Apr 19, 2012
World Team Trophy 2012: Men's SP
Need...some...coffee...but at least there were enough good performances among the men to keep me mostly awake during the event!
Maxim Kovtun of the Russian Federation is up first, skating to Murka, aka Muzak. Is his scarf sewn on his costume? Mr. Kovtun opens with a good 3A, 3Lz-2T, 3F (fall). At least the front-loading makes taking notes easy. Step sequence with ubiquitous first part all on one foot (perhaps it is time to get rid of it as a level feature if everyone is doing it?). Kisses blown to the audience. Really could use a bit more speed during the step sequence. Upper body movement especially needs more polish--Mr. Kovtun really looks to be flinging himself about sometimes. Fug layover camel position, then failed to catch blade for the final donut/catchfoot/whatever position, should lose a level or two for the second-last spin. Spins also could use more speed as well. The closeup at the program's close reveals the very important observation that Mr. Kovtun's eyes match his grey outfit quite well. Oh, Nikolai Morozov in the kiss-and-cry? Well, for a Morozov skater, Mr. Kovtun is surprisingly untacky (at least for this SP). Definitely has some potential in the future. 60.93, into first place for now.
Zhan Bush, also of Russia, is up next. O hello Alexei Urmanov. Mr. Bush is skating to an absolutely tragic version of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.....Beethoven should sue from beyond the grave. 4T (fall), 3A (step-out), steps into 3Lz...with no combination. Bad idea. I hate this music. So much. Well, at least Mr. Bush is selling the footwork with a good dose of energy. Decent speed throughout. There's something rather 'Mishin' about Mr. Bush. Well....Alexei Urmanov's his coach. Awkward slow donut position...the less said about his spin positions, the better. Is he slightly behind the music at the end? Doesn't matter, TES is going to take a beating no matter what. 58.67, into second place for the time being.
Paolo Bacchini skates out next, of Team Italy. Mr. Bacchini is skating to Pinocchio, and accordingly does some puppet-ish choreography to start. 3A (two-footed), but I do like the transitions/choreography in and out of it. 3Lz-2T....tilted off-axis in the air, but manages to hang onto the landing. Negative GOE for sure. 3Lo. This SP feels rather.....European.....interpret that how you will. Good footwork that embraces the puppet theme of the program well, with decent energy, speed and flow. Very Lambiel-inspired spin to close, though clearly lacking Mr. Lambiel's superlative speed and centering. Not enough Swiss chocolate in Mr. Bacchini's diet? But there's actually some real choreography in there and I enjoyed that, and it should lead if the judges have any sense. Team Italy is cheering with gusto in their team condo, they definitely have lots of team spirit. 62.26, new SB, into first place.
Kevin Reynolds of Canada is up next, skating to Chambermaid Swing. Mr. Reynolds opens with a big 4S-3T, very good, looked so nice and easy! 3A - gets rather low in the entry in order to fling himself into the jump....but landed. Bless his hirsute pate, Mr. Reynolds is really trying to sell this SP. And you know what? It's actually pretty good. His speed, body movement, and overall general 'look' on the ice has improved by leaps and bounds, Shae-Lynn Bourne definitely knows what she's doing. 3Lz (ok, but a bit small). Footwork has typical first half on one foot, and I would like to see a bit more fluidity throughout, but it's well-choreographed and it's not quite the interchangeable CoP step sequence here. A very good skate.....78.82, and a very good score (new SB). First place for now.
Adam Rippon of the US of A is the penultimate skater of this group, skating to Korobushko. 3F-3T to begin. Spread eagle............................3A, stepout. Just like at Worlds, with the same major loss of speed prior to the jump. Mr. Rippon definitely needs more speed and power to muscle into the jumps, but I wonder how much of the whole 3A thing is psychological at this point? The hesitation he feels before the 3A is palpable. Rippon 3Lz, but he sort of steps out on the landing? Alas, as talented he may be, Mr. Rippon is never going to make it to the big boys club (i.e. the final group of an ISU Championship) without the jumps. Especially when he doesn't have a quad to compensate for that dubious 3A. And realistically, with the current trajectory men's skating appears to be taking, Mr. Rippon's current jump content--even when clean--is probably still not enough. Second half of the program is much better than the first, but the footwork, normally the best part, feels a bit flat to me, Mr. Rippon has definitely sold this with more energy and speed before. Still love the split jump, though.....perfectly placed within the program. Good positions on his spins. 74.93, 0.01 points above his SB, into second place for the time being.
