Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 1 at Worlds



Today was the first day that mattered at Worlds.  Yes, I'm sure qualifying ''matters,'' but unless Michelle Kwan is competing, I don't feel the need to wake up at 5:30 AM.  Truth be told, I couldn't get myself up for the first three warm up groups of the men today.  I felt that sleep was more important than watching Ryan Bradley's intermediate spins.  I got up for Joubert (take that as you will.)



The American men did about as well as could be expected.  They did not fall, yet they are 11-12-13.  Note that the National Champion, whose PCS were through the roof in Greensboro, received the lowest second marks of Team USA.  Ricky Dornbush didn't have his best jump landings and he can definitely move up.  For now, these men need to hit and pray.  Hit and pray.  They can't afford to make any mistakes.  They were clean today.  Sadly, this is the best Ryan Bradley has ever done at Worlds.  I blame all of those people like FromTheBoards who told him that coming back was a good idea.  The USFSA can also be blamed for not sending Jeremy Abbott.  Even when Jeremy bombs, he would typically be better than 13th.  The federation needs to set the country up for success...and he may be the only current American capable of holding his head above water in the current field.

Patrick Chan set a World Record.  It was probably deserved.  I'm no fan of Chiddy, but he nailed that short program.  It was the best he has ever looked.  He even received two 10.000s from individual judges for PCS.  The only person capable of even challenging him was Daisuke Takahashi, but his decision not to do a quad in the short is costing him.  His Triple Axel was a tad shaky, his spins were level 3, he received an edge call on his Triple Flip and his Step Sequence was a level 3 compared to Chiddy's level 4.  Mind you, there is no way that Oda should be ahead of Takahashi given their different in performance ability.  Daisuke is THE best performer among the men (possibly since Yagudin), while Oda skates in a Miki Ando vacuum when he isn't being an adorable Asian attempt at Charlie Chaplin.

Artur Gachinski received Plushenko-style marks despite not having the skating skills of the other top men.  His success Quad+Triple combo made up for a two footed Triple Loop.  Mishin is looking more mafia than ever and Artur's marks certainly reflect that.  To Mother Russia's credit, many of the signs seemed to indicate that they thought Evgeny was the one competing.

Brian Joubert left out a combination in the short and is quite angry at himself.  The error left him with -3 GOE and he currently sits in 9th place.    Florent Amodio was half a point behind his personal best to finish 5th.  Given the likability of his free skate and the inconsistency of the Japanese, a medal is truly possible.  Takahiko Kozuka's short program may be laughable, but it was good enough for a sixth place finish.

Adrian Schultheiss failed to qualify for the long program.  He just isn't as much fun without the straight jacket.


In terms of the pairs, the Americans needed to hit in order to remain relevant.  Amanda Evora fell on her SBS Triple Toe and they currently sit in 11th place.  They don't have room for error.  Amanda and Mark have been together for several years now, but their unison could still be better.  Their skating skills are not up to par with the Russian or Chinese pairs.  The pairs field is deeper this year.  Luckily, the additional funding from the USFSA is helping Amanda and Mark too look less off-the-rack and amateurish.

Yankowskas and Coughlin are the most promising American pair since Ina and Zimmerman, yet they failed to capitalize on skating in the final flight.  It was very American.  Sadly, this year's American Team (minus Ice Dance--that's all Marina and Igor) is about as competent as Aly Raisman and Alicia Sacramone on Uneven Bars.  Even with hit routines, it doesn't cut it.  Caitlin turned out of her SBS Triple Toe, while John tripped over nothing when catching back up to her.  These two need a Russian coach to kick their ass, help them  each drop a few kilos and become more competitive overall.  The potential is there.  A summer with Oleg Vasiliev, Tamara Moskvina or Elena Valova would help.  They need a magical Ave Maria to move up in the standings.

Mother Russia did well in pairs.  They sit 3-4-5, but the promise of Volosozhar and Trankov is astounding.  Their short program was heaven.  One could make a real argument that they may deserve to be higher than the Germans.  They still look a tad 'new' during their footwork sequence, but their overall ability is incomprehensible.  If they got this good in a year, we can only imagine how good they'll be by Sochi.

Kavaguti and Smirnov continue to be disgusting.  Sasha Smirnov fell on nothing.  Unfortunately, he can't blame his fall on having to hold up Kirstie Alley.  That lack of concentration kills them by landing them in fifth place.  Granted, it is probably wrong that they are behind a Russian Team where only one of them ever leaves the ground when jumping.

Pang and Tong lead and it is a deserving lead.  They hit.  They've improved.  They'll never be Shen and Zhao, but they may become quite the skaters by age 40.

