Friday, December 31, 2010

It Happened...

The season isn't officially underway and we already have the first reference to Brittani McCullough being in the nursing program!  When will Miss Val gives us our next favorite... 'Calm Confidence'?!

A Few Favorites From 2010

It was one amazing year. What were your favorites?

A few of mine after the jump!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

This and That

The Gym Dogs suffered a huge blow to their season today when Kaylan Earls tore her achilles tendon during practice while performing a double arabian.  Kaylan was expected to contribute on all four events, which star potential on vault and floor.  Kaylan had just upgraded her bar release to a tkatchev and was expected to contribute there as well. It will be difficult for the team to replace the tenths she was likely going to be adding to the total.  After graduating Courtney McCool, Grace Taylor and Marcia Newby, the team was already losing a bunch of high-scoring routines that the incoming freshmen would unlikely be able to replace.  Kaylan Earns, a rock-star level 10, was anticipated to help the team as a major contributor and their top freshmen.  This leaves Jay scrambling as the team prepares to travel to Denver for their season opener on January 8th.

In order for Georgia to climb back into the Super Six, they really need everyone fit and healthy this year.  The loss of Kaylan weakens them considerably.  Unfortunately, the team is dealing with some injuries.  Gina Nuccio has three herniated discs in her back and hasn't performed on vault or floor in several intrasquads over the last few weeks.

Kat Ding will only compete on bars in Denver if she competes at all.  Kat has also been sitting out intrasquads on the leg events due to a stress fracture in her femur.  Kat is critical to the team's success.

It is only a matter of time before Shayla has some sort of injury.  This means we will likely be seeing Noel Couch in the All Around and will need to be seeing lots of Christa Tanella.  This is when the wasted scholarship for Kati Breazeal is really biting Jay Clark in the ass.

Michigan State senior Kathryn Mahoney is in critical condition after fracturing her C6 vertebra while vaulting Wednesday.  Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family during this difficult time.

Blahtah freshman Alyssa Gale officially retired after being unable to recover from knee surgery.  She will serve as the team manager.   Victoria Shanley has mono and is unlikely to compete against UCLA during the season opener.

Victoria Komova heads back to Round Lake on January 5th and plans on competing at Russian Nationals in March if she is fully recovered from her sprained ankle.  She sprained her ankle tripping over a mat in the gym.  Her goals are to compete successfully at the European and World Championships.

Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Burbaker will compete at the Nesquik Cup in Torun, Poland Jan 6-9th.  It is their first real competition, as they only had to compete a short program at Sectionals to qualify for Nationals and were the only senior pair in their sectional.

Elvis Stojko is touring Canada in the new 'Rock The Ice' show.  His new tour looks to be a cringe-worthy experience with singing and skating performances from the two-time Olympic Silver Medalist.  The Karate Kid will be joined by Delobel and Schoenfelder, Surya Bonaly, Gary Beacom and Emanuel Sandhu.

Universal Sports is airing a Bud Greenspan documentary every night for nine nights.  The schedule:

"9 Nights of Glory" Television Schedule:
Saturday, Jan. 1 - Los Angeles '84 - 9:00 PM ET
Sunday, Jan. 2 - Calgary '88 - 9:00 PM ET
Monday, Jan. 3 - Lillehammer '94 - 9:00 PM ET
Tuesday, Jan. 4 - Atlanta '96 - 9:00 PM ET
Wednesday, Jan. 5 - Nagano '98 - 9:00 PM ET
Thursday, Jan. 6 - Sydney '00 - 9:00 PM ET
Friday, Jan. 7 - Salt Lake City '02 - 9:00 PM ET
Saturday, Jan. 8 - Athens '04 - 9:00 PM ET
Sunday, Jan. 9 - Torino '06 - 9:00 PM ET

McKenzie Wofford at the Bumbo Cup

A video of the Bumbo Cup has emerged.  It is unclear whether other videos are on the way, so cross all of your fingers and toes.  This is McKenzie Wofford's winning bar routine from event finals.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Call To Arms

Like Dominique Moceanu, my sister has wasted little time pimping out her next-of-kin in 'cuteness' pageant of sorts.  By visiting this link and liking the photo of my puppy-nephew, you are helping to appease the desires of a violently competitive woman.  Frankly, I still cry at night about her never letting me have a turn when playing two-player-team for Donkey Kong Country.  My role was to read the guidebook and face the other way, as not to distract her.  Please help my puppy-nephew satisfy his mommy, it is only a matter of time until she births a toddler with a tiara and forgets all about him.

The Russian Nationals Gala

Videos after the jump!

Palate Cleansers

How to solve a problem like Miki Ando's current abortion of a program...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Fabulous Moment In Television

This and That

The Chinese are deep into winter training.  Cheng Fei, yang Yilin and He Ning are all training together.

