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. 🙂 

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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 & 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.