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Thread: Report on SOI in Phoenix

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    Report on SOI in Phoenix

    I attended SOI again this year. Last year it was excellent, so my expectations were a bit higher than usual. The show was good this year but not great. Chris Dean was still the choreographer. I guess he cannot be brilliant every time.

    Scott Hamilton was present on the screen, and it was hilarious. He was commentating, sort of. This was a novel way of presenting the show. At one point everyone wore ‘Scott’ masks. That was very funny.

    The opening group number was with the ladies dressed as flowers or were they fish? I was not sure at first. The men were carrying what looked like a fishing net which confused me. It was supposed to be about ‘Lovely spring’, so they must be flowers and the men were gardeners perhaps. After that each skater or pair skated on to the ice and did a move or two. There were no announcements until the end. IMO an intro for each skater at the very outset would have been nice.

    Yagudin skated to Winter- his 2002 Olympic SP music. I had seen his skate live in Salt Lake City, so it was a bit disappointing when he did 3 triple toes. I remembered his quad-triple combo, huge triple axel, and the triple lutz. I know that his injuries do not allow him to do more difficult jumps and it was a bit sad. He still moves on the ice very well and has nice footwork and spins. His program in the second half (‘Sway’) received a bigger response from the audience. He did 4 triples in it.

    Next, Yuka Sato came on the ice and skated one of the cutest numbers to ‘Beanfields’. Yuka is an incredibly talented skater. Her footwork is amazing. She only did double jumps (salchow and loop). In the second half she skated a pairs routine with hubby Jason Dungjen. It was very good, although I don’t see them being competitive with the top pairs. Yuka started skating pairs very late- after turning pro- so the quality of their pairs skating is amazing. They have a great connection with each other and the joy of skating together really comes through. I was happy to see Jason on the ice. Last couple of seasons Yuka was only skating solos because SOI already had 4 pairs. Good for Jason to finally get a chance to skate with SOI.

    In the second half Yuka skated a lovely routine to “The suite” (Basil Poledouris). She does everything so well. During this number Scott, who was on the screen spoke of the SOI family- the members they lost and the new ones they gained. They showed Rob McCall, Brian Pockar, and when Sergei Grinkov appeared on the screen, the crowd responded loudly. We will never forget G&G. Later they showed pictures of the kids of Scott, Kristi, Paul, Kurt, Meno & Sand, etc. They were cute, and Yuka’s skating was sort of ignored (actually she did not do much during that time). That did not work out too well. I would have liked to see more of Yuka, and a separate time slot for this family story.

    As a B&S fan I was thrilled to see Elena-Anton skate a beautiful routine to ‘You are so beautiful’. I had read that they choreographed it themselves. I had seen it on the WTC tape. They skipped one lift that was very difficult, but rest of the program was gorgeous. They started with 3 death spirals in a row- reminiscent of the Protopopovs- the third one ended in a double throw. M&D used to do a move like that (DS into a throw) long ago. The throw triple loop was very high and Elena landed it beautifully. The entrance was simple (they used to do it from a spiral). That was followed by the leap of faith. They did a pairs sit spin, something that they did not usually do as amateurs. They transitioned easily from one pairs move to the next- with hardly any cross overs in between. It was very fluid. I was happy that they had a footwork sequence that showed that their unison is still very good and they are so light on their blades. Their speed across the ice is amazing. They don’t look like they are doing a lot of work when they stroke.

    In the second half they skated to a Chaplin medley. Anton is always great as Chaplin, and the program received the usual response by the audience, as a fun program does. During their throw triple loop though, something very strange happened. They both went splat. I had never seen anything like this, in all my years of watching pairs skating (for a top pair). It spoiled the program a bit for me. They skated well rest of the way. The break dancing at the end was OK with me. On the tape it felt somewhat out of place, but it worked in the show. The crowd seemed to like it. Although they are versatile, I always prefer their lyrical numbers.

    Jennifer Robinson skated to ‘And the beat goes on’. It was well skated. In the second half she had a solo (“If it wasn’t for your love”) and a couple of group numbers that were quite entertaining. I liked the suitcase number with 4 guys (Cousins, Eldredge, Pelletier, Zimmerman). She did very well, particularly the frustration of carrying 4 bags off the ice- it was very funny. She tried the hardest jumps in the whole show. She two-footed the triple lutz badly but at least she tried it. She also landed triple salchows. She looked very pretty.

