2011 Skate America

Ontario, CA


Competition Reports

Ladies Report     Men's Report    Pairs Report    Dance Report


Competition Schedule

Friday, Oct. 21, 2011

7:00 PM Menís Short Program
Dance Short Dance

Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011

11:35 AM Menís Free Skate
Free Dance
6:55 PM Pairs Short Program
Ladies Short Program

Sunday, Oct. 22, 2011

1:00 PM Pairs Free Skate
Ladies Free Skate
7:00 PM Exhibition of Champions


Daily Notes

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Competition finished today with the Ladies and Pairs Free Skates in the afternoon and the Exhibition of Champions in the evening.

In the Ladies event Alissa Czisny held on for the win despite struggling with most of her jumps.  Carolina Kostner gave a strong, confident performance to win the Free Skate event, but lost the gold by 0.13 points due to stronger Program Component scores for Czisny.  Caroline Zhang's insufficient preparation for the competition showed with a last place result in the Free Skate after a third place finish in the Short Program.  Elena Gedevanishvili placed third in the short, but was only ably to move up to seventh after a last place finish in the short.  The inconsistent skating from the other competitors allowed Viktoria Helgesson to win the bronze, with fifth place finishes in both the short and long.

In the Pairs final, Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy moved up to first after having placed fifth in the Free Skate, but this move was not as dramatic as it appears as the teas in second through fifth place were essentially tied after the short.  The German team crushed the competition in the Free Skate.  Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang who had won the Short Program dropped to second overall with a third place finish in the Free Skate, while Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch gave a strong performance in the long to move up to third place overall.  The Free Skate from Americans Caydee Denney & John Coughlin was not up to quality of their short and they dropped out of the medals to fourth place.  Likewise, the long program from Russian team of Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov was not up to the quality of their short and they dropped from third to fifth.

Attendance was dismal at this Skate America, though not that much worse than last year in Portland, except for the Exhibition.  For the competitive events attendance was down about 20%, while the exhibition was down by more than half.  As a southern California resident I can say that promotion was negligible and ineffective.  Were we not involved with the local skating community we would not have known the event was in town.  

Unofficial Attendance;  Pairs FS, 1200; Ladies FS, 1600; Exhibition, 750.


Saturday, 22 October 2011

Starting late in the morning, the Men's and Dance events where completed, followed by the Pairs and Ladies Short Programs in the evening.

Michal Brezina held on to win the gold with a third place finish in the Free Skate.  Kevin van der Perrin won the free which moved him up to the silver.  With second place finishes in both the short and the long, Takahiko Kozuka placed third.

In the Free Dance is was all the Meryl and Charlie show, with the Americans winning the event with over a 20 point margin.  Nathalie Pechelat & Fabian Bourzat placed second in both dance segment to win the silver.  The German couple dropped from third in the short to sixth in the free to fall out of the medals, allowing the Lithuanians the opening to move up to the Bronze with a fifth place finish in the short and fourth in the free.  Americans Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue performed a sexy free dance which was scored third, but they did not increase their point margin sufficiently to move up into the medals, and placed sixth overall.

The evening session started with the Pairs Short Program.  Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang opened up a small lead of 3+ points over a group of four teams that are effectively tied for second place.  The reigning World Champions are among this group, and though they currently sit in fifth place, they are easily within range of the gold medal with a good skate in the free.  The scores in the Pairs Short Program (and also the Men's Short Program last evening) where four competitors of clearly different ability end up with virtually identical scores.  With all the improvement from tweaking IJS over the years, the fundamental mathematical defect in IJS remains to be corrected -- currently the system is still not accurate enough to separate the skaters they way it needs to.

In the final event of the day, Alissa Czisny gave a strong performance, with the only negative, an edge call on triple flip, and currently leads the group by 3.97 points.  Carolina Kostner currently sits in second place, 5.18 points ahead of Caroline Zhang.

Attendance remained sparse today with roughly 1000 spectators on hand for each event.  Walking around the arena these appear to be the same 1000 faces, most from the local skating community -- skaters, parents, officials, etc.  Also recognized were a few of the hard core skating fans who have yet to be driven completely from the sport.  Little local advertising was done for this event, and it shows in the empty arena, with the upper bowl completely blocked off; and odder still, nearly the entire judges side of the arena knocked out.  The podium built for the technical panel on the right and the podium for production (music, announcer, scoreboard) each block most of the view from the judges' side, and even obstructs the view from the suites.  Add to that the center blocked by the TV camera and there is not a decent view to be had from the judges side.  It makes no marketing sense.  The best product has been discarded and only "seconds" are offered for sale.  This is another legacy of IJS -- the need for so much equipment and so much space for the officials and support activities that there is no room left now on the judges' side of the arena for anything else, including spectators.

Another obstacle to attracting the general public to skating events (in our opinion) is the immense investment in time to attend a competition, that is unique to skating.  Today we saw 36 performances spread over more than ten hours.  Add to that an hour to get to the arena and an hour to go home, and today was over a 12 hour commitment from anyone who wanted to see all four events.  Twelve hours to see two hours and eight minutes of skating.  It is hard to imagine that any popular major sport would long keep it's audience if attending a game were to take up over twelve hours of one's day.

It is rumored that the difference between Evan Lysacek and U.S. Figure Skating over appearance money started at $200,000.  If that is true, it was smart for U.S. Figure Skating to walk away.  It is inconceivable that Lysacek's participation would have put the 10,000 spectators in the seats that would have been needed to cover that expense.  The reality is, the market currently not support such fees.  As it is, ticket sales this week are unlikely to have covered even the normal cost of the arena.

Unofficial Attendance;  Men's FS, Dance FD, 1000.

Unofficial Attendance;  Pairs SP, Ladies SP, 1000.


Friday, 21 October 2011

The opening events of the 2011-12 Grand Prix met with tepid interest in southern California with the start of Skate America.  An audience made up mostly of the local skating community was on hand for the Men's Short Program and the Ice Dance Short Dance.

Czech Michal Brezina stepped out to a 8.39 point lead with a meticulous well skated performance.  Essentially tied for second place are four skaters with 70.03 to 70.69 points. Richard Dornbush was the best placing American competitor in fifth place with 70.03 points.

In the Ice Dance competition Meryl Davis & Charlie White lead with 80.33 after the SHort Dance, leaving Nathalie Pechelat & Fabian Bourzat in their dust.  The Short Dance this year is Latin themed, with the Rhumba the pattern dance steps that are incorporated into the Short Dance required elements.

Thus far this season, the incorporation of the pattern dance elements into the Short Dance seems more natural than last year and the flow of the choreography in the programs smoother and more integrated.  But something is still missing.  Compared with two seasons past, the life has been taken out of the routines, which formerly were each unique artistic experiences, many with creativity and passion that is now a n the decline.  The new dance format has brought to the Short Dance the same uniformity and repetition that has also become the norm in the other disciplines of skating.

Unofficial attendance;  Men's SP, 1000; Dance SD, 700

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