[Queue Oscar-like overture]
This 4th installment of this annual tradition comes complete with several new categories, many suggested by readers. Official stuff today...a little fun to come afterwards. Enough of my prattling...Today's categories are:
- Best Ladies Free Skate
- Best Pairs Free Skate
- Best Free Dance
- Best Men's Free Skate
- Short Program of the Year
- Best Forgotten Program
- Worst Performance of the Year
- Best Exhibition Piece (NEW)
- Best Music Selection (NEW)
- Best Choreography (NEW)
- Competition of the Year (NEW)
- Skater of the Year
The Nominations for Best Ladies Free Skate please...
- Miki Ando - 2011 World Figure Skating Championships
- Mao Asada - 2011 Japanese National Figure Skating Championships
- Alissa Czisny - 2010 Grand Prix Final
- Alena Leonova - 2011 World Figure Skating Championships
- Sarah Meier - 2011 European Championships
And the winner is...I'm giving this one to Alissa Czinsy for her 2010 Grand Prix Final performance. It was like the program we all were holding our breath for. It didn't have complex movement but it's beauty was in its simplicity. There really is something to the saying "less is more." It was like a quiet whisper...soft and sweet.
The Nominations for Best Pairs Free Skate please...
- Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch - 2010 Skate Canada
- Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy - 2011 World Figure Skating Championships
- Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov - 2011 World Figure Skating Championships
- Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin - 2011 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships
And the winner is...Volosozahr and Trankov at this years World's. I fell in love with them at Russian Nationals and feel even deeper in love with them at World's. I find their skating to be exciting and I love that they bring me to the edge of my seat. Your eyes stay glued on Tatiana at every moment. Gush! I know they aren't as technically proficient as Savchenko and Szolkowy but I still love what they are cooking!
The Nominations for Best Free Dance please...
- Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier - 2010 Skate Canada International
- Meryl Davis and Charlie White - 2011 World Figure Skating Championships
- Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat - 2011 European Championships
- Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani - 2011 U.S. National Championships
- Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir - 2011 World Figure Skating Championships
And the winner is...No contest really, but obviously Meryl and Charlie's Free Dance from Worlds. They took that Tango to a different place, both technically and emotionally. Solid work from the American World Champs (how nice to finally be able to say that!).
The Nominations for Best Men's Free Skate please...
- Patrick Chan - 2011 Canadian National Championships
- Richard Dornbush - 2011 U.S. National Championships
- Artur Gachinksi - 2011 World Figure Skating Championships
- Takahiko Kozuka - 2011 World Figure Skating Championships
- Adam Rippon - 2010 Japan Open
The winner is...Patrick Chan for going lights-out at the 2011 Canadian National Championships. Wow! I'm pretty sure I called that performance one of the greatest things put to ice. That was the first time we all kind of leaned back and said, "yep...he's got a good handle on those quads." Sometimes it all just clicks...and that skate...it clicked! Was very tempted to give this award to Takahiko for his World's free which I thought was endearing especially given the situation in Japan...but I couldn't ignore the two quads from Patrick.
The Nominations for Short Program of the Year please...
- Florent Amodio - 2011 European Championships
- Ryan Bradley - 2011 U.S. National Championships
- Patrick Chan - 2011 World Figure Skating Championships
- Nobunari Oda - 2010 Grand Prix Final
- Qing Pang and Jian Tong - 2011 Four Continents Cup
- Daisuke Takahashi - 2011 Four Continents Cup
And the winner is...I almost want to give it to Pang and Tong for being the only skaters other than Men's singles to make the nominee list. I feel almost obligated to give it to Patrick Chan for that whopper of a score he got at Worlds...but I'll give it to Ryan Bradley because, more than anyone on the list, you can tell he genuinely had the most fun. Also, that Short Program, helped win him his first National Title. Hat's off to you Ryan!
The Nominations for Best Forgotten Program please...
- Miki Ando - 2010 Grand Prix Final [Free Skate]
- Brian Joubert - 2011 European Championships [Free Skate]
- Armin Mahbanoozadeh - 2010 Skate America [Free Skate]
- Brandon Mroz - 2010 Cup of China [Free Skate]
- Adam Rippon - 2010 Skate Canada International [Free Skate]
And the winner is...I'm going with Armin on this one. I thought he was pretty spectacular at Skate America in a field that kind of fizzled. It was one of the few times this year that the beautiful music of Avatar was really put to good use.
The Nominations for Worst Performance of the Year please...
- Mao Asada - 2010 Japan Open [Free Skate]
- Mao Asada - 2010 Trophy Eric Bompard [Short Program]
- Joshua Farris - 2011 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships [Free Skate]
- Rachael Flatt - 2011 World Figure Skating Championships [Free Skate]
- Denis Ten - 2010 Skate America [Free Skate]
And the winner is...Joshua Farris at Nationals. This kid is going to do great things in the very near future but his Free Skate that night was not to be. You can tell Joshua expects a lot from himself and after that disaster of a performance he literally just cried, perhaps from the pain from having a bum ankle or perhaps because he just expects more from himself. It was so sad. I think everyone in the arena just wanted to give him a big hug and let him know that there will be a better day.
