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.




One interesting aspect of Marlie's candor is that they were very open about last season being their time to win the World Championships.  Most skaters bullshit interviewers in an attempt to avoid jinxing themselves or winding up with egg on their faces, yet Meryl and Charlie made it known that they had every intention of claiming a title that many felt they deserved in Torino.  Having pulled off the big win against Voir, they are skating with a confidence and regality that is taking their skating up to the next level.  It is evident by their body language in Die Fledermaus that they fully believe they deserved gold at Worlds and have every intention of repeating that accomplishment.  There is a new lightness and maturity to their skating that is refreshing, as last year's tango had a very dark quality about it that was reflected in Meryl's costume choices.  Marlie's effervescence is contagious in Die Fledermaus.  The team may not have had time to perfect every movement, but their improved extension is evident and the entire dance feels like a grand piece that is fresh and different.  Marina and Igor are masters of adding minute details that make every difference in the world when creating winning programs.  Marlie's relationship with the music is genuine and effective.  They bring energy to the music and the music gives them life to build to a climactic finish.  Marlie and the music work together to create a dynamic performance that is more effective than Voir's free dance as a whole.  Their finishing touches are not at Voir's level and may never be.  Though they have spent years working on their refinement, Marlie still have an 'all-out-balls-to-the-wall' competitive nature to their skating that makes them exciting and connects them to the audience.  The added refinement, the refreshing nature of the program and the additional confidence may be all they need to win.  It is ironic that Marlie's short dance is the program that needs more polishing as they move toward the Grand Prix Final.


I consider Voir's 2011 Worlds 'Hip Hip Chin Chin,' to be the most exciting program of all of last season.  Had they had more competition experience under their belts, I strongly believe they may well have repeated as World Champions.  The program was exactly the type of risk they needed to take in order to continue progressing as skaters.  Entering this season, Tessa and Scott clearly want their their title back.  Unfortunately, they look to have reverted back to a 'safe program,' in order to ensure a successful season.  Funny Face is a great dance; it really is.  Tessa and Scott are showing more of the seamless flow that Judy Blumberg was missing in 'Hip Hip, Chip Chin.'  The choreography cranks some serious edges and has a wonderful, captive ending, yet there is something missing in the middle of the program.  Tessa and Scott perform a wonderful 'back plank catch' and have a few other effective moments of choreography, yet the program somehow comes across as simplistic compared to Marlie's.  I don't know if Voir are clearly ahead of Marlie anymore or vice versa.  The vehicles both teams pick are going to be influential from now until Sochi.  Funny Face is missing something.  Marlie changed their music cut midway through the Grand Prix and that looks to be just what this team needs to do.  Tessa Virtue is a much bigger girl than Meryl Davis.  Due to their closeness in height, Voir have fewer lift options.  Tessa is much better at getting into positions than someone like Tanith Belbin, but Scott can't simply throw her around as easily as Charlie does with Meryl.  With lifts that seem somewhat redundant, it is important that they make every little detail work for creating an entire package.  The program just needs more.

When comparing both teams, there are times watching both teams that you think, "they're the best, no, they're the best."  Every detail will be accounted for and the USFSA and Skate Canada will be working in overdrive to promote their teams.  There simply isn't money available to buy enough champagne and caviar to enter into a losing battle with Skate Canada for Evan Lysacek vs. Patrick Chan.  This battle is winnable for both teams, but it is going to be an incredibly long year with a ton of back-and-forth results.  One thing that is good about both free dances is that there is a cohesion that carries the programs and makes them appear over in a flash.  Funny Face just needs to leave the audience jumping out of their seats the way 'Hip Hip, Chin Chin' and 'Mahler Symphony No. 5' did in previous seasons.

In terms of short dances, both Marlie and Voir's need serious work.  'Hip Hip, Chin Chip' is a bit of a clusterfuck as a short dance due to the team's decision to include all three pieces of music.  Working on the choreography for eighteen months hasn't kept Scott Moir's hips from making him appear dreadful in the boudoir.  Meryl's additional confidence and sass help sell their La Vida es un Carnival' SD.  Off Topic: Serious judgment goes out to anyone who didn't grasp the obvious intended sarcasm about lithe Meryl being a 'fat ass.'  If anything, Charlie looks like he isn't refusing food.  Lord knows he doesn't know when his next meal is coming after spending so much time with Tanith and Meryl.  It may just be the tux, but he looks like he has enjoyed the off season.  Note: I avoid wearing tuxes for what we may now refer to as the 'Charlie White Effect.'


