Bean-Town Beat: The World Championships Blog Extravaganza, part 1

So, I loved writing the “Hungary for Gold” Junior Worlds series so much that I decided to use the same format to cover the World Championships, which I am going to tomorrow! But even though I’m not there yet, I have been following the action on IceNetwork-the SD and men’s SP, which concluded today-so I figure that warranted a post. 🙂

 

Men’s Event: I Can’t Skate, I Can’t Quad: a Tale of Headcasery, A World-Record Near Miss, and A Bunch of Shocking Free Skate Misses 

The men’s short program was not as high-quality as the one at Junior Worlds, or as dramatic as the JWC FS, but it held its share of chills, thrills and spills anyway. The top 5 most unexpected and/0r notable happenings are outlined here:

  1. Outside Looking In: Contenders Miss FS

 

The first shocking splatfest of the night belonged to Canadian Nam Nguyen, whose missing of the free skate (he finished 27th) was especially controversial because teammate Liam Firus gave up his spot on the world team to allow Canada a better chance to get three spots back. But with this performance (he singled the axel and fell on his quad) the alternate failed to qualify for the free skate and left the spot-getting to teammate Patrick Chan, who would have to win the silver or gold medal to get the spots back on his own. This is doable (Chan sits in 3rd), but not particularly likely. A shocking way to go for the 5th-ranked man in the world last season.

The other contender who missed the final was China’s Han Yan, who fell on his quad, stepped out of his 3A, and singled the lutz in his intended combination to finish 26th. He left teammate Boyang Jin in a similar situation to Patrick Chan’s predicament: he must finish 2nd or higher to secure three spots for China next year. Again, he could accomplish his-Boyang is considered a podium contender and sits 5th after the short-but it would be very difficult, and is probably not going to happen unless a lot of people bomb spectacularly. This was a real shocker and a shame, too, because Han can be a joy to watch when he doesn’t fall over and die. Wah wah waaaaaaaah…

2. Ironically Fitting Lyrics

As the lyrics of Maxim Kovtun’s short program music stated over and over, “I can’t dance.”
Classify skating as a kind of dance and apparently he can’t: he is known for zayaking and this competition was no exception. His opening 4S-3T and 3A were well-done, but he turned his 4T into a 3T, which was invalidated because he had already done a 3T with his combination. He should probably change to a less zayak-prone layout, but until he does, this will probably keep happening.

Note: he finished 13th.

3. One of the Only Completely Clean Skates in the Whole Dang Thing

Adam Rippon was the only American skater to skate clean on home turf. Props for that. Although he didn’t attempt a quad, going for easier content done well was clearly a good strategy. He placed 7th, and with teammate Max Aaron, gave the US a reasonable shot at three spots if they can both move up a spot in the free.

Also, I have dubbed this outfit “sparkly mesh Batman.”

4.  One of the Other Only Completely Clean Skates in the Whole Dang Thing

Skating in the first group was no problem for Russia’s Mikhail Kolyada, who placed a surprising 6th with a flawless SP. Yes, his shirt burnt my corneas beyond repair, but this was a fun program with well-executed content and you should definitely give it a watch.

5. World Record Near-Miss

Yuzuru Hanyu has always been one for breaking his own records, and I thought he had a decent shot at breaking his 110-point SP world record from the Grand Prix Final after this flawless short program. However, he missed it by .39-THIRTY NINE HUNDREDTHS OF A POINT FROM BREAKING HIS OWN SP RECORD FOR THE FOURTH TIME!

Is he even real?

I, for one, do not think he’s real.

Ice Dance: Early-Season Injury has Nothing on PapaCiz, Shibutani Siblings Throw it Back to 2011 in Event Chock-Full :p of surprises 

For the short dance, I will be doing the same thing I did for the men’s SP section.

  1. Weird is A Side Effect of Being Awesome

Not only did Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier do extremely well in their short dance, they changed the music around to make it even weirder! Whee! *Frolics Maniacally*

2. No Grand Prix, No Problem

I was not sure how Papadakis/Cizeron would fare at the big events this season after they had to skip the Grand Prix due to a concussion sustained by Gabriella. However, they won Europeans convincingly and look poised to do the same at Worlds, with a fantastic short dance under their belts. This scored a gigantic 76 points, and it isn’t even their stronger program this season! (I prefer their SD to their FD, but most people think the FD is the better program and so, apparently, do the judges.) After suffering head trauma, this is the best comeback they could hope for and I’ve found myself liking them a lot more this season than I did last year.

