Saturday, November 13, 2010

Skate America 2010: The Dishwashing Edition

Okay, the title has nothing to do with the skating and everything to do with my attempt to keep my apartment clean as I keep up with my fandom. As you may have noticed, I don't do anything halfway--I boycotted the Grand Prix pretty dramatically, and now I'm back in the Grand Prix pretty dramatically. Such is my personality, I suppose.

The best part of the broadcast, at first, was the technical glitch that made it near-impossible to hear the commentators. I therefore got to watch Felicia Zhang & Taylor Toth in blissful peace, which was perfect because they were skating to Clair de Lune. Their performance had their ups and downs--Felicia crashed into Taylor on their opening split triple twist, but this was followed by rock-solid side-by-side triple toes. Their singles background really shows, although now I'd love for them to skate more closely together.

And then, just as I was marveling at their unison on their side-by-side spins...

...they completely fell out of it. Sigh. They seemed okay with their 48.13, though. It's their first senior Grand Prix ever, after all!

I'd never heard of Canada's Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch before watching this (I was ignoring Skate Canada, remember?), and after watching their skate I can't say I'm all that eager to hear from them again. They seem solid enough, and were rewarded quite nicely by a second-place 61.64, but when my dishes are more interesting than their performance, there's a problem.

Next was Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov, whom I'd also never heard of but actually paid attention to. Their costume choices were a little suspect, particularly for Ksenia, but she is seriously pretty. They may be a little rough around the edges, but they have a performance quality that grabbed my attention. Their throw triple covered a lot of ground although Ksenia did have to fight a bit for the landing. They're young (18 and 20), so hopefully they'll follow up on their potential, because I am intrigued. Sadly, though, they only received 53.73. I wasn't watching all that closely, but I was expecting a little bit more.

Black mesh? What?

The first group ended with Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir, whose all-black costumes totally upped their sex appeal. Their performance had issues, however, with Simon falling on their side-by-side triple jumps and Marissa falling on their throw triple. They also had some strange choreography going on, such as this:

Seriously, figure skating right now is all about shamelessly scrambling for points, and they glide on two feet for ten seconds?

Yet even with two falls, with 47.24 they are less than a point behind Felicia & Taylor.

There's something kind of cute about Stacey Kemp & David King, but not so much that the judges could overlook their messy split triple twist, low side-by-side double (double!) flips, and overall slowness. A flat 42.00 put them in last place by over five points.

Next came a potential heir to the Chinese pairs dynasty (although, if you really start thinking about it, it's really just Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao, with a few pretenders taking advantage of the coattail effect and some wonky ISU rules, but whatever, their pairs are legit), Wenjing Sui & Cong Han. The first thing I noticed was their costumes. Dear GOD.

She also needs to choose a color other than white for the underwear area.

They had good speed, which was carried by the tempo of the country music, and in true Chinese fashion their split triple twist and throw triple flip were huge. The synchronization on their spins drifted off halfway through, and the entry into their lift looked a little labored, but there's no denying that the world's most populous country has chosen these two to be its next champions. They also seem to have the advantage of growing up in an already-established Chinese pairs system, meaning that they have a lot more character and artistry than the older pairs did when they first started. 57.53, still behind the forgettable Canadians.

Oh hey, look! Masters of bad coaching decisions, Caydee Denney & Jeremy Barrett! They don't seem to have actually suffered as a result of this decision, but I'm not convinced that they'll actually grow. Despite slightly more elegant costuming Caydee does not seem to have lost any of her strange Courtney Love-ness. Nevertheless, they had great unison on their spins and generally good energy throughout. 58.49, though, does a disservice to their maturity compared to the Chinese team.

This time, the best was saved for last: Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy. I would ordinarily suggest that they retire, but I guess they have unfinished business. I do wonder if this business included trying to be as poorly attired as possible:

Their opening throw triple flip was almost too big for her to handle--she was also leaning in the air--but she managed to pull it off. She was also leaning on their side-by-side triple toes, which were placed a little too far apart for two-time World Champions, but again she fought enough to keep it clean. They did, however, have a lot of unison problems on their side-by-side spins. Overall, this wasn't a great performance, but they did enough to stay on top of a mediocre Grand Prix field. 63.99 gives them a two-point lead, which they should definitely be able to build on with a problem.

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