Only a few more hours left of 2009. For some skaters, it was the best year EVER! Others probably can't wait to see it end. Here are some of the biggest skating stories we blogged and read about in 2009.
ISU-sanctioned perfect 10s for program components
Those still lamenting the loss of the familiar 6.0 in skating may be able to set their sights on a new goal: The perfect 10 for program component categories. No skaters had received a perfect 10 until the generous Skate Canada judges doled out 10s to German pair Savchenko and Szolkowy for the debut of their Out of Africa free skate and to Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir for their free dance. Now that the barrier has been broken, will judges be quicker with their 10s? And will we hear audiences start to shout out "10, 10, 10," the way they used to shout "6!"? You've gotta admit, it rolls off the tongue easier than "118!"
Nicole Bobek is busted for involvement in a meth ring
Sad, but not surprising, I guess. Still, it was a pretty high-profile bust and attracted plenty of attention back to skating for all the wrong reasons.
You know the story. and how Weir had been hoping for a bid to worlds despite his dismal performance at Nationals. The happy news is that Weir appears to be peaking leading up to the 2010 Nationals - barring any illnesses, of course. He was at his strongest yet while winning bronze at the Grand Prix Final, and hopefully the momentum carries him onto the Olympic team.
Evan Lysacek wins the world championships
First U.S. male to win the worlds since Todd Eldredge in 1996. And he did it without a quad. However, expect a quad resurgence at the Olympics. And as strong as Lysacek has been this season, he'll have to be cleaner if he wants any shot at the top spot on the podium.
Chan versus Joubert
Canadian Patrick Chan is a lot of things, including a gorgeous skater. But one thing Patrick Chan is not? Shy. Well, guess what? Neither is France's Brian Joubert. Put them in the world championships together and you get BLOGGING HEAVEN.
It started with Joubert complaining about skaters not doing quads, which is his strength. Well, Chan, who does not do quads, got his hackles up, and being a straightforward young man, he let the world know he would not stand for that nonsense. And the comments continued. And then he showed how outspoken he was AGAIN at Skate Canada. I hope that they never muzzle Chan. He and Johnny Weir (and possibly Plushenko) are the only skaters worth quoting these days.
Coaching Carousel Reaches New Heights of Absurdity
The news absolutely never ended. What a hopping offseason! Every time I thought I finally wrote about the last switch, there came another. Even the Hubbells switched over after the Grand Prix season had begun. The sad thing is I can probably name just as many elite skaters who did change coaches as skaters who did NOT change coaches, which is crazy. The winner for most ridiculous coaching swap is Caroline Zhang, who went to Charlene Wong after Mirai Nagasu moved over to Frank Carroll, and then went back to Li Mingzhu shortly after. It's really hard to judge how the coaching changes affect a skater, but the gold medalists at the Grand Prix Final were all skaters who have been with their current coaches for awhile now, for whatever that's worth...
Mao Asada's Triple Axel Woes
We have covered her troubles with her trademark jump. It looks like she is still putting her hopes behind that triple axel, I'm just hoping she realizes that she has more to offer the skating world besides a perpetual "will she or won't she land the triple axel" watch.
U.S. ice dancing domination...and the absence of contenders
Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto were the familiar names to most skating fans. Davis and White were the up and comers. But now Davis and White have garnered the more impressive scores on the Grand Prix circuit, and beat favorites Virtue and Moir to take home the title, in addition to beating Virtue and Moir at last year's Four Continents. Still, they have not beaten their country-mates in a head to head matchup, with Belbin and Agosto snagging the world silver in March while Davis and White were left off the podium.
Meanwhile two of the major gold medal contenders missed the whole Grand Prix season (Domnina and Shabalin with injury, Delobel and Schoenfelder because Delobel was pregnant and recovering from birth). As good as Davis and White and the others have looked, they could very well come into the Olympics and be competing for whatever spot on the podium these teams leave for them in the end.
Yu-na Kim is Unbeatable
Utter and complete dominance. The last competition she lost was the 2008 Grand Prix Final. And she still hasn't exactly been perfect this season. Imagine what will happen if she is? She's got the technique, the artistry and the charisma. There is not too much more skating fans can ask for.
The comebacks that were... and were not
Start with the ones that were not. The Michelle Kwan comeback was never anything more than a tease. I'm almost embarrassed that I took it seriously at one point. I may feel the same way about the Sasha Cohen comeback, considering she skipped both of her Grand Prix events with tendinitis. I was never one of those people begging Cohen to come back and save U.S. skating, but I did think she had a good chance at making the Olympic team if she just showed up at nationals. I am unsure about which way the momentum is swinging at this point. The U.S. ladies are so unpredictable.
The comebacks that were were sensational. Reigning olympic gold medalist from Russia Evgeny Plushenko is alternatively delighting his fans and annoying his detractors with his quintessential Evgeniness. He's skating well, and he knows it. He has quads and you don't, nah, nah, nah, nah. He has not grown as an artist in the years he's been gone but the international judges like him as much as ever. Japan's Daisuke Takahashi came back this year from a tough knee injury and surgery. He has looked good and bad, at times inspiring and other times sloppy. There is no question that he brings something special to the ice with his footwork and choreography, not to mention his technical abilities when he's on. Uncertain which Takahashi we'll get at the Olympics, though.
Switzerland's Stephane Lambiel is still a wild card. He has done well in his competitions but he hasn't been on the Grand Prix circuit and still appears to be dealing with injury. Europeans will be a major test.
Shen and Zhao appears to be the comeback that has made skating fans I know squeal the loudest . Such amazing competitors, with two Olympic bronze medals on their resume. They are truly looking to be the favorites to finally get that Olympic gold. But...it's skating, so anything can happen!
There's a lot more but these definitely stuck out in my mind. Feel free to add more! Can't wait to see what 2010 brings!!!