Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Michelle Kwan Nominated for U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame

This just in! Michelle Kwan has been nominated for the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Skaters will be inducted at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose in January.

(Assuming Michelle gets inducted in January, the location would be appropriate. Michelle won her first of 9 U.S. Championships in San Jose in 1996).

Click HERE to read the article on icenetwork.com.

Ross Miner's "The Untouchables"

A few weeks ago, Ross Miner turned in an impressive performance to "The Untouchables" soundtrack to finish third at NHK Trophy in Japan. Ross' bronze medal was his first Grand Prix podium finish in his career.

Congratulations to Ross on this fine effort! I am excited to see how this program further develops by the National Championships in January.

Enjoy Ross' "The Untouchables":

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

We are.....Penn State!

In support of Penn State despite the terrible scandal and the announcement of both JoePa and Graham Spanier being fired. We are....better than this. We will get through this. Still Penn State proud.

Abbott Named USA Today's Olympic Athlete of the Week!

Congratulations to Jeremy Abbott for being named USA Today's Olympic Athlete of the Week for his gold-medal at Cup of China last week. Click HERE to see the news brief.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Highlights from Skate Canada: Patrick Chan's "Concierto de Aranjuez" by Joaquin Rodrigo

At last weekend's Skate Canada, Patrick Chan moved up from third after the short program to finish first by less than three points. The reigning World Champion had some struggles with his quadruple Toe Loop in both the short and the long, but rebounded after a fall on the quad in the freeskate with a beautiful quadruple Toe Loop-Triple Toe Loop combination. As commentator Michael Weiss pointed out, Patrick displayed a short-term memory, a critical skill that a top skater needs to have. Immediately after making a mistake, Patrick brushed it aside and didn't allow it to disrupt the rest of his program.

I'm a fan of his new freeskate to "Concierto de Aranjuez" by Joaquin Rodrigo, choreographed by Lori Nichol. Many other skaters have used this music in the past, including Michelle Kwan during the '02-03 season, and Evgeny Plushenko during his '09-10 comeback season, but Patrick brings something different to his rendition. Even though I've heard the music many times before, Patrick makes it feel fresh. I might be in the minority here, but I was never a huge fan of his Phantom of the Opera freeskate (I can't quite pinpoint why...maybe it was the music cuts. My favorite program of his was his "Four Seasons" by Vivaldi during the '07-08 season), but I immediately liked this new one. I see growth in Patrick as a skater and performer. He exudes confidence and his performance is well-rounded and complete. I can't wait to see how "Concierto de Aranjuez" looks when Patrick skates clean.

Highlights from Skate Canada: Daisuke Takahashi's Short Program and Freeskate

At last week's Skate Canada, 2010 World Champion Daisuke Takahashi finished third. The 2010 Olympic bronze medalist didn't have his best showing in the freeskate, but he was on top of his game in the short. His attempt of the quadruple Flip in the freeskate shows he's not slacking on technical content this season, as the whole world has been "upping the ante" since Patrick Chan's quad fest at last year's Worlds.

Daisuke has always been one of my favorite skaters. He's not only an athlete, but truly an artist. I'm looking forward to seeing him skate in his next Grand Prix event.

Enjoy Daisuke's programs from Skate Canada.

short program:

long program:

Highlights from Skate Canada: Adam Rippon's Freeskate

At last weekend's Skate Canada, Adam Rippon finished fourth with his freeskating effort to Bach's "Air & Toccata & Fugue". Adam attempted the most difficult quadruple jump: the quad Lutz. The jump was under-rotated and two-footed, but was still a valiant attempt that showed Adam is here to fight with the upper-echelon of men's skaters this season. He's now working with Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjeon, training alongside a pair of 2-time U.S. National Champs, Alissa Czisny and Jeremy Abbott, so I'd imagine his competitive juices are flowing and he's ready to make a statement this year.