Brian Joubert of France is the final skater of the first group. Judging by the enthusiastic reaction he receives from the Japanese crowd, Mr. Joubert is clearly quite big in Japan. Great 4T-3T to start, nice and high. 3A (ok). Heh at the posing....but whatever! I have finally learned to stop worrying and love the bomb...er, I mean, this short program. 3Lz (ok). Say what you will about the lack of content in the program, the posing, the costume, the music....but it's quite fun to watch when Mr. Joubert's on and selling it like this. Plus, I actually enjoy it when a skater I've stuck multiple forks in gives me the metaphorical finger by proving me wrong and continuing to skate well. Anyway, back to the program. The quality of Mr. Joubert's spins is kind of lacking, but I do like how they are choreographed with the music here. Footwork with typical one-foot first half (sigh) and the audience is eating it up. But it's a really enjoyable skate, and after hating on Mr. Joubert for so many years, I think I am finally beginning to understand why he seems to be so beloved by so many others. Also, love the Team France shenanigans in the kiss-and-cry. 84.69, new SB, into first place.
Samuel Contesti, garbed in bright red and yellow, is the first skater in the final group, skating for Italy. 3Lz-3T, very quick rotations in the air but no flow out of landing, 3A, 3Lz quite pitched forward, lots of snow flying around. Spins look like they are done in slow motion, especially after the first few revolutions. They are definitely a throwaway element for Mr. Contesti. Straightline step sequence could also use a lot more speed and flow (the less said about Mr. Contesti's SS, the better) but he is working the audience. Mr. Contesti does try to play the charm card a lot, but it always seems like something's missing....maybe it's because he really tries to rely on it too much? Ending choreography obviously plays to the judges A LOT. Well, they are only human after all. Team Italy is being hilarious in the kiss-and-cry, and it is clearly challenging Team France for the team spirit award (if there is going to be one this year). 73.38, goes into fourth place at the moment, just below SB.
Florent Amodio of France follows with his program to the Tears of the Sun soundtrack. Opens with a 4S, quite pitched forward and two-footed...but it looked rotated (protocols say it is). 3Lz-3T, very good. Such lovely speed and flow across the ice, but too bad this program is generic as fuck. 3A, turnout on the landing. Spins are pretty enough, but the footwork is stupid and really doesn't fit the music at all....a grievous affliction known as the generic Morozov flailing step sequence. But Mr. Amodio does sell the program a bit better here than at Worlds. Last spin travels a lot and loses a lot of speed by the end. Is it just me, or did Mr. Amodio finish ahead of the music? But then again, it's not like the music has priority in this program or anything...thank Beelzebub this is the last time we're going to watch this SP (hopefully), because it is an utter snooze. The men of Team France hoist Mr. Amodio up in the kiss-and-cry, and he receives 81.84, new SB, into second place. Exasperated sigh at the PCS (as usual). Well, well, well....
Jeremy Abbott of the USA is up next, skating to some swing music. Blah blah blah, some suspender play, 3F-3T, tight but landed! 3A (good), but now here's some real choreography (and not to mention transitions). Mr. Abbott sells the choreography very well throughout, great commitment to the character of the music. 3Lz (ok). Sigh.....why now, Abbott? Why didn't you do this two weeks ago?! If he skates a clean Exogenesis tomorrow, I'm going to be so pissed (ok, not really. But still). Footwork is very good, lots of speed and energy and Mr. Abbott retains his character and awareness of the music throughout (plus: more suspender play). Take note, Florent Amodio! Mr. Abbott looks elated at the end, but he should be. Great performance, should easily lead even without a quad. 86.98, new SB, and into first place. It's a very good score especially without a quad, and it's good to see Mr. Abbott get some decent PCS.
