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Natalia

Winter Olympics Skating News/Impressions

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Ladies & Gentlemen - I'm opening this thread for any & all discussions relating to the figure skating events at the upcoming Winter Olympiad at Salt Lake City, Utah, USA! (Olympic fanfare blaring in the background)

Here in the USofA, the televised festivities commence on Friday at 8 pm (EST) with the Opening Ceremonies on NBC. That's when we get to cheer our respective favorite delegations of athletes as they march into the stadium, usually sporting some dopey fantasy on their country's 'native' costume or winter gear that makes them resemble Nanook of the North. Personally, I'm looking forward the most to Team Rossiya, who will be decked out in Imperial-era Cossack military coats & tall fur hats. (I saw the photos on a Russian website - they will be quite spiffy!) Needless to say, I'll also be cheering for the good old USA and the delegation of my great island of Puerto Rico, which usually consists of a skier or two who happen to be studying at a university in continental North America. And for Estelle/J-L/Francoise, I'll hold the flag of France...and for Anton/Susy/Guido I'll cheer the Italians...and for Alexandra the Danes...and for Eugene/Jane/felursus/Mary, I'll cheer for Team England...and for JosephC, the green-red-white of the Magyars...and for Pamela, those amazing skiers from Sweden...and for Kevin & Xinxin, the delegation from Hong Kong & China (go, Shen & Zhao!)...and for Marc, Team Belgium & the Dutch speedskaters! Mitsuko & Takashi - you'll be hearing my 'Bravo!' for skater Takeshi Honda, all the way to Japan. And how can I forget to cheer for Paquita/Ottawamom, with the all-powerful Team Canada? Ok, ok - I'll be cheering for each and every country participating in Salt Lake, with representatives on BalletAlert; this is simply one of the most exciting int'l events on TV.

The skating action kicks-off on Saturday night with the Pairs short programs. [Estelle - sorry to read the news about the French couple, Abitbol/Bernadis. That's a real loss.]

On US television, it will be Scott Hamilton (not Dick Button) doing the calling, so we will be spared the comments about women's layback positions or fannies sticking out as they go into a pair death spiral. A bit of good news for the 'old-timers' among us: Jim McKay will be back to do overview analysis - first time since 1988 Calgary!

Here is the schedule of skating-related events + Opening/Closing Ceremonies. Most starting times are 8 pm; ending 11:30 om (EST). Of course, you must consult your local TV guide for times in your area. [For folks in Europe, I know that Eurosport will be showing tape-delay broadcasts on the evening of the day following each event.]

Friday, Feb. 8 - Opening Ceremonies; there will be groups of dancers. I'm not sure which groups will be in Friday's ceremony but BalletWest & Pilobolus, among others, are participating in the parallel arts festival throughout the two weeks.

Sat., Feb 9 - Pairs short programs

Mon., Feb 11 - Pairs finals

Tues, Feb. 12 - Men's short programs (YIKES - I'll have to set my VCR here...Kirov opening night @ Kenn. Center)

Thurs., Feb 14 - Men's Finals...promises to be THE most exciting, unpredictable skating event this year...Yagudin vs Plushenko Duel-on-Ice + other assorted Quad Kings! [Anybody want my Kirov ticket for that night? wink.gif ]

Fri., Feb 15 - Ice Dance - two compultory set-pattern dances

Sunday, Feb 17 - Ice Dance - Original Dance (their version of a short program...this year's required beat/style is Latin)

Mon., Feb 18 - Ice Dance finals

Tues., Feb 19 - Ladies short program

Thurs, Feb 21 - Ladies finals (Will Michelle Kwan finally achieve her Olympic Gold Medal?)

Fri., Feb 22 - Exhibition of Champions

Sun, Feb 24 - Closing Ceremonies

So there you have the daily schedule. LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!!

[ February 05, 2002: Message edited by: Jeannie ]

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Hi!

I will be out in Park City for the duration of the Olympics, and as of now will be attending the Pairs SP and LP and Ladies SP (as well as other non-skating events).

Depending on how fast my internet connection is, and how tired I am from all the traveling (~4 hours from the house to the skating venue), I'll try to post a few times with my comments.

Hopefully, I'll be able to get a ticket to one of the ice-dance nights, as five of the teams train at the rink where I skate (Russians, Ukranians, Koreans, Israelis and Swiss) and I know the male half of the Ukranian team.

Kate

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That's wonderful, Kate -- lucky you!!! smile.gif

We would be delighted to receive your 'Up-Close and Personal' view of the games. Have a ball!

