Tuesday, February 1, 2011

US Nationals: The Men's Free Skate

In the absence of Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek, the US Nationals was set to be the showdown between Adam Rippon and Jeremy Abbott.  What the event turned out to be, was a long-awaited coronation for Ryan Bradley.  The alleged story has it that Bradley decided to compete once more at the request of his fans who barraged him with tweets.  Now, I'm on Twitter.  Aside from a few worthless skating bloggers who blindly love and support everything, I haven't seen any Tweets to Ryan Bradley.  The chatter leading into Nationals involved a great deal of "skating needs Ryan Bradley.  Kids need to look up to him."  It is true that the audience loves Ryan and that he is a positive role model, but I must've missed the Twitter campaign to bring him back.  A skating friend suggests that those tweets were Direct Messages from the USFSA encouraging him, as the pre-event buzz was eerily similar to the buzz surrounding Alissa Czisny in 2009.  The commentators, on Ice Network and NBC, had their talking points coordinated, as though Nationals was a Fox News extravaganza.  

Heading into the free skate, Ryan Bradley had a slim lead over Jeremy Abbott.  While Jeremy's lutz was sketchy in the short program and Ryan landed a Quad-Triple, my brain still couldn't wrap my head around the results.  After watching the Grand Prix, Four Continents and World Championships for many years, one develops an idea of where the men will score with clean programs, mistakes and average efforts.  Jeremy Abbott is the best all-around skater in the event.  He displays great skating skills, footwork, spins, choreography and jumps with ease.  Ryan Bradley's strengths are his jumps and his connection with the audience.  In terms of skating skills and transitions, he is known for being below average.  Despite his height, his speed in not up to par and his spins and footwork are visibly slow for the casual viewer. 

Now that the stage is set, let's take everyone back to the beginning of the free skate.  I tuned in for Ice Network's broadcast of the early groups and suffered through Tonia Kwiatkowski's lack of charisma yet again.  

There certainly wasn't a lot of fine skating going on in the early groups.  Josh Farris was injured mid-program and seeing him cry after the program was tough to witness.  One felt for Sean Rabbitt suffering from the flu, as he lacked his typical zeal and charisma in both programs.  

One sad moment came during the free skate of Alex Johnson.  As Margaret Thatcher put it, "how many pieces of shit can Tom Z coach?!"  Well, Alex isn't a 'piece of shit,' but he certainly didn't skate anywhere near his usual level.  He has struggled with consistency this season after moving to Colorado Springs.  One can only imagine the focus each skater receives when Tom Z and Becky Calvin coach a bus-load of skaters to slow and mediocre, yet consistent performances.  Alex was discussing his goals for the season with Becky Calvin in the Kiss and Cry.  Becky, dressed like a mess as usual, was nodding along as though she had never had a meeting or conversation with Alex before.  Tom Z was standing at the boards for his next skater, but one would think his assistant would somehow be in tune with the skaters.

There was another brilliant moment of phoning-it-in coaching that took place with Andrew Gonzalez and Sir Frank Carroll.  Sir Frank has been mighty busy for a man who was pondering retirement.  He seems to have taken on skater after skater, talented or not.  There appear to be a few Danielle Kahle-situations going on, where the skater has a primary coach and then works with Frank once a week for his political pull.  While sitting in the Kiss and Cry, Philip Mills continually mentioned Andrew's music length.  Frank openly had no idea how the long the program was.  This is curious, as coaches usually stand there with stop watches.  Whenever Frank sits there with another coach, he typically looks a bit lost and doesn't have any comments.  He appears to be very satisfied, as long as whatever D-List skater he's lending his name to isn't bawling.  

"If you're able to work with Frank Carroll, you pay him $140/hr to have a lesson, but you pay him top dollar ($2500), to haul his ass to North Carolina in January and pretend to know your jump patterns."~Catty Comments

Throughout the week, the stadium announcer in Greensboro has been providing mini-bios of each skater during their introduction in the warmup.  Often, the bios told us a great deal about each skater.  In terms of the men competing, we learned a ton about the group as a whole.

"What is with every single guy listing their hobbies as yoga and cooking?  When did they stop even trying to appear straight?  Michael Weiss had the good sense to have a wife."~Catty Comments

The peanut gallery also had a few other choice observations during the early flights of queens.

"Who is all, 'white boy, you should skate to Porgy and Bess, which you don't get?  AT ALL?"~Catty Comments on Josh Farris

"Jeremazing is NOT a fashion icon."~The World on Josh Farris' costume choice.

"Suck it up and change coaches.  If this isn't a sign, I don't know what is."~Frau Muller on Alex Johnson's performance

"You don't dedicate a program to someone and then skate like that!"~Catty Comments on Christopher Caluza

Wes Campbell is one of everyone's favorite skaters on the east coast.  He's tall and pretty, and yet restrains himself from flailing like Evan Lysacek.  He will have a glorious career in Holiday On Ice when he chooses to and will probably marry some Italian skater who trained in the US (like every other American male who joins the troupe.)  I'd marry him myself, but he gives off the impression of being a fellow Diana Ross.  One needs a Mary Wilson to balance things out.  

Wesley's music is a hodgepodge of wonderful skating music, from Gymnopides to the Piano, to Memorial Requiem.  Contrary to popular belief, Aunt Joyce was not involved in advising Wes to select Pasha's theme honoring Versace and the fallen figure skaters, but we can only assume that the screams in the music also represented the screams of his soul.  He started the program with a solid Triple Lutz+Double Loop, but then fell on an underrotated Triple Axel.  When your skating is that pretty, why jump?!  Triple Flip+Triple Toe, Triple Salchow.  Unfortunately, he ran out of steam at the end of the program.  Single Flip, Double Loop+Double Toe+Double Loop, Double Axel, Double Lutz.  Had he managed one or two of those triples in the second half, he would've finished much higher overall.  (117.34, 176.69)  

Jonathan Cassar brought the feeling of Auschwitz to his Schindler's List program for another year.  Jonathan was really FEEEEELLLING THE OVENS, as he was one of the few early skaters to really bring the audience on an emotional journey.  This has been quite the season for Cassar.  Between his success and Alissa Czisny's, it says a lot about what happens when you finally leave the clutches of Julie Berlin.  For those who are unaware, Julie is a decent technical coach who happens to appear extremely nervous at competitions.  It really impacts her skaters.  Frank's calming influence did wonders, as Cassar's entire performance was exquisite.  Triple Lutz+Double Toe, Triple Toe, Double Axel, Triple Salchow, Second Half: Triple Lutz (hand down), Best Spread Eagle Sequence in the world, Triple Flip+Double Toe, Triple Loop+Double Loop, Double Axel.  Jonathan took ice dancing lessons with Alissa Czisny and it really shows in his skating skills and transitions.  Note that Jonathan clapped for Frank Carroll in the Kiss and Cry after receiving a standing ovation.  (63.28+68.50=131.78, 187.76-1st Overall Thus far.)