Another interesting comparison may be made between Hubbell and Donohue and Chock and Bates.  These teams need nicknames, as we are going to be doing plenty of comparing over the next few seasons.  Both teams have competed twice this season and it appears that Hubbell and Donohue's performances are a tad more inspired.  It is interesting that they chose to use Liz Punsalan's "I put a spell on you," when she is involved in their coaching team. Overall, Hubbell and Donohue each bring a sex appeal that puts their programs over the top.  I don't give a rusty hoot about levels when I see that sex on ice.  When seeing Zach Donohue work what his mama gave him, it is amazing that ice dance hasn't become more of a mainstream event.


Chock and Bates' new programs bring out the best in both skaters.  Evan appears more excited on the ice.  Granted, I'd be visibly excited to skate with a sexpot diva like Madison Chock.  Everything the girl does exhibits the 'star quality' that the British Eurosport commentators noted at the 2009 Junior World Championships.  For years, it didn't matter that Madison was a fuck-up on her twizzles (and still is,) the girls' refinement had them ignoring and criticizing Greg enough to make him hate skating and leave the sport.  When commentators and fans note things like that, one can only imagine the skaters hear it every day in the rink.  Madison and Evan tienen a weird height differential that they will need to work around, along with her effed-up variation of Igor twizzles and his Yuri-Yasa twizzles.  They need to settle on a technique and nail them down.  Their programs are impressive for such a short time together, but they are not as seamless or effective as Hubbell and Donohue's.  Chock and Bates do have moments of pure brilliance that neither had with their previous going-nowhere partnerships.  Madison's position during the dance spin is an absolute dream.  If only we could all hit such camel positions.  Her pointed toe is a revelation.  While Madison and Evan are not a believable couple (neither were she and Greg...for a different reason), there is a confidence exhibited by both that makes it appear that they believe in the reasons Igor ("allegedly") told them to join forces.

Sympathy may be on the side of Hubbell and Donohue, as many fans view this team as the 'Denney and Coughlin' of ice dance.  Chock and Bares need to be extra ferocious in order to get past any initial prejudices.  Chock and Bates may be better in the long run, but Hubbell and Donohue appear 'readier' for the bronze at Nationals.  Of course, one can never underestimate the strong political arm of Canton, Michigan.

74 comments:

  1. I think Marlie's DF FD is way more fun for the audience & memorable than Voir's, but maybe I'm just sick of the promotional crap the latter get in Canada.

    Can we dedicate a post to the ridiculousness that is ladies skating right now? I'm especially disappointed Shawn Johnson got an entire post to her screw-ups and we have nothing on Flatt after Saturday. :P

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  2. The strong political arm of Canton has already gotten Chock and Bates a higher SD score at Skate Canada than Hubbell and Donohue did at Skate America (even with the falls).

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  3. I liked the nod to Dick Button by using the phrase "I don't give a rusty hoot"!!

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  4. I adore Meryl and Charlie's new freedance. I think it's joyful, sparkling, and exciting!! I want to feel the same way about Tessa and Scott's program, but it falls short for me. I like the idea of it, but it doesn't have the same effect. Voir's music isn't as bold and bright as Marlie's and also doesn't build with the same amount of intensity. I give Marlie the edge this season. They are skating with confidence, control, and joy. I wish them the best!

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  5. Madizack? Madivan? or Chates or Bock (bock bock bock)? Dunno. I can't get used to seeing Evan with Chock. They just don't look right together--at least not yet. She's too flashy and he's just not.

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  6. One of the British Eurosport commentator noted that Voir seemed to have more resting points throughout the program. That may be part of the issue - I would love to see more of the Voir we saw in their Olympic OD, which was so dynamic and they didn't seem to pause for a second. Of course, the Funny Face program is lovely/endearing and their lifts are impressive as always, but Marlie's routine is just more dynamic.

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  7. Madi and Zach FTW. Weird height diff b/w Chock and Bates. And he does look like her lab partner

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  8. I really think D/W free dance is in a class of its own (I'm quoting my husband here too) , and V/M, meh.....except for that last lift--wonderful!

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  9. V/M's FD is filled with little details that some people might miss because they like the "In your face" approach that D/W have. Their FD might not appear difficult to people because they make it look easy with their grace and finesse imo. What I like about their FD is there's variety in the different sections.

    Sorry, other fans might explain it better than me.

    Nevertheless, V/M & D/W will continue to improve as the season progresses so cheers to a great season!

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  10. Charlie DID gain weight...

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  11. I love Tessa and Scott's final two lifts. I love the rapid changes in position, rotations, and speed. No other team has lifts like that.

    I like Meryl and Charlie better as a whole, but not in terms of lifts.

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  12. Charlie looks like he's gained weight, but in the form of muscle. I personally think he's never looked sexier, even if he doesn't exude sex.

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  13. I absolutely love both Marlie and Voir and think we are so lucky to have them to watch! The purist in me always loves Tessa's perfect positions, hands, toe-point, etc. And they do certainly make things look easy. But in some ways I do feel like their free dance actually IS easier--there are lots of "moments," which make it wonderful and pleasing to watch, but also involve perhaps more crossovers and stops. I think Voir's execution on the footwork sequences is better, but Marlie's spins and twizzles were better... I can't decide! Going to be fun to watch.

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  14. Charlie looks like he's got a little double chin action going on. Is that why he didn't button his shirt collar? ;-)

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  15. I just love Voir's programs more.

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  16. Voir totally copied Marlie's lift...only difference is Tessa's back is arched.

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  17. You lost credibility in your opinion when you said Voir's choice, Funny Face, is somewhat safer than Marlie's classic Die Fledermaus. What would judges and FS audiences who are classical music nuts in most percentage prefer to between their music choice alone? From the music to every bit of choreography in Funny Face, Voir is risking everything.

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  18. The biggest difference between Marlie and Voir is that when you watch Marlie perform, you know they are doing something difficult and it wows you, but with Voir, you don't even notice it and just get wowed with their complete "performances". Voir makes it look that easy. That's what people call EFFORTLESSNESS.

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  19. I never realised Chock's charm until this Skate Canada. I think I'll be mesmerized by them if they continue to improve and grow as time goes by. Their partnership is a really wonderful surprise in this season.

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  20. Thoughts:

    Ultimately, I think the whole SD thing is a bad idea - what if singles skaters had to interrupt their SP's with interludes of old-style figures? It just breaks the whole momentum of choreography.

    Of all the SD's I've seen, the only program I liked was Cappellini/Lanotte - while they are both good HE is the only man I've seen in any of these programs (thus far) who really brings it. Man, thus far Scott is a real black hole out there in the SD personality-wise.

    Of the D/W and V/M free dances - as of now, I think D/W seems athletically more difficult but I like V/M better. The Funny Face music has such a grand yet GENTLE romanticism it could be very easy to fall short and not live up to it, but by the end I think V/M get there. I was really impressed too because only a few weeks ago I saw a video of an earlier performance and it seemed quite lackluster, but he especially was much improved.

    I loved watching D/W's FD but I find it to be just a little bit cliche. Meryl was pretty much perfect but as I said in an earlier comment I don't feel Charlie's hyper-ness is appropriate for this music and he is way over-selling it. On the other hand, the ISU seems to equate hyper-ness with 'masculinity' (Lysacek, chan, Plushenko) so maybe there's a method to the madness.

    Madison/Chock: She and her former partner (blanking on his name) had great programs last year - the programs this year are quite forgettable. Love H/D's free dance.

    As per various skating commenters, am thoroughly disgusted with the Canton haters - not saying Zoueva and Shpilband are perfect but they have injected a welcome amount of good taste and class into ice dancing.

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  21. ^ whoops - it's not Madison/Chock, its Chock/Bates!

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  22. I love both Voir and Marlie! However, I think that Meryl's smaller stature is a disadvantage. Perhaps lifts are easier but for dance I much prefer watching someone with Tessa's height.

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  23. For all of the people, who think that Voir's skating is so great because it looks effortless and hence doesn't wow you right away like Marlie's, are just jealous of Marlie's awesomeness. When something wows you it is because it was wow-worthy. If it does not wow you, you might as well call it a snoozefest….zzzzz…like 100% of Voir's programs. Voir always pick the snooziest and most boring music in the world to skate to. Fortunately, Marlie can think outside the box, Voir can't :P so we will see nothing but more predictable snoozefests from Voir until they retire.

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  24. Anon @ 3:32 - Right. Because Phantom of the Opera, Sampson & Delilah, and Die Fledermaus are really prime examples of "thinking outside the box". (I love Meryl and Charlie, but that right there was MASSIVE SARCASM.)

