Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Call To Arms

Does anyone, ANYONE have a copy of Tonya and Nancy: The Inside Story?  When I was a small child, my parents forbade me from watching the television film due to the scenes of molestation.  The fact that I have never seen this movie has devastated me my entire life.  It was recorded and then immediately taped over by my parents.  For years, I had to open my entertainment center and see Tonya and Nancy crossed out!  A year ago, TheUSOpenLineJudge graciously treated us to A Promise Kept: The Oksana Baiul Story.  It has given me renewed hope that I will one day view this classic.  It is something that would best be shared together.  I long for the bygone era of movies of the week.  In my day, Lifetime wasn't a network for watching Project Runway.  It was a network you flipped to when you wanted to watch a wife burn down her house after catching her husband in bed with her underage nephew.  We need to bring the art form of television movies back to the masses.

Tonya and Nancy never made it to DVD, which is a shame for all of us.  If anyone could upload it or mail a copy, I would be eternally grateful.  Based on this review, it sounds like a film that all of us MUST SEE.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Something To Remember

Second highest performance execution score of the night.

Short Dancing Skate Canada with WestPalmBitch

Greetings everyone, this is Tarasova's Mink. Aunt Joyce is having me cover the Slow Dance at Skate Canada. Read at your own risk.

This evening we bore witness to the fine dancers at Skate Canada. Leading the pack by .01 is the sibling pair of Sinead Kerr & John Kerr with a score of 62.96. Right behind them is Canada’s Vanessa Crone & Paul Poirier, followed by Pernelle Carron & Lloyd Jones of France with a 54.43.

It was a delightful night of disappointing musical cuts and dragtastic costumes.  The evening’s festivities began with the Canadian team of Sarah Arnold & Justin Trojek. Decked out in the colors of Switzerland and candy canes, we were feeling neither neutral nor full of season's greetings about this team. Sarah seems to have missed the memo that all dancers are required to grab their skate blade during the twizzles in order to achieve credit for maximum difficulty. Despite this, blade-grab-free Sarah still manages to make those twizzles look effortful and rather difficult. No doubt that they are. Partner Justin, looking ready to go for his afternoon shift at Neiman Marcus, is slightly more successful in keeping hand locked onto blade. 40.07 sends them into eighth place out of nine teams.

Next up are Stefanie Frohberg & Tim Giesen of Germany. WestPalmBitch asks the eternal question one must always ask of German skaters: Where’s the lederhosen? For their Short Dance, Stefanie is portraying a doll. Or a mannequin. Or a mannequin-doll. Skating to an amalgamation of music that should make Kemp & King feel less bad for selecting an orchestral tribute to “Clocks,” our lederhosen-free Germans move at a glacial pace that is most conducive to confusing the actual performance with that of the slo-mo replay. It is not until the audience begins applauding that we realize we are, in fact, watching the live feed and not the playback footage. WestPalmBitch informs me that Terry Gannon, who is that much closer to God than the rest of us wee folk and thus we should listen when he speaks, is none too impressed. 43.00 for Frohberg & Giesen.

The crowd erupts as Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam, the reigning World Junior Silver Medalists, take to the ice. In case the “crowd erupts” part didn’t make it clear, Paul & Islam are Canadian. Skating in Canada, in case I wasn’t clear about that part either or if you wandered in from NHK and wondered why you had yet to see any anime and/or Hello Kitty references. Paul & Mitchell’s tango is quite fierce for such a youthful-looking team. 

Skate Canada: The Men

"Just imagine Debbie Wilkes saying "look how close he skates to the ice."

Notes on a Grand Prix

Cynthia "Phanny The Manny" Phaneuf is leading after the short program with a triple toe as her solo jump.  Genius.  Even better?  I picked her for my fantasy.  I anticipated some Skate Canada bonus and got my money's worth.  You know it is some field with Draggy Delight is leading.  Why are all French Canadian women SO butch?!  Even JoRo rocked the man shoulders.  Cynthia has good edges, strong skating skills and one firm jaw on her.  Tarasova's Mink finds that Cynthia only accentuates her masculinity by attempting feminine programs.  Her jumps were gigantic and her program was decent.  Let's not get ahead of ourselves, it isn't like this program eclipsed any score ever earned by Ashley Wagner.  It appears that she will be Canada's new Jennifer Robinson, as JoRo just committed to the full Stars On Ice tour.