Before Ice Network signed off, they presented Johnny Weir with the Michelle Kwan Trophy,  Johnny's crazed fans (who have made themselves quite evident here) took their batshit craziness and put it to use voting for him thousands of times each.  I've loved me some Johnny in my day, but after remembering how popular Marlie were last season, it was a bit amusing to hear the announcer list off Johnny's "accomplishments" last season....a bronze, a silver, a bronze, and a sixth place finish...   Compared to his contemporaries, it is slightly amusing.  More amusing, is that Johnny used the National Championships as a platform to announce that he is cutting music and preparing to compete next season.  Johnny was present in Greensboro, so one can only guess as to whether he is intuitive enough to realize where his recent Nationals efforts would stack up against the current men.  It remains amusing for Johnny to receive anything with Michelle Kwan's name on it.

"Johnny says he is going to choreography a short program and train hard.  He has never done either of those things, why start now?"- Suzanne Bonaly

Finally, it was time for the final two flights to take the ice on NBC.  We were done with Tonia Kwiatkowski and really, who wasn't relieved about that?  I can only take so much boasting about being the Olympic Alternate and placing sixth at Worlds in a depleted, burnt out field.

NBC opened the broadcast with a fluff on Jeremy Abbott where he declared to be the 'forgotten champion.'  The images of his Olympic performance made us all remember just how nervous we were about his competitive mindset.  There are days when it is amazing that he withstood the pressure to make the Olympic Team.

Instead of going right to the penultimate group and showing us fan-favorite bottoms like Grant Hochstein, NBC decided to air a few of the short programs from Friday night.

"Jeremy Abbott's earring is too Michael Chack meets gay Party of Five in the '90s."~Laetitia Hubert

"Jeremy Abbott has a striking resemblance to K.D. Lang.  He is very lesbian chic."~Margaret Thatcher

"Jeremy Abbott is 50 lbs away from becoming Clay Aiken."~Tarasova's Mink

Jeremy Abbott was dancing by himself to his flamenco short program.  When seeing him slap his thighs and clap mid-footwork sequence, we think him dancing by himself may be a common occurrence at the club.  Still, we love dorks and love us some Jeremy Abbott.  He definitely took risks and improved his performance level last season, but his flamenco has never been as skategasmic as 'A Day In The Life.'  His costumes are slightly improved, but still very much a 'work in progress.'  Jeremy's effort likely should've had him leading after the short, but his sketchy landing on the lutz cost him with the clueless Nationals judges.  He was within striking-distance of his third National Title.  That said, Jeremy Abbott needs to be attempting quads in both programs if he is ever going to become comfortable enough with the jump and a contender for World Titles.  In this new era, he will need a quad in each program in order to be a podium contender.  

Jeremy definitely appears to be Yuka's baby, while Alissa appears to bond more with Jason.  It is reminiscent of the way Nancy was Evy's and Paul belonged to Mary.  

Having Tom Z absent from the boards appears to have helped Ryan Bradley achieve a positive mindset when taking center ice.  His short program pants reveal that he has the ass of a strong black woman.  It is amazing that he can rotate it in the air, let alone spin.  It is amazing that his pants didn't split, but we wouldn't mind it if he stuffed them a bit for worlds for added excitement.

Ryan's jumps never looked stronger than they did in the short program.  NBC and the USFSA were all about his comeback and Twitter story.  It helps them appear in-touch.  Ryan is clearly one of the nicest guy's around, but it is impossible to get over just how unbelievably corny and cheesetastic he is.  His programs straddle the fine line of 'fun in the Midwest' and 'cringeworthy.'  Quad Toe+Triple Toe, Triple Axel, Triple Flip.  The spins, footwork and movement across the ice were visibly slow on my HDTV.  He is among the weakest of the skaters in those areas.  On this day, his energy was infectious.  It made everyone root for him, despite all logic and reason.  (80.39)

After recapping the short programs of the leaders, NBC finally got around to showing the final nine skaters.  Frau Muller had his rosary out and was praying for the Gay Christmas team (Rippon, Abbott, Armin.)  He was also flipping about about not seeing Grant Hochstein's cute ass.  (He likes them short.)

Adam Rippon opened the show in a very Johnny Weir-2009 situation.  Unlike Johnny, he was able to fight back.  (Weir was ill and emaciated that season after pulling a Bobek and doing a show before Nationals.  The selection committee did not have pity on him or Nicole.)  Adam's Triple Axel continues to be a Vanessa Atler-Comaneci situation.  He was one for three in terms of clean landings at Nationals.  Triple Axel (Turn out)+Double Toe, Double Axel, Triple Rippon Lutz (Total +3), and then we hit the bonus...Triple Axel, Triple Flip+Triple Toe, Triple Tano Lutz+Double Toe (close to boards, left off third jump), Triple Salchow, Rudy Spin, Triple Loop.  Adam visibly fought for this program.  In the minds of many, it was enough to solidify his position on the World Team.  The positions, choreography, spins, and overall artistry were far superior to the men who finished ahead of him in the short.  Aside from improving his Triple Axel and adding the quad, it would really help matters if Adam could finally up that eternally-level 2 Circular Step Sequence.

When it came to judging Adam Rippon, the panel stayed within the range of components scores awarded by the international judges.  They didn't do him any favors and Adam's look in the Kiss and Cry said a lot.  It is Nationals.  The marks tend to be bizarrely inflated, which they wound up being for a few choice skaters.  The international judges do not very much between events.  Whether a skater has a good skate or an off day, most aspects of their overall skating quality remain the same.  

Unfortunately, the Nationals judging panel stayed within a tight corridor when judging the top dozen men.  They boxed everyone in between a point and a half.  What happens then is that the components become almost a moot point and the competition becomes very much a jumping contest.  This winds up hurting the overall rankings and wound up having a profound impact on the final rankings.  

Note: I fully realize that by taking the time to document and analyze PCS, I will not get laid within the next year.

