Posted by: wagrobanite | 02/09/2014

Team Event – men – long program

Parkinson (ITY)
–    Queen symphony (music)
–    Good speed going into this triple sal but fell
–    Good triple axel /double toe loop
–    Ohh landed his triple axel but was leaning over his heel and fell
–    Traveling a bit in that first spin combination
–    Not overly complicated step sequence but it is to the music which is nice to see
–    Triple Lutz/double toe loop
–    Double axel/double sal
–    Ina buer into a triple flip
–    Good triple loop
–    Slow circular step sequence
–    Horrible spread eagle… needs to work on that
–    Just a double Lutz to finish his jumping passes
–    Score: 120.23 (Season’s best despite 2.00 deductions)

Brown (USA)
–    Music is Reel Around the Sun
–    Could use a bit more stretch in that spiral
–    Gorgeous double axel
–    Very nice triple axel/triple toe loop
–    Gorgeous Belieman spin! (which is a level four)
–    Interesting entry into his second triple axel
–    Good center on his first spin combination
–    LOVE LOVE LOVE his step sequence
–    There’s that smile!
–    Very Nice triple loop/triple sal.. ug feel on the sal
–    Nice recovery with the triple flip/double toe loop
–    Love the hydro plane into the double axel
–    Gorgeous stretch into the Tanno Lutz
–    Still managing to play his smile into his circular step sequence
–    Eked out his triple loop
–    Traveling a bit in his final spin combination
–    But overall good program!
–    Score: 153.67

Reynolds (CAN)
–    Excelsius (soundtrack)
–    Two footed quad salc
–    Quad toe loop/triple toe
–    Good speed into his triple axel but stepped out of it, put his hand down
–    Slow in this spin combination
–    Not really loving his costume…. It looks very amateurish
–    Quad number three is a nice quad toe
–    Very nice double axel
–    Good triple flip/double loop
–    Needs to be lower in that sit spin position
–    Low triple Lutz but landed it
–    Triple sal/double toe both were clean but low
–    Could hold that spiral position a lot longer
–    His step sequence could use some speed
–    Good final spin but traveling a bit
–    While that was great in terms of jumping it lacked so much in terms of artistic merit.
–    Score:  167.92 (eh, overscored there)

Plushenko (RUS)
–    Best of Plushenko arrangement (holy shit could you be any more egotistical?)
–    Eeked out his quad toe loop
–    Triple Lutz, leaning slightly
–    Huge triple axel
–    Good centered spin, though a little slow
–    Nice and slow circular step sequence
–    Two footed triple axel/triple flip/double loop… almost missed the last jump
–    Triple Lutz/triple toe loop
–    Double sal but two footed
–    Easy double loop
–    Easy double axel
–    Slow spin combination
–    Step sequence is easy not as difficult as Jason’s
–    Interesting positions in the final spin combination
–    Score: 168.20 (component scores are over scored
–    Anywhere else that program would have gotten third in the world, not first

Machida (JPN)
–    Firebird (music)
–    Beautiful quad toe loop maybe a little two footed
–    Very nice triple toe loop
–    Good speed across the ice
–    Nice triple axel/double toe
–    Step sequence fits perfectly with the music
–    Good triple axel
–    Stretched into this spins and very much reflecting Firebird
–    Good triple loop possibly two footed
–    Nice and easy triple Lutz
–    Triple flip/double toe/single loop (that will hurt him)
–    Nice triple sal to make up for it
–    Good circular step sequence. Would like to see bit more speed
–    Perfect final spin combination to end this program
–    UG His program components are SOOO much better than Plushenko
–    Score: 165.85

Thoughts:
–    Plushy WAY overscored in the program component scores. Reynolds was also over. Jason should have been in third and Reynolds moved into fourth.
–    
Leaders after men’s long program
Russia
Canada
United States
Japan
Italy

Posted by: wagrobanite | 02/08/2014

Team Event – pairs Long Program

Takahashi/Kihara (JPN)
–    Les Miersables
–    Sbs triple toe/troop toe loop combo. Looked, a little out of sync
–    Nice double twist
–    Not sure their costumes relate to Les Miserables
–    Nice lasso lift
–    Sbs triple sals. Possibly two-footed
–    Gorgeous spiral sequence
–    Throw triple loop was two footed
–    Lovely reverse entry into that lift
–    Some slightly synch problems in their sbs spins
–    Another Lasso lift… a little boring
–    Stumbled out of the throw triple sal.
–    Could be a little lower in her positioning on that death spiral
–    Good final spin but LOVED that final position for them with her “dead”
–    A little bland for Les Miserables. Had a lot of blank face
–    Score: 86.33

Castelli/Shnapir (USA)
–    Skyfall (bond) (music)
–    HUGE triple twist!
–    Sbs triple toe loops landed!
–    While I’m not a fan of this program, it works for them
–    Amazing! Quad throw sal. Hand down, possible two footed
–    Out of sync on their sbs spins
–    Marissa down on the triple sal… not sure why she landed it… maybe tripped?
–    Love the lasso into a split overhead lift.
–    HUGE throw triple sal
–    Gorgeous positions on this over lift
–    Good Lasso lift
–    They’ll be upset about the sbs sals but great performance!
–    Score: 117.94 (Season’s Best). 1.00 deduction for the quad throw

