2009 Four Continents
by Alexandra Stevenson
Photos Copyright 2009 by George S. Rossano
Samuelson & Bates
Davis & White
Maria Borounov laughed at the question. The Australian and her husband, Evgeny, were lying 11th, and last, after this round, which opened these championships on Wednesday afternoon. She grimaced at their marks displayed on a small television set and was asked whether they were pleased that this is, almost certainly, the first and last time she would execute this Finnstep. "Everybodyís looking forward to getting it over with," she said. "On the bus coming to the arena, we were all commiserating. Someone suggested we have a party after the last couple skates it, to celebrate itís over. You know there are so many toe steps in this compulsory. Itís not like anything weíve done before. There are so many toe steps our toes actually hurt, and not only the toes, the ankles and the shins. Weíre using muscles we didnít know we had. Thereís more jumping than edges. Toe steps just arenít something you normally practice at this level. It may look nice but itís incredibly difficult. There are also things like a one-and-a half twizzle thatís done on one beat. There are quarter beat steps. Thatís impossible to count! Itís nothing like weíve ever learned." It is also the first compulsory ever to include a twizzle for the man!
This is, indeed, probably the last time Susanna Rahkamo and Petri Kokkoís original dance, from when they won the European title and were world runners-up in 1995, will be seen in competition at top international level. It wonít be in the mix next season and after then, the ISU will be trying to format worlds into a two-section event in line with the other skating division, which is what the International Olympic Committee has told them they must do in preparation for Sochi in 2014.
The Finnstep will probably best be remembered as the exercise which took out the defending champion, Maxim Shabalin, in Europeans. (He fell on his injured knee and was forced out of the championships.)
As she had at Europeans, Technical Controller, Halina Gordon Poltorak held a seminar in Vancouver the day before the Finnstep for the judging panel, "to make sure they are all absolutely familiar with all the steps, and to make sure they are acquainted with all the timing technicalities and difficulties. The ISU, of course, is very aware that the dance is new and we donít have a history of knowledge. We have the judges actually step through the dance, not on skates, of course, but on the floor to the music. It is actually a lot of fun. We are making sure they know exactly what they are judging." There is a criticism of the dance digging too many holes in the ice where they stop to execute stationary moves, a completely new concept for a compulsory but absolutely in keeping with a ballroom Quickstep. Gordon Poltorak said, "This is not an exact pattern and many of the couples in Europeans did not do that in the exact same spot, so it was not a problem."
Although only 12 couples from five countries were entered, the standard of the top competitors made the event extremely interesting. Almost all the men were in tails and white ties which made them look extremely sophisticated. An exception was Bommentre who dispensed with a jacket to appear in a long-sleeved white shirt, waistcoat and trousers with a line of shiny material on the outside. He did wear a tie, though.
1. 36.40 (18.42+17.98) Tessa Virtue, 19, and Scott Moir, 21, got a tremendous reception from the crowd, wisely padded with school kids. She wore a rather bulky purple dress with fushia underpinnings. Virtue dammed the dance with faint praise. "We kind of liked the Finnstep," she said. "We enjoyed it as far as compulsory dances go. Compulsory is kind of a mixed feeling. Weíre excited for the next two (OD and FD)." Referring to his training with a sandbag while Virtue was injured, Scott said, "Itís a lot more fun training with Tess than with the sand."
About returning to international competition (their first since worlds last March and her injury in July), Virtue said, "Iím feeling a lot stronger. Iím feeling good and so happy to be here. Itís going to be a big test for us. Itís a confidence booster. In my head, when Worlds roll around, Iíll be 100%." Her partner added, "Our goal is to win. You come here to do your best. We want to lay down three solid skates, get chalk marks under our belts and build for the Worlds. We hope this rink will be special to us in a year (in the Olympics). To tell you the truth, we werenít terribly excited to do the Finnstep. But we kind of enjoy it. Itís fun doing something new. It plays to our advantage, being young (and not having as many years doing the other top compulsories as have skaters like the world champions). Weíre a bit behind, having missed the Grand Prix series. But we still feel weíre progressing."
On the grounds that you canít please all of the people all of the time, we note in the protocol for the Finnstep, while eight of the nine judges gave Virtue and Moir from 0 to +2 for each of the three segments of this dance in both sequences, one judge punched in -1 for the first segment on both patterns. Tessa did appear to slip slightly in the first section of the first sequence, but the second sequence looked OK, at least on the surface!
