Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year



Two of our favorite things to warm our hearts heading into 2012.  Tara looked radiant on the Today Show and is preparing to teach us all how to skate with effortless speed in a beaded dress while expressing the music of Beyonce at her skating camp this summer.  It is amazing what she could pull off when a two-hour public session was momentarily cleared for her Today Show performance.  Notice how the ice has been to hell and back.  In true Tara fashion, her warm up speed caused gusts of wind requiring major amounts of hairspray.   Video credit goes to WestPalmBitch, who is an invaluable videographer of skating.  Lord knows my hands get the shakes and we'd all be sea sick if I did any filming sans tripod.


And of course, THE comeback of the year:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Foray Into Adult Skating: Pre Bronze MITF Test



Monday, I took (and passed) my Pre Bronze Moves In The Field Test.  For me, it was a small but important step.  Learning to skate has been a fun process, but it has also added a great deal of confidence, passion and joy to my life.  Taking a risk and learning to skate when I feel like a tall giraffe has done wonders for my own comfortability in my skin and provided me with a sense of achievement.

On the day of the actual test, I felt confident but concerned.  I've been back on the ice since October (began lessons end of July/beginning of August) and have been preparing for the test for at least a month.  The back-outside and back-inside consecutive edges have given me fits since I've learned them, but I actually felt relatively confident before the test.  Ironically, I felt much more confidence with the bronze moves.  I believe not having the stress of preparing them for a test may have contributed to the ease I felt working on them daily.  I stopped stretching and conditioning like a beast about a week before after pulling my hip flexor.  I didn't want any issues from over-stretching when it came time to do a spiral in public for the first time.

Dreams of Love



Mao Asada is the champion of Japan for the fifth time..  Finishing second in both segments of the competition, Mao managed to win in honor of her late mother.  Good things happen to good people.  One really has to admire and respect Mao's resilience.  Her heart outshines her immense ability.

Merry Christmas From Moscow!


The Russian Nationals are always a most curious event.  First off, ones needs to remember that Russian Orthodox Christmas is not until January 7th, so while the event is not a holiday conflict for us, it is a package of Hanukkah gold at the bottom of our stockings.

For years, many of the top skaters always managed to avoid Soviet nationals like the plague.  Margaret Thatcher and I discussed this phenomenon in our wild anticipation of this majestic event.

AJ: Katia and Sergei never competed at Soviet Nationals after they won in '87.  They did come back and win in '94.
MT:  Of course they avoided it!  You know what happens when there are three or four Russian judges on a panel.  Imagine the mess that nine of them can have conspiring together.  The third best team winds up winning in the great Russian tradition.

Love, Alexei Yagudin, Olympic Champion, Four-Time World Champion, never a Russian National Champion.



Thus far, Bobrova and Soloviev lead the dance event after Ilinykh and Katsalapov stumbled on a nonsensical piece of choreography.  In the attractive team's tradition, Ilynikh and Katsalapov will likely be looking for partners next week, return to Zhulin, leave Zhulin, vow to stay together, and then they will compete their free dance.



Riazanova and Tkachenko are third.


Segment Results


In pairs:

Bazarova and Larionov lead.
Anastasia Martiusheva and Alexei Rogonov are second.
Stolbova and Klimov are third.
Iliushechkina and Miasuradze and fourth.


In great Russian tradition, Volosozhar and Trankov and Kavaguti and Smirnov are abstaining from this event.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Foray Into Adult Skating: I Love You, I Hate You...



There is an old adage that all figure skaters are crazy.  There are many theories why: the blades, the falling on hard ice, the bitter cold, the amount of time one spends by themselves, and the constant battles with perfectionism.  The again, the carbon monoxide from the zambonis may very well have a lot to do with it.  The CO certainly adds to the level of exhaustion.  Elle Woods' famous quote about endorphins doesn't apply to skaters.  Many skaters actually seem very likely to kill their husbands.

Back in September, I sprained my ankle and was off the ice for five and a half weeks.  I miss skating and tried to work out and was able to keep myself in decent shape for when I got back on the ice.  Deep down, I knew that returning to the ice would be a level of hell I hadn't experienced before.  A few friends let me know, "you're 25...this ankle is going to nag you for a long time."  They were right.  Learning to work through my ankle issue has been a constant process, but it is slowly improving.  Off ice workouts have been key to keeping my body in shape for skating.  There are days like today where I've pulled my hip flexor, fallen on my hip to the point where it is black and blue, banged my knee, stretching my hamstrings to the point of extreme soreness and get back up and wipe out on a spin again.  It may be a form of insanity, but there are times when I do remember that I love it.

Knowing skating may be the worst thing of all when learning to skate.  I decided to take videos of myself for two reasons: friends wanted to see and I wanted to be able to look at the own areas of my skating that need addressing.  When I saw myself on video for the first time, there were so many areas that I wanted to fix immediately.  Frankly, I hated it.  It was worse than hearing your own voice on an answering machine.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Comparing Free Dances


There have been two dance competitions held on the Grand Prix and plenty of teams may have competed, but this season is all about the rivalry between Marlie and Voir, the reigning World Champions vs. the reigning Olympic Champions.  USA vs. The Great White North.  While there may have been a great feeling of a North American team over the last few seasons, things are getting more contentious as there is only room for one team at the top.  As skating aficionados, we are lucky to be witnessing one of the sport's great rivalries.  Both teams are brilliant and worthy of winning multiple world titles, but things are heating up like never before.  In the past, there was always the feeling that Voir was the superior team and Marlie had caught up a bit during the 2008-09 season when Tessa was off the ice due to shin surgery.  Last year was Marlie's to win and they did despite having to make tons of revisions to their tango free dance.  Many people, myself included, were not sure about their chemistry suiting the tango, but sticking with it may have been the best thing they ever did for their growth as a team.  With both teams having ample training time over the summer, we are finally able to see both teams at full strength and skating like champions.  The judges are preparing to compare their free dances and are likely watching videos of both teams constantly, so it is about time that we do the same.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Asshole of the Day


"We still need to keep our eye on the prize," Geddert said of the London Games. "I'm supportive of the idea in that Jordyn isn't cut out for college gymnastics. I don't think the 14 weekends in a row doing watered-down gymnastics, that's not what she's all about. When you compete with the best in the world, I don't see her sinking her teeth into that type of situation."


John Geddert on Jordyn Wieber going pro.

Things you don't say...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Favorite Things Friday!: Friends' Edition Part 2


I interjected one of my own favorite things, as I am learning to be a Russian diva on the ice and can't get enough of Tamara Moskvina (nee: Bratus.)

My friends at it...pestering me with their favorites yet again!

Pan Ams


The Pan Am Games have been a bit of a Worlds hangover for the participants.  It was supposed to be a cake walk for Team USA, but these girls have been challenged by Canada a bit more than they presumed entering the meet.  To their credit, Mikaela Gerber, Kristina Vaculik and Peng Peng Lee have performed to the best of their abilities and should have the experience necessary to help Team Canada earn an Olympic berth regardless of the French Canadian quota present at the test event.  Peng Peng looks like she will be quite successful at UCLA; she certainly has experience competing her Yurchenko full.



For the Americans, Martha Karolyi's absence speaks volumes about the amount of belief she has in the members of the squad to become important contributors at the Olympic Games.  When the team was named, it had promise that has seemingly evaporated with the withdrawal of Chellsie Memmel and the woefully sluggish nature of Bridget Sloan.  Shawn Johnson just missed making Worlds and was supposed to make a splash in Guadalajara.  This year's event can only be seen as a partial success for Team USA.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Shawn's Big Moment



The event she was expected to win at Pan Ams...

