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Pamela Moberg

World skating in Tokyo

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The World Championships have started in Tokyo. Not all that much being broadcast here, but I have naturally watched what was on this first day.

There was of course a very great interest on the part of Swedish TV in the Swedish participants. There were three of them - that is just historic! Kristoffer Berntson was there and did his usual "cell phone number",

well, he is actually getting more relaxed and proficient. And a new couple in the pair skating: Pylkina-Hogner. Little Pylkina, and she is very tiny indeed, is just 16 but I think promising. She is actually Russian, from St. Petersburg, but moved here a few years ago with her mother who is a trainer. The couple only placed themselves at I think number 17, but they gave a good show and one must take into account that traveling to Japan and taking part in this event with all the big elephants must be pretty nerveracking.

And talking about big elephants, the Russians dont seem to have many these days. What has happened to Russian figure skating? OK, Pylkina is born in Russia and the bronze couple were also originally Russian, but skated for Germany. Gold and silver went to China, which is a nation that seems to produce many good skaters. Japan also had a wonderful guy.

Is there possibly any BalletAlerter in Tokyo? Or do we all have to rely on TV? It will be an enjoyable week, I am sure. :angry2: :huepfen024:

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Am just watching it on tv myself, from Canada.

Unfortunately not the best short program for Sandhu, former ballet student...however wonderful short for Joubert of France, Buttle of Canada, and Takashi of Japan (what footwork!!)

I really don't know much about skating, but have always enjoyed watching the competitions!

m2

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Natalia was planning to be there, and I hope she made it and will be able to post about her experiences.

The German pairs couple who won bronze consists of Robin Szolkowy, who is/has always been German and Aliona Savchenko. He has some African descent through one parent, but he's been a German citizen. I think he has among the best posture of all of the pairs men. His partner, Aliona Savchenko, is original from Ukraine. She won Junior Worlds skating for Ukraine with Stanislav Morozov, who is now the partner of Tatiana Volosozhar. After the 2002 season, where she and Morozov placed 15th at the Olympics, they split. Savchenko found Szolkowy and started to learn German, and she moved a few months later. Because the rules at the time made all skaters sit out two seasons after they competed for another country, she and Szolkowy only started to compete internationally in 2005. The German government granted citizenship to Savchenko in time for her to compete at the Olympics in Torino.

Volosozhar is one of the greatest women's pairs skaters I've ever seen, and their triple twist is actually better than the Chinese pairs's. I've been reading reviews of Volosozhar/Morozov's LP, and she has been getting raves.

Sadly, two pairs who were planning to retire after last night's Long Program had to pull out with injuries, according to the ISU Day 2 Summary. Alexei Tikhonov injured his leg, and Mariusz Siudek injured his back. The Siudeks, though, had a magical LP skate at Europeans. Technically, there was an error or two, but it was one of the smoothest, quietest, most musical programs I've ever seen.

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I've been following the Men's LP over the Internet, and Kristoffer Berntsson just did a program with eight triples, including two triple axels, breaking his personal best by over 20 points!!!!

His techincal score was 75.36. To put that in context, with the caveat that the scores aren't completely comparable, at last year's Worlds, only the medal winners (Lambiel, Joubert, Lysacek) had higher technical scores in their LP than he did this year, and only they and Sandhu had higher total LP scores. In Torino, only the top four men had higher technical and overall scores for their LP than Berntsson's in Tokyo. His combined score for Worlds would have put him 8th at Torino; Bertnsson's actual total score in Torino was nearly 45 points lower. I hope this is the beginning of a super career for him :flowers:

He did a disco program, which was really fun. I hope they play it over and over on Swedish TV.

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Unfortunately, french TV didn't show him.

Both Jeff Buttle and Stephane Lambiel had excellent choregraphied programs but for me the highlight of the night was really Jeff Buttle. He reminds me of Paul Wylie so much but still is a class of his own. It's a shame he fell twice :flowers:

It's great for french skating that our "Baboo" won though and his world title is well deserved. I was also very impressed with the Japonese skater that came in second. His speed was exceptional and he landed all the planned content, the only error being a hand on the ice at the landing of the quad toe.

It was good to see Stephane Lambiel's competitive spirit seems to be there again. His program wasn't flawess but still good. He looks much more mature on the ice this year, maybe it's his spanish look ?

