A Look Back at the Mens Skate in the 2014 Winter Olympics

by Katherine Ruch

They began the broadcast with lots of drama. Evgeni Plushenko hurt his back in the warm up and then for a solid 5-10 minutes they talked of nothing else! They replayed the triple axel where he tweaked his back about ten times, and when he was first to skate, they showed a dramatic moment where he skated over to the referee and they announced that he was withdrawing for “medical reasons.” He has been in an amazing four Olympics and he has had so many back surgeries over the years that I had a hard time trying to count them all. At first he said he was retiring after this Olympics only to announce later that he wasn’t ruling out trying to go to the Olympics in 2018! Doesn’t exactly seem like the smartest thing to do, health wise, if you ask me. I mean, it would be nice to be able to continue walking after one’s figure skating career is over…

Jeremy Abbott was seeking redemption for not performing as well as he had hoped in the Vancouver games He had a very technical and artistic program planned, choreographed by Olympic Gold medalist Robin Cousins. He fell on the first jump, a Quad Toe and slammed into the boards. He stayed on the ice for several seconds after that really hard fall and then somehow managed to finish the rest of the program. After he finished skating, he said “that really hurt” to his coaches. His recovery after a fall like that was truly incredible!

Jason Brown had a great skate in his Prince program. His participation in these games came after a very impressive showing at Nationals that blew the minds of many including myself! Now he has quite a YouTube following and I believe his ponytail has its own twitter account. He skated really well, managing to finish high enough in the standings after the short to be able to skate in the final flight in the free skate. Even though he doesn’t have the Quad yet, he overall skating quality is quite amazing. Totally unaffected by the pressure, he seemed quite at home on the Olympic ice even.

Hanyu of Japan had a short program that was nothing short of phenomenal. I don’t remember him making any mistakes whatsoever and his program was both highly technical as well as artistic. He even broke 100 with his short program score and managed to receive the highest score ever recorded for a short program.

Javier Fernandez of Spain was the 2013 World Bronze medalist and was considered to be a legitimate contender for a medal. He had some crazy landings on some of his jumps and frankly I’m surprised that he managed to land them. He still finished in medal contention however!

Patrick Chan of Canada went in as the favorite to win a gold medal being such an amazing technical and artistic skater. He has even finished in first place at the last three World Championships! He had a few mistakes so he was in 2nd place heading into the free skate.

Daisuke Takahashi of Japan was participating in his 3rd Olympics! He had an overall good program with the only rough landing being on the Quadruple Toe. As an expressive skater with a fair amount of difficult technical elements, he also finished the short program within medal contention.

With the unfortunate fall in his short, Abbott went into the long program in 15th place. Jeremy is such an artist on the ice and I loved this program which was actually choreographed by Jeremy and his coach Yuka Sato. Even though he had a personal best with this program, it simply wasn’t enough to earn Jeremy a medal. While I was disappointed for Jeremy, I was amused by what he said to the media after they accused him of choking in international competition. He’s right, you know, stating that none but the people who have been in that position know what it is like to try to demonstrate an entire career in several minutes! The pressure must be unimaginable!!!

Peter Liebers was 6th at last months Europeans and was happy to be in the final flight of men going into the free skate. His Dad even competed against Scott Hamilton back in the day. Talk about keeping skating in the family.

Jason Brown was also thrilled to be in the final group. He skated a fairly good program but made a few little mistakes like two footing the landing on his triple toe. His program didn’t seem to have the same magic that it did at Nationals and you could tell that he was fighting for every single element. I know that he was probably overjoyed to make it into the top ten.

Javier Fernandez and Daisuke Takahashi were in medal contention coming out of the short but it simply wasn’t their time. Denis Ten who represents Kazakhstan and won Silver at least year’s Worlds seemed to come out of nowhere between the short and the long. He skated so well in the long that he jumped up in the rankings and won the Bronze medal. Coincidentally, his Bronze medal marks the only time anyone has medaled from his country in skating and happens to be the only medal won at these Sochi games!!

