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Thread: Programs from the 2001-2002 Season

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    Programs from the 2001-2002 Season

    In a Johnny Weir thread, I asked/challenged Blades of Passion to choose a season and give me a list of programs that he/she loved. Part of my attitude towards those who idolize the 6.0 days is that I wonder if the sheer breadth of it's reign made it easier to dismiss COP as not instantly producing the kind of quality people felt earlier and if the fact that they had a much longer time period to select those memorable moments. Anyways, Blades provided the following list for my homework. This was about six weeks ago, and I've been chugging through it. I figured I'd post the list with my comments, divided by discipline. Hopefully others are inspired to join in.

    Yagudin's SP + LP
    Plushenko's SP
    Abt's LP
    Goebel's LP
    Eldredge's SP + LP
    Savoie's SP + LP (the Gershwin piece at Worlds, not the program at Nationals)
    Kwan's SP + LP
    Cohen's SP
    Hughes's LP (at Olympics)
    Suguri's LP
    Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze's SP+LP
    Sale/Pelletier's SP+LP
    Shen/Zhao's SP + LP
    Anissina/Peizerat's OD+FD
    Ina/Zimmerman LP (@ the Olympics)

    Here goes nothing, with transcendence being the bar to reach (Blades certainly makes us set standards high) (this was part of the discussion).
    Last edited by ImaginaryPogue; 08-25-2010 at 09:07 AM.

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    Ice Dance

    Well, let’s point out the obvious. You only included one team from this season (two dances). I have to admit I was curious about the rest, so I went searching. Let’s start with the Anissina/Piezarat, OD

    “Utter command” says the Eurosport announcer, and there’s really not much more to say. Everything was thrilling. Well presented, utterly in character, intricate, difficult. Amazing. What I particularly love is the fact that he’s not blown off the ice by the sheer force of her vivacity. Anyone else skating at that time simply wouldn’t have been able to share the ice with her (witness the disparity in Fusar-Poli/Margolio, or later, Khoklova/Novitsky, and neither of the females there even compare to Anissina), but Peizarat rises to the challenge magnificently. All I have is gushing about this program. But what of the rest (admittedly, BOP doesn’t mention them so I don’t think she believes them to be in the range of transcendence, but if we’re talking about COP vs 6.0 as entities, I think it’s pertinent)?

    2. Lobacheva/Averbukh, OD
    3. Fusar-Poli/Margolio, OD
    4. Bourne/Kraatz, OD
    5. Drobiazko/Vanagas, OD

    The first thing I noticed was just how limited the artistry actually was. Athletically I wasn’t expecting much and wasn’t rewarded with much. Outside A/P, none of the teams gave the kind of gangbusters performance that you hope to find. A couple of errors mar FP/M’s performance (and I initially referred it to F/P’s performance, that’s how little a positive impact Margolio made). Lobacheva’s injury limited her and it shows, though I liked the,l program more than I thought I would. Despite skating with renewed vigour, B/K weren’t entirely comfortable. D/V were quite good though, but I come in loving them. But on top of that, OD’s 2-4 really felt exactly the same. Minor variations, but with those three, I don’t see the essence of character that COP’s drained out (though I will say, watching some more of the 02 ODs, Tatiana Navka is blindingly hot). It would be unfair to compare the top five to this season’s OD – Folk by definition is a lot broader. So I’m gonna compare it to the 2007 OD (the Tango)

    1. Denkova/Staviski, OD
    2. Belbin/Agosto, OD
    3. Dubrueil/Lauzon, OD
    4. Domnina/Shabalin, OD
    5. Delobel/Schoenfelder, OD
    6. Virtue/Moir, OD

    Within these programs, I see quite an intriguing range in style, mood, athleticism (yes, six programs. I’m a V/M fanbot). You’ve got the delicious mood of Dubrueil/Lauzon (it’s a Tango for a 1930’s night club in Buenos Aires, filled with smoke and lingering looks). You’ve got the robust lust of Denkova/Staviski, which smolders, burns and melts the ice (no wonder he kisses her with their final pose.) You’ve got the astonishing precision of Domnina/Shabalin – every shape they make with their bodies is gorgeous (something they lacked in the 09/10 season) – they display a geometric cool that could cut you with its elegance. You’ve got different kind of youth in B/A and V/M – the former’s style and chic, the latter’s unison and precision (DelSchoes have no impact on me here, unfortunately.) I can watch these and not feel like I’m watching the same thing over and over again, even when the elements are the same.

