by Alexandra Stevenson
|1||Aliona SAVCHENKO / Robin SZOLKOWY||GER||201.36||1||1|
|2||Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD||CAN||190.49||2||2|
|3||Stefania BERTON / Ondrej HOTAREK||ITA||172.03||3||3|
|4||Paige LAWRENCE / Rudi SWIEGERS||CAN||158.33||4||4|
|5||Daria POPOVA / Bruno MASSOT||FRA||149.37||5||5|
|6||Tiffany VISE / Don BALDWIN||USA||141.21||7||6|
|7||Lindsay DAVIS / Mark LADWIG||USA||122.26||6||7|
|1||Tessa VIRTUE / Scott MOIR||CAN||169.41||1||1|
|2||Anna CAPPELLINI / Luca LANOTTE||ITA||160.06||2||2|
|3||Ekaterina RIAZANOVA / Ilia TKACHENKO||RUS||143.39||3||3|
|4||Piper GILLES / Paul POIRIER||CAN||136.74||5||4|
|5||Madison HUBBELL / Zachary DONOHUE||USA||135.16||4||6|
|6||Julia ZLOBINA / Alexei SITNIKOV||AZE||132.80||7||5|
|7||Pernelle CARRON / Lloyd JONES||FRA||130.75||6||7|
|8||Kharis RALPH / Asher HILL||CAN||126.60||8||8|
by George Rossano
Not since Katerina Witt and Debi Thomas competed in the "Battle of the Carmens" in 1988 have two top competitors gone head to head using Bizet's oft used music. This year's battle of the Carmens is all the more interesting because it pits the recently rancorously split coaching couple of Igor Shpilband and Marina Zueva against each other.
In the Free Dance here Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte, coached by Shpilband, and Tess Virtue & Scott Moir, coached by Marina Zueva, showed their dueling Carmens in back to back performances.
In the Short Dance the two couples were separated by just 0.01 points. Skating in reverse order of finish from the Short Dance, the Italians went first with Cappellini wearing a red lace dress with ruffled skirt and Lanotte a disheveled white shirt and black pants.
In the Italians' dance, the skaters were Carmen and Don Jose. Cappellini was clearly in charge of the relationship from flirtation to conquest, rejection, despair and finally death. Lanotte was clearly a man under her spell. Cappellini's Carmen was not the refined Latin character with elegant costume that legions of skaters use when performing to this music. Her Carmen was the sensuous, manipulative, slut from Bizet's opera.
The Canadians took a different tack, and it could be said that they were not really skating to Carmen at all. They skated to the music from Carmen, but they were not skating Carmen.
Both skaters were costumed in black, with Virtue wearing a costume with only a minor Latin flavor. The dress sported a plunging neckline to the waist (with a modest opaque flesh colored insert) and black fishnet stockings. Moir wore a nearly decoration-free black shirt and black pants.
Whomever these skaters were, they were not Carmen and Don Jose. In this dance Virtue is more passive participant than man-eating temptress. Moir's choreography has him the dominant character, in control of the relationship for most of the routine. Yes, the skaters show passion and emotion throughout the routine, but it is not the passion and emotion of Carmen. For me this was just another routine consisting of a love story that eventually goes bad by the end of the number for reasons never made clear, with Carmen playing in the background.
There is no denying that the Canadians had the technically superior skate, but from an artistic perspective, it was the Italians who made my day.
(27 October 2012) Windsor, Ontario.
Adult Dance Sizzles but Carmen it Ain’t
1. Overall 169.41; FD 104.32 (48.42+55.90) Tessa Virtue, 23, & Scott Moir, 25, Canada, presented a wonderfully intense four-minute-ten-second mesmerizing creation that edged their skating to new heights in audience communication. Their interpretation was on a heated, heightened emotional plateau that almost melted the ice. It was so over-whelming, Virtue even puked (discreetly) as she left the ice.
Some in the audience, who have watched and supported Virtue and Moir since they got into their teens, sat with wide open eyes wondering if the duo had not gone too far in their portrayal of the sordid plot. The music is immortal; the story - a tragedy of human folly.
Virtue is supposedly a worker in a cigarette factory. (It was meant to be a brothel but the mores of the time prevented that being put on the stage.) The handsome Moir portrays the more-than-stupid lowly non-descript soldier who arrests her after she stabs another worker and then lets her go after she promises to meet him later in a bar.