3. …Cappellini/Lanotte placed what? 

If you had told me before this event that Cappellini/Lanotte would be 5th after the short dance, I probably would’ve slapped some sense into you with a dumbbell.

But that would be wrong, because they actually did that. I like this program, and I like this team, and I wish they would’ve skated it better, but what can you do? Also, I love her dress and I want to try it on ASAP 😉 and my violin teacher made me play this music as a warmup in 5th grade so I am emotionally invested in this program even though I hated that piece with a burning passion.

4. The Continuing Adventures of the GPF-Peakers

Many people thought Weaver/Poje were poised to win their long-awaited first world title after a great GPF, and still others thought their underwhelming 4CC performances would motivate them to win worlds, but neither appears to be the case. They sit 4th after the SD and don’t look likely to win, with two free dances far stronger than theirs to contend with. (Of course, P/C placed 4th in the SD at Worlds last year and won, but that was with a FD that was miles better than W/P’s current one.) And I hate to be such a downer because I really do like this team, but they just plain need better programs. This one is okay, but their free dance has not been particularly well-recieved by the majority of fans. It’s kind of sad to see them skate a FD that’s such a step down from some of the fantastic free dances they’ve had in the past. This “artsy” stuff they keep trying to pull off isn’t working and they need to go back to the passionate character pieces they’ve done so well with in the past.

5. Now, a Happier Rant

I love the Shibutanis like no others (at least in ice dance…I doubt anyone I fan over can top my Gracie uberhood, but that is another story;) ), and they’re 89% of the reason I kept watching ice dance after D/W retired  “took a break from competition”. So I’ve been anxious for them to regain the results they had in their first senior season back in 2011. I remember obsessing over their paso doble short dance last year-the only paso I liked!-and wondering why their free dance wasn’t better received. (Still don’t know why-I know I liked it.) And I also remember watching them despairingly at Ondrej Nepela Trophy and thinking that I could just forget about them being a better season for them.

But at Skate Canada, Everything changed. They hit their levels, got good scores, and improved drastically on their ONT performances. At NHK, everything was even better. The GPF, where Alex had food poisoning, was a bit of a bump in the road, although they still skated very well. But Nationals put them back on their upwards trajectory. They won, we all cried, and many of us (me included) thought they might win their second world medal.

Come Worlds, they’ve set themselves up well to do it, sitting in second after the short with a comfortable two-point cushion in between them and 3rd place finishers Chock/Bates. I am thrilled for them, and this was a fantastic performance, and I have many emotions and will probably cry when I see their free dance tomorrow night. HARD. In public. And I will not care, because I have loyally ubered them through two of their worst seasons and they are finally getting the results they deserve and I am a hot, hot mess right now.

And I’m sure some of you are, too. 😉

 

I was feeling highly uncreative, so that is all I could come up with today. Bye, y’alls! 

“Hungary” For Gold: Bits and Pieces of Jr. Worlds (pt. 3)

Wow, what a competition!

This year’s Junior Worlds was full of surprises from start to finish. From dramatic comebacks in the men’s and ladies’ FSes to the Year Of Small Federation Champions to THAT ISU BIO and, most recently, a decisive victory by yet another powerhouse American ice dance team (it’s like the Russian ladies and I LOVE IT SO MUCH!), it was an event unlike any other and I’m sure I will come away from this with very fond memories of the craziness that went down here.

So, in the Grand IceNetwork Variety Post Tradition, I am closing the “Hungary” For Gold post series with a best-dressed analysis. 🙂 There will be one costuming winner in each segment of the competition-ladies SP and FS, men’s SP and FS, SD and FD, and pairs SP and FS-and winners in a few other random categories. (The skater’s placement is indicated in parenthesis.)

Best-Dressed in the Ladies SP: Marin Honda (1st) 

Marin Honda may have won the Junior World title, but that isn’t the only thing she won this weekend: she’s also the winner of the best-dressed award for the ladies SP. 🙂 I love the multicolored skirt (which seems to be designed to look like a flower, and looks awesome when she spins) and the pale pink color is very flattering on her. Very delicate and feminine, which went perfectly with her “Spring Sonata” short program.

