Saturday, November 20

Setting up the Grand Prix Final: The Men

I woke up late and watched the last four men. When I get home later, I'm going to watch all of the short programs that are now archived and probably have to wait a day again to see the free skates that I will miss. Oh well.

Anyways, here's the Grand Prix standings after five events for the men:

1 Daisuke Takahashi JPN 30 points
2 Patrick Chan CAN 28 points
3 Tomas Verner CZE 26 points (1st place/3rd place)
4 Nobunari Oda JPN 26 points (2nd place/2nd place)
5 Jeremy Abbott USA 24 points
6 Adam Rippon USA 20 points

Rippon will obviously be pushed out of the top six following Bompard.

Skaters competing next week to try to qualify for the Final:
Takahiko Kozuka JPN (already with 15 points)
Brandon Mroz USA (already with 13 points)
Florent Amodio FRA (already with 11 points)
Kevin Reynolds CAN (already with 9 points)
Brian Joubert FRA (already with 9 points)

So, a lot of things could shake up who makes the Finals. Kozuka looks good with at least a 4th place finish, Mroz will probably need another 2nd place finish, which seems unlikely (but how unlikely was his Cup of China silver?), Amodio has a small shot with a VERY strong silver medal but would probably need to win, and Reynolds/Joubert's only shots are really if they win the competition.

In my opinion, who does the Final spot come down to (assuming Kozuka qualifies)?
I think it's going to be a three-way race between Abbott (already at 24 points), Amodio, and Joubert. Brian doesn't particularly skate well at Bompard, but he usually has one strong Grand Prix regular-season showing. That definitely wasn't Cup of China.

Thoughts?

Friday, November 19

Who Wins the Ladies Competition at Cup of Russia?

I haven't seen any of the short programs yet (waiting on IceNetwork archives), but the results make me want to skip work tomorrow and watch the free skate-- it might actually be exciting with eight ladies only separated by 4.50 points! Let us pray...

So, who is going to win the event?

Cup of Russia Mens Short Program


This is the only competition segment that I will be able to watch live today, so here are my quick thoughts about the skating and results.

Wednesday, November 17

Who is the King of Pop on Ice?

Three top senior men have free skates this season that draw influence from The King of Pop, Michael Jackson. So who does it best: Florent Amodio, Kristoffer Berntsson, or Tomas Verner? Watch the performances and then vote in the poll! Oh, and discuss your strong opinions in a reply to the post.. I love discussions!










Is This a Big Week for Mao Asada?



No, Mao Asada won't be competing at the Cup of Russia this week; she is still scheduled for the Trophee Eric Bompard which ends the regular-season Grand Prix circuit next weekend. However, what happens at Cup of Russia could add a tremendous amount of pressure to her already shaky season.. Why is that?

Tuesday, November 16

My Own Off-Ice Jumping

Around four years ago (I think it was that long ago already?!) I was visiting a friend and she wanted to see my off-ice jumping skills, so she recorded me trying a double Axel/triple toe loop. I honestly forgot that I had put this video on YouTube, but I still think it's cool to watch. I know the toe loop has a cheat and blah blah blah, but you have to remember there is absolutely no momentum going into the jump except for the little swing I give myself. (PS- sorry that the video is turned sideways.. that happened when I was uploading it)

Now, if the double Axel would only be that easy ON the ice...

The Year So Far: Loves, Hates, WTFs, and More

As promised, here is my highlight post of the Grand Prix series. After four events, most of the healthy skaters and teams have already competed at least one time, giving me plenty of thoughts and strong opinions on the new programs! 90% of the skating (especially the pairs) falls somewhere in the middle, but for everything else...

Monday, November 15

Rise: The 50th Anniversary of the 1961 U.S. World Team Tragedy


This came through my e-mail earlier today. Here's the direct link to the form where you can enter your zip code to get a listing of the closest theaters playing the movie. I'm definitely planning on attending, and you should too!


U.S. FIGURE SKATING NATIONWIDE BIG-SCREEN 
CELEBRATION FEATURES 2010 OLYMPIC GOLD 
MEDALIST EVAN LYSACEK, PREMIERE OF
RISE LIVE ON FEB. 17, 2011

Matt Lauer of “The Today Show” Hosts One-Night Event Broadcast Live
from Best Buy Theater in Times Square to Nearly 500 Theaters


Centennial, Colo. – November 15, 2010 – U.S. Figure Skating and NCM Fathom today announced tickets are available for RISE, a special one-night Fathom event celebrating American figure skating while commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1961 U.S. World Team tragedy. The event will be broadcast live from the Best Buy Theater in New York City’s Times Square to nearly 500 movie theaters nationwide on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011, at 8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT / 6:00 p.m. MT / 8:00 p.m. PT (tape delayed). Hosted by Matt Lauer of NBC’s “The Today Show,” the live event will include uniquely choreographed figure skating performances, interviews with American figure skating legends, the premiere of the cinematic feature “RISE” and more. Evan Lysacek, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist, and the “RISE” storytellers are among those scheduled to participate in the event.

Tickets to the event are available at participating theater box offices and online at www.FathomEvents.com. For a complete list of theater locations and ticket prices, visit the website (theaters and participants may be subject to change).

"It will be a historic and emotional night for U.S. Figure Skating," said Patricia St. Peter, president of U.S. Figure Skating. "Our sport will be showcased like never before as we honor the 1961 World Team and celebrate the joy that figure skating has brought to millions of Americans through the years."

 Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano and Michelle Kwan serve as storytellers in “RISE.” The five legendary skaters provide the narrative for the cinematic feature by relating the interwoven stories of some of the biggest names and moments in the history of the sport to those on the 1961 U.S. World Team who lost their lives in the crash of Sabena Airlines Flight 548 on its way to the World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

"An historic Times Square venue, a host of Matt Lauer’s stature and the presence of so many figure skating luminaries will make this event a momentous night for the U.S. Figure Skating family," said David Raith, executive director of U.S. Figure Skating.

RISE will appear in nearly 500 theaters, including AMC Entertainment Inc., Celebration! Cinema, Cinemark USA Inc., Clearview Cinemas, Cobb Theatres, Georgia Theatre Co., Goodrich Quality Theatres, Hollywood Theaters, Rave Motion Pictures, R/C Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group movie theaters, as well as The Beacon Cinema (Pittsfield, MA), Carolina Theatre (Asheville, NC), Palace Cinema 9 (South Burlington, VT) and Penn Cinema (Lititz, PA), through NCM’s exclusive Digital Broadcast Network —North America’s largest cinema broadcast network.

“U.S. Figure Skating fans of all ages won’t want to miss the opportunity to honor and celebrate the lives of those lost in this tragic accident 50 years ago,” said Dan Diamond, vice president of NCM Fathom. “RISE brings together skating legends and superstars for one night in an evening of skating and remembrance live from New York for fans in local movie theaters across the country.”

Proceeds from “RISE” and the Feb. 17, 2011, event will be used to further the mission of U.S. Figure Skating’s Memorial Fund, which was established Feb. 23, 1961, as a living tribute to those that lost their lives in the crash. The Memorial Fund awards approximately $300,000 annually in grants and scholarships to skaters, recognizing excellence both on and off the ice.

More details about “RISE” and the Feb. 17, 2011, event can be found at www.rise1961.com.


About National CineMedia (NCM)
NCM operates NCM Media Networks, a leading integrated media company reaching U.S. consumers in movie theaters, online and through mobile technology. The NCM Cinema Network and NCM Fathom present cinema advertising and events across the nation’s largest digital in-theater network, comprised of theaters owned by AMC Entertainment Inc., Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CNK), Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC) and other leading regional theater circuits. NCM’s theater network covers 170 Designated Market Areas® (49 of the top 50) and includes approximately 17,300 screens (15,700 digital). During 2009, over 690 million patrons attended movies shown in theaters currently included in NCM’s network (excluding Consolidated Theatres, Rave Cinemas and R/C Theatres). The NCM Fathom Events broadcast network is comprised of over 550 locations in 156 Designated Market Areas® (49 of the top 50). The NCM Interactive Network offers 360-degree integrated marketing opportunities in combination with cinema, encompassing over 40 entertainment-related web sites, online widgets and mobile applications. National CineMedia, Inc. (NASDAQ: NCMI) owns a 48.2% interest in and is the managing member of National CineMedia LLC. For more information, visit www.ncm.com or www.fathomevents.com.
About U.S. Figure Skating
U.S. Figure Skating is the national governing body for the sport of figure skating in the United States as recognized by the United States Olympic Committee and the International Skating Union. U.S. Figure Skating is made up of 743 member, collegiate and school-affiliated clubs and more than 990 Basic Skills programs representing approximately 176,000 members. U.S. Figure Skating is charged with the development of the sport on all levels within the United States  including athletes, officials, sanctioning of events and exhibitions, and establishing the rules and guidelines by which the sport is governed.
About RISE
Commissioned by U.S. Figure Skating, the cinematic feature RISE will celebrate American figure skating while commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1961 U.S. World Figure Skating Team that perished in a plane crash on its way to the World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Produced and directed by 16-time Emmy Award winners Lookalike Productions, RISE will tell the compelling stories around the sports' growth in popularity over the years and feature various luminaries of American figure skating. Proceeds from 
RISE will be used to further the mission of U.S. Figure Skating's Memorial Fund, which was established on Feb. 23, 1961, as a living legacy of those who lost their lives. RISE is scheduled to premiere in theaters nationwide on February 17, 2011 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the tragedy.

