The ice dance results in the Grand Prix series were so egregious it seems (almost) pointless to do more than acknowledge this, while moving on to national championships and worlds. It was demoralizing to watch strong skates vis a vis numerous slow, "meh" skates as they were competed, knowing the irrelevance of performance to the outcome.We'll see how it shakes down in the Grand Prix Final for the teams that were gifted with a berth, and by that I mean, which teams are in favour enough to stand on the second and third tiers of the podium.We all know it's in the bag for Papadakis and Cizeron. Prior to TEB, P.J. Kwong demonstrated that, unlike last season, not everybody following figure skating got this season's memo:
This is a dance team that has been slowly improving under the radar. I like what I saw in Barrie in October and they followed it up with a win against world champions Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte at their first Grand Prix. I wouldn’t have thought necessarily they would qualify for the Grand Prix Final if you had asked me in September. This weekend will tell the tale.Wait - Papadakis and Cizeron are not the second coming of Virtue Moir, only better? P.J., what have you been doing, looking at the skating? You know better. Last season, you proactively lectured others not to do that. Don't be a hypocrite.
Grand Prix Final?! Grand Prix and World gold. A notch below them will be Weaver Poje, then we'll see which of Chock Bates or Gilles Poirier round things out. Poirier is the only good skater of the four - will that count, or is the ISU all about the big tent?
The scoring this season so far is nearly as revolting as it was last season, with the sole mitigating factor that last season, the greatest ice dancers of all time, who delivered the greatest set of competitive performances of all time, when it counted, in the Grand Prix Final and the Olympics, were fucked over for one of the worst teams of figure skaters, let alone ice dancers, to stand atop any podium anywhere. So bad that the guy on the gold medal-wearing team ducked the question of whether he knew he'd skated a gold medal-winning performance, drawing our attention instead to the real reason they got gold handed to them, namely, the many people who were promised a return on their investment.
This year, it's merely a bunch of wonderful ice dancers really doing it getting thrown under the bus so skaters wheeled around the ice by their partners can dominate. It's merely stuff like Tanith Belbin inaccurately throwing shade at Alexandra Paul for getting dragged around by her partner. Setting Tanith's Charlie Meryl hypocrisy aside, that was pretty rich coming from Ben Agosto's human travel blanky.*
P&C are this season's golden children. P.J. needs to get on board.
Dylan Moscovitch is once again fully funded. 18k for the season. Go you, Mike Slipchuk, for retroactively nominating Moscovitch per AAP guidelines. It's nice to see someone at Skate Canada doing their real job. It's so rare, and from Slipchuk not least of all. Put the prize money for winning Warsaw Cup on top of that, and maybe Dylan's depleted savings account can stop circling the drain for a minute.Thanks,Tessa and Scott, for declining the remaining balance of your funding this season despite being entitled to it for no reason whatsoever in Sport Canada's policy guidelines, so teammates like Dylan could benefit.* This is the sort of generosity that's won you your class act reputation.
Which brings me to the thing I've been watching with my eyes open, while watching ice dance through my fingers: Pairs.
The gif of this element, which MTM2 performed at Trophee Eric Bompard, shows that the side of Marinaro's pivot foot skating boot hit the ice first, then he drags it in, turning his foot over to plant the toe pick. This follows his performance in Skate Canada's short program where he re-set the pivot toe-pick and lost all credit for the element.
I'm sure Marinaro has done some very nice death spirals, but two different technical errors happening in the same element two competitions in a row don't feel like one of those "what the hell was that" mistakes that happen to the best skaters around from time to time. It's not a missed connection or a lapse in concentration where his balance abruptly fails.There's no pivot foot weirdness that should happen because your partner is new.This is a pair boy whose technique is not secure. He's the same age as Kirsten. It's not as if she plucked him out of novice. Michael Marinaro started with his previous partner in 2007, and had another partner before that.
I write off stuff such as clumsy lifts, because I've seen a few new pairs struggle there. Splatting on a throw or lurching forward on a landing are issues that happen to the best pairs teams in the world.
It's weird though, when a guy "forgets" that he's supposed to rotate the exit of a lift, or quits skating for a second so he can look at his feet and line himself up properly behind his partner mid-performance. The team wrote everything off as uncharacteristic, but that's some weird stuff. What is preferable, making the same mistake over and over, struggling to master the problem, or finding new ones? His technical issue might be between the ears.
I made incredible fun of Sebastien Wolfe and Jessica Dube, but my focus was more on Jessica's lack of confidence in Sebastien, who didn't appear to have the compensatory bent she was accustomed to with Bryce Davison. He didn't skate with her as well as Bryce had, didn't accommodate her quirks, such as only semi-carrying her own weight. Wolfe's own basic pairs skills seemed solid.
Partner switching is where I sometimes enjoy projecting soap opera dynamics onto what is fundamentally just normal, strategic, athletic ambition. Athletes in other sports routinely join other organizations, find new partners, or end what appears to be a beneficial association. While I certainly never wished for Michelle Kwan to tank another Olympics after her split from the endearing Frank Carroll, I did enjoy Jessica Dube dangling off Sebastien Wolfe's back like a Christmas ornament. I excuse myself for these reactions, as figure skating has spent the past three years telling us the actual skating is too complicated even for the "professionals" who report on it, so we fans best just focus on the personalities instead. Being judge-y about partner splits is one way I can join the mainstream.
(In that regard, Elena Ilinykh must be feeling pretty good right now, at least as far as her new partner's performance in the paso doble at the Rostelecom Cup Grand Prix goes. Not so much the free dance for the two of them. But, she's still solidly ahead on karma points vis a vis Nikita Kasparov.)
Still, more of interest to me is the fate of Moore Towers Marinaro vis a vis Iliushechkina Moscovitch. The soap opera component is encapsulated here:
|Dylan dumped for a trophy wife.|
At the Warsaw Cup, Lubov Iliushechkina two-footed all of her triple jumps and touched the ice with her free foot or a hand in two out of three throw triples, while the lifts, twist, spins, and most of all, skating skills, were spectacular. Dylan's skating was wonderful throughout, although it's about time he dropped his arms for the twist. She gets plenty of air.
It appears to me the technique and athletic ability is there in the throws, and we'll see consistent, clean throws sooner, rather than later. But, if the Iliushechkina/Gordeeva comparison holds true for triple jumps as much as it does with the good stuff, that's going to be the fly in ointment of the who laughs last, laughs best narrative I'm hoping to witness.
The general fsuniverse discussion that took place when the Moore Towers Moscovitch split was first announced was the usual skating-savvy, fsu eye-opener, replete with comparisons of Kirsten to Aliona Savchenko, thoughts that Amelie Lacoste and Margaret Purdy! would be wonderful partners for Dylan Moscovitch, and a consensus that if you want to compete in Olympics 2022, you really do need an eight year head start to gel. Sure. Let's look at all the pairs for whom that eight year lead time was a big help. Moore-Towers Moscovitch. Valosozhar Trankov. Duhamel Radford, Stolbova Klimov, and more. If I were Kirsten, I'd absolutely be looking to peak at age 29, using the coming quad as my growth cycle.
*Not quite fair, but you get the point.
**"could have gotten away with it" is not the same thing.