Twizzle Talk


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Best Scheherazade Programs

Certain pieces of music pop up a lot in the skating world, for better or worse. I’ve made my feelings known about overuse of “Phantom of the Opera,” lots of people don’t want to hear “Carmen” in an ice rink ever again, and the fantastic Jackie Wong of Rocker Skating has a special hatred for any version of “Feelin’ Good.”

“Scheherazade” is another one that is used a lot, but it hasn’t reached fatiguing levels, at least for me. I love the layers of sound in the music, and the endless choreographic possibilities those layers create.

I heard “Scheherazade” a few times from the stands at Worlds, which got me thinking about my favorite programs set to this music:

Meryl Davis and Charlie White, 2014 Free Dance

Michelle Kwan, 2002 Long Program

While both programs are fabulous in their own right, they’ve got a few things in common that put them over the top and into my “best ever” category:

  • Choreography and arm movements that imply the weaving or spinning of a story (which is what the character of Scheherazade does to avoid a death sentence, so the legend goes)
  • Energy that builds throughout the program to an outstanding finish
  • Attire that fits the music and alludes to the Middle Eastern setting of the story, without being overly corny or kitschy

I could watch these programs over and over, but are there more excellent renditions of Scheherazade that I have to see? Do share!


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Favorite Program Music from Worlds 2016

Lots of skaters will tell you that when they hear a song, they instantly see skating, or start imagining a program. I without a doubt fall in to that category, and have also been known to listen to skating program music on my headphones at work, or while I’m cleaning up around the house.

Props to my friend who recommended the “Ice Skating Melodies” channel on Amazon Prime music, and my longtime skating pal who found this magical YouTube channel, Gattokiller’s Figure Skating Music. The wonderful Gattokiller re-cuts and records the exact versions of skating programs, then shares them on his channel. Perfect for when I want to listen to Yuna Kim’s fabulous cut of “Les Mis” while also being productive and not distracted by her mesmerizing skating.

After going to Worlds, I had the skaters’ program music stuck in my head for the entire week following the competition. It also happened to be a big deadline week at my job, and the refrain of, “The show must go on,” from Ashley Wagner’s “Moulin Rouge” program was running around in my head as we wrapped up our next issue of the magazine right on schedule.

My favorite musical selections from Worlds 2016:

Ashley Wagner’s selections from “Moulin Rouge”
This is how you use lyrics in a skating program. I’ve never seen the movie, but I totally get the storyline and what Ashley is trying to convey because this is such a great cut of music (and because her portrayal is so awesome).

Yuzuru Hanyu’s “Seimei” by Shigeru Umebayashi
The way he hits each beat and note of the music is fantastic. The only time I was a little frustrated with the otherwise awesome crowd at Worlds was when people were clapping during this program. This powerful music is meant to be heard, not drowned out by people clapping along like it is some kind of pop song.

Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, “La Dolce Vita”
This soundtrack is by Nino Rota, and his version of “Romeo and Juliet” also happens to be my favorite. I’m pretty much guaranteed to like a program set to Rota music, and this one is so much fun to watch.

Javier Fernandez’ “Guys and Dolls,” featuring “Luck Be a Lady” by Frank Sinatra
Who doesn’t love a little Sinatra? And Javi was holding the audience in the palm of his hand during this routine. Luck was on his side, for sure. I enjoyed how the lyrics came in towards the end of the program, like a culmination, rather than a distraction.

Evengia Medvedeva’s selections from “W.E.”
The movie “W.E.”—brainchild of Madonna—did not receive glowing reviews from the critics. It did, however, have an awesome soundtrack, which served as part of Medvedeva’s long program. This is on my “time to focus at work” playlist. I love how it is intense and dramatic without being too dark.

I’m looking forward to seeing some of these programs one more time at the Team Challenge Cup, but also can’t wait to see what these skaters choose as their follow-ups for next season!


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Best Ovations at Worlds 2016

Being in the audience for some of the events at the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships was thrilling and unforgettable. I keep telling people who ask about the event that I felt privileged to be in the audience to watch such amazing performances. The audience itself was also pretty awesome.

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It was clear that it was a knowledgeable group of skating fans, and an appreciative one at that. The cheers for the American skaters were nearly deafening, but the international skaters received lots of love as well. And as Phil Hersh pointed out on Twitter, figure skating fanhood is alive and well in Boston. I also thought I read on Twitter that people were comparing this event to skating’s heydey in the 1990s, but couldn’t find the exact tweet. If anyone finds something to that effect, definitely share in the comments!

Safe to say the audience was fabulous throughout the competition, but there were a few unforgettable crowd moments that stood out:

    • Any time the words, “Representing the United States of America…” were said before an athlete’s name.
    • The crowd’s deafening roar in response to Adam Rippon’s call for more (pictured above) after his fabulous and fun free skate.
  • The Shib Sibs’ twizzle sequence: You can somewhat hear the crowd over the music in this video, but just turn your volume all the way up and then imagine multiplying that by ten. And yes, I was crying by this point, as predicted.
  • The roar of the crowd leading up to Ashley Wagner’s final triple lutz, and after she nailed it
  • The cheers for Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu and Olympic Silver Medalist Mao Asada, despite subpar free skate performances. Though they didn’t bring the house down, both skaters received ovations that conveyed the respect the crowd had for their prior achievements, and their appreciation to see two of the sport’s greats live and in person.
  • The crowd was pretty much going insane for the entirety of the six-minute warm-up for the men’s final group. Screams every time somebody landed a quad, and there were plenty to go around in that group!

What a weekend! Next up, my favorite musical selections from the competition.


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The World is Coming…

…to Boston! The 2016 World Figure Skating Championships are less than two weeks away, and I will be in the building at the TD Garden for the free dance, men’s free skate, and ladies free skate. This is pretty much where I’m at:

My excitement levels are at an all-time high. I have been fortunate enough to attend two U.S. National Championships held in Boston, in 2001 and 2014, but there is something special about the World Championships being on American soil and getting to see it all in person. The last time Worlds was in the United States was 2009, in LA; the last time Worlds was on the East Coast was 2003, in DC. And not only is is a privilege to get to see ANY World Figure Skating Championships at all, but the skating this year has been fantastic. I know lots of people will be making predictions and taking their best guess as to who will stand on the podium. The level of skating is so high this year that I bet there will be many and varied conjectures. But there are a few things I can predict without any doubt. And here they are, in gif form:

I will cry my eyes out at the Shibutanis’ free dance. I cry watching it on TV; getting to see it in person will be another level. I’ll be the lady bawling in my seat…but I bet I won’t be the only one:

I’ll be wondering why most of the top half of Gabriella Papadakis’ dress is sheer (Here it is, for your reference. Rule book experts: no costume deduction for how revealing it is?!), and feeling uncomfortable about it:

When I was at 2014 U.S. Nationals, I was completely blown away by the height and distance of Gracie Gold’s triple lutz. I was the big dork in the stands who said, “Whoa.” out loud during the warm-ups, it was that impressive. I bet it still is, and I can’t wait to see it again:

I will barely be able to handle the cheesy voiceovers in Elena Radionova’s “Titanic” long program:

The men’s event is full of guys who are doing multiple quads in one program. Yuzuru Hanyu is already a legend in the sport, and there’s also Fernandez, Chan, Jin, Aaron and others tossing off the quads like a “simple” triple toe. I’ve seen quads in person before, but not of this quality or quantity. I have no doubt that I will be in awe:

Amazing-gif

But for now, I’ll just be blissfully looking forward to what promises to be an unforgettable World Championships: