Saturday, December 29, 2012

Russian Roundup

An unprecedented 10th national title puts Plushenko in good stead for the rest of the season. Dude can still do quads without proper knees. I think he receives a Pulitzer Prize just for that. Controversy over the "coaches council" pick for the European men's team ensued after 3rd place finisher Konstantin Menshov was ousted over Junior Grand Prix Final winner Maksim Kovtun who placed 5th. Russian pairs champion Maksim Trankov wrote a rather seething Twitter post protesting the decision. “The coaching council is garbage!!! All the athletes stand by Menshov. Without exception!" He was this close to throwing the F bomb. The coaches council, whoever they may be, made the right decision -- Russia should not send a man to the European championships with an 80s magic mullet. Just. not. okay. anymore.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Zamboni Break: Anne Hathaway as Fantine

If you were one of the 18 million broadway bumpkins who went to see Les Miserables on Christmas, the most talked about performance (besides Russell Crowe's rather mushy vocal cords) is Anne Hathaway's exposed version of "I Dreamed a Dream" (thank our heavens Susan Boyle wasn't hired for the movie).

So friends, what do you say? Fess up if you cried. It's alright -- just tell us if you are the type that sobs during Kwan's East of Eden and we will put you in a respective category. Tears or not, there has been some criticism as to the direction Tom Hooper went with much of the film. Most notably on IDAD, he shoves a close-up on Hathaway's face and entirely tones down the dramatics of the vocal power ballad by instead creating a horrific picture of a prostitute at her very wits end.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Photo of the Day

Turkey Lurkey Time

A Turkey Lurkey Christmas to you!

Favorite Things: Jingle Bell Rock!

Ringing in the Christmas spirit with everyone's favorite band!

Because you know all the moves...


Miko Fogarty from First Position

A classic.  I secretly live for the cheese.

This and That

Caroline Zhang at the East West Ice Palace Holiday Show.

Grant Hochstein at the East West Ice Palace Holiday Show.

Marissa King says to Watch Out For The Gators in 2013

Workout Wednesday at Metroplex featuring Lizzy Leduc

Louis Smith is looking to cash in on winning Strictly Come Dancing and is willing to turn his back on gymnastics for a TV career. He indicated that he will not be back in competition until 2014 at the earliest.

Gabby Douglas was names the Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press, the youngest recipient since Mary Lou Retton. It is quite simply a huge honor that underscores the impact Gabby Douglas made on the world this summer with her Olympic wins. The last three female gymnasts to be named Athlete of the Year were Olga, Nadia and Mary Lou. Peggy Fleming is the only figure skater to ever win the award.

Russian Nationals Schedule and Results

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Ashley Wagner performed at the Galleria. She recently added Pandora to her list of endorsements. Already with Nike, expert Wagner to become earn big with the Olympics looming should she repeat as National Champion and earn a medal at Worlds. After seven years of shifting champions, the USFSA to eager to crown a repeat champion.

Gymnastics photographer and former message board owner/moderator Pam Mayer was killed in a car accident. RIP to a real talent.

A Look at Japanese Nationals

Mao Asada appears positively thrilled upon successfully defending her National Title

This weekend the All-Japan Figure Skating Championships took place in Sapporo. They are easily one of the most hotly contested, if not the most hotly contested, National Championships around the globe. This year there were much-anticipated match ups between Akiko Suzuki and Mao Asada in the ladies' event and Daisuke Takahashi and Yuzuru Hanyu in the men' event.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

History Lesson: The Old Way

Oh, how I miss the old days when Uncle Dick would accost the skaters in the Kiss and Cry before they even had time to decompress with their coaches. Note this particular gem where Linda Fratianne skates her Olympic sendoff in a manner that Dick finds 'uninspired' and 'slow.' I love the way in which he heads down to the Kiss and Cry to investigate what what wrong with the current ladies champion.

Skating like shit is one thing, having to answer to Uncle Dick is quite another.

This and That

Children, we need to have a family discussion. I am worried that I am not well. For years, I hated Carolina Kostner's out-of-control skating and jumps that appeared to skim across the ice.  Over the course of her transformation and slowing down, I have fallen in love with the Italian ice queen. Though I oppose most non-Torvill-and-Dean Boleros, I adore this program. Dare I say I find this to be the most choreographically interesting long program of the season? Many will point out that the score is quite high (Nationals inflation), but the performance is quite impressive and much improved from her recent performance in Zagreb. And yes, she won Nationals again.

