Tuesday, March 25, 2008

NO! YOU ARE NOT TOO OLD



Get Hooked On Figure Skating

You are never too old to figure skate, however if your thinking about making it to the Olympic games there may be some concern depending with the age in question. Skating can be a relaxing and an enjoyable pastime for young and old alike. However, the sport of figure skating involves a lot of stamina, flexibility and strength. If the aim is to compete at international or world standards then really the sooner you can get onto the ice the better. Then, stop commiserating about your age. Are you back from the rink yet? Figure skating is an enjoyable way to get fit and have a lot of fun as well. It is freedom. It is exciting. Anyone at any age can enjoy figure skating.

Even if you have not started young, don't despair! With determination, the right attitude and the will to succeed, anything is possible. If you would like to give figure skating a try, enrolling in group lessons would be a smart move. It’s great to get instant feed back. The best thing is to have fun and be safe.

Basic figure skating moves can be equally easy and difficult to master. There are off days as well as good ones. With lots of practice, it is possible to become quite accomplished. If you wish to learn figure skating at a competitive level then it is important that you get a coach that you can trust, one that you can work with.

I am telling you this once and for all: There is no such thing as too old for figure skating. Ninety percent of figure skating is passion and determination which translate in how much time you spend on the ice.

If you are continuously thinking about it, or finding ways to improve yourself, reading about it, watching the competition umpteenth time on your Tvo over and over thinking, watching so much, somehow, those elements will transmit into your body. If you find yourself wanting to be at the rink at every waking moment to practice, then you are NOT TOO OLD.

You need the right combinations: perseverance, determination, and passion, you will need those especially when you are having an off day. Those days do appear at times. That is when you will go home angry, and frustrated, because you were doing fine and all of a sudden there is a glitch.
However, the next day, you lace your skates up and back for more. SO NO ONE IS EVER TOO OLD FOR ANYTHING, especially if you have determination, desire, and passion.

The sense of achievement will give a tremendous boost to your ego. The main thing is to enjoy your moments on the ice. After all that is why you are there isn't it? I always believe that if you are doing something that you are truly enjoying then you are going to want to improve your skills to get the most out of it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

HEEEEEEEEERE IS JOHNNY...


GIVE JOHNNY HIS “PROPS”

Apparently Johnny Weir has skated a flawless short program at the World Figure Skating Championships in Gotebord, Sweden, on Friday, while the past two title winners, Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland and Brian Joubert of France, fumbled or fell. Just when his fans thought he was exploited by the new scoring system, Johnny has produced an otherwise flawless routine to win the bronze, combining with Carriere tenth place finish, giving the US three spots to next year’s world’s championships.

Weir, the three-time U.S. champion, needed to be at his best to stay among the medal contenders Friday, that he did. He is a first rate, smooth extremely talented skater. His individuality and fearlessness are an inspiration. Johnny Weir is a wonderful skater and he will continue to improve Since Zmievskaya and Petrenko would not be baby-sitting him. He has proven himself to be, mature, gracious and a skater who can challenge on a world level. Johnny Weir likes controversy. He likes drama. He's never boring. However, this season, he seems different , he is more focused and consistent. The new coaching of Galina Zmievskaya, and Petrenko seem to have work wonders for Johnny.

Weir scored big wins at the Cup of China and Cup of Russia, defeating two-time world champion St├ęphane Lambiel of Switzerland both times. He was magnificent at the U.S. nationals That being said, with the men the final event at World , Weir can finally get back his respect.

Johnny was phenomenal this year. He pursued his dream and proved that he has the talent and artistry to be a winner. He certainly has it to be the champion and is wonderful to watch as well. He is very artistic. Johnny Weir is infinitely interesting to watch..

