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Thread: What will the 2011/2012 season bring us in ice dance?

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    What will the 2011/2012 season bring us in ice dance?

    WHAT WILL THE 2011/2012 SEASON BRING US IN ICE DANCE?

    The 2010/2011 season was more memorable than I think any of us had any right to expect. V/M were out, so D/W were expected to cruise to their WC (finally, you hear their many fans say). Unexpectedly close scores with P/B on the GP circuit made that a touch scarier for some (I think most of us expected them to improve more quickly anyway, as they did). Than V/M came back at 4CC, and with their season debut, outscored them in the SD. And they had to WD from the FD!!! Goodness, watching that had my heart in my throat. P/B were cruising to their bronze medal, and then that freak eight point fall (what it ended up costing them) knocked them off, and the Shibs (the Shibs?!?!?) were the beneficiaries. Goodness, there once was a time when ice dancers were expected to wait, and if you were from North America, well, patience was a virtue (sorry). But a North American sweep? On Russian soil? Goodness.

    The Kerrs and Faiella/Scali retired. Then the Italians changed their mind (aka, saw the state of European ice dance and said, well, why not us?). The Russian depth seemed to reassert itself a little, particularly on the junior slates (5 or 6 of the JGPF teams were Russian). So here’s the thread to speculate on next season, with some questions, discussions, and maybe even answers.

    Russia, oh Russia
    The eye is on Sochi. Heading into this season, Ilynikh/Katsalapov were supposed to be elevated to Russian number one status. They were not supposed to fight with Riazanova/Tkachenko for a spot on the Worlds team. They were most definitely not supposed to miss out on a GP medal at their debut. And most assuredly, they weren’t supposed to lose their FD at Nationals to Khoklova/Andreev. They righted many concerns at Euros with two solid skates, but once again, their FD at Worlds was marred with errors (the beginning where Nikita simply freezes, that lift that looks like she’ll decapitate him and then crash to the ground). The coaching debate started instantly, and has proven out. But you’ve gotta wonder if such instant interference (I almost said meddling) in their affairs is beneficial, regardless of any immediate results. This is especially true with this extended season, where the rules about how to train were rewritten due to the unexpected extension. Thankfully, they with Bobrova/Soloviev got back that third spot, so next season the Russian depth will have a bit stronger representation.

    O Canada.....
    Crone/Poirier? Colleen (and many others) hates their packaging/presentation. Chuck’s called them out for their program choices and lack of chemistry (as have others). KKonas has criticized their lack of power. Meanwhile, Skate Canada gave Lane’s team the full court press heading into the GP season, and in a Voirless season, they had four straight victories over their main competitors, Weaver/Poje. Chinks in the armour (their Nationals victory was quite close, W/P beating them at the GPF/4CC SDs only to fall behind later) were present, but it’s hard not to note that when you have a win rate like C/P does to automatically assume that you were... ahead. And then Worlds happened. W/P outranked C/P. And by nine points, so no mere minor victory (which is bigger than any victory C/P had over W/P this season).

    It’s not just that C/P were beaten by W/P for the first time since the 2007/2008 season. It’s because, if you look at C/P’s performance in REAL terms, it’s quite a depressing story (three teams ahead of them at Worlds 2010 weren’t there: Z/Z, F/S, Kerrs. Teams they beat last year, B/S, C/L, beat them this year. Teams they beat on the GP circuit: Shibs, C/Z, W/P... ditto). It would’ve been totally fair for them to challenge for the top five. Instead..... We can forgive the short dance: after all, it’s a new format, and not everyone understands it immediately. My big question: what lessons do C/P (along with Lane) take from this? Because they are myriad.. Because if they don’t learn from this, it’s likely they’ll continue to stagnate... or worse.

    And it’s not as if the teams behind them are gonna stay still. W/P are gonna take a huge confidence boost from this (I love Krylova and Weaver’s reactions to the FD score at Worlds), of course, but I’m thinking in particular about Paul/Islam. P/I know what they need to do. And if their improvement from their junior season is any example, they will do it. Indeed, I think it’s pretty much a gimme that they’ll improve much more rapidly than C/P. The question is will a slower improvement by C/P be enough? Next season’s SD doesn’t work to their favour (the rhumba should be slinky. They don’t have a slinky bone in their bodies). I’m very curious and about ready to write them off, if I’m honest.

    A cornucopia of riches
    Perhaps the worst time to get injured is the first season after the Olympics. Even when the hierarchy is fluid, narratives tend to start within the federations and become hard to dislodge. So, the injury to Samuelson/Bates happened at a bad time. Not only that, but the teams in line (Shibs, C/Z) took advantage of it like nobody’s business. The scoring at Nationals and Worlds clearly demonstrate that the Shibs are the second team, but C/Z actually outperformed what S/B were able to do in their first world appearance, and matched them in their second. But more than that, we don’t know where S/B are in their recovery (his recovery). I wagered, after seeing them at Worlds 09, they were future world champions. Ah, Skate Gods, I smite thee!