This and That



The Pan Am Games will be broadcast live at 5 PM tonight.  Check USAG's website for details.  Bridget Sloan was supposed to compete all four events, but it relegated to bars and floor due to a foot injury sustained in training.  Sloan is one of the few people who does floor on a foot injury.  Then again, when your feeling for beam is shaky to begin with, a foot injury is deadly.  Baby Girl needs to have a good meet, get her butt into training and hope she is in the best shape of her life for next year.  She cannot take time off after a long season where she only competed at Pan Ams.  Martha is choosing to watch this meet on video, which shows just how much she believes in some of these girls.  Shawn Johnson tweeted a photo of an 'upgrade,' which appears to be the back full she performed at camp but has yet to show in a televised meet.

The USA lineup is:
Caquatto- VT, UB, BB, FX
DeZiel- VT, BB, FX
Jay- VT, UB, BB, FX
Johnson- VT, UB, BB
McLaughlin- VT, UB, BB, FX
Sloan-UB, FX

Jonathan Horton didn't get enough face time at Worlds and is letting us known he'll be back ASAP from his foot surgery.



Mother Russia has raised eyebrows in the boring world of gymnastics for questioning the judging system at Worlds while subtly implying that they deserved higher scores.  I applaud all Russians for their candid nature, even when they look ridiculous.  Many annoying Americans accused Komova of poor sportsmanship for crying on a medal ceremony and looking upset over not winning a title she clearly wanted.  In the world of Mother Russia, that is about a 1.5 on the sportsmanship meter.  I'm used to Slutskaya, Butryskaya and Plushenko storming out of Kiss and Cry areas and Khorkina ripping off medals.  It is refreshing and thoroughly entertaining in a world where Michelle Kwan taught us all to bullshit brilliantly at press conferences.  Let's practice our favorite sayings, such as "It's not the color of the medal, it's the process, "(I'll just stay around for a decade and wear gold dresses at every available moment) and "the ice is my canvas."  To her credit, Komova merely says they have a lot of work to do between now and London.  Our girl Aliya Mustafina would've thrown a few bitches under the bus.

Speaking of Mustafina, Alexandrov says she may be back in competition as early as December.  There are indications she may compete in Acapulco, December 9-10.


For those who can't get enough of awarding the Russian juniors gold medals before they ever set foot at senior ISU events (thinking of a few specific posters), I've added a few videos from a recent domestic event after the jump.  This should take care of your glove fix for the week.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Marlie Mania: The Free Dance


Skate America was all about Marlie this year.  Their free dance is positively stunning.  It is exactly the vehicle they need to win another world title.  One can only imagine what the program will look like by March.  Most importantly, the program is very different from any of their other free dances.  This is what will stretch them and put them in position to become a legendary team.  Marlie's program has genuine charm.  Even though Meryl's fat ass is weighing them down yet again, they look fit for a glorious season.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Skate America: The Short Dance



Like many of you, I sat through some terrible skating last night in anticipation of Marlie's competitive debut for the 2011-2012 season.  After sitting through Tonia Kwiatkowski's commentary, Florent Amodio's glittered ass, Paul and Islam killing my fantasy hopes for the season and Asher and Hill, I was relieved and excited to see Meryl Davis glowing in a melon-colored dress.  After getting through all of that, someone from Ice Network switched the feed off from Marlie to a Universal Sports rugby ad and never fixed their error until they reached the Kiss and Cry.

Note to self: Turn skating off if you are only seventy seconds into the Grand Prix season and Tonia Kwiatkowski is already mentioning her last-minute call to 1998 Worlds.  Tonia takes any opportunity to mention it... A-N-Y.

Arena alert:  Gaysian Attorney met Judy Blumberg (his reason for living.)  I imagine there was a homoriffic squeal.

Results  

Short Dance videos after the jump...including Marlie's full program!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Favorite Things Friday!: Friends' Edition



The other day, my friend 'Lautowa' had the nerve to give me his honest skating opinions.  Never one to hold back, he had the nerve to utter filth such as ''Michelle Kwan is boring because she is so consistent," and "I really like Plushenko better than Yagudin."  After instructing him to wash the filth out of his mouth, I thought it would be fun to ask my friends for some of their favorite performances during this Grand Prix season.  I initially was thinking about just doing it for this week, but a number of them sent me about dozen videos a piece.  Apparently people don't understand the request of send their favorite video (singular.)  I have enough to last us through Grand Prix fever.

Perhaps we will all learn to appreciate different tastes...even those who are clearly misguided.  This week, Ioana the Romanian Vampiress, Lautowa, Tarasova's Mink, Gaysian Attorney, Frau Mueller, Romanza, Laura and LuSpinda Ruhthless mesmerize us with their unique viewpoints.


Disgustingly good.
Romanza also sent this SYTYCD goodie, which insufferable bastards won't allow us to embed.

This and That


Marlie discuss their new programs in lovely attire.  Commence Grand Prix fever!  Meryl and Charlie know how to contradict themselves.  They never focus on placement, but let it be known that they intended to win last year and that it was their time.

Johnny Weir knows how to keep his name in the press.  The diva told Time Out New York that he will return to the competitive arena as Carmen.  Definitely worth reading.  When *is* season two going to air?  The show returns as often as Ab Fab.

Savchenko and Szolkowy plan to debut a throw triple axel at Skate America.


How long until Jordyn Wieber goes pro?

Bridget Sloan was named team caption of the Pan Am squad.

Florent Amodio is banking on the quad this season.

Foray Into Adult Skating: ''Too Much New''



I'm back on the ice almost every day and am starting to feel it...in my hamstrings, my thighs, my ass, the cuts on my ankles from my boots and the black and blue marks on my hips.  It has been said that if you stop falling, you stop learning.  I must be learning a ton.

Today, I had my first lesson in almost seven weeks.  It was my seventh time back on the ice and I felt ready, but I am not jumping as of yet.  I believe that part of why I sprained my ankle must be due to my boots being loose, yet I can never seem to find a comfortable setting that I use every time.  It is time to get to work if I have any prayer of testing or performing this year.  I've been working on getting my lobes, crossovers, mohawks and three-turns back.  The owner of the rink near my house commented on my work ethic on the ice, but I still feel tremendously behind and making up for lost time.

Muscle memory is a strange thing.  I couldn't remember all of the different steps I was working on with Natasha before I hurt my ankle.  I remember pieces...but is it an inside turn or an outside turn?  My good side or bad side?  Natasha certainly remembered what he did.  I get confused with which is right inside and outside.  There are times during my lesson where I just focusing on 'doing' and save the 'thinking' part for later.  If I'm yelled at enough, I will do it.  "Thees ees your meestake."  "You make meestake."  I make a lot of them.  I was able to do just about everything we did last time and then some once I was shown it again.  My brain really needs to get with the lingo, as I remember corrections and cues associated with steps more than whatever they are called.  My power three turns register in my head as "beeeg step" because of the part after the turn when one transfer their weight before doing the back crossovers connected to it.  Oh, an "more extension!"  There is never enough extension.  Ever.

Natasha got in touch with my inner diva today when she realized that I learn everything quicker if she gives me those grand Russian arm movements to do with anything.  I was having Johnny Weir moments on the ice.  Where is my glittery onesie?  The skintight under armour just isn't gay enough.  My inner Artur Dmitriev lives for the grand arm movements whenever possible.  I've even been able to get in position for my 'bad side' back crossovers as long as I can do something dramatic with my arms.  If you recall, I have different bad sides.  I am better at right front crossovers than backward right crossovers.  I'm working on forward right crossovers-Mohawk-back right crossovers-recovery.

Waltz-three turns have become my life.  Now I'm doing them with an extra 'recovery' and they are full of arm movements, more extension and bend the knee.  Just remember, there is no such thing as extension.  More extension is like extra strength Tylenol (which I always need a lot of with my ankle)...strength and extension just aren't cutting it.

