Figure Skating: From the Boards

Americans in Paris (along with some Canadians, Italians, Hungarians…) November 24, 2010

Just a few short weeks ago, we were all bouncing off the walls with excitement as the Grand Prix series got underway. And now? It’s just about over. I won’t lie…I’m even a little bit exhausted keeping up with it all! It’s a trip just trying to watch as much as possible via icenetwork between work schedules (and, perhaps more importantly, sleep schedules!)…I can only imagine the skaters are feeling the cries for rest as well. But with just one more weekend to determine Grand Prix Final line ups, there’s no rest for the weary!

Trophy Eric Bombard (um…can I say I miss “Lalique?”) might have the weakest ice dance field thus far. The only “big name” team is the hometeam – French skaters Pechalat and Bourzat. They’re the obvious favorites here, and barring some crazy circumstances like last weekend, this is their time to shine.

Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein from the US will be hoping to one-up their bronze medal from Canada.

Several other teams are coming off of 5th place finishes in their first GP events, so they’ll be battling it out to move up to podium position here.

The pairs event features Savchenko and Szolkowy from Germany who won Skate America quite easily. They are also the odds-on favorites in France, and should really only face competition from one team – Bazarova and Larionov from Russia who placed 2nd at NHK Trophy at the start of the season. However, they placed 2nd with a score of 173.83 and S/S of Germany won Skate Canada with a score of 197.70. So there still should be no contest for gold.

If the Russians hang on for silver, there will be a trio of young teams looking to improve from their earlier assignments: Felicia Zhang and Taylor Toth (USA), Mylene Brodeur and John Mattatall (CAN), and Maylin Hausch and Daniel Wende (GER). All three finished 6th or 7th at their respective first events and have a shot at the podium here.

The ladies event remains as unpredictable as any thus far. We’ve got Mao Asada trying to make a comeback from a disastrous season debut and Alissa Czisny trying to repeat in her own comeback season of sorts…and that’s just the beginning.

Cynthia Phaneuf of Canada will be looking to make amends for her long program meltdown that kept her from winning at home, Haruka Imai of Japan will try to desperately keep her GPF hopes alive, and Mirai Nagasu will look to be more trained in her long program, as well as fighting off the demons that haunt her free skate, should she win the short program.

I refuse to make any sort of predictions, because the only thing predictable about the ladies events this year is that there’s no possible way to make an educated guess about what will happen!

On the men’s side, however, we once again see likely the best competition of the event.

France’s Brian Joubert is looking for more than just clean quads after even his new-and-much-improved choreography and style left him 4th in China. Kevin Reynolds of Canada will look to repeat his stellar 2-quad short program, but better his own 4th place finish from Canada.

Japan’s Takahiko Kozuka comes in as the best candidate for “the favorite” after winning Cup of China, defeating Brian Joubert and the American Brandon Mroz.

Mroz, as well as the other Frenchman Florent Amodio, are both hoping for Grand Prix miracles after medaling in their early events.

The best part is, on any given day, any one of these guys could throw down back-to-back performances that can’t be beat. The question is…who’s day will it be?

This will determine who’s in and who’s out. And as anxious as the competitors in France will be, some (like Jeremy Abbott) who are already done will be just as anxious waiting at home to see if they did enough to book a trip to Beijing!

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, I may or may  not be able to tweet live this weekend. It all depends on the family activities! But regardless, I’ll be checking in and posting my thoughts throughout.

Speaking of thoughts…

I just read an “open letter” from Plushenko about how he should be reinstated by the ISU. (If you didn’t know, he was banned for competing in a non-sanctioned event that coincided with Worlds, I believe.) As much as there is a part of me that feels sorry for him, it’s only a very small piece. I had a hard time digesting his actions and comments post-Vancouver, and even if he was upset, physically and emotionally hurt, he was wrong to react as he did. Then to go out and compete in an event he knew wasn’t approved (this isn’t his first rodeo, kids…he’s been around long enough he should have known better), fail to submit his appeal by the required deadline, wait several months, then make claims like “You haven’t seen the last of me” and “I will compete in Sochi”…I’m sorry, but rules are in place for a reason. And, fair or not, he violated them. Just because he’s Russia’s star doesn’t mean he should get special permission to get around the rules. …just my thoughts.

As for the thoughts about ABC’s “Skating with the Stars” I said I’d share, well, I’ve decided to reserve my judgement for one more week. It could improve, or it could collapse…we’ll just have to wait and see after next week. I will say, however, that it sounds unfortunately (but not unexpectedly) bad from non-skating fans. Too few real celebrities, and too much cheesiness. But we shall see…

And now for my TEB Fantasy picks:

Until then…


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