Monday, October 29, 2012

Cup of China: Pairs Preview

This is a tough event to call, but with only 6 teams competing, half will medal.

Kavaguti & Smirnov (RUS) have grown on me immensely and I came to love their programs last season. I'm very excited to see the new ones. They started so well last season, winning 2 GP's and taking 2nd in the other. They also won bronze at the Grand Prix Final, but tanked at Worlds and took 7th. They tend to peak too early, so I expect them to be fantastic here in their debut and then taper off as the season goes on unless they've adapted their training to combat that.

Pang & Tong (CHN) have been skating for 100 years, but they still don't look a day over 30. They just won silver at Skate America so they are very competitive. They do exactly what we expect from them every time they compete. They give us grace, elegance, and beauty. I believe him to be the best male pairs skater in the world, but she tends to struggle with the jumping every once in a while. Between them and the Russians, whomever goes clean wins.

Moore-Towers & Moscovitch (CAN) have been up and down over the past two years. They are very athletic, theatrical, and exciting. I cannot wait to see the Queen free skate. They are another team that tends to peak early. They do very well on the grand prix, but then they usually taper off by Four Continents and Worlds. Now that other Canadian pairs are picking up speed, they need to fight harder to earn spots at Worlds.

My Podium Predictions:
Gold: Kavaguti & Smirnov (RUS)
Silver: Pang & Tong (CHN)
Bronze: Moore-Towers & Moscovitch (CAN)

The Rest of the Field:
Peng & Zhang (CHN)
Wang & Zhang (CHN)
Stolbova & Klimov (RUS)

Cup of China: Ice Dance Preview

Pechalat & Bourzat (FRA) keep reinventing themselves and they finally won their world medal last year. Normally I'd wonder how judges will receive their Rolling Stones free skate, but if they won a world medal with the mummy routine, they can do well with anything. Aside from any major mistakes, look for them to win there though their training partners will be hot on their heels.

Weaver & Poje (CAN) placed 3rd at Skate America behind the Russians, but I personally believe that was a fluke. I find them to be the most enjoyable team to watch with the most genuine passion and chemistry on the ice. One day I know that will pay off and get them a World medal. This could be the year if they set up their training so that they peak at the right time.

Bobrova & Soloviev (RUS) are an old school ice dance team. They go for that unbridled passion and high drama that the judges loved in the 1990s, but for some reason it is working for them. They tend to be hit or miss and their scores vary a lot from event to event depending on the judging panel. The judges' opinions will be the X-factor in this event. These 3 teams should make up the podium, but the specific order is up for grabs.

Chock & Bates (USA) have an outside chance of making the podium depending on the panel and if any of the top teams make mistakes. Their programs last season were awkward and I struggled to get used to them as a team. This year their programs are gorgeous and I think they are ready to make a name for themselves and be that 3rd US team at Worlds. I think that moving to Igor was the best decision they could've made. At least now that have a fighting chance. You know they would've been pushed aside if they would've stayed with Marina as her other top teams all have World and/or Olympic medals.

My Podium Predictions:
Gold: Pechalat & Bourzat (FRA)
Silver: Weaver & Poje (CAN)
Bronze: Bobrova & Soloviev (RUS)

The Rest of the Field:
Huang & Zheng (CHN)
Yu & Wang (CHN)
Guignard & Fabbri (ITA)
Sinitsina & Zhiganzhin (RUS)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cup of China: Ladies Preview

Like all the disciplines, I'll miss the short but I'll be calling the free in the middle of the night Friday into Saturday.

The next in a long line of Russian wonder babies makes her arrival in China. Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS) is the reigning Junior World Champ and also the Finlandia champ. She is even better that Tuktamysheva & Sotnikova in my opinion. Her flexibility is out of this world and she will be the next Sasha Cohen in terms of "she never hits a bad position." Nerves and expectation are the X-factor as we saw with Gracie Gold at Skate Canada, but if this little one does what we all know she can do, she'll win by a mile.

A former wonder baby also makes her season debut here. Mao Asada (JPN) is doing Gershwin for her short and Swan Lake for her free. I may die of happiness if she aces both of these. I think we have seen Mao go through several levels of transformation over the past few seasons, so let's hope she's coming out on the good side of that heading into 2014.

Kiira Korpi (FIN) is one of the most gorgeous skaters around if she could hold it together. She won Silver at Europeans last year and finished 2nd to Lipnitskaia at Finlandia. I'm excited to see what she's bringing to the table this year and I think she can certainly medal here.

The skater I'm actually most excited to see is Mirai Nagasu (USA). She left Frank finally and that could be the best thing she's ever done. I just don't think that their styles meshed...ever. This is a do or die year for her. She needs to get back on world podiums and back on the Nationals podium this year, or USFSA will have totally forgotten about her when 2014 and Sochi roll around.

My Podium Predictions:
Gold: Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS)
Silver: Mao Asada (JPN)
Bronze: Mirai Nagasu (USA)

The Rest of the Field:
Amelie Lacoste (CAN)
Bingwa Geng (CHN)
Zijun Li (CHN)
Ying Zhang (CHN)
Sofia Biryukova (RUS)
Joshi Helgesson (SWE)

Cup of China: Mens Preview

This is a tough event to call. Other than Takahashi, nobody stands out as a true podium favorite so it will certainly be an exciting one to watch! I will be in school during the short program, but I'll be up in the middle of the night to call the free skate!

Former World Champion Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) is the clear favorite to take Gold here. I live for his originality and performance quality. He is getting up there in years and before long he won't be able to jump the way he used to. Let's enjoy him in competition while it lasts and then he can ride off into the sunset, hopefully after winning Gold in 2014. They may be a romantic idea, but this is my blog so what I say goes! I cannot wait to see his new programs, especially the rock and roll short.

I'm going to choose with my heart here and say Adam Rippon (USA) can win the silver. He's changed coaches yet again, so let's pray that he's finally found what he's looking for with Rafael Arutunian. The short to Nessun Dorma is a very typical program choice for Adam, but The Incredibles as a free skate should be an interesting break. I want him to find the mental toughness to match the beauty that he has on the ice in time for Sochi in 2014. This is a critical year for him.

Nan Song (CHN) was the breakout star of the 2011-2012 season and Cup of China is where he reached his first podium of the season. I foresee that happening again here. He is such an athlete but his free is to Romeo and Juliet, so perhaps he's working on bringing out a softer side.

Brian Joubert (FRA) is another interesting case. He withdrew from the GP last season due to injury, but he did place 4th at Worlds and 1st at a small International this season. He has been around for so long and I know that deep down he's holding out for his Olympic medal in 2014, but I just don't know if it will happen. This is a crucial year for him. What I'm most excited for....did he hang onto The Matrix?

My Podium Prediction:
Gold: Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)
Silver: Adam Rippon (USA)
Bronze: Nan Song (CHN)

The Rest of the Field:
Kevin Reynolds (CAN)
Jinlin Guan (CHN)
Yi Wang (CHN)

Tatsuki Machida (JPN)
Sergei Voronov (RUS)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Skate Canada: Mens Free Skate LIVE BLOG!

