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Posted By SkatingPj

The 2010 World Figure Skating Championships on CBC Bold  will be remembered by me as a breath of fresh air where the battles were fought on the ice and not in the papers and in each case, in my opinion, the right people made it to the top of the podium. 

More than the results, what I will also remember is the range of raw emotion that we saw, so often hidden from view in figure skating where the name of the game is self-control. The fear, the sadness, the surprise, the disbelief and the joy were all on display on my small screen (yours as well?) giving us glimpses of what it must be like for a skater in the eye of a  hurricane like a Worlds, especially a post-Olympic Worlds.  As much as anything, the exhaustion from the Olympic marathon season coupled with the anxiety of trying to reaffirm or dispute what happened in Vancouver proved to be too much for some:

The FEAR: On Carolina Kostner's face before skating the free and the hypnotic eyes of Italian coach Edoardo de Bernardis' as he tried to infuse her with confidence. (With sucess as she didn't collapse under the pressure where she had so many times before)

The SADNESS:  On Anna Cappellini's face as she collapsed sobbing in dance partner Luca Lanotte's arms at the end of the free dance where they had fallen on a required element and dropped to 11th place.

The SURPRISE: On Canadian ice dance coach Carol Lane's face when the season's best free dance score was announced for students Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier in the free dance segments. Her hands went straight to her face and she said "Oh My God! Oh my God!"

The DISBELIEF: On Olympic champion and defending world champion Yu-Na Kim's face as she missed the entry into her layback spin and lost any points for the element which contributed to her 7th place finish in the short program.

The JOY: On Canadian Cynthia Phaneuf's face at the end of her free program, realizing she had finally been able to tame the "jitters beast" and do the same kind of program she does in practice every day.

So many other moments; too many to mention and I am sure you have your own.

Riveting television?  You bet!


 
Posted By SkatingPj

The 2010  Figure Skating "Worlds" has been one of the most memorable ones for me for a number of reasons, not the least of which has been the skating so far.  (There is still the ladies free program on the slate for tomorrow and the Gala on Sunday)

It has been thrilling to see that good skating prevails and that noone is going to give you a Gold medal just for showing up - you have to earn it.

In ice dance today, Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir had me on the edge of my seat waiting for their free dance marks to be called.  They had the lead through the compulsory and original dance (where they had broken the world record) and then skated well but I wondered if it was going to be well enough, what with Scott's one wobbly twizzle and taking a bit longer to set up the "Goose" and all. Rivals from the US, Meryl Davis and Charlie White were brilliant and narrowly beat them in the free but not by enough to overtake them. A squeaker to be sure for Virtue and Moir who are first time world champions.

The women took the ice today and by the end of it, the Olympic and defending World champion from Korea, Yu-Na Kim is in 7th place after the short program.  It reminded me of a friend telling me that if you are a newsperson and about to interview someone in a hurry you may already have a direction in mind for your questions.  When the answers aren't what you expect, then you have to re-frame your approach entirely. That's how the women's event felt.  Japan's Mao Asada is in second place and American Mirai Nagasu skated the roof off the place in a season's best performance and took the lead.  All bets are off for what is going to happen tomorrow.  Can't wait!

Daisuke Takahashi of Japan, the Olympic bronze medallist took the men's title and in fact "owned" the event. I didn't know he had it in him.  What a thrill to see him step up and lay down two solid programs and include a solid quad flip attempt in the free; the very first.  Then to have silver medallist  Patrick Chan of Canada and  bronze medallist Brian Joubert of France earn their medals through solid competition was an energizing experience to say the least.

Anxiety creates its' own kind of energy which gets compounded by limitations imposed by the clock and then pushing those limits just to see if it can be done.  Will the guest make it on time to the building for the interview? Will the assigned escort be there to take them to make-up?  Will I make it down 2 floors in the amount of time we allowed for some replay programming? Will the equipment work? Did I do enough research? Will the tapes be the right ones? Will I remember to have my "cheat notes" with me? Will I remember to say thank you? Will I make it back up two floors and down the hall and into the booth and  have my headset on in time before the end of the commercial? Will there be enough time to answer Dan's call through my headphones?  "Cue".

