Saturday, February 20, 2010

Vancouver 2010: Compulsory Dance

The Eastern European bloc has had to have been working overtime since Evgeny Plushenko's untimely and unlikely demise, but given the nature of the CD their efforts did not quite manifest. Of course this can probably all change on Sunday and Monday, but for now, Oksana Domnina & Maxim Shabalin are rightfully in first over hometown favorites Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, Meryl Davis & Charlie White, and Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto.

Oksana was wearing a strangely-cut red dress that had too much material in the top front, and not enough in the back and bottom. The solid red with the back jeweled accent worked well with Maxim's suit though, and it was hard to imagine that these were the same people embroiled in the OD controversy. Their skating was fast, smooth, close together, and easy, and although much of it seemed less sensual than Tanith & Ben's, the point of the CD is to be technical and they pulled it off flawlessly.

I thought Tessa & Scott skated well, but there was a slight lack of ease compared to some of their past performances. Of course it was the CD, so there's not much room for expression, and it was the first segment of the Olympics. Everything was tight and clean, although after a while I have to admit I found myself staring at Tessa's dress more than anything. I also started wondering if there's any effect of doing a tango in the CD and another in the OD (and now that I think about it, is a flamenco really a "folk dance"?). Anyway, their skate was enough for a new personal best, just behind Oksana & Maxim, and they looked pretty satisfied afterwards.

It was hard for me to pick between Meryl & Charlie and Tessa & Scott on a technical level, and that was probably where the (slight) Canadian advantage came in. Then again I'm not a ice dancing judge by any means, so there likely were also differences I didn't notice that account for the placements and two-point gap. Meryl & Charlie skated fast and close together, and for me they actually seemed more relaxed than Tessa & Scott. I've heard that Meryl had a priceless expression on her face after she realized they were third, but unfortunately I've yet to see this.

Going into these Games I shared the opinion that Tanith & Ben's medal chances were relatively pretty low, but they held everything together to come in 4th. Before any skating could begin I was immediately distracted by Tanith's dress, which has a lot of gratuitous cut-outs and is pretty much in line with the style of her other recent costumes. It also had two TASSELS! With a load of rhinestones and glitter added, it seemed unnecessarily showy, but at least it was all black and white. The thing I most noticed about their performance is the sensuality they oozed the moment the music started. Tanith was incredibly intense throughout, and their lines and smoothness of skating really shone through. Their ending move was a little overdramatic for me, but all in all it seemed like a good package for them, especially considering they'd never competed this CD this season. Again, I'm not sure about the specific technicalities that separate them from the top 3, but I really enjoyed this performance.

Isabelle Delobel & Olivier Schoenfelder had the strangest lead-up to their CD, with Olivier putting on his suit jacket and both of them stroking their own and the other's jaws. I have to say, though, Olivier in a suit makes for a pretty imposing cut on the ice. Their music sounded different from the others', although I didn't know that was possible--maybe I'm imagining it. They skated fairly well but compared to the top teams it seemed a little slow, and the scores reflected it.

Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates did not have a great day, although their results are not altogether surprising considering that the CD has never been their strong suit. She was dressed in some red, purple, and turquoise ball of glitter that didn't quite go with his red shirt and vest, but whatever. Their skating was slower, further apart, and shallower than the top teams, and she had a slight misstep in their final pose, but it was a good effort from them at their first Olympics.

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