1) Liam Firus (CAN)
 Music: The Resistance
  • For the sake of my fantasy team, this best be good!
  • Crushed velvet is always a good sign
  • Oh no you didn't just trip on a crossover boyfriend
  • No you didn't just fall on your opening jump!
  • There we go, good one
  • He has a lovely lyrical quality to his skating, yes he does
  • He seems unsure of himself, just needs some more seasoning to mature
  • Liam honey, let's hold it together
  • Give me some expression on that face, don't just go through the motions
  • A great deal of traveling on that combination spin to end, and a funky ending pose
  • He has potential and he's nice to look at
  • 49.51 (TES) + 60.66 (PCS) -1.00 (DED) = 109.17
  • 60.50 (SP) + 109.17 (FS) = 169.67
2) Takahito Mura (JPN)
 Music: Shogun
  • Jumps look very "on" from the beginning
  • I love this whole Samurai thing we have going on
  • He has the huge jumps, but he is also very expressive for such a strong athlete
  • The first popped jump is usually a warning sign of a break in concentration
  • He lands these jump so low, yet always manages to stand them up; incredible
  • This program is starting to lose me halfway through, it's a very "one note" performance for me
  • I'd take that program back to the drawing board and revamp the choreo
  • 72.00 (TES) + 66.64 (PCS) -1.00 (DED) = 137.64
  • 62.10 (SP) + 137.64 (FS) = 199.74
3) Ross Miner (USA)
 Music: Captain Blood
  • Huge jumps!
  • This music suits him well and that shirt makes him look like a modern Todd Eldredge or Paul Wylie
  • His jumps look so solid, he looks very sure of himself
  • He knows he is going to hit all of these elements when he goes into them
  • This is a solid program for him, this could be his year at US Nationals
  • 73.91 (TES) + 70.28 (PCS) = 144.19
  • 69.41 (SP) + 144.19 (FS) = 213.60
4) Artur Gachinski (RUS)
  • What does that spider web tuxedo have to do with anything?
  • This is an oddly lyrical piece of music for him; we're used to Stravinski and anything dissonant
  • He totally failed to finish that spin position, whey is he just going through the motions
  • For a jumper, he is landing too many of them on his hands
  • I forgot the mention the 2 Quads, I mean that's like old hat for him
  • Every program of his has that moment where he clenches his fists and seems to shout "aha"
  • Please straighten out your free leg when you land your jumps dear; Sincerely, the dancer in me
  • I wonder if Mishin will tell Artur to lose weight to land the jumps?
  • 63.40 (TES) + 67.44 (PCS) = 129.84
  • 69.74 (SP) + 129.84 (FS) = 199.58
5) Elladj Balde (CAN)
 Music: Moonlight Sonata Remix & Animal Rights
  • Is this hair really necessary?
  • He is like the love child of Surya Bonaly and Philipe Candeloro
  • Beethoven is rolling over in his grave right now
  • He should only skate to Michael Jackson, nothing else
  • The odd musical selection and choreography are distracting from the skating, which is actually quite good tonight
  • Oddly enough, this won't be the strangest program we see tonight, our good buddy Florent is on the way
  • 61.56 (TES) + 65.92 (PCS) = 127.48
  • 72.46 (SP) + 127.48 (FS) = 199.94
6) Florent Amodio (JPN)
 Music: Jumpin Jack, Nothing but Sorrow, & To build a home
  • Oh heaven help us, what are we about to witness
  • Very fast rotation in the jumps, little stumbles on landings
  • Very fast and smooth so far, good ice coverage
  • Just when I think we'll see a nice, normal program we get something techno with a downbeat that sounds like Nadia's theme
  • This boy is the king of standing still and posing
  • He would be right at home in the 90s
  • Losing that combination will hurt his base value
  • Why do I feel like he has no concern for scores and just goes out to do whatever he feels like?
  • 69.41 (TES) + 74.70 (PCS) = 144.11
  • 74.61 (SP) + 144.11 (FS) = 218.72
7) Denis Ten (KAZ)
 Music: The Artist
  • This music is gorgeous
  • Falls on both Quads, A for effort though!
  • When he hits his jumps, they are textbook
  • I love this program for him, those little jazzy interludes are fun and they show off personality that I've never seen from him
  • I like the program, the execution just isn't there today
  • The sad thing is that we know he can do the jumps, we've seen them before
  • 58.74 (TES) + 72.70 (PCS) -3.00 (DED) = 128.44
  • 75.26 (SP) + 128.44 (FS) = 201.70
8) Nobunari Oda (JPN)
 Music: The Sorcerer's Apprentice
  • I love how catlike he is on those landings, he has the softest knees around
  • I missed this from him last season; loving the huge jumps!
  • He looks extremely thin, that's probably how he's jumping so high
  • Yay, this is lovely, this is what we want from him
  • Oo, not a butt spin, never a butt spin
  • Yay Nobu, very good
  • 78.48 (TES) + 77.72 (PCS) = 156.20
  • 82.14 (SP) + 156.20 (FS) = 238.34
9) Patrick Chan (CAN)
 Music: La Boheme
  • Patrick looks so fast today
  • Very slick opening combo
  • Hands down on our 2nd quad of the day
  • I actually like this program for him, it's very regal so it suits his posture and his rigid upper body
  • He is showing us a new side, it's a little playful which is endearing
  • Crash on the triple axel, that's his nemesis; I can see how that would've been lovely choreographically with the music
  • He is always messy at Skate Canada, I feel like that's part of his process, how he builds up over the season
  • You could never accuse him of peaking too early
  • I love the use of levels in this last step sequence
  • He must be a very well trained athlete because he doesn't seem to lose speed throughout the program
  • Ends slightly after the music
  • 75.13 (TES) + 86.78 (PCS) -1.00 (DED) = 160.91
  • 82.52 (SP) + 160.91 (FS) = 241.43
10) Javier Fernandez (ESP)
 Music: Charlie Chaplin
  • Wow, how charming
  • I want him to be my boyfriend
  • Oy that was one hard fall on the first quad, all the weight on the hands
  • Very tight 2nd Quad
  • Not one ounce of this music is wasted, ever nuance is accented
  • He doesn't look fully comfortable yet, this program is sure to be stellar by Worlds
  • Now he is getting into the program, findin his rhythm
  • He should receive great PCS for this program; 'should' being the operative word
  • I think he should win it; that was a gorgeous experience for the audience
  • 85.15 (TES) + 83.92 (PCS) -1.00 (DED) = 168.07
  • 85.87 (SP) + 168.07 (FS) = 253.94

Skate Canada: Ladies Free Skate LIVE BLOG!

