Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Hard Decision

I made a hard decision this week...

I've enjoyed writing this blog for several years. However, my professional life ill affords me the time to devote to this blog everything I want to devote to it.

So I've decided to officially cease blog writing on Axels, Loops, and Spins. I'm a little teary eyed writing that.

This blog has really been a part of me for so got me to the Olympics. It allowed me to express my opinion on skating. From time to time it has gotten me in trouble with certain fan bases. It has been my way into the figure skating world.

For those that have been loyal followers...thank you. You made it worthwhile.

I'm not dissapearing completely. While I wont be blogging any longer I will continue to tweet, especially during competitions. My passion for the sport hasn't dwindled at all. The site will stay up for as long as Blogger will host it.

So before this becomes an emotionally filled hot mess let me simply say:

"Don’t be dismayed by goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends." ~ Richard Bach

I leave you with my favorite skating performance of all time. Everytime you see it...think of Axels, Loops, and Spins.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Post Nice Reflections

I've had time to digest all of what I saw in Nice at the World Figure Skating Championships... re-watched lots of the what I wrote in blog posts and not to toot my own horn...I think I called square.

Right after the competition was over, Paul from Jumping Clapping Man sent me some questions and thoughts via Facebook that I promised a blog post on. I'll do my best to give my take:

"Virtue/Moir were given that SD result. Meryl/Charlie beat that at least in the SD." - I'm assuming, like many, that Paul thought Meryl and Charlie were better in the Short Dance. For me, I'm actually okay with Tessa and Scott winning the Short Dance. I think the difference that gives the Canadians a slight advantage in Latin dances is Scott's Latin abilities. He moves precisely like a Latin dancer and I think the judges respect the purity of his movements.

"What happened to the House of Sato/Dunjen? Are they just exhausted from a too long season? Or, is there something going on behind the scenes that knocked their confidence?" - I think it was different for each skater. Alissa and Jeremy both competed in Europe a couple of weeks prior to Worlds so burnout may have been a factor. Jeremy, Alissa, and Adam all have been known to be slight headcases at times. Alissa, more than any of them, seemed just exhausted and unprepared. There was also some chatter that Yuka and Jason had asked Alissa to add a few pounds and that may have messed with her jumping technique. All three need to find "killer" instincts so they can get the job done.

"Were Kavaguti/Smirnov decked for their public commentary on the ice? I actually think they deserved a higher FS score (at least 130s). They only made one mistake, as I remember." - That one mistake led to others. After Yuko missed the second double axel in sequence, they had to bail on a lift which left lots of points on the table. Those little mishaps seem to always happen to them...they need to figure out how to skate perfect because when they do, they'll be tough to beat.

"WHY, oh WHY is Chan always scored above Takahashi? Am I missing something? Takahashi is one of the finest dancers/footwork specialists of all time, so when he lands his jumps, shouldn't he prevail, when Chan falls?" - When you find the answer, let me know.

"I was thrilled to see Kostner have her moment. For years I watched as she was overscored, and now that she remade herself and her look, she earned/deserved it. Beautiful! I hope this gave Ashley some momentum for next season...way to go girl!" - Yes, the field of ladies made it so simple for Carolina that we can't even be mad about her watered down content as it was still some of the most difficult content performed (I joke but not really...she could have seriously phoned it in!). I do pray she never wears a body outfit like that ever again though. And Ashley took my breath away. She has that "killer" instinct that some other Team USA members desperately need.

"Did Weaver/Poje deserve the bronze? Their FD was so beautiful. Perhaps I'm just biased against The Mummy." - So Weaver and Poje's Free Dance is brilliant and if Pechalat and Bourzat had skated as they had all season up to this competition I would say yes, Weaver and Poje would deserve the bronze. But Pechalat and Bourzat (as was Joubert) were energized I think by the amazing swell of crowd support they were getting and it elevated their performance level. In the arena, that Mummy program was rockin' out and they had everyone in the palm of their hand. I say at this competition, the judges were fair in awarding the Bronze to Nathalie and Fabian.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

"Channy McChanner Pants" and Kostner Phones It In

I don't even know what to make of the men's free skate...

