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As is the custom at Skate Canada, the final event of the competition was held Sunday, followed by the exhibition. To meet east coast TV schedule constraints, the Dance Free Dance began before noon, and was immediately followed by the Dance medal ceremony and then the exhibition. Both sessions were well attended, again over the 5000 mark.
Dubreuil & Lauzon cruised to victory in the Free Dance, and the event, placing first in all three dances. Their routine is pleasant enough fluff, with a strong emphasis on lifting, which is well done. As a performance, however, I get more out of their exhibition program, skated to Jacques Brel's "Ne Me Quitte Pas", which was one of the best routine in the afternoon's exhibitions.
As expected, Faiella & Scali came back strong to place second in the Free Dance and stay on the podium, to win the bronze.
Virtue & Moir settled back to third in the Free Dance with a traditional waltz routine to "Valse Triste" by Jean Sibelius -- a mainstay of ice dancing waltzes. It was well executed, and demonstrated their fine skating skills, but was a bit old fashioned.
Davis & White placed fourth in the Free Dance, and overall just out of the medals. Their performance to Borodin's Opera "Prince Igor" was a favorite for me, and gave White a good workout in all the lifts, but it seemed a tad on the wild side, and did not demonstrate the skating skills shown by the top three teams. Pratt & Gilles performance to "Dream On" by Aerosmith was also a fun skate.
What a slop fest! No triple Axel and quad toe loop not really there either, and Lambiel still manages to move up to win. Granted it was a good skate in many respects, but he has to thank his lucky stars, or zebra suit, that the other guys ended up wiping up the ice too. Lambiel, skating in the first warmup, didn't even attempt triple Axel, and stuck with the double instead -- twice. He stepped out of the quad in the quad toe - triple toe combination, and later fell on a solo attempt at quad toe. But the spins and step were well done, and he knows how to sell that program.
In the second warmup, Takahashi had his chance to win, but with major errors on three jump elements, no way. The program was a mess. A promising mess, but a mess all the same. Color him silver tonight.
Skating last Johnny Weir also had his chance to win, and he threw it away too, with major errors on five jump elements -- hands down on triple Axel, doubling a loop, singling an Axel, doubling a flip, and a poor landing on triple Salchow. Then there were two level 2 elements and one level 1. What a fiasco. At least the PCs were competitive, being the second best of the group. Color him Bronze, and damn lucky to get it.
The only man to really step up to the plate and have a decent (though not perfect) skate was Shawn Sawyer. He had a poor landing on his opening triple flip, then on triple Axel brushed the wall and nearly fell. It may have been two footed. In the following circular step sequence he had a minor stumble. After that, he got it together and skated well for the remaining 10 elements. It was a lively well skated performance after the shaky start. He was third in the Free Skate and moved up to fourth overall, 3.53 points out of the medals. The two jump errors alone cost him 4 points and the bronze medal. Color him, oh so close.
Unlike her SP, which I think doesn't work that well at all, Joannie Rochette's FS program is a solid artistic performance. Except for singling a triple loop and two footing a triple Lutz, her jumps were solid, with GoEs of 0s and 1s. With a little help from Kim, who had a shaky skate, Rochette was able to put together a come from behind victory in the ladies.
For a while it looked like Fumie Suguri would engineer the come from behind victory. It was an interesting performance, though a little on the bizarre side. But a singled Axel and two level 1 and 2 elements left the door open for Rochette to skate through.
Yu-Na Kim did some pretty skating and had some nice moments in her program, but major errors on three elements knocked her down to third place for the bronze medal. She started strong with triple flip - triple toe loop, with GoEs of 1s and 2s, but it was somewhat downhill from there with the jumps. She stepped out of triple Salchow, had a near fall and downgrade on a triple toe loop, and fell on triple Lutz. Spins and step sequences were levels 3 and 4, and well done.
Alissa Czisny had a better skate today than yesterday, and ended up third in the FS and fourth overall, not quite 5 points out of the medals. Jumps were still a bit weak. She singled a triple loop, and in doing so lost her three-jump combination. A triple flip had a weak landing, and a triple Lutz was downgraded. The program was fairly well executed, but the music is monotonous, and I found the program tedious, but she looks beautiful as she skates, so who cares.