Best-Dressed in the Ladies FS: Tyler Pierce (6th) 

It is a bit hard to see the smaller details on this dress in the picture (the only one I could find that was okay-quality and showed the dress in full), but wow, this is one intricate dress. It must’ve been extremely labor-intensive to make all those little jagged cutouts on the bodice, not to mention hand-applying the crystals (and there are obviously a lot of them)! But I think my favorite thing about it is actually the sleeves. For some reason, I am obsessed with colored mesh sleeves, and the grey mesh under the black fabric looked absolutely stunning. Also, the neckline is perfection. The whole thing is stunning, and as “Danse Macabre”-ish a dress as you could find.

Best-Dressed in the Short Dance: Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (2nd)

As is usually the case in ice dance, Michael’s costume is fine and suitably non-crazy, but it’s Rachel’s dress that catches your eye-and it’s gorgeous. The gold sparkly stuff (is it glitter or crystals? I’m not sure) looks amazing on the white chiffon, and the illusion mesh sleeves actually match her skin!!! The mock turtleneck was a nice touch. Really, everyone should be getting their costumes from whoever made these.

Best-Dressed in the Free Dance: Marjorie Lajoie/Zachary Lagha (

In addition to fringe skirts (see below), I am a total sucker for elaborate tutus (two words: Elena Ilinykh) and these costumes were really nice. Zachary is basically wearing your average paso doble SD costume (they’re skating to Don Quixote). But, again, it’s the girl’s dress that’s meant to catch your eye: the lacing on the sleeves was extremely cool and like nothing I’d ever seen before, and the tutu looked like it had sparkly butterfly wings on it…which somehow worked.

 

Best Dressed in the Pairs SP: Bryn Hoffman/Bryce Chudak (8th)

As you can probably tell from the costumes, this was a “Chicago” program, and these costumes are, indeed, very “Chicago”-y. The fringe skirt on Bryn’s dress looked really cool in flight (did that sound as weird as I think it did?) and the sparkly geometric details on the bodice were a fun touch. Bryce was wearing suspenders, which I will only accept in 1920’s-themed programs (which this was…obviously), but otherwise his costume was a bit boring…oh well. The pairs short didn’t have any particularly fantastic costumes, IMO, so I had to pick something and these were the best I could find.

Best-Dressed in the Pairs FS: Anastasia Mishina/Vladislav Mirzoev (2nd)

I was originally going to go with Borisova/Sopot’s costumes for this, but after actually writing it up I realized I had way too many criticisms of them and my little blurb sounded like a really long backhanded compliment. (However, I came up with an analogy that compared Dmitry Sopot’s shirt to the Nazca Lines that I felt that warranted a mention, so I’m mentioning it. 😉 ) I went with my safer option instead (these), and I realize now that I like them a lot more. Vladislav looks normal and nothing on his costume could be compared to oversized Peruvian petroglyphs, so that is a costuming success in my book. And Anastasia’s dress is very fun: a green fringe skirt and  a sparkly spandex bodice with a one-shoulder neckline sounds like it should be a major costuming misfire, but looks surprisingly great. Sassy and shiny and very 20’s-ish (if you haven’t already guessed, I love all things 1920’s in skating-fringe skirts, ice dance Charleston and Finnstep SDs, you name it…)

Best-Dressed in the Men’s Short Program: Deniss Vasiljevs (8th)

If I had to design a costume for a “Puttin’ on the Ritz” program, it would probably look somewhat like this. Very snazzy. 😉

Best-Dressed in the Men’s Free Skate: Daniel Samohin (1st)

I like men’s costumes to be interesting and colorful and fitting to the program without being weird or crazy. This is interesting, colorful and fitting to the music without being weird or crazy, so I obviously liked it. For some reason I particularly like the red satin collar and back of the vest. I legitimately have no idea why…also, any costume that manages to incorporate a cravat without making the skater look like a bad Mozart impersonator is doing something right. 😉

The Takahito Mura Award for the Best Costume That’s So Weird It Works: Maria Golubtsova/Kirill Belobrov (18th) 

I am glad I decided to watch the earlier groups of the FD despite the fact that they didn’t have any medal contenders in them, because if I didn’t, I would’ve missed these gloriously literal costuming disasters. This Ukrainian team whose names I can barely spell skated to the Super Mario Brothers soundtrack-as you probably guessed already-and apparently someone thought they needed to wear the most literal costumes imaginable. And they remind me of one of the reasons I love ice dance: in what other sport would you ever see someone competing with a rhinestone mustache on their chest? I almost can’t believe this exists, but it is for the good of humanity that it does. :p

Best Costume Featuring Bad Modern Art: Kevin Aymoz (9th)

As I once said of Ruslan Zhiganshin’s FD costume: “Give me one good reason you should ever have a face on your shirt.”

Actually, I am not sure this is even a face. It’s more like an eye and some weird squiggly lines…

I am officially out of ideas for awards to give here, so I’m going to wrap it up. Hope y’all enjoyed this post and the Junior Worlds series in general. 🙂 

“Hungary” For Gold: Bits & Pieces of Jr. Worlds (pt. 2)

The ladies event just finished up at the 2016 Junior World Figure Skating Championships, and though not as bizarre results-wise as the men’s event, it had its share of crazy. Add that to breaking news on the Suspicious ISU Bio Situation™, last-minute injuries, and the free dance about to begin, you’re in for an interesting wrapup.

 

Ladies FS: the Russian Streak is Broken 

Perhaps the most notable happening of the event was the breaking of the Russian winning streak. Russian ladies have won the Junior World titles more times consecutively than I care to count, but this year, one skater capitalized on the surprise withdrawls of two of the Russians (more on that later) and snatched the title out of Russian hands. (In 2nd place was Russian Maria Sotskova, so they were not far off, but still!)

14-year-old Marin Honda of Japan, the JGPF bronze medalist, won the title with a massive score and two pristine performances. Here is her free skate:

 

Russia’s Maria Sotskova won the silver medal with a mostly-clean performance:

Rounding out the podium was last year’s bronze medalist, Wakaba Higuchi of Japan, who fought back from a tough SP to defend her bronze medal:

In fourth place was the third Japanese skater, Yuna Shiraiwa, who also fought back from a lackluster SP:

Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbaeva rounded out the top five, coming back from a short program that got a five-point deduction because it was interrupted by to a nosebleed:

In 6th place was American Tyler Pierce, whose Free Skate is not on YouTube yet. Major props to her for FINALLY breaking her Junior Worlds curse (she’s bombed and placed 14th and 19th there the last two years)!

Last-Minute Withdrawals

We were all surprised when Polina Tskurskaya, the gold-medal favorite in the ladies event, withdrew shortly before the SP because of an injury she sustained in practice, but that wasn’t the end of the Russian ladies’ bad luck. Teammate Alisa Fedichkina, who won the short program, withdrew from the free skate with yet another injury (this one from the off-ice warm up). No details on Alisa’s injury have been released; whatever it is, I wish both skaters a fast and full recovery.

Weird Free Dances (So Far) 

The free dance is currently underway, and I thought it was worth a mention that the first team skated to Super Mario Brothers (in literal Mario outfits…) and the second team skated to a rock opera about Mozart (the music was actually kind of cool, but a rock opera about Mozart?!?). It’s not even close to over yet, but I thought those two programs garnered a mention.

These variety pieces have been a lot of fun to write, so I hope I can get in one more before the events in and maybe even a few live from worlds! Hopefully enough weird things happen in the FD to warrant another installment. 

“Hungary” For Gold: Bits & Pieces of Jr. Worlds (Pt. 1)

The men’s event at the 2016 Junior World Championships just finished, and it was one that will likely go down in history as one of the weirdest free skates in figure skating history. Why?

Well, first off, none of the top three skaters after the short program medaled.

And secondly, the medalists placed 9th, 8th and 6th in the short program.

I’m pretty sure that, like, never happens.

But the men’s event wasn’t the only unexpected happening at this event (which isn’t even over yet), so I opted to do an IceNetwork-style recap with anecdotal bits and pieces from all of the events, on-and-off ice. So here goes!

 

Men’s Event Mayhem 

While the men’s short program at this competition was cited all over the internet as one of the best-quality events in recent years, it wasn’t the main point of interest. But when a skater pulls up from 9th to 1st with a record-breaking free skate, a skater who failed to qualify for the free skate at last year’s junior worlds wins silver and singlehandedly getting Canada’s three spots back, and the bronze medalist was an alternate and not even going to compete until someone withdrew, anything else seems bland.

Naturally, I needed to blog about it. So here is a play-by-play of how it all went down:

The first medalist to skate was Daniel Samohin, who placed an extremely disappointing 9th in the short program and skated first in the second-to-last group. Clearly, none of this had any effect on him, and he smashed the junior men’s free skate scoring record-165.38 to the previous top score, 163.06 (held by Shoma Uno at last year’s JGPF). His lead held for the rest of the event and he became the first Israeli skater to win a junior world title.