Meanwhile, despite the change, some of the “old” johnny keep making a comeback. The quote bellow reinforces this view:
"As much as I would love to say that I think it's the most important thing for the U.S. to have three spots for men, it's not the most important thing for me. Even if we have one spot, as long as it's mine, I don't care," ..."(CAM COLE, Canwest News Service March 22, 2008 )
This is a free country. Everyone is entitled to his /her opinion; however the USFSA judging from the way Johnny has been treated does not seem to allow him this unalienable right. Apparently, they feel that Johnny should walk to their own drums. They probably hope that he grows up a bit and understands that while he is certainly entitled to his opinions, it wouldn't hurt to show some conformity.

Johnny Weir has proven to be gracious in winning and in defeat. He stands head and shoulders above his critics. He is is a great skater and he should be treated with respect. He should be admired for his individuality as well as his skating talent.

I am as happy as a bug in a rug!

Figure Skating has been saved!

THANK YOU JOHNNY!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A MONUMENTAL MOMENT FOR KIMMIE



A Second Chance Well Deserved


I have become accustomed enough with the new judging system to know not to be quick on pulling out the drums and cymbals after the short program. Yet I am reading several headlines citing Kostner Leads Worlds, Meissner in Ninth, or Rochette in the running for a medal, I find this premature ovation give the athletes and the fans a false sens of security. Life seems pretty good when you are on top. However, the short program, is sometimes a question mark. Any way you slice it, the long program is more definite. Don’t get me wrong, even when it is done for Meissner, Hughes, Lysacek, or Weir I find it a bit untimely. Now with this intense competition, it does not help at all. As a matter of fact, it adds to the already charged atmosphere. A succession of small errors can result in less than perfect performances

To every rule there is an exception. I had felt a bit cocky during Nationals, thinking, in the new judging system, what goes up usually comes down. It wasn’t the case this time. With the US (2008) Championships, the code of point system I thought, would allow my favorite athlete to revamp and come back with a vengeance, she has done it so may times in the past. However it was not the case. This has help me see that any margin of a lead a skater captures in the short definitely can help to act as a bit of a security net for them in the free. Regardless of that event, I still stand by my views that this new system is more of a jumping contest, and it has caused figure skating to lose its heart and soul. Today's up and coming younger athletes are trained to be jumping beans, and figure skating isn't just jumps. It is art on ice; you have to “caress” the ice as coined by the famous Dick Button. Artistry is most of program.

There are so many ups and downs in figure skating, Meissner knows about all of them. On and off the ice. After two lackluster performances at the Grand Prix Finals and the US Nationals in which she finished 6th and seventh respectively, Kimmie has gone from rising star to skating flop. She switched coaches, leaving longtime coach Pam Gregory to join Richard Callahan. Suddenly, Meissner was a force again.

At the US Championships, Meissner was overtaken by nerves, fell three times on three of her jumps, and was seventh place after the free program. After the Grand Prix Finals and the US Nationals, she was given such a hard time by the media, tonight she came back strong.

Kimmie is a gracious winner and she embraces losing graciously as well. She turns every lost, every mistakes into a learning experience and that has gone a long way. She had finished last in the Grand Prix Final in December. It was not but six weeks ago, the 18-year-old Bel Air finished a disappointing seventh at the U.S. Nationals. Her task was not be easy Kimmie had to make-up a lot of ground at the World Figure Skating Championships tonight. And the hard work and determination pays off. I am quite sure Kimmie has gained a lot from this experience, good or bad. “Yeah you’re hot”

The women's free skate is not the last event of the world championships the men’s event will follow.

SOUR GRAPES


...OR DOWN RIGHT CHEATING

The purpose of the new judging system was to eliminate cheating especially after that debacle at the Olympics concerning Peltier and Salle; however since the US dance team suffered a fall at World, and according to some reporters, the team was not penalized harshly enough. And now, the Canadian pair team who won the bronze feels something went awry with their score, resulting in some Canadian newspapers screaming foul play.

