A wonderful weekend of skating was had by me. Not because there were tons of wonderful performances, because there were only a handful. But because the performances that were great were FANTASTIC. One thing I will say about coverage for US Nationals is that it is far more extensive than the typical World and Olympic coverage. I don’t completely understand why, but that is the case. Maybe because only one event was on broadcast TV, they were able to show more skaters and skip a lot of the profiles and boring stuff that usually comes with skating. Maybe it’s just me, but I would much prefer seeing an additional skater than hearing about one of the top athletes backgrounds. To me, that stuff doesn’t really matter. Sure hearing a little comment about an injury or something else in their life is great but that can be covered in warm-up or even during their program. I don’t care how they do in school or that their mother tripped over a barrier at nationals thirty years ago. I just want to see them skate. I also want to see more than just the top contenders because the up and coming skaters are often overlooked. I know a lot of people don’t care and only want to see big names but, for my money, show me everyone! The fact that I watched everything on the DVR also helped because I could fast forward all that mess. Now for a few highlights.
New champs Brooke Castile and Benjamin Okolski moved up from an 11th place finish last year to take the gold from reigning US champs Rena Inoue and John Baldwin Jr.. As much as I like Rena and John, I am kind of done with them. John is too inconsistent to make them really exciting to watch. Brooke and Benjamin, on the other hand were fantastic and exciting throughout their entire performance. They performed a triple twist (as did third place team Naomi Nari Nam and Themistocles Leftheris) something that I have never seen an American Pair attempt. However, all the top pairs have been doing them fir years internationally. Their music was wonderful; the score from Requiem for a Dream (such a good movie) and their skating had power and speed to rival the Chinese. How the judges gave Rena and John such good marks I have no idea. If they had won I think there could have been a revolt. If Naomi and Themistocles had skated a clean program I think Rena and John would have been knocked out of second place and therefore out of the world team.
I don’t have too much to say about the dance competition. The new program that Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto put together to the score from Amelie (such a god movie) was far superior to the mess they had earlier in the season. It still needs some work to be truly competitive internationally but they are on the right track. I really enjoyed Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov (2nd place) and Meryl Davis and Charlie White (3rd place) as well. The Dance event at Worlds in March should be quite a deep field.
My DVR cut off the last performance and a half so I missed Ryan Bradley’s surprise ascension to second place and am somewhat disappointed about that. I am somewhat glad I only saw half of Johnny Weir’s performance because I like him and he didn’t do so well, leaving him in third. Evan Lysacek, on the other hand, was a performance of a lifetime. I haven’t seen a quad landed that cleanly in some time. He made it look effortless. I am still tired of his Carmen program but it was so good that I almost didn’t mind. Derrick Delmore (one of the few Black skaters ever) put in a great performance at what will be his last Nationals (he has been there for the past 10 years or so) and I was really happy to see him go out on a high note. His 6th place finish I think is the second highest he ever has achieved at Nationals. One thing that surprised me is that Stephen Carriere (9th place) was chosen to head the US Jr. World team. I didn’t know that a Sr. level skater could compete at the Jr. Worlds. You learn something new everyday.
Although reigning world champion Kimmie Meissner won her first national title, it wasn’t an easy win. She really struggled with the landings on many of her jumps, although I don’t remember her actually falling. Had Emily Hughes not fallen, she would have easily defeated Meissner for the title. The real excitement of the night came from third place winner Alissa Czisny. She actually won the long program to bring her up to third from a fifth place finish in the short program. I haven’t seen spins like that since…ever and her jumps were delightful as well. They sowed the two top finishers in Jr. ladies (Mirai Nagasu and Caroline Zhang) during the pairs and dance finals and they will be a force to reckon with. I think either one of them would have placed very well in the Sr. finals and they are only 13!
If anyone is the huge skating dork that I am (and I am sure there are very few of you out there) I have included the detailed results. This is not for the faint of heart. Even I didn’t look at all these pages. These results show the full judges report for each skater’s long and short programs. It shows what element the technical specialist identified, the base value of the element, the + or – they received in grade of execution and the scores of each judge. It also shows what level of difficulty their spins, footwork, and spiral sequences were graded at 1-4. Finally, it shows the various components that make up their program component score (the old artistic score) skating skills (stroking & posture), transitions (the skating between elements), performance/execution (how well they skated their program), choreography, and interpretation. I found this very exciting, as these results are not often easy to find, but I am sure no one else will.
Time to identify the unguessed songs from last week.
1. If you had a choice of colors/ Which one would you choose my brothers. Choice of Colors, Curtis Mayfield
2. Remember when you were young/ You shone like the sun. Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Pink Floyd.
3. You know I’ve been searching for someone/ Who can share that special love with me/ Your eyes have that glow. Computer Love, Zapp and Roger
4. Tim wish you were born a girl/ Wish you were born a girl/ So I could have been your boyfriend. Tim Wish You Were Born A Girl, Of Montreal.