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Friday, February 28, 2014

Grays Sports Almanac 2000-2050: Savchenko & Joubert (Pairs Team)

An unlikely match?
After Worlds 2014 and the retirement of Robin Szolkowy, Aliona Savchenko was actively
looking for a partner to continue her competitive skating career.

Brian Joubert, although having effectively retired from singles skating, had in the past often hinted at wanting to take up Pairs skating. After secret try outs in the summer of 2014, Aliona and Brian teamed up with the goal to make the podium at the 2018 Olympics.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

≠ The sum of its parts

Skating at its finest produces performances that can pass the Bolero test. These are the skates that make life easy for a judge: shower them with 6s (under the old system) or 10s and 3s (these days) and be glad that you were there for something special. Skating, when it's simply very good, produces highly accomplished and sometimes moving performances that also merit very high marks. The problem begins when a competition produces more than one great performance - or conversely, when it produces none. How does one compare skaters and performances whose strengths and weaknesses vary?

Making life easy for all involved

Monday, February 17, 2014

Olympic ladies event: dream podium candidates

I cannot be expected to deal with the ice dance results. I don't care if these were Bolero Test level performances, I wanted a different podium and I am not pleased. So let's move on to a potentially happier subject: the ladies! The nice things about the ladies are 1. they are not in a technical race like the men, so the events tend to be less messy 2. this means that they also have the opportunity to develop an individual style 3. many of the top ladies are veteran competitors, which I always approve 4. I like so many of them that there is bound to be something to be happy about...

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A memory of better times

The men's free skate yesterday was so underwhelming that I feel the need for a healthy dose of great and/or fun programs to make up for it. In the early days of SFT, I put together a roundup of such programs, but today I'll focus only on men's skating, since that is where there is a lot to make up for.

By popular demand: The LETDOWN-O-METER

When selecting pictures for the Olympic LETDOWN-O-Meter (the star indicating my current Olympic satisfaction), I didn't imagine, I'd ever have to change those polar opposites, which were so prototypical, they were almost absolute incarnations of what they were meant to represent. A week or so later, it seems, all I needed was some kind of perspective. Perspective very difficult to compute but still...

Sorry Dennis, you had a good
 free skate, but you are part of the podium.

Friday, February 14, 2014


We have a new Olympic champion and the Curse of the Canadians lives on. Take your bow, Yuzuru Hanyu - and congratulations for being the first Japanese man to win Olympic gold. Now please, four more years so that you can actually earn your gold with two great skates?

Alexei Yagudin, your legacy remains safe. Still the most inspiring 1-2 program punch to win Olympic gold by any man - in my lifetime, at least.

Sochi 2014 - Men Singles Short Program

Much to my surprise, especially after Plushy's WD, the Men's short turned out to be quite enjoyable. It had drama, melodrama, good performances, surprisingly good performances, good judging, bad judging. Overall, it could have been much worse. Let's look at 5 short programmes, which are, in my opinion, among the most interesting and/or best performances of today.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Old age should burn and rave... - Evgeni withdraws from the Singles event

No, no, no, no, no! It wasn't supposed to end like this. It simply wasn't. Alas, Evgeni has just withdrawn, shortly before his SP, right after the warm-up had ended.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sochi Tuesday - SFT struggling for a good story

Originally, this post was intended to continue our daily in-depth coverage of figure skating at the Sochi Olympics. However, as it turns out, nothing even remotely remarkable or news-worthy has happened in that regard, today.

In fact, leading scientists agree that the most surprising thing that happened on Sochi-Ice today, was the placing of this center guard stone, quite possibly to prevent the occurrence of a future take out. It was said that delivery and sweeping were of the most proficient kind and a true testament to the team's abilities.

Spot on!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Post Team Event Thoughts

The team event is over, the medals have just been awarded. What remains are very mixed feelings, with a sizebable quantum of skating fatigue starting to kick in.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Team Free - Plushenko wins the Men

Jason Brown, one of the few enjoyable things about the Men's.
This post gives me the opportunity to say something, I have been contemplating to say for quite some time:

I know, I have complained a couple of times in the past, but how the times have changed almost made me feel bad about it, so let me state officially: Canada is not the worst offender, when it comes to overscoring, not by far, it might still be in the top three, but it has found its equal in Japan and its superior in Russia, the latter showing at the last Cup of Russia in the Pairs how real inflation has to look.

