I thought that we could consolidate all our general ice dance thoughts in this one place. . . .
*I think that of all the skating disciplines, ice dancing will be the most heart-breaking at the Olympics this year. Why? Because the top 5 competitors (to choose a random number) are more likely to skate their absolute, absolute best, and there can sadly only be one winner. (Men, Ladies, Pairs: much more likely to have huge gaps in scores between 1st and 2nd, 2nd and 3rd, and on down the line). I’m imagining tiny, tiny point differentials between the dance medalists, and maybe everyone in the top 10--exciting for the fans, of course, but so unfortunate for everyone but the eventual gold medalists. This could be the best Olympics ever for ice dance! Of course, it could be a total (and predictable) let-down as well.
*I wish people would stop comparing top scores from different competitions--as in, “Davis/White are clearly favored because their total score was a lot higher than Virtue/Moir’s and Belbin/Agosto’s.” Different competition, different judges, different situations. Wait for the GPF when they’re all skating together and THEN compare.
*All-white tuxedos are not a good thing. They turn even a handsome man into a taper candle.
*Does anyone else love compulsory dances? I almost wish we could go back to the early/mid 80s when THREE compulsory dances were skated at major competitions. That might separate the best from the best even more clearly, and this season, we could use even more tools of separation. Plus, it’s simply more dancing, which is always a good thing!
*American Country-Western dance sounds like it should be a yee-hawin’ good time, but so far it’s coming across a little trashy (Samuelson/Bates) or a little silly (Pechalat/Bourzat) or fun-but-too-exhibition-like (the Kerrs).
*Do you think Chinese ice dancers are going to catch up to Chinese pair skaters anytime soon? That would be so nice for them. . . .
*Belbin/Agosto: I was pleasantly surprised by their FD. In my opinion, it has “winner” stamped all over it, though it does need more work (as does everyone’s FD at this point in the season, really). Part of me is sad that the young, exuberant, fresh Tanith and Ben are gone now, but I guess that’s life--everything grows and matures, and we can‘t expect ice dancers never to age or change. And I do think “mature” is a good description of how they come across in this dance. Their lifts may not be as acrobatic as some of their competitors’, but Tanith and Ben strike some GORGEOUS positions in their lifts, and I like how they hold those positions so that I, the viewer, can admire them. Finally, I think every American ice dance team, present and future, owes Belbin/Agosto a huge debt of gratitude. Look where they have taken American ice dance. Love them or hate them, there’s no denying they have changed things forever, and American ice dance is no longer the huge joke it used to be. There’s a real possibility of having *two* American dance teams on the Olympic podium, with perhaps one on the top step. Huge! Thank you, Tanith and Ben.
*Blanc/Bouquet: Seriously, why the eyeballs?
*Cappellini/Lanotte: Does anyone else look at them and see all sorts of little homages to Virtue/Moir, not just this season, but previous ones as well? I think it’s kind of cute. Not sure he is totally convincing in their FD, but it’s early, and good for them for trying something totally different. She’s absolutely beautiful and charming, and she sells that OD (which could easily be a mess).
*Chock/Zuerlein: Whoever makes her dresses deserves a medal. All three at Cup of China were gorgeous gorgeous GORGEOUS.
*Crone/Poirier: Those OD costumes are atrocious, his pants in particular. Can you imagine those on someone who DOESN’T have a dancer’s body? *shudder* Unlike many others, however, I love Vanessa’s FD skirt. Not a real fan of the Muzak-like FD music, however. It will be interesting to see how the season goes for them.
*Davis/White: In terms of technical merit, and probably technical precision, right now they seem to have everyone beat. I was not a real fan of their FD when watching it via IceNetwork on my little computer, but once I saw it on television, it looked like a whole different dance, and I liked it much more. I could even overlook the music, which is not my favorite (to say the least). They really stand out with their OD, and even though I may not *like* it per se (I think the music is hard to “get into“), I am impressed by it greatly and think it deserves all the high scores it gets. After seeing Belbin/Agosto’s material this weekend, I can’t help but notice how “young” Davis/White look in comparison to their American teammates. Not that this is a bad thing, or that it should keep them down in the standings, or anything like that. I just don’t think that Davis/White have reached their peak yet--and that’s a good thing! And for that reason, I’d like to see them stick around for another Olympic cycle (in other words, to see them on the Olympic podium would be lovely, just not at the top of it).
*Delobel/Schoenfelder: I never used to like this team, but they grow on me more every single year, and now they‘re among my favorites. I think the Olympics will have a huge gaping hole if they aren’t there. I admire Isabel and truly am in awe of what she’s attempting to with her personal life and her professional life. What a role model, not just for women, but for anyone who has a burning desire to achieve. All the best to them.
*Domnina/Shabalin: Yuck. I of course wish Shabalin all the best with the recuperation of his knee(s), but I won’t be sorry if we don’t see them at all this season. I’m still shaking my head at their win at Worlds last season. And I just can’t get over Oksana yelling at the little flower girl at a Grand Prix event a couple of seasons ago. I think this team is carrying an enormous burden, however, and I don’t imagine it’s easy.
