by Alexandra Stevenson
|1||Aliona SAVCHENKO / Robin SZOLKOWY||GER||72.26||1|
|2||Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD||CAN||64.49||2|
|3||Stefania BERTON / Ondrej HOTAREK||ITA||59.79||3|
|4||Paige LAWRENCE / Rudi SWIEGERS||CAN||52.88||4|
|5||Daria POPOVA / Bruno MASSOT||FRA||48.43||5|
|6||Lindsay DAVIS / Mark LADWIG||USA||47.05||6|
|7||Tiffany VISE / Don BALDWIN||USA||46.47||7|
|1||Tessa VIRTUE / Scott MOIR||CAN||65.09||1|
|2||Anna CAPPELLINI / Luca LANOTTE||ITA||65.08||2|
|3||Ekaterina RIAZANOVA / Ilia TKACHENKO||RUS||55.80||3|
|4||Madison HUBBELL / Zachary DONOHUE||USA||54.84||4|
|5||Piper GILLES / Paul POIRIER||CAN||53.71||5|
|6||Pernelle CARRON / Lloyd JONES||FRA||51.67||6|
|7||Julia ZLOBINA / Alexei SITNIKOV||AZE||50.92||7|
|8||Kharis RALPH / Asher HILL||CAN||50.00||8|
by George Rossano
In most cases we admire the innovation that comes out of Skate Canada to enhance the audience experience at competitions and to develop interest in skating. A new concept unveiled here at Skate Canada International, however, is a giant leap in the wrong direction.
During today's events, Skate Canada representatives Debbi Wilkes and Liz Manley provided in-house commentary on each skater that went out live over the arena sound system.
While the commentary was personable and entertaining, this nevertheless strikes us as wrong headed on many levels
First, many fans do not want commentary intruding on their viewing experience. Many fans cherish the in-arena experience because they do not have to listen to the commentary that is unavoidable on TV.
For several years, Skate Canada has offered its Skate Bug service where commentary is available to those who want it over wireless receivers available at competitions. Forcing this commentary on everyone in the arena is an unwelcome imposition on the competition experience for many fans.
It is often bad enough skaters have to twist in the wind waiting for their marks in kiss and cry after a bad skate. Now they have to listen to their performances critiqued in front of the entire live audience. This is tacky at best.
Skaters waiting to compete next are now also distracted by commentary perhaps extolling the excellence of the previous skater. Skaters are under enough pressure before they take the ice. They don't need this added burden.
Worst of all, this commentary was offered, we were horrified to observe, while the judges were still deciding their marks.
It is inappropriate, and a conflict of interest, for commentators to be audibly praising or critiquing the performance before the judges have entered their scores. The judges are not allowed to discuss or comment on the performances while they enter their marks. Having representatives of the host country do so within the hearing of the judges is a violation of the spirit and intent of the rules that the judges should assign their marks free from outside influence.
Marks for several performances today were jeered by the audience, for no other reason, it appears, than the commentators told the audience what a wonderful performance they had just seen and the panel came to a different conclusion.
This is counter-productive to the goal of the commentary to educate the audience. We shudder at the thought of the controversy that would arise if at 2013 Worlds Virtue and Moir won over Davis and White by a small fraction of a point after in-arena commentators praised the former team and criticized the latter.
The ISU is playing with fire in allowing this practice. There ought to be a rule that in-house commentary about performances cannot be audible to the judges at all, or can only be audible after the judges have entered their marks and the scores of the performances calculated.
Rain descended on Windsor on the opening day of Skate Canada but gave way to sunny skies before spectators began lining up to enter the WFCU Arena as the 39th Skate Canada opened at 2p.m. with the Ladies Short Program. The Technical Controller was Paola Pizzocari. The Technical Specialist was former U.S. competitor, Lisa Ervin, while Vladimir Petrenko, the younger brother of Olympic champion Victor Petrenko, was her assistant. The U.S. judge was Anne G. Shean and the Canadian was Nicole Leblanc-Richard.
1. SP 60.80 (31.48+29.32) Elena Gedevanishvilli, who represents the country of her birth, Georgia, gave the performance of her long career to snatch the lead by 0.24. She was born in Tbilisi, and made an impressive start to her international career in the 2006 Olympics, placing 10th, and then, a few weeks later, 14th in Worlds that season. But, then, she was taken to Moscow to further her career and struggled with many problems including growth and her mother’s deportation from that country. The family eventually relocated to New Jersey and she now trains in Toronto with Brian Orser.
Orser, the twice Olympic silver medaliast, is known for getting Yu-Na Kim, the South Korea 2010 Olympic champion, to transform from a robot-like jumping machine, who, he said, “Never smiled”, into the artiste who won gold in the Vancouver Games. It seems he has now done the reverse with the adult Gedevanishvilli, enabling her to control her emotions and present a routine in which there were no major mistakes. The 22-year-old left the ice in a flood of tears of happiness, while Orser jumped up and down like a small boy receiving ice cream.
Gedevanishvili, who performed to John Williams’ Shindler’s List dressed in a blue-grey outfit, was not perfect. She got 0.50 taken off her very high triple Lutz to triple toe because the second jump was given an arrow for slight under-rotation, and the following triple Salchow had a minimal -0.1 removed. But all five other elements received significant Grades of Execution. The Level 3 flying sit spin received +0.86, which included a +3, the maximum from one judge. Her double Axel received a respectable 0.14, her Level 3 layback got +0.64, her straight line steps were +0.60 for the maximum Level 4, which was also awarded for her final change foot combination spin along with +0.71.
She explained her big step forward as a “revelation. You know, at home, you do the same thing day in and day out. Then one day you wake up and think, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to stay in bed.’ I felt that way about skating. And then I thought about going to Canada, and Brian accepted me, and I’m now having fun. It’s different, even though I can’t explain what it is that’s different, other than practice isn’t a drag. It’s something I’m now enjoying.” Her component scores have never been this high. They ranged from an 8.25 to down to a 6.00.
2. SP 60.56 (33.21+27.56) Kaetlyn Osmond, Canada, the 16-year-old born in Newfoundland, who now lives in Alberta, training with Ravi Walia in Edmonton, gained international acclaim when she came out of nowhere to win gold in this season’s Nebelhorn Trophy. She had the honor of opening the opening event. Skating a lively number to Perez Prado music, Mambo No.8 and Gwendoline, dressed in a black and silver, partly chiffon with a cut-out back, and uneven skirt, she gave a youthful, exuberant showing.
Part of her appeal, was her infectious attitude of pleasure. She said she was really enjoying her “breakthrough” season. This is her first international season which she has dreamed about ever since she first beat her older sister, who made it to the Canadian championship at Junior Level.
She has been told she was first put on the ice at 23 months. “Apparently, they held my hand for, like, half the way around the rink, and then I let go and ran after my sister, and that sealed it. I was a skater.”
She beamed widely at landing her opening move, a triple toe loop to triple toe loop, which was rewarded with an extra full point. Her triple flip received +0.70 and her Level 4 layback spin received +0.64, her double Axel +0.57 and both her straight line steps and flying sit spin received Level 3 and +0.50. She completed the routine with a Level 4 +0.57 combination spin. The components rose from three 6.0 up to three 7.50.
3. SP 58.56 (30.19+28.37) Ksenia Makarova, Russia, whose parents, Larisa Selezneva & Oleg Markarov, earned Olympic bronze medal for the Soviet Union in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary for pair skating, raised their daughter in New York state. She competed in the U.S. as a junior, but returned to St. Petersburg in 2009 winning the 2010 Russian national title and earning a spot on the Olympic and world championship team. She has taken part in the past three World Championships, finishing 8th, 7th & 9th.
Markarova, a natural blonde, surprised her many fans by turning up as a brunette. She has kept her last season’s Short Program, set to Maria and the Violin’s String by Ashram, and she gave a polished showing. She would have taken the lead, but she ended up with two points less than the Canadian because she received no marks at all for her aborted double Axel, which has a base value of 3.3 points.