"Welcome to Championship Figure Skating on CBC; presented by Artistry"

I did - twice - and today it was only with about 10 seconds to spare.

It was worth it though as I got answers to some new questions.

I'll admit it: I am breathless. 

The kind of feeling where you don't know whether to laugh or cry as you alternate between terror and euphoria on the craziest roller coaster ride ever.

 

 


 
Posted By SkatingPj
The last stop for the skaters for the 2009/2010 season will be the ISU World Figure Skating Championships which begin on March 23, 2010 in Turin, Italy and boasts the highest attendance of Olympic medallists since 1994 and signals the start of the climb towards the Sochi Games of 2014. 
The men are as much about the competing “dynamic” as the competition. Neither the Olympic and defending world champion from the United States, Evan Lysacek nor the Olympic silver medallist from Russia, Evgeni Plushenko will be attending Worlds leaving Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi as the lone Olympic medallist in contention for the top spot in Turin. He is the kind of skater who seems to perform best with something to prove so I am not convinced that he is as comfortable being chased as he is doing the chasing. For this reason, I think that his main competition is going to come from three time Canadian champion, Patrick Chan who has made excellent training use of the intervening three weeks since the Olympic Games. Also in the hunt will be Japan’s Nobunari Oda who is undoubtedly looking to make up for the broken skate lace that waylaid his Olympic free program. The other names to watch out for are American Jeremy Abbott and Frenchman Brian Joubert whose disappointing Olympic results could spur them on to greatness here. 
Korea’s Yu-Na Kim was crowned Olympic champion just about three weeks ago and is headed to Turin to defend her world title. Simply put, she is so far above the rest this season that the women’s title is hers to lose. In Vancouver, she earned personal best scores across the board and her overall score of 228.56 was high enough to not only  take the women’s title, but to place her in the top 10 in the men’s Olympic event with one fewer jump element and 30 seconds less music. Her main rival in Italy will be 2010 Olympic silver medallist and 2008 world champion from Japan, Mao Asada whose skating can definitely keep up technically but whose programs this year seemed to fall short. American Murai Nagasu was secure enough to take 4th place in Vancouver and I think will be the one to round out the podium here in her first trip to the Worlds. 
Ice Dance will pit friend against friend in a re-match of the Olympic Games where three time Canadian champions, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir took the Olympic title and American champions and training mates Meryl Davis and Charlie White took the silver. Both teams have superb qualities and it could go either way on any given day but I think the Olympic win will give Virtue and Moir the “confidence edge” here. All things being equal, European silver medallists from Italy, Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali have shown outstanding improvement this season and their quality Original and Free Dance programs should put them on the podium in Turin. 
The pair event was mostly lackluster at the Olympic Games with a couple of exceptions: one was 2006 World champions from China, Qing Pang and Jian Tong who took the silver medal. They are the team to beat in Turin. Their biggest challenge should come from two-time and reigning World champions from Germany, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, who have the ability to take the title again but have failed to consistently deliver this season despite a re-worked and magical free program to Out of Africa. Struggling with the same inconsistencies are Canadian champions Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison who could definitely be in the mix for a medal especially if they skate a strong short program to set it up. The Russian team of Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov are the 2010 European Champions but only seem to be able to capitalize on other teams’ mistakes which could still work to their advantage in Italy.

 
Posted By SkatingPj

Hi everyone -Turin here we come! Just for fun, I thought I would post my IAsk questions  for Artistry that I will be asking during theCBC broadcasts this week.  I have used www.fsuniverse.net,  Twitter (@skatingpj) & the shows to start conversations. The response has been GREAT and some really interesting points have been made all season long which makes me hopeful that you will weigh in here too! 