The next medalist in the start order was Canadian Nicolas Nadeau, whose placement was especially remarkable when you consider that he didn’t even qualify for the free skate at last year’s Junior Worlds. It was also payday for Skate Canada: his medal secured three spots for Canadian men at next year’s Junior Worlds and, while I’m not sure how many, quite a few more JGP slots than they had last year.

Dmitri Aliev of Russia, one of the favorites for the title, was the next contender to skate. His fantastic SP set him up well to win or at least medal, although his lead over compatriot Alexander Samarin was extremely small, and enough contenders bombed that it looked likely he would win. The possibility of a win went out the window when he doubled his opening quad, and he made enough mistakes on other jumps to take him out of the medals. Random note: he does one of the coolest transitions I’ve ever seen into his 3F.

The next skater, Deniss Vasiljevs of Latvia, was also on the podium after the short (3rd). However, like Aliev, his free skate took him out of podium contention, with three underrotated jumps and a pop. The underrotated jumps were some of his most valuable-both 3As and a 3Lz-and he didn’t do a quad, which ultimately caused him to fall from 3rd to 8th.

It seems that doubled 4Ts were the order of the day here, and American Vincent Zhou was no exception. Though he completed two quads, several messy landings and the popped quad dropped him from 4th to 5th. It wasn’t a terrible placement, but he definitely could’ve done better. (And here you see American bias in its natural habitat! Hehe. Compared to someone like Kevin Aymoz, he did okay, but I’m sure he wanted to do better than that.)

 

The other American, Tomoki Hiwatashi, skated next. Considering that he was not even supposed to compete here until gold medal favorite Nathan Chen withdrew, nobody was expecting much of him. When he did well in the short program, placing 6th, many people were hopeful that he would place high enough to get three spots for the American men next year, but he did one better and medaled! He smashed his personal best in the free skate by 16 points, landing all of his jumps (although his second 3F was invalidated because he did too many jumping passes) and capitalizing on everyone else’s bombfests while flying under the radar in a low-pressure situation.

Alexander Samarin had a great short program, placing an extremely close second to teammate Dmitri Aliev, and many were expecting him to medal. But in the true fashion of the event, he fell over and died. This was a very depressing performance with unnecessary amounts of Oda O in it. (Does he think that is going to make him look more artistic? All it makes you look is ridiculous.)

France’s Kevin Aymoz-a Max Aaron lookalike who skates much like Florent Amodio-closed out the event with ANOTHER dramatic implosion. Spoiler alert: he cries at the end. I would not recommend you watch this performance, but if you must, brace yourself and enjoy his Florentish showmanship (and costuming :p).

Ice Dance Never Fails To Bring the Drama…and Neither do ISU Bios 

The French ice dance team of Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac may have placed 3rd with a stellar performance in the short dance yesterday, but lurking in the depths of their ISU bio was a little gem that caused loads of speculation on the internet forums:

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 4.20.14 PM.png
I choose to believe the writer of this bio has been doing some light shipping lately

According to their ISU bio, Marie-Jade & Romain are actually married! While not improbable (they’re 19 and 20), nobody on the message board I belong to (including me) has been able to find any other sources that mention their “marriage”. So for now, even though ISU bios are supposed to be accurate sources of information, it is safe to assume that this is some kind of prank or misunderstanding.

(Side note: I have thoroughly enjoyed coming up with ways this could have happened-did they somehow accidentally get married, or are their training mates pranking them?-no matter how unrealistic they are.)

Year of the Small-Federation Junior World Champions 

I have already mentioned that one of the world champions who have been crowned so far-Daniel Samohin of Israel-is the first junior world medalist for his country, but his title wasn’t the only national first: the Czech Republic got its first junior world title when Anna Duskova & Martin Bidar won the pairs event. I have attached their free skate for you to enjoy, and hope you like it as much as I did! 🙂

Tie In the Ladies SP

The ladies SP this morning was a dream come true for me because the unimaginable happened: my two favorite junior ladies tied for 1st! Although Alisa Fedichkina (Russia) is counted as the winner of the event because her TES was higher, Marin Honda (Japan) won the PCS, and they both scored 66.11. I think this was ultimately a good decision on the judges’ part: I love both and thought they were about equal. Alisa had harder jumps and backloaded her 3-3 and solo triple jump, but they were equal in every other aspect: both are superb spinners, and very artistic, with similar styles-both are graceful, lyrical, expressive skaters. Both skaters are absolutely delightful to watch, and definitely have the potential to be future stars. Who knows? This might be the start of a career-long rivalry! (That would be awesome…) I wish them both the best in the free skate!