I guess I'll start with Adam and Jeremy. Not their best by far. Both seemed...tired out there. I do love the fight that Jeremy had. Even though it wasn't going just jingles he was fighting to hang on to everything. Also, his quad is starting to look good (even though three judges gave it a -1 and another a +2 ???).

Oh Channy McChanner Pants...after he hit the second quad the deal was done. The last time I was at worlds was in 2009 and I had a little chuckle at remembering Chan and Joubert's little media spat over the quad and Chan saying it wasn't so he completes two to Joubert's one at this things change. He had a couple errors but they didn't matter at all. Daisuke had another amazing performance to capture the silver. He was actually 3rd in the free skate, not certain how. I've had the pleasure of seeing Daisuke live three times this season and each time I thought he had the winning free skate...the points somehow don't add up though. I don't know which judges ass he needs to kiss to get some respect? Yuzuru Hanyu slipped in for bronze despite a strong skate from Joubert. Yuzuru was near perfect accept a freak fall that didn't disrupt any element. Joubert had the crowd in his hand with his 'Matrix' program. Solid jumps but he couldn't quite keep up with the others and finished 4th. He looked though, for the first time in a while, he enjoyed himself on the ice and I was genuinely happen for him.

I want to take a few sentences to talk about Alissa Czisny. After the third fall I literally began to weep for her. So much so the very nice women next to me felt it necessary to grab my hand and pat it for the next 5 minutes. That was tough to watch. I just wanted to give her a hug that never ended and remind her that she is such an amazing skater and that this moment doesn't define her. I watched sadly as the next skater took the ice and Alissa just sat in the Kiss and Cry with her face buried in her hands, Jason and Yuka doing everything they could to console her. The thing I want Alissa to know, is what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I recall in 2009 Carolina Kostner going to complete pieces in her free skate at she's the 2012 World Champion. I don't know what Alissa's future skating plans are but if she decides to continue, I hope this puts a fire in her belly something fierce. I hope she ditches the timid, fragile, delicate Alissa once and for all and becomes a determined competitor, not willing to let anything get in her way.

Speaking of not letting anything get in your about Ashley Wagner! After Team USA had been dealt one blow after another at these Championships we needed a pick me up...she delivered. She got after that free skate with fire and passion. This season, with this 'Black Swan' free skate, Ashley has become my favorite female skater. Oh had it not been for that short program...the podium would look a little different! But I can't complain too much about the podium. Akiko was lovely as always. She is such a reliable competitor. Her choreography is always to die for and she sells sells sells. I'm even happy for Alena Leonova. While I'm more in love with her short, she did okay in the free too. She's looked like a new competitor this season. Not sure if she just got out of her head or something Nikolai has done...whatever it is, it worked. And Carolina...I mean, she could have phoned that in. Alena didn't make it hard and Akiko and Ashley from 5th and 8th looked not as menacing. Carolina did what she's done all season; skate consistently, earn lost of points outside of the jumps, and show superior component scores. It was the recipe for an easy win for her and I think deserved. Both her programs this season were lovely (although the body suit she wears in the free skate is awful!).

That's a wrap! Nice has been lovely! I have a few more thoughts I'll do in a separate blog post.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Chan's World and a Pairs Photo Finish!

First the men's short expected it's Chan's ball game. As per all season he botched an element in the short program but his scores are so high across the board it hardly matters. A beyond squeaky clean Brezina is within two points of him though. Takahashi I think would have caught him had he not sat down on the a triple toe behind a quad. I was so excited he finally hit the quad in the short only to botch the triple behind it.

Que sera sera...

Joubert is back...I don't think the judges would have made it out of the arena alive had they not ranked him near the top. His short program is cleverly designed to hide his weakness and show his strengths. I see them but I have better eye than the majority of french skating fans that just want to see their star do well. I'd a put him behind Amodio but again, I sure the judges feared for their lives. Tough day for Abbott and Rippon...but they are by no means out of it and still have a shot, if not to medal, still earn 3 spots for the U.S. in London. They need to get their chins up and fight. Tough day for Kozuka as well...13th, ouchomagoucho!