John Geddert tweeted that Jordyn Wieber wishes to return to the gym and compete at Nationals.  A recent article quotes Liang Chow as saying that Gabby will not compete in 2013. Many felt that it would be the opposite. It is interesting, as both gymnasts are headed on another tour to earn some well-deserved cash after their Olympic win. Recent photos of Jordyn Wieber have her looking in better shape compared to when I saw her struggle to land a 2 1/2 twist on an air floor at my tour stop. It looks like she has hit the gym since then and gotten trimmer. After the horrors of certain returning Olympics at 2009 Nationals, I don't expect much from either. It would be great for the sport to see Jordyn return after her Olympic disappointment (and a huge newspaper storyline booster/fluff piece waiting to happen), but she may need to train differently in order to save her body. Jordyn has another year of high school left, so training could very well be in order for her last year now that her friends will graduate without her. Gabby appears to be physically capable of returning to the gym. As long as either can be back by 2014 Championships, they should have plenty of time to prepare for Rio; whether they can make it back to the top of the sport is another story entirely.

Johnny Weir long wished to skate to Christina Aguilera. Here is his performance to Army of Me in the rain with rather curious hair. Are you still into the gender bending schtick?  The skating is probably the best we have seen from him in a while. Johnny heads to Japan to skate in their Stars on Ice tour in January and February.

A look at the Gym Dogs' sneak peak. Shayla Worley appears to be in the best shape of her collegiate career, yet I notice that they cut away from her bar routine prior to her dismount. Her archy Hristakeava looks slightly more usable than Tanella's FT, but I don't know if we will see either competing. Jay and Couch ditched their 1.5TYs for this intrasquad, but Jay does show another option. Lindsey Cheek looks ready to be a standout for the team on multiple events and they desperately need her. Cat Hires also looks like she will return to the vault lineup. Sarah Persinger is in much better shape than last year and looks quite capable of earning big scores. Chelsea Davis' vault is a bit small compared to the others, but we will definitely see her on bars again. The gymnastics world waits to see how this team will fare in competition. (Note that Mariel Box graduated and that Mary Beth Box now competes...and we all have about the same level of excitement for each.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

End of the World Favorite Things

Since the world's impending doom is tomorrow, the only logical thing is to share some favorite things. Somehow I'm feeling a bit like Kirsten Dunst in "Melancholia" -- ya know, the film where she knows that the world is gonna end and she's all depressed and ...well I'm not gonna tell it all to you because you need to see it, but some serious damage control tries to happen but actually just makes things worse....

So to ease the pain just a tad, watch these videos while you wish your neighbor a happy doomsday.

A fitting countdown into our escape to the core of the ozone layer:


Incredible doesn't event begin with this one...


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This and That

A look at Carolina Kostner working to up the technical ante in practice. She has already put out the Triple Lutz this year, but she needs to get the Triple Flip+Triple Toe in the long (and eventually the short) in order to be competitive. Kostner is choosing to return after earning a World Title that is truly once in a lifetime. Most take it as a signal to retire, but Kostner is continuing. Can she do it? Is she slowing down even more on purpose? Fans either love or hate Kostner. There is really no in between.

Catalina Ponor on beam at the Antwerpen Gala. Look at the skill level. She will be able to do this at fifty years old. Put her in a black cat suit. It is a shame she wasn't on the American tour. Ponor would've stolen the show.

Justin Spring spoke to the Gymcastic Podcast about his upcoming meet that will test out his proposed new format for men's gymnastics. While the details are still being worked out, Spring appears to be moving the sport in the right direction. One has to respect anyone who attempts to make men's gymnastics coherent for the average viewer. His new format includes a proposed stick-off in the event of a tie breaker. That would certainly elevate the level of fun for a sport that is on the risk of being obsolete at the NCAA level.

McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross will appear in the Rose Bowl Parade. IG got absolutely nothing else of interest for Maroney except for that she has a 13 foot Christmas Tree...we can only imagine what her house looks like.

A Romanian with bar grips...  Is there a difference or is she just a welcome accident?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Program of the Day

Nicole Bobek's stunning tribute to Aunt Joyce.  Remember, we are cast mates now ;)

This and That

The injury bug has reared its ugly head yet again. Yesterday, UCLA lost Sam Peszek for the season due to a torn achilles tendon. It goes without saying that this is a huge loss for UCLA. While many consider Vanessa Zamarripa to be the star of the team, Peszek is the rock. No matter what, she hits. Sam is a huge scoring member of the lineup on all four events. Her bubbly personality is an integral part of the team chemistry. Surely, she will rehab and become the team's biggest cheerleader. Val will tell us that she is contributing just as much, if not more.