He then deserts the Army to become a smuggler with her. But she has moved on and has eyes only for the handsome Toreador Escamillo. Even though the virtuous Michaela pleads with Jose to return with her to his mother, he seeks revenge. Carmen, meanwhile, has been told, by her friends who predict the future, that she is doomed. She goes to accept her fate and Jose stabs her. Except in skating, you are not supposed to die, so Virtue and Moir just grab each other at the end, remaining standing to show they are still alive.
Afterwards, they were asked about the overt sexiness of the piece. Not even blushing, Virtue said, “I don’t think you can do Carmen without that element. There’s such a sexuality and rawness of basic feelings. None of our movements are without purpose. We’re very pleased with the first time anyone has seen the piece done in its entirety. We did have a couple of mistakes, but that is to be expected in a debut under quite stressful conditions. This is our own country and we don’t want to let anyone down. I think, at Cup of Russia, in a couple of weeks, you will see a smoother version. We are going home (to the Canton rink in Michigan) and we are going to be working all out now we can see what we need to do.”
They were both dressed in black, with Virtue’s outfit cut in a revealing fashion. In the opera, Carmen is dressed to the hilt in white, since she is at the bullfight as Escamillo’s guest (read current beau). As he is strutting and enticing the bull, she leaves the arena to meet Jose and her fate.
Moir explained, “We worked a lot with a modern dance choreographer. We tried to make our moves more natural so they flowed out of the music. We really felt the music.”
The marks were not as high as coach Marina Zoueva had wished. “It is the beginning of the season. As we go on, you will see, they marks will increase on every outing, I promise you.”
They began with three Level moves, a curve lift, their twizzles and the spin. Their twizzles earned the maximum +3 Grade of Execution from four of the nine judges. The rest gave +3. After their Level 3, +1.71 circular steps, they thrilled the audience with a long lift which not only received Level 4 for both of its complicated changes of positions, but also moved four of the nine judges to punch in +3 and five to give +2.
Their diagonal steps, however, were only Level 2 with +0.57. Virtue had a slight trip and struggled for a split second. However, they got back in stride for their Level 4, +1.14 rotational lift which received three +3s, five +2s and a solitary +1. (The judge who gave this lower GoE, also was the only judge to award the Olympic and world champions a -1 on their diagonal steps. Would the others have given a lower GoE if the skaters had not been so well known? Possibly yes.)
They finished with their short choreographed lift, which is only ever given a Level 1 and for which Virtue & Moir received a wide range of GoEs from one 0 (which means satisfactory in all aspects up to +3 which means Yadadada-Doo!
Their component marks were all in the nines, except for three 8.75, each for a different one of the five categories.
2. Overall 160.06; FD 94.98 (44.63+50.35) Anna Cappellina & Luca LaNotte, Italy, should have gone with their first feelings when they heard they had chosen the same music as Virtue & Moir. Their version, which would have been perfectly alright, and was, a few weeks ago in Finland, was completely overshadowed by that of Virtue & Moir. The 25 and 27 year-olds gave a less intense showing which was deemed slightly less difficult by the Technical Panel. Once Virtue & Moir started skating, their version was forgotten. Frankly, they just weren’t in the league as the Canadians.
In Grand Prix events, the order of skating for the Free goes in the reverse order of their standing after the Short Dance, so they performed immediately before the Canadians so we had two Carmens in a row.
They began well with +0.93, Level 4 twizzles and a long lift which earned Level 4 for both parts and +2.0 GoE, which include one +3. Their circular steps were only Level 2 with +1.14 and their spin Level 3 with +0.71. Then came two Level 4 short lifts, the straight line received an extra +0.93 which included and their rotational +1.07, which included two +3s (one from the same judge who had presented them with this maximum for the long lift, and whom we might conceivably think was the Italian).
Their diagonal steps earned Level 2 with +1.14 and their choreographed lift received an extra +0.51 over its only base value of 0.20.
3. Overall 143.39; FD 87.59 (41.64+45.95) Ekaterina Riazanova & Ilia Tkachenko, Russia, dressed appropriately for their music, which was from the movie series The Godfather, gave an enjoyable presentation, opening with a Level 4 curve lift which somewhat puzzled the panel of nine judges since their awards went from one -1, to five +1 which means better than just OK, and three +2s. What did that solitary judge see, that the others did not? Or was it a mistake? Of course, since the top and bottom marks are thrown out, it did not count to the average GoE.
Their diagonal steps were Level 2 with +0.86. Their rotational lift was Level 4 with +1.0; their spin Level 3 with +0.50, and their Twizzles Level3 with +0.64. Their straight line Level 4 lift earned +0.79 extra and their Level 2 Circular Steps got 0.71 extra. Their Final lift, a rotational, was awarded +0.57, and their choreographed short lift received +0.73.