Savchenko and Szolkowy have the most potential at this event, yet their packaging remains very 'German.'

Aunt Joyce: We want the Germans to win.  They feel very Russian.
Tarasova's Mink: Yes, there is a cheapness to Aliona's look that one strongly associates with the prostitutes of downtown Moscow.

Volosozhar and Trankov shouldn't have better side-by-side spins than the Germans, yet they do.  It actually held Aliona and Robin back this time.  Their Pink Panther free skate has grown on me and they're going to need to skate the shit out of it to win.  Aliona must muster all of her fierceness and skate with a box cutter to slice through the competition.  It is going to be a close battle between Pang and Tong and Savchenko and Szolkowy for gold.

34 comments:

  1. "Kavaguti and Smirnov continue to be disgusting."

    Ha! Well put. I'm thrilled at V/T's success! Now there's a Russian pair I can get behind, and it's been a few years since I said that.

    IMO, Patrick Chan absolutely deserved his first place marks. I dunno about the 10's, but his improvement since last season has been remarkable. I haven't studied the stats, but off the top of my head I have to think his quad is the most consistent in the world this season. Considering this is the first year he's doing it, that is a feat.

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  2. I don't care how good Chan was, he bores me - so I'm not going to write about him :)

    Gachinski's PCS scores are preposterous. He is not Plushenko at his best; he's not even Plushenko at his most mediocre. Maybe he'll drop a bit in the LP like he did at Euros.

    Amodio will have to really hit his jumps to compete for a medal; his LP has a lot of posing and dancing in place, and the judges might not feel generous. Joubert has a knee injury and likely needs surgery in the off-season, and probably knew going in he would not be very competitive. Though he should have tacked on a 3T after the 3F, and why he didn't is a mystery.

    Savchenko and Szolkowy, have you seen them live, AJ? I have to say that both their programs have more charm than comes across on TV. They're fun. But they will never get the SBS spins right, it seems.

    Volosozhar and Trankov's triple twist is unreal. And they skate last tomorrow. If they're on in the LP, the home ice advantage could come into play. So nice to see her with a good partner - Morozov may be a good guy, but he was holding her back.

    Kavaguti looked ready to do bodily harm to Smirnov in the K&C. I'm worried. I would not want a pissed off Yuko after me.

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  3. Terrific Worlds report, Aunt Joyce. You always come through and charm us with your knowledge and wit!! Looking forward to reading more updates on Worlds!

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  4. I really don't get all the PChan hate. Weird thing is the same people who hate him for being arrogant are the ones who fawn over Plushenko. I'm of course talking about new skating fans. I personally find both to be arrogant but Plushenko has definitely said more egregiously arrogant shit than Chan has ever said. But Plushy gets a pass from newbie fans...go figure.

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  5. Chan : A very deserving lead. But forgettable performance.

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  6. I beg to differ, Aliona's look IS the look of Moscow women in general. I'm part Russian so I speak from experience when I say that a lot of Russian women believe make-up is something that should be seen as opposed to tastefully applied. It's actually a good look but ONLY if you're actually Russian, somehow they make combination of garish eye shadow/ eyeliner and bright pink lipstick work. You need embellished facial features in order to attract Russian men with their constant state of vodka-induced haze.

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  7. "I personally find both to be arrogant but Plushenko has definitely said more egregiously arrogant shit than Chan has ever said. But Plushy gets a pass from newbie fans...go figure."

    Yeah, it baffles me. The over-the-top hate for Chan at places like ontd_skating really makes me root for him, frankly. They worship Plushenko, but Chan can't say he's proud of himself without being torn apart. I get that Chan's skating isn't for everyone, but you'd think he molested puppies off the ice given the level of vitriol.

    Re: pairs -- poor Eric Radford! Great skate, especially considering the amount of blood he was losing from that broken nose! Ouch.

    http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/04/27/6544477-figure-skater-finishes-performance-despite-taking-an-elbow-to-the-face

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  8. Is it too late to pull Evan and Johnny out of retirement... Like them or not, they would get the job done for USA

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  9. Maybe it is mean to say this, but it is it too much to hope for a career ending injury for Chan? At this point I would rather see Rachel Fatt win then see Chan skate again. Maybe it is mean, but I don't care.

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  10. "Kavaguti and Smirnov continue to be disgusting."
    No wonder no one takes you any more seriously than any other blogger with a computer. I think with all KS have been through these past 12 months they have had a pretty good season. Not to mention a career as a whole. Not ‘disgusting’ but quite impressive. As for VT they did fabulous but they really aren't capable of much more than what you see except maybe a level 4 quad twist (if they have the guts to do it) they will change costumes, music and choreography but what you see is going to be pretty much it. It's sad they may have peaked after a year.

