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Friday, January 17, 2014

2014 Europeans: The Gentlemen's Short Programme

2nd Day of the European Championships. Jump right in with me for some random thoughts (maybe even SP related) on skaters who are in the Top Ten after the Short Programme. If I do not comment on a skater, it's not reflective of their performance but rather a sign of my laziness.

1st: Javier Fernandez .  I'm always secretly ranting about skaters stopping to progress or staying in one choreographic comfort zone forever. While Javier sometimes seems a little stiff in his movements, he has constantly improved since he came onto the elite scene and has skated a variety of different programmes and pieces of music. He had some problems in the early season but skated a flawless performance today. Satan takes a Holiday, it's a good programme for him (yes, even with the costume), with lots of references to the famous routine by Robin Cousins. Javier could maybe perform this a little more to the crowd, but this season has lots of pressure and not everyone is a 2nd Florent Amodio, which is good the way it is. Well done!

A bit of a surprise 2nd: Sergei Voronov.

In 3rd: Tomas Verner, a sentimental favourite and my favourite skater for a considerable time. He has had a promising early season that saw him winning a couple B-Internationals with clean no-pop performances. He botched the quad but other than that it was fine. I was never crazy about the Banjo-Western SP (It may sound like I'm hard to please these days), neither the choreo nor the costume nor... But he did a fine job here and the step sequence seemed better and more lively than at the beginning of the season and was pretty enjoyable. A bit underscored in the PCS department, maybe?

4th: Maxim Kovtun. The 2 quads in the short give him an amazing point advantage if the can execute both of them. Had he not doubled the toe loop and thus takem a 10 point hit in the technical department, he would almost surely sit in the lead now. The choreography doesn't really push me off the chair, neither does the interpretation, but in addition to being a good jumper, he has good spins.

5th: Michal Brezina. The jumps were all there, but the programme feels empty and pointless, and you know from the beginning it's going to be that inevitable build-up to a final totally frantic step sequence, which even the most frantic skaters might not be able to adequately wind mill trough. if there's is anything much to interpret. While I enjoy the In the Hall of  the Mountain King as well as anybody, it doesn't lend itself to a very nuanced interpretation.

While the structure of his Kodo drums SP was not much different, the whole programme worked a lot better for him and was a much nicer backdrop to his elements and more fitting to his style. I wish he and his team would put a little more effort into his choreography and the further development of his overall skating. When he first came onto the scene, he looked strong in all areas and really promising for his age, but, at least to me, it seems, he has not improved very much since then, or progressed as much as he could have. His triple axels, no doubt, are among the best.With all the elements there, this was still a very good short for Mr. Brezina and it puts him within reach of a possible 2nd medal.

6th: Alexander Majorov.

In 7th place: Florent Amodio, with one of his better programmes. Those that start with reeling of some jumps to a  slower and more lyrical music backdrop, before he starts hamming it up in staccato fashion. And it's no variation on the Tigerman theme. It did score a wee bit lower than I would have expected, even with the triple-double combo and the zero points botched spin. I was pleasantly surprised he had no excessive pausing sections and all in all it was a watchable performance. I wish he would expand his repertoire and venture into different choreographic territory in the future. Skaters that are that comfortable with and like performing and have good skills on top of it are not that common. Skaters that stick to one style only and stop progressing, however, are very common. With all the retirements after this season, I need an original and rejuvenated Amodio to keep me interested in the sport.

8th: Peter Liebers. Everything but the quad was there in his Coldplay routine. A somewhat more subdued performer, but underrated and underscored in most of the PCS categories. In general and today. Especially, when I look at some of the higher placed skaters with supposedly better skating skills, interpretation and choreography. Ok, the costume did him no favours. I know the piece is called The Clocks but that is what the costume designer came up with, really? Maybe he could ask Brian for his Pink Floyd Time costume? Still, one of the best programmes of today. If you agree leave a comment, if you disagree leave a comment and explain yourself.

9th: Brian Joubert, with a new short programme, which reminded me a bit of his Blue Man Group SP from 2004/2005. Although, after rewatching that one, I honestly can't say why.

After mistakes on the quadruple toe and triple axel, we saw him execute a triple lutz-triple toe combo. Has he ever done that before? How many 3-3 combos (not including axels) has he done in the last 5 years, anyway? Has Brian finally learned to adjust the layout on the fly or can we assume that Morozov had the good sense to chose that very layout in advance and ingrain it in Brian's mind? All those years, we waited for that 3-3 late in the short and a fortnight with Nikolai Morozov could have fixed it, all along?

Whatever the case, Brian actually got away with a rather decent score, despite his mistakes on jumps and his major problems on spins. The new short looks good enough for him. It borrows heavily from some other earlier Brian work, but that's to be expected and not necessarily a bad thing. Apparently, he'll be back training with N. Morozov soon, who has already a new freeskate up his sleeve.

10th: Jorik Hendrickx.

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