Thursday, skate America
Didn't go to practice today except for men's....other than a collision between Scott Smith and Evan Lysacek, pretty much a non-eventful event. A friend and I were saying, after seeing the practice, how a dream podium would include Chris Mabee, Alban Preaubert and either Scott Smith or Ryan Bradley, based on their program interpretations....so with that, let's forget men for a moment and do a (very) short review of CD....
Waltz music makes me want to vomit. Not sure why, but it does. Sigh. Anyway, the cream of the first two groups was Pechelat/Bourzat....very nice and smooth gliding movements, and overall very solid from my untrained point of view...new personal best for them. Lefebre and Markov were the only ones I saw with a stumble at all (her), although I have a note that Navarro/Bommentre were a little off timing at the end (not sure what the heck that's supposed to mean??? They got a personal best score!) We missed the Kerrs and Fraser/Lukanin. When Denkova/Staviski came out (in horrific purple and olive green outfits that look like FD castoffs from 1974), it was obvious why they are world champs, even to me. The smoothest stroking, the greatest extension, and beautiful leg line. Very nice job by them I thought. So end result has Denkova/Staviski, then Gregory and Petukhov and Pechelat/Bourzat at the top. Later on, I saw Hann-mcGurdy and Coreno (?sp) up walking around and told them good luck in the competition, they are very nice to watch. Both were gracious and friendly, and I felt bad for actually not remembering much about them at all.
Back to the men, for men's SP:
Voronev (rachmaninoff 2) Wearing a classy Urmanov-style costume burgundy/black. 3F-2t ok, but barely holds onto the 3A. Camel to donut spin ok. 3Loop. Flying sit spin slows with position changes, then picks up again. Combo spin a bit better. Both footwork sequences back to back, nice musicality and choreography. Score 56.40. Later saw him and Urmanov leaving, and went over to say good luck for tomorrow. Urmanov smiled and said "thank you" (and was wearing THE best smelling cologne!!); Voronev smiled even bigger and said thank you very much. Ok, so I'll like him, even as a Griazev fan.
Vanderperren (Albioni's Adagio) Black sparkly with pink/purple stripe that kind of reminds me of the teletubbies. I know, it's twisted. Did a really nice 3A, although I noticed he does something funky with his foot as he goes up into the jump. Obviously it doesn't hamper him at all. 3F-3T ok. Sit spin ok. It looked like he maybe had a little slip in the circular footwork, unless it was just a very awkward looking intentional step. 3Lutz landed, and he's relieved. last footwork is a little, well, not sure it's going well with the music....the music doesn't have a lot of "build" in it. He looked a bit off on the final spin, but overall appeared quite relieved with the program. 63.43 points. Later on he came out to our section, where apparantly friends/family were sitting in the front row, and after his conversation, posed for a few pictures and signed some autographs for people. He seems like a nice guy.
Bradley, aka the high point of the first group (polka music) Dressed in multiple flourescent colors. Right off the bat, there is great choreography and GREAT interpretation....he puts his whole body and face into the character of the program. 3A was GREAT! 3F-3t also great. 3Lutz ok, not as good as the first two passes. Camel to donut spin ok. Circular footwork sequence just totally flows; you think of it as choreography, not specific footwork requirement. Flying camel to donut spin, then more wonderful footwork (straightline) and final combo spin. Outstanding, and he's the one person in this men's event that I thought was robbed. But anyway. 64.44
Davydov (Hymns to the moon) How old is this guy, 40? It seems I've been seeing him and hearing his name for MANY years now! Anyway, not really his night. 3A with hand down. 3lutz with an entry to make Freakin' proud, to 3toe, combo was good. Music is rather dreary and heavy, and he's seeming to be dragged down with it (although the last minute or 45 seconds he seems to present it better). Flying sit ok, camel combo spin was very nice, sit spin ok. Both footwork sections go well to the music. He just looks really depressed doing this program....there's a difference between passionately interpreting serious music and just looking like you are in pain. had a deduction (I think went over time). 60.91
Nanri (Two guitars-Russian folk music) Ok, so it's Russian folk music---for a Japanese skater---who is dressed up like a matador?? That was a sign of disquiet in the Nanri program. Missed the first jump of his combo, but he did a 3__-2T which was off on the landing of the first jump, which is probably why just the 2T. 3A stumbled out on the landing. camel to combo spin is good. The footwork is good, but the music is very fast paced and frenetic, and I think maybe Browning or Plushenko could keep up with it....no one else on earth. The sit spin was ok, straightline footwork good (except again, the music issue), to flying sit spin. Some of his spin positions are a little weak, although speed is usually ok. He finished over time, got a deduction, and scored 49.20. Someone has to be last. GardenKitty, somewhere, Jamal is laughing at Nanri!
