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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Ennio Morricone and figure skating

Ennio Morricone finally won an Oscar at this year's Academy Awards - it's about half a century overdue, but nice to see the maestro finally recognized with a competitive award (to go along with his lifetime achievement one). Morricone has had an amazingly prolific career, spanning decades and films genres. His compositions have proven very popular with skaters over the years - some more than others - and have provided fans with some memorable and entertaining skates. Here are a few that come to mind:

Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, Lady Caliph. Not only is it the best program to Morricone music, it's one of the best programs ever seen in skating. Perfection.

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, The Mission - the free skate from their breakthrough 2006-7 season.

Brian Joubert skated to Morricone scores for two years running: The Mission in 2001-2 and The Untouchables - probably a better choice for his skating style - in 2002-3.

The Shibutanis are among the many skaters who have skated to Cinema Paradiso. Their 2009 FD at Junior Worlds was my first time seeing them skate, and I was quite impressed.

After switching from representing France to skating for Italy, Samuel Contesti decided to star in an on-ice spaghetti western. I feel that points should be deducted for throwing Cotton-Eyed Joe into the mix.

In 2012-13, Kiira Korpi skated to Once Upon in America (in a gorgeous dress, as always).

And finally, this year's crop of Morricone programs includes Federica Testa/Lukas Csolley's free dance, which uses the Malena soundtrack.

Golden Skate has a very helpful index of program music (current/past), in which Morricone's work features prominently. Check it out for more Morricone goodness!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

My problem with Schindler's List programs

At first glance, it makes sense. A well-regarded, Oscar-winning movie. A beautiful and haunting score that lends itself to interpretation. It's easy to understand why so many skaters and choreographers have used the Schindler's List score for programs. I wish some of them hadn't.

Friday, January 29, 2016

That's entertainment: Deniss Vasiljevs, definitely!

Sometimes, watching Junior Worlds leads to excellent discoveries. Such was the case for me in 2014; never mind the medalists, I was was intrigued by the fourteen-year-old from Latvia. With creative spins and and a wonderfully engaging personality, Deniss Vasiljevs was a skater to watch.

Vasiljevs, 2014 edition 

Latvia does not have much in the way of skating tradition or high-level facilities, and Vasiljevs's talent outstripped what he can get in his home country, so he now splits his time between Latvia, France and Russia. Training away from the spotlight (and doing loads of shows and local tours) seems to have allowed Vasiljevs to go at his own rate, do what he likes, and create some truly original moves (did I mentioned those spins?). His 2015-16 programs are a great showcase for his abilities as a performer: a charming take on Puttin' on the Ritz to go along with the more serious Adagio from Tron (a repeat from last season). While Javier Fernandez, Patrick Chan and Daisuke Takahashi are his stated inspirations, there seems to be something rather Lambiel-like in his skating - definitely a welcome sight.

I'll even accept the voiceover

The judges aren't as suitably impressed as they should be, but surely it's just a matter of time, right?

It had better be.