According to thestar.com/Sports/article/347632,(The Toronto Star march 2008) The judges merely Skillful, subtle handled the situation by giving the couple a mandatory deduction and yet granted them enough points to at least keep them in the hunt. And no one is the wiser. This is a grave accusation, Mr. Ciquanta. According to the paper in question, they (Belbin&Agosto) were not “whacked” enough, despite the almost unthinkable fluke in their routine. While their Canadian team mate Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir feel sympathetic that the Americans didn't have their best skate, The Toronto Star is alluding that the reformed scoring system that was supposed to stop that kind of fraudulent, illegal, deceitful act failed.

However, the accusations did not stop there. After the pairs’ free skate in which the Canadians have earned the bronze medal, the same tabloid is screaming foul play once again. According to Rosie Dimanno, the sport columnist for the Toronto Star, Dube&Davidson were the best performers on the ice, they had the cleanest, nearly flawless skate, they had the loudest applause.

But despite all of this phenomenal performance, the gold, according to Dimanno went to the “rattled, sloppy and disgracefully German tandem of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy.” Ms Dimanno feels that the pair’s“side-by-side falls on triple Salchow, a blooped opening combination and a death spiral on its deathbed.” They did not merit the honor of the Gold medal. Canada deserved it far more. According to her, their performance was flawless.

Apparently, Ms Dimanno has the upper hand. She their witnessing all of this, and I am confined to the electronic prints that my PC has granted me until I get to see for my self the real thing on the big tube. Until then, I have to rely to sour grapes, to second hand reporting.

However if it is true, there were cheating involved, it will only prove that most of us have been right all along; that is, there was nothing wrong with the old system. It can only be hope that the problem if there is any is fixed; or better yet, it can be used as a catalyst to bring back a more refined version of the 6.0 which will eliminate the cookie cutter programs brought by the Code Of Point system. Bring back art in figure skating; and leave the jumping (contest)jacks for the play yard.

I will go as far as saying this reporter has some sour grapes. Apparently, she is the only one with a grievance. I will draw my own conclusion once I watch it on TV. I am almost sure if there were shenanigans at the Championships, the media, including the fans will call foul!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Scapegoat



It's the Name of the Game

According to Blades On Ice Magazine March and April Issue, Japan’s Miki Ando will undergo surgery on her right shoulder at the end of this skating season. She has been complaining about shoulder pain since Skate America and had attributed her performance or lack there of as a result of the injury. She had dislocated her right shoulder during a skate at Japanese Nationals and has continued to skate despite the injury.

I don’t want to be callous, however, the question remains: should we attribute her lackluster performance this season because of the injury? I remember an interview Johnny Weir had with one of the sportcasters when he had withdrawn from the Grand Prix Final Last year (2007) and how he was being criticized for being full of excuses. According to Mr. Weir everyone is about excuses when the situation is not to their benefit.

I can almost guarantee that if Ando was having a good season we would not have heard so much about the dislocated shoulder which by the way she had skated with the entire season. Speaking about excuses, Meissner had been nursing a sprained ankle prior to the Grand Prix Finals. She had not mentioned it. Pam, her former coach, had brought it to the media’s attention. I am going to go on a limb and attribute Meissner not so great performances to that sprained ankle.

Some of you reading this may see my point, while others might think “how rude” and hard and unsympathetic of me to even think this way. The truth is everyone is about excuses especially when circumstances are not in their favor.

EXPECTATIONS!



Kimmie's not the favorite... but that still doesn't make it easy

As far as expectations, I have the highest for Kimmie. As a matter of fact, only Kimmie and her family's expectations can overcome mine. While everyone is looking for her to win ( my objective as well), my main concern is for to to go and skate two clean programs and the rest will take care of itself.

Too many people are caught up in the outcome of 2009, and 2010, and placements. While this is very important, we should be thinking about the immediate issue at hand; that is for this young lady to devoid of all the pressure being imposed on her and go out there, be herself and deliver two strong programs. I have faith in her, I am quite sure she can do it, and SHE WILL!.

Kimmie is smart, poised and confident. SHE WILL DELIVER!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sasha Cohen 2010?


