Saturday, November 27

Alissa Czisny Qualifies for the Grand Prix Final

Alissa will be on the podium at Trophee Eric Bompard, which is enough to get her to the Grand Prix Final along with Ando, Kostner, Murakami, Suzuki, and Flatt. Congratulations!

Trophee Eric Bompard: Ladies Free Skate Quick Thoughts

Lena Marrocco started off well with a triple toe/triple toe and triple Lutz, but then had hard falls on a leaning triple Lutz and triple flip, and popped both of her Axels at the end. She already has a strong personality on the ice, smiling right at the judges several times, but the second half of the program had next to nothing to offer in terms of racking up the points. The triples, when she does rotate them, are really whipped around and all over the place in the air.

Mae-Bernice Meite is next. I saw a triple loop in the warm-up that looked identical to the way Bonaly used to go into hers-- arm and hand positions included. We get some Michelle Kwan Romanza music to start. Triple loop/double toe/double toe to start, but she also goes down on the triple Lutz. She does the footwork to a slow section of music which I think attempts to mask her lack of flow in general. She's getting it back together with the jumps, landing a triple flip, a second triple loop, and gets the Lutz this time in combination with a double toe. Nice triple toe double Axel! And she uses the second half of Kwan's 1996 short here, too. Double Axel and she's into it. I wrote in the short program highlights that I had a feeling she'd come back strong, and she's done it. Good job!

Grand Prix Final Ladies Qualification: Figuring the Numbers Out Ahead of Time..

.. so you don't have to.

Who is definitely in already? Five ladies: Miki Ando, Carolina Kostner, Kanako Murakami, Akiko Suzuki, and Rachael Flatt.

Remember, if Alissa Czisny is on the podium here, it doesn't matter what anyone else does as far as the Grand Prix Final. A top three finish means she is in.

However, in the event that Alissa finishes 4th and one of Cynthia Phaneuf, Mirai Nagasu, or Kiira Korpi wins, here are the total amount of points that each skater must beat Czisny by in the free skate here:

Phaneuf: 21.13 points. She's a long shot, sitting in sixth place after the short program.
Nagasu: 22.93 points. Still, a long long way to go and probably too many points to make up just in one free skate.
Korpi: 18.05 points. The best shot in the Czisny 4th situation, but again, that's quite a bit to make up.

If Czisny finishes 5th or lower and one of the three win, that skater will qualify to the Grand Prix Final.

If Czisny finishes in 5th place and Haruka Imai wins, she has to best Czisny in the free skate by 14.96 points. You see that she actually has the lowest difference in total points, but more work to do after being 5th in her first Grand Prix assignment.

If Czisny finishes 6th or lower and Imai wins, then she will (surprisingly) qualify herself to the Grand Prix Final (making four Japanese ladies in the group of six).

So, how is it going to end up?

Well, This Definitely Made My Day

With Kozuka's win, he's recorded the best score in the free skate this season (170.43), he goes to the Grand Prix Final as the number one qualifier, 15 points better in his two-competition total than the next highest skater (Patrick Chan), and I believe he was just five points off of Daisuke Takahashi's world-record free skate score from Four Continents a few seasons ago.

Congratulations, Takahiko!

Mens Grand Prix Final Qualifiers; Americans First, Second, and Third Alternates

1. Takahiko Kozuka JPN 30 Points (1st, 1st) 481.58
2. Daisuke Takahashi JPN 30 Points (1st, 1st) 461.86
3. Patrick Chan CAN 28 Points (1st, 2nd) 466.73
4. Tomas Verner CZE 26 Points (3rd, 1st) 445.12
5. Nobunari Oda JPN 26 Points (2nd, 2nd) 462.61
6. Florent Amodio FRA 24 Points (3rd, 2nd) 443.15
7. Jeremy Abbott USA 24 Points 435.40
8. Brandon Mroz USA 24 Points 431.11
9. Adam Rippon USA 20 Points 436.16

Florent Amodio Qualifies to the Grand Prix Final

You can follow all of the numbers in the post below, but he's done enough to qualify himself into the Grand Prix Final along with Daisuke Takahashi, Patrick Chan, Tomas Verner, Nobunari Oda, and almost certainly Takahiko Kozuka. Jeremy Abbott becomes the first alternate.

Mens LIVE Grand Prix Final Watch: Mroz, Amodio, and Abbott

(Full thoughts of the mens competition after the event is over)

Brandon Mroz needs at least third place here, and at least 146.15 points in his free skate to best Jeremy Abbott in total points and have a chance at the Grand Prix Final..

141.85. He's out unless he finishes with the silver medal or wins the competition.

Florent Amodio needs at least second place here, and on top of that, he needs 146.02 points in his free skate to beat Jeremy Abbott on the tie breaker.

AMODIO IS IN THE GRAND PRIX FINAL. He beats Jeremy Abbott on the tie-break by seven points. Brandon Mroz is out.

Pairs Grand Prix Final Qualifiers

Savchenko/Szolkowy, Bazarova/Larionov, Pang/Tong, Sui/Han, Moore-Towers/Moscovitch, and Iliusechkina/Maisuradze qualify, as expected. Remember that there are rumors that Sui/Han will only compete in the Junior Final, and Takahashi/Tran, who are the first alternates, are also in the same position of qualifying to both. If Sui/Han withdraw and then Takahashi/Tran do as well for some reason, then Yankowskas/Coughlin would be next in line.

Trophee Eric Bompard: Pairs Free Skate Live Thoughts

I woke up without my alarm at 7:40. I must have really wanted to watch this pairs free skate!

Kadlecova/Bidar-- A long way to go with the elements, but they weren't quite the disaster I expected. Only side-by-side doubles and a fall on the throw triple Lutz/flip, and also the unfortunate fall on the third lift that was aborted right away and they ended up tripping each other. They both have some nice flexibility but they don't really finish anything off and their posture can be better. I was typing about how there was a decent amount of content going on in between the elements and then he fell on some of the choreography. Kadlecova keeps a smile nearly the entire time and Bidar doesn't have much emotion. They still look happy with their efforts, which is nice. It's not their fault they got invited!

Trophee Eric Bompard Pairs and Dance

Unfortunately no reviews of the pairs short programs and short dances. My sleep schedule is a bit off after visiting with the family for Thanksgiving, and I'd rather (attempt to) get up early in the morning and watch all of the free skates and free dances live. I don't think I'm missing too much by skipping over those reviews ;-)

Trophee Eric Bompard: Ladies Short Program Quick Thoughts

Part two of my thoughts from today at Trophee Eric Bompard.

I just love this photo of Kiira Korpi
The French ladies currently sit in 10th, 11th, and 12th places. Candice Didier (10th) was the first skater of the competition, and it's nice to see her back (seriously seems like this was the last time we all saw her). The jumps were landed, the spins are decent, but her overall speed and content could be improved. The program as a whole was all business, with little effort in listening to the music.. I suppose that has to do with the lack of competing lately. A 46 seems like there was a down-grade or major deduction somewhere, but the Lutz looked fine to me in replay.

Friday, November 26

Trophee Eric Bompard: Mens Short Program Highlights and Thoughts

I lied on my Formspring. Ice Network actually does have the short programs and short dances up from Trophee Eric Bompard. I'm going to start with the men and hopefully get to the other three disciplines (well, pairs will be quick-- that's for sure), but I'm not promising anything. I'm tired!

Without further rambling, the mens short program..

Wednesday, November 24

Why the Evgeny Plushenko Situation Gives Me a Headache

So Evgeny Plushenko and his Olympic eligibility status are back in the news. How many times is this since the World Championships? I'm honestly getting a little fed up with the whole situation, and I'll explain why after the jump.

Happy Thanksgiving; Key Stories at Trophee Eric Bompard

First off, Happy Thanksgiving weekend to everyone. I will be heading to my home town tomorrow morning and then spending the wee hours of Friday morning out shopping with a bunch of other crazy people. Yes, I am one of those people!

