A Few of My Favorite Things, 2015-16: Free Skates

So, you know how in yesterday’s post, I said I was going to try to spread this series out over several weeks?

I didn’t.

At least, not the first two posts.

If you read my last post, you will probably know how this works. I list my three favorite SPs and FSes in each discipline and say why I like them. It’s pretty simple. However, it is hard for me to remember all the programs I loved in each discipline. I frequently accidentally leave out one of my favorite programs and forget about it for about a day until I remember, slap myself, and promise to give it a shout-out in the next post. That being said, I left Alaine Chartrand’s short program out of yesterday’s SP post, despite it being one of the ones I knew I wanted to include when I came up with the concept for this series. Deepest apologies; I would have put it in if I remembered.

Okay, that was really long, and I didn’t mean for it to be that long, so here we go.

Top Three Free Dances

  1. Shibutani/Shibutani (“Fix You”)

When IceNetwork’s Twitter did its annual fan vote for best program in each segment of each discipline, the overwhelming majority of voters chose this as the best free dance. Not surprising at all. This is, in my very biased opinion, the single best program in any discipline this season. Just…ugh, it’s too perfect to be real. I got to see this program in person at Worlds and I nearly made myself sick and blew out my vocal chords because I was hyperventilating and shrieking until I could barely breathe. (If you were there and heard someone screaming “‘MURICA!” repeatedly after this performance in Loge 8, that was me.) The placement of the twizzle sequence, the lifts, the step sequences, everything about this program was amazing. I am in such awe of this program that I  have taught myself the twizzle variation (with the leg extended) that they do. LOL. 🙂

2. Cappellini/Lanotte (“La Dolce Vita”)

I like this free dance for most of the same reasons I like their short dance: it’s frothy, frivolous and fun, achieves #costumegoals status, and really stood out from the rest of the top teams’ FDs. Is it me, or were there a LOT of “look at us, we’re arteestick!” free dances this season? I feel like there were, so this was a very nice contrast. Also, I’m very predictable, because I put these in the same order as I did for the SDs.

3. Sinitsina/Katsalapov (“Lo Ci Saro”)

A lot of people criticized this program for being “bland,” but when I saw it at Worlds, I thought it was fantastic. I can’t really put my finger on what it was I liked about it, but I did, so on the list it goes.

Top Three Pairs Free Skates

  1. Seguin/Bilodeau (“A Whiter Shade of Pale”)

I warned you. 😉

Getting to see this program in person at Skate America was one of the highlights of the entire season for me. This program is truly wonderful: lyrical but passionate, delicate but powerful, emotional but subtle. They had SUCH a moment with it at the Grand Prix Final; I was very eager to see it at Worlds, and although they weren’t there, they had many memorable performances with it. It’s taken me from barely knowing they exist to a huge fan of theirs. As I said in the previous post, one of the things that I like most about Seguin/Bilodeau is their connection. This program showcases their connection beautifully.  Highlighting your strengths is one of my criteria for deciding whether or not a program is good, so this program passes with flying colors.

(It made me ship them. You don’t get any better than that.)

2. Sui/Han (“Samson and Delilah”)

When Sui/Han skated this program well, it was completely breathtaking. It’s intense and passionate and never stops building until the end, and when they landed things, the effect was extremely impressive. Everything about this program is BIG: the elements, the choreography, the emotion, Sui’s performance quality…I feel like this program, but especially this particular performance, could be described as “we’re here, we’re perf, and we’re going to leave y’alls in our dust.” A very accurate statement indeed. :p

3. Kayne/O’Shea (“Music of the Night”)

Admit it: this performance made you cry.

Kayne/O’Shea seem to have developed this lovely habit of completely slaying their FS at every competition, demonstrated by their showings at Cup of Russia, 4CC, and (mostly) Worlds, but most prominently at Nationals. There was just something about that particular performance that made it really special. So even though I liked this program a lot before that, it became something special after Nationals.

