Monday, December 6, 2010

2010 ISU Grand Prix Final: Ice Dance Preview

In order to make informed predictions for the Grand Prix Final next weekend, and also just for the love of watching great figure skating, I'm reviewing the tapes of the Grand Prix qualifiers. I'm not going to give complete commentary as that can be found on my other posts, but rather I'll be giving a summary of the programs and discussing how they grew and evolved from the skaters' first Grand Prix assignment to their second. You can catch the pairs in their short program at 4:15 am on December 10th and their free skate at 6:20 am on December 11th as streams the Grand Prix Final live from Beijing. I will be live-blogging both events right here

My Final Predictions:
1) Davis/White (USA)
2) Pechalat/Bourzat (France)
3) Bobrova/Soloviev (Russia)
4) Crone/Poirier (Canada)
5) Weaver/Poje (Canada)
6) Hoffmann/Zavozin (Hungary)

Ice Dance:
1) Davis/White: 15(NHK)+15(SA)=30                            (321.89)
    NHK: 66.97(SD)+98.24(FS)=165.21
  • This short dance is a wonderful showing by Davis & White as usual, but there is certainly room for improvement as they become more comfortable with the short dance genre and this program specifically. This program is very operatic in nature and it is great to see a program from them that relies more on elegance than on athleticism. I am seeing a lot more maturity from them in this program and them and a style that looks more "European" to me. I would love a little more speed through the Golden Waltz but still a very strong program. 
  • I love the way that they take the ice in character in this tango free skate. As usual, they have awesome lift positions and great flow across the ice. I love the nuances in this piece of music and they really use every ounce of it. The ending is also fabulous with the three very distinct poses on the ending musical beats.
    SA: 63.62(SD)+93.06(FD)=156.68
  • I like Meryl's dress better here than at NHK. It looks like the same dress but the lighter peach color suits the tone of the program better than her old red dress. The stumble by Charlie on the twizzle was so uncharacteristic and I doesn't seem to have affected them much here. The Golden Waltz looks much stronger here that it did at NHK with better speed and deeper edges. They really know how to interpret this music down to every single nuance. Their rotational lifts at the end of the program were wonderful and they really suited the musical climax, which is a credit to Marina Zoueva's choreography.
  • Meryl made a costume change here to a simpler dress with less of a full skirt and a more angular look. Charlie also switched from jacket to a vest which gives him more freedom to use his upper body. This is a really specific comment, but I love the way they use their heads in their movement. They do both take a fall but it doesn't effect them much. The choreography here is different slightly from NHK as they felt the footwork was too intricate there so they changed a few sections to give themselves some breathing room.
2) Pechalat/Bourzat: 15(CC)+15(TEB)=30                    (321.41)
    CC: 64.12(SD)+95.47=159.59  
  • This team really looks beautiful together out on the ice. They are so sensual and elegant. Visually they are probably the most stunningly gorgeous Ice Dance team I have ever seen. They have made huge improvements this season and with Virtue/Moir gone, they may be the only team with a real chance to challenge Davis and White. I would love to see more speed on their Golden Waltz and their rotational lifts at their next event. They are so expressive and you can see everything they are feeling on their faces.
  • The performance of this Charlie Chaplin free skate is incredible. They even enter the ice in character and each second of their choreography serves the theme of the program. This is perhaps the most well composed and choreographed Ice Dance program of the season. There is not one wasted movement or gesture and they never break character, not even for a second.
    TEB: 65.48(SD)+96.34(FD)=161.82
  • This Dr. Zhivago short dance is really exquisite. I think this team is more elegant than Davis and White, but I do not think they will beat them at the Final unless Davis and White have some major mistakes. They are beautifully expressive, particularly with their upper bodies. I would like to see Nathalie in a lower position on the shoot the duck and also a higher attitude position after.
  • I don't know what to say about this free program that I didn't say at their last event. It is so well choreographed and composed to hilight their strengths. No moment is a waste and each movement and gesture serves the theme of the program. I think they are going to put up two very strong programs at the Grand Prix Final and give Davis & White a run for their money, but I think they will come up short and take home the silver in Beijing, which is certainly nothing to scoff at.

3) Crone/Poirier: 15(SC)+13(SA)=28                            (303.50)
    SC: 62.95(SD)+91.47(FD)=154.42
  • I don't really love this short dance, for many reasons. First, I don't think that Fallin by Alicia Keys is an appropriate musical selection for a Golden Waltz. Second, I hate Vanessa's costume and I think that it is too tight for a white dress if you know what I mean. This is a team where I prefer to watch the man as Paul has beautiful positions and amazing flow, while Vanessa looks very stiff and rigid, especially in her upper body.
  • This free program is choreographed by Christopher Dean so that automatically places a high level of expectation on them in terms of living up to Dean's legendary status. I am not a big fan of these primary colored costumes and I don't understand what they have to do with Eleanor Rigby. I also don't understand why Vanessa insists on wearing these skin-tight spandex numbers where we can see just about everything. I do love the choreography, but that is to be expected from a master. I am not a big fan of the way the program is executed and I think they are lacking in performance quality. Vanessa needs to loosen up her arms and shoulders and extend more through her legs and feet in the more stretched out positions.
    SA: 60.41(SD)+ 88.67(FD)=149.08
  • I like that Vanessa chose to let her hair down for the Short Dance here as it keeps her from looking so uptight. She gets a nice low position on her shoot the duck. They score lower here than they did at Skate Canada, but I think I like the program better here as the flow seems much better, and Vanessa doesn't seem so rigid.
  • The opening sequence of this free dance seems a little choppy. This program didn't do much for me at all at Skate Canada but it is starting to grow on me. I can appreciate it for the great choreography, but I still do not enjoy watching Vanessa. Her arms are stiff, her legs are often bent, and she forgets to point her feet. Their performance still leaves much to be desired for me and they have little if any connection to the audience. They seem so mechanical out on the ice almost as if this is a display of technique rather than a performance.

