Press Conference Audio
Pairs Short Program
Pairs Free Skate
Men's Free Skate
Sunday, March 28
Exhibition and then we are out of here -- or at least back to being a tourist. Nearly a full house, with just few stray empty seats. So maybe 8,100 total. Weather finally has turned spring-like after several days of cold and rain. A good evening to walk around the city and eat ice cream until we explode.
Saturday, March 27
Last event of the competition, the Ladies, finishes today with the Free Skate. After the unexpected turn of events in the Short Program pretty much anything is possible.
Kim is 10 points back and will need a heroic skate to win. Not impossible, but there is no margin for error. Nagasu has a good chance for any of the medals. In jumps she is competitive with Asada, but in components we give Asada the edge. Our crystal ball says Kim will move up into the medals, to be joined by Asada and Nagasu. Lepisto and Kostner (currently in fourth) have a numerical chance at the bronze.
The fun begins at 12:30 when the first warm-up skates. This is followed by a 20 minute break and then the remaining three groups. This is the oddest schedule, new this year, where in the final rounds, where we have one warm-up group, a break, and then the final group. Odder still, the audience does not seem to be allowed in until after the first group. Why have four pairs and dance couples been eliminated from the finals, only to waste 20 minutes in every final sitting around doing nothing, and offering the audience less to see?
Skating, uncharacteristically, in the third warm-up, Yu-Na Kim did not have the skate she needed to win the gold -- she fell on triple Salchow, and popped a double Axel -- it was otherwise a good skate, with components averaging about 8.25, and a stronger performance than yesterday. But she needed a great performance. With a total of 190.79 points, several ladies in the last warm-up were capable of beating this.
In the third warmup Asada had a strong solid skate, with one "clean" triple Axel and one downgraded. Clean in this case is a relative term, since all her triple Axels are at near the 1/4 point, with some gong a little over and others not. She took the lead and held on to it to win the gold. Lepisto gave a pleasant performance, though doubled two triple loops and a triple Salchow. She was only 6th in the long, but had enough points from the short to place third overall.
After Lepisto, the only remaining skater with a chance of medalling was Nagasu. With a score near her season best she would have won, and a medal of some color seemed almost a certainty, with seemed the operative word.
Nagasu stepped out of the opening 3Lz. but appeared to shrug it off and skated pretty well for much of the program. But in the second half she had a total brain meltdown. The second 3Lz had an edge alert, and she forgot to add a jump since the first 3Lz was solo and she needed a combination here. Then landing triple loop with double Axel, she fell on the next double Axel (downgraded also) after which she under-rotated her last triple toe loop. Her components were close to the leaders, but the TES was totally wrecked by the four errors. She ended up eleventh in the long and seventh overall. The results were sufficiently close that one less jump error, particularly landing the double Axel, would have catapulted her from seventh to third.
Rachael Flatt placed ninth in the long and ninth overall. With combined points of 16, the U.S. will have two entries at Worlds next year.
Estimated attendance for the Free Dance: 8200. Another full house. This is for the last three groups, which was the part the ticket holders got to see. Some great mind decided the best way to deal with the fact events take too long is to break out the last three groups and only show those groups to the customers, and not make full events run faster. Seems everyone hates it, and it was announced today this method of scheduling will not be used next season. More on this from Alexandra Stevenson.
WEIRD SCHEDULE BREAKS HISTORY SAYS CINQUANTA by Alexandra Stevenson
The ISU instigated a policy this season to make events more popular to the general public. In keeping with modern standards for length of other entertainment, for instance a theatre performance, a game or a movie, it was thought a shorter packaged presentation would attract a public looking for a pleasant entertainment, not a strenuous marathon. (Does anyone remember when going to a movie meant getting a double bill?)
The public would get the top skaters with the recognizable names, but probably not up-and-comers. (The writer might never have seen Sonja Henie’s almost undistributed 12th movie, Sonja Henie Comes to London, if it hadn’t had a brief life as the second bill.)
