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Dec 31, 2012

A Last Post...of 2012

It's that time of the year again, that time when we look back at the year that is rapidly on its way to passing us by and ponder those time-worn questions: what was good? What was bad? How much alcohol is needed to forget it all?

When it comes to looking back at the 'good' in figure skating, I find that it isn't necessarily the programs in their entirety that endure the longest in my memories, but certain indelible moments within those programs. That glorious, wind-beneath-the-wings feeling evoked when Akiko Suzuki flew down the ice during her choreographic sequence after nailing all her jumps at the NHK Trophy, for instance, or the memory of seeing Virtue/Moir's brilliant, furious closing lifts in their Carmen free dance at Skate Canada for the very first time. Another great moment that imprinted itself into my mind was watching Takahiko Kozuka skate his beautiful spread eagles set perfectly to the beating of the drums in his short program at Skate America, and who can forget Carolina Kostner's sinuous, sensual step and choreographic sequences and her final, very late 3S right to the music of her Bolero long program.

But of the performances that did leave a lasting impression in 2012, it is these ones: Daisuke Takahashi's electrifying Blues for Klook to the roaring of the home crowd at the World Team Trophy. Weaver/Poje skating their hearts out to Je Suis Malade at Worlds. Davis/White's delightful, effervescent Giselle at Skate America. Takahashi/Tran's serene, near-perfect short program at Worlds (now accompanied by fuzzy feelings of nostalgia). Yuzuru Hanyu's astounding, heart-pounding Romeo and Juliet also at Worlds.

Then there are those things of 2012 that are best forgotten, or at most spoken of in hushed tones as a warning to future generations. Programs like Volosozhar/Trankov's cheesy, awkward Godfather program (and not least of all, Mr. Trankov's decorative facial hair), Michal Brezina's dreadfully misguided 'Tribute To Evan Lysacek' short program, and Ilinykh/Katsalapov's cringe-inducing Ghost free dance. Other things that have earned the dubious honor of a spot in this category include the yowling music of Adelina Sotnikova's Burlesque long program and the costumes sported by Savchenko/Szolkowy at Skate Canada (assaults on the ears and the eyes respectively).

But to end on a happier note, the contrarian in me loves it best when a skater proves me wrong, makes me sit up and pay attention after punching a sizeable hole (or two) through my assumptions and prejudices. Watching Patrick Chan's La Boheme long program this year at Skate Canada falls under this category (not his best performance, but strangely the one in which the program clicked for me), as did most performances of Bobrova/Soloviev's free dance this season (let's temporarily forget about that Edvin Marton'd Tosca bit of their free dance). But above all, no skater has accomplished this better than Daisuke Takahashi in 2012, right at the tail end of the year. After bemoaning his choice of returning to Nikolai Morozov, shaking my head at his apparent folly of attempting two quads in his long program when simply landing one was a dicey proposition, and turning up my noise at his Pagliacci long program all season, Mr. Takahashi went out and skated a near-perfect, earth-shattering long program at Japanese Nationals that left my jaw unhinged for at least 2.5 minutes. Frankly, I don't give a damn what the protocols say, because that performance drop-kicked my assumptions (along with Yuzuru Hanyu's relatively anaemic performance) right out into the stratosphere. Just the way I like it....and a perfect way to end the year.


  1. No comments for my favorite Mao Asada? I searched for the name in the post for one minute... How disappointing... Of course I am kidding! Happy New Year, Morozombie! It has been such a great pleasure reading your posts! I wanted to thank you a long time ago. Please post more often, please... :)

  2. I agree with all you say about Dai. I didn't like it much in the beginning but now it won my heart and I watch it compulsively and I love every bit of it. His performance at Japan Nat was so overwhelming that I can't even remember that he actually hasn't won, 'cuz in my heart and (most people's hearts) he still is the National Champion. Well done Daisuke, what a way to and a year!!!

    1. It's insane that a performance like that isn't a gold-medal national performance, isn't it? Ah, the depth of Japanese men's skating...

  3. Supporting Dai has always been an emotional roller coaster ride...However, in the end and when it really counts he delivers performances which are truly unforgettable. I am so grateful he fought his way back from a devastating ACL injury/reconstructive surgery - and to think some of his greatest achievements occurred after this injury. He has paved the road for the upcoming generation of talented male skaters coming out of Japan right now.

    For me, it is not only the level but the quality of his artistry that is just astounding. Technical components are not separate from the artistic components - they are one. So in the end I find myself swept up by the emotions coming from his soul and later realize the quads, axels, loops, etc were a means to convey the whole.

    An observation, in your previous post you said "As Mr. Takahashi smiled at the close of his performance, I found my own facial muscles somehow involuntarily rearranging themselves in a like fashion the very first time." Well, for his performance at Japan Nationals it seems both you and Dai had your jaws unhinged for at least 2.5 minutes! Kindred spirits indeed!

    I thought you might enjoy this link. It is Dai's FS at Japan Nationals WITHOUT commentary - just you, Dai, the music and his fans.

    Thank you for your wonderful site!

    1. Thank you for the link, and thank you for reading!

      "For me, it is not only the level but the quality of his artistry that is just astounding. Technical components are not separate from the artistic components - they are one. So in the end I find myself swept up by the emotions coming from his soul and later realize the quads, axels, loops, etc were a means to convey the whole."

      Beautiful paragraph, and I completely agree. He has the rare ability to make me forget that I am watching a competition, which for me is a quality shared by a very short list of skaters.