Thursday, March 27, 2008

1st Annual Loop Axel Awards!

Well this season has mostly come to a close and it's time to let loose and award those skaters that I feel have performed the best in each of the following categories:

* Best Mens Free Program
* Best Ladies Free Program
* Best Free Dance
* Best Pairs Free Program
* Best Short Program
* Best Coach
* Best New Face
* Hottest Skater
* Best Fall
* Skater of the Year

* Best Mens Free Program goes to Daisuke Takahashi's free program at the 2008 Four Continents Cup! He blew the lid off the competition and got the highest score ever achieved for a male competitor. He beat his competition by like 30 points and it was ridiculous. Other's I considered for this award was Buttle's World's Free Skate and Tomas Verner's European Championships Free Skate.

* Best Ladies Free Program is easily Mao Asada's free program, also from the Four Continents Cup. She hit it all including a picture perfect Triple Axel. It was smooth and elegant and just delicious. Other programs of consideration were Yukari Nakano's World's Free and Yu-Na Kim's Free from the Grand Prix Final.

* Best Free Dance was a tough one because this has been a fantastic season for Ice Dance but I must give this award to the Americans Belbin and Agosto for their Free Dance at U.S. Nationals. I have never seen them skate so well in my life and I had the privilege of being in the could hear a pin drop during that performance. Other programs I considered, Domnina and Shabalin's European's Free Dance and Delobel and Schoenfelder's NHK Free Dance.

* Best Pairs Free goes to Dube and Davison's Skate America free skate. It wasn't perfect but it had heart and they completely upset the Chinese Team of Pang and Tong. "The Blower's Daughter" was such a perfect choice of song for them. Other programs for consideration were Vise and Trent's Grand Prix Paris Free (throw Quad Salchow!) and McLaughlin and Brubaker's free skate from U.S. Nationals.

* As if there was any competition, best short program goes to Takahashi for "CyberSwan!" I don't think anyone had ever put something like that out there on the ice. I had a nickname for cryin' out loud! By far the coolest short program I had ever seen, and I think he gave his best performance of it at Japanese Nationals. Other programs for consideration were the Kerr's Scottish themed OD and Evan Lysacek's "Zorro."

* There were so many great coaches this year but I have to give this award to a duo that worked wonders this year, Galina Zmievskaya and Viktor Petrenko. Johnny Weir was like a completely different skater this season and when anyone did interviews with him he'd credit how tough they were on him. Structure, structure, structure and they took a skater who was a loose cannon and made him a Champion! Other coaches I thought about for this award were Igor Speilband, who coached half of the top six at Worlds in Ice Dance, Brian Orser for creating a magic all season with Yu-Na Kim, Nikolai Morozov for his awesome coaching of Daisuke Takahashi, and Ingo Steuer for persevering with Savchenko and Szolkowy without the support of the German Skating Federation and Government!

* Best New Face award goes to Canada's Patrick Chan. He stepped onto the senior level this season and looked like he belonged. He wowed us with his maturity and ability to interpret music with great choreography and we all just fell in love with him. His talent really showed win he won the Canadian National title. Other new faces to look out for include Rachael Flatt, Caroline Zhang, and Mirai Nagasu.

* Hottest Skater Award is tough because their are so many bombshells this season! But after conferring with my friend Elaine, we decided to go with Alexander Smirnov! We saw him (along with partner Yuko Kawaguchi) at Skate Canada and if he had any more muscles he would have ripped through his outfit! We also considered Kiira Korpi for her classic female good looks, Tanith Belbin for the same reason, and Brian Joubert (obligatory shirtless pic...thank you Terry Gannon)...need I say more!

* Best fall award was a no brainer! If you were at U.S. Nationals and saw the mens free program you saw a horrific fall from Michael Villareal on a Triple Axel...I mean he just went splat when he hit the ice. For a moment I thought he was knocked out cold. He got back up, somehow, and finished his program. Other noteworthy falls include Mao Asada's recent spill on Triple Axel at the World Championships and Kimmie Meissner's fall on her second Triple Lutz (not so much that it was a horrid fall, but rather she had fallen on both lutzes) at U.S. Nationals.

* Time for skater of the year! So many to choose from this season. Do you pick a skater who won a lot, jumped a lot, a skater who learned something about themself? I'm going to choose a skater that did all of those things...Johnny Weir. He was a completely different skater this season...completely different. He won competitions, he stayed consistent, when he didn't win he kept it in prospective. In the past he would throw little hissy fits about skating, criticising others when he had shortcomings of his own. In a previous post I exclaimed "I'm sick of Johnny Weir...guess what, you have shortcomings as well!" Well I can say that I am very happy to have Johnny skating for the U.S. He has been tremendous this season and really came through for us at the World Championships. Well done!


Anonymous said...

I'm happy that you've selected Takahashi's both programs as the best. From what I heard/read/leaned, both are designed to produce high scores--only with someone like Takahashi who has the ability to carry out. I know many have said scores were inflated at 4CC, but it seems that people ignored the fact that the base value of his free program alone was the highest. I'm so glad that we were able to see Takahashi performed both programs near to their perfection. My only wish now is that his short program gets more exposure, so that people who are not figure skating fan have chance to see it. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Alexander Smirnov being the hottest athlete. I think his body was chiseled out of granite...and very nice from what I hear.