A few days ago, videos emerged on youtube declaring that the Japanese NTV secretly taped Yu-Na Kim training in LA.  All That Sports has issued a statement asking for an apology and says it will blame NTV if Yu-Na is unable to compete.  (One article initially had a statement that they would blame NTV if Yu-Na failed to win Worlds.  It was a possible mistranslation, but they probably would blame them anyway.) NTV is not believed to have captured Yu-Na training either of her programs.  Realistically, there isn't much the Japanese could change at this point by knowing Yu-Na's programs.  Assuming her jump layout is relatively the same, they cannot add too many new combinations.  Most of their skaters are likely already attempting the most difficult content they are currently capable of handling.  Given how the Japanese value honor, this is another rather amusing tale of the JSF/Japanese media being shady.  One can only imagine that this goes on with both the Korean and Japanese federations, as they are highly competitive in the ladies field.  The paranoia and Yu-Na-mania is entertaining and should be considered downright flattering for the Olympic Champion.

Russian Nationals: Free Dance

1.  Bobrova and Soloviev (164.93)
2.  Riazanova and Tkachenko (160.45)
3.  Ilinykh and Katsalapov (149.72)
4.  Khokhlova and Andreev (145.75)
5.  Gorshkova and Butikov (142.83)

Leading into this season, many expected an easy transition into the senior ranks for the stylish Ilinykh and Katsalapov.  It has not gone as expected.  Those who trained with Elena Ilinykh in Michigan note that she is a delightful skater who is unfortunately lacking in power.  Tanith Belbin noted the lack of complexity in their transitions and elements, while other ice dance experts note their utter dependence on crossovers.  Khokhlova and Andreev are a new team with a partner who has never ice danced before. yet they still defeated them in the free dance and were points ahead on their technical elements score.  His mistake on the twizzle sequence cost them the silver medal to a team they should have beaten.  It looks like some sort of change might be in order for the young Russians.

Russian Nationals: Young Divas Free Skate

My apologies for the tacky and sloppy skating you are about to witness.  Plenty of newer fans are crazy about the Russian Ladies.  While I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the Russian Men, I will post these as many of them at least leave an impression one way or the other.  They are distinguishable.  Unfortunately, Ksenia Makarova was unable to defend her title.  The Russian Ladies will enter worlds hoping to secure three spots for a day when the senior ladies are can only help the seniors to have that third spot around.  They will certainly need to up their game.

Mishin's influence continues to eat away at Russian skating.  While the ladies certainly do not enjoy a storied tradition, the number of gloves and tacky-Volchkova knockoffs is disturbing..  There are a few hidden gems in this bunch.

Long Program Scores
Overall Results:
1.  Adelina Sotnikova  (197.44)
2.  Alena Leonova (187.68)
3.  Elizaveta Tuktamysheva  (180.71)
4.  Julia Lipnitskaya (176.27)
5.  Ksenia Makarova  (173.91)

Videos after the jump.

A Moment of Total Win

Nine-year-old Starr Andrews knows how to whip her hair back and forth!  And who ever said that figure skating was just a prissy wonder bread sport?!

What must GloZell think about this?  Someone must alert her immediately!

(P.S.  I am praying that her parents named her after Star Jones in the hope that she will one day become a lawyer and television personality.)

Starr back in the day...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Russian Nationals: Young Divas Short Program

Many anticipated a changing of the guard at this year's Russian Championships.  With the success of the Junior Russian Ladies this fall, many anticipated that the seniors might find themselves out of the top three.  While Ksenia Makarova did not attempt a flip or a lutz in her short program, her overall quality and sophistication won out.  It would not be wise to diminish the legitimacy of the skaters who will compete at worlds.  Ksenia's skating appears stronger than it did during the Grand Prix.  One must wonder if a few of the skaters are a bit spent after numerous fall competitions.

1. Ksenia Makarova (64.16)
2. Adelina Sotnikova (63.79)
3. Alena Leonova (60.14)
4. Sofia Biryukova (59.49)
5. Julia Lipnitskaya (59.13)
6. Polina Agafonova (58.42)
7. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (56.30)
8. Maria Artemeva (54.63)
9. Polina Shelepen (53.89)
10. Polina Korobeynikova (53.62)

Videos after the jump.

2010 Canadian Stars On Ice

The 2010 Canadian Stars On Ice Tour has been broadcast on CBC and SRC.  After the jump, you'll find a collection of the solos that were broadcast for the tour.  Please request download links to any vids that don't play in your country due to annoying musical licensing claims on YouTube.

This and That

The Wall Street Journal profiled Brian Boitano.