The number of skaters progressing to the Free Skate was reduced this season. Among this pruned field, the bottom group of qualifiers had to skate at least forty five minutes before the rest of their colleagues, before the official starting time. In the pairs, this led to the judges being introduced at the start of the Free Skating to a near empty arena. One of the few spectators present stood up to wave to them, causing the panel to direct their bows to him, a moment of ironic joviality.
In Estonia, at the European Championships, the organizers inserted an added dimension to this "break" bringing in different local entertainers each evening. One evening there was an act with lots of smoke and fire which was certainly unusual. One British skating fan huffed, "If I wanted to see a circus act, I’d be at a circus, not a skating competition."
Skaters in this group hated being separated from the rest of the competitors and started calling themselves "the loser group". Regular skating fans include a high percentage of relatives and friends of skaters, and those who are repeat spectator who meet their friends each year in a different place. They like to see the progress of the skaters over the years. Generally these people are not young.
So, did the packaging work in any way? It seems impossible to tell. In any case, in a press conference during this special "break" after the first six Ladies Free Skaters on Saturday, ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta, said, "We listened to the criticism and this will be changed next season."
Friday, March 26
So many Ladies, so little skill in the first half of the Short Program. Twenty-five skaters in this half, after two scratches. The chances of any of these surviving the cut to 24 are slim. They will have to beat at least five skaters in the afternoon group to survive elimination, long hours after the judges have forgotten what they looked like this morning. Plus this group is the unseeded skaters, and they are unseeded for a reason. A few skaters reached the fives or more in the components, but most were scored in the threes and fours, and a few in the twos. Overall the group is at about the U.S. Juvenile level, with only a few looking like mediocre Novices or Juniors. Compared to the men, the lower half of the ladies is very week this year.
Perhaps 4000 on hand in the arena. At the start, if there were 250 people in the arena it was a lot. But once the local schools filled up the upper deck things livened up.
Waiting for the third group of the second half to start, it looks like Cheltzie Lee of Australia will make it out of the first half to reach the Free Skate.
Asada had a decent skate in the fourth group, though the triple Axel was clearly under-rotated. We thought her performance a bit flat compared to Vancouver, and seems beatable to us by more than Kim. Nagasu has a chance for silver at this point.
Second half is now finished, and surprise, surprise, Nagasu is in first place, Asada second, Lepisto third, Flatt sixth and Kim seventh, 10 points back. Nagasu attempted a triple-triple combination, but the Lutz had an edge alert and the toe loop was downgraded. The Lutz was also under-rotated, but by just less than one-quarter. Only three of the judges noticed the errors and went to negative GoE. The same was true of Asada's triple Axel where only four of the judges went to negative GoEs.
Yu-Na Kim's self destruction was a bit of a surprise. After under-rotating triple flip (downgraded) she lost focus and fell out of the entry to her layback spin. Coming out of that end entering her spiral sequence she had this dazed "where am I" look on her face, and made another error that put the sequence at level 1. Her components suffere only slightly, where she was scored near the top, but she lost roughly 10 points on the three elements.
Estimated attendance: about 3000 at the start of the second half, and 3500 at the end.
Final group of Dance Free Dance on the ice. Not much of a mystery how this will turn out. Evans & Bates will end up in ninth.
Scott Moir looked stunned when the scores came up and they were in second place in the Free Dance. Not to worry, though, their lead after the Original Dance was sufficient to still win the event. Davis & White won the dance on their element score. The home crowd was thrilled to see Faiela & Scalli take home the bronze, as where the skaters themselves. After the event, the Italians and the Americans said they would continue in competition for at least one more year. The Italians seem to be leaning towards next year being their last. The Americans seem to be in one-year-at-a-time mode. Virtue & Moir said they will be taking some time off, and then doing a series of shows, after which they will decide on their competition future. Hard to figure why they are so hard core about eliminating compulsory dance next season, if they do not intend to compete. But perhaps they want to test the financial waters with their two recent titles before they make a final decision.
Estimated attendance for the Free Dance: 8200. Another full house.
