Just finished watching the first part of the GPF broadcast--dance LP, men and ladies SP, and pairs LP.l
Pairs were shown last and this was the first time I've seen Shen & Zhao's "Nutcracker Act II Pas de Deux." I don't want to say they outdid their skate of "Turandot" at Worlds, but I thought it was either equal or close. The point is, once again, they blew me away. And I've seen or been in "The Nutcracker" so many times that I never thought I'd be able to enjoy the music again unless somebody used it for satire. But Xue and Hongbo expressed the emotion in the music so beautifully I was completely drawn in. They were the class of the field and IMO, at least with what they've shown so far, they were the class of every discipline.
It's as if their skate at World's last spring gave them a taste of what it's like to feel and express the music from "deep in the pelvis" and one of my dance teachers used to say, plus their personalities are coming through a log more. I mean, I could go into a major gush here. Let's just say "Shen and Zhao rule!"
Was also very impressed with Langlois and Archetto. Very beautiful skate.
Although I thought Totmianina and Marinin deserved the silver overall, their LP just lacked spark, energy, and would it kill them to smile, lol? The altitude seemed to really affect them, though it really hit Petrova & Tikhonov. I thought Alexei might need oxygen afterwards. I remember performing at high altitude when we weren't ready for it--Colorado Springs being one of those places--and it is truly painful. You feel as if you're breathing in very sharp needles and every fiber of your major leg muscles burn--quads especially, at least with me--at the same time they feel as heavy as lead. All of this just makes me even more impressed with the great performances, especially the LPs.
Sandhu truly had an amazing skate. It finally all came together for him when it counted. His style and line are inimitable, but this time that also transferred to most of his jumps. Best FW sequence in th GPF and one of the best I've seen in a long time. If E-man can lock into whatever it was that enabled him to skate like that and become consistent, he will be a major force. Big if though, however I sure hope he does it. When he's on, I just love watching that guy skate.
Plush: Not his best. Without losing points for the rule problem, I can't tell at this point whether Sandhu would have still won. I'd have to look at the Detailed Results and watch the programs again. But as I've said before, meniscal tears get worse over time and I hope Plush can make it through Russian Nats, Euros, and Worlds. I wonder if he'll get a bye to Euros in order to put his knee through one less competition. But even in a poor skate, Plush has such amazing strength and technique.
I said a lot of this on the "Fumie Suguri" thread on "The Edge," but I just love her "Paint It Black" SP and she had a superb skate. The first time I've seen her be exciting! I think this music and choreography allows Fumie to really be Fumie, or at least is very close to being that. As I said in agreeing with Mathman on the "Fumie Suguri" thread, I hope we will look back on "Paint It Black" and see it as the start of an athlete reveling in her power and artistry. The best I've seen Fumie skate a competiive program; previously I really liked her '03 World's exhibition, but as a competitive program, "PIB" is tops for me. I know the pants hid some, but it also seemed that she was extending her legs more on her jump landings and was more stretched in general. Great to see.
Sasha: From the reports, I was expecting a total wreck of her SP. I was pleasantly surprised to see that despite the fall on the 3L, which then prevented her combo, Sasha immediately refocused and IMO, she was aces in the the rest of "Malaguena." Gorgeous 3flip and no skidding on the 2Axel. She held the second edge of the change edge spiral for a good length of time; I'll have to check the tape to see for sure, but it seemed like about two seconds. The FW was one of her best and I loved her final combo spin. I loved her letting go of her foot with one hand and extending the arm to the side on the BC.
I'm not wild about Navka & Kostomarov's FD, but given the music and the concept, I think they carry it off really well. Whatever they do, they are so strong in their technique and performance abilities that they seem to me to be a cut above everybody else. I couldn't help but think of Scott & Dulebohn's pairs exhibition program to "The Pink Panther" when Tiffany wore that hot pink panther costume. Although I didn't like the aesthetic, I did think N&K, their choreographer (Sasha Zhulin), and costumer did a great job in evoking the style of those '60s movies without trying to imitate the characters of those films.
The FD I loved as far as style was Denkova & Staviski's. That gorgeous Handel suited their natural style just perfectly. They were off in a few places, but their flow is to die for. I agree with Susie Wynn that sometimes the difficulty of their lifts overwhelms the aesthetics. But when they do a great life, like the one where he's bent forward skating forward and she does a cantilever balance position with both legs lifted up and her only holding on to his neck is to me both obviously very difficult and very beautiful.
Was very impressed with Belbin & Agosto. So fast and precise, but still with sections where they took the time to express the emotion of the piece. I think there are too many edits of the music from "West Side Story" and I'd love to see their choreographer (who is their choreographer?) cut one of the sections so that the other sections can be longer. But I doubt they would make such a major change at this point in the season. Hopefully next year they'll find the right balance. "West Side Story" was better than "Elvis" so hopefully their musci, concept, and choreography will just keep getting better.
Now am anxious to see the men's and ladies' LPs. I hope they show more of them. They only showed two SPs of the men and ladies. I might have to go down to ABC and hurt somebody if they don't show at least four and preferably five of the men and ladies doing their LPs.