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  25. Dear Aunt Joyce: Serious judgment goes out to anyone who didn't grasp the obvious intended sarcasm about lithe Meryl being a 'fat ass.' If anything, Charlie looks like he isn't refusing food. It may just be the tux, but he looks like he has enjoyed the off season.

    You are the BEST. This made me rofl so hard. If Meryl's a fat ass, that makes Charlie a fatter ass lolol. At least he does have an ass ;) I wish he would cut his hair a little bit though. It would look good with the waltz and the SD. He isn't looking too shabby for having enjoyed the off season.

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  26. Machary? Hubbahue? Chates?

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  27. I was thinking Dubbell originally, but I must admit Hubbahue has a certain appeal... Speaks to Madison's hubba hubba vixen quality.

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  28. Anon at 8:09 - I'm not Aunt Joyce, but I'm pretty sure he meant Funny Face is a safe music choice for Voir specifically, not compared to DF. "Hip Hip, Chin Chin" was totally unexpected for Voir and took them in an exciting new direction. I'm a diehard Marlie fan, but I had to admit that the program had a lot of potential and I was excited that Voir was breaking out of their mold. This year's FS is back in the mold again... they're beautiful ice dancers, their technique is usually flawless, but I just find their programs so boring. "Hip Hip, Chin Chin" had the flash they were missing, but after their shaky season the execution wasn't up to par. It would have been fun to see a more exciting, different program with their usual finesse, but Funny Face isn't it.

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  29. I was comparing Voir's Funny Face to Hip Hip Chin Chin. It is a safe choice for THEM because it is one of their romantic pretty programs. They have done more experimental programs in 2009 and 2011.

    Marlie's DF is somewhat of a departure. La Strada would've been another grand, dramatic piece for them. This actually shows somewhat of a lighter side, but it is somewhat similar in nature to last year's short dance. I'd say this year's short dance is more of a departure for Marlie.

    Both teams are great.

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  30. M/D are definetly more dynamic than V/M. And are faster skaters. But one thing V/M are that I give them credit for is the much better posture/lines. Especially in the lifts.

    I'm sorry but this is one area where I'm with the Russian/Europeans on. They haven't produced the teams of the past some of their stuff IS sour grapes. But, posture and lines. Bring back please. If posture/lines aren't important in lifts than why we are we calling this Ice Dancing? In pairs/dance teams need to be deducted for poor posture, poor lines, sloppy lifts.

    Also twizzles. Twizzles really all ice dancing is about. Its about the relationship between the two couples. Rather see more holds. At the very least make teams twizzle in time to the music. Now teams just twizzle as fast as they can in unison. Which means practice it together get it in unison and put it where you want. i suspect it would actually be harder to have to time your twizzles to the music (and once again this is Ice Dancing).

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  31. who cares - ice dance is dead- this battle of mediocrities will have no historical impact- they are both unmusical and unchoreographic and unoriginal. They can do fast twizzles and acrobatic lifts but who cares because ice dance is supposed to be ICE DANCE!!!

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  32. @ Anon 11:35

    If ice dance were still ICE DANCE, it wouldn't be in the Olympics anymore and would garner about the same amount of attention as synchronized skating. Other skaters now take ice dance seriously, which says something about how it has progressed.

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  33. Dance needs a new name - non jump skating because there is no dance and ice dance should be done again and who cares if its not in the Olympics and be like synchro. Synchro is something that has a world championships and it would be great if ice dance came back and had people compete in a world championships and ice dance was real again. There should be a lawsuit over the name ice dance because there is no dance in ice dance it should be renamed the twizzle sport or something. Twizzles lifts steps but no dance just non-jump skating. THere is music but the music is irrelevent.

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  34. Brilliant! Please initiate the lawsuit. I can't see anything wrong with this plan. You're clearly very intelligent and have thought this through. Every federation will now sponsor their best coaches and skaters to train for ICE DANCE, the non-Olympic sport. The quality of skating (granted, it won't be televised, so you'll only be able to see it live) will surely be astounding.

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  35. No no I expect Ice Dance would be a ghettoized sport for select few and all the best would remain in their stupid non-jump skating that they think is ice dance but is really not but which gives more opportunity for money and fame but the real ice dancers - the real ones is what I would be interested not the virtue and moir and davis and white pure non dance blech nonsense

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  36. hi i work in a mall can someone plesase confirm 4 me that that is ifact johnny weir in the mac ads? thanks?