Sunday, November 14

Pairs Grand Prix Final Qualifiers (Barring Disaster)

Yes, there are two events left. No, things aren't official yet. But unless there is a complete meltdown by a top team, these should be the six teams in the Grand Prix Final:

Pang/Tong (CHN) -- winners at NHK and Cup of China
Moore-Towers/Moscovitch (CAN)-- silver at Skate Canada and Skate America
Iliushechkina/Maisuradze (RUS)-- gold at Skate Canada, 4th at Cup of China
Sui/Han (CHN)-- silver at Cup of China, bronze at Skate America
--
Savchenko/Szolkowy (GER)-- gold at Skate America, favorites for Bompard
Bazarova/Larionov (RUS)-- already have a silver at NHK, look good for the silver at Bompard

The only possible spoiler is if Lawrence/Swiegers (CAN) or Takahashi/Tran (JPN) can win silver at Cup of Russia next week and make up a big deficit on the total competition points vs. Sui/Han. Kavaguti/Smirnov (RUS) look good for the gold, but this is their only event and they won't make the Final.

2010 Skate America Pairs Long Thoughts

Kemp/King (GBR)-- Blah I feel bad for them. No improved jump content in years and they just keep sinking further and further down the standings. Split triple twist with a huge crash that nearly brings them both completely down, he falls out of their side by side DOUBLE flips, big fall on the throw triple Salchow, she steps out of a double toe loop... ugh. The lifts are obviously their highlight as Siudeks are their coaches, but even tonight they were slow. Posture was pretty awful by the end of the four and a half minutes.

God, I'm grumpy.

Castelli/Shnapir (USA)-- throw triple Axel with a fall-out.. definitely a good attempt. Watered down jumps with side by side 2toe/2toes and both had problems on the triple Sals early on. I've never seen Avatar but I liked Armin's program and I also find this program to be interesting-- maybe I should watch it. Not that the music or skating programs make the movie or anything... I love their split lift where she goes from vertical to horizontal.. it's a unique little spin they put on it. Mistakes at the beginning but I like them.. they have something that sets them apart from the typical American pairs. She seems particularly happy with the Axel attempt.

Looks like the scores are going to be high once again tonight.

Zhang/Toth (USA)-- Another crash on the triple twist, this one not as dramatic as the Brits. Side by side triple toe step double toes. She steps out and then falls on the double toe-- I think he had a slight issue with the first jump. I don't know how they didn't hit each other on the side by side flying camels--- she was RIGHT in his face but wisely stopped the spin. What a mess. Throw triple Salchow and she gets that one. Lift completely aborted as soon as it goes up.. throw triple loop with a hand down.. at least she fought for both throws. Side by side double Axels not at all in unison and such a big distance between them but they landed those too. Amazing that through that mess they still had two throw triples and a set of clean side by side jumps!

Stolbova/Klimov-- La Strada is the music and they seem to have took a page out of Takahashi's book in the opening choreography. Throw triple flip had a delay and she crashed forwards on the landing. Side by side 3toe/2toe/2toe is done in good unison (surprisingly). This program already has 5000 times more personality than their short program, where it was all business. I'm really liking the choreography-- their spiral sequence started out with a sideways kind of shoot the duck position from both of them. Unique moves throughout and the program stayed interesting for me. Congratulations to them for that. She's really pretty.

