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NHK Trophy: Ice Dance First Impressions, Short and Free

The ice dancers are getting used to a very different setup with no compulsories and only a short dance and free dance. Here are my impressions on the dancers I watched:

Short Dance

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov (Russia, Waltz from Agony Soundtrack):  She has a ginormous flower attached to her hip.  And wristbands.  And he looks like he forgot his tie.  These two do very difficult, very fast twizzles and they are pretty much on.  They are pretty much together but they are not on that level of comfort or excellence that Davis and White are.  A bit slow here towards the middle.  Lift is fine.  They have a bit of a second wind as the music changes, but he stumbles out of a twizzle.  Definitely not as perfectly together in the second half of the program.  56.89...more than ten points ahead of the nearest competition thus far.

Lucie Mysliveckova and Matej Novak (Czech Republic):  Ok...her dress is kind of adorable (Sans lace shrug)...I would wear it today.  His vest, I would not wear.  This is fine dancing...I like their speed on the ice.  They could be a bit more precise in their moves here and there.  A lot of these moves don't look particularly difficult (says the girl sitting on her couch with a laptop..).  Twizzles are ok.  45.20...second for now.

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (USA, music:  The Carousel Waltz):  Good twizzles at the beginning here.  Quite together here.  It's not the fastest program but it's being performed very well.  OH gosh, here is the stumble...trying to shoot the duck, he trips all over her dress.  These two did not miss a beat...right back in it.  Very impressive.  Her skirt is totally ripped, heh.  That looks dangerous!  Some nice easy little lifts at the end. 53.68

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje (Canada, music: Waltz, At Last, Cheek to Cheek):  Kind of a weird looking lift but it looks hard to do.  I like her outfit, with the faux diamond necklace and black gloves.  I also like this dance...I can't tell how difficult it is, but it's sweet.  They are not as perfectly together as some other couples we know.  Twizzles are just ok.  The camera person has trouble getting both of them in the shot, so who knows who together they were. 58.69.  First for now.

Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (Italy, dance;  Waltz, quickstep): I love her red dress...ugh until I see the bottom with the white.  ick.  They are skating to Que Sera and the little girl in  me is happy. They are ok here...nice dancing, the choreography is sweet.  I have to admit, these two can't keep my attention enough when I know Davis and White are up next.  I don't know how that reflects on them.  Their twizzles are looking odd. This second bit of music's choreography is a little too goofy, but as they start the quickstep it's fun.  These twizzles are much better.  Ok they got my attention towards the end, very cute.  55.68.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White (USA, waltz):  Glorious, glorious twizzles.  This is a lovely little section out of hold.  Their skating here is literally calming to me.  Now in hold, I don't think this part is quite as precise as it should be...that will improve with some time, I assume.  That being said, this is the best dance so far and they have such a presence on the ice that few can match it.  Lift is easy for them.  That was a lovely waltz.  66.97.  Looking at the protocols, they actually got very high GOE (of course) in the place where I didn't think they were as good, ha, and they did not receive credit for their last lift for some reason.  Oh, well, room for improvement, I guess.

Free Skate

Tanith Belbin is co-commentating, and I'm glad that although she is not competiing anymore, she still dresses dramatically.  I have never seen a commentator wear a shirt with some swooping fabric and ginormous booch before. 

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (USA, music:  Smile, Let's Face the Music and Dance):  I love her glittery blue dress.  Seemed a little unsteady at the top, oddly, but once they actually start doing some real skating they are fine.  Nice spin.  Belbin says they are known for being clean and getting good execution scores.  Nice togetherness but not particularly dynamic stuff right here...they are so young, though!  I like the lift, very fun.  Nice twizzles...very good.  Belbin points out their height difference and says they do a good job of using classic dance steps.  This is a cute section.  Belbin sees room for improvement in the circular steps.  I agree...they really do still appear youngish hen you think about how some of the top teams skate. Very good, though!  83.25, first place at this point.

Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (Italy, music:  Our Love is Easy):  Combo spin off the top and I like the positions.  This lift doesn't do it for me...looks kind of like they are messing it up but I guess they are not.  Belbin says that they have a lack of eye contact...she is always looking at the audience.  I never really noticed it before.  Twizzle is a little risky and then she slips afterwards.  Ugh.  Belbin says that they do have mistakes here and there (thinking of Olympics and worlds)....they are becoming quite accident prone, huh?  Other than that...I don't know.  Their second lift just was botched.  It's hard to say what this program is all about because they have made too many errors.  I think it's a bit of a snooze and they are not performing it well.  71.75, second for now. 

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov (Russia):  Oh dear, I love her ballerina shirt.  Belbin points out their speed.  Catchfoot lift...very in character but not particularly hard.  Great twizzles....although they may have lost unison in the middle, I couldn't tell fro the camera angle.  Circular footwork...Belbin says her eyes are drawn to Elena.  As are mine.  She really does have a wonderful presence.  They are so young, as well.  Next lift...not very exciting.  Belbin thinks it might be a smart move to keep the lifts low-key so they can work on transitions, etc.  It really is a nice program, but not too memorable.  Just a nice performance.  Belbin points out that he might be getting a bit sloppy with his edges.  Spin is slow. 78.16...second for now.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje (Canada, music:  Moulin Rouge):  Four Continents Champions.  Kind of feel bad that I didn't pick them to medal here...derr!  She is obviously a dancer from the Moulin Rouge.  He is obviously a reject from Treasure Island.  ooh a cutesy little heart.  Love the speed right at the beginning.  He loses his foot in the twizzle.  It's interesting because their program is a lot more interesting to me than the ones from the younger teams...but it's not as precise.  Nice pair spin.  Belbin points that this is a very tall team...but points out that they can be very choppy and sloppy. Tango section, I haven't seen enough of that, but it's cool to see them try the different types of dance.  Slowing down... 82.88, first place for now. BUT the Shibutanis beat them in the free skate!

Meryl Davis and Charlie White (USA, music:  Il Postino, Payador, Recuerdo):  Meryl looks very lovely in this color always.  Charlie's hair is a bit shorter and he looks older.  More tango.  Belbin says this dance allows them to show greater depth of emotion than we've seen in the past.  I thought they were pretty emotional last season but I guess I am open to more.  Interesting lift...looks difficult and Belbin points out that it keeps that tango character.  They just move so beautifully on the ice, they are in unison and doing difficult moves with speed.  Twizzles are ridic.  Belbin wants them to have more speed and deeper edges in transitions.  Another lovely lift but Belbin says it was a heavy change of position.  I didn't notice it as much.  I am not quite loving this more traditional tango section..difficult pair spin, Davis faces up to the ceiling.  This does seem like  new program...very fast lift...they seem to be thinking.  I actually think they had less connection than they usually do but I assume that things will change as the season moves on.  This was much more difficult than the other programs we've seen tonight.  WOW um...first we get a closeup of Charlie's butt...then Belbin says that she can vouch for Charlie having a really ugly bruise.  On his upper thigh.  Hee, I am 12.   Also, it seems a little braggy for Belbin to point out that she gets to look at Charlie's upper thigh all the time.  She tries to cover it by saying that Ben's bruises took really long to heal as well, which, instead of covering her knowledge of Charlie's thigh, makes her sound like some sort of bruise fetishist.  HEY I call em like I see em, folks.  98.24.  Definitely they deserve to be that far ahead.  Great start to the season!!! 

And how about that medal for the Shibutanis?  I am so excited for them.  US has a lot of up and coming dance teams but it's nice to see one break through for a medal!