I really wish that JW will come back stronger next year, because he's really talended and could accomplish so much.

I Hope that "Kimminator" will do well tomorrow !

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Oh yes, they show Kristoffer Berntson over and over again on Swedish TV. And rightly so, I have seen quite a lot of him in the past, and now, suddenly, he is so much more assured - he is steadily climbing the ladder and I think that in a couple of years we will have a badly needed medallist here. There hasnt been one for a very long time. So, for luck, I took out my Salchow fan. (Maybe I have mentioned it before, but I have a fan that once belonged to Salchow's sister).

I didnt really like any of the tango couples, the Bulgarian couple was best - somehow I thought that fire and intensity were lacking in most couples. As I am not a skater myself, presentation is very important to me, and some couples were frankly rather boring.

Swedish TV broadcasts two sessions a day, 105 minutes in the daytime and 60 minutes in the evening. Not too bad. Today they started selling the tickets for next year's world championships. Good tickets are absolutely exhorbitant, I will think twice about buying an all events ticket, single event might be OK. :flowers:

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Back from Tokyo. So sorry that I could not write while I was there but Tokyo is one of those cities with very few internet cafes (as in the USA) because it is assumed that most folks have internet in their homes, cellphones, etc.

Worlds was fantastic!

Ladies:

It was worth the trip just to experience the Ladies Short Programs night in which practically everyone skated perfectly. Everyone from young Tamar Katz of Israel on up performed (for the most part - Mao Asada the big exception) to the best of her abilities. Gimazetdinova of Uzbekistan rocked! 'Granny' Sebestyen of Hungary was on fire! Kostner whizzed and soared around the rink, nailing everything! All 3 Americans were wonderful! Every performance seemed to build on the energy of the last skater -- there were at least 12 standing ovations, one after the other!!! 'Tis a shame that the Ladies LPs were relatively weak, other than the final flight. But the final four were exciting. After both Mao (with her 3-ple axel, etc.) and Miki had skated, most of us had 'given' the gold to Mao, then we remembered that Miki was 7 points ahead of Mao coming into the finals. Miki won, deservedly so. The stadium shook as if an earthquake was going on, when the 1-2 Japan finish was announced! [Another delight was the 3rd Japanese -- Yukari Nakano -- who ended up in 5th place. Japan is THE ladies powerhouse country of the decade.]

Ladies surprises? Besides Katz, I was impressed by the beautiful lines, jumps and Kostner-like speed of Kristin Wieczioreck (sp?) of Germany, even though she failed to advance to the finals. I was most disappointed by Gedevanishvili of Georgia who fell apart in the LP.

Men:

Berntsson of Sweden absolutely stole-the-show in the men's finals!!!! He now has a huge following among Japanese teen-aged (and not-so-teen) girls and women. Tomas Verner was the #2 'rock star' of the event. Only Berntsson, Verner, Lambiel & Takahashi received full standing O's during the LPs...not even Joubert of France, who ended up winning. Disappointment: American men were totally blah, sorry to write; Johnny Weir must have spent more time shopping at Harajuku than practicing; Evan was stiff. And don't get me started on the Canadian men!

Dance:

A real nail-biter finale. I honestly thought that the USA's Belbin/Agosto had dropped to 4th, below the French...but B/A secured the ONLY medal for Team USA at this Worlds. (Yikes!) Denkova/Stavisky of Bulgaria truly deserved their Gold with the greater difficulty of their "Seven Deadly Sins' program. Most of the audience was behind them, although the Canadian/NAm followers obviously cheered loudest for 2nd-placed Dubreuil/Lauzon, whose 'At Last' free dance was the prettiest of the lot, if not the most technically challenging. Among the younger teams, we all went wild & fell in love with Canada's Virtue/Moir (a picture-perfect 'Valse Triste'); I see them as the top NAm team in the not-too-distant future. No-contest between Virtue/Moir and the young Americans, Davis/White, IMO, no matter what is written about the Americans' level-of-difficulty.