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One more thought. Will any of our Canada-based readers be following the Olympic skating? You, my friends, are the truly lucky viewers, as Canadian TV will be showing all of the skating events in their entirety and, I suspect, much fewer commercials than in the USofA.

As most of you know, skating is practically a national sport of Canada (as it is in Russia). Watch out for Sale/pelletier in paris + Bourne/Kraatz in ice dance. And we cannot forget the original 'quad king' Elvis Stojko (several-times World champ in the mid-1990s), who refuses to give up without one more shot at Olympic gold.

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Where can I find the exact TV airing schedule? I went to the official Olympics website for Salt Lake City but couldn't seem to find the TV airing times, just the schedule in terms of tickets. I wonder if NBC's web site would have the info. I want to set my VCR. Thanks.

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Siren - Your best bet is to go to the supermarket & purchase your local edition of TV Guide, it will be tailored specifically to your viewing area. Here in DC, we buy the "Washington edition" of the magazine. Cost is under $2. *The issue that you need was published yesterday; it has a sultry-looking Michele Kwan on the cover (quite a photo - no little prissy ice princess she!).

I normally would say to look at the 'free' TV pull-out from last Sunday's paper but that would only include information about this Friday night's program.

By the way, ALL of the skating will be on NBC. Some of the less-often-seen sports (curling, etc.) and complete hockey games are being shown on the sister-networks, CNBC and MSNBC. But, as far as I've seen, all of the skating + opening/closing ceremonies are on the main NBC channel.

****UPDATE:

A friend just passed-on to me the following URL, with perhaps the most comprehensive skating-on-TV schedule around. All times listed here are EST in the US....so that TV guide might still be necessary if you are in Mountain or Pacific time zones, where NBC might be purposely delaying the telecast to ensure that they occur during the lucrative 'prime time' period.

http://heatherw.com/mk/sch.htm

Quite a bit of skating on TV beyond the big networks, isn't there? Time to buy 12-packs of blank cassettes at the discount store! I'm sorry that I don't get this 'ESPN Classic' that is showing highlights from old Olympics, such as Grenoble 1968 (Peggy Fleming & the Protopopovs). Wouldn't it be great to have a 'Dance Classic' cable network...ugh...

[ February 05, 2002: Message edited by: Jeannie ]

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Wow. Thanks for posting this. The web site is quite comprehensive. This is exactly what I wanted.

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Jeannie,

"I happen to be one who can handle Button's comments with laughter so I'll miss him this time.]"

I feel the same way about Dick. His frankness is awfully funny, and I respect him for calling a spade a spade. The man just has very high standards.

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I love Dick Button. I'm sure it's because I grew up on him. As a child, I drank up his comments and thought of him as a sort of god. Childhood loyalties are hard to give up.

A couple tidbits:

MOMIX will also be performing at some point. They'll be doing "Skiva" (see Dance Mag's Feb. cover), Moses Pendleton's homage to skiing - a passion of his.

Also, did anyone read NY Times article today about Sarah Hughes and her "flutz"? Is it true that she, along with most of the American skaters, takes off from the wrong edge when she starts a lutz? I don't know enough about jumps in terms of skating edges to tell. And, if true, it begs the question: why haven't the American coaches been stricter with their skaters?

Thanks for putting up such a comprehensive schedule. I've printed it out for reference.

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You BET I'll be following the skating! We're big fans here in our house! We are crossing our fingers, toes, etc. for Emanuel Sandhu (who I'm sure you've heard spent a number of years at the National Ballet School in Toronto). Of course we are also rooting for Sale & Pelltier and Bourne and Kraatz.

Thanks for the schedule...we're lucky to get both Canadian and US channels where we are, so it should be a great show!

smile.gif

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Vagansmom - It takes trememdous power & control to maintain the long backward-outside edge that leads to the lutz jump, especially for finely-boned women. [The tall & muscular Viktoria Volchkova of Russia or Julia Sebestyen of Hungary are rare examples of women who truly lutz, rather than 'flutz.'] Dainty physiques compensate by shifting body weight to the backward-inside edge (making it a 'flip' jump rather than 'lutz') just before the right toepick jabs the ice for the take-off. Tara Lipinski also had a noticeable flutz. Michele Kwan less so but she, too, flutzes. Sarah's seems to be the more noticeable flutz among the current female competitors. It's an unconscious habit; once 'registered' in the brain, almost impossible to change...so I am told, as I've never tried to lutz or flutz myself. smile.gif

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i'm kind of more the triple "klutz" kind of girl myself...(ok i know it's horrible but somebody had to do it!)