The Nominations for Best Exhibition Piece please...
- Jeremy Abbott - "Rhythm of Love" by Plain White T's
- Alissa Czisny - "You'll Never Walk Alone" by Barbara Streisand
- Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy - "Barbie Girl" by Aqua
- Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir - "I Want To Hold Your Hand" from Across the Universe Soundtrack
- Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov - "Super Mario Bros." from Nintendo Super Mario Bros.
And the winner is...This is tough call...but I'm going with Virtue and Moir because they bring the music to life so beautifully. I could have gone on and one endlessly with various exhibition pieces but these are my faves from the seaason.
The Nominations for Best Music Selection please...
- Jeremy Abbott - "Life is Beautiful" from the Life is Beautiful Soundtrack
- Alissa Czisny - "Selections from Winter into Spring" by George Winston
- Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov - "Also sprach Zarathustra" by Richard Strauss
- Kim Yu-na - "Giselle" by Adolphe Adam
- Daisuke Takahashi - "Historia de un Amor" and "Que Rico El Mambo" by Perez Prado
- Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir - "Hip Hip Chindchin" by Club Des Belugas, "Temptation" by Diana Krall, and "Mujer Latina" by Thalia
And the winner is...Probably the best program this year that never got its due, Jeremy's Life is Beautiful program. What a gorgeous piece of music that just begged to be great. If there was any one program I wouldn't mind a skater reusing for a second year it would be this one...it never got its due.
The nominations for Best Choreography of the Year Please...
- Patrick Chan - "Take Five" by Paul Desmond/Lori Nichol Choreographer
- Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier - "Eleanor Rigby" by Paul McCartney and John Lennon/Christopher Dean Choreographer
- Meryl Davis and Charlie White - "Il Postino" by Luis Bacalov and "Forever Tango" by Lisandro Adrover/Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva Choreographers
- Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov - "Clair de Lune" by Claude Debussy/Peter Tchernyshev Choreographer
- Qing Pang and Jian Tong - "Nocturne in C Sharp minor" by Frédéric Chopin/Lori Nichol Choreographer
- Shawn Sawyer - "Alice in Wonderland" from the Alice in Wonderland Soundtrack/Marie-France Dubreuil Choreographer
And the winner is...Oh so hard a choice! The choreography represented here is truly the cream of the crop. Six way tie? Not gonna let me off that easy? Ok ok...I'm going with Kavaguti and Smirnov. It was subtly beautiful while still exciting. Peter Tchernyshev really outdid himself here and Tamara Moskvina always knows where to add a little extra flourish. There are moments in this program where you can here a pin drop and the audience is breathless. They use every bit of the music to express the character of the piece. And the choreography seems simple while it's actually quite complex...not an easy feat to accomplish.
The nominations for Competition of the Year please...
- 2010 Grand Prix Final
- 2010 Japan Open
- 2010 Skate Canada
- 2010 Skate America
- 2011 World Figure Skating Championships
And the winner is...almost by default after an extraordinary season and massive change of event and venue, the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships. It was an event chock full of surprises, with an outpouring of love for those suffering in Japan, and a few amazing performances, and an historic event given the unusual timing. There were many great competitions this season but for reasons not needing explanation, this will be the most memorable.
The nominations for Skater(s) of the Year please...
- Miki Ando
- Patrick Chan
- Alissa Czinsy
- Meryl Davis and Charlie White
- Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy
And the winner is...not be confused with the Reader's Choice Award, this is my choice for whom I think is most deserving of the award. Decisions decisions. Do I give it to a skater that has made vast improvements? Do I give it to a team that has gone undefeated? Do I give the award to a record breaker? Do I give the award to a skater that brought hope to a nation that things might be better soon? This is my struggle for this award this year. In the end...I've decided to award the Skater of the Year award to Patrick Chan. Aside from setting records this season (I know, I know...Chanflation), he did something I really respect. I've long been a member of the camp that I'll take a well skated program sans quad to a badly skated one with a quad. Patrick Chan has long defended the well rounded skate even as other "quad veterans" hounded him about it (he did do a little "rebel rousing" himself from time to time). Well this season he just went ahead and shut everyone up by adding two quads (perfect ones at that) to his already well rounded skate. It made him a near unbeatable force combining the absolute best of both worlds. It shut up all the "non-quad" nay-sayers and for that alone I think he's most deserving of the award.
Thus concludes part one of the 4th Annual Loop Axel Awards. What surprises and twists and turns will happen in part two? Stay tuned...