Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Skate Canada: Give Me More!
While watching the telecast of Skate Canada, I felt like Tatiana Tarasova, standing at the boards with a scarf over my face in order to keep from screaming at my skaters. Frankly, quite a few of the competitors need to spend time at a Tarasova boot camp. The event was decidedly low on quality Russian drama. I watched Artur Gachinski and also had stomach problems. Coincidence? I think not.
Jeremy Ten was the first skater shown on the long program coverage. Overall, it was the best I've ever seen him skate. Dressing in a similar costume to Adam Rippon, Mr. Ten executed similar limb action in his choreography. Jeremy has a tendency to do similar leans to the side to Kim Yu-Na. His jumps were quite tidy. Now, I love a diva gaysian when I see one. After falling on his second triple axel, Jeremy's skate lace popped. He skated over to the referee and placed his boot on the boards in dramatic Tonya Harding fashion.
Watching Jeremy retie the lace was a bit of an ordeal. I'll admit that I take forever myself, but I felt the need to tell him the rabbit goes up the hole, around the tree... His spins and choreography are lovely, but he is going to stay in the 6.0-7.5 range until he learns how to own the ice. His kicks doing footwork are not from deep within a Russian soul. Frankly, he needs a bit of yelling it. More expression, more speed, more flair, gurl you own that ice! I do appreciate his apology to the referee and his Rudy Galindo combination spin. It did not go unnoticed. I'm starting to believe in him a bit more. (131.16)
Yasuharu Nanri executed a few jumps and spins with the music of Carmen blaring in the background. His actual program had nothing to do with the celebrated Opera. The only thing remotely 'Carmen' was a weird spray painting hot pink sleeve. Yes, another Japanese Carmen. Yes, another snoozefest. This Carmen is about on par with Miki Ando's rendition. The problem with using well-known music is that the audience begins to wish you were someone else skating their version. During the claps, I thought about loving Sasha Cohen in Salt Lake City. There were thoughts of Krylova, Navka and Katarina. While the jumps were more or less acceptable, the performance was not. It was another forgettable IJS program that alienates viewers and gives them a nice afternoon nap. Yasuharu was positively crawling into his ending spin. His visible exhaustion during the last minute was reminiscent of Naomi Lang. Not cute. It was evident why he has not broken the eighth-place ceiling on the Grand Prix circuit. (127.96)
Next was Artur Gachinski posing as Evgeny Plushenko. And what a poser he was! It is bad when a fugly Mishin student makes me note "he really lacks Evgeny's best qualities." Artur definitely has those stiff-legged awkward looking jumps that Mishin teaches so well. Somehow, it works. It just isn't pretty to look at. He opened the program with a Quad Toe, Triple Axel+Double Toe+Double Loop and a second Triple Axel. Planning all of his difficult elements at the begin suggested that he has Sasha Cohen endurance and focus issues. As a wannabe judge, I prefer to use a wide range of program component scores. I definitely would have to go in the 5.0 level for interpretation and choreography. Waving your arms around before a triple salchow does not make up for several minutes of boredom. In the words of Karen Walker "it was more like endless on ice." The 'dizzying to watch skater' saved all of his energy until the end of the program. Unlike Kwan at 2002 Nationals, it didn't work. There was no explosion of energy or emotion. He just skated a bit faster, waved his arms a tad and zoned out for his elements. Amateurish presentation needs to be called out. I applaud the judges who had the cojones to give a Russian a 5.25 for Transitions and a 5.75 for Interpretation. It is a shame that more judges did not. (137.51)
Michael Weiss spent a great deal of time droning on about the difficulty of placing a quadruple jump in a program. Like many of the skaters, he was a 'wannabe' quad jumper. Make it or miss it, his program was affected because he simply wasn't consistent with it. For many skaters, the quad becomes an emotional accomplishment. For the best skaters, it is simply a difficult and important element to execute.
