Final day of Skate Canada (boooo!!!) It was mostly East Asia behind us today....Yu-Na Kim, Binshu Xu and the Chinese dance team once they had finished...No Daisuke or Yoshie though. Also, Andrei Maximishin for a while (up higher though, not directly behind me), and Jamal Othman with his coach and Natalia Mikhalova for a while. Also, Miller/Moram and Lesley Hawker up behind in the media section, and Lefebrve/Markov directly behind me for a while for the last flight of dancers (Got another sweet smile and "thank you" from Arseni for having a banner for them; Chantal still seems to have a cold or something, hoarse voice and coughing). Very nice little thing, regarding skaters not competing here: I had talked with Hann-McCurdy and Coreno a little last week at Skate America, and said I would be at Skate Canada as well. He had said, Oh, we'll be there, just watching, I'm sure we'll see you. Well, today while I was in line for the restroom, I heard a "Hey you", and there they are. Was very nice to see them, I wished them luck at TEB, and said that they still had one of my favorite free dances in the two competitions I'd been to. A little later, I saw him in the gift shop, and went up to him and said well, I didn't get a good picture of you guys last week, and didn't have my camera a while ago, would it be ok to take a picture please? He said he wasn't sure where she had gotten to, and I said it's ok, just him would be fine. He came out and posed, and then after I had taken my picture, he pulled his camera out and gave it to my friend and asked her to take a picture of the two of us...so he has a picture of me and him, and I don't! He's totally adorable, and I will be a fan for life now because I know how nice they are.
Hajkova/Vincour (Elvis Presley medley) Which explains why they are dressed in black pleather and fringe. Oh my. They started with a nice lift, and then a little "Shae/Vic" move, dual hydroblade stroking. They had some nice choreography, solid lifts, if not spectacular. Do a death spiral type move with her holding on to his boot. The "besti squat" type lift, he barely bends his knees....I don't know technically what is supposed to be, but I like those moves with the man deep in the knees, just aesthetically more to my liking. Timing off a bit in places, which must be hard, because they were soooooo slooooowwww. Music timed at 3:51, but it seemed much much longer. 64.81/127.70
Yu/Wang (Lord of the dance) He's wearing Joubert's old costume for his LOTD program last year...red/white over black pants. Hmmm. They have some nice lifts, and much with him on one foot. Good timing and nice enough choreography. She has nice positions in the lifts and the dance spin....nice unison in the footwork. Ice coverage only fair. They are special team if you only watch her...she has beautiful positions and very nice expression. Together, as a pair, well....I guess they are the best in China. But look to have a long way to go to get on the world level. 62.96/126.36
Pratt/Gilles (Dream on, by Aerosmith) Nice blue color for costumes. Start with some nice choreography, and beautiful position on the rotational lift. Then a very nice spread eagle/besti lift, with her body straight out position.Very nice ice coverage, and nice combination lift (like, 3 in 1). He is showing much more expression than she is during the program. Very nice positions on the entry to the pair spin, and the pair spin itself. Not a lot of actual footwork choreography for a dance team...but all they do is quite smooth. They do some more lifts in sequence (I think this is the one that got deduction for extended), a little off on the twizzles in footwork, but overall a nice program, and I was more impressed with him in it than her. 74.85/139.44
Mikhalova/Sergeev (Jesus Christ Superstar) They have a nice start with what I call the "Navka lift" (him crouching down, her straight out in front). Nice choreography with very smooth basics and nice ice coverage...good drama and emotion in the start. Good timing and unison in footwork, another rather "shallow" besti squat lift with him not very much down into the knees. Dance spin kind of slow (like most are), her in very nice positions. Nice 1 foot lift into rotational lift. Then suddenly just as they are getting the crowd into this nice, emotional mood with them, the music abruptly shifts into a rock portion, and breaks whatever spell they could have set. It is kind of jarring, getting somewhat "into" the program at that point and then it changes style so abruptly. Still, they maintain some nice choreography and the lifts are good. Big hugs at the end, and there were some very nice moments...I just am kind of put off by the music selections, or the timing of the music blending. As they were getting off the ice, they clapped a little for Navarro/Bommentre, which I thought was very good sportsmanship. 69.84/140.97 After they were done, she came up in our section and sat with Othman and Jacqueline Keifer for a while...not sure where he went, but later saw Maximishin and Urmanov much higher up in the stands, so perhaps he went up there to camp out.
