Wednesday, October 26

Skate America: The Good, the Bad, and Everything In-Between

I'm welcoming myself back to blogging with my 'awards' from Skate America-- nothing goes unnoticed here, good or bad!

Click on the title to read the full article. Enjoy!

The Wow, You Might Just End Up Being my New Favorite..
I never imagined I would absolutely love both of Carolina Kostner's (ITA) programs! The short program is to a rare Shostakovich piece and the choreography is interesting and sharp, and the free skate to Mozart is a beauty. The first six jumping elements of the free skate, by the way, were just about as perfectly done as possible. I'm hoping for big things from her this year, and I think she should have won this competition.

The You Come Into This Season as Favorites and You're Still Pushing Yourselves..
Savchenko/Szolkowy (GER) continue to show their versatility, particularly in their new free skate. It's modern and interesting, and it's been on my YouTube replay list since the competition ended. My one complaint about the program? A friend pointed out the amount of 'running' choreography.. it is a bit much.

The Captain Obvious..
Davis/White (USA) have a great free dance. I think everyone knows that by now. I can't wait to see it grow throughout the season. Also, props to them for showing that you can skate to a relatively overused piece of music and still make it stand out.

The Other Surprises..
Douglas Razzano (USA) was the unfortunate skater during last seasons' amazing National Championship mens free skate that got completely 'meh'd by me after he surprisingly ended up in the final starting group. Not the case with his free skate here; I found it interesting and his skating seems to have really improved. Did anyone else see a Jeffrey Buttle resemblance not only from a distance but in the technique of some of his jump elements?

Florent Amodio (FRA) was also a surprise for me. Based on his second-to-last place result, I was expecting a complete disaster. His free skate was more enjoyable for me than at the Japan Open, and the middle section looks like it has some added choreography. I'm not really loving his short program, though. Bring back the Munich style from 2010 and ditch Morozov, please and thanks. He's too good for this.

Joelle Forte (USA) was quite enjoyable. Her basic skating quality could be better, but she performed well here. She gave us the memorable quote in the kiss and cry following her free skate of "As soon as I picked in, I was like 'oh.. crap'" after seeing the replay of her wipe-out on a triple Lutz attempt. You tell it how it is, girl.

The Your Programs Were Pretty and All, But..
Alissa Czisny (USA) has two nice programs this year. I like her free skate a bit more than the short program, but there's something about her skating that just doesn't move me. I wish she'd skate faster, too.

The You Used Deadmau5 in Your Program, So That Earns Some Points..
Michal Brezina (CZE) has some cool free skate music, including a remixed, strong-beat Untouchables theme and a Deadmau5 song towards the end. The program itself isn't terrible, but I wish it was as interesting as the music. His spins need to get on the level of his jumps (when they're done right).

The Eventually You'll Get the Marks You Deserve..
Viktoria Helgesson (SWE) has been one of my favorite ladies' skaters in the last few seasons. I love her choreography and the power behind her skating. She has some of the most difficult footwork (scored level 4 here) and she does it effortlessly, and her programs have constant movements in-between the elements. I think some of her program components scores should be among the worlds best, and if she ever can deliver a solid all-around competition, she could be a major contender. I was thrilled that she stood on the podium here.

The That Was an Absolute Marathon of a Program and I Quite Enjoyed It..
Moore-Towers/Moscovitch's (CAN) free skate to Henry V not only features some amazing-yet-not overused music, but the power and speed behind their skating gave me a real adrenaline rush. She might not be the most polished skater ever, but the style totally works for them. I'm glad the judges got it right here and that they ended up on the podium.

The Well You're 29, It's About Time You Improved..
I don't think anyone was expecting a silver medal out of Kevin Van der Perren (BEL). I have been extremely harsh on him in the past for constant two-foot skating, minimal choreography, and overall weak skating compared to the rest of the top men. He came into this season injury-free and with a new coach and choreographer, and I did see improvements. One-foot footwork sections in both programs that actually had some speed? I don't even know if he would have been able to skate on one foot for more than a second in prior seasons. The choreography, although not exactly intricate, is also more complete. His spins still need tons of work, though. If I were his choreographer, I wouldn't put two spins back-to-back as the final elements in his free skate. Just saying..

