Saturday, 28 February 2009

Junior Worlds - Ladies

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to watch the Junior Ladies competition; however, I feel compelled to write about the results. After the short program the results looked as follows:
2 Ashley WAGNER
5 Katrina HACKER
7 Francesca RIO
9 Sarah HECKEN
10 Caroline ZHANG

Caroline Zhang had a disaster of a free skate, and nobody would have predicted her placing lower than Katrina Hacker, the reserve for the USA. This led Phil Hersch to write a characteristically scathing article about Zhang.

So here was Zhang, fresh off a solid fourth at Four Continents in a field in which the top three finishers could also be the top three at worlds. And then, to put it simply, she fell apart.

Her short program score, 47.64, was the lowest Zhang has recorded in a short program at an international event since her debut, on the Junior Grand Prix, in 2006. The two previous lows, 51.76 and 53.28, came at senior Grand Prix events this season.

Zhang’s technical score Friday was so poor it was beaten by 19 other skaters. Nineteen!

However, Mr Hersch is going to have to eat his words after he claimed:

Zhang was world junior champion in 2007 and world junior silver medalist in 2008. Now it will be very surprising for her to win any medal. Such regression raises a lot of questions -- coaching, commitment -- she will need to answer before next season.

Instead, Caroline managed to successfully defend last year's silver medal by pulling herself up eight places with an excellent free skate. The final scores were:
157.18 3 2
2 Caroline ZHANG USA
154.67 10 1
153.57 2 3
139.89 4 6
5 Katrina HACKER USA
139.68 5 4
138.32 1 11
135.83 9 5
129.40 6 8
126.70 15 7
126.65 8 10

Now who would have predicted that? After the event, Caroline spoke the reporters and revealed her disappointment.
“I made a lot of mistakes (in the Short Program). It was kind of like it gave away most chances for the title. But I think I did well in the long program, coming back. So I’m happy with my performance today”, the 15-year-old said. “I tried to refocus after the Short Program, tried not to think about it, because all I wanted was to give the best I could today and I think I did it pretty well. I’m still disappointed; I think it was stupid, all the mistakes in the Short”, she sighed.

Congratulations to Alena; she is the first Russian Lady to medal at Junior Worlds since Kristina Oblasova in 2001, and she was definitely not expected to win in Sofia, after placing sixth last year. Elene Gedevanishvili must be disappointed not to get on the podium after leading in the short; however, her season is not yet over, as she will be competing at Senior Worlds for the fourth time in March.

Today's Program of the Day goes to Caroline Zhang; her long program from US Nationals in January. Definitely shows her development, and spins and spirals are exquisite, as always.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Program of the Day

Program of the Day is a spoiler for the Mens event at Junior Worlds, so look away now if you don't want to know.

It's Adam Rippon! Congratulations; he had a stunning free skate and won by a huge lead of around 18 points over the Czech Republic's Michal Brezina, who also skated great. Props to Adam for defending his title so well.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Johnny and Evan: Is the rivalry over?

American figure skating fans have always tried to play the two biggest names in US figure skating (at least, until this season) off against each other; but after the US Nationals Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek apparently decided to put it all behind them.

"Evan Lysacek and I sat down at Nationals and had a conversation," Johnny said. "We decided to bury the hatchet, become friends and support each other. We've formed an alliance."

Johnny says he'll be rooting for Evan at the World Championships, as well as for his friend Yu-Na Kim.

I think that's great to hear, but I'm not so sure that they were mortal enemies in the first place. It all seemed a bit staged and media-friendly to me; America is going to have to come up with a new pair of rivals before Vancouver!

Below are Johnny and Evan's long programs from this season. My personal favourite? Evan's; his jumps are looking great, and the music really works for him.

No Delobel/Schoenfelder at Worlds

On an interview on French TV, Isabelle said that it is 99% certain that they will not be in LA due to her injury. It's such a shame; their Great Gig in the Sky was absolutely breathtaking and it would have been likely that they could have defended their World title. Get well soon, Isabelle.

Program of the Day is their GGitS FS from the Grand Prix Final this season; a great performance, with the final moves slightly altered due to the fact that Isabelle was suffering from a stomach bug.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Program of the Day

Today's Program of the Day comes courtesy of Mirai Nagasu. After suffering all the way through US Nationals and ending up in fifth, she's finally admitted that it's time for a rest and has withdrawn from Junior Worlds. However, she won't just be sitting at home, as Phil Hersh has reported on the Los Angeles Times site that she will be part of the broadcast team for Japan's Fuji TV.

Nagasu, a Japanese American from Arcadia, will spend her time at Staples Center doing interviews. She is to work from a position in the stands.

Not a bad gig for someone who doesn't turn 16 until April.

And if Nagasu is as effusive in Japanese as she is in English, the TV audience should get quite an earful.

