Sunday, January 29, 2012
Great Moments U.S. Championships History: Liz Punsalan and Jared Swallow's 1996 U.S. Nationals Freeskate
Sixteen years ago Liz Punsalan and Jared Swallow won their third U.S. Figure Skating Championship in San Jose, California (the same location as this year's Nationals). Liz and Jared skate here to tango and blues music. This pair, 2-time Olympians and 5-time U.S. Champs were always classy, gracious, and hard-working champions! Always underrated on the world-level, in my opinion. Love this team. Enjoy!
Great Moments in U.S. Championships History: Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig's "Piano Concerto No.2 in C Minor"
Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig are a truly lovely pair. Their lifts are outstanding and their choreography and presentation superb. Please enjoy this wonderful freeskate from the 2010 U.S. Nationals that earned this pair the silver medal and a birth on the Olympic team!
One year ago, Adam Rippon, 2-time World Junior Champion, skated this beautiful freeskate at the U.S. Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. Adam's skating is exemplary.
Johnny Weir has just announced his comeback to amateur figure skating. The 3-time U.S. Champion, 2008 World bronze medalist and 2-time Olympian says that maybe his time to be the world's top skater has past, but he wants to comeback to the sport for himself. I wish Johnny well. Eccentric and outspoken in personality and style but his skating is pure.
Here's Johnny's short program titled "I love you, I hate you" from the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Friday, January 27, 2012
This has always been one of my favorite exhibitions of Michelle's. This program, and Michelle's skating, is everything skating should be: pure,joyful,beautiful, and free.
Is it any wonder Michelle is getting inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame this weekend?
I always loved this number to "The Truman Show" by Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman. At the 2000 Words, they performed it in terrific fashion. The music has great tension and drama and there is lots of effective, interesting choreography done by the great Tamara Moskvina, the team's coach. Great work by all!
Pure magic! I started feeling tingly half-way through. Jason, and this performance, are something very special.
An exquisite skater.
Click HERE to view video of Johnathan's "Schindler's List" from the 2011 U.S. Nationals.
I don't typically post non-skating items, but in honor of Joe Paterno's death on Sunday, Jan 22, I am posting this poignant tribute video as a way of paying my respects to the great man, humanitarian, mentor and coach that Joe Paterno was throughout his life. As a Penn State grad, I can tell you that Joe Paterno meant so much to so many people on the Penn State campus and beyond. He will be greatly missed. His legacy will live on forever. Rest in peace, Joe.
Great Moments in U.S. Championships History: Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre's "One" by U2 with Mary J. Blige
Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre are 2-time U.S. bronze medalists and 2-time World team members. Until their retirement from eligible skating after the 2010 season, Kimberly and Brent were fan favorites and certainly a team that I loved to watch perform as well. Both Kimberly and Brent are such warm performers and their performances always felt very authentic and engaging. It was always evident when these two skated that they loved what they were doing and were out there on the ice for the right reasons.
At the 2010 U.S. Championships Kimberly and Brent skated to "One" by U2 with Mary J. Blige with such freedom and joy that I recall it being a very moving moment. Such genuine performers. I hope you enjoy this performance as much as I do!
Saturday, January 21, 2012
What I love about Brian's skating is his simple, bold, sweeping, powerful movements. During the 1993-94 season, Brian, the 1988 Olympic Champion, re-instated as an amateur to have a chance to compete at another Olympic Games in Lillehammer. Though he only went on to finish 6th in Norway, his performance at the 1993 U.S. Pro-Am was vintage Boitano.
Brian skated to Aaron Copeland's "Appalachian Spring", which features "Simple Gifts," an old shaker medley. The lyrics to "Simple Gifts": "'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free...." sum up the hallmarks of Brian's magnificent skating: simple and free.
Michelle Kwan's spellbinding short program from the 2001 U.S. Championships to Lee Holdridge's "East of Eden." Michelle earned seven perfect scores of 6.0 for artistic impression. Pure magic.
One of my all-time favorites. Both the skater and the program.
