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Thoughts on Worlds

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Never got to write my worlds wrap ups so here are some stray observations.

Whatever Happened to (Un)Predictability?

So, this year at the world championships, the strongest skaters of the year in each category won.  When does that happen?  I have to say, it did feel right to have all those skaters win after fairly dominating seasons. And luckily for ice dancing and women, the wild cards of Virtue and Moir and Yu-na Kim allowed for some competitiveness in those categories. 

I thought this was a vindicating season for Savchenko and Szolkowy. Hated their pink panther, but their utter dominance and strength as skaters was a pleasure to watch.  I'm glad they were able to close out the season with a win.

And how about Davis and White, the hardest working ice dancers in show business.  Or something.   They had a heck of a season.  Though they won every event, they had to work to get their programs just right.  I'm sure it was emotionally and physically taxing, and I hope that making history by becoming the first Americans to win the world championships in ice dancing made it all worth it.

In with a whimper, out with a whimper

At least the ladies were consistent this season.  Consistently awful.  Even though I do think Ando won that title, she was so slow and uninspired in her free skate.  The jumps were there (mostly) but not exciting at all.  Yu-na Kim was still better to watch than Ando, but popped two jumps in the free and she just did not appear to have the connection with the music or the crowd that we're used to from her.  And as for her short program...I just feel like it would have been nice for her to have enough confidence in the program and the choreography for her not to have to clutch her stomach in a "see?  I'm playing 'pained'" way through 50 percent of the program.  Also, though I did think her arabesque spiral was improved over last season, I hope that Kim spends some time working on that layback. 

Here's a testament to the ladies mediocrity - I actually don't mind Carolina Kostner winning the bronze.  Well, don't mind much.  She was completely propped up after her fall in the short program.  However, her free skate was delivered quite well, even though many of her jumps were saved.  Alena Leonova had some exciting jumping a ton of energy right up until the end, but not the style of Kostner.  And unfortunately, though I appreciate that Alissa Czisny was able to land all of her jumps after falling on the opening triple lutz in her free skate, I felt that she was very slow and she had no life in her performance.  She looked stressed.  I've seen her perform that free skate much better before.  Also, she has very low components considering how beautifullyshe skates.  If she's back next year, she's going to have to make some changes.

One Competition Wonders

I should give Virtue and Moir a bye from this category because they sort of competed in Four Continents plus they were injured, but their showing in the free dance here shows that maybe they could have used some judging feedback on that program before worlds.  Davis and White truly did refine their tango to the point where there was not a question in my mind that they should have won, and I'm happy they did.  However, this is not to say that if Virtue and Moir had come out with last season's free dance or something along those lines that they couldn't have still beaten Davis and White...I think with the right program, perhaps they could have. 

And I think Kim's dominance at the Olympics last year made me forget that she is not normally a "lights out" competitor.  But her dominance in GOE and program components had me thinking she would win here despite errors...however, she literally had one error too many.  And her programs just didn't sing here like they normally do.  I think she might have benefitted from performing them in front of an audience once or twice.  She just wasn't quite ready to be the normal dominant Kim.

Movin' on Up

The biggest splashes that I saw were Artur Gachinski and Russian pair Volosozhar and Trankov and American ice dancers the Shibutanis medaling.  The one I am most surprised at is Gachinski - was this a fluke, a little bit of judge home country favoritism, or a coming out party?  It remains to be seen.   Volosozhar and Trankov are a solid pair.  I prefer the softer style of a Pang and Tong but considering what the other top Russian pairs are capable of these days, Volosozhar and Trankov really flew through that wide open door and have done a great job establishing themselves. 

The Shibutanis needed Pechalat and Bourzat to have a disaster in order to leapfrog them onto the medal stand and lucky for the Americans, the French team faltered.  I have to say I did feel bad for the French after their impressive season and their great programs this year. 

On the other hand, there was no new woman who really swooped in and stood out.  This would have been a great chance for Japan's Kanako Murakami to power to a bronze with great jumping but she just didn't have it in Moscow. 

The Men

So, though the men's competition was the least like an actual competition, and the most like a coronation, here are some things I enjoyed. 

Patrick Chan's short program.  We all knew going in that Patrick Chan was winning this competition.  You can't land beautiful quads like he does and have his program components and his technique and not win.  But, I feared he would come in and win while being sloppy.  And although he did have a problem here and there in the free skate, his short program was something to see.  He will never win me over for his performances....I don't feel anything when I watch him skate...but I appreciate how great he is when he delivers clean programs like this.

Daisuke Takahashi's short program.  So well performed.  Watch that and then watch Chan and tell me who has better performance and execution.  Who truly connects to the audience naturally and doesn't have to memorize how his face is supposed to look at any given time in a program.  Also, the edges, the footwork...it's absolutely phenomenal.  An even more hilarious comparison would be with Artur Gachinski.  I mean, wow. 

Takahiko Kozuka's free skate.  Kozuka does not connect to the audience at all, so you may think I am biased when I get more excited for him than Patrick Chan, as both are such beautiful skaters (and Chan, obviously a better performer), but Kozuka also doesn't get higher program components scores than he deserves, so I have no reason to be annoyed.  I really hope he can develop the artistic side but I am so happy he did so well in the free skate - that beautiful quad was a wonderful start.  He's a great skater and it was nice to see him break through on the worlds stage.  It was also particularly nice to see someone win the silver medal, rather than err their way into it by losing the gold.

