Saturday, November 13, 2010

Skate America 2010: The Hair Contest Edition

Well, as promised, I decided to finally face the ongoing reality that is the Grand Prix, and actually watched the Men's Short Program in full. There was minimal nervousness and lots of weird aesthetic choices going on, so it was the perfect transition back into this crazy world.

First up was Daisuke Murakami, who currently is like a D-grade version (sorry) of the real Daisuke, and didn't leave much of an impression on me either way. The commentators, however, foreshadowed how high-quality their analysis would be by introducing him as "the first of great Japanese men here tonight." I'm all for patriotism and support, but come on. D-Daisuke did what he needed to do, but what with going first, the arena being almost empty, and just not knowing how to really perform, the program just kind of came and went. I also had no idea how this event would be scored, so his 67.01 didn't really mean much to me either.

Then came Armin Mahbanoozadeh, who I had been told became exponentially more good-looking over the past year. I guess they have a point, although not so much that it actually occurred to me to take a picture. His jumps were a bit iffier than D-Daisuke's, but his presentation was better (although the judges seem reversed on their opinion on this), and apparently that was enough to squeeze him right over D-Daisuke by 0.6. I believe the choice quote from the commentators for his performance was, "I don't think he needed to put his hand down on that [jump]." How would they know? This was also the first time this competition that I caught a glimpse of Priscilla Hill, which will soon gain significance.

Next was another Priscilla Hill student, Viktor Pfeifer. Was he attractive? Was he not? As I wavered on this assessment, his costume underwent this transformation:

Those yellow flaps were essentially all I needed to see before I decided to move on.

Unfortunately for him, the judges were even less enthralled, and hit him with a 55.01.

What is Stephen Carriere doing? This question applies to both his career and, more immediately, his stripes. Oh, the stripes. Going horizontally on his shirt, and vertically on one leg... take a look at this two-for-one picture:

Priscilla Hill was the first entrant in the night's hair contest, while Stephen looked like he'd stolen the skin off a zebra.

Stephen took a pretty hard-looking fall on his opening triple Axel, and his program never really took off from there. His spins sort of traveled and there wasn't much pop on anything, and Rafael also mentioned that his music had female connotations. I wouldn't know about that, but the fact that the music is so well-known is probably the only thing that made the performance memorable.

Shawn Sawyer occasionally looks like Ross Miner. The first thing I noticed was the gorgeous detailing on his jacket, and this was followed by a crazy spin position at the end of his program. I basically do not remember anything in between, other than a missed triple Axel.

Does this unnerve Evgeny Plushenko?

A 56.94 kind of face. But look at that detailing!

The last in the first group was Nan Song, about whom I really remember nothing except for the fact that he skated to Requiem for a Dream. Dear China, I know that your men's skating history is still trying to mature now, but this does not mean you need to copy every mistake the other federations have already made. No more. At least he didn't fall, and was proportionally awarded 62.21 for it.

Opening for the second group was Denis Ten, who tried to get his hair into the mix but simply did not do enough with it.

His program didn't do enough for me either, except prompt me to wonder after yet another failed triple Axel why Mao Asada's is considered the most problematic.

Adrian Schultheiss looks like Paul Bettany. That is all. It freaks me out because all I've ever seen Bettany in is The DaVinci Code and A Beautiful Mind, and they were not the most non-unsettling films. Actually, I liked A Beautiful Mind, but I really can't deal with The DaVinci Code. 63.71? Hey, why not. I can't see the protocols anyway.

Now, in general Adam Rippon tends to win any hair contest he enters, especially now that Charlie White's gone short, but I was not loving his curls this time. I was further not loving that he was using Romeo & Juliet music, which can be closely grouped with The Phantom of the Opera music which in turn can be closely grouped with Requiem for a Dream. Furthermore, he decided to act it out, complete with a diva-infused death at the end.

Although he badly stepped out of his triple Axel, there's no arguing with his Lutzes--pure gorgeousness. Perhaps he can transform the weird Adam-Mao rumors into a Lutz lesson. His 73.94 finally set the bar for what we should be expecting to see at this competition.

Memo to Kevin van der Perren: "3-time Olympian" is the kindest possible way to say that a skater is way too old to still be competing. Fortunately for him, this was one of his "on" nights for his jumps, although the rest of the program, as usual, simply didn't exist. 62.22? Whatever, NEXT.

And what a next it was. A-Daisuke, who apparently oh-so-desperately wants to be both World Hair Champion and World Figure Skating Champion, took to the ice with slicky hair and a top that seems to have lost approximately five buttons. A-Daisuke's first triple jump was so high I actually thought he was going for a quad, but he had a weird trip-like step after his triple Axel and a stepout on his triple flip. I won't say anything about his decision to try to be a Latin man, but this guy knows how to skate. 78.12 puts a nice distance between him and Adam.

The far-too-ardent Japanese fans were also out in full force (I swear some of them must have flown across the Pacific just for this), and one of them even threw a huge bunch of bananas at him. Literally.

I can't say I don't want those bananas, though. Brilliant choice.

The last skater of the night was Nobunari Oda, who still has yet to win anything big. Come on. Well, maybe the Hair Title:

The thing about Nobunari is that he has great jumps, but always has a huge mental failing at the most important moments (see: 2005 Japanese Nationals, 2010 Vancouver Olympics) and also can't seem to perform to the audience as A-Daisuke can. Despite his lack of performance ability, he didn't have any of the brief technical lapses in concentration that A-Daisuke did, and it was enough to put him in first place by a little over a point. I was actually expecting him to hover somewhere between A-Daisuke and Adam, but 79.28 it is.

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