Agnes Zawadzki would be impressing Martha Karolyi with her competitive mettle if she gave a shit about figure skating.  Her jumps are Kerrigan-esque and her presence is improving on the ice.  Then again, it would difficult not to notice her with that dress she has on.  It is certainly attention grabbing.  Agnes' Polish thighs and Eastern European ruthlessness are putting her in good stead for the free skate.  Her speed could always improve, but we can only hope she'll switch coaches and work on it by the time she's throwing Triple Lutz+Triple Toes.  Jody Flatt must be freaking out about Rachael's chances defending her National Title right about now, which means the rest of us are loving every minute of it.

With the killer instinct required to win international titles, there is no such thing as a strong competitor who is a nice person.  By those standards, Alissa Czisny must be Mother Theresa.  Given that this is Skate Canada, Alissa's short program was delicate and splat free, but she didn't attack her way into the top three.  With her superb spins and gorgeous line, she belongs in the top three.  Her jump technique actually looked somewhat improved here, but one never knows what to expect from the former National Champion.  I'm impressed that Tara Lipinski remembers which jumps Alissa missed at Nationals, because they all do blend together after a while.  Tara must be as OCD with her note taking as she was practicing triple-triples.

It is a good thing that Alexe Gilles is pretty, because I'd worry for her mental state otherwise.  The last time any of us saw her deliver a worthy program was back during 2009 Nationals.  Tarasova's Mink asked me if I thought these would be the last Grand Prix assignments Alexe will ever be given.  Frankly, I'm shocked she even got any this year after popping every jump at last year's Skate America.  Alexe has bizarre arms and shoulders on her jumps.  She can't blame it all on being tall, because Agnes isn't exactly  a short girl.

Ksenia Makarova is making the most of the time she has before those pesky Russian juniors emerge to steal her thunder.  It is time for her to add in the harder triples and combinations she trains, because it just isn't going to cut it.  Gorgeous skater.  Love her.  Time to bring the big jumps.

Haruka Imai deserves mention for being a good fantasy pick.

On the pairs side, Castelli and Shnapir may have been one of my greatest picks to date.  I was obviously making the Meryl Davis---looks like she's from Avatar connection when I made my selection.  Tarasova's Mink is worried that the six Canadians will gang up on Brittney Simpson by distracting Nathan Miller with a keg of Guinness.

My pairs picks are currently 1-2-4 and my ladies picks are 1-3-6.  Down with Gaysian Attorney!  I am determined after falling behind last week.

God Bless Iliushechkina and Maisuradze.  I will gladly be copying and pasting their names from this day onward.

Quotes of the Day: "And that pair girl's Triple Lutz was shameful.  Don't show off what you don't got."

"What would your reaction be if Rachael Flatt took up pairs with Nathan?  Their legline would be uniform at least."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fabulously French

Which program makes you feel more fabulously tacky and wonderful inside?  Unlike Peter Carruthers, you know you love it.  Frankly, you live for the fact that Florent's program pissed off Peter.




Skate Canada Practice Videos

Adam Rippon is doing well this season.  He is reaching the level of becoming a threat, so it is time for Debbi Wilkes to cut him down and become ridiculously Pro Canada.  Never thought of Adam Rippon as lacking body line...

A Word With Mariana Bitang

The lovely Ioana has graciously translated interviews with Mrs. Octavian Belu.  Mariana Bitang is definitely back in charge, as the hallmarks of all Belu and Bitang interviews are beginning to re-emerge.

Libertatea: Pleased with the girls' results?
MB: I'm very happy for the two medals, but especially for Ana. Her success is all the more valuable since we had very little time to prepare for this event. [i.e. the real preparation only started when B&B came back]

L: Before Worlds, you were reserved about medal chances...
MB: We did not want to pressure the girls. Besides, we had been away from the gym for a while and the girls alll came back after serious injuries. Ana was in a cast for 3 months. She really wanted to compete on all events and -fortunately- her leg held out. If she'd prepare very well, she could be among the best at the 2012 London Olympics.

L: Could we count on Izbaşa for London?
MB: She's only 20 years old. If you take a look at the vault champion, Alicia Sacramone or uneven bar champ Beth Tweddle, they're 23 and 25 respectively. I hope the mishap from Worlds (7th place on floor) would motivate Sandra to keep going.

L: Do you think Izbaşa made a mistake before the competition when she said in an interview that she does not hope to medal?
MB: On the contrary. She made a mistake because she wanted it too much. She had a very serious injury and the important thing was competing [again].

