Here were my thoughts as I watched the compulsory dance:
Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (Italy): Happy birthday Anna! She is 23. She is wearing a lot of glitter in her hair for the occasion. I find myself wishing that one of the higher-ranked teams were first so I truly know how well everyone else is doing. Tracey Wilson (commentator) likes the tango because there is more room for interpretation. Anna is very happy. They look so young. And they are done. Fine job. 33.13. We should see the top skaters getting up around 40 tonight, so not a fab score.
Allison Reed and Otar Japaridze (Georgia): They are the first Georgian athletes competing. Allison is a 15-year-old American who has never been to Georgia, but the president pushed her citizenship application through so she could compete here, says Tom Hammond. Reed may visit the country of Georgia this summer. Tracey is pimping the online partner searches again. Has there been a New York Times article on that yet? There soon will be. Allison is siblings with Cathy and Chris Reed who are representing Japan here. Anyway, they're finally going to skate. This dance is less vibrant than Cappellini and Lanotte's, I think. They are not as expressive, they are not doing as much with their legs, no extension. Apparently this is only this couple's fourth competition. We get a lot of info during compulsories because NBC assumes you could not possibly want to actually watch the skating. And no twizzles, so what will they point out? Anyway...these two were kind of adorable at the end. Good for them. 26.65.
And now, Bode Miller and the gang. Delobel and Schoenfelder and the rest of the big names soon!! Can't wait!
Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder (France): Cute start for these two. Olivier is most apprehensive about this part of the competition. You can already tell how much better they are than the beginning pairs, like comparing apples to kiwis or something. Tracey is explaining that they are using "soft, rhythmic, knee action" which helps create speed. and stuff. They have a lot of flow. That's what Tracey says and I would agree. They have taken a soft approach to the dance. Wilson says it lacks the definition of later teams. I agree and I have a feeling that all of their dances are going to be on the soft side - but is that even possible with the can-can (their original dance)? 37.99. wow, that doesn't sound too good to me. Perhaps they are a little rusty after their time away, or they are just not big on the Tango.
Emilly Samuelson and Evan Bates (USA): I don't love their costume choices tonight. I wonder if these outfits look different in person, as so many do? Odd color pairing, lavender and red. They finished in 11th at the worlds last year. Tracey says Emily has the most beautiful feet in the business. That is what she said. Good toe point and good lines. I don't think these two look nearly as good at Delobel and Schoenfelder, but they are adorable anyway. 31.37. Wilson says the end of the dance pattern is weak, and they have immature expression. I suppose I agree. Samuelson looks like Catherine O'Hara in Beetlejuice with whatever she's done to paste her hair to her face like that. 31.37 - so that seems kind of low...with a lot of skaters left!
Up close on Meryl/Charlie and Tanith/Ben! Squeal! Charlie's wearing his glasses! Squeal! Tanith doesn't think they would be here without the belief that they can win. I have to raise the volume six notches to have any prayer of hearing Meryl Davis - NBC, where is the audio person...they should know how quiet Meryl is by now. Meryl says they are not in Tanith and Ben's shadow. Ben says he and Tanith have emotion and experience. Charlie's all....we are the bomb, diggity. Right now. hee. Tanith looks too pretty for me to pay attention. How is anyone that pretty? Oh, sorry, the up close ended like twenty seconds ago.
Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat (France): His hips do not move the way he wants them to, I think. Great expression at the top. They were fifth at worlds last season. Tracey says their weakness is unfortunate mishaps. No whammies! They are doing well so far. I like this very much. Not as much as I liked Delobel and Schoenfelder's, though. Tracey says there is nothing to draw you in. I am drawn in by her headband. OMG Meryl and Charlie next!!! Squeal! 36.13, pretty close to Delobel and Schoenfelder. These two are in second place for now.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White (USA): I am a bit nervous. I want these two to do well so they can rock the house the rest of the way. Tracey says these two use the music like no one else. I would agree with that this season. Compulsories are their weakness and they've lost this portion before. Augh. Cute opening. I love them from the start. They are not soft like Delobel and Schoenfelder but I think the strength works for them here better in this dance. WOW 41.47! Now, that's what you call a SCORE. Good for them! That's quite a lead on Delobel and Schoenfelder.
Domnina and Shabalin (Russia): Reigning world champions and threats to win the gold medal. But their programs are a mess! This is their strength, though. I like her look here and I like what they are doing. I might prefer this dance to Davis and White's, which is actually admitting a lot because I don't usually like this team, at all. But I would only give these two a slight edge; I really liked this dance. (Don't worry, I'll be back to my old self when the first beats of the original dance start playing). 43.76. Wow! Two points is not as close as it seems when you are considering ice dancing. This is a very good start for them...
Khokhlova and Novitski (Russia): Psych! I don't love this team and I don't think they're going to medal, so I'm going to use this time to look at the "Marlie" and "DomShabs" scores. I do agree with the presentation edge that Domnina and Shabalin got (21.84 to 21.01 for Davis and White), although a 9 for interpretation is quite high for the Russians. I wouldn't have thought that the grade of execution marks would have been this different (Davis and White got 20.46 overall in technicals to DomShabs's 21.92, that is a huge difference) - I think all that Domnina and Shabalin's strength was in presentation and expression rather than their execution of the steps, but I am no ice dance expert so it matters not what I think and I'm probably wrong. Oh, well. Domnina and Shabalin have done what they needed to do - get a large lead in compulsories and hope that no one can catch them despite their inferior original dance and free dance. The cynic in me is pretty sure that either D&S team is going to win this (just because I can't imagine the figure skating world being able to go on if non-Europeans won pairs, men's, AND ice dancing). And Delobel and Schoenfelder are (I guess) not looking up to the task, tonight, so Domnina and Shabalin it is! OH BTW, Khokhlova and Novitski scored 37.18, so I guess they were pretty good after all. HA.
Belbin and Agosto (USA): Here we go...I'm expecting big things here. Dramz! I knew they'd be good at this. Very sharp on their movements, slightly different from all the styles we've seen before. I don't want Ben to make that face. Tracey says strong edges. Yes, they are being very aggressive. Tracey thinks this is not easy for them. I would agree with that. I still liked Domnina and Shabalin better on this dance. 40.18, ugh. These are big gaps in the scores. Not a great score considering the ground they have to make up, and they know it.
Faiella and Scali (Italy): Let's see if they can pull this off - it's their weakness. They could not overcome Domnina and Shabalin's lead in the compulsories in Europeans. I hope to God someone can do it here. Speaking of not looking easy, this does not look easy and it really doesn't flow, for me. 39.88. Very close for them - I wonder if they are surprised to be ahead of Delobel and Schoenfelder?? I am. I am also surprised they are that close to the other top pairs.
Sinead Kerr and John Kerr (Great Britain): Maybe not medal contenders, but who doesn't love the Kerrs? This compulsory does not have too much personality for me. You just don't see a special quality to pick out like you could for Davis and White or Domnina and Shabalin or Belbin and Agosto. Can't wait to see them in the original dance and free dance. 37.02 - not too shabby!
Virtue and Moir (Canada): Listen to those cheers! They already look the best out of all the pairs tonight and they haven't started skating. Such passion right off the bat, and both partners are equally bringing it, which I have not seen much of tonight. Loving this. My new favorite dance of the night...Every move is just gorgeous and flowing and looks easy but also difficult if that makes sense. I will stop gushing. 42.74, second place. I would have picked them for first tonight. But the strengths of pairs two through four will hopefully come out even more in the original dance and free dance.
The competition continues on Sunday night with the Original Dance!