This is a long post. I am not sure this is the right forum for it. If not, can a moderator move it to the right forum? Thanks.
The opening sequence was good, as always. I like it that each skater has his/her own music that fits the skating.
This is the order I saw the show in.
The show started with Amber Corwin in a pink dress, to a light hearted number. They announced her as a USN bronze medallist. I don’t recall Amber being on a USN podium and making it to worlds. It was not her fault, of course. She skated well.
Orscher Lucash: Skated to Bach’s Air on a G-string, with some rhythm added to it. I did not care for the add ons. They had many tricks – big throw triple, Detroiter, etc. Their throws are really good but overall they seemed slow. Still a nice skate, and well received.
Rudy Galindo: Announced as “San Jose’s very own”. Who can forget his 1996 USN performance in that arena? He sat in a chair with a ‘fur’ coat on, then threw the coat into the audience. He moved the chair across the ice and even did a headstand on it. Then some skating. Removed the black outfit to reveal a silver one. As always, he had great presence. He looked directly at the audience. His skating is not good as I remember from the past, but he has had a hip-replacement surgery (ceramic hip, to allow flexibility). He did a double axel, a triple toe and doubled another one. His stroking, spins and lines are still good. The audience gave him a very nice reception.
Surya Bonaly: I have missed seeing her skate. She did 3 back flips in the 3 segments (opening, her solo, and closing). The last one was landed on one foot, which is always amazing to watch. The audience predictably went wild on those. Rest of the program was respectable with some triples (loop, salchow), a double axel, split, shoot the duck (always my favorite), etc. She is a better skater now than she was as an amateur. I thought the choice of music may not have been the best. The program lacked excitement, until she did the back flip.
Dan Hollander: He is such a talented skater, but I really don’t enjoy his humor. This one was an ‘exercise’ routine. He started with sitting in a recliner, then slowly getting up to do exercises. He had ‘bags’ into his costume to make him look out of shape. Later he took off the pants and was in shorts. This was not my favorite number. He has done better ones in the past. I would prefer to just see him skate a normal routine. He really is a good skater and he needs to allow himself some serious routines. May be the producers want him to skate a humorous routine every time.
Pang & Tong: Skated to the Prayer- last year’s program. It is very good and they had their wow moments- big throw, nice pairs sit spin at the end, etc. Pang looks much better in black pants. In the competitions I find her thin legs rather painful to watch. Everytime I am struck by how good Tong is. I wish Pang could improve her posture and lines. They deservedly received a very nice applause.
Viktor Petrenko: I know he has had injuries, and he does not have the power he once had in his jumps. He skated to Mac the Knife, with a prop (looked like a sword, or may be a stick?) which he used throughout. He did his trademark 3 turns entrance into a triple toe, which was nice. It seemed like he was having a little difficulty with the jumps. As an ‘old’ Olympic champion, he skated in the first half. It was a good skate, but not the Viktor of the past. That was sad.
Anissina-Peizerat: Nice surprise to see them with COI this year. Their performance to Star wars was the highlight of the show for me and my two young nephews. They started with robes and lightsabers (red and blue), in a battle. Then they took the robes off- very smoothly, while skating, and switched to the Episode II music, and finally skated to the flag parade from Episode I. Marina lifted Gwendal a few times which drew wow’s from the audience. They had great speed, difficulty, and they were everything I expected of an Olympic champion ice dance team.
After the intermission, Jenny Kirk started off with Evita. The slow section was nice, skated to “You must love me”. The fast section skated to the train station music seemed a bit fast for her. She does not have a lot of power and speed in her skating. Overall a nice performance though, with a few triples and a double axel.
Tim Goebel: Skated to Albinone’s music. His outfit was half black, half red. He did an easy triple salchow at the start. He should be able to do a quad salchow in the year. He did 3lutz, 3flip, and a 3t-3t combo! The spins looked OK. Could be faster during a competition.. He had a lot of facial expression throughout and seemed to be feeling the music. He skated very very well. I hope he can get back on top next season.
Belbin-Agosto: Skated their FD, and they were such fun! They were fast, energetic, entertaining, with a lot of difficulty. Ben is such a good skater, and he and Tanith are so well matched on the ice! Everybody LOVED this performance.