Pairs:

The mighty Shen/Zhao of China did not disappoint! Both their SP ("Romanza") and LP ("Thais") are true masterpieces in the annals of pairs skating. They elevated themselves to Protopopov & Gordeeva/Grinkov stature, in my book, at this Worlds. And, to top it off, Zhao proposed to Shen as soon as the LP was performed, as all of us cheered in standing ovation! [Of course, we had no idea what he was telling her while on his knees. It was explained to us only on Sunday, during the exhibitions.] Nobody came close. China also took silver with Pang/Tong -- now a truly artistic couple. The Germans were speedy and innovative in taking the bronze. Biggest revelation: the fabulous Volosozhar/Morozov of Ukraine, who came in 4th. Huge disappointment - the 3rd Chinese (the Zhangs) were sloppy & made mistakes but still ended up in 5th or 6th place, mostly thanks to withdrawals explained below. All of the Russians were weak - esp. the so-called Japan/Russian pair that seemed to make every move look hard & painful...despite the girl's ridiculous "ahhhh" expression no matter what she did.

Two very sad moments in the Pairs competition: the withdrawal of the Siudeks just before they were to skate the LP (he injured himself during the warm-up, we think) and the earlier withdrawal of the top Russians, Petrova/Tikhonov, after a poor SP.

IN SUM: A New World Order in figure skating was unveiled at these championships & it was an honor & privilege to have witnessed it:

* THE GOOD - Asias's ascent in singles - a podium sweep for Asian women & strong silver medal for Japan in the men. Mao Asada was only the 2nd woman in the history of the World Championships to have performed a 3ple axel; the first was also Japanese -- Midori Ito, in 1989 and 1990 (which I also saw live; could never have imagined that I'd have to wait 17 years to see the next one).

* THE BAD - North America's descent - only one medal each for Canada & the USA. For 1st time since 1994, no US woman on the podium of ladies Singles.

* THE UGLY - The end of Russian dominance -- not one medal for them. Highest finish was, I think, 5th in ice dance (Domnina/Shabalin). I believe that the talk about Pluschenko's return next year will not materialize, as he is heavily into Russian politics at present, running for the Russian Duma, in representation of St. Petersburg area. He is the frontrunner and could very well win. 'Da svidanya' to skating.

On the 'fun end' - Tokyo was a blast! Where else can one eat lunch from bento boxes, with chop sticks, as the Zamboni resurfaces the ice? Elegantly-attired, polite, knowledgeable fans. Everything worked lickety-split. "Kyoto by bullet train" was a dream-come-true for me! Magnificent ballets at New National Theater and Bunka-kaikan. Taxi doors that automatically open for you! Subway-platform 'pushers' in white gloves!! Heated toilets that play music!!! I'm ready to plan the next trip. Now when is that annual World Ballet Festival held? :blink:

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Wow, Natalia, that sounds not only like a lot of fun, but there's no feeling like being in a stadium as the local crowd is in ecstasy about its skaters. The electric charge is like no other.

I saw Berntsson and Verner in 2003, when they were wee lads (well, teenagers) with beautiful edges and good expression, but both were struggling with 3A's. Now look at them! I'm so thrilled for both. If American ice shows weren't so, um, American-centric, both of them would have contracts in a millisecond.

Mariusz Siudek was injured during the warm-up: he hurt his back badly, but wanted to continue. His coach, Richard Gaultier, convinced him not to:

When Mariusz wanted to continue, Gauthier cautioned him that it wouldn't be safe to have a spasm when Dorota was up on a lift. "I said, 'Better keep the memories of Euroepans with the good performance,'

http://www.globesports.com/servlet/story/R...lobeSportsOther

Alexei Tikhonov was also injured. The ISU site had a wrap up article for Day 2, but it's no longer on their site.

It's really sad for both pairs, but at least the Siudeks had a magical, if imperfect skate in Warsaw, to an enraptured crowd. For Petrova/Tikhonov, who sacrificed their plans to coach and stayed in to help the younger teams, it was a hard ending.

The ISU has announced the 2007 bonuses based on the year's standings, and many of the medal winners in Tokyo won some serious training cash:

Ladies:

1st: Kim, Asada (45K)

3rd: Ando (18K) But she always has Toyota...

Men:

1st: Takahashi (45K)

2nd: Joubert (27K)

3rd: Oda (18K)

Pairs:

1st: Shen/Zhao (67.5)

2nd: Savchenko/Szolkowy and Zhang/Zhang (40.5)

Dance:

1st: Denkova/Staviski (67.5)

2nd: Dubreuil/Lauzon (40.5)

3rd: Domnina/Shabalin (27)

I hope the Chinese Federation lets S/Z keep some of that money to start a new home!

Now, we want to hear about the ballet!

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