Berton/Hotarek (ITY)
–    Dracula (music)
–    Sbs triple toe/triple toe/double toe combination and perfectly in sync
–    Nice triple twist, exit was a bit tight
–    Sbs triples. She goes down on hers
–    Could hold that spiral position for longer
–    Her posture is… interesting
–    Hung on for that throw triple sal
–    Decent overhead rotating lift
–    Her position could be lower in that death spiral
–    Whoa that’s an interesting overhead lift. Lovely cartwheel exit
–    Good throw triple loop. A little leaning forward
–    I really enjoy swing down entries from lifts.
–    Interesting choreography into their final pair spin
–    Not sure what to make of this music… I just don’t find it exciting to watch
–    Oh no, she’s hurt! She landed horribly hard on her hip
–    Score: 120.82 (not sure if I agree with that… thought Simon and Marissa were better)

Moore-Towers/Moscovitch (CAN)
–    Felling Medley
–    Lots of speed heading into their split triple twist
–    Sbs triple toes followed by double toe
–    Sbs triple sal… she stumbled out
–    Again the position on these death spirals… they’re not low enough for me
–    Some very unique positions on their first pair spin
–    Good throw triple loop, a little forward on the landing. Should be more upright
–    Interesting star position in their first lift
–    Lots of speed going into this lift, he on one foot! That is some combination lift!
–    Loss of synch on the sbs spins as well as traveling
–    Interesting choreography into a well-executed throw triple sal
–    Reverse rotation star into split lift
–    Almost missed her hand into that ending position.
–    Good for them, Great speed!
–    Score:  129.74

Stolbova/Klimov (RUS)
–    The Addams Family (music)
–    Huge split triple twist
–    Just gorgeous triple flip. Never seen one steadier than that
–    Sbs triple toe, single, double for her, he got all triple/double/double
–    Now there’s a death spiral! Lovely position
–    Good sync in their sbs spins
–    Not a fan her broken wrist positions
–    Nice unique lift by his armpits
–    Good spiral sequence. Like that it was held longer
–    Got the crowd snapping along!
–    Good double axels, though a little far apart
–    Not a whole lot of speed in this pair spin
–    Cartwheel entrance into the overhead. Gorgeous!
–    Huge throw triple sal. Possibly two footed
–    Good routine
–    Score:  135.09

Thoughts:
–    Interesting to note that all the other teams even if they were competing stayed to watch except for China
–    The Pairs competition in 3 days will definitely be interesting!

Leaderboard after first free program:
1: Russia
2: Canada
3: US
4: Italy
5: Japan

Posted by: wagrobanite | 02/08/2014

Team Event – Women – Short Program

Osmond (Can)
–    Sweet charity (music)
–    Very nice Triple toe/Triple Toe combo, slightly leaning on the second one
–    Good triple flip
–    Very nice layback spin combo
–    Lovely spread eagle into the double axel
–    Traveling slightly in her final spin combination
–    Good skate for her!
–    Score: 62.54 (Season best)

Zhang (CHN)
–    Paint it black/sympathy for the devil (music)
–    First up is her very nice triple toe/triple toe
–    Good triple lutz
–    Nice first spin!
–    Could be a little more stretched in her camel position
–    A little slow going into her double axel, possibly two-footed it
–    Again, a little slow in her step sequence
–    Score: 54.58

McCorkell (GB)
–    Imagined Oceans (Music)
–    Triple flip/double toe combination
–    Good triple toe loop
–    Could use some more speed
–    Lost a little bit on the ending of her first spin, started traveling
–    Final jump is a gorgeous double axel
–    Again traveling just a bit in her spins.
–    Nice speed through her step sequence
–    Score:  50.09 (Season’s Best)

Popova (URK)
–    Concierto de aranjuez (music)
–    Speed into triple flip/double toe… ended slowing down
–    Very nice triple toe loop
–    Love her posture
–    Nice double axel
–    Her spins are dead centered and it’s awesome!
–    Lovely layback!
–    Good skate for her!
–    Score: 53.44 (Season’s Best)

Weinzierl (GER)
–    Fever (Music)
–    Triple toe/triple toe, turned out the landings
–    Triple lutz, eked out the landing
–    Traveling a bit on the first spin combination
–    Fell on the double Axel
–    Okay speed in that step sequence. Would like to see a bit more
–    Traveling a bit on that final spin
–    Score:  52.16 (1.00 deduction for fall)

Meite (FRN)
–    The question of U (music)
–    Great speed into her triple toe/triple toe, wild landing on the second jump
–    Good triple loop
–    Traveling just a bit in her first spin combo
–    Nice double axel. Leaning forward just a bit
–    Second spin combo was much more centered
–    A bit slow in her step sequence, a bit basic. However, very much in line with the music which is nice to see
–    Final spin combo was good
–    Score:  55.45

Wagner (USA)
–    Shine on you crazy diamond (Music)
–    Looks very nverous
–    Good speed into her triple flip/triple toe
–    Traveling a bit in her spins but level 4!
–    Spins check
–    Spread eagle into her triple loop
–    Nice choreo
–    Double axel
–    Bit more speed would be good
–    Lovely ending
–    Score:  63.10 (a little curious about that score?)