Dick Button, 2-time Olympic Champion and Emmy award-winning figure skating commentator, aptly said this about Todd Eldredge before the start of Todd's winning freeskate at the 2002 U.S. National Championships: "I think the audience also respects the fact that he's been a hard worker, that he's stuck with it, that he's continued to fight, he hasn't given up, and he's had a great competitive spirit all the way through." Button, of course, is referring to Todd's long career filled with highs and lows that culminated in 6 U.S. National titles, 2 U.S. silver medals, and 6 World Championship medals, one of which was gold in 1996.
I hope you enjoy this wonderful performance of Todd's to the "Lord of the Rings" soundtrack from the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
I think the audeicene also respects the fact that he's been a hard worker , tht he's stuck with it, that he's contiued to fight, he hasn't given up, and he's had great competitive spirit all the way through
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Monday, January 16, 2012
Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison won the bronze medal for Canada at the 2008 World Figure Skating Championships with their freeskate "The Blower's Daughter" by Damien Rice. Though they no longer skate together, they were a delightful pair at their pinnacle here. This program is simply lovely, laced with a subtle poignancy and tenderness.
Click HERE to view video.
I just found this video of Jeremy Abbott's short program from the 2007 4 Continents Cup to "Dead Already" from the movie American Beauty. I had never seen this program before and was blown away! What a unique, refreshing piece or music and choreography that really showcases Jeremy's stellar abilities as an athlete and artist! I give this two enthusiastic thumbs up!
Having seen this program reminds me of just how much I love Jeremy's skating. I wish him the very best of luck at next week's U.S. National Championships in San Jose, California!
Sunday, January 15, 2012
I could try to say write a description of Ryan Bradley and his vivacious 2007 freeskate here, but instead I'll quote 4-time World Champion Kurt Browning who said this about Ryan: "This guy just makes you smile."
Ryan is a pure showman through and through, but he's also a great athlete. His enormous triple Axel-triple toe loop at the start of the program is all the evidence you need. This program is certainly enough to make anyone crack a smile. Ryan is warm, funny, engaging, and truly enjoyable as an entertainer. His technical content in this program is also nothing to scoff at.
With this program, Ryan finished 2nd at the U.S. Championships, his first podium finish at the event. This was Ryan's highest finish at the U.S.Championships until his victory at last year's championships. What a fun performance this is to watch! And what a nice moment for Ryan, his family, and coaches. Certainly a personal triumph. It's nice to know that four year later he'd win it all!!
I hope you enjoy!
I admit that the "Child of Nazareth" freeskate wasn't Johnny's best vehicle, or should I say that he, as an athlete didn't click with this program and as a result he achieved uneven results that season; however, I quite like it as an artistic piece.
This program, just as his short program in 2007 was choreographed by 2002 Olympic gold medalist in ice dancing, Marina Anissina (with Gwendal Peizerat. "Child of Nazareth" is complex and interesting. I love the music, especially the second selection (the fast piece). Not only is the music compelling but I find that I cannot look away because the choreography is so jam-packed with details. On the flip side, I believe the amount of complexities in this program and the lack of places to breathe in the choreography may have been what was problematic for Johnny, but I still think this program could have been successful under different circumstances. The potential was there. Marina Anissina did a terrific job creating this work. Could have been something special!
Despite Johnny's mistakes throughout the season, I find myself not really caring because I still like watching the program. No matter what program Johnny skates and how he does, it cannot be denied that Johnny is a beautiful, talented skater. I'm a fan. Always have been, always will be. There's only one Johnny. He's a gem!! As Kurt Browning says of Johnny in the commentary of this event, "One of the best skaters on the planet!"
I am posting "Child of Nazareth" from the 2006 Cup of Russia and also from the 2007 U.S. National Championships, in which Johnny finished 3rd.
From 2006 Cup of Russia:
From 2007 U.S. National Championships:
I always really liked this short program called "king of Chess" choreographed by 2002 Olympic gold medalist in ice dancing, Marina Anissina (with Gwendal Peizerat. It's true that the style of the program is a departure from Johnny's usually more soft, lyrical style in years previous (i.e. 2004's "Dr. Zhivago" freeskate, 2006's "The Swan" short program), but I think it works for him. The style is powerful and exciting and Johnny skates with command and speed.