He admitted, “Yesterday, we were nervous. Today, we managed to stay concentrated and we enjoyed our performance. We are happy to be back in the medals and we enjoyed being on the podium. “
4. Overall 136.74; FD 83.03 (40.93+42.10) Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier, Canada, pulled up a place to fourth overtaking the U.S. entry with a routine set to music by The Gulag Orchestra (the debut album of the Group “Beirut”), and Hungry Ghosts. Gilles, whose family live in Colorado Springs, could not have been happier since she had almost left the sport in 2011 after she and former partner Zachary Donohue broke up.
But then, the possibility arose of being matched up with Poirier, who won the 2011 Canadian title when Virtue & Moir were unable to defend due to her leg surgery. Gilles, who is 20, explained, “The last year has been crazy, having to put together programs and compete at the Canadians. It went by like lightning.” Although she was born in Rockford, Illinois, Gilles’ mother has a Canadian background and both she and her daughter are en route to getting a Canadian passport. (Gilles’ grandmother was Canadian, from the Sarnia area.)
Although Gilles can now represent Canada in international ISU competition, she still has to get her Canadian passport in order to be considered for the Olympic team. She said, “I’m hoping to get fast-tracked.” Asked whether she now finds herself saying, ‘Eh’ at the end of a sentence, a Canadian trait, she admitted that was the case and that she’s also found herself using the more Canadian phrase of ‘flooding the ice’ instead of ‘Zamming it.’
This is Gilles’ first season at the senior level and she and Poirier, who will turn 21 on November 6, opened it well, earning gold in their international debut at the U.S. Figure Skating Classic in Salt Lake City last month.
Poirier admitted it has all been “a rather rapid push to the podium. We’ve only been together since July (2011). At first, we were so disorganized and frazzled from starting so late.” However, in the Canadian nationals this year, they were third, behind Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. Of course, adding to the stressful dynamics of competition was that Gillies was competing against her former partner.
She and Donohue split after the 2010 World Juniors. Thinking it unlikely she’d never find another skate mate, she turned her attention to coaching and took a few acting classes. But someone on Poirier’s team thought their styles might mesh and arranged a tryout. He admitted, “It’s really exciting for us to already get on the international scene. Now we want as much international experience under our belts as possible leading to the Olympics.”
They earned Level 4 for three Short lifts but only Level 2 for their last lift, a curve. Their Midline steps also received Level 2. They began with their circular steps which gained Level 3, which they also earned for their twizzles.
5. Overall 135.16; FD 80.32 (36.38+43.94) Madison Hubell & Zachary Donohue, USA, were naturally extremely disappointed to drop a place and earn a significant amount less points when they won bronze in the Finlandia Trophy (where they earned 150.30 overall with their Free getting 44.15+47.71). They seemed shell-shocked by their marks and were at a loss to explain the difference.
They performed a Flamenco to three pieces, Farrucas, Un Amor and Malaguena. They began with their twizzles which earned Level 3 and their Level 4 curve lift, which both earned +0.57. Then came their Level 3 circular steps and their combination spin. Although both these elements received +0.14, the spin was only Level 1. Coach Massimo Scali explained that they lost Levels on their spin because their blades collided for a split second. “And they lost points on other little mistakes.”
Their straight line lift was only Level 2 (with +0.50), as were their diagonal steps which only received the base value, nothing more. The other two lifts were Level 4, both with +0.50 GoE. The 21-year-old Hubbell said, “We’re working on training the program more and more. We do have risky elements, and, when they don’t work, their Levels get pushed down. But, by the end of the season, I’m pretty confident, we’ll be rewarded for pushing the envelope.
They were only sixth in the FS although they only dropped to fifth overall.
The couple who represent Azerbaijan, Julia Zlobina & Alexei Sitnikov, rose from seventh after the short with a Free Dance which was ranked fifth best, to sixth overall, 2.05 points behind Hubbell & Donohue. Pernell Carron & Lloyd Jones, France, were disappointed at dropping from sixth to seventh overall. Canadians Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill were eighth in both sections.
Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte perform in Free Dance at 2012 Skate Canada
Photo © George S. Rossano
4G 2012 Skate Canada Ladies Free Skating
1.Overall 176.45; 2.FS 115.89 (57.28+59.61-1); Kaetlyn Osmond, Canada, could hardly believe her good fortune of winning her first ever Senior Grand Prix, despite not winning either SP or FS. "I’m not used to all this attention, but definitely could get used to it," said the 16-year-old, who turns 17 on December 5. This was only her fifth international. She did two Junior Grand Prix events, in 2010 in Japan and in the Czech Republic, where she finished ninth and tenth. She was also entered in the 2011 world junior championship where she was tenth. She only came into the limelight this fall when she won the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany. The last Canadian woman to win this title was Joannie Rochette in 2009, just a few months before she won the Olympic bronze.
Skating to music from Carmen, she won by placing second in both SP and FS, and was only 1.29 points ahead of the veteran, Akiko Suzuki, won bronze in the world championship last March. Her lead would have been more but she fell on her second element, a triple Lutz. Rather oddly, she was penalized with an “e” for both that jump and her first element, a triple flip to double toe. Surely, if she is being penalized from a wrong edge takeoff on both Lutz and flip, she should just change the names around on her Planned Program Content Form.
She also had a bad landing on the seventh of her 12 elements, a triple toe loop, in the middle of the program, losing -1.30 from its base value plus 10%. But everything else received a positive GoE, including a double Axel to triple toe, a triple Salchow, a second triple flip (which was did not get an “e”) and a second double Axel which was combined with two double toe loops. Her spins were all Level 4 and steps Level 3.
She grew up in a small town, Marystown, in Newfoundland. But, by the age of 6, she and her older sister were taking the train to attend summer skating camp in the summer. Her family later moved to Edmonton. Her components ranged from a low of one 6.25 up to a high of one 9.25.
2.Overall 175.16; 1.FS 120.04 (60.22+59.82); Akiko Suzuki, Japan, lost her chance for gold by taking fifth in the Short Program (see report on Day 1). She did win the FS. Suzuki, who is 27, skated to “O” from Cirque du Soleil. She opened with a triple Lutz to double toe loop to double loop, which was saddled with an “e” for the Lutz’s wrong edge take-off. That meant that she lost 0.50 from the combination’s base value of 9.10.
Suzuki then presented a double Axel to triple toe loop which earned an extra +0.80. Her third element was a triple flip to a single loop, which got -0.30 taken off from the base level. Her first two spins were Level 4 but the third spin and the steps gained Level 3. She brought off a series of good triple jumps, flip, loop, Salchow and a second double Axel. Despite her world ranking, Suzuki has never been Japanese champion. Her components ranged from six 7.00 up to one 9.0.
3.Overall 168.04; 4.FS 111.83 (53.49+58.34); Kanako Murakami, Japan, who will be 17 on November 7, won bronze by taking fourth place in both sections. She has been third in the Japanese championship for the past two years, and was fifth in the Worlds last March. She skated to Oblivion, A Fuego Lento, Adios Nonino.
Murakami was saddled with an “e” for her first jump, which meant -0.90 was removed from the triple Lutz’s base value of 6 points. But that was followed with a triple loop, triple flip, Level 3 straight line steps and Level 4 layback spin, all received good Grades of Execution. But then her triple loop, which was combined with a double loop, got an arrow for under-rotation. The following triple flip was supposed to be sequenced with a double Axel, which she singled. The following triple Salchow to double toe to double loop, got an arrow for slight under-rotation for the first jump. And the following triple toe also got an arrow. But then her last three elements were good: the flying sit spin was Level 4 with +0.29; the choreographed sequence was given a +3, three +2s and the five other judges gave +1. And her last element was a Level 3 change foot combination spin which gained +0.50 over the base value. Her components went from a 6.50 up to three 8.0s..
4.Overall 168.00; 3.FS 112.90 (58.14+55.76 -1); Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Russia, who turns 16 on December 12, exploded onto the senior scene when she won this event last year. But she has grown since then and this has affected her. This time she could climb only two places from her sixth in the Short Program. She performed to the Russian classic, Dark Eyes.
She opened with a triple Lutz to double toe to single loop which earned +0.50 over its base value. But that was followed by a fall on her triple Lutz which was saddled with an arrow for under-rotation. The following triple flip had -0.10 removed from the base value. Her layback spin and the straight line steps both got Level 3 with +0.71 and +0.64 respectively. At the half way mark, she executed a double Axel to triple toe loop which earned a full point over the base value, followed by a triple Salchow to double toe which earned an extra +0.70. Her Level 4 flying sit spin received Level 4 with +0.50. Then came a +0.10 triple loop; a +0.43 double Axel; Level 4 change foot combination spin, which also earned +0.43 extra; and then she finished with her choreographed sequence. The components ranged from two 7.50s down to a 6.50.
5.Overall 160.52; 5.FS 99.72 (42.83+57.89 -1); Elena Gedevanishvili, Georgia, had done so well winning the Short Program. Using music from the ballet Don Quixote, she got off to a bad start, falling on her first element, a triple Lutz which was given an arrow for under-rotation. She recovered to execute a double Axel to triple toe loop, but the following triple Salchow also got an arrow. Her Level 3 straight line steps earned +0.64, and then she singled her second Lutz attempt. Her triple Salchow to double toe to double toe, got an arrow on the third jump. After a Level 3 +0.14 flying change foot combination spin, and a +0.70 triple toe loop, she executed a base value double Axel. After the choreographed sequence, she did her last two elements, a Level 2 flying sit spin and a Level 4 change foot combination spin which received an extra +0.14. The components ranged from a high of 8.25 down to two 6.50s.
6.Overall 154.11; 9.FS 95.55 (40.43+56.12 -1); Ksenia Makarova, who won the Russian title in 2010, skated to music from a famous, very old silent movie, Megapolis. She had a bad skid off a double Axel and fell and made other errors which pulled her down from third after the SP.
7.Overall 151.57; 6.FS 99.38 (48.02+51.36); Gracie Gold, USA, 17, the US Junior Champion, was able to climb only two places from her ninth place after the Short Program. Her Free was set to music from the movie Life is Beautiful. She began with a good +0.80 triple Lutz to triple toe loop which earned her 10.90. But then she doubled her flip which was given an “e” for wrong edge take-off and she banked only 1.59 for this element. She pulled herself together and executed a good double Axel which received an extra +0.79 over the base value of 3.30. Her layback spin was Level 4 with +1.0 GoE. But then she did a double loop which got minus 0.17 taken off the base value of 1.80. Her Level 4 (the maximum) flying combination spin was rewarded with an extra +0.50. But then things swung downward. Her triple flip to double toe got an “e” for wrong edge take-off and then she singled a Lutz. Her straight line steps were Level 3 with an extra +0.50. The following double Axel to double toe had -0.43 removed from its base value. After the choreographed sequence, she closed on a high note with a Level 4 with a +0.57. Her components ranged from one 7.50 to a low of seven 6.00s.
It was definitely a disappointment for the promising future star, who earned silver in the recent US Senior International. She said, “You can read about Grand Prix events, but they are VERY different from those at Junior level. I just need a lot more experience. I got ahead of myself. It was odd to be competing with people who are 11 years older than me. I’m watching everything they do, just absorbing everything. The short program (in which she placed ninth) really got me rattled. I hope to do better in my next Grand Prix.” Her components went from one 5.75 up to one 7.50.
8.Overall 151.44; 7. FS 97.63 (45.05+52.58); Amelie Lacoste, 23, is the Canadian champion, and it was very disappointing for her, and for the local audience, to see her not do her best. She messed up her opening move, a triple Lutz which was meant to be combined with two other jumps. She did add a double loop to the following jump, a triple flip. And the triple loop which came next was a good +0.70. But then she singled her Axel. After two good Level 4 spins, she executed a triple Salchow which was saddled with an arrow for under-rotation. A triple loop to double loop earned its base value plus 10% but then she did a double Salchow to double loop with the second jump getting a double arrow for downgrade. Her straight steps were Level 3. She finished with a Level 3 layback spin which earned +0.57. Her components went from two 7.25s down to two 5.25s.
Lacoste won bronze in the recent inaugural US International in Salt Lake City, but before her home country crowd she just made mistake after mistake. She said all she could do was to get back on the ice, learn from the mistakes and do better in her next Grand Prix in Shanghai.
9.Overall 149.87; 8.FS 96.90 (46.96+49.94) Caroline Zhang, USA, 19, who was the world junior champion in 2007, was fourth in the last US championship. In this event, she broke a strap in her dress doing her opening move. “I didn’t know what to do. I felt it and I afraid to do many of moves in case the dress came apart.” If she had stopped she would have been penalized but that surely would have been better. The incident was completely recorded on tape. It was a performance which should just be forgotten and she should write 100 time, ‘I must make sure my straps are up to their job.”
10.Overall 124.29; 10.FS 78.11 (36.37+43.74 -2) Polina Shelepen, 17, is one of the up-and-coming Russians but since winning silver in the Junior Grand Prix Final in Quebec City last December she has grown, and is now experience jumping problems..