I attended the Iced Energy Show on Saturday 9 Sept at the Nottingham Ice Centre.
Having attended the gala that was put on for the queens jubilee I was pleasantly surprised to find that for this show they took down all the barriers around the ice and the tickets I'd managed to get were front row on ice seats about two thirds of the way down the long side (two thirds of the way away from where the skaters came on).
Again I was just blown away by actually seeing live skating and the fact that you can really tell the skaters who skate fast and the ones who don't!
I didn't take any notes and since the program was a big disappointment of just the skaters Bios that had been on the website and no mention of music or skate order, the whole thing will be from memory and I can't remember who skated to what!!
One big disappointment was that just as the show was about to start the announcer said that Jeffrey Buttle would not be performing as he had sustained an injury. I hope its not serious and that he heals up. I must say that I am continually cursed as far as Buttle is concerned. Either the DVD recorder or the sky digital box has buggered up to mean I have seen about one LP of Jeff's and none of his SPs so here I was hoping to see him live and then the curse struck again…maybe one day hey!
The opening ensemble number looked a tad under-rehearsed but to be honest I was so start stuck with the skaters coming out and trying to guess who was who as they were coming out that it wasn't a big problem - it took ages to realise it was Jason Dungjen and Yuka Sato who did a beautiful split double twist in that opening.
Again I'm struggling to remember the order in which the skaters went but I'll try and give overall impressions and what I remember…
I think Jennifer Robinson opened the solos to a track by (I think ) Elastica. in real life she looks so long limbed and it works well live in a way that I don't find that nice on the TV, she did however skate a little slow and tentative and struggle with her double axel and another jump and markedly slowed down towards the end of the program and was huffing and puffing into her ending.
Actually maybe it was John and Sinead Kerr who opened and I think they skated to U2s with or without you and it was a beuaituful number, I think it was in this program that Sinead lifts John to great effect but made me think I expect with CoP the female lifting male lifts will be a thing of the past (a good thing some might say!).
I think Steven Cousins was up next and again I remembered from the Jubliee Gala in 2002 that Steven really is a skater that you can appreciate much more live than on TV - during his competitive career I was never a huge fan but live you can tell the years he's put into performing and he moves so naturally and well to music - everything done in perfect timing with te music (as most of the performers did) and a still impressive jump arsenal, landing a triple flip and two triple toes in this first program. Having on ice seat really made it easy to see some of the shortcoming in some of the skaters and for Steven it has to be his back sit which does not really sit so much as hunch. his front sit is good though and his camel spins were also good…ah the joy of an exhibition with the oldies - none of this changing edge rubbish just pure great spins including fast scratch spins!
Ekaterina Gordeeva was a joy to watch - I a beautiful turquoise (ish) dress with pieces of fabric coming off it…I#m drawing a blank on what she skated to but she did a great job - and the most silent edges as she went round the rink. Struggle dwith under-rotated jumos - he double axel landed forward and with a loud clank of the flat of the blade but she stayed upright. She was less successful on the double lutz which was also landed forward but she fell on it. Her footwork, however, was just exquisite - beautiful deep edges with quick changes of direction and all done completely silently and without a single toe pick scrape.
Somewhere amongst all that I think Brian Boitano performed. Of the cast (aside from Yuka Sato) this was most excited I was about seeing someone and if I'm honest I was alittle disappointed. Having never seen Boitano perform, and having looked up some of his old performances I did not see this great artistic genius that I had been led to believe he was. He was good, don't get me wrong but I wouldn't call him an artistic skater. He landed (although slightly toe-y) his 'Tano triple Lutz and it was a huge one. I think he had a couple of triple toes and double axel in there too for jump count. While the performance was enjoyable it didn't measure up to my (maybe unrealistic?) expectation. My partner (who isn't a skating fan) commented on how you couldn't hear a sound from his blades as he skated.
Yuka Sato skated to a beautiful song by Mel C (sporty spice from the spice girls in her solo pursuits) and blew the rest of the skaters away - her skating is just exquisite, I cannot begin to tell you how much she drew me in during her performance and how every movement was just beautifully executed - every movement held for just the right amount of time to highlight the music. Edging and stroking like I've never seen and a great triple loop and double axel (I think) in this performance with a gorgeous classic layback spin. the favourite performance of the night for my partner.
Illia Kulik then came out and, having been a convert to his skating after seeing him live at the Jubilee Gala in 2002, I must say I was disappointed. The program contained a lot of prancing about in place and not too much actual skating. In this program there wasn't a single spin until the end. He popped a flip to a single and I think landed a triple toe and an IMMENSE double axel. Unfortunately there was too much dancing in place so he never fully got up to full speed (like he did in the opening number and clearly left everyone else for dust in the speed department).
Jamie Sale & David Pelletier then closed out the first half with a gorgeous moving piece to "Who wants to live forever" I think sung my Freddie Mercury. I was so moved by this that I couldn't even clap hen they did their amazing elements. I am a diehard B&S fan and seeing S&P up close I cannot begin to imagine how difficult the judges had it when having to compare these two teams. The fluidity of movement - the amazing "two skating as one" almost like an ESP that they seem to have was just amazing. A throw triple salchow and amazing gravity defying lifts including one where she does a handstand on his arm unsupported! He is a very strong man to do that and she was just amazing. The presentation and projection was out of this world and I feel truly privileged to have seen such a talented and beautiful couple skating. This was the highlight of the night for me and S&P alone were worth the price of the ticket.