The You Finished Last But You Were Still Pretty Good..
Joshi Helgesson (SWE) delivered one of the best competitions I've ever seen for a last-place finisher. Yes, her jumps weren't as big as usual which led to her scoring problems, but she wasn't bad at all.

Hausch/Wende (GER) caught my eye last season as having been one of the most improved teams, and they continue to impress me this season. I loved their free skate, but I could have done without the repetitiveness in the second half of their Music short program. I don't know why skaters continue to choose that particular piece!

The Hmph.. What Was That?..
Richard Dornbush (USA) was so solid last year as he transitioned from a Junior Grand Prix Final winner to senior National Championship silver medalist. One of the last adjectives I would have used to describe him is 'flashy'. I thought I was watching Ryan Bradley during parts of his free skate, and the final section to the William Tell Overture sent me straight back to the 2000 Keri Lotion Classic, where Bradley debuted his program that included the same final music selection. I don't think this style fits Dornbush at all, honestly.

Ksenia Marakova (RUS). Her free skate. WHAT WAS THAT? Do I even need to go on? I watched a clip from the Russian test skate prior to the event and I was hoping there would be some major changes. I was sure wrong. Ksenia, won't you please dump this program? I absolutely adore her short program, though. I had to go find the MP3 almost immediately after the competition.

The You're Basically My Favorite, Get a New Short Program Please?..
Takahiko Kozuka (JPN). I really don't think I'll ever get into his new short program. Maybe I'd put it on my bedtime playlist, if I had one.

The You Were Great But Can You Get New Lifts?..
I'll get to the point with Denney/Coughlin (USA). Those lifts are UGLY. Can you either stretch more or learn some new ones to mask the flaws?

The Disappointments..
Armin Mahbanoozadeh's (USA) free skate performance at Skate America last year was among my top highlights of the season. This year, I don't care for either of his programs. He not only physically looks 13, but there are also choreographic moments in both programs that make them seem like they belong on the junior level. I almost wish he'd just return to his 2011 season programs.

I want to love Zhiganshina/Gazsi (GER) because they are always daring to be different. Her posture really bothers me for some reason, though, and they once again failed to deliver in the free dance here.

The Well, You Fooled Me for a Day..
I'm not going to go all Philip Hersh and suggest she just retire while she's young, but Caroline Zhang (USA) had a very good showing in the short program here, making just about everyone think that her growth spurt and technique troubles had gone away. The free skate was a mess, and she looked like she gave up after two different falls (think Johnny Weir sitting on the ice and SLOWLY getting up after a fall during his 2006 Worlds free skate). I'm hoping the free skate really was just a fluke and that she will have a decent comeback season. With that said, if I was part of the technical panel, I would never let her get away with a 'rotated' triple flip. The toe pick is still on the ice a 1/2 turn into the jump. I'm such a mean technical panel member, go ahead and say it.

The Let's Just Forget About That One..
Paul/Islam (CAN) had a short dance performance that I'm sure everyone would like to forget. Don't watch it if you haven't already.

That's all, on to Skate Canada.


Russell said...

Hi Tony, glad to see you back,

I thought the technical specialist in the ladies event was slightly harsh particularly on Joshi Helgesson, but i did notice she was short on 3 triples, in particular her triple toe (i think!!)

I was glad Viktoria Helgesson won the bronze, her overall skating is delightful and as you say finally was awarded in the PCS.

Hope you can start a skating music project again for this season. Carolina's programs are delightful (i thought last years ones would be hard to beat). I am sure her SP to allegretto is by Eroica Trio, not sure on Mozart LP. If you were looking for Makarova's short it was Maria and the violin's string by Ashram. Like you her M Monroe take on LP was dreadful, the cuts of music not good, I think she has an arrangement as part 2 (probably Mr goldstein) and has the 20th century fox intro (eeek!!)

Russell said...

Also Tony, I could not believe the attendance for SKATE AMERICA, the stands were completely empty. It seems that skating is slipping even further into oblivion in the US, did they make any money?? - also I had to laugh how much the skaters were earning - seems peanuts to me when you compare it to GOLF and TENNIS.