IG gave us a Katelyn Ohashi update.  The WOGettes are off for a few days for the holidays.  Katelyn performed a new standing arabian on beam in South Africa.  Valeri Liukin is determined for Katelyn to get a new combo on bars.  He is clearly grooming her for the 2013 Worlds and beyond.  The new combo she is in the process of mastering is: insider-Stalder to el grip+ front giant+ Ono.

Anastasia Grishina is eager to resume training with the Russian National Team at Round Lake on January 5th.  Anastasia took the second half of 2010 off from competition in order to rest her sore back.  She says she is on track to be back for Russian Nationals in March.  Her goal is to make the 2011 European Youth Olympic Festival in Turkey and do well.  She turns 15 on January 16th and will be eligible for senior international competition in 2012 due to the FIG's dumb new rule that prevents Olympic-eligible gymnast compete in the previous year's World Championships.

Olympic documentarian Bud Greenspan passed away at 84 years of age.

Michael Weiss drove nine hours to appear on the Today Show this morning.  Unfortunately, his performance was canceled because the rink was buried in snow.  He did offer to shovel.

A feature on Evan Lysacek's year.  He says his goal is to return to competition in the fall of 2011.  It will be curious to see whether his Stars On Ice contract would allow that and/or if he could even be competitive for gold without a quad.  The men's field has changed since he won Olympic Gold.

The NY Times says it will wait, but not forever, to review the disaster that is Spiderman The Musical.  They don't want their definitive review of the show to be out-of-date by the time the producers finish making all of their changes to the production.

Stanford posted a preseason recap montage.  They look a bit stronger than they did last season:

Kurt Browning still has 'it' in spades.  Here he is from the recent Holiday Festival on Ice:

Russian Nationals: Pairs Free Skate

Free Skate Scores
1.  Volosozhar and Trankov
2.  Kavaguti and Smirnov
3.  Bazarova and Larionov
4.  Gerboldt and Enbert
5.  Iliushechkina and Maisuradze

Videos after the jump.

The New Russian Champions

Russian Pairs dominance is restored!  Finally, Mother Russia has a team that is competitive with the best in the world and capable of competing with the best in the world.  Next in need of a miracle, the American ladies.

La Reina Del Tango

Russian Nationals: Pairs Short Program

1.  Volosozhar and Trankov (72.71)
2.  Kavaguti and Smirnov  (68.15)
3.  Bazarova and Larionov  (67.83)
4.  Gerboldt and Ennbert  (61.99)
5.  Stolbova and Klimov  (61.03)
6.  Iliushechkina and Maisuradze  (58.88)

Videos after the jump!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Russian Nationals: The Short Dance

The beautiful Tatiana Tarasova  (Anyone care to translate?)

1.  Bobrova and Soloviev (65.34)
2.  Ilinykh and Katsalapov (62.30)
3.  Riazanova and Tkachenko (62.17)
4.  Gorshkova and Butikov (57.30)
5.  Khokhlova and Andreev (53.74)

Videos after the jump.

Japanese World Team Announced

As Expected:
Miki Ando
Mao Asada
Kanako Murakami
Takahiko Kozuka
Nobunari Oda
Daisuke Takahaski
Takahashi and Tran
The Reeds

Japanese Nationals Ladies Free

Free Skate Protocol

Overall Results

Videos after the jump

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Santa Has Arrived

Merry Christmas!

Did Santa bring you anything skatenastics related?  I got Voir's book for Christmas!  Can't wait to read and review it!

Japanese Nationals Men's Results

Overall Results

Free Skate Results

A Christmas Carol

Merry Christmas Everyone!

TV Reminder

See the oldie but goodies on NBC at 4 PM EST!

Japanese Ladies Short


Video after the jump!

Back In Action!

Mao Asada won the short program at Japanese Nationals as a Christmas gift to everyone!

Unfortunately, her weird-boob costume issues continue.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Holiday Tradition

Watch Out For The Ice Patch!!!!!  (and Merry Christmas Everyone!)

Don't Want No Short Man - JPN Nationals Men's SP Results

1. Takahiko KOZUKA 87.91

2. Yuzuru HANYU 78.94

3. Nobunari ODA 77.48

4. Daisuke TAKAHASHI 74.78

Rest of the SP results after the jump:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kytra Hunter Update

The door is not completely shut on Kytra Hunter joining the Florida Gators this spring.  Kytra retook her standardized tests several times.  It is now up to the NCAA to determine whether her scores are high enough to be allowed to compete.  One can only imagine what the required SAT score is, as she is joining an SEC School with strong football and basketball programs.  The standards may iterate just how little time elite gymnasts actually spend being educated (unless that have an academically-inclined pushy stage mother.)  The NCAA will make a ruling during the first week of January.  Given some of the complete bullshit the UF Athletic Department has gotten away with in the past, we can keep our fingers crossed that Kytra and Ashanee will pull one another's hair out in their fight to be the Vault and Floor anchor.

