Sunday, November 22, 2009

some thoughts from Skate Canda

The Grand Prix of Figure Skating is winding up this weekend with Skate Canada. And what a semi-almost-fantastic event it was! Ok, that's not fair - I only watched the ladies and men's events. I'm sure the pairs was fantastic.

The pairs winner

Oh right - the winners of the pairs event, Savchenko and Szolkowy from Germany, skated in clown costumes complete with painted faces.

Sigh.... I'm not sure I can handle some of the costumes we're seeing this season. There's another couple from China (ice dancers this time) who are skating to music from Cats and seriously have TAILS on their costumes. Along with painted faces.

I only approve of tails if they are somehow used in lifts. .... Or spins. (I get dizzy with excitement just thinking about the possibilities)

Actually - the men's short programs got me all skate-happy so that's what I'm sharing and edu-mah-cating on today

First up, Daisuke Takahashi. He is from Japan and has, without a doubt, the funnest name in men's figure skating. Maybe the universe.

Daisuke's short program at Skate Canada

Say it with me... Die-sue-key Tah-kah-Haash-she. Sometimes I just say his name out loud for fun. Sometimes I tell the people at Starbucks that my name is Daisuke Takahashi just to see them struggle with trying to spell that out onto my latte cup.

And oh yea, he's a pretty awesome skater too. Not sure what's up with the super offensive, scratchy music (my ears don't want) but with jumps and footwork like that, he could skate to Barney's theme song and I'd probably still root for him. Oh forget it - he could totally suck and I'd still root for him because I just like his name so much!

Jeremy Abbott could be the surprise of the season. Last year, he burst onto the scene and won the Grand Prix Final - which, huge. And then he stormed nationals and won that title too. So the expectations were pretty high for him entering Worlds. (The competition order for the season is the Grand Prix events, the Grand Prix Final, Nationals, and then Worlds) He didn't necessarily bomb at worlds, but he had a really rough time considering how amazing he'd been all year. He probably just peaked a bit too early in his season.

He changed coaches over the summer (his old coach has about 67,322 elite level skaters and he felt like he wasn't getting enough attention - don't blame him) He won Skate Canada this weekend and seems to be getting it together after a rough first Grand Prix event. Soooo.... he seems to have some momentum. Just making the US men's Olympic team is going to be tough, but I would put a lot of money on him being in Vancouver - and having the skate of his life.

Jeremy's short program from Skate Canada

This might be one of my favorite short programs ever. And mom, you're going to LOVE this program ;)

Let's be clear - French men skaters are hilarious. Hiiii-larious. With the exception of Brian Joubert - he's a constantly malfunctioning robot. Very, very attractive, but a mechanical, one-trick pony, robot who, when he can't land his quad, is pretty much the worlds most boring skater.

But onto the hilarious and wonderfully entertaining French men - Alban Preaubert (yes, he's riding a horse) There's just something about this guy that I like so very, very much. He's not going to vying for the Olympic or World title anytime soon, but he's going to have a ton of fun trying to get there.

The Frenchies are performers. They understand that there's people in the stands watching them and they actually (gasp!) skate for them. It's such a contrast between insomnia-inducing Joubert, (who is a huge star in France for some strange reason - "France, making no sense since ... EVER"), and these other guys who just smoke him in every way. I can't wait for Joubert to retire so these other guys can get the much-deserved spotlight in France. Joubert - you're gorgeous, but it's time for you to become a businessman. Go sell ties. Or air conditioners.

Patrick Chan had a really terrible time at Skate Canada which makes my heart cry a bit. This guy is the most elegant skater out there right now. I could watch him skate forever. Chan is the skater that will cause me sleepless nights in Vancouver because I just want so badly for him to do well. I'm chalking up his Skate Canada performance as a total fluke - just shaking the nerves out before the big show.

Daisuke Takahashi!!! (just because)

Bringing home the cows - Italian style

This is Samuel Contesti from Italy. I'm not sure if he's a farmer, or an auto mechanic with a penchant for plaid.

Short Program at Skate Canada

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Random thoughts from Skate Amercia

Some random thoughts from Skate America....

This year, Skate America was held in Lake Placid, NY. I've been to several skating competitions up there and it's honestly one of the most stunning places I've ever seen. Unfortunately, "stunning" was a word that didn't get a chance to enter the 1980 Herb Brooks arena too often - only when Yu-Na Kim was skating.

The event took place in the same arena that the 1980 Dream Team hockey game took place - 'DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?!??!?"

Why, yes. Yes I do. And her name is Yu-Na Kim. She hails from South Korea where she is basically Elvis on skates - but a chick. With squintier eyes.

The great thing about Yu-Na is that she is SO far ahead of the other ladies, it's basically a given that she'll win every event she enters and yet at the end of every program that she skates, she looks so genuinely happy and relieved to have put out a good performance. She seems to be keeping a level head in the midst of the Olympic crazyness and media hype. Very cool.

She basically has no competition - not a single person can touch her in terms of points. And yet she skates as if she's backed into a corner, coming out with fists raised and ready to take on the world. I don't know how she does it - but it's what competition in skating should really be about. You're competing against yourself - it's a cliche but you're out there simply to do your best. And the judges will do whatever the hell they want to do. But if you put out your best performance, you can't ever feel bad about it. And that's seems to be how she's approaching her skating this season. Again, very cool.

She had an uncharacteristically rough skate during the long program but I'm thinking it's almost better - she was probably due for a malfunction and better here than later.

I'm just crossing every available body part that she stays healthy throughout the season. If she doesn't win in Vancouver, it will only be because she got hurt and wasn't able to jump for two months. It will be an absolute travesty if she doesn't win. She is incredible and a very special gift to the world of skating.

Fumie Sugari, Japan, loves to skate wearing gloves. It drives me nuts. Seriously - you can't deal with cold hands for 4 minutes? You learn to deal with that when you're a juvenile level skater. She's been on the olympic level scene since the invention of milk. And yet she still looks 12. She's a little boring but every once in awhile she'll make you cry so for that, I like her. Who doesn't like to cry? She likely won't make the Japanese Olympic team but who knows - fellow Japan-ite, former sensation, Mao Asada is having a ROUGH season and if she doesn't pull it together soon, Fumie may find herself on the Oly team.

Elena Glebova from Estonia had a fairly strong performance. She's the four-time national champion in Estonia. That sounds pretty impressive, but of course, it's Estonia. National championships don't take place in an ice rink, they take place in a parking lot. And everyone just pushes giant rocks around. But hey, I give her a lot of credit. Not many people can pull off a dress that incorporates tassels, tie-dye, brocaded sequins and a high collar.

I'm a big fan of Rachel Flatt. She's not always the flashiest performer, but she's consistent - and she's honest. By that I mean, when she skates, there's not a lot of applied drama or pretense. She's just Rachel. It's refreshing. She's the closest thing to a lock for the US olympic team - but who knows. Nationals will be interesting for the ladies. The top 6(ish) are pretty even.

Rachel is the most even competitor out of all of them which is why most think she'll make the team... and she's probably the skater capable of placing the highest in Vancouver.... which is a little depressing - the US ladies skating scene is a little bleak right now. They really are desperate for a STAR and no one's stepping up to the plate.... Mirai Nagasu is the one who could really shake things up, just not sure she has it in her right now.

Ryan Bradley is about as adorable as they come - and a fantastic performer. Few in men's skating can touch him in terms of crowd appeal. He has a lot of scoring potential - when he hits, which .... I doubt he'll find himself on the Olympic team (he doesn't always skate well under pressure and nationals, the olympic qualifier, will be a pressure cooker), but if he does make it, the world will be in for a treat with his long program.

Evan has feathers on his costume. And mesh netting. A lot of it. Neither sit well with me. In fact, that fruitcake I ate last christmas digested easier than Evan's feathers. Not cool, Evan. Not cool.

And those are my thoughts.