Zelenka (Blues for Klook) Ok, so I love this music, and I'm willing to give Zelenka any benefit of any doubt just because he's using it. Plus he's been looking good and solid in practice. 3A got popped to a 2A. Ooops. Right off the bad, he's got some nifty, voidy choreography, and into the blues feeling of it. Then, 3F-2 1/2T?? Landed forward on both feet. SIGH. Deathdrop to flying sitspin really high amplitude. Very high 3lutz nicely landed. The rest of the spins, all the footwork and choreography were quite good, and final total was 53.31. Hmmmm. Too bad for the need for those darn jumps.
Young (Man with a Harmonica) Not sure WHERE the heck he found this music....I have in my notes, garish cowboy outfit, funky music. It is actually quite cool. His opening combo, 3F-2T was ok, but I think he was wanting the 3-3. 3A was really high, but he falls out of the landing. Popped the 3lutz. SIGH again. Somewhere in the music there is a mooing cow, since I have "Cow??" in my notes. Not relevant, I know. The misses on the jumps seemed to suck the energy out of him. His spins and footwork were ok, but as the program went on, he seemed to slow down a lot. Too bad for the jumps, because the program is quite interesting. 49.72
Lysacek (The feeling begins) And so do the pseudo-Egyptian hand/arm movements and snaky choreography....oh my. 3A was gone into basically sideways and he falls (no butt to ice, but both feet down, one hand down and turn out of the landing). 3lutz ok, then 3toe in combo skidded a bit and turnout on the landing...the boy has scratchy jump technique, but especially that axel. 3F better than previous jumps. Spins ok to good (sometimes slow down, and sometimes the sit position is more like the squat). Some of the footwork and choreography has some interesting moves, but I think it's hard to imagine any original interpretation of this music at this point. Overall 70.35, which I thought a little generous.
Smith (Night train) Scott Smith does not have the face to be skating to what sounds like stripper music. Just saying. Now on with the program. The 3A was GREAT, but then down on 3S, hand down on the 3Loop. SIGHHHHHHHHH. Flying sit spin a little slow, but then regular sit spin combo was better. Great footwork and choreography musicality, flow, style. He sells with everything he's got, but it's going to fall short when the jumps aren't there. 58.25
Preaubert (Buzzy Bee) Alban is back with his bees again, same program as last year. 3Axel great, 3F-3T combo solid. Butterfly(?) to flying sit spin nice. GREAT choreography and character in the program, and he maintains all the way. 3Lutz is wonderful, and the rest of the program, he is on high-speed autopilot, good spins, great footwork, great personality and interpretation. Partial standing O at the end. 73.80 tops his former personal best by I think 5 points or so.
Oda (Fly me to the moon) Ok, so I've preferred Takahashi of the two top Japanese men last year, having gotten to see each of them once live in GP events. But WOW! 3A huge (is it just me, or does he have a little lunging motion he does before some jumps?) 3lutz-3Toe great. Flying sit spin and then regular sit spin combo both with good speed and positions. Circular footwork goes VERY well with the changes in the music. saves the landing on the 3F that looked a little wild. Straighline footwork very nice and dancey, goes well with the program, and he is selling it like crazy. Final camel-combo spin wonderful. He's thrilled, he doesn't cry, and he gets a new personal best of 81.80. Partial standing O.
Mabee (Blues Deluxe) Chris Mabee looks about 13 years old and definitely not old enough to wear pleather pants. Again, just saying. Throughout the program he has great style, great interpretation and really nice choreography. But again, jumpst DO count, dangit. started with a really nice 3axel. But then in his combo, 2-footed the first jump (didn't catch the entrance to see what it was) and fell out of what looked like a 2loop second jump. Footwork, spins all good, and 3F was good. But just not good enough to make up for the lost jumps. 58.35
Pairs is bizarre, I think it's year 2 that there are only 8. Strange evening in some degrees for the pairs.