Today while cleaning my room, I was watching a VHS tape of the 2007 U.S. National Championships. Having not seen it in several years, I had almost forgotten how spectacular the men's competition was that year in Spokane, Washington! Evan Lysacek was extraordinary! 2007's "Carmen" freeskate was one of my favorite--if not the favorite freeskate-- in Evan's career. He simply owned this program, not only in the technical elements (a Quad-toe-triple toe combination and a triple Axel-triple toe!!) but in his tremendous performance quality. Evan has a unique ability to give his very best under high-pressure conditions and pour passion into every performance. He's a very riveting and exciting performer.
Evan's performance performance was an absolute triumph in every way. What a wonderful moment!! Though five years removed from this competition, congratulations to Evan on such an outstanding Nationals win! As 4-time World Champion Kurt Browning, who was commentating this event said (not an exact quote), "Watching that reminded me why I love figure skating so much....He's what's right about figure skating right now."
I have a great amount of respect for Evan as an athlete and skater and am grateful for his contributions to the world of figure skating. He's a great role model to young skaters. Evan was always the epitome of a hard-working, well-trained, committed, responsible athlete who always portrayed himself with maturity, class, and a great deal of passion for figure skating and life! I have been a fan of Evan's since I first saw him skate (on TV) at the U.S. Championships in 2004 and faithfully followed his career right up to his incredible victory at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. I was overcome with pride and joy when it was revealed that he would be awarded the Olympic gold medal. So well deserved.
I really enjoyed watching Evan improve and grow as an athlete and artist over the years and I'm looking forward to seeing him skate again in the future, whether it be in the amateur ranks again, or in Stars on Ice and other skating shows. I have to admit that I would like to see him compete again since he was such a terrific competitor, but we'll see what he decides to do.
I hope you enjoy Evan's "Carmen" by Georges Bizet. The video quality isn't the best, but it will have to do. Evan's sparkling performance should shine through any grainy-video feed!
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
The classy freedance that won the 5-time Canadian Champions their second consecutive silver medal in the World Championships.
Click HERE to view video
Monday, January 9, 2012
Check out Japan's newest skating phenom, Yuzuru Hanyu. What a talent! The 17-year-old is the 2010 World Junior Champion and recently won the gold medal at Cup of Russia on the senior Grand Prix circuit and finished 4th at the prestigious Grand Prix Final.
One of my favorite gold-medal winning performances from the World Championships! I was so proud of Jeffrey Buttle when he delivered the best freeskate of his life at the moment when it mattered most (the 2008 World Figure Skating Championship in Gothenburg. Sweden). O Canada indeed!
Enjoy Jeffrey's exciting "Ararat" program!
Sunday, January 8, 2012
After spending the weekend studying for the Praxis 1 Mathematics exam, I am more than ready for a short study break: watching Javier Fernandez's Verdi freeskate from this season. The 20-year-old Spaniard is the freshest face of this season and has brought something unique and exciting to the men's field this season. I really enjoy his skating--especially his unbelievable quadruple jumping passes--and look forward to his performances at Europeans and the World Championships. Good Luck, Javier!
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
I have been visiting my sister, Devon, in Maryland for the past five days. Today, the day of my departure, I had to wake up early to get on the road. Just as I groggily rolled out of bed, wishing I had a while longer to sleep, I was immediately greeted with two terrific surprises that totally jump-started my morning: a steaming cup of Lady Grey tea with cream and honey and a video of Michelle Kwan's 2003 World Championship freeskate to "Concierto de Aranjuez" pulled up on You Tube, all ready to go, both prepared lovingly by my amazing sister!
As Michelle performed her final footwork sequence with a flourish of heart and passion, my sister and I exchanged glances-- both of us had tears in our eyes.
Thank you, Michelle, for giving all your fans so many magical moments that continue to give us enjoyment and inspiration all these years later.
This was a wonderful way to start my day! Hope it inspires you, too.