Either leave your comment making sure to use the question# in your response or email me at pjkwong@pjkwong.com and you just might make the IAsk answer segment on TV! I think it's going to be a great competition. I can't wait to get started @7am ET on Tuesday morning! Thanks to all! Cheers, Pj

#1 Post Olympic Worlds-out with the old and in with the new?
It seems that there are two schools of thought. Do you think that skaters should be obliged to participate in Worlds (barring illness or other extenuating cirsumstances) after the Olympic Games in order to preserve the quality of the event or is it exciting to really start to see the younger skaters start to hit their stride? 
#2 Does Olympic result affect Skater's Worlds Strategy?
What effect do you see an Olympic performance (for good or bad) having on a skater's Worlds strategy?
#3 Figure Skating or Figure Jumping? 
Will increasing the value of a Quad jump mean that skaters will start to focus less on components or is there room for everything in the 4 1/2 minute program? 
#4 Pair Skating and Hitting the Ceiling
It seems as time goes on there are fewer teams performing elements like 3A and 4Sthrows and 4TW....is it possible that Pair Skating has hit the "technical ceiling"? Is it a case of not worth the risk or beyond the human abilities of most skaters?
#5 OD Dream Theme
 
If you had your way...what would be your OD dream theme? (For real or for fun )

#6 Men's Field - the deep end of the pool :)

How does the depth of talent in the men's field impact the level of competition?

#7 Yu-Na Kim's Longevity - How long is long enough?

Does Yu-Na Kim need longevity to truly be considered a figure skating icon in the same vein as Sonja Henie, Barbara Ann Scott or Michelle Kwan? (Of course there are others - but as examples)

#8 Dancing to a different tune...

As innovators, Virtue and Moir have helped to shift the focus away from traditional ballroom to more athletic movement. Is Ice Dance headed in the right direction

#9 Women and the 3A

Will a common 3A be the next threshold and the way to advance the sport of women's figure skating?


 
Posted By SkatingPj

I arrived home a week ago and was into my "real" life so quickly it was almost as if I had never been away.

But I had.

It has taken me until today to be able to sit and think a bit about the Vancouver adventure that started for me at the beginning of February 2010 and ended around the same time the men's hockey game did with my arrival in Toronto.  The score was announced in flight and to the mostly Canadian passengers, the men's hockey team winning the gold in overtime, was like the icing on the cake.  What a thrill to hear the cheers and see the smiles and on an Air Canada flight no less.

As my Mom said after having been in Vancouver for a couple of days:  "I get it.  I get the Olympics."  On TV all you see are hordes of people and seemingly endless lineups and what would seem like a lot of fuss and bother.  What you don't see until you come to the Olympics is the pride and the flags and the smiles.  My favourites were the Swedish fans; they had hats that were their flag's blue and yellow with viking horns and yellow pigtails.

Here are just a few of my "Olympic" moments:

* my Mom making it to Vancouver to see the Original Dance (her favourite event) ...which had been our focus while she underwent chemo and surgery for ovarian cancer in 2009.

* being wakened from an afternoon nap (the ONLY one I got to take!)  in my 15th floor Yaletown condo from the roars of fans in nearby condos and street level bars as Canada defeated Russia in men's hockey.  So loud in fact, I renamed the area Yelltown.

* seeing the joy of being a fan no matter the country on the streets of Vancouver

* hearing the screams as people went across Robson Square overhead on that zip line

* feeling the pride of a mother for Joannie Rochette in going ahead and doing what she had come to Vancouver to do...forever one of my "I know where I was when" moments.

*giggling when Matt Galloway and  (engineer) Jeremy called me "Future Girl" for my accuracy in predicting the results

*seeing a fake kiss n cry set-up on the Colbert Report on last Monday's show with a woman announcer's voice calling for scores (the voice was not mine - wt???)

*being reunited with Amanda G (who was "the boss of me" in Salt Lake City in 2002) and getting to know Kate R, Lauren G and Josee C - a whole other blog would have to be devoted to the laughs we had!

*getting pictures of CBC's Scott Morrison from Hockey Night in Canada and Rick Hansen with Flat Stanley for a certain three schools in the GTA's west end :)

*meeting Karen Magnussen and Marnie Mcbean and yanking Donovan Bailey's chain just a little bit

*being in the Pacific Coliseum for the last night of short track and screaming along with everyone else during the race for the Canadian men's relay team who won Gold.

* Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir! PERFECTION!  And seeing brothers Charlie and Danny and that hug!

*hearing the Canadian anthem being sung by so many people in the building during  medal ceremonies for ice dance and short track and seeing the flag go up.

So many friendships - new and old - and the feeling that we were all part of something really special and uniquely Canadian and I am still smiling.


 

 

 
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