Monday, May 12, 2014

Figure Skating on The Telly

Thanks to the success of the Olympics, the media will be interested in figure skating for another couple of hours or so. By the time mid March rolls around, the media will forget that skating ever existed and go back to covering what Lindsey Lohan is currently smoking or who styled George Clooney's grey hair. So is life I suppose.

But this isn't stopping producers from planning skating specials and having skaters involved in various television shows.

Evan Lysacek will of course be on "Dancing with the Stars" starting March 22. And according to this article, there may be another "Skating with Celebrities" in the works for the ABC network. Let's hope this version isn't a flop and we must make Lloyd Eisler stay as far away from the show as humanly possible.

On March 19 and 21, ABC will feature On Thin Ice, a reality show pairing together various figure skating stars for some major prize money donated to a charity of their choice. The teams include David Pelletier and Elena Berezhnaya, Stephane Lambiel and Shizuka Arakawa, Shae-lynn Bourne and John Zimmerman, Michael Weiss and Marie France-Dubreuil, and Jamie Sale and Patrice Lauzon. Joannie Rochette will make a special guest appearance.

Judges include our favorite man ever Dick Button, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Katarina Witt. Hosts are Kurt Browning and Elizabeth Hassleback.

Over the years, skating fans have been treated to reality TV specials about skating that are worthy of being thrown in the trash bin and shipped off to the dump never to be seen again.

One of the biggest trash pieces ever was the 1998 special, "The Dark Side of Figure Skating."

This is the only available segment on YouTube and is especially puke-worthy. The narrator is totally from "America's Most Wanted" and him referring to ice dancing as "Sex On Ice" can actually be true unfortunately. I love whenever Pasha graces the television. She claims that she was an innocent 18 year old when she started the affair with Zhulin. Ohh Pasha. Once that whore came out of the womb, I'm sure she was flirting with the other babies at the hospital. She doesn't have an innocent bone in her body.

I recall being a young 8 year old when this special was on television. I was home alone and excited to see in my TV guide paper that skating was going to be on television. I should have been warned that it was a FOX special. I again should have been warned that it was called "The Dark Side of Figure Skating." But I watched it aimlessly. Afterward, let's just say I couldn't sleep for days and peed myself twice a night.

A couple years ago, WE television (the channel for post menopause women) aired a television series called "Skating's Next Star." I admit that I watched it. And I admit that I would rather be waterboarded.

The competition consisted of skaters with less ability than the flower girls at the Olympics. I believe they were competing for a feature article in International Figure Skating Magazine and a guest spot on a tour that of course, never surfaced. A lot was on the line as you can tell.

The judging panel consisted of a grouping worse than 3 doped up Paula Abdul's: Elvis Stojko, Pasha Grishuk, and Rudy Galindo. Elvis Stojko proves himself to be even more of a tool in this clip.

And the special that takes the cake is the must see "Breaking the Ice" reunion with Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan back from 1997. Watching this confrontation between the two of them is more awkward than seeing your great grandmother naked.

And I couldn't resist....

I actually agree with Tonya in this clip. I must say the bitch still knows how to keep herself in the news.

Holy Splat! The Career of Carolina Kostner

Throughout the eight years of this long-limbed Italian star's career, Carolina Kostner's splats were like a nostalgic old pair of pajamas; you could always count on them for being there for you.

Even though she usually finds herself soaked from falling, or performing a program worthy of a pre-juvenile skater, no one can deny her amazing speed, natural beauty, and hey, even at times some charisma!

It is a known fact that the judges have had a love affair with Kostner ever since the first they saw her splat. She is their precious jewel. The more she falls, the more they get to see her bum, and the higher her PCS scores go. Her results have been some of the most controversial over the past decade, and not for good reason.

In 2004, she placed 5th at the world championships following a dismal 2nd half of her program. Yet 10 of the 14 judges in the (terrible) interim system gave her technical marks between 5.7-5.9. When Peggy Fleming lays on the snark following the marks, you know that the judges were seriously doped up.

Part of Carolina's troubles over the years have resulted in her controversial placements above two queens at the world championships: Michelle Kwan in 2005, and Yu-Na Kim in 2008.

At the 2005 world championships, she placed above Kwan by .4 points, edging the Kween out of the medals for the first time in a decade. It was inevitable that overtaking the Kween was going to have its consequences.

The pressure that she was under at the 2006 Olympics was overbearing as she went into her home country as a reigning world medalist. Many mistakes throughout both of her programs dropped her to 9th place.

Following the Olympic year, she did win the first of her three European titles in 2007. Her performance in the short program at the 2007 world championships was stunning. I believe it was by far her best program and performance she has ever done. The music suits her perfectly, and her skating skills are gorgeous.

But of course, her long program was a disaster and dropped her to 6th.

At the 2008 world championships, she won the silver medal to the horror of skating fans everywhere with a performance that was in true Kostner fashion.

Whenever I think of the judges at this event, I think of nine little Gollum characters from The Lord of the Rings who are smothering their hands together whispering, "My Precious!" as Kostner takes the ice. They certainly were feeling the love at this event giving her 120 points after making four major mistakes and executing telegraphed jumps that would make Liashenko squeal with delight.

