It's been busy times in the world of figure skating!
Starting here in the U.S., we are still reeling from the two big announcements that came down this past week. First, Kimmie Meissner's withdrawal from the Grand Prix and almost by default withdrawal from the entire figure skating season due to her inability to compete and qualify for Nationals. Second, Sasha Cohen's last minute decision to withdraw from Grand Prix Paris. Sasha's withdrawal is being met with some skepticism as she performed in Improv Ice with "an injury" prior to her withdrawal from a major international event. Lots are doubting if her comeback is for real; she'll have the opportunity to redeem herself at Skate America. Also, big news for figure skating fans, we're getting more television figure skating broadcasts than we have in years thanks to a deal inked between U.S. Figure Skating and NBC Universal...WIN!!!
Japan is jumping for joy as Daisuke Takahashi made a successful return to competition last week by winning the 2009 Finlandia Trophy. While there is some work to be done on the free skate yet (he lost that portion of the competition to Russian Sergei Voronov), his short program turned heads and earned an impressive score in it's competitive debut. Japan was not jumping for joy when it lost the 2009 Japan Open (actually finishing last in 3rd) behind an impressive Team Europe and Team North America. Even more disheartening was Japan's high-flyer Mao Asada, not looking her best, and losing more ground to Canada's Joannie Rochette. Asada was just third among the women, losing not only to Rochette but also Finland's Lepisto.
In Canada, they are beginning to ramp up for the Olympic Games full throttle. Leading men's contender, Patrick Chan, was recently dubbed "Ice Prince" by the Toronto Star. Who would this Canadian Prince's dream date be asked Toronto Star sports reporter Randy Starkman? "Jessica Alba. Definitely. I wouldn't even talk the whole date. I'd just look at her with my jaw dropped." Enough said. The city of Vancouver is starting to get a picture of what traffic will be like during the Olympics...chaos. Businesses are being urged to have their employees either walk to work, take public transportation, or better yet...stay home.
The other big news in the world of skating comes from Paris, France where the Senior Grand Prix kicks off. Big match-ups are expected amongst the men and ladies fields. Korea's Kim Yu-Na departed for Paris today with her new programs (a "James Bond" themed short and Gershwin free) in tow. She's up against Mao Asada (who must skate better than she did at the Japan Open), Italy's Carolina Kostner, and American Caroline Zhang. The men are more of a mixed bag with Oda and Joubert looking like the front runners but the possibility of a surprise winner looms.