Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cup of Russia Wrap Up

Kavaguti and Smirnov were the undisputed highlight of last weekend after The Cup of Russia proved to be another utterly sloppy event.  It will perhaps best be remembered for the number of withdrawals in the Ice Dance event.

What did we learn?

Patrick Chan continues to average four falls per competition.  He managed a bangin Quad Toe+Triple Toe combination but the Triple Axel continues to plague him.  As always, it boggles the mind that we live in an age where a skater who falls so often is ranked so highly in the world.  His artistry isn't THAT good.

It may be good that Jeremy Abbott will not make the Grand Prix Final.  Jeremy is happy that he finally medaled at both of his Grand Prix assignments, but he is understandably disappointed with his free skate.
For a skater who has had months of equipment troubles, extra training time at home could be just what the doctor ordered.  While he clearly let the program get away from him, I was impressed that Jeremy put out the quad.  Jeremy's best qualities aren't always aptly rewarded by the judges, but PCS is somewhat reliant upon consistency.  By putting the quad out there, Jeremy got over one mental hurdle.  He also went for a Quad and two Triple Axels, which he did not attempt when he won his second national title.

The equipment issues may be a blessing in disguise, as they could lower expectations for Jeremy and keep him from peaking too soon.  When at his best, Jeremy is certainly contending for a spot on the rostrum.  Life Is Beautiful is a perfect vehicle for Jeremy Abbott.  Kudos to David Wilson for bringing out Jeremy's warmth and gentility.

It is more than a bit curious to see Agnes Zawadzki struggle again in the long program after producing a consistent short.  Agnes appeared to have a strong warm up prior to taking the ice.  Her coach is known for his use of negative reinforcement.  If anything could come out of this, perhaps she will realize that a coaching change is necessary if she wants to contend with the best in the world.  Agnes was certainly not a "short program skater" last season.  Strong shorts and bad longs are a sign that something is awry.  Tom Z's skaters are known for practicing full run-throughs, so one needs to wonder if nerves are the issue.  Her PCS are noticeably weak, which means that she needs the jumps to place well.

According to Tara Lipinski, Ashley Wagner "wants it" too badly.  It would certainly make sense, as she is using almost the exact music cut Kristi Yamaguchi won gold with 18 years ago.  Ashley's overly-exuberant reaction to a performance with a fall is certainly troubling.  The girl acted as though she just won a National Title.  While the performance was an improvement, it was far from what is necessary to compete at the highest level.  She remains a skater in desperate need of her own style.  Her Led Zeppelin program was a step in the right direction, but that was kiboshed by the powers that be.

It remains extremely depressing that Miki Ando manages to collect title after title with uninspiring skates.  Being the "best of the rest" is not much consolation when one has witnessed her winning a World Title in the past.

Kudos to Evora and Ladwig for managing a medal on the Grand Prix.  They are much more polished and up to snuff than they were a season ago.  If they remain on this course, it is quite possible that they could earn their first national title.  I must admit that Nessun Dorma is one piece I never want to hear again.  While I once enjoyed the music, Meno and Sand ruined it for me.  We've all had more than our share of the Ginger G+G over the years.  Evora and Ladwig's lifts never get old, but their last lift  reminded me far too much of the infamous 'swoop' exit Scott Hamilton gasped over at every available opportunity.   "Don't try this in your living rooms."

With so many withdrawals in the dance event, there isn't much to say.  One must wonder about the future of Faiella and Scali.  The judges may have given them a 'Worlds In Italy' boost a year ago, but that is certainly not the case this season (nor do they deserve it based on their performance.)

Bobrova and Soloviev grow on me more and more each day.  One must note that the free dances are supposed to have distinct differentiations in tempo, but theirs does not.  Tanith even mentioned that she'd like to see more variety in terms of expression but that it wouldn't necessarily be appropriate given the mono-tempo program.

One thing I will never get used to is hearing that ice dancers need to be "more like the North Americans."  I'm sure the Eastern Bloc isn't used to it either.  Tanith was dead on when she said that Ilinykh and Katsalapov's Don Quixote is simplistic in terms of transitions.  One almost doesn't care about their lack of power and difficulty after witnessing Elena's gorgeous posture and extension.  Almost.


  1. AJ, I've been in total agreement with your Grand Prix posts. Dance has generally been a snooze and the judging of Chan is questionable to say the least.

    I wonder what in the world Tom Z. is saying to Agnes that would cause such meltdowns two competitions in a row. Her jumps are awesome but she obviously needs polish and speed. A change to Yuka or Brian Orser should be in her future--coaches who seem to turn their students into happy skaters.

  2. Isn't it weird that ICE DANCE is the discipline with the most injuries? Something seems off.

  3. The fact that Patrick Chan with 3 falls scored about the same as Jeremy Abbott shows me that the judges are either dumb, blind, and/or corrupt, not to mention the fact that CoP is as ridiculous as it was when it was thought up.

    To be honest, I've never been moved by ANY of Chan's skating sans his Tango short. He doesn't really breathe life into his performance. He performs complex choreography well, but there's no flair or pizazz (I'm sorry, clicking your boots together in the air is NOT emoting). At least Johnny Weir could do two triple axels in a program. Thank GOD for Daisuke Takahashi, so we will never have to hear the words "Patrick Chan, World Champion Figure Skater" uttered.

