Monday, October 31, 2011

2011 Cup of China: Ladies Preview

The ladies field at Cup of China can be described in one word, young. Only two of the ten were born before 1992. Four ladies have already skated in one Grand Prix event but the rest are making their Grand Prix debut for the season. The ladies take the ice for their short program at 5:00 a.m. EST on Friday November 4th and for the free skate at 4:15 a.m. EST on Saturday November 5th.
I can't wait to watch 2011 World Junior Champion Adelina Sotnikova (RUS) in her senior Grand Prix debut and see if she can take home the Gold as Tuktamisheva did in Canada. She is consistent, artistic, polished, and packs her program with difficult elements, including triple-triple combinations. Reigning World Bronze Medalist Carolina Kostner (ITA) debuted at Skate America two weeks ago and took Silver, narrowly missing out on Gold. I've always been critical of her but I'm trying to be open-minded and I really do enjoy her new programs this season. At 24, she is more experienced than anyone in this field, but will that help her hold off the teenagers? Speaking of teens, 17-year-old Kanako Murakami (JPN) started her senior GP last season with a splash, winning a Bronze, a Gold, and Bronze at the final. She ran out of steam late in the season and placed 8th at Worlds but I bet she comes out strong and more mature to start this season. Also in the mix is Christina Gao (USA), who is making her senior Grand Prix debut after a strong junior career. She went through a huge growth spurt last year but is now really growing into her body and using her long lines to her benefit. Mirai Nagasu (USA) made me so upset last week because she blew her chance to win Skate Canada by falling on several jumps and yet again botching a spin. I'm afraid she maybe be destined to become the skater who "could've been" as she's talented beyond belief but never learned how to thrive in competition. Ksenia Makarova (RUS) has two of my favorite programs of the season but she struggles with consistency and anything less than two clean programs will leave her off the podium with this extremely talented field.

My Podium Predictions:
1) Adelina Sotnikova (RUS)
2) Carolina Kostner (ITA)
3) Kanako Murakami (JPN)

Competitive History: 

Christina Gao (USA)-4th 2011 World Juniors, 6th 2010 JGP Final, 2nd 2010 JGP Germany, 2nd 2010 JGP Austria; PB: 167.14 at 2010 JGP Czech

Bingwa Geng (CHN)-18th 2011 Worlds, 13th 2011 Four Continents, 5th 2011 Asian Winter Games, 5th 2010 Cup of China; PB: 142.48 at 2010 Cup of China

Carolina Kostner (ITA)-2nd at 2011 Skate America, 3rd 2011 Worlds, 1st 2011 Gardena Spring Trophy, 2nd 2011 Europeans, 3rd 2010 Skate America, 1st 2010 NHK Trophy; PB: 184.68 at 2008 Worlds

Ksenia Makarova (RUS)-5th at 2011 Skate America, 7th 2011 Worlds, 4th 2011 Europeans, 7th 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 4th 2010 Skate Canada, 4th 2010 Finlandia Trophy; 171.91 at 2010 Winter Olympics 

Valentina Marchei (ITA)-9th at 2011 Skate America, 10th 2011 Europeans, 5th 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 8th 2010 Skate Canada, 2nd 2010 Coup de Nice, 2nd 2010 O Nepala; PB: 153.71 at 2010 Rostelecom Cup

Kanako Murakami (JPN)-8th 2011 Worlds, 1st 2011 Asian Winter Games, 3rd 2010 Grand Prix Final, 1st 2010 Skate America, 3rd 2010 NHK Trophy; PB: 178.59 at 2010 Grand Prix Final

Mirai Nagasu (USA)-5th at 2011 Skate Canada, 1st 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy, 3rd 2011 Four Continents, 2nd 2010 Trophee Eric Bompard, 4th 2010 Cup of China; PB: 190.15 at 2010 Winter Olympics

