Well, I still want to watch the exhibitions, but you get my drift:
First, addressing dance.
After reading Michalle's commentary, I must say that I agree with most
of it. I am getting *soooo* tired of all the comments about bloc
judging. The most telling experience happened some weeks ago, when I
filled out a poll saying who I thought should have placed where in the
Olys. And to my surprise...I picked the top five in the actual order.
So what does this prove?
1. Bourne/Kraatz are immensely popular, definitely talented, and have
wonderful edges. But they don't have the speed, the flow, the intricate
changes of foot, and the "winning attitude", meaning they whine too
much. Somehow, between 1996 and now, they managed to***off a whole
lot of people. Call me crazy, but the judges gave them a love-in at the
Worlds in Birmingham (and IMO, I still believe that was their best Free
dance). I think....that their association with Dubova is a negative for
both sides. For Dubova, it was a chance to get "revenge" on the team
that got away, Grischuk/Platov. For B&K, they train with a top Russian
coach: why no kudos? IMO, B&K really should seek out K&P and train
with them again. I just don't think that Dubova will be that beneficial
to them anymore. Or how about this...go to Delaware and train with
Anyway, the more I look, the more ashamed I become of the Canadian
media. Should B&K come back next year, as it looks like, I hope that
there will be a fair competition. But if there was unfairness, it was
that Anissina/Peizerat lost, and not B&K. Because as much as I want to
love Riverdance.....I just *haven't* been able too. Not when the middle
part sags like a bad piece of cake. Not when the difficult footwork is
presented like icing: really sweet, but nothing underneath.
I really think that B&K need a new direction.
2. Are Krylova/Ovsiannikov destined to be Usova/Zhulin, part two?
Maybe, but I don't think so. While I could see A&P challenging for the
gold next year (but NOT B&K) I think that once K&O get over Carmen, they
will go back to doing really wonderful programs like the
Masquerade...which was much more World Championship worthy than Carmen,
IMO. In fact...I think I might actually enjoy ice dancing....if B&K got
the hell out of it. Wow, I'm turning into Michalle, after not agreeing
with her for ages (or so it seems). Maybe I'm just fed up.
And lastly, again to B&K: no matter what hold the CFSA has on you, no
matter how much money they are throwing at you to stay in, no matter if
they beg and plead for you to stick around for the inagural Four
Continents, I say bag it. At least, decide after touring with SOI for a
while. Because you are going to find that the audience adores you. No
matter what. If you guys jump off a cliff and call it ice dancing, the
audience will stay with you. Why forsake all that to please judges who
are not going to go your way? Ever? It's well and good to stick to
your vision. But it's not the vision ISU judges want, unfairness or
not. So go make yourselves into a great professional team. And then,
and only then, can ice dancing heal and get back into shape. Drastic,
but probably true.
Now, the women's:
I think way too much depends on whether Tara returns. But even if she
returns, will she be anywhere close to the form that she had from
97-98? My money says no. I have reiterated the reasons many times, so
I won't go through it again. But I will be an interested party at the
pro-am, to see just what level of skating she has sustained since the
As for Michelle......she's one of the smartest people in skating, IMO.
And she's got some pretty big decisions. But the first order of
business: lay off the foot for a while. Then, work on the jumps and
such. I don't think she'll be adding much in terms of technical
difficulty, except perhaps that elusive triple-triple combo.
Otherwise....I hope she skates to something a little livelier next
year. Not that I didn't love her LP, but....it might get her speed up.
And the rest of the field? Well, a whole slew of people might
mysteriously disappear, while new people crop up. I'm interested in the
future of Irina, Tanja S., Krisztina Czako, and the endless stream of
Russian women, most notably Soldatova. Will anyone knock Michelle off
her perch? Sure. But next year? Probably not. Not as long as the
girls are primarily interested in staying on their feet rather than
skating wonderfully crafted programs. I can see why the ISU/CFSA/other
governing bodies are worried. However, I and others like triples. And
taking them out would *not* help the sport one bit.
The biggest question, aside from who will be staying eligible, is the
welfare of Alexei Yagudin, IMO. If he goes on to win world titles, I
expect that he will not remember this one very fondly. More along the
lines of, "My first world championship, I won, but I didn't really
deserve it." Being world champion is one hell of a big deal. And
Urmanov isn't the one to ask about dealing with the pressure....I hope
that he gets a mentor of some sort who can help him deal with all the
pressure. It will be *very* interesting if the entire Mishin troupe all
moves to the States together. And if they do......I don't know why I
feel this, but things don't seem all that good between Yags and Mishin.