For those who need a brief reminder of the criteria of PCS:

Skating Skills  

  • Balance, rhythmic knee action and precision of foot placement
  • Flow and effortless glide
  • Cleanness and sureness of deep edges, steps, turns
  • Power/energy and acceleration
  • Mastery of multi-directional skating
  • Mastery of one-foot skating
  • Equal mastery of technique by both partners shown in unison (pairs and ice dancing)
  • Balance in skating ability of individual skaters (synchronized)

The varied and/or intricate footwork, positions, movements and holds that link all elements. In singles, pairs and synchronized skating, this also includes the entrances and exits of technical elements.
  • Variety
  • Difficulty
  • Intricacy
  • Quality (including unison in pairs, ice dancing and synchronized skating)
  • Balance of workload between partners (pairs and ice dancing)
  • Variety of holds (not excessive side by side and hand in hand in ice dancing)
  • Conformity to pattern and stop requirements in ice dancing, original dance only
  • Variation of speed and linking steps (synchronized)
  • Variation of changes of direction and hold (synchronized)
  • Difficulty and variety of entrances/exits from elements/preparation phase (synchronized) 
Performance is the involvement of the skater/couple/teams physically, emotionally and intellectually as they translate the intent of the music and choreography. Execution is the quality of movement and precision in delivery. This includes harmony of movement in pairs, ice dancing and synchronized skating.

  • Physical, emotional and intellectual involvement
  • Carriage (and body alignment - synchronized)
  • Style and individuality/personality
  • Clarity of movement
  • Variety and contrast
  • Projection
  • Unison and "oneness" (pairs, ice dancing and synchronized skating)
  • Balance in performance (pairs, ice dancing and synchronized skating)
  • Spatial awareness between partners - management of the distance between partners and management of changes of hold (pairs, ice dancing and synchronized skating)
An intentional, developed and/or original arrangement of all types of movements according to the principles of proportion, unity, space, pattern, structure and phrasing.

  • Purpose (idea, concept, vision)
  • Proportion (equal weight of parts)
  • Unity (purposeful threading)
  • Utilization of personal and public space
  • Pattern and ice coverage
  • Phrasing and form (movements and parts structured to match the phrasing of the music)
  • Originality of purpose, movement and design
  • Shared responsibility in achieving purpose (pairs, ice dancing and synchronized skating)
  • Distribution of highlights (synchronized)
The personal and creative translation of the music to movement on ice.

  • Effortless movement in time to the music
  • Expression of the music's style, character, rhythm
  • Use of finesse* to reflect the nuances of the music
  • Relationship between the partners reflecting the character of the music (pairs, ice dancing and synchronized skating)
  • Appropriateness of music in ice dancing, original dance and free dance
If we have to suffer through this horrendous International Judging System, the judges better apply it correctly and use a differentiation when scoring men.  That is one of the main points Joe Inman made in his emails last year: don't just use blanketed-high marks for skaters who are good jumpers with good speed.

This came to be an issue with the judging of Richard Dornbush.  Richard, formerly known as Ricky, gave a solid performance technically.  He has gorgeous jumps.  Phil Hersh said Richard reminds him of Tim Goebel, but Timmy will let you know himself that he never had a Triple Axel like that.  Triple Flip, Triple Axel+Triple Toe, Triple Lutz, Bonus Time: Triple Axel, Triple Salchow, Triple Lutz+Double Toe+Double Tano Loop, Double Axel+Double Axel, Triple Loop.  My fantasy skating team was quite appreciative of his jumping clinic.  Tim Goebel wants his Salchow entry back.  

Sandra Bezic was very genius when she mentioned the minutia the IJS requires and how is destroys performances.  Richard's Sherlock Holmes programs is charming, casual and entertaining, but it is not as sophisticated as the lyrical program by Adam Rippon.  Richard trained a quad in Greensboro.  His narrow hips should have him landing it in no time.  

In terms of how the judges scored Richard, they appeared to get caught up in the moment and the excitement of his gorgeous jumps.  His performance was executed well, but it was certainly not as mature, refined or nuanced of the other top men.  He does have the hetero vibe going on, which means that his interpretation of music could be improved.  Despite how much my fantasy ranking appreciated the judging, his components scores were inflated and out of range---especially compared to how they marked Rippon.  There wasn't a different between the two, though the international judges beg to differ. It was a clear message of the type of programs the USFSA prefers: very Todd Eldredge.  Land the jumps, portray a soldier and win.  The fluffy, effeminate style of Weir and Rippon is not rewarded on home soil, though it is rewarded by international panels.  If the judges were going to award Dornbush high 7s for PCS, Adam would definitely belong in the mid-to-high 8s.  It is important to differentiate the marks, otherwise the second mark is completely futile.

Armin Mahbanoozadeh closed the penultimate group with a fabulous effort.  His small stature makes it more difficult for him to achieve speed, which is something he'll really need to work on with Priscilla.  Together, they've nailed his Triple Axel technique and it is now time to attack his skating skills and get him up to his potential in that area.  His lines and aesthetic are wondrous.  

Armin is training a quad, but he needs more speed and power to pull it off.  His Avatar program is genius and suits him extremely well, yet it was not as effective as it was at Skate America and Nebelhorn.  He was really concentrated and while it was great, it missed that added sparkle.  Triple Lutz, Triple Axel, Triple Flip+Triple Toe, Triple Loop, Bonus: Triple Axel+Double Toe, Spread Eagle+Triple Flip, Triple Salchow, Double Axel+Double Toe+Double Loop.  

Frank Carroll gave Armin a standing ovation for this program, but the judges did not.  They took advantage of his slight stumbles in his Circular Step Sequence and nailed him on PCS compared to the other men who skated clean programs.  Perhaps he skates a bit too Johnnyish, in addition to their desire for him to develop more speed.  

Finally, it was time for the final flight to take the ice for their warmup.  Jeremy Abbott had already announced that it would be a last-minute decision whether or not he included the quad.  That meant a no and a 'you're fucked' from the judges once NBC aired the graphic of the planned quad content from Bradley, Abbott and Mroz.  It was going to take a mistake-free program for Abbott to win and after hearing how he was tight in his morning warmup, once could see how this night would turn out.

Tom Hammond brought up Bezic's involvement in Brandon Mroz's 'On The Waterfront' program.  Sandra congratulated herself with an "I deserved that call.''  It is true that the program is an improvement, but remember that like Slutskaya's artistry, improvement is all relative.  Brandon is still a snooze and a half, especially when skating at Tom Z-speed.

Keegan Messing skated first in the final flight.  "The Hulk'' really suits him well.  He skates with the same unrefined, uninhibited quality as his former coach, Rory Flack-Burghart.  Sandra kept mentioning what a hot mess Keegan is and how much she adores him for it.  Watching his long program is about like watching the Jersey Shore, it is incredibly entertaining, but one knows it is not going to win an Emmy anytime soon.  Still, the little pocket rocket has mass appeal, even if he doesn't have judges' appeal.  Triple Axel,  Quad Toe (Hand Down), HUGE Death Drop, Spread Eagle+Double Axel, Killing time before second half, Triple Lutz+Double Toe, Triple Axel+Double Toe, Triple Loop, Triple Flip+Double Toe+Double Loop, Triple Lutz at the very end.

