Sunday, October 26, 2008
Exhibition notes & final thoughts from Everett

The audience loves the Kerrs. They’ve gotten the biggest applause of the non-American teams this week.

It’s sad when Evan’s “gangsta” costume is the most attractive outfit he’s worn all week.

Miki Ando looks so much better with her hair in a loose curly ponytail.

I like Tanith and Ben’s exhibition (“Falling Slowly”) much more than their competitive programs. The simple romantic style suits them much more than the bombastic Tosca (and it’s more interesting to watch). Dramatic isn’t always better!

Delobel and Schoenfelder did some routine involving long scarves. Stunning and frightening at the same time. I didn’t want to be a witness to the first recorded case of on-ice garroting.

Kozuka is adorable and charming on the ice. Not only is he choreographed by Yuka Sato, but also when he skates, he moves like her as well (that’s a good thing, in my opinion). The both have that soft, easy knee action that makes every movement look so free.

Announced at the end of the exhibition: Everett wins! More tickets sold than Spokane!

Meanwhile Spokane is already doing its part to make sure they sell out Nationals. Their local news station KHQ sent a reporter and camera crew, who have been in the media trenches all week. They also plan to send a team to Cleveland. All this is to create a buzz for 2010. Check out their coverage on KHQ.com.

The media has been well fed all week. Three times a day, a catering staff brings in a full meal, which then everyone swoops in to eat. Our dishes have included bagels, pastries, yogurt, bacon, eggs, sausage, cold cuts, hot roast beef, roast pork, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, butternut squash soup, bruschetta, Swedish meatballs, and crab-lobster bisque. Media veterans assure me this is not the usual. “We’re often lucky if we get a cookie,” one photographer said.

By the end of the competition, the media gets a bit punchy. I’ve already found out more than I needed to know about some of the journalists in here (none of which I can repeat in a PG blog). And while I was working on my free dance report, I learned that the generally accepted best rear end in ice dance belongs to Brent Bommentre (photographer Leah Adams says I can quote her on that). The reply from Skate Today’s Brett Barden is that Bommentre doesn’t agree. Apparently he thinks his rear is too big.

Good to know.

Moving on.

This ends my last blog from Everett! Tomorrow I head into Seattle for two days of wandering around. Is there really a coffee shop on every corner? I loves me some coffee, so I’ll be checking it out!

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Killer free dance?

Today, I elected to skip the free dance practice in order to catch up on some much-needed sleep. I took my usual spot over Kiss & Cry and realized there were more television camera antics.

As the first warm-up group (and their coaches) were clumped by the barrier, that sneaky crane camera swooped overhead and decided to slowly creep down over Igor Shpilband. It hovered there, inching slowly downward, as if waiting for him to notice. What he noticed first was Ekaterina Rubleva and Katherine Copely laughing at it, then he finally looked up to see the camera aimed at his nostrils. If there were a cartoon bubble over his head, it would be saying, “Ack!”

ack-737396Eventually, one of the skaters took revenge on that intrusive NBC hand-held camera: Ben Agosto jumped in front of it and made devil ears with his hands. Rock on, Ben.

Random thought: Why is the Everett Fire Department hanging out near Kiss & Cry?

The trend in dance lifts this year, is a rotational lift where the man grabs the woman by the waist, or hooks his arm through her clasped-behind-the-back hands, and then spins for all he’s worth. It basically looks like he’s about to shot put her into the stands. In my notes, I abbreviated it as an SYP (“sling your partner”) lift.

I skipped the first flight of ladies to work on my free dance report. I regret missing Poykio’s skate. Then I didn’t take any notes during the second group. I think the free dance killed me.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008
Projectile dogs, Mozart conundrums, I <3 Yuka

Miki Ando slipped on the barrier cover when she was exiting from her warm-up and took a loud and messy fall half on and off the ice. She seemed confused about whether it was painful or funny, but seemed to eventually decide on funny.

Like Brian Orser, Todd Eldredge also dances around to the warm-up music. I caught him bouncing up and down to “Dancing Queen.”

When Kimmie took the ice for her program, no one screamed louder or more enthusiastically than Mirai.

Yu-Na Kim owned that short program. No one came even close to the kind of command she had on the ice.

I never fail to be impressed at how skaters remove one blade guard, step onto the ice on that foot, and manage to remove the other guard while they glide. I remove mine from off ice, with one hand gripping the wall. Perhaps this is an acquired skill, and I’ll perfect it as soon as my Lutz gets more consistent. (Can I say that I have an inconsistent Lutz when I rotate and land it one of every 10 tries? Or is that considered a consistent fail?)

First men’s flight had a couple near misses from skaters landing jumps from opposite directions and almost colliding on the landing. Rippon and Macypura nearly collided on one side of the arena, and Sawyer and Martinez almost crashed on the other. Given the number of retirements/hiatuses in Canada this season, the Canadians really cannot afford to lose more team members. You’d think they’ll start making their men skate in plastic bubbles any day now?

I am not a fan of Mozart’s music; however, I adore Shawn Sawyer’s program. Conundrum. Am torn between Mozart dislike and Sawyer love. Love is winning (though I’m still not rushing out to add any Mozart to my music collection). In fact, I’m pretty sure I now adore Shawn Sawyer. The woman next to me seemed to feel the same way, and she threw a giant stuffed Dalmatian toward the ice when he was taking his bows. Alas, her enthusiasm was greater than her aim, and the doggie ricocheted off Lysacek’s head before landing in the camera pit. Evan nicely threw the dog onto the ice for her. I am happy to report that the stuffed dog was not harmed by this event. Neither was Evan’s “do.” I’m relatively sure that Evan’s coiffure could survive an F5 tornado without damage.

During the second flight, I moved across the arena to sit with some friends.

