Category Archives: FIgure Skating



Looking forward to watching, beginning tonight. Ellen will be most interested in the figure skating, and I like that a lot too, but I enjoy watching all the winter Olympic sports except ice hockey, so bring it on!

Now I must begin  this year’s attempted news blackout, so I can try to enjoy watching without already having learned who won everything. I say attempted because it’s so difficult to achieve. I’ll put only classical music on the radio, and turn it off when it’s news time. I’ll watch only the Today show on TV other than the Olympics and shows I”ve recorded (at least there, since it’s the same network, they usually give you spoiler warnings about Olympics news. Usually). I’ve changed the opening page on my browsers from news to a blank page. I’ll put each day’s newspaper aside until at least the following day without looking at it or even taking it out of its plastic bag. That’s as much as I can do, and it probably won’t be enough!

Jeremy, Johnny, Evan—>Olympics!


The U.S. men put on a great show and thrilling competition yesterday at the U.S. Figure Skating National Championships, and Abbott, Weir and Lysacek came out best, and will represent us at the Olympics. Ryan Bradley did the same wonderfully entertaining long program we saw from him in Lake Placid, but it was not quite enough to get him into the top three after a poor short program. Too bad. We’ll be rooting for these three next month, and I think there’s a good chance one or more of them might medal.

Skate America 2009 Sunday


Sunday morning began foggy, but by mid morning had cleared enough for a nice walk along the lakeshores near our hotel in Lake Placid. The larger lake for which the town is named is on the west side of town, with the smaller Mirror Lake, seen above behind Ellen, on the north side of town, right opposite downtown Main Street.


Later the sun came out, and I finally was able to get outside pictures of the Olympic Center. Above is the skating arena from the 1932 Olympics.


Around the corner and connected, is the 1980 Olympics skating arena, where Skate America was held. Looks big from the outside, but seemed small from the inside compared to other arenas we’ve seen, though the rink itself is, of course, olympic-size.


NBC Broadcast commentators Tom Hammond, Sandra Bezic and Scott Hamilton get ready for their live broadcast of the afternoon’s program. From what we could see, they covered the first two ladies, then were off for a while, probably running their recorded coveraged of the men’s free skate from Staturday, then they were back on for the final group of women.


Sarah Hecken of Germany began her free skate in last place, but did well, and was quite happy about it. We liked her dress, too.


Fumie Siguri of Japan always seems to skate well, and with lots of speed, but often gets marked down for poor jumping technique. She didn’t finish in the top three. Emily Hughes did better today, and moved up, but also did not make the top three. American Rachel Flatt had an excellent skate with no mistakes we could see that was good enough to win her the silver medal, and was quite delighted about it.


Yu-na Kim of South Korea, though, was in a class of her own. She had a fall and a few other small mistakes, but despite that was way ahead of the rest in style, grace, skills, and presence. She won the gold easily.


Ladies medalists: Rachel Flatt of the US, Yu-na Kim of South Korea, and Julia Sebestyen of Hungary, who won the bronze.


Champion Yu-na Kim. If she can avoid injury and keep the pressure of expectations from getting to her, I see no reason why she wouldn’t take the gold at the coming Olympics, too.


Belbin and Agosto of the US once again led the field in the Ice Dance final, though the other medalists put in fine performances as well. Cappellini and Lanotte of Italy did a routine based on the “Twilight” movie and novel that was very effective.


Ice Dance medalists: Cappellini and Lanotte of Italy took silver, Belbin and Agosto of the US gold and the Zaretskis of Israel bronze.


Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, champions. We have high hopes for them at the Olympics, too.

Skate America 2009 Saturday

Saturday it rained all day here in Lake Placid, so I have no outside pictures. We shopped along Main Street, bought a few books in a fine used book store that’s about to close, and a new book store, and had lunch at a Creperie. The afternoon session began at 2 PM, and we were there. Skate America is part of the international Grand Prix figure skating circuit, and this year it’s a warm-up for the Winter Olympics. Skaters accumulate points to give them a place in world rankings and top point-getters in Grand Prix events compete in the Grand Prix final. Then each country has their own competition to see who will represent them at the Olympics. Grand Prix events are sponsored by the International Skating Union, or ISU, and supported by the countries they’re in, but are separate from, for instance, the U.S. Nationals competition, which is only for U.S. skaters.


First up was the Ice Dance Original Dance. Unlike the other categories, which each have two events, a short and a long program, ice dance has three, and the Original Dance is the second. Each pair chose a folk or country dance for this, and while there are required elements, the music and choreography are up to each team. I liked the costumes of the Chinese dancers, Yu and Chang, above. Some of the others were good, too.


We also liked the Italian team, Cappellini and Lanotte, whose “folk” dance was to Pavarotti singing a highly orchestrated folk song.


But Americans Belbin and Agosto were once again by far the best, doing a Moldavian folk dance, and they added to their lead.