    Steven Cousins skated two solos ‘Belfast child’and ‘Superstition’. I liked the first one better. Last year I had enjoyed his numbers better. This year the energy level seemed a bit low, and a lot of repeated moves (splits, triple toes) were there. Actually most men were doing just triple toes and double axels. I understand this is a show and not a competition but I miss the days when Kristi Yamaguchi would do 3 or 4 different triples in her programs. The level of difficulty this time was a bit too low, particularly for men. The pairs were great though.

    In pairs skating my pet peeve is poor positions and lack of lines. So it is hard for me to really like S&P (and for other reasons too). They did the split triple twist and the BODS well. Both their throws were triple salchows and she landed both, although the first one was low. Their first number was a comedy. Except for one difficult lift which went on and on with different positiona, I was not particularly thrilled with this number. Their second number was very good. It was well choreographed and well skated, with different pairs moves sprinkled throughout. In the past, they used to do lift after lift after lift, which I used to find boring. This was a very good program, skated to Scott Joplin. The end pose was similar to G&G’s Meditation program. The only thing I would have preferred is different color costumes in one of their programs. They wore red (David wore black pants) in both.

    Todd Eldredge skated the last program of the first half. Alexander’s Ragtime band was fast and good. He too wore red and black. He did triples toes and double axels. His spins were great, as always. In the second half he skated to ‘Bolero’. I somehow don’t like this music anymore. I try to not think of T&D. Todd skated well, but it was not spectacular. Somehow when someone skates to Bolero my expectations automatically go up. There was a lot of two-foot skating. Todd was never well known for a lot of transitions between the jumps. He has developed a lot as a pro and I really like his long lines and his centered spins, plus the feeling he has for the program. Those things were there, but I did not particularly enjoy this number. I think the only Bolero (other than T&D’s ) I liked was Plushenko’s SP many years ago (1999 or 2000?).

    Ina and Zimmerman came on to the ice twice, dressed in white (he in black pants) and started with ‘Swan Lake’. I could not imagine them skating to this music (in my mind this is precious B&S music- their 1998 SP which was gorgeous). Scott interrupted with a phone call and something else. It was all in jest. I&Z did not skate to Swan Lake. They skated to Vertigo instead (in the second half) and it was wonderful. They looked better than ever. They had great energy, innovative moves, speed, and great confidence. Kyoko landed a great throw triple loop. The crowd loved the ‘wow’ moves. I am not into those types of moves, but they did them well. However, when they did my most hated move- the headbanger- I was not so pleased. That move gives me the creeps. I don’t care for the Detroiter either or the candle lift, but overall this was a great skate.

    A few things that bothered me: I already mentioned Yuka’s skating and the family story being combined which did not work very well. The other thing was the order in which the skaters were introduced and skated. Typically in shows skaters are given priority based on their accomplishments. SOI has often given the highest spot to S&P which bothers me. Elena and Anton who are Olympic champions and 2-time world champions skated the second number in Act II (after the group number). Some people in the audience don’t make it back in time for the second half (long lines in the rest rooms), so shows usually keep these spots for lesser known skaters. Elena-Anton were followed by Cousins and Robinson. How could anyone put these three back to back? SOI has not treated B&S with respect. I That has been my impression throughout. I am happy that they are skating in Russia and are loved and appreciated there. I disagree that a skater should be appreciated only in his/her own country. I am a fan of skating and not of a skater’s nationality (another pet peeve).

    The other thing that bothered me was that skaters were doing very easy things, many times doubling the jumps instead of doing triples. I tried to tell myself to go for the entertainment value but I was still not satisfied. This is a show and they don’t have to do their hardest tricks but as someone that paid for the show I had higher expectations. I would rather see a skater fall on a triple than do a double. The pairs did well, though. They did difficult tricks at least in their routines. The group numbers were so so. There was a hat number, a cowboy number (the men wore cowboy hats, the ladies wore black/pink/orange/yellow). I did not feel that I saw something very creative this time. Last year it was so much better.

    In spite of all this, I am still glad that I went to the show. Watching B&S skate has become rare and this is their last year with SOI. That was one reason for me to go this year. Although the group numbers were not great, they were not cheesy like those choreographed by Bezic. There still was some great skating- Yuka Sato in particular is just a joy to watch. If SOI wants to improve, my suggestion would be to have a bigger group, and some variety in the choice of music and programs. Those group numbers are often boring and too long (last year was an exception). I am not a big fan of vocal numbers and it is always disappointing to me that there is no classical music. The last ones to skate to classical music were Bechke and Petrov, I think. Todd did skate to Ravel (Bolero) this year. I would also like to see an ice dance team or two added to the group. Now that Belbin & Agosto have created interest in ice dance here, it will be good to add that. In the past they had some good ice dance teams. There will be new champions coming off the Olympic year. They should revamp both SOI and COI if they want to attract bigger audience (reducing the ticket price would help too- LOL). A good mix of classical and pop music, different types of programs, and a good mix of skaters in different disciplines will make it better.