Lipnitskaya (RUS)
–    You don’t give up on love (music)
–    Speed into her triple Lutz/triple toe loop
–    Nice tight double axel… not a lot of height though
–    Good centered spins
–    Nice complicated step sequence
–    Love that choreo into triple flip, though two footed
–    Nice spins
–    Good but doesn’t have the maturity polish that Ashley has
–    Score:  72.90

Asada (JPN)
–    Nocturne in e flat major (music)
–    Attempted a triple axel but fell
–    Good triple flip
–    Triple loop/double toe
–    Nice spins. Like Ashley, Mao has this mature polish that Julia just does not have.
–    Score:  64.07

Kostner (ITY)
–    Ave Maria (music)
–    Nice triple toe/triple toe! Very light
–    Gorgeous triple loop
–    Lovely spins. Carolina’s musicality is just years above Julia
–    Okay double axel, slightly leaning forward in the landing
–    Lovely spins
–    Gorgeous program
–    Score: 70.84 (season’s best)
–    Way to Carolina for being a clutch performance

Thoughts:
–    While Julia is good but she’s just so young and doesn’t have the mature polish (she’s definitely polished but not mature) that skaters like Ashley and Mao have and it bothers me that it’s not rewarded. I really don’t want skating to go the way gymnastics has done in that the teens dominate the sport.  While I understand it a little more in gymnastics, it should be that way in Figure skating. While I LOVE Julia’s long program, her short program is almost to me, like watching another skater. Commenter made a statement that it’s the difference between the women and the girls. It’s soo true and I really wish it was rewarded more

Team Leaders (top five head into the free skate)
1: Russia
2: Canada
3: United States
4: Japan
5: Italy
6: France
7: China
8: Germany
9: Ukraine
10:  Great Britian

Posted by: wagrobanite | 02/08/2014

Team Event – Ice Dance – Short Dance

Huang/Zheng (CHN)
–    Quickstep/Foxtrot/Quickstep (Music)
–    Okay first twizzles… could have a higher free leg
–    Good ballroom hold. Would like to see a tiny bit closer
–    Nice smooth exits on the twizzles
–    Could use a bit more speed through the last ending section but overall good program for a country that isn’t strong in ice dance
–    Score:  47.88

Heekin-Canedy/Dun (URK)
–    Quickstep/Foxtrot/Charleston (music)
–    Good speed in that first portion of the required dance
–    Good twizzles. But would like to see their free leg higher up
–    Good flow across the ice and keeping up the speed
–    Score: 49.19

Reed/Reed (JPN)
–    These two are also Americans but they represent Japan
–    Quickstep/Foxtrot/Quickstep
–    Lost syncho in their first twizzles, picked it back up in the second and third
–    Good speed
–    Nice line to their step sequence
–    Overall a very nice skate
–    Score: 52.00

Zhiganshina/Gazsi (GER)
–    Foxtrot/quickstep
–    Very interesting costumes
–    First twizzles were a little far apart
–    Got a little far apart in their step sequence but came back together
–    Need a bit more snap in that required patterned step
–    Very nice rotating lift
–    Score: 58.04

Coomes/Buckland (GB)
–    Foxtrot/Quickstep/Swing
–    Decent twizzles, something was slightly off with them
–    First required pattern, ok, good speed
–    Cute expression
–    Score:  52.93 (-1.00 deduction either from over tie or rotational lift went too long)

Pechalat/Bourzat (FRA)
–    Foxtrot/Quickstep/Charleston
–    A little far in their first twizzles but back together on the second
–    Not a fan her armbands. They look like elbow pads
–    Would like to see a little pep in that quickstep move
–    Good speed in the required pattern
–    A tiny bit slow going into that lift
–    Score: 69.15

Cappellini/Lanotte (ITY)
–    Quickstep/Foxtrot/quickstep
–    Okay twizzles, a little loss of synch on the first ones
–    First patterned step is clean
–    Just slightly out of synch on the first part of their step sequence
–    Not a fan of that lift position. It’s hard to tell if she’s in a haircutter or a full split. Judges will probably deduct for it
–    Score:  64.92 (UG looks like some of levels weren’t there, thought they were better than the French)

Bobrova/Soloviev (RUS)
–    Quickstep/slow foxtrot/quickstep (WTF is a slow foxtrot?!)
–    That dress is… bright!
–    A bit far a part
–    Good first patterned step
–    A bit slow on that twizzles
–    Intricate lift
–    Score: 70.27 (oversocre! Definitely some home scoring going on…)

Virtue/Moir (CAN)
–    Quickstep?
–    Nice mirrored step sequence
–    Tessa lost second twizzles that’s not normal for this couple!
–    Good patterned step
–    Good rotational lift. Nice haircutter position
–    Score: 72.98 (looks like that broken twizzle didn’t hurt them too bad)

Davis/White (USA)
–    NOT a fan of Meryl’s dress
–    Foxtrot/Quickstep/Foxtrot (My Fair Lady medley)
–    Excellent step sequence
–    Just slightly off on their second twizzles
–    Nice Finn step pattern
–    Love this rotational lift!
–    Score: 75.98

Leaders:
Davis/White
Moir/Viture
Bobrova/Solooviw

Teams:
Russia
Canada
USA
France
China
Japan
Germany

Posted by: wagrobanite | 02/06/2014

Team Event – Pairs – Liveblogging

Note: SBS = Side by side

Takahashi/Kihara (JPN)
–    Samson and Delilah (music)
–    Side by side triple sals. No synchro but landed
–    Only a split double twist (not the highest level of difficulty)
–    Lasso lift into one handed dismount. Clean exit
–    Two footed throw triple sal
–    Nice position into that death spiral
–    Interesting step sequence… a little far apart
–    Okay pair spin, a bit of traveling
–    Score: 46.56

Kemp/King (GB)
–    Piano concerto #1 (music)
–    That’s some pink!
–    Nice entry in to that twist, a little crashing down on her part
–    Her’s wasn’t full rotated on that double axel
–    Not the best Lasso lift… a little wobbly and position wasn’t full stretched
–    Fall on the throw triple flip
–    Traveling just a bit on their required pairs spin
–    Nice sbs twizzles for a pair team
–    Score: 44.70

Lavrentieva/Rudyk (URK)
–    City of the birth (music)
–    That’s some shirt…
–    Nice high split double twist
–    He stepped out of the sbs double flip
–    Huge throw triple loop, Hung on the landing
–    Like the spread eagle into the lasso lift
–    Again a pretty spread eagle into the death spiral
–    Mirroring step sequences… a little slow
–    Ended way before the music… interesting
–    Score: 46.34

Wende/Wende (GER)
–    November rain (music. Choreographer is one of my favorites!)
–    Good speed into a split double twist (mistake?)
–    Landed sbs triple toes but lacked unison
–    Excellent lasso lip
–    Good throw triple flip, slightly forward on the landing
–    Nice change of arm in that death spiral
–    Good, clean performance
–    Score: 60.82

Peng/Zhang (CHN)
–    Crouching tiger hidden dragon (music) (note: He’s the 2006 Olympics silver medalist!)
–    Gorgeous sbs triple jumps
–    Nice death spiral
–    Love that pair spin! Many unique positions
–    Nice, high split triple twist. Caught perfectly!
–    Gorgeous throw triple loop, HUGE!
–    Would like to see them a bit closer in their step sequence
–    Great skate for them! (They have the largest age gap of any of the pairs)
–    Score: 71.01

Castelli/Shnapir (USA)
–    Black magic woman and Smooth by Santana (music)
–    Nice split triple twist
–    Hand down on the sbs triple sal. Very spaced apart
–    I just love the look of this pair (and yes I’m kind of biased)
–    HUGE throw triple Sal.
–    Love love love their step sequence to Smooth. So far this team has the best step sequence. Good spacing.
–    Score: 64.25 (season’s best)

James/Cipres (FRN)
–    Swing music 😀
–    Split triple twist but he couldn’t quite catch her, she crashed
–    She fell on the sbs triple toe
–    Very nice throw triple flip
–    Interesting position on that lasso lift
–    Nice flying camels in sync!
–    Traveling a lot in this final pairs spin
–    Score: 57.45

Duhamel/Radford (CAN)
–    Tribute (by Eric Radford) (music)
–    Huge split triple twist
–    Landed sbs triple lutz, though a little out of sync
–    LOVE the ending of the lasso lift, in a scoot through his legs
–    Nice pair spins
–    Wow, she was leaning in that throw triple lutz but landed it clean. Plus hard choreography into it!
–    Great speed across the ice and just gorgeous transitions into their death spiral
–    Score: 73.10

Berton/Hotarek (ITY)
–    The Mask (YELLOW pants LOL!)
–    Nice sbs triple toes. One of the best we’ve seen all night
–    Short on rotation the triple twist
–    Backwards takeoff in the lasso lift. Not a fan of her positions
–    Landed throw triple loop
–    Like that they ended on a nice musical point on the death spiral
–    Slow in their pair spin
–    A little slow in their footwork sequence
–    This program honestly bores me. Not sure what it is about it but it is just boring. And I HATE the yellow pants
–    Score: 70.31 (Season’s and personal’s best)

Volosozhar/Trankov (RUS)
–    Masquerade Waltz (music)
–    HUGEMONGUS triple twist
–    Nice sbs triple toes. He had to fight for his landing
–    Absolutely huge throw triple loop.
–    A tiny bit slow in their pair spin but some very unique shapes
–    Amazing shape on that lasso lift
–    Love their step sequence. Together and keeping with the character of the music
–    Score: 83.79

Thoughts:
–    It was nice to see in shots the other teams clapping for other countries
–    While Marissa and Simon did a great job, the US is in for a fight for the team medal.
– Russians are definitely getting a bit of a home scoring advantage here.