    And the free? Here’s Anissina/Piezarat’s Free Dance, “Libertas”. I’m pretty much of two minds when it comes to this dance, and those minds are completely intertwined, so here goes.

    This is an ambitious, creative program that manages to depoliticize one of the most incendiary political moments of the 20th century. I don’t like that at all. You can tell me to evaluate it on its own terms if you want, but we don’t view anything in a vacuum, and frankly – if you invoke Martin Luther King Jr., you’re asking for it. Now, they do several things correctly. They abstract the theme – so it’s not about the “I have a dream” speech (which, by the way, makes me cry it’s so stirring, so I’m coming in with baggage here) or even the civil rights movement but a notion of “justice.” We’ve seen what happens when you attempt a literal reading of tragedies (see Ilynikh/Katsalpov’s 09/10 FD –in its attempt to transform a Holocaust narrative to the ice, it is trite and puerile in the worst ways), so it’s smart to abstract the theme. But beyond that, I just don’t find it that thrilling a program – it’s less than the sum of its parts. Yes, they deserved gold for their performances, and arguably it’s the season’s strongest program, but it’s undeniably their weakest FD of their medal-winners. On top of that, they hit some rather ugly positions (the reverse lift in particular. Compare that to the gorgeous symmetry of their “Man in the Iron Mask” FD reverse lift). I give them monster credit for pulling it off as well as they do (a tribute to how great a team they were), but I don’t think too much of it as a program. And comparing it to today’s ice dancing programs? No contest – Mahler blows this out of the water for technical audacity, sheer beauty, and emotional/artistic cohesion (oh, and the reason they changed the dismount from the hands-free lift was because there were rumours it would be declared illegal. Since then, it has been explicitly declared so.) For storytelling prowess, I think Faiella/Scali’s “Godfather/The Emmigrants” is superb. For abstract metaphor, Cappellini/Lanotte outdo them with their powerful and sexy “Requiem for a Dream” FD.

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    Skating is art, if you let it be. Blades of Passion's Avatar
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    Yay, what a fun thread!

    I forgot to list Ina/Zimmerman's LP at the Olympics, btw. That was great. Shen/Zhao's LP should actually be listed as well. I guess I didn't just because they never performed as well in 2002 as they did in 2003.

    I won't go into much detail at the moment about what you've written so far because I have to head out the door soon, but:

    Anissina/Peizerat's Free Dance - I don't think this dance depoliticizes the speech at all. For me they are making a VERY strong statement about sexual equality and sexuality identity here. They are one of the best dance teams of all time because of how amazingly equal their abilities and positions are; that element of their partnership, along with their entire aura, allows them to interpret this speech with amazing depth. The way Anissina starts the program by lifting him off the ground, the way she lifts him in a hold later on (a move which is impossible in CoP because it's "too simple" of a lift and therefore wouldn't score enough points), the way both partners act both "feminine" and "masculine", various other nuances...they are making an incredible statement not only about how males and females are equal, but also about how no person should be ridiculed or denied rights because of their sexual preferences and/or because the way in which they act goes against the societal norms of how a male or female "should" act.

    It's one of the most daring Ice Dances of all time.

