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World Skating Championships - Nice, France

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World Championships are now going on in Nice. Are you there, Helene? The TV coverage here is not particularly good, as usual, sports have generally been tranferred from the state TV channels to special sports channels. I do find it a bit much having to pay for a whole year when I only watch the European and World skating. However, there has been a couple of hours, not entire competions, but a lot of highlights shown. Americans and Canadians doing wonderfully, so far, Russians not really up to scratch, Chinese, Japanese and Coreans have not made me scream with joy. This must be televised in the US as well, watch and enjoy!

It is madly late in the night now and I almost have square eyes from so much TV watching, but I will post some additional stuff which you might find interesting.

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The live is full coverage with the extremely knowledgeable and insightful PJ Kwong. Prime time is an excerpts show with Brenda Irving, Tracy Wilson, and I think Rod Black.

I'm now watching the PVRed full coverage of the Pairs SP, and then onto the Dance SD's. I'll be caught up by World Team Trophy time.

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In the U.S., Universal Sports (NBC's cable sports channel) is broadcasting most of Worlds this year. Dishnetwork is finally carrying Universal Sports, so I am finally able to watch most of the programs this year. (Repeats will be broadcast over the next few days).

For those without cable or access to Universal Sports, NBC is broadcasting highlights next weekend.

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Universal Sports is off the menu in the Seattle Comcast area, it was effective in January 2012. Fortunately we still have CBC (although they have lost the contract for the Olympics, so now I am stuck with NBC's prepackaged junk food produced version of the games, may need to take some vacation days to Canada this summer just to watch it on TV). Back to the figure skating, I will focus only on the artistic values, as the moderators prefer.

Last night I watched the glorious CBC prime time replay of the competition held earlier in the day in Nice, France. The ladies short program and the dance teams long program. The ladies' short programs were mostly forgettable, from an artistic perspective. But oh my, what a feast for the second hour for the dance programs! All the top performers were interesting, with inventive choreography, an attack mentality, and tremendous physical athleticism, both in movement and stamina. The winning Canadians Virtue / Moir skated an absolutely charming program based on Fred Astaire / Audrey Hepburn's Funny Face. And the Silver placing Americans skated a fast, breathtaking waltz to Die Fliedermaus. I'm not a "homer" for the Americans, I prefer to root for my artistic favorites. Never ask me to choose between these two couples, they were both sublime. I'm sure the judges parsed out flaws, but I could not find them. the Bronze winning french team skated a "theme" dance to exotic music, they dressed as a mummy and a pharoah. I didn't think it was nearly as smooth, but it was fast, and tremendously athletic. Personally I preferred the 4th place Canadians more, for their artistic and emotional approach to a french torch song. The Italians skated a neat, pretty dance to La Strada music, but it wasn't going to blow the doors off, the way the Americans and Canadians skated.

I am bemused by the changes over the last 8 years under the Code of Points. The ladies and gentlemens' artistic quality seems to be compromised, but the dance quality has thrived. Perhaps the dance athletes see the movement in placements as a positive sign to try new artistic things?

I will be watching tonight, and will try to post a review as well. You can watch online here, but I'm certain there are youtube options as well : http://www.universal...ideo/index.html


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It has been a fine World Championship, what I have seen of it - American Ashley Wagner was just great. The final show was actually being shown on TV today, but I took it on DVD and will save it for when DD visits during Easter so we can watch together. Like ballet, skating really has evolved, as a tiny tot I remember seeing Sonja Henie, but she really made no impression. And what a sad life she had, after having made movies in Hollywood, she returned to her native Norway where she was not particularly welcome. To remedy this she gave her vast art collection to the state. Reason for her lack of popularity in Norway was that she had been too friendly with the nazis during that infamous 1936 Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Whereas her rival, the Swedish Vivi-Anne Hulten, refused to shake hands with the nazi ministers. Off topic really, but my second name is Vivi-Anne, my two elder brothers thought Hulten was just wonderful and they figured it would be a suitable name for their new born sister. But I never skated, actually we were strictly forbidden in ballet school, it was supposed to be bad for the feet.

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I did watch the men's final and ladies final yesterday, but ran out of time to post an artistic review. I agree that Ashley Wagner skated an entertaining program, though it was certainly not as balletic in her port de bras as I would have liked. I haven't seen Carolina Kostner's program to Mozart's Concerto No.23 since last fall, and I still enjoyed it tremendously, and the choreographic echos to Killian's Petite Mort. We had a second Die Fliedermaus tonight with Akiko Suzuki skating a fun program, though lacking the dance maturity of Kostner's program. I enjoyed Alena (Aliona?) Leonova's short program with a Pirates of the Caribbean, but her long program left me cold. She is a soubrette on the ice, so her short program music was a great match, but the deeply serious Adagio for Strings by Barber, and then theme music for Requiem for a Dream (the same music has been used by about 20-30 teams in the past 3 years, for the sake of the fans, please, a moritorium.) This music needs long stroking, great body lines, and expressive passion. Alena was trying to fake her way through it, but she would have been far better suited by a cheerier music. Mao Asada has lovely port de bras, long, clean stroking, soft knees, etc - but her nerves were her nemesis and none of her jumps came through. Such a pity for a program that suits her so beautifully. Skating now has a very long competitive season, and considering that Ms. Asada lost her mother unexpectedly just a few months ago - perhaps it was all too much to be mentally ready this weekend.

For the men, as much as I've tried to like Patrick Chan's Spanish program this year, it just comes across as cold for me. He lacks the snap and flair of a strong Spanish dancer. But his posture, speed, stroking and spinning cannot be denied. Personally I preferred the brilliant Daisuke Takahashi. But this odd, jazzy music perhaps is not to all tastes. His extraordinary ability to dance with emotion, and express the music on skates is enormously pleasing for fans. In the past, he has been over the top, but he has tamed his expressions to match the music's tone and needs. Bravo.

The next two years should be interesting, as the junior jumping beans mature, and the pressures of Sochi bear down.

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