(Late) comments on Worlds, and post-Worlds news

I guess I was isolated from the marginalization of figure skating on American television, since up until January 1st of this year, my cable company carried Universal Sports. Comcast no longer carries that channel, so I had to pony up to watch coverage of Worlds on Ice Network. Call me old-fashioned, but I much prefer watching TV to watching my computer screen. At any rate, here are some rather late comments on the World podiums:

PAIRS
Gold – Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy, GER
Silver – Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov, RUS
Bronze – Narumi Takahashi/Mervin Tran, JPN

The gold and silver medalists come as no great shock, although V/T had to pull up from eighth place after the short after a failed death spiral. (Did anyone else think that Maxim Trankov looked a little deranged??) I can’t say I loved either of S/S’ programs this year; their free to music from “Pina” had way too many music cuts for my taste, but you can never argue with their technical prowess and commitment to their material. The bronze medalists T/T are a total shock, with such other teams in the field as Kavaguti/Smirnov, Pang/Tong, and Bazarova/Larionov. I find Takahashi/Tran kind of generic, with the exception of their quasi-Detroiter-split lift, but consistency and going mostly clean paid off when other teams made mistakes, and their reaction in the kiss & cry when they found out they had medalled was priceless!

Pang/Tong were disappointed in their finish off of the podium, although this was their first major competition of the season. Here is an article that talks about them going forward: One more dance (at least), from Chinadaily.com

I was disappointed that Kavaguti/Smirnov did not skate better, because their lovely free skate to “Clare de Lune” was my favorite pairs free program of the season. It seems that the training time missed with Smirnov’s leg injury was too much to overcome.

Good on the two American teams, Denney/Coughlin (8) and Marley/Brubaker (10), for having top-ten finishes in their first trip to Worlds (as teams, anyway; of the four skaters, only Marley has not been to Worlds before with a former partner. And that, my friends, is American pairs skating in a nutshell…sigh).

I was not sure why Duhamel/Radford were as high as they were after the short?? Dube/Wolfe continue to struggle as a partnership.

MEN
Gold – Patrick Chan, CAN
Silver – Daisuke Takahashi, JPN
Bronze – Yuzuru Hanyu, JPN

As much as I think Chan has been overmarked many times in the past several years, he did deserve to win Worlds. When you combine high PCSs (which someone on FSUniverse called “Points for Canuck Skaters”; I laugh ruefully) with two quads, you are going to distance yourself from the field even with a Waxel and a splat. Looking at the judges’ protocols for the free skate, Takahashi actually got higher component scores than Chan, which I think is correct. As I’ve said before, there’s no question that Chan is a wonderful skater: deep edges, difficult footwork, smooth and polished, usually nice runout on his jump landings (an area where Takahashi could improve). However, in my opinion, Takahashi is Chan’s equal or better in footwork, and he draws the audience into his performances like few skaters can. Also, Takahashi’s free program this year is to “Blues for Klook”, which is a difficult piece to skate to given its lack of tempo changes. It’s not easy to sustain interest with this piece, but Daisuke pulls it off as usual. I don’t know how accurate the NBC commentary was, but Tracy Wilson and Tom Hammond (don’t get me started on TH, who seems to have learned nothing about skating after commentating on it for a million years) said that Takahashi wanted to end his competitive career after Japan’s Worlds last year, but of course Worlds were not held there due to the earthquake and tsunami. Will Daisuke stay in and push to Sochi, especially given his bad knee?

Chan has parted ways with coach Christy Krall; interesting that she resigned. He will continue to train in Colorado Springs with his other coach, Kathy Johnson: Chan says split with Krall part of an “evolution”, from the Washington Post

Yuzuru Hanyu is 17, Nice Worlds were his first senior Worlds, and he is the bronze medalist. His free skate to “Romeo + Juliet” was a bit rough around the edges, but this kid has huge potential. A great jumper and far from artistically hopeless. Another superstar coming out of Japan…Takahashi and Hanru both on the podium marks the first time two Japanese men have been on the Worlds podium. Remember the days when Japan would have one decent men’s skater and one decent ladies’ skater at any given time? Those days are long gone!

I was sad to see Jeremy Abbott once again fail to carry over a brilliant performance at Nationals to Worlds. Both of his programs this year were wonderfully choreographed and positively mesmerizing, but jump mistakes cost him once again, especially in the short.

In addition to wondering if Takahashi will stay until Sochi, will Joubert? His skating hasn’t advanced at all in years–he skates on two feet way too much–but he just missed the podium in Nice.

DANCE
Gold – Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir, CAN
Silver – Meryl Davis/Charlie White, USA
Bronze – Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat, FRA

I don’t know why, but I felt like the handwriting was on the wall for Davis/White after Virtue/Moir defeated them at the Four Continents Championship. Personally, I much preferred D/W’s “Der Fliedermaus” to V/M’s “Funny Face”; I felt like “Fliedermaus” was the ideal combination of technical prowess and exuberance/showmanship. I don’t know the intricacies of dance judging, but D/W received Level 3’s on a few of their elements while V/M had all Level 4’s, and V/M got higher component marks as well. Hmm. No denying that V/M’s unison is scarily good, but if there’s any dance judging experts out there, can they explain?

Disappointing finish for the Shibutanis (8) after medalling last year; great finish for Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who finish in the top ten in their first trip to Worlds.

I loved Weaver/Poje’s free dance this year, and did not flip for the mummy thing of Pechalat/Bourzat, but perhaps it’s somewhat of a lifetime achievement award for P/B, who have flirted with the podium on more than one occasion.

LADIES
Gold – Carolina Kostner, ITA
Silver – Alena Leonova, RUS
Bronze – Akiko Suzuki, JPN

First of all, Kostner absolutely deserved to win these Worlds. But what does it say about the ladies’ field that the World Champion can win without a triple Lutz? I would be curious to know when was the last time that the ladies’ champion didn’t do the Lutz, like sometime in the 1980’s?? At any rate, Kostner has had a roller coaster of a career, and I was happy for her even so. Her musical interpretation is heartfelt and genuine.

The silver must be a vindication of sorts for Leonova, who is being beseiged by all sorts of teenage wunderkinds at home. And how wonderful for Akiko Suzuki, to win a world medal at the age of 27 after her career was derailed by anorexia? I think this Worlds has one of the happiest cohorts of bronze medalists of any Worlds in recent memory.

Thank goodness that Ashley Wagner rallied from her eighth-place short program to pull up to fourth overall with a strong free skate (had it not been for that doubled loop in the short, she may have won the bronze, as Suzuki’s free beat Wagner’s by less than a point). Given Czisny’s complete disaster and 22nd-place finish, if Wagner had finished lower than sixth, the US would have had only one ladies’ spot for next year’s Worlds. Yikes. Czisny claims she is not deterred by her poor Worlds performance: Alissa Czisny on rebound, has no plans to retire…from Detroit Free Press

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