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Nov 21, 2018

I Think About This A Lot: Evgenia Medvedeva's Averbukh-Era Choreography

One of my favourite online columns is The Cut's I Think About This A Lot, a column "dedicated to private memes: images, videos, and other random trivia we are doomed to play forever on loop in our minds."  Finally, I have found kindred spirits who are also willing to disclose the random detritus that stubbornly clings--unwanted, or at least unbidden--to the otherwise hollowed-out recesses of the mind.

If I were a contributor to the august entries of I Think About This A Lot, my first entry would undoubtedly be dedicated to Ilia Averbukh's choreography for Evgenia Medvedeva.  In a world where choreographers are content to have their charges skate to the 391391419th iteration of Bizet's Carmen or the same hackneyed versions of Romeo and Juliet, Mr. Averbukh--to his credit--tends to select unique choices of music for Ms. Medvedeva and kit them out with grandiose themes: clinical death, the suffering of the deaf, the ephemeral nature of life in the chaotic times of terrorism.  The presence of such sweeping program concepts of Deep Seriousness in the rather frothy milieu of figure skating, however, brings to mind Vladimir Nabokov's knowing remark that only a single letter separates the comic and the cosmic.

But it's not necessarily the wildly ambitious themes of Ms. Medvedeva's Averbukhian programs that are seared into my mind--no, it's the choreography that serves as the chassis for such themes. To be more specific, it's certain moments of choreography that go so far into the ludicrous, it circles all the way back around to . . . being entertaining? You know what I'm talking about:

Jan 22, 2018

2018 European Figure Skating Championships: Ladies Recap

The ladies event at the 2018 European Figure Skating Championships in Moscow, Russia set the stage for one of the most hotly-anticipated tête-à-têtes in figure skating this season: Evgenia Armanovna Medvedeva vs. Alina Ilnazovna Zagitova.  On stage left was reigning World and European Champion Evgenia Medvedeva: undefeated since November 2015, but convalescing from a foot injury that necessitated her absence from the competitive ranks for months.  On stage right was upstart Alina Zagitova: reigning World Junior, Grand Prix Final and Russian National Champion, undefeated in the senior ranks since her senior debut this season at the Lombardia Trophy.  Dare I slip in a metaphor here about an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object? Throw in the fact that Ms. Medvedeva and Ms. Zagitova both train under the sharp, disapproving eye of Eteri Tutberidze, and here we have 2018's version of Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski circa 1998, if Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski both trained under Frank Carroll and were even more dominant than they were in 1997-98 (really--do you see Ms. Zagitova losing anything to a Laetitia Hubert-like skater anytime soon?). Or would the more relevant comparison be to Alexei Yagudin and Evgeni Plushenko in 2002 (history of sharing a coach; unparalleled rivalry at the top of the field; Russian)? Take your pick . . . though I suppose the results of the Pyeongchang Olympics will determine which comparison is more apt.

Dec 5, 2017

Best Moments of the 2017 Grand Prix Season (So Far)

Another year, another Grand Prix of Figure Skating season. Gone are the days in which the top skaters skipped the Grand Prix season with impunity and skaters like Michelle Kwan had to be enticed to just show up with cold, hard cash.  No--these days, even skaters of the topmost echelon are gritting their teeth through injuries, illnesses, and other assorted maladies so that they can tough it out through to qualifying for the Grand Prix Final (or worse, injure themselves trying to do). Correspondingly, national figure skating federations look to the results of the Grand Prix series to help select their Olympic and/or World teams, fans of the sport engage in vociferous debates over the scoring and/or tech panel calling after every single Grand Prix event, and the Japanese Skating Federation glitzes out their perennially sold-out NHK Trophy as if it were a contemporary Super Bowl halftime show with an unlimited budget. Observers of the Grand Prix of Figure Skating live in exciting times indeed.

With the Grand Prix Final coming up soon, let's dispel the dark cloud of injuries and absences hanging over the Grand Prix Final this year and focus on the highlights of the Grand Prix season so far: