That has always been their normal warmup style, it is not a sign they didn't careFirst 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.
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.AFAIK, they are always good at signings.The autograph signing was actually nice. They chatted, they looked relaxed.
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.Cezar,when you come to a city with a performance you give your best! Or you don't come at all!
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.