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Thread: Overall Thoughts on Skate America

  1. #46
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Meryl and Charlie are not just mailing it in. Part 1 Short Dance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cezar View Post
    Why? I think they came to the competition without caring much about it. And without caring much about the fans either.
    First warmup - no chemistry. Other pairs were warming together, talking about last technical details, cheering each other, being aware of each other. Maryl and Charlie? Didn't see each other in the box before entering the rink, then during the warmup skated one mile from each other. At the very end of the warmup they finally acknowledged each other a tiny bit.
    That has always been their normal warmup style, it is not a sign they didn't care

    The two competitive programs - nothing spectacular. Just nothing new. Expectations were high, they aim to be the best in the world, but their programs were just average for their level. They didn't try. They won because they had to win, there was no other choice. But the programs were shaky, not polished, they tripped twice - once in each program.
    The autograph signing was actually nice. They chatted, they looked relaxed.
    AFAIK, they are always good at signings.

    Then the gala. The biggest disappointment. To me, an average skating viewer, they came to the rink in their practice clothes, skated around the rink with no purpose, and left.
    No artistry, no chemistry, no choreography. Probably their practice sessions look better. Other skaters gave their best at the gala to entertain the public. Maryl and Charlie - didn't care.
    when you come to a city with a performance you give your best! Or you don't come at all!
    Cezar,
    I'm so sorry the competitions was so disappointing. I'm going to talk about this in three sections, and I hope it helps you to understand what was going on for all the dancers this year, and why the dance events have been rather sloppy.

    I'll try to explain what I think was happening, and hope others more knowledgeable will correct me.

    This is the beginning of the 4 year long season leading up to the Olympics. And, as in all judged sports, it is the year the biggest rule changes occur, to give the teams the maximum time to adjust for the next Olympics. Of course, that means that the first year after Olympics, neither skaters, nor coaches, nor judges fully understand at the very first how everything is going to work. Ice Dance is the skating discipline that has seen the most changes this quad.

    The double whammy for experienced teams, who did well at Worlds and Olympics, is that the summer season after Olympics is the best opportunity when they must do the shows, to make the money, to afford their training for the next 4 years. And there are more shows, and they extend longer into what would normally be their training season. This is the first year D&W have had the opportunity to do the whole SOI tour, and it is new to them. Same for Pechalat & Bourzat and the Kerrs and Faiella & Scali and Capellini & LaNotte.-they had the opportunity for more summer shows.

    Then the unexpected strikes. In theory, the Short Dance does not involve anything all these teams don't know how to do-half Golden Waltz CD, half waltz OD. However, the way the Golden Waltz is judged has been completely changed. In the past, no levels were assigned to the CD segments by the tech committee. Judges judged on their impression of the whole circuit; only major errors in how steps were done were noted. How big was the pattern (which also shows how fast did they skate)? How deep were their edges? How much Viennese Waltz feel can they generate? Now it is different.

    And their first choice for an SD, Amelie, had to be scrapped after advice they got at Champs Camp from the US Figure Skating. (Pechalat/Bourzat also scrapped their first choice) So they choose La Traviata and La Boheme, trained. Oh, by the way, in order to get Levels in the twizzles section, they also had to change their twizzle entrance to a jump or do 3 twizzle sequences. They chose the jump. It is in some ways harder to relearn something than to learn it for the first time-especially on something as known to be risky as twizzles.

    So they go to NHK. None of their costumes are done. The Sd was changed from Amelie. Charlies is done, Meryl's not. And the FD, they skate in their old 2007 OD costumes (another tango). For a gala, they do the one from the Skating and Gymnastics Disson show, which is choreographed by the show's choreographer to have holes in it where the cameras will focus on the gymnasts. At least it is a new program, and most fans have not seen it. Their other choices would be Bollywood, which they skated all last season on SOI and everyone has seen, and old exhibitions they haven't practiced lately, or their SD, which they probably want to practice more before doing it under spotlights. (which is harder than under full lighting). Their contract requires that if they medal, and they are not sick, they must do the gala.