Small intermission and when I came back from grabbing a quick coffee who would walk right past my seat? David Pelletier in jeans and sleeveless checked top holding his skates in his hands and he sat down in the audience putting his skates on. It then transpired that in the other three corners of the audience were Steven Cousins, Brian Boitano and Pete Dack (I realise that I've missed out a number that he and his partner performed but I'll catch it up at the end!). The four of them came onto the ice and did a comedy number to Baggy Trousers by Madness, it was quite a fun number that went straight into "It must be love" which saw John and Sinead Kerr back out showing us what they can do and then went back to the comedy with all of the men bar David Pelletier chasing after love interest Sinead and David having as his love interest John Kerr, much to his upset! It was a really funny routine with some nice tricks and lift and throw of both John and Sinead by the other guys and David and John really caught the comedy of the piece well - David particularly playing love struck and camp very well!
After this I think all of the skaters came out again and then they all left the ice leaving Jason Dungjen and Yuka Sato to perform their pairs routine which again was beautiful and I'm amazed that such a proficient and beautiful singles skater has managed to learn to execute the pairs moves as beautifully as she has. There was a slight glitch on the throw triple salchow (I forget exactly what) but I think she stood it and they did a very fast hand to hand overhead lift down the diagonal of the rink with not a toe scrape in sight!
I think Jennifer Robinson then skated and again looked a little tired but I think she did get her first double axel but popped the second attempt. She also popped Lutz to a singe…I don't know if she's still doing triples or not but she seemed to miss her pick or skid on it and ended up doing just the single. Some of her emoting to the crowd was a little "hammy" but fun nonetheless.
I'm really struggling with the order of the second half because I think there was a lot of segueing by having lots of skaters come on and leave only one for part of a song then bring out all the skaters and leave someone else on. I know John and Sinead did another number in the second half and she was in a truly hideous dress and he pinstriped trousers and tie made of the same hideous material as the dress! It seemed pretty good with more of their trademark carries and lifts in it and a set of quote out of time twizzles.
Ekaterina Gordeeva's second number was equally lyrical as her first with great footwork and edging again. She did struggle again with the jumps, attempting a triple toe but landing forwards half a turn short and stepping out. She also fell on a double loop later in the program but her basic skating is beautiful that it more than overcomes the jumps.
Steven Cousins second number was also very well skated and included another couple of triple toes and this time a double axel too.
Ilia Kulik's second number was a bluesy/swingy number which again had a bit too much dancing on the spot for my liking and he did a straightline footwork sequence that was reminiscent of Pluschenko and I mean that in a not good way - too much frantic toe stepping and jabbing with so much ice flying all over the place I felt sorry for the skaters who would have the misfortune of trying to skate over the pieces of ice that he'd gauged left right and centre…another unfavourable comparison to Plushcenko was his change foot sit spin - he had a very pluschenko "barely sit" sit spin which was more of a hunch spin. He did however then rocket up to full speed and rotated a triple axel at one end of the rink with a slight step out but a triple axel attempt it was!
The couple I've missed out in the first act was Violetta Afanasieva & Pete Dack. I hadn't heard of them before and soon realised that they are a kind of acrobatic/gymnastic pairs act - a little like a cross between the Russian acrobats and the hoola hoop girl. They did many flashy tricks in lifts and carries with her bending herself into extreme Biellmann and pretzel type shapes. A dhandbanger spin with her in the Biellmann position and some truly bendy carries. In their second number they also had a whole hoola hoop section and he span a very large cube. They did bring the hosue down with the gimmicks and it was fun but on the whole I preferred the true skating.
I think Boitano might have been second to last skating in an ensemble piece to Sade that left him doing a solo. Again I was a little disappointed in the program but he did do a gorgeous outside spread eagle into double axel that flew up in the air.
The very appropriate closing was another number by Jamie and David and this performance actually moved me to tears - I'm having a total brain lapse on the music but again every movement was matched perfectly to the music and to each other - they had a beautiful mirror image stroking into excellent outside spread eagles that mirrored and looped round each other (I think David has to have one of the best spread eagles in the business - it certainly put Boitano's to shame) and they had a slightly better landing on the throw triple salchow and absolutely phenomenal lifts again. Beautiful death spirals and such an emotional skate - they look exquisite together - you just cannot teach that trust and understanding in each that they present on the ice - it was just magical.
Just when I thought the evening couldn't get any better, as they were wrapping up and naming all the participants for the final bows, the skaters took to the first row of the on ice seats to shake hands and thank the audience for coming!! So I got to shake hands and have a brief hello with first, Jamie Sale who was so smiley and lovely and looks fantastic with her shorter hair cut. Then Jennifer Robinson who was really bubbly and sweet. Then David Pelletier who was really nice and smiley too and had an incredible firm handshake…but then given the size of the guys arms its no wonder! And finally Yuka Sato who was really bubbly and giggly and so down to earth an lovely.
I can't begin to actually express in words how fantastic it was to see that level of skating. The winners hands down on performance and execution, emotion, choreography…everything were Jamie and David…I can rest happily knowing that I've been able to see both B&S and S&P live and both that this ice arena. They are and will be my two favourite pairs for a long long time. Pairs was the discipline that first attracted me to figure skating and despite the controversy at the upset caused at the 2002 Olympics in my heart of hearts I'm really glad that both of these pair teams got a gold medal because they both certainly deserve it and I'm not sure any other pairs team is more worthy of sharing gold medals than these. A close second was Yuka Sato and I feel very privileged t have been able to see her skate live.
If anyone wants any more details I'll try and rack my brain for them!!
Over and out.