*Faiella/Scali: Wow! Something is sure different, and in a wonderful way. I love both of their programs this season. Federica looks “softer” somehow, both in her movement and in her entire physical appearance. Just lovely. Massimo, of course, is the gorgeous, romantic character he always has been, in my opinion. So frustratingly close to beating Khoklova/Novitzki at Cup of China! And I think they should have beaten them, without a doubt.
*Hubbell/Hubbell: Here’s hoping the coaching change does them some good. Right now, they seem rather generic to me.
*Kerr/Kerr: They are destined never to rise in the rankings, aren’t they? I get the sense that no matter what skills they improve, no matter what material they select, no matter who coaches them, they’re always going to hover in the bottom half of the top ten. They may not be my favorite, but this makes me sad for them. Audiences love them; judges don’t. Can’t figure out why.
*Khoklova/Novitzki: Whoever designs their costumes is doing them a huge disservice. They are a rather unattractive couple on the ice (a lot of that having to do with the big height difference, I think), but I also think some better packaging could go a long way toward improving their overall appearance. Their FD, to me, looks like a pairs program without jumps, or perhaps aerobics on ice (in hideous garb). I think Khoklova, in particular, is capable of so much more. Yes, her flexibility is impressive, and you have to play up your strengths/set yourself apart, but wouldn’t it be nice to see their coach/choreographer give them material that really--pardon the pun--stretches her? Something that makes her look like a dancer, rather than a gymnast-on-ice? Last year’s FD was a step in that direction, and I kinda liked it; this year’s seems to be a big step back. Novitzki, I’m afraid, is like a dead weight for her (I can‘t even watch him, to be honest), but I think she has a lot of potential that just is not being explored. She’s really captivating. On top of that, she seems like a delightful, fun, genuinely kind person (not that that has anything to do with their dancing, but still). Theme-wise, the FD seems like an unimaginative extension of the OD, too. If Domnina/Shabalin don’t come back and Khoklova/Novitzki all of a sudden skyrocket to the top with this material, that will be scandalous.
*Navarro/Bommentre: I think Kimberly is just beautiful, and they are a class act. Alas, their material doesn’t seem to be as challenging as it could be (or maybe they just make everything look easy--but I suspect it’s more a case of the former). Would love to see them at the Olympics, but I think that third American spot will go to Samuelson/Bates.
*Pechalat/Bourzat: I’d love to see all-black or otherwise totally minimalist costumes for the FD. They always strike me as being so “busy,” program-wise and appearance-wise, but I applaud the unwavering drive to be true to themselves, and to be different. She looks adorable in pigtails (OD). His hair is a little odd this season.
*Platonova/Grachev: Love their FD. I felt like I was watching a ballet. Simple costuming is always welcome, from my perspective.
*Rubleva/Shefer: Only an adorable elf-like girl with rosy cheeks could pull off that hideous OD costume. She’s charming. Love their FD, too. So nice to get a small break from over-the-top theatrics.
*Samuelson/Bates: Their FD looks pretty much exactly the same year in and year out. Interchangeable costumes and music. For that reason, this team is an absolute snoozefest. Maybe a coaching change would shake things up?
*Virtue/Moir: They’re my favorite dance team; let‘s get that bias out on the table. I think their OD has the *potential* to be the best out there (some kinks still, but fabulous and dramatic, and Scott makes me just swoon and melt). Their FD I can’t quite make up my mind about yet. By the Olympics, I think it will either be the most exquisite thing ever seen on ice OR the biggest, saddest disappointment in recent memory--no in-between. Their basic movement is just so gorgeous and soft. And while others have slammed their costumes for this season, I think the all black-and-white is sophisticated, and I think it makes them look more mature (which I’m guessing is something they’re going for). I’d love to see them hang around for another four years, but I have to be honest: I’d love to see them win Olympic Gold even more than that.
*Weaver/Poje: Ugh. I think they will suffer greatly by comparison this season--their OD with Virtue/Moir (and Crone/Poirier, even WITH those pants), their FD with Davis/White. Every time he lifts her, I hold my breath, because he doesn’t seem to be the strongest or steadiest male partner out there. That said, he’s definitely a DASHING male partner, and I could look at him all day. I find her expression either lacking or, when it’s there, over-the-top. Of course, I can’t get past the sense of “I’m better than everyone else” that just oozes out of Weaver; to me, it’s a turnoff. Like their OD costumes. Love their FD costumes.
*Zadorozhniuk/Verbillo: Worst fake moustache ever. I was waiting for it to fly off and hit one of the judges in the face.
*Zaretski/Zaretski: Oh, her hair is so, so unflattering. I read on another message board that this ‘do may be linked to their FD theme, and if so, kudos for commitment, but I wonder if they might have been able to accomplish that look with hairpieces or something less permanent. I can’t get past my sense that their movement is always very “heavy” and “labored” and “clunky.” All that said, though, I would love for them to just hit a home run one of these days. They obviously work hard and care a great deal, and I love and respect that.