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Thursday, January 31, 2013

From the Desk of Mr. Y. Speed: Letter of Circulation

Today, in this breviloquent letter of circulation, I want to tackle some minor issue that was reported to me. Because I stay in close proximity to the sport, I often talk with all kinds of officials. Recently, acquainted judges come and tell me the following: "Y.", they say, "we sometimes have problems with judging certain components. More specifically with the assessment of the Performance and Execution Component. How should we, for instance, determine the physical, emotional and intellectual involvement, good Y.?"

Monday, January 28, 2013

Skater Appreciation: The Champion of my Heart

The famous "Plushenko stare of a champion"
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva is the kind of skater I have been dying to see for a while. Ever since she made a name for herself on the junior circle, I have been a fan. Maybe it has more to do with the current state of skating than Liza herself because when I list the reasons why I love her so, it makes me all the more depressed for how alienating skating has become to the casual viewer.

I love Liza because;

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Skating and me: the ending of a beautiful friendship?

I had followed skating on and off since the early 1990s, but didn't really get into it until the midst of the SLC Olympic cycle. Back then, all I could really watch was Euros and Worlds, sometimes not even that (the 2000-1 season… only to be seen years later, on Youtube), and forum participation was still years away for me. If there were skating blogs, I was unaware of their existence, and Youtube was not yet around to catch up on what I’d missed. So when the usual round of post-Olympic retirements occurred, I had not yet become particularly attached to any specific skaters, and it was fine. There were new skaters to follow, and some of my then-favorites were still around.

But it’s a decade and more later. Only a handful of 6.0 era skaters remain (to the best of my knowledge, Brian Joubert, Evgeni Plushenko, Pang/Tong and Aliona Savchenko are the only active skaters who competed at SLC). Most of my favorites are either retired or cannot compete at the level where I'd like to see them, and after Sochi, none will remain. Unfortunately, I find that I just don't seem to care as much about the next generation of skaters, talented as some of them may be. I barely watched the European Championships, and much as I would like to blame Eurosport for its inexplicable fondness for the African Nations Cup, I did have other viewing options. The only program from Canadian Nationals I watched was Sandhu’s SP, and I doubt I’ll even try looking for anything from US Nationals. The way I’d been drifting away from skating really hit me when I first saw the starting orders/results page for Euros last week. Like many skating fans, seeing this page come up had always made me happy, as it meant an exciting new event was beginning. But this time, I felt nothing. What went wrong? Can I still find enough to care about to watch, let alone blog?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A very deserving European champion

Javier Fernandez, 2007:

2007 Worlds; I couldn't find one from his Euros debut 

Javier Fernandez, 2008 Europeans:

Javier Fernandez, today:

Fernandez's career and accomplishments are as persuasive an argument against minimum scores and other limits as I can think of. Competing against the best is so important for a skater's development, especially for those who come from countries that are not traditional skating powerhouses. If Fernandez hadn't been given the opportunity to do so back when he couldn't even qualify out of the SP - would he have made it this far?

Congratulations, Javi. This is a good thing for Spanish skating and a good thing for skating, period. I'll complain about the scoring some other time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2013 Euros Preview: The Pairs

Wednesday is usually my favourite day to go skating myself, mainly because the evening session is not as crowded as on weekends. With Euros being underway and me trying to catch a bit of live coverage here and there, the only thing that’s missing are some decent preview posts. Wanna see me cobbling together another last minute one? You’ve come to the right place!

2013 Euros Preview: Skating, the Universe and Everything

Over here at the secret SFT-headquarters, the week had started off pretty quietly. After the fleeting image that was last weekend's Canadian Nationals had vanished, our attention slowly shifted to more pressing matters. As we were sitting at our round table of skating-awesome, it suddenly dawned upon at least
one of us that a preview for the Europeans would somehow be in order. Putting our heads together, it became obvious that our enthusiasm oscillated between, "I actually don't like previews.", "I don't feel particularly inspired.", and "Huh?".

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Skater(s) appreciation: Nathalie Péchalat & Fabian Bourzat

I had hoped to put up this post to celebrate Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat winning their third consecutive European title, but unfortunately, this is no longer a possibility. But they're still awesome, so I'll post this anyway. Good luck to Pernelle Carron and Lloyd Jones, Team France's lone ice dance entry in Zagreb, and best wishes for a speedy recovery to Fabian!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Nathalie Péchalat & Fabian Bourzat withdraw from the 2013 Europeans

I'd hoped that Kiira Korpi would be the only skater to miss Euros, but this was not to be: Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat have withdrawn due to an injury to Fabian. According to this report (in French), they should be able to compete at Worlds. So, fingers crossed that he will have a speedy recovery and that they will be able to return in good form later this season.

It won't be the same without them...

I am a big fan of Péchalat and Bourzat and was looking forward to seeing them compete and win their third straight title... but now it looks like Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev have the inside track, or possibly Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (my own preference).