Leaders:
Russian in first, Canada in second then China, Japan, and Germany. US in 5th.

Standings overall:
Russia
Canada
China
Japan
Germany
France
US
Italy
Ukraine
Great Britian
There is a 3 way tie for that coveted 5th spot to move on to the long program.

Posted by: wagrobanite | 02/06/2014

Team Event – Men – Liveblogging

Parr (GB)
–    British Champion; Farruca y Rumba (music); first Olympics
–    Opening spin nice
–    Opening jump is a triple lutz/double toe. Good elevation on the first
–    Second jump is a slow triple flip
–    Second spin a little slow. Would like to see more speed
–    Final spin is clean, no movement out of the circle but a little slow
–    Good triple axel
–    Final step sequence fits very well with the music!
–    Great skate from him and good for him to kick off his Olympic program. I really enjoyed it!
–    Score: 57.40 (Personal Best by 8 points!!)

Parkinson (ITY)
–    Trains in CO; Wolfgang’s 5th Symphony (music)
–    Good speed into his opening jump, a quad sal, but falls
–    Attempts a Triple Axel but falls as well
–    Needs to steady his spins. Travelinging in them
–    Makes his triple lutz double toe
–    Good speed in his step sequence
–    Traveling a lot in his final spin
–    Score: 53.94 (second

Godorozha (URK)
–    Tosca (music) (which I’m loving! But I love any Puccini)
–    Good speed into a nice tight triple axel
–    Stepped out of his triple lutz, possibly under rotated
–    Choreograph into triple loop followed by a double toe loop
–    Slightly slow in this step sequence, but fits with this music
–    Nice spins, no traveling!
–    Score: 60.51 (into first)

Plushenko (RUS)
–    Tango de Roxanne (music)
–    Good speed into his quad toe (two foot?)/triple toe
–    Not a great landing on that triple axel
–    Easy triple Lutz
–    A little slow on that first spin
–    The one thing Plushy is good at is really feeling his music and skating to it
–    Excellent step sequence
–    Spins could use a bit more speed, they’re just a bit slow
–    Will definitely be over-scored
–    Score: 91.39 (yep, way over scored) (Personal best for Plushy)

Abbott (USA)
–    Lilies of the Valley (Music)
–    Opening jump is quad toe and falls
–    Triple lutz/double toe clean
–    Popped his axel into a single (DAMMIT IT JEREMY!!)
–    His choreography (done by a former Olympian) is great but not like Nationals
–    He’s in shock of his pop of the axel…
–    Score: 65.65 (second)

Liebers (GER)
–    Clocks (Music; Coldplay cover played by the group Two Cellos)
–    Love his shirt ;D
–    Quad toe/double toe (clean! Apparently a “cracker” :D)
–    Eeked out his triple axel
–    Very nice Triple lutz!
–    Good spins
–    Nice step sequence
–    Great performance for him!!
–    Score: 79.61 (HUGE!!! For Peter!)

Yan (CHN)
–    Minor Waltz, Viper’s Drag(Music)
–    Opening with a HUGE triple Axel
–    Second jump into quad toe
–    A little slow with his flying camel spin
–    Better speed in the second spin
–    Just huge triple lutz/triple toe but step out
–    Not a fan of his choreography
–    Score: 85.52

Amodio
–    La cumparsita (music)
–    Nice triple toe (planned quad)
–    Nice triple axel
–    Nice triple lutz/triple toe
–    Would like to see more speed in his first spin
–    Good speed in this step sequence and really selling the “tango” aspect
–    Score: 79.93 (Season’s Best)

Chan (CAN)
–    Elegie in A flat (music)
–    First jump quad toe/double toe
–    Good speed into his triple axel. Lands it but steps out
–    Great speed in his camel spin
–    Such a beautiful skater
–    Huge triple lutz, fighting for the landing
–    Not the greatest performance from Chan
–    Score: 89.71

Hanyu (JPN)
–    Parisian walkways (music)
–    Great step sequence to open his program
–    Amazing speed into a beautiful quad toe loop
–    Good speed in this first spin
–    Nice choreography into his triple axel. Looked like a huge double 😀
–    Fought for that triple lutz/triple toe
–    I wasn’t a fan of Hanyu at first but this short program is masterful
–    Score: 97.98 (into first)

Thoughts:
–    Plushy definitely got some home score advantage. The program was good but it wasn’t that good.
–    Hanyu was masterful as he has been all season and it was a joy to watch. It will be interesting to see what Japan does for the free skate
–    Team USA will have a tough go to medal now.