Adelina Sotnikova (RUS)-1st 2011 World Juniors, 1st 2010 JGP Final, 1st 2010 JGP England, 1st 2010 JGP Austria; PB: 178.97 at 2010 JGP Austria

Kexin Zhang (CHN)-4th 2010 Asian Winter Games, 11th 2010 JGP Germany, 3rd 2010 JGP Japan; PB: 134.08 at 2010 JGP Japan 

Quiying Zhu (CHN)-14th 2011 Four Continents, 19th at 2010 World Juniors, 4th 2009 JGP Istanbul, 8th 2009 JGP Budapest; PB: 102.38 at 2011 Four Continents

Musical Theatre Monday

This is a new weekly feature I'm adding to keep me engaged with theatre fans! Here are a few musical theatre songs & scenes I'm currently obsessed with. Enjoy!

Sherie Rene Scott: "I Know The Truth," AIDA

Laura Benanti & Patti Lupone: "The Dressing Room Scene," Gypsy

Laura Benanti, Patti LuPone, Sherie Rene Scott: "On The Verge," Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

2011 Cup of China: Men's Preview

Can you believe we're approaching the 3rd Grand Prix event of the season already? If you live in the US, we'll be watching Cup of China in the wee hours of the morning but I'll be awake and live blogging every moment! The men will skate their short program at 6:45 a.m. EST on Friday November 4th and their free skate at 6:15 a.m. on Saturday November 5th. This Men's event is interesting because there are no front runners, but rather a mixed bag of young rising stars and more experienced skaters trying to revive their careers.
Jeremy Abbott (USA) is one of the skaters looking to revive his career this season after landing off the podium at US Nationals and failing to make the World team. He is a delicate skater in terms of the mental game and last year he struggled with his skate boots which threw off his preparation. He's solid with his boots this year and aims to add the Quad back into his programs, which he'll need in order to be competitive. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) seems to be the next heir to the throne of Japanese Men's figure skating. He had a very strong start to his season, winning the Nebelhorn trophy even with some pretty major mistakes. He'll have to clean up his programs to medal here though. Nobunari Oda (JPN) is another skater looking to come back to top form this season after screwing himself out of a World medal last season. He has consistent Quads but he often loses major points for performing too many combinations in his free skate. He must learn to stick to his programs or he'll find himself off the podium again. Artur Gachinski (RUS) is the reigning World bronze medalist. He's aiming to prove his win wasn't a fluke. He does have a good Quad, but he lacks artistry. He looks like a mini-Plushenko, but I hope he'll work toward finding his own identity as a skater.  Richard Dornbush (USA) had a rough debut this season at Skate America. He placed 4th but he made many errors and he'll have to keep those to a minimum as this field is much stronger. He's such a crowd pleaser, but I don't know if that will translate to the Chinese crowd. Kevin Reynolds (CAN) could play spoiler with his strong Quads, but he usually fails to put together two strong programs in the same competition. Brian Joubert's (FRA) was scheduled to compete but has withdrawn as of 11/1 due to back problems.

My Podium Picks:
1) Jeremy Abbott (USA)
2) Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
3) Nobunari Oda (JPN)

Competitive History:

Jeremy Abbott (USA)-3rd at 2011 Four Continents, 3rd at 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 2nd at 2010 NHK Trophy, 4th at 2009 Grand Prix Final; PB: 237.72 at 2009 GPF

Richard Dornbush (USA)-4th at 2011 Skate America, 9th 2011 Worlds, 1st 2010 Junior Grand Prix Final, 1st 2010 JGP Germany, 4th 2010 JGP Austria; PB: 222.42 at 2011 Worlds

Artur Gachinski (RUS)-3rd at 2011 Worlds, 5th at 2011 Europeans, 6th at 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 7th at 2010 Skate Canada, 1st 2010 Coup de Nice, 1st 2010 Finlandia Trophy; 241.86 at 2011 Worlds