Top Three Men’s Free Skates

  1. Shoma Uno (“Turandot”)

Everyone’s favorite leprechaun made history at TCC by landing the first ratified 4F in competition, ending his season on a much-needed triumphant note. In addition, his free skate takes top honors in the Men’s FS category of this recap. It was maybe more of an “introverted” interpretation of Turandot (I feel like I’m saying that a lot), but a convincing one, with a lot of cool choreographic bits. (*eh ehm* CANTILEVER!) Gorgeously choreographed and interpreted, with a delightfully punnable costume.

The Leprechaun has his ups and downs, but, being a leprechaun, always ends up with a pot of gold. 😉

2. Grant Hochstein (“Les Miserables”)

This is another program that I basically chose because of one performance. His Worlds free skate was, IMO, the moment of the night (well, one of them). It blew the roof off the place; his interpretation is some of the best I’ve ever seen, actually. A lofty statement, but a deserved one.

3. Yuzuru Hanyu (“Seimei”)

How can I leave out the program that broke the world record twice? I don’t understand how this dude is even real. (However, I will stop saying that because I think it jinxed him at worlds.)

Top Three Ladies Free Skates

  1. Rika Hongo (“Riverdance”)

Rika Hongo’s transformation from a possible contender with poor posture and few standout qualities to a reliable, electrifying performer has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season. I love the way she keeps up the high-energy, appropriately Riverdancy feel of this program throughout, and the ChStSq is one of the best I have ever seen-and that includes everything ever done by Mao Asada! I especially appreciate the Irish dance steps in both StSqs; they were very well-integrated into the program. This free skate has really made me take notice of Rika, and I am surprised by how much I have enjoyed watching her this season. I hope she works with Akiko Suzuki (who choreographed her programs) next season, and can’t wait to see her next programs!

2. Adelina Sotnikova (“Je Suis Malade”)

I might have questionable taste, but I am kind of obsessed with Je Suis Malade. Naturally, any Je Suis Malade program that comes to my attention will be lauded as a masterpiece with excessive hyperboles.

Okay, maybe that was a slight  large exaggeration, but I do typically like Je Suis Malade programs, and Adelina’s was a very good one. She gave it the over-the-top angsty drama it deserves, and I found the program to be very well-choreographed. I can understand why one might not like this program (I mean, if angsty drama isn’t your thing, there is a LOT of angsty drama going on here), but I happen to love overdramatic interpretations, so I enjoyed Adelina’s free skate a lot.

3. Gracie Gold (“Firebird”)

As you may know, I am kind of a noob as far as skating fans go. I have not been watching for very long (I obviously watched the 2014 Olympics, but other than that, my first experiences watching skating were on the 2014-15 GP because I did not have IceNetwork prior to that), so I have not seen very many of the “great” programs. Thus, the only Firebird program I had ever seen before this season was Anna Pogorilaya’s 2014-15 FS, and (no offense to Anna, who has improved a lot since then) virtually any rendition of Firebird would be an improvement over that.

Enter Gracie, the other prominent artistically-challenged blonde, who is actually quite like Anna: a headcase, and not a natural artist, but improving.

This is definitely one of the best programs Gracie has ever had, certainly the best free skate. First of all, The Squat. It is my favorite thing. I can often be found listening to Firebird and randomly squatting (with the correct arms, too :p). Also, I feel like this powerful music is easier for her to interpret than most of what she’s had before. It wasn’t perfect: when the jumps weren’t there, neither was the performance. But when they were, she showed quite a bit more fire and emotion than she ever has before. The style was a good fit for her, so I hope to see her continue to do things similar to this. (She also said many times that she loves this program, so that is always a bonus.)

Well, that’s a wrap…next up, one of the two “best costumes” ones. 

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A Few of My Favorite Things, 2015-16: Short Programs

The off-season is upon us. Yaaaaay!

Said no skating fan ever.

But I am determined to do something productive during this skating void. Firstly, I hope to get my Axel and a back camel spin that doesn’t look like roadkill before the JGP. Secondly, I am planning several blog post series throughout the summer, starting off with reflections on last season, then a GP assignment recap in June, and finally, JGP Previews in July. (Also, possibly some random gymnastics stuff that decidedly doesn’t belong on here during the Olympics.)

