Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Glacier Falls--- The Ladies

Glacier Falls came and went, but it brought with it a collection of US skaters with B-List talent and A-List name recognition.  Well, in some cases it was A-List talent with a B-List work ethic, or just part fugliness. You get the picture.  This year's competition featured our first glimpses of Ashley Wagner, Caroline Zhang, Mirai Nagasu, Leah Kesiser and Courtney Hicks.  It has only been a few months since Worlds and the end of the never-ending season, but I was really starting to miss some of these girls with their problems and attitudes.  Thank goodness Ms. Wagner is back blogging with her fake personality and her light-in-his-loafers brother has been flouncing apart.  Check Plus.

Ashley Wagner moved across the country with all sorts of rumors and speculation about her stubborn ways and deterioration of her ultra-close relationship with Priscilla Hill.  We can only hope that Mr. Nicks is not giving this girl an inch, because she has serious work to do.  Most would say that this is Ashley's last season to do something before she reaches Amber Corwin status.  The 2008 World Championships were a long time ago and they weren't even some triumphant memory.  It was pretty much the 1997 World Gymnastics Championships on Ice for Team USA (with the falls, but minus the white leotards.)  Wagner appears to love working with Philip Mills, but I have to say that she has failed us with Black Swan.

I don't have delusions that Ashley Wagner will ever be some sort of artist.  When you skate like a West German lesbian during your formative years, I don't grow hope that you'll once day skate from within.  Perhaps you might one day learn to hold an edge and look sexy, but no one seems to be hitting Mary up anymore.  I do love our skating girls, they are far more cultured and edgy than their gymnastics counterparts.  It must be all of the gays and Russians at the rink.  Someone sent me a genius quote of a poster on a message board saying that the thing they love most about this season is that fifty percent of the people using Black Swan thought they were being innovative, while the other half just didn't give a shit and they didn't know which was worse.

Ashley Wagner is clearly a girl that saw the wonderful Jewish experience known as Natalie Hershlag, Winona Horowitz and Mila Kunis sharing the screen in our beloved cinematic gem.  Yet, her program was just another Swan Lake with fluttering arms.  If anyone was insane enough to pull off stabbing herself with a shard of glass, it would be Ashley Wagner.  Those youtube videos speak for themselves.  As does the clip of her telling Priscilla Hill that only one more girl needed to fuck up so she could make the Olympic Team.  One can't forget her accidental snubbing of Caroline Zhang at the medal ceremony at Junior Worlds.  Now, I enjoy Ashley for being a tad tightly wound.  Where may I ask was the cake scene in this long program?  I didn't see any lesbian wet dream or nail clipping with scissors.  It goes without saying that a generic Swan Lake is miles better than the insipid Irina Romanova programs with the heavy music, floral headpieces and random back bending.  Overall, her technique doesn't look much improved.  It does look like John Nicks is forcing her to train properly and her skating is looking better.  Some of her jumps are exhibiting more height, but I have faith that she will find a way to two-foot them and leave out her Triple-Triples come the Grand Prix.  Our girl may add a few more bronze medals to her trophy case, but I can't say I see a dramatic Czisny-like success story in her future.  Ashley Wager won Glacier Falls despite finishing second in the free skate to Leah Kesier.  Being pretty just doesn't work for Ms. Wagner.  Led Zeppelin worked better before they tossed it to the curb.  Speed or Requiem For A Dream would be an improvement.

Caroline Zhang:  I'm not going to lie.  I prefer slow, bendy Caroline with a awful jump technique and beautiful spins. I'd do anything to get the up-and-coming Caroline back.  I enjoy that so much more than looking at this recreational synchro skater who is learning jump technique, yet positively hopeless.  Who has a cut of Ave Maria?  Please. This is currently at a sad state.  Long gone are the days where Ms. Zhang was photographic dream who no one ever worried about moving out of frame.  I live for her working on her speed and flip technique, yet that axel is still coming from a dead stop.  It does have an added feature of being off the shoulder. The footwork is almost at a stop. Sadly, Ms. Zhang is just looking like another sad girl who is happy just to make it out of Regionals.  The overall look on the ice is dowdy at best.  I don't know if it is the music, her skating, bad choreography, or a combination, but I'm lost before the second half.  Caroline Zhang, I used to be so entertained by you.  This breaks my icy heart.

