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2013 Nebelhorn Trophy:  Men's and Pairs Short Programs

by Alexandra Stevenson

Nebelhorn Trophy: Men's Short Program

Oda Shines, Jason Brown Makes Significant Progress, Ten back on Track and Dmitriev Follows Father’s Footsteps

1.SP.87.34 (48.87+38.47) Nobunari Oda may be an old (26), married father of two with a brain which doesn’t seem to be able to add up the number of combinations he executes in individual competitive Free Skates, a flaw which has cost him many points in competition, but he has a will to keep persisting.

He took the lead on Friday in the mens event of the Nebelhorn Trophy, by a substantial 7.93 points, with the 18-year old Jason Brown, 79.41 (43.38+36.03) lying second, in a field of 34 competitors, most of whom are using this event to try and qualify their countries to send a competitor to Sochi. Six “Secondary” spots are available.

The two-time world junior medalist (2011 bronze, 2012 silver), who will turn 19 on December 15 and is trained in Monument, CO, by Kori Ade, and whose choreography is done by Rohene Ward, was obviously pleased by is performance, which does not yet contain a quad. “I do the quad every day in practice, but we’re not stressing it,” he said. It will come into the program eventually.

Brown is one of the few people to have actually been to Sochi. He competed in the Junior Grand Prix Final last December. “It was just amazing to compete on the actual ice in the “Iceberg Arena”. It’s really beautiful. The (Black) Sea is really close and, although it was December and sometimes raining, it was very mild weather.

In third place is Jeremy Ten, 76.49 (42.42+34.07) of Canada, who is coming back from injury. Ten is a further 2.92 points lower. In fourth place, with 43.39 is Artur Dmitriev, the son of the Russian Olympic Pair Gold Medalist of the same name.

Despite Oda’s up and down career – his best placing in the world championship was fourth which he earned in his first entry in 2006 – he is a popular competitor. Maybe that’s because his faults and mistakes make him seem more “human” and less “aloof”.

He has a distinguished heritage. He is a 17th generation descendant of the notorious, blood thirsty war lord, Nobunaga Oda, who was very successful in the Sengoku Warring Period in the 15th Century. But, in a long career, he has only won the Japanese championship once, in 2009.

He was actually given the gold medal in the 2006 season national championship but that was taken back from the Association, after all the photographs had been taken, because it was learned that there was a computer program fault which made the printed results wrong. That was the season when the “new” system took effect in all international championships including the Olympics.

Oda’s Olympic spot was taken from him though fairness decreed that the Association send Oda to Worlds instead of the replacement national champion.

Oda did make the following Games, in Vancouver in 2010, where he finished seventh. But then, a few weeks later in the 2010 world championship in Torino, he had a disastrous Short Program in which he messed up all his jump elements. He was buried in 28th place, and eliminated from the Free Skate.

He has even had a run-in with the law. He was arrested for driving his moped while under the influence of alcohol in July 2007. It was determined that no life was endangered and he publicly apologized, but the Skating Association suspended him for half a season. He was so devastated, he pulled out of all subsequent events that season.

He is now a happily married man, with two sons. Shintaro was born on October 1, 2010 and Sinnosuke on January 5, 2013. When the writer asked whether he was lonely because he trains in Canada while his wife is taking care of the children in Japan, he admitted that was the case but said it was worth training abroad because of the coaching.

His mother, who is a skating coach, is with him here along with his coach, Lee Barkell who teaches him in Barrie, Ontario. David Wilson creates his choreography along with Lori Nichol, who makes sure the choreography is arranged to take into account all of the various technical requirements.

Nobunaro opened his upbeat routine, for which he wore a shimmering white and silver shirt with an opened-but-tied-down tie with some unusual hopping steps, in keeping with the upbeat music, “Cotton Club” by John Barry.

He then soared into his first element, a +0.57 quad toe loop which earned him a total of 10.87. That was followed by a triple Axel with a good landing, for which he banked two full points over the base value of 8.50. The change foot camel spin earned Level 3 from the Technical Panel and +0.43 Grade of Execution over its base value 2.80.

At the half way point, he executed a triple Lutz to triple toe loop for which two of the nine members of the judging panel awarded +3 Grades of Execution, the maximum possible. Six others punched into their computers +2 and a solitary judge gave +1, which is for “superior” execution. With the 10% bonus for jumps in the second half, this move earned 12.61 points.

His two other spins were both awarded the maximum Level and, respectively, earned a total of 3.36 and 4.14 points. The Level 3 footwork, which was performed between the spins, was given 4.16. His components ranged from three 6.0s up to three 8.5s.

Brown skated to “The Question of U” by Prince. He and his coach only relocated from Chicago to Momument in Colorado. “I love the mountain environment and I’ve also been going to Colorado Springs – the World Arena - twice a week to work on jumps with Eddie Shipstad on the pole harness.”

Brown opened his routine with a with a +0.86 triple Axel followed by a combination of triple flip to toe loop which lost -0.10. All his Level moves were the maximum 4 and earned great Grades of Execution. His triple Lutz earned an extra +0.50.

