The men are always the premiere event at Liberty. Men from all over the country come to test out their new programs. One sees a variety of styles, charisma and athletic ability. Back in the day, men who didn't have a solid triple axel were known as ladies skaters. With the advent of Mao Asada, that term went away. I must say, some of the so-called 'ladies skaters' are among my favorites, as their edges, spins, footwork and artistry are among the best. With only a scant few actual straight men performing, it was quite the artistic showcase.
Colin Pennington has been around for a long time. When I say a long time, I mean that it seems like someone should've grabbed the hook a long time ago. For the sixth or seventh season, Colin is skating the same programs and dusting the same costumes off from his grandmother's attic. I certainly hope that he really loves skating because the audience has no idea. The 'internal' skater hasn't made Nationals in years and the field is only getting deeper. Later in the season, Colin typically has better skates. If you've ever seen him skate at the numerous summer competitions he enters, the less charismatic Pennington brother always has a lot of popping going on. You can see them coming from a mile away. Year after year, he opens up on that triple loop. One knows a performance is bad when I put down my notebook.
Wes Campbell opened the short program with a Metallica program. Wes typifies tall, dark and handsome. His deep edges, wonderful presentation and artistry make him suited for ice dancing. He is taller than Evan yet uses his limbs and entire body to create interesting shapes and moods. His skating is what Lysacek's should be. He had a brilliant warm up but a rough skate. Triple Lutz+Double Loop (reached and fell), Double Flip, Double Axel. (42.87)
Patrick Chan debuted his new Take Five program in a costume with fake ties printed on a dress shirt. The program and musical arrangement isn't quite Lulu level. There is no section where the drums take over the melody that Dick Button would find particularly fascinating. If you've ever seen P Chiddy skate live, his edges and skating skills are impressive. That said, given the hype surrounding this skater, I'd expect to need a moment to myself following his performance. I never do. We know he is incapable of real eye contact, but his performances are just a bit distant. Lori Nichol has done her best to get a little creative with Patrick. She's spending ten minutes on his programs as opposed to the typical five. P Chiddy opens the program with his hands in his pockets. The program has a lot of pantomiming, knee shaking and attempts at being charismatic. It is certainly a hell of a lot better than his long program. Patrick's quad toe was fab-u-lous in the short but lightning didn't strike twice. Chan fell over on his triple axel like a tree. Timber! His triple flip+triple toe was hung on and fought for. With all of his edge control, it amazes me how unsteady his jumps tend to be. There is a footwork sequence done all on one foot. The new rules definitely help this program. (78.88)
Scott Dyer had a rough skate in the short but displays fantastic skating skills.
Keegan Messing gets the most improved award for Liberty. A year ago, he was Mr. Raw Talent. This year, the little dynamo skates with speed, control and sells every second of his programs. His jumps are really something for such a tiny person. He even shoots a bow and arrow during the program. Triple Axel, Triple Lutz+Triple Toe, Triple Flip. One of Keegan's spins wound up not counting, but he still scored among the top three.
Armin Mahbanoozadeh continues to improve. The Persian Prince performed a Jesse Cook medley and has developed young Johnnyish qualities as a result of his work with Professional Fag Hag Priscilla Hill. Triple Axel, Triple Lutz+Triple Toe, Triple Flip, Gorgeous Doughnut Spin. Armin only skated his short program because he'll debut his long at Skate Wilmington next weekend.
Sean Rabbitt skated a program that will go down in history as 'Ginger Jackson.' It is a LOT to take in. Enough said.
Parker Pennington is STILL SKATING. This is his 11th year senior but it feels like much longer considering all the years Carol Heiss Jenkins had him showboat at each level in order to become National Champion in Intermediate, Novice, Junior, etc. Why oh why does CHJ encourage these Tonia Kwiatkowski situations? Pat Lipinski got yelled at by a tween for stating the obvious during the performance. Parker appears to love skating and does his own choreography. His heart is in the right place and he'd likely get a decent show skating contract if he went that route. Competitively, it just isn't happening. Single Axel, Triple Lutz (UR and Fall), Triple Flip
Joshua Farris skated a short program to Groshkova's floor music. He hung on to a Triple Axel, landed a Triple Lutz+Double Toe and a Triple Loop. Josh fell on a death drop. He might need another year at the junior level. The fall on the death drop took the life out of the program and the building.