Please Note that Maranda Smith already has a sixth year of eligibility.

Gator Chomp!

Japanese Nationals TV Schedule

Another practice clip.  The excitement is building!

The Japanese Skating Federation has had a long history of cheating and bullshit.  We can only pray that Mao will go to Worlds regardless of how she skates.  Japanese Nationals are held far too early to begin with.

Mao Article

Practice Photos (No, they were not attending a funeral.)

TV Schedule Courtesy of Blazing Blades:

All Japan Championship Telecast Schedule

December 24 (Fri) 19:00 to 20:54 Men's SP (5:00am - 6:54am ET, 11:00 - 12:54 CET)
December 25 (Sat) 19:00 to 21:09 Ladies SP (5:00am - 7:09am ET, 11:00 - 13:09 CET)
December 25 (Sat) 23:25 to 24:45 Men's FS (9:25am - 10:45am ET, 15:25 - 16:45 CET)
December 26 (Sunday) 19:00 to 21:54 Ladies FS plus Pairs/Dance (5:00am - 7:54am ET, 11:00 - 13:54 CET)
December 27 (Mon) 19:00 to 20:54 Medalist On Ice (Gala) (5:00am - 6:54am ET, 11:00 - 12:54 CET)
You can watch Fuji TV live on Keyhole TV. Use this link for the latest version of the software.

The Newest Member of The Tide

Sarah Patterson must have been buying some magenta hair dye trying to cover up the grays she's gotten trying to replace Morgan Dennis on floor.  While Morgan was a bit of a second rate Miles/Pickens Vault and Floor anchor, she was a reliable competitor.  Ashley Sledge hasn't looked to be quite ready to rock a 9.950 week-in-week-out and Jordan Moore is recovering from surgery to insert a rod in her leg.  Diandra Milliner, who graduated from high school a semester early to join the squad, is the perfect gymnast to fill that role.  She won vault at the 2009 and 2010 JO Nationals and earned a floor title in 2010 as well.  She finished second all-around in '09.  Diandra is heading to T-Town after the holidays.

As much as it pains me to say it, Alabama is a force to be reckoned with this season.  Their freshmen will have plenty of competitive experience by the time Ashley Priess and Jordan Moore return to full strength just prior to post season.

Be Italian

The Italian Nationals just concluded.  Faiella and Scali did not compete due to Federica's back injury that has prevented them from performing lifts.  They are hoping to compete at Europeans and the World Championships.  The team previously withdrew from the Cup of Russia due to an injury to Massimo.

1 Carolina KOSTNER ITA 189.74
2 Valentina MARCHEI ITA 163.28

1 Samuel CONTESTI ITA 216.79
2 Paolo BACCHINI ITA 195.70
3 Fabio MASCARELLO ITA 178.52

Videos are posted after the jump.

This and That

All eyes are on Mao Asada at this week's National Championships.  TV Network Executives are praying that Mao will earn a spot at the upcoming World Championships in Tokyo, as ratings for figure skating have gone through the roof since Mao became the face of the sport in Japan.  Mao has been training well, but it will all come down to whether or not she has enough confidence in her new technique to be able to execute it under pressure.

Article About Japanese Nationals

US Nationals Practice Schedule.  Ryan Bradley is listed among the competitors.  Stephen Carriere is not.

Word has it that Kytra Hunter will not be joining the Florida Gators this season due to low standardized test scores.  There had not been a definitive word to whether she would be joining, as she retook the exam this fall.

Johnny Weir's upcoming TV Appearances and Book Tour Info.   His new single can be listened to on his website.

Word is that Voir will not be ready to compete at Canadian Nationals.  They vowed to compete at Four Continents if they weren't ready for Canadian Nationals.

Naomi Nari Nam was married recently and is now Naomi Poor.  The reception was held at Benihana. She and her husband are expecting a baby in the upcoming weeks.  Naomi is said to be one of Kim Yu-Na's best friends in LA.  John Nicks once described Naomi as being more 'unruly' than Sasha Cohen.  She was definitely an attractive fashionable girl who was boy crazy early on.  The baby ballerina is all grown up!

Volosozhar and Trankov's recent photo shoot:

Ginger Jackson: The Show Must Go On

Ginger Jackson performed a modified short program at the East West Ice Palace holiday show.  There was a slight music issue, as you will see.  Apparently, his music didn't finish downloading all the way to iTunes and it caused a technical issue.  The director asked Ginger if he was done, but his desire to perform burned as brightly as his flame-red hair.  Ginger threw on his guards, ran upstairs, fetched his iPod and gave the audience their money's worth.  Like the good Jewish boy that his mother raised him to be, Ginger knows that in show business, the show must go on.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nastia Update

Transworld Sport returned to Plano to visit Nastia Liukin.  Since this was filmed, Nastia has continued to slim down and tone up as she attempts to get back into fighting form.

