Saturday, February 18, 2017

Shibutani's 'Captivate' to Win Second U.S. Title in Kansas City

Madison Chock and Zach Donahue changed coaches and training bases this season in order to make a move on the podium. They came into this event with a new confidence and a beautiful, lyrical freeskate that exudes a quiet strength. Unfortunately, a fluke fall by Madison eliminated any chance of them moving up from third place. I really enjoy their skating and find their performances to be so genuine and raw, but there always seems to be something that holds them back from really breaking through on the U.S. and world scene.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates came into this championship with something to prove. Coming off of a disappointing Grand Prix Final, and looking to regain their U.S. title, they approached this championship with a ferocity and aggression that was amazing to see. They attacked and left nothing on the ice. They ended up missing the win by 1.0, but they certainly left an impression on audiences and judges. Their "Under Pressure" program was sharp, fresh, and spunky. The only weakness, in my opinion, is that outside of the famous "Under Pressure" chorus, the middle part of the music loses focus and doesn't have the same intensity. This isn't Chock and Bates' fault, of course...just my opinion. Still, they were so impressive and I admire their competitive fire and the way they have really reinvented themselves this season.

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani were captivating. This program might not have the same emotional-appeal and momentum as last season's breakout Coldplay performance, but it's sublime. Their skating is so elegant, smooth, pristine, and infused with a technical precision that is hard to match. Something about this program reminds me of running water. The tranquility of it runs over you and creates a mood of peace and calm. I have to say that this program gave me chills and I felt emotional by the last beat of music. While I think that Chock/Bates had the most power and energy, I can't dispute the sheer beauty and strength of this Shibutani's seamless program. Congratulations on title #2, Maia and Alex. You are classy representatives of U.S. ice dancing!

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