I've been doing my waltz jumps and just need to cut Schindler's List.  I've been working on the program and doing crossovers during the parts that I'm going to cut out.  I do it three times a session, which is working on getting my sorry ass into shape.  I've worked salchows and have temporarily changed my entrance from a three-turn to a mohawk until my ankle is strong enough to handle checking the three turn.  I haven't been doing many a day, as the force from the takeoff has a way of jarring my ankle.  I also live for the salchow falls...especially when they get all swingy and off balance.  Those always teach you to check a bit harder.

At the end of my lesson, Natasha was ready to teach me some cray-cray looking thing she refers to as the 'drunk step.'  Ay dios mio, my head was spinning already and I asked if we could review everything we worked on.  "Oh, oh..too much new."  Natasha taught at the rink where Natalia Mishkutenok and Navka trained.  Somehow I think my learning curve is a bit slower.  Let's see if I can remember anything tomorrow

Love It or Hate It?



Discuss.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A TV Moment


Simon claimed to 'make a big mistake' (for TV ratings) last night and ditched the big voice for the cute cherub.


Only to admit it later...


The judges clearly knew the girls were the strongest and found a way to make America root for Melanie in spite of her forgettable personality.

The best take on the night's teledrama.

"Won't someone please get Stacy Francis some waterproof mascara already?!'- Mommy Dearest

Big miss of the night---Paula eliminate 4sure of the night for being a carbon copy of Boys II Men.  We will get to be thoroughly amused by two hoes who only Simon likes.  This will be a good season.

"I'm more excited for them to have me than I am for myself,"-Simon

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This and That


The Shibtanis skating to The Prayer at Evening With Champions.

ESPN has a must-read article on the Shib sibs that confirms just how much of an A+ Asian Skating Mother the two have.  She does indeed tape every practice and review it with the kids.  They also have a ballet room in their house. Kris Jenner could learn a thing or two from Mrs. Shibutani.

IG spoke to Rebecca Bross about her injury.  Rebecca vows to be back in top form, but it is evident that she cannot condition the way she'd like to given the injury.  She has a tough battle ahead of her.  Sadly, she has spent much of the last four years coming back from injuries.  Rebecca's best chance at making the Olympics is doing all four events and hoping she can be considered as a back-up on vault.  It will not be an easy road.

Alissa Czisny told Ice Network about her summer training during her media call.  Alissa will be performing a Triple Lutz+Triple Toe, a solo Triple Lutz, adding a Triple Salchow and performing two Triple Flips in her seven-triple program.  It may be tough for her to be as consistent this season, but she is raising the bar with her technical content.  If Alissa wants to be at the top of the sport, she needs to advance technically.

Richard Dornbush will debut a new short at Skate America.

Belu and Bitang are PISSED and ready to clean house in Romania after the team's medalless performance at Worlds.

Team USA preps for Pan Am dominance.


A chance to listen to Die Fledermaus and imagine Marlie's music edits.  Once you get past the '96 compulsory section, you realize just how wonderful this program can be.  This may be just the vehicle they need to stay on top of the podium this season.


The British Judge: How Did You Call It?



You're the ninth judge in Finland and everyone is looking to you for the tie-breaking vote.  How would your inner Vanessa Riley judge this event?  Be prepared to defend it at the judges' meeting the next morning.



Monday, October 17, 2011

2011 Worlds: The Direction of the Sport



There is great debate about who deserved to win the all-around at the 2011 World Gymnastics Championships.  While debate is healthy, it is not a good sign for the sport when the audience feels one gymnast deserves to win and the results say otherwise.  Gymnastics has become exceedingly confusing.  Many of the expert commentators announcing the event felt Viktoria Komova deserved to win the event.  The truth is that Jordyn Wieber and Viktoria Komova both left the door open for the judges to deduct in the competition.  When that happens, politics and the critical eyes of judges come into play.  One's vision of the 'ideal gymnast' also has an impact on their opinion of the decision.

For those who have watched the sport for decades, it is clear that Viktoria Komova's classical gymnastics is obviously superior.  Those who began watching intently during the last decade may appreciate the power of Jordyn Wieber more and feel that gymnastics should be more about skills.  The FIG has given statements that they aren't pleased with the direction of the sport, yet their own policies and open-ended judging system sent the sport on a roller-coaster ride to becoming an obscure sport like aerial skiing and the luge.

This and That


Oksana Baiul put together a strong performance at Evening With Champions.  The Koreans in the audience were amused by Oksana's generic 'Asian program,' but you have to remember that this is a girl whose education was tenuous at best.  You always have to hand it to Baiul...she is full of surprises.  Her spins are particularly beautiful.


Thousands of South Koreans flew to Boston to see their girl Yu-Na Kim perform.  Unfortunately, Yu-Na was a sassy girl who did not want to jump this weekend.  Yu-Na may be a girl who doesn't jump for less than six figures.  Paul Wylie asked her to 'do something else' at one point, and Yu-Na did yet another ina bauer.  Girl, it's not THAT nice. Yu-Na's sassy performance was improved; however, she did not receive the biggest post-program applause from the audience.

Evan Lysacek announced that he will not compete at Skate America after being unable to come to a financial agreement with the USFSA regarding his contract.  Skaters of Evan's stature have been paid handsomely in the past.  Without the USFSA cheesefests, the contracts have become increasingly important.  Evan isn't supposed to tour this year, so this is about more than just the love of the sport.

Marlie announced they will be channeling J Lo during the circular steps and lift in their short dance.  Meryl said being World Champions has not changed their everyday lives, as people only care about skating once every four years now.

Adorable and touching photos of the pediatric cancer patients who get to skate at Evening With Champions.

Working with Takahashi

Richard Dornbush article.

As people have been hinting, Martha Karolyi announces she may not retire after the Olympics.  You know she isn't going anywhere until Valeri is done coaching his athletes...  The Olympic Team will be announced at Trials, but Martha isn't excited about letting those girls have a mental letdown.  Everyone practice saying it... 'the prep-a-ra-tion'



Thursday, October 13, 2011

What I'm Living For...





Drew stole my heart...

Favorite Things Friday!: 1994 Edition



No one moves like our girl!

This and That


Gracie Gold won the short at the JGP Talinn Cup.

Marlie announced that they changed their free dance from La Strada to Die Fledermaus.  I respect them for doing something out of the typical Marlie realm, but I was okay with them not taking a huge risk in the free dance since this since Meryl channeling J Lo has everyone on edge for good reason.  That said, I was really looking for to a gorgeous patented Marlie program to La Strada.  I can't handle Die Fledermaus after wearing out my tape of the 1996 Olympics during my youth.  It is still far too soon.  I couldn't even handle the music when Yu-Na Kim skated to it.

Julianne Hough's Footloose received an 'A-' from Entertainment Weekly.  That is impressive from a magazine that hates almost everything.

Courtney Hicks underwent surgery yesterday and will be out for the season.

Youtube Sensation Starr Andrews competed at SWP Regionals in the Pre-Preliminary category.  I prefer her whipping her hair, but it is awesome to see her skate again.


The Martha Interview



Discuss.

In many ways, Martha Karolyi is the biggest star in the sport.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Foray Into Adult Skating: Sur La Glace



After five and a half weeks of being off the ice with a sprained ankle, I ventured back on the ice yesterday.  I spent a great deal of time on my ankle this weekend and was feeling uncertain, but I had set a date on the calendar to suck it up and try skating again.  Last week, I felt like I probably could skate.  I've decided to hold off on skating until I did at least a week's worth of yoga in order to strengthen the balancing muscles in my ankle.

I've made sure to work out and keep up with my conditioning while off the ice.  Never before have I felt strong from my upper body and core compared to my Polish thighs and dancer calves.  The feeling of gliding has been missing from my life and there were times I was sad about it, but I found myself nervous about the inevitable painful hot mess that skating again would likely be.


