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Skate America Thoughts

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Ok, this is late so let's get down to business.  Skate America?  Pretty disappointing.  I felt exhilarated to see all of the new programs so I wasn't too depressed but, if I'm honest, not that much impressive skating going on.  And by impressive, I mean clean. 

I thought that when the International Skating Union thinned the ranks of competitors this year, it would mean that the quality might be a little higher.  No worries, everyone, there was still many a trainwreck to be witnessed.  

Ice Dancing

Well, this was the Meryl and Charlie show.  Sorry Pechalat and Bourzat, but you were skating with a disclaimer (he had bronchitis) and you made mistakes, so who knows what to expect from you in the future.  I loved Davis and White's short dance.  I think it's the best one of the season and (other than some twizzle troubles); the choreography and movement was right on.  It seems that with the latin dances moreso than with the others, some skaters can pull it off and others just don't look good doing it.  Although, I suppose it's harder to rumba when you barely have any hips.  But Davis pulled it off wonderfully.

The trouble I had with the short dances was that there were fun ones that were a little bit sloppy and there were polished-looking ones that were total snoozes.  I enjoyed Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue, although they weren't together enough and they had a lot of room to clean things up.  I really liked the lift from Isabella Cannuscio and Ian Lorello.  Their free dance seemed sloppy and like a lot of work.

Speaking of free dances, Davis and White scrapped their original La Strada dance to do some waltzing instead.  As you can imagine (and remember from last year's short dance), they are wonderful.  It's a delightful dance.  It is not the challenge that last year's tango was, but I really think they are the best ice dance pair in the world right now (sorry, Virtue and Moir) and we'll see if they can keep it up.  Very impressive debut for such a new program.  They were doing the kind of dancing that might bore me in another couple but they keep you interested because every moment counts.

I would like to thank Nathalie Pechalat for her mummy outfit for Pechalat and Bourzat's Pharao and the Mummy free dance.  Ice dancers will never let you down for literal interpretation of music.  Bourzat looked super tired throughout and the program did not impress me.  They did a much better job of keeping up with the Joneses last season with their Charlie Chaplin free skate.  

The bronze medalists (and the other pairs after them) were so far behind Davis and White that it's hard to think any of them will have any impact this season.  There's not really too much to say about the Twist and oldies music program that Lithuanians Isabella Tobias and Deividas Stagniunas did. Fun for the crowd, I guess.

Men

Goodness, this was a slopfest.  Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic played it smart in the short program by not attempting the quad, and with his eight-point lead, he played it safe in the free skate.  The sad part is that, although he didn't attempt his free skate quads, he was still making mistakes, doubling here and falling there. And he still won.  That's the kind of competition it was.  The dancey footwork in his free skate reminded me of the first guy who gets on the dance floor before everyone is drunk.  I can't quite figure out his weird dual-vest thing...he was skating to the Untouchables...if anyone can explain it, let me know.  

Kevin Van Der Perren had a beautiful quad and a beautiful triple/triple/triple combination in his free skate to pull himself to the silver medal.  Nothing too exciting about his programs but it was nice to see him medal.  But he was sloppy, too. 

Takahiko Kozuka of Japan was doing some absolutely gorgeous skating in the free, although he was doing some monumental flubbing of jumps as well.  He vaguely tried connecting to the audience here and there but it really doesn't work for him.  But as a man skating beautifully in his own world with lovely choreography, he is a pro.  I found it slightly shocking that Brezina nearly matched him in program components.  I also worry a bit that he botched both quad attempts.

I was happy for Ricky Dornbush to land another quad, even though it was a bit of a low rider.  I find his western-themed program very interesting, but it was one of the programs that I saw this weekend that definitely needs a lot more work.  His footwork is quite intricate but he didn't seem really in command of the performance.  And of course, the jumping was sloppy.

Kudos also to Denis Ten of Kazhakstan for landing a lovely quad.  And great job for Daisuke Marukami landing the quad salchow in the short.  I really liked his free skate.  It was messy but I enjoyed the sword-fighting choreography.