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  37. I prefer Die Fled. to Funny Face. I find Funny Face slightly snoozy even if it's skated well. There's too much standing around and posing.

    The whole ice dance debate is very amusing this season. Some V/M fans are all up in arms at the mere suggestion that D/W might have a more popular/better program. And there's no talk of V/M having a disadvantage because of lost training time. If anything they have the advantage of having their FD longer. And wouldn't you know it, D/W's 6 wk old FD has more spark and excitement about it. I think it's going to be extremely close this year at the GPF and Worlds.

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  38. In the Olympic season, D/W consistently posted higher scores than V/M during the GP series, so the fact that they've posted high scores thus far this year isn't anything new. In 2010, by the time GPF rolled around, V/M were defeating POTO with Mahler, and by the Olympics, had their OD where it needed to be and defeated D/W in that as well.

    So my point is, back during the beginning of the Olympic season, people were also saying things like "D/W's FD is better, it's more dynamic, it's more polished at an earlier stage," and so on. And in the end V/M passed them by anyway. So anyone who thinks the fact that D/W have started strong out of the gate means that their FD is the program worthy of a higher point total, needs to take a step back and let this season play out.

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  39. I'm not really qualified to comment on the quality of the skating, but I did like both programs. It would be nice for both teams if the judging was based on what is actually skated and not political maneuvering. Too much to hope for, I'm sure. What I *did not* like was Tessa's costume. For some reason the cut/length of the skirt paired with the white skate boots just looked like "Homecoming dress paired with tennis shoes because the heels started hurting too much" to me. I didn't get that with Meryl's dress but can't pinpoint what it is about Tessa's that is causing that effect. I'd go with a totally new costume at the next competition. I *love* how the bottom of Meryl's skirt twirls--Tessa's just looks stiff and weird in the beginning and only improves as they get moving. Not a fan of it.

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  40. @ Anon 10:02

    Not that I don't think V/M deserved to win the Olympics, but their OD was suddenly getting higher marks for all the PCS categories, including Choreography. That was surprising, given that pretty much everyone thought that D/W's program was more inventive and memorable. Hard to think skating at home and/or politics didn't play some part in that.

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  41. @Anon 1:36:

    I love D/W's Bollywood OD but also believe V/M's OD was more difficult across the board. I also disagree that "everyone" thought that D/W's program was more inventive and memorable. That's a matter of opinion. Within COP, I believe V/M's OD was a program that had more room to grow, develop, and accumulate points than Bollywood, and it took V/M a longer period of time to get the program where they needed it to be to start defeating D/W (and I say this as a huge D/W fan that absolutely adores Bollywood).

    By the second GP, V/M had already started defeating D/W in the FD, and the PCS scores in the OD were usually right around 1 point all season long, so I have trouble believing that skating on home ice suddenly gave V/M a big boost that allowed them to jump D/W. The PCS had already started closing at GPF (by then it was down to -0.39 points), and I believe that was a clear indication that by Vancouver V/M could pass D/W by, though not because of politics or home ice, but because V/M finally had their OD where it needed to be in order to defeat their training mates.

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  42. ^^^Sorry, I meant to say that I disagree that "pretty much everyone" thought D/W's program was more inventive and memorable. Who is "pretty much everyone?" Didn't mean to incorrectly quote there, apologies.

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  43. I find it funny to think of D/W's FD as polished at this stage. They've had for less than 2 months. It's only going to get better!!

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  44. By pretty much everyone, I meant whose OD do people still talk about? The Bollywood one or the Flamenco one? I'm not saying I didn't like V/M's or that they didn't perform it well (b/c I liked it and they were fantastic), but the top three teams at Canadian nationals had Flamecno ODs. The Bollywood one felt more original and definitely had more buzz throughout the season. Sorry, but that's just the truth.

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  45. You're still being very general with "people" and the Bollywood OD having "more buzz throughout the season." More buzz with whom? Fans? The judges? But I'll get off my high horse on that.

    I don't disagree that the Bollywood OD was incredibly creative and, given the number of Flamenco ODs that season, original in that there were no other teams skating to a similarly themed program, but I'm still not sure why you're connecting that to V/M having higher PCS scores in Vancouver on account of possible politiking or home ice advantage. What small gap there was that existed between the PCS scores of both ODs during the GP season was rapidly closing by the time GPF final rolled around.