Going into these games, Patrick Chan seemed like an obvious choice as to who would win Gold seeing as he has won Worlds so many times since Vancouver. While Chan and Hanyu  both made mistakes in the free, Hanyu had such a score built up in the short that he simply couldn’t be beat! I think Patrick might have jinxed himself by thinking that the event was going to be won or lost by what happened in the long. Regardless, it was definitely an exciting event and I hope all the athletes go home knowing they did the best they could. The Gold went to Hanyu, the Silver went to Chan and the Bronze to Dennis Ten. Why can’t we have the Olympics every year?!?

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A Look Back at the Figure Skating Pairs event in the 2014 Winter Olympics

Ice Skating World Logoby Katherine Ruch

It has taken me a few days to write about the Pairs because each event of the skating has had so much drama involved that it’s been hard to catch my breath! I wonder if you feel the same way?

Let us begin with the short programs: Duhamel/Radford of Canada had one of my favorite short programs out of all the pairs. While they had the highest start value, a couple of stumbles and a weird landing on the side-by-side triples caused them to lose some points. I think they were underscored personally but I’m no technical specialist. I did enjoy the music which Eric composed himself and they had awesome entrances and transitions in and out of their elements.

Savchenko/Szolkowy of Germany recently created a new program to old music. Supposedly in practice, some of the elements requiring unison had been a little off, but they performed it the best they had in Sochi according to the commentary. They have won the Worlds four times and vowed to come back and win Gold after getting the Bronze in Vancouver. Not exactly underdogs but how can you not root for a team that had been fighting to get to the top for four years? They were in second place after the short. I am still trying to recover from her very brightly colored pink unitard. I’m not sure my eyesight is ever going to quite right now…

Volosozhar/Trankov of Russia were probably the favorites going into the competition seeing as they are the reigning world champions. They competed against each other in Vancouver, and together they are what the commentators referred to as a “dream team.” They have the technical experience, artistry and pressure from Russia all in their favor. They appeared to be flawless and got the highest score ever by a pair in a short program. They were leading after the short. Maybe they are robots, too…

Pang/Tong of China were competing in their fourth Olympics! After this, they plan to retire and get married after twenty years of skating together! They had a great emotional connection after working really hard on their artistry. They got the Silver in Vancouver. I think they should get extra points for being 34 because that’s about 104 in ice skating years!

Castelli/Shnapir of the the U.S. hope to crack the top 10. They had a better skate than they did in the team event achieving their personal best. I love their music because it seems unique and fresh, you really can’t go wrong with Santana right? They will definitely be a pair to watch in the future.

Zhang/Bartholomay of the U.S. really are surprise Olympians and I couldn’t be more thrilled for them! Why were they so prepared to rise to the occasion at Nationals you ask? They started doing run throughs of their program in March of last year. Achieving their personal best, this team is one to watch in the future as well!

In terms of the long: Castelli/Shnapir skated their James Bond program which I love. They had a step out on the side-by-side triple toes and a step out on the quad Salchow, but they did get credit for it being fully rotated which is definitely something to be proud of! They achieved another personal best and with some more time together they should be able to accomplish great things.

Stolbova/Klimov of Russia were in third place after the short. I didn’t find their program all that impressive. I can’t even seem to recall what they even skated to to be perfectly honest. They didn’t have any mistakes, but their program didn’t seem that special to me.

Volosozhar/Trankov, aka the favorite Russians had one of my least favorite programs! They skated to music from Jesus Christ Superstar and had costumes that were orange in color. I don’t care what shade of orange you wear, it makes me think of traffic cones or the University of Tennessee, a hated place when you are a UK basketball fan. They were once again virtually flawless with a hand going down on a triple loop.

Pang/Tong were the last of what I saw on the Telly. I have to admit, I had to skip a good portion of their program. The music from Les Mis is beginning to make me feel a little insane.

Volosozhar/Trankov finished first, Stolbova/Klimov finished second and Savchenko/Szolkowy finished third. I felt really bad for Savchenko/Szolkowy. They had trained for four years and yet they found themselves in the same spot as they were in Vancouver. I was very happy for Castelli/Shnapir who cracked the top ten (9th), just as they had hoped.

NBC did something that I found to be a bit lousy. They didn’t even bother to show the long program of Zhang/Bartholomay. It doesn’t seem very supportive of a U.S. pair team for one of their programs to not even be shown on the television in their own country. I wonder what their rationale was with that decision. I guess we may never know. Next up, the Mens event!

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An Analysis of the Exciting New Team Event in Sochi Olympics

Sochi 2014 gamesby Katherine Ruch

I think this team event is a fabulous idea! Ask any figure skating fan and they will agree with me that the more skating that comes on the television the happier they are. I’m not going to lie though, this new Olympic event was a tad confusing for me and I’m pretty darn positive I understand skating a lot better than your average casual skating fan.  Also, if they were looking to add more skating events at the Games, did they ever consider synchro?

In the Mens Short program, Jeremy Abbott of the U.S. had a bit of a rough skate. A fall on a Quad Toe and a Triple Axel that opened up into a single proved to be very costly.  Patrick Chan of Canada seemed bit more wobbly than normal opening up a bit on a Triple Axel and only being able to do a double following a bit of a funny landing on a Quad. Hanyu of Japan skated exceptionally well landing a Quad Toe, Triple Axel and a Triple Lutz/Triple Toe and finished about 7 points above Plushenko of Russia who in my opinion is a bit too big for his britches. Plushenko skated well but he sure sounds arrogant. From there it seemed like the U.S. had some catching up to do since we were now in 7th place.

The U.S. seemed to struggle quite a bit in the pairs short as well. The team from Japan demonstrated they hadn’t been skating together all that long because they only had a Double Twist whereas all the other pair teams in the competition had a Triple Twist. The Americans had problems with their side-by-side jumps with both Castelli and Shnapir making errors on those Triple Salchows. The Pair team from Canada was exceptional being the only team to have side by side Triple Lutzes, they did a throw Triple Lutz and they had absolutely beautiful entrances into several of their elements. The Russian Pair didn’t exactly blow me away. I wonder if they were bumped up a bit because they were the World Champions in 2013. Hmmm…

The Short Dance did nothing but help the U.S. regain a lot of footing in this medal race. Davis/White of the US won the event but their score was a little lower than what they were accustomed to getting and Virtue/Moir of Canada who got 2nd also had a bit of a lowered score so maybe it was across the bored. Davis/White seemed flawless and Virtue/Moir only had a bit of a unison problem on their twizzles but both teams seemed far superior to the rest of the teams because of their exceptional technical ability as well as the fact that they never break character. This event helped the U.S. by putting us within medal contention!

In terms of the Ladies Short: Osmond of Canada had a great program in the Fosse style but I was a little distracted by the fact that as the program went on her dress did nothing inch up so it was covering less and less of her butt. Mao Asada of Japan fell on her Triple Axel but the rest of the program was very nicely woven together. Carolina Kostner skated so well that she helped the Italians make it into the final round. Ashley Wagner of the U.S. had a very solid program. Following her Triple Flip the second jump of the combo must have gotten downgraded but it wasn’t nearly as obvious as the look of disgust on her face when the scores were announced! Yulia Lipnitskya of Russia hit some incredible positions that cause me to question whether she really is a human.  Ashley finished fourth which is exactly what she needed to do!