Suzanne Bonaly thinks the online fans should take up a collection to purchase Keegan a new costume.  Personally, I'll never forget what he showed up at Liberty in performing this program back in the summer of 2009: a pair of jeans with one leg cut off and a green stocking and an shirt with a sleeve cut out and a red stocking covering his arm.  Keegan is his own white-trash wonder-kid and I dig him for it. The IJS is never going to be kind to him, but he will always have a future in performing.  I would applaud Bezic's "he makes skating and extreme sport" comment if it didn't sound too much like Lysacek's "skating should be in the X-Games" lament.  

Doug Razzano lumbered his way through a program.  It was not refined or aesthetically pleasing in any way.  Doug's strength is his unencumbered jumping ability, but he often lacks consistency.  Triple Axel, Quad Toe (Turn out), Triple Axel (Odd Fall), Triple Lutz, Bonus: Triple Toe+Triple Toe, Triple Salchow, Triple Loop, Double Axel+Double Toe+Double Loop.  It was a ''breakthrough'' performance that still found him in 10th place.  

Ross Miner, the great straight hope, took the ice with his Kurt Browning-knockoff program.  Sandra liked it, which isn't shocking since it is similar to her work, without the charm or skating skills of the four-time World Champion.  Ross opened with a circular step to kill time and then busted out a very improved Triple Axel+Double Toe.  I used to call Ross "Tim Goebel, without the quad, before Frank Carroll."  Ross has improved tremendously in terms of presentation.  He still has a ways to go in terms of skating skills and components in general, but this program is a giant leap in the right direction.  His triple axel, even with his bent leg on the entry, is vastly improved.  Triple Lutz+Triple Toe, Triple Axel (swingy), Bonus: Triple Loop, Triple Lutz, Spread Eagle+Triple Salchow+Double Toe+Double Loop, Triple Flip. Double Axel (and a gunshot somewhere in there.)  

Ross told Ice Network that he took a salsa class to help with his short program.  He buys into his horny 'great straight hope' status and mentioned how hot the instructor was.  That is reminiscent of when the USFSA had the announcer at Skate America have girls in the audience play "The Dating Game" with this year's bronze medalist.  It is perfectly acceptable to be a manslut, as long as you're banging females.

When it came time to judge Ross, the USFSA supported the masculinity of it all and overlooked the weaker skating skills.  The judges at Worlds won't reward Ross, but the judges at Nationals sure did and gave him marks far too close to Adam Rippon's.  It is was a mere ranking it would be one thing, but they are supposed to mark the components on a spectrum similar to the differentiation in the technical elements scores.  If everyone is within a narrow corridor, it puts the emphasis solely on technical merit.  The Ross inflation wound up being ridiculous, especially when one remembers that he wound up earning a trip to Worlds by 0.19 points.

Alas, it was the white-knuckling moment of the evening.  Since none of the American men qualified to the Grand Prix Final, the federation really felt that it didn't owe anyone shit.  Hell, even when Johnny Weir medaled at Worlds and the GPF, they didn't put him on the World Team.  

Sandra Bezic, a woman of usually-refined taste, raved about Jeremy Abbott's 'Life Is Beautiful' long program.  I agree that it is unfathomably beautiful and moving (when he performs it well.)  At this year's Nationals, the program had a much more tragic tone than the film.  The commentators mentioned that he needed to put the performance ahead of the win...exactly what tripped him up in Vancouver.  Triple Lutz, Triple Flip, Triple Axel+Double Toe to open.  Scott went on an on about how he left out a Triple Toe, but at this point in the season, Jeremy usually performs a Triple Lutz+Triple Toe in the second half for maximum points.  His element sheet changes when he substitutes a Triple Lutz for the Quad and reduces the Triple Axel combo to a Triple-Double in order to avoid violating the Zayak rule and losing credit for a jumping pass.

During his Circular Step Sequence (which only received a Level 2), I noticed that he appeared tight.  The program lacked the same gusto and humor it had at NHK earlier in the season.  It would not be surprising if the panel felt a few of his edges and turns were shallow and failed to award the Level 3 due to that tightness.  Next, he went for the Triple Axel in the second half and put his hand down.  One error likely would've been forgivable, but disaster struck on a Two-and-a-half Lutz.  The missed combination cost him nine points.  It is interesting that he missed the Lutz, as his toe-pick appeared to be sideways on the takeoff.  His edge wobbled on his change-foot sit spin, which dropped him to Level 1 and cost him another two points.  A conservative Triple Loop found him squeaking out the rotation before struggling with the tacked-on Double Toe+Double Loop.  A solid Triple Salchow and Double Axel ended the program, but a rough minute in the program wound up costing him a trip to Worlds.

The judges did not do Jeremy Abbott any favors.  They awarded him scores in range with what he receives internationally.  He did not receive the boost that Dornbush, Bradley and Miner received.  It is curious given that he has delivered many times, but it is true that he didn't nail a program out of the park. Even when he did hit his short program, the judges didn't boost him the way they would with Evan Lysacek.  It was almost as though the judges and federation were testing Jeremy Abbott.  Perhaps they perceive him to be a wild card and don't feel confident in his ability to hit.  After a solid, but not 'too solid,' opening to the season, everyone hoped Jeremazing would deliver.  His 2010 Nationals performance easily was stronger than Lysacek's a month later.  Jeremy's Olympic short was far too reminiscent of Nicole Bobek's trip to Nagano.  

One of the most buzzed-about aspects of the competition has been Jeremy Abbott's demeanor following the program.  Many felt he appeared as though he didn't understand the severity of what he just did.  Perhaps, but he also appeared to be someone trying to avoid bursting into tears and losing it.  There was a section of his program where everything crumbled and he lived it.  Asking for crowd noise was a bit much given the situation, but it wasn't as cringe-worthy as him quoting Scott Hamilton's infamous 'Skating 101' line.  He is a nice kid and you hate to see him struggle, but one needs to wonder what it will take for him to conquer his demons.

Ultimately, the USFSA is really hindering itself by sending a team to Four Continents that will likely out-perform its team at Worlds.  