The judges favored Kostner over a clean Nakano (who was 4th) and an injured, but strong skate by Yu Na Kim (3rd). This was strike two for Kostner's dethroning of a queen, by placing above Kim who was a queen in the making at this event. Messing with skating royalty is a big deal and after doing it a second time, a curse was certainly put on the rest of Kostner's career.

This curse was certainly fulfilled at the 2009 worlds. She skated a wonderful pre-preliminary performance that placed her 2nd at the Spring Sk8 'N Glide Basic Skills competition.

With no where to go but up after that mess, Kostner decided to change coaches and move to L.A. to work with Frank Carroll and Christa Fassi.

It looked to be a promising partnership, but she had trouble in her grand prix events and failed to make the Grand Prix Final. Rumors were looming that Carroll dumped Kostner mid-season because she wasn't doing full run-throughs in practice that Carroll insists upon. Still working with Fassi, she did win her 3rd European title.

An outside shot at a medal was looking to be a possibility for her at the Vancouver Olympics, but a shaky short program placed her 7th. With nothing to lose but her pride, she lost even that with a free skate that included three falls and only one clean triple. She ended up 16th.

I think she is due for a solid performance at the world championships in a few weeks which is ironically in her home country in Torino. Whether or not this will be her last competition, we will remember her as the skater that graced us with her skill and beautiful look on the ice and of course, the falls that made us cringe. In a world with uncertainty, it was nice being able to rely on a Kostner splat.

ISU and the Demise of Figure Skating

The International Skating Union is unfortunately digging more holes for itself. 

This June, they are gathering for the annual ISU Congress and many changes are being proposed to the sport. Due to dwindling funds, there are many difficult decisions that are to be made, but the ones that officials of the ISU are planning to put in place will no doubtingly hurt figure skating than they even imagine.

In response to the reduction in the number of skaters competing at ISU championships, there is a plan to have only 24 singles skaters qualify for a short program with then only 18 qualifying for the long program. Out of 53 ladies skaters and 46 men, over half of these skaters would not even make it to the world championships next season.

As well as these cuts, the judges will suffer as well. If this vote passes in June, only judges with skaters competing in the event may be able to judge. This would create a very skewed judging event, with national bias becoming more evident.

The development of skaters from "weaker" skating countries would certainly be hindered with these changes. Without the experience of competing at the world championships or other ISU events, their progress will not develop as competitors.

On the flip side of that, this may also cause skaters to work all the more to qualify to these big events and make the worlds an event that becomes even more prestigious.

In the world of ice dancing, some extreme changes are going to be made next season.

At the Congress, the ISU will vote on the compulsory dance section being eliminated and the original dance combining elements and set patterns from the compulsories with lifts and footwork that will be set to music of the skaters choosing.

Also, for the most eye-popping change, the free dance will be required to not make you want to commit suicide. The music must have some sort of uplifting rhythm to it, and if it is deemed depressing there will be a deduction.

First of all, some of the peppiest programs I have seen in ice dancing are the most depressing.

This is the change that is making me go the most bananas. What will be judged depressing and what will not? In order to be on the safe side, we are going to be subjected to program after program of Michael Jackson, Polka, and Chubby Checker.

It is understandable that changes must be made, but the ones that the ISU are proposing do not seem to be helping our already messed up sport. Although it's hard to know the whole story of these proposed changes at the moment, the ISU has not set themselves up for a positive response from the public.

Only in Torino


That's about the only word I can use to describe the ladies event at these Worlds.

Placements from the short to long programs were changed and shuffled as much as Elizabeth Taylor changed husbands. Mirai Nagasu was 1st after the short, dropped to 11th in the long, and 7th overall. Yu-Na Kim went from 7th in the short, to 1st in the long, and 2nd overall. Akiko Suzuki went from 20th in the short, to 7th in the long, and 11th overall. Among the splats, and well, more splats, the judging created more controversial results.

Mao Asada finished her season off nicely, beating Yu-Na Kim for the first time since the 2008 Grand Prix Final. It seems as though the curse of Tarasova was lifted from her without her furry presence. The girl finally stuck it to the "Bells of Moscow" and skated with passion and fire. I suppose I would to knowing that this was the last time I'd ever perform this manic piece of noise.

Who knew that the brightest moment throughout the entire event would be Cynthia Phaneuf's free skate?

This girl has had a season pass to Six Flags for many years now, as she has had one roller coaster of a career. She was set to be Canada's long awaited superstar back in 2004, when she burst onto the scene winning the National title and placing 2nd at the Four Continents Championships. Since then, this girl has gone through a massive growth spurt and has been plagued by inconsistency and a lack of confidence ever since.

It's so good to see her kick some butt and deservedly so place in the top 5. It's a shame that she couldn't have snuck into the medals, but with how close places 3rd-7th were, it was basically as if all five of those skaters were globbed together into one massive unit.

Thankfully Yu-Na Kim can get some rest now after what was the most stressful season of her life. It was evident that she was exhausted throughout the competition, and her federation's push to make her compete proved to be costly. The Queen had no juice left in her and after that fall on the triple salchow, it was clear that the Queen needed a nap in the royal court. Even still, a silver medal at the world championships is nothing to sneaze at heck, she still even won the free skate. She's still the Queen.