The Mens Free program was fun to watch but made me wonder if I sniffed favoritism. Jason Brown of the U.S. was wonderful. Despite a fall and not being able to do a Quad, Brown is an absolute joy to watch. I enjoyed Machida of Japan’s program as well. He demonstrated the depth of the Japanese team for sure. Kevin Reynolds of Canada managed to do 3 Quad jumps and his artistry seemed to be there too which made me question why in the world Plushenko beat him in this event when he only completed 1 Quad? I’m pretty sure Sandra Bezic even excused his arrogance in her commentary! His program is a conglomeration of his best programs, “The Best of Plushenko!” Wow…

I don’t get NBC sports because I’m poor but did NBC show the Pairs Free portion of the team event during Primetime?! I don’t think so and now I’m really confused but who knows?!? Maybe I missed it sometime during the hours of cross country skiing? I did hear some clamoring of the gun control fans saying that Shnapir shouldn’t have worn a holster as part of his costume! Really people, it’s James Bond!

In the Ladies Free Skate, Osmond who had a strong short seemed to come a bit unglued in the long after a fall and doubling a Flip that was supposed to be a Triple. I felt bad for Akiko Suzuki of Japan because after she doubled the second combo of a job the commentators referenced the fact that she probably knew it didn’t matter at this point anyway?! Gracie Gold for the U.S. was absolutely flawless but so was Lipnitskya so why the 12 point difference in their scores?

By the time the Free Dance was on, the commentators referenced the fact that the teams were now skating for “pride” seeing as I guess the placements were so well cemented that it wouldn’t make a difference? That just doesn’t seem right. At that point I tuned out a little bit. I learned that the Russian team is skating to Swan Lake, and that Virtue and Moir are going to need to step it up in the individual competition if they hope to defend against Davis and White. I didn’t like the fact that competition didn’t seem to matter anymore. I don’t like for anything to be over until the “fat lady sings” so to speak.

Personally, I would prefer to see the point system changed a bit so that one bad event doesn’t take the entire country out of the running. At the very least, maybe they could explain things a bit better and spend less time switching back and forth between the skating and other events. They do seem to show every snowboarder that comes down the mountain but clearly didn’t show every skater. I feel a little cheated! What did you think about this Team Event?

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2014 Olympics Figure Skating Schedule

Sochi, Russia

Iceberg Skating Palace

Schedule of Ice Skating Events in the 2014 Olympic Games

Feb. 6: Team event Pairs short, Team event Men’s short

Feb. 8: Team event Ice Dance short, Team event Ladies short, Team event Pairs free

Feb. 9: Team event Men’s free, Team event Ice Dance free, Team event Ladies free

Feb. 11: Pairs short

Feb. 12: Pairs free

Feb. 13: Men’s singles short

Feb. 14: Men’s singles free

Feb. 16: Ice Dance short

Feb. 17: Ice Dance free

Feb. 19: Ladies singles short

Feb. 20: Ladies singles free

Feb. 22: Olympics Gala Exhibition

Sochi 2014 games

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Jason Brown’s “Skate to Remember” at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships

19 year old Jason Brown put on quite a show in Boston this past weekend.  His long program was spectacular, resulting in an overall 2nd place in U.S. Nationals.  It earned him a trip to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

Watch this replay to see Jason’s jumps and artistry in the Free Skate, which were outstanding and second to none.  Congrats Jason and all the skaters representing the United States of America.

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A Heartbreaking Decision for the 3rd U.S. Ladies Spot

Sochi 2014 gamesby Katherine Ruch

As I write this, I am a little glad that I didn’t go to U.S. Nationals! Don’t get me wrong. Last week I was so jealous of anyone posting status updates and pictures from Boston. If you were one of the people who went, I halfway am glad that I could live vicariously through you… and I halfway hated you at the same time! At this current moment I’m sick (physically), so I also know that the only thing worse than being ill is being sick but on a trip of some kind.

I will write lots more about Nationals soon because I, like most of you, had my eyes glued to either the computer screen watching Ice Network or the television when the skating was on. I literally watched every minute I could. For as long as I can remember, I have found skating absolutely captivating. I find myself cheering along with all the fans, booing at appropriate times, etc. I really act like I am actually in the arena, it’s a little embarrassing so try not to judge me!