Japan has 10, Russia has 9, Canada has 8, the US has 4 points

Posted by: wagrobanite | 02/06/2014

Ice Dance medal contenders

While Ice Dance has been unpopular in the past in the Olympics, it is now one of the biggest events. I also think that this will be the discipline to watch and where the closest battles will happen. There are several couples who are challengers for the medal podium and have some of the best rivalries in Figure skating.

First is the United States. Going into Sochi, reigning silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the best chances for the Gold. Ever since Vancouver, this pair has been on fire and their free dance is amazing. Though not my favorite free dance of theirs, it works so well with both of them (my only criticism of it, is that I wish Meryl would go back to the teal dress rather than the light pink). The other contenders for a podium finish are the Shib siblings as they’re lovingly referred to in the skating community. Maia and Alex Shibutani in addition to being social media gurus, they’re awesome skaters. I love that they’ve changed their free dance (done to Michael Jackson songs). It flows much better now than it did earlier in the season.

Like the United States, Canada has become a force in ice dance. Reigning Olympic gold medalists, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are back to battle with their training mates for the gold.  It will be the battle of the disciplines between these two teams. Like Davis/White, Virtue/Moir have chosen a more classical free program and it does suit them. Canada’s other potential medal finishers are that of Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje who are very seductive on the ice. They haven’t skated much this year due to an injury but they are ones to watch.

While Russia does have three teams in ice dance, only two really stand out as possible medal finishers. The first is Dmitri Soloviev and Ekaterina Bobrova. They are the highest ranking Russian team in the world standings and have several podium finishes in the last two seasons. The second team Elena Illinykh and Nikita Katsalapov are the reigning silver medalists at this year’s European championships. They are currently ranked 7th in the world.

 

Another couple that could medal is the Italians of Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte. I really enjoy their free program (done to the overature from Barber of Seville by Rossini). They are the reigning European champions.

 

The last possible couple for podium finish is Natalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat. They’ve been together since 2000 and have been in the top 10 of ice dance for some time. They recently switched coaches (in 2013) so it should be interesting to see how that change has affected them.

 

I honestly believe if all things go well, the fight really will be for the bronze medal. This will definitely be a fun fight to watch!

Sentimental podium:
Gold: Davis/White
Silver: Weaver/Poje
Bronze: Shibutani/Shibutani

Realistic Podium:
Gold: Davis/White
Silver: Virture/Moir
Bronze: Pechalat/Bourzat

Posted by: wagrobanite | 02/06/2014

Pairs medal contenders

The pairs discipline is one that is less crowded in terms of big name competitors. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t be an exciting competition!

Only two countries in the pairs discipline have three teams, Russia and Canada. Russia has dominated the pairs’ podium, winning the god medal from 1964 to 2006 (though 2002 is disputed). This year, Russia’s most likely medalist will come from the pair Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov. They currently stand at the top of the world rankings. Neither partner is any stranger to Olympic competition. Tatiana skated in the Vancouver games with Stanislav Morozov (for Ukraine), coming in 8th, while Maxim skated with Maria Mukhortova (for Russia), and coming in 7th. Their pairing together has proved dominate this season wining almost every competition they entered. I’m a big fan of their free program (done to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar).

The other country with three teams is Canada. There are two teams out of the three that could contend for a medal. The first is Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. This pair is the highest ranking pair from North America and they’re such a fun pair to watch. These two have some interesting choreography as well as some notable highlights in that Radford composed their short program music in tribute to a former coach and Duhamel was the first ever pairs’ skater to perform a throw triple Lutz in competition. Canada’s other possible team; Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Mosovitch are more of a dark horse. They’re a relatively new pair, having only teamed up in 2009; they sit in 8th in the world rankings. They could play spoiler, especially in the team event.

One of the most consistent pairs in the world right now is Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy. While they sit in 2nd in the world rankings they have the goods to deliver. They are the reigning Olympic Bronze Medalists and reigning silver world medalists. Part of what makes this couple so consistent is their long history together (together since 2004). Look for a possible throw triple Axel!

One country has a team that may surprise people and that is Italy, their Stefania Berton and Ondřej Hotárek currently sit in third in the world rankings. Their free program is one of my favorites, skaing to Philipp Glass’s Dracula, it’s hauntingly beautiful. As they done before, they could play spoiler for the bronze position on the podium.

In the last three Olympics, China has provided 5 of the last nine medals awards. So it should come as no surprise that contenders for the podium are Pang Qing and Tong Jian who are the reigning Olympic silver medalists. They also are currently ranked 4th in world standing. For me what stands out with this pair is their quality of skating and their attention to the choreography. Their free program this year is to I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables (one of three programs to Les Miserables that will be at the Olympics) is just magnificent.