Sui/Han-- she's always all smiles.. are we sure they are from China? Two footed throw quad Salchow with a crazy amount of speed into the entry. Probably underrotated too but what an effort. Side by side jumps are on.. I don't know how she does it being so small. Spins are in unison, they carry themselves well, I just pray that she doesn't grow ridiculously in the next few years and ruin their potential. Huge throw triple flip, too. They always have something going on in between the elements and somehow they manage to look pretty solid rather than sloppily working their ways through everything. The end is lifts galore and they still look strong. Well, I love them! She's still smiling. That should put them in the senior Grand Prix Final, and they've already qualified to the Junior Final.

Denney/Barrett-- Really not crazy about this program at NHK.. I think it exposes a lot of their weaknesses rather than showing any improvement they have made over the summer. It's looking better here and they were skating well until she crashed on the throw triple loop-- I don't think I've seen her miss a throw jump in a LONG time.. maybe ever? He might have also singled the first Axel in their Axel/Axel sequence. As a whole, that wasn't bad. Like it better now.

Sui/Han are pretty much certain for the Final now with a silver and at least a bronze.

Moore-Towers/Moscovitch-- Attack right off the bat, but with that comes a fair amount of sloppiness. He doubles the toe in their first sequence. Throw triple loop and her hand goes down. Identical errors on the side by side Salchows-- both stepped out in unison. If you watch closely, you see that there is a lot of ice flying up throughout their stroking, and it's more of an up and down effort than a smooth consistent push. Cool lift with a balance hold and then rotating in both directions-- that's strength. I don't know how she held the throw Salchow--- WAY crooked from the start and she landed it just fine. Side by side spins off and on with unison. The lifts were definitely the highlight but I guess I'm going to be a hater and say that I think their components scores thus far this season have been quite generous.

Now that I take a second to look at the protocol, Denney/Barrett and Moore-Towers/Moscovitch definitely both got gifted on the components in my opinion.

Savchenko/Szolkowy-- HUGE throw triple flip.. did I hear they are working on a quad? triple toe/triple toe sequence, he falls out on the second. Side by side double Sals.. this middle of the program where they are supposed to be catching their breath seems like they are still having to really concentrate through everything.. it is their first competition, I have to remember. Last year they started with a weak debut at Nebelhorn and then an absolute disaster at Bompard, but pulled it together just five weeks later. This ending of the program just isn't doing it for me, however it excites me that the piece of choreography I talked about in the short program (and how I wished it led into an element) is the set-up they have for their throw Sal at the very end. Blah. I thought Out of Africa was an absolute masterpiece and I guess I have to come to terms with it being retired.

133 for that? Well Christmas is soon.

(Continued as the night goes on..)

2010 Skate America Men: Thank You Armin, Lutkov's Okay, Nobu Still Can't Count, Daisuke Wins By Default

So I didn't live blog the mens free skate. Sorry. I rather watched it on my big screen television and wrote some quick notes about all of the skaters.. I think this is a much better format for everyone, as most of you are also watching the events and can differentiate between the elements!

Viktor Pfeifer (12th)- Again, a comedic type routine here that doesn't really showcase his skating skills. Still no sign of a triple Axel, and I feel like his jumps have regressed since he first burst onto the scene in the short program at the 2006 Olympics. Seriously, if you find a copy of that program, watch how difficult the entry and air position were in the Lutz. I want that Viktor back. Alright program.. but PLEASE, if you're crazy and reading this, ditch that upright spin where you hold the leg up and grab the blade with your other hand. Thanks.

Shawn Sawyer (8th)- The first of two who can't count. How quickly we forget he was the silver medalist at this event just one year ago! The triple Axel was an excellent effort, even if it was two-footed. He had distance and really went into it (and all the other jumps in the first half) with a real attack. However, as I mentioned-- the jump issue. He did a 2flip/.5loop/3loop and then a 2Axel/2toe/2loop at the end. The sequences are now scored as a three-jump combo (with the .5loop received 1loop credit), so his last combination shouldn't have counted at all. [EDIT: I interpreted the rules wrong and his content was perfectly allowed. Sorry.] Anyways, he seems to have stayed in more for the fans than the results and I'm glad he did-- I love this program and his skating.