Anyways, I'll unfortunately miss the first day of skating at Trophee Eric Bompard, which is the final regular-season event on the Grand Prix. I have already gone over the current standings for each of the four disciplines in previous posts, but I thought I'd tie those in with a preview of each of the events. The competition begins on Friday.

Current World bronze medalist Brian Joubert started his Grand Prix off with a fourth place finish at the Cup of China. The competition wasn't a disaster, but the only way he will make the Final is with a win at home. For those that rely on history, it doesn't bode well for Joubert. He's finished in fourth at Bompard the last two seasons while winning his other Grand Prix assignment. Maybe he plans to switch it up this year?

While Joubert was finishing off the podium in China, Japanese skater Takahiko Kozuka was rising to the occasion, winning the second Grand Prix gold medal of his career. A top four finish here should be enough for Kozuka to earn a trip to the Final, but another gold medal could help further push his name as one of the top contenders in the world.

Two more competitors enter Bompard already with podium finishes on the Grand Prix this season. Florent Amodio won the bronze medal at the NHK Trophy, while Brandon Mroz was the surprise silver medalist at Cup of China. If Amodio can bring the house down and win the competition in front of his home country, he will make the Grand Prix Final. Another silver medal for Mroz, and he's also going to Beijing. Not likely? You never know. I don't think many people thought he'd end up second in China.

One more name you can't count out is Canadian Kevin Reynolds. The two quads in the short program isn't just talk anymore-- he did them at Skate Canada and found himself in second place. If he can find the triple Axel that was non-existent a few weeks ago, he might also be another major contender.

Chafik Besseghier might be a long-shot for the podium here, but he absolutely bombs into his quad. I have a feeling he will turn a few heads this weekend.

Unfortunately, this mens competition sits at ten entries-- as it was a week ago.

You know, I look forward to this event being over so I can write something other than, "Wow, what an unpredictable field of ladies we have here!" Seems like I've written that for every single competition so far this year. What we do know is that Miki Ando, Rachael Flatt, Carolina Kostner, Kanako Murakami, and Akiko Suzuki are five of the six Grand Prix Final qualifiers, with a handful of skaters fighting for the last spot.

While there is no clear favorite, American Alissa Czisny looks to continue her success after winning the gold medal at Skate Canada. A top four finish for her here should be enough to make it to Beijing, but that placement is anything but a given. Czisny says that her re-working of jump technique leading into this season has made her more consistent.. laying down two solid competitions would be a good indicator that this is (finally) true.

And then there is a battle of the previous competition fourth-place finishers: Cynthia Phaneuf of Canada, who was fourth at home, Kiira Korpi of Finland (fourth at NHK), and Mirai Nagasu of the USA, who was fourth in China. Phaneuf and Nagasu were the short program leaders in their events, and any of them could honestly come away with a win here. If any of these three do win, the only way they will make the Grand Prix Final is if Czisny finishes fifth or lower (yes, a fourth place would go to a tie-break).

Oh, Mao Asada. You are a complete non-threat to the Grand Prix Final after your eighth-place finish at NHK, but have you gotten it together enough in the last five weeks to find yourself on the podium? Based on her own reaction to the disaster in Japan, I think she understands and accepts that her whole situation of changing coaches and going back to basics on some jumps WILL take time. Hopefully we at least see some improvement from NHK.

Definitely the easiest event to predict (or so I think..), and two-time World Champions Savchenko and Szolkowy of Germany lead the way. They won Skate America and should have to problems winning here. On a personal note, I hope I get into their programs much more than I did two weeks ago.

Bazarova and Larionov of Russia should have no problems earning another silver medal here, and that would also put them in the Grand Prix Final. The fight for bronze will most likely come down to Brodeur and Mattatall of Canada, and Hausch/Wende of Germany. At the NHK Trophy, these teams finished sixth and seventh overall, with only three points separating their final scores.

Not a single French pairs team here, even though up to three were allowed.