A shot from her latest Supergirl Photo Shoot.

Holiday Greeting:

Coming Soon To Aunt Joyce...

Miss America 2011.  Get Ready.

E!'s Inside Look At Ice Skating

Back during the skating boom, E! took a look at skating during one of its transformative seasons.  The '98-99 season was the beginning of the death or pro skating once Dick Button sold Candid Productions.  While that was going on, Tara Lipinski left the world of amateur skating to join the cast of Stars On Ice.  The skating world anticipated that Kwan would emerge from Nagano as the Olympic Champion. It was not to be. IMG reacted by wooing Lipinski away from Champions On Ice by signing her to one of the most impressive contracts ever afforded for a rookie on the tour.  While the other skaters were originally encouraged by her energy for the first two seasons, it was the beginning of an acrimonious relationship that left the tour without a signature female star.

From the start, the SOI creative team sought to incorporate an incredibly broad age group of skating stars into group numbers.  While resorting to clowns is often a cringeworthy moment, it wound up being the best of the group numbers on that year's tour.  The opening and closing numbers were decided misses.  Tara's first year on the tour can be thought of as a clusterfuck.  Unsure of what to do with a teenage champion who looked twelve, her handlers packaged her an Olsen Twin wannabe.  It was an incredible regression for the Olympic Gold Medalist.

Sadly, Ilia Kulik's 'Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk' program was never televised aside from the clips included in this documentary.  Lord knows I've searched for it.

Following a record of junior success and an impressive senior debut at US Nationals, the Stieglers were the hope for the future of US Skating.  Tiffany's overabundance of charisma emerged over any of the creepiness of them skating to every ballet love story ever told.  Armed with their father's deep pockets, they had the best of everything money could buy.  If you're wondering where you've seen their choreographer before, Elena Tcherkasskaya ultimately went on to transform Angela Nikodinov into the stunning skater we choose to remember her as.   Tiffany and Johnny both suffered issues with growth spurts and numerous injuries.  He eventually lost interest and she wasted too many years attempting to find a suitable American pairs partner who was tall enough and good enough to skate with.  While she eventually became an impressive ice dancer, she remains one of the best skaters to never have found her niche.

Given that TV cameras were present, Roz Sumners readily appeared as a talking head.  My apologies in advance.  Not that she mentions that as a skater, "she could handle the beading."  Understatement of the century.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

One Impressive Ego

Toller Cranston talking to this complete idiot is utterly fascinating.  As always, there is an overwhelming urge to smack him due to his ego---yet he is a surprising voice of reason.

So many quotes, so little time.

This and That

Paul Binnebose is back on the ice teaching after brain surgery.  Those who were fans a decade ago remember the skating community wearing ribbons while he was in a coma.  (Video included)

Update on Yu-Na Kim.

Sasha Artemev is aiming for a full AA comeback at the 2011 Winter Cup.

Relive the Vancouver Olympics in 3D

The Gym Dogs posted a brief video of their intrasquad.  The team is looking much fitter than they did a year ago.  They may not have all of the big recruits, but some of their hard work looks to be paying off.  Mariel Box has really started to perform a legitimately good vault.  A year ago, she vaulted with bent elbows.  Now, she is looking ready to be a member of the lineup.  Kaylan Earls is starting to pick it up.  Cassidy McComb looks the best she has since she was SEC Freshman of the Year.  The last two years were a struggle for Cassidy in and out of the gym.  She finally looks fit and ready to do all of her skills.  Her 1 1/2 is back on vault.  Like Tiffany Tolnay, she always lands that vault better than she lands her Yurchenko Full.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SWTS: Another Failed Skating Series

With the success of the Olympics, the return of the Grand Prix to network television in the US and the announcement of Skating With The Stars, there was hope that skating may gain a bit more respect.  With Stars On Ice struggling to rebuild and maintain an audience (and tour stops), every bit helps.  There was hope that Skating With The Stars could work.  Similar series work in other countries, but it has yet to take off here.  Skating With Celebrities failed and there was a faint hope that the Dancing With The Stars producers could get it right.

Scripted series spend months and often years in development.  There are scripts, rewrites, pilots, reshoots, recasting, etc.  The same amount of time and effort isn't spent on a cheaply produced holiday spinoff.  It showed on Skating With The Stars.  There is no way for a skating series to really have any salience when it only runs for five weeks.

UCLA Intrasquad: Floor Exercise

Oh hells yes!  I haven't loved a batch of routines this much since Anna Li arrived and Miss Val told Tasha that she would NOT be having her doing a floor routine to Justin Timberlake: You will be my African Queen!