She is now training with Evgeni Rukavitsin in St. Petersburg. She opened with a +0.90 combination of two triple toe loops and her triple loop got +0.40. Her flying sit spin was Level 3 with +0.57. The other three elements were all the maximum Level 4 with her combination and layback spins earning +0.71 and the step sequence receiving 0.90. Makarova said she was pleased with her performance because she had suffered a recent injury and lost training time. Her components ranged from one 6.25 up to two 8.00.
4. SP 56.21 (27.70+28.51) Kanako Murakami, Japan, a 17-year old from Nagoya, was the second to last to skate because of her high world ranking. She placed eighth in her debut in the 2011 world championship and was fifth in Nice last March. Skating to Michael W. Smith’s Prayer for Taylor, she started in a very interesting and unusual way, with her straight line steps which earned +0.70 for Level 4. Her double Axel received +0.86, and her flying camel Level 3 got +0.14. Her other two spins were Level 4 with the combination receiving +0.36 and layback +0.86. However, the second jump in her combination of two triple toes received an arrow for slight under-rotation and her triple flip got two arrows for a downgrade. Her components ranged from 6.50 given by five judges for transitions and linking steps, up to two 7.75s.
5. SP 55.12 (26.17+28.95) Akiko Suzuki, Japan, at 27 the oldest of the women, was the top ranking entrant after earning bronze in the 2012 world championship in only her second appearance in that event. (She finished 11th in her debut in 2010.) That meant she skated in the place of honor, last of the ten women from five countries. She presented a routine set by Pasquale Camerlengo and Anjelika Krylova to Battle Without Honour or Humanity, from the Kill Bill movie soundtrack.
However, she got off to a bad start, getting a double arrow for downgrade on the second jump in her combination of two triple toes and an “e” for wrong edge take-off on her triple Lutz. She also got a slight negative (-0.13) on her Level 3 flying camel spin. Her Level 3 layback received an extra +0.50 as did her double Axel. Her straight line steps were Level 3 with +0.71 and she finished with a fine Level 4 change foot combination spin which earned an extra +0.86. Her components ranged from three 6.50s up to two 8.25s.
6. SP 55.10 (29.32+26.78 -1) Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, Russia, who turns 16 on December 17 was the youngest competitor in this event. She exploded onto the international scene when she won this event last season and then went on to win the Paris Grand Prix and place fourth in the Senior Grand Prix Final in Quebec City, after being second in the Junior Grand Prix Final the year before. But, according to ISU standings, she is only the sixth ranked “Lady” skater in this Skate Canada. Should she win again, she would be the first non-Canadian Lady to repeat since Sasha Cohen in 2002 & 2003.
Tuktamsheva skated last in the first group of five skaters, dressed in a long-sleeved outfit with a V down her back. She performed to music from the movie Love Story, choreographed by David Wilson. Her opening move, a combination of two toe loops, looked secure but a split second after the second landing, she fell. The landing of her second element was flawed. That was followed by a Level 3 layback which earned an extra +0.71 and a Level 4 flying sit spin which was rewarded with +0.50. Her Level 3 straight line steps were Level 3 and +0.64. Her double Axel also received +0.64, and the Level 4 change foot combination spin got +0.50. Her components went from a 5.75 up to two 7.75.
7. SP 53.81 (27.84+26.97 -1) Amelie Lacoste, Canada, as the host nation’s champion, is under a lot of stress. Last season, when she dethroned Cynthia Phaneuf, they were both sent to the Four Continents championship to decide who should get the one spot on the World team. Lacoste was successful, but by only a tiny margin. Friday she was completely eclipsed by Osmond, her very young Canadian teammate.
Phaneuf recently officially retired. She was the 2004 national champion but was replaced by Joannie Rochette and didn’t get her title back until 2011 after Rochette left the competitive scene. She was only seventh just behind Lacoste in last season’s Skate Canada. That was Phaneuf’s her fifth straight appearance in the event. Her best placing was 4th in 2010 when Lacoste won bronze.
It is Lacoste’s third time in Skate Canada. Lacoste recently earned the bronze medal in the U.S. Senior International in Salt Lake City, earning the score which skaters must post to be eligible for entry to the world championship in the Short Program but missing the necessary mark in the Free Skate by 0.1 of a point. “That was frustrating, the 23-year-old admitted.
Skating first in the second group of five competitors, Lacoste began her routine, set to Peter Gabriel’s The Feeling Begins, she opened with a +0.50 double Axel but then, “I began to doubt myself.” She fell on her triple flip, which got a double arrow for a downgrade, which had been intended as her combination.
She recovered with a Level 4 +0.36 flying sit spin, and added a double loop to the following triple loop, which meant she got credit for a required combination. She even earned an extra +0.60. Her next two elements were the maximum Level 4: The change foot combination spin received +0.21, and the straight line steps got a substantial +0.80. Her last element, a Level 3 layback spin earned +0.57. Her components ranged from six 7.25s down to one 5.50 for Transitions/Linking Footwork.
8. SP 52.97 (27.67+25.30) Caroline Zhang, U.S., wants to erase memories of her disastrous start to this season when she placed 12th in the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany. Skating third up, to Rushing Wings of Dawn by Tim Janis, in a black sleeveless and backless outfit, she planned to open with a triple loop to triple toe loop but the second jump was doubled. Although the base value was lowered, she still earned an extra full point on the Grade of Execution. The judging panel was divided on her triple flip. One gave it -3; four punched in -2; 2 awarded -1, one gave zero and one gave +1.
Her flying camel earned Level 3 with +0.21. Her double Axel received the minimum deduction, -0.07. Her combination spin was Level 4 with +0.36. Her straight line steps were only Level 2 with +0.14 but she finished on a high note with her Level 4 layback spin for which one judge punched in the maximum +3, six others gave +2 and two gave +2s. Her components ranged from one 5.50 for Transitions and Linking layback
This is Zhang’s tenth Grand Prix event. Her first GP season was in 2007 when she earned bronze in Skate America and silver in China and appeared to be on the fast track for success. But, although she won a bronze the following year in the French Grand Prix, she has struggled since then as she gained height and weight. She is trained by Peter Oppegard and his wife, Michelle’s sister, Karen Kwan, at their rink in Artesia, CA.
9. SP (27.53+25.66 -1) Gracie Gold, the current U.S. Junior champion and World Junior silver medalist, is a 17-year-old who was born in Newton, MA, and now lives in Chicago, where she trains with Alexander Ouriashev & Oleg Epstein. She made her Senior international debut at the end of last season, as part of the U.S. team for the World Team Trophy in Japan. She was second in the U.S. International in Salt Lake City where she earned the silver behind Agnes Zawadzki.
Skating a lively performance to Hernando’s Hideaway, dressed in red and sliver, sleeveless and backless apart from silver straps, with silver on her hair bun, Gold performed second up immediately prior to her teammate, Carolyn Zhang. On her first element, she had a dicey landing on the second jump of her triple flip to triple loop combination which was saddled with an arrow for under-rotation, and also an “e” for wrong edge take-off on the first jump. The following triple Lutz gained +0.30 over its base value. Her Level 4 Layback spin received a full point over its base value and her Level 4 flying camel got an extra +0.50. Her step sequence was Level 3 with +0.43. But then she fell on her double Axel. That obviously affected her and her final move was a Level 1 with -0.13 taken off. Her components ranged from two 7.25s from the same judge down to one 5.50.
10. SP 48.18 (46.18+25.18 -2) Polina Shelepen is a 17-year-old from Moscow, who recently changed coaches to Svetlana Sokolovskaia. The Russian is in her first season as a senior. She was second in the Junior Grand Prix Final in Quebec City last December and was fifth in the recent Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany.
Skating fourth, to a Latin Medley, she began with her combination of triple Lutz to triple toe but the she fell on the second jump which got an arrow for under-rotation. Her double Axel was also faulty and she lost -0.36. The change foot combination spin earned the maximum Level 4 but with a -0.17 taken off the base value. The flying camel spin which followed received +0.07 over its Level 3 base value. Then she fell again on her triple loop. Her Level 2 straight line steps received their base value only but her Level 4 layback spin, which concluded the routine, got an extra +0.43. Her components ranged from four 5.00s up to three 6.50s.
A shock result - Canadians lead in Short Dance by 0.01 point
1. SD 65.09 (27.72+37.37) Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
2. SD 65.08 (32.44+37.37) Anna Cappellini & Luca LanotteWhat a shock! The Olympic and world champions were still smiling but what a shock it must have been. They lie first after Saturday evening’s Short Dance but only by the smallest of margins, 0.1 over the Italians who were sixth in the last world championships,
As usual, the very experienced Canadians, now 23 & 25, put the best possible face on their performance, which was marred by a strange clumsiness on their rotational lift for which they earned only Level 1 on a scale where the best is Level 4. Their Technical score was only fifth best of the eight couples from five countries, although their components were the best by 4.73 points. The lift also seemed as if it went over the time limit, but the usual time penalty, losing a point, was not enforced.
Moir said, “Tessa and I felt actually that we skated very well tonight. It was a good start. It was refreshing for Tessa and I to be out there competing again. We lost a couple of points on the board and we'll have to go back and look at those in the breakdown, but the general feeling today is positive.”
To be frank, a statement like that is pretty ridiculous. Yes, they are human. Yes, they are wonderful performers, and, yes, they will no doubt surge back. But this is really a test for them. It was on this lift that Scott pulled his neck muscle which kept him out of the recent Finlandia Trophy. Last year, they went to Finland and used it to see what the international panel thought of their presentations. Their entry helped get the kinks ironed out, and they received input from top international judges in a low-key atmosphere. They obviously, very much, needed that experience again this year.
They are using the music, The Waltz Goes On by Anthony Hopkins, and are still making no secret of the fact that they turn their noses up at doing any of the formerly called compulsories, which are not a Waltz or of Latin American original, which they regard as “true” dancing.
The Yankee Polka is an American creation that has the most number of steps of any formerly called “compulsory” and has the novelty of introducing half beat steps. It is very difficult because that means skaters must be very quick on their feet and have the power to control the huge centrifugal force which is created from the constant turns. Virtue & Moir were given Level 3 for the first part of the “Yankee” and Level 2 for the second. They also gained Level 3 for their twizzles and Level 2 for their Non-Touching Midline steps.
Soctt said getting the Levels increased to the maximum Level 4 will not be a problem. “Usually, it’s just a case of not holding an edge long enough – maybe you need a second more on a position, It’s not a problem for us.” As for the Polka, “It’s 36 seconds. We do it and that’s it. They probably are going to change this requirement in the future, but we’ll probably be gone (from competition) from then.”
Cappellini & Lanotte's lively upbeat Polka and Waltz were set to music from classic movie, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” They earned Level 4 for their twizzles and rotational lift. Both parts of their Polka were deemed Level 3 as were their non-touching steps. She said, “We had fun out there. It was definitely an improvement from Finlandia Trophy (where they finished a close second to another Russian duo.
3. SD 55.80 (26.50+29.30) Ekaterina Riazanova & Ilia Tkachenko, Russians who have been training with Igor Shpilband, also received Level 4 for their twizzles and lift, and Level 3 for their non-touching steps, but the first part of their Polka received only Level 1 and the second part Level 2. Tkachenko said, “For the first competition, it went pretty well. We didn't compete since Worlds in Nice and we are very happy to be in this competition.”
4. SD 54.84 (26.50+28.34) Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, USA, gave an enjoyable showing to music from the movie “Titanic”. She plays the heroine, who is being taken to America by her mother to marry a very rich man, who sneaks down from her first class accommodation to steerage and meets the hero. The character she plays, says Hubbell, is not at all like her. “I’m not rebellious at all. But Zach is very like Jack (the hero).”
They said they had benefited from their experience at the Finlandia Trophy where they won bronze. Hubbbell explained, “We improved our midline step sequence here to 3 from 2.” They gained Level 4 for their twizzles and straight line lift. The first half of their Polka was Level 3 but the second half only two. Hubbell also added, “You learn from every competition and we’re excited at how things are progressing.”