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Lots of figure skating 1/10/04


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#31 Funny Face

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 08:43 AM

dancindaughters -- if you like "leggy" skaters, you gotta love Lucinda Ruh. All 5'9" of her and and glorious, unearthly spins. There's a skater I would love to see in person. I showed footage of her to my younger dancer friends and they were IN AWE.

#32 Funny Face

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 09:02 AM

I just wanted to add, on a slightly different note, that there is a charming photo of Paul Wylie doing a 'partnering' move with Daria Grinkov, daughter of Ekaterina Gordeeva in the December issue of "Blades on Ice." It's hard to believe that child is now 11 years old, and following in the footsteps of her famous parents. Incidentally, Wylie has joined the ranks of skaters (Yamaguchi, Hamilton, Punsalan & Swallow) who have recently become new parents.

The Jan/Feb. 2004 issue features a cover story on Cohen.

#33 tempusfugit

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 10:02 AM

I think it's fair to say Lucinda Ruh is the greatest spinner in the world. she looks as if she's on ball bearings. :D she no doubt is an amazing turner on dry land as well. re great performances (not to take away from Hughes, who I agree gave the performance of her life at the Olympics-- and has never given a comparable one again--) what about Boitano at the Calgary Olympics? Flawless and much more difficult than Hughes' program (more triples including the axel).Wylie many times, including the Albertville Olympics? Ito at the 89 World Championships? Thomas AND Witt (surprise, lol) at the 87 Worlds?

#34 dirac

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 10:43 AM

A few brief comments. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Cohen's technique is not obviously superior to Kwan's in several respects. This is not to say she is a bad skater, or a perfectly legitimate world champion candidate capable of outskating Kwan on a given night. But I don't know where this "greatest woman skater ever" hype is coming from. Although Kwan is better in some areas, Cohen in others, Kwan is still in technique and presentation the better all-around skater. Lengthy explanation available upon request. That said, there's no reason why Cohen can't improve I've never seen her skate better than she did in her short program, and she may still beat Kwan at worlds. She actually seemed to be at ease out on the ice, unusual for her. In the long program, she still doesn't seem to be listening to the music, among other things.

As for "disliking" Cohen, it is true, as Drew points out, that athletes are competitive types. I'd also add that the bar for "bad" behavior is considerably lower for women athletes than it is for men. That said, I never fail to marvel at Cohen's consistent gracelessness in defeat (she's not too gracious in victory, either). I also understand she still has a tendency to get into Kwan's face during practices. Not an attractive trait. I'd also add that no one, as far as I can tell, is "attacking" Cohen. She's consistently praised over Kwan these days, often for virtues she does not possess. I don't mean to minimize those fine qualities Cohen does have, but since the weight of opinion on this board regards her has the greatest thing since sliced bread, I feel an obligation to be a little contrary.

Good news for Cohen: On both nights, the judges gave her very high marks very early in the evening. That was not only a message to Cohen, but one to Kwan, I think: You better be brilliant, Michelle. Well, we know what happened. :D

Jenny Kirk: Glad to see the Giant Beehive Bouffant gone. It's most unfortunate that she didn't skate clean in the long. She had a clear opportunity to shoot past Cohen and sweep into second place, and wasn't able to do it. It's too bad, because the ability to take advantage of openings like that frequently marks a future champ, and I hope this is not an omen for the future.

Regarding Olympic performances: It's been observed frequently that, because of the intense pressure, skaters rarely perform their best at the Olympics. The exceptions like Boitano prove the rule.

Look forward to seeing a healthy Ye Bin Mok next season.

#35 dirac

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 02:13 PM

I forgot to add to what Drew said about music, much of which I agree with, that there can be a big difference between music that is good and music that is good for skating. I can see why skaters often turn to movie music, because it is simple to follow and yet has lots of sweep and flow. (Also, you need a big beefy orchestration that sounds good over a public address system.)

I really think that these days we don't have too much to complain of, though. The cuts in music these days are nothing compared to the brutal hacking of disparate pieces of music that was commonplace a decade or so ago. The vogue for "Tosca" does puzzle me -- it's not really great music for skating, and difficult for skaters to express well. Kwan gets as much out of it as anyone. This is nowhere near her best program, though.

#36 djb

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 04:28 PM

Susanne, thanks for your input about synchronized group skating. I suppose the problem is that skaters don't get practice early in their training in timing their moves to match what others are doing, so each skater is allowed to do what's comfortable for her/him.

#37 Natalia

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 08:00 AM

dirac et al, thanks for all comments and updates on recent skating events in the USA and the Grand Prix circuit.

I was still in Russia last week and missed US Nationals, but saw parts of Russian Nationals. Alas, Russia's pool of elite ladies has evaporated to a level so low that I would be surprised to see anybody make the podium at next month's Europeans. Yelena Sokolova (2nd to Kwan at last year's Worlds) won the national title for a second straight year despite having gained a significant amount of weight in the summer and battling injuries in the autumn. It is a miracle that she won the gold at her Nationals; she would barely qualify for US or Japan Junior Ladies top-20, were she skating in those countries. Yulia Soldatova was second to Sokolova; Soldatova is a Russian who won a bronze at Worlds 4-5 years ago, before switching nationalities, representing Belarus at the 2003 Worlds, in which she came in 20th or so. Fast-forward to Russian Nationals 2004, in which Soldatova (20th at 2003 Worlds) almost beats Sokolova (2nd at 2003 Worlds); what an odd situation. As for Viktoria Volchkova (5th at 2003 Worlds), she has deteriorated to a level so low that she barely made 10th place in sia. Lyudmilla Nelidina -- a teenager seen as Russia's great skating hope just one year ago, when she nailed 3-axels in a couple of Grand Prix circuit events-- did not even make it to Russian Nationals, suffering an emotional breakdown this autumn. The 2002 World Champ, Irina Slutskaya, is still recovering from the illness that kept her out of the 2003 Worlds; great mystery surrounds her status & ability to compete at the elite level ever again.

Russia remains strong in the other three disciplines, especially Men's. Pluschenko is World Champ & has a great 'Tribute to Nijinsky' long program this season. Russia is also strong in Dance; Navka/Kostomarov won the Grand Prix recently & are now the big faves to win their first world title in March. Pairs champs Totmianina/Marinin are ranked #2 in the World and can challenge Shen/Zhao -- China's World titlists -- with their new classical long program, debuted at Nationals.(Thank goodness that their Cotton Club LP has finally been put to rest!)

From what I have seen of the international scene on TV, Fumie Suguri is this year's great artistic lady -- much more musical & naturally lyrical than the robotic & uncharismatic Cohen, IMO. [Cohen should be obligated to sit & watch old tapes of Janet Lynn...or not-so-old tapes of Kwan...then again, charisma & warmth usually come from within, do they not?)

I have yet to see Kwan's 'Tosca' LP...so I'm not predicting World gold for Fumie Suguri just yet.

Sen/Zhao have a masterpiece of a new LP this season, with their 'Nutcracker Adagio'. This will become a hard-to-beat 'classic'!

Canada's Emanuel Sandhu was brilliant at the Grand Prix finals in Colorado, last month....classically elegant, yet charismatic & 'giving' to the public! Yet another skater whose tapes should be made compulsory viewing for Ms Cohen, IMO.

#38 dirac

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 10:40 AM

Thanks very much for that report from Russia. It sounds as if we've seen the last of Slutskaya, more or less.

Maybe I should note for the record at this point that all points of view on skaters are welcome if there's no debate, things can get dull indeed. I mention this only because figure skating often seems to inspire very strong emotional reactions, and people will take criticism or praise of a given skater VERY personally. :)

I think Kwan's Tosca program is all right, but far from her best -- the level of difficulty is not that high, and there are long sections where little is going on. She may have to raise her game a bit to prevail at worlds.

Suguri is indeed lovely to watch.

#39 Helene

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 12:05 PM

That said, I agree that Hughes gave the best performance of the night, and of her life, at the last Olympics but I could never say it was

arguably the strongest, most flawless performance in figure skating history).

Too many legendary performances to choose from.

I agree with you. At least one of Hughes' 3/3's was underrotated, and the second one was very close. She also flutzed, which is a substantial flaw that Cohen shares. (Kwan often enters the lutz on the flat instead of the outside edge.)

It was a gutsy performance, but a clean one by Kwan or Slutskaya would have beaten it hands down -- Slutskaya's very flawed performance nearly did -- despite the 3/3's.

#40 Helene

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 12:10 PM

Pairs champs Totmianina/Marinin are ranked #2 in the World and can challenge Shen/Zhao -- China's World titlists -- with their new classical long program, debuted at Nationals.(Thank goodness that their Cotton Club LP has finally been put to rest!)

Do you know what music Totmianina/Marinin are using for their new LP? I thought last year's SP to Grieg's "Peer Gynt" was one of the most beautiful programs I've ever seen, and this year's Rachmaninoff was also lovely, especially the ending in arabesque penchee. I hope their new long has the same lyrical quality.

#41 dirac

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 12:34 PM

Kwan may take off on the flat of her blade occasionally, but I would suggest that she doesn't do it often. Cohen's flutz is actually not as bad as it once was, it seems to me. I liked Sarah a lot better than many people, but the underrotation and flutz issues were very serious for her -- really obvious even on television.

#42 Funny Face

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 01:49 PM

Regarding my comments about Hughes' Olympic performance, I'd like to add that, again, this is an opinion of mine and I don't hold it up as gospel. Also, I have to emphasize that I was not a particularly big fan beforehand. However, her performance on that night was void of any of the typical tension associated with Olympic performances, now matter how they turn out. It had a magical, transcendent quality. You didn't hold your breath and wait for something untoward to happen while the elements were being ticked off, one by one. Instead, you just became caught up in the pure joy and beauty of it. That is what I meant about that performance standing out in a way that I'd never seen before at that level. Of course, I am speaking about my reaction alone. And I am not going to discredit anyone else's opinion about memorable Olympic performances. Certainly, there are many valid comments made above.

However, one area in this thread that I think I HAVE been soft on, and actually feel more vehemently about is the issue of musicality, which as many of you know, has been discussed at length in other threads. In this respect, I'll say that if someone wants to argue the merits of Cohen's skating, that's fine with me in that there is a lot of talent there. But when I hear that one of the reasons dancers prefer her to others is because of her musicality, I really have to take issue here. Skating to beautiful music does not make you musical. It just means you're skating to beautiful music. Period. There are some incredibly musical skaters out there, with Browning, in my opinion, being numero uno. But Cohen? No, I'd put dozens ahead of her in this regard.

Even without the musicality, I can't grant her icon status among dancers. There are too many female skaters I'd urge young female ballet dancers to watch in addition, such as Hamill and Sato for their gorgeous backs and arms, Ruh for her spins, Katharine Healey for gorgeous flexibility and presentation, Fleming for elegance, etc., etc.

#43 dancemomCA

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 02:41 PM

:rolleyes: Boy - this thread has taken off - great to see so much discussion about skaters. Funny Face - when you refer to Browning, were you refering to Kurt Browning, Canadian male skater? If so, I heartily agree with you - he is absolutely amazing to watch and can do so much with a song and/or music. He was performing in a 4 country competition on the weekend as well. Don't know if anyone else saw it - the skating was fabulous, at least from the pairs side. Canada just edged out Russia - it was a pro event I think.

#44 dirac

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 05:52 PM

dancermom, I'm sure Funny Face was referring to the one and only Kurt. (Now, there was a man who had lousy luck at the Olympics. :flowers: )

#45 carbro

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 08:06 PM

What FunnyFace said -- me, too. One of the reasons Hughes was able to give her amazing Olympic LP was likely that her disappointing SP had appeared to remove her from Gold Medal contention. She was able to "just go out there and have a good time."

Once (if) Cohen learns how to open up to the audience, submit to the music, stop fighting against herself to crank out her elements, then she will have crossed a critical artistic threshhold. I hope she can do it -- she'd be quite something.

Oh, and Dorothy Hamill? As far as I'm concerned, she is still the gold standard for a harmonious, balanced, gorgeous layback. :flowers:


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