[ February 05, 2002: Message edited by: Mme. Hermine ]

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Let the games begin!

We are so looking forward to the Olympics at our house, especially the figure skating. We're hoping that it is an all USA podium for the women (Michelle winning the gold medal).

My husband (and kids) will be happy to hear Dick Button won't be doing the commentary -- when they don't agree with him they always tell him to "button it, Button". You know when someone is having a great skate because he's quiet!

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I love both posts, Patricia & OCmom. You made my morning with some laughs!!!

Annual meeting at office...I'll need a laugh or two to survive til 6 pm. Hold the fort.

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Oh this is a fun way to get into a Winter Olynpics kinda mood. I'll be watching all the figure skating this year natch. Not to mention rooting for Hong Kong's lone competitor in speed-skating! I've seen her practice in the mall in HK - I don't rate her chances too highly as the rink's only half the size of an Olympic one!

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Michelle kwan was interviewed in this morning's NBC Today show. Of special interest, IMO, was her announcement that, unlike her plan in 1998 nagano, this time she is planning to have fun & savour the entire Olympic experience, including marching in tomorrow night's Operning Ceremonies and staying in the Athletes' Village at least part of the time. Good for her! [in Nagano, she & her team of coaches/sports psychologists/choreographers/family, etc, etc, opted to stay at a swanky hotel to 'shelter' Michele from the media glare until the last possible moment. She missed all of the fun aspects of the games...while teamate Tara Lipinski did all of the 'fun' things & WON!!! Tara was relaxed & sparkling on the ice; Michele was technically perfect but 'tight' in her delivery, back in 1998. It made a difference.]

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Jeannie I always enjoy your posts. Whether ballet or anything else you comment on you are always refreshing.

I love the figure skating as well and feel torn between cheering for Kwan who shares my daughter's exact birthday and year and the other talented skaters.

I just wish for a safe Olympic Games for all the athletes and spectators. It keeps our world united in a very special way.

[ February 07, 2002: Message edited by: Mary Lynn Slayden ]

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Why, thank you for the compliment, Mary Lynn. Indeed, we will all be hoping for a secure Olympics. How many hundreds of million$$$ are being spent just on security...just on tomorrow's Opening Ceremonies ...just on the protection of President Dubya Bush? I don't think that they'll be selling pretzels in the stands! [Just kidding!! biggrin.gif ]

I wonder if a skater will be selected to light the Olympic torch? To date myself - I remember the opening ceremonies of the 1972 Olys in Sapporo, Japan, when the Olympic torch entered the stadium carried by a local young female skater. She entered the stadium, skated around the frozen track, and slipped on the ice as she rounded a corner - poor thing!...but, to her credit, she did not drop the torch. And how about the Lillehammer Olympics, when a famous local ski-jumper held aloft the torch while performing a spectacular jump onto the stadium?

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Thanks Jeanie for starting this great thread. It's been fun reading what everyone has to say.

I've had Olympic fever for well over a month now and can't wait until the opening ceremonies tomorrow.

I share the wishes for safety above all else during the games.

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Who else is commentating besides Hamilton? Flemming? I love her. Anyone else?

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Siren,

Sandra Bezic will do commentary for the pairs competition.

I just learned that Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze will be in the pairs competition. They weren't at the European championship due to injury, so how did they qualify for the Olympics?

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Siren - Alas, not Peggy Fleming, who has an exclusive contract with rival network ABC (as does Button). Scott Hamilton's commentating partner at all events will be Canadian choreographer Sandra Bezik. She has had a long-standing contract with NBC; she commentates for the annual World Pro Figure Skating Championships, held every December in the Washington, DC area. Hmmm....in the World Pros, she is a tad prejudiced in favor of skaters for whom she does the choreography (e.g., Tara Lipinski). Bezik has a very nice delivery style, though (nice voice, on-camera presence, etc.). It will be interesting to hear her comments on the Pairs competition, which begins tomorrow, as this was her discipline; she & brother, Val, were Pairs Champions of Canada in the 1970s.