Time will tell.....
Then there is Elvis's immenent return. I will bet lots of money that he
got a billion phone calls after Thursday night, at wherever he is right
now. That Elvis has to be Canada's deus ex machina.....well, I suppose
if anyone has to assume that role, it would be him. But what if he
doesn't want the role?
What to do with Emmanuel Sandhu? This is actually pretty easy. First,
let him compete in the Junior Series one last year. Then send him to
World Juniors, where he can improve on the 11th place finish. Then, let
him do one senior competition, just so he can compete with the big
boys. Should he happen to medal at Junior Worlds or make the Junior
Series final, it would be a hell of a season. Just not at the senior
level. Then, once Elvis has done his thing (as I assume) he'll *really*
move up to the seniors and compete, hopefully, at only senior CS events
and Worlds. Emmanuel is like a baseball player: a great prospect who
wowed at his first crack in seniors. But as time goes on, his play
worsens, and he gets sent down to the minors. Then, he'll burn up the
minor leagues, waiting for his next chance. And *that* would be the
most productive use of Mr. Sandhu next season.
And Jeff? Well, obviously, he can't compete at Junior events, and he
can't go to worlds. What a ***y shame it is. If they don't change
the stupid points system, well I hope to god he has a hell of a fall
season, gets into the CS Final, gets a medal at Four Continents, tours
with Elvis Tour or some other tour, and then gets his chance in 2000.
If not......I fear that this setback, not even his own fault, may retire
Jeff. I sure hope not, though.
And the rest of the world? Call me nuts but......if Elvis doesn't come
back, if Ilia decides to stop training and turn pro (because he sure
*hates* training, FWIH) if Todd lies low for a few years, and others
drop off...then......Tim Goebel's gonna win Worlds ;-> Well no. But
besides Elvis, Yags, Alexei Major, Evgeny P., Goebel, Weiss....well, who
else *is* there, really? Takeshi, if he gets consistent jumps.
Zhengxin if he learns how to skate, spin, get good choreography.....Abt
if he skates for some former Soviet Republic. So IOW, it's USA vs.
Russia for the next four years.........
And the pairs......
Well, K&D seem to be gone from future Worlds. Meno/Sand are joining
SOI. Schwarz/Muller are going to go, or drop off severely. Ina/Dunjgen
might stick it out a little while longer, or not. Eltsova/Bushkov are
gone. Wotzel/Steuer are pro. So who is going to challenge
Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze for the next four years?
Well, first and foremost, B&S themselves. They could be G&G, or they
could be Bechke/Petrov in reverse. Instead of Elena's nerves killing
them it will be Anton's nerves. But in all reality, they seem to have
the next few worlds locked up.
Who else in Russia? Maksuta/Zhovirnsky? Petrova/Pulin? Names of pairs
I can't remember? They don't have *it*, to me.
What about USA? Well, the Steiglers can't even compete at Worlds for
another two years at the least. Vlandis/Guzman, if they don't break up
in the next while....I dunno, Handy/Binneboise? Maybe a new pair will
come and save the day? Forget it, Ina/Dunjgen will have to stay,
because there is no depth. Those three spots are going to evaporate
*fast* next year, unless the depth suddenly emerges.
Canada? Well, thanks to Kerry Leitch's machinations, Marchant/Hawse and
Petersen/O'Reilly are history. We have Sargeant/Wirtz and
Savard-Gagnon/Bradet, I guess, but if I were S-G/B, I'd end my career
with 1998 Worlds. And Sargeant/Wirtz really aren't going to move up
much more. They don't have the world championship aura......so who is
behind them? Lariviere/Faustino, a pair with a whole lotta talent.
Roy/Fecteau. Sale/Pelletier, if that ever emerges. Hey, maybe we *do*
have a future in pairs.
And the rest? Well, Shen/Zhao, or so it seems, if they get a good
vehicle that shows off speed and power while giving artistic impression
at the same time. Zagorska/Siudek will not win medals, ever. My best
bet right now is......the Ukrainians, or more specifically,
Obertas/Palarmchuk. I believe they might just make it to Senior Worlds
next year, and show their stuff really well. They do have this great
capacity to make comebacks in the long program, don't they?
Of course, it always seems that in every discipline, the field gets
weaker. But surprises do happen. And while 1998 worlds was pretty
lacklustre, there are hopeful signs for next year, to be sure. And I
can't wait....well, I will ...
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