Mukhortova/Trankov first up (Soundtrack Schnittke) SBS 3T, she doubles hers. Split twist is good (looked like a 3, probably just 2). Throw 3L she steps out on the landings. Nice Spiral sequence...he actually looks more flexible than her. SBS spins were ok, and then got off after the foot change and I think stayed off. Lift from spread eagle position nice. Pair spin, you again see that he has a bit more stretch than she does. Shoot the duck position into death spiral. I wrote on here "hard music"....not sure what that means, other than they didn't look really connected with the music, or really with each other for that matter. 49.02
Efaeva/Menshikov (Le songe de Abigail) Like the other Russian team, him in dark (Trankov in dk. blue, Menshikov in black) and she in peach color....just noting. SBS 3S were good. Split 2twist was ok, not great height. Throw 3loop good. Death spiral ok, her position seemed a little "loose", so her line wasn't great with it. Nice spirals and lift. Off timing on SBS spin. Pair spin ok, they finish off of the music. They're young, and show promise. 49.18
Inoue/Bald(win) (The soul of spain) Yeah, looking at John Baldwin makes me feel like flamenco. Sure. We watched him during men's practice, off to the side of our section, practicing the throw. Not "them". Just him, going back and forth pretending like he was throwing Rena into the stands of section 105. HMMMM, John, if you don't have that part down by now, I don't know. SBS 2A, and whoa! SHE misses it. They do the throw 3A and she gets it, but puts a hand down....still, it's impressive. Spirals ok, split twist ok. SBS spins very good (especially compared to what we saw previously). Lift and death spiral both good, pair spin ok. Best so far....but of course....that's a little limited of a compliment. 59.28
Nam/Leftheris (Tango Jealousy) Nice outfits, and looking very focused in the warmup. She's gorgeous. Just saying. SBS 3T great, very high. Nice little dance lift thingy to throw 3 loop, lands beautifully. Then she starts smiling finally a bit in the lift, which is nice. Spirals, a little off on alignment of leg line, otherwise ok. SBS spins ok, but then get off timing for about 3 rotations near the end, and somehow get back on time the last rotation. Split 2twist nice. Death spiral nice. Pair spin with change of direction twice, both sides nicely done. Good program from them, and the loudest appreciation so far from the audience. 54.32
Vise/Trent (Shall we dance, Dance with me) She in highlighter green, him in black. Split 2twist ok. SBS 3toe, she lands a little low, but he falls anyway, so I guess her landing doesn't damage them too much. Throw 3loop ok. Nice death spiral...nice moments in the choreography. A nice lift entry, but there was an awkward pause getting her into the full position, which looked like he maybe didn't have full control at the moment. Spirals, he's kind of weak with that, and their leg alignment isn't great. SBS spins ok, but some of the positions are a little weak. Nice moments, and some stuff to work on. 46.86
Zagorska/Siudek (Soundtrack Nidgy W Zyoia) Honest, that's the best I could spell it, while I was looking back and forth to the jumbotron for the name. They start off fierce, with a lot of attack, and you sense you are seeing the quality, and their experience...then on the SBS jump, BOTH fall! ARGHHHHH. Off on the SBS spins a little. Split 3twist great. Dance lift nice, then in the pair spin, they get off with the change and she falls. Spirals ok, lift and death spiral good, but I think at this point the audience is in a bit of shock. Rough rough outing for them, but their basic quality is rewarded. 50.34
Langlois/Hay (Mr. Monotony) She reminds me too much of Katy Taylor. Which reminds me too much of Barbie's pink hummer. Other than that, I'm sure she's a find human being. SBS 3T good, but he's a little wild on the landing. Split 2twist good. throw 3Toe (? looked like) with two foot landing. Spirals are really good positions and alignment for such a height difference. SBS spins ok, death spiral and pair spin good. Overall good except few small errors, but didn't have the speed they seemed to have in practice. 55.86 for new personal best.
Piatkowski/Khromin (Tango Chak Chak) Ok, so now we wear purple to tango. It's dancing with Barney. Oh my. SBS 3S timing was off a little. then they do 2twist to almost immediate throw jump, she puts hand down. Lift is ok. Spirals ok, but at this point I"m realizing they are quite S-L-O-W....There is some interesting choreography. SBS spins ok, pair spin ok but so slow you could cut their hair and not butcher them. 44.58 for them.
Had sightings of celeb coaches of course (Including Urmanov and Mitchell right near where we were watching practices)....other's seen present were Ruslan Goncharov and Elena Grushina, Olga Orlova, and someone else who I am either forgetting or blocking out, depending on whether I like them or not! Some more barely recognizeable as human beings photos, but I'm starting to get into a better pattern....fight with the camera in practices and warmup, and then take notes in the performance. I do get the occasional non-abstract photo that way.