I believe many of the judges are suffering from dimentia, as many of them thought we were stuck in the year 1973 by giving the three triple performance of Laura Lepisto's the bronze medal.

I will say that Laura is a lovely skater and a beautiful woman.

But I'm afraid figure skating isn't a Miss USA pageant.

Ok, maybe sometimes it is.

Which is why we are all shaking our heads at this placement. Freakin' Oksana Baiul circa 1997 could've won a bronze medal here if we're going with this type of performance. The judges have gotten tired of the Kostner crack and are now shifting to heavy amounts of the Lepisto crack. Next thing you know, Lepisto will win worlds next year with only a double axel.

Unfortunately for Mirai Nagasu, a fall on the double axel cost her the bronze medal and 3 spots for the United States. Poor girl felt the pressure and for the first time in a while, it showed in her performance. I have no doubt that this experience will only strengthen her and she'll come out next season vying for that world title.

Ottavio SINquanta's New Ordeal

ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta is in the news this week for negative reasons once again.

As all of you have most likely heard so far, he is not giving a sanction to Joannie Rochette to perform an exhibition on the ABC special "On Thin Ice" this weekend unless she skates at the World Championships next week. After Rochette withdrew from the championships due to being physically and mentally exhausted (and for good reason) he is not letting her perform under ISU rules.

I decided to find some background on Cinquanta and what I found startled me. He has a past that has never came to light....until now.

Ottavio Cinquanta grew up as a speed skater, but when he was eight years old, he had a terrible accident on the ice in which he collided with another speed skater and flew into the barrier head on. He suffered traumatic head injuries.

Since then, Cinquanta has not been the same.

Symptoms of his crash include not being able to tell the difference between speed skating and figure skating unless he sees sequins, being a stickler on rules that should not pertain to the current state of figure skating, making decisions based on his own distorted conscience, having an obsession with money, and generally being an ass.

Separating figure skating with speed skating in the union has been long overdue. What exactly does speed skating and figure skating have in common except for the fact that it's on ice with skates? They are absolutely two different commodities that should have separate governing bodies. The only reason that they are combined is for Cinquanta's own self interest in letting speed skating chew on figure skating's success. And because of it, figure skating is having its own share of struggles.

The Scream [Still] Heard Around the World

I have a confession to make. I realize that this will taint my reputation immensely. But it must be said.

I love Tara Lipinski.

Ahhhh. I can't believe I said it. Ok, I feel better now.

Don't ask me why, because I don't know. The Kween was always the favored one and the better skater. Even though Michelle will forever be a legend, Tara will still be remembered for blowing out the hearing aides of senior citizens everywhere from the exorcism scream after winning the Olympics. Regardless, there was something about her that was endearing. Maybe it was the monkey grin or the prepubescent perk. It will remain a mystery forever in my mind. But all I know is that her skating days when she had hips would make any pedophile proud.

Even though she is about seven years older than me, I always thought she was the same age as me up until I was around 12-years-old. I honestly thought the commentators were lying when they said she was 15.

Tara's rise to fame was due in part to her 6-year old body, her obsessive work ethic, her skate mommy, and Richard Callaghan. That combination proved to be golden.

Then at 15 she shocked the skating world and decided to go pro. As a professional, Tara was able to be a prostitute genie at the age of 17 -

Be a circus clown.

And represent the women of America everywhere.

In her last years of skating, I felt as if Tara was really growing as an artist. I thought her "Color of Roses" program was lovely -

As well as her Paint it Black program. She was finally becoming the diva we always knew was inside of her.

Unfortunately, without hips and a desire to skate, Tara turned to the dark side; she began an acting career.

I felt like this commercial was the high point of her acting career. Her part was so believable and she never once looked out of character.

Splatting the World by Storm

OUCH. I need aspirin.

The men's final proved to be splatastic, splatacular, and splatical. A combined amount of 14 falls graced the Torino audience. I believe the issue came down to the men wanting to thank the ice for giving them the opportunity to skate; thus they made the unwise decision to try and hug the ice.

Daisuke Takahashi renewed the order of the nature by saving us all from the splatfest and skating a phenomenal performance to take the world title. The quad flip attempt was incredible even though it was under-rotated (slightly). Takahashi's comeback this season has been outstanding, especially considering his injury that took him out all of last season.

2nd place Patrick Chan

 3rd Place Brian Joubert

The judges were still burning the incense after the men's event with many questionable placements as usual. The judges can dictate the program component score as much as they wish, and they certainly put that to good use at this event. Joubert's components were again incredibly high for all the 258 crossovers he performed. While Chan's PCS scores are more deserved, his mistake-ridden skate should be reflected somewhat in the marks. While Michal Brezina does not have the refinement of Chan or the quad of Joubert, his skate certainly could be argued to be podium worthy.

Besides Takahashi and Brezina, the other man who stole the night was Adam Rippon with a fantastic skate featuring his own Rippon lutz. Both Rippon and Brezina skated clean in their first world championships, establishing their position as top men in the future.