Jinlin Guan (CHN)-6th 2011 Four Continents, 4th 2011 Winter Universiade, 8th 2010 Cup of China; PB:201.98 at 2011 Four Continents

Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)-1st 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy, 2nd 2011 Four Continents, 7th 2010 Rostelecom Cup, 4th 2010 NHK Trophy; 228.01 at 2011 Four Continents

Nobunari Oda (JPN)-6th 2011 Worlds, 1st 2011 Winter Universiade, 2nd 2010 Grand Prix Final, 2nd 2010 Skate America, 2nd 2010 Skate Canada; 244.56 at 2006 NHK Trophy

Kevin Reynolds (CAN)-7th at 2011 Skate America, 20th 2011 Worlds, 11th 2011 Europeans, 4th 2010 Trophee Eric Bompard, 4th 2010 Skate Canada; PB: 218.62 at 2010 Skate Canada

Nan Song (CHN)-22nd 2011 Worlds, 9th 2011 Four Continents, 3rd 2011 Asian Winter Games, 6th 2010 Trophee Eric Bompard, 10th 2010 Skate America; PB: 209.68 at 2010 Four Continents

Jialiang Wu (CHN)-8th 2011 Four Continents, 5th 2011 Asian Winter Games, 10th 2010 Cup of China, 7th 2010 NHK Trophy; PB: 203.60 at 2010 Four Continents

Friday, October 28, 2011

2011 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Skate Canada Pairs Short Program

3:45 Todd Sand, famed US pairs skater here is the technical specialist; he also coaches Marley & Brubaker
3:48 I love Lubov, she's such a tiny little fireball Diva!

1) Jessica Dube & Sebastien Wolfe (CAN)
     Music: Three Hours Pat Midnight
  • I love the simple black costume  with the glitter and details
  • Is he wearing a yellow bracelet? That's distracting
  • Blues piano is certainly a new style for Jessica who was so graceful and elegant with Bryce
  • Only a split double twist, top teams will do triples
  • Different timing take off for SBS triple toes
  • Those jumps will definitely receive a negative GOE
  • Very tilted in the air, but lands the throw nonetheless
  • This program isn't really doing much for me
  • They look nice on the ice together, but they need more time together to get in synch on their jump and spin timing
  • Same coaches as Cynthia Phaneuf
SP Score: 28.97 (TES) +24.26 (PCS) = 53.23

2) Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin (CHN)
     Music: The Nutcracker
  • Waltz of the Flowers, that takes me back......
  • This costumes are a little loud for me, but that was an exquisite split triple twist
  • She two-foots the SBS jumps and unison is off
  • Difficult entrance into the throw, she seems to hang and the air, a little tentative on the landing
  • She takes a fall on the footwork sequence, that's unfortunate after their strong start
  • That fall will hurt the level of the footwork
  • My feed is skipping on me so I lost the lift
SP Score: 28.73 (TES) + 21.55 (PCS) - 1.00 (DED) = 49.28

3) Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (CAN)
     Music: Concierto de Aranjuez
  • This feed is skipping....I'm missing a few elements but I'll call what I can
  • I can't decide if I like the costumes or not, but they do look professional
  • Okay split twist
  • This program seems a little choppy to me, but that may be the feed
  • And I missed the rest
SP Score: 35.37 (TES) + 37.00 (PCS) = 62.37

4) Lubov Iliushechkina & Nodari Maisuradze (RUS)
     Music: Figaro from The Barber of Seville
  • I loved this short last season, huge split triple twist
  • Good fast entry into the death spiral
  • I also like their spin entry
  • I just love everything about them, I don't know what it is but I do
  • If my feed would stop slipping I'd give more specific notes
  • Spectacular entrance and lift!!
SP Score: 32.34 (TES) + 25.80 (PCS) = 58.14

