Jan 8, 2013
What I'm Watching.....
Who cares about brackets and counters when you can move like this on the ice? Oksana Baiul is INCREDIBLE here. One of my favorite exhibition skates ever.
Evgeni Plushenko may be one of this blog's whipping boys, but there was a time when I found his skating to be more than tolerable. Exhibit A: his Carmen LP at the 2002 Olympics. Although Carmen was performed only once in competition and was hastily choreographed prior to the Olympics with some blatant recycling of Alexei Yagudin's old music cuts from 1997, it is still my favorite Evgeni Plushenko program. Killer jumping passes in the beginning (especially that very cool 3A-half Lo-3F), no horrible seizure-induced arm flailing, the choreography actually tried to reflect the music's phrasing from time to time and there was a real fire and spark to his skating that wasn't always there after Alexei Yagudin retired.
I still remember the first time I watched Yu-Na Kim's Danse Macabre almost five years ago. Wary of the rather...temperamental Internet connection at home, I camped out at my school's library to watch the bootleg Turkish feed of 2008 Skate America I had access to at the time. By the time Ms. Kim finished her closing pose, I had to physically restrain myself from disturbing the monastic silence of the library with some cheering. It was that glorious.
To me, this program is the most iconic of Ms. Kim's illustrious career. Though El Tango de Roxanne is choreographically the better program, Danse Macabre was no slouch in that category and was above all skated with a sensational command over the ice from day one of its debut that was hitherto unforeseen in Ms. Kim's skating at the time. The packaging by Brian Orser & co. was just pitch-perfect in Danse Macabre: the exquisite dress, makeup, music and of course Ms. Kim's skating all coalesced together to firmly establish Ms. Kim as the Queen of ladies' skating for the next couple of seasons.
Classical skating at its finest. The spread eagle at the beginning makes me feel rather emotionally vulnerable. Jeffrey Buttle is clearly trying to mold Patrick Chan in his own image with Elegie but it's apparent after watching the original that Mr. Chan has quite a ways to go still.
I've previously criticized Takahiko Kozuka for not projecting enough, for not having more of a personality out on the ice...but after watching this superb exhibition program of his, I'm beginning to think that I was wrong. Mr. Kozuka is never going to be a Daisuke Takahashi or a Yuzuru Hanyu on the ice...but you know what? That's cool. The purity of Mr. Kozuka's skating speaks for itself; he doesn't need to gild the lily. Instead, I think that the real problem with Mr. Kozuka is that during his competitive programs, his movement is so reserved, kept so close to his core, there's a hesitancy and applied quality that probably stems from competitive nerves. But in the exhibition setting of the Sound of Silence, there's a far greater fluidity and finesse to his movements that allows him to express emotion and the nuances of the music in a way that I have never seen him do so in his competitive programs. If he can bring these qualities to his skating when he's competing, he will be a force to reckoned with.
It's been over a decade since they've retired from competitive skating, but I've yet to find a pairs team that takes my breath away the way Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze effortlessly can. But perhaps the ravages of CoP on pairs skating is partly responsible for that....