Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Farewell to 2016 with Michelle Kwan's "Winter Song" by Ingrid Michaelson

As 2016 comes to a close, I wanted to share a beautiful program that reflects all the greatness of the last year. This is one of my favorites.

After a long time away from the ice, Michelle Kwan returned here at Yuna Kim's skating show in Korea in 2010. It was wonderful to see Michelle again and to see that she still skated with the same joy that was the hallmark throughout her legendary career.

I wish everyone a very happy new year!!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Ilia Kulik's "Who Wants to Live Forever" from the 2012 Stars on Ice Tour

I love this performance by Ilia Kulik. Such a natural talent. I love the way he flies across the ice with such reckless abandon and the way he soars in his jumps. Great performance!

Heart and Soul: Evan Lysacek's "Carmen" from the 2006 Olympic Games

No one could compete like Evan Lysacek. Or perform with such heart for that matter. In this come-from-behind performance in Torino, Evan showed everyone why he would be a force to be reckoned with over the next quadrennial to Vancouver. Tenth after the short program, Evan exhibited true passion and grit to move up to fourth place after the freeskate. Even showed the world what he was made of. It's no wonder that he went on to become a 2-time U.S. Champion, World Champion, and then Olympic Champion. Such determination and passion! I love this program; it warms my soul!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Flashes of Greatness: Denis Ten's 2014 Olympic Freeskate

On a night where figure skating greats crashed and burned on Olympic ice, Kazakhstan's Denis Ten rose out of the ashes and shone like gold on the Sochi ice. Had Denis placed higher in the short program, he could have won gold with this near-perfect and powerful freeskate. As it turned out, Ten won the bronze--still a huge achievement for a skater from a country that is not known to produce figure skaters. Denis has always been an enigma: brilliant one moment and inconsistent the next, but this performance will live on as one of his greatest. By far my favorite performance of the Sochi Olympics in the men's freeskate. Bravo Denis!

Flashback to 1984: Brian Orser and Brian Boitano

At the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, the world saw two talented skaters named Brian finish second and fifth. Four years later, the two would go head to head in one of the biggest sports showdowns in history: The Battle of the Brians. In watching their Sarajevo performances, Orser moved with speed, flair, and a bit of reckless abandon as he soared into flying sitspins and delayed axels. Boitano was a talented jumper but hadn't yet found his artistic point of view. At the end of Boitano's freeskate, Dick Button said something about how if Boitano could focus his skating in the next four years (finding moves that were different and unique), he could set himself up well for Calgary. The world had no idea just how well, as Boitano would leave that Games having established himself as one of the greatest skaters that ever was.

I love watching the progression of these two skaters from Sarajevo to Calgary and so, it's worth a look back at the 22 and 20 year old, receptively, who would develop into two of the sport's most well-known rivals in the four years that followed.

Russian Diva Series: Part 2: Anjelica Krylova & Oleg Ovsyannikov's "Masquerade Waltz"

When it came to giving drama, Anjelica Krylova did just that. The 1998 Olympic silver medalist and two time World Champion knew how to deliver the diva stare and project her performance all the way up to the last row. While this team's "Carmen" during the 1997/1998 season had the most dramatic ice-diva moments, this "Masquerade Waltz" program from the 1996-1997 is my favorite. As Dick Button tells us at the start of the dance, the story is one that portrays a man who comes home from a waltz and suspects his wife of having been unfaithful. In the end, he kills her.

Maya Usova and Alexander Zhulin's "Four Seasons" by Vivaldi

I had never actually watched this whole performance until a few minutes ago. After seeing it, I wonder, what was I waiting for?!

As Tracey Wilson explains at the start of the performance, Usova and Zhulin portray two statues who come to life. Throughout the performance they hold various statue poses. From what I know about Usova and Zhulin, this program is the embodiment of who they are: balletic, artistic, passionate, and unique.

Nathan Chen's 2016 Grand Prix Final Freeskate

Nathan Chen has been flirting with brilliance all season. Now he's officially achieved it. So proud of Nathan for landing 4 quads (two in combination) at the recent Grand Prix Final in Marseille, where he finished second to reigning Olympic Champion, Yuzuru Hanyu. I've noticed vast improvements in his choreography since the last season and the more he improves, the more dangerous he will be as a gold-medal threat in any competition. Look out PyeongChang!

Restoring my Soul: Michelle Kwan's "Winter" by Tori Amos

This year, for the first time in six years, I did not post my "12 Days of Christmas" skating countdown. In fact, this year I posted on the blog far less than any other year. This was a year of change with more demands on my time than ever before. While I am grateful for all the opportunities and experiences of 2016, I would be remiss if I didn't also mention that the constant transition, hustle, and general overload wore me down and left a lot less time for the thing that I love: reading, blogging, and watching skating. I understand that there is more to life than figure skating, and I embraced all that this year, but in the end, something was missing. Up until a few days ago, I felt like I was at the end of my rope. I needed time to rest, relax, restore, and enjoy all the things that I love. There is a saying that goes, "You have to fill the cup before you can pour it out." In the last few days, I've been doing just that. I needed the opportunity to take care of myself, take time to just be a person, and fill my life with the things that are such an integral part of my soul.

Figure skating has been a part of my life for almost 23 years now. It's a big part of who I am. I have countless memories of watching skating competitions, attending skating competitions, reading about skating, writing about skating, and also skating myself. As we say goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017, I hope to have more time to indulge in my passion. Skating has always brought me such joy. One of the reasons that I love this blog is not only because I love skating and writing, but because I feel like it's the one way that I can share my inspiration and love of the sport with others. I don't know who reads this, if people just click on the pages for a moment, or if they stop and stay awhile, but either way, it makes me happy to think that someone, somewhere, can read my blog and watch the videos that have always made me smile, moved me to tears, or brought me so much entertainment and joy.

One skater who has not only brought me some of my favorite moments, but also served as one of my life's inspirations, is Michelle Kwan. It seems only fitting to share one of her most beautiful programs "Winter" by Tori Amos, as the beginning of my pledge to spend more time with my sport and to take more time to share what I enjoy with others.

This program of Michelle's is everything that I love about figure skating in one program. It is pristine, elegant, heartfelt, flowing, pure, and serene. This is figure skating's true essence.

To everyone who stops on this page and stays awhile, I hope that you enjoy this piece of art as much as I do.

Merry Belated Christmas and a happy and healthy 2017 to all!