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Oct 6, 2012

A Smorgasbord of New Programs (so far)

Is it just me, or is there a ridiculous amount of competitions going on this week? Japan Open, Finlandia Trophy, Ondrej Nepala....the mind boggles at how many programs are debuting this week. Rather than write separate posts on each competition, I'm going to amalgamate them into two or three large posts as videos of all the competitions slowly seep out.


Mao Asada
Mao Asada's new long program this season is to Tchaikovsky's  Swan Lake, choreographed by the venerable Tatiana Tarasova. A rather predictable choice, for obvious reasons (e.g. Ms. Asada's balletic style) as well as the fact that Ms. Tarasova seems to enjoy giving Mao Asada and Adelina Sotnikova the same music. But...what of the program itself? If Ms. Tarasova did indeed choreograph this, it's probably one of the strongest programs she's done for Ms. Asada. It's not a schlocky muzak version of  Swan Lake, there's no weird face-slapping choreography or awkward music cuts, and even the costume looks very pretty! I especially like the choreographic sequence, the use of spread eagles, the selection of music cuts, and the joy in the steps. With a bit more speed and power, Swan Lake should score very well and receive a favorable reception from both audiences and judges alike.

I haven't looked at the protocols yet, but Ms. Asada's technical elements score is rather low--there were undoubtedly some < and e calls in there somewhere (e.g. the 3F-2Lo-2Lo looked obviously UR'd), and some of the jumping passes will undoubtedly be upgraded throughout the course of the season (e.g. 2A-2T --> 2A-3T). But overall, it's the best first outing for Ms. Asada in a long time, and is a very promising start this season.

Akiko Suzuki
A very interesting new style for Akiko Suzuki, definitely a departure from the jaunty presto tunes she's known for. The music is intriguing, though I need to be enlightened on the exact theme (Ethereal peacock? Avian delights? IDK). Beautifully choreographed step sequence. The jumps in the second half were an utter mess but they should improve when Ms. Suzuki is more fully trained later in the season. I look forward to seeing how this program develops over the course of the season.

Javier Fernandez
Light-hearted, character-driven programs are definitely Javier Fernandez's strength.

Kiira Korpi
Like a dream--elegant, refined, with an ebb and flow as easy and natural as breathing. La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin is both a clever and beautifully appropriate choice for Ms. Korpi, and will probably remain one of the best ladies program this season.

Julia Lipnitskaya
This is highly embarrassing, but I somehow found myself enjoying Julia Lipnitskaya's new short program despite its random point-grubbing flexi-spiral transitions, the blatant front-loading, and the whole frenetic sloppy style of the whole thing. Maybe it's because I like Khachaturian. Or perhaps it's because it's not boring. Whatever it is, it's working.


Daisuke Takahashi
UGH...Daisuke Takahashi returns to Nikolai Morozov, and promptly wears a costume that looks like a horrendous combination of Sergei Voronov's and Adam Rippon's sartorially dubious costumes from THEIR Morozov-choreographed Pagliacci programs. Bleh. The program itself is ok. Just ok. It's not hideous as the costume, but it barely triggered a reaction from me beyond "I hope David Wilson and/or Pasquale Camerlengo and/or Kenji Miyamoto choreographs for Mr. Takahashi next season." I know Shae-Lynn Bourne supposedly choreographed this long program, but it certainly felt like Mr. Morozov had his hands all over it. Hopefully, the program will be tweaked and developed throughout the season--possible improvements include more content and detail in the first minute or so of the program, less overdone angsty hand movements, as well as better music cuts that would make the program seem more cohesive. However, I can't help but think that the music would be better suited for a short program. Disappointing.

Takahiko Kozuka
Like blancmange--smooth, bland, makes little impression beyond the first bite. Same weaknesses as Nausicaa, except that Nausicaa is the better program.

Yuzuru Hanyu
Maybe my expectations were too high, but I felt highly disappointed by Yuzuru Hanyu's Notre Dame long program. After last season's Romeo and Juliet set the bar by stunning and awing upon the first viewing, Notre Dame definitely feels like a letdown. I can see how Notre Dame ticks the appropriate PCS and TES boxes, but the sum of the parts is infinitely less than the whole. Also, Mr. Hanyu needs to find a way to deal with his asthma/conditioning problem. Watching him slowly plod through his step sequences as if grinding through concrete and his body flop from exhaustion after his jumping passes really doesn't make a good impression or speak to the ideal of effortlessness in skating.

Johnny Weir
Derivative. Good to see him back, though.


  1. Idk but apparently Yuzuru is suffering from another ankle injury (from last month). I think the program will get better once he gets better.

  2. OMG I may be one of the rare people who LOVE Chaplin's music but I thought Fernandez's program was a nightmarish mess of random cuts - a throwback to the old days when random cuts were the norm (just look at most of Orser's competitive programs...)

    Like most reasonable people I dislike most of Morosov's choreography but his Chaplin program for Oda was superb. Sort of wish Fernandez could just appropriate THAT because he is a sunny personality and the spirit of the music does suit him.

    Did find Mao's program to be a joy to watch - especially the final step sequence - nice! Even though she did them well I have found Suzki's past hokey broadway programs extremely exasperating, so I enjoyed this artful program although I wonder if it isn't entirely up her alley.

    Agree Hanyu's LP was better last year. I thought this music was kind of flat and lacked emotional momentum and the program suffered as a result. There is a beautiful fluidity to his skating though.

    Except for the two long set-ups for the quads I actually liked Takahashi's LP. Its the first time I've seen him do 'straight' classical music and its' interesting to see him do 'angst'. I don't think its a masterpiece yet but could be if he develops it over the season.

    Kiira Korpi's SP was just wonderful. Too bad she melted down in her LP. I'm really worried about Mirai (her body is turning into Rachel Flatt's!!!), but it was good to see her not melt down after a big fall in her LP and carry on.

    Lipnitskaya's SP was OK but I almost stopped watching her LP - she skates like a robot and for some reason I find that king of skating almost unbearable. Her flexibility is impressive but not beautifully presented like Sasha's was.

    Speaking of robots, I was absolutely STUNNED by Patrick Chan's LP (which finally made it to youtube). I can't believe he actually skated with true HEART which I wouldn't have expected would be possible. I do wonder if for some reason he can't concentrate on his jumps and project emotion at the same time as of course this performance was a true splat-fest.

  3. Agree Kiira's SP is a thing of beauty. Just gorgeous. I like Yuzuru's FS, while there is room for improvement I'm hopeful it'll develop and become better over the season. His Romeo and Juliet programme didn't impress me at its first competitive outing at Nebelhorn last year though I loved the show version, but it got better as the season progressed.

  4. Ah, Morozombie, I had hoped for a post like that. The new season is beginning with an awful lot of competitions and I tuned in here and there to see how people were skating. One thing that hit me after watching several skaters do their thing on the ice was (caveat lector here, and I know the season's just starting, no point in peeking too early, programmes will change, choreo will improve, etc. etc.) that it seems to be very hard for a lot of skaters to change their style or add variance to their skating, be it in body language, form, technique or whatever no matter what music they skate to. It's the same skate time and time again.

    I watched a number of skates. Michal Brezina, for example, his new Peer Gynt SP. Ok, In the Hall of the Mountain King does not really lend itself to great interpretation, besides a frantic step sequence at the end complementing the increasing speed of the tune. And this is exactly what happens. In Brezina style. Not that he is a bad skater, but were is a progression/change/variance in the style of movement? (He should have kept Kodo-Drums and gotten a new LP, btw.) He got the hip-hop O Fortuna CD from Tomas Verner and that music was on it too, so he had an all black costume made and ready was the new SP.

    Then I watched a bit of French Masters. Joubert. Amodio. Tigerman went back to being Suspender-Man channeling Marcel Marceau. Actually, the same type of jerky movements and choreography/posing we always see, and he's not a bad skater. It's just all these skaters can only skate on style or type pf programme.

    This holds true for a lot of skaters. Kozuka, gorgeous skater as such, but at some point it is not interesting anymore. If I had a blog I'd devote a post to "Variations on a Theme of Boredom". Then again, maybe I'm not in the skating season mood yet. :D

  5. No I agree with you PT.. But then again, it is difficult to add variation to ur programmes when muscle memories ensure you do things in the same way. I think there are very few exceptional skaters that actually do not come across as skating the same thing over and over again, Abbott is one name that comes to my mind. Lets see, maybe also Lambiel, Takahashi to some extent, Fernandez.. I dont know really. Cant think of many..

    1. You're right in saying skaters who can do that have always been few and far between and I know I'm probably overly critical at the moment. Skating is what it is and I did not really anticipate the season very much, so it takes more on the skaters/skating side to get my attention and keep me interested. Also the first few programmes I had watched were probably more extreme examples of what made me write that little would be rant. In the end, I will, of course, follow the season religiously, anyway. :)