Greetings from St.Johns!
First of all, kudos to the arena staff who apparantly don't care if we bring in digital cameras, regular cameras, video cameras, food, drink, Uzis, etc. Very friendly folks, and I think the fact that most of Skate Canada is being telecast the same day (Imagine that!!) makes them not care so much about whether your digi-cam has audio or video capabilities. Some interesting differences in general between the audience here and that at Skate America.
Star sightings (so far)....A very hairless Alexander Zhulin (reading International Figure Skating magazine!), Jeff Buttle taking a break in the stands before dance starts, Karel Zelenka walking along the concourse, sitting next to Priscilla Hill during practice, and a nice greeting and chat with Andrei Griazev.
Compulsory dance: Not much to say, regarding the deliniation of the pairs. I was very impressed with how good Gregory/Petukhov are looking. Dubreil/Lauzon quite good, nice speed and posture. Grushina and Goncharov also had very nice speed, I thought she slipped a little going into the beginning of the second pattern, but apparantly not, based on the scores. Aureli/Vaturi dressed up nicely for Halloween in orange and black. Overall, very few of the outfits were "polka-ish", but not too many that make your eyes bleed either (that would be pairs).
Wakamatsu/Fecteau (The Swan) Very nice choreography of the program, the music of course is beautiful. SBS 3toe, she steps out on the landing. The throw 3 sal (? loop?) landed low but clean. Timing a little off on the footwork. The pair spin and SBS spins are good, and the star lift nice with changes of position. Overall appearance was a little slow, but that may just be due to the music. 49.34
Petrova/Tikhonov (Sarabande) SBS 3toe with good speed. Split 2twist was great, very high and with energy. Throw 3loop got a "!" from me....very smooth landing, and he doesn't come to a full stop while throwing her. SBS spins are good, pair spin good but a bit slower. Footwork is very nice, the overall presentation of the program is quite good. 60.10
Marcoux/Buntin (Hey big spender) Nice choice of music, but it hurt them a bit I think....they sell it well, but they didn't have a lot of speed in this program, and it makes it look sluggish and lacking energy. But choreography was nice. SBS 3toes, he two foots his. SBS spins are good, split 2 twist was quite high (like Zhang/Zhang height). Throw 3 loop clean, pair spin slows almost to a stop while changing position. Overall nice, but seems sluggish. 53.40
Mukhortova/Trankov (Russian Fantasy) Unless the fantasy is finding enough neon colors to medically make your eyes bleed, I don't know....BRIGHT Yellow and hideously BRIGHTER Orange...including his pants....WAY too much color! Anyway, SBS 3toes, she falls and slides almost into the wall. Throw 3loop a bit shaky landing, but clean. Nice one handed entry to star lift, no change of positions. SBS spins with good timing, but they try the front catchfoot spin (Button has called it a "shotgun" position before?), and shouldn't try it, he has very poor extension. FW a little off on timing in some places, and pair spin is quite slow. 45.56
Langlois/Hay (Blues by Gary Moore) Throw 3 sal (again, maybe loop) solid, split 2twist nice and high. SBS 3 sal (she maybe two-footed) SBS spins with timing TOTALLY off (new pair error?) Star lift nice, footwork very nice with choreography that goes well with the music. Nice entry to the forward inside death spiral, pair spin with better speed than most. Not bad for a newer pair, and they use the music pretty well. 51.68
Borsenkova/Chuvilaev (Time Forward) Man, he's TALL! Like, really tall! And wearing a black unitard makes him look enormous. Throw 3 sal was good, SBS 3 toes very long telegraphing of the jumps and he does a double. Split 2 twist ok. Very nice entry to the star lift with change of positions. SBS spins, he travels a lot near the end and gets frighteningly close to her, Footwork is generally a bit slow for faster music, pair spin rather slow with not a great sit spin position for him (but again, did I mention, he's TALL!) 49.70
Savchenko/Szolkowy (missed the music, something by Jarre?) SBS 3 toes (she doubles I think), very neat dance moves and lifts scattered throughout the program. Split 2 twist with a nice entry to it. Throw 3 loop is good, star lift with position changes good. Footwork timing is good, SBS spins with good and interesting positions and good speed. Forward inside death spiral with interesting entry, good pair spin. Really nice style! 60.54
Evora/Ladwig (Hotel California) Ok, so in warmup, as they went past us, myself and the person next to me clapped for them...Mark stopped, did a spin right in front of us, and then winked and skated off. Very cute, and probably jinxed them. Pair spin was very nice, then throw 3 loop, she puts a hand down on the landing. SBS 3 sal, she doubles, he steps out on the landing. Split 2 twist nice, then something very off on the star lift, she gets up, but not held for more than a second or two before being put down....not sure what happened there. SBS spins quite off on the timing. Nice forward inside death spiral, both clockwise and counter. Some very nice choreography and dance moves in the program, but a rough outing for them. We threw them stuffies because they are sweet. They were two of the three they got. 39.02
Jamal Othman (Sweet and tender beast, although titled "Affectionate and tender beast" per the arena) He's truly a beautiful boy! He and coach were near where I was sitting during practice, and he's truly a cutie. I thought the reports from Euros this year were exaggerated...nope! Unfortunately, there are no bonus points for being a hottie. Nice spiral position into 3 loop, landed well. 3 lutz was two footed into 2 toe. Camel spin nice to catch foot positions. Sit change sit nice. Footwork smooth but slow (straightline) 2 axel with fallout on landing. Circular footwork again, smooth but slow (little faster than straight), nice combo spin including headless scratchspin. The spins are it! 43.38
