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Mar 30, 2012

Worlds 2012: Men's SP Recap

Splat, splat, splat. No, that was not the sound of posteriors hitting the ice, but rather the sound of my head banging against the wall in exasperation. Sadly, the men's short programs at Nice generally ran the gamut from relatively subpar to truly tragic. Podium favorites fell by the wayside like cattle at a meatplant, and only a precious few seemed interested in that whole carpe diem business. We can only hope that the men will redeem themselves in the long program....

Hometown boy Brian Joubert, obviously of France, starts skating to his Daft Punk mix with the crowd roaring by his side. He lands a 4T-3T (a bit tight on the landing of the triple), then a 3A that is forward and held on by sheer force of will. Last jumping pass: 3Lz. The admittedly partisan crowd is eating him up, but Mr. Joubert does sell the program--his ending step sequence is rather nice and energetic. And I like the fact that he's ending on steps as opposed to the typical spin. What can I say at this point? A few years ago, I would have turned up my noise in disdain, but like it or not, this style works for Mr. Joubert and I respect him for going out and doing his own thing, critics like me be damned. 83.47....yeah, some home cooking involved, but that's expected. I'm surprised Mr. Gailhaguet didn't go all-out and get that in the 85-90 range.

Adam Rippon of the US of A rounds out the last of the skaters in the third-to-last group I'm going to bother writing about. He is skating to Bond's Korobushko, obviously an appeal to all those Russians that populate the ranks of figure skating. Good 3F-3T to begin, albeit quite close to the boards. Spread eagle....then the moment of truth.....stalk, stalk, stalk into a 3A, which he clearly steps out of. Not that surprising. I doubt he'll ever have a rock-solid 3A at this point of his career. Rippon-style 3Lz, another step-out. Unfortunate. Great, energetic footwork that swimmingly works with the music as the tempo and volume pick up. Love that split jump. Although I do understand the theory behind this SP's choreography (i.e. slow build into the big splashy climax at the end with the footwork, etc), the first half is too sparse for my taste, and the impression isn't helped by the fact that the 3A requires that much set-up time. Where will that go? 73.55, third for the time being.

Patrick Chan of Canada is first up in the penultimate group, skating to Take Five. Let's see how he does. 4T with a sketchy landing, very low on the knee and clearly clung on. Was that a slight touchdown of the free foot? No 3T attached. Good 3A. I'm impressed he appears to have conquered his 3A demons. Er....he's obviously better than every other skater who has performed in the previous group, but he's performed Take Five with far more swagger, there's definitely less freedom, a slight feeling of tightness/nerviness tonight. 3Lz-3T, thus avoiding the penalty for omitting the combo. Well, that seals his lead--wait, did he just almost lose balance twice at the beginning of the footwork? Unless Mr. Chan has changed the choreography, those looked suspiciously like balance checks. I wonder if that will be reflected in the GOE (knowing the judges, probably not). So, how far will that lead by? That was probably his least-flawed performance this season in terms of the elements, but kind of lackluster especially in terms of actually performing--he was infinitely better last worlds, and better even at the GPF and 4CC (despite the falls at these two events). So.....he receives 89.41. He deserves to lead overall, but in my opinion, that score was a few whiskers too high for that skate. Whatever, I doubt it'll matter by tomorrow.

Samuel Contesti of Italy is up next, skating to some folkish music. Mr. Contesti muscles out a 3Lz-3T, then a tilted 3A with a hand down. 3F.....and my feed buffers, refreshing in time to see his score: 73.55.

Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic skates onto the ice next, garbed in Ed Hardy but apparently skating to some Kodo drums piece. Channelling Elvis Stojko, are we? A giant, airy 3A to begin....then a 3F-3T, also very good, and....4S!!! A beauty. Someone is shooting for the podium, but to be honest, everything else besides the jumps was kind of mediocre. Well, the footwork was OK, but this whole thing seems more like a clotheline for the elements than a complete program. He actually needs to sell the program more, perform between the elements. Moreover, almost the entire first minute of the program was dedicated to stroking around setting up for the jumps. However, this is by far the best Mr. Brezina has performed this SP all season: how close will it be to Mr. Chan? Mr. Brezina receives 87.67, a huge new SB and moves into second. Wow, that's actually quite close to the lead, and Mr. Brezina should be proud of himself for skating so well.

Daisuke Takahashi, of Japan and skating to In the Garden of Souls, is up next. Now, where is my Xanax? He is obviously going for the quad......4T (YES).....3T...hands down, possibly a fall (ugh). Obviously UR. He wasn't getting that much speed out of the 4T, why didn't he tack on the 3T onto his 3Lz? I hate him. I hate him. The 3T is called <<, which kills the base value. The 4T+3T<< ends up as worth 8.74 with the negative GOE factored in, which is tragic considering a well-done 3Lz-3T that Mr. Takahashi can do in his sleep has a base value of 10.10. Add the positive GOE and that's around 11 points. 3A (great), and those incredible steps into a 3Lz like butter, done most marvellously to the music. The choreography of this SP is incredible, easily the best of the competition. Every beat of the music is used, and the whole thing looks seamless despite all those connecting moves/transitions. Too bad this probably won't be reflected in the marks. Even the spins are looking quite good today, and as a whole, that was skated beautifully and with fire aside from the one mistake on the opening jumping pass. If he didn't botch up that fucking combination, I would say that deserves a world record. But as it is: 85.72. PCS about a point behind Mr. Chan. Meh, I think that IN, CH and possibly even PE should be higher for Mr. Takahashi even with the mistake given how lackluster Mr. Chan was tonight, but, well, at least it's close. Interestingly, Mr. Takahashi's 4T-3T<< wasn't called a fall. I'll have to take a second look at that one, it definitely looked like a fall.

Jeremy Abbott is up next with his Swing SP. Given the disaster at the Hague, I doubt Mr. Abbott will go for the quad here. He just needs to be clean to be a podium threat without a quad. First jumping pass: 3F(wild landing) into 3T (fall)...ack. Not good. Good 3A...spin....2Lz with turnout on landing. That is going to kill his score, as the SP requires a solo triple or quad out of steps. Mandatory -3GOE + crap base value. His overall base value is going to take a beating even with the high quality of the other elements. I don't even have the heart to expound on my irrational and unfounded dislike of this SP, as Mr. Abbott's so toast it doesn't even matter. It's like kicking a puppy at this point. And his score is 74.85, which moves him into sixth place, clearly out of the final group going into the LP considering that there's still an entire group to go. I wish I could say I'm surprised,, not really.

Kevin van der Perren finishes off the penultimate group, skating to the familiar strains of The Feeling Begins.  And he begins with a.....3T-3T, obviously supposed to be a quad. Then a 2A, obviously supposed to be a 3A. Ouch. He recovers nicely with a 3Lz, but with Mr. van der Perren, the jumps are the program. He's clearly no Pasha, that's for sure. The large gap that separates the quality of basic skating in this group (Chan, Takahashi and Abbott vs. van der Perren, Contesti, and Brezina) is actually quite amusing. Spins and footwork are typical KvdP, performance kind of deflated. 66.38. Not surprising.

Artur Gachinski of Russia leads off the final group of men, skating to St. Louis Blues. He opens with a 2T-2T, thereby decimating his base value by missing a required element (base value: 2.60, with mandatory -3GOE deduction for not doing a required triple or quad). Ouch. Spread eagle into a Mishin-trademark 3A, good though not quite Mr. Gachinski's best. 3Lo. I know this is supposed to be Tom Dickson choreography, but it's clear that this SP has been watered down from its original conception. Really not much going on here. On the bright side, Mr. Gachinski has definitely improved on how he moves on the ice, he's less stiff and flaily than last season, but in my opinion, he really lacks the charisma to pull off a blues piece properly. Then again, I'd be pretty limp with shock if I blew my biggest point-getting combo so spectacularly. Whatever improvements he's made, Mr. Gachinski still remains a jumps-or-die sort of skater in this deep field. Final score: 68.50. It'll take a sudden outbreak of plague for him to resurrect a medal after this short program.

The other hometown favorite Florent Amodio is up next, skating to the soundtrack from Tears of the Sun. Big fall on the 4S, a good 3Lz-3T, 3A with big lean, possible hand down. Typical Morozov front-loading. Typical Morozov crap choreography. I've defended Mr. Amodio's skating in the past, but I really can't do the same this season. This program is so generic, and parts of it (e.g. the footwork) looks like it was originally meant for a completely different program. The music is sweeping and epic, while Mr. Amodio is flailing around during the footwork. Huh? I'm not convinced by the choreography or by the performance, and by the looks of it, neither is Mr. Amodio himself. All that natural charisma and performance ability seems smothered somehow. Look, I know that Mr. Amodio can't keep pretending to be a schizophrenic clown or bop around to Michael Jackson forever, but surely there's a way to make Mr. Amodio more mature and expand his repertoire without making him boring. But it doesn't look like Mr. Morozov is up to the task. Run, Mr. Amodio, run. For his effort, Mr. Amodio receives 79.96, a new SB, and moves into fifth for the time being. Errrrrrrr......okaaaay. And to add insult to injury, somehow, one judge on the judging panel deigned this drivel worthy of:
SS: 9.00
TR: 8.50
PE: 8.75
CH: 9.00
IN: 9.00
Now, THAT is voodoo beyond the sobrieties of reason and logic, even more impressive than the 9.00/8.50/9.00/9.00/9.00 a judge handed Alena Leonova yesterday. It can't entirely be blamed on home cooking either, as Brian Joubert didn't get any superlative scoring like this (despite the fact that Mr. Joubert has not only the superior program, but also the superior performance). As such, I take back what I said before: Mr. Morozov is a miracle worker.