The first of these is entitled “A Few of My Favorite Things” and it is basically exactly what it sounds like. Each post will rave about several of my favorite things from the 2015-16 season in different categories. This one is for short programs (all disciplines). I’m also planning one for free skates, two for costumes (singles and pairs/dance), one for “discoveries,” one for junior performances, and one for best usages of warhorses. So, this should last me a while. But now I’m going off on a tangent, so I need to get to the point. These are my top three senior SPs in every discipline.

Top Three 2015-16 Short Dances 

1. Shibutani/Shibutani (“Coppelia”) 

As you probably know if you have read anything on this blog, I am a diehard fan of the Shibs and will blindly praise everything they do. However, I legitimately loved this SD. It was somewhat traditional but still fairly different from what most teams were doing; it was comical and lighthearted without being juniorish or immature (IMO); and, of course, it won them a lot of things. 🙂 I never cease to be amused by the fact that they choreographed a bit where Maia smacks Alex upside the head. But most of all, it was the first program of theirs in which both of them gave adequate face. Seriously, many of their facial expressions in this program are completely priceless. Fun, unique, and very much “them.”

2. Cappellini/Lanotte (“The Merry Widow”) 

Cappellini/Lanotte have been on my radar for a while, but I did not really become a fan of theirs until this season. However, they became one of my favorite teams this season, thanks to their two great programs. This SD did something I thought was impossible: it allowed me to listen to the “Merry Widow Waltz” without wanting to chuck chairs out a window. That piece was my much-maligned violin warmup in 5th grade, and usually hearing it brings back bad memories. But after seeing this, I don’t think it will anymore, as I now associate it with something far more positive. Like the Shibs’ SD, this is a very lighthearted dance, but where the Shibutanis are comical, Cappellini/Lanotte are effervescent. It’s frothy and frivolous and fun, and their costumes are my everything.

3. Cannuscio/McManus (selections from “Cinderella”) 

This is not the most well-known SD I could’ve chosen; if I wanted that, I would’ve gone with Papadakis/Cizeron or Weaver/Poje. It’s also not the only program I considered for this spot-P/C and Chock/Bates’ SDs were also possibilities. But in the end, I chose this one, because I absolutely love that they did a short dance with a very traditional waltz feel without it being stale. I especially love the rise and fall of the music and how their skating matches it; it ebbs and flows beautifully and has a lovely lilting feel. It has really become one of my unexpected standouts of the season.

Top Three Pairs Short Programs 

  1. Sui/Han (“Farrucas”)

I am just getting more and more obsessed with this pair, and seeing their flawless short program at Worlds did not help with that. This program showcases their performance quality extremely well; the subtle sass of Sui’s performance in this program is EVERYTHING. It strikes a perfect balance of personality and polish (are you noticing the alliterations in this post? 😉 ), and when the elements are on, it is breathtaking.

2. Astakhova/Rogonov (“The Artist”)

There have been a million programs to The Artist in recent years, but this one is unlike any other. I feel like the music cuts might’ve been lesser-used ones (correct me if I’m wrong), but that isn’t exactly what I’m referring to. This SP was upbeat, jazzy, and just plain fun, and I’m a total sucker for any and all 20’s programs, so this was kind of a given from the start. It’s a shame they didn’t have a better season, because this is a real crowd-pleaser and I would’ve liked to see it at Worlds. The step sequence is a particular highlight-one of the most well-choreographed I’ve seen. I think this program had a lot of unrealized potential, but I loved it even so.

3. Seguin/Bilodeau (“Monde Inverse”)

Seguin/Bilodeau were, I think, my favorite “discovery” of the season. I was aware of them before, but I thought their last programs were kind of boring. However, I saw them in person at Skate America and was very surprised by how much I liked them. I think the things I was most impressed by were their connection and skating skills: I’d go so far as to say they’re as fast as Stolbova/Klimov (who were also at SA, for direct comparison), who are often seen as the “benchmark” of skating skills in pairs. And that definitely benefitted this program, which is very upbeat and fast-paced. They were fun and youthful without being juniorish, which seems to be very difficult to pull off for most skaters. And it was different-I definitely have not seen a program anything like this before.