Once the medals were handed out, the waiting process began to see who made the US team heading to Sochi for the February games. For the most part it seemed pretty standard, Dance-1st, 2nd, 3rd, Pairs- 1st and 2nd, Mens-1st and 2nd. In regards to the Ladies event, the top three medalists are not all going. I was pretty shocked and I was not alone in that regard!

The only person I knew was going for sure would be was Gracie Gold. I’m not sure I expected 15 year old Polina Edmunds to skate so well, and Mirai Nagasu stunned me considering she has had a couple disappointing seasons since the Olympics in 2010. Ashley Wagner, who has skated well this season and has been National Champion twice in recent years ended up 4th after a disappointing long program. Her tears following the performance seemed to say it all. She was probably worried she would be the “almost girl” once more.

I figured the team would be made up of Gold, Nagasu and Wagner. Although Ashley couldn’t seem to deliver on Saturday night, she has skated well internationally this year and she is partially responsible for the fact that the US women had 3 spots to fill. I figured they wouldn’t let Polina go. I thought things such as: “she is only 15, she should have probably two more chances considering the shelf life of a skater” or “this is her first year at the Senior level.”

Instead, Mirai is the one who got bumped. I guess as far as the USFS is concerned, one good Nationals and having previous Olympic experience doesn’t measure up to having as good of component scores as Polina or having a dismal couple of years in terms of competition standings. All I can say is I feel bad for Mirai.

As soon as I saw the placements I knew there was no way this could end well. Someone was going to end up heart broken. Since I’m sick, I don’t have anything better to do than read a plethora of Facebook statuses about this topic. As much as I feel for Mirai, I know that the USFSA is likely to hold fast to their decision. I feel for Ashley too. Hardly anyone knows what it feels like to make the Olympic team and while Ashley is elated, another part of her knows that some people aren’t in support of her. How hard that must be!

Whether or not I always agree with the USFSA, I hope to always remember that the officials are people, and so are the athletes. No matter how you slice it, nothing is ever perfect and you can’t make everyone happy. I know I for one can’t wait to watch the Olympics here in a few weeks and hope that we can all do our best to support the athletes. Go USA!!!

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Why I am Looking Forward to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games

 

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by Olympics Fan 

It’s chilling in quite a few places around the world and as mind numbing as this cold is, it’s turned out to be good for all the sports buffs whose excitement are rooted in the games of ice skating. Rolling your eyes, aren’t ya? Here we list top 5 reasons why you should be on the very edge of your tip-toes for another exciting icy feast of Winter Olympic Games, 2014.

1. The Patrick Chan Plan

2010 left Patrick Chan thinking about his strategy into its last details. Well, no wonder when an athletic mind like Chan get four long years of ice-time; it will pull a trick that can beat the best. One can bet that he has a winning plan and is confident about it. He has showcased some part of that already, if statistics were anything to go by, in 2011, 2012 and 2013 successive wins in Moscow, Nice and London, respectively. Patrick Chan is the skater to watch for. For he not only relishes the music on which he skates but opines that he is the best enemy – an attitude of one with an earnest desire to win!

2. Mikaela Shiffrin v/s Marlies Schild

World Alpine ski racer Marlies Schild amazed with a record win at Leinz at 0.41 seconds and will certainly go for a kill this time! Why so? Well, not later than a week was she overtaken by skier Mikaela Shiffrin. The competition will be the one certainly worth awaiting! While experience may side Schild, Shiffrin is not far behind when it comes to beating the challenge in the world of ski slalom.

3. Sochi Venues

To say the least about Sochi venues – awesome! One can go on taking excerpts of appreciations of experts on operational readiness and effort that went into getting everything spruced up for high quality competition, but there is no greater a reward than that instinctive exclamations that go unsuppressed when the venues meet the eyes. We strongly recommend watching the pictures yourself. Go take a look if you want to be amazed.