5) Paige Lawrence & Rudi Swiegers (CAN)
     Music: Beetlejuice
  • I love this music, the costumes are cool too
  • Love Paige's hands on that opening pair spin
  • Really good speed
  • Low catch on the split triple twist
  • Interesting choreography
  • Slight unison issue on SBS triple toes
  • I'd like to see smoother position changes on the lift and more rotational speed
  • Huge height on the throw, Paige can't hold it and falls
  • Another fall in the footwork, just Paige though
  • Really losing speed now
  • A little strange to end the whole way at the end of the rink
SP Score: 26.80 (TES) + 25.31 (PCS) - 2.00 (DED) = 50.11

6) Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov (RUS)
     Music: Bring Me Back To Life by Evanescence
  • Interesting entrance to center ice, perhaps they think they're hip hop dancers with those chest pops
  • This arrangement is very heavy on the synthesizer
  • That split triple twist was monstrous
  • Odd costume choices, hello studded pleather
  • Nailed the SBS 3toes
  • Huge Throw, maybe a two-foot
  • Really good lift position from her, she really arches her back
  • This is a very Morozov program, lots of superfluous hand  movements
  • Really nice spin
  • They look great together and have great technical elements, but this program was not for me
  • Huge crowd pleaser!
SP Score: 39.39 (TES) + 31.03 (PCS) = 70.42

7) Narumi Takahashi & Mervin Tran (JPN)
     Music: Imagine
  • This is a gorgeous program if they can hit the elements
  • Their choreography is beautiful, it looks more ice dance than pairs
  • Narumi puts her hand down and spins out, but beautiful SBS toes overall
  • HUGE split triple twist, he even has time to put his arms down
  • Two-foot and turn out on the throw but she kept it upright
  • Mervin is a fantastic partner, Narumi needs to keep working on her singles elements
  • That lift is just fantastic overall
  • I love this program overall, fantastic musical selection
  • That is easily the best death spiral entrance I've ever seen
  • Not their best, but no fall deductions
SP Score: 33.01 (TES) + 27.59 (PCS) = 60.60

8) Wenjing Sui & Cong Han (CHN)
     Music: Country Dance by Josh Turner
  • I wish they would have done a new, more mature short program
  • Unison off in the SBS jumps
  • Good split triple twist
  • This piece is so fast, but they really keep up well
  • Great throw, you just can't say enough about this team's technical elements
  • And they get so into the performance as well
  • The position changes on the lift need to be a lot smoother and with faster rotation on his part
SP Score: 32.48 (TES) + 26.75 (PCS) = 59.23

  Pl.  NameNationTSS
1Tatiana VOLOSOZHAR / Maxim TRANKOVRUS70.4239.3931.037.937.437.867.797.790.00#6
2Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORDCAN62.3735.3727.006.756.576.796.936.710.00#3
3Narumi TAKAHASHI / Mervin TRANJPN60.6033.0127.596.896.866.687.146.930.00#7
4Wenjing SUI / Cong HANCHN59.2332.4826.756.716.366.826.796.750.00#8
5Lubov ILIUSHECHKINA / Nodari MAISURADZERUS58.1432.3425.806.646.506.186.576.360.00#4
6Jessica DUBE / Sebastien WOLFECAN53.2328.9724.266.145.796.
7Paige LAWRENCE / Rudi SWIEGERSCAN50.1126.8025.316.466.146.116.506.432.00#5
8Xiaoyu YU / Yang JINCHN49.2828.7321.555.865.295.185.505.111.00#2

2011 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Skate Canada Ladies Short Program LIVE BLOG

1:55 And we're live, nothing happening yet, but a decent size crowd!
2:04 The Assistant TS has FIERCE hair!
2:05 I love Adriana's hot pink dress! Ashley Wagner got more applause than the hometown girls!
2:06 Liza is wearing a signature Russian long-sleeved dress
2:06 All-out Spanish attire for Hecken
2:07 Ashley Wagner is looking lovely and blond in a red dress accented with a Swarovski neckline and halter-strap
2:08 Basic black with a Swarovski neckline and criss-cross straps for Lacoste
2:10 DeSanctis hasn't competed in years so she'll be a dark horse