Brandon Mroz won't be traveling to either competition after a botched free skate.  Jump-wise, the effort was semi-acceptable.  Unfortunately, his open Quad Toe was underrotated and had a turn out.  He followed with Triple Axel+Double Toe, Triple Lutz, Triple Loop, Slow Step Sequence, Triple Axel, Triple Lutz+Triple Toe (Two Footed), Triple Salchow, Triple Flip+Double Toe+Double Loop, but the program was boring.  It just fell flat and he didn't give the program any energy.  A level one flying spin and his usual average components scores found him in seventh place.  He wasn't far back, but the entire field scored right on top of one another.  Scott tried to make the end of the program seem triumphant, but Brandon's demeanor revealed that it was anything but.

Ryan Bradley performed last and was seemingly loose when he took the ice.  His coronation appeared inevitable after the struggles of Jeremy Abbott.  Two botched Quad attempts made things closer than anticipated.  This really makes the judging and calling of the event debatable.  His first Quad was visibly underrotated, yet credited by the caller.  He pulled off a Triple Axel and then managed a Triple Lutz.  The key to his victory came when he pulled off a Triple Axel+Triple Toe in the second half and followed it with a Triple Loop, Triple Salchow+Double Toe+Double Toe and Triple Flip.  I find Ryan somewhat endearing, but I cannot overlook how slow his spins and footwork were in the program.  The judges turned the other way and gave him a title, but he could've easily finished off the World Team.

Good things should happen to good people.  Ryan is someone who has always been Mr. Fourth Place and it is heartwarming to see him win.  I even put off writing this report initially, because I didn't want to rain on his parade.  Ryan is very popular with many people for his warmth and his perseverance, but it doesn't make him National Champion material.  Just as it was odd when the buzz got behind Czisny in '09 despite her dismal international track record, it reminds curious that the USFSA would boost someone whose previous finishes at Worlds were 15th and 18th.  Due to the fact that he was injured at Worlds, I included his PCS from his medal-winning effort at last season's Skate America to give an accurate picture of how he is perceived by the judges.  Unless he somehow became a PCS-maestro and has skating skills and speed only visible in person, I'm going to say that they boosted him in a manner that suggests there was strong political support for making him National Champion.

It is a great story and lovely thing to happen to a nice guy, but it screws the US at Worlds.  That shticky Scott Hamilton long program hasn't moved the judges and it remains unlikely that the US will retain three spots at Worlds for next year.  It may not be the end of the Worlds, but the American ladies have sure struggled at getting the third spot back.

It is curious that the USFSA is sending the three seemingly hetero skaters to Worlds and the Gay Christmas Team to Four Continents.  It could just be that they are encouraging the "masculine" Lysacek/Todd style...snooze.

Having Fun With The Numbers, I replaced the PCS for the top five's short and long programs with their average PCS (doubled for the long) and added them to their TES for both programs.  It certainly results in a more palatable World Team that would've been far more likely to achieve success (or at least have a shot.)

Jeremy Abbott:  
38.57 + 38.30 = 76.87
66.91 + 76.60 =143.51

76.87+143.51 = 220.38

Adam Rippon:
32.76 + 36.35 = 69.11
76.36 + 72.70 =149.06

69.11 + 149.06 = 218.17

Ryan Bradley:
43.89 + 31.82 = 75.71
78.17 + 63.64 =141.81

75.71 + 141.81 = 217.52

Ross Miner:
35.66 + 31.37 = 67.03
81.80 + 62.74 = 144.54

67.03 + 144.54 = 211.57

Richard Dornbush:
35.32 + 30.08 = 65.40
83.27 + 60.16 = 143.43

65.40 + 143.43 = 208.83


  1. Bradley posted a Tweet sometime in like, October, saying something about a comeback... His Twitter (and facebook fan page which is linked to his Twitter), blew up with tweets from people urging him to comeback. While I think the story that "the fans convinced him to come back" has been greatly exaggerated, Bradley did indeed receive encouraging words from fans, and I'm sure the support didn't hurt.

  2. Your writeups are in-depth and wonderfully fun. Thanks!

  3. "Aside from a few worthless skating bloggers who blindly love and support everything..."

    ahahaha, those skating bloggers are eternally positive. Everyone is wonderful, there is no such thing as bad presentation, bad extension, bad technique. Everyone is sunshine and rainbows!

  4. Your write-ups are long-winded and extremely boring. No thanks!

  5. Well I like your write-ups a lot, I prefer them to things like your Euros posts (I understand you can't do a write-up for everything, of course! I did find myself wishing you'd had a bit more to say about Euros rather than a sentence + 10 videos, though, but that's just my personal biases), and I've been sitting here for the past hour refreshing occasionally and watching your updates roll in. Thanks for doing this, and ignore anon@2:39 please!

  6. I like your write-ups, but there's things. Like those pcs criteria, they are on the isu official site. But for instance answers to why Abbott's sp spins and step sequence received those rather low levels of execution, aren't.

    I'd love to read about that, rather then 'Skater X delivered, while Skater Z didn't, isn't it obvious?' No it is not.

  7. Personally, I think if you jump with a hand overhead the difficulty should be increased by one-half rotation --- And by an entire rotation if both are overhead: A Rippon Lutz would have the value of a quad Lutz, and a Boitano Lutz would be increased by half of that.

  8. I wanted to cry for Adam. I kept waiting for what justified those marks and I never, ever saw it.

  9. Anon@3:26, yes, the PCS criteria are on the official site but how many people are going to go looking? Likewise, the Euros videos (and, increasingly, Nationals videos) are on youtube, but for those who want "one stop shopping", it's easier to come here and get everything in one dose. Bloggers have to cater to both the lowest common denominator (lazy newbies) and those more in the know when they write their entries.

    Additionally, AJ (or anyone who was not actually judging) is not a mind-reader, all he can do is guess about certain scoring irregularities.

  10. Why hasn't he guessed then?
    And why are you speaking for AJ in the first place?

  11. I definitely think Armin was judged super harshly. I don't know if I'd have him rank any higher, but I was really shocked by his score when it came up. He and Priscilla were, too.

    I didn't realize Frank had given him a standing ovation. I'd love to see Armin dominate at 4CC. Did you see on his twitter, he's considering recording himself playing piano for his SP next year.

  12. He's already guessing about other things.

  13. The fix was in when it came to the Men's event.

    SOI/Smuckers will now have it;s Gr8 Sr8 male star, hokey and sloppy as he is.

    I don't know why I still watch.

    My favorite event this year was pairs. I hate US pairs. Usually.

  14. In my book Richard>>Adam. Well maybe because I (and the judges) do not like girlish skating on man. BTW since when Adam Rippon became one of the top skaters that deserves high PCS? everytime I look at him and Brian Orser in kiss and cry with that "WTF We deserve higher score" face it really bothers me. Anyways, have u guys noticed how grumpy Brian Orser look in recent competitions? When skaters have a bad skate, coaches should comefort them and encourage them instead of sitting there thinkin "shit you just ruined my reputation".