Navarro/Bommentre (Beatles medley) Right off the bat, I notice nice speed from them, and very nice, smooth entrances/exits from the lifts. On one of the lifts, it appears she is doing it with a straight body, yet her knees are slightly bent...like, not deliberately? It kind of breaks her body line, and throws off the aesthetics of that particular rotational lift....if you can't keep your knees straight, then maybe bend them more deliberately, like stag position. (Sorry, just a pet peeve) She still reminds me of "Tanith-lite", although he doesn't remind me at all of Ben. Nice besti squat lift with him lower in the knees than some of the previous men. Overall, better than Skate America, IMO, but I don't know they are a team I feel really enthusiastic about. Different strokes and all. Personal best of 77.84/152.57
Platanova/Maximishin (Flamenco) At first, I saw their black and red costumes, and hers looking Latin-flaired, and thought oh no, finally we have Carmen. Was thrilled to realize that no, this is truly a Carmen-less competition! WHEEE! Anyway, they have very nice positions in the lifts and spins...she has nice arch to her back, and uses her hands and arms nicely. He has very nice posture, and good "snap" to his hand movements, but could loosen them just slightly, he looks a touch robotic at times in the upper body. (Really hard to explain what I"m meaning, sigh!) Very nice attitude and presentation of the choreography, and what looks to be more difficult arm holds than most of the previous teams (more intertwined). Overall a good, clean program. My notes say "NICE" underlined a few times, and truly, they were. I think they were a little ripped on the PCS. Personal best of 79.98/157.45
Lefebvre/Markov (Memorial) Well, as most know, this is very heavy music, and can be very mechanical and plodding. I really like this pair in faster paced music programs, like their OD, and their programs last year. This...just not sure. They are not showing the spark and energy that I think would be needed to pull off this kind of music without it seeming monotonous. Perhaps it's because she is sick and it will improve. Their footwork unison is dead on, and they have some very intricate and ncie lifts and choreography. I think they do give off more expression with this program than at Skate America. A very nice lift with her in shoulderstand on his knee and him in a slide. The potential to be a great program, I hope, because they seem very nice. 75.48/145.12
Davis/White (Polovetsian dances) Varner is yelling for them at the beginning, and throws them a teddy bear at the end...very cute. They start out with a very nice combination lift, she has beautiful positions. Nice Grishuk/Platov move (she goes between his legs, a move they repeat later in the program)....Really transition smoothly with changes in the music tempo, and really great expression from both of them. He seems to have faster twizzles than she does, yet, their timing stays pretty much on...very strange how that can be. Very nice dance spin, not as slow as some, and in my notes "Fantastic ending" (although I can't recall it right now, and it's too slow to download on dialup!) They were my favorite at this point, and truly, I think, overall. Personal best of 84.83/162.66 and we are left to wonder, if not for that fall in the CD....