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  11. I don't like Chan but have to say his SP was pretty darn good. Wish he wasn't so mouthy, so I could like him more. Plushenko has a giant ego but he has won a ton of events and deserves to be so. Chan did so before winning anything noteworthy. Guess that may change after today.

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  12. "Yeah, it baffles me. The over-the-top hate for Chan at places like ontd_skating really makes me root for him, frankly. They worship Plushenko, but Chan can't say he's proud of himself without being torn apart. I get that Chan's skating isn't for everyone, but you'd think he molested puppies off the ice given the level of vitriol."

    Yeah, I was mainly referring to the OTT hatred for Chan at ONTD_Skating. Over there it seems like there's a correlation between being the newest of newbie fans and automatic hatred for Chan. It's not even funny, tongue-in-cheek, OTT hatred, it's actual, serious hatred like the above poster wishing physical harm upon Chan. And people wonder why newbie fans have such an abysmal reputation.

    I'm not even a fan of Chan's skating, nor am I of Plushenko's for that matter. But I like to know why Plushenko gets away with being incredibly arrogant about FS world especially in regards to other skaters, while Chan can't even say he's proud of his own season so far. Oh no, we can't have that nerdy-looking kid with wonky eyes say anything good about himself lest he get too carried away with his own delusions of grandeur.

    But the king of non-existent transitions and arm-flailing can mouth off all he wants about being robbed of gold or accuse other skaters of lacking transitions just like himself. I mean seriously, the hypocrisy amongst ONTD crowd is so pointedly overt and laughable in this instance.

    There is something truly hateful in a person's heart for her/ him to wish bodily harm on another, innocent person. I'm beginning to think skating is attracting more than its fair share of emotionally-deranged fans.

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  13. I had issues with Aliona and Robin being in second. Does anybody else but me realize the pure awesomeness of that throw triple flip?

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  14. "Oh no, we can't have that nerdy-looking kid with wonky eyes say anything good about himself"

    Ha ha they do totally make fun of his wonky eyes over @ ontd. What's more hypocritical is same posters there will also tear anyone apart for making comments about so and so being overweight and such. But they'll gleefully make fun of skinny people like Vera Wang or people born with wonky eyes like Chan.

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  15. Sorry, no one deserves to be that arrogant. Plushenko wasn't even in the top two skaters of the decade from 2000-2010. Yagudin was clearly the best of the decade, followed by Lambiel, in my opinion. Plushenko was a more consistent male version of Slutskaya, with moderately better packaging. (Sure Plushenko won a Olympic Gold, and 3 World Titles, but really, what do you remember from the 2000s? For me: It was Revolutionary Etude at Worlds in 2001 and the domination in 02 from Yags. It was the Magic Zebra and Four Seasons from Lambiel in 06, and Buttle's Ararat in 08. Even Lambiel's Flamenco LP in 07-08 was FAR more original, complicated, and interesting.) Plushenko is just so unoriginal and uninteresting compared to Lambiel, for me.

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  16. "Anonymous said...
    Maybe it is mean to say this, but it is it too much to hope for a career ending injury for Chan? At this point I would rather see Rachel Fatt win then see Chan skate again. Maybe it is mean, but I don't care.
    April 27, 2011 7:15 PM"

    I love how you ended up typing 'Rachel Fatt'.

    So why so much hate on Chiddy? Just 'cause of his big mouth? Is that it?

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  17. [Quote]
    "Kavaguti and Smirnov continue to be disgusting."
    No wonder no one takes you any more seriously than any other blogger with a computer. I think with all KS have been through these past 12 months they have had a pretty good season. Not to mention a career as a whole. Not ‘disgusting’ but quite impressive. As for VT they did fabulous but they really aren't capable of much more than what you see except maybe a level 4 quad twist (if they have the guts to do it) they will change costumes, music and choreography but what you see is going to be pretty much it. It's sad they may have peaked after a year.[/Quote]

    Where do you get that. I can see V/T getting much harder choregraphy, transitions and being more of a pair next year. I think its more than a bit ridiculous to say they can't improve.

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  18. We didn't need Worlds to come to tell us that Jeremy Abbott should have made the World team. USFSA policies are plain silly now. Abbott gets 13th place when he does terribly... And he certainly doesn't land everything clean and score 70 pts. Nice job USFSA.

    Don't get me wrong, the US guys did great, but USFSA is just incompetent if they can't come up with steps to take that allow the BEST American skaters to be sent to Worlds.