And as much as I loved this SP, I loved their FS even more. Expect a long, crazy rant about that in my next post.

Top Three Men’s Short Programs 

  1. Yuzuru Hanyu (“Ballade No. 1”)

Firstly, that is a horribly unflattering screencap.

Secondly, this was kind of hard for me. I like men’s enough-this year, I can proudly say I have gotten a favorite men’s skater, which I didn’t have before-but I am not as invested in it as I am in ladies or dance. So when I needed to pick programs for this, I went with the obvious Yuzuru Hanyu. I do actually enjoy this program a lot; it’s very artistic, methinks. But mostly, I am just completely floored by his jumps. Yeah, there are skaters trying harder elements (and this is a two-quad SP we’re talking about…OMG), but his are simply a cut above because they look so easy. He seems to throw out 3As and quads as easily as if he were eating pancakes or mopping the floor or something really mundane and easy and I know those are horrible analogies, but I think it gets the point across.

As someone who cannot even rotate a measly single axel, I am totally in awe of how easy he makes defying physics look.

2. Adian Pitkeev (“Appassionata”)

Adian has become one of my favorite men’s skaters because I love his lyrical style. I really wanted him to bump off Kovtun as Russian #1 (speaking of, I almost included Kovtun’s SP because the irony of it was cruelly hilarious, but decided it was mean and didn’t), and although he didn’t, I’m very hopeful that he will get on the world team next season. I have nothing more to say, so sit back and enjoy the Sensitive Artist Russian™.

3. Shoma Uno (“Legends”)

I am still not sure I “get” this program, but A) I needed to pick someone, B) Shoma is my favorite, and C) this program had a quad flip in it.

Top Three Ladies Short Programs 

  1. Adelina Sotnikova (“Besame Mucho,” “Historia de un Amor”)

I have always liked Adelina, but this was the first season that I really liked her. When she came back from a leg injury, I did not really know what to expect from her, and on the technical side, the comeback was a disappointment, but on the artistic side, a huge success. Adelina’s time on Dancing With the Stars seemed like it really helped her grow as a performer, and she ended up having two of my favorite programs. This one was everything I want to see in a Latin program: sassy, spunky, showy, and crowd-pleasing. The jumps were never really there (except, it would seem, at Mordavian Ornament), but this was one of the few programs I’ve seen where it honestly didn’t matter because the program itself was so strong.

2. Gracie Gold (“El Choclo”)

This has become my favorite program of Gracie’s, probably because it actually suits her. As far as tangos go, it’s more of a subdued, ‘introverted’ one, but that style works for Gracie. She isn’t really a natural performer, but her speed, refinement and commanding ice presence (well, when the jumps were there) lent themselves well to that style. The two times she performed it perfectly, it was incredible.

3. Mao Asada (“Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen”)

I know that I’m using the word “sassy” way too much, but that is exactly why I love this program and there’s kind of no other word that describes it. Mao has never really done a program like this; I’ve enjoyed getting to see the sassy, spunky side she has apparently been hiding. Also, listen to the crowd at the beginning of her footwork. Every time she did that move with the toe pushes, the audience LOST ITS MIND. That is how you step sequence.

Soooo…that’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed this!

This Thing is Nuts: A “Highlight Reel” of TCC

Despite its many logistical flaws, the fist day of the Team Challenge Cup won me over. Great skating? Check. Cute Kiss-And-Cry antics from the teams? double check. TWO RATIFIED QUAD FREAKING FLIPS? Triple check. (Should that be quad check? Probably.) Prom-posals? Yup, it had those, too. The fun camaraderie of this event won me over.

(No, seriously. This thing is like World Team Trophy times 500.)

So, here are my top 10 highs/lows of this event. I did not get to watch pairs or dance, so those will probably not be in this.