Michael Quadrino skated his butch short program. He hung on to a Triple Salchow, Triple Toe+Double Toe and a Double Axel, but his skating looked stronger and much more determined than last season. He is always entertaining to watch.
Alex Johnson has always had a ton of talent but he needed to get the hell out of Minnesota if his career was to go anywhere. He has and it was the right decision. Now with Tom Z, Alex is beginning to develop an on-ice personality. Triple Axel, Triple Flip+Triple Toe, Triple Lutz. One of his spins was a spin to nowhere and he ended before the music, but Alex looks well prepared for this early in the season. Promising skater.
Jason Wong is always lovely to watch. He is a super gaysian with skating skills and jumps that could make a girl melt. Unfortunately, now that he's returned to Boston, his triple axel is MIA. They just can't land that jump in that city. Triple Lutz+Triple Toe, Triple Axel (Fall), Triple Loop (Saved and Landed Well).
From the lady who brought us Michael Weiss, we now have Tommy Steenberg. Triple Loop+Double Loop, Triple Axel (Fall), Triple Lutz. Even though it isn't the case, Mr. Steenberg skates like someone who should be straight. Never a compliment. He is yet another skater who has no business doing a back catchfoot or doughnut spin given what it looks like. Not cute.
Stephen Carriere is a new man. A former competitor insists he is either getting laid or on serious medication. Mr. Uptight now has loads of personality and skates with it on the ice. His technique is improving, but it may be too late given all of the depth among the men. The newfound personality really took everyone by surprise. A music issue delayed the start to his short program. Someone mentioned that "A year ago, he would've been standing out there, balding on the ice if there was a music problem." His Chicago program appears to be tons of fun for him and it is catchy. It isn't Jenny Kirk status, but few things are in this world. Triple Axel (turn out), Triple Lutz+Double Toe, Triple Flip. Mr. Carriere actually flirted with the audience. Who popped his cherry? I need names.
Word in the building during the long program has Nathan Chen skating in China. Unfortunately, they won't be able to fake his age.
Colin Pennington skated in the first group yet didn't land any clean triple jumps. Lots of doubling and popping. Fell on a back outside edge. (70.50)
Keegan Messing is really developing some command on the ice. While I miss his original 'Hulk' costume, the new one suits the program. He had axelitis in warmup but nailed his first one in the program. Quad Toe (Fall), Double Salchow, Triple Lutz+Triple Toe, Triple Axel+turn out+Double Toe, Triple Loop (hand down), Triple Flip+Double Toe+Double Loop, Triple Lutz+Immediate End. He is one of the most dynamic skaters around and is really making every attempt to perform the hell out of his programs. He even grabbed his head during his footwork and kept the performance alive. (141.45)
Joshua Farris performed a Summertime medley for his long program. It was a rough skate. Triple Axel (Hard Fall), Triple Loop, Triple Lutz, Double Axel, Double Axel+Triple Toe (UR, Fall), Triple Lutz+Double Toe, Triple Flip (swung around), Triple Salchow (UR, fall). His performance ability isn't ready for senior and neither are his jumps. (102.58) He is from the Tom Z+ Becky Calvin camp. While most of the attention usually goes to Tom, Becky deserves special mention for her wardrobe. Becky sported a black shirt with long brown fringe that screamed "I'm From The Wild Wild West." It is a wonder Rachael Flatt is such a hot mess.