Following that was the Pairs Free Skate, or long program. Of the three American teams competing, Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker, above, did the best, but all made some mistakes, and did not finish in the top three. Meagan Duhamel of the Canadian team injured her knee (we think, hard to be sure), during warm-up, and they were unable to finish their program and had to withdraw, which is too bad, as they might have medaled.


The returning Shen and Zhao were clearly the best, showing they still have what it takes to win, and they captured the Gold. The other Chinese team, Zhang and Zhang rallied to get back to Bronze, and the Ukranian team of Volosozhar and Morozov got the silver.


Here’s the medals ceremony — they bring rubber walkways out and the small podiums.


As at the Olympics, flags are raised at the other end of the rink, and the national anthem of the winning country is played.


Here are this year’s winning pairs teams.

I wanted to stay and get pictures of this, so we were late getting out of the arena for dinner, and all the restaurants were packed. We walked down to a Sushi place that I wanted to try, and were able to get seated fairly quickly, but it took over an hour to get our dinner, so we were late getting back for the evening session, and missed the first four ladies, including Sarah Hughes, who was brought in to replace Sasha Cohen. We don’t know why Sasha couldn’t be here, she’s all over the posters and advertising, and Sarah must have been a last-minute substitute. She didn’t do very well, Ellen said she hasn’t skated in competition in over a year. We’ll see her in the long program tomorrow.


Inside the arena, the atmosphere was quite different this evening. If there was any question what the big draw is in figure skating these days, the much larger crowd would answer that. The main, lower seating area, which had been less than half full, was now close to full, and there was even a large group of Korean fans in the balcony bleachers, here to see their national heroine Yu-na Kim. Many other Kim fans were in the audience, and they even had group cheers for her. There were many signs celebrating Queen Yu-na, and she’s so big in Korea I bet she could get appointed there as one if she wanted to.


Instead, she simply performed with her usual elegant brilliance, a great program to music from James Bond films, and she took the lead by a wide margin.


After an intermission, the Men had their final Free Skate. Many of the Koreans had left, obviously here only for one thing, but the audience was still larger than earlier sessions, and many of the performances were excellent. Tomas Verner struggled, again falling on his Quad, and didn’t finish well, but American Ryan Bradley did very well in a fun performance to Mozart, and Canadian Shawn Sawyer also did fine. The best was last, though, as Evan Lysacek brought another very strong performance to the ice. There were a few tiny mistakes, but his superior skills and concentrated intensity gave him an easy Gold. Sawyer got the Silver and Bradley the Bronze.


Having seen earlier where to go for a good after-medals photo op, I got this nice one of the winners. I think Lysacek has a good chance to reach the medals at the Olympics next year, and we’ll be watching.

Skate America 2009 Friday


Ellen and I are on a long weekend trip to Lake Placid, NY for this year’s Skate America figure skating competition. We got up early Friday morning and drove up, an eight hour trip, arriving in time to check in to our hotel and walk along Lake Placid’s charming Main Street to the Olympic Center, where the competition takes place, at the 1980 Olympics rink.


Inside, the arena is fairly small, I’d guess it doesn’t seat more than 2000 people. We don’t know how they managed during the 1980 Olympics. Even so, there were plenty of empty seats Friday, maybe more will be filled on the weekend. Our seats were good, nine rows from the ice about halfway between the corner and the center.


The afternoon session was the Ice Dance Compulsory, where each of the ten teams had to perform the exact same routine. In one way it’s kind of boring, but it does give even someone like me, who is no expert, a good comparison of the skills of each team. Americans Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto were clearly the best, and won by a good margin. To be fair, they are the highest ranking team at this event, currently third in the world.


The lighting conditions are good enough for my camera when they’re standing still, but once the skaters start moving, I can only get shots like this.


The afternoon session ended, and we went to an inexpensive but nice pizza/pasta restaurant on Main Street for dinner, then went back for the evening session, which began with the Pairs Short Program competition. Eight pairs are competing, and this is one of them but I’m afraid I’m not sure which.


The big news in Pairs is the return from retirement of Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao of China, who’ve been out of competition for a few years. They were ranked last at this competition, so skated first, but were wonderful, making no mistakes, and thrilling the audience with their throws, lifts and jumps.


Again, my camera couldn’t capture them well in motion, but they received a standing ovation from the audience, and all the teams that came after them seemed disspirited by their performance, including the other Chinese team of Zhang and Zhang. They won the Short Program easily.


Next (and last) was the Men’s Short Program, which was really interesting because it put American Evan Lysacek against current world number one Tomas Verner (from the Czeck Republic). Though I didn’t like his costume, Lysacek put on a brilliant performance to music by Stravinsky. Verner followed with a poor performance, falling on his famous quad jump, and looking unprepared overall. Lysacek won the event, also geting a standing ovation. Verner was near the bottom. The long program tomorrow will be even more interesting.