge, even if I wasn't anywhere near successful. On the other hand, I see plenty of younger girls at the rink who have 100 times more potential than I ever will, and they have absolutely no idea where they are in the air so they always pop or crash hard on their jumps. You just have to get comfortable and have a good understanding of where you are, even if you are adding new rotations. 

The harness is used often as an understanding of what the full rotations will feel like, but I think that trying, say, a double Axel by doing just 2.0 rotations and coming out forwards on both feet isn't a horrible idea, rather than whipping yourself up for the full 2.5 right away. Same goes for the other single jumps vs. doubles. Many skaters start off doing 1/2 flips and 1/2 Lutzes before attempting a full rotation, just to get the feeling of it. Everyone learns different, but having no fear is definitely a plus.