4. Every man or woman for themselves

Trust me, every sport becomes all the more exciting when there is no clear favorite and all are competing to prove a point. While there are many group games that have inclined opinions, the individual games of figure skating lack a clear favorite. That bring a lot of meat to the excitement you might already be nursing. There are lots of potentials in both the categories and one can bet on anyone of them waiting to see it come true. Of course, the best performance on the D-day will take the glory but the journey to the top will be no less fulfilling for sure!

 5. Other Games, too!

While skating with its flavors (short track speed skating, speed skating) looks quite exciting we cannot overlook other games at all! What with the fabulous downhill Alpine skiing, Cross-country and free-style skiing always grasping the attention due the very nature of the game! And who can forget ice-hockey? Well they all have my nerves bubbling up for sure and I can’t see why any average sports fan won’t be excited!

The Winter Olympics, once every four years, does it get any better!

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Reflecting on Ice Skating’s Greatest Scandal

by Katherine Ruch

I went to Canada after Christmas and it seems like I brought the weather back home with me! The weather here was awful on Monday and Tuesday! Considering that we rarely see the low teens or single digits, -4 felt a little bit surreal to be perfectly honest. I thought I had come home so that I wouldn’t freeze to death!

Since Hell didn’t freeze over, they still had Learn to Skate classes as usual on Monday! The school system was even closed both Monday and Tuesday so the fact that I left the house at all made me feel like we should probably all ‘be committed.’ The most shocking thing was how many people were there considering the extreme cold! Why were the kids out in full force? The Winter Olympics at coming!!

While 2014 has started out significantly better than my 2013 did what with having a broken foot and all last year, I found myself subconsciously guarding my knee caps on Monday.  Why? January 6th marked the 20th Anniversary of the infamous “whack heard around the world.” Whether you were involved in Figure Skating at the time or not, it was hard to miss the images of Nancy Kerrigan in what I think was a white dress holding her knee and crying; and the absolute media circus in the days that followed!

I know I was only 8 years old back in ’94 but I don’t really remember watching a lot of skating prior to that point. I just don’t think they showed it on the television. I know figures weren’t nearly as fun to watch as the high flying jumps or the fast moving spins but I don’t think it was doing away with those in competition that got the attention of the television stations. After all, the time period following figures and before Nancy vs. Tonya seemed rather stagnant in terms of Figure Skating coverage. The attention that was all of a sudden focused on Figure Skating really had to do with exposing the ugliness that can be hidden underneath all that can seem to only shimmer with perfection.  It wasn’t pretty.

While I hope that nothing quite that eventful happens at this week’s U.S. Nationals, I wonder what it would take to capture the media’s attention once more for something positive. I for one don’t want the soap operas that can go on behind the scenes to ever detract from the beauty of what happens on the ice!

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4th Annual Cyber Ice Skating Sale is Back

There is finally an annual, online sale devoted specifically to figure skaters.  The 4th annual Cyber Ice Skating Sale has begun at IceSkatingProShop.com and runs for over a week, ending on Tuesday, December 24. The Cyber Skating Sale, which officially began late last week, features discounts on the entire line of products in the IceSkatingWorld Pro Shop, from figure skating accessories to instructional videos and exercise equipment designed for ice skaters.  By entering the coupon code ” F7E3ZL202 ” upon checkout, visitors save 20% on everything in the figure skating pro shop.

After three successful post-Thanksgiving runs, the Cyber Ice Skating Sale is back bigger and better this year. In past years discounts were only offered on select products. However, this year IceSkatingWorld has introduced new items and slashed prices across the board in nearly every category. The 20% off Cyber Week sale is exclusively on the online store located at IceSkatingProShop.com.

 “We had never seen an online sale devoted specifically to figure skaters,” explained Marta Nilsen, managing partner since 1999.  “Our clientele , which includes parent, coaches and active skaters, want significant savings on items they use in their favorite sport every day.”

“Figure skaters and fans of the sport can take advantage of the store-wide 20-percent discount from anywhere in the world,” continued Nilsen, who started the Cyber Skating Sale over three years ago.

