A "low technical knowledge" summary of day 1, Skate America....
Compulsory dance....need we get into it? There were a few who were obviously going to be the lower ranked teams....a few who were obviously with better edges, larger patterns, smoother and more silent stroking. Other than the fact that Delobel/Schoenfelder finished second behind Belbin/Agosto (to the surprise and consternation of myself and the skater friend I was sitting with), no real surprises or distinctions here.
Top three: Belbin/Agosto, Delobel/Shoenfelder, Domnina/Shabalin
Mens SP: (Not necessarily in order)
Sergei Davydov...3lutz-3 toe, 3 flip with fall out on landing, flying sit spin, 2axel, sit spin, serpentine (? or kind of sloppy straight) footwork rather slow, good combo spin, circular step sequence. A little flat in presentation, but that was not uncommon here tonight.
Kevin VanDerPerren...4toe-3toe (maybe slight 2-ft on quad, but I think he got the credit for it), 3axel, caught an edge and stumbled, but had already landed the jump clean, sit spin, good circular footwork, 3 lutz with big smile and "ALL RIGHT" expression! sit change sit spin, straight line footwork a little "choppy" (stops and starts), combo spin, and a very nicely done program....he was quite happy with it, as was most of the audience!
Christopher Mabee...3 axel fall, 3 lutz-3 toe,barely hung onto the landing, circular footwork nice, but a little stumble in the middle, sit spin, 3flip fall, camel to combo spin, straightline footwork with fall, sit spin at end. He had a support section, but rough night for him, poor guy.
Lun Song...3 flip(?)-fallout-2toe, 3axel with fallout on landing, sit change sit spin, straight line footwork very nice, goes well with music, 3 lutz with a bit of an "off" landing (no fall), combo spin ok, circular footwork ok. A nice enough program, no real "wow" factor, but ok.
Brian Joubert...even in warmup, he was looking rather tense...not "focused" tense, but on edge tense. Ooops. 4Toe, hand down, 2toe, 3axel with fallout on landing, flying sit spin, 3 flip ok, circular footwork ok (no toe steps that I saw, and pretty good speed), good combo spin, straight line footwork kind of choppy, fall near end. The work with Ruh I think has helped, his spins are improved in speed and difficulty, less traveling and better positions. Really off night on the jumps, and the footwork seems to have gotten ahead of him. I think the program can work well for him tho.
Yannick Ponsero...3 axel REALLY nice (especially with all the jump errors we'd seen so far), 3 flip with fall out to 2 toe, combo spin, 3 lutz really working for the landing, sit spin, circular footwork, camel spin, serpentine footwork. Very nice style and interpreting the music. He looked really happy in the K&C, so good for him.
Silvio Smalun...3 axel with fall, what was meant to be 3 flip (landed forward, so 2 1/2 flip??) steps out, flying sit spin, circular footwork kind of slow, but matches the music, with some unique positions, 3 lutz fall out on landing, straightline steps interesting, matches the music well, combo spin, camel to donut spin. He had some interesting choreography, it's a shame that the jumps were not working for him.
Daisuke Takahashi...I have a smilie face next to his name on my note pad....one of the few men's Sp that gave me a smile! 3lutz-3toe good, then 3 axel with fall and we're thinking, man, not the falls again. But he pulls it together, nice sit spin, 3 flip clean, good circular footwork, combo spin, straightline footwork very nice with the music, flying sit at end. Great choreography, music and presentation of the program, and he was REALLY happy with the results! Very fast, smooth stroking, like a water bug on a pond (I mean that in a nice way!)
Kristoffer Berntsson...3 axel, 3 lutz-2 toe clean, flying sit, circular footwork, 3 flip with a GREAT fight for the landing! (landed very low in the knee, but held on), sit spin, serpentine footwork, camel spin seemed a little off. A nice program, cute character and presentation. Is it just me, or does he look a little like Ilia Kulik? I'd never seen him before.
Tim Goebel...Falls right off the bat on the quad attempt (I think he was trying 4 salchow, but could have been toe), Spread eagle into 3 axel nice, Combo spin nice, although still a bit of hunched over back, circular footwork is nice, 3 flip, sit change sit, straight line footwork with maybe a stumble? I have a note saying "nice except for fall". He definitely has improved his musical interpretation and presentation. I hope this program comes together for him.
Evan Lysacek...3 axel, barely hangs on, 3 lutz-3 toe clean, sit change sit, circular steps nice with music, 3 flip looks maybe two footed landing? Straight line footwork got a "!" next to it....nice speed and goes well with the music, combo spin. I know he did all the elements, I seem to be missing a spin here somewhere. Anyway, I put a smilie face next to his program as well....wasn't totally sharp, but for the first one out the gate, I think he set a good standard.
Dennis Phan...I have a note saying "Cool music"....starts with bells/chimes. Long set up to 3 axel, doesn't help as he falls, 3 lutz-2 toe, combo spin, 3 flip (2 footed?), circular footwork, flying sit spin, straightline footwork a bit slow, sit change sit spin....finishes a few seconds ahead of the music. Was nice enough, but still seems a bit junior in presentation.
