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Apr 20, 2015

A Comparison of Ladies' Triple Axels (Thus Far)



In honor of Elizaveta Tuktamysheva's successful triple axels of late, here's a comparison of all the ladies who have successfully landed a triple axel at least once at an international ISU competition.

Midori Ito
Midori Ito was the first lady to ever land a triple axel in competition. Ms. Ito's technical abilities as a jumper was so insanely far ahead of her contemporaries such that she is, to me, the Niccolo Paganini of ladies figure skating insofar as she was a phenomenon rather than a development. Put into perspective, when Midori Ito won her world title in 1989 with a triple axel, the most difficult jump in Katarina Witt's world title-winning program in 1988 was a solo triple loop. Similarly, Jill Trenary's gold-medal program at 1990 Worlds had a solo triple flip as its most difficult jump. Admittedly, Ms. Ito's competitive results in the earlier days of her career can be attributed to the role of compulsory figures, which Ms. Ito was known to be rather poor at. But as the numerous technical-mark 6.0s Ms. Ito received in her programs attests, the phenomenal quality of Ms. Ito's jumping ability cannot be denied. In the two decades since Ms. Ito retired from competitive skating, her triple axel still arguably stands as the best ladies triple axel ever. For proof, I submit the following exhibits:

Apr 6, 2015

A Toast to Pairs Skating, IJS version



A post dedicated to those of us still grappling with the results of the pairs event at the 2015 World Figure Skating Championships.

By now, the axiom that IJS has destroyed the beauty of pairs skating is a hoary chestnut among the figure skating commentariat. And can you blame them? The memories of level-grubbing atrocities such as catchfoot death spirals and awkward lift positions with various limbs akimo are still very fresh and very painful. But all is not lost in this valley of tears, for we have the skating of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy to show that IJS pairs skating can reach the heights of greatness achieved by the legendary pairs who competed during the halcyon days of 6.0.

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy. I consider them one of the greatest--if not THE greatest--pairs team to have been competed under the auspices of IJS. They are certainly one of the most decorated pairs teams in terms of medals, but I feel that perceptions of Savchenko/Szolkowy have often been clouded by some of their (admittedly quite ludicrous) costumes, the whole Ingo Steuer/Stasi controversy, Ms. Savchenko's over-generous application of self-tanner, some sloppy gold-winning performances, and their disappointingly underwhelming performances at the Olympic games (and corresponding lack of Olympic gold).

Apr 1, 2015

2015 Worlds Recap: the Ladies (Part One)



Like most seemingly rational people prior to the ladies event at 2015 Worlds, I predicted that the ladies podium at Worlds this year would have a Russian in the gold  (Elizaveta Tuktamysheva) and silver (Elena Radionova) positions and an American in the bronze position (my choice was Gracie Gold, but others favored Ashley Wagner, which was not an irrational choice). In the deepest, darkest, and most delusional recesses of my heart, however, I hoped for a slightly different podium: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Satoko Miyahara, and Elena Radionova. I nursed hopes of this dream podium in desperate times, but my rational self knew that my rational podium prediction was at least 74.3% times more likely to come to fruition.

[Insert typical caveats and clichés about ice being slippery here, etc.]

However, I was thrilled that my dream podium actually came true!! Given that my dream podium predictions usually have a distinctly delusional flavor to them, they are almost never reflective of reality so I was almost overcome with shock when I realized that my dream podium prediction was actually, well, manifesting in reality (admittedly, the shock could also be somewhat attributed to sleep deprivation). Of course, my dream podium for the ladies this year was not quite as . . . delusional ambitious . . . as past dream podiums, but I'm just thrilled that it came true.

Mar 30, 2015

2015 Worlds Recap: the Men



Given the quality of the men's skating in previous events of late, I was expecting meltdowns left, right, and center for the men at 2015 Worlds. Fortunately, the quality of the men's event was not all that bad! Therein lies the benefits of low expectations . . .