Instead of the Cyber Ice Skating Sale lasting only 24 hours, and subsequently many people missing out on the event, the site keeps it up and online for over a week. This is especially important since many of the site’s visitors are in various time zones. The coupon code – F7E3ZL202 – expires on Tuesday, December 24, 2012. There is no minimum purchase required.

figure skating world ABOUT ICE SKATING WORLD LLC

IceSkatingWorld LLC has been serving the ice skating community since 1999 by providing resources for figure skaters, parents, coaches and skating fans.  Among the resources offered include articles on improving figure skating skills, choosing an instructor, selecting equipment, and much more.

Founded in 1999 by Richard and Marta Nilsen, who is a Master-rated PSA coach,  IceSkatingWorld LLC has been serving the ice skating community since then by providing resources for figure skaters, parents, coaches and skating fans. In 2004 an online pro shop was added, offering merchandise from the leading manufacturers within the figure skating industry. Items from the online Pro Shop include protective gel pads, off-ice training tools, dresses, skates, spinners and more. The products ship worldwide and are guaranteed.

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Recapping 2013 NHK

Alissa Czisny and Katherine Ruch Regionals 2013

Alissa Czisny and IceSkatingWorld blogger Katherine Ruch

by Katherine Ruch

I did it!! I actually managed to watch all of NHK coverage that was broadcasted on NBC last weekend! Granted the TV video was significantly better than anything I’ve been able to watch on Ice Network, but I was seriously disappointed that they didn’t broadcast any of the Pairs Skating or the Ice Dance! I know an hour and a half, or even two, isn’t enough time to broadcast everything but doesn’t that just mean that they need to allow more time for figure skating coverage seeing as it is an Olympic year? Just my opinion…

I watched the Men’s programs first. Takahashi won, Oda placed 2nd, Abbott placed 3rd and Rippon finished out the top 4. Takahashi’s freeskate is to Beatles music, and while it is technically superb, I hate to see anyone skate to music that reminds of me of anyone else’s program in the same season. I was happy to see Abbott medal in this competition because I always appreciate the artistry that is found hidden within his technically challenging programs! My absolute favorite program among the Men in the Freeskate was Javier Fernandez! I really enjoyed his music choice, costume and overall skating!

Next, I watched the Ladies. Mao Asada won, Elena Radionova took 2nd, Akiko Suzuki took 3rd. Gracie Gold finished 4th and Mirai Nagasu finished 8th. Mao was fabulous but Akiko’s Phantom program which I had previously found dazzling fell flat for me this time around. I know Elena is only 14 but she looks so thin to me that I wanted to pull her off the ice and force feed her a cheeseburger! I do wonder if Gracie was rattled by the fact that Frank Carroll didn’t make the trip to Japan or if Mirai’s freeskate was affected by the computer issues that caused a 20-minute delay for her program. Despite the delay, Mirai’s Bond program was my favorite among the ladies probably because I absolutely loved her dress!

Next, I watched the Free Dance on my computer since it wasn’t being broadcasted on the Telly! Davis/White placed 1st, Cappellini/Lanotte placed 2nd and the Shibutani’s finished 3rd. Davis and White’s program to Scherezade was technically and artistically superior and I just don’t understand why these programs weren’t shown on the television! The Shibutani’s program to Michael Jackson was the most unique and refreshing thing I have seen in quite some time! I think that they have certainly benefited from the time they have spent working on choreography with people from “Dancing with the Stars!”

Finally, I watched the Pairs competition on Ice Network. The winners were Volosozhar/Trankov, Peng/Zhang were 2nd and Sui/Han were 3rd. What do you notice about these names? No one from the US placed in the top 3! Castelli/Shnapir placed 4th with a Bond program that I loved and Denney/Frazier finished 5th with a program that had some lovely moments as well!

Be sure to tune in next weekend for the Cup of Russia on NBC from 2-4 on November 24th. I will be wearing a fur hat just for the occasion.

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