Besedin-Polishchuk: This Ukrainian team has been drew WOW’s from everyone. They received the second highest applause of the evening (the highest of course went to Michelle). They dressed like speed skater first, then they were swimming with ‘fins’ attached to their skates, and finally playing basketball (in shorts). They do such amazing things on ice that are hard to imagine. Their performances have great entertainment value. (Irina Grigorian was not in the show; I don’t know if they alternate as entertainers).
Elvis Stojko: Huge reception. He skated to 1-2-3 fire (I am not familiar with this song/music). Fast music, fast skating, particularly his footwork and spins. The jumps are not what they used to be, but still very respectable. Nice applause at the end of his high energy routine. He has his own style and vision of his skating and he never compromises that.
Sasha Cohen: Looked stunning in a turquoise blue dress (when does she not look stunning?). She did her usual tricks- the gorgeous spiral, Charlotte, I-spin, great splits, etc. She landed a couple of clean triples- not the strongest but they were clean. Great applause at the end.
Johnny Weir: One of my most favorite skaters, and it was easy to see why. He moves so lightly across the ice! It is effortless. The jumps are so light, he reminds me of Ilia Kulik. He skated to Unchained Melody (last year’s program?). He had his fantastic spins of course. It was a real treat to watch him skate.
Irinan Slutskaya: This is another skater that absolutely commands the ice. She was very fast across the ice, with lots of difficult moves. Her ebullient personality really comes across in a live performance. She wore a black pants dress with a red trim. She did a triple toe in the beginning, then 3turns into a triple loop, and later she did a 3-2-2 jump combination. Of course she did the Biellman spin (she also did one in the opening number) and other spins. She was fabulous and well received by the audience.
Totmianina-Marinin: They wore their 2004 worlds LP costumes and skated to a Russian song. I was happy that they used something from their culture. I always appreciate their great basics- lines, extension, speed, etc. They did a throw triple loop which was gorgeous, sbs triple toes (wow!), and a split triple twist toward the end. They had a lot of difficulty, including the carry lift where Tatiana gets into a difficult position and continues to change into other split positions. They looked very secure, even during the most demanding tricks. Hard to believe they had that horrific fall at Skate America last year. They were TERRIFIC, and I was surprised that they received only a polite applause from the audience.
Michelle Kwan: She was the last skater of the evening, as expected. I did not know the song but she had a dynamite performance, with a double axel, 3toe, 3lutz-2toe-2loop combination, 3flip, and her trademark change of edge spiral which she held for a long time. The spins looked good and she had 3 different positions on the spin (preparation for next year?), but it is easy to see why she would receive less marks than Irina and Sasha in the spins. As good as she is, others have faster spins with more power. Her flow across the ice is always so good- so light and effortless. It was a real treat to watch her. The only thing I did not like was her costume- it was too plain and black, and did not really add to the performance, but who cares? She is queen of the ice in the USA at least, and she has that aura about her.
The finale had a cowboy theme. They brought some real fences on the ice, and men dressed as cowboys with hats, and the women in long frilly dresses (but later they took them off for more skating friendly costumes). The finale was fairly long and again gave us the opportunity to see the highlights of each skater. The audience seemed to love it, based on the applause and I was happy that I made the trip to San Jose to see the show. It was one of the better COI shows, if not the best. They do need more recent Olympic champions, IMO. Viktor and Marina-Gwendal were the only Olympic gold medallists in the show and they both skated in the first half. It seems SOI has grabbed all the Olympic champs. Still, the current world champs and medallists seem to be belong to COI. Their schedule allows them to prepare for the eligible competitions.
Missing in action were: Irina Grigorian, who was listed but was not there. Stephane Lambiel was not there either; I had read on some reviews that he was in the show. The program had a full page picture of Evgeni Plushenko, and he was listed right after Michelle Kwan in the program. I knew he would not be there, and it was good to at least see his picture. As much as I missed seeing him skate, I am happy that he is taking care of his health.
I was surprised that none of the mens medallists was in the show (Lambiel, Buttle, Lysacek). Also the omission of Navka-Kostomarov, the ice dance world champs was a surprise. Not surprisingly, the other P&T -Petrova &Tikhonov were missing. As much as I like them, it seems the shows don't care about them.
Overall, an excellent show. Everyone landed nearly everything they had planned. There were hardly any spills or any half hearted efforts. The skaters gave it their all and the crowd appreciated it.
I am already making plans to go to COI in San Jose next year (there will be the new Olympic champions in it, hopefully), unless they decide to make a stop in Phoenix.