4) Bobrova/Soloviev: 13(CC)+15(CR)=28                     (299.72)
    CC: 55.85(SD)+ 89.54(FD)=145.39
  • In terms of Ice Dance, this team is the surprise of the season for me as I had never really heard much about them before, but what I see, I really like. They really attack this short dance and use every part of their bodies to express the music. The music gets on my nerves a little, but I really love the program. They are nice and close on their midline step sequence and get really deep into their edges on the Golden Waltz. I think this his going to be the next great Russian Ice Dance team. Watch out for them in Sochi! They really are such a joy to watch.
  • This is a very elegant, quiet free dance, but they are both very expressive still. I like this free dance a lot and I would love to see them secure a spot on the podium at the Final. This piece is wonderfully romantic and they have such an amazing connection with one another.
    CR: 60.80(SD)+93.53(FD)=154.33
  • I really like this program and it has definitely improved from Cup of China. They have a great flow in their Golden Waltz and it transitions perfectly in and out of their free skating. Their death drop is a highlight of the program and their rotational lifts are also spectacular. They are both wonderfully expressive, especially Ekaterina. 
  • I love both of their programs this season and I think that if they can put up two inspired skates at the Final, they can beat Crone & Poirier and stand on the program. I would like to see them clean up their twizzles and really get them perfectly in unison. They have so much emotion when they skate and I think that really makes them stand out from some other teams.

5) Weaver/Poje: 13(NHK)+9(SA)=22                            (283.91)
    NHK: 58.69(SD)+82.88(FD)=141.57
  • This short dance to At Last/Cheek to Cheek is one of my favorite of this season in Ice Dance. It is the picture of elegance and I think it is a great example of what a short dance should be in terms of integrating free dancing with the Golden Waltz. I love the opening lift where Kaitlyn is nearly parallel to the ice. What I love about Ice Dance as a discipline is that it is the most pleasing to the eye and this program is quite enjoyable to watch.
  • I really like this free program, but the Moulin Rouge music is pretty overdone. I do love the choreography though and they have some nice spin positions. I actually prefer this team to fellow Canadians Crone & Poirier, but they are not getting quite the scores of their countrymen this season. They also have great lift positions and a wonderful performance quality. I do, however, think the ending is very abrupt, both musically and choreographically and I think it should be reworked.
    SA: 59.48(SD)+82.86(FD)=142.34
  • I love this short dance even more here than I did at NHK. I think it has even better speed and flow and their lines are just so long and gorgeous. I like that it looks like he is actually leading her in this Golden Waltz. This is so enjoyable to watch and just the picture of elegance. I actually like this better than their free dance this season I think.
  • This free dance doesn't seem quite as strong here for me as it did at NHK. It seems just slightly sloppy and not quite so polished. They are a wonderful team and I think they will put up two strong programs at the Grand Prix Final, but I don't expect them to  make the podium unless some of the top teams make major mistakes. I think that they are the most overlooked of the Canadian teams, living in the shadow of Virtue/Moir and now Crone/Poirier. They  have worked very hard to improve and this team should should be able to move up a lot in the world standings this season.
6) Hoffmann/Zavozin: 9(CC)+13(CR)=22                      (272.91)
    CC: 52.69(SD)+78.13(FD)=130.82
  • She has beautiful lines in this short dance but he looks a little sloppy for me. They seem to have nice speed and do a nice job of interpreting the music. Their Golden Waltz is nowhere near the level of the other Grand Prix Final Qualifiers in terms of positions and edges, but they are still a nice team.
  • The opening sequence of this free skate is very exciting and dramatic. While they do provide great expression on their faces, this program seems slow to me. I really feel they are goign to be out fo theri leagues in the Final this year.
    CR: 57.24(SD)+84.85(FS)=142.09
  • They seem to have better flow across the ice here than they did at Cup of China. I think they have really grown into this program over the past two weeks. I also like that Max has shed the tuxedo jacket as it got in the way and made his arms look sloppy. They seem deeper in their edges and more precise in their positions in the Golden Waltz here as well. Their performance and musicality are much stronger here as well than their first Grand Prix outing this season.
  • The speed is definitely better here than at Cup of China. Both of their programs have improved greatly after their 4th place showing at Cup of China. They now have good momentum going into the Final and should make a strong showing there.

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