    There are 8 particular spots in the dance where the judges look for precise execution of how the steps are to be done. This sounds innocuous. However, in the past, skaters were allowed to add little individual touches to things. Nobody worried about how parallel your leg was to the ice in Segment 1 or how far you laid back, parallel to the ice in segment 2, for example. Many teams who thought they did everything right were shocked when they first were judged. Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat for one, at Nebelhorn (they did 3 summer competitions!), Meryl & Charlie for two, at their first competition, NHK. Meryl and Charlie only got level 1 and Level 3 for their 2 segments there, and only scored 10.00 points for the GW section.

    So clearly, the imperative for them between NHK and Skate America, was not to work on anything else as much as to get the levels up on their Golden Waltz. That's where the extra points were able to be obtained. This they did brilliantly!!! ultimate

    Meryl and Charlie earned 14.58 points in the Golden Waltz sections, with a Level 4, and a Level 3 with good grades of execution. That is a 4.58 points difference. Huge. In fact HUGE. In fact, they scored the best 2 Golden Waltz sections for total points so far. (There are a couple of couples that got both level 4's in summer competitions, but they did it by being slow and deliberate, and they didn't get the GOE): For example, Zhiganshina/Gaszi at Nebelhorn who got both level 4's and scored 13.86

    So when fans stood and gave them a standing ovation for their short dance, it was for that achievement, as much as anything. It is however, a piece of work that is difficult to see for a more casual fan. They fixed 2 choctaws of different sorts, the spread eagle/pivot, and the Shoot The Duck. (at least that's how I scored it) They still have work to do on the cascade/layback/twizzle. That's a lot to Fix in 3 weeks!! And the trip in the twizzles (and by the way, did you see how many of the teams had twizzle trouble? This would be because they are all being asked to change their regular way of doing twizzles in a major way, except for teams, like Ilinykh & Katsapalov who do both twizzles on the same foot without a step between. There have also been changes in how to get levels in lifts and spins, but these are not as difficult a change to make-it's just getting mileage on the programs and making changes to raise the levels.

    If you are a dance team, and you want to really compete in the season, you must compete on the Grand Prix. Your start placement at each event is determined by total points, and you need your GP points, especially since there has been little time to pick up a summer B competition, especially for North American teams, as there are no senior B competitions in North America. So you must do both events, and do so with a strategy that causes you to try to win them both, and advance to the Grand Prix Final. It is a little hard on the spectators-you are seeing the programs on the Grand Prix, in their most raw state. And you saw a team who had to scramble to maintain their placing in the SD. If they had performed the Golden Waltz with the same levels as NHK, this time, I do think the judges would have not given them the GOE that would have allowed them to win the SD over Crone Poirier, who scored very well in the SD & the Golden Waltz at Skate Canada (especially if C&P had skated the Golden Waltz as well as they did in Skate Canada).

    In the event, Crone/Poirier's execution of the Golden Waltz was not judged as good at Skate America as at Skate Canada, but athletes have to plan for their competition to do their best, not their worst.

    Here are the placings in the Golden Waltz segment to date, for the best score of each team, on the Grand Prix:
    Davis & White, Skate America, 14.58
    Kerr & Kerr, Skate Canada, 14.50
    Crone & Poirier, Skate Canada, 14.14
    Zhiganshina & Gaszi, Nebelhorn, 13.86 (not a Grand Prix event, but here to show what 2 Level 4's will do for your score, even if you get 0 to low negative GOE on them)
    Chock & Zuerlein, Skate Canada, 13.57
    Weaver & Poje, Skate America, 13.50
    Pechalat & Bourzat, Cup of China 13.00

    Two interesting things: Z&G and C&Z are teams from lower ranks, who are scoring higher than you might expect this year, exactly because they have excelled in this new short dance event, compared to their previous placings.

    Another interesting thing are the teams that are not on this list: Capellini and Lanotte (who have bagged their second Grand Prix event and gone home to regroup), nor are their any Russian teams nor Faiella & Scali nor the Shibutanis. The best so far of the Russian on the GP has been Bobrova & Solviev with 12.66.

