US Nationals-Short Dance & Men’s Short

Today we had the short dance and the men’s short. Both events were well-skated.

Short Dance (rhumba)

We are fortunate to have two of the world’s best dance teams right here in the USA. Meryl Davis and Charlie White skated their short dance well, not quite as well as they are capable of, but enough to lead the competition with a score of 76.89. Most of their elements received a level 4, except for one of their rhumba sequences that received a 3 due to one of the skaters not achieving a feature on the Choctaw (we have the benefit in the arena of the earbud radios, where we can listen to technical specialists as the competition progresses. 5-time national dance champion Judy Blumberg and judge Charlie Cyr were our “callers” for the short dance, and they were very informative). Davis and White’s positions are crisp, and their unison is beautiful.

This was my first time seeing Maia and Alex Shibutani skate live, and they impressed me so much. Smooth like buttah! Her positions, like Meryl’s, are absolute precision; no oozing into position changes like some skaters you see. You can really appreciate Davis and White’s technical excellence, but emotionally, I prefer the Shibutani’s short dance. The reigning world bronze medalists received a high score of 72.61. The rest of the field did not break 60 points.

Madison Hubbell and her new partner Zachary Donohue are third, followed closely by Lynn Kriengkrairut/Logan Giulietti- Schmitt and Madison Chock/Evan Bates. Bates’ previous partner, Emily Samuelson, and her new partner Todd Gilles were in the same warm-up group. I’m thinking that must have been a little awkward. The musical chairs that is US pairs and dance continues on.

Men’s Short

Overall, this event was really well- skated and a pleasure to watch. It didn’t start out well, however. Last year’s silver medalist Ricky Dornbush had a disastrous short, falling on his 3 Lz combo, singling the Axel, and singling the flip. He is totally buried in 17th place. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. 

The next skater up was Adam Rippon, and unlike Dornbush, Rippon skated wonderfully. Lovely 3F/3T, no problem with the 3A (although I was surprised he landed it, because he really slows down as he approaches the Axel), gorgeous 3Lz with both arms over the head, and of course artistry is not a problem for him. He is in second place with a big score of 82.94.

The next contender to skate was Ross Miner. He skated a clean program and is in fourth place.

Last year’s junior champion, Max Aaron, did a perfect quad Salchow and 3A, but touched a hand down on the triple Lutz combo and turned out of the toe. He’s in sixth.

Speaking of quads, there were three quad attempts in the men’s short. Max Aaron’s was stellar; Douglas Razzano and Brandon Mroz tried quad toes but fell (Razzano’s was also downgraded to a triple). Razzano is in 8th place. Mroz  has had a rough season. He is in 12th place.

Keegan Messing went clean (although his footwork always looks a bit on the wild side and there’s nothing graceful about him). He is in fifth.

I really like Jason Brown. He is the 2010 junior champion and the 2011 junior world champion. He’s got a lovely back and really nice skating skills, but does not yet have a triple Axel (I would love to know if he’s anywhere near to getting it in practice; we’ve seen some practices and I haven’t seen him try one). He is in 7th place.

Next up was Jeremy Abbott, and he was brilliant. His program to swing music has a huge amount of flair and personality,  and his 3F/3T, 3A and 3Lz were all great. We had really good technical specialists on Skate Radio, David Kirby and David Santee. Kirby said that Jeremy’s footwork is on par with Patrick Chan’s. Jeremy’s score of 90.23 is a new US record, and he has almost an eight-point lead over Adam Rippon.

Armin Mahbahnoozadeh laid down another clean program (there were quite a few in this event), and along with his lyrical style, it was good enough to claim third place with a score of 80.66.

All in all, a great event!

News from Euros

Carolina Kostner leads after the ladies’ short. Kiira Korpi is second, Ksenia Makarova third.

Evgeny Plushenko landed a quad toe and seven triples en route to winning his seventh European title. He will not compete at Worlds because he will be having knee surgery shortly. Artur Gachinski won the silver, finishing about fifteen points behind Plushenko. Florent Amodio took the bronze. Brian Joubert failed to medal for the first time in eleven trips to Euros, finishing eighth.

Skating ticket prices

What is going on with the soaring prices for skating events? I didn’t go to 2009 Worlds in LA because I thought the ticket prices were outrageous (seats about 10 rows back mid-ice were about $900 or so). How quaint that price seems now. Tickets for next year’s worlds in London, Ontario are about $1400. Canadian, and the ticket prices for next year’s Nationals in Omaha are $915., $665., and $525. for the cheap seats.

I can’t pretend to know all the expenses involved in running a competition, but it seems like it would be in the best interests of the USFSA and the ISU to try and keep prices down, given the falling attendance at competitions, less tv exposure, and the like. When a die-hard skating fan like me, who has now been to nine Nationals, begins questioning whether or not she wants to go to events because the ticket prices are exorbitant, that is a problem.

Other musings

I have been attending live skating events long enough now that many skaters whom I have seen compete live are now at the boards coaching the next generation of skaters. This week, I’ve seen Paul Wylie, Todd Eldredge, Jason Dungjen, Liz (Punsalan) Swallow, Damon Allen, Derrick Delmore, Evgenia Shiskova and Vadim Naumov, Jenni Meno and Todd Sand, Rudy Galindo, Ryan Jahnke, Rocky Marval, and there are probably more. Time passes quickly!

Watching the free dance now, with the ladies’ free later.

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