Thoughts on Skate Canada 2014

If not for Javier Fernandez and Ashley Wagner, I’d say this competition was very… underwhelming.

Once again, we have a Russian guy in the top 5 and they don’t even show him skate.
The fact that they’re showing the women tells me that this isn’t just a political thing.
It’s the fact the Russian guys just aren’t as good.

Personally, I’m thinking the Sochi Olympics spoiled me. In the morning, they showed EVERYONE skate. No matter how good or bad they were.
In the case of the Grand Prix, everything is filmed a day or so in advance and severely edited down.

Hopefully the Russian guys will bring the goods in two weeks when they hold the Grand Prix in their home country.
And yeah, part of me is hoping that Plushenko will appear as a spectator and he’ll be mentioned SOMEWHERE in the commentary.

Meanwhile as I’m writing this, I’m seeing a lot of tweets he’s getting from his fans in Asia. Birthday tweets. 😎
I have one ready to go that’s half Russian, half English I’ll post tomorrow morning before work. Because if I wait until I get home, he’ll already be sleeping and won’t see it until the day after.

I’m starting to doubt that anything special will come out of it as I had hoped (I’m not the only one on Twitter with this idea), but it’s something I’d been looking forward to.
I’m not going to pretend, though, that it won’t be weird to start thinking of him as a 32-year old Russian figure skating legend. 31 is an age that’s been stuck in my head since February.

This takes me to the one Russian guy on the leaderboard.
I looked up Konstantin Menshov  His resume is not as impressive. He hadn’t skated for as many years and hadn’t placed in several of those competitions.
Watching his short program at Skate Canada, the powerful jumps are there, but I didn’t feel that spark.
The free skate was even less compelling. Maybe because I liked Artur Garinski so much last week that this feels underwhelming.
Another thing: I saw power. I saw some shaky landings in the free skate. And I saw very little artistry.

With figure skaters, I need to feel a spark for me to feel engaged. Doing the jumps is a big part of this, but I need to see the bits and pieces in between that ties it all together.

We opened the mens’ competition with Javier Fernandez’s short program. Within seconds, he had me. He had the charisma. He had that effortlessness. He made it so easy for me to like him (considering how much my heart connects with so few skaters, that is saying a lot). I felt nothing like this when I saw him at the Olympics. Think I was even rooting against him because I wanted so bad for Yuzuru Hanyu to win and for Jason Brown to at least get bronze (wasn’t even close but then, he didn’t have the Quad).

Max Aaron is a guy from Team USA I’d heard mentioned, but hadn’t seen skate before. I liked his music (Hans Zimmer’s “Gladiator” score), but I didn’t really like his skating. There was no connection or spark like I feel with Jason Brown or Jeremy Abbott. Maybe it’s a difference in style but more likely, it’s the fact I hadn’t seen him before and it takes me a while to warm up to new people.

The winner of the mens’ was another guy from Japan. He skated to “Phantom of the Opera,” landed all of his jumps and did well (I liked it better than Gracie Gold’s routine the other week). But he lacked the emotion I needed to really feel that connection to him. Takahito Mura.
I liked him a little more than Tatsuki Machida from last week, but Yuzuru is still my go-to guy from Japan. Cannot wait to see him again next week in China.

Some great quads from these guys. Everytime I see a quad salchow, I wonder if Plushenko ever did that. My gut says “no’… a) because as a triple, it’s his weakest jump and b) it, along with the lutz, was a jump he tried to make into a quad but hadn’t done so in competition.
…plus those two quads were partially respeonsible for his aggravated back injury.

All I can wonder now is how he would feel about this new rule: that lyrics are okay for music used for competitions.
“Je Suis Malade” is a favorite of his for Galas, so I believe he would be up for the challenge, but it may just depend on the situation.

As for the girls, we had a couple more Russian teenagers, but they only showed the girl who wound up taking gold.
Anna Pogorilaya skated to “Firebird” by Starvinsky, a piece of music that I saw someone from Japan skate to… I believe he medaled in an Olympics but cannot remember which one… Tatsuki Machida… and he didn’t medal.
I’m sorry there are SO MANY Japanese male skaters that it’s hard for me to keep track of all of them who are not named Yuzuru Hanyu 😛

But back to Anna Pogorilaya: she did nail all her jumps, but I was missing the connection with her and the music. I felt the same way last week with Elena Radionova. There was no passion or fire to me.
So again, I’m a little unhappy with the results because I was gunning for the girl that ultimately got second.

Last week it was Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who fit the bill of a skater I enjoy watching. Her program wasn’t as clean, but I loved her stage presence.
This week, it was Ashley Wagner. Not a clean program and not strong in the components score, but omg, I love seeing her skate. She skated to some music from “Moulin Rouge,” she looked gorgeous in her red dress with the rhinestone “necklace” studded on the neckline.

I guess this just proves that my tastes in figure skaters are very fickle. It’s just so hard trying to find balance between the skill and the artistry and it’s only my luck that my favorite figure skater has been able to do BOTH better than anyone could do them separately.

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