Well, it's no joke to say that half of the field withdrew from Cup of Russia last week--- they really did. Withdrawals have affected the ice dance rosters at every Grand Prix stop this year, and we again find only eight entries in France.

Pechalat and Bourzat already have won Grand Prix win this season (in China), and they should blow the competition away here at home. The only way they aren't getting to the Final is if they have to withdraw, too (and I'm begging them to please not do that).

The silver medal race should be exciting between three teams: Carron and Jones of France, Riazanova and Tkachenko of Russia, and Chock and Zuerlein of the USA. If you compare final scores of all three teams from their first events, there is about as little separation between them as possible. A silver medal by the Americans means they will qualify for the Grand Prix Final, while a silver medal for any other team means that Hungarian couple Hoffmann and Zavozin make it to Beijing instead.

Tuesday, November 23

What the Buck?! Highlights Skating With the Stars

You want a laugh about last nights snooze fest? Look no further.

Flutzing Around-- Now on Facebook!

Oh, won't you please become a fan of Flutzing Around on Facebook? Now, while you are clicking around and stalking all of your favorite people and their super-interesting lives and thoughts, you can also see my face pop up on your news feed with all of my latest blog posts.. the minute they go up! Fun.. right?!

Click Here to Join, or conveniently click the "Like" button on the Facebook app at the top right of the blog!

Skating With the Stars: The Numbers ALREADY Aren't Good

For those of you into this type of data, is reporting the first viewership totals for last nights broadcast television shows. Skating With the Stars had big numbers for the first thirty minutes because of Dancing With the Stars running (as scheduled) 13 minutes over, but by the end of the night, Skating was down to just a 1.9 share in the all-important 18-49 year-old category. As a comparison, Dancing With the Stars earned a 4.7 and Two and a Half Men a 4.5 last night. With just short of 7 million viewers throughout the 10 PM hour (compared to Dancings 23 million at 8 PM), these numbers are going to get more and more miserable in the next few weeks. I thought the Dancing fans would at least give it a chance, but you can see that the ones who did stick around already gave up on it by the second hour. Ouch.

Battle of the Blades: Oops, Katia!

Katia Gordeeva and partner Valeri Bure were announced as Canadian Battle of the Blades 2 winners tonight, but check out what happens  at the 2-minute mark. HA!

Monday, November 22

Skating with the Stars Night 1- "The Fact That You're Not Gay Might Be Alarming to My Husband"

Who will/did you vote for after night one?

Okay, let's get something out there right away. I HATE show skating! I try to watch it and I feel like most of what I see is cheesy and so contrived that it drives me insane. However, I was very, very surprised with how decent tonights premiere of Skating With the Stars was.

Why Couldn't the Competition Have Gone This Way?

I hadn't seen this until today.

Sigh. A quad and two effortless-looking triple Axels only to end up dropping to 12th in the portion when it really counted.

Even Though 2/3rd's of You Think It'll Be Silly..

Skating With the Stars starts tonight, airing on ABC from 9-11:00 PM. I'm expecting huge numbers for the first hour (and maybe the whole show) because of the Dancing With the Stars lead-in, but we will see how the show fares in the next few weeks without the help. That might get scary.

Anyways, who do we think will be the early favorites? Based on the small clips we have seen of the celebrities practicing, it looks like teen star Brandon Mychal Smith is already a decent skater (or a very fast learner), and his partner Keauna McLaughlin might be the most recognizable name for those that just started following skating in the last Olympic cycle. I suspect they will be the front runners.

Grand Prix Final Dance: What, There's Still a Final After all of the Withdrawals?

I've done my Grand Prix Final predictions/scenarios for the other three disciplines, so I might as well do one for ice dance.