1) Adriana DeSanctis (CAN)
     Music: Street Scene by Alfred Neuman
  • Hand down on the triple lutz, didn't catch the rotation
  • I love the dress, but the ponytail looks a little too casual
  • Good triple salchow-double toe
  • Some slight audio issues, just getting the kinks out
  • Slow spin exits but nice positions
  • I really like this piece of music
  • Low landing on the double axel, may have put a hand down
  • Needs more stretch on that I-spin and more toe point on the sit
SP Score: 26.18 (TES) + 20.96 (PCS) = 47.14

2) Elizaveta Tuktamisheva (RUS)
    Music: Tango by Astor Piazzolla
  • A lot of flashy hand movements in the opening sequence
  • Triple lutz-triple toe, very quick rotation
  • Triple loop with nice flow out
  • Double axel, slightly bent free leg on the landing
  • She bangs out the jumps very fast
  • She is an expressive little diva!
  • She looks a like shaky on her legs in her footwork, perhaps a bit of nervous
  • Fly into the sit spin could have been a little higher, needs a bit more speed
  • She is slightly rough around the edges, but there is so much talent there and she'll certainly grow
  • So happy with that, she is thrilled!
SP Score: 33.95 (TES) + 25.62 (PCS) = 59.57

3) Sarah Hecken (GER) 
    Music: Malaguena by Lecuona
  • Hmm, a music selection we've never heard
  • Triple lutz with a wide swinging free leg-popped single toe
  • I want her movements to be so much sharper and more specific with this music
  • That layback is just not pretty, sorry to say
  • She has long limbs, she should use them
  • Really nice double axel with quick rotation speed
  • Good donut spin position, but the transition out was awkward
  • This footwork really lacks speed and needs more knee bend
  • This is a hard piece of music to do because you're compared to all who have done it before you
  • Really slow final spin
  • That won't be a great score, but she held on
SP Score: 22.78 (TES) + 21.72 (PCS) = 44.50

4) Ashley Wagner (USA)
    Music: Pollock by Jeff Beal
  • Come on Ashley!
  • I like this music a lot, she looked great in practice yesterday
  • Good speed, nice choreography
  • Triple flip-double toe in the Rippon variation
  • She looks confident!
  • Short entry on the triple lutz
  • Really good rotation on the double axel
  • I want a little more toe point on her spins, but good position variations
  • She has a very fine layback
  • Great view of John Nicks looking on at his student
  • This foot work is very musical, nice nuance work
  • Spread eagle into a sit spin variation
  • And that is how you do a clean short! So good to see her happy!
SP Score: 30.02 (TES) + 24.48 (PCS) = 54.50

5) Amelie Lacoste (CAN)
     Music:Satin Doll by Duke Ellington
  • This costume is fierce and elegant at the same time, suits the jazz piece so well
  • Really long flowing edge out of that double axel
  • Triple loop-double loop, may be a 3-3 some day
  • Fall on the triple lutz, it didn't look rotated either
  • Really nice low sit spin position and variations
  • She isn't the most naturally expressive skater, but she's really trying
  • Good stretch on the camel
  • I really like the use of levels and the whole body in the step sequence
  • This is a stylish and mature program
  • I look forward to seeing the growth as the season continues
  • Obviously she's not happy with the fall, but I loved the program as a whole
SP Score: 26.71 (TES) + 24.89 (PCS) - 1.00 (DED) = 50.60
6) Cynthia Phaneuf (CAN)
     Music: Spanish Guitar
  • She is the home favorite and National champ so she has a lot of support here
  • Wow, backless much??
  • This is last year's short, and costume #4? #5?
  • It's a sassy piece from what I remember
  • Quick double axel, good ice coverage
  • Popped triple lutz to single, unfortunately that's been the story of her career
  • This is a nicely compose program, but she doesn't look 100% invested
  • Really flexed foot on the beginning phase of the layback
  • I don't like that she's seemingly checked out of the program after the pop
  • She's finally picking up the energy a little for the ending footwork and spin
SP Score: 23.36 (TES) + 25.34 (PCS) = 48.70