1) Polina Shelepen (RUS)
 Music: Gone With The Wind
  • 36.37 (TES) + 43.74 (PCS) -2.00 (DED) = 78.11
  • 46.18 (SP) + 78.11 (FS) = 124.29
2) Gracie Gold (USA)
 Music: Life Is Beautiful
  • Here's to hoping she can recover from this
  • From what I can see on my feed she is looking confidant
  • Lovely Bielman
  • Squirrely landing on that axel
  • This is a very senior program, she will do well as she grows with this over the season
  • Does this costume remind anybody else of Tara Lipinski when she won her Olympic gold?
  • She is a little taller this season, let's hope this is all that she'll do in terms of growing so there is no re-learning of jump technique
  • 48.02 (TES) + 51.36 (PCS) = 99.38
  • 52.19 (SP) + 99.38 (FS) = 151.57
3) Caroline Zhang (USA)
 Music: Nessun Dorma
  • Not much height on these jumps, she is looking winded
  • Not a lot of speed on the spins or steps either
  • The feed is frozen to the extend where I really can't assess the quality of the skating
  • I'm glad she stuk with this program, it definitely still has growing room
  • Her spiral position has improved, I like the extension there
  • Definitely not the disaster that she usually starts out with, this is really a new Caroline
  • 46.96 (TES) + 49.94 (PCS) = 96.90
  • 52.97 (SP) + 96.90 (FS) = 149.87 
4) Amelie Lacoste (CAN)
 Music: Rhapsody in Blue & Concerto in F
  • My feed is totally froze but I hear she did a lovely 3flip and 3lutz
  • Maybe the new blonde did her some good!
  • I love nuance in the little footwork section on the part of Rhapsody that we all know!
  • She looks so light this year, like a little fairy
  • I like her much better this season, great adjustments!
  • 45.05 (TES) + 52.58 (PCS) = 97.63
  • 53.81 (SP) + 97.63 (FS) = 151.44
5) Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS)
 Music: Black Eyes
  • Is it just me or is Liza starting to look like Sasha Cohen?
  • She is definitely taller, but from what I've seen in this small sample size, the jumps havent been affected
  • Uh oh, little slip, not enough pop caused that fall
  • This music choice suits her very well
  • Very zippy spins
  • Her performance quality is much improved, she is interacting with the audience
  • Her upper body is more expressive as well
  • The middle of the program is a little dull, the choreographer may need to tweak a few things here in the middle
  • 58.14 (TES) + 53.76 (PCS) - 1.00 (DED) = 112.90
  • 55.10 (SP) + 112.90 (FS) = 168.00
6) Akiko Suzuki (JPN)
 Music: O
  • That opening is charming, it's so musical
  • Girlfriend si still doing her thing at age 28, major props to her for that
  • I hate that bent leg camel, just not my cup of tea
  • I love this music, it's whimsical, yet very post moder as well
  • She loks so comfortable in this piece; not that I know her but I believe this suits what I believe her personality to be
  • She just keeps ticking off those jumps and elements
  • This seems like a championships caliber program; I can see this looking outstanding by worlds
  • I love that beautiful open position on the stretched out camel; she looks like a star hanging from the sky and spinning in midair
  • That was lovely, that was the most enjoyable of all of the ladies programs I've seen this year aside from Ashley Wagner's
  • 60.22 (TES) + 59.82 (PCS) = 120.04
  • 55.12 (SP) + 120.04 (FS) = 175.16 
7) Kanako Murakami (JPN)
 Music: Oblivion, Fuego Lento
  • Oh no, all my commentary was deleted
  • Basically, I said that this is a step in the right direction for her and she has a lot of room to grow in this program
  • 53.49 (TES) + 58.34 (PCS) = 111.82
  • 56.21 (SP) + 111.82 (FS) = 168.04
8) Ksenia Makarova (RUS)
 Music: Megapolis
  • Oh no, I miss my little Russian blonde
  • I love her expressive upper body
  • This music is a little odd, I can't decide if I like it or not
  • She has such a fluid upper body, but then the lower body seems so rigid
  • When she falls, it's always dramatic
  • This isn't really holding my interest, I'm not so sure why
  • The music is interesting and I love the choreography, but it's not a complete piece yet
  • 40.43 (TES) + 56.12 (PCS) -1.00 (DED) = 95.55
  • 58.56 (SP) + 95.55 (FS) = 154.11
9) Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN)
 Music: Carmen Ballet
  • This is interesting, a Canadian lady with amazing potential; something we haven't seen in about 3-4 years
  • She is a firecracker, loving her already
  • Skate Canada has been the poster child for Carmen thus far
  • Uh oh, feed going wonky, but I hear applause so I assume things are still on the up and up
  • She has a lot of things to clean up, but she is landing the jumps and she is exciting which is what the Canadian ladies have lacked since Rochette
  • This is starting to get pretty messy toward the end, but those are all things that can be fixed with better conditioning and more experience
  • 57.28 (TES) + 59.61 (PCS) -1.00 (DED) = 115.81
  • 60.56 (SP) + 115.81 (FS) = 176.45 

10) Elene Gedevanishvili (GEO)
 Music: Don Quixote
  • Hard fall on opening jump, she is a very heady skater, the beginning always sets the tone for the whole program
  • She is looking like such an elegant diva out there on the ice
  • She is going so fast, can she hang onto this speed for the whole program??
  • I love her intensity, through the good and the bad she never loses that quality about her
  • Definitely losing speed here at the end
  • She is running out of steam, but I love that little ode to a fouette in the footwork sequence
  • 42.83 (TES) + 57.89 (PCS) -1.00 (DED) = 99.72
  • 60.80 (SP) + 99.72 (FS) = 1160.52 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Skate Canada: Pairs Short Program LIVE BLOG!