2. 35.23 (18.28+16.95) Meryl Davis, who turned 22 on New Yearís Day, and Charlie White, who will be 22 on October 24, train alongside the Canadians in Canton, Michigan with Igor Shpilband and Marina Zueva. He definitely looked the most confident of the men competing today. Maybe it was his flamboyant, bulky blond hair. About the Finnstep, he said, "Itís freer. Thereís more emphasis on the upper body. Weíre in competition with ourselves. Thereís only as much pressure as we put on ourselves. Thereís always things that could have been. Thereís always some thing that could have been better. Overall, we couldnít have been happier." Davis and White also got two -1s from one judge (not the same one). That judge saw something wrong, which the others didnít, in the first and second segments of the second pattern.
3. 32.43 (16.93+15.45) Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier are trained by British-Canadian coach, Carol Lane, who has shown great curiosity about this new compulsory and was at Bob Horenís seminar on the Finnstep at the Lake Placid ice dance championships in August. Her knowledge, gained at that relatively early stage, was probably a factor in her pupils placing so well in this dance. (Many of the coaches and their protťgťs competing here waited until this dance was actually drawn in mid-December for this event. Some waited even after that, until their pupils had actually been selected for their team, which left them only a matter of days to learn a very complicated exercise.
Crone, who turned 18 on October 29, was the youngest woman in the ice dance competition, while her partner, Paul Poirier, who was 17 on November 6, was the youngest ice dance competitor of either sex. She wore a frothy light blue creation. They have been skating together since 2001. He also competes in singles, though not here. Although you get many skaters who do both singles and pairs, doing singles and ice dance is rare. Poirier explained, "Most people probably find them non-compatible because theyíre so different from each other. But I find they really benefit each other with the skating and the strength. Just the fact that Iím on the ice is always beneficial. This is my first year as a senior in singles so I was just looking to have a good skate." He says he gets good support from Crone. "Vanessaís really good about it. She still does singles herself although she didnít qualify for nationals this year." As a dance couple, they are ranked second in Canada. As a single, he finished 11th of 17.
Four judges gave them -1 for the last segment of their second sequence, which, obviously, was at the point when they were most tired. They also got two other -1s, each from a different judge for a different segment.
4. 31.41 (16.22+15.19) Emily Samuelson, 18, and Evan Bates, 19, are the World Junior Champions and were runners-up for the US title. They drew to perform last. He joked, "We might be the last team ever to compete the Finnstep. Weíre really excited about that! It was pretty incredible skating before this audience. The kids were shouting for Canada. There was a general vibe in the arena. We felt that energy. It was much better than an empty arena. We really felt good performing out there. It really was great competing with two of the top two ice dance couples in the world!" His partner, attired in two vibrant shades of lime green, which seemed to emphasize her red hair, said, "Itís not that bad. It was a lot of fun. I enjoyÖenjoyed doing it." The judges were a little more together on this couple. They received six -1s, and a -2, but also a 0, for the second segment of the second sequence. What happened? Well no one seems to know except those judges and they ainít talking!
5. 30.62 (16.08+14.54) Kaitlyn Weaver, 19, and Andrew Poje, who will be 22 on February 25, had an accident in practice on Tuesday. She left the ice with a gash on her left knee of between 1 1/2 to 2 inches long. She explained, "It happened halfway through our dance, during the double twizzles at the end of our pattern. We got a bit too close and Andrewís heel nicked my knee. I said, ĎOuch, that hurts!í I looked down and said, ĎOh, man!í Unfortunately, I couldnít finish the practice. He did, though. A fall like this has happened before but nothing to that severity. I received little sub-cuticular stitches. I donít know how many. Itís more of a nuisance. It will be fine by tomorrow."
Then in Wednesday morningís practice, they both fell in the Finnstep.
Asked whether this fall had further harmed Weaver, she laughed. "No.
Andrew fell and I fell on his back so I had cushioning!" The biggest
victim of that incident was the pink band of feathers hemmed onto her pink
dress. Part of it became unattached, forming an unbecoming tail. The
errant tail was resewn to the dress immediately after that practice.