I posted this back in October, but love this so much that it deserves another post. Brilliant! As Mr. Rochester said to Jane Eyre in the recent film of the same name, Pina has "transfixed me quite."
First video is from the 2011 Skate America competition, commentated by 1984 Olympic Champion Scott Hamilton and 1988 Olympic Ice Dance Champion Tracey Wilson (with Rob McCall).
Second video is from the 2011 Skate America with commentating done by Eurosport. The picture isn't as clear in this video, but the commentary makes it all worth it! I very much enjoy Eurosport commentary.
The originality and imagination of Paul and Isabelle Duschenay is on full display in this riveting free dance choreographed by Isabelle's then-husband, 1984 Olympic Ice Dance Champion, Christopher Dean (with Jayne Torvill). The program, entitled "Missing" is a tribute to those who have disappeared in South America. Commentator Sandra Bezic describes it as "raw, honest, and intense." I've never seen anything like it in my 18 years of figure skating viewership.
The following are comments from viewers that appear on You Tube:
"I wouldn't be able to describe it better. I am overwhelmed and choke up nearly EVERY time I see it. And I have seen it at least 50 times... One of the greatest moments in sports history, ever. This one will last forever."
"There are still no words to describe this stunning program. Magical, impressive and unique!!! Thank you so much Isabelle and Paul for such an amazing performance. It's simply an ejoyment for the eyes and the heart. I can't stop watching it. My all-time-favourite!"
"Beautiful, we live in Scotland and I remember fondly getting to stay up late with my Mum and we sat in her bed eating munchies and rooting for them. This just blew us away. So beatuiful and haunting. Thank you for uploading!"
Despite the ingenuity of this routine, the brother-and-sister team of the Duschenay's still only finished second in this 1990 World Championship behind eventual 1992 Olympic Champions, Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko. The Duschenay's went on to win gold at the World Championships the following season in 1991 and finished second at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.
One of the most beautiful freeskates from the 3-time U.S. National Champions and 3-time World Championship medalists, Jenni Meno and Todd Sand!
I had the pleasure of seeing Jenni and Todd skate live in Stars on Ice several times and enjoyed their performances immensely! Such lovely skaters, and from all accounts that I've read, lovely people, too. Gracious champions, as well!
In honor of seeing Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows the other day, I'm re-posting Richard Dornbush's 2011 National silver-medal-winning performance, in which he portrays the charismatic detective. Skating to the film score of the first Sherlock Holmes movie, Richard's skating is as brilliant as the compelling music by the great Hans Zimmer.
I love this performance and never tire of seeing it! This program made me a Richard Dornbush fan and I wish him the best of luck as he seeks another podium finish at the National Championships in a few weeks in San Jose, California.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Chen Lu's freeskate from the 1996 World Figure Skating Championships in Edmonton, Canada is a work of art. I purposely posted Chen Lu's program after posting Michelle Kwan's winning freeskate to "Salome" yesterday to show you the silver-medal winning performance. I'm glad to not have been a judge at this event because both skaters were technically and artistically brilliant. The difference may have come down to Michelle having one more triple jump than Chen Lu. In the end, the color medal doesn't matter, only the lasting impression that this program has had on the skating community all these years later.
Monday, January 2, 2012
Michelle Kwan's "Salome" elevated 15-year-old Michelle Kwan to the top of her sport in a nearly undefeated season that was capped by the Grand Prix Final, U.S. National title, and the World Championship in 1996. Michelle's portrayal of the biblical seductress was a departure from her look of youth and innocence of the year before where she finished 4th at the World Championships in Birmingham, England. Michelle's coach Frank Carroll and choreographer Lori Nichol helped to transform Michelle into the sport's top athlete and artist with sophisticated costumes, music and choreography. Michelle maintained one of the sport's top position for an incredible 9 years, becoming the most-decorated figure skater in U.S. history with 9 National titles and 5 World Championships, until her withdrawal from the 2006 Winter Olympics.
"Salome" remains, in my opinion, one of the best freeskates that ladies figure skating has ever seen. As the great Dick Button says at the end of Michelle's freeskate: "What an extraordinary performance! Absolutely the best!"