L: The girls had clean routines, but lost due to [lack of] difficulty
MB: The COP was changed and it's true that the difficulty of a routine counts more than execution. It's good we saw where we stand right now.

A few quotes from GS:
Ana on the first World gold medal for Romania in 9 years. "I can't find the words; the medal's is amazing. But when they play the national anthem, you think about the work behind it. When you struggle, when you work in the gym, when it's very difficult, when you can't go on, you think about moments like these and get over everything a lot easier."
What's next for her? "My future will be almost the same, in the gym, a lot more work."

Sandra Izbasa the floor Olympic champion cried in Rotterdam. And they were not happy tears. After stepping out of bounds twice in her routine, she finished 7h with 13.983 pts, missing the one gold medal she's missing from her collection."She wanted it very much, but that's what happens when you want it to much. Had she done the same routine as in qualifying she'd be a World champion. We will see it this failure will motivate or demoralize her," said Bitang

Ana "I've been waiting for this moment for a very long time. My biggest dream is an Olympic medal, but this title is also a dream. This medal will give more confidence."

"Mrs Bitang will
 probably congratulate me, but the beam routine was not perfect, so I expect some admonishments because this could have been even better. I did better [on beam] in the all around."

"From my point of view, Worlds went well. From the moment I got here, I wanted to go through all routines without any falls. I did and perhaps that makes me happiest."

Bitang: "They are medals that will give them confidence. It's hard to get on top, but even harder to stay there. They need to be conscious that they need to keep progressing even on the events they won medals"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This and That

Katia Gordeeva and Valeri Bure on Battle of the Blades.

A week in practice:

 Jamie Sale and Theo:  

Shae-Lynn Bourne and Partner:

While Worlds is over, gymnastics season is not.  November will be loaded with competitions.  There will be several international events, including multiple Grand Prixs and the Asian Games.  We can only wonder if He Kexin will manage to stop crying long enough to restore her honor on the Uneven Bars.

Ottavio told Phil Hersh that he is 99 percent confident that the IOC will add a figure skating team event to the 2014 Olympics.  While the IOC is always trying to cut down on the number of participants in some events, it will likely add the team event in order to exploit every opportunity for additional advertising revenue.

In another shocking move, the 2013 Four Continents Championships were awarded to Osaka, Japan.

Nick Verreos reviewed the NHK fashion choices for Universal Sports.

Dube and Davison are out of Skate Canada, but that doesn't mean the excitement is gone.  The men's event features a particularly strong field.  While the ladies field does not have the star power of the NHK field, we may actually see stronger performances.  Universal Sports is already asking whether Agnes Zawadzki can capture gold in her Grand Prix debut.

Maxim Staviski analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of Ilinykh and Katsalapov.  He left out their dependency on crossovers.

Michal Brezina had surgery to remove a varicose vein from his abdomen.  He says he will try to be ready for his second Grand Prix event, but will definitely be back for Nationals.  Evan Bates is already doing rehab and may be back on the ice just three months after his surgery.  Tommy Steenberg had to withdraw from regionals due to mono.  It effectively ended his season, but he hopes to continue choreographing for other skaters.  Austin Wagner is not competing and Amanda Dobbs is currently partnerless and focusing on singles until another partner comes along.

Universal Sports and Ice Network will both be airing Skate Canada. and IceNetwork.comTime (ET)Segment
Friday Oct. 2911:30amLadies Short Program
1:45pmPairs Short Program
6:15pmMen's Short Program
8:10pmDance Short Dance
Saturday Oct. 302:00pmPairs Free Skate
3:55pmMen's Free Skate
7:00pmLadies Free Skate
Sunday Oct. 3112:15pmDance Free Dance

UniSports TVLIVE ON TV (ET)Segment
Friday Oct. 2911:30 am - 1 pmLadies' Short Program
6-9:30 pmMen's Short Program, Dance Short Dance
Saturday Oct. 302:30-3:30pmPairs Free Skate
4:30-6 pmMen's Free Skate
Sunday Oct. 311-2pmDance Free Dance
***NBC Sports will air Skate Canada on Saturday, Nov. 6 from 4-6 p.m. ET.  

Gym Dog Update

Jay Clark has cracked the whip. No one needs to tell you that things are a little more intense in Athens this preseason, it is evident from the workout videos. First off, the girls all appear to be in strong physical condition and McComb is noticeably thinner than she was last season. When McComb is in shape, she is capable of refining her routines and hitting big. Last year, making her routines was her real concern (whether or not she admitted it.)