    What's more, if you look at the PCS score progression over the course of the season, both teams literally ran neck and neck with each other. I think the difference between the growth of their PCS scores was like, -.0.07 points or something like that. So basically, over the course of the season, every time V/M skated, their PCS scores actually grew slightly more with each outing that D/Ws did. So if the Bollywood OD supposedly had more buzz with the judges over the course of the Olympics season, the score breakdowns of the two teams don't indicate that (and I realize that each judging panel is different but at least its something concrete to compare as far as COP is concerned).

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  46. There's more to Ice Dancing than who has the more creative program. The Bollywood program was fantasic in that it was different/inventive. Total KUDOS for that.

    BUT, V/M's program was much more difficult in terms of transitions, and V/M especially at the time are better skaters. They had better lines, better posture, were tidier this matters. Also the way Scott especially performed that piece was magical.

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  47. I'll preface this by saying that I'm not a fan of either V/M or D/W, though I prefer the former.

    I saw V/M's Flamenco OD live at 2009 TEB, and it was fantastic then, though still in need of more mileage and polish. They definitely got better as the season wore on; it must have been amazing to watch it live at 2010 Worlds. The Bollywood OD may have been popular with some fans and judges, but there was certainly no consensus that it was a better program. And V/M had the better FD that year; it wasn't even close.

    I'm sure D/W are super hard workers, but they have been very fortunate that they've not had to deal with the sort of health issues some of the other dance teams have had. V/M may have had their program longer, but they've had their training interrupted time and again over several years because of Tessa's medical problems. Who knows how this has affected V/M.

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  48. Ugh, you're annoying. I'm talking about PCS for Choreography.

    Judges, fans, and other skaters and coaches raved about the Bollywood OD, e.g., Johnny Weir called it the best program of the year. AJ also noted that it was ridiculous that Voir was beating Marlie in every PCS category at Worlds for the OD.

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  49. Strauss has got to be the easiest music on the planet for ice dance - you don't even have to have rhythm as a dancer, the specific dance rhythm of the music carries you. If you want safe, skate Die Fledermaus. Everyone recognizes it even if they don't know it's Strauss.

    The Funny Face music is harder, jazzier, the rhythms of the first two sections are very difficult and the tempo changes inside the first two sections are challenging too. Strauss - difficult? My word. It does the dancing for Meryl and Charlie.

    D/W would be more impressive if they had more variation of tempo in their skate. They do everything fast. They don't demonstrate the mastery Voir show - the perfect body control. Stillness can be far more difficult than throwing yourself around from point to point. D/W hardly ever hold a move. A hectic program doesn't = a better program - very fast, busy skating doesn't = better skating. Voir's legs don't churn as much either, and that's because they get more run out of their blades.

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  50. Bollywood was an entertaining program but Farrucus was a much more difficult program. Meryl and Charlie did a lot of audience-appeal tricks in Bollywood, a lot of side by side and front-to-back. Their movements weren't as interdependent on each other as Voir's. Flamenco was a terrifyingly risky program to skate. No other dance team could have attempted it.

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  51. It'll be interesting to see how Meryl and Charlie bring refinement into their skating while still maintaining the rawness that makes their skating so distinctive.

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  52. They're not raw - they're athletic and have a lot of attack. They're excellent skaters.

    Many of their programs have to work around them not being especially musical or rhythmic as a dance team, while maximizing their speed and athleticism. Strauss is doing all the dancing for them. I really question AJ calling Funny Face safe and Strauss not - anyone can look like a dancer with Strauss playing, especially familiar Strauss. Funny Face is very tricky, jazzy, with tricky rythms in the first song, especially. It's got more subtle skating in it than people seem to be appreciating.

    Meryl and Charlie don't lack refinement. They lack control. Charlie's skating deteriorates when he has to hold or extend a move that's not a lift, especially skating moves done in dance holds with Meryl. He can do one, but not transition through several extended moves. They're nowhere near as versatile as Voir and Funny Face shows off Voir's skating versatility - they can do gorgeous skating any speed or rhythm all with perfect intention in every move.

    Strauss feels like racing through a whole bunch of dynamic, action-packed elements at one note. It's an exciting note, and it's also a really busy skate. Not the same as complex. Funny Face's rhythms are complex. Strauss's rhythms are the easiest in music.

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  53. Oh lord. Die Fledermaus is not the easiest rhythm in music. The meter changes throughout the Overture. Let's not act like Funny Face is as difficult as Shostakovich or Prokofiev.