Top 3: Daisuke Takahashi, Kevin VanDerPerren, Evan Lysacek
Pairs SP: (again, not in order)
Dube/Davison... SBS 3 toes (She falls), Lift starts as star, change of positions with nice "dismount", pair spin ok, 2 twist seemed rather low, throw 3 loop very nice! SBS spins a bit off on the timing, step sequence nice, interesting traveling death spiral. Nice enough, but nothing really memorable to me.
Putnam/Wirtz...throw 3 loop ok, 2 twist ok, clean lift with nice "flip" dismount out of it, death spiral, SBS 3 toes (timing off a little, and she doubles it), pair spin, step sequence seems a little off in timing, and final SBS spins, timing appears off. The music, "Incantation" doesn't seem to fit them well, just my opinion. But kudos to them for trying something a bit different. Also, both in practice and in the event, their music timing was 2:51, but no deduction.
Zhang/Zhang...Star lift with change of positions nice, throw 3 loop has note next to it "WOW!" (great height and distance, good landing), death spiral ok, SBS 3 toes clean, now, the SBS spins were WAYYYYYY off on timing....unless they were going for "Mirror spins" of some sort, they were way out of whack on that. Step sequence ok, HUGE 2 twist where she just floats forever, pair spin at the end a little slow and awkward change of positions. Not totally clean, but good enough.
Pla/Bonheur...My first note on this one is "Nice Butt" (him...hey, the important things have to be noted first, and he was in black velvet!) I really like their bluesy music too! SBS 3 toes (I think he 2 footed his), throw 3 loop with step out on landing, SBS spins good, 2 twist clean, nice lift entry (the pendulum type lift entry like Ina/Zimmerman would do), nice choreography in the steps, death spiral, pair spin a little weak. Nice program tho, presents the music well, and he IS nice to look at!
Inoue/Baldwin...SBS 3 lutz (he falls), nice lift, death spiral, throw 3 loop is a little shaky on the landing but held, SBS spins with good speed and positions, good timing, 2 twist with nice flow, good step sequence, nice pair spin. Very nice program, good choreography and interpretation I think, just the fall holding them back.
Evora/Ladwig...I'd never seen them before, but they became my favorites during practice...She has "Jennifer Don-itis", in a good way...always smiling. They really worked hard in practice, just all out, and I liked watching them better than the better known teams they were on practice with. Started with a nice pair spin, throw 3 loop really good, then both fall on the SBS 3 toes...SIGH. 2 twist ok, nice connection of the elements/transitions, and some unique choreographic positions, questionable on the lift....got up there, good position, but I think she was going to change to another position, and came down out of it early...SBS spins are good, step sequence nice, a little slow, and do death spiral x2 at the end. Nice potential I think!
Handke/Wende..."Nice music choice" (from Amelie, I think) SBS 3 toes (she falls out on the landing), 2 twist nice, throw 3 loop, barely hangs on, but clean, lift ok with nice dismount of it, step sequence seems a little off, death spiral, pair spin nice with good flexibility from her (I thought that noteworthy at the time, and still do, as it seems so many are trying Beillmann/catchfoot type spins that don't have great flexibility). Nice program for them except the one bigger error.
Obertas/Slavnov...Their costumes are fluorescent, highlighter marker orange. I say that because on the monitor of the jumbotron, they show up fluorescent highlighter pink. SBS 3 toes held, little shaky on hers, throw 3 loop and she falls, lift with position changes nice, 2 twist with very clean posture,legs nicely together and straight, step sequence ok, death spiral ok, SBS spins with timing a bit off and on, pair spin ok. He had a better night than she did, she seemed to be struggling a little bit. Interesting music choice for them....stretching artistically maybe.
Beloglazova/Bekh...2 twist a little sloppy, SBS 3 toes (she falls), throw 3 loop held on barely, lift is clean, SBS spins ok, he falls on the step sequence and looks rather sheepish as he gets up, death spiral, pair spin ok. In the K&C, she looks a bit glazed and he looks a bit embarrassed. Choreography and music not overly memorable to me.
Hinzmann/Parchem...THE team of the event tonight! 2 twist ok, throw 3 loop very good (other than the fact that he comes to a dead stop and heaves her, rather than maintaining flow, but thats just a pet peeve of mine), SBS 3 toes good and by now we know we are seeing something really pretty special, step sequence gentle and goes well with music, SBS spins good, pair spin solid, good lift and nice death spiral. HUGE applause, 75% (or more) standing ovation, and a wonderful end to the night's events. They looked stunned, surprised, overjoyed, elated, excited, etc. Wonderful musicality to the program for them as well....REALLY nice, and one of those pleasant surprises that makes these events so nice.
Top 3: Zhang/Zhang, Hinzmann/Parchem, Inuoe/Baldwin
Still discovering the intricacies of my digital camera (one of which is that it eats batteries...literally...I have gone through 8 batteries for it in just over a day). Have some nice, well, ok, not so nice, psychadelic mushroom looking pix. Ran out of battery juice half-way thru men's and had no backup ones, since those ones I had just gotten today! Will look thru the questionable photos and share any that don't resemble Rorsharch blots too much.