  15. lol. the fix was in...if only jeremy abbott didn't fuck up he would be national champ. he already had the highest pcs scores despite several errors.

  16. Mature, nuanced or not - I haven't watched a program from this year's Nationals more than I have Dornbush's.

  17. That's because his transitions, skating skills, interpretation, and choreography far surpass all of the other US men and rank him among the best in the world. I agree that he would have won if he'd strung together two decent performances, but he deserves his high second marks. The others... well, it's kind of iffy.

  18. @ 5:01 -- what is "girlish skating"?

  19. Love Cassar but wish he could do triples/triples and triple axels.

  20. TBH Jeremy is always underscored in PCS, mostly because he doesn't have a track record of good performances in big international competitions. If adam rippon is getting what, 77 for his pcs, jerermy's should be in mid 80s. ( i know he screwed up here but what about takahashi and chan always get that score no matter what).

  21. @ 5:15
    Adam Rippon's skating
    he's just too feminine for my taste but that's just my opinion since I like Yagudin and not a big fan of Weir. Adam is sort of a Johnny Weir minus triple axel.

  22. @ 5:15

    I don't know. But the commenter didn't say anything worse than what Aunt Joyce said.

    How is this sentence not insulting to straight people? "He does have the hetero vibe going on, which means that his interpretation of music could be improved."

    Aunt Joyce is gay. Great, so am I. Gay people can joke a bit about gayness, but I don't see how that gives us a right to stereotype heterosexuals and their ability to interpret music on ice.

  23. Love your posts, Aunt Joyce! I have been anticipating this one about the Men's final since Sunday evening!

    I agree with the person who said that they haven't watched a performance from nationals more than Dornbush's. I don't care how inferior it may be to Jeremy Abbott's piece of David-Wilson-crafted-art (and by the way, I really do love Jeremy's skating), Richard delivered on Sunday. He was terrific! I feel his scores are warranted.

    I also agree with the person who said that they love Cassar but wish he could do triple/triples and triple axels. I could watch Cassar skate all day, and still not be tired of him. That spread eagle...there are no words! If he could up his technical content, and be consistent, I have no doubt that he'd be a contender.

  24. @5:27 - I think it's less about ability to interpret music and more about trying to live up to one-dimensional stereotypes about what straight men should be, i.e. powerful and inartistic. I don't see it as a slight to het people at all - more like commentary on the lengths men in this country will go NOT to seem gay. This phenomenon is unique to the United States. In other countries, top athletes are encouraged to improve artistry and interpretation (i.e. Japan with Kozuka). I don't think Evan ever once attempted to improve his artistry.

  25. "Keegan is his own white-trash wonder-kid and I dig him for it." LOL! Couldn't agree more.

    Thanks for the PCS criteria and I hope you do get laid in the next year!

  26. Yes, you should be very proud that you don't like "girlish" skating, anon. Very commendable.

  27. Re: "girlish skating"
    I could set my feminist friend on you and you would get the grilling of your life. For now, though, let me just say that our concepts of "femininity" and "masculinity" are rooted in performative actions that are repeated and therefore normalized. In other words, our ideas of what is "girly" or "manly" are made up and they can be changed with the times. If you were a radical gender-theory scholar, you could argue that "femininity" and "masculinity" don't exist but our belief in this concept allows for gender differentiation that supports a heteronormative society in which men are dominant.

    In other words, your use of "girly" which, from what I perceive, has diminutive connotations which can offend people. Advice: use another adjective. Being articulate and having a good diction is a wonderful quality to have.

  28. Adam's skating is nothing like Johnny Weir's, his style is much more old-school, you twit.

  29. Well that is nice but lets talk about the meat of the issue. Which skater has the biggest cock?

  30. Stylistically, Adam and Johnny are similar skaters. Both have the beautiful lines that stem from the Russian influence in their coaching. Adam had a Russian coach pre-Morozov and it really shows. Johnny adapted the Russian style from his dance teacher and his work with Tarasova. It really is apparent in their stretch and refinement. It is really evident in things like their fully-extended camel spins.

  31. I prefer the Gay Christmas Team. By a mile. I wish I could go to 4CC.

  32. Remember when persons could agree/disagree @ the topic at hand in a civil, cordial manner and STAY ON TOPIC, instead of commenting declaratively & divisively (with bitchy tangents resultant)?

    Yeah, well- even if you can't - try anyway.

    Sigh- Let's just add two more words: "Johnny Weir" and the tangent 'stew' is complete!

  33. Jason Brown...didn't really get him in the short program but I loved his long program the most amongst the men along with Cassar. Neither do the triple axel but I'm excited that Jason will soon and I still don't understand why the talented Cassar can't do the triple axel either. Do you know why AJ? Did he just give it up?

  34. @6:21 - No, I don't.

  35. You don't have to read them.. The rest of us will!

    I don't think the quad will be as important as we think it is. Let's face it, besides Chan who has his own issues, who the hell is consistency landing clean quads right now? Nobody that I see.

  36. Oops, my first comment was directed at @2:39 PM

    PS, I love Abbott's programs this year... They are so different from each other and he sold the HELL outta that short. He was all red in the face afterwards. lol

  37. "Land the jumps, portray a soldier and win." lmao

    I don't even think Rippon's style is effeminate. He doesn't overdo the ballet hands and nothing looks that girly. He just uses his body well and interprets the music nicely. Dornbush was at least in character and matched his music well.. Heck I even thought his SP showed off a nice artistic side of him... But there should be real differentiation between Rippon and Dorny.

  38. Great post. Completely agree re: Abbott's and Rippon's PCS being too low compared with the inflation of those placed higher.

  39. I LOVE the pcs graphics! They're cute and fun to look at.

  40. Even with Abbott and Rippon, the US men would have a tough time making the podium or even the top 4 unless Jeremy rediscovered his quad. There are the three Japanese men, with Takahashi a strong contender for gold, and Paddy Chan. I agree that Abbott and Rippon would have had a better chance to go, say, 5 and 6/7/8, which would have given the US 3 spots. than the current team. Of the three, I like Ross Miner the best. His long program at Nationals was worthy of the PCS he received.

  41. I thought Takahiko Kozuka was Japan's strongest contender for gold, not Takahashi.

    I agree that Abbott and Rippon together would have a far better chance to earn the US 3 spots than the current team. But what if Abbott was added to the current team instead of Miner, that is if he finished 3d in Nats and made the world team? Somehow I doubt the 3d spot would still happen.