Stephen Carriere (9th)- I wanted to really like him here, but I felt like he was too focused and the program ended up really flat. I did admire that the choreography was far off from the typical pattern of elements that we see, and even though 9th place seems pretty poor, he really wasn't that bad.

Nan Song (10th)- I want to like him, too, but this performance seems like it went on for days. I thought it was a better vehicle for him than his Requiem short, but I still couldn't get over his weak posture, overall slow skating, and traveling spins. A lot of his jumps seem to stand still on the landings, too. He's not terrible, but I think skating after two really decent skaters just magnified his weaknesses even more.

Van der Perren (6th)- As always a solid jumping effort besides a doubled Lutz. He again does a lot of his spins right up against the boards, and they are poor at best. Footwork is minimalistic and the choreographed second step was almost a joke-- there was really nothing there. As typical of his career, he lost even more speed towards the end and really looked to run out of energy. The program didn't really leave any impressions.

Schultheiss (7th)- surprise beauty of a quad toe-- I didn't know he had gotten that back. After the first triple Axel, everything seemed to die out. He fell out of a donut attempt at the end of a camel, and the rest of his jumps were all a bit rough. Speed just still isn't there, either. I know he had a crazy past 24 hours so I'm not going to keep harping on the negatives. I thought it was really sweet of his coach to thank the doctors and American people for helping him through last night.

Second group will be edited in.

Okay, keeping it going since I'm flying with my words tonight.

Ten (11th)- I mean, seriously what else is there to say besides complete disaster? However, on top of the FIVE falls, he still never gave up on the performance and had much more energy than the three guys who skated directly prior, even at the very end. But, that's about it.

Murakami (5th)- I wrote in my notes that the triple toe on the end of the first combo should have been called a toe Axel and then Kwiatkowski brought it up on replay. The technical panel was EXTREMELY generous there, not even calling an under-rotation, let alone the downgrade he probably should have gotten. The 2toe on the end of the 3Axel also looked to be toe-Axeled, but he got straight +GOE's from the judges. Hmph. Only jumping mistake was both hands down on the triple loop, but what a great effort. He really ran out of energy towards the end, too, and I felt like the program still had a junior vibe to it. But seriously... the depth in Japan is sickening. Just when you think you've seen them all, he comes out and throws himself back into the mix after a bad Nationals last season.

Armin (3rd)- I wanted him to get the Skate America assignment right away after seeing his Liberty Open short, and I'm so glad he took advantage. If you're reading Armin, thank you for saving the night. Interesting choreography and solid jumps with a lot of difficult entries right up until the end when he had the silly pop on the Lutz, but I'm glad the judges went for it. I don't get excited about a lot of skating anymore (grumpy in my old age.. :-)), but I really loved this performance.

Rippon (4th)- The Axel wasn't there in warm-up so I wasn't surprised he singled the first one. I just didn't expect the whole program to fall SO flat. Most of the jumps were stiff, his footwork looked heavier than usual, and his spins didn't stand out like usual. Now, I had him winning Skate Canada so I think it's clear that I DO like his skating, but.... here's the difference between Patrick Chan and Adam. Patrick still kept his skating skills and performance level more-or-less decent after the rocky Skate Canada short. Adam, on the other hand, was a completely different skater tonight and I would have really dropped his components.

Takahashi (1st)- Well, I picked him for my fantasy game and I was so mad when he had the skate that he did, but it somehow ended up being the winner by default. Several jump mistakes including a big fall on a nowhere-near rotated triple Axel, but I felt like all of the other elements of the program had a much freer and captivating quality than the first two times he competed it. Weird how that works, huh? A win is a win, but he obviously has a long way to go if he wants to keep his World title.

Oda (2nd)- Oh Nobu, you just can't count jumps in your head.. I know it's a difficult and complicated set of rules, but you have had four years since your first blunder kept you off the World podium. And just like at Skate Canada, a nice 4toe/3toe/3loop in the warm-up only to eff up the quad when it counts. So frustrating. And he lost by less than a point, so he obviously would have won by a few points had anything counted in his final 3Sal/2toe/2loop. Oh yeah, the Salchow by itself would have given him the win. Sometimes this can be such a cruel sport.

The top three (after the short) drove me insane seriously. So I'm ending this by saying thank you to Armin once again!