The Men's Post


Link to Complete Coverage (For those who can't access Universal Sports)

Did the US deserve silver?  Kohei Uchimura (legend that he is) did not have his best routine, yet received just the score he needed for Japan to finish ahead of the US.  I guess when you're Kohei Uchimura, you've earned the benefit of the doubt every once in a while.

Results

Highlights and Interviews after the jump!

Did He Touch Her?



In his latest blog entry, John Geddert pointed out that his athlete's biggest rival was inadvertently touched by her coach while he was spotting her layout Jaegar.  I watched the meet and didn't notice until it was pointed out.  It is difficult to determine because Komova didn't lose her momentum.  If the coach did touch her, a deduction should've been taken.  The rule exists so coaches aren't pushing their athletes through skills they can't master.  Komova has done the move countless times and it appears to be a true accident.

Was Komova touched?

Should the score be changed?

Is the rule rather pointless as it isn't even her fault?

The outcome of the meet ultimately wouldn't change...but it is certainly food for thought.

Alicia Sacramone's Medal



Like many people, I am thoroughly entertained watching the effusive Alicia Sacramone.  While I never expect her to upgrade her passes, I find her a breath of fresh air compared to the current generation of American robots.  I love that Alicia stuck it out and became a better competitor over many years.

I do take issue with Alicia being considered the most decorated American gymnast in terms of World Championship medals.  The term 'most decorated' is iffy because one really has to consider World and Olympic medals.  The European gymnasts include European and World Cup medals in their overall haul.  One could also consider medals at US Nationals.  Things get a bit murky when some successful gymnasts competed during a time when Worlds were held every other year, while some got to attend a split Worlds in 1994 and can claim being the member of two distinct World Teams.  Some gymnasts have medals from World Champions and Olympic Games in the same year.



Gymnastics is so inconsistent that I don't take much stock in decoration tallies anymore.  It is a useful tagline for agents, but it doesn't mean much.  As an athlete, you never want to win a title with an asterisk.  The title is forever tainted and ultimately becomes a source of embarrassment.  Courtney Kupets earned a gold medal at the 2003 World Championships because she competed in prelims.  It is not the way to win a medal and even that has a feeling of a half medal to many.  I don't doubt that every bench warmer has their role on the team, but there become gray areas. Like many people, I do not consider Alicia Sacramone to be worthy of a medal at Worlds.  Alicia is a wonderful gymnast and personality, but she did not earn a single score at these championships.  She was not even in the country when the team was competing.  I feel the same way awarding Alicia this medal as I do when Courtney McCool mentions her Olympic Silver.  It just feels tainted.

Exceptional Gay Moment: Julianne Returns to DWTS


Judge me as you will, but I love a wonderfully bad dance movie.  I know Julianne may not be the world's greatest actress, but I can't help loving her.  I'm not exactly going to go purchase one of her country albums, but I do have plans for Friday night.



The two best dancers in the show's history are always top notch.  What is truly incredible is that they always live up to and surpass expectations when dancing together.  Is Julianne the better Hough?  Is Derek better because he is still training and improving?  Bottom line, we've missed Julianne dancing in our lives.  I need more of Julianne than just her workout videos.


And the girl even grabbed Len's butt...priceless!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Killer Tango



Ricki Lake continues to improve every week.  While her hold absolutely needs work, an inner dancer is emerging with each captivating performance.  As always, Derek Hough is the top dancer, choreographer and teacher on the show.  They are a formidable team with tons of personality to explore.

The Power of Momentum



Russia failed to defend its world title and much of it could be seen in the demeanor of the team members throughout the competition.  Once the Russians finished vault, it was as though they already knew just how difficult it would be to make up ground.  The Americans started the day on their best event and it was smooth sailing from then on.  It is difficult to come from behind when another team is having the meet of its life.  Unfortunately, being in the same rotation appeared to have gotten to the Russians and the mind games failed them.

After losing Aliya Mustafina at the European Championships, the Russians made the wise decision to keep its team in tact and go for easier double twisting yurchenkos.  This was wise with Olympic Gold the ultimate goal, but they dug themselves into quite the hole and put a lot of pressure on their bar and beam lineups.  Choosing to perform DTYs, the Russians needed to nail them.  While they worked on landings in the warm up, their execution was not where it needed to be.  Ksenia Afanasyeva's vault had a great landing, but her leg form could've been much tidier.  Komova doesn't look ready to compete her Amanar just yet and opted for a strong DTY.  It was the team's best vault.  The biggest faux pax came from Nabieva, whose easier vault had just as poor execution as her Amanar.  This is one case where playing it safe cost them, as she is unlikely to be on the Olympic Team to begin with.  Nabieva's DTY was sloppy and the landing was far from aggressive.  Nabieva looked dejected as she walked off the podium and the entire team responded in kind.  Note that (arguably) the best team in the world struggled on the event Bruno Grandi has been itching to get rid of for years.

Dementyeva is not the world's greatest bar worker.  Having to use her was not the end of the world, but the team needed out-of-this-world routines by Komova and Nabieva.  Komova delivered, but her routine was a bit safe.  We've seen her go for the handstand on the half pirouette (that needs to go) before her dismount, but she looked a tad dubious the entire day.  If there is one place where a lack of training time can catch up to you, it is in three-up, three-count at the World Championships.  The lost few tenths hurt the team, but the conservative nature of the performance was indicative of things to come.  Nabieva needed to redeem herself with a huge bar routine.  The anchor of the Russian team lost a good five tenths for the team and the gold was all but gone by that point.  Russia lost a point on bars along with its competitive advantage.

After the Americans nailed beam, the Russians knew gold was all but impossible.  If they had any hope of pulling off a miracle, it ended with Anna Dementyeva's tentative performance and Komova's fall.  Mother Russia did not go down fighting.  They conceded the title the way Khorkina would after making an error in an All-Around final.  Perhaps blowing team finals is a good omen for Komova, but it likely doesn't erase the sting she's feeling at this very moment.  If all things were even, the Russians should score 15+ on beam across the board given the quality of their work.  This was not their day by any means.

Despite possessing stunning floor routines, the Russians half-assed their way through their final event.  Komova's errors may have stemmed from a lack of training time, but she was able to pull it off in qualifying.  Her mind appeared to let the injury get to her a bit more when the added adrenaline of team gold was no longer present.  Even Afanasyeva gave away landing deductions that just don't bode well for a team that is expected to dominate next year.

For a comparatively experience team, today's team final was an utter disappointment.  They were not able to handle starting off in a deficit and the loss of momentum proved to be their undoing.

Routines after the jump.

The Patriotic Post


There is a key to doing well in three-up, three-count: it's called hitting.



I will post this against my better judgment because people think I need to own my hidden inner patriotism.  These girls had the meet of their lives and Martha can now brag that her training methods work and justify her every decision.

Somewhere, Alicia's comeback just got harder as she realizes that they won without her.  Things will be different and more difficult next year, but Kyla Ross and others will have vaults and floor routines.

Note that Raisman gave her team members a pep talk, yet she is unlikely to tout herself the leader.  Raisman really did prove why the national staff has had faith in her for so long.



Monday, October 10, 2011

Hicks Out With Leg Injury

Per Sarah and Drew's twitter (http://twitter.com/SarahandDrew), Courtney Hicks sustained an injury to her leg... possibly her landing leg broken, which would surely sideline her for the rest of the season.


Here's to a speedy recovery as we all wait for more details to emerge.

Anna Li Trains Bars


Note that she was kicked off the team due to not hitting in podium training after days off. The coaches voted not to use her today. Transparency and the digital age are not the friends of old world political systems.

This and That



There is nothing these skaters seem to enjoy doing less than giving a press conference at the end of a long draining competition day.  Note how bored and almost annoyed the skaters all get by the journalists who are obviously huge fans.  Even Alex Shibutani has a bit of Scott Moir in him at the end of a long day.  It must be difficult to put on a happy face for questions you've gotten a thousand times when you're hungry, tired and just want to go out to eat.  Note: Queen Tessa Middleton looks magnificent.