Chew On This

Sasha Cohen has earned the silver medal at the 2006 Winter Games, The media’s question remains: Will the figure skater be back in 2010? Sasha Cohen won’t say whether or not if she has permanently retired from competition. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Sasha is one of the best figure skaters I have ever seen, she interacts with her audience, when she skates, it is like watching a ballerina on ice. Sasha truly loves this sport. She is one of the most beautiful skaters in the world. If she ever gets over the curse of falling during the free skate that would make her one of the best, if not the best, skater in the world now that Michelle is not in the picture. Can she pull it off in 2010? That remains to be seen.

This sport, with the new code of points system, is being restricted to the prepubescent teens. As a result of the countless of jumps that have to be implemented, you might as well call it a “jumping contest.” As a parent, sometimes I worry about the aggravation those youngsters’ bodies are being put through. I wonder how Tara Lipinski (and her replacement hip) feels about this new judging system. The sport is sorely canted toward non-menstruating “girls.” Sasha has enjoyed an incredible skating career and the number of medals she has earned is a testament to that.

Sasha is an unbelievable skater; however, Cohen realizes her weaknesses. Unfortunately, she has a habit of not being able to skate two clean performances when under pressure. What I see is a skater who needs to do a self evaluation, and analyzed her skating based on the current scoring system and those prepubescent jumping beams and decided wether she needs to put her twenty some odd year-old body through this unrealistic “dream.” She would really have to work on her technical elements. With the new scoring system her technical elements must be solid and hers are not. She is very artistic. In this scoring system, jumps trump art.

Cohen's strength is her artistic ability. She is an awesome skater. She is a brilliant skater. Her moves are beautiful, gorgeous and the commentators are always in awe of her when she appears to be “on”; that is when Cohen stops falling. The question is WHEN! . As Dick Button would say “When is she on.” I still maintain that Sasha should stick with skating as a professional or with acting at the very least. Sasha has given me so much pleasure in watching her skate. I see the younger skaters in their jumping contest, now, it is not the same. Sasha skates with grace and elegance. I can watch her skate for a long time.

The prepubescent teens can consistently execute the moves for the big scores, yet paradoxically they can't compete internationally because they're too young! I found the "babies" who competed at the US Nationals, to be boring little jumping machines. They can jump, but where is the artistry, they are not polished, and I don't think they will have such an impact on figure skating until they have developed some artistry and elegance other than jumping.

Change the scoring system. Ditch the crooked judges, bring back the 6.0 system, in order to reward something other than mechanics and physics, and let's see maturity and elegance out there!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Weir Accepts US Championships Results, But His Fans Deny Them.


Johnny Has No Regrets

After two not so great seasons, Weir, the three times US Champion was determined to turn heads. Turn heads, but he did after two wins at Cup of Russia and Cup of China. With dazzling free skates at the US Championships, the skating genius made an attempt at regaining his crown but Lysacek defeated Weir as a result of a tiebreaker by a hundredth of a point.

While Johnny is satisfied with the results, by saying:

“First place, second place, last place, I’m just happy with the way that I skated . . . It’s really a vindication to know that I came back and didn’t completely fall apart” (Johnny Weir An Elegant Redemption. By Kathleen Bangs International figure Skating Apr. 2008),
the fans are buzzing with concerns. They feel that Weir is deserving of the title this year.

There were some concerns about the way fractions of points were rounded off by the computer that was fed scores by the judges. It was suggested that Weir would be declared the winner instead of Lysacek, had the points been rounded differently. Many fans feel the steps in calculating the program component scores for the free skate are an issue that needs to be resolved as a result. Weir’s fans conclude that, had the scores been computed correctly, Weir would have regained his crown.

According to some commentators, there is nothing vague about the scoring system. It is straightforward calculation. Some fans even feel that Johnny’s habits of not keeping his remarks at bay may have been another reason for losing to Evan, and others feel the skating federation wants "cookie cutter" skaters who say nice things and say what the federation wants them to say.