What this does mean, is that UCLA is in a bit of a hole. Having already lost seven routines from the Super Six due to the graduation of Gerber, Hopfner-Hibbs and Frattone, UCLA is now down eleven routines. The other athletes are simply going to need to step it up in order to replace those routines. Many of the routines lost were not mere 9.800s or 9.850s, they were regular 9.900-scoring routines. UCLA will also be without freshman Peng Peng Lee for much of the season, though Val says they may decide to use her first year of eligibility and have her competed bars and possibly beam, as the NCAA Championships are being held on UCLA's campus. Given Val's ability to will her team into post season form, to motivate, to passive aggressively threaten and frankly, frighten her team to victory with her fierce stare, I expect the Canadian star to be in the bar lineup come April.

Freshman Danusia Francis was expected to contribute. Now, she will be needed to be a star. She cannot have a rough adjustment period. Though she didn't compete beam at the NCAA Championships, expect Olivia Courtney to be looked to for all-around leadership. After scoring a 39.800 in the Super Six, Zam doesn't have much room to improve, but Val will surely spur her on to make this her best season yet.

The key to the team's success will be Mattie Larson. In her interview on the Gymcastic Podcast, Val mentioned Mattie struggling with depression and post-Olympic blues. Nothing can help one can out of a funk like success, but someone needs to be motivated out of the funk to fit. It is a cyclical trap. Though she was scored generously during the Super Six, Mattie's performances were not up to her own potential. If UCLA hopes to be in the mix, Mattie needs to emerge as a star on the two events she didn't compete on last season. Ironically, vault and floor were why Martha was considering her for the 2008 Olympic Team.

UCLA suffered a huge loss yesterday, but one can never count out a team like the Bruins. Like ever.

Julia Lipnitskaya has withdrawn from next week's Russian National Championships. This may be one of the smartest decisions ever made. After suffering a concussion in training, Julia needs more time to recover. This year has been a season of some success, a growth spurt and various injuries. The reigning Junior World Champion does not need to be at her best this season. This is a time for adjustment, training and a time to avoid creating bigger problems. Allowing her some time to rest and recover is fine. She wasn't going to go to Worlds and no one benefits from damaging their confidence or reputation by skating when far from their best.

Kaitlyn Weaver will undergo ankle surgery for an injury sustained on Friday. The injury will keep Weaver and Poje out of the Canadian National Championships. It is unclear if petitioning to the World Championships would even be realistic at this point.

Takahashi and Tran have split. This is a huge blow to fans and to Japan's skating program. Takahashi and Tran were going to be an important factor for the Japanese Team in next year's Olympic Games. The difficulty of obtaining Japanese citizenship prevent Takahashi from finding a suitable partner, especially with the Olympics approaching. It is always terrible to see a budding partnership with so much potential calling it quits. Both skaters intend to continue competing.

Rudy Galindo and Lori Nichol have both been elected to the USFSA Hall of Fame.

My favorite, Mariya Livchikova, at the Golden Seagull.

Anna Dementyeva won the AA, UB and BB at the Voronin Cup. Anna Pavlova topped the rankings on VT and FX.  While Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova performed watered down exhibition routines on bars, they displayed form that makes it foreseeable that they will be top performers at the European Championships. Juniors Evgenia Shulgunova and Maria Kharenkova performed well. Notably absent was Anastasia Grishina, which only raises questions about her future in the sport after her shaky performance at the Olympic Games.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Ultimate Skating Porno

We live for the head rolls. We live for the shoulder thrusts. We all know she came to the Olympics after a night of hitchhiking and being picked up by a truck driver. The ultimate hitcher and hooker.

Skating to music entitled "People are Having Sex" Tonya can officially be called the true skating porn star. Move over Katarina Witt.

In this performance her triple axel/fly away/missionary was definitely a hot ticket item. We can't decide what is better (or worse)-- the music cut into porno Bach or the spirals worthy of a beginner jazzercise class.

Now to discuss the step sequence. Is this the part of the program before or after orgasm? We can't even begin to understand. Even if she never wore lingerie in competition (thank our lucky stars), we know that her shoulder ruffles tell us she's queen of the street.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What I'm Living For...

I am in love with the queen in the tank top.  In my mind, Rippon, Lambiel, Buttle and Takahashi should perform to this.

Look at this spinning, I mean the girl is wonderful. I don't suppose I can call her a girl. This woman is wonderful.