Ross Miner looks to have borrowed Jeremy Abbott's 2010 long program costume (he certainly has enough to lend one out.) Skating to Casablanca, Ross' improved flow, packaging and presentation were quite evident. He no longer skaters like Tim Goebel, Pre-Frank Carroll minus the Quads. His Casablanca program had him smoking like Kurt Browning and even shooting a gun. Triple Axel (Wonky Boston technique), Triple Lutz+Triple Toe, Spread Eagle+Double Axel, Triple Loop, Triple Lutz, Forward Spread Eagle in a circle, Triple Flip with a real kick technique, Russian Split he has no business doing with that minimal extension, Single Axel, ended right after the music. Overall, he looks great. The USFSA already loves him and if they witness him flirting with all the girls in the stands at competitions like he does, they'll surely love him even more. (127.77)
Parker Pennington, the male Kwiatkowski, skated a Michael W Smith in a mineral swirl costume. He redeemed himself from the short program and showed why he has had a modicum of success. Triple Loop, Triple Axel (UR), Double Axel+Double Toe, Fast Camel Spin, Good Edges, Back Spiral+Triple Flip, Spread Eagle, Footwork+Triple Salchow, Triple Lutz+Double Toe+Double Tano Toe, Triple Lutz. He makes a real attempt to perform and is always turning his head and doing a lot of looking around during his choreography. The music could certainly be more engaging. (123.78)
Scott Dyer- On The Waterfront-Tiny with a ghetto booty. Triple Axel (fall), Single Lutz, Triple Flip (fall), Triple Loop (fall), Single Lutz, Triple Flip, Double Axel, Triple Salchow.
The New Stephen Carriere is performing to West Side Story and it is a sight! Pat Lipinski claims it is the gayest program she has seen in five years (and don't forget that includes Johnny Weir.) The costume was teal and cadet blue "very Boitano the pro years." Stephen gets really into the program. His groupies like to yell in Spanish to cheer him on. Esteban! He shakes his little ass during the program, slaps his ass, yells Mambo!, claps his hands and cracks a whip. This is NOT the same person! Triple Axel (Turn out, but improved technique), Triple Toe, Triple Lutz, Triple Flip (hand down), Better stroking and edges, Triple Axel (turn out), Triple Loop (turn out, 2ft), Triple Salchow, Triple Lutz+Double Rippon Toe. (126.84)
Tommy Steenberg's long program is legendary. It is a sight! He performed it once and yet it spurred plenty of conversation and eye rolls. He simply has the most fucked up, what the hell music edit that I've ever had the experience of witnessing. There is a tango, fur elise and then western wahh wahh wahhhh going on. It is simply bizarre. With his coach running a choreographic competition on youtube, one would expect a hell of a lot better given all of her resources. Triple Loop+Triple Loop (2ft), Single Axel, Single Axel, Lasso!, Triple Lutz+Double Toe+Double Loop, Double Toe, Triple Salchow, Single Axel (Violated the Zayak rule for single axles), Triple Flip. (107.57)
Alex Johnson is attempting to work his masculine edge with his new Tango program. Triple Axel (Hand Down)+Double Toe (fall), Single Axel, Spiral+Triple Lutz (Hand Down), Triple Loop, Triple Flip (Turn Out)+Double Toe, S L O W Camel Spin, Spread Eagle, Triple Lutz (Hand Down)+Double Toe, Walley+Walley+Triple Salchow, Triple Flip. More work to do on the performance aspect.
Michael Quadrino kept his Frankenstein music. He delivered the best long program I've ever seen him do in competition. While his fierce mother was not in attendance, his charming father and Anthony Rapp were. Triple Toe+Double Toe, Triple Salchow+Double Toe, Double Axel (Turn Out), Triple Loop, Ina Bauer+Double Flip, Spiral+2.5 Flip, Triple Salchow (slight turn out), Double Lutz.
Jason Wong- New program. I'll miss The Mission, but I do like the new program. Lots of long flowing edges that Dick Button would swoon over. Triple Axel (Fall---back in Boston, duh), Triple Lutz, Triple Axel (shaky)+Double Toe (hung on for dear life), Triple Loop (little turn out), Triple Toe, Single Loop, Triple Salchow+Double Toe, Double Axel. The footwork at the end was the only part of the music and the program that I didn't like. (107.27)
Patrick Chan- Mr. Starfish Hands is keeping his Phantom of the Opera long program. I am not a huge phantom guy, but this music edit is the worst. It doesn't carry you anywhere. Neither does P Chiddy's performance. Quad Toe (fall), Triple Axel+Triple Toe (Can't land both in same program), Triple Flip, Triple Axel (Hard fall+Timber), Triple Lutz (flipped out of), Triple Flip, Triple Loop, Double Axel. Pat Lipinski dubbed him the new Todd...in the most mehhhhest of ways.