At Skate Canada, Adam's triple Axel's continued to be his nemesis, but what really caught my attention were his other unique elements and combinations. Adam executed a beautiful "Rippon Lutz" (a Lutz with both arms over his head) and a triple Lutz-single loop-triple Salchow combination, the latter of which I've never seen anyone do before! Adam's "in between" movements--spins, footwork, and skating skills--are beautiful. If he can find a way to get his triple Axels consistent and land the Quad Lutz, Adam is going to be very competitive at his next competition, and more importantly for him, at U.S. Nationals in San Jose in January.

Despite the mistakes, I still really enjoyed Adam's performance at Skate Canada. It's evident that he's in terrific shape, and he never let the program or performance quality fall apart after mistakes. He's on the right track. I wish Adam the best for the season!

Highlights from Skate Canada: Akiko Suzuki and Ashley Wagner's Freeskates

Akiko Suzuki and Ashley Wagner finished second and third at last week's Skate Canada with two respectable performances. I enjoyed the choreography and overall impact of both programs. Well done!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Heart of an Artist: Jeremy Abbott's "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3 (Redemption)" by Muse

Jeremy Abbott's skating is profoundly beautiful. I just watched his new freeskate from Cup of China to "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3 (Redemption)" by Muse, and was transported to a different place. The mist rising off the ice further added to the program's intrigue. Jeremy's movements are seamlessly woven into this haunting piece of music laced with sadness and yearning. So subtle and enchanting was this program, I forgot the passage of time. When it ended, I was longing for more.

This may not have been Jeremy's best technical performance, but I find myself not caring. His edge-quality, spins, smooth, flowing transitions, and overall artistry is something to behold. I am in full support of a skater who can make me forget that I'm watching a competitive freeskate and instead make me feel like I am watching art in motion.

With this performance, Jeremy, a 2-time U.S. National Champion, moved up from third after the short program to win his first Grand Prix gold medal since his win at Skate Canada in the fall of 2009.

Congratulations to Jeremy on his gold medal! I'm looking forward to watching this program develop in the weeks to come. Good luck, Jeremy!

The Future of Ladies Figure Skating: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva

Meet 14-year-old Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: the new star of senior ladies figure skating.

The Russian phenom blew away the competition, and all of those spectators watching her skate for the first time--myself included-- during her senior Grand Prix debut at Skate Canada last week.

The scary part is that Elizaveta, fresh out of the junior ranks, isn't even the top-ranked Russian. That honor goes to her teammate, 14-year-old Adelina Sotnikova, the reigning junior World Champion.

Elizaveta's skating is fiery and technically-solid, but she also "sells" her programs with incredible maturity and composure. If this is how she skates at the beginning of the season, I'm greatly looking forward to seeing her skate as the season progresses.

Enjoy her stunning performances from Skate Canada! What a debut!

short program:

long program:

Ice Dance Highlights from Skate Canada:

Highlights from Skate Canada: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir's Latin Short Dance

More Highlights from Skate America!

Beauty on Ice: Ekaterina Gordeeva's "Bachianas Brasileira No. 5" by Heitor Villa-Lobos

Ekaterina Gordeeva's rendition of "Bachianas Brasileira No. 5" by Heitor Villa-Lobos is pure magic. The 2-time Olympic pairs champion (with late husband Sergei Grinkov) skated this program at the World Professional Championships in 1998, early in her career as a competitive professional singles skater.

Here, Ekaterina's program is based on the idea that in Russian literature and art, women have an affinity to birds and see themselves in flight. No one better to portray this concept than a skater who appears to effortlessly float across the ice. Ekaterina's beauty on the ice is ethereal . There's no one else like her. This program is an unequivocal gem. And as Dick Button would say, I don't give a "rusty hoot" that her jumps weren't "on" in this program. So what, who cares? Her skating ability and performance are unmatched.

Classic Skating: Jeffrey Buttle's "Samson and Delilah"

Jeffrey Buttle's skating is simply timeless. The 2008 World Champion skates here to "Samson and Delilah". I love everything about this program. Watch, appreciate, and enjoy.