But you want to take her over your knee and say 'get with it my dear and learn to do those triples.'

Nicole Bobek is one of those young people that first you want to wring her neck, then you want to spank her, and then you want to hug her.

Foray Into Adult Skating: The First Performance

As children, we imagine performing programs on the ice and skating to beautiful music in glittery costumes. While many children are lucky and do so, some of us are not and make up for it as adults. Scheduling lessons and workouts around jam-packed work schedules can be a nightmare, but the challenge and process is mostly enjoyable. Then someone's skating club president will twist their arm into performing in the Christmas show two weeks prior to the event and they will reluctantly agree and have an inner panic attack.

This and That

Pechalat and Bourzat skated to another National Championship. Their Rolling Stones medley continues  to receive mixed reviews. The energy dipped slightly compared to last week's Grand Prix Final. Getting amped up again after the Grand Prix Final had to be difficult, as there was never any question that they would win.

Rumor has it that Kaitlyn Weaver broke her ankle. Though this is not confirmed, we will have to keep our eyes and ears open for any developments, should this wind up being true. This could certainly shake up the dance world, as being absent is never an excuse for judges to pass you by. Already in a precarious situation falling in the rankings, missing the important end to the season could drop them definitely behind the two Russian teams, the Italians and possibly the Shibutanis.

In other news, McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross went to Disneyland while their Olympic teammates performed in the Skating and Gymnastics "Spectacular." What is great is that while recovering from injury, Maroney's entire life revolves around taking a series of instagram photos and killing it every time. Though Tyra would surely accuse her of only having one face, the level of fierceness remains. It is abundantly clear that the rest of the people in her life are merely her props. And as they will surely tell you, being one of her props is better than being invisible. Well, they would say that if Kyla Ross actually spoke.

As expected, Kyla appears to be getting even taller. Her calling to be USAG's new 'it girl' is definitely more and more questionable with each additional centimeter.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

One of Uncle Dick's Favorites

A look at Maya Plisetskaya in her famed rendition of Carmen. The expression is everything.  What she lacks in extension and flexibility, she makes up for in total command of the the performance. Maya was one of Uncle Dick's favorite people to name drop at random moments in the late '90s and early '00s when it was unclear if he was trying to prove how utterly cultured, sophisticated and intelligent he was or was clearly just rambling due to blunt trauma to the head.

This documentary features almost no clips of her dancing, yet watching her speak with her arms and facial expressions is mesmerizing.

This and That

Kayla Nowak returned home from the hospital today and is said to be walking around her apartment a ton, shocking her roommate who is misty eyed whenever she gets up and about.

The Georgia Gym Dogs held their sneak peak today. Based on Couch's 9.95 for her piked vault, it looks like the team is about where they were a year ago. In some ways, the underbelly of the team looks better, yet they are sorely missing Kat Ding and Gina Nuccio. It is interesting to see one poster thinking Tanella has a chance to be in all four events...which means that Brittany Rogers better enter in fabulous shape or else to team is going to lose Coach Durante's first home. Based on recent interviews, Coach Durante appears pleasant, yet a bit nervous. It can only be expected, as the athletic director will certainly be putting the pressure on if she doesn't achieve results.

Despite how gorgeous Shayla Worley is on beam, it amazes me that she cannot stick a gainer full dismount or execute it without piking down her body. I am one who has always loved the look of her gymnastics, but it simply boggles the mind how she is unable to dismount bars or beam now. I hope we get to see her on floor, as she does appear to be much improved on the event. Being that it is Shayla, there will be all sorts of little injuries and dramas, so we will probably only see her 5-6 times.



Kaetlyn Osmond scored a 131.97 for her free skate at the Skate Canada Challenge.

Amelia Maloney Hundley's new floor routine has impressive tumbling. As always, the choreography and music is typical insipid elite crap performed in the USofA.  Amelia will be twisting that double layout with a rod in her leg in no time. Such a joy to hear MLT's OCD once again.

The Skating and Gymnastics Craptacular took place this evening. Reports indicate that Alissa Czisny went for a few triples on the smaller ice surface.  Adam Rippon and Jeremy Abbott both missed several jumps in the show, but it should be noted how small the rink actually is. It is wonderful that Nastia is allowed to get in touch with her inner ice skater diva bitch once a year, as gymnasts just are not on her level.

An exceptional Gay Christmas moment.

Quite the duo are bonding at a Christmas party tonight.

Brian Joubert withdrew from the French National Championships, but is still hoping to compete at Europeans and Worlds. The aging hottie is still recovering from a viral infection.