Things that made me laugh

I have decided not be outraged this time, but to take skating judging and compettiors for the joke both can sometimes be.  And so, here are my biggest laughs of the competition.

Peter Carruthers talking about Artur Gachinski.  It was so funny that he was asked if Gachinski reminded him of Evgeny Plushenko and he was like..maybe a very young Evgeny Plushenko, as though Plushenko at some point developed into some sort of beautiful artist on ice.  Gachinski was so similar to Plushenko that I thought Plushenko had borrowed a slightly longer mullet wig and was skating in Gachinski's place out there.  I know Phil Hersh anointed Gachinski the Sochi 2014 favorite after this performances in Moscow, but I hope he is wrong, unless Gachinsi can improve his performance.  However, he is very young, and he has the jumps.  He just needs the style. 

Virtue and Moir beating Davis and White in the short dance.  Seriously.  In what world was what Virtue and Moir did better than Davis and White's quick and pristine short dance?  I don't understand how they beat Davis and White in both technical elements (all through grade of execution points) and program elements.  The very helpful Judy Blumberg pointed out a lot more things wrong with Virtue and Moir's performance, but the worst and most visible thing wrong was how very slow they were.  That being said, I do think that Virtue and Moir deserved second in the short dance.

Yu-na Kim scoring +3 GOE on her layback.  Am I seeing things or does she not have one of the ugliest laybacks of the top ladies?  I don't get it.  Also, if you want to look at it in relative terms, her layback is obviously far inferior to Alissa Czisny's, but she scores higher.  Is it because of the change of positions?  Because even with that, she shouldn't get a higher GOE because her execution of the first part of the spin was not good.  Nice lutz combo, though. Thank you for that, Kim!

He was such a  nice boy, until he wasn't.  Yikes, Florent Amodio is such an amazing skater, still.  But what was UP with using the weird lyrics in his free skate and then saying it was a tribute to Japan or something?  I don't really get what he was up to this year, other than (as I've mentioned before) an attempt to book a lot of skating shows in the offseason.  I hope his programs next year live up to his abilities.  And I hope he gets a quad.

American Pairs.  Because if I don't laugh, then I'll cry.  Right when we get a really nice performance at worlds, Yankowskas and Coughlin go and split up.  What the ..?  I am not one of those who thought they were close to medaling or something, but they looked pretty good here.  I don't know what is going on...sounds like MAYBE Coughlin was the impetus behind the breakup but I can't really tell by the cryptic release.  I have to say, as good as they are together, Yankowskas is the diamond.  Since I started this blog, there is not an American female pairs skater (and few singles) who hold a candle to her in terms of presence on the ice, so hopefully she can find a strong partner and keep moving on up the ranks.  I guess it's unclear whether Coughlin is going to keep skating so that's where I'll stop.

Stop forcing me to watch

Bobrova and Soloviev.  Please.  Someone just stop the pain.  I have been down on this ice dancing pair all season and if you like them, please explain to me why, because I have often pointed out that I have an untrained eye.  When I watch them, they never seem together.  They don't appear to be a good fit for me, and she particularly just seems all over the place.  I can't understand how they can be considered in the same breath with a team like the Shibutanis, let alone Virtue and Moir or Davis and White.  If I do have to keep watching, please God allow them to do be crazy like Khoklova's Firebird or offensive like Domnina and Shabalin.  Otherwise, they ae boring AND not great.

Rachael Flatt.  We've obviously already discussed this in another post and she was injured here and we can blame the terrible performances on that.  But even when she's not injured, I don't love her skating, as you all know (to put it mildly).  I have been able to appreciate her ability to land a lot of triples but when you take that away..well...you get a 12th place worlds finisher.  There is not much else in the skating to admire for me.  And with all of the interviews this season talking about how good she was technically and then her never, EVER showing it, never even attempting a triple/triple even though it was mentioned in every single interview (that's an exaggeration), I don't really understand what the point was of all that talk.  It was obviously a rough, injury-plagued season and I hope that if she does come back next year, she has an easier time.  I also hope that if she is too injured to skate in a competition, she'll take care of the injury instead.  It's a tad unfair that she not only had to be put through the excruciating pain of competing with a stress fracture, but then she has the psychological pain of the criticism afterwards.  I would hope her family and coaches think about that the next time they advise her poorly.

Programs I never want to see again

Michal Brezina's "An American in Paris."  I do like the music but two years with this program is definitely at least one year too many.  If not more.

Patrick Chan's "Phantom of the Opera."  A nice program but stick a form in it.  I would love to see Chan take it to another level artistically.

Florent Amodio's Michael Jackson program.  With or without the lyrics.

Tomas Verner's Michael Jackson program.

Anyone else's Michael Jackson program.

Brian Joubert's "Once Upon a Time in Mexico."  I know he's notorious for keeping programs but please, no more whooping crane moves.  PLEASE.

Which programs do you hope to see skate off into the sunset?