7) Rachael Flatt (USA)
     Music: East of Eden
  • I'm nervous about this because I haven't seen her skate since Worlds 2011 and we all know how that went down
  • I'm not sure if I like this costume change or not, maybe the wrist bands are throwing me off
  • Triple flip-double toe looked clean to me but I caught it at a weird angle
  • Good footwork into the triple lutz, nice smile!
  • Is it just me or have her spins improved?
  • I like that she is just breathing and flowing easily through this program, no rushing about it
  • Good double axel
  • She looks so happy out there, gorgeous Ina Bauer
  • I know many don't, but I happen to LOVE this footwork sequence
  • Camel into illusions is a little wild, but she reigned it in
  • She'll be thrilled with that performance!
SP Score: 29.14 (TES) + 25.09 (PCS) = 54.23

8) Mirai Nagasu (USA)
     Music: Danzarin by Tango Lorca
  • Not loving this costume, it's very Forever 21 Homecoming dress
  • Very clean opening jump
  • I like this new program on Mira, very aggressive and mature
  • Oh lord Mirai, did you really have to go and fall?
  • Good double axel
  • If she holds it together, she could still pull a big number with spins and PCS
  • She really needs more stretch on that split jump
  • Well she won't be leading after the short, so that should quell her nerves going into the free
  • Good stretch on the I-spin, she makes that look easy
SP Score: 27.61 (TES) + 26.12 (PCS) - 1.00 (DED) = 52.73

9) Alena Leonova (RUS)
     Music: Pirates of the Caribbean by Hans Zimmer
  • What is this costume? Pirate wench?
  • Went for the 3-3 and stumbled out of the 2nd with a hand down
  • She is an athlete, that's for sure, but this is clunky at best
  • She's a Morozov skater alright, this looks like a carbon copy of a Miki Ando program
  • This footwork is playfully tacky
  • Sorry for any Alena fans, but I hate this program
  • Can we ever retire this music? I do like this arrangement though
  • reeeeeally slow spins
  • That was so bizarre, no clue how it will score
SP Score: 23.86 (TES) + 25.89 (PCS) = 49.75

10) Akiko Suzuki (JPN)
      Music: Hungarian Rhapsody by Edvin Marton
  • Wonky hop after her opening 3Flip, was that a missed combo?
  • Pretty clean 3lutz
  • Weird costume, I don't get it
  • I like this piece of music and the footwork fits well
  • Double axel
  • She did not do a combination, unless that little hop after the 3Flip was supposed to be a single toe
  • She'll probably fall between Nagasu & Leonova or so it seems as of now
SP Score: 26.14 (TES) + 26.68 (PCS) = 52.82

  Pl.  NameNationTSS
1Elizaveta TUKTAMISHEVARUS59.5733.9525.626.465.966.686.436.500.00#2
2Ashley WAGNERUSA54.5030.0224.486.215.716.
3Rachael FLATTUSA54.2329.1425.096.365.756.546.296.430.00#7
4Akiko SUZUKIJPN52.8226.1426.686.936.396.686.756.610.00#10
5Mirai NAGASUUSA52.7327.6126.126.796.326.546.686.321.00#8
6Amelie LACOSTECAN50.6026.7124.896.325.966.116.546.181.00#5
7Alena LEONOVARUS49.7523.8625.896.546.006.506.576.750.00#9
8Cynthia PHANEUFCAN48.7023.3625.346.436.006.216.546.500.00#6
9Adriana DESANCTISCAN47.1426.1820.965.434.935.435.295.140.00#1
10Sarah HECKENGER44.5022.7821.725.575.115.545.395.540.00#3