Weaver, who is from Houston, Texas, moved to Canada when she teamed up
with Poje in 2006. That move was a great success. They have won two
bronzes in the Canadian championships, 2007 and 2009 and gained the silver
6. 30.59 (15.82+14.77) Kimberly Navarro, 27, and Brent Bommentre, 24, appeared pleased just to be competing here, although this is their third appearance in the 4Cs and they won bronze last year. "We did well last year and we are looking to do well this year but the competition is all relative to the field and this year there is more depth. Itís much different." She was in gold. About the Finnstep, she said, "It was the best weíve done so far. We wish we could have shown our ideal Finnstep, but we havenít really done full justice to the dance because our focus was divided. Nationals was our top priority. I donít think anybody has had enough time to properly prepare." They admitted earlier they had only worked on this exercise for a matter of days. On their expectations for placing, they smiled and he said, "We have none. That sounds horrible, doesnít it? But really this dance is new for all of us and we had no idea what would happen. I think itís great for the sport to bring new dances in. It challenges the athletes and the coaches which is great but this is a strange situation because compulsories may soon be a thing of the past.
7. 27.56 (15.50+12.06) Xintong Huang (born 26 January 1987) and Xun Zheng (21 August 1987), from Harbin in Northern China, are competing in their fourth Four Continents Championships. They finished tenth, eighth and ninth in the last three years. When they were Chinese champions, in the 2007 season, they competed at Worlds finishing 21st. Xun admitted, "We need to be really more synchronized with this music. Itís really quick. Iím willing to learn skills, but we really needed to do more practicing to get it better. We had other competitions to concentrate on." When asked about the situation that they and another Chinese ice dance couple will do their Free Dance to music from Notre Dame de Paris, this reporter discovered she had hit a sore spot. Speaking through an interpreter but, obviously, with great feeling, Zheng said, "We had this music last May. We were very surprised when we heard about this situation here."
8. 24.65 (13.72+10.93) Xiaoyang Yu and Chen Wang, who are both 22, have been to the World Championships twice, finishing 22nd in both 2006 and 2008, the seasons they were Chinese champions. They have taken part in the Four Continents Championships for the last six seasons with a best place finish of seventh in 2006. Asked which of their 4Cs event they like best, he said this one because, "This is where the Olympics will be."
9. 23.31 (12.84+10.47) Jiayue Wang, was 20, and Chongbo Gao, who turned 28 on December 14, are a new pairing having teamed up in 2008. He is from Qiqihar and is a former three-time Chinese champion with Fang Yang up to 2005. They were coached at one point by Natalia Dubova. She is from Harbin and previously skated with Fei Meng. They were third in the 2006 Chinese championships. Gao said, "Itís very difficult and itís new. Everyone does it in a different way. Itís not so clear, as to the best way to interpret the Finnstep." He said he had got a new partner because his old partner got married. When asked what attributes his new partner brought to the team, Goa, perhaps wisely, did not answer.
10. 19.70 (11.22+8.48) Danielle OíBrien, who will turn 19 the day after the dance event concludes, and Gregory Merriman, 20, are from Sydney and are trained by Monica McDonald, a former Australian champion who represented Australia in ice dance. They are the twice Australian champions and were 10th in this event last year. They finished 27th at the world championships. As juniors, they represented Australia three times in the World Junior Championships with a best place finish of 20th.
The came to Vancouver almost two weeks ago, to work with Canadian world champion Victor Kraatz, who lives in this city. OíBrien said, "Weíve been given the goal that if we beat the other Australian team in this event, we get to stay here and train with Victor and go to Worlds. Heís a wonderful coach." Merriman said, "I feel getting to know the North American ice definitely is paying off."
Asked about whether he would have liked to do this dance, Kraatz said, "Definitely. I think itís a fabulous dance. It has wonderful changes of tempo. Itís very, very ballroom-y. Itís too bad itís only in for this season. It took a lot of work just to learn the steps Ė there are so many! It is so fast paced."
11. 17.51 (9.78+7.73) Maria, 26, and Evgeni Borounov, 29, live in Perth where she was born. Her husband is from Moscow. They were the Australian champions in 2007 but were only second this season. This is their fourth Four Continents championship. They finished 14th, 12th & 13th in the past three years. They were married in 2002. After they had skated, they got heaps of congratulations. "It was a good performance for us," she said. "We didnít fall. That fact was amazing!"