2) Tiffany Vise & Don Baldwin (USA)
     Music: Open Arms
  • They look like they feel awkward doing that opening sequence
  • I really like the pairs that jump opposite of one another, but it's better when they land them
  • She really must point that foot
  • Feed cutting in and out terribly
  • You know it's bad when the man's foot is pointed more than the woman's
  • They should stick to more athletic programs as the artistry isn't their strongest suit
  • She looks most at home in the lifts because she is such an athlete
  • 24.41 (TES) + 23.06 (PCS) -1.00 (DED) = 46.47
3) Daria Popova & Bruno Massot (FRA)
     Music: La Belle Historie
  • They are intense,  love it!
  • This team looks slick
  • The entrance into that throw was long and labored, the throw was very crashy
  • Oy vey, so let's take back what I said about this team looking slick, they are falling apart at the seems
  • Early season pairs events are usually a travesty and this one is certainly living up
  • 25.53 (TES) + 23.90 (PCS) -1.00 (DED) = 48.43 
4) Paige Lawrence & Rudi Swiegers (CAN)
 Music: Robin and Marion
  • This opening is gorgeous
  • They look so smooth and fast
  • Paige is such a precious little pixie
  • Really tight SBS jumps
  • This is really the best I've ever seen them
  • That was divine-like a breath of fresh air
  • 25.90 (TES) + 26.98 (PCS) = 52.88
5) Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (CAN)
 Music: La Boheme
  • Odd costuming, I don't like it at all
  • I kind of like Eric's long hair flapping in the wind, but it looks more like Ice Dance hair
  • These lifts are going to be very slick by the end of the season' they are choppy now but they'll get there
  • They are telegraphing those jumps, they can do better
  • That throw looked doomed from the takeoff, how did she land it?
  • He is much more enjoyable to watch now; she is stiff but he is so fluid
  • She needs to mimic his reckless abandon 
  • 35.35 (TES) + 29.14 (PCS) = 64.49
6) Stefania Berton & Ondrej Hotarek (ITA)
 Music: Paint it Black
  • Wow this is smooth
  • The lines are wonderful in all black, though I could do without her Morticia Addams spiderweb detail
  • Spins a little off
  • The are lacking in the fine details, but they kill it in their strength areas, the athletic jumps and throws 
  • 31.13 (TES) + 28.66 (PCS) = 59.79
7) Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy (GER)
 Music: Kismet
  •  Here come the disco animals from Lady Gaga's bathhouse
  • Awesome speed, impeccable body lines
  • Poor Robin, you know he just goes along with Aliona's every whim
  • This has to be old hat to them, I just love how they keep it fresh every year
  • These costumes are very Merce Cunningham
  • Very cool entrance into the press lift and a very unique ending
  • 38.63 (TES) + 33.63 (PCS) = 72.26

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Win a pair of tickets to CHAPLIN on Broadway!

Chaplin, the man who changed the way America went to the movies, is now the musical Broadway can't stop talking about!

Featuring a book by three-time Tony Award® winner Thomas Meehan (Hairspray, The Producers, Annie) and Christopher Curtis, and music and lyrics by Christopher Curtis, CHAPLIN is the showbiz Broadway musical that takes you from the workhouses of London to the heights of Hollywood.
Along the way, this 22-person musical reveals the truth behind the headlines and the man behind the legend, the undeniable genius who re-invented motion pictures.

This big musical about the little tramp marks the remarkable Broadway debut of Rob McClure as the legendary silent film star, and is choreographed and directed by Warren Carlyle (Follies, Hugh Jackman—Back on Broadway). Join us as America falls in love with CHAPLIN all over again.

For your chance to win tickets, answer the following question along with your email address in the comments section below. Please replay by Thursday November 1st. The winner will be notified on Friday November 2nd.

Christiane Noll, one of the leading players in Chaplin was recently nominated for a Tony award for Ragtime. Where did that production of Ragtime originate?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Favorite Program of the Season!

This is the best new program of the figure skating season in my opinion. It is so effortless and dreamy. It is so smooth! When I watch it, I feel as though they are floating through snowflakes and feathers.

2012 Grand Prix of Figure Skating Schedule (EST)

Hi guys, I've converted all of the Grand Prix Event Schedules into Eastern Standard Time. Happy watching!

Friday October 26th
2:05pm-Ladies Short Program
3:45pm-Pairs Short Program
7:30pm-Men's Short Program
9:10pm-Short Dance

Saturday October 27th
10:45am-Ladies Free Skate
1:05am-Pairs Free Skate
4:40pm-Free Dance
7:10pm-Men's Free Program

Friday November 2nd
4:00am-Short Dance
5:30am-Ladies Short Program
7:30am-Men's Short Program
9:15am-Pairs Short Program

Saturday November 3rd
3:00am-Free Dance
4:40am-Ladies Free Skate
6:35am-Mens Free Skate
8:35am-Pairs Free Skate

Friday November 9th
6:00am-Ladies Short Program
7:40am-Pairs Short Program
9:45am-Mens Short Program
11:25am-Short Dance
Saturday November 10th
5:00am-Ladies Free Skate
6:50am-Pairs Free Skate
8:30am-Mens Free Skate
10:30am-Free Dance

Friday November 16th-Sunday November 18th
*Full Schedule Coming Soon

Friday November 23rd-Sunday November 25th
*Full Schedule Coming Soon

Thursday December 6th-Sunday December 9th
*Ful Schedule Coming Soon

Skate Canada: Ice Dance Preview

Friday October 26th at 9:10pm-Short Dance
Saturday October 27th at 4:40pm-Free Dance
I should be Live Blogging both of these events!