So, did the wrong guy win the US figure skating title in St. Paul? It all depends on who you ask. If you read the International Skating Union's guidelines, Johnny Weir should have dethroned Evan instead of losing on a tiebreaker when their scores deadlocked at 244.77. Weir's supporters and some mathematically-inclined fans agree.
Some of Weir's supporters feel that Johnny's capabilities are being dismissed while those who are biassed to Evan are buying into the USFS party line about Evan being the great hope because his image is more "masculine" .

To those fans, Weir beat Lysacek at Cup of China this year and actually beat him by 01 point at Nationals despite a computer scoring error which USFS refuses to acknowledge. They fey that the score incorrectly increased Lysacek's free skate score by .01 and as a result it became a tie. So Lysacek was given the gold in a regulations tiebreaker. According to some fans, Weir's programs are better choreographed, and when he is scored by international judges who are not under the influence of USFS and their bias tendencies for Lysacek, he has the upper hand.

Weir scored epic wins at the Cup of China and Cup of Russia, defeating two-time world champion St├ęphane Lambiel of Switzerland both times. Weir was magnificent at the U.S. nationals despite finishing second to archrival Evan Lysacek. Probably if Weir had just thrown in a double toe loop at the end of his triple lutz combination, he might have won his fourth crown. In any case, it's too late to do anything about it now, since the rules state that the results are final as soon as the medals are awarded. Weir himself is “ok” with the outcome.

I love them both, While I do feel this season could have been different, all in all, Johnny and Evan gave us the "skate" "we"(the fans) desperately yearned.

Now that Evan has withdrawn from Worlds, it will not be the same jaw tightening, couch gripping, breath holding experience as I was hoping it would be.

The Ladies' event is another story. I may need to be restrained!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SEE YOU ON THE PODIUM


Show The "World" What You're Made Of Kimmie

2006 World champion Kimberly Claire Meissner has nothing to lose at the world figure-skating championships, which will begin next week in Gothenburg, Sweden. She is not the hunted. She is the hunter.

Hopefully Kimmie has learned something valuable during this season. That is, not to let the pressure get the best of her. I have read articles in which she has declared that she feels no pressure, I hope you really feel no pressure Kimmie, because the press has bestowed it on you.

As you leave for The World Championchips I would like to leave you with the following:

"BE SELFISH"!

Shut down all previous performances.
Don’t let the audience reaction to a performance prior to yours get in the way of your own.

Be confident in knowing you can put down a solid performance.
Don’t get nervous, it will take away from your ability to perform the way you can,
which is your best.

You are in striking position for gold at the worlds this year. You can pull an upset. You have done it before. You have to good programs; you just need to keep your “cool Kid.” You’ve come from behind and worked your way up before. Now you have no where to go but up young lady, and with our support, your fans are there to hoist you up the flag pole.

Regardless of which group you skate in, wether you draw to skate in the first or in the final group, don’t allow yourself to think too much, about the other skaters. Remember, it is all about Kimmie (“yeah you’re hot”) Don’t let it get the best of you.

Your objective is to stay consistent and relaxed. Don’t allow yourself to get uptight; just focus. You can say a little prayer. However, DO NOT concentrate on the outcome of the others who have skated before or after you.

At Nationals, during your free skate, I saw a nervous Kimmie, remember to keep“cool Kid” and go out there and give the skate of your life. “You gotta believe”. You need to keep that attitude when you go in to the world championship."

SEE YOU ON THE PODIUM!
I WILL BE WATCHING!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Day of Reckoning


Kimmie Is Not About Excuses

All kimmie has to do is to skate two clean and elegant programs at the World Championship in March, then the rest will take care of itself. Kimmie is not the first athlete in the history of the sport who has suffered a setback. Ando did after an explosion to the elite scene in 2004, Arakawa saw her stock in the sport fall at the 2004 world Championship in which she found herself in ninth place.