A recap of yesterday's practice session for Team USA.  As always, Martha was the true star.  Anna Li hit her bar routines yesterday and today, but they are not putting her in the lineup.  If team USA loses, this will come back to be a questionable decision.  It doesn't sound like Vega has been hitting, but all is well when your coach is Teodora.  Then again, when Martha and Co. are able to wheel and deal a 14.000 on bars for Raisman, the names of the gymnasts competing and the skills they do may not have very much to do with the outcome.

Women's Team Final Lineups  (Discuss)

The Chinese men finished in third behind Team USA (ouch.)



Sunday, October 9, 2011

Finlandia Free Dances



A splendid effort from Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.  It may be one of their more white bread programs, but it is who they are.  It is a great program and they will be extremely competitive all season should they be healthy.  They've decided to use white costumes to remind the judges of their Olympic moment.  Subconscious warfare at its best.

Free Dance Protocol  (First 10 of the year for Voir for this program.)
Results  (Looks like the dance of old by the placements in each segment.)

Scenes From Men's Qualifying



We are all just lucky to be witnessing the master that is Kohei Uchimura.  Years from now, we will still be studying how he trained, how he developed and what he did to stay healthy.

Results

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Little Skating In Our Lives



Voir practice their Fred and Audrey Free Dance.

With every choctaw, the Marlie-Voir rivalry intensifies.  Everyone has an opinion.

Overall, the entire skating world is suffering from the lost month of training time due to Worlds being pushed back.

Mother Russia at Worlds



Vika the princessa.



Ksenia Afanasyeva misses floor finals by landing short.  Sadness.

The Russians had a somewhat solid performance despite a shaky day by Anna Dementyeva.  If Anna can redeem herself and Ksenia Afanasyeva can hit floor, the Russians may very well retain their title in team finals.

Sixteen Going on Seventeen



The last two Worlds have been full of rough times for the increasingly-sluggish He Kexin.

Scenes From Qualifying


The lovely Viktoria Komova is first AA where she belongs.

Qualifying Results

Sadly, Beth Tweddle and He Kexin are out of bar finals.

Nastia Liukin Announces Comeback



The full story from Nancy Armour.
The story from IG2.


There is a reason Nastia's been shrinking over the last few months.  Note that USA Gymnastics paid for Nastia to go to boot camp prior to Nationals and found her a gym to train in in Japan on the days she doesn't have to be at the arena to watch the women compete as the FIG Athlete Rep.  She has even been doing some tumbling to keep her options open and return to form.

With Nastia's competitiveness and her father's insane drive, this will be a comeback to remember.  Nastia returns to two-a-day workouts when she returns from Japan.  Once she and her father are giving one another the icy Russian silent treatment in training, we will know just how likely medals are.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thoughts on the Finlandia Short Dance

Skaters and their supporters are a heinously obsessive compulsive bunch.  This season, it is going to bug all of us that the 'rhumba' is nothing like we'd expect in the world of ballroom dance.  That said, it is one of the more engaging compulsory patterns.  We've had to sit through years of golden waltzes, but now we get to enjoy a little fringe and Jef Billings'-like glam.



Voir's debut of their remixed Samba went off smoothly for a 68.74.  It is a tad 'busy' and worked better as a free dance, but their improved condition is evident.  Tessa got another new dress for the program (#4 now) and looks to be far more confident than at the World Championships.  The program is successful and they demonstrate fantastic skating skills, but it far from unbeatable.  Just like when Mao turned a free skate into a short program, condensing the vision just doesn't feel natural.  Judging by his hip action, Scott Moir is awful is bed.

Results

Interviewing a Dance Mom: Aunt Joyce Talks to Christi Lukasiak


This summer, Lifetime’s Dance Moms became the show America is buzzing about.  Stage mothers.  Talent.  Drama.  Competition.  Backbiting.  There is something for everyone to form an opinion about.  For those who have ever competed seriously in a sport, it is par for the course.  For those who haven’t, the series has opened the door to a delicious world of catty behavior. 

Christi Lukasiak and her daughter Chloe are two of the stars of the cult hit.  As they navigate the dance world as perpetual underdogs, they’ve taken us all along on their journey of absurdity and questionable sanity.  Whether we agree or disagree with decisions that are made, we know we’ll keep watching. 

Aunt Joyce recently had the opportunity to interview Christi Lukasiak about life in the Abby Lee Dance Company. When she isn't rolling her eyes, this dance mom has a ton of opinions and isn't shy about sharing them. The more we learn about life at the Abby Lee Dance Company, the more we want to know…

The Leader on Beam



A beautiful routine with one fugly ass dismount.

Haide.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Favorite Things Friday!



Dreams of Love

Sad News



If the injury to Alicia Sacramone wasn't enough, one of my favorite gymnasts is out of Worlds...



Mariya Livchikova injured her ACL while training vault and is out of the World Championships.

Alicia Poses for The Body Issue



On one of the worst days in her career, Alicia garners attention for a provocative photo shoot.

Trashy or beautiful for the gymnast with the Maxim vibe?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sacramone & Raisman injured

Catty Comments here,

From Gymnastike & Couch Gymnast, both Alicia Sacramone and Clubfoot the Raisman went down with injuries in practice on Thursday, only 2 days before qualifications.

Raisman actually returned to working out on bars, so hopefully she can still compete. Everyone's talking about Sacramone's injury, and she left the workout on crutches. No doubt that Shawn Johnson, the non-traveling alternate, is being yanked out of the grocery store and thrown on a flight to Tokyo as I type.

UPDATE: Clubfoot the Raisman, per AP's Nancy Armour @nrarmour "is NOT hurt or in doubt."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Swinging in the States



Watching podium training at the 2011 World Gymnastics Championships, it is amazing how only the faces change from year to year.  In a Pre-Olympic year, the same storyline exists among elite gymnastics that existed back in 1991: the Americans have powerful girls with a weakness on bars, the Romanians are conditioned within inches of their lives and look solid despite a weakness on bars, the Chinese girls have wonderful flexibility and finesse and are hoping to get through the power events, while the Russians pull off tumbling that their girls don't look capable of merely looking at their bodies.



A country's success in gymnastics comes down to training techniques, conditioning, innovation and ultimately... selection.  The very girls coaches select to focus on and prepare for the elite ranks ultimately determine the country's success eight or nine years later.  Mary Lou Retton, Kim Zmeskal, Carly Patterson, Shawn Johnson and Jordyn Wieber all know what it is like to be at the top of American gymnastics leading into an Olympic Games.  They are also all stereotypically powerful gymnastics hoping to compensate for a natural weakness on the uneven bars compared to their other three events.  The Romanians are known for the bar weakness and much of that is believed to be technique-driven.  If one looks at the girls selected in the US, it becomes apparent that coaches decide to focus on that level 5 or level 6 capable of a double back and capitalize on their natural power.  The girls on the American team tend to look like they were all selected along with Hilary Grivich for the Karolyi's Hopes Team back in the youth.  Note that Shannon Miller and Nastia Liukin, the Americans with the most international success, were both scouted and/or developed by Russians.  Shannon Miller was not a natural powerhouse winning the pull-up competition alongside Jordyn Wieber.  Soviet coaches spotted her innate talent and Steve Nunno just happened to be there paying attention.  None of the girls Steve selected on his own ever amounted to much.  Wieber's muscled routine is exactly the type of routine one would envision the Karolyi six-pack trying to luck out on should they have competed under the current code.