Sochi Olympics: Even more Team Event SP

Advantage Davis and White. Experts say this is a stunning position.
Time is decidedly flying. Straight from the live stream to the rink, straight from the rink to SFT headquarters. Eat, sleep, rinse and repeat. After just those two days of Olympic skating, I feel the most inspired in a long time, and I was thusly compelled to indulge in both active and passive skating. As this portion of the event is practically old news by the time I'll have finished this post, I won't dwell too long on what transpired today.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Savchenko & Szolkowy change Short Program

The Pink Panther sneaks back onto the ice. I loved it!
German news report that Aljona and Robin are abandoning their When Winter Comes routine. The new short program will feature the music of The Pink Panther which they had previously used for their free program, during the 2010/11 season. The collaboration with André Rieu continues to remain somewhat problematic as his rendition of You'll never walk alone didn't make it onto Olympic Ice either. In 2010, after a couple of disappointing performances at the start of the season, S/S switched to a new program to Out of Africa.

Good luck to S/S. They will hopefully benefit from that move.

*ETA: Ingo Steuer is quoted hoping that the new short can increase their PCS by about 2 points.

Figure Skating Flagbearers - trivial trivia and a gallery

Javier Fernández of Spain.
Over the years, a lot more or less prominent figure skaters have been selected to carry their countries' flag during the parade of nations. Most people probably still remember Brian Orser being a flagbearer in 1988, or have at least seen pictures of it. Click "read more" to learn some exiting facts on figure skating and flag bearing. You won't regret it, and with all the knowledge you'll be sure to impress at the next tupperware party. (Pictures of this years' flagbearers appear in order of the parade of nations.)

Friday, February 7, 2014

For the first time ever...

The team event medals will likely be won by skating's usual powerhouses, and most of the individual ones as well. But one of the nicer things at the Olympics is seeing qualifiers from countries not normally associated with figure skating greatness. This time, a number of skaters became either the first the qualify an Olympic spot for their country, or the first to do so in a specific discipline. Maybe one day we'll see their countries participating in the team event, too? Until then...

Sochi Olympics: More Team Event SP

A puzzled Tigerman marveling at the scores.

If your Olympic day didn't start off with the Figure Skating Team event, it probably began with Mogul skiing. In case you were wondering, the name apparently derives from the Austrian "mugel" for "small hill". No, I didn't know that either. On to the team event, which offered lots of pleasing results, some good performances, and very few surprises.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Olympics, Day -1

The opening ceremony may not have taken place yet, but the first day of Olympic competition is in the books and went more or less as expected:

GB's Matthew Parr became the first skater to compete and the first one to be done in Sochi. It is hopefully a sign of things to come that Parr skated quite well and scored a new PB by some way.

On to the actual contenders in the men's event: Yuzuru Hanyu was Yuzuru Hanyu (the score was surprisingly muted for an Olympics - no 100s yet), Evgeni Plushenko and his bionic body landed everything, Patrick Chan was off-form, Jeremy Abbott succumbed to nerves and Florent Amodio wore a low cut top.

Over in the pairs, Volosozhar and Trankov were predictably good and received a predictable massive score - Team Russia have to be overwhelming favorites for the gold at this point. Duhamel and Radford looked great, with the exception of Meagan's unfortunate hair. Peng and Zhang did what Chinese pairs do: kick ass. The Italians were really good and the French, alas, were not.

Team spirit in the Kiss and Cry can't rival that of the World Team Trophy (not enough props), but Russian, Japan, Canada and Italy certainly gave it a good shot. I especially enjoyed the cuteness of Team Japan and the special appearance of the Russian legends (not you, N. Morozov) following Volosozhar and Trankov's SP. If only Italy had thought to do the same and bring in Barbara Fusar-Poli for some entertainment!

We all know that actual videos won't last three seconds on Youtube.

So, who will make it to the final? Who will win medals? We'll all be wiser on Saturday...

Happy Olympics, everyone!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Introducing: The LETDOWN-O-METER

A lot of things determine how enjoyable and satisfying the Olympics are. Performances and results being the major factors here. However, it's not all about your own favourites winning, or performing and placing well, it's also about not being totally at odds with all the overall results no matter what happens. And then there are those worst case scenarios that just can't ever be undone...