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    I don't have anything to add, but I just wanted you to know that I was paying attention. I love analysis this detailed; it always helps me to see things I missed when watching the first time around. I always loved Anissina-Piezerat. He's one of the best partners ever, and as you say, she's practically a force of nature. But I agree with you that their long program that year didn't astonish me the way others of their programs had--for example, the Romeo and Juliet free dance. I am also a huge fan of Denkova-Staviskiy. Their compulsory dance to the baroque march in (I think) 2003 is still one of my top favorites of all time. As for comparing the 2002 crop to the 2010 Olympics, that's beyond my powers. I'm happy to have both groups, and that's as far as I can go. I'm eager to hear your other findings!

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    1. Both the Kerrs and Faiella/Scali do reverse lifts where she lifts him. They are non-scoring elements and are considered part of the choreography mark. Outside of Anissina/Piezarat, which teams consistently did "she-lifts-him" lifts pre-COP? I'd assume it be prohibitive simply due to biology.

    2. I tried to get a reading based on gender/sexual identity/politics, but could only come up with generic "everyone's equal" and that couldn't overcome my own baggage with the choices made. Now, in all fairness, I don't expect hugely complex themes from ice dancing as the medium is not equipped to handle it (the same way a television commercial isn't equipped to handle its goals as well as a Homeric narrative) so that doesn't bother me, but it does render the attempt to do so emptier and less effective, emotionally or intellectually.

    3. Will add the two LPs.
    Last edited by ImaginaryPogue; 08-25-2010 at 09:20 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue View Post
    3. Will add the two LPs.
    Ina/Zimmerman's SP as well. I just rewatched that and it's wonderful. 2002 was such a great pairs event. I feel so badly for Ina/Zimmerman. They would have deserved a medal with those performances at any other event. And to lose out like that at the Olympics when it's in your home country...

    In fact, after watching Shen/Zhao's LP again right now, I'm going to say Ina/Zimmerman DID deserve that Bronze medal. Their performance was better and they were pretty much the same technically. Not as good on the Triple Twist or throw 3Loop, and an easier jump sequence, but Shen/Zhao made a pretty big mistake on one of the lifts and the SBS spin wasn't as good.
    Last edited by Blades of Passion; 08-25-2010 at 11:50 PM.

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    Pairs


    So, I’ve gone on record stating that I think COP has affected Pairs the most (negatively). Watching these programs, that fact is reiterated for me. Now, I don’t know if it’s because the skaters currently performing are simply a lower calibre or if COP rules explicitly hurt pairs skaters, but nonetheless, that’s where we are. I’d like to think it’s a little bit of both, with a healthy dose of the future will be better. Case and point: Dube/Davison 2008. BoP has referred to this LP as one of the best COP long programs (in This thread) and I find it telling that Dube/Davison are the only extant pair with junior experience under COP (the same way that the ladies and dance disciplines have generally been more successful at the senior levels due to the fact that the high ranking competitors: Kim, Asada, V/M, D/W have the system in their blood, and those that don’t worked hard to get it, like Rochette).

    Anyway, onto the Short Program performances, no order (trying to evaluate on own terms)......

    Sale/Pelletier, SP
    I’m startled at how much I love this program. That was gorgeous. Elegant but with a real jouissance. It worked the music sensationally and it plays on their chemistry beautifully. Bezic refers to their “freedom” in the routine, and I think she’s right. And that lift was a gem.

    Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze, SP
    What can one say about this program that hasn’t already been said? A masterpiece from first beat to last breath. It reminds me of V/M’s “Mahler” in that one false moment could break the spell, but they don’t here. It’s just breathtakingly lovely. Reduces me to adjectives of praises as opposed to actual analysis, I’m afraid

    Shen/Zhao, SP
    You know, because they performed so awesomely in the 2002-2003 season (I’m pretty sure “Turandot” in Washington belongs on the shortlist of the decade’s great skates), this season gets underrated a little (the controversy didn’t help). But what I noticed now is the things that they develop further as the years come (their artistry, skating as one, spins) is coming now. They’ve got monster power and dynamism here and while their breakthrough next season was remarkable, I really enjoy this program. Don’t like COP death spirals, and the ones I’m seeing here are beautiful. And Hamilton’s giddiness at that throw is palpable and contagious. Very much a HOLY COW moment.