Virtue/Moir (Valse Triste) She has the best dress of the day, beautiful lilac color, very classy design. Immediately you can sense their quality, very nice smooth basics, good knees, good ice coverage, and beautiful body line. He has the best posture in dance I think, just wonderful looking. They have very good arm holds, and very nice positions in lifts and the dance spin, very pretty position. Nice emotion throughout, the music builds throughout the dance, and they present it beautifully. Very lovely, mature presentation of the program, and well worthy of the personal best they received. Partial/mostly standing O. 88.29/171.92
Dubreuil/Lauzon (At last) Here's a couple surprises for you...She's wearing a cream-colored dress, and their lifts are amazing. I don't claim to know much at all about this team's program history...but I could see them quickly becoming niched as romantic-ballad skaters. In some ways, this program is a lot like "Somewhere in time" last year...and some ways, not like it at all. The lifts are incredible. This program has a more playful/romantic feel, rather than wistful/romantic like last year. I don't know. Their ice coverage is great, their basic stroking, footwork and armholds are strong, their emotional expression is lovely. But even when it is performed so very well as it was here, I can't help but feel disappointed by this program, and I'm not sure why. I think it's akin to Plushenko's "Tosca" for me...I think the skaters are much better than the program. Feels like an exhibition (as does their exhibition). 98.81/196.68
Faiella/Scali (Pantera au Liberta) They were the disappointment of the day for me. I'd heard so much about them, I had been really looking forward to seeing them live. They skated to music that sounded like a club remix of some dance music. They did have some unique lifts, including two where she was rather "lifting" him (working the balance to make it appear that way, anyway). But I didn't notice any really difficult-seeming footwork or arm/hand holds in the program (I know it's all difficult, but theirs appeared no moreso than say, Mikhalov/Sergeev). It was again, a feeling that they are better than this program. 88.39/170.73
Few impressions of the exhibition, since I didn't take notes:
Lady of the day: Joannie Roachette, skating to a generic ballad in French, but with much emotion and expression. Encore to a snippet of "Like a prayer", the lyric version. Runner up to Fumie Suguri, with her cute "Girl from Ipanema" in whatever language it was in, and her purple pants. Mira showed a hint of artistry...unfortunately, it was Picasso. Alyssa doing "Man from La Mancha" is a little incongruent, she doesn't seem to have the flamboyant vampiness for that vocal version.
Man of the day: A tie between Shawn Sawyer (rocking out to some funky dance music, showing off his best moves, including a backflip and his amazing spiral/spin) and Johnny Weir (skating to "My Way", and showing me the Johnny Weir that I was hoping to see at Skate Canada). Someone did a "shout out" to Johnny just as he was starting his program, and Johnny had a big smile from it. Dai skated to "Tango De Roxanne", had a couple of spills. Stephane used something that sounded Cirque d'Soleil-ish, had a spill also. Chipeur was on adrenaline overload I think, tumbled once and stepped out of I think 2 other jumps.
Pair of the day: Putnam and Wirtz, who used an emotional ballad that just was a real tear-jerker for the crowd that knew about their recent losses. Beautifully done. Runner up for me, Marcoux/Buntin, with a fun version of "Hey big spender". Zhang/Zhang were very nice with their Butterfly Lovers (complete with Butterfly wings at the end), but remain not very emotionally expressive (He seems to have a great sense of humor...would love to see them do a light-hearted program for once that shows off that personality). Inoue/Baldwin, well, there's only so much "Mandy" one can take.
Dance team of the day: For me, without a doubt, Davis/White. Did a full, long dance complete with great difficulty and beautiful flow, nice lifts, definitely gave the money's worth. Runner's up would be Platanova/Maximishin (listed as "Guest" in the program, not sure how they picked who it would be...perhaps Lefebvre/Markov couldn't do it for some reason?) who did a nice bluesy number and showed nice connection with each other. Virtue/Moir were nice enough, to "Black Magic Woman", but was not the full song, so it felt like the program was just suddenly cut short. Dubreuil/Lauzon repeated their FD...oh, no wait, it was a different generic romantic ballad, this one in French...Yes, they are a lovely couple, and I am sure very nice people....but their programs from the last two years, both FD and exhibitions, kind of blur together for me. Faiella/Scali, again, kind of were a disappointment to me.
Finale was choreographed by Gary Beacom (!), who joined the skaters on the ice (and I think his kids also)...very cute.
Sad it's over....sigh, back to school and work, and no more vacation! Looking forward to getting photos developed though, and will share whatever comes out.