Figure Skating: From the Boards

First Impressions: Nebelhorn Trophy October 5, 2012

You know what they say about first impressions — they’re lasting. With the Grand Prix season just around the corner, every opportunity for skaters to take to the competition ice and provide a positive first impression is a good one.

Last week, several top skaters did just that at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany.

Early season skates are hardly indicative of what we may see later on, but they do provide glimpses of progress. And they leave impressions … that last.

Here are mine.

 

Men

Nobunari Oda … he’s baaaack! He has such perfect programs for his style and character. Sure, there were some bobbles here and there. But I can’t be the only one distracted by his flawless, soft knees to the extent that the flaws become less visible, right? Love him.

Konstantine Menshov still has the jumps. So does Keegan Messing. But, big and powerful isn’t always going to work. Both guys need to take a big step up in the components department. (Plus, all I can think of with Messing’s “Matrix” program is “Brian Joubert 2.0!”)

On the flip side, both Stephen Carriere and Denis Ten have lovely programs, beautiful expression, and dynamic highs and lows. Now for some consistency in the jump department …

Ice Dance

I love where Madison Chock & Evan Bates are headed conceptually this season. Their Short Dance is superb in creativity and choreography, and their Free Dance is such the opposite that it shows off a depth and maturity (much improved from last season, I might add). But, they must increase the technical difficulty in the SD to compete with the “big guns.

Both Julia Zlobina & Alexei Sitnikov and Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi have charming, easy to watch Short Dances as well. There was so much character in the top three teams! I’m not sold on Zhiganshina/Gazsi’s zombie-inspired FD, though. Talk about a tough character to blend with required dance elements!

I’m a little concerned that with so much creativity from many teams in the SDs this year, classic, elegant programs like that of Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam will get lost in the shuffle.

I guess we’ll see soon enough!

Ladies

How about Kaetlyn Osmond, eh? She oozes confidence and has the eye of the tiger. She sometimes rushes the moves in and out of the jumps, but she’s young. That will come. Watch out Sochi? Maybe.

I can’t decide what to think of Adelina Sotnikova just yet. Certainly, she has talent galore. I can’t decide if she’s trying to be the edgy diva or the prima ballerina .. but there’s no doubt she’s a force to be reckoned with. I’ll be curious to see how she holds up in the senior ranks.

Speaking of ballerinas, Haruka Imai was just delightful in the Free Skate! And pulling up from 9th to 3rd? The girl’s got some goods! Is this the year she breaks through?

Pairs

Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov are a whole different league than the rest of the teams in Germany. That said, as good as their programs look to be, there were a few speed bumps. Their split triple twist is to die for (but it’s not the only one, as I’ll explain!) and the uniqueness of their music and choreography will be excited as it is polished.

Caydee Denney & John Coughlin, however, are creeping up. They, too, have a split triple twist worth drooling over. I’ve seen it for an entire season now, and I still utter an audible, “Wow.” every time I see it. In fact, I think it’s even bigger this year. They need to clean up the catch a little, and manage the side-by-side jumps consistently, but their pairs elements are stunning, especially for their short time together.

Also, Gretchen Donlan and Andrew Speroff are simply beautiful. That is all.

Find full results here. Check the From The Boards facebook page later today for comparison graphics between the top skaters in each discipline. And finally, see many of the competition skates (and gala performances) here, courtesy of Tatjana2541!

Follow @FromTheBoards on twitter for more throughout the season!

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