Monday, December 13, 2010

GPF: Pairs and Dance

The Grand Prix Final brought together the top skaters in world.  After a weak World Championships and lackluster Grand Prix Series thus, one could not be sure what to expect from the final.  There was a welcome surprise.  After months of falls and uninspired performances, the skaters performed at a level befitting the significance of the competition.

As always, NBC/Universal made us suffer the affliction known as Peter Carruthers.  It is amazing to listen to Peter and know how incredibly bitter he still is about `984.  No one ever celebrated or endorsed the Carruthers much.  They skated the programs of their lives to finish behind the weakest performance by a pair in Soviet history, yet no one ever whined that he was robbed.

Peter's bitterness was most evident during his commentary of Iliusechkina and Maisuradze.  The new Russian starlets have talent, charisma, polish and poise.  The majority of their skating is vastly superior to anything the Chinese are doing.  They are beginning to put it all together, but they do not have the same acrobatic power of the Chinese.  Instead of focusing on their numerous positive qualities, Carruthers chooses to point out their few moments of 'sloppiness.'

I believe Peter Carruthers has watched skating over the last five years, which makes it curious that he would make a point of noting sloppiness from Iliusechkina and Maisuradze.  Moments later, Sui and Han, China's fetus sensations, took to the ice with senior-level tricks and novice-level polish.  Peter cheered and applauded their difficult elements, while failing to note their utter lack of refinement.  Then it hit me: Peter and Kitty were Sui and Han (only without the quad throw.)  Under the respectable judging system, Sui and Han performance would've been judged on par with Tara Lipinski's in the junior ladies at 1995 Nationals: Cute, but artistically weak.  5.6 TM, 5.2 PR.

Bazarova and Larionov's program was tepid.  It appears that Vera hasn't eaten in months and it may explain their lack of energy and attack.  While she is an utter vision, her jumping ability is that of a Canadian lady.   Vera is such a vision that the devil on my shoulder is telling me that she will never be able to get it together.  Her jumps barely leave the ice.  It appears to be a matter of time before they are passed by up-and-coming Russians in the pipeline.

Savchenko and Szolkowy, the pseudo Germans, skated impressively.  Their Pink Panther routine has moments of cheekiness, but I must say that it would make a much better short program.  One can only take so much of the theme.  I enjoyed a good chuckle when Peter Carruthers tried to claim that their lack of unison on their side-by-side spins was 'out of character.'  Apparently he's never seen them skater before.  Their throws remain a gift from above.  The question remains: when are they adding in the side-by-side Triple Salchows?  Aliona is one fierce bitch and she knows it will make them unbeatable.

One thing that Peter has recently discovered is that Pang and Tong do not perform beautiful lifts.  It is only about eight years too late. Their aging bodies make one wonder if they should've retired after their World Championship victory.  Pang and Tong are still good, but their free dance lacks the magic of last year's.  As a pair, they achieve beauty through their passion and emotion.  It just is a bit flat this season.

Special kudos belongs to the sturdy new team of Moore-Towers and Moscovitch.  Their names may be more interesting than their skating, but they have impressive lifts and unison for such a new team.  MTM have side-by-side spin unison that my OCD could only pray the Germans will one day achieve.

The Wonderful World of Ice Dance did not disappoint.  After struggling with levels and a cluster-fuck of a free dance, Marlie finally skated with their shit together.  The free dance is still sexless, but it is performed with much more confidence.  Maybe they dream of cuddling after leaving the Kiss and Cry?  One highlight of the season has been listening to Terry Gannon and Andrea Joyce bait Tanith Belbin for tidbits about Charlie White.  They'll usually butter her up with a compliment about her own career before asking her for dirt.  Mr. White is NOT pleased that his girlfriend always manages to catch and report his mistakes, as she did during his minor twizzle glitch in the Short Dance.  Now that their elements are secure, it is time to up the performance and up the sex.  Tanith agrees.

Pechalat and Bourzat performed well, but are not up to the Canton standard.  They have most certainly improved and will force Tessa Virtue to work her ass off if she hopes for at least a silver medalist at Worlds.

The skating world is slowly recovering from its Post-Olympic Hangover.  The previous POH was not as severe, as Torino proved to be an utterly shitty Olympics.


  1. I don't think their FD is sexless, I just don't think they're going for showy competition circuit tango and are sticking to real argentine tango sexiness, which is all the hotter because it doesn't feel the need to flaunt it. Either way, I can't wait to see them up the performance by a few notches.

  2. Their FD is definitely getting there, and at least the sex was up a notch at the beginning.

  3. There's less incentive for S/S to make those double sals triples because they are crushing everyone without them. I hate Pink Panther, but love this program. I think it's because it's the first time I've seen them really get into character like this. Vera Bazarova has the strangest jumping I've ever seen. Her 3T basically travels forward while 5 cm off the ice, which I've never seen before. The extreme dieting is silly because it makes her lines look like Bambi. You are spot on about Sui/Han. They have great energy but skate with no refinement whatsoever. The other Russians were better than them, but their underrotated jumps always kill them. Moore-Towers is just a better version of Caydee Denney to me. She can land stuff, but there's a lack of polish, as if evident by her terrible spiral that she just carelessly threw up there before their throw. But she's just a teenager, there's room for improvement.

    I thought Meryl and Charlie looked pretty good.

  4. Carruthers is an idiot. A few weeks ago, he was talking about Bryce Davison and couldn't for the life of him remember who his partner was. He's been commentating at competitions Dube/Davison have been in for many years. If he's "expert" enough to be a commentator, he should know their names.

    I love how you left out Pang/Tong. lol

  5. I didn't mean to leave out Pang and Tong, am adding them in!

  6. Who knows, maybe P&T would love to retire but are asked to stay for another season? With S&Z retired, the Zhangs being out due to the injury, while Sui&Han are trying to establish themselves as a top senior pair.
    I'm surprised P&T are using their sp from the previous season again.

  7. I agree that I/M were pretty good. They have beautiful lines, speed and technical difficulties. Easy 3t and 3S.I think they were undermarked and probably should have won the bronze medals.

    Caroline Zhang jumps higher Bazarova. This pair is also not particularly dynamic. I really don't see big potential in them.

  8. S/S actually wanted to add the 3sals here, but because of the lost luggage (including skates) after TEB they only had 3 training days left before the finals and they didn't have enough time to work on the 3sal. I think they did an amazing job considering the lost training time.

    S/S had great unison on their side-by-side spin in the short btw.

  9. 1)S/Sz need to stop with the annual "cute" program. Not only are they garish without a hint of being delightfully campy, it associates frivolity with them as a pair, which then makes it difficult to take their "serious" programs seriously.
    2) no brainer I/M should have taken bronze
    3) Liubov Iliush..ina has serious diva potential
    4) In defense of B/L: I think these two already have a unison that most world-class pairs will never have. Moreover, girl has a balletic shape and generally takes advantage of it... her line ranges from pretty good to divine. As far as jumping, the first few times I saw them skate, I thought she would never land a clean triple in competition, and she's nailed something like 80% of her jumps this season. I think what this team needs is the right program, some time with the judges, and, yes, for her to have a hot pocket or something, and they can be a 50/50 for the podium in Sochi.
    5)M-T/M are the opposite of B/L and illustrate everything that's wrong with North American pairs skating and ice dance (prior to the arrival of Zueva and Shpilband).

  10. Davis and White were insanely good. God that FD is hard. and is it just me or has Charlie tripled in hotness since he started living with Tanith?

  11. I think Charlie just ain't bringing the heat ever since he started dating Tanith. His facial expressions are just so fake, ever since POTO. Stop leaving Meryl hanging!