I’m not sure about Kevin Reynolds’ costume. It looks like he’s being attacked by the vicious tree from The Wizard of Oz.

More adoration for Kozuka. His ease and flow out there are phenomenal. You can totally see the hand of Yuka Sato in his programs, especially the circular footwork. I hope she gets more choreography work after this. I love what she’s created for him.

After Johnny finished behind Kozuka in the standings — and Evan was still to skate — someone said, “Hey, wouldn’t it be funny after all the Johnny vs. Evan publicity, if Kozuka were to win this?”

And so he did.

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Camerazilla attacks Everett!
My seat in the media section is supposed to be a writers-only row, but that hasn’t stopped a few photographers from slipping in. I’m currently next to a member of the Korean media, who not only has a huge lens on his main camera, but also has a backup camera, and an assistant to hold the backup camera in his lap.

This is my little camera: mysony-706797

I made my camera take photos of Camerazilla:
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and Camerazilla’s Mini-Me:
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That made my camera feel very inadequate. sad-722079

Meanwhile one of the IceNetwork cameras is mounted on a crane, which swivels all over the area around Kiss and Cry (basically blocking the view of media seating). It’s a patriotic camera, though, and proudly waves a U.S. flag:
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An NBC camera seemed to be trying to bag the limit on skaters and officials. It first got right into Rachael Flatt’s face (so much so that she looked frightened and had to lean back). Next it ran over one of the USFS team leaders. As Susanna Poykio pulled up the bodice of her dress, it took a peep down where her cleavage would have been visible (were it not for the flesh-colored fabric). It’s final victim was Brian Orser, who nearly lost an eye to the thing.
fiercetvcamera-781158

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From Reggie to puffy-shirt-with-corset

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Watching Brian Orser

It’s almost more fun to watch Brian Orser coaching than it is to watch the ladies. When the system plays general warm up music, he starts to dance along, then suddenly stops — as if he’s just realized he’s a coach — crosses his arms and hunches over. But it’s not long before he starts dancing along again.

And then there’s the dance he does when Yu-Na Kim goes through her program. There’s the knee bend (before she jumps), the shoulder twitch (before she lands), the nod and clap, the counting-spins-head-bob, the hand jive on the barrier — all interspersed with the Oh-yeah-I’m-the-coach-arm-cross/serious look (and its lesser variation, the Oh-yeah-I’m-the-coach-hands-behind-the-back/serious look).

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Red > White, Dead Mice, and World War II

In spite of the late start, I did make it to the 8 a.m. ice dance practice (although I’m already making no promises for tomorrow’s 7:45 a.m. FD practice).

Red seems to be the dress color of choice for the OD. Emily Samuelson, Katie Copely, Allie Hann-McCurdy, and Sinead Kerr are all wearing red dresses. This ought to make photo editor Michelle W. from ice-dance.com very happy, as she’s been complaining bitterly about yesterday’s all-white costumes and the hair in the face. I don’t know if they’re going to be able to do anything about the hair in the face issue. Tanith, Isabelle, and Emily all have similar bobbed haircuts.

0921-772422(Michelle W. interrupts this blog to say white on ice is WRONG! Seriously. Look at this photo. Now I loves me some Tanith & Ben, but wearing these colors makes it look like poor Ben has some disembodied head going around the ice. It was difficult to find photos to post that actually showed Tanith’s face, since her hair was always blowing across it. I beg of all skaters–especially ice dancers–color is your friend. Color shows off the lines and movements you work so hard to make perfect. Color makes photos “pop” and looks good on TV. Color shows off the details in a carefully crafted dress, instead of having the crystals and sequins lost in a cloud of evil white fabric. I think there should be a 5 point deduction for each partner wearing white. OK. Rant over.)

Summersett and Gilles just went through the majority of their OD. It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Yesterday, the local paper mis-identified Jane Summersett as Emily Samuelson. Someday, that won’t be the case. The paper also snapped a great shot of Kate Britton who is Patti Gottwein-Britton’s (coach of Summersett & Gilles) daughter. Kate has come to every practice session, and afterward, usually gets to dance in the stands with Todd Gilles.

Speaking of Team Gilles, I got a chance to catch up to mom Bonnie Gilles. When I last saw Bonnie, she had a broken leg, which healed in time for her whirlwind trip around the world. She accompanied Piper and Alexe to all their JGP events, so she’s already been to Mexico City, the Czech Republic, and South Africa this year. I was curious about how the event in South Africa was, and she was full of praise for the LOC. From the timing of the event, to the skater’s “goodie bags,” the competition was beautifully run. The local audiences were very appreciative and enthusiastic.

More smiley skaters.

Ekaterina Rubleva always seems to be so happy to be on the ice. She’s never without a smile on her face.

All three American teams have music with tap dance in it. It was hard to tell from the pieces of the run-throughs how they’re going to use it — whether they’re going to actually “tap” on the ice, or use the tap sounds as rhythmic counterpoint. I’m curious to see what the programs look like in performance.

At the end of Carron & Jost’s OD, there is a moment where Pernelle is supposed to take off Mathieu’s jacket and toss it onto her shoulder. That’s the plan. In practice, however, he occasionally gets caught in it and ends up flinging it onto the ice like a cat tossing a “killed” toy mouse. We’ll see how it works this afternoon.

The Kerrs continue to be winning over the practice audience and their fellow skaters with their charisma in the OD. They’ve really improved their speed and power over the years, and this program is so much fun to watch. Ben Agosto seems to be a big fan of the program, always applauding them after their run-through.

According to a French journalist, the story of Isabelle and Olivier’s OD is that it takes place at the time of the Parisian liberation at the end of World War II. She portrays an American nurse, and he portrays an old man, and they’re dancing to celebrate the liberation.