10. Highlight: Promposal 

 

No, this program was not the highlight. (It was a bit rough.) Skip to 6:15 for one of the iconic moments of the competition, in which Nam Nguyen asks Polina Edmunds to prom in the kiss-and-cry. Literally EVERYONE was talking about this-the commentators mentioned it, like, eight times throughout the event-and yes, in case you hadn’t heard, she said yes: https://twitter.com/PolinaEdmunds/status/724065223053733888. 😉

9. Low Point: Boyang Jin runs out of Quad-Power™

Official #Quadster (I made that up and I don’t care :p) Boyang Jin had a remarkable start to his season and continued that form, on and off, throughout the season, culminating in a surprise bronze medal at Worlds. However, it would appear that end-of-season exhaustion set in here, and he had mistakes on nearly every jump pass. When Boyang’s jumps aren’t working, there is really nothing to hold the program together, so this was really depressing.

Side note: Boyang confuses me because he can be such a showman in exhibitions (I was at the Worlds ex and the crowd went ABSOLUTELY BERSERK when he skated), but he shows so little personality and expression in competition. Why? Clearly he can be a great performer, with the right vehicle. Hoping he gets some better programs next year, preferably to more upbeat music. Heck, even his techno ex could be the inspiration for a new SP. (Minus the bouncy ball juggling, obviously.)

8. Highlight: Denis Ten Doesn’t Die 

Denis Ten seems to have remarkably bad luck with injuries almost every season, but this one was particularly bad: he only competed three times prior to Worlds (which he bombed) because of various injuries. Lack of training time combined with his all-over-the-place inconsistency was, understandably, a recipe for disaster – until TCC. He put out a perfect short program, which I didn’t get to watch because I was in the car, but I read the protocols and I’m sure it was lovely while it lasted. Which it didn’t. He reverted to his usual ways in the free skate.

7. Low Point: Elena Radionova Loses It 

Even while going through a growth spurt, Elena Radionova has managed to put out an admirable number of clean programs this season. Even if she didn’t skate clean, she never truly melted down (I think her worst skate prior to this one was her GPF FS, where she fell once). But whatever happened – exhaustion, growing even more and not being able to adjust, fill in the blank – Elena just couldn’t hold it together in her SP here. She missed the opening combination (due to a scratchy landing on her 3Lz) and I thought she would be fine because she is always so good at tacking combinations onto solo jumps when she misses the first one. But when she tried to put a 3T on her solo 3F, she went down and it clearly spooked her because she opened up and popped her 2A (not just into a single, but forward and on two feet). It was kind of a mess and she was clearly mad at herself. I don’t know what exactly happened, but I really hope it was not an indicator of how she will be skating come next season.

6. Highlight: Small but Mighty Tursynbaeva’s Flawless SP 

Elizabet Tursynbaeva, or “Bitty Betty,” as I like to call her ;), has really made a case for herself this season. In her senior debut season, she medaled at four Challenger Series events and placed 4th and 7th at her GPs, 3rd at the Youth Olympics, 5th at Junior Worlds, and 12th at Senior Worlds. She’s also competed more than almost any other skater, skating in ten events. So it’s rather incredible that she still has enough energy to put out clean programs at the end of the season! Her sassy, charming “I Got Rhythm” short is much better suited to her style than the first one she had this season, and when skated clean (like here), is quite a lot of fun to watch.

5. Highlight: New SP & two Personal Bests from Jason Brown

Jason Brown sat out most of the season due to a back injury and made his highly-anticipated return to competition here. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this SP (which is new); I think I like his lyrical programs more than most of his upbeat ones, which (while excellent when done well) can come off as slightly cheesy.

Also, I could not believe that he wore a plain black shirt (blouse?) in competition. Dude, please don’t bedazzle that. It went very well with his understated program.

4. Highlight: Evgenia Medvedeva Breaks More Records

While I was not ever fully convinced that Evgenia’s first world record was merited, congratulations to her for breaking it. Even being skeptical of the merits of said record, you can’t deny that she is ridiculously amazing. Also, I really want her to skate to Valse Triste next year.