    Perhaps even worse off is the team of Alessandrini/Vaturi. An extended lift meant they didn’t make the World junior podium in 2010. A fluke fall from Cappellini meant that Italy didn’t get three spots for this season, something I thought was a lock (Skate Gods, I smite thee again!). An injury meant a massive set back this season. Even at Euros, where they were clearly undertrained, they demonstrated creativity, verve and some exciting movies (that straight-line lift... jaw dropping). They’re more than a journeyman team, and I would love it if they got some more admiration. Hopefully, next season F/S and C/L combine to get three spots so we get to see more of them

    The Canton Quartet vs the Rest
    You know, according to COP, the hardest program TES wise has already been done. And it’s done every season or two. Generally, a team is able to do a straight level four program. W/P did it at 4CC with their SD. I/K did it last season, as did D/W, with their FDs. This is a roundabout way of saying that “perfection” in ice dance is more easily definable and attainable than it is in other disciplines. The Canton quartet are staring down at that goal right now.

    One judge at Moscow gave D/W straight threes for all their technical elements (the first time that’s happened, I’m sure). Four judges gave them at least one ten. One judge gave V/M four tens (and there was no Canadian judge on the panel). V/M scored the highest PCS ever at Worlds 2010 (note: Navka/Kostamorov had higher TCS at Cup of Russia 2003, but that was under different factoring. A direct comparison of the scores has V/M and D/W both outscoring them). Part of me thinks that the ground left to cover (literally a few tenths of a point to perfection in any given component-score, and overall just over two points) is obviously going to be difficult. Getting all the judges to give them tens in PCS... well, you can’t politick to perfection. So even if they improve, their scores won’t.

    But... the scores didn’t close that much from last year to this year. If we presume that V/M would’ve been closer to D/W if healthy and use that score as a benchmark, the difference with the top two teams as compared to the rest shrunk (27 points last season, 22 points this season), and considering that the two teams had a three-four point advantage from the CD negated, that’s a small change.

    I guess my question is (a) will anyone challenge them over the next few years and (b) who? If P/B skate beyond 11/12, I’ll be surprised – though they are talking about gunning for Sochi, fwiw (and also, I doubt they’d be able to catch to the quartet that basically surpassed them as soon as they appeared). The Russian contingent seems to be fighting amongst themselves – I thought Bobrova/Soloviev would’ve made a bigger leap forward this season (I also really like them). Maybe the Shibutanis? On the one hand, fluke medals tend not to repeat themselves (and may trigger a backlash), but they certainly asserted themselves in a big way this season. Of course, when you realize just how young the Canton quartet actually are and think that they could (possible/maybe) dominate until Sochi.... wow.

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    Here are some of my thoughts:

    Davis & White vs Virtue & Moir- too close to call. Make no mistake these two teams will be in their own battle with nobody challenging them next season. The other teams while not able to threaten them next season, must also close the points gap if they have a hope to challenge them by 2013 or more likely by 2014. If the gap is not closed at all, it will be nearly impossible to catch these two teams this quad unless one or both retire before Sochi (I think V/M might due to ongoing injuries and having already won the Oly Gold, and also depending if D/W were to start regularly beating them). Anyway I have no idea which will win next season, if both are healthy it is a 50/50 call.

    Shibutanis- I have a feeling they will have a minor sophomore slump of sorts. I think they were were a bit lucky to medal in Moscow, the French had to make a huge error, and they seemed to be the only up and coming team that really had their acts together. I still think they have a decent future, but I dont see a repeat medal for them next year, in fact if they even win the bronze again in 2012 I will be very surprised. And even long term I am not sure if they will ever be artistically strong enough to be a World Champion, technically strong enough for sure, but I dont know if I see them developing a special look or magic on the ice together as brother and sister.

    Pechalat & Bourzat- they blew their best opportunity ever for a medal this year. Then again with Worlds in France next season they might be able to do it there. I cant see them hanging onto 2014, or ever becoming World Champions, but if they prove me wrong good for them. I am sure at this point if they could defend their European title and win a medal of any color at Worlds next year they will be thrilled. It is pretty much now or never time for them.

    Failla & Scali- not sure why they are coming back. They are done.

    Bobrova & Soloviev- they did not make the progress I expected this season. Dissapointing results at both the GP final and Worlds. Not sure where they go from here, I am sure their goal is a medal at Worlds next season but they obviously have some work to do. If they dont medal at Worlds next year their chances to be Russian #1 come Sochi are likely thin, inspite of I/K going through some growing pains now.

    Ilynikh & Katsalapov- their debut senior season was a real dissapointment given expecatations, especialy with the Shibutanis success. Then again a 7th place finish at their first Worlds shouldnt be too disheartending. Hopefully the coaching change works out for them, as if they dont make a big move next year the skeptism over their long term prospects will grow. I am sure they also have the goal to fight for a World medal in 2012.

    Weaver & Poje- I was surprised they came 5th at Worlds. I was happy to see them finally beat Crone & Poirier. Will be Canadas firm #2 next season I predict, as C&P look like they are on the way down. Still not sure if they are ever going to be World medalists, nearly all the other contenders are younger than they are.

    Crone & Poirier- Will drop to #4 in Canada behind Mitchell & Islam next season I predict.

    Samuelson & Bates- will have to fight hard to even be U.S #3 next season.

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    No other discipline has the dictation of programs like Ice Dance so when it comes to the Shibutanis doing a Rumba people are like can they do it? But it is so tech heavy now! I don't think anyone can really think that if the Shibutanis get all level 4's on their CD and all level 4 in twizzles and spins and steps their PCS will really go down. Or are they thinking that doing a Rumba will be such a challenge that it will effect their tech? I don't know but MY point is next season is so set with the top 3 already. VMDW will become VMDWSS. Three locked teams that no other team can ever ever beat unless its one of those three beating each other. S/S were already 4th in the SD at worlds. People will hope that they will fall and they might win. Unlike 6.0 falls really really really hurt now but Ice Dance is still the discipline that gets locked into the same people winning over and over no matter what.

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    The thing is that they won by like tenths of a point where P/B had an EIGHT POINT mistake. Essentially, P/B still almost won bronze without doing an element. There does seem to be a bit of fear mongering in what you write here, gmyers. The Shibutanis fluked into a bronze medal and now they're locked in? I expect to see P/B's PCS maintain/increase - especially at home next season.

    Shall be interesting.

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    PCS for S/S could rise too with their success. More success already than P/B. So could the GOE they get on the technical elements they are so good at. S/S are not DWVM untouchable by all the other teams but they are the closest to their level. VM PCS was 56 and DW 57 in the FD maybe S/S could be there next season from their 48 this season in the FD. I don't think rhumba is really going to mean anything. S/Z teams have all the tech and all the PCS point getting ability down. Much more than other teams in the world.

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    You're talent for reporting is excellent - a little mix of facts and opinion. Not unlike most critiques I read. I think you should show this to some publishers.

    As to the lineup for the Skate Dance this coming season, there are many teams I enjoy watching, but I believe it will be V/M; D/W; P/B on the podium, in no particular order. 4th Place will be a Russian Team heading down to Sochi.

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    If as some claim the Shibs won't medal again because they are "brother and sister" then I feel pretty good looking at Ice Dancing as something far less than sport and strictly as a pageant discipline.

    I will follow ice dancing more closely when it becomes more about the skating and not mock romance on the ice.
    Don't get me wrong, I am as romantic as the next person. I just don't feel romantically involved watching mock love on the ice although many times some of the routines do make me laugh.

    In many "sports" the youth of the Shibs would be seen as a plus since they have potential to improve and mature more than many of their older rivals.

    Instead we hear little about their skating skills and mostly whether they can sell a mock romance.
    Sorry, that is not sport but something closer to a theatrical show.

    As far as having a "special connection" on the ice I already see something very unique in the Shibs. Their connection looks much closer to me than what I see from D/W or V/M because they are not faking it.

    The Duchesnays had it too. For me a real and genuine closeness goes FAR beyond a fake, theatrical romance.
    Last edited by janetfan; 05-23-2011 at 08:23 AM.

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    Thanks Joe. Hopefully I don't pretend my opinion is fact (a common problem on internet message boards! )

    Hernando, it'll all depend on how the Shibutanis progress. Personally, I fell for this team and fell during the 2008/09 season. I rarely watch juniors simply because I don't like the amount of pressure foisted on young skaters and feel that I contribute to that if I follow them closely (wierd, I know, but there you have it. I'll feel wierd if I watch Adelina next season on the GP circuit, believe me). But I heard about them, and I was curious. Their "Cinema Paradisio" program was one of the best programs of the 08/09 season, junior/senior, any discipline. And though they had a disappointing follow-up, their senior debut was astonishing.

    But I can see where people get worred about the chemistry. Now, not all teams need to sell romance to win. Grishuk/Platov, Anissina/Peizarat, Navka/Kostamorov, Domnina/Shabalin.... all had success with non-romantic programs. I'm convinced that Zoueva is a genius who understands how best to package her teams to emphasize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses, so I'm relatively hopeful for their future/progress. But that does mean a dance mode is unavailable to them. People criticized their choice of tango last season, partially because of that.

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    No one is locked in to doing a sexy or sensual rhumba SD as the actual Rhumba CD is not sexy or sensual. Other rhythms include a samba, mambo or merengue, which are characteristically more fun. So I don't expect brother/sister teams to necessarily have trouble in presenting an enjoyable SD. It's a choice the teams can make for themselves as to what they can best present.

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    Let me add some of my thoughts too :

    1.Virtue/Moir and Davis/White : I think next season will be crucial as far as V/M are concerner,especially if they stick for Sochi or not.In fact I could very well see them skip next season and come back for Worlds in London in 2013.If they compete though and lose to D/W again,I can't see them heading for Sochi. I see no team coming close to the two of them next season,but 2013 will be a completely different story,something along the lines of the 2009 WC.
    2.The Shibutanis : They wouldn't have won a medal if P/B(the fall )and maybe even B/S (they lost levels in the SD and had a stumble in the FD) were clean.But they did.I think the people that felt worse about their medal was the I/K PR camp.Are they going to medal next year?Probably not,but who knows in 2013.I generally see a lot of movement for the next 3 years.

    3.Crone/Poirier: They started the season as the 1st Canadian couple, they ended it as the 3rd Canadian couple.They're very young, very ambitious,but that SD had to go.D/W,P/B,B/S they all changed much better SDs,so I really wonder why they kept theirs.

    4.Weaver/Poje:They skated well, they deserved their marks,I like them a lot,but I somehow don't see the material that can get them in the top 3.I can't really understand why, since as I said I realy like them.

    5.Faiella/Scalli :They should have retired in 2010.In ice dancing there is an old saying "when you say you retire, you RETIRE "

    6.The Russian teams:
    First,B/S, who I have to admit are my favourites.I think their season was a very difficult one for many reasons.They ruined what was supposed to be I/Ks triumphant season.See,last may,nobody really thought that the 2010 3rd team would really come on top.The hype for I/K PR was in full force so B/S just got in the middle of it.As the season started,they were supposed to be surpassed by Russian Nationals.They didn't.Then they were supposed to be surpassed by Euros.It didn't happen again, and we all know what hapenned at Worlds.I really wouldn't want to be in their place.
    I really think they could have medalled,if there was any kind of support.Next season will be crucial, they need to be either first or second at Euros and medal or come a close 4th at Worlds (the Worlds being in France is a problem for all the russian teams).

    Then, I/K.I also think they themselves believed in their PR.I also think that seeing the Shibutanis on the podium was a nightmare for them more than for any other team.They did what they were supposed and hyped to do.They can't afford losing the FD to K/A again,and they need to show some results inside Russia this time.With Monko/Khaliavin coming it's going to be hard.Don't forget that they beat them at Worlds in 2010.They won't accept a second Shibutani case.

    Russian Federation in general seems like not having a clear concept.Instead of helping their teams it actually seemed that they let their teams fighting so none of them had the expected results.You can't have a number 1 team that is being attacked from day 1 and you can't have a number 2 team that lost the FD to Andreev.This makes me admire how they work in Canton more and more

    7.Pechalat/Bourzat : This was their medal to lose and they lost it.They're not getting any younger and the young teams are getting more mature in expression.It's either Nice or nothing.But I really expect them to full of attack as I expect the Russian to be hungry.It's going to be interesting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KKonas View Post
    No one is locked in to doing a sexy or sensual rhumba SD as the actual Rhumba CD is not sexy or sensual. Other rhythms include a samba, mambo or merengue, which are characteristically more fun. So I don't expect brother/sister teams to necessarily have trouble in presenting an enjoyable SD. It's a choice the teams can make for themselves as to what they can best present.
    I dunno. I thought Dubreuil/Lauzon were quite sexy in their 2007 Worlds CD. That said, I hope they dance a merengue, because that's the most fun to say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue View Post
    I dunno. I thought Dubreuil/Lauzon were quite sexy in their 2007 Worlds CD. That said, I hope they dance a merengue, because that's the most fun to say.
    A dance done in killian hold where the couple doesn't even look at each other is not in and of itself sexy or sensual, however, I didn't say you couldn't make it look that way. Dubreuil/Lauzon made a career of looking "sexy" and "sensual" in most of their routines and they were very good at it. But not everyone can do the same.

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    You know the Shibutani's will master all the technical parts of the Rhumba and get all level 4's on it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KKonas View Post
    A dance done in killian hold where the couple doesn't even look at each other is not in and of itself sexy or sensual, however, I didn't say you couldn't make it look that way. Dubreuil/Lauzon made a career of looking "sexy" and "sensual" in most of their routines and they were very good at it. But not everyone can do the same.
    If a number of dancers do go that route ie, sexy/sensual, do you think the Shibs not will stand out as a good thing or a bad thing?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gmyers View Post
    You know the Shibutani's will master all the technical parts of the Rhumba and get all level 4's on it.
    Isn't that the general idea of the CoP? To train hard to achieve the highest levels

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