    I've heard comparisons to the massive overscoring of Plushenko. One of the reasons Plushenko was scored so high was that he actually COULD perform. Regardless of the choreo (or lack thereof), Plushenko had the ability to entertain. As much as I disagreed with many of Plushenko's scores, he IS a performer. While it may have been corny and contrived, he did perform it. Chan is NOT Plushenko.

  4. Ilinykh and Katsalapov are adorable. I'm not sold on them as dancers yet, but I do like them.

    I thought Akiko should have won. She is basically the only lady right now who makes footwork look good.

    I thought Wagner's celebration made sense. She didn't skate well at all in her first GP. If you are only allowed to celebrate when you do something absolutely incredible, then you will rarely celebrate... Good for her for medaling and being excited.

  5. I think Agnes might be getting a bit freaked out by being in medal contention after the short. She's not only new to the Senior GP, she's new to competition, period. She didn't get out of Sectionals two years ago. Maybe a combination of nerves, inexperience, and some funky jumping? It seems once she misses one jump, several jumps after that are equally rough. Someone who knows the technical aspect of skating better than I do could say if there is something off about her jumping technique.

  6. Who in Tom Z's stable DOESN'T need to leave him to contend with the best in the world?

  7. I honestly do not understand why Agnes moved to Colorado to train WITH him. He's not the greatest coach. If anything, she should have moved to work with Frank Carroll or Brian Orser.

  8. I wouldn't mind, but aren't there 8319 good coaches at the Broadmoor? Do the skaters really work exclusively with Tom? It seems like they could use other coaches for specific problem areas.

  9. I love Patrick's footwork and transitions. He's not the most artistic and could work on his interpretation, but at least you never feel like he's laboring through his program. I don't like when he medals with 4 falls, but Abbott feel a couple times and had other errors too.

  10. Miki was visibly in quite a bit of pain as the Universal Sports announcer noted, so I was impressed and happy she pulled that off - she has stagnated artistically though. If she wants to be on the podium in Sochi, she and Morozov need to bring someone in not just to help choreograph, but to work on the expressive aspect of her skating. Any ideas on who might fit?

    Music choice not withstanding [if you're only a GOOD pair, skate to a GREAT piece of music at your peril], E/L have really distinguished themselves among the American pairs - I have no clue why the Denney/Barrett hot mess amateur hour is rewarded by American judges over a more refined pair like E/L... if international judges had been judging national last year, E/L would have won, and D/B probably wouldn't have gone to the Olympics.

  11. Oh, and I want Lena Ilinykh's dress. And Nikita.

  12. D/B won Nationals because literally everyone else skated bad in the short except Y/C (who skated bad in the long instead). E/L had too many mistakes in the short and then skated a good long, but still had a fall. D/B are a hot mess, but occasionally they will skate clean and beat the more talented, pretty American teams that make some mistakes.

    Anyway, I think Y/C and E/L did about equally well on the GP this year. E/L had a little more difficulty, Y/C were a little cleaner. D/B made a lot of mistakes, which is bad because the rest of their skating isn't enough to make up for that.

  13. But to be honest, I'm not very impressed by any of these teams. A clean D/B will probably beat both of them, which I don't necessarily agree with, but it's close.

  14. both of the new russian dance teams are pure win. Nikita is just the perfect diva ballerina. Yes, D/W are head and shoulders above them now, but that's now.

    This whole Chan stuff is getting very old. Whatever happened to PCS being gained with consistency when it counts? Has Patrick ever put out a clean LP? He is the Sasha of men's skating...only not as artistic.


  15. Orser is not an option. No canadian top skaters learns from Him...
    Only Foreign skaters are his students.
    He is most overrated coach in the world.
    For two years he never corrected Gao's flutz and
    Adam's 3axel.

    and We should remember Verner's remark and
    isu president's comment about him.

  16. correction : and We should remember Verner's remark and
    French isu president's comment about him.

  17. what was Verner's remark?

  18. Chan's skating in not about the artistry per se. It's about the complexity in his movements, the non-stop movements, the intricacy, the twizzles, the footwork. Take a look at how he compares with other skaters who mainly do cross overs. It's a big difference and it's no wonder that skaters as well as commentators (who were past skaters) give him high regard. His programs are difficult, and not just because of jumps!

  19. Verner : For two weeks I trained with Brian Orser. The first week I liked it, although it was scary, because it was not used when Brian work together with all skaters. No private lessons, he works with you for 40 minutes. If he continues to see problems, then he suits. On the ice at the same time there are about 10 or 12 skaters


    I always wonder why canadian top skaters NEVER learn
    from him...
    now I know the reason.
    cause they know him too well.

  20. Please learn to spell before you bash someone.

  21. What, exactly are Abbott's boot issues? Why have trouble now, and never before?

    Perhaps the issue at Broadmoor is not the coaching staff, but the overcrowded conditions...

    Dance has me very confused this year.

  22. Kavaguti and Smirnov were an amazing team to watch. I knew they both had bad injuries and surgeries but I have no idea they were off the ice for 4 months! If they look this good with only 12 weeks of training I can't wait to see them at Russian nationals.

  23. Orser isn't a reliable coach.

    He opened his student's new program after he/she left him.

    Maybe that is the reason why Adam is scared to leave him.