After watching UCLA for almost two decades, one begins to have some expectations about their routines.  Some will be wildly different.  There will usually be a lot of laying on the floor and STTTREEEETTTTTCCCHHHHING before the third pass and someone will always bend over at the waist and RIIIIIISE.  The past few years, Miss Val had a signature move where the girls would put their hands together behind their backs and walk in an 'S' pattern.

This season. Valorie was clearly feeling a bit inspired.  She just won NCAAs.  There is a new Olympian on the team.  Her upperclassmen have grown as performers.  It looks like she was really able to have fun and experiment in a number of the routines.  Overall, it is quite evident that Val had a bicurious affair with Twyla Tharp during college.  It was probably brief, but it is not unlike a fling you may have had where you smoked a little reefer, drank some red wine and watched the object of your affection play Tori Amos songs with two keyboards.

Val first flirted with Twyla during her 'ode' to her in 2005 via Kate Richardson's floor routine.  There was a false ending and a signature diva pose with ones feet pointed and the head is brought into the chest looking down at the floor.  There is often an arm extended.

Talia's routine is pure bliss.  The girl clearly works her ass off to get where she is.  Hopefully we'll see a few outings and exhibitions for her during 'B' meets and senior night.  They may like to say that every meet is a big meet, but don't be shocked if you see Talia compete against Cal State Fullerton.  The pirouettes after Talia's second pass excite me as though I've just seen Patti Lupone for the first time.

Aisha Gerber is a mystical creature from the Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter universe.  I imagine her trotting along green meadows and dipping her toes in water.  This routine is the most creative of the bunch.  The entire section before the third pass is pure bliss.  While the routine has moments of being introspective and almost private, there is a healthy level of drama throughout.

Out of all of the Asians on campus at UCLA, Sydney Sawa and Niki Tom are not my favorite.  That said, both look to be solid contributors.  Neither stands out much, but they don't disappoint either.

Olivia Courtney is a young girl who needs to spend every waking moment with Val in order to become a diva on the level of Brittani McCullough.  Hopefully they'll spend Greek Orthodox holidays together.  Her floor music is the wonderful 'Strobe's Nanafushi.'  It was the song used for the opening number of the 1999-2000 Stars On Ice tour and it will bring back wonderful Sandra Bezic memories when Olivia performs this each week.  It is evident that she is really trying and is becoming more outgoing while working on this routine.  Given that she trained at Orlando Metro, there is a good shot that Olivia will red-shirt at least one season.  She should have the performance thing down by her fifth year.

Tauny is Twyla-tastic and a sassy little thing!  I found her old routine to be a bit of a collection of Val's recycled moves, but this one looks like it will help her grow into her own unique Bruin mark.  Tauny will certainly see more action this year.  If she can get her tumbling situated, this routine will have serious growth potential.

Lichelle Wong brings me back to Antolin and Dantzscher levels of diva.  It appears that she is unleashing her inner bad girl and it makes me like her that much more.  And I absolutely live for the Twyla-type ending that was previously discussed.

MDLT is aggressive as sin.  Her extended sequence laying on the floor is a bit curious, as she is often chided about her fitness level.  There is something about Monique that stands out.  She goes against my typing Ekaterina Gordeeva tastes, but I like her.  There is a competitor inside her.

EHH- This new routine looks like Val really got to play.  I can tell that it is one of those that will sneak up and grow on me.  I really dig it whenever Elyse pushes down on the floor and rolls her head and shoulders from side to side.  It is what indicates that this nice sweet Canadian is a closet bad ass bitch.  The way that Elyse does her second pass indicates that she is one who enjoys the spotlight.  I question whether a double layout is the right pass for her.  Given how much they are going to depend on big scores from her, opening with a reliable double arabian could be the smart decision.  Then again, I suspect they want her to really take ownership of flipping twice in the straight position, as the girl has been known to have bar dismount issues.

McCullough- As a repressed Catholic, it will always amuse me that Brittani learned to dance like this in church.  She certainly wasn't wasting any time memorizing the Nicene Creed.  Her piked full in is out of this world and earns the right for this routine to be clapped along to.  There is enough of the old, new, borrowed and blue to keep us interested, while not making us miss the previous routine.

This will be a good year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

This and That

Voir performed at Winter Dreams On Ice after only being back on the ice for a brief time.  There is a ton of work to be done, but it is certainly impressive that they are already putting themselves back out there.  It wouldn't be out of the question for them to win Canadian Nationals, as Skate Canada will pretty much make sure that happens if they manage to do one-foot glides around the ice.