    Ina/Zimmerman, SP
    Yeah, I said no order, but Blades added this after the fact, but this doesn’t quite compete with the top three. Not as much relation to the music (which is so minimal anyway. We often talk about war horses, but easily recognizable emotional cues certainly sell a program more easily than this) and they (and this program) are a little rough around the edges. Love the transitions, but you can see it hindering their technical stuff (the throw triple was quite small)

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    Imaginary, love the thread. A&P are my favourite all-time dancers, and I was disappointed with their final FD. They even removed a lot of the originality between GPF and Euros, sticking in some of their "greatest hit" moves, which didn't work as well with the choreography. They did deserve the OGM though. Fabulous OD, best CDs, and not great FDs from the rest of the comp. The only top five FD I did like was D&V.

    I also wholeheartedly agree that CoP has been terrible for pairs. I used to complain that pair spins were too simple, only one camel or sit position, but I take it all back after CoP. To me, the most important part of a pair spin should be unison, and it should be relatively fast. Those things are gone. CoP has also completely ruined one of the pretties moves, the death spiral. I like CoP for the other disciplines, particularly dance, but boy, do they need to re-think it for pairs.

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    Imaginary, I can't wait to re-watch the pairs programs with your notes at hand. I'm pretty sure I'll be thrilled by the programs of the top two pairs. I was happy they both got gold, because each was excellent in a different way, and both were (besides their own contributions) skating to programs by some of the greatest choreographers in the business--Moskvina and Nichol. The ones I'm curious to watch are Shen and Zhao. Were they as marvelous in 2002 as they later became, and did we just not notice in the glow cast by Jamie/David and Elena/Anton? Or did they by diligence and inspiration make some amazing quantum leap in artistic quality in the space of a season, much as Michelle Kwan did between 1995 and 1996? Some interesting time will be spent in YouTube University this weekend!

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    Although Ina/Zimmerman didn't perform their SP as well as others, I still think it's a very good program. Loved the opening choreography, the transitions, the choice of position in the upright SBS spin, the flow across the ice on the footwork, and the placement of the death spiral in relation to the music. A couple of the arm movements could have been better choreographed to fit the nature of the music but other than that they just needed more speed.

    EDIT - Programs set to rock music seem to be pretty much hated by judges. Kwan didn't get proper credit for her excellent SP in 2000, Abbott was marked below Brezina in the SP this past Worlds despite skating clean, Kozuka should have scored better with both of his programs this past season, and Ina/Zimmerman were also much better in presentation than Totmianina/Marinin in 2002.
    Last edited by Blades of Passion; 08-27-2010 at 08:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Antilles View Post
    Imaginary, love the thread. A&P are my favourite all-time dancers, and I was disappointed with their final FD. They even removed a lot of the originality between GPF and Euros, sticking in some of their "greatest hit" moves, which didn't work as well with the choreography. They did deserve the OGM though. Fabulous OD, best CDs, and not great FDs from the rest of the comp. The only top five FD I did like was D&V.
    And why not.... I've gotta run, so I'll just add the programs and comments later

    Bourne/Kraatz, FD
    Drobiazko/Vanagas, FD
    Fusar-Poli/Margaglio, FD
    Lobacheva/Averbukh, FD

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    You know, choreographically, Lobacheva/Averbukh's FD deserves to be on the list. They just skated slowly and she doesn't have nearly as much expression as he does.

    Bourne/Kraatz as well. Too bad about the huge mistake at the end.
    Last edited by Blades of Passion; 08-27-2010 at 08:34 PM.

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    B&K were good, but they'd done much better. I just found their MJ program a bit disappointing after other, better programs. They also tended to rely to heavily on "greatest hit" moves in their last couple of years. FP&M was fun, but it didn't seem difficult enough to be in the top, and this one just looked sloppy. Their previous two FDs were also better. L&A were ok, I just didn't think it was number two. Too much melodrama and strange music cuts. I always though it was weird how they were elevated so quickly in 2002 after languishing in the same spot for so many years.