Some dance news notes from Alexandra Stevenson:
ICE DANCE TECHNICAL MEETING
The ISU Dance Committee is proposing, subject to ratification at the June Congress, that compulsories will be dropped for both Senior AND Junior competition. Bob Horan and Alexander Gorshkov explained the situation after the Original Section in Torino. A sequence of a compulsory dance will be required during the Original, although it can be positioned anywhere, not just at the beginning, and is to be to the competitor’s own choice of music. A bulletin will be sent out after Worlds concerning the Free Dance and, of course, there will the decision as to whether the proposal has been accepted after the Congress.
JANA KHOKHLOVA AND SERGEI NOVITSKI WITHDRAW AND RETIRE FROM SKATING
After placing 12th and 9th in the past two Olympics, winning bronze in 2008 in both World and European Championships, and the European title in 2009, the Russians were forced to withdraw from this event due to the worsening of his hereditary disease, from which his father died. Novitski said, "I had problems all season and it became worse yesterday before the Original. I tried to practice today but the joint is not holding" and I don’t feel the leg. I could try to skate, but it is too uncertain." Their coach, Alexander Svinin, said, "It is just too dangerous to skate, especially during the lifts." They were lying sixth after the Original.
NO ABORIGINEE PROTEST THIS TIME FOR AUTRALIAN ORIGINAL DANCE
In contrast to the world-wide news story concerning the Aboriginees’ protest before the Olympics over Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin’s Aboriginal Original, the Australian skaters’ version was met, apparently, with approval. Domnina and Shabalin, who won Olympic bronze, have now left eligible competition. On Thursday, after two of the three sections of the 34th world ice dance championships, were completed, Danielle O’Brien, 20, and Gregory Merriman, 21, who are the reigning and three time Australian champions, presented an Aboriginal Dance of their country’s first peoples. Their performance was greeted with no complaint. So what did they do to make sure their version did not annoy the Aboriginees? O’Brian said, "We worked with the people and made sure we did not offend cultural differences. We certainly did not want to arouse the reaction the Russians got. We did this dance the last time Folk and country was chosen. We consulted them and asked about the dancing. It is true that only men perform the religious dances not the women but there are family dances. We asked and made certain that we were doing nothing to offend. Our costumes were made by Thullii." They did wear white lines on their faces – she one continuous horizontal stripe straight across the cheeks and nose, he two horizontal stripes but only on the cheeks. The Russians had initially used a lot of symbols not realizing they had religious meaning. The Aboriginees thought they were being disrespected. O’Brien and Merriman finished 26th and didn’t make it through to the top 20 allowed into the Free Dance.
Thursday, March 25
Under IJS Dance results move around more than they did in the past, but still not all that much or all that quickly. There are no surprises so far, with results from Vancouver holding up here. The only thing to do is enjoy the skating as the couples fall into their relative places from three weeks ago. The top three teams all gave strong performances, and Samuelson & Bates cling to eleventh place (even though they were tenth in both the CD and the OD), the minimum place needed for the U.S. to have three entries next year.
Estimated attendance:4200. About half that grade schoolers.
In the morning practice all the top men looked solid. Not perfect, but solid. Takahashi worked both quad toe loop and quad flip, nether of which was successful, with the toe a lot closer than the flip. He had said he would decide which to include "at the last minute" which was assumed to mean at the time of the six minute warm-up. In the end, he threw the quad flip, but it was badly under-rotated. It was the only significant error in his program, and not enough to deprive him of the gold medal it was expected he would win.
Except for Kozuka who kind of choked, all the men in the final warm-up skated respectably. Not perfectly, but good jobs all around. Joubert landed two quads, winning the bronze, and Chan had a good skate also, to win the sliver.
Abbott and Rippon skated well, and thanks to some help from Kozuka, moved up one place each to earn the U.S. three entries next season. Bradley struggled again ending up 17th in the long and 18th overall.
Estimated attendance: 8200. A full house.
Wednesday, March 24
First half of the Men's Short Program has finished, with 23 of the 48 men attempting to make the cut to 24 after the Short Program. The 24th skater, from Montenegro, was a no-show. There is a one hour break and then the top half begins. Estimated attendance was 2400, with most of that (about 2000) grade schoolers. So far attendance is running about half that in 2008 when Worlds was last in Europe (Gothenburg).
