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 points spread is just under two points per program, but it is impressive. The Americans knew they would be facing an uphill battle this season with the World Championships being held in Canada. They needed a strong start to the season and have certainly delivered. This is quickly becoming one of the sport's great rivalries of all time, with both teams consistently delivering innovative and intricate programs, pushing the level of the excellence higher and higher each season.

There has long been the perception that the Olympic Champions are the better skaters, and if this were purely a compulsory dance competition, they surely would be, but their overall elements have not progressed in the same manner as the Americans. 'Carmen' is already a masterpiece and the team appeared to be hoping to win the components scores with their modern approach to this dance, erasing previous claims that they are stale after last year's arguably panned program. While they may have won the World Championships, the political pendulum was already swinging toward Marlie.

Still, both programs are brilliant this season. It is clear the Americans are skating at a slightly higher level watching them back-to-back, yet I find Voir's Carmen departure to be fascinating, innovative and exciting. There is nothing like watching an Audrey Hepburn-wannabe grope herself and ushering in librarian/whore fantasies. Tessa is a fierce bitch not to be messed with. They are consistently making changes to their program. Expect an out-of-this-world score at Canadian Nationals to drum up buzz prior to their next meeting at the Four Continents Championships.

If the second mark were based on artistry, I would go with the Canadians. If it based on presentation, I'd go with the Americans. Both teams are aiming for Level 4 footwork, yet at falling short. Their high scores in spite of Level 4 footwork are impressive. If either can attain Level 4, it could be a bit of a game changer.

The French are now solidly the best team in the World. While they have publicly stated that their goal is to be World Champions, they may have to hope that the top two teams call it quits immediately after Sochi and don't push on for another four to five weeks.

Igor's expertise and political muscle is pushing the Italians into the fray. If they can increase their consistency, they will be contenders in the near future. This team has a habit of botching twizzles and leaving Anna in tears. While some prefer this Carmen, I have to say that those people are simply wrong. It is a fine program, yet there is nothing truly special.

It is difficult to make one cringe when watching the two most physically gorgeous skaters in the lot, yet Nikolai's bedroom eyes have clouded his choreographic vision to such a degree that even the judges cannot get passed this atrocity when seeing it next to the other top teams. They may very well go on to be World Champions in the future, but it will not be with material like this.

With Bobrova and Solviev and Ilinykh and Katsalapov finishing behind the fray, Weaver and Poje were surely missed. They are too good and classy not to be in the final this season. With plenty of training time between their Grand Prix events and Nationals, they may very well jump back into the mix.


  1. Nathalie already said she will retire after Soichi, so i guess they won't be WC or OC. But i think that, what they meant, was to be a lock medal team, as much as the other two.

  2. As much as I respect their skating, I'm not much of a fan of Voir since Scott's massive bitch-fest at last year's GPF. Kudos to Marlie. I wonder if Voir are just as bitter losing the GPF this time too.

    1. massive angst over how he didn't understand scores or points anymore and didn't know what they meant *which is probably not what he would have said if Voir scored higher than Marlie*

      It was mostly expressed to the Canadian media about his confusion over the scoring et al, and SC/CBC media had to reel in some of his expressed opinions after

    2. That was delicious though. Meryl also received backlash after saying something against Russia during their SA fluff. It makes ice dance dramatic and so fun. That said, V/M don't seem as bitter about their loss this season compared to last season. They're all about Worlds now.

  3. p/b the best team in the world? spare me

    1. I think the word "third" was accidentally left out.

  4. Voir's Carmen is wonderfully adult and has brilliant moments, but I wonder if skating to such dynamic music is the best idea since Marlie are comparatively so much faster and more agile.

    I love both teams though, its sad so many people feel like they have to pick one and put down the other.

    I think P/B are lovely skaters but usually find their FD's stupid and this one is no exception.

    Not as stupid as that I/K thing though - good lord. I would find it hysterical except I feel sorry for the skaters.

    The italians are really likable - I bet they'll do great with the quickstep next year (the Shibs too). There is something bit lightweight about them for Carmen though.

  5. and Kurt Browning's just stated that V/M competing against D/W is like him competing against Elvis Stojko. Wow.

  6. I can't stand the American team. I find them phony and obnoxious but I have always thought they were underscored compared to the Canadians especially at the last Olympics where I thouhht the Americans were better.

  7. It is sad how obvious Igor's departure from Canton is in terms of technique in the top teams. The flow and edges on the compulsory and footwork segments are lacking from where they were a few years ago. Marlie has fared the best of the Canton Three - though not as precise as they have been in years past, the decline is not as obvious as it is with Voir or the Shiblings. I don't think it will be possible for anyone to approach the top teams in the next year, but the gap is narrowing a bit. The decline is especially noticeable when compared with the teams that followed Igor, who have all been improving quite a bit this season.

    I do think the Canton teams have the more mature and sophisticated programs. While I don't love Marlie's Hunchback nearly as much as last year's routine, I still think it is the best free dance on any team this season. I applaud Voir's departure with Carmen - especially in contrast to last year's Funny Face. But the highlight moves all look a bit forced (the difficulty is obvious, which isn't necessarily a good thing), and the skating between the highlights is lacking (so many crosses and two-footed positions). It is interesting and innovative, but also lacks polish. I like that they are changing and improving the routine, but I don't know if they can improve it enough by the end of the season.

    I adore both teams, but I still think it is really sad to see the loss of quality brought about by the loss of Igor. Before they were justifiably untouchable. I don't know if that will be the case much longer. I hope they can stay on the top through the Olympics, because It has been truly delightful to watch the rivalry of these two teams push and develop the sport.

    1. "I still think it is really sad to see the loss of quality brought about by the loss of Igor. "

      Oh brother, such hyperbole.

      I get the feeling Igor has some friends out there who think they are doing him a favor by trash-talking Marina on internet forums.

      "Before they were justifiably untouchable"

      Who do you see 'threatening' them now, I/K?

    2. I don't see anyone threatening the top two teams. No one else is that good. I really can't see the difficulty and intricacy of their programs being matched by anyone else in the sport. What I do see is sloppy edges and lack of flow that was not a problem in years past. It is only noticeable when comparing the teams against their own past performances. Compared to the rest of the field they are still far and away the most superior teams out there.

      Also, I don't see how I was "trash-talking" Mariana - I think from the split it is clear that she was the creative genius who created beautiful and sophisticated programs that skating fans have come to love. I just also think it is obvious that Igor is a technical mastermind. Together they were an unbeatable force. Appart... Well, I still think the Canton teams have the best programs this season. I think they have both improved in terms of expression and performance. There is an emotional quality that was lacking before. I just also think Igor's teams are showing noticeable technical improvements. What does this mean for Sochi? Not a damn thing - it is going to be Marlie vs. Voir. What does it mean after those two teams retire? The same thing two feuding Russians has always meant for the sport of ice dance - a rivalry that will be entertaining as hell for the rest of us to watch.

      In the end, no, I am not a friend of Igor. Or Mariana. I am just an OCD figure skater who gets grumpy when I see sloppy footwork.

  8. Nicely written, Aunt Joyce! Love your thoughts and compelling arguments here.

  9. Ilinykh and Katsalapov's free dance has grown on me! They performed it well enough at the Europeans in Zagreb this week to secure the silver medal. And I enjoyed Bobrova and Solviev's winning free dance - an improvement on that awful Walpurgis Night program of last year.

    Sadly, Pechelat/Bourzat could not compete due to injury. Love them but their Rolling Stones piece is not one of their best.