Monday, February 22, 2010

Vancouver 2010: Original Dance

Things are not looking good for Meryl Davis & Charlie White. I am fairly confident that they will medal, but their chances of realizing their gold-medal dream seem pretty slim at this point. Their strength compared to the rest of the field (well the other teams in the top 4, namely) is their OD, and while they unsurprisingly beat Oksana Domnina & Maxim Shabalin they still lost ground to Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir. Tessa & Scott's strength is definitely their FD, so it seems like it will be difficult for Meryl & Charlie (and everyone) to beat them tonight.

Anyway, to the specifics...

Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates: They were the only couple shown in between skicross races, and while I am still not a fan of her dress or their OD in general, it was very well executed and they successfully moved up several spots. They seem to be much more comfortable once they can get out of the CD, and it showed here. Emily & Evan are very well-trained technically, and Susie Wynne(?) was all over them.

(By the way, can I mention that skicross is a terrible idea? Wiping out with skis is so much worse than wiping out on a snowboard... or at least worse to watch... eek.)

Isabel Delobel & Olivier Schoenfelder: Considering that they are former world champions, everyone knows what they are capable of, so the timing of her injury and pregnancy couldn't have been worse. I really liked the concept of their OD, which was a French Can-Can, but their performance was painfully heavy and slow. Susie described it as "rough around the edges," and it seems like they simply ran out of training time.

Sinead Kerr & John Kerr: They were as sweet and as entertaining as ever, but had a problem on their second set of twizzles that really held them back. They were also skating to American country music, and had a cool move at the end that involved them skidding to a stop to the sounds of a car. It's great that Sinead can use her relative size to their advantage and come up with these lifts and tricks, but all in all I guess their program had more show-skating qualities than technical ones.

Oksana & Maxim: This was the first time I saw their much-disputed OD and all "authenticity" controversies aside, I am not a fan of this program. It looked slow and labored, and nothing really grabbed at me because all of their ice dancing skills seemed hidden in wild moves and appearances. They were slow and seemingly messy, without a real emotional connection between them. I always wonder why they feel the need to do illusory programs, as they clearly have skating skills (see: CD), but they did and the result was a fairly empty routine. Susie nearly choked on her own voice trying to get all of her criticisms out, and I have to say that NBC's journalistic professionalism really fell here. While reporting that Australian aborigines have been offended by their program is fine, remarking that the portrayal of the culture clearly is not authentic is amateur, when she herself has no knowledge of the culture either. The commentators would later insert a snide comment when talking about Meryl's dress, which was pieced together from several Indian dresses purchased in a Indian shop in her hometown--"So her costume is authentic, unlike the Russians'." Completely unnecessary. " her costume has not generated controversy" is a valid journalistic move, making judgments on authenticity is not. The media in the US is as biased towards its athletes as it is possible to be, but NBC last night really crossed a whole new line. Anyway, the judges tried to hold Oksana & Maxim up as much as possible through their PCS, but in the end it wasn't enough to keep them anywhere higher than 3rd.

Meryl & Charlie: And then actually came the routine that has been used as the foil. They put out a great performance that really grabbed the audience, and again I was struck by Meryl's unique beauty. They beat their personal best pretty significantly, and at this point it looked like they had really gotten the job done.

Tessa & Scott: ...until Tessa & Scott skated, that is. Given the problems that they had on their OD earlier in the season, and the fact that the flamenco is less relatable than the Indian music, it seemed like they would lose the OD to Meryl & Charlie and then make up the difference in the FD. Susie kept making inane comments about how "there is no room for error," as if the other programs do have this room, but indeed Tessa & Scott's OD was super technical and high-paced. Everything was tight and close together, and there was none of the uncertainty of their previous competitions. I'm not sure what the male commentator meant by "they have a tendency to hold back," but either way there was no holding back in this flamenco. I loved their lift, although I could have sworn her legs were neater in previous attempts, but whatever. They looked amazingly and adorably pleased at the end, and their scores were even bigger than Meryl & Charlie's. Unlike in the pairs the scores probably weren't due to the Magic Canadian Bonus, but in general the scores seemed very inflated.

Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto: They have changed their costumes since Nationals. Why, I do not know, because these new ones looked needlessly heavy and someone described it as "looking as if they'd jumped off a deck of cards." I am still not a fan of their strangely jumpy OD, but their performance was the best I've seen from them in a while. There was energy, speed, and power, and most of all they looked happy. However the EEB decided that an all-North American podium just wouldn't do, and made sure their OD lost narrowly to the Russians. I have no idea how this happened, but because of it Tanith and Ben are still in 4th place.


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