As for the United States, it definitely will be an uphill battle. Don’t get me wrong I love our pairs’ teams, but pairs’ is not a strong discipline for the US. That lack of strength and the reasons behind it is a whole other blog. However, if mistakes happen, the US could step in and grab a medal. We are sending two teams and I feel that Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir have the best chance at grabbing it. This team is one of my favorites in the US pairs circuit, partly because stand out on the ice. Simon is 6’4” and Marissa is tiny and it just makes a strikingly beautiful picture. They also skate with a lot speed and passion which is really nice to see. The other US pair, Felicia Zhang and Nathan “Nate” Barthomay are also a great pair to watch. Frankly, their free program is one of my favorites, though I am biased ;). They use Les Miserables and one of their final lifts just fits so well with the music, it’s awesome.

Sentimental Podium:
Gold: Savchenko/Szolkowy
Silver: Moore-Towers/Moscovitch
Bronze: Castelli/Shnapir

Realistic Podium:
Gold: Volosozhar/Trankov
Silver: Savchenko/Szolkowy
Bronze: Qing/Jian

Posted by: wagrobanite | 02/06/2014

Medal contenders for the women

The ladies event is one of the highlights of the winter Olympics and this year is no different. While not as deep as the men’s field, expect some major competition between a few of the ladies.

The first to note is that reigning Olympic gold medalist from Vancouver and 2013 World champion, Kim Yu-Na is returning! It has been a tough season for her only really skating in two competitions due to a broken metatarsal in her foot. While I have not seen her skate this year, she does have great jumping ability. I will freely admit, I am not a fan of her skating and I definitely feel that she tends to be over-scored in competitions but she will definitely, if healthy put up a fight for the medal podium.

Japan has had in the last few years, some of the deepest fields in both men’s and ladies’ skating. The woman from Japan are no different, though I expect only two to really challenge. Mao Asada is no stranger to the world and Olympic scene and the only woman in the world currently doing a triple axel. It is because of this jumping prowess that gives her a lot of points over many other skaters. Her teammate on the other hand, Akiko Suzuki is a gorgeous artistic skater (who does have the jumps). I liken them to the rivalry between Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin. The two have very different styles of skating but both amazing.

Unlike the men, Italy has a contender in the ladies field, which is Carolina Kostner. Kostner has been on the scene for some time now and has proven she has the goods to deliver at the top. She is the reigning silver medalist from the 2013 world championships (being beaten by Kim Yu-Na). While she didn’t have the best outing at the most recent Europeans, she is definitely a contender for the podium.

Lastly, of the contenders outside the United States, there is Russia. Unlike the men, Russian ladies qualified for two spots which went to Julia Lipnitskaia and Adelina Stnikova. Out of these two ladies, I feel the best chance at a podium finish is Julia Lipnitskaia. She’s the current European champion and I’m in love with her free program which is done to Schindler’s List. It’s just absolutely gorgeous, especially considering her age (she’s only 15). If you’re going to watch any ladies’ program, watch this one.

Now for the United States woman. As many in the US know, the federation was given three spots. After the US Nationals, these three spots went to Ashley Wagner, Polina Edmunds, and Gracie Gold. I could write a whole novel about this decision (Ashley Wagner finished fourth, technically off the US team) but I won’t. It’s done and it is time to move on and support the woman. In this group, the only person I see having a chance at a medal is Ashley Wagner. Why? Well the major reason is experience. Ashley’s been on the scene for quite a while now and while there have been definite ups and downs; she knows the experiences of competing with the best of the best. She has made a somewhat gutsy move in changing her long program back to her 2012/2013 free of Samson and Delilah, but I don’t see it affecting her that much. I frankly think it’s a better program than Romeo and Juliet, but that’s another story. While Gracie has more international experience than Polina, it’s only two seasons (three if you count her trip to junior worlds, where she finished 5th) and those seasons haven’t been the best. Gracie’s international assignments have been up and down in terms of performances (medaling only 50% of the time). I do see a change in her skating now that she’s with Frank Carroll which is nice and I definitely think it will help her in the long run.

Finally, there are a couple of people from outside those I’ve listed above that could be spoilers. These include Valentina Marchei from Italy, who’s a very very elegant skater. Her long program is beautiful and her carriage on the ice is phenomenal. There’s also Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada, who’s pulled some upsets on the Grand Prix circuit in 2012/2013. There’s also Elene Gedevanishvili from the Republic of Georgia who has been on the scene for years and is a good jumper but sometimes has meltdowns. Some other names to look for include Sweden’s Viktoria Helgesson who is a statuesque queen on the ice and France’s Maé-Bérénice Meite.

And just because I think Brazil could use a bit of good news right now (if you didn’t know, one of their Olympic skiers who was a 2008 and 2012 Olympian in gymnastics was injured last week in a training accident and is paralyzed). Brazil, qualified a figure skater, Isadora Williams, at a competition last year. This is the very first figure skater from Brazil to ever qualify for the Olympics! So like Cheltzie Lee of Australia at the 2010 games, this will be a HUGE experience for Williams.