Johnny Weir at Kaleidoscope

UCLA Intrasquad: Balance Beam

Talia- Well, let's just say the only time she'll ever possibly compete would be vs. CSUF.

Niki Tom- Her consistency on the event is of vital importance for UCLA with the absence of Zam and Anna Li.  Her new choreography slows her down and gives her a more mature look.  Val would be smart to make her the designated leadoff.

Aisha- I enjoy how her teammates say 'beautiful gymnastics' as though she will suddenly change after years of having style and form literally beaten into her.  I see many 9.9s and 9.85s in her future.

Sydney Sawa-  The routine is acceptable, but there is an overall sluggishness that should keep her out of the top six on the team.

Lichelle- She shows great technique but slight mental weakness that makes me question whether she'll ever be a 9.95-level star on any event.  Her gymnastics is lovely, but you just know that she is going to come off the beam in critical situations.

McCullough- Looks improved on beam, but is still not a natural beamer.  She will likely be given a few opportunities to prove herself, as one can see that Miss Val would LOVE for her to be an AA star this year.  Be prepared to hear all about her nursing course load, because she is going to be in the thick of things this season.

MDLT- Stable by not spectacular.

Tauny Frattone- Her lightness will make her an excellent addition to the lineup.  Her quality withstands the signature UCLA brand.

Olivia Courtney- She is healthy, fit and hitting.  OC isn't the cleanest of the bunch, but she is going to be competing a lot this season.  After years of toiling in the shadows, this could be her year to stand out.  Given Peszek's ankle issue, Olivia will see more AA-time.  She'd be good as a second person up in the beam lineup.

Sambam Peszek- Random fall on the Aerial.  She will certainly compete beam in the third or fourth position in the lineup.  The ankle looks to be an issue and we all know what makes ankle issues even worse...  Given how she has hid issues with several different body parts over the last few years (ankle, knee, shoulder, etc), it is unlikely that her body will allow her to do AA all the time.  They're going to need to pace her and add floor in later on.  Sam is driven and will want to compete and rack up the big scores, but it is going to take a great deal of management by the coaches to keep her healthy and available for the bigger meets and post season.  Overall, she isn't one to worry about on beam.  Sambam trains three different beam routines and still does her back full+back pike.  It may be smart to make it her combination later on in the year, as it will help keep her score in the 9.9+ level even if she has a slight step or balance check.  Beam is capable of being one of UCLA's best events and Sambam is someone who could really help them push 49.4+ in the post season.

EHH- Clearly the team's star on beam, she will make a great fifth-up or anchor in the lineup.  It all depends whether Sato is kept as the anchor.  Elyse looks the best on beam that she has since her World Bronze Medal.  Her confidence continues to grow and she now performs with a command and an ownership of the apparatus that she didn't have her freshman year and developed over the course of last season.

Mizuki Sato is coming back from surgery and will be in the lineup.  She suffered some inconsistency last season, but really performed well in the anchor position.

Merry Christmas From Kim Yu-Na

Sunday, December 19, 2010

On The Inside: Figure Skating

Skating was on TV so often back in 99-00, that I managed to misplace my tape of this documentary.  Unfortunately, it was never posted in its entirety online.  Yagudin fans uploaded part of it without the Nicks and Naomi Nari Nam segments.  I love me some John Nicks and this documentary doesn't disappoint!

An Old Favorite

Just enjoy...

This and That

Kiira Korpi's free skate at Finnish Nationals.

Anastasia Sidorova's FX at the Voronin Cup

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Exceptional Gay Moment: Svetlana Boginskaya's '92 Floor Routine

Svetlana Boginskaya was unquestionably the most celebrated gymnast of her day.  Unfortunately, she suffered the distinction of being at her personal peak between Olympic Games.  By 1992, the Belorussian Swan had been through hell and back to make her second Olympic Team.  After a narrow (and bullshit) loss to Kim Zmeskal at the 1991 World Championships, an ankle injury kept Bogi from being at her best in Barcelona.

Floor Exercise was always Bogi's signature event.  Though she didn't have the most difficult tumbling by '92, her expression, passion and performance made up for it.  Her '92 routine was not as wildly popular as its predecessors, but it retained all of the style, class, flair and attitude that was her hallmark.  It is a routine that has grown on me over the years,  Early on, it just didn't stand out.  It was sad to see Bogi not in fighting form.  Now, I notice the subtleties of the routine.  The rib isolations and neck/head movements are brilliantly captivating.  The climax of the routine occurs before the third pass when she looks to the right, above and then to the left.  It is a total' OHHH GURLLL WORKKKK' moment.

In many ways, I blame Bogi for my being such a temperamental queen.  Imagine anyone else trying to pull off this routine.  This level of bitchface will never be forgotten.

Is Love Alive?

Kiira Korpi's Finnish Nationals Short Program

Somewhere over the rainbow...