Withdrawn: Cathy, 21, and Chris Reed, 19, who are the twice Japanese champions, though they were both born in Kalamazoo. The brother and sister withdrew after Wednesday morningís practice because of the stress on his right knee from a previous injury which has not fully healed. They won the US Novice title in 2006 but, because Cathy was too old for Juniors they decided to skate for the land of their motherís birth. They finished seventh in the Four Continents championships for the past two years.
Devaluation is rife in ice dance with Level 4s getting harder to come by. The Technical Specialist Rock LeMay and his assistant, Eniko Berkes were very stingy with Level 4s. Only one couple, Bates and Samuelson received four (out of a possible five) Level 4s.
1. 97.30; OD 60.90 (31.60+29.30) Virtue and Moir drew to skate first of the top eight. They gave a very energetic performance, playing a photographer and a movie star, to Wonít You Charleston With Me from The Boyfriend. He had on a white shirt with elbow length sleeves and open neck and a sewn on open red sparkly tie. She was in a pink dress with long fringe. They received Level 4 for their synchronized twizzles (+1.0 GoE), spin with many changes of position (+0.30) and their straight line lift (+1.30). But their (+0.80) mid-line non-touching and (+1.40) diagonal steps were only Level 3. Four of the nine judges punched in the maximum +3 for Virtue and Moirís lift. They also received one +3 for their twizzles from another judge. Moir said, "We couldnít have skated better than that." About their lift, Moir said, "At the beginning of the year, we were trying to come up with new stuff by watching different swing videos. Marina (Zoueva, their coach) wanted it to be Ďrollingí. The three of us tried to interpret that. This is what we came up with. We call it, ĎThe Rio Wrapí.
Virtue is still experiencing pain in her legs from her compartment syndrome surgery on both shins. She said, "Itís definitely not the same pain as before surgery. Itís just after effects. Itís not that bad. I think itís just sort of an up and down thing. We have to take each day as it comes and deal with it. Itís nothing that anyone is worried about. I wouldnít be here if it was a major problem." She has four scars on each calf muscle from the puncture marks of her surgery. When asked about the top three being such youngsters, Virtue said, "Itís great. It says a lot about the new system. Itís great that teams are being rewarded. Itís really inspirational for the sport."
Michael Slipchuk, the High Performance Director for Skate Canada, said Virtue is being monitored closely by medical staff. He said "Ups and downs are an expected part of recovery. Sheís a tough competitor."
2. 95.65; OD 60.42 (31.60+28.82) Davis and White tied with Virtue and Moir on the technical mark and were only 0.48 behind them on the component score. They captured the essence of the Roaring Twenties with a delightfully naÔve, upbeat performance to Happy Feet by Jack Yellen and Milton Ager of a 20s piano original composition by Joe Laduke. White looked very dapper, wearing a black suit partially covering a waistcoat of in-your-face fushia sequins. She was in a black and silver concoction with a hair adornment to match his waist coat. It was all inconsequential fun. At the end, she jumped into his arms and at the end mimed a kiss aimed at him. It was an evocation of a past, more innocent, more hopeful era. But when they saw their scores, they initially looked disappointed. Later, however, they both appeared cheerful. She said, "It was a step up from nationals." He said, "We were happy with our performance. We really tried to relate to each other out there. Thereís room for improvement but overall we were happy. We were saying that we thought it was our best performance of the season."
They gained Level 4 for only two elements, their opening synchronized twizzles (+1.0) and their straight line steps (+0.60). He said they had purposely begun with the twizzles. "Itís nice to get the twizzles out of the way. It sets a good tone for the rest of the program." Their other moves were Level 3. (The midline steps were +0.80 and the diagonal steps a whopping +1.40). They were particularly surprised not to get a 4 for their spin (+0.30).
3. 90.89; OD 59.48 (33.10+26.38) Bates and Samuelson skated last. They presented Swing set to music from the movie Follow the Fleet with music by Irving Berlin including Let Yourself Go by from. He seemed to have stepped right down from the movie screen, a debonaire Fred Astaire playing a randy if naÔve sailor on shore leave with "galloping kicks, leg wiggles and scampering moves". She was his Tootsie, in blood red, flashily exposing, from time to time, her black garters.