There is even a very literal Romanian quality to the way American coaches train the girls and compose their routines.  It is amazing how the Russians and Chinese all pick girls who lack the noticeably-bulky musculature of Team USA.  It is also amazing how their gymnasts are able to connect skills on bars and beam through skill, technique and success, rather than muscling through bars or powering through a beam routine like Wieber, Sacramone and Raisman.  There is not a single American competing in prelims whom one would say has a gorgeous natural swing.  When one looks at the Chinese and Russians on bars, it is evident their girls spend considerable time on front giants, back giants, eagle giants and circles.  Their girls are able to connect releases, turns and transitions with ease.  Their composition is also considerably better.  Sabrina Vega is often said to have a beautiful body.  Looking at Vega, one would imagine she is a gorgeous bar worker.  It is interesting that her Romanian coaches have taught her a number of releases, yet they can not compose a routine with decent enough difficulty or execution to score well.  The number of kip-cast-handstands in her routine is laughable and begging for deductions.  It is startling that the Americans are not connecting shaposhnikovas, pak saltos, low bar skills and transitions to the high bar in our to earn respectable D-scores.  It is as though we never learn.  The only series of giants practiced in the US appear to be power giants winding up for double-double dismounts.  It is enough to make Kathy Johnson Clarke cry herself to sleep at night.



Viktoria Komova is returning from ankle surgery and is showing her full difficulty for the first time in a year.  It is important to note that Komova is performing all of her tumbling passes despite only competing double tucks and double fulls at the recent Russian Championships.  Their coaches focus on technique and timing rather than the literal skills and pounding of Team USA.  Their focus on timing, technique and feeling for the equipment is also why the team members are able to look disastrous one day and find gold medals draping around their necks the next.  The Russians are six girls with strongly-conditioned cores who are able to use their technique to perform amply on all events.  They may not standout as 'floor champion' the way a powerful American tumbler does, but they are able to execute skills and earn high enough scores to keep themselves in contention.



No matter how much changes in the sport, the teams' strengths and weaknesses remain the same.  When perpetual bridesmaids lose titles year and year one would think they'd do something about it.  Anna Li is relegated to the alternate position due to her injury and inconsistency.  Should the bar judges have their way with the American girls in Ivana Hong-Stuttgart fashion, don't be shocked to see Anna subbed in for finals.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Anna Li injured, named Team USA alternate

Howdy kittens,

Catty Comments with sad news. As suspected, Anna Li strained a lower abdominal muscle in training after arriving in Tokyo. Via IG2, she has been named the alternate for Team USA.

Anna did train on bars during podium training but was off on her Shaposhnikova. Her interview with Gymnastike after podium training is below.

Watch more video of World Gymnastics Championships Tokyo 2011 on gymnastike.org



Her absence will really weaken Team USA on bars and put them farther behind both China and Russia with much lower D scores. However, if there is a bars disaster in qualifications, for this FIG event (and not during the Olympics), Anna as the official alternate is still eligible to compete on bars in TFs.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tokyo Worlds updates - Izbasa out, team workouts, videos

Hello all,

Catty Comments here! Official team workouts have started in Tokyo, so let's talk about the ladies.

The biggest news (via The All-Around) is that 2008 FX Olympic champion Sandra Izbasa has withdrawn because of a foot injury that limited her training this summer and to only 2 events at Romanian Nationals. Their Tokyo WAG team is now:

Diana Chelaru
Ana Porgras
Catalina Ponor
Amelia Racea
Raluca Haidu
Daniela Andrei
Alt - Diana Bulimar

Friday, September 30, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Canadian World Team Intrasquad



Videos of a recent intrasquad from the Canadian World Team have surfaced.  Let's take a moment to discuss the name Coralie Susanna LeBlond Chartrand.  I believe that we all need to celebrate the ridiculously long names of French Canada.  Can you even imagine what it must be like trying to spell your name for a customer service representative in the great white north?!  That's 'Dubreuil...um  D as in Daniel...."    Our girl, Ms. LeBlond Chartrand, looks like the alternate, but French Canadian politics came into play and the Gerber family has been slapped across the face yet again. (This time figuratively...)

Our French Canadian girl is dismounting bars with a front 1 1/2, but is only a step up from Betty Okino.



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This and That


The incomparable Kurt Browning killed it by performing to Moves Like Jagger during the opening of Battle of the Blades.  He is still the best male skater in the world.


As I feared, Tanith Belbin looked awkward without Ben dragging her around the ice.  Tanith has a fantastic diva personality, but she just didn't look comfortable on the ice herself.  This show really displays the individual talents of the pros and the hockey players.  We will get to see Tanith use her pairs background.


Note the individual talents of Elena Berezhnaya.  Her CSKA background shows.  Their choreography was simple, but it may pay off in the long run to learn how to walk before you run.


Mirai Nagasu's free skate from Nebelhorn.  I like the program better than last year's, but she needs to skate it with more authority.  Mirai has loads of talent.  She doesn't always skate with control or intention the way someone like Michelle Kwan does.  My inner Peggy Fleming needs to yell at her for not holding out her movements longer.  The spread eagle sequence is not as effective as she could be because she rushes through it and never allowed herself to have a true 'moment' on the ice.  If Mirai can get in better shape and double the amount of programs she does a day, this could be a successful season for her.  The difference between last summer and this summer shows.  Mirai now needs to take it up a few notches to compete with the top girls in the World.

Julianne Hough and Russell Brand are set to costar in The Mandate Project

Monday, September 26, 2011

Meryl + Extension + Adele



I love their improvement, but I wish they told more of a story with this music...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

This and That



Team China Update.  Lu Bu withdrew from the team due to injury and has been replaced by Yao Mingyong.

The OC Register broke part one of the Don Peters sex scandal today.  It is important to note that the reporter left out a part of the story, which is why Don really moved to California initially.  The writer may have more research to do.  While the allegations are from events from decades back, it is important to realize that there is a culture in the sport where it goes on.  A members of the USAG National Staff married their wife at 18, which is legal, but it also means that they were likely involved for years prior to the date of their nuptials.  Steve Elliot was famously banned from USAG for similar charges.  It is believed that Don Peters may have let his USAG membership lapse, which would make it difficult for the federation to do anything about the situation.  This story has been in the works for some time and it was attempted to be stopped.  It is important for parents and athletes to realize how easily this abuse can happen.  Several skating coaches have been taken to court for similar situations, one of whom Scott Hamilton vehemently defended despite substantial evidence.

Fashion on Ice took place yesterday.  The ice was reportedly chippy, but Alissa Czisny skated with confidence and nailed a triple lutz.  Meryl Davis had a rare fall, but retakes were done for the TV broadcast.  Jeremy Abbott complained about the ice and needed quite a few retakes...  Sasha Cohen was not in 2010 Nationals shape and performed at least one number without any jump attempts.

Lexie Priessman won three gold medals (and a bronze) in event finals at the Intl Junior Tournament, while Amelia Hundley added another three to her AA silver.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Evolution of Katia



This is how IMG marketed Katia the grieving widow in the US.  One must remember that her relationship with Ilia was kept under wraps for some time due to her public image.  Even wishing to get with her would be enough to get someone kicked off of a tour.




Where did THIS Katia come from...  ?!

International Junior Gymnastics Competition- AA



Lexie Priessman won the AA at the International Junior Gymnastics Competition despite some low scores all around.  Lexie needs to be nailing that beam set before she gets too tall.  Amelia Hundley finished second.  It is great for these girls to win when the pressure is on.  They couldn't afford a loss with the field at the event.  It is great for their mental strength to win when they have to.

When one watches Amelia Hundley, it is obvious that MLT works her hard like one of the oxen on the Oregon Trail.

