Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Skate Canada 2010: From One Mess To Another

We all knew Trophée Eric Bompard wold more or less end up the way it did, right? Now that the Grand Prix events are finally and mercifully over, and all that's left is the Final in 10 days, I thought I would take the opportunity to look back on the competitions that I initially ignored out of concern for myself. First up: Skate Canada.

I will happily cover both the best and the worst, but in this case only the men's event is worth mentioning. Any event that Alissa Czisny can win (and that Fumie Suguri insists on entering) is possibly beyond 'worst' status, and both the pairs and ice dance events look too boring to even think about.

Of course I have to start with Patrick Chan. Two obvious things I did not realize about him: 1) He is still only 19 and 2) He is a two-time World silver medalist. One not-so-obvious thing I had to look up about him: 1) He is fully Chinese.

This program is remarkable for its ability to earn unearned points. How a skater can miss two of three required jumping passes and still score high enough for third place (even at a Grand Prix event) is beyond me. Even these commentators, who talk way too much, are initially at a loss for words after the missed triple Axel. I'll admit that he has good speed in his stroking and in his spins, but the magical Canadian bonus is just too much.

So actually, his placement is not beyond me. It's very easy: just keep on adding PCS points until the desired score and rank are reached. Of course the commentator says, "Three falls, and I'm not worried." Why should he be?

But my biggest problem? I'm so jaded that I can't even get angry about this.

Disguising an overused piece of music by changing the instruments and the tempo isn't fooling anyone except maybe the Canadians. The unbearably biased commentators proudly crowed that Patrick "answered another question" by landing a quad toe loop, which was admittedly very good, but moments later had to face the fact that their chosen boy was down on the ice yet again after a failed triple Axel. The ability of the commentators to continue to finding positive--and occasionally flatly wrong--things to say might be even more remarkable than the score this mess of a performance receives. Only one clean jumping pass in the entire program, and he skates away with a smile and a gold medal. "Still some rough edges"? That's putting it mildly, buddy.

Patrick Chan rivals Yuna Kim when it comes to blind adoration.

I am no fan of Nobunari Oda, seriously, but his knees are like butter. He doesn't have the excitement that Patrick Chan has, especially in Canada, but his jumps are to die for. Nobunari's costumes and music occasionally make me want to die, but that's another story.

The Russian commentators are so mercifully quiet...

I actually kind of like this costume, I think. I also like this music much better than his short program choice, but I'm afraid it's not exciting enough to help him disguise his sheer lack of artistry and musicality. He also has a strange free leg position on the entrance to his triple Axels, which I noticed just moments before he fell on one. There's not much else to say except that Nobunari deserved more, but it's just the way skating goes. At least now everybody knows that one fall is far more costly than four falls and five stepouts. The complete lack of emotion on his face as a mask for his utter confusion, disappointment, and annoyance is amazing.

By the way, if you watch the Gala, Nobunari is introduced as "He's a new dad, and the rising son of Japan!" Wow, no.

Do I approve of Adam Rippon's laughably fake attempts to portray Romeo? No, of course not. But his skating is so gorgeous I could almost overlook that. Once he got through the triple Axel I knew the rest would be smooth sailing, and it was.

His double-armed Lutz in the short program was a little less than pretty, but Adam's first Lutz in his free skate was pure beauty. I draw the line at that ugly one-armed three-jump combination, though. Just no. His knees aren't quite as soft as Nobunari's, but his increasingly evident gayness allows him to feel the music so much more. I'm not even going to bother comparing their placements, since it's obvious that their respective strengths are different, and in the end the only determinant in their markings was how to enable Patrick to win.

All in all, this was a fairly forgettable competition, minus the eye-roll outrage that was Patrick Chan. I guess I'm glad I watched it, a month late.

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