Mira Leung had an inconsistent skate. Landing the difficult triples and then cheating and two footing triple Salchow and cheating triple toe loop (both downgraded). For me the program is an artistic atrocity.
Plus, like what is it with Mira Leung and her "coach"? During the five minute warmup Mira never once spoke to her coach (Christine McBeth), who just stood there and watched the whole time. At the end, the coach hands Mira her blade guards as Mira leaves the ice and Mira walks away like her coach doesn't exist. Same thing just before she skates. Doesn't talk to her coach. No last minute pep talk. During the skate, no sounds from the coach, no response from her when Mira lands a jump. At the end of the skate they seem to exchange like two words, and that's it. Very strange.
Saturday attendance -- 5,347.
Mr. Yummy did not have a good skate today. No, not by a long shot. He (Lambiel) doubled his opening triple Axel, then fell on quad toe loop. He got credit for getting all the way around on it and then -3 on the GoE and a deduction for the fall. He also fell on the preparation phase of his closing combination spin. He then got up and executed it in a second attempt, but got no points for doing that. He was down over 10 points compared to the leaders in element points. The program itself, is rather good, and he got the second highest PC scores.
Best skate, today, however, was Daisuke Takahashi. Again the judges and I agree. Imagine that! He led in both element points and PC points, and rightly so.
Johnny Weir had a decent skate to place second. There are a lot of appealing pieces to it, but it is still not a coherent whole, and there are several empty spaces that need to be filled with transitions.
Tomas Verner was only 0.4 points behind Takahashi in element points, and had he not landed his triple Axel poorly for a GoE of -1, would have led in element points. In PCs, however, he was 7+ points back. I thought his expression average at best. The judges apparently like it better, giving him "above average" marks for it.Dance OD
So what can I say about, dance to fill space, knowing so little about it? Dubreuil & Lauzon were clearly the best of the lot, and Virtue & Moir looked much better than I expected of them. It was a rather nice skate.
Davis & White stayed on their feet and made up a lot of ground after their disaster in the CD. They are numerically within range of the bronze, but it is unlikely since the Italians can be expected to come back strong in the Free Skate.
Faiella & Scali
Natalia Mikhailova & Arkadi Sergeev
Speaking of the Italians, Faiella & Scali placed fifth in the OD, but still managed to hold onto a medal position. Faiella fell most ungracefully at the end of a straight line step sequence. Fortunately she did not take down Scali with her.
Pratt & Gilles also fell, and dropped to tenth overall. The both went down at the end of a rotational lift, costing them 3.3 points (2 for the deductions and 1.3 for the -3 GoE). Even without that, however, they would still be sitting in tenth palce.
Navarro & Bommentre placed sixth again, in a program that struck me as really adequate. Nothing particularly noteworthy about it for good or bad.
Even with a performance with a fall, a single Axel - double toe combination, and a lethargic second half to their program, Zhang & Zhang still stomped the competition by over 24 points. Goes to show, how good they are, and how out of their league all the other teams here were.
Inoue & Baldwin and Marcoux & Buntin tussled for second place, with the Americans winning the silver medal by a mathematically meaningless 0.13 points.
Inoue & Baldwin completed one of their better attempts at the throw triple Axel, with a typical GoE of +1. But on the down side, John fell on triple toe loop, throw triple loop had a step out, and John also stepped out of a double Axel.
Marcoux & Buntin were neck 'n neck with Inoue & Baldwin for sloppiness. Marcoux fell on double Axel and Buntin landed it on the toe and barely held on. Marcoux also stepped out of both throws, a triple loop and a triple Salchow. I thought their program rather blah and superficial, but the home crowd loved it. Of course.
Vise & Trent struggled in the warmup, and in their performance as well. The attempt at throw quad Salchow again resulted in a fall, though this time they got credit for it being all the way around. The result, 5.8 points for an element they can't do. Is this a great system, or what!
The Swedish team looked really good in their warmup. But their actual performance was a disaster. Looks like the boy may have performance anxiety issues.
Friday attendance -- 4,738.
The last time I saw Marie-France she was flying off Patrice's arm in the OD at the Torino Olympics and bouncing across the ice. Tonight they waltzed across the ice in fine style. Their 38.83 points were just 0.36 behind the 39.19 points earned by Denkova & Staviski at Skate America. So if they keep up in the other dances in the coming days, that's a good sign for their medal hopes for Worlds this season.
Faiella & Scali were pleasant enough, and only 5+ points back, but nothing so special to think they will move up substantially this season.
Davis & White has a spectacular fall in the first pattern. Davis brushed the boards, caught a blade and went down. White got pulled over and went flying landing on hands and knees. -2 for a double fall there.
After the top two, all the teams are 10-15 points back. Abandon all hope for the rest of the field.
Zhang & Zhang stomped the competition and opened up a 11+ point lead. All their elements had an average GoE above 0. They were in fine form, and received a personal best for their performance. As usual their triple twist was outstanding. By far the best of the lot. Their performance was a personal best.
Marcoux & Buntin were a distant second. He fell on triple toe loop. Nice Helicopter in one of their overhead lift, but their style leaves me cold. Too much attitude and not enough skill, though, to back it up.
Errors in throw triple Axel and the spiral sequence cost Inoue & Baldwin second place. She stepped out of the throw, and he fell out of position in the spiral sequence. They lost at least 2.8 points in these two elements. Problem remains the PC marks, which were slightly lower here than at Skate America.
Vise & Trent skated with more personality and enthusiasm compared to Skate America, to my mind, but they had lots of problems. He singled what was supposed to be a triple toe loop. Their back outside death spiral was a struggle on the exit, and the change of foot on the pair combination spin was kind of messy. But its the huge falsies in the Short Program costume I find a real distraction. Too much, way too much.
Moyle & Seitz were mediocre at best, with PCs in the "fair" to "average" range. She fell on throw triple loop, and their pair combination spin was a sloppy mess. Neither cuts a particularly athletic figure.
Nice job from Yu-Na Kim who led off the group. Nice elements, nice performance, nice presentation. A well rounded skater with promise. A clean triple flip - triple toe was a major factor in pumping up her element scores, but not the only thing. Remember, a triple flip - triple toe has a base value of 9.5 while the traditional triple Lutz - double toe loop used in the Short Program has a base value of 7.4 points, 2.1 points less. So the triple-triple is just part of the story. Kim also received some higher levels and higher GoEs for her elements.
Fumie Suguri placed second, skating last. It was a nice skate for her, and I liked her performance the best. The judges agreed, and gave her the highest PC scores. But being down 7 points in elements, it wasn't enough to overcome the deficit, but at least it kept her close.
Alissa Czisny also gave an enjoyable performance and got high PC scores for her effort, but like Suguri was down in the element scores. Czisny double her Lutz, and then skated into the wall and nearly fell. All her jumps were small, which is a big problem.
Katy Taylor skated marginally better than at Skate America. She doubled a flip, two footed triple Lutz, and stepped out of double Axel. I found her performance totally blah and uninteresting. And please, would someone do something about the costume! She looks like a barrel wearing a dress. Her free skating dress is much more flattering.
A dishonorable mention goes to Joannie Rochette's program to "Little Wing" by Jimmy Hedrix. Nothing in that program says Hendrix to me. If I had seen that program with the music off, the last thing that would have come to my mind was Hendrix. Two other painful performances were Yoshie Onda's (which was a total bore and got the lowest PC scores) and Mira Leung's (which included the ugliest jumps of any skater here).
Susana Poykio, the 2005 European Championships silver medalist, rounded out the top three in this event segment. Her elements were clean and decently skated, and her PCs were fourth best, only a point down compared to the other ladies.
Here we are, back together again in Victoria, British Columbia. Skate Canada was last here in 1992, held in the previous incarnation of the Memorial Arena, a 1948 era building with 4,000 hard wood bleacher seats. The new arena, which was completed too late to hold the 2005 Skate Canada planned for here, holds 5,830. Attendance today was 4390. Better than Skate America did on Thursday and Friday combined!
Today we start off with the Ice Dancing Compulsory Dance, skating the Golden Waltz. Canadians Dubreil & Lauzon are the favorites, followed by Italians Faiella & Scali. The Pairs Short Program follows with Zhang & Zhang of China appearing to have no serious competition. Last up today is the Ladies Short Program. There Yu-Na Kim, the reigning World Junior Champion, has the favorite buzz.
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