    Rippon skated earlier in the free skate, and his performance wasn't perfect. What if his marks affected Abbott's final placement?

  42. i also felt ross miner deserved his scores. he's becoming quite graceful and he interpreted Casablanca wonderfully. I actually would have put him ahead of Dornbush.

  43. I've sat around trying to figure out why deserving skaters get undermarked and undeserving skaters (like say, fallin' Patrick Chan) get consistently over-marked.

    On the face of things, it would seem to be that an imposition of gender standards has something to do with it (the girls should be girly, the boys should be masculine and straight or closeted) - but how would that explain something like the success of Rachel Flatt - who really only appeals to women with persecution complexes?

    Really - the best answer I an think of is that there is a small group of extremely wealthy people (or their wives) who are out there gambling on these skating competitions, and are paying judges off to support their 'horses'. Laugh if you like, but this kind of corruption goes on in other sports, why not figure skating too?

    Call me a conspiracy theorist - but this is the only thing I can think of to explain all this craziness.

  44. Can someone quickly tell me why Jeremy Abbott didn't include a quad toe in his program this year? Didn't he have it last year?

  45. Rachel Flatt should appeal to unattractive single women with brains.

    Reg Abbott's quad. He probably didn't have it ready by nats, needed more time. Yes, he did have it last year (kind of). This year, he attempted it once in CoR fs, and failed.

  46. I find Jeremy's skating to be a total snoozefest. I guess that makes me a homophobe!

    (I really find this constant whining about anti-gay bias on the part of USFSA to be offensive. There are gay people who are actually discriminated against every day, and this BS just trivialize that.)

  47. Thanks, Aunt Joyce. I'm glad to know I wasn't losing my mind when I thought that Jeremy's PCS (and Adam's) seemed low compared to some of the other competitors. While I'm happy for Bradley, a part of me seriously cringes at the idea of sending him to Worlds as the U.S. men's champion.

    Re: Jeremy's quad. The commentators were rather vague on the "boot problems" he'd been having, but from what I understand, Jeremy lost quite a bit of training time because of them, and the boots he was using at Nationals were only a few weeks old and not even fully broken in yet. Quad just wasn't trained enough to take a chance on at Nationals.

  48. @9:56 PM anon I completely agree. I think these conspiracy theories are going too far. I highly doubt that the USFSA would send such an inexperienced team to Worlds just because they aren't gay. And I don't see anything wrong with Abbott's PCS marks. Rippon was a bit underscored though.

  49. To each his own.
    For me Jeremy Abbott is the only reason to even bother to follow US figure skating (I'm not American). I stay up all night to watch him skate via that tiny constantly freezing window on that pirated free stream (we don't have nbc over here), because I find his skating stunning.

  50. Aunt Joyce did not misquote me, but I should clarify my quote about Tom Z was not a reaction to Alex Johnson. My exclamation about "how many pieces of shit can Tom Z coach" actually errupted earlier in the week-- after I saw Tatyana Khazova's SP.

    Here is the verbatim chat exchange between Aunt Joyce and me during Johnson's free skate:

    "Aunt Joyce: three more jumping passes to suffer. he is popping like Gilles

    Margaret Thatcher: If the Midwest is so primitive and unrefined, why is it that the Eastern Sectionals is always the shittiest? I like Alexander Johnson."

    There were some untoward comments about the Midwest to which I felt the need to respond.

  51. I was just bringing up how many of Tom Z's skaters performed like ass, whether or not they are actual pieces of shit like Ms. Tatiana.

  52. Anon 9:44 PM;

    Funny thing about Rachel Flatt - everyone says how 'smart' she is, yet when I've heard her speak or interviewed have never heard her say anything beyond the usual types of cliched blather spouted by athletes in any sport.

    Mirai actually is a lot more of a genuine 'wit' than Rachel is - although it is of a zany off-the-wall variety.

  53. Anon 1 9:56 PM:

    If you don't recognize the homophobia going on in regards to the judging of male figure skating, you are blind.

    AJ is not 'whining' - he is calling a spade a spade. If you don't think the USFSA is trying to dictate to male figure skaters what kind of image they are expected to present in order to win competitions - you are not paying attention.

    That was one of the great things about Johnny Weir - he really challenged the status quo by being such a technically great skater the judges HAD to give him some medals in SPITE of his ladylike skating.

  54. feel like watching straight porn, instead, after the u.s. men's team for worlds was selected.

  55. I think we expect too much from Abbott. He was trying to 3-peat, while Dornbush and Miner were just trying not to suck. They had no real medal expectations coming in. There's a vastly different level of pressure there. It's always going to be harder for the skaters at the top to deliver over and over.

  56. USFS got annoyed with Weir because he was excessively flamboyant, bizarrely dressed, and blew kisses in the middle of his programs. Abbott is just a regular guy, isn't flamoyant, and doesn't advertise that he's gay. I doubt USFS has a problem with him at all. That's not why his PCS weren't higher... The judges just put everyone's PCS on top of each other so that the technical side determined everything. It sucks, but it's happened before... Now the US will pay with one of the weakest Mens World teams in history.

  57. @11:38pm - that's because straight porn has more artistic merit than the US men's worlds team.

    After reading & watching the vids - I adore Ryan Bradley's SP footwork sequence. It's better than a warm milk before bedtime. zzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZ

    PS - why is Hamilton calling Bradley's score after skating in the SP a "victory?" It's as bad as NBC calculating a MAG team bronze after rotation 1 of 6.

  58. Also, Weir often said inappropriate, non-professional things in the press. Basically, you could question whether or not he's a good role model for younger athletes. But Abbott or Rippon? I doubt USFS has a problem.

  59. "Ultimately, the USFSA is really hindering itself by sending a team to Four Continents that will likely out-perform its team at Worlds."


  60. Yep. Once that 3rd spot goes, it's really hard to get it back. Instead of having 3 people to help try to get the three spots (meaning you can throw out the lowest finishing placement), all the pressure is on the 2 skaters. It's very hard to get the spot back. If USFSA has two men at the next Olympics, they can look back to this team selection.

  61. Honestly, I find Abbott's skating more masculine than Lysacek's. I think it was just a coincidence that the 4CC team is all gay. They just happened to make major errors while random guys like Ross Miner skated better than ever. It's not surprising--- the 3 guys on the 4CC team were easily the most accomplished American men internationally this season, and that had to have really put the pressure on them to do well at Nationals. Abbott and Rippon really made some uncharacteristic errors. What a shame.