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  19. Zach,
    I concur with your assessment about Plushenko, Buttle, and especially Lambiel. He's like the figure skating version of Rudolf Nureyev in ballet. A natural performer able to interpret wide range of emotions while at same time exuding unforced charisma. I actually think Lambiel missed his true calling, he would have made a wonderful, even legendary ballet dancer.

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  20. I pretty much agree with your pairs assessment, but I don't consider Yankowskas/Coughlin the most promising pair ever or anything yet and think you should cut them some slack. It was their first Worlds, and this season is just far beyond anything they've ever done before. Before this year, they never even got into the top 5 at Nationals. It's ridiculous to criticize them at this point, and I think your expectations are a wee bit too high. Him having a fluke trip can't be helped. They knew coming in they'd be at a slight disadvantage by having an easier throw. Still, they were in striking distance of top 6. What more can you ask for? I really admire them for sticking with the sport and improving after rough seasons, rather than losing focus and giving up. Whether they get 8th here or higher/lower doesn't even matter to me... They've come a long way.

    They should work on that throw technique. It's very unorthodox and I'm surprised they even got the throw salchow that consistent with that slow telegraphed entrance.

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  21. Apropos Plushenko and his "ego"... Perhaps it's because, on the day that Chan did a world record performance, people are talking as much, or possibly even more, about Plushenko than about him? As a dedicated Plushenko-fan I actually find that rather amusing.... :)

    LRK

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  22. Anon at 9:52, w your standards, the American pairs will continue to be a joke. You need to strive for excellence. Volosozhar and Trankov have only been together for a year. The Americans have so much work to do beginning with basic skating skills and diets.

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  23. Plushenko is just a good competitor ; never a performer.

    not like Yagudin , Plu has no masterpieces.

    He should have left Mishin, and gone to good choreographers.

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  24. Greatest skater is being remembered by his/her masterpieces.

    consistent jumping beans never will be called great, and be forgotten.

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  25. that arrogant attitude prevents Plu from his development to a great skater and performer. he's just a competitor. I see no beauty in his skating. just an athlete, never an artist.

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  26. Chan skated well, but the difference in points is just monstrous. I was so upset when the ignorant commentator concluded it was the best skate e v e r. I screamed at the telly: m a y b e a f t e r 2004! Oh Alexei ... the injustice.
    I don't hate Chan but he just doesn't captivates me. Go on Japan...!

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  27. Dakahasi did two flip like commentator said. can't tell his luts and flip. but judges was too generous to him.
    they didn,t catch his fluts.

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  28. re:Anonymous 5:01 PM said...

    "I really don't get all the PChan hate."

    He is charmless, his dancing ability is negligible, and he is obscenely over-scored (the last thing is not his 'fault' - still...)

    "Weird thing is the same people who hate him for being arrogant are the ones who fawn over Plushenko"

    I despise Plushenko much more than I do Chan - at least Chan makes an effort to do interesting choreography. I think a lot of people who dislike one also dislike the other.

    As for AJ's comments, while I usually find K/S kind of repulsive (that moment in their LP last year where she tore off part of her costume to reveal a heart has to be one of the most bizarre things I have ever seen), I rather like their LP this year (although the SP is another misbegotten mess).

    If he had skated his best even without a quad, Takahashi SHOULD have scored better than Chan (and Oda) but he has not seemed to be 100% after his collision with Kozuka earlier this season.

    I enjoyed the performances of the 2 young Americans. Ryan Bradley looks out of shape and that SP is lame. It was perverse of the US Skating Fed not to put Jeremy Abbot on the team, as even though he is a headcase his programs are so good he at least had an outside chance to medal if he skated them clean.

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  29. "he has not seemed to be 100% after his collision with Kozuka earlier this season."

    LOL at Takahashi fans' excuse.

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  30. "LOL at Takahashi fans' excuse."

    Yeah, because physical injury is SUCH a matter of hilarity.

    You must have been ROTFL about all of Japan's recent troubles.

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  31. I remember Plushenko being undeniably unalterably Plushenko! He was his own greatest program and why mess with that! I could say Tosca and Godfather and Carmen but really the force of his own skating persona was just so there all the time!!

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  32. "Kavaguti and Smirnov continue to be disgusting."

    WORD.

    On the other hand, Volosozhar and Trankov were stunningly beautiful. The first Russian pairs team I've loved since G&G. Helps that Moskvina isn't coaching them!

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  33. "Yeah, because physical injury is SUCH a matter of hilarity.
    You must have been ROTFL about all of Japan's recent troubles."

    Don't overreact.
    I just am fed up with Dai fans' (implicit) blamings Kozuka.

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