Yuzuru Hanyu is up next, and is skating to a Scriabin Etude. 4T-2T to begin, looks a bit tight and not much flow out the landing of the 2T. The 4T was excellent, though. 3A out of that cool entrance, beautiful and high but with a swingy free leg. I can't help but think the subtleties of this Etude are slightly beyond Mr. Hanyu's current abilities as a performer, but his flow, his glide, his presence on the ice almost make up for it. Steps into....a 1Lz. WHAT. Mr. Hanyu completely gave that one away. He can snap off triple lutzes in his sleep. As with pops on a required triple out of steps, that is going to cost him not only in base value but also GOE here in the short program. Step sequence would look a bit less ragged if he knew how to hold his body with more tension and control. Nice bendy positions on spins. So much talent there; Mr. Hanyu is absolutely the heir apparent to Daisuke Takahashi. Too bad about that pop, though....I suspect it may cost him a medal when the LP's done and gone. 77.07, and is out of the final group going into the LP. Thank Allah Mr. Hanyu's PCS beat out Florent Amodio's, though it's not by much. Still, it's respectable for the #3 Japanese dude. It should be better tomorrow, I've a feeling that Mr. Hanyu will skate a barnburner LP, but that could just be wishful thinking....  

Takahiko Kozuka is skating next to Inner Urge. Mr. Kozuka is wearing what looks like a curious reversal of Mr. Chan's LP costume--looking aspirational, Mr. Kozuka? Anyway, let's see which Japanese man will end up at the top of the heap. Mr. Kozuka beings with a 4T: big fall, clearly UR. Uh oh. Listening to this music is something akin to sticking an electric screwdriver in one's ears. And Mr. Kozuka lacks that slinky swagger needed to pull it off. 3A--just slipped and fell off the landing edge. Ouch. Ouch. Nice spread eagle into the sit spin. 3Lz-3T with scratchy turnout on the landing of the 3T. Should be rotated, though (it is). He is doomed. Seriously, what's up with Mr. Kozuka's jumps this season? They were so smooth and flowy last season (particularly in Moscow) but this season, they looked a bit heavy (or so to speak) during the Grand Prix, ok during Japanese Nationals but seem to have completely evaporated now. The footwork is fleet as usual, but it really doesn't matter at this point. 71.78, which puts him into 13th place when the night is done. Looks like only one of the three medallists last year will repeat.

Javier Fernandez of Spain is the next skater to take the ice, garbed in a butter-yellow cardigan that deserves +3 GOE. Will the mistake-ridden skates continue? 4T- big, but a bit forward on the landing. 3Lz-3T, 3A with scratchy landing. He really willed those jumps to happen. Well, given all the other skates tonight, I'm just happy that Mr. Fernandez didn't fall or pop any of his jumps. Spins not the best, but have improved since the beginning of the season. Footwork needs more speed, and to be honest, this was not his best performance. Frankly, Mr. Fernandez was quite flat throughout and though the cardigan and his natural charm go a long way, it doesn't make up for the muted performance or that basic skating, especially as he's skating directly after Mr. Kozuka. 81.87, and he moves into fifth place. Not bad, but to be honest, I'm surprised the judges didn't score him higher. Maybe it was even more underwhelming in the arena.

Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic is the last skater tonight, skating to a rather dubious hip hop/techno version of Carmina Burana. Mr. Verner begins with a 2T (obviously supposed to be a 4T, costly error), thereby continuing the string of less-than-stellar skates tonight. 3A. Big two-foot on the 3F-3T. Footwork is plodding and heavy, and would look quite at home in a completely different program. I want to be nice (ha!), but frankly, this program sucks. Cyber Swan this is not. It's about as hip hop as my grandmother, and Mr. Verner is capable of so much more. What's the point of having those hip hop beats if you're not going to actually, you know, at least pretend to do some hip hop? It could be the original Carmina Burana playing in the background and I doubt it would make much difference. 70.38, and down in fourteenth place. Bah.

And so ended an underwhelming night of skating in general.


  1. Oh didnt you hear? Morozov was seen by the ATM several times since arriving in Nice. Seriously, there is no other explanation.. With Chan, at least we are now partially desensitised to lackluster performances breaking world records.
    LOL at your comment on Kozukas horrible music. And Verner.. Theres nothing to love about that programme. At least Brian can get it together often enough to give him some motivation. I dont know what keeps Verner going at this point. Hes such a waste.
    Thank god for Pairs discipline being the saving grace of yet another dismal world champs so far...

    1. Tomas Verner would be headed towards Fumie Suguri territory if he was skating with a country with more talented skaters. As it stands, he's basically guaranteed plum international assignments whatever condition he's in, which I guess is a pretty sweet deal. That being said, I'm not sure how he keeps on going either when he's but a faded shadow of the skater he once was.

  2. Kozuka had a boots trouble in this season.
    He made clear his problem after the Nationals.
    But in february, the heel of his boots was cracked so he have to change to new boots again.
    I hope him to skate with his full of emotion.....I pray for him.

    1. I didn't know that about Mr. Kozuka's boots, thanks for the heads-up.

  3. Takahashis error wasn't a fall, they usually mark something down as a fall when your lower body connects with the ice usually your ass. Agreed, they do seem to be running with Chans programmes, looks like over marking to me, particularly in the IN section.

  4. Brezina has wonderful basic skating, nowhere near as bad as VDP. But the packaging of Brez is horrendous.