Javier Fernandez kept his Pirates of the Caribbean long program. While he sells the program well, he does appear to be ready to explore another character. Morozov's movie themes tend to work for Javier. I don't see him pulling off the classical route. While some commenters were dismayed when I suggested that Agnes Zawadzki go to Morozov, there was a reason to the suggestion. Morozov's skaters display impressive jump technique and solid skating skills. Javier's jumps are positively stunning to behold. The legs are stretcher and the free leg is beautiful on the landings. He opened the program with a Quad Toe, Triple Axel and Triple Lutz. I'd advise him to put the combination on the first triple axel for security purposes. He popped his triple axel and still earned points for adding a Triple Toe, but the GOE is not the same. One never knows how that second triple axel will go. The Triple Flip and Triple Loop were landing well around the 3/5 mark. Then things entered Naomi Lang territory for him as well. Javier needs some more full run-throughs to keep his endurance up. His Triple Salchow+Double Toe+Double Toe and Triple Toe+step+Double Axel appeared positively dumpy due to a lack of energy. I could feel the lactic acid in his legs as he crawled through footwork. The genius of a Morozov footwork sequence at the end of the program is that is rouses the audience to their feet. Javier just couldn't pull it off due to exhaustion. He did not have a Yagudin-Gladiator moment. My inner Tarasova screamed at him to will a dramatic finish out of him. It was unsuccessful. (144.11)
Next came Alban Preaubert who Michael Weiss keeps trying to convince us is entertaining. Just no. I sighed with relief when he tripled his planned Quad Toe, as we would not need to see him on the podium. The rest of the jumps were more or less landed. I kept zoning out but heard Michael Weiss mention that he's taking ballet courses. He needs to up his number of classes, because he does not have the line or performance capability to draw an audience into a lesser-known classical piece. I'm not saying his Clockwork Orange was a good program, but it was certainly better than this. (139.34)
And then came P Chiddy. Goodness, Patty, goodness. I don't know about you, but I am not a fan of this Phantom of the Opera music edit. I applaud his decision to not go with the typical music cuts, but Lori Nichol's BFF did a horrendous job on this program. P Chiddy's music doesn't tend to matter much, as it is all the same. When watching Patrick, I appreciate his edges and speed across the ice, but I'm not engaged or emotionally invested in the program. Given that Lori Nichol spends more time working with him than she does with her other clients, I would expect that she'd help draw him to the audience. The fan kicks and leans just don't do it for me. I find his performance execution scores positively absurd when he wipes out on a jump (more than a fall, a wipe out) and proceeds to deserve negative GOE on his subsequent jumping passes. There is some serious Skate Canada politicking going on behind the scenes, but his scores are a complete joke.
Patrick is the type of skater who fails the Martha Karolyi rule that "falls are always unacceptable." He is not an Adam Rippon hoping for a clean program. He seems positively fine with falling. Frankly, he knows there is a slim chance he'll manage to pull of a Quad Toe and two Triple Axels. Why should he care about being clean? Judges have awarded P Chiddy more medals and titles for shitty skates than any other skater in history. He even outdoes Sasha Cohen is this area. For a skater who is receiving off-the-charts program component scores, his artistry is extremely overrated. There is no character, story or point of view going on. I don't remember the last time a skater fell four times and won a competition. There is no justification for his scores. The bullshit is transparent. (166.32) Unreal.
Following a practice collision that left him with a black eye and a stiff shoulder, Adam Rippon pulled off a consistent free skate. His only error was stepping out of his second Triple Axel. In many ways, his performance level reminded me of how Michelle Kwan typically skated at Skate Canada after blowing away the field at Skate America the week before. The Japan Open was his Skate America performance. His free skate was lacking in terms of emotion and passion. He admitted himself that he was not completely invested in the competition, which is not unusual after a jarring collision in practice. Aside from his jumps, the spins were good, but he did receive one level three. He continues to get a level two step sequence. This needs to be worked on ASAP, as it will keep him from competing with the other top men. At this point in his career, Adam needed to medal and he did. The next step is to earn a trip to the Grand Prix Final in order to continue ascending the ranks of the sport. A trip to the Grand Prix Final will likely require him to earn a silver medal at Skate America. For now: Mission accomplished (for now). (155.51)
Kevin Reynolds, the product of Rachael Flatt mating with a hobbit, landed two quads but popped his triple axels and landed off the podium. The true measure of a skater is evident when their jumps evaporate. Without jumps, there just isn't much to Kevin Reynolds. (138.56)
Nobunari Oda performed another forgettable free skate. Leaving Morozov appears to have been a mistake. Morozov disguised Oda's reserved Japanese nature with a delightful Charlie Chaplin program. The imaginary top hot and the smiles were gone, as was the audience support. His facial expressions and emotion were nonexistent. (155.15)
After a rousing short program competition, the free skate was an utterly forgettable experience. C-