    Other teams having trouble with the Golden Waltz, compared to their skills & talent level, are Paul & Islam, the Shibutanis, and Illinykh and Katsapalov, all who are newly up from juniors, and for whom the Golden, IMO the most difficult of the senior CD's, is completely new.

    An added difficulty is that these low positions required in the dance have caused both Shibutanis (NHK) and Faiella & Scali (Cup of China) to have accidents with respect to their costumes, where the gentleman stepped on the lady's skirt and fell. So teams with long skirts had to get scissors or learn skirt management or both.

    The need to do extra training on the Short Dance has meant that all of the teams had less time than usual to work on their FD's.

    More next time about the FD.
    Last edited by dorispulaski; 11-16-2010 at 11:41 AM.

  2. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    it doesn't work because you are too far from the ice, period. People who use their flashes in events like these or fireworks need to stop using their camera until they can opperate it properly and understand how cameras/light works.
    exactly! I have to laugh when people whip out their Kodak EasyShares at the Carrier Dome during a basketball game when they are in Section 311, Row Q (nosebleeds), and use their flash. Seriously? You think that will work? I can get pretty decent photos without the flash on my camera if I remember to bring it.

    And Wow dorispulaski...that was really great! i'm new too to ice dancing and that really did explain a lot. thank you!!
    Last edited by jnoble82; 11-16-2010 at 12:03 PM.

  3. #48
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Davis and White, the Free Dance

    On the FD, rather than mailing it in, and going for safe, actually I think Davis and White have bitten off perhaps more than they can chew. They seem to be trying to address all the criticisms that people have had of them, in one program.

    What have their critics complained about (and BTW, there are always critics, some of whose motives are to advance the public opinion of their own favorites, rather than offer justified criticism:

    1. Their programs do not have enough transitions between elements
    2. Their programs do not have enough close holds, or creative holds
    3. Their senior programs are hyper dramatic and done to big music on big themes, and they should do something different
    4. They do not show enough connection to each other
    5. Their positions, legline match, etc. need more refinement.

    They picked a tango, to be pictured done in low light in a Buenos Aires club scene. It is bound to be an adjustment for their fans. Where is the big plot! Where is the exciting action! Where is the extraordinarily thrilling combination lift? What's going on?

    If they were to show versatility, something to be desired in dancers, the time to do it is early in the quad (i.e. now). Unfortunately, it is a time they are squeezed for training time.

    So, the thing to notice, that shows a lot of work by them, is that the program as done at NHK, and also here at Skate America, is full of closed holds and transitions. This is not thrilling to an audience, but it is hard. For example, their fall was not on an element, but a transition.

    Again, they made changes between NHK and Skate America. IMO, three weeks is cutting it rather tight to be making changes, especially when they had major work to do on their short dance. However, they made changes to the location of the diagonal sequence and changed to four lifts rather than 3 (thus eliminating the big exciting lift) because the recent rule changes reward the 4 lift strategy (4 short lifts) for points more than the 3 lift strategy (2 short, 1 long) . This is garbage, and I hope the ISU will change the GOE levels so that the 2 strategies are even in another year, but that means, all the programs pretty much will have 4 short lifts by Worlds. This is not D&W's fault. And again, there is the need to be careful, rather than !abandoned and fast! on the twizzles, because the technique is new.

    Additionally, they received some criticism about their tango character not being sufficient. Between NHK and Skate America they flew in ballroom tango experts and worked with them for a week to improve their tango expression. Some of this was evident at Skate America, but most clearly on the transition they fell on, sad to say. New things are the easiest to goof up on. During the early training they had been working with acting/mime classes to improve their connection/expression-something that the intimate tango, to really work on ice, must have. However, they haven't gotten it quite yet. However, Charlie's neck and head movement is a bit better now. So I have hopes the whole program will gell by the GPF, and at least by Nationals.

    Meryl and Charlie's FD's always develop over the season, and they change things until it comes right. Only Samson and Delilah really clicked for me the first time I saw it. The first time I saw Eleanor Rigby, at Skate America, coincidentally, it was not amazing, and finished fourth in the competition. By US Nationals, it was amazing! I am not giving up on Tango/The Postman at this time-it is far too soon.

    That of course, is the risk in attending Grand Prix events, particularly in post Olympics years-the performances are just not what they are going to be at the end of the season. Many of your favorites have retired, many of the better teams/skaters are struggling with the requirements of new, more difficult rules.

    And then there's the gala.
    Last edited by dorispulaski; 11-16-2010 at 12:13 PM.

  4. #49
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    This was my first live competition. I did enjoy it overall. Although one of the high points for me was staying at the Downtown Hilton where most of the skaters were. Anyway, I agree with those who think Rachael should have won but I could see a case for Murikami, so I wasn't upset about the outcome. Rachael's long program was skated very well, and although she isn't the fastest skater, I didn't see her as particularly slow either. There was only few standing O's and that Rachael recieved one of them is a testament to how well she skated. I overheard that she is injured, back perhaps, and her parents were anxious to get her home for treatment. I hope it is not serious. Kanako has speed, yes, but it is very juniorish. Carolina has speed too, but she skates with control and stretch. I like Kanako, and she's cute, she does have a joy to skating, it is just not mature. And she has techanical issues as well. I guess I prefer a more mature presentation.

    Armin was a highlight to me. He and Dai had the most musicality of all the men. Armin actually had a connection with the audience, thus the most rousing O of the competition. He also skated clean, which helped also. As far as who I thought won the men's, I would still have given it to Dai. Nobu blew it, he knows the rules and somehow keeps making the same mistake. I also can see why Dai get the high PCS scores. He has a presence on the ice that Nobu seriously lacks. I can appreciate Nobu's jumps, spins etc., but he has very little expression and relation to the music. Not a huge Rippon fan, but I felt bad for him just the same, and it was his 21st birthday to boot.


    The pairs came out as I expected. I feel the same about the S&H as I do about Kanako. But watch out in a few years. I can't believe she is even 15, she seriously looks around 11 or 12. No sign of womanhood. But she is gutsy. S&S were the class of the field by far, and the audience appreciated them Loved their exhibition number.

    I have no idea how to judge dance, except for looking for speed and twizzle speed and unison. I enjoyed them all really. I loved the Shib's. She has the best posture, and just floats across the ice.
    I guess D&W reworked their program, thus the mistakes. They certainly have alot going on in it, but again, I can't judge.

    Fun experience, I hope to go to Nationals. Loved talking to others who know and care about skating.

  5. #50
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    Doris, wow, thank you so much for taking the time to explain all the details. I must admit I understood probably 25% of what you just said, even after reading it twice! It was the most professional reply I ever got to anything! Thank you!
    On my defense I say this - I am not a skate expert. I love visual arts. I am obsessed with visual arts. This is why I am obsessed with photography, with dance and ballet. I love lights, colors, emotions and movement.
    I know little about the technical side of skating. And probably 90% of all skate dance fans are on the same page. We don't get the details, we get the overall impression and emotion. This is why I come to the skate events - for the aesthetic reasons. Would it be fair to say that vast majority of skate fans come to the events for artistic and aesthetic reasons?
    I love your explanation, even though I didn't understand everything. But still, when I come to a show I want the artist to give everything to me. Everything he/she has at the moment.
    Yes, for them it is yet another show with yet another crowd of fans, but for me it is THE show. For me it is highlight of the year. This is why I want to feel the artist cares about me and connects with me. That he/she respects my love and admiration for their art.
    And what is art? Art is the emotional connection between the artist and the viewer. Without the emotional connection there is no art.
    Yes, you explained it beautifully from the technical point of view, but artistically I am still not convinced. They can have all sorts of problems with rules and costumes, but still can give their best to connect with me.

    Last note - I still like them a lot and I am looking forward to seeing more of them.

    Thank you again,
    Cezar
    Last edited by Cezar; 11-16-2010 at 02:15 PM.