Lighting The Eighth Candle: Oksana Baiul

Things got a bit hectic during Hanukkah this year, but it doesn't mean we've forgotten about our eighth fierce jew: Oksana Baiul.  Wait, Oksana is Jewish?  Didn't she always wear a cross and do the sign of the cross when she took her sweet ass time getting to center ice?  Yes, yes she did.  Later on, when Oksana discovered that her father was actually alive, she found out that she had Jewish roots.  Like a good Jewish entrepreneur, Oksana began pimping herself out to every Jewish charity in order to rake in the appearance fees. The Chosen People accepted her with open arms, as she is fabulous and they always love to exploit their superiority.  They buy her jewelry and her skating dresses, even if her knowledge of the faith doesn't extend beyond wearing a red bracelet and believing in mysticism.

We probably should've known that Oksana was Jewish.  There were certainly signs.

This and That

Kristina Sidorova's floor from the Voronin Cup.

Marlie checked in with Universal Sports following their win at the Grand Prix Final.  Always good to know that Meryl is a fellow member of the Mac cult.

Brian Joubert is in first at French Nationals.  Florent Amodio effed up considerably and is in third.
1. Brian Joubert 77.21
2. Alban Preaubert 74.53
3. Florent Amodio 67.21

Yretha is ahead of Mae-Bernice by about three points.

The was an ice problem in Monterrey last night that prevented Stars On Ice from being able to put on the show.  Several skaters tweeted how disappointed they were not to put on the show and we can only assume their agents and credit cards feel the same way as they finish up their holiday shopping.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Windmill With Feathers

Favorite Things

UCLA Intrasquad: Uneven Bars

Video of the Bruins on bars from their recent intrasquad reveals that this is a team lacking star power on the apparatus.  Once the perennial force on bars, things have grown a bit stock in Westwood.  This year's team does not have the svelte presence of last year's, but they look to be solid across the board.  With plenty of girls able to go 9.850 on the event, it will be interesting to see which of the girls will rise to the occasion and really improve their execution, amplitude and swing.

Tauny Frattone is built like a linebacker, but her bar and beam work have an unexpected lightness.  Her handstands need to consistently reach vertical if she ever hopes to grow from her alternate role.

Niki Tom, who is very much the stereotypical last puppy in the litter (with the cute wonky-ness), is a bit hyper on bars.  While she doesn't rush as much as Abby Stack, her body doesn't have enough extension to break into the 9.9 range.  Her jaegar was a bit close, but her dismount was stuck.  She certainly won't collapse if put in the lineup, but she isn't someone I'd choose to groom for one of the lineup spots in the Super Six.

In the words of my friend, "someone needs to tell MDLT that it's not her prom night and to keep her legs together."  Her hop full is still a bit cray-cray and caught past handstand.  Her routine has a signature out-of-control feel and is certainly a lesson in physics, but she tends to be reliable.

Olivia Courtney is more of a bridesmaid than Kerri Strug.  When Olivia actually did win the US Classic, Universal Sports went on pretending that Vega did instead of dealing with the anti-charisma of the girl with two first names.  If she wants to make a real splash, OC will need to get in touch with her inner Dominique Dawes and attain some amplitude.  The skills are impressive, but she needs a bit more Bam! Bam! POW! to come alive.

Olivia is certainly better than Brittani McCullough, whom Val loves to force us to pretend is good on bars.  We all love Miss Val and love Brittani's model walk, but her flexed feet and missed handstands are unacceptable.  Her chest was seriously low on that dismount.  It may take more than a 9.775 or 9.800 from Brittani to stave off Florida, Alabama and Georgia.

If one squints hard enough, Aisha Gerber is Yvonne Tousek.  Watching and loving Aisha cause the head and heart to disagree.  One shouldn't love the gymnastics-product of a coach who chucks springboards at her girls, but boy are her girls beautiful.  Aisha needs to get those legs together and her pak and and stick her dismount.  They should keep her in the Nikki Childs leadoff role.

Lichelle Wong is a treat...up until the dismount.  Her jaegar is lovely but she needs to find the landing on her double front half.  She has continually had trouble sticking the landing in the gym.  Lichelle has the opportunity to really grow into the anchor role on this event.  (Handstands need to be all the way up a bit more often as well.)

Elyse Hopfner Hibbs looks much improved on bars from her freshman year of 9.7dom, but her dismount was as low and slung out as could be.

Sawa also needs a handstand Nazi on her ass, but she is promising.

Sambam Peszek could get a 9.9 with a stuck dismount (thanks to her name.)  The routine is a bit stocky and the swing is uninspired, but every Olympian deserves a half tenth here and there.  (Or three tenths, in the case of Dantzscher on beam.)