It likely will be a huge audience, given the popularity of skating in Japan since Shizuka Arakawa won the 2006 Olympic gold medal and countrywomen Miki Ando and Mao Asada (both on the 2009 Japanese team) followed by becoming the 2007 and 2008 world champions. In 2007, when the world competition was in Tokyo, Fuji got a 38% share for the women's final.

"I haven't been on the ice since U.S. Championships" in late January, Nagasu said in the Feb. 12 announcement of her withdrawal from junior worlds. "I'm not going to step back on the ice until we are confident that my pain is gone.''

Watch the highly talented young skater's SP to "I Got Rhythm" from last season's Nationals below. Incredible flexibility, and great expression shown throughout. Get better soon Mirai!

Monday, 23 February 2009

And the Worlds Compulsory Dance is....

...the Paso Doble! Great compulsory, which certainly brings out some dramatic costumes. And, in light of this, our program of the day is the Paso Doble, as skated by two of the best ice dancers out there, Meryl Davis and Charlie White. It's very expressive, with huge technical strength.

Program of the Day

Elene Gedevanishvili - not a name you forget in a hurry. ElGed has had a hugely varied career so far; she was fifth in Europeans in 2006, but dropped to 25th place this year and so failed to make the free skate at all. However, according to her biography on ISU, she has decided to switch coaches in light of her result at the Europeans, and so now will be coached by Robin Wagner. I think this is a good move; she definitely needs a change of direction, and with Wagner's past success rate hopefully Elene will start seeing some good results - she's scheduled to skate at Junior Worlds in Sofia this week.

"Crone and Poirier Feel Up to Pre-Olympic Challenges"

Golden Skate recently published a very interesting article about Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier, the Canadian ice dancers.

The pressure is on for Canadian ice dancers Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier, who won the silver medal in senior dance at the 2009 Canadian Nationals.

Along with Canada's world silver medalists, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the teenagers are responsible for placing high enough at the 2009 World Championships in Los Angeles in March to give Canada three dance teams for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada.

"Obviously, there will be a lot of pressure on us at Worlds," Crone stated, "but we'll just put ourselves out there and do what we can. If we make the top ten, that's great. Otherwise, we'll readjust and try to improve for next season."

It's just exciting that there will be three ice dance teams in Vancover; the way things look now, between Virtue/Moir, Chan and Rochette the Canadians are going to come away with some seriously good results at the Olympics in their own back yard.

The article with Crone/Poirier is interesting, highlighting their training schedule and their commitment to their individual skating as well:

Both Crone and Poirier have continued to compete in singles even as they have risen in the dance rankings. Poirier finished 11th in senior men at Canadian Nationals in 2009, while Crone placed about the same in junior ladies at Divisionals.

"I'll definitely skate singles again next season," Poirier offered. "I'm almost there on my triple Axel and I'll definitely be working on it again this summer."

"I don't think I'll continue competing in singles next season," Crone said, "but I'll continue my singles training."

This has to be admired; the amount of energy and time that they must spend on their ice dance together is so great that to do singles training on top of all that is really quite an achievement.

Crone and Poirier were excellent when I saw them at Trophee Eric Bompard, but not overwhelmingly so; with a few seasons to develop, I think they will really go far. Their style is similar to both Virtue/Moir, as well as the Italians Capellini/Lanotte. The rest of the article can be found here

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Art On Ice 2009 - Stronger

In this year's Art On Ice show from January, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy were due to perform with Aliona's former partner Stanislav Morozov and Tatiana Volosozhar. However, Morozov was ill and so could not take part; instead, their coach Ingo Steuer took his place. It's a beautiful performance, with moments of great synchronicity between the four of them, despite the yawn-worthy music. The other thing which is noticable in this program is just how similar Aliona and Tatiana look; it was apparent before, but when they are in the same costumes it is difficult to tell who is who!

"What Women Want: Champion figure skater Joannie Rochette on Valentine's Day"

The National Post has a short but sweet interview with Joannie for Valentines Day (slightly late I know)

Just back with a silver from the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Vancouver, Joannie Rochette needs a break from those triple Lutzes and training for the Worlds in March and the 2010 Games. Maybe some foot-rub tiime with her boyfriend, Olympic-medallist, short track speed-skater Francois-Louis Tremblay on Valentine's Day? The two athletes met competing for Canada at the 2006 Games in Torino.

Q: What don't you want to get for Valentine’s Day?
Joannie Rochette: No chocolate or roses — unless it's a flower he picked himself. I like something that lasts. Chocolates, I'll just eat them, and the flowers would die. Earrings would be nice.

Q: What do you want?
Joannie Rochette: Earrings would be nice. Francois-Louis won't be back in time for Saturday. He's away competing [on the World Cup circuit where he won gold in the 500 metres in Sofia, Bulgaria last weekend]. He's the romantic one. He's a great cook, so maybe he'll make me brunch when he's back on Sunday — crepes and salad.

Q: What do you think you'll get?
Joannie Rochette: I have no clue. No jewellery, though, because he thinks I have too much already. Maybe gloves, because I lose my gloves all the time.