Every year we have this debate. Will it be the year of Davis & White or Virtue & Moir (CAN)? My question is this, is a sport like ice dance that is all about innovation, should you really win a World title skating to Carmen? We'll see, but it's going to have to be a pretty spectacular Carmen for me to get behind a musical selection like that. I cannot wait to see how the lack of Igor's presence changes the look of both top teams.

Cappellini & Lanotte (ITA) are now being coached by Igor Shpilband which could make all the difference for them. This looks to be a breakout year for them. They could become contenders. Igor's old team Virtue & Moir and his new team are both skating to Carmen for the free. Coincidence? I think not.

The real battle is for bronze. I give the edge to Hubbell & Donohue (USA) as they have a full year under the belt and already have a top-10 finish at Worlds. They have really steamy chemistry and that will only get better with time. Look for them to up the technical ante and avoid some of the silly errors that they made on twizzles last season.

The team hot on their heels for the bronze will be Gilles & Poirier (CAN). They are a new team and oddly enough, Piper used to skate with Zach Donohue. They skated together last season as well, but not Internationally as Piper had to wait a full year to be completely released from USFSA. They have such energy and a great look together. I think Paul is a beautiful ice dancer, but he never looked quite right with Vanessa Crone for me, so hopefully this new pairing will do the trick.

My Podium Predictions:
Gold: Virtue & Moir (CAN)
Silver: Cappellini & Lannote (ITA)
Bronze: Hubbell & Donohue (USA)

The Rest of the Field:
Zlobina & Sitnikov (AZE)
Ralph & Hill (CAN)
Carron & Jones (FRA)
Riazanova & Tkachenko (RUS)

Skate Canada: Pairs Preview

Friday October 26th at 3:45 pm-Short Program
Saturday October 27th at 1:05 pm-Free Skate
I should be available to live blog the Short Program.

This is not a competition for Gold, it's a competition for Silver. Savchenko & Szolkowy (GER) have their season sewn up until they meet up with Voloshozar & Trankov. I cannot wait to see their new programs as they are always so innovative and unique. I appreciate that they still take risks even though they are at the point in their careers where they could phone it in.

Duhamel & Radford (CAN) look poised to take their second Skate Canada medal and it should most likely be silver. They are on their way to becoming a top pair as long as they stay together. They have a great look and they alway seem so happy and grateful when they do well. They should be the top North American pair team for years to come.

Lawrence & Swiegers (CAN) medaled at this event two years ago, but they slumped in 2011. Partly due to a relatively weak field, I think they will take bronze here. I'm also very excited to see that War Horse program.

Berton & Hotarek (ITA) will be the other candidates for bronze. They took 3rd at Rostelecom Cup last year and finished just outside of the top-ten at Worlds last year and nearly medaled at Europeans.

My Podium Predictions:
Gold: Savchenko & Szolkowy (GER)
Silver: Duhamel & Radford (CAN)
Bronze: Lawrence & Swiegers (CAN)

The Rest of the Field:
Popova & Massot (FRA)
Kemp & King (GBR)
Davis & Ladwig (USA)
Vise & Baldwin (USA)

Skate Canada: Ladies Preview

Friday October 26th at 2:05 pm-Short Program
Saturday October 27th at 10:45 am-Free Skate
I should be available to live blog part of the Short Program and all of the Free Skate!

Watch out skating fans because there's a new girl in town and she's about to bust this sport wide open. The Skate Canada Ladies Event was won by a rookie last year and Gracie Gold (USA) is going to continue that tradition. She has talent beyond her years and has the goods to win pretty much any major skating event that she enters. I'm praying that she is the skater we have been waiting for and that she and Ashley Wagner battle for the top 2 spots in the US for years to come. I cannot wait to see her Hernando's Hideaway and Life Is Beautiful programs!

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) is about to go into a little bit of a sophomore slump, but what I mean by that is perhaps she won't win both of her Grand Prix events. She still has a lot to prove in terms of maturity, but she'll get there.

Kanako Murakami (JPN) experienced her own sophomore slump last year but she came out of it beautifully. She was a little jumping caterpillar in her first season as a senior who turned into a beautiful butterfly by the end of the second. I love her new lyrical quality and I hope that this is the year she will combine that with the springy jumping combinations she once had.

Akiko Suzuki (JPN) is a grandma by figure skating standards. However, she did defy the odds and won her first world medal last year at age 27. If I were her, I would've hung up the skates at the top of my game, but if she still loves the daily grind of training and competing then more power to her. It is refreshing to see a woman on the ice in a sea of tiny girls.