They were the only couple to receive four Level 4s. The twizzles were +0.90 GoE; their straight line lift +0.60, the circular steps a tremendous +1.80 and the spin +0.60. Their final element, the mid-line non-touching steps, was Level 3 but with a very big +1.60 GoE. Bates said, in an understated way, "Emily and I are pleased with our performance. Definitely, it was our best of the year. We have nothing to complain about here. We are very excited about lying third." They had been fourth after the Finnstep.
They made an impressive debut in the US Senior championships in 2008, finishing fourth. This season, they earned silver. "We were juniors for about 2Ĺ years," said Samuelson. "You always dream of being senior and going to Worlds and Four Continents, and going to the Olympics. To be competing at this level is thrilling and exciting. I donít know what other adjectives could describe it."
He explained, "For us, the characters we are in this dance are very natural. We just love it, we love skating it together. The music is upbeat. This is the easiest character for us to do. We love it. We came not expecting anything in particular in terms of placement. We just are happy to be competing one more time. Both of our programs at the US Championships had minor mistakes, so to be able to come here and have another chance to do it better is great. Emily and I are both very pleased with our performance here today. It was the best of the year and we have absolutely nothing to complain about. Weíre very excited about it."
She said, "When you skate, thereís always an aspect of acting to it, but, for this program, it is more genuine. We just feel the music, we really enjoy the program and it shows through the expression."
4. 88.79; OD 56.36 (30.50+25.86) Crone and Poirier skated to light-hearted music by Scott Joplin, a Slow Ragtime to Solace and a Ragtime Two Step to a piece from The Entertainer. She was wearing a cloche hat and he was resplendent with a rather hookey mustache with twirls but no jacket. At the end, they mimed a bicycling in the park. They received three Level 4s, for their opening element, the spin (+0.70 GoE), the diagonal steps (+1.40) and their later base value twizzles. But their curve lift (+0.30) and mid-line non-touching steps (+1.0) were only Level 3. He said, "We wanted to put in more character. Itís a very 20s look. We are trying to portray a silent movie with the costume and moustache. We did extremely better than at Nationals (Canadians). Weíve been struggling with twizzles and today they worked. Itís a competition against ourselves. Always improving our personal best is our main goal."
5. 83.95; OD 53.33 (28.70+24.63) Weaver and Poje skated to music by Conrad Korsch and Jonathan Smith. The first and last piece was Swing Brother Swing and in the middle was a Blues, Harlem Nocturne. She was attired in a mauve knee-length dress, short-sleeved dress that forties, trimmed with white and a white belt, big white polka-dots on the skirt and smaller ones on the bodice. They received Level 4 and +0.30 for their twizzles but the rest of the moves were Level 3. The midline steps were +1.0 GoE, the spin was +0.50, the diagonal steps +1.20 and the rotational lift +0.10. She said, "In nationals (Canadians) we were a little tentative. We werenít quite on. We didnít have electricity like it was supposed to be. Here we knew what we didnít want to do. We made a minor mistake on our lift but Iím still very proud of our performance. It is an energetic dance and we have to have a lot of adrenaline for it. Even our slow section was pretty fast. But, when you are in front of an audience, it goes by fast. We didnít even notice we were sweating." He said, "Under the spotlight and the TV lights, it gets very hot. Itís high energy, but we keep on dancing and sweating till we drop!!"
6. 78.18; OD 47.59 (24.54+23.05) Navarro, dressed in silver with flamboyant shocking pink, elbow length gloves and flashy bracelets, and Bommentre, in a full striped suit and tie, skated Swing to Hey Pachuco with a middle Slow Foxtrot to Why Donít You Do Right by Sinead OíConner. It was a good performance but did not get the Levels. They reached 4 only for their spin (+0.40). Their twizzles were the basic Level 1 and the other moves, Level 2. Navarro admitted, "I screwed up on the second twizzle. I put my foot down. I got too nervous. Itís too bad. Our rotational lift has been given Level 4 all season so we didnít realize itís now only a Level 2." Her partner added, "I didnít expect to fall in the warm-up. I donít think it had an impact. We were just trying to navigate around the other skaters and I caught an edge. We set out to do some very different things with our programs this year. Thereís a learning cure." Navarro said, "This is a good year to take some risks."
7. 74.51; OD 46.95 (27.70+19.25) Huang and Zheng skated competently to music identified merely as Blues and Swing dressed in black and white. They earned three Level 4s. Their last two moves, the diagonal and non-touching steps were Level 3.
8. 66.77; 42.12 (24.20+17.92) Yu and Wang skated Swing to Big Bad Vodoo Daddy and a Foxtrot in very bright outfit of pink, yellow and lime green. They also received three Level 4s but their diagonal and non-touching steps were Level 2.
9. 65.05; OD 41.74 (24.90+16.84) Wang and Gao skated to music identified merely as Blues and Swing. She wore an orange fringed outfit with matching headband. He was in a black shirt with sparkles, suspenders which matched his partnerís outfit and black and white striped trousers. The Chinese new partnership looked pleased and satisfied with their performance as they left the ice but they accomplished only one Level 4 which was for their rotational lift. Their circular steps were Level 2 and the other three elements Level 3.
10. 55.83; OD 36.13 (22.20+13.93) The Australian champions, OíBrien and Merriman, skated a lively Lindy Hop to Sing, Sing, Sing sung by Louis Prima, at the beginning and end with Swing in the middle to This Business of Love by Domino. She was in lemon and he had a lemon shirt under a short-sleeved grey sweater. They received three Level 4s.
But she had a problem on their first move, the midline non-touching steps which was given Level 1. Their circular steps were Level 2.
11. 48.66; OD 31.15 (19.00 +12.15) The Borounovs from Australia skated with her in a pink top and plaid pattern skirt, and he in black to Swing: Zoot Suit Riot. She, in particular seemed to enjoy their performance despite her near fall on the twizzles.
Davis & White
They had debuted this routine in Canada, in the Grand Prix, and it won them their first gold medal in that series. It is set to music from Camille Saint-Saensí Samson and Delilah, beginning with And My Heart Opens to Your Voice which then morphs into the Bacchanale. It was a seamless, flowingly energetic performance which flew over the ice and was executed with enormous power." Asked if they were now dreaming of an Olympic medal, Davis said, "Weíve been dreaming pretty big since we were really little. We saw ourselves representing the US all over the world. Things have been coming together this season. Last season and the year before, we were working on different aspects of our skating. And, I think, this season it all came together. Weíve been working pretty hard and weíre happy with our performance."
They began with their Level 4 combination spin. Five of the nine judges punched in the maximum +3, three thought the move deserved +2 and one +1. That earned them +1.20 GoE. Then came their long lift, which gained Level 4 for both the curve and rotational parts. This time, three judges thought the move was wonderful. Four punched in +2 and Mr/Ms Not-In-A-Good-Mood-Today again chose +1. Their circular steps were "only" Level 3 but gained +1.40 over base value. Their Level 4 curve lift gained +0.80 and their Level 4 twizzles +1.10 with three judges punching in +3. Mr/Ms NIAGMT again looked down his/her nose and pushed +1 while the rest gave +2. Their Level 4 straight line lift gained a "mere" +0.60 and their Level 4 midline steps +0.80. They wrapped up their performance with a Level 4 rotational lift which earned +1.0. For this, all but Mr/Ms NIAGMT gave +2. He/she gave +1. Maybe his/her console didnít have a +2 or a +3. He/she gave Davis/White +1 for every move except the Midline steps, which he/she thought deserved only the base value.
White said, "(Our performance) felt powerful and emotional. Those are the two things that have been really key this season for us. It felt like we could go out there and give it everything we had. We know what we have to do when we go out there. We just donít want it to go flat when youíre out there in front of everybody."
Asked about the rivalry between the three teams, because Davis and White and Virtue and Moir train at the same rink and Bates is a room mate of Whiteís in his group college housing, Bates said. "Weíre pretty competitive. Itís great to have them with us all the time. We play NHL 09 for Playstation. Three is very competitive. In another life, we will be professional hockey players. (White only stopped playing hockey after a broken ankle in a match put paid to his and Davisí 2005 season.)"
Davis said, "The new system is definitely more demanding on us. Weíre needing to work harder. Our coaches are amazing. They really make sure we get time off. They push us everyday but they donít push us to the point where weíre useless and our bodies donít work anymore."
2. 191.81; 2. FD 94.51 (47.20+47.31) Virtue and Moir set a scene from the recesses of hippy-dom. They presented a warm, fuzzy hallucinogenic dream where she was an exotic orchid with green and yellow petals covering her upper front and a skirt of purple leaves and he an aubergine stem. They astonished the crowd with an array of lifts that were complex and always in motion. But, Virtue made mistakes and their technical mark was only fourth best. Their first move, the combination spin was Level 3 but with a slight -0.10. Two judges spotted the problem and punched in -1. Four others gave 0 which is supposedly satisfactory in all facets. One judge thought it deserved +1 and, astonishingly two punched in +2. Do they get a mandatory glasses check?
This was followed by a Level 4 serpentine lift which received a +1.0 GoE. Then came their Level 3 circular steps, for which eight of the nine judges punched in +2. (The exception gave +1.) That meant the move earned a massive +1.20 over its base value of 6.40. Then came a Level 4, +1.10 straight line lift in which Virtue stood with one blade on Moirís thigh and let go so that their four hands were stretched out in a "no holds" gesture. Wow. Asked who helped them create that move, Moir said Johnny Johns, who was a US champion in both ice dance and pairs.
That very dangerous looking move was followed by the Level 4 twizzles which got +0.90. Next was a Level 4 rotational lift which got an extra 1.50. But she stumbled on their final move, Level 3 diagonal steps which earned only the base value. Despite the problem, two judges still punched in +2. (One was the same person as gave the overly generous award on the first move.) Three clearly saw the error and punched in -1. But two others gave the base value and two others +1.
Their music is Pink Floydís Great Gig in the Sky and Money from Dark Side of the Moon. Itís the same music the French world champions, Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder, are using this season. "We didnít find out about that till October," said Moir. Jokingly, he added, "Obviously, they have great taste in music. Great minds think alike. They must be very intelligent. I think itís a good vehicle for us. I think this program can definitely develop a lot more. There is no doubt Meryl and Charlie are the winners this afternoon. They worked hard for that so weíre not at all displeased. Weíre certain mileage and repetition will help with the problems we had."
Virtue couldnít wait to get off the ice. She rushed to the Kiss and Cry and sat down to get her skates off. Later she said, "I just wanted to get some ice on them. I went straight to the medical room. We are pleased with our skate. In some ways it was better than nationals and in others it wasnít." Moir said, "To get out internationally before we go to worlds is huge. We always like doing Four Continents. Itís a great competition and if we are able to do it, we knew we would be here."
3. 180.79; 3. 89.90 (48.10+41.80) Samuelson and Bates won their first senior level international medal performing to Amazonic by Tonci Huljic. She was in red, he in black. All but two of their elements were Level 4. The exceptions were their initial move, the circular steps, and the later Midline steps. Samuelson said, "We are going to work for a spot on the Olympic ream. Itís ours to take. We will earn or lose it." About the new system, she said, "Definitely, the sport has become more difficult. Weíre lucky to have great coaches that have studied it well and get us well prepared." Bates added, "We were really satisfied. We did everything weíve been working on. We definitely want to be back here in 12 months. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of us going to many Four Continent Championships. Weíre really happy to be on the podium with two of the best teams in the world. We were able to execute all elements and give a good performance and it was a personal best. It went really good." He agreed that the sport has become more dangerous. "We are pushing ourselves because we can see what we can do to get more marks. Falls can happen. But it is a sport now and in a sport accidents will happen."
4. 176.82; 4. FD. 88.03 (47.40+40.63) Skating to Doco de Coco by Jacob de Bandolim, Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier presented a soft routine with him in a grey sweater and her in a backless pink dress. They began with the move they invented, the stationary lift before going through the synchronized twizzles. All their moves but one were Level 4 and were executed in a seemingly effortless, pleasant manner. The routine was full of deep edges. The exception was the Level 3 diagonal steps. "We felt we put on a solid performance and projected well to the audience," said Poirier. "We got our speed and performance level up."
5. 168.76; 5. FD 84.81 (45.20+39.61) Weaver and Poje presented a very pleasant routine to music from the well-known movie Dr. Zhivago which began with an applause-eliciting curve to rotational lift which gained Level 4 for both sections. Weaver, who is a Texas girl who went north, stood with a blade on each of his thighs while he was in a legs bent spread eagle. That banked them a considerable 7.30 marks. As Lara, she was dressed in white. He had on brown with billowing white shirt sleeves. In Canadians, they actually finished second in the free dance ahead of their teammates, Crone and Poirier, but this time the other team did not fall. The long lift was followed by a Level 3 combination spin and a second Level 4 curve. The following circle and midline steps were both Level 3s but everything else was Level 4.