Mirai Nagasu missed the memo on off-ice training when she was injured last summer, but seems to have her shit somewhat together at this point.  The word potential has always been used in conjunction with Mirai's name, yet it appears to be as much of a curse as a blessing.  Tara Lipinski recently spoke are the competitive fire and work ethic that all the great skating champions have exhibited over the years.  Mirai has none of that.  It has also been said that the more flexible skaters are, the more difficulty they'll have with their jumps.  Exhibit A: Mirai.  Sadly, Mirai's jumps are always going to be a question of head and heart for the technical caller.  Ms. Mirai is slow at launching into the air and rotating.  She lacks the extra quick twitch that makes all of the difference in the World.  All of her Double Axel+Triple Toes and Triple-Triple attempts leave me with a bit of a giggle and a groan.

Lori Nichol spent real time with Mirai (who skipped SOI Canada because she was getting her programs), but I'm afraid that it may never happen for our favorite hot mess.  There are moments of the new programs were Mirai looks like a bonafide woman, yet there are still far too many moments where she is hunched over chasing Elle Kawamura around the rink.  The spontaneous quality of Mirai's skating is also holding her back competitively.  Everything needs more intention and force.  It may be impossible not to love her, but it is difficult to watch such talent come up just short time and time again.  If Frank Carroll isn't able to whip you into shape, it is quite possible that no one can.  Many Mirai apologists are pointing out that she is recently back from Japan (and we our hearts and prayers are all still with Japan in the skating world), but that doesn't explain those Triple Flips away.  Sasha Cohen would make excuses like that.  Kristi Yamaguchi would've landed all of her triples in her show programs and been ready to go.  It is true that Mirai has ''peaked'' later in the season, yet she has never reached warrior status of someone who embraces the long program and is ready to kick a little ass.  Our short program skater is lovely, but she may be just that.  We've learned from Johnny Weir that we can't tame a beast and force them to train like Evan Lysacek if it just doesn't come from within.  Mirai was beaten by Leah Kesier (who is aiming for a Junior Grand Prix assignment) and you get the feeling that sort of thing happens several a times a week.  The USFSA and the judging panel at Nationals were over Mirai's potential last season.  Baby girl has a lot to prove with just two spots on the line yet again.

Leah Kesier is skating as a first-year senior despite just missing Nationals a year ago.  Leah is extraordinarily talented, but her skating is still juniorish in parts.  The talent and potential are there.  Consistency, experience and a dash of luck with the puberty fairy are what she needs.  Ms. Keiser has jump technique where she really holds her leg behind her for a bit before picking, which is slightly awkward.  Her edges and rotation appear to be correct on the video.  Under Frank Carroll's tutelage, Leah remains one to watch.  Unfortunately, she will forever have to fight the curse of winning Novice.

Courtney Hicks is a cluster-fuck.  The girl goes from performing stunning cannonball positions and headless scratch spins to doing footwork with a fugly, bent free leg.  It is not kosher.  She is clearly a willful girl who will drive Mr. Nicks nuts and I approve of the drama in the rink already.  The Quad Salchow and Triple Flip+Triple Loop attempts are promising, but there is so much work to be done.  We need to hammer that free leg into an extended position and really beat the out the 'dirty spots.'  It is too draining to be awed and disgusted again and again in a four-minute program.  Mr. Nicks, you wise fox, work your magic.  WTF is up with the swing axel and landing so far back on the blade...and then going into a gorgeous layback?  In the words of Ms. Lipinski, skate faster!  Skaters need to exude their personality and this is definitely not it.

In other news, at least we didn't have to see Rachael Flatt perform.


  1. "As does the clip of her telling Priscilla Hill that only one more girl needed to fuck up so she could make the Olympic Team."

    Where is this clip? And you think Ashley's super peppy videos are phony Ashley? Hmm, could be.

  2. I love the clip of Ashley being unable to contain her excitement when Sasha Cohen fucked up her long program. Her fake award show applause was certainly missing.