Shout out to Christopher Caluza...go ahead with your bad yourself!

On to Pairs where it was a photo finish...Volosozar and Trankov were beyond brilliant earlier on the night, nobody could catch them despite the fact they were in 8th. Savchenko and Szolkowy, skated well...still placed 2nd behind the Russians...but because of the short program eeked the win by .11. Photo finish. Takahashi and Tran held on to third to become (I think?) the first team from Japan to win a pairs medal at the World Championships. Pang and Tong showed a bit more rust to only manage 4th. Marley and Brubaker make a respectable debut at World's placing 10th and Denney and Coughlin finish 8th despite a great skate (again, the judges were boo'd for their scores). Not sure why but the judges seem to be actively judging against the American's...strange.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Free Dance Final...Houston, We Have a Problem

So our first final concluded tonight with the Ice Dancers putting on a magnificent show. Really all of them where great but things got really good in the second half.

But if you will let me harp on the first half for just a moment...I want to say how special Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill are and I'm beyond pissed that the judges don't give them the scores they are worth. They are so organic and natural, it's amazing. I think they should have been about 5 or 6 placements higher and if I were Skate Canada, I'd launch an inquiry and call for the judges' heads!

Back to the second half. Maia and Alex had a rough go. Alex totally missed his twizzles and it was hard to get the energy back after that. After winning the bronze last season they finish down in 8th. They have the skills to be on the podium, I just think this season was particular tough for them...but they fought all the way to the end which was commendable. I was really surprised and in love with Cappellini and Lanotte's 'La Strada' Free Dance. I thought it was gorgeous and I'm not sure why they didn't beat out Ilinykh and Katsalapov for 5th place?!?!

The top four where all amazing! Davis and White opened up with their best performance this season (I'll get back to this in a moment) and skated lights out and brought the crowd roaringly to their feet. Next up was Weaver and Poje and they had the crowd eating out of the plam of their hand with their 'Je suis malade' program. Another stirring ovation as they slip behind Meryl and Charlie. There was no quieting the crowd as Pechalat and Bourzat took the ice...the whole building was shaking from thunderous applause and I say the crowd support elevated their performance. The crowd cheered amazingly and seemed to appreciate the fact they placed a strong 2nd just behind Meryl and Charlie. Finally, Virtue and Moir, solid as ever...just a wee little slip mid dance from Tessa, nothing very major. When they finished they got a good ovation, but nothing near what Pechalat and Bourzat and Davis and White got...the scores go up...half politely applaud their win while the other half boo's...Houston, we have a problem.

On Twitter this already quite a little controversy over this brewing. I'm not going to try to break down the scores...I'm kind of with Phil this level it's preference less than actually difference...but from sitting in the audience in person and watching both programs, Meryl and Charlie certainly had the best skate. I felt that was easily Davis and White's best skate all season, the judges didn't give them a season's best however. And then you have the unfortunate situation where the technical specialists is from could get a little tricky. I'll let bygones be bygones and let this one go...but I think the judges missed this one just a bit.

Slightly Sexy Pirate Wench...I'll Take It!

When Alena Leonova is at her best, she's hit her technical elements and then sells, sells, sells...that's exactly what she did today! She had me in the palm of her hand...and that's a lot considering I've been so over POTC for about two years now. The judges put her in first and I couldn't agree with the placement more. Murakami and Kostner in 2nd/3rd...neither really did it for me but I guess I get it; Murakami was clean and Kostner is, well, Kostner. Mao Asada is very lucky to be in 4th after what could have been a disaster missing that triple axel...luckily all the ladies behind her decided to make errors themselves.

Speaking of errors, let's talk about Ashley and Alissa...I'm not ready to write the obituary just yet, but this is not going well to this point for the American Ladies. The saving grace is, while Ashley is in 8th, she's only 5.5 points or so from the podium. If you look at her 4CC free, she can get there if things happen. Alissa...poor Alissa...the old Alissa is back. The one from a couple years ago that doubted everything, looked frail, and once one mistake happened...down came the domino's. For the free she needs to forget about competing and just go enjoy skating. Skate for herself and let the chips fall...if she puts the pressure of having to better her placement I feel the bottom will come from under her...this is about her now, not the placement.

