Figure skating world championships
Posted 27 March 2004 - 04:01 AM
Zhen/Shao did a small mistake right at the end when coming down from a lift (not a pair lift, but rather a dance lift) the camera angle was poor, but it looked like they hooked on eachother or something. But that was the only "mistake" that I could see in their free skate. Maybe Shao's side by side jump was a tiny bit shakey in the landing...but that is what I can come up with when it comes to small "non-perfect" details. But yes, their joy and expression just took your breath away! They remind me of Bereshnaya/Sikarluidze and Gordeeva/Grinkov.
Posted 29 March 2004 - 10:09 AM
Philip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune wraps it up for the ladies (via the San Jose Mercury News):
Most of the articles I've seen emphasize Shizuka Arakawa's jumps as central in her win. They certainly were, but Hersh also mentions her elegant style, which I appreciate. She is far more than a jumping bean, and she looked great out there.
Posted 29 March 2004 - 11:12 AM
Susanne, on Mar 27 2004, 07:01 AM, said:
Posted 29 March 2004 - 11:19 AM
Posted 05 April 2004 - 09:15 AM
Susanne, I forgot to answer your question about Joubert. As I recall, he was "clean" although the landing on his quad combo was not ideal and he did only one 3-axel, and not in combination. His footwork wasn't as demanding as Plushenko's, either.
Posted 05 April 2004 - 09:07 PM
Posted 06 April 2004 - 10:13 AM
I was disappointed in seeing Plushenko's Nijinsky program live, because there were several quiet/rest stops that are TV friendly, but that don't carry in the arena, especially from the other side of the rink with his back to us. But for the first time in a long time, he had height and a proper landing and runout on the 2Loop at the end of his 4Toe/3Toe/2Loop combination at the beginning -- right in front of us -- and a textbook perfect 3A. He also did a 4Toe that was so easy we thought it was a triple. I thought that he had sort of popped out of the landing of his usual 3Axel/3Toe combination, only to find that although the 3Axel wasn't landed well, the 1/2 turn was deliberate to set up to the inside edge take-off of a 3Flip. His jump content was overwhelming, if front-loaded, and his straightline footwork was awesome. But not as awesome as the 1000 step straightline sequence he did in his first exhibition program, which was a tour de force. In the quali round Plushenko gave a near-perfect performance of last year's "St. Petersburg 300" program.
Joubert's program was a bit more well-balanced, but even though Plushenko doesn't always get great form on his spins, they are varied and creative, and Joubert, like his idol Yagudin, sticks to pretty basic sit spins. What was so impressive seeing this program live is the tension and drama he brought to it, and small details that are not telegenic, like the ripples that went through his back and shoulders to the underlying pulse of the music. Perhaps 85% of his program came across on TV.
Lindemann was really wonderful -- he had great speed without sacrificing flow, his ice coverage was superb, and his edges were fabulous. He was more than a jumping bean, not that he's any slouch with the jumps: his technique is generally fine and he gets great height and spinning rhythm on them. Lambiel had better choreography in the LP, and his spin positions were amazing, but his jump technique is sloppy. I'm not sure he had a single landing that wasn't scratchy, atilt, and/or low, and among those great spins were some not-so-great travels. And when his energy is on full-throttle, like it was in the LP, he tends to go toward the flat of his blade; you could hear his stroking from across the rink. By contrast, in his quali round, where he did his "Gypsy Dance" program, his energy was more controlled, and he really danced through his program and was poignantly lyrical, with better basic skating. Under properly marked CoP, Lindemann would have made up in proper technique what Lambiel made up in base score difficulty.
So would quadless Johnny Weir. From watching him on TV, I had no idea that the quality of his skating would be palpable. In his first World Championships, he put down three, nearly flawless programs. (I counted a tight landing on his quali 3A/3T, catching his freeleg heel on the landing of his 3F (?) in the SP, and a travel in a spin.) On the whole, he has the best jump technique of any man in skating, with flow and speed going in and matchless form in his landings and flow-out. Although he doesn't have the greatest height in the bunch, according to CoP, nearly all of his jumps were +2/+3 quality. He also landed 3Axel/3Toe and 3Lutz/3Toe combos in his "Dr. Zhivago" program (quali and LP), and, at least this year, there is only a .5 differential in base scores between 3A/3T and 4T/3T, which Weir would have made up in Grade of Execution. He has beautiful flow around the ice, and wonderful carriage. The only other time I thought "John Curry" while watching a male skater before when when I first saw Urmanov, because his carriage and technique would have enabled him to do anything, but he didn't have the vision or taste to fulfill his vast potential. I think that Weir's the man.
Lindemann skated a brilliant, character-filled short program; I would have placed him above Joubert, who gave a good, but not best performance of the great "Time" program. Lindemann, by the way, is tiny: he stood next to Cohen during the post-Exhibition bows, and he looked about two inches taller than she. Joubert perched about six rows behind us in the civilian section instead of the skaters' section during much of the early competition, and he did not look particularly happy; I suspect he was demoralized after his quali round, which I think he should have won, and this may have been the reason for his sub-par (for him) performance in the short program.
Michael Weiss was deadly boring in all three rounds. Five of the final six men blew off the roof of the stadium; Weiss was the only one to skate a lukewarm program to a lukewarm response. Sadly, Savoie, such a fine all-around skater, was undermarked in all of his rounds, and Ivan Dinev, who is a wonderful skater, couldn't put three good rounds together, although he had many brilliant moments in each program. Klimkin's injury -- a torn hamstring -- was the most depressing event of the week. He was superb, if not flawless, in his quali round, and his "Swan Lake" program is beautiful, even though he couldn't land his jumps well. Unless he doesn't have time to put together another short program for next season, I don't know that we'll see it again, since he did it because his late coach, Igor Russakov, chose it for him before he died after a long fight with leukemia, and Klimkin skated it as a tribute to Russakov. (He's now training with Kudriatsev.)
There's a woman in Finland who has taken the Finnish Eurosport broadcast and created zipped Windows Media Player files of many of the skates. Her website, SomeBodyElsesLife has three programs available for download at any given time. She changes them when she has time. She's not really a figure skating fan, and at this point, I'm not sure she's sure why she's doing this or for how much longer it will last. The WMP files are tiny, but they are a treasure trove. I go to her site every day to see what's up. (I'm still waiting for TiVo to release software that will allow their files to be saved so that they can be played on PC's.)
To download, go to one of the highlighted programs and right-click on the "Online" link in the far right column. Choose Save Target As from the menu and save to your hard drive. From there, if you have Windows Media Player and Winzip (comes with many versions of Windows), the file will unzip and come up in a WMP window when you click on it. Please do not select "Open" as this could take down her site if enough people do it at once.
Posted 06 April 2004 - 01:44 PM
Weir reminds me not only of Curry, but particularly of Toller Cranston – he has that almost subversive slinkiness in his quality of movement. (His outfit was slightly Toller-ish, too, although Toller would have opted for more decolletage. ) I enjoyed watching him and Lindemann the most, but all the top men were fun to watch save Weiss, even if nobody was quite perfect.
I agree with you about Lambiel, too – it's as if his enthusiasm gets the better of him, and he sort of throws himself all over the ice. Some of those landings made me wince. On television, his spins were striking but didn't seem well centered.
Old Fashioned, I saw the latter part of the exhibition. Cohen still doesn't overwhelm me – but you're right, this was probably the best exhibition program of hers I've seen. On the other hand, I don't think heavy dramatic music is really right for her in general – she alternates between inappropriate broad smiles and a pained, I've-got-an-Excedrin-headache look when she's trying for emotion. She is getting better, though.
Posted 06 April 2004 - 03:12 PM
I travelled with a group, and we were split into the big one in the VIP section in boxes on the ice near the official ISU box, and we plebes in the first tier above that, on the opposite end of the side facing the judges. I saw that at first Cranston sat in one of the ISU boxes close to our VIP group, but bus conversation revealed that someone someone was pestering him there, and after his induction, he was reseated behind the judges, on the other side of the rink!
I missed the actual induction ceremony for a bit of star gazing. Our section was next to the skater's section; at ground level was the backstage entrance for the skaters. There was a half-level about ten feet from the ground that provided a wonderful perch from which to watch the skaters as they came and went. Since it was right after the original dance, I was on the lookout for the dance teams. Belbin and Agosto came through with 100-watt smiles and patiently signed autographs and posed for pictures. Denkova and Staviyski looked a bit sad; she's much more delicate-looking in person. Winkler and Lohse were swarmed; he's got a very cute bad boy look, and she's quite beautiful. Staviyski was very attractive in person, but low-key. Roman Kostomarov, who was understandably pleased with his placement, was standing by, talking and signing and taking pictures, and even from behind, he emitted the star quality like a nuclear reactor. Both he and Lohse are film star material.
In dance, Winkler and Lohse were really on in every phase. Denkova and Staviyski melted the ice in their Midnight Blues Compulsory Dance, were spectacular in the contrasts of Blues and Rock in the Original Dance, and had such achingly beautiful flow and edges in the Free Dance, it was almost painful to watch. The crowd was firmly behind them, and the only thing that saved the judges, who threw out a couple of 6.0's to them to keep the wolves away, was the entrance of Winkler and Lohse. Otherwise, the judges might have had reason to fear the crowd, because it was clear from the marks that they were ready to crown Navka/Kostomarov, on whom they bestowed about nine 6.0's. The judges threw 6.0's around in Dortmund as if they were perishable goods. It would be ironic if the Russian Federation manages to squelch CoP adoption until after the 2005 Worlds in Moscow.
Posted 07 April 2004 - 08:49 AM
The glam quotient is always highest among the dance teams, I've noticed. Sounds like you got an eyeful.
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