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  54. Moving ahead a bit...

    Another batch of crappy SD's at Cup O' China - I'm inclined to blame the new SD format - except last year the SD's were not all this bad. Maybe its having to have 3 separate cuts of music that's making them all seem so disjointed?

    I don't entire blame the format for the Shibs boring SD, they just seem to be extremely poor at Latin (and I am not a hater, I LOVED their programs last year).

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  55. Anon @7:09:

    That's the best reply you could come up with? "You're annoying?" Hahahaha.

    And, oh, if AJ and Johnny Weir said that Bollywood was the best OD of the year and/or that it was ridiculous V/M defeated D/W in every PCS category at the Olympics, well then, how silly of me to argue otherwise. Nevermind that D/W's PCS numbers (including the one for choreography) were never more than 1 point higher than V/M's, even at the greatest pre-Olympics differential (which occured during the second GP for both - D/W bested V/M in the PCS by half a point and then the gap closed after that), or that as the season progressed, the scores revealed a trend that, prior to the Olympics, the overall growth of V/M's PCS scores was outpacing D/W's.

    I'm not sure exactly what you're arguing about the choreography mark. That D/W's should have always been higher because it was, in your opinion, more cool and innovative a concept? When you look at the marks, what's clear is that prior to Vancouver, D/W were never blowing V/M out in the choreography category. And when V/M defeated D/W in choreography at the Olympics, they didn't blow them out of the water either. They were always pretty much neck and neck and it eventually came down to two tenths of a point. If the judges absolutely thought D/W's OD was a more innovative or original program than V/M's, it never resulted in any kind of significant choreography point differential prior to the Olympics, regardless of how much Bollywood was "raved about" in comparison to V/M's program. And because of that, I'm not sure why V/M having a higher choreography PCS mark than D/W in Vancouver should be attributed to home ice advantage or politics over V/M simply having polished their program to a point where everything came together as it was designed to do.

    I absolutely think Bollywood was very original and innovative, but I also don't feel that was necessarily enough to rack up more points under COP by Vancouver. Aside from their outstanding form, V/M also skated in more face to face, closed hold and did so with greater synchronization than D/W, and had movement that was absolutely dependent on phrasing and rhythms in their music (which IMO, is one of their greatest strengths). IMO, before Vancouver, even at Nationals, V/M still lacked a bit of the precision in their performance needed to defeat Bollywood. By the time they skated their OD in Vancouver, that was no longer the case.

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  56. "Oh lord. Die Fledermaus is not the easiest rhythm in music. The meter changes throughout the Overture. Let's not act like Funny Face is as difficult as Shostakovich or Prokofiev."

    You're underrating Funny Face as a challenging ice dance program score. Gershwin's very tricky, musically, and rhythmically. Never mind they're part of the Great American Songbook. The three selections in Scott and Tessa's program create a unified program but are challenging rhymically.

    Die Fledermaus? It's extremely easy from an ice-dancing perspective. The music is not subtle. Rhythmacially, it's overt - hence its popularity. It signals everything. You'd have to be literally deaf not to be able to keep time with Strauss. There are no subtleties from a dance perspective, as there are few subtleties in Meryl and Charlie's skating.

    You could make squirrels appear to be dancing to Die Fledermaus. From a dance perspective, it does the work for Meryl and Charlie. They can go trick to trick, as fast as they can, and the music selection takes care of the rhythm.

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  57. A lot of people look at the Funny Face plot and apply the same lack of sophistication to the music. Tessa and Scott aren't playing it safe with the music and rhythms by any stretch. Ice dance is dancing and rhythm, not acting and theme. You can do a million love story sorts of programs and never repeat as long as you mix up the rhythms and the choreographic relationship to the score. Astaire was always very sophisticated - he'd mix up his choreography so it red to the score in a very sophisticated way. VM do the same with their ice dancing. Meryl and Charlie always stay dead on beat. It's not risky. They don't relate to it - the choreography just keeps in time with it. And their choreography is so busy, it takes their own rhythmic sense out of the equation. They'll never fall out of rhythm because they're busy busy - every second is accounted for. There's no breathing room for their own rhythm to respond to the music.

    A lot of classical music was popular music of its day. I really wouldn't run around holding up everything so-called classical as more sophisticated or difficult to dance to than so-called popular music.

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  58. I'm sensing a bit of panic from Voir fans.

