2014 Trophee Eric Bompard- Bordeaux France

For maybe the first time in the 9 months it’s been a thing, I found myself at odds with Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinksi’s commentary.
As much as I love all the extra comments on the skaters, things going on behind the scenes with their coaches, who they’re dealing with the competitive season, I felt like it wore on me today.
For one particular big reason that might just be my own fault 😛

I said last week how I was looking forward to the Cup of Russia, the Rostelecom Cup. For them to talk about the Russian figure skaters. Maybe focus some of the commentary on Evgeni Plushenko.
He was mentioned only one time last week.

This week, during Maxim Kovtun’s free skate, his name must have come up three times.

Thank God for YouTube or I’d still be having trouble with this.
The commentary from Johnny and Tara made it impossible for me to focus of Maxim’s free skate. I couldn’t get in the zone with him, something that frustrated me even more after the fact he won.

One thing I kinda hate about figure skating in general… is when the winner only wins because he skates the cleanest program and everyone else fell at least once.
Not the case at Sochi, clearly, since Denis Ten from Kazakstan was the cleanest skater of the three men that won medals. I guess it’s all about the level of the skating, all the components, artistry, finesse and so on.

So I watched Maxim’s programs on YouTube, which I did when he won a couple weeks ago with his free skate.
I even watched his gala performance, set to a cover of Prince’s “Kiss.”

The biggest question in figure skating right now is which male skater will take over for Evgeni Plushenko as the most dominant skater. So many people have looked at Maxim and today was the first time where I felt like the hype was warranted.
Granted, his “Bolero” short program wasn’t great. He fell twice and finished in 6th place.
But during his “Biogenesis” free skate, I saw something I don’t think I’d seen from any male skater at this point.

I saw TRANSITIONS. As the music changed, his presence on the ice changed. From serious and concentrated to free and fast… Dynamics and dimensions were two things I have praised Plushenko’s skating for and are two things that I haven’t seen in anyone else’s skating.
At least not in the men’s division. (I had seen that with Ashley Wagner and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, currently my two favorite female skaters)

Maxim is only 19 so he still has a lot of work ahead of him before he goes from being a good skater to a great skater. I finally found some of that faith I needed. And his gala wasn’t too bad either.

Denis Ten was leading going into the free skate. His first combination (the all-too familiar quadruple toe loop, triple toe loop) was SOLID, something I hadn’t been able to say about anyone but Plushenko. At least not so far this season. (Had Yuzuru been healthy at Skate China, I’m sure he would have had that same skill set)
But after nailing that combination, he fell and the rest of his program unraveled. I felt so bad for him, especially after starting so well between his short program and that first combination.

Tatsuki Machida fell in his program, but I saw glimmers of greatness in him. Johnny and Tara didn’t quite agree with me. Johnny especially was so down on him not being as solid as he was when he won Skate America. [Come to think of it, that’s probably worth watching again. I was still so in love with Yuzuru that my head wasn’t fully present for his Skate America free skate]

Konstantin Menshov, I had to revisit to see my thoughts on him previous to this… and had to relook at his age after realizing he’s still 31 and Plushenko recently turned 32. Throughout the commentary, they were talking about how a male skater at the age of 30 is like them being 90 going on 100… not the case with Plushenko, my friends.
His age does show occasionally, but I feel like some of his best skating has come in these past 5 years. It really is possible to peak later in your career. Johnny said that was true for him as well.
After watching both his programs (short and free skate), Konstantin just didn’t impress me. He had no spark and his jumps weren’t as tightly executed as I’d like them to be with skaters.

Two Americans competed and neither did well.
Adam Rippon, I’m seeing for the first time, so I already was at a disadvantage. Not forging that connection with him.
Richard Thornbush, I saw a few weeks ago, and raved about his Coldplay free skate. Sadly, today’s version wasn’t quite as solid. The 2nd half still compelled me and I was right there cheering him on, but he just wasn’t up to par with the others.

…now for the girls…

I got the most emotional when I watched Yulia Lipnitskaya. She skated beautifully to “Romeo & Juliet” and aside from her falling once, I was with her the entire time. I wanted terribly for her to do well, even though I believe I received intelligence beforehand (thanks a lot, Twitter, for that photo) that another Russian would beat her out for the top spot at the podium.
Again, Johnny & Tara’s commentary let me down. They were saying how they didn’t feel the same watching her skating as they did at Sochi. I disagreed. I felt everything and felt bad that she didn’t win.

Ashley Wagner also fell during her “Moulin Rouge” routine and I felt bad. She’s my favorite American skater (male or female) so I’m going to pull for her no matter what. I only hope that her stomach pains were only temporary and she’s feeling much better now. And as always, my fingers will be crossed that she makes it to the Grand Prix Final. Something that’s no longer guaranteed since she’s got 3rd when she needed 2nd.

Other girls I saw were Courtney Hicks (“Anna Karenina”) and Samantha Cesario (“Carmen”) from America… I connected with neither routine. And Mae Berenice Meite from France. Some of her spins were beautiful, but according to the marks, she’s not at the same level as many of the others competing.

Which just left Elena Radionova [Rod-ee-oh-niva… Russian is still tricky for me to grasp, especially when it goes beyond three syllables… I still don’t know how to pronounce the last name of my favorite female Russian skater, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva… still grasping how to even spell it].

Again, she was solid, but I didn’t feel that connection with her. I think it’s the pearls and jewels on her costume. They’re just way too distracting for me [Sorry, Johnny, I have to disagree with you again on those grounds].

Some good skating, yes, but overall today, I was pretty disappointed.
It’s even sadder that there’s only one grand prix left. Cup Japan next week. And I’ll likely have to catch it all on YouTube [may not have access to a TV until late Sunday]
But on the plus side, I’m only a week [plus 4 hours and 20 minutes] away from lifting my self-imposed ban from watching Plushenko’s old programs on YouTube 😛 Because I know for a fact that once I start again, it’ll be impossible for me to stop. And it’ll be even harder for me to watch anyone else skate since I’ll be focusing so much attention on him. As I had done a lot of since February when he first caught my attention.

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