My Podium Predictions:
Gold: Gracie Gold (USA)
Silver: Elizaveta Tuktamisheva (RUS)
Bronze: Kanako Murakami (JPN)

The Rest of the Field
Amelie Lacoste (CAN)
Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN)
Elene Gedevanishvili (GEO)
Ksenia Makarova (RUS)
Polina Shelepen (RUS)

Caroline Zhang (USA)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Skate Canada: Mens Preview

If (and that's a big if) we happen to get a feed for this event, I will be live blogging all of the Skate Canada events this weekend!

Competition Schedule:
Friday October 26th at 7:30 pm-Short Program
Saturday October 27th at 7:10 pm-Free Skate

Hi, anybody who knows anything knows that Patrick Chan (CAN) is going to win this event. He is at home, he is the love child of IJS and the judging panels. He is working with a new coaching team this year because he fired the people who created him so we'll see if that takes a toll on his emotional status. It's a big year for P-Chiddy because he has two, count 'em two, new programs this year. Good times! In all seriousness, this guy can skate and it's great to see the quads, but let's hope he holds back some of the goods to make it a fair fight for the rest of the field.

Javier Fernandez (ESP) is my new skating boyfriend. I am just smitten with him! He is a lovely performer and I love how he was hot on Chan's heels at last year's skate Canada. I cannot wait to see his Zorro short program and especially his Charlie Chaplin free skate. Both should be endearing and jam-packed technically. I really want him to win, but it will take a lot to beat Chan on home ice.

Ross Miner (USA) has a chance to make the podium on the Grand Prix this season, but until he gets the quad nobody will take him seriously. He is usually pretty consistent so considering that the first 2 or 3 Grand Prix events are a hot mess, he has a really good shot at the podium.

Speaking of hot messes, Florent Amodio (FRA) has been all over the place in the past two years. I no longer take him seriously as a competitor, but I do look forward to seeing the costumes that he borrows from the disco animals in Lady Gaga's bathhouse. I'm looking at his free skate music, which looks like a hot disaster on blades, and I couldn't be more excited about it!.

Our dear Artur Gachinski (RUS) is a hot mess of an entirely different variety. We love that he is Evgeni's mini-me and how he flails about like Boy George in 1980s London, but it really has no place on the ice in 2012 under IJS. Perhaps he should've been born in another generation so he could pit his "style" against the likes of Rudy Galindo and Philipe Candeloro. He does have a World medal under his belt, but he has not risen to the occasion since he accomplished that feat in 2010.

Our dear little Nobunari Oda (JPN) is a sad case. Ever since he became a father his career has gone down hill. 2011-2012 was a disaster for him and this is a do or die year. Takahashi is still fabulous, Hanyu and Kozuka are world medalists, and Machida is on his way up the ranks. If Oda does not prove this season that he can still do it, I say the Japanese federation washes their hands of him as they did with Fumie Suguri.

My Podium Predictions:
Gold: Patrick Chan
Silver: Javier Fernandez
Bronze: Ross Miner

The Rest of the Field:
Elladj Balde (CAN)
Liam Firus (CAN)
Takahito Mura (JPN)
Denis Ten (KAZ)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Skate America: Mens Preview

Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) is the lovechild of Daisuke Takahashi & Johnny Weir and this is going to be his breakout season. He is really the only person on the scene who has the big technical elements and actual unique artistry. I hope he sweeps every event this year.

Jeremy Abbott (USA) is one of my great loves of figure skating but he makes me too nervous when he competes. I want so badly for him not to be scared anymore and to light it up on the ice. He should do us all a favor and let his inner diva shine because that Patrick Chan-esque attempt at keeping all the emotion inside ain't working for me.

I had such high hopes for Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) after his World medal in 2011. His confidence took a nosedive last season, but maybe now that Hanyu is coming into his own as on one of the favorites, maybe Taka won't feel so much pressure. I love his clean style and I hope he makes a comeback.

Michal Brezina (CZE) is an oddball whom I've never particularly enjoyed. I'm sure he is a lovely young man, but I don't particularly enjoy his skating. He always looks rushed and never finishes his movements. I'd like to see some attempt at style before I give him my "Barbie Seal of Approval."

Douglas Razzano (USA) could be the surprise medalist of the bunch. He is a beautiful lyrical skater who also has a good quad. If he does his best, I sincerely believe he will be on the podium. I believe that he has a beautiful spirit and I am pulling for him to have a breakout season.

Podium Predictions:
Gold: Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
Silver: Jeremy Abbott (USA)
Bronze: Douglas Razzano (USA)

The Rest of the Field:
Tomas Verner (CZE)
Tatsuki Machida (JPN)
Konstantin Menshov (RUS)
Alexander Majorov (SWE)
Armin Mahbanoozadeh (USA)

Skate America: Ladies Preview

This should be Ashley Wagner's (USA) event to lose. She has the home ice advantage, and all the confidence in the world. Black Swan was such a statement piece for her last year and I'm very much looking forward to this year's programs. She's looking for her first Grand Prix gold medal.