3. Highlight: In Which I Enjoy a Program I Previously Said I Didn’t Like

I have said some rather harsh things about Ashley Wagner’s short program on here before. However, I take them back after this performance, which I think was one of her best ever-in either segment. She got really into it, and the crowd got into it even moreso; at one point she even started clapping along to her music in a spin. That is how you engage and audience! Even though I’m getting tired of Moulin Rouge by now, at least I can now appreciate this program properly. 🙂

2. Quad Flipping Leprechaun is Numero Uno

Shoma Uno made history as the first skater to land a ratified quad flip in competition, landing one in his SP and one in his FS. Both were spectacular, but I prefer the FS, and the leprechaun reference would not make much sense if I didn’t include a picture of his green FS outfit, so I chose to highlight the FS. Also, 3A-1lo-3F has got to be one of the coolest combinations I have ever seen.

1. #TheFirebirdRises

Gaaaaah, I am a blubbering mess…Gracie really needed this after Worlds and I’m ecstatic that she was able to put out a near-perfect program to end the season. I’m actually sad to see this program go – #TheSquat will be sorely missed. 😉

 

And now, I must face the reality that the off-season is upon us. GAAAAH! For this reason, don’t be confused if gymnastics and/or Summer Olympics-related posts start popping up in the summer. It’s just a coping mechanism. Expect many season recaps, lots of inane skating fashion posts, and possibly some random raving about Melitina Staniouta. 🙂 

Team Challenge Cup: Random Musings

So, the season is almost over, and with most of the skaternet focused on next season-program announcements, Grand Prix speculation, predicting who will be at the top-it is clear that most fans have moved on. But before we can officially call the season done (and I can start churning out post after post of 2015-16 “bests” lists :p), there’s one event left: the inaugural Team Challenge Cup.

Which is a bit of a mess.

It started out as a cool concept that had a lot of potential. In January, a preliminary list of skaters-selected by world rankings-was released. There were a lot of great skaters on it, and the fans started getting excited for the fan voting phase that would finish off the teams.

But then came the fan voting, which was a mess. It got temporarily disabled because fans were allegedly using bot software (*tries to sound like I know what I’m talking about*) to assure their favorite skaters got to skate at the event, and accusations flew back and forth across the internet. Many fans were convinced that Korean fans were using bots to get Angelina Kuchvalska into the event for the sole purpose of keeping the two Russian ladies in the poll out. (I did not necessarily believe this, but some fans were utterly convinced and would not stop accusing them of doing so.)

And, to add insult to injury, IceNetwork decided to charge an additional fee-separate from their season pass-to watch the event. Multiple skaters withdrew. It was kind of caving in. The event hasn’t even happened yet, and I’ve seen people say it shouldn’t be repeated.

Nevertheless, it’s one last event before the off-season, and I am still excited about it-even if I will probably not buy the IceNetwork pass and will probably not be able to see it as a result (unless the same people who smuggled the NBC stream of the ladies FS at Nationals put up a stream of this one). So, here are some random thoughts about that.

  1. I hope Gracie Gold will be able to pull it together and end her season on a positive note at this event. (She gave an interview where she said she was ashamed of her Worlds performances-um, please don’t say that, you got a freakin’ personal best in the SP!-so it would probably do a lot for her confidence heading into next season if she skated well here.)
  2. I wonder if anyone will replace Papadakis/Cizeron. The event starts in four days-is that even long enough to fly in an alternate?
  3. Speaking of redemption, Denis Ten and Shoma Uno also had very disappointing Worlds showings and I hope they will be able to skate well, too.
  4. I am curious to see how Boyang Jin will do coming off of his 3rd-place performance at Worlds. Now that he is the obvious favorite to win the individual competition, will he be feeling the pressure?
  5. What the heck is going to happen with Stolbova/Klimov? (Always of interest, since they are so often not at things.)
  6. Will Weaver/Poje improve on their Worlds showings? Are they really just mid-season peakers, or is Worlds itself the problem?
  7. Will this event go off without a hitch, or will it fall to pieces like the fan vote and never be held again?

Well, there you have it. Short, random, and slightly incoherent, but I wanted to write something and it felt wrong to write a reflection on the season when it wasn’t entirely over yet.  I said it would be random, after all. 😉

Also, my favorite junior lady, Vivian Le, is doing a club competition called Skate Dallas next week, so if anyone who is reading this is going to be there, PLEASE comment and tell me how Vivian (and also Emily Chan, and anyone else notable-at any level-who is going to be there) does, and if she has new programs, what they are. I know it’s a long-shot, but I would very much appreciate it. 🙂

Beantown Beat: The World Championships Extravaganza, pt. 2

I have not written any blog posts since I left home. *Scampers away ashamedly*

When I have not been at the rink, I’ve been sleeping/walking around to historical sites. So I haven’t really had time to write (considering that I get back from the arena at about midnight).

But now it’s raining, so I don’t have to go to historical sites, so I’m going to write more blog posts!

The Last Three Events from the Perspective of a Non-Fan 

I am at this event with a person who is most definitely not a skater, or even a fan (unless fan is defined as “will tolerate it”). So I wanted to get his opinions on everything to see what this event would look like from a non-skater’s perspective. He did not remember enough names to have this completely nailed down, but here is what he thought of the ones he did remember:

Free Dance 

Papadakis/Cizeron: thought they were boring. Did not “get” their skating, if you will.

Shibs: thought they were good & exciting enough for his tastes.

Chock/Bates: liked them as well. He seemed impressed by some of their elements but didn’t say much else.

Cappellini/Lanotte: he said they started out slow but liked them by the end. I told him I would get married in her dress, he wondered if I said “married” or “buried”, and this got turned into a string of ridiculous puns that lasted the entire program. If the lady sitting next to us (who hasn’t said a single word through the three events we’ve been to) is reading this, I am incredibly sorry.

Weaver/Poje: Loved their costumes, but didn’t say anything about their skating.

This was all I remember him saying, besides that Stepanova/Bukin’s music was horrific.

Pairs Short 

Sui/Han: impressed by their elements and liked their costumes, but didn’t say much else.

Duhamel/Radford: liked their music. I don’t remember if he said anything else.

Volosozhar/Trankov: very impressed by their triple twist. Apparently, he really likes twists.  Didn’t like the costumes.

Savchenko/Massot: loved them. Was completely blown away by their twist, loved their costumes, and thought Aliona was pretty. (I tried to get his opinions on people’s actual skating, but he didn’t really remember most of them…except the twists.)

Stolbova/Klimov: he liked them for reasons he could not really describe, but he did remember that he liked Ksenia’s haircut. In his own words, “it matches her personality when she skates.”

Tarasova/Morozov: hated Vladimir’s outfit, but he liked their twist and the program itself.

Men’s Free 

Javier Fernandez: liked that he had personality, and that he skated clean.

Yuzuru Hanyu: was a bit disappointed that he wasn’t the perfect supernatural being I made him out to be. :p I went a little overboard with the “Yuzuru never makes mistakes and is probably an extraterrestrial” thing, and he bought it…but I think he enjoyed it somewhat?

Boyang Jin: was getting food during his program.

Mikhail Kolyada: didn’t have much to say about him.

Patrick Chan: thought he was boring and didn’t like his music.

Adam Rippon: liked his music, that he skated clean, and that he was American and skated clean. Also, he liked his shirt “except the sheer back”, as he put it.

Shoma Uno: indifferent, except that we’ve met him. Agreed that the faceplant looked painful.

Now, Onto the Actual Skating: Free Dance Highlights 

So, Papadakis/Cizeron defended their title, and I liked them better than I have before but I still didn’t love this program. A little boring, and not emotionally moving (for me) at all. I agree with the results-they definitely deserved to win-but this performance did not deserve a world record.

I hyperventilated violently/convulsed/almost fainted.

Literally.

I gotta say, this program has really grown on me. I love Rach 2 but never thought it would work for a free dance; however, by the end of the season, Chock/Bates sold me on this.

I cannot properly express my love for this dress, but I can definitely express my appreciation of this program. It’s good to have a few good free dances that are more lighthearted to offset all the serious ones, and this fit the bill. It was really well-performed here; “frothy” is the word that comes to my mind to describe it.

I still don’t love this program, but I could better-appreciate how technically difficult it was in person. Very intricate, with a lot of difficult transitions. Still boring, though. #GetWeapoABetterFreeDance2k16

More Actual Skating™: Men’s Event Highlights 

In which another 2015 World Champion defends their title. This was really fun to watch in person-he has so much personality and the crowd got really into it. (Whole sections of spectators started screaming whenever he skated by…now that’s performance quality! 😉 Anecdotal bit: one of my close friends is a massive fan of his (we have nicknamed him “Suavier” :p) and wanted updates, so I filmed little bits of this and sent them to her. When I sent her the one of his scores, she went BESERK; this enhanced the experience, obviously. I think we brought him luck. *Wink wink*

YUZURU, YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE A PERSON!

I think I cursed him with my constant “Yuzuru is a Supernatural Extraterrestrial Robot” talk. Oops. Remind me not to say that about Evgenia. (She may not have three quads, but she is reaching robotic levels of consistency and I don’t want to curse her.)

This was a very boring program, but the quads were exciting! Very exciting. He is Quadmaster™. *Nods approvingly* Maybe he should do ice dance to work on his artistry…it would make him unstoppable. LOL.

I think Maxim Kovtun has FINALLY been bumped from the Russian #1 spot. I like Mikhail. He is a good performer, has a biellman, and there is something new and innovative about his style. He’s very quirky, if you will, and his programs are unique and unlike anyone elses’. So I am glad he made such a strong debut here. (Now we just need to get Adian Pitkeev on next year’s world team!)

He may not have gotten onto the podium, but this was a bit of a disaster and I think it was overscored. However, his SS are remarkable in person.

In which the skaters of #Murica actually feed off the hometown advantage and skate well!

See above.

I have to say, this was one of my favorite performances of the event! Yes, it was clean, but it was also very ARTISTIC and PRETTY and all-around extremely enjoyable to watch. THIS is what an alternate is supposed to do (*clears throat* Nam Nguyen): go out and slay in a higher-ranked skater’s absence. Grant definitely succeeded on that front, and I might actually rewatch this performance (I never rewatch men…).

I like things that make me laugh, so I liked this program.

Voiceover: “if you jump, I jump too!”

Jorik: *does jump*

Me: *does single of same jump for lols*

Now, Pairs

In which the Boss Queen and her loyal Bodyguard are the embodiment of perfection.

I honestly cannot wait for their free skate, because they are sassy and fabulous and we ALL need Boss Queen Wenjing Sui in our lives.

The amplitude of their elements was very impressive, but following pairs like Volosozhar/Trankov, Stolbova/Klimov and Sui/Han, their lack of expression and performance quality was extremely obvious.

Maxim’s outfit was a bit distracting (mostly it was all the loose fabric flapping around), but this was a really fun program. They performed it very convincingly, and the crowd really liked it. And now I’ve seen 3 of the 4 reigning Olympic champions in person! (I have got to see Adelina so I can finish my set!)

I am a better person for having seen Savchenko/Massot’s twist. BLESS.

This wasn’t a perfect skate, but Ksenia is an incredible performer so it’s always interesting to watch her do things. :p “I Put a Spell on You” was a fantastic music choice for them because they put a spell on…well, most of the audience.

The Coach Pair™ (get it? :p) was one of my unexpected highlights of the event! I love Irish-themed programs and they did theirs really well. Gorgeous 3Tw, good energy and convincing interpretation-this is another example of what alternates are supposed to do.

I cannot think of anything else to write except that Gracie Gold had an awesome short program that I couldn’t watch because I was on a plane. So until next time, I’m out. 🙂