Just like those skaters previously mentioned, Kimmie will have her day of reckoning as well. Miki Ando had won The Junior Title in 2004, and went on to a fourth place finish at that year’s senior global competition. After that, she had suffered a couple of difficult seasons. Her skating was revamped after switching to a new coach (Morozov) in order to win the World championship in 2007. Arakawa who did very badly at Worlds the year prior to the winter Olympic Games in Torino, walked away with the prize after she had delivered a clean elegant free skate.

Kimmie did not fair quite well at the Grand Prix Final. I have firm beliefs that with the new coach, Meissner will surprise her naysayers and pull another upset as she did in 2006. Let’s not forget this young lady has a triple Axel in her arsenals. She has been working extremely hard. She may blow away the competition by landing a triple Axel or two. Unless Ando feels compelled put in the quad. She has not been successful with it lately. Kimmie has been known to use her mistakes as tools to better herself. She is quite a determine young lady. Quad or not, Kimmie will deliver.

A couple of “disaster” performances might have been what Kimmie needed to get her to revamp her triple Axel, especially if she wants to be on that podium in Vancouver comes 2010. Since figure skating has become a “jumping” contest, ever since the new judging system, Kimmie might as well join the “jumping beams” and leave the artistic part of her skating for exhibitions. Obviously “jumping” trumps art in skating. Everything is calculated. Every skater skates to the same “form” it is no longer a free skate.

If you thought the US Championships Men’s event was sizzling, the world Championship will be the most jaw-clinching, couch-gripping, breath-holding event in the sport in history. Apparently, those who are in disagreement with the age limit imposed by the ISU, and felt that the top three American “women” should have gone to World. They will have their eyes on Kimmie as they anticipate every jump, hold their breath for every landing and clinch their jaw ‘till their teeth grind as they await the final standings.

Kimmie was having a bad day. Mirai Nagasu who was supposedly the favorite to win the Junior World Title, did not deliver as promised. After a beautiful short program, she falters in her free. She was having a bad day. And yet she was full of excuses. Kimmie on the other hand, while she was nursing a sprained ankle during her competitions, has never brought it up.

This young lady is not about excuses. She took matters into her own hands. She took full responsibility, and acknowledged that she can’t continue to go in that direction. She changed coach. Still, I have yet to hear her make excuses.

Kimmie, your stocks may be at a low in the sport at this time, all of that will change when you pull off two clean and elegant programs come March.

“Yeah you’re hot”

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A QUANDRY!



Katrina Hacker is a Star on the Rise

Since I had not really seen The US Championship in its entirety as result of my "mourning", I hadn’t really seen Katrina Hacker in action. However During the Four Continent competitions, I had my chance, and she did not disappoint.

When compared to the more polished Kimmie, Emily, Yu-Na, or Mao, there is still some improvement to be made, but given her beautiful performance at Four Continents: the air position on her jumps, the way she travels across the ice, she just skates beautifully. Her free skate was deliberate and clean. She displayed a nice attitude position into a straight leg position to a lay back. She delivered a splendid program, very artistic; something most programs have been lacking since the introduction of the new judging system. I was very pleased with her performance. Her free, clean, skate has left me with the nagging thought that, just maybe, it might have been a better decision to have included her in the World Team (Kimmie, Ashley, Katrina). Last year, despite the outcome at the Nationals (Meissner, Hughes, Cyzny), I had a nagging feeling that, the World team might have been a better team had it been Meissner, Hughes, and Liang since Cyzny has not been consistent. Well, I am having the same nagging feeling this season; that Hacker would have been a better addition to Meissner and Wagner as opposed to Liang. She (Katrina) has proven how consistent she can be at both Nationals and Four Continents. She was mesmerizing to watch. She was not just "jumping" around. There was an art to her skating.

I really enjoyed Four Continents; and would have prefered a U.S sweep. However, it was a different pressure. Kimmie was not competing. I did not have any favorites. It was equally the same in the men’s competition. Except, I really wanted Evan to win (or Carrirere, or Abbott). However, it was not your usual teeth grinding, spellbinding, couch gripping competition . . . something was missing or was it that someone was not there . . . Now I get it . . . Johnny had withdrawn!
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