Emanual Sandhu (Tango) So which Eman will show up? The one who can't buy a clean jump...>SIGH. 3 toe with fall (trying the quad? But he didn't do any in practice!) 3 axel fall out. Flying sit spin good, nice changes of positions. 2 lutz. All the footwork and spins very nice, he has great attitude and plays well to the music. This could be an Eman-masterpiece if done well. Who needs jumps? 61.15
Shawn Sawyer (Libertango) Gotta love the guy with the Cohen flexibility (even though he didn't show it off too much in this program) 3flip-3 toe GREAT!! 3 axel, again great! Wow. Camel spin very nice. Split jump right into a 3 toe (I think, maybe another flip?) Straightline footwork is rather slow, but nicely choreographed. Fast spins, slower footwork. Still a wonderful performance for him, and well-deserved standing "O". Personal best of 63.34
Naburi Oda (Marriage of Figaro) Firstly, this guy has nice personality on the ice, and presents the character very well. Popped 3 axel to single. then 3 lutz-3 toe very good. Back sit spin with position changes well done, nice speed. 3 flip very nice. Fly spin travels a bit. Cicular fw a little slow, the straightline is faster. Camel-combo spin very nice. Other than the pop, a good program for him. 59.84
Matt Savoie (Windmills of your mind according the arena...it is from "The Mission" soundtrack) Starts with a hop to sit spin, very nice. Now, he struggled with jumps in practice, including a fall into the wall. So what does he do here? 3 axel perfect! 3 lutz-3 toe very good. Circular footwork is slow (to the music?) 3 flip clean. Sit spin with change of positions nice. Striaghtline footwork again slow, camel to combo spin nice. Even in practice, he had appeared slower than I expected. His skating is beautifully smooth tho,and a nice clean program. 64.37
Jeff Buttle (Sing sing sing)3 lutz-3 toe great, 3 axel leaning a bit forward but landed clean. Fly sit to position changes nice, not quite the speed on spins as Sandhu, but still very good. Circular footwork with good speed, very stylish moves to the music. Sit change sit spin good. 3 flip leaning forward, hand down. Straightline footwork is good, camel-combo spin nice. The program is good, it works for him, and he plays it up well. But for some reason, it does not really reach out and grab me. We'll see about the long...74.53
Andrei Griazev (Carmen, but with nice new costume this year!) I was very excited to finally see "my boy" compete live, and was very surprised to be able to talk with him a bit (long story, but he actually took 10-12 minutes to chat until Madam coach came and dragged him off to practice...still, when he was in practice and saw the "Go Andrei" sign, a nice big smile) Great practice, but the deer in the headlights look from 2005 worlds LP was there...oh dear. 3 axel fall, 3 flip step out to 2 toe. doubles the lutz. Some new spin positions, and spin speed is much improved from last year (still bends the leg a bit in the camel tho). Very nice speed and presentation of the footwork, although he slipped a little in the circular footwork as well. Rough outing for the boy, ouch. And no Tarasova in the K&C. 51.99
Karel Zalenka (Romeo and Juliet) The first skater I saw, coming in the door before men's practice. Didn't know who he was at the time, mind you, but recognized him when they started practicing. So yes, of course, my curse was apparantly on him as well (the "good luck" curse that goes back to Ponsero from Skate America....I'm so sorry!) Pops the 3 axel, 2 lutz-2 toe, 3 flip is clean. Footwork is rather slow, but deliberate, and matches the music. Flying sit with change of position travels quite a bit. Straighline footwork is nice. Back sit position not great, but good speed. Camel-combo spin is good. Footwork a bit slow, but nice presentation. 45.43
Min Zhang (Swing medly, with pink shirt, orange tie, suspenders, striped pants and spats!) 4t-3t like there is nothing to it! wow! then 3 axel, fall. sit spin with nice speed, 2 lutz and again, fall. sit change sit again nice, very slow circular footwork, especially for the music. straightline footwork a bit faster, camel-combo spin ok. Choreography is a bit minimal other than the footwork, but he has a nice energy about him. 55.21 (I'm biased, but I would have put him behind Andrei)
Johnny Weir (The swan, costume has no feathers on it, but feathery pattern to it, and one red glove...hmm?) 3 axel great, landed, and then he catches an edge and falls. Now, they had patched a few rough spots on the ice, and that was one of them, right before the final group...maybe not enough patching? 3 lutz-3 toe great, flying sit spin beautiful. Circular footwork is good...shows that you can have speed in footwork even with slower music. Sit change sit nice with good speed and positions. Serpentine footwork very good, very smooth and lyrical. Camel-combo spin classic Johnny. My note to the side says "Elegant" and it was indeed. Then he goes to the K&C and acts like a goofy kid,lying down and making faces. Heeeere's Johnny! 70.25
Takeshi Honda (Romeo and Juliet) And which Takeshi will show up? The one who CAN buy a jump! 3 lutz-3 toe great, 3 axel perfect. sit spin nice, good circular footwork, nice speed. 3 flip leaning on the landing but clean, straightline footwork very good, nice speed, nice spin positions. A great outing for him, a great program for him. Footwork is a bit easier than say, Buttle or Weir. But a standing "O", and at the end of his program, he had his eyes closed like "Is this a dream?" very nice for him. 67.92
Have some nicer pics this time, since they allow the digi-cam, but will have to upload and share them when getting home, since AOL charges additional connection charge for being in Canada.