  6. #51
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Cezar, The gala is the area where you are most correct that there was something lacking. However, you must understand that for the dancers, the two important events are the short dance and free dance. That is their competition.

    The gala is not judged, and not part of the competition. It is the cash cow of the organizing federation and events organizers to get a few more spectators in the seats. USFSA is particularly bad at organizing exhibitions-typically the opening number and the finale are a mess, because no one is choreographing them or organizing them, at least not visibly so, other than the skaters involved. No one knows for sure who is even in the gala until after the competition, so there is exactly one practice for it.

    The medallists have to perform unless there is a compelling reason, like sickness, that they can't. So they have to do something or other. Sometimes, especially at the Grand Prix, that something is not all that well thought through, since getting a medal, without which they will not be in the gala, has, of course, to be the first priority. As a result, the Grand Prix versions of new exhibitons are often not fully developed.

    In the past, Davis and White have always had a pretty good, and sometimes a swoon worthy excellent exhibition, but this year, it is evident from the audience reaction, it just didn't make it. As someone who loves art, you have to know that sometimes something you think is good just doesn't make it. I think that happened here, and there are reasons, considering Meryl & Charlie have always paid attention to their exhibitions before.

    With the work and problems Davis and White have had, it's not surprising that they don't have a super exhibiton ready for Skate America. However, they did have several choices to make. During the off season, they skated to the following programs at shows and on tour:

    "You're the Reason Why" by Lonestar, which was created by the Disson choreographer for the Skating & Gymnastics show
    http://www.burbler.com/lonestar-your...hy-lyrics.html
    or
    "Whataya Want From Me" by Adam Lambert, which was created for the Shall We Dance on Ice Show
    http://www.metrolyrics.com/whataya-w...m-lambert.html
    or
    their Olympic Bollywood OD, which they skated to at every show, including SOI, and everyone has seen

    Why they picked the Lonestar song, I can't tell you. Perhaps because it is an introspective piece that allows them to work on their "connection." Since the audience did not like it, it appears to have been a mistake. There is nothing like being unaccustomedly rushed to cause you to make choices that might not be the best in retrospect. However, it is a new number, not a recycled number, and as such, it is not "mailing it in". Mailing it in would be doing "Bollywood" one more time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rallycairn View Post
    So Rachael contributed at least some to engendering the response she got.
    The biggest standing explosive ovations were given to Armin. In the eyes of the public he was the hero of the event.
    Last edited by Cezar; 11-16-2010 at 02:46 PM.

  8. #53
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Ah, well he was! No one expected him to do well at all, and he was just brilliant

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    And it took me some time to learn his name, but it was worth it! Why are some American names so difficult?

  10. #55
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    ^ It's because American come from all over the world. Armin's last name is Persian. It means, "Born from a lady as beautiful as the moon."

  11. #56
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    I think Meryl and Charlie should make Billie Jean their default show number for when they haven't had time to prepare something , or when they're suffering Bollywood burnout...I can't imagine being disappointed in seeing it it again, I always feel I've been given a treat. Doesn't even require special costumes , jeans and any practice dress would do.

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    Isn't it great? Now performing Armin Born-from-a-lady-as-beautiful-as-the-moon!

  13. #58
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Some of them, because they were transliterated by illiterate immigration officers? I know a woman of French lineage whose name should be something like St. Hebert. Her last name in the US is Centybear
    .
    FAMILY NAME VARIATIONS
    The family name of Hebert has been subject to many variations, especially when it crossed the border into the states, where the letter "H" is sounded and not simply aspired as in French Canada. The following names have been recorded: Abaire, Abare, Abear, Abbot, Couillard, Deslauriers, Ebart, Eber, Fournier, Hebard, Hebbard, Hebbert and Herbert.

  14. #59
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    I love Centybear!

  15. #60
    Constable , Costume Police colleen o'neill's Avatar
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    Gee..I knew 'eh' was a feminine ending in Persian names , but who knew Armin's last name was so poetic ?

    His skating was wonderful. So great to see a skater have the kind of competion he had. I hope it carries through the season for him.

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