Weaver said, "I canít stop smiling. It feels so good to skate the way you know how and to know you left it all on the ice. Four minutes is a little fast to tell a four-hour story but the movie really helped us and thatís the reason weíve had success with this program." Poje said, "We watched Dr. Zhivago several times and used parts of the story as inspiration. We worked on telling a story on the ice. We sat in front of a computer and created a story. We worked on that all year. Every time we performed it, we went back to the drawing board to improve it. We worked a tremendous amount. We worked on our basic skills and doing the little things we needed to. This is the second time our program got a standing ovation. The first time was Canadians."
6. 151.82; 6. FD 73.64 (37.40+36.24) Navarro and Bommentre performed to music that has certainly never been used in competitive ice dance before: Fatboy Slimís Weapon of Choice, The Rockafeller Skank and Soul Surfing (Mulderís Urban Takeover Remix). She was dressed in royal blue glitter with no sleeves and almost no back but with black gloves. He was in black. It was a fun, though well sanitized version, certainly not gritty enough for a street performance. "Weíre going to continue to do programs we feel confident in and are a little out of the mainstream," said Bommentre. His partner added, "Our technical score took a bit of a beating at this competition. We want to get feedback from the technical panel here and see what was and what wasnít right. Once we understand whatís lacking from the lifts, then we can work on it. I got sick, sick like I havenít been in 15 years, so that set us back a little bit." They began with a straight line lift in which she stood on his thigh in a stag position as if she were the figurehead on a ship. It only got Level 2. But they followed that with a curve lift in which, while totally upside down, her head swung back and forth extremely close to the ice. That was a Level 4. Their Midline steps and their twizzles were only Level 2 as were their circular steps. In their long lift the beginning part was only Level 2 though the concluding part was Level 4 as was the following rotational lift was Level 4. Technically, they were only ninth best. Obviously, itís an issue which must be addressed.
7. 142.30; 8. FD 67.79 (37.80+29.99) Huang and Zheng skated to the soundtrack of Notre Dame de Paris by Richard Cocciante. She was in a very peasant like pink and maroon dress but he was in white and gold which didnít seem to fit the story of their music. Their first two moves, the straight line lift and the circular steps were only Level 2 as were their later diagonal step sequence.
8. 137.90; 7. FD 71.13 (40.70+30.73) Yu and Wang skated to Romeo and Juliet dressed in white with gold trim. Although their mid-line steps were only Level 2 and their circular steps and combination spin, Level 3, all the rest of their elements received Level 4.
9. 132.53; 9. FD 67.48 (40.80+27.68-1.0) Wang and Gao drew to open this part of the ice dance competition and set a good standard although, during one lift, they came very close to crashing into the barrier. All but three of their levels were 4. They performed to the soundtrack of Notre Dame de Paris by Richard Cocciante. The midline step sequence was Level 2 and their first two elements, the serpentine steps and the synchronized twizzles earned Level 3. They were the only couple to get a deduction which was for an extended lift.
10. 112.93; 10. FD 57.10 (34.60+22.50) OíBrien and Merriman skated to three pieces played by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, dressed in black with blue. They interpreted Beethovenís Last Night, The Dark, and Overture. Their circular steps and diagonal step sequence were only Level 1, and the beginning straight line section of their long lift was only Level 2 but the second part, rotational, was Level 4 and three other moves also earned Level 4. Their other two moves were Level 3.
11. 101.35; 11. FD 52.69 (32.90+19.79) The Borounovs skated to two pieces by the Scorpions, Humanity to begin and end with and Maybe I; Maybe You in the middle. They began well with a Level 3 curve lift. That was followed by Level 2 diagonal steps and a Level 4 reverse rotational lift. But their synchronized twizzles and the circular steps, which followed a little later, were only Level 1. Their straight line lift was Level 3 but their combination spin and their final move, a rotation lift, were both Level 4.
2009 Four Continents Dance Medalists
Virtue & Moir, Davis & White, Samuelson
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