As I watched these SP's, it became abundantly clear I miss some things in skating. I miss spiral sequences in the short program, I miss ladies 'having' to have a lutz and flip in the short in order to crack the top 6 (Costner is 3rd with a triple toe/triple toe, double axel, and double loop), I miss not having the luxury to wander to any seat in the arena because every seat was filled, and just a little...I miss the 6.0 system, but most of all - I miss Michelle Kwan.

Sorry...couldn't help myself:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I think we are done with "Mas Que Nada"

I think we are done with "Mas Que Nada;" that is until they decide to do Samba again. Yeeesh!

But the event that started strange this afternoon with Pairs continued strange with Ice Dance. I had the sneaky suspicion that the Canadian's would easily retake their throne here (you could see the the momentum shift literally before your eyes at 4CC). I did think it would be a 'bit' closer though (look at me not consider a little over a point and a half not close enough!). I don't know what happened between the Grand Prix Final (their season's best) and this event, but Meryl and Charlie's scores have been slowly trending downward. I don't see where they are getting worse so I somewhat perplexed. will be a good fight to the finish. But I suspect if both teams skate well...the Canadians have it in the bag.

It was so much fun to see Pechalat and Bourzat skate on home ice...broken nose and all. The crowd was amazing in their support and you got the sense that there performance was elevated because of it. They are uncomfortably close to Meryl and Charlie.

As for those who didn't have things go as planned...well Maia and Alex were kind of handicapped right from the start. Rhumba/Samba SD, Tessa and Scott back at full strength, Worlds in Nice right at home for Pechalat/Bourzat, surging Canadian team (Weaver/Poje)...the deck was stacked and I think they just need to have a good skate tomorrow and begin focusing on next season. And Bobrova and Soloviev...I'll file that under 'wamp wamp.'

Honorable mention to Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue...worlds debut, way to get after it.!

U.S. Pairs...the little engine that could

With nothing better to do to pass the time, I've decided to post a quick blog post. I'm excedingly excited for the two U.S. Pairs Teams. They both skated great and I think outdid themselves. I was a bit peeved by some of the teams that got moved ahead of them (namely Bazarova/Lrionov and Duhamel/Radford) but the scores are tight and the standings are in no way locked. I'm calling U.S. pairs at this event the 'Little Engine That Could!'

Savchenko and Szolkowy didn't need to attempt that throw triple axel to win the short program. But they went for it anyway, wasn't horrible, and despite Robin's issues on the sbs jumps, took the lead. Pang and Tong looked barely rusty, and despite some minors miscues, are close behind in 2nd. Takahashi and Tran, with the best skate I've ever seen them do, are not far back in 3rd.

Shockingly, Volosozhar and Trankov are way down in 8th (behind Denney/Coughlin) and Kavaguti/Smirnov are in 11th (behind Marley/Brubaker)! Odd but very interesting event!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I'm in Nice!

I arrived late this afternoon...completely famished. I had to do the ridiculous sprint through Charles de Gaulle to make my connecting flight to Nice. That combined with the fact that I spent the whole flight over from Detroit reading the Hunger Games made a pretty tired me.

But driving along the coast and seeing how beautiful it is here rejuvenated me and I'm pumped to get to the skating events starting tomorrow.

I ran over to the Arena to pick up my tickets and half of the skaters were just aimlessly wandering around enjoying the weather. Tessa and Scott were giving an interview (pictured), Carolina Kostner was listlessly looking at the buildings. It's a very relaxed atmosphere here...I hope it's condusive to good skating.

Not sure how much tweeting I can do from the arena (I'll check the WiFi situation out tomorrow) but I will try to post after each event. SPOILER ALERT...because of the time difference I may post before you watch...just be aware of that.

Check out the Results Page to see who has and hasn't qualified.