Lyrics in Singles and Pairs….

So by now skate fans know that lyrics are now allowed in the singles and pairs disciplines (they’ve been allowed in Ice Dance since the 1997-98 season). What is YOUR opinion of the use of lyrics in all of the disciplines?

I was originally against the use of lyrics in singles and pairs, and two competitions into the Grand Prix skating season, I can’t say that my opinion has changed very much. Watching skating for many years I have heard all kinds of music butchery, as well as skating warhorses being beaten to death (“Carmen”, anyone?) I wasn’t afraid of lyrics per se, but of lyrics being done poorly. Also, it is going to take a long time for me to stop thinking “exhibition” when I hear lyrics. Since I much prefer competition skating to exhibition skating, this is not a good portent for me.

Using lyrics can have its advantages if done well, though. Javier Fernandez‘s SP this year is “Black Betty”, and he’s now able to use the version that most of us are familiar with. However, during Skate America, I heard yet another musak version of the Beatles, and thought “Why would you not have Sir Paul singing instead of the elevator version of “Eleanor Rigby??”

I’ve seen a few cases so far when lyrics have been used to good effect. This season, Madeline Aaron/Max Settlage (USA) are skating their free to “The King and I”, and making sparing but effective use of lyrics:

In Aaron/Settlage’s case, the lyrics are not overwhelming nor terribly distracting.

But let’s look at Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford‘s SP. “C’est bon”? Someone caterwauling in French is not my idea of good!!

Their skating is quite wonderful, but it was really hard  to pay attention to it with my hands over my ears. In this case, the lyrics totally overwhelm the skating.

With lyrics allowed, one would think that skaters would be choosing a greater variety of music, but we’ve certainly seen our share of Carmens (thankfully sans lyrics), Malaguena (with lyrics, ick, ick), and Argentine tangos. I like Samantha Cesario‘s “Carmen”, but she has the fierceness to pull it off. Skaters, when your coach suggests one of the tired old nuggets, unless you are a skater with the chops to bring something new to a piece that’s been beaten within an inch of its life,  JUST…SAY….NO.

 

 

2013 Liberty Summer Competition

I have the good fortune to live about twenty miles from IceWorks, the beautiful 4-rink complex owned by Uschi Keszler. IceWorks hosts the Liberty Summer Competition each year. There’s nowhere better to be in 100-degree weather than an ice rink!! The East Coast heat wave caused some problems at Liberty, though–it was so hot that it was a full-time job keeping the ice sheets frozen. Some events were moved from their originally assigned rink to other rinks in the complex because the ice was too wet. This caused some scheduling difficulties, especially early in the competition when all of the different event levels were going on.

I met some really nice people and enjoyed seeing some early-season skating…

I’m not going to rehash all of the results. The full protocols for the event can be found at the IceWorks site.

THE LADIES

The Senior Ladies’ field was HUGE. There were 41 competitors registered, and most of them competed. I’m still chuckling over a comment that a woman behind me made; when the door opened yet again to let yet another warmup group of ladies on the ice, she said “It’s like a clown car!” Now, any of you who know me know how much I love skating, but sitting through almost 40 short programs can be numbing to both the mind and the behind (even though both the short and long were split into two segments bracketing the senior men). Since Liberty competes the short program and long program as separate events, that meant that virtually all of the girls/women that competed in the short competed the long as well. I must confess, I wasn’t feeling great on Saturday, so I left after the senior men’s long program and missed the second half of the ladies’.

Samantha Cesario was the star of the ladies’ short. She did a 3Lo+3Lo in both her short and long; according to the protocols, she was short of rotation on the second loop in the SP and both jumps in the FS.  In her short, she also had a 3F and a 2A. She gave a mature, sexy performance to “Fever”.

Skate Canada sent a large contingent of pretty good ladies to this event. Remember the days when Canadian ladies couldn’t buy a triple? Well, there were lots of ladies at Liberty who had plenty of them–there weren’t a lot of Lutzes in the event, but I was impressed by the overall quality of the Canadian skaters. Canadian Veronik Mallet was second in both the short and free, and American Yasmin Siraj was third in both segments as well.

Ashley Cain had a rough go in the short program and finished fourth, but she skated a strong early-season free skate to win the event with 102.78. She landed a 3Lz+2T, turned out between jumps in her 3F+2T combo, and landed solo 3F and 3Lo among other elements. She skated in white to “Ave Maria”. She is tall for a female skater and quite statuesque, and takes advantage of her height with good positions and stretch.

Samantha Cesario and Ashley Cain swapped first and fourth places from the short to the free. Cesario’s opening combo in the free was good (although the protocol shows she was docked for underrotation on both jumps), but she had trouble from there. Her music was “Titanic”, which I have always thought is beautiful music. But I wonder if it’s a good choice for a figure skating program, since it involves a large object colliding with  ice and sinking 🙂 . My new friend A., who has been attending skating competitions for a long time, said she thought that Cesario was laying it all out there in an effort to snag one of the at-large Grand Prix assignments still out there.

THE MEN

There were ten men in the senior men’s event. Keegan Messing and Stephen Carriere were the US National competitors scheduled to compete, but Carriere withdrew. Messing is keeping last year’s short program to “Sing, Sing, Sing”, and has a new free skate to “Mask of Zorro”. Boy, does he bomb around the ice faster than almost any other skater I’ve seen. He finished second in both the short and free to Luiz Manela, who skates for Brazil. In the short program, Manela landed his 3A, while Messing popped his into a single (which meant no credit for the Axel element, since the requirement is for at least a double). Evidently Keegan was having boot problems last season, which are hopefully now resolved but may have led to a loss of confidence in that forward outside edge takeoff. Messing’s spins are also noteworthy–really fast and well-centered, a pleasure to watch for this fan of spins!

Manela skated his free skate to “Gladiator”. He fell on his 3A, and the rest of his skate was far from perfect, but Messing doubled too many of his jumps to overtake the Brazilian skater. Keegan did land a 4T+2T, but popped the Axel and doubled the toe, loop, and Lutz. Alex Zahradnicek (who skates for France) was third in both the SP and FS. Emmanuel Savery skated well in the FP to take fourth in that segment (he has no 3A, though).

THE PAIRS

Disappointingly, there were only two pairs in the field; I believe both may be new pairings? Natalja Zabijako / Aleksandr Zaboev of Estonia won both segments of the competition, with Israel’s (well, skating for Israel anyway 🙂 )
Anya Davidovich / Evgeni Krasnopolsky taking second. I love pairs, and it was disappointing that this year’s and last year’s fields were so small. In 2011, Dalilah Sappenfield brought several of her pairs to compete as Caydee Denney / John Coughlin made their debut. Rumor has it that a lot of the pairs are competing at Skate Detroit.

There were a number of skaters at Liberty who were skating for the Israeli Skating Federation, which I hear tell is run by Galit Chait (she who collided with Renee Roca at a 1994 US Nationals practice, resulting in Roca’s breaking her arm) and her father. Clearly these skaters had not flown all the way from Israel for Liberty! My quote of the week, from David Lease of The Skating Lesson, who by the way was very nice when I spoke with him: (About the Israeli Skating Federation) “I believe that the headquarters are somewhere between North Jersey, DC, and Philadelphia. And if you are a skater who is Jewish with an overly ambitious parent… and you have a cheated double Axel and a
double Lutz, you will one day skate for Israel.” (from Jennifer Kirk and David Lease’s “This and That 7/21”)