Thursday, March 26, 2009

2009 Worlds - Day 2

Another really long day! But it's worth it...there was some great skating.

First the men's short program. I watched 50 of them! What an experience. Let me begin with the largest Christmas present under the tree...that would be Brian Joubert's placement. He leads the field despite a flawed program. He created all this pre event press about men not attempting quads. Four men out of the fifty that skated attempted a quad in the short. Of those four (Ponsero, Voronov, Verner, and Joubert), three landed the quad cleanly...Joubert was the one that didn't, putting his hand down on the landing. Even so, he is in the lead after a lot of meaningless hip shaking and arm flailing. But, I digress...

Evan Lysacek is in second after a stellar program that, again, was better than Joubert's. Evan's 'more free' footwork is impressive and definitely improves the program. Patrick Chan is just behind Evan in third and his placement confused me as well. Not that I don't think he deserved...he deserved the lead...but why didn't it get the points he received earlier in the season, this was his best performance? Czech frontman Tomas Verner is in 4th after a program that included a gorgeous quad combo. Japan's Kozuka is in 5th after a cool, calm, and collected short program. The surprise of the top group is perhaps Italy's Samuel Contesti who sits 6th. He's proving his European Silver was not a fluke.

Other points to note: Nobunari Oda (7th place) went into the boards on his jump combination (I can just hear Dick Button). Brandon Mroz (8th) had a fantastic short program. Jeremy Abbott (10th) did not.

In Pairs, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany successfully defended their World Title. The Germans had an almost entirely clean free skate except for a silly slip by Robin as he completed part of a footwork sequence. Nonetheless, they were the clear class of the field on their way to their second consecutive win. You could hear a pin drop in the Staples Center as they skated to the 'Schindler's List' soundtrack. Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang of China took the Silver Medal for the second year in a row. They pushed through some problems on the individual jumps and spins with powerful throw jumps and lifts to hang on to second place. Russians Yuko Kavaguti (formerly Kawaguchi...she received her Russian Citizenship in February and changed the spelling of her name) and Alexander Smirnov nabbed the bronze. They were in second after the short program and skated after the Germans. In an attempt to win the title, they tried a throw quad salchow. The quad attempt, however, didn't go as planned as Yuko landed face first on the ice. They were able to regain composure and go onto to skate fairly well from that point with solid unison and dynamic lifts.

While nowhere near the podium, the loudest ovation of the night was for Americans Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett. Despite finishing 9th, they had a completely clean program, upset their teammates McLaughlin and Brubaker (11th) who were expected to contend for a medal, and brought the crowd inside the Staples Center to their feet. Speaking of McLauglin and Brubaker, they struggled throughout their program, especially on the jump elements. Bit of an upset for them to finish behind their teammates.

Pang and Tong of China, Mukhortova and Trankov of Russia, and Volosozhar and Morozov of Ukraine rounded out the top six. Canadians Dube and Davison and Duhamel and Buntin were 7th and 8th respectively.

Original Dance and Mens Free tomorrow.

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