And speaking of making the cut, the schedule today says loud and clear reducing the number of pairs in the Free Skate to 16, from the previous 20, was idiotic. There is no reason why the cut for Pairs should be different from the other disciplines. The lower pairs are no worse than their counterparts placed 17-24 in the other events that they deserve this slap in the face.
Supposedly this is to save money, but tonight there is a 20 minute break between the first and second warm-up groups. Nearly enough time to allow four more teams to skate in another warm-up. So how much money does this new cut save? Absolutely none! How much time does it save us tonight? Twenty Minutes!
In the second half of the Men's Short Program, favorite Daisuke Takahashi turned in a strong performance to lead after the short. Patrick Chan and Brian Joubert both gave redeeming performances (after disappointing results at the Olympics) and are separated by only 0.10 points in second and third place.
Chances for the U.S. men reaching the magic number (13) improved greatly when Jeremy Abbott and Adam Rippon both gave strong performances and now sit in sixth and seventh place. The points are close, though for fifth through ninth place, so two good performance are needed in the Free Skate. Ryan Bradley, skating with a fractured toe, had a hard time of it and ended up 21st. Nobunari Oda had an even more difficult time of it, missing all three jump elements and did not make the cut to 24 (placing 28th).
Estimated attendance was 3000.
In the evening, the first four pairs skate, followed by an ice cut and then a 20 minute break. The remaining twelve teams than compete in three groups of four before an estimated audience of 7000. None of the top four teams skated perfectly cleanly, but all four gave strong performance. Pang & Tong held first place in the Free Skate to win the gold medal. Savchecnko & Szolkowy gave a moving performance that pulled them up to second in the Free Skate and second overall.
Kavaguti & Smirnov made a gutsy attempt at throw quad Salchow, with Kavaguti taking ahard fall on that first elements. She latter also fell on throw triple loop, and the team dropped to third overall for the bronze medal.
The two U.S. Teams of Denney & Barrett and Evora & Ladwig finished eighth and ninth in the Free Skate and seventh and ninth overall. With a combined results of 16, the U.S. will have two pairs at Worlds next year.
After the event, both Kavaguti & Smirnov and Savchenko & Szolkowy said they would continue in competition next season, and the German team said there goal was no set for Sochi (the 2014 Olympic Games). Pang & Tong said they would be involved in shows for the near future and indicated thya had not made up their minds if they would continue in competition next year.
Tuesday, March 23
This evening the Pairs Short Program saw Pang & Tong solidify their position as the team to beat after winning the silver medal in Vancouver, and placing first in the Free Skate there. Kavaguti & Smirnov are two points back, and did not seem happy about finding themselves in that position. Savchenko & Szolkowy are in third after missing triple toe loops cost them over four points. Where it not for that error they would be in second closely trailing the leaders. Instead they barely hold third, 0.04 points ahead of Mukhortova & Trankov. Estimated attendance was 2400.
Perhaps the last competition of the Golden Waltz at an ISU Championship was contested today. Results essentially mimic the recent Olympic results after accounting for the couples that have retired since Vancouver or have decided to skip Worlds. Belbin & Agosto are out, as are Domnina & Shabalin (who is having both knees redone), allowing Faiella & Scalli to move up to the podium. Attendance was about 900 this afternoon, with most of that grade schoolers out for a day trip at Palavela.
The list of judges for the Ladies event currently list seven judges for the Short Program instead of the expected nine. They are Tamie Campbell (USA), Neil Garrard (RSA), Lovorka Kodrin (CRO), Heidi Maritczak (AUT), Catherine Taylor (AUS), Igrid-Charlotte Wolter (GER), and Eddy Wu (TPE). ISU Communications 1535 and 1595, however, both say a minimum of eight judges must be used. So what is going here?
Two judges have dropped out (AZE and MEX) and have yet to be replaced. Two replacement judges will be chosen from the judges assigned to the Free Skate. In addition to their judges, the entire Azerbaijan team is not here. No reason has been given for why the two assigned officials are missing.
Monday, March 22
World Non-Preview -- Who Isn't Competing at Worlds.
Counting to Thirteen -- U.S. Team strives to earn three 2011 entries in each event, and a medal or two.