Gina Nuccio looks more like than Gina Nuccio that was recruited than the Calamity Gina of last season whose routines got sloppier by the day. This is the best she's looked at Georgia. Gina's shoulder angle on her series is beyond ridiculous. It is amazing that she manages to ever stay on the beam.

Kat Ding looks as strong as ever. She even looks to be getting it together on beam. Her gainer front flip is higher.

Shayla Worley is currently healthy for these five seconds. She may herniate another disc by the time you're done reading this post. Jay needs to get her handstands up to Nastia levels so she can enter the 9.900 range on bars.

Noel Couch is looking very much like a fugly mess who will hit every routine this season. The red headed step children always manage to hit. (I'm looking at you Rebecca Bross and Rachael Flatt.)

Hilary Mauro is looking as driven as ever. She is adding all sorts of passes that she's always wound up watering down in the past. It has yet to be seen whether Jay will make her the beam leadoff again and restore sanity in the beam lineup.

The girl with the long ponytail, craptacularly low jaegar and double layout dismount on bars is Cat Hires. She looks to have recovered from injury rather quickly. We can only hope that she will straddle her release skills and get some freakin amplitude. If she can manage that, she could score well for the team. Cat is one of those gymnasts who they are hoping will improve a great deal (like McComb and Ding.)

Kaylan Earls looks solid on beam, but we can only imagine that she is hindorffing and tumbling well.

Christa Tanella is looking sluggish on beam, but she did manage to land a tumbling pass. 

Sadly, we were not treated to any of their preseason vaults. There is nothing I enjoy more than watching Mauro do whatever it is that she is actually doing on vault. Her 1.5 twisting yurchenko has a tendency to look like a Munchkin swept up in a tornado in the Land of Oz.

It looks like the team is keeping grumpy Jay away by working hard. They lack the depth and star power of other teams, but they look capable of being a scrappy team if they can remain healthy.

Debi the Fierce: A Video Brought to You by Margaret Thatcher

Recapping NHK FD - Tarasova's Mink

When it comes to the dance events, I often find them more intriguing for the political landscape they cultivate over the course of the season rather than the actual dances themselves.

As our Canadian commentators not-so-subtly remarked, with Virtue/Moir sidelined for most of the year (and certainly all of the GP series), NHK marked the first event in which Davis/White could conceivably stake their claim as the clear number ones. A dominating performance on the GP circuit could theoretically solidify this standing heading into Worlds. 

It reminds a bit of Lu Chen vs. Michelle Kwan during the 1995-1996 season. Chen’s inconsistent performances all GP season long were a stark contrast to Kwan’s string of GP wins. And on a night where both skated near flawlessly, the judges gave the World title to Kwan.

And before I get a litany of people pointing out the obvious, I will state it myself: YES, I realize it’s an imperfect analogy. That’s not the point; no pattern is unimpeachable. It’s merely a yardstick to measure what we think might happen in the future. Point being, the door is now open for Davis/White to assert themselves as the leaders. Is NHK the first step they took in stepping through it?

NHK Trophy marked the GP debuts of Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov and Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani. 

For I/K, their senior debut comes on the heels of Domnina/Shabalin's retirement. Certainly there has been plenty of speculation as to whether or not I/K will ascend to that all-important political position of Russia's #1 or if it will be a team like Bobrova/Soloviev or even the has-yet-to-compete Khokhlova/Andreev. Hey, stranger things have happened.

In the case of the Shibs, their lower-than-expected (fine, lower than some were expecting) placement at Junior Worlds last year (coupled with the increasing scrutiny on their height differential) had left a lot of questions as to how they would fare in the leap from junior to senior. And with Samuelson/Bates out for the season, one could argue this heightens the stakes for the remaining non-Marlie teams who will be fighting it out for the position of USA #2 and USA #3.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Women's Floor EFs, aka Peggy Gets a Gold - Catty Comments

The women's floor finals featured long people & squat people, tango people & blues people, and a hella assortment of leos & egos. Let's get this party started.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Women's Beam EFs, aka ROMmie love - Catty Comments

The beam final was everything a gymnastics fan could want - something old (Sacramone), something new (HBIC, Dementieva), something borrowed (DLL birth certificate) and something (electric and oil slick-shiny) blue (Demyanchuk.)