  3. Mirai's changing the flip technique, she's picking much sooner after the turn (probably to prevent edge calls)

  4. Mirai was in Japan for 2.5 weeks right before this competition, so I don't care what she looked like here. If she had been training, okay, but she was doing shows in Japan for half a month for goodness sake. I'm more concerned that her program doesn't really go with the Spartacus music. I don't really like the layout of it, and think the program can use some fixing. Leah Keiser the little jumping bean has nothing on her on a regular day though. At least Mirai has an "it factor", which Leah and Ashley do not. I really appreciate the effort from Ashley, but I hope she tweaks that LP a bit since it seems she took stuff out.

  5. yeah, I think the fact that Mirai is doing so many triple loops right now means she's not quite comfortable with that new flip technique. Her loop is looking great though so it might not even be a bad idea to leave it in the SP.

  6. I don't mind Mirai's new long program, but man do I miss the spiral sequences. There's a section of music- right when she's going into her second triple loop of the program- that just begs for a Kwan style serpentine spiral that covers the full ice surface. Mirai could totally rock a program like that, but beauty in skating isn't valued by the ISU anymore, so no spiral sequence. With that sequence and a could of other tweaks, Lori could have done so much more with that music.

    As for Ashley, I'm hoping she can grow into her long program some, but I'm not holding out much hope for her short. It's a mess musically and choreographically, and her performance level just can't save it.

  7. Don't blame the ISU. Mirai spent plenty of time in the beginning of the program doing spirals that didn't fit in at that point in the music. Mirai should get Lori to come in and rearrange that program.

  8. As I have never seen a competition this early in the season, I'm not sure what I should be expecting but...

    Ashley Wagner: Mediocre but I'd sure rather watch her than Rachel Flatt or Carolina Kostner (among others). I think she ran out of gas 2/3 of her way through the LP

    Leah Keisner: Can jump, otherwise not impressed.

    Mirai: Oh geez - such a great toolkit, but I don't see the love for skating anymore. She has been so lucky that puberty has not deprived her of a good skating body (like Caroline Zhang) but it is a very stately body and Mirai just does not seem to feel comfortable with it. I'm still rooting for her though.

  9. I'm holding out hope for Mirai...for now. At some point I'll get really sick of waiting for her to wake the hell up, but for now I'm holding on...

    I think Ashley's Swan program is nice, but it's not fantabulous or anything. She usually has solidly choreographed programs even though she delivers them like she just drank a six pack of Red Bull and popped a bottle of west coast turnarounds...she looked more relaxed here, but we'll have to see what happens when it's a real competition...

    I agree with your assessment of Courtney...I'm not wetting my pants over her. She so all over the place...Nicks needs to iron her ass out. She needs more finesse with her jumps rather than her current "BA-DOW!" execution. She ain't got shit on Adelina Sotnikova IMO...

    Leah's solid but again, lacks that maturity and presence she needs to make her really grab attention. An attack from the puberty monster is imminent so we'll have to see how she fares after that...

  10. I don't really care if John Nicks produces a champion in Courtney Hicks. I just hope he can train her to show the beautiful line, technique, and extension he's known for teaching. To co-opt one of Dick's skategasms, I want to be able to iron a shirt on her back and have it come out perfectly!

  11. "Don't blame the ISU. Mirai spent plenty of time in the beginning of the program doing spirals that didn't fit in at that point in the music. Mirai should get Lori to come in and rearrange that program."

    Point conceded. But I'm going to blame both Lori and the ISU.

  12. Mirai has a beautiful arabesque spiral. Where is it? It should be where the spread eagle is. That kind of choreo is fine for a Rachael Flatt, who does not have a good spiral, but not for Mirai. True, it's like Michelle's program to this music, but if Lori didn't want to copy Michelle, she shouldn't have used her music. I agree with AJ that Mirai needs to find the competitive fire and attack. She has so much talent and has had so many chances to win big, but has come up short. I say, keep Frank but get rid of Lori. She should work with David Wilson if Yu Na decides not to compete.

  13. True, we as Mirai fans deliberately choose to live in denial until she proves again that she doesn't intend to succeed :(