On another topic - One figure skater has been selected among the eight USA athletes to carry the tattered 'September 11th US Flag' in tonight's opening ceremonies. He is US National mens champion Todd Eldredge. Way to go, Todd! smile.gif

[ February 08, 2002: Message edited by: Jeannie ]

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Hot off the press! Here is the result of the 'draw' for the Pairs Short programs skate-order. The event takes place tomorrow night. To be shown live on NBC TV in the USA, 8:00 - 11:30 pm, in the East & Central time zones (then repeated in its entirety on NBC, beginning at 12:30 am). As always - check your local TV guides. Full TV skating schedule found at

http://heatherw.com/mk/sch.htm

Now for the Pairs Short Program draw -

****source: US Figure Skating Association web site, with my comments in ()

Pairs Short Program Start List

1. Cobisi / de Pra ITA

2. Bestandigova / Bestandig SVK

3. Berezhnaya / Sikharulidze RUS (TERRIBLE draw for them - will have to be fast & picture perfect, as judges tend to mark the early couples lower)

4. Ponomareva / Sviridov UZB

Warmup

5. Totmainina / Marinin RUS

6. Shen / Zhao CHN (OK draw - ahead of B&S...but look who follows them!)

7. Sale / Pelletier CAN (EXCELLENT draw for them, as their two main competitor-couple will have already skated - B&S and Shen/Zhao. Today's practice reports, though, say that Sale/Pelletier are a bit shaky in their throw triples - Jaime unable to land a single one - so this should boost their confidence. I hope that Jaime is not injured, though. Very odd, the news about the practices.)

8. Zagorska / Siudek POL (Good draw...they are my favorite team to pull a major surprise if they skate cleanly - she is petite & delicate; he is tall, so their lifts & throws are spectacular! I have great hopes for them!)

Flood

9. Petrova / Tikhonov RUS (hmmm..great draw if they can skate as they did two years ago)

10. Ina / Zimmerman USA (EXCELLENT draw - could surprise, just like the Poles)

11. Scott / Dulebohn USA (good for them)

12. Longlois / Archetto CAN

Flood

(funny how the last two sets of teams contain no 'major names' - NBC will probably skip over then, although I hope that is not the case)

13. Pang / Tong CHN (my current favorites for the NEXT Winter Olympics in Turin 2006 - she is ballet-thin & he can throw her half-way across the ice)

14. Chuvaeva / Plamarchuk UKR

15. Savchenko / Morozov UKR

16. Kautz / Jeschke GER

Warmup

17. Krasiltseva / Znachkov ARM

18. Zhang / Zhang CHN

19. Berankova / Dlabola CZE

20. Lariviere / Faustino CAN

[ February 08, 2002: Message edited by: Jeannie ]

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Regarding Jeannie's remarks on Candadian TV coverage of the Olympic Games:

The Olympic coverage available in Canada and the northern United States from CBC is quite different and in my opinion superior to that offered by the U. S. networks. While the Canadians are beginning to adopt some of the worst parts of the U. S. packages—for example the generally egregious, intrusive and uninformative "Up Close and Personal" profiles of athletes—their main focus remains the competition. What they do best is point a camera at an event and describe what is or has happened.

And the “has” happened is one of the joys of our northern neighbors’ coverage of figure skating. They don’t do a running commentary during the skating itself. You just get the image and the music. Afterwards they describe what they think is important, generally with taped highlights.

The Canadian commentators are Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini, who are excellent. Those of us on this board old enough to remember the 1980 Winter Games (or was it 1984?) will recall the horrific collapse they had during the long program. Underhill fell during a side by side spin, then somehow undercut Martini, who was still spinning, so that he fell and both were tangled on the ice. It was a disaster of astonishing proportions and one that must have been very difficult to recover from. I think they actually got back up and finished the program.

Another wonderful aspect of watching Canadian coverage is that good sportsmanship is still important. A typical U. S. interview after an event in, for example, track and field, might begin something like this: “Well, Carl, you won your third gold medal of these games by setting a new Olympic record in the 100 meter sprint. However, you didn’t break your own world record over that distance. How disappointed are you with that?”

A Canadian interview would be more along the lines of “While you didn’t quite get into the medal round for the 100 yard sprint, you still ran a personal best in the semi-finals. You must be pleased with that—how do you plan to build on that for the future?”

So if you are in Buffalo, Detroit, Seattle or other areas that regularly get Canadian TV coverage you are in for a treat.

I had planned to skip most of the Winter Games coverage this quadrennial, but a broken fifth metatarsal (ouch) is keeping me much closer to the television than planned. I haven’t been following the competitions at different venues leading up to the Games, so will be watching from a less informed but possibly fresher point of view.

Lots of information about figure skating in general and the Canadian team specifically at

http://www.cbc.ca/olympics/sports/figure-skating/

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