Podium predictions! Like the men, I have a realistic podium and a sentimental/dream podium

Sentimental Podium

Gold: Julia Lipnitskaia
Silver: Carolina Kostner
Bronze: Ashley Wagner

Realistic Podium
Gold: Julia Lipnitskaia
Silver: Kim Yu-Na
Bronze: Mao Asada

Posted by: wagrobanite | 02/06/2014

Medal contenders for the Men

The men’s field at the 2014 Olympics is probably one of the deepest fields I have seen in a long time.  There are six or seven men who are serious contenders for a medal. So it will definitely be one of best skating events to watch! In the next couple of paragraphs I’ll be talking about those men whom I think have the best shot at the medals.

First off, Canada’s Patrick Chan. Ever since Vancouver in 2010, Chan has been roaring through the skating world. The fifth place finish on home ice so to speak has fueled Chan’s skating. He has been on the medal stand at every single international competition since the games, culminating with winning the last three Championships. Look for both Patrick’s jumping ability combined with his artistic side.

Next is Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. One of the youngest of the field (the other being Jason Brown of the United States), Hanyu has been taking the figure skating world by force. He’s posted multiple world records in both the long and short program which have made him one to watch in Sochi. However, sometimes, he can make a mistake in the long program and dwells on it thus falling apart and costing him first place. Look for his fast step sequences and fast jumps.

The other man on the Japanese team that could via for a medal is Daisuke Takahashi. The leader of the Japanese team, he has the maturity that I like to seen in a men’s skater. Takahashi is also the reigning Olympic bronze medalist. He’s got both the artistic component that I feel is slightly lacking in Hanyu and the jumps. However, he has not been skating as great as he did in Vancouver as of late. However, if he is top shape, he definitely could win another medal.

One of the biggest surprises in the last couple of years on the figure skating front has been Javier Fernandez from Spain. He has been on the world podium and is the current European champion. If Javi, as he’s known in the figure skating fan community, can put together skates like he had when he medaled at the World Championships, then look out! Javier has some of the most beautiful jumps out there so look out for those.

France is an interesting case because the two men are ones that have been in the top of the field since Vancouver but have fallen as of late. First is Florent Amodio. He’s had success on the world stage and he has at times, some brilliant programs, both with jumping and artistically. The second man from France, Brian Joubert is well known to many skating fans. He’s got fantastic jumps and in the past, some amazingly artistic programs. Lately he has had coaching changes as well as injuries. However, if he is prepared (and from reports I’ve heard, his injuries have healed) he could challenge for a medal.

Before I talk about Russia, let’s talk about the man who I think could medal from the United States. While the US does have two excellent men, I think Jeremy Abbott is the only one who could challenge for the medal podium. While I absolutely love Jason Brown, he doesn’t have a quad and in order for him to medal, many of the top skaters would have to make mistakes. Of course anything could happen (as Jason did medal on the Paris stop of the Grand Prix) but more than likely it won’t. I don’t think this Olympics is Jason’s time. Let me state once again, I LOVE Jason’s skating, especially his Riverdance (but that’s no secret to people who know me, love all things Irish). Now as for Jeremy. I have been a fan of Jeremy’s for a long time and was so ecstatic to see his performances at the US Nationals and I hope he takes that energy and pushes it towards Sochi. Jeremy’s skating, when he’s on, is just magical. He’s got the jumps (his triple Axel is just gorgeous) and he also has the artistic component that is in a class above everybody.

Lastly, Russia. Russia’s lone entry for the men’s event is no stranger to fans of figure skating. It’s 2010’s silver medal, Evgeni Plushenko. To talk about Russia’s men’s entry is hard to write about for several reasons. First off, the politics. He finished second at Russian Nationals where he lost to Maxim Kovtun. The Russian Federation said they would not announce their Olympic team until after 2014 Europeans where Kovtun skated (though not as well as he had hoped). Plushenko decided not to skate at Europeans, instead stating he wanted a skating test so to speak in front of Russian officials in Russia. It was after this test that the Russian Federation announced that Plushenko was the Olympic entry surpassing Kovtun who earned the spot by finishing first at Russian Nationals. Secondly, I’ve got a biased against him. My bias stems from mostly not being a fan of his skating but his behavior following the 2010 Olympics. So laying that aside, Plushenko does have a legitimate shot at the medal podium, due to the fact he is planning multiple quads. However, he has not skated internationally in some time (only skated in a “B” event this year in order to earn the mandatory scores to skate in the Olympics) and he has had several surgeries on both his knees and back since Vancouver. So it remains to seen how his programs really stand up on the international level.

There are some dark horses that could play spoiler for the medals: Kevin Reynolds (CAN), Tatsuki Machida (JPN), and Michal Brezina (CZE). I also have some sentimental dark horses: Misha Ge (UZB) aand Viktor Pfeifer (AUST).

I have two podiums for Sochi. One is my dream podium, and one, which I feel is probably more realistic.

Dream Podium:
Gold: Patrick Chan
Silver: Jeremy Abbott
Bronze: Javier Fernandez

Realistic podium:
Gold: Yuzuru Hanyu
Silver: Patrick Chan
Bronze: Javier Fernandez

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