My husband's latest performance.

The Return of Carolina Kostner

After months of injury and indecision, Carolina Kostner has returned to competition at the Golden Spin of Zagreb.  Given the time off, she will have to get ready for competition very quickly with the Italian Nationals and European Championships approaching. This may not be her year to win, but it could pay off. In her long, Kostner attempted a Triple Lutz for the first time in several years and landed it despite turning out of it. She appears to be attempting a Triple Flip+Triple Toe as her third jumping pass and going for seven triples. While it is unlikely to all come together this year, putting the content out there may very well her in her attempt to win an Olympic medal.

It is noted that I have an aversion to anyone performing to Bolero, let alone singles skaters. I do not think the new rules allow one to capture the essence of the music, nor do I think the inevitable comparison to Torvill and Dean wins up being flattering to anyone. The music is best expressed by multiple performers in general, as it builds to its climax. My inner Tara Lipinski is noting that Carolina appears notably slower than past seasons, likely due to recovering from injury and time off. Inner Tara is hungry for the triple-triple.  The program is far more interesting than anything Yu-Na Kim put out last weekend. My inner Dick Button is noting the rhythmic quality of the music and the very sexual climax of the music, which Carolina daringly expresses with a Triple Salchow after a long footwork sequence. The steps and choreography build in the second half, while the beginning is the quite vacant. An Oksana Baiul posing section before the second half will prove to be controversial. Many will complain that it is not true skating, yet I do feel that it works for the overall program. What she loses in transitions, she should gain back in interpretation, but the judges don't even use those marks who really cares?

Two of Kostner's triples (salchow and loop) were deemed underrotated in the long, thus the toe loop and lutz were her only truly rotated triples. She managed  110.03 for the long and 64.99 for the short. Given a few more competitions, I expect her to improve quite a bit.  It is unlikely that she will ever repeat the success of last season, but having her in the mix will certainly improve the depth and level of interest in ladies skating.

What do you make of Kostner's return?  Will she be able to contend for a bronze?  Can she be ready by Europeans? Does Bolero make your skin crawl?  Discuss.

Photos of the Day

Posing with the head diva.

Cheers to Mustafina being named Sportswoman of the Year

Glad to see Grishina is still holding off inevitably turning into her beloved mother.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Warming Up at the Voronin Cup

After some time off, Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina have dried their tears and are back in the gym for more punishment and glory.

These clips show them warming up on bars, which is one of the more difficult events to get back after time off due to the loss of strength and stamina. Both girls look out of top form, but are on their way back and are displaying promise that they can be contenders once again at this year's European Championships.

It has been announced that Tatiana Nabieva is retiring from competition. While her personality will surely be missed, her gymnastics...  will always be available on youtube.

Question For The Gym Nerds

Early in her elite career, Erica Stokes chose to turn professional as part of an endorsement opportunity for Minute Maid. While this clip includes clips from the 1990 National Championships, it is unclear exactly when it was filmed. Erica talks about wanting to do well at Nationals and qualify for the Goodwill Games, which indicates that she was interviewed prior to Nationals; however, Chelle Stack is seen in the background in the clips, but she did not return until after 1990 Nationals.

The question remains: who is the girl in the pink leggings with the seemingly nice lines? Her legs are not that bulky, which indicates that she couldn't have been training with Bela for that long when this was shot. If Chelle is in the clip, it means that Amanda Uhereck was already out with a broken back and that Amy Scherr was either injured or suffering from mono, or about to be injured. Now, is it Kerri Strug? Was this filmed over several months?  Is this really from 1990 Winter Nationals or is it mislabeled on the youtube channel? Can anyone make sense of this?

Prayers For Kayla

As many of you may know, one of our favorites, feisty Kayla Nowak fell while practicing on the Uneven Bars on Tuesday and suffered broken back. Nowak suffered a fractured T12 and her T11 slipped forward. Rushed into emergency surgery, doctors attached bone from the back of her pelvis and fused it to the two vertebrae, holding it together with four screws. The Boomer Sooner senior's spirits have been remarkably high and she already began walking today with the aid of a walker after being fitted for a brace. Kayla actually wished to walk yesterday, but they had to wait on the brace.

Her family, friends, teammates and boyfriend (hottie Jake Dalton) have been a nonstop presence in the hospital. Aunt Joyce first fell in love with the Boomer Sooners after meeting sassy mother Donna Nowak at the 2010 NCAA Championships. The love has only grown.

