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?
I guess the current version of the IJS is not helping matters. The skaters and their coaches and choreographers have worked out how to get the points, and the programs, while often difficult and well-constructed, are becoming more and more similar. Yuzuru Hanyu is wonderfully talented, but his programs don’t do anything for me. I miss the rough around the edges Javier Fernandez; he’s much better now, but the programs, despite the difficult technical content, are uninspiring (I went through a similar experience with Shen and Zhao years ago). These two share a coach, and I cannot help but feel that they, and men’s skating in general, is becoming - for the lack of a better term - Canadianized. There have been and are some wonderful Canadian skaters, but this does not mean I would like everyone to skate like said Canadian skaters. Is this the Canadian influence in developing the IJS and later, in developing the concept of the ideal IJS skater? I really can’t say.
Meanwhile in pairs, watching Volosozhar and Trankov win with their crappy programs is no fun at all. Here we see another unfortunate influence on skating: Nikolai Morozov. Why should talented skaters like V/T, Florent Amodio and Ilinykh/Katsalapov bother with good material when they can get 9s for skating to mediocre (at best) or even offensive stuff that they do? Watching Savchenko and Szolkowy going through the motions is possibly worse; I can only hope that Ingo is saving his best for their final season. There are no Chinese pairs that can replace the top ones of the past, and the North American pairs put me to sleep. At least seeing Berton/Hotarek and James/Cipres move up the standings this season has been good. If Volosozhar/Trankov move on post-Sochi, which I assume they will, there may be hope yet. On the other hand, pairs skating without Aliona and Robin... it just won't be the same.
Crazy music cuts & good looking skaters for the win. Or at least for 4th place.
With ice dance, I have always had my ups and downs. I liked Anissina and Peizerat back in the day, checked out when Navka and Kostomarov were dominant, and returned after really enjoying the dance event at 2008 Worlds. I am now ready to check out again. Almost all the teams I liked are gone, and the one that remains, Pechalat/Bourzat, will never be allowed to challenge the Canton teams, both of which bore me (at least Virtue/Moir generally do so in an aesthetically pleasing way). The teams of the future are even less interesting, and the one lower-ranked team I’d had hopes for, Hurtado/Diaz, seems to have stalled.
The ladies are the one pleasant exception for me at the moment. Ladiezzzz were never my biggest interest, but I find this to be the one discipline in which there is a nice variety of programs and personal styles, and the occasional unexpected result. I can’t get behind Carolina Kostner’s programs this season, or that bizarre LP of Sotnikova's, but the ladies have been fairly enjoyable for the most part - or at least, unobjectionable. Maybe they can keep me watching?