I attended COI in Phoenix tonight. I have been attending COI many years now, since the early 90's. They had stopped coming here about 3 years ago. Last year I had to go to San Jose to watch it. So I am grateful that they came here this year. I was happy that the show was very good. There was not one number that I did not enjoy.
Champs that were Missing in Action: Kimmie Meissner (world champ), Pang & Tong (pairs world champs), N&K (ice dance Olympic champs), and Denkova-Staviyski (world champs ice dance), although I think only Kimmie is with COI this year.
The opening number was as usual, with each skater being introduced with a different piece of music.
Rudy Galindo- He too started doing a Biellman spiral (although a very brief one)! He is always so creative, and creates so much energy. He used a chair in his number and did many things with it.
Inoue-Baldwin: I was so relieved that they did not skate that awful exhibition from worlds. I liked the one they did skate. It was soft and lyrical and suited them much better. Rena landed the throw triple loop in both the intro. and this number. Very nice outfits- cream color for her; black & white/cream for him. Every time I see them, I think 'Throw triple axel'- of course they did not attempt it.
Surya Bonaly: She is such a crowd pleaser. She is a better skater now than she was as eligible. As always she did her back flip with one foot landing and added a 3salchow to it. That was just great. It seems the only triples she is doing now are 3t and 3s, but it was a very nice number.
Johnny Weir: I never get tired of watching him skate. Great flow on the ice, beautiful lines and posture. I loved his 'My way' number even though he doubled a couple of jumps. great musical interpretation. Loved his costume too. Although he has an introverted style, he is making eye contact with the audience now and he smiled a few times too.
Dan Hollander: I knew it would be a funny number. Fortunately no Mrs.Doubtfire. This time it was about a skater trying to win the OGM, with Dick Button's commentary in the background. Some fun moments, as expected. I did not particularly like the reference to the French judge (a bit trite), but overall it was a lot of fun. He did the back flip at the end and the comment was that he disqualified himself (not by rules; just for fun). It reminded me of Surya doing the backflip in the 98 Olympics.
A&P: They did my favorite number- Star wars medley. I had seen it last year and loved it. I don't know why more skaters don't use Star wars music. The love theme from Attack of the Clones is so beautiful. The audience seemed to really like it too, especially whenver Marina lifted Gwendal, it was a 'wow' moment.
Evan Lysacek: Another fun number and he did the most difficult jumps- 3lutz-2t combo. Evan is very entertaining and a strong jumper, but not as polished as Johnny yet. He could develop into a very good all round skater.
B&A: Skated their Olympic OD- a diluted version of it (the step sequence did not go from end to end) It was well done and well received. Ben is such a good skater! Some of their lifts were really good.
Viktor Petrenko: I don't know the song but his outfit (suit and hat) reminded me of his "Business of love" number from way back. Viktor has one of the most expressive bodies and he still has great presence. The audience really responds to him. He does not have the jumps any more. He did a very nice 3t from 3-turns, and a couple of double axels. The rest was spins,steps and showmanship.
Irina Grigorian: OK, not your usual skater but I loved her hula hoop number. I had seen it at least twice before. She added a box to this and she spun the box at the end. For the sake of entertainment I don't mind seeing something different.
Besedin & Polishchuk: Again, not a traditional skating number but their acrobatics require incredible skills. It was VERY well received. The things they do are so amazing.
Stephane Lambiel: He did a very extraordinary number. I am not sure what the mask meant, but he skated very well. He stepped out of the 3flip, and had a hard landing on the double axel, but he kept spinning for a long long time- changing positions each time. Simply amazing. The whole number was beautifully done,not just because of the spins.
Irina Slutskaya: I had seen this number on TV and I think her costume is not flattering. It made her look heavy and she looked slower than usual. However, she did a few Biellman spins (naturally!), a triple loop from 3-turns (but the landing was slow). Nice smile and good energy on the spins.
T&M: One of the best performances in the show (Music of the night- from Phantom of the opera). They did sbs 3toes, throw triple loop with a gorgeous edge on the landing, split triple twist, BIDS and FIDS (at different points in the show), nice & clean lifts. Maxim is so expressive! Tania has also improved her expression (could improve even more). Their skating is so smooth and effortless.
Shizuka: I am so happy that she has joined the tour. She seems very comfortable in her new celebrity status as the reigning Olympic champion. She did her signature Ina Bauer three times in the show. Of course it drew wows from the audience. She is such a lovely skater! Her edges are soft and the landings on the jumps are soft like feather. Her flexibility also drew some wows. I loved her 'You raise me up' number. She is such a complete skater.
Sasha: Beautiful red dress, skating to God bless America. The choice of music drew applause from the audience, but I don't usually like skaters using patriotic music. No harm done though. The audience loved her. Sasha has the best lines of all the skaters. Great Russian splits. She fell on the 3 salchow; she was the only skater to take a tumble tonight. Her double axel was fine, as usual and the spins were great as always. Watching her and Shizuka side by side made me think that Sasha does not have power in her skating, but she has plenty of beauty. She received a very loud applause.
Plushenko: I missed him last year. He was taking injury time out that time. It was nice see him introduced as Olympic champion. He has presence and charisma. The jumps are gorgeous and powerful. However, he did only 3toe and two double axels in his Tosca. I don't know if he intended to do a triple axel, but this was a rather diluted program (in terms of jumps). In the past he used to do all his jumps except the quad. I am sure being a new Dad takes away time from training. The foot work was fast and furious as expected. I was hoping for 'Godfather' so I was a little disappointed because Tosca is a short program. I wanted to see more of Evgeny.
Michelle: Although she did not do any jumps, it was so nice to see her back on the ice. She did the closing number, although during the opening Plushenko was introduced last. She looked lovely in a silver dress and did her trademark moves- COE spiral, hydroblading, charlotte, etc. She received the biggest cheer of course. I hope she can work through her injuries and gets her triple jumps back; otherwise we won't see her in competitions.
The closing number was very nice- first the ladies wore long skirts and the men wore westerns. Later everyone wore white and did their moves.
This tour is VERY long. The skaters must feel tired, or they may be pacing themselves by doing only easy jumps. They seemed to give a lot of themselves artistically though. I really enjoyed the show.