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  59. A bit of panic? Hahaha, not quite. But I guess you can keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better or something.

    This is going to be a long season and from the tone of the majority of the posts here, it seems like fans of both teams believe the competition will be close and fun to watch all season long. Why should V/M fans be feeling any sense of panic? Both teams have started off basically running neck and neck like they always do. In fact, why should fans of either team panic? That's stupid. It's incredibly early and these FDs are already on pace to decimate scoring records.

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  60. "I'm sure D/W are super hard workers, but they have been very fortunate that they've not had to deal with the sort of health issues some of the other dance teams have had. V/M may have had their program longer, but they've had their training interrupted time and again over several years because of Tessa's medical problems. Who knows how this has affected V/M. "

    Maybe you are unaware, but D/W have had their share of injury problems as well. Charlie broke his ankle during the middle of the 2004-2005 season. The lost months of training time, missed jr Nationals and jr Worlds and watch V/M move up the ranks. Charlie was also injured heading into the 2007-2008 season, so they got off to a very slow start at Skate America and had less time to work on their programs than V/M, who took off like a rocket that season. They just did not publicize their injuries as much. So let's stop the poor Tessa and Scott talk. They have not suffered any more of a relative disadvantage than D/W.

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  61. I totally agree with Anon@ 8:57AM. Voir are such sore losers. They came back last season saying they were fit as a fiddle only to hype up their injury some more when they lost at 4CC. It appears that it is OK with everyone when they want to pull out their injury card now and then as the circumstance warrants it to discredit Marlie's achievements.

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  62. I'm the person who brought up D/W's relatively injury-free track record. I am not a Virtue and Moir fan. I think it is noticeable, however, that one team has missed considerably more time as seniors than the other. Actually, D/W have been very fortunate in this regard compared to many teams in recent years, including DomShabs, B/A, DelSchoes (even before Isabelle became pregnant), P/B, F/S, the Kerrs, and when they were still together, S/B. And in 2008-9, they showed up in great shape for sure, but also had higher ranked teams withdraw from most of their events. And if we're going back all the way to junior days, hey, the Zars used to beat D/W but the latter were held back by Roman Zaretsky having to do military service. Try doing elite training in Israel! Ha.

    As for their good health - is it good genes? Good conditioning? Pure luck? Or maybe just a combination thereof. D/W fans, don't be so twitchy.

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  63. Perhaps D/W are cautious to avoid injury? It's their own hard work, not just "fortunate". Otherwise, V/M were "fortunate" in 07-08 when Dub/Lauzon and Denkova/Staviski were gone, DomShabs was out due to him being crippled, and Tanith fell.

    Also, how do you know D/W don't have injuries that they just don't complain about to the press? Not saying they do, but it's a possibility.

    I think it's clear V/M have been hiding a lot (she keeps claiming she's pain free but then she's not) and no one may ever know the truth.

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  64. OT: Yeah, because I really like the beauty of Meryl's dangling free leg. smh.

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  65. This crap about Meryl's dangling leg has gotten old. Come up with a better excuse.

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  66. Ice dance is fixed. If the Canadians are winning it is because they are paying off the judges.

    Things do not change over night. What now because the Canadians are winning the fixing of the sport is somehow now not happening? spare me.

    I hate ice dancing and have no loyalty to either team but I have to watch it for work (if I want to get paid)

    the Canadians didn't deserve the last Olympic title they were overscored. If the Olympic were not in Canada they would not have lost.

    This sport should be taken out of the Olympics. It's fixed.

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  67. Is Tessa still "doing it" with David Pelletier?

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  68. Whoa, you have to watch ice dancing for work? What type of job is this?

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  69. Tessa is currently dating a skier (I think he's a skier.)

    Question for Anon. Nov. 29 7:53

    If V/M shouldn't have won gold in Vancouver, than who should have?

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  70. Tessa was seen sitting next to a skier at Skate Canada (he sat with both her and Scott's families), and he tweeted congratulations to her and Scott, which then turned into "Tessa is for sure dating this skier" on the internet. He may simply be a friend or family friend of either her or Scott, nothing has ever been confirmed. But of course fans don't care about that, they just act as though it's a fact.

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  71. "When seeing Zach Donohue work what his mama gave him, it is amazing that ice dance hasn't become more of a mainstream event."

    Ah, truer words have not been spoken. And he's 21 years old (as is Madi). Another 3 years and I'm willing to bet this couple is going to be spectacular.

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