Hopefully Péchalat and Bourzat will be able to get no. 3 next season, in what will presumably be their final European Championships.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A fun tribute to a great invention

Today's Google Doodle celebrates a man whose invention is popular with many skating fans: to mark the 112th birthday of the late Frank Zamboni, Google offers a mini-game that allows users to drive a virtual Zamboni and pick up points, while dodging the occasional obstacle. It's very addictive!
My own tribute to the Zamboni, photographed at the 2010 Trophée Eric Bompard

Monday, January 14, 2013

Brian Joubert's adventures in figure skating: 2012-13 edition

Take a look at this video. Remember when this happened?


Less than a year ago, Brian Joubert defied expectations by skating two strong programs at the 2012 World Figure Skating Championships to finish 4th. Just a few weeks later, he finished third in the men's event at the World Team Trophy, trailing only Daisuke Takahashi and Patrick Chan. It seemed as though Joubert had finally gotten his career back on track after two difficult seasons, and was gearing up for one final run at the Olympics. But a combination of logistics, health problems, and other issues seems to have gotten him off-course once again.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

To skate or to stay healthy.. Surely, it is a no brainer.

The Alexei Yagudin fans out there might know of a documentary produced by Channel 1 from 2007 named Любовь, боль и лед (Love, Pain and Ice). This documentary was the first time I have heard about Alexei's long going hip problems and his subsequent hip replacement surgery. It's a great skating documentary but it is in Russian. Nevertheless, I'm also attaching the videos' word inscription to be found here, anyone interested can put the file in google translate and read it.

Love Pain and Ice Part 1

 Part 2
Part 3

Basically, Alexei talked in detail about how his degenerative hip bone affected his life quality. At the time, I thought I understood his difficulties and sympathised with a situation where you are constantly in pain and uncomfortable.

A few weeks ago, after suffering from a sudden bout of constant hip pain, I went to see a doctor. You see, I had a heavy fall as an (very) amateur adult skater in 2007 and since then had on again off again hip pain. So I went in to hear something about micro breaks or something similar but instead with an initial diagnosis of sacroiliitis,  I was shipped off to different departments for a differential with potential chronic autoimmune diseases. While waiting for results, I read about my potential prognosis. Constant and persistent life long pain was the first thing that jumped off the pages. Being in pain for days at that moment, I simply couldn't see how anyone can deal and go on living a normal life with something like this on a permanent basis. Suffice to say, I broke down.

My diagnosis since then has been indeterminate. I solely seem to be suffering from degenerative hip issues but more severe possibilities could not have been 100% ruled out. Oh and I have been told to not set foot on ice again. Now, having gone through hell for 10 days and only recently having stopped aching, my first thought was "How can I never skate again?". And I am just a very amateur skater. I am not a pro, I am not a top level competitor. But still..

When hearing about stories like Alexei, I always thought the price surely must not be worth it. And even if you are not completely broken like Alexei but seem to suffer from various chronic ailments like say Plushenko, surely you wouldn't think of going back to ice to compete while risking more permanent injuries. I simply couldn't understand it. But denial (or rejection) is a very potent aphrodisiac. Despite all the worries for your health, staying away from something you love is so difficult. I think there are skaters who skate because after a certain point they don't know anything else and there are those who simply must skate. Knowingly risking your health to skate & compete again is a non-issue for them. I think I kind of understand their motivation now. I think I might step on that ice again, even if only for one last time.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Book Club: Frozen Teardrop

Frozen Teardrop: The Tragedy and Triumph of Figure Skating's "Queen of Spin"
By Lucinda Ruh

Description: "Frozen Teardrop" is the autobiographical account of one of the most beloved and controversial personalities in the history of figure skating. In this straight-forward memoir, Lucinda Ruh takes her readers through the harsh and painful realities of the figure-skating world while exposing the never-before-released details of her own private pain and suffering which would ultimately turn this Guinness-listed international icon into a bed-ridden, suicidal, starved, agoraphobic and terrified young woman. "Frozen Teardrop" is a true-life tale of beauty, refinement, genius, and skill contrasted against the cut-throat starkness of world figure-skating competition in its bleakest, most tortuous, most mind-warping moments--as seen through the eyes of a developing young prodigy whose personal life would harbor its own menagerie of horrors, secrets, and personal violations.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Kiira Korpi will miss the 2013 Europeans

The Finnish media is reporting that 2012 silver medalist Kiira Korpi is suffering from inflammation in her Achilles tendon. Thus, she will have to miss the 2013 European Championships. Korpi missed Worlds last season due to injury and was not in the best of health prior to the 2012-13 Grand Prix Final, where she placed 4th.

One can only hope that she will recover quickly and be in good form at Worlds, and that this will not be the first of many WDs from Euros...

Get well soon, Kiira!

Source (Google Translate is our friend); also reported on FSU.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Connections, chemistry and on-ice relationships

In pairs and ice dance, there should be a connection and a relationship between the two partners. What kind of connection? Many fans expect to see a romantic or passionate connection, and indeed, there have been some wonderful programs that have showcased this sort of chemistry and relationship (whether real or fake) between the partners.

 Chemistry: when it works, it can be a beautiful thing

But what about other types of on-ice relationships?