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Funny Face

Lots of figure skating 1/10/04

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Sasha Cohen came to our rink one time when she was a junior level skater. I was in awe of her. She was so confident and breathtaking to watch. I don't think the pressure had gotten to her yet. At the time, her coach was coaching another up and coming star...Naomi Nari Nam. It wasn't too much later that both skaters had injuries. Some speculated that the training they had undertaken caused the injuries. Unfortunetely Naomi never really came back and Sasha's attitude changed.

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That's a shame about Naomi Nari Nam. She was a breathtaking skater (probably had the best spins I'd ever seen, right behind Lucinda Ruh).

I'm rooting for Suguri and Arakawa. Arakawa's Turandot program is exquisite. And what a lovely girl she is. :yes:

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I'd been wondering about Naomi Nari Nam. So much promise, such a shame. And yes, Yuka Sato's musicality is uncanny.

Another gorgeous, musical skater was Tiffany Chin, who, it seems, did not like the competitive arena. I hope she's able to convey some of her special qualities to those she now coaches, specifically the engaging Beatrisa Liang.

On the pro circuit, I'm a little amused by the two new husband-wife pairs teams. Former half-pair Jason Dungjen has made another half of Yuka, and former half-pair Ekaterina Gordeyeva has made her complement of husband Ilya Kulik. I'm impressed by how quickly Yuka and Ilya have mastered their new skills and become real assets to the specialty. (Kulik -- there's another very musical skater.)

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Naomi went to Pacific Coasts this year and didn't make it into the top 4. She was 3rd in her short and then dropped to 5th. She has been plagued by injuries over the years. Both Naomi and Sasha were lifting weights and doing pilates when they were only 10 or 11 years old. That combined with the time on the ice working on triples at a very young age, most likely caused the injuries they have endured.

I just found an old skating magazine that featured Naomi as the new star of the ice and a hopeful for the Olympics...way back when.

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I was bar-tending for a wedding Saturday night and just happened to walk by a tv where the skating was on and just had my heart broken by what turned out to be ht tail end of Sasha Cohen's st\kate -- AFTER she had fallen. if she lost concentration after her fall, WHAT must iot have been like before that? "So that's Sasha Cohen" I said to myself, and I haven't really had anything else on my mind since.... I may find on further exposure that I don't like her, but so far, I find her ability to figure ideal alignments just inflames my imagination no end... What a sense of form!

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I agree wholeheartedly with all the comments about Sato. I love everything about her skating. And I think she has the most beautiful back and arms since Hamill. I watched her on one occasion with a now retired ballet teacher (who has since returned home to spend his last years in Yugoslavia), and he commented about the way she connects everything, his most frequent correction in class.

She also has those 'cat feet' that allow her to land everything, even if tilted in the air.

I have admired Kulik since he went pro for taking chances with choreography. Sometimes those risks have resulted in falls and flubs, but I have to take my hat off to him for stretching himself in this regard. This is the kind of thing I want to pay my money to watch.

Another musical skater I loved watching, especially when Browning used her in his specials, is Josee Chouinard. A very magical presence.

And about Browning -- not only did he fare badly at the Olympics, but he went through a real soul-searching process as he went pro. Does anyone remember the following year during a competition when he completely forgot his program and had to skate over to the judges and apologize before he left the ice? I think he opened his heart up so much to the audience at large and took in all that strength. That's why the public loves him so.

I heard something interesting some years ago when he first introduced his 'clown' program. One of the commentators said that the Russian coaches had their proteges gathered around, watching the monitor very closely -- that this was the kind of artistry they appreciated, perhaps even more than Western audiences did at that point.

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That's such a shame about Naomi Nari Nam.

I can't imagine that any skater much likes the competitive arena, with its blatant improprieties and often glaringly unfair results. it is a matter of necessity if they want to skate professionally. no medals, no solo career. appalling, isn't it?

the loveliest thing I recall seeing Yuka Sato do was a program for a professional competition several years ago-- a song called "Hatful of Stars". beautiful song, exquisitely sad, nostalgic skating. it was memorable.

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The most musical skaters to my mind are Oksana Baîul, Katia Gordeeva and Paul Wylie

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Those are very good choices, IMO. Not the only people I'd choose, but certainly good ones. I've had a soft spot for Wylie ever since everyone got outraged that he was chosen to go to the Olympics instead of Mitchell. So many thought he was a "has been" or worse, "never was," at the tender age of 27. "Let's send the next generation, the future!" they cried. Wylie was asked after his performance at the Nationals that year about how he felt about his less than stunning performance, before the final results were announced. He smiled calmly, and said that he didn't believe anything in life happened by accident. In other words, he was prepared to deal with whatever the next step in his life might be. While others focused on "Bowman the Showman" and Eldredge, Wylie found and took his opportunity to step up to the plate. As noted earlier in this thread, it may not have been a flawless performance, but many thought his Olympic performance should have garnered gold, nonetheless, and that the only reason it didn't was that he was ranked 11th in the world at that time, and the judges could not reconcile bringing him all the way to number one. What a wonderful artist, and how great that he is out there performing again.

And yes, I think Gordeeva is a talented "modern dancer" in her solo career on the ice. Very interesting to watch. It would be really something if something could be choreographed for her, her daughter, and Kulik, all together.

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I'm another Paul Wylie fan who thought he should have won gold at the Olympics. Still, I like his response at a press conference when the question of whether he could have won the gold came up: "Hey, just how much of a Cinderella story do you guys want?''

One thing I appreciate about his performances is that he treated them as performances. I get tired of skaters who do supposedly artistic programs and then either pat themselves on the back or look chagrined, the instant the music stops. Wylie presented himself like a professional performer, no matter how his program went.

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I wouldn't say that Wylie's international ranking was the only reason he didn't win the gold. There were several reasons, and his lack of a national or world title after years of trying may very well have been one of them. I don't say you can't build a case that he ought to have won, because you certainly can – but he wasn't egregiously "cheated" out of anything.

I say this as one who always admired his edging, footwork, line, and flow. The great thing about his performance, for me, was seeing an athlete with a troubled career achieve a personal best on the greatest stage in his sport, and be rewarded for it. He really came into his own as a pro.

djb, I wonder if we should be so hard on skaters who look chagrined or "pat themselves on the back" after a poor or good performance? After all, the pressure is intense (and many of the skaters are just kids). I think they should be forgiven a little emotion! :thumbsup:

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Dirac, I suppose the problem is that these really are athletic competitions, so really, the athletes should be allowed to react the way any athlete should. But since the judges and commentators make so much of the skater's artistry, I'm disappointed when a skater instantly drops that artistry because it makes it seem so phony. Also, I've seen these reactions from skaters at exhibitions, and from skaters who should be old enough to control themselves. What was with that almost penitent expression that Oksana Baiul would put on when she hadn't done well?

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Well, Oksana was always a bit of a drama queen. :thumbsup:

djb, I do see your point, and I've seen the same thing. It's like an actor suddenly coming out of character, and it can be jarring.

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In Christine Brennan's Inside Edge, a very interesting look at skating and skaters, she discusses Wylie's Olympic performance at length, and says that one American judge in fact refused to put Wylie first (though he felt Wylie won, hands down) for fear of getting "national bias" censure. Many skating judges and fans shared the opinion quoted (credited to a well-known skating pundit) that Petrenko's was the worst Olympic gold medal performance by a man in thirty or forty years.

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You'll are just fountains of info--I, too, was wondering about Naomi Nari Nam.

The other skater I was always wondering about was a fabulous young ice dancer--I think Jamie Silver(stein)--but I could be wrong--her former partner was at the nationals this year. If I remember correctly they did quite well jr. internationally and were beginning to skate as seniors.

Another random ice skating question--I recall reading a blurb somewhere about a book written by a competitive ice skater--sort of an insider's view. Of course, I've lost my diary where I wrote down the title...has anyone heard of it or read it?

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Many skating judges and fans shared the opinion quoted (credited to a well-known skating pundit) that Petrenko's was the worst Olympic gold medal performance by a man in thirty or forty years.

I think that honor goes to Scott Hamilton. Petrenko had a wonderful first half, but ran out of steam, which was his pattern. I remember being blown away by his 1988 Olympic long program, when he was just a kid and won bronze behind Boitano and Orser.

One of the reasons that Wylie had such wonderful line was that he studied briefly with John Curry in Colorado Springs, when Curry was being coached by Carlo Fassi. Wylie said that those sessions had a big influence on his skating. If he had to choose anyone to emulate, Curry was The One.

Dirac, I agree with you about Arakawa. I would add the beautiful flow she gets out of her jumps, especially the 3 Lutz in combination, and the quietness and power of her stroking. I think her Turandot program this year has the fullest and richest choreography; she practices the program without the jumps in each practice session, and it shows.

Paul Parish, I think Cohen has the most wonderful carriage, and is one of the few skaters to have an straight back position and extended leg in the toe jumps on both entrances and exits. To me this, more than her flexibility, is what makes her exquisite.

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That correlation between Wylie and Curry makes perfect sense. Even beyond his line is the completeness of his skating and his presentation. There are no wasted or artificial movements. As to Olympic placement, the bottom line is that both Petrenko and Wylie have gone on to improve as artists and to gain a tremendous following in their own respective rights, both showing their greatness was not a short-lived aberration.

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Mark Mitchell's 1993 free program also me remind me of John Curry, especially during the slow part. It was Quixotte .

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What amazed me about Paul Wylie is he was always living his skating, even in practice (I'm speaking of his pro years, I have never seen him practice during jis eligible years beside during the Lalique Trophy and the olympic games). During the 1995 Miko Masters skaters were practising in our rink. They were on the ice alone for a rehearsal of their routines, and of course, during that time, the others were warming up near the ice or were watching from the benches. Kids were looking for autographs and pictures, and when Paul came on the ice and began his Schindler's Routine, everyone was just caught by his skating and it was like the time stopped, people suddently stopped what they were doing and watched. It was just magical ! I have never seen something like that again !

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I thought Wylie did far better as a pro than Petrenko, although Petrenko was the better skater in general. Wylie used to strike a lot of Curry poses, but he didn’t have the height or long lines for them, IMO. He certainly got enough mileage out of the Curry connection, but he had an equally good model close to home, as Robin Cousins was living with the family.

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cygneblanc, I agree about Wylie. he had remarkable charisma on the ice. I saw him perform that routine to Schindler's List, which I didn't even LIKE, lol, and still found him riveting. I never understood what the fuss was about Petrenko. thought his footwork, for example (a much-neglected aspect in skating now, I admit) much more rudimentary and less difficult or interesting than Wylie's. also, many skaters have given an acceptable first half of their free skate and cratered in the second half (Nicole Bobek at the '95 Worlds, for example, where she had actually done a triple/triple among other things); Petrenko is one of the only ones to be rewarded with a gold medal for such a performance.

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I have to say that I thought Petrenko was much more elegant than Browning whom i saw as the huge rival at that time (me being only a child). It is possible that i would have seen it in another way today. What I remember is that no other male skater had previously got me interested in male figure skating until Petrenko entered the scene. However, I have to admit that his last years as an amateur skater was not nearly as good as his peak years. To me it looked like he had gained some weight and that former elegance of his was lost. But I still remember the Carmen short program from 1990/91 when I believe he reached his peak. :wub: I have to agree that his Gold performance at the Olympics was not the best I had seen from him.

Only two other performances of male skaters have impressed me after Petrenko; Alexander Abt at 1998 Europeans and Yagudin in his short program "Winter".

I think we can distinguish difference in opinions just because we live in different continents :yes: Being in Europe we/I don't have so many chances to see professional skaters and exhibitions. We do, on the other hand see the Russian amateur skaters more often which tend to make me/us to like them more than the US/Canadian skaters :grinning: .

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Even if Petrenko's performance in the long program was the worst in thirty or forty years, that would not mean Wylie ought to have won the gold instead. Nobody was very good among the men that year. Wylie himself made a number of significant errors. (I bet Boitano was sitting in the stands kicking himself for not staying in another four years and copping himself two golds.) Reasonable people can disagree about who ought to have won; I dispute only the notion that some kind of scandalous injustice was committed. I agree with Funny Face

hockeyfan228, while Hamilton was far from his best in the 1984 free skate, I hope we are not suggesting that Scotty didn't deserve his gold. Them's fighting words, mister. :wub:

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Oh, I don't think Petrenko's victory was even in the scandalous injustice category. Baiul, Lipinski, Tiffany Chin being denied the bronze in 1984, the original results of the 2002 Olympic pairs..... now those were scandalous.... :wub: it's also true that Wylie made mistakes; as has been observed earlier in this thread, rarely do skaters ace their Olympic free skates. I was only of the opinion that Wylie outskated Petrenko that night. Susanne's other performers listed are among my favorites, as are their performances which she mentions; perhaps in light of this discussion I'll even have to reconsider Petrenko. :)

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A note as to Wylie's line. I don't know how tall he is. He doesn't appear to be very tall. But I think he skates like a tall man. I think he pulls those long lines off. Sometimes it's also a matter of limb length in proportion to the rest of the body. I'm 5'6" but am usually mistaken for being much taller because of my unusually long limbs and neck. I think this may be somewhat the case for Wylie. He has a long appearance, even though he doesn't have Curry or Cousins' height.

Interesting comment about the concept of elegance. Browning is as dashing and elegant as they come, IMO. He may get it on to "Brick House" or "Play That Funky Music" but look at the versatility! He can skate to virtually any music, and bring an interpretation that no one else would have thought of. So many skaters, including the most renowned, entice their audiences with jumps, back flips, toothy grins, hip swinging, a few cliche sexy moves, etc. Browning isn't about any of that. It's footwork and inventiveness and musicality and feeling. I like that Kulik also seems to be of this ilk.

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