I love her honesty and realism - she's right, the flowers would die. For this, Joannie gets Program of the Day here at Ice Addiction, with her SP from 4CC this year.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Program of the Day

Will he or won't he? After a season which is probably best summed up as "dramatic", there's no way of knowing whether Brian Joubert will successfully regain his World title in a month or so's time. For now, watch his winning FS from 2007. A dynamic program, if you ignore the questionable costume.

"Sasha Cohen may take shot at 3rd Olympics"

Phil Hersh has just written an article at the Chicago Tribune about Sasha Cohen's potential return to competitive figure skating, and he brings up some very interesting points.

Cohen will decide about a comeback in June.

"As long as I can keep my body healthy and especially the way I've been skating lately, it feels like the right thing to do," she said. "Going to a third Olympics would be just incredible.

"I have the next 50 years of my life to have fun. Eventually I will have to move on, but I think I can do it again, and I need that purpose and challenge in my life right now."

Despite people's doubts about whether Sasha is right to return or not, I think she has a very good point here. Physically, she is in very good shape; skating almost every single night for months on the Stars on Ice tour is by no means a substitute for real competitive training, but has definitely kept her in good form, Furthermore, audiences at the SOI shows have reported that she's been performing to a very high standard,landing her triples confidently, and this is something which Michael Weiss has reiterated;

"She's doing all the triple jumps and working on triple-triple combinations," Weiss said Tuesday.

"Even if she does only triple-doubles, she is pretty much a lock to make the Olympic team because her spins and footwork would be all top levels, and her component (artistic) scores would be so strong."

Now that, for me, is the main reason why I think Sasha would excel if she returned to the competitive circuit. All the skaters currently have the technical ability,else they would not be competing at the level that they are, yet I feel that there are not so many which have the artistic ability on the same level as Cohen's when she won her OSM.

Hersh is not the only one "beseeching Sasha Cohen to come back", as he claims; I think the sport would benefit from her return. She seems to have the technical ability as well as the fitness, and her artistic ability would guarantee her good results were she to return. What has she got to lose?

Still not sure? Watch Sasha at arguably her best;

Friday, 20 February 2009

Junior Worlds

I have a confession to make; I've never really been interested in Juniors. It's obvious that they are the future of figure skating and so I should really pay some attention, but to be honest it always made me depressed, watching these incredibly young children nail perfect triples, when, at 16, I still can't land an axel.

However, British Eurosport is, for the first time ever, showing some of the Junior Worlds, and I never pass up a chance to watch skating live, so this year I will be delving into the world that is the junior circuit. They're showing both the Mens FS and the Ice Dance OD this year, and both live!

The Junior World Championships are taking place in Sofia, Bulgaria, starting on the 22nd February, so not long now, and despite my obvious lack of knowledge, I've turned to the internet to help me predict the "ones to watch out for".

For the mens, I'm going to keep my eye on Michal Brezina; he is obviously very talented (winning gold at two of the JGP this season) but performed well below par at the Europeans in January due to injury. I really hope he's fully recovered because when he's on form, he's great, as you can see from his LP from 2008 Jr Worlds below.

Whilst looking through the Ice Dance entrance, I spotted that the first substitutes for Great Britain were Danielle Bennet and Lloyd Jones. Danielle skated at my rink up until a few months go, when she formed her partnership with Lloyd, so it's very exciting that she's got so far with him in such a short space of time, since she showed obvious talent and dedication at the rink.

Ladies is the event that I believe will be the most exciting. US Figure Skating has chosen to send Ashley Wagner and Caroline Zhang, with Mirai Nagasu withdrawing to leave the spot open for Katrina Hacker. Caroline Zhang's performances at Trophee Eric Bompard that I saw live were just wonderful, with her supposed lack of speed not at all noticable, so I really hope she can skate consistantly and get the result she hopes for. Ashley Wagner has also been amazing this season; she's a beautiful skater, as you can see below from this year's NHK.

Of course, I won't be able to watch any of the Ladies or the Pairs unless Eurosport miraculously add to its skating TV schedule, but none-the-less, it'll be an exciting competition in Sofia, one which might even make find a brand new love of Juniors.

First Post!

Hi. My name's Kate, and I've been pretty much obsessed with everything to do with figure skating for a couple of years now. I watched the 2006 Olympics and saw the incredible talent of skaters like Sasha Cohen and I was absolutely in awe of their talent. Once I got a job and saved up enough money, I took up the sport for myself and so officially entered the realms of figure skating obsession.

I've made this blog not because I think I'm a figure skating expert, or because I think that there aren't enough skating blogs out there (because trust me, there are some incredible ones). I've made this just to simple write down my thoughts and experiences of the figure skating world. It doesn't matter if I don't have a single person read it (and that is quite a likely prospect) because all I want to do is have somewhere where I can write about skating to my heart's content.