Jeremy Ten is in the middle of a comeback from a series of injuries. He has finished a Kinesiology degree and plans to finish his studies in Bachelor of Arts in Health Sciences. “I want to do humanitarian work and maybe travel abroad.” But for now, the 24-year-old’s goal is to make the Canadian Olympic team. If he makes it he could turn 25 in Sochi. His  birthday in February 21.

Skating to //He began with a +1.0 triple Axel followed by a triple Lutz to triple toe loop which go an extra +0.30. His trple Loop was set at the halfway point and received the 10% bonus +0.70. He trains in the eight-rink facility in Burnaby, near Vancouver.

Artur Dmitriev, who earned 73.39 (41.85+31.54) and is lying fourth, was the 2011 Russian Junior champion, who was ninth in the national Senior championship this season. He is the son of the twice Olympic pairs champion and carries his name. His mother is Tatiana Druchina, a Rhythmic Gymnastics world champion. He skated to “Sarabande”, In 2010 moved from his home in St. Petersburg to Moscow and is now trained by Elena Vodorozova Buianova, the 1983 European and World bronze (figure skating) champion, who was forced out of competition because of rheumatoid Arthritis.

Paul Bonifacio Parkinson, Italy, lies 10th.

Nebelhorn Trophy: Pairs Short Program

Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov Debut Superb Showing of Short Program, Definitely Worthy of Olympic Gold Medal Status

On the first day of the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf in the south of Germany, current world champions, Tatiana Volosozhar, 27, & Maxim Trankov, who will be 30 on October 7, gave a superb showing of their Short Program set to Khatchaturian’s Masquerade Waltz, with its dark tones of swirling emotions.

Trankov said they still had to work to do, but it is hard to see what could be improved. Their previous SP personal record was 75.84 but today they received 81.65 (44.59+37.06), an advance of 5.81 points.  She was dressed in a very feminine pale blue with sparkles. He sported an old-fashioned moustache to go with his 19th Century military outfit with oversized gold epaulets.

When asked about his unshaven (but neat) facial hair, Trankov said it was because of the character he was playing in their Free. “You can’t shave if you’re Jesus Christ.”

Right from their first steps, they sped with incredible intensity around the rink before he tossed her up into a dazzling lateral triple twist during which she when spun horizontally high above him before he eventually caught her. It was so well done seven of the nine judges punched in +3, the maximum Grade of Execution. The other two judges gave +2. Their side-by-side triple toe loop solo jumps also moved three of the judges to give the top award and the other six other presented them with +2.Their throw triple loop was also in the amazing class, earning five +3s and four +2s.Their Level 4 back outside death spiral “only” got one +3. Their Level 4 pair combination spin “only” received five +2s and four +1s. Their Group 5 Reverse Lasso lift received three +3s but their last element, Level 4 straight line steps, gained unanimous +2s.

Their 45 component marks ranged from a low of two 8.50s to a high of eight 9.75s.

Lying second with 61.00 points, more than 20 points behind the Russians are Maylin & Daniel Wende, Germans who got married in June of this year. In third place are the Canadians, Natasha Purich & Mervin Tran. Tran previously won a world bronze medal skating for Japan in the 2012 worlds in Nice with Narumi Takahashi. No Japanese skater has ever won a pair world medal before. But she wanted to go to the Olympics and couldn’t because the Japanese were not prepared to give Tran a Japanese passport which he needed for to be able to compete in Sochi.

So she broke up their partnership. She is now skating with Ryuichi Kihara, who is Japanese, but had never done pairs before. They are currently lying eighth, while Tran and Purich are third going into the Free, just ahead of the Germans, Mari Vartman & Aaron Van Cleave.

Another German pair, Annabelle Proless & Ruben Blommaert lie fifth, with 55.24 while Lindsay Davis & Rockne Brubaker are sixth going into the Free. They are training in Canton and are finding the exposure to the ice dancers inspiring. “You haven’t see anyone work hard until you watched Charlie (White) and Meryl (Davis). It really is inspiring.”

Brubaker, 26, who has had several partners over a long career, said, “We spent three days skating together in Canton and just knew almost immediately that the team was going to click.” Davis, 20 (not to be confused with Meryl) said it was the best tryout I’ve ever had.”

They performed their Short Program to “Le Petite Fleur” and “Skokia” by Louis Armstrong. They began well with side-by-side triple Salchow, gaining +0.60 over the element’s base value. The triple twist lost a small -0.30. But then she fell on their throw triple Salchow. Their back outside death spiral and Pair combination spin were both Level 3 with +0.40 GoE and +0.43 respectively. Their Level 4 steps and Level 4 Axel lift received an extra +0.50 and +0.20 respectively.

They were obviously upset about the fall, but it was certainly a promising debut.

They have a 2.71 point lead over the long-time British champions, Stacey Kemp and David King, who are the top pair qualifying for the four Olympic slots.

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