    Vash

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    Gotta Have Music iluvtodd's Avatar
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    Vash, thanks for your review of the show. I appreciate the balance that you tried to give in it throughout your report.

    One little point of information re: Todd. He recently had ankle surgery, and is no doubt still feeling the effects of it. That probably explains why he didn't do his complete arsenal of triples (particularly the triple axel). He's working on getting them back. In addition to this, he unfortunately dislocated his shoulder in one of the shows early in the tour during that "suitcase" number. Ouch!

    I hope TPTB at SOI will take the time to read reports like yours that are offered in the spirit of constructive criticism.

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    A balanced report? You're kidding.

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    Gliding Along dlkksk8fan's Avatar
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    The opening group number was with the ladies dressed as flowers or were they fish? I was not sure at first. The men were carrying what looked like a fishing net which confused me. It was supposed to be about ‘Lovely spring’, so they must be flowers and the men were gardeners perhaps. After that each skater or pair skated on to the ice and did a move or two. There were no announcements until the end. IMO an intro for each skater at the very outset would have been nice.
    The purpose of this routine was to make fun of Ice Capades, the show that fired Scott Hamilton.

    During their throw triple loop though, something very strange happened. They both went splat.
    In San Diego Anton didn't fall, but Elena fell hard almost hitting her head, so maybe they should change that throw jump.

    The show was good this year but not great
    That's exactly what I thought. Last years was better.

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    Quote: I disagree that a skater should be appreciated only in his/her own country. I am a fan of skating and not of a skater’s nationality (another pet peeve)

    I agree totally. I don't think the media fully realize that figure skating fans are not, as a rule, xenophobes that disregard the talent of international skaters in favor of their own. I think most of us are big fans of skaters outside our country, and it's largely a problem of perception on their part. Very annoying. Hate to see someone like Klimkin get chacked so we can see the substandard tenth place skate of an American competitor, and I don't particularly care for the way B&S sometimes get treated like the "lesser" of the gold medalists, either.

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    I don't think the media or skating producers have any illusion about what figure skating fans (ie diehards who call themselves fans and frequent message boards) like. The problem is, they're not just selling to figure skating fans. And it's pretty much human nature to root for the "home team" or the local star or whatever. Most casual fans (ie, the bulk of audiences) really do only pay attention to the local success stories. It's not xenophobia, it's just how the mind works - people only have so much attention to give to so many things.

    Of course there are people who are very much into the sport, and love to see the skating of people from any country. No one is saying there isn't. They just don't constitute the majority of the ticket buyers. Otherwise, skating wouldn't be on the decline from an audience and TV viewer standpoint in the US in the last several years. The Russians have had a lot of success. The Americans not so much (or they have and then dropped out of the sport fairly quickly). Have the US general public moved over to idolizing the Russians, or have they gone on to other things? The numbers kinda tell the story...

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    On Edge Piel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icenine
    Quote: I disagree that a skater should be appreciated only in his/her own country. I am a fan of skating and not of a skater’s nationality (another pet peeve)

    I agree totally. I don't think the media fully realize that figure skating fans are not, as a rule, xenophobes that disregard the talent of international skaters in favor of their own. I think most of us are big fans of skaters outside our country, and it's largely a problem of perception on their part. Very annoying. Hate to see someone like Klimkin get chacked so we can see the substandard tenth place skate of an American competitor, and I don't particularly care for the way B&S sometimes get treated like the "lesser" of the gold medalists, either.
    I think most fans of skating feel as you do. But for the Olympics especially, the majority of the TV audience are not really FS fans. The mentality of sporting events is to cheer for the home team. There is nothing wrong with that. The entire Olympic experience is set up as a competition between countries, thus the everpresent medal counts that are shown ad nauseum. To the non-fan it is more important to see the skater representing their country. Of course that skater's family and community are sure to want to see the hometown hero no matter how bad their skate instead of someone from another country no matter how inspiring their skate is.