  62. No chart for Mroz? I guess I don't need to see it, but the fact that he got dropped seems to indicate that he didn't get much of a PCS bonus either. The common denominator for those who got a big boost is that they skated well and those who didn't skate well didn't get one.

    I love the Gay Christmas Team too, but they all dropped the ball and in my opinion, none of them did enough this season enough for me to hand them any favors. They both choked when it came to making the GPF. I guess you could say Jeremy didn't choke at least, because he skate the same way he's skated all season, except he picked up the highest score he's gotten on TES

    I don't think that this is the best team competitively by any means, but who knows? If Miner and Dornbush skate anything like they did here at Worlds, this could lead to them raising their international stature and picking up their PCS. I don't think they're as exquisite as Rippon or Abbott, but I think the basics are there.

  63. This is the most awesome, detailed review post. THANK YOU, AJ. Love it.

    (My heart breaks for Rippon and Abbott.)

  64. I guess the USFSA doesn't care that we're leaving home the US man with the best choreography, transitions, interpretation, skating skills, performance ability (AKA, the US man most likely to get a good result) all over a .19 difference. Lovely! Ho hum, another year of the USFSA not trying to maximize their potential. It would be one thing if Abbott lost to Weir, but it was ROSS MINER. Miner did great, but his two results on the GP were not enough to justify his spot over Abbott, and maybe not even over Rippon.

  65. Rippon is definitely not like Weir. Weir is far more gimmicky, less classical.

  66. @8:54 Miner didn't do his planned 3A-3T... Dornbush did and hence, beat him. Neither one is really gifted artistically yet, so it really was a technical battle.

  67. Tatiana was severely injured at Nationals and just winging it so that she didn't have to withdraw. She normally can do triples.

  68. "I love the Gay Christmas Team too, but they all dropped the ball and in my opinion, none of them did enough this season enough for me to hand them any favors. They both choked when it came to making the GPF."

    I wouldn't call winning two GP medals and missing a spot in the GPF because of a tiebreak to be "choking". If what Abbott was doing on the GP was "choking", what in the world was Miner doing? If we're doing anyone a favor it's Miner. The selection rules for Worlds specifically state that the US will consider ALL recent international results. Under those guidelines, they should not have selected Miner. Great skater, but he didn't earn it yet.

  69. I don't think we know for sure if Armin is gay, or if Ross Miner is straight. Just sayin'.

  70. Armin hasn't really impressed me all that much. I think he's certainly good, but I guess I just don't get what's so great about his Avatar program. It bores me, really.

    I felt that Dornbasch was just a low-rent Ryan Bradley. I thought his Sherlock Holmes was only in character when he wasn't jumping, and even those moments fluctuated too much between funny/campy and serious.

    While I think Jeremy shot himself in the foot, I agree that Ryan Bradley was propped up too heavily. I remember reading a story before Nationals (on FSOnline, I think) about his comeback, and it made it sound as if Ryan had barely even talked to Tom Z in a year. It said Tom Z was busy with other skaters, so Ryan was coaching himself while his sister cheerleaded at the boards. Given that, I was kinda shocked to see Tom Z walking around backstage with Ryan and sitting with him in the kiss and cry. It's like he was taking credit for Ryan's comeback. Curious.

    With all the talk here about PCS, I really wonder why judges seem to keep all the marks in a certain range? Why do we see 6.XX or 7.XX almost across the board for a skater's PCS instead of, say, 8's for performance if they do well and 4's for transitions if they just connect the jumps? That, to me, seems like the main problem with the scoring system.

    I know things like choreography, transitions, interpretation and performance can change at every competition. But do a skater's "skating skills" really improve almost a full point's worth in the course of a day? That seems shady to me that a skater can get 6's for skills in the short program and then 7's in the long.

  71. I'm not so sure that the USFSA doesn't have a bigger plan going on here. There were a lot of hard feelings when Paul Wylie was sent to the Olympics and Mark Mitchell was left home. So after that the skaters placement set the world team. If the boys at 4CC place better then the world team (which is a given) the USFSA has an excuse to change their method of selection, and they'll be able to send whoever they want to worlds or Olympics. The best time to do this is the year after the Games. The real competition is going to be at the 4CC's, and you can be sure the USFSA is going to take into account how each team does when it comes to selecting in the future.

  72. Paul Wylie finished ahead of Mark Mitchell at the 1992 Nationals. A lot of people just questioned the result. Know your shit. Look it up. Wikipedia it. Not that hard.

  73. I know Paul finished ahead of Mark. And I know that Paul was a better skater - He's one of my favorites and I cried when he won OSM. However, at the US championships that year, Mitchell outskated him (Wylie stepped out of both 3A's and a triple Lutz / Mark had a beautiful 3A and had a bobble at the end of a 3F/3T combo, Paul had no 3/3, never did). Maybe I should have said that the USFSA was wrong to give a bye to Todd Eldrige, who tanked.

  74. shut. up. jeremy abbott is gay?! there is a god, besides dick button.

    btw. i was really feelin' the guys on the couches, chatting and smirking at each other. the world team's ambiguous sexuality is so mysterious: should help their placements.

    so ecstatic for Iranian figure skating! who would've thunk?

  75. Call me crazy, but I have actually never gotten the "gay vibe" from Abbott. I get that vibe much more from Rippon, for example, but I really don't care what someone's sexuality is because it's irrelevant to their skating.

    Last year, I noticed a lot of tweets between Jeremy and Meryl Davis, and they posted a lot of pictures together, so I kind of assumed that maybe they were together or were interested in each other. I could be wrong. They could have just been friends.

  76. Great analysis, AJ, thanks!

    With his boot problems impeding his training, and wanting to peak later than Nationals, it truly is a shame that Jeremy's season will be cut short. Worlds is 7 weeks away! A lot of training time to get those extra run-throughs he obviously needed. Hope he can deliver definitive versions of his programs at 4CC, with or without quad, and challenge the Japanese men. _Anyone_ can crater; Daisuke has certainly demonstrated that; and any of these top men can win (especially with Patrick not competing in Taipei). A nice cool win from Jeremy (or Adam) would put USFS in a delightful quandry.

    We were in the coliseum and listening to the unofficial technical caller on Skate Radio. In both programs, the caller expressed concern about whether JA had gotten sufficient rotations on his spins for the high levels, and in one case, a low enough sit spin position. The spin requirements this season are exceedingly finicky, because those spins were gorgeous in real-time.

  77. Bradley is funny-looking and he's shaped funny as well. I think the Euro and Asian judges will NOT like his freeskate.

  78. Rippon is a downgraded version of Weir.
    Weir - beautiful 3A = Rippon

  79. Forget three, how about two spots? I don't even think that's guaranteed.