Ladies

When Alissa Czisny is doing the most challenging move in the ladies competition, you know something's up.  I was very impressed she attempted her triple lutz/triple toe in the free - she backed up the talk with some action.  Of course, the triple toe was completely downgraded, but she tried.  

But let's start at the beginning - the short program.  I liked Czisny's La Vie en Rose program.  Her costume was a little bit of bubble gum and the back seemed to almost weigh her down, and yet, she attacked the program like I have rarely seen.  There was no time she appeared fragile or like she might not land something.  I believe she scored a personal best and I was definitely impressed.  

I didn't love Carolina Kostner of Italy's short program.  I feel like it is a program I will appreciate more as the season wears on but she just seemed a bit gawky in it. 

Don't remember too much else.  I get tired of hearing how improved Caroline Zhang's technique is.  She doesn't look very good out there, and the only reason she was in third after the short program is because everyone else was just so terrible.  Also, was it me, or was Ksenia Makarova's short program literally a seizure on ice?  Yikes.  Sloppy, terrible work.  Was everyone just badly affected by the moving of the world championships?  I suppose we will never know why people don't land their jumps or look prepared.

As for the free skate, I remembered liking Viktoria Helgesson's Sunset Boulevard program (and she was doing a good job of emoting!) but thinking while she was skating that she was making so many mistakes that there was no way she could medal...but I had forgotten who she was up against.  She did medal, getting her first Grand Prix podium finish with a bronze.  At least I liked the program!  But then, I am a sucker for Norma Desmond.

Carolina Kostner's free skate was gorgeous.  I criticize her for her jump arsenal, but she has a flip now (a nice one) and she does a triple/triple so I am giving her a pass.  I couldn't believe how lovely I thought this free skate was.  Even though it was not technically clean throughout, I really enjoyed watching it.

Same with Czisny - another gorgeous free skate, although a bit sloppy.  She did fight, though, and it wasn't quite a disaster.  But this won't be competitive against cleaner programs.  I was very happy to see her get the highest program components of the competition.  I think she deserves them and it's something I was a bit worried about last year, but I think these programs are technically superior to last season's, as much as I loved those programs.

How many times are we going to see Elene Gedevanishvili of Georgia put herself out of contention in the short program to later turn in a good free skate?  She is obviously capable of good performances...would be nice for her to put two together in one competition.

Pairs

I really liked Denney and Coughlin's East of Eden short program, but then their free skate was so blah to me.  And they were fairly solid (she singled a double axel), but their program is just so much easier than the other pairs.  The others are doing triple jump sequences and some are doing different types of triples, and then there are Denney and Coughlin with one set of triple toes and their double axels.  And their basic lifts (with no extension to be seen by Denney).  I just don't know.  It was really jarring to watch their free skate after seeing Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, who I would have put on the same tier as them before the competition, but no more.  I know Denney and Coughlin are a new pair, though, so I will try to be more patient.

Also, as I (and some commenters) have pointed out, Caydee Denney has been completely Yankowskafied.  She has the hair and her short program costume was very Yankowskas-looking (although not the free skate costume as much).  But the creepiest thing was the beginning pose of the free skate.  I guess seeing John Coughlin on the ice on his knee like that is just too close to his Ave Maria opening or something.  And then there is a girl next to him who looks like Yankowskas but is certainly not.

As for Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker...I don't know.  She still looks so young...she looks like his sister.  And there were several mistakes.  Not a great start to their season.

I was happy Savchenko and Szolkowy attempted a throw triple axel in the short program, even if it did land them in fifth place when they failed at it.  i was unhappy when I realized that this is the second free skate in a row that I don't like of theirs - maybe it will grow on me?  Sometimes I can't believe it's the same pair who did Out of Africa.  But they are so technically impressive, I can't mind too much.  Also technically impressive were Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang, who had two great programs but not much of a spark.

As for my predictions?  Five spots right out of 12, not so hot!