    As for B&S treated like the lesser medalists, probably no more in North America than S&P are in Europe. It is the psychology of fandom. It is going to take an entire generation or two for the cold war to be forgotten.

    People complain that FS is not taken seriously as a sport. Yet when FS fans act as fans usually do...love their favs hate the competition they are criticised. It's like we want it to be considered a competitive sport but we want the fans to act like it's a bridge party.

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    On Edge Piel's Avatar
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    Teenes I think we posted the same thing.

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    Teenes and Piel, your points are completely valid. Of course, the media is pitching to the masses, and not the fans. I just wish it were otherwise. It's not realistic, its just how I feel.

    This is why I will never have a career in broadcasting.

    Vash, thanks for the review. We wont get SOI this year, so its nice to get a field report.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Piel

    As for B&S treated like the lesser medalists, probably no more in North America than S&P are in Europe. It is the psychology of fandom. It is going to take an entire generation or two for the cold war to be forgotten.

    .
    S&P skate in Europe? I did not know that. They did not even compete in Europe a whole lot during their amateur career. As luck may have it, many major competitions were in north America during their last 2 years. If they do skate in Europe, I think they will get a good response, but their style of skating may not be what Europeans enjoy more (it may depend on what part of Europe).

    We are not talking about a sports event here; these are exhibitions, for entertainment. There is no reason to treat B&S as lesser of the two pairs. SOI obviously wants to perpetuate the myth that B&S were third rate skaters who were mistakenly awarded the gold in SLC. The commentator in SLC and the owner of SOI happens to be the same, so it is not surprising but it still bothers me.

    Vash

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    Quote Originally Posted by dlkksk8fan
    The purpose of this routine was to make fun of Ice Capades, the show that fired Scott Hamilton.

    In San Diego Anton didn't fall, but Elena fell hard almost hitting her head, so maybe they should change that throw jump.



    That's exactly what I thought. Last years was better.
    I did not know about the Ice Capades connection. Thanks for explaining. I know nothing about the Ice Capades except for the name.

    A skater falling on a throw is not unusual. There is nothing unusual about the throw they are doing, so I see no reason to change it. What was strange in this case was that Anton fell on it, and it wasn't just a stumble, both of them lay FLAT on the ice. Most probably he just slipped, but it was a very strange occurrence; not your usual fall on a throw.

    Vash

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vash01
    S&P skate in Europe? I did not know that. They did not even compete in Europe a whole lot during their amateur career. As luck may have it, many major competitions were in north America during their last 2 years. If they do skate in Europe, I think they will get a good response, but their style of skating may not be what Europeans enjoy more (it may depend on what part of Europe).

    We are not talking about a sports event here; these are exhibitions, for entertainment. There is no reason to treat B&S as lesser of the two pairs. SOI obviously wants to perpetuate the myth that B&S were third rate skaters who were mistakenly awarded the gold in SLC. The commentator in SLC and the owner of SOI happens to be the same, so it is not surprising but it still bothers me.

    Vash
    Yes - S&P skated in some shows, though not many afaik. What is weird about that? Sorry, but I begin to get really annoyed by your paranoia for B&S. Especially cause it seems neither B&S nor S&P seem to have problems with their relationship. It's now four years since SLC and the ones involved have come over it within months - can't you manage within years?

    Concerning SOI, on several boards now you get explained that those two pairs got the two most prominent spots. Which is in my book something special altogether cause usually solo skaters are treated as the top acts. Concerning the shows now, the producers have to decide which skaters (pairs) get which spot. And as someone who is doing programs myself (though musical not skating) I have the highest understanding for the problems to make up a program like that. And I would put my decision between such two high class pairs mainly on the style of the routines they have. On certain spots in the program you need either slow, romantic, cool, classic, funny or upbeat or whatever. And I would arrange them as it suits the overall picture. I have no doubt such thoughts happen in the minds of the SOI producers as well..... and if you would put away your biased glasses you might also see that there is no big deal concerning that.

    Btw - SOI has put up exactly those two couples in a number together in their first season together. To show off BOTH equally I would say. Why not for once acknowledge things like that? But it's hard to do such routines all time and I have the impression the skaters themselves want to do two routines each on their own (understandable imho) so of course those routines HAVE to be placed somewhere in the program....

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    I have nothing to say as to their placement in the lineup of the show...but i have to say anyone who considers Elena and Anton to be second rate skaters...are freakin blind! In my opinion,behind G&G,they are the most elegant and graceful pair I've ever seen.Not to mention that when it comes time to..they can so totally rock

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