Here are the standings after five events:
1. Davis/White USA 30 points
2. Crone/Poirier CAN 28 points (303.50 total score)
3. Bobrova/Soloviev RUS 28 points (299.72 total score)
4. Weaver/Poje CAN 22 points (2nd and 4th, 283.91 total score)
5. Hoffmann/Zavozin HUN 22 points (2nd and 4th, 272.91 total score)
6. Shibutani/Shibutani USA 22 points (3rd and 3rd)

And, holding true to what seems like all of the other events this season, Trophee Eric Bompard features a completely watered-down field that gives several teams the opportunity to (surprisingly) qualify for the Grand Prix Final.

Here are the teams competing with their current Grand Prix point total:
Pechalat/Bourzat FRA 15 points
Chock/Zuerlein USA 11 points
Riazanova/Tkachenko RUS 7 points
Carron/Jones FRA 7 points

Pechalat/Bourzat are in as long as they don't withdraw from the competition. It's pretty much as simple as that. Seriously. They can finish fifth and still qualify. But as far as the other three teams go, this might actually be the most exciting race for the final spot in all of the disciplines.

If Chock/Zeurlein win the silver medal here, they will qualify themselves to the Grand Prix Final, no matter what any of the other teams do (unless, in some crazy world, Pechalat/Bourzat do not win). A bronze medal means they are out.

If Riazanova/Tkachenko or Carron/Jones win the silver medal, then they would only have 20 points total and not enough to make the Grand Prix Final. The silver will only mean that Chock/Zuerlein do NOT make the Grand Prix Final, and Hoffmann/Zavozin will.

Will Pernelle and Lloyd have the advantage with skating at home? Or will the Americans best them again, as they did at Skate Canada? Or will the Russians sneak in for silver?

I have to admit that with the lame short dances I've been pretty bored by ice dancing this year. At least this adds some intensity to the competition!

Sunday, November 21

Grand Prix Final Ladies: Flatt is IN for Sure, Czisny Should Join Her

I've posted the mens and pairs likely Grand Prix Final qualifiers, and briefly alluded to the situation with the ladies heading into the final event: Trophee Eric Bompard.

Here are the standings after five events:
1. Miki Ando JPN 30 Points
2. Carolina Kostner ITA 26 Points (1st and 3rd, 319.48 points total)
3. Kanako Murakami JPN 26 Points (1st and 3rd, 315.09 points total)
4. Akiko Suzuki JPN 26 Points (2nd and 2nd, 335.60 points total)
5. Rachael Flatt USA 26 Points (2nd and 2nd, 323.90 points total)

Skaters competing in Trophee Eric Bompard:
Alissa Czisny USA (15 Points from Skate Canada)
Cynthia Phaneuf CAN (9 points from Skate Canada)
Kiira Korpi FIN (9 points from NHK Trophy)
Mirai Nagasu USA (9 points from Cup of China)
Mao Asada JPN (3 points from NHK Trophy)

What does all of this mean? The top five in the standings are all definitely in, because a win by any of the ladies aside from Czisny doesn't give any of them enough points to beat the 26 that Rachael Flatt has earned.

Czisny, on the other hand, will definitely qualify to the Final with a medal finish here. However, there is some potential for strong skating in the field, and Alissa has never exactly been known for her consistency.

If Czisny finishes in 4th AND one of Phaneuf, Korpi, or Nagasu wins, here are the totals that each of the ladies would need to beat Czisny by in order to win the tie-break and pass her in the standings for the sixth qualifying spot:

Phaneuf = 16.14 Points
Korpi= 23.94 Points
Nagasu= 26.15 Points

If Czisny finishes 5th or lower AND one of Phaneuf, Korpi, or Nagasu wins, then that lady will be the sixth qualifier to the Grand Prix Final.

If Haruka Imai can somehow sneak in for the win here (while Czisny finishes 5th), then she would have to beat Czisny by 17.84 points overall to win the tie-break and become the sixth qualifier to the Grand Prix Final.

So, discuss. Will Czisny medal in France? She looked very good at Skate Canada, but the pressure might have been off with a somewhat watered-down field. I'm sure her camp has gone over these numbers the same way I have just posted them. On the other hand, are Phaneuf, Korpi, Nagasu, Asada, and/or Imai capable of even knocking Alissa off the podium after their first event issues?