This and That



Evan Lysacek told Phil Hersh that he isn't ready to commit to Skate America.  With the event just weeks away, it sounds like he won't be there.  Evan brought up that he lost the weight he needed to but still needs to gain more muscle mass.  I'm sure we'll be hearing about him drinking protein shakes with Ronnie and Pauly D any day now.  Evan isn't going to come back unless he is in top form.  He is not going to have the type of return to competition that Shawn Johnson has the Classics two months ago.  Frankly, if he wasn't in top form, he'd get hell for it from the press.  Evan says his goal is still Nationals and Sochi.  He hopes to be in fighting form by next season.




Mirai Nagasu won gold at Nebelhorn and actually won a long program.  Mirai's short has a ton of potential and shows growth, but she still needs the discipline that is going to take her over the top.  If she wants to compete with the top girls, she is going to need to get in better physical and mental condition.  Once again, Mirai's flip and lutz were underrotated in the long. Both lutzes received edge calls. She also underrotated a double loop.  Mirai's posture could be better in areas and her overall footwork can be sold with a bit more authority.  It is good to see just how improved Mirai's triple loop has become under Frank Carroll.  Her double axel is also landed with such authority.  Mirai does look to be light years ahead of her condition at Glacier Falls.  She certainly won't peak too early, but she never does.  The challenge for Mirai will be to take her skating up to a level that it has never been before.  Time is running out in terms of the federation believing in her 'potential.'



Volosozhar and Trankov are really upping their level of difficulty this season.  It has become obvious that they are advised by Tarasova in terms of their on-ice performance because they are beginning to struggle as her students typically do when she ratchets up the content of the programs.  V+T have gold in Sochi in mind and they need to be upping their game and developing consistency.  This season will not be as smooth-sailing as last season and it is already evident.  Their programs do not look sharp or performed with conviction by any means.  There is going to be an extensive learning curve over the course of the season and their final lift in the program shows just how exhausted they must be.  I predict errors on the side-by-side jumps and throw triple flip throughout the Grand Prix. Last year, their long program was never as solid or as well presented as their short program until the actual World Championships.

Johnny Weir will be performing to Lady Gaga and Ave Maria at Fashion on Ice.  It is nice of him to get new programs.

No surprise, Kanayeva captured AA Gold and swept RSG Worlds for the second time.  It was her closest competition of the week.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Memmel Out; McLaughlin In



Chellsie Memmel withdrew from the Pan Am Games due to an injured shoulder that she originally tweaked at last month's National Championships.  Earlier today, reporters published quotes from Chellsie that she'd only be competing beam and floor at Pan Ams.  This is quite the opportunity for Grace McLaughlin.  It is interesting that McKenzie Wofford wasn't named to the squad, as she has been hyped online rather extensively over the last few months.  Of the six major selection processes that Chellsie Memmel has been a part of, this marks the third time that she has been injured during the process/training.  It is also important to remember that she missed being named to the 2003 World Team initially due to injury and missed the 2004 Olympic Team for the same reason.  Not only will Chellsie have to fight a body that breaks down over the next year, she'll have to hope Martha Karolyi and Kathy Kelly believe in her enough to overlook her injury-prone track record.  It is a sad day, as Memmel looked amazing in her comeback this summer.

This and That

The Kerrs, Marlie and Alissa Czisny practice for Fashion on Ice.

Volosozhar and Trankov won gold at Nebelhorn.


Bazarova and Larionov finished second.


Denney and Coughlin finished third overall despite a fourth place finish in the free skate.

Mirai Nagasu leads after the short at Nebelborn despite an underrotated Triple Lutz.  At this stage in her career, Mirai shouldn't be having the technical issues that have plagued her for so long.  Her focus and lack of a consistent work ethic have also eroded her potential for years.  With only two spots for Worlds this year, it may be tough for Mirai to claim one of them.  This is a vitally important year for her career.  She is leading the short, but that is always her strength.  Finishing behind Elene Gedevanishvilli would've been embarrassing for our favorite absent-minded skater.

Evgenia Kanayeva continues to dominate RSG Worlds and is expected to sweep the event for the second time.

Jamie Silverstein will be performing with Ice Theater New York this October.

Jamie Silverstein Ice Dancing from Alexandria Rivera on Vimeo.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hot Mess of the Week: Xander Alexander



It is Xander! Erase the A-L-E!

History Lesson: The Bezics



I saw a vignette on Sandra on Battle of the Blades and needed to dig up some old clips.  The Bezics were fan favorites in the '70s and early '80s, but their career was cut short after Val was injured by a TV crane during a practice session.  Note their wonderful stroking and edge quality.  It didn't matter that she was skating with her brother, Sandra still brought her signature sensuality, sex appeal and regality to every performance.  Note how she holds herself on and off the ice.  The Bezics had the opportunity to perform with John Curry.  Having John Curry approve of your skating was next to impossible, which means they 'made it.'  It is unusual for a pairs skater to go on to be a choreographer, but it isn't a surprise after watching Sandra skate.  Their skating had quality and magic that just wouldn't be rewarded by IJS.  Tall skaters need to unite and learn how to carry ourselves in the same regal and diva manner as Sandra Bezic the Ice Goddess.

Favorite Things Friday



What A Wonderful World is one of the greatest numbers Sandra Bezic ever choreographed.  From Tara Lipinski's majestic opening solo, the entire program just sings.  The costumes, the music, the lighting and the choreography were perfection.  Kristi and Kurt also really stand out.  Unfortunately, Scott had to provide his requisite cheese...but he is only at the very end so it doesn't ruin the entire number.

This and That


Carlotta Ferlito on MTV gimnaste.

A clip of Mao Asada's new Scheherezade short program.  The program was choreographed by Tatiana Tarasova and looks like it may bring out more of Mao's inner competitor and strength.  Mao is a lovely lyrical skater, but I've come to appreciate her attack and found her programs a bit forgettable last season.

Marlie will be performing to Adele's Someone Like You at this weekend's Fashion on Ice.  To die for!

Volosozhar and Trankov narrowly lead Denney and Coughlin at Nebelhorn.  Volosozhar and Trankov definitely looked far from even approaching their peak when they skated at the Russian Test Event.  It will be interesting to see how Denney and Coughlin fare this season, as they've already had to compete a number of times to earn assignments.  There is a danger that they could run out of steam by Worlds.

Results  (Videos will be posted when they show up online.)

Stephen Carriere is in second behind Yuzuru Hanyu.  Hubbell and Donohue are also in second after the short dance.

Link to the World Team Conference Call.  In PR Bullshitting 101, Shawn Johnson said she wasn't upset to not make the team, which is a far cry from what those at camp said.  It is beyond annoying that American athletes have to be politically correct at all times.

Polina Shelepen leads after the short program at the JGP Brasov Cup.


The lovely (but potentially too tall) Polina Korobeynikova is in second.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

USAG names Worlds & Pan Am squads

Howdy Kittens,

Catty Comments here! Your USA women's gymnastics teams for 2011 Worlds and Pan Ams have just been named, and they are:

2011 Women's World Championships Team
Oct. 7-16, 2011, Tokyo, Japan
Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va./Chow's Gymnastics and Dance Institute
Anna Li, Aurora, Ill./Legacy Elite Gymnastics LLC
McKayla Maroney, Laguna Niguel, Calif./All Olympia AOGC
Alexandra Raisman, Needham, Mass./Brestyan's American Gymnastics
Alicia Sacramone, Winchester, Mass./Brestyan's American Gymnastics
Sabrina Vega, Carmel, N.Y./Dynamic Gymnastics
Jordyn Wieber, DeWitt, Mich./Gedderts' Twistars USA
Non- traveling alternate: Shawn Johnson, West Des Moines, Iowa/Chow's Gymnastics and Dance Institute

Head coach: John Geddert of Geddert's Twistars USA
Asst. coach: Jiani Wu of Legacy Elite

2011 Women's Pan American Games Team
Oct. 24-29, Guadalajara, Mexico
Bridgette Caquatto, Naperville, Ill./Legacy Elite Gymnastics LLC
Jessie DeZiel, Rogers, Minn./Twin City Twisters
Brandie Jay, Ft Collins, Colo./GK Gymnastics
Shawn Johnson, West Des Moines, Iowa/Chow's Gymnastics and Dance Institute
Chellsie Memmel, West Allis, Wis./M and M Gymnastics
Bridget Sloan, Pittsboro, Ind./Sharp's Gymnastics Academy
Replacement athletes
Grace McLaughlin, Allen, Texas/WOGA Gymnastics
Hallie Mossett, Los Angeles, Calif./West Coast Elite Gymnastics
McKenzie Wofford, McKinney, Texas/Zenith Elite Gymnastics Academy

Head coach: Marvin Sharp of Sharp's Gymnastics
Asst. coach: Jiani Wu


What's notable is the youth movement Marta went with for the Worlds team. I'm so happy that she's throwing down for Olympic gold, and the team title this year is secondary. The only athletes with Worlds experience on the team are Raisman & Sacramone. Her risks ensure that she will have as much Worlds experience as possible from all of her major 2012 Olympic contenders. Marta will know exactly how all of these girls perform in big competitions before selecting a team for London.