Takahiko Kozuka of Japan is next to skate, skating to Inner Urge with his reverse-Chan costume. Hopefully we will continue the theme of redemption from the ignominy of Worlds with a good skate from Mr. Kozuka? 4T, fall. Maybe not. I really question Mr. Kozuka's decision to include the 4T in his SP when it's so inconsistent--unlike someone like Daisuke Takahashi, Mr. Kozuka lacks the PCS cushion to keep him in contention when he botches it up. 3A, very good. Great edges and flow over the ice. Good spread eagle, and it bears repeating that this music is ghastly. 3Lz, big wipeout, and with no combination added on the back half. Mandatory -3GOE, and the TES is going to taking a plunge. I fear that this season is not only going to kill Mr. Kozuka's confidence, but is also going to help bury Mr. Kozuka's ranking among the Japanese men. Yuzuru Hanyu is going to eat him for lunch next season, and Mr. Kozuka will be back in the number three slot yet again (that is, if Nobunari Oda doesn't come back strong). Cranking those edges during the step sequence, but I'm not really sure what to think of that wink. Little eyeroll by Mr. Kozuka at the end....yep, my reaction too. 73.61, obviously not SB, way down into 6th place for the time being. Nice knowing you, Mr. Kozuka.
Daisuke Takahashi, also of Japan, skates out onto the ice. Very loud cheers and applause from the crowd....well, the Japanese are not exactly subtle about who their favorite is. Music: In the Garden of Souls. First jumping pass: 4T! Nice flow out of landing, but the rotation will be at the mercy of the tech panel.......and they declare it rotated (yes!). Wise choice not to tack on the 3T here, glad to see Mr. Takahashi's learned his lesson from Worlds. 3A (great). I know I've said this before, but the choreography leading up to the 3Lz is genius. 3Lz-3T. Best choreography of the season. Finger lick, then that straightline step sequence....but I think the sequence was better at Worlds. It was good here, but to me, there was more abandon, more fluidity, more "oneness" with the music at Nice. CCoSp to end that is actually quite good! His spins have improved so much, and it's the skate of the night by far overall. Standing ovation from the audience. Damn you, Takahashi! Save it for Worlds next time. But on the bright side, at least it looks like he's finally getting his quad back. It's definitely also a message to those (including me at times to be honest) that think Mr. Takahashi will be dethroned by Yuzuru Hanyu as early as next season. This will clearly lead...but by how much? 94.00.....new world record!! I'm speechless. OK, not really....quite surprised that none of the categories of PCS broke into the 9-range overall. If it's not going to happen in Japan, it probably won't happen anywhere. But then again, I suppose we know who the judges are saving the marks for. Also, I usually disapprove of skaters keeping programs, but I won't mind if Mr. Takahashi decides to keep In the Garden of Souls for one more season--it's simply sublime. The detail in the choreography, the way Mr. Takahashi moves with such ease and fluidity to the music...one of the best men's SPs ever, I think.
Patrick Chan of Canada is last to skate with his Take Five short program. After what feels like an eternity, this is the last time we will ever see this short program...let us take the time to shed a single tear. Mr. Chan opens with a big 4T, very lovely and airy with good flow out but a bit too close to boards, so no combo. Great speed and flow across the ice. 3A, bit off axis in air....and fall (sob). Steps into 3Lz-3T, rather tight but landed. The SS is undeniable but frankly, this performance is on par/perhaps even worse than the one at Worlds in terms of projection, energy, commitment, etc., especially during the step sequence. Mr. Chan doesn't lose his balance during the footwork this time or anything, but it certainly looks like he is going through the motions at times. Well, to be fair, Mr. Chan has probably been distracted with the changes in his coaching situation of late. But I can't wait to see the marks for this one. 89.91, new SB. Even Mr. Chan looks surprised he scored a SB with that performance in the kiss-and-cry. Um....well....into second place. How that beat Daisuke Takahashi on PCS, I do not even pretend to understand. Excuse while I gaze upon that 9.07 in IN and CH with some incredulity. Well, perhaps we can be grateful for the fact that Mr. Chan didn't win on PE (8.75).