Kayla Nowak had previously gotten into the best shape of her life for her senior campaign after suffering an injury immediately prior to last year's post season. After several horrific injuries have plagued the sport in recent months, the gymnastics community is tentatively sighing for relief that signs appear to be extremely hopeful that Kayla will make a full recovery.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Favorite Things: Salivating the Past

Watching Fernandez's Chaplin remake made us long for the real thing:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Grand Prix Final: Skate With Dusha

This year's Grand Prix Final was a victory for Daisuke Takahashi and all of those who skate with soul. While Patrick Chan told the media (correctly) that no one remembers who wins the Grand Prix Final, it was an important statement for Takahashi, the judges and Chan's current status.

While Takahashi was far from clean, the judges rewarded his superior interpretation of the music. Watching Daisuke skate, his movement comes from within in a way that the movements of his competitors simply do not. He is a skater at the maximum of his ability and his days at the top of the sport may truly be numbered, but it is still a complete joy to watch him perform. It is his very manner of skating that will keep him employed in skating shows long after most of his jumping rivals have rivaled and disappeared, as many of the great technicians often do.

Another Look at the Florida Gators

The Florida Gators hosted an intrasquad open to the public this weekend and showed that they are very much the team to beat this season. Though they are not the reigning champions, many still feel they were the best team at the NCAA Championships and have more than earned their due to break into the select few schools ever to win an NCAA crown. Coach Rhonda Faehn has an abundance of riches this season. It is enough talent where keeping everyone healthy, motivated, confident, fresh and engaged becomes an issue while facing top teams and trying to maintain a top ranking and team total from week to week. Leading up to the intrasquad, the team had only been practicing full routines for two weeks. With a Christmas break on the horizon, the team is looking not to peak too early. Competition in the gym has several of these girls looking sharp.

One person who deserves kudos is Jeremy Miranda who really stepped up his level of choreography this season. He expanded on Sloan's signature style to create a great routine, has pushed Alaina Johnson to develop her lines and style further and really capitalized on the crowd pleasing abilities of Hunter, Macko Caquatto and Randy Stageberg. Marissa King appears to have gone back to her sophomore exercise, but it was also popular with the crowd.

With Bridget Sloan, Ashanee Dickerson, Marissa King, Macko Caquatto, Alaina Johnson and Kytra Hunter, the Gators have six top All Around gymnasts capable of winning several meets. The competition within the team may very well drive the team to new heights. While it is always 'all for the team,' these girls all wish to win and some are simply more vocal about it that others.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Meet The Bruins

What do we make of Val's long-awaited routines? How is Val's latest botox touch up? Is she looking glam enough for the season?

After a rough freshman year, I'm not convinced that Mattie will be a break out star, though we could see her in the floor lineup a tad more if she can manage a double tuck or pike this year. While she is clearly one of the team's more gifted dancers, I find this routine to be over ambitious to the point where it borders on 'sloppy hot mess' territory. For a girl who struggles with her tumbling, I have visions of Mattie falling on her head and backside as she rushes to get the bridge up when winded.

Grand Prix Final: In The Words of Peggy Fleming...

In the beautiful words of Peggy Fleming, skating is a revealing look into the soul of the artist and the competitor. This year's Grand Prix Final is another check point in the season and on the journey to Sochi, but we are also able to begin to see the programs take shape and the skaters' personalities shine through via musical expression and response to adversity.

NCAA Fever: A Look at the 2013 Boomer Sooners

(Apologies for the lack of individual links...I cannot figure out the new youtube playlists...there are wonderful videos, I just can't figure out how to share them individually.)

The Oklahoma Boomer Sooners performed consistently at their intrasquad yesterday and look prepared to defeat the Gym Dogs in Athens during the first weekend in January. After a season that unraveled with injuries and left them just short of the Super Six, the team looks prepared to rebound and add a little panache. While there is no way to replace the personality, leadership or anchor scores Megan Ferguson brought last season, the team is looking stronger overall and added much-needed strength and power to the vault and floor lineup.

The Competitive Debut of Les Miserables

Yu-Na Kim is in fine jumping for once again, but to me, this program is about as thrilling as the thought of Anne Hathaway singing in our long-anticipated film adaptation. I do not love the program, but Yu-Na appears a bit focused, serious (and thin and tired), and I have hope that she will once again express the music like the true diva that she can be on the ice.

Points wise, the score Yu-Na put up is what happens when you can do a Triple Lutz+Triple Toe, Triple Flip and an extra Triple Lutz in the second half. We simply have not seen it being done by anyone in the last two seasons, especially using the correct edges.

The program is not utilizing the power of the music and I do not find it up to David Wilson's usual standards, especially for his top student. I find the music edit into On My Own substandard and the placement in the choreography to be puzzling. With more mileage, the ending has the potential to come alive, but the third piece of music is unnecessary. Ending to On My Own could be far more effective. She will need to improve her stamina and the final combination spin, but the level 1 should give her enough of a wake up call.

A glittery Schindler's List gray dress is not working for Yu-Na or this program. Her Jef Billings glam image is not coming through. Yu-Na Kim needs to look and dress like the queen, not a competitor.

A Ponderous Moment

How does one manage to be boring with Wendy Williams? Oh, how I wish McKayla were there.  Somehow, I don't think Gabby has more to say on the written page.

In other delicious news...

Johnny's Exit

Johnny Weir announced that he will not be competing at the National Championships in Omaha this season. For many, this is not a shock. Personally, I am surprised that he did not wait any longer to withdraw. His exit is curiously, un-Johnny. He has simply stated that his performances did not go as hoped and that he would be taking time to train for the Sochi Olympics.

It became quite clear this season that Johnny's desire to make another Olympic Games was a long shot at best. After narrowing making the 2010 Olympic Team, Johnny's technical level would have to improve to make another team. Oddly, Johnny appeared to attempt the big ticket elements in the short and long without the requisite training. When Johnny Weir continually lands awkwardly forward on his toe pick on his trademark triple axel, something is amiss.  Though he has never cleanly landed a quad in competition, Johnny put them in both programs. He payed dearly and was never in the mix in competition after a double downgrade. The programs displayed a lack of stamina that made it clear his training was not there. Was he nervous about the comeback? Did he see the level of competition and panic?  Did married life cause him to lose his nerve? Was he distracted?

With so much shifting happening in the men's field at US Nationals, a clean eight-triple long that was well trained with fast spins and crisp steps would've kept Johnny in the mix. That did not appear to be on the way this season and what he decides to do next is anyone's guess. Last year, Johnny posted clips of himself training quads and triple axels that showed he is very capable of doing them physically. Whether he can get the job done mentally is always another story. The mind of Johnny Weir is a curious place. Whether he competes again or not, this will surely not be the last we hear of him.

Yu-Na Kim's Long Program Practice

As we wait for her performance in Germany, here is a look at her dominating practice from earlier today. The music is commanding, but she doesn't appear to be performing much yet. She didn't seem to be very expressive in the short program, yet it can be expected given that she needs to do a job here, attain a score, silence critics and show everyone that she can jump better than anyone in the ladies event. She is certainly doing that.  We can only hope she will remove the tights from over her skates get a new dress; looking like a glittered peasant never works.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Grand Prix Final: The Dancing Pair

Marlie posted a decisive win over Voir at this weekend's Grand Prix Final. While I absolutely adore both teams, there is something delicious about seeing Scott, Tessa and all of Skate Canada seething. Unlike the previous two times Marlie defeated Voir at the Grand Prix Final, they did so by soundly defeating them in both programs, technically and artistically to boot.

The Return of Yu-Na Kim

Kim Yu-Na? Yu-Na Kim? Yuna Kim? YNK? I don't care what we are calling her, she is BACK and NAILED her short program at the NRW Trophy, including her nemesis Triple Flip jump for a 72.27. As if Mao Asada's life isn't bad enough on the anniversary of her mother's death, her rival returns to demolish her own big win this weekend.

What do you make of The Kiss of the Vampire?

Friday, December 7, 2012

The GPF: Men and Pairs

The men's field at the GPF proved to be a mini Japanese nationals with four qualifying entries (with a fifth who won a GP event). Takahashi proved his mettle by leading the event with a clean short program.

The program is highlighted with flowing transitions including an incredibly difficult triple axel entrance and high flying footwork. Takahashi is looking the strongest he has all season. However, while Takahashi's program is energetic and infused with difficulty, his style is becoming one dimensional. While we admire his ability to venture out and try different styles, his own style within the music appears to be on one level throughout. His skating is like a Fourth of July fireworks need to slow it down and add some "God Bless America" for good measure. While the judges did not agree with PCS nearing the 9s, he did not surpass Chan in that department.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A look at the baby Grand Prix Final

Baby Russian wonderkids! Cute little Asian nuggets! Tiny-legged triple-triple jumping bunnies! Alas, it is the Junior Grand Prix Final. In the future, these skaters have to look forward to gaining those hips and that chest, but for now we marvel at their extraordinary talent and uncanny ability to stretch like gumby.

For most of these pups in the JGPF, skating on this same ice 14 months from now at the Olympics may seem improbable, but in reality entirely possible. Depending on the number of spots the U.S. attains in the ladies and men's field, this competition is an important stepping stone for its contingent competing. However, if you are for instance a junior male Japanese skater here, the odds of competing next year in Sochi are about as high as Johnny competing at U.S. nationals.

What's not to love about Radionova? This cute Russian trinket would be Dick Button's newest cupcake. The body suit, the braid, the music of techno-operatic-dirty-opera-singer (that Emanuel Sandhu used all 10 seconds of in his fantastic hot mess free skate of 2004). We live for her smile in the footwork sequence. It's a "Look at me, BITCHES" moment that this 14-year-old owns. Unfortunately not old enough for Sochi, expect Radionova to be at the top of the world in the next Olympic cycle if mother nature is kind.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

From Russia, With Love

Diva Diana Vishneva and Andrei Merkuriev- Cinderella

A few things to salivate over...

State of Skate: The Dancing Pair

Meryl Davis and Charlie White from the U.S. - They're working hard both on and off the ice. With interviews designed to help us notice their new connection and lots of on-ice hugging it is obvious they felt they could improve on their togetherness. Their long program misses the mark for me though, and the distance between the pack and these two gets smaller.

Admittedly, these are my words alone and the judges don't seem to agree. Dance is almost as much emotion as it is steps, speed and skill for me and I'm a fan of this team, but still think their long program is vulnerable. But, I won't be a judge in Sochi at the Grand Prix so tune in and see.-Kurt Browning

Earlier this week, Kurt Browning went on the offensive, attacking Marlie, as the latest henchman of Skate Canada. It is amazing how Skate Canada coordinates and sticks to a message with the precision of the GOP during the Bush-Cheney-Rove years.  While it may be annoying to those who see the improvement and talent in Davis and White, it is ultimately a compliment: the Canadians are feeling threatened.

Browning is basically criticizing the Americans for feeling a need to improve their connection. In a subjective sport, there is always room for improvement. No one is on top forever. As the Americans posted higher scores than the Canadians during the Grand Prix and appear physically fit and well trained, they are perceived to have a slight edge in Sochi this weekend.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Favorite Things

Oh hell, yes.

OCD at its finest.

This and That

Ebee Price dominated the competition at the Stuttgart World Cup this weekend. She looks ready to challenge for a spot on the World Team.

Coach Donna Strauss says the Olympic experience only focused EB Price. I certainly see a trip to the American Cup in her future should she remain healthy.

Gorgeous Kiira Korpi has been rumored to be pulling out of the Grand Prix Final, but news reports today confirm that she will indeed be there despite being weakened by a Norovirus and bad back. Her always paltry triple count may officially reach piss-poor status, but no one will look prettier doing less.

The Stanford Cardinal took on SJSU for a preseason meet.

Ivana Hong: UB, BB, FX
Ashley Morgan: FX
Sam Shapiro: UB
Kristina Vaculik: UB, FX

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Question of the Day

Did Diane help Tonya or was Diane just another part of the problem? Is Diane as full of shit as Tonya, or is she just on the same level of sanity as Robin Wagner?

State of Skate: The Ladies

It isn’t easy being a ladies champion. The demands are great: beauty, athleticism, flexibility, femininity and a pre-pubescent body accompanied by a competitive mettle with the ability to melt steel. The ladies have largely spent the years following the Olympics shifting, tumbling and grasping for salience. With the Olympics now approaching, the competition has come alive as the contenders are emerging. While there is far from a clear-cut favorite, the absence of a true leader is making this often snooze-worthy discipline something worthy of debate.

The ingredients to winning were once simple and finite: seven triples, two lutzes, a beautiful dress, graceful spiral and an expressive program choreographed by an underachieving Canadian.

The post Vancouver skating establishment has been left largely confused by the ladies’ discipline as the technical requirements have largely evaporated. When Yu-Na Kim ruled the world, a competitive short program included a Triple Lutz+Triple Toe, Triple Flip and Double Axel. Three years later, the ladies routinely struggle to muster a Triple Toe+Triple Toe, Triple Loop and Double Axel. As Tarasova’s Mink put it best, “It is no secret that the Finnish ladies and their full arsenal of doubles have even begun entering the medal ranks of the ISU Grand Prix.”

With Sochi looming just fourteen months away, it is time to examine the contenders of this lacking generation: