I was late for the evening show and entered the arena when a group numer of MWO participants were going one. Quite sweet and cheesy, Shizuka did 2A, but guess when the audience exploded: when Kulik did his jump in spin at the level above the arena-area seats. And that was just the beginning (I mean Kulik, but I didn't know that at that moment). There were some group numbers in the show. Miki and Shizuka skated in dark-blue dresses, but Miki had sleeves while Shizuka didn't. They did their usual stuff of 2A and 3T, at the end of the number Miki fell with no reason. Not a good idea of Miki-Shizuka duet. Arakawa is much more elegant and Miki looks like klutz next to her. In the second half Akiko and Honda skated the Irish Riverdance stuff (with Dai dancing at the backstage, lol). He was in some hispanic pants and white shirt, she was in some a la tango-dress (for Riverdance, haha). They were actually good together, clean and synchronized. They had that "pair" moment, so rare collaboration among single skaters. The peak in group numbers was of course Swan Trio of Miki, Dai and Shizuka. All three I assume represented different concepts. Miki was some kind of caricature of Black Swan in that dress and tiara, which was a very good idea considering how much that music is overused in FS. Shizuka was some tech-classic hybrid, quite beautiful, and Dai just funning around with his hip-hop Swan. Yes, in that costume but with the current boyish hair-cut. Lovely! His spins were faster than Shizuka's and especially Miki's, but he fell on 3A.
Weaver/Poje skated rather trivial stuff and left all their speed and edges somewhere en route to Japan. Does she look wider or it's just that golden dress makes her look like that? In general they were rather boring. Even Babies Shibutanis were more inspiring at THE ICE. Pang/Tong are sometimes critizied for using the same style, usually classic music, beautiful dresses, etc. But the fact is they sell it. They are both average-looking. So, the strong music choice and outfit help then to deliver. Plus technique, which is there. The triple twist and 3S throw jump were clean, high and powerful. I like how he lifts her in masculine way and a second later- gently keeps her in his soft arms. They have it and I really enjoyed watching them.
Miki and Shizuka both skated what they usually skate- same set of 2A, 3S, spiral, spin, lovely dress and music, end. Yuka Sato didn't jump, her camel spin was good. Slutskaya tried 3Loop but fell. She did her bielmann spin (no changing leg though) and her a la bielmann-back spiral. Akiko showed her new prog. The dress was charming, the music- trivial. She did 3flutz, quite low and shaky landing, then 2A, 3F, spins were a little slow but 3S was very good.
Yamato Tamura is a fun guy who is still kicking around. He did 3L, deep sit and shaky, then a combo 3T-3T-2Loop also with poor landing on the last jump. But what the hell! The guy is 33 who retired competitions 9 years ago. Takeshi Honda skated Tosca, did 3T, 2S, 3S, nice spin and beautiful eagle. He seems like taking seriously the preparation for MWO. His jumps were less stable at PIW but now he looks much more confident. Good! Kozuka presented his new SP. Well, the music is very emotional and powerful for this introverted guy. But ironically he looks not that bad as someone might suggest. He may be not pulling this piece as a more extroverted skater would do. But it seems like the music itself is pushing him to "open up". It could be quite a good tactics. But with poor jump technique someone can't have high expectations. Today he two-footed quad and step-out, 3A ended up in a 1A, 3Loop- in a 2Loop. What kind of idea is it with this doughnut spin? That's horrible. Throw it away, guy. The biggest, and the most pleasant surprise for me was Ilia Kulik. I didn't expect anything like that. Who would have thought that this retired, and the most "old" skater in the cast would win the biggest ovation of the night that later got beaten only by Daisuke. What an edge on 3Lutz!. Then 3T and 2A, all high and big, sharp refined steps right on music, the perfect connection the audience, etc. Such a rare masculine style in modern Men's field that seems like will die after Plu and Joubert will retire. Real shame.
Daisuke skated his new SP Rockabilly. I assume the prog is undercooked yet. There are some empty "spaces" between elements and repetitive moves. But it's a solid tradidtion for Dai to present his new SP at FOI no matter how just-cooked it is. As well as to change his costumes . If he changes this claustrophobic one, I wouldn't mind at all. His challenged quad, it was underrotated, two-footed and step-out. 3L was good, as well as 3A in the second part of the program. With his artistism and feeling of music he can sell anything. But anything is not enough for his fans, whom his spoilt with SP masterpieces like Eye and Garden of Souls. He knows that too. So, I am sure the prog will be well-cooked by the first competition. Dai is actually enjoying himself very much in this new prog, which is nice.
I'll be there tomorrow for both shows, then I'll update you