Though Alena Leonova (RUS) medaled at the 2012 Worlds, I feel like she's a one-year-wonder. Her clunky, masculine approach cannot sit well with international judges much longer. She is usually quite clean, but a number of other ladies could pass her if they skate cleanly.

Adelina Sotnikova (RUS) was a highly publicized "Russian Baby" just a year ago. Though she didn't make the debut we had all hoped, she still did quite well on the 2011 Grand Prix, but she looked scared and timid. I pray that she unleashes her inner diva and swipes the silver.

Viktoria Helgesson (SWE) was the surprise bronze medalist at this event last year and even though she only medaled because other ladies failed spectacularly, she still has a legitimate shot this year if some of the "fragile competitors" meltdown. She has a very mature look on the ice that we do not see from the babies.

Rachael Flatt (USA) was once the darling of US Figure Skating. Last year we wondered if she could balance school and skating and the answer was clearly no. Has she gotten her insane schedule under control and stayed in good enough shape to return to a high level of competition? I've always had a soft spot for her so I hope so!

Will Christina Gao (USA) ever get it together and live up to her potential? She was once a lovely junior lady that we thought would be the future of US figure skating. Alas, her fragile competitive psyche would not allow that to happen and now that she is a Harvard student, will she become Rachael Flatt 2.0? She had a rough 2011 Grand Prix, so at least she has nowhere to go but up!

Podium Predictions
Gold: Ashley Wagner (USA)
Silver: Adelina Sotnikova (RUS)
Bronze: Alena Leonova (RUS)

The Rest of the Field:
Mae Berenice Meite (FRA)
Sarah Hecken (GER)
Valentina Marchei (ITA)
Haruka Imai (JPN)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Win a Nice Work If You Can Get It cast album!

Nice Work If You Can Get It, one of the biggest hits of the 2011-2012 Broadway season has recently release a cast album!

To win, answer the following question along with your email address in the comments section below. Please reply by Saturday 10/20 at 11:59 pm.

NICE WORK star Kelli O'Hara is a 3-time TONY nominee. For which shows has she been nominated?

Win a pair of tickets to The Heiress on Broadway!

THE HEIRESS is the story of Catherine Sloper (Chastain), the shy and sheltered daughter of a prominent New Yorker (Strathairn). Caught between the demands of a controlling father and the attentions of a passionate young suitor (Stevens), Catherine must navigate the terrain of love and regret, desire and duty, a chance for happiness and the burden of fortune…as only an heiress can.

To win, answer the following question along with you email address in the comments section below by Saturday 10/20 at 11:59 pm.

Actress Jessica Chastain received an Academy Award nomination for which movie?

Win a pair of tickets to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf on Broadway!

Directed by Tony Award® nominee Pam MacKinnon(Clybourne Park), the critically acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre Company production of EDWARD ALBEE’S WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? will open on Broadway on Saturday, October 13, 2012, exactly 50 years to the day after the play’s original Broadway opening on Saturday, October 13, 1962.
The production will feature the original Steppenwolf cast, led by Tracy Letts and Amy Morton, the playwright and the star of the Pulitzer and Tony Award®-winning smash hit August: Osage County.
Letts and Morton will face off as George and Martha, one of theatre’s most notoriously dysfunctional couples in Albee’s hilarious and provocative masterpiece. They will be joined by Carrie Coon and Madison Dirks as the unwitting young couple invited over to George and Martha’s for an unforgettable night of cocktails and crossfire.

To enter, answer the following question along with your email address in the comments section below this post by Saturday 10/20 at 11:59 pm. Playwright Edward Albee was awarded a Lifetime Achievement TONY Award in which year?

Win a pair of tickets to SCANDALOUS on Broadway!

 Two-time Tony Award® nominee Carolee Carmello stars as Aimee Semple McPherson, the trailblazing media superstar whose passion for saving souls was matched by her passion for making headlines.
Set in 1920s Los Angeles, holiness collides with Hollywood in the extraordinary tale of one woman's charismatic rise to fame. But as her popularity grows, so do her enemies, until her sermons, her celebrity and her past combine to put everything she believes in on trial. Two-time Tony Award® winner George Hearn leads a remarkable cast of 20 in this new musical about one woman's incredible rise to glory…and fall from grace.
To enter, please answer the following question in the comments section below along with your email address by Saturday October 20th at 11:59 pm. Book writer and lyricist Kathie Lee Gifford made her Broadway debut in which revue?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Win Tickets to Old Jews Telling Jokes

For your chance to win a pair of tickets to the Off-Broadway hit Old Jews Telling Jokes, answer the following question in the comments section below by Sunday October 7th at midnight.

Please include your email address in the comment so I can contact you.

Lenny Wolpe, who plays the role of Morty, has performed in many Broadway shows. Can you name 2 of them?