What Do You Do With a Problem Like Rachael Flatt? By Margaret Thatcher

The hills are alive with the sound of our most reliable USA competitor. Rachael has yet again come through with a solid performance. She won the NHK Trophy freeskate and the Silver medal. She defeated two of her more serious US rivals soundly. What is a US figure skating fan to do? Her programs were snooze worthy and less polished than the fare of last year. With her new lesbian hairdo and graceless skating, you can almost mistake her for a Canadian lady. Yet she embodies two of the best qualities of the American lady throughout the years: consistent jumps and delivering to win. She has earned the name "The Rock" for her impressive consistency, but this name equally describes her heavyish, hockey mom skating.

Can the fandom of US figure skating ever be reconciled with her? Could Flatt improve her hulkish lines and meager style enough to keep our stomachs from turning?

The Wonderful World of Ice Dance

Marlie Mania!!!

Recapping the NHK Trophy Boys - Part 1 of 2?

As many pundits were predicting, Daisuke Takahashi claimed the gold medal in men's. It was a decisive victory for the reigning World Champion, who won both phases of the competition in hair-raising style (more so in the short than in the long), by a margin of more than 16 points over silver medalist Jeremy Abbott. Abbott was second to Takahashi in the short, but finished in third during the free behind France's Florent Amodio, who won his first medal at a senior GP event.

In this post we will focus our attentions on the first of the two freeskate warmup groups. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Women's Bars EFs, aka Big Girls Don't Cry - Catty Comments

For Rotterdam bars EFs, medals were for China to lose - their gymnasts have excellent execution and insane start values.

The 2010 world championships is the first one where He Kexin is age-eligible with her pre-2007 birthdate, Jan 1, 1994. Magically her birthday became Jan 1, 1992 when she reached the national team in 2007.

A Homecoming Disaster: Mao Asada Returns to Nagoya

In honor of the release from hospital of the real Margaret Thatcher (Thatcher Recovering at Home), this Margaret Thatcher decided to get on the stick. Here are some thoughts about the NHK ladies event.

First, let us congratulate Aunt Joyce's sister. She tied the not this weekend. I wish her and her brawny Italian American husband a long and happy marriage. I was not able to make it to the wedding, but I am certain that Aunt Joyce performed her role in it beautifully.

Mao Asada's NHK performance in Nagoya was unequivocally bad. The attempt to re-work her jump technique has altered her timing and left her looking like a skater without purpose. One wonders if she might have been haunted by having to perform under the gaze of her former coach of many years, Machiko Yamada, the woman who taught her the triple axel. Yamada, who first rose to prominence as the coach of Midori Ito, was present at NHK as the coach of Kanako Murakami, the 2010 World Junior Champion. While Kanako delighted the audience with cuteness and won the NHK bronze, Mao finished down in 8th. She suffered the humiliation of losing to Robin Wagner's latest pupil, Elene Gedevanishvili. Worse still, Mao finished behind an out of breath Caroline Zhang.

In light of this, a fan or two has remarked that Murakami is "the new Mao". Although Murakami has great potential, this is not a reasonable assertion. It implies that Mao is gone or even going. Such an assumption is extraordinary. Mao's incredible abilities have not evaporated. Her flexibility, her speed, and her ability to execute beautiful choreography all were evident in Nagoya. After the event, Mao offered us reassurance that she will be able to complete her jumps: ‘‘Nothing has changed emotionally. I haven’t fallen to pieces and I am moving forward in training. Once I have enough practice under my belt I will be able to perform that in competitions.’’(Asada Vows to Rebound). If this tells us what Mao is really thinking, then we can expect dramatic improvement down the road.

Now let us discuss Kiira Korpi of Finland. She was for most of the gay audience, including myself, the highlight. Nancy Kerriganesque but more beautiful, she became Eva Peron. I will admit I am glad now that the European judges have tried so hard over the years to cheat for her.

Meanwhile, Jenna McCorkel held up the current standard of British skating, finishing in 11th.

Caroline Zhang's performances were labored and ineffective. Although her jump technique has improved, the quality of the spins and the rest of the performance leaves me wondering if something is wrong. Is someone forcing her to continue? Is it prudent for her to continue at this juncture?

As for the winner Carolina Kostner... I called Aunt Joyce on Friday. I had not yet seen the short program, but I had skimmed the summary on I asked, "Did I read correctly that the leader in the ladies competition completed a 3 toe-2 toe combination?" Aunt Joyce replied, "Yes." I think there was laughter because there was nothing else to say. The meaning of Kostner's underwhelming victory at NHK can be summarized in Carolina's own words after the short program: "I'm just happy to be here."