    D&V had good choreography and some interesting moves. I think they related well to each other in "Quelques Cries". Not as good as their "Spente Le Stelle", but still quite nice. I think I was so disappointed in 2002 because most of the top teams had shown their best work over the previous 2-3 years, and no one lived up to themselves in 2002. It would have been nice for them all to peak in their final year, but they all seemed to peak too early in the Olympic cycle.

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    B&K were good, but they'd done much better. I just found their MJ program a bit disappointing after other, better programs. They also tended to rely to heavily on "greatest hit" moves in their last couple of years. FP&M was fun, but it didn't seem difficult enough to be in the top, and this one just looked sloppy. Their previous two FDs were also better. L&A were ok, I just didn't think it was number two. Too much melodrama and strange music cuts. I always though it was weird how they were elevated so quickly in 2002 after languishing in the same spot for so many years.

    D&V had good choreography and some interesting moves. I think they related well to each other in "Quelques Cries". Not as good as their "Spente Le Stelle", but still quite nice. I think I was so disappointed in 2002 because most of the top teams had shown their best work over the previous 2-3 years, and no one lived up to themselves in 2002. It would have been nice for them all to peak in their final year, but they all seemed to peak too early in the Olympic cycle.

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    Okay, jumping back to ice dance.

    Bourne/Kraatz: It's interesting reading that Antilles felt they had better programs in the past. I'm not sure how far back he's reaching there, but I found the post-Nagano seasons lacking in inspiration. Now admittedly that's really only two seasons: 1998/99 (with that techno FD) and 2000/2001 (and frankly, I don't even remember this one). They had one season lost (injury? They only skated CoR that season), but post-Nagano I felt they were really questioning their commitment. Whether or not you feel they were held back for their comments, it's clear that the controversy affected their views (if you're not gonna be treated fairly, why bother? - Eventually, they changed their tune with their least personal program ever in 2003 and won World gold. Barely). Anyway... for me, the Michael Jackson FD represents something of a return for them. They feel revitalized... for the first two minutes. Those two minutes make you forget the rules and just watch. It's exciting, invigorating stuff and they sell the hell out of it. Admittedly skating to something so audience friendly as Michael Jackson songs means that you're gonna get the audience into the program, but they keep the audience into it. Then the next minute and a half comes up and you see their weaknesses (often choosing easier handholds, struggling to sell it). They ace the final bits again (I went and watched the worlds FD cause it was clean, but Kraatz' words on the fall are a little heartbreaking) and sell it again, but it doesn't reach the heights of the opening half. I think it's a dance they needed (along with the "Cellblock Tango" OD - they basically went very popular this year) to get back to what they loved about the sport, but I don't think it's a dance for the all time lists or anything.

    Lobacheva/Averbukh: Oh so corny. The good: the moves, his conviction. The bad: Her (injury) really limits them. She's also startlingly expressionless - it's a tribute to 9/11 for crying out loud and she's terribly one-note. Blades mentioned the speed. More generally, melodramatic programs really need to be special to work for me (Domnina/Shabalin's Masquerade Waltz does) and this sin't. I don't think they were elevated that quickly, were they? They went 5th in 1999, 4th in 2000 (no elevation, B/K not present nor were K/O, so really, they fell a spot), 3rd in 2001, 2nd in 2002 Olympics and 1st at Worlds. As these things go, it seems entirely reasonable.

    Fusar-Poli/Margaglio: Sloppy, trite, and yeah - it seems very easy. I don't like this program at all.

    Drobiazko/Vanagas: Aka, the team that probably should've been on the podium, at least bronze if not silver. That was electrifying. This is melodrama that works. Absolute conviction from both, speed, passion (there's a reason they've been to five Olympics). I agree it's not quite as good as "Spente Le Stelle," but as Antilles said, "not quite as good" describes all the FDs in relation to previous efforts.

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