Right now, Vega is assumed to be the alternate. She's a gorgeous, solid AA gymnast with no major weaknesses and no major difficulty scores. And she can actually dance.

Douglas is a HUGE risk - she is an excellent AA athlete with a good bars routine who is highly unpredictable in competition. She can hit, or she can completely melt down. Hopefully Marta can work the same training magic with Gabby that she did last year with the then-inconsistent Raisman. Either way, she will soon know what Gabby is capable of in major competition.

One-event wonder Anna Li is the feel-good Blind Side athlete of the year. In a major motion picture of this team, Morgan Freeman will narrate Anna Li's story. A recent UCLA graduate, instead of giving up on her Olympic dreams, she buckled down, continued to train at UCLA, then AOGC, then returned home to be once again coached by her parents at Legacy Elite, who happen to be the Team USA bars coaches du jour. SHE'S NOT EVEN ON THE NATIONAL TEAM. Yet here she is, gunning for London and gutting her way onto a Worlds team.

My TF lineup predictions are:
VT: Wieber, Sacramone, Maroney
BA: Douglas, Wieber, Li
BM: Sacramone, Clubfoot the Raisman, Wieber
FX: Sacramone or Maroney, Clubfoot, Wieber

This leaves the Pan Am team with three former World AA champions - Sloan, Memmel & Johnson. None of them are happy to be named to the B team. However, if any make lame excuses for dropping out of the competition, Marta will NOT be happy. I think they're stuck going to Guadalajara and getting a tan sandwiched between training sessions to impress Marta with their desire to make the London Olympic team.

Battle of the Blades 3: Game On (Highlights)


The glorious Sandra Bezic is sending DVDs this way for Battle of the Blades, so there will be plenty of coverage this season.  This is wonderful, as Dancing With The Stars just didn't do it for me the other night.  Unfortunately, CBC is not able to have a Battle of the Blades youtube channel due to music copyright issues.  This is also why DWTS doesn't rack up the hits on youtube.  Hopefully, some users will be able to upload more clips along the way.


Wade Belak Tribute



Lift Class

Once this season takes off, there will be plenty of men wishing they could practice lifts with Tanith Belbin.  Overall, the cast just looks hunkier and blonder this season.  Let's pray Sandra Bezic puts all of the guys in Paul Martini's jeans for at least one number.  Theme week, anyone?

This and That (Catching Up Edition)


Brandon Mroz landed a killer Quad Lutz at the Colorado Invitational.  With his new programs from Jeff Buttle, Brandon may take his skating up a few notches this season.

Sorry for the lack of updates the past two days, life has gotten crazy busy.

Mackenzie Caquatto was injured on her beam dismount at the World Selection Camp.  There are already those blaming Martha or the camps in general for her injuries.  The truth is that the sport has become exceedingly difficult.  Dominique Moceanu continues to blame the powers that be for every injury at camp, but this one seems like more of a fluke.  There are some truths here--Macko Caquatto's strength is that she is an all-arounder who excels at bars.  She is not an event finalist on bars.  Macko doesn't have the execution, the amplitude or the difficulty to be competitive with the best bar workers in the world.  If she wanted to make the team, she needed to be available on multiple events.  Macko is not the world's greatest competitor, though she has improved over the last few seasons.  She was a feel-good story when she made Olympic Trials and good for her for making a world team.  She is not the type of talent to make multiple world teams.  This isn't 1997 when we took anyone to Worlds.  Macko isn't in the world's best physical condition either.  She did need to do a double pike beam dismount to be usable.  When she did it, she landed short and injured herself.  For some to say she shouldn't have had to do the beam dismount, they're wrong.  The US is not going to send someone to worlds who dismounts beam with a double full.  Macko isn't good enough to be taken for one event.  The only gymnasts taken for one event have been Nastia Liukin in 2006 and Annia Hatch in 2004.  Chellsie Memmel was kept for one routine in 2008.  Macko is just not that level.  Hopefully her ankle will heal and she'll have a successful collegiate season.

Macko is lucky that she isn't competing for Peggy Liddick who would've issued a callous statement that the loss is sad, but we've already more than replaced her.

Chellsie Memmel is supposed to throw her full bar routine at today's competition.  She did parts of her bar routine the other day, but she did not throw the full difficulty she is planning.  It remains unclear if her full difficulty includes a hindorff+pak salto combination.  Should she nail a set, Martha just might tight her to Worlds.  Hopefully, stubborn Chellsie will one day stop doing the jam on bars and stop twisting that shoulder off the horse on that DTY.

Martha and Kathy are going to be downing some booze tonight when they have drunken decisions to make that are reminiscent of the decision to put Sloan or Larson on floor in last year's team finals.  With Maroney, Wieber, Raisman and Sacramone locks at this point, the team doesn't have strong bar or floor options.  They have a girl with herniated discs almost killing herself on a senseless double arabian dismount because her coaches can't code whore.  They also have Alicia, a gymnast fighting her sell-by date, who can't stay in bounds on floor, upgrade or stay healthy.  This may be Alicia's last year of being necessary to Team USA.  Frankly, there are better girls on all three of her events.  Who do they take for bars...Chellsie who breaks? Gabby the headcase on other events which could spread?  Unprepared Sloan?  Inconsistent Anna?   What to do with Shawn Johnson? This will require several bottles of Jack tonight.  The gymnasts have not answered this question for themselves.

Alissa Czisny is planning on competing a Triple Lutz+Triple Toe and a Triple Salchow this season.  Hopefully Alissa has spent as much time with a sports psychologist as she has at the rink, because she still crumbled with medals on the line at Four Continents and Worlds last season.  Let's hope she takes another step forward, but it is difficult for a skater to learn how to compete this late in the game.


DWTS started with a thud this season.  The first team got voted off, yet no one cared.  Derek Hough is back and looks as amazing as ever.  There isn't a standout talent yet, so the cast just isn't seeming that special after getting past the Chaz Bono novelty factor.  Carson Kressley was as annoying as ever---he brings a new meaning to 'gay for pay.'

Laetitia Hubert is going to skate at the ladies on ice show in Atlantic City on December 3rd.  I need to be there to witness this.





The University of Michigan honored Marlie during this weekend's packed football game.  They will be skating at this weekend's Fashion on Ice with Alissa Czisny, Johnny Weir, Jeremy Abbott, Sasha Cohen and Sarah Hughes.  It looks like this Disson production has a hint of a budget.  It could be good, even if the camera will spend more than half the time on Aretha Franklin.  I guess the queen of soul deserves it.  Kudos to Disson Skating for not forcing us to endure performances by Ashley Tisdale or Raven Symone.

Beastly Beth Tweddle has another tumbling pass to take on the world with.  The girl is unreal.