Twizzle Talk


Leave a comment

Hawayek and Baker 2019 U.S. Nationals Preview

The 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships kick off in less than a week, and I’m counting the days until I head to Detroit to cover the event with Figure Skaters Online.

Leading up to the event, I called in for Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker’s media teleconference and wrote a preview piece for ice-dance.com.

hawayek-baker-18-1005

Photo by Robin Ritoss, courtesy of ice-dance.com

Hawayek and Baker Aim to Continue Breakthrough Season at U.S. Nationals

When American ice dancer Jean-Luc Baker suffered a concussion during preseason training in August, his season with partner Kaitlin Hawayek could easily have gone off the rails. They lost training time and weren’t able to compete before their first Grand Prix event of the season, NHK Trophy in Japan in November.

But instead, after a careful recovery, the team went on to have a breakout season on the Grand Prix, winning gold at NHK and qualifying for their first Grand Prix Final.

“Once we were able to start training again, it was training as quick as possible to get ready for NHK, then we had [Internationeaux de] France a week later, and the next thing you know, we made the Final,” Baker said.

For more on their year of firsts and the team’s goals heading into Nationals, read the full article on ice-dance.com!

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Four Favorites: Internationaux de France 2018

Well, somehow the 2018 Grand Prix Series has concluded. Anybody else feel like the Olympics were about two minutes ago? I fell off of posting a bit last week due to the holiday, but did have plenty of time to soak up the Internationaux de France and determine my four favorites from the event:

        1. In the ladies event, I liked Alexia Paganini’s rocker-rocker entrance into the triple lutz-triple toe combination in the short program. It not only added difficulty, but also highlighted the strong outside edge on the takeoff, which not everyone in this field has mastered. It was the opening element of the Swiss skater’s program:

          Honorable mention goes to the closing moments of Rika Kihira’s long program, with it’s beautifully paced choreography. I’m trying to stick with only four favorites, for alliteration and organization, but sometimes I can’t help myself.
        2. In the ice dance event, I loved how Team USA’s Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker enter their stationary lift directly out of the curve lift in the free dance. A difficult setup that shows strength and control, and helps blend the elements seamlessly into the program, rather than telegraphing them.
          gifs website
          FreeGifMaker.me
        3. On the pairs side, champions Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres stood out in more ways than one, but I particularly liked their unique entry into the side-by-side salchows:
          gifs website
          FreeGifMaker.me
          Setting aside that she doubled the jump here, I love this entry, choreographed by Olympic Ice Dance Champion Charlie White. They are doing different movements leading into the jump, but still have perfectly synchronized timing. Plus, this is more visually interesting than simply entering the jump by skating next to each other, as many pairs do.
        4. My favorite part of the men’s event was seeing the International Judging System as its best self. The ISU implemented a lot of changes since last season, including some that controversially devalued quads, especially quads that are underrotated or where the skater falls. I had hoped it would be a positive change, without entirely discouraging skaters from still pushing the sport forward with quad jumps. As I watched Jason Brown’s short program last Friday, I was loving it as usual, and then noticed how high the score was ticking up in the box in the top left corner of my screen. “Is it possible…is he about to win this short program?” I asked myself (aloud, as I often do when watching skating, even alone). Given that he wasn’t trying a quad, I assumed he would end up behind programs with quad attempts, even with a clean program. Not in this newest iteration of the IJS! It was great to see. And in the end, Nathan Chen, the Quad King, won the event, showing that clean quad jumps will still rule the day. But it was so heartening to see a complete program—clean skate, presentation, spins, everything Jason Brown does so beautifully—properly rewarded. Here it is:

 


Leave a comment

Four Favorites: NHK Trophy 2018

I’m watching the short programs at Rostelecom Cup while I type out this post, as I’m sure many of you skating fans are as well. In the time between the shorts and tomorrow’s long programs, let’s take a brief look back at NHK Trophy last week, for my four favorite costume looks.

Admittedly, this is a very U.S.-centric post, but I have to say that the American skaters brought their fashion game to this event!

  1. Kaitlin Hawayek’s dresses in both the rhythm dance and the free dance were gorgeous. I especially loved the open back on the red rhythm dance dress (but sadly couldn’t find a good photo of it!), and the sheer sleeves on the free dance dress.
    kaitlin-hawayek-jean-luc-baker

    Rhythm dance dress; Image via TSN

    FSKATE-JPN

    Free dance dress; Image via AFP on enca.com

  2. Alexa Scimeca Knierim’s long program dress is stunning, and pulls off the piecey skirt look without it seeming like the dress went through a paper shredder. Tough to find a good full-length image of this one, too, but the skirt and pretty, paint-like details are visible here:

  3. On the men’s side, Alexander Johnson was the clear fashion standout of the group. I loved the color of his short program outfit, and the architecture of the long program top was unique and minimalist.
    dpbjoo9ucaazjot

    Same short program costume, different event; Image via Johnson’s Twitter page

    maxresdefault

    Long program; Image via YouTube

    This was his first Grand Prix event, and he prepared for competition this summer while balancing an investment banking internship—major kudos there.

  4. I’ve already mentioned my love for Mariah Bell’s short program dress this year, and the long program dress is also lovely. It reminds me a bit of Ashley Wagner’s first dress for her Muse long program. I like the addition of the rope-like detailing on Mariah’s version. For some reason, the only images I could find of her dresses at this event are blurry YouTube screenshots, but Mariah posted great shots of each dress from Skate Canada on her Instagram:

    View this post on Instagram

    Skate Canada 2018💜

    A post shared by Mariah 🔔 (@mariahsk8rbell) on

Did anyone else have any fashion faves from this event or the rest of the season so far?


Leave a comment

Flashback Friday: Rostelecom Cup 2018 Edition

Gracie Gold returns to competitive ice and the Grand Prix circuit this weekend at Rostelecom Cup, after taking the 2017-18 season off for health and personal reasons. She won her first Grand Prix medal—a silver—at Rostelecom Cup in 2012. She skated this sparkling short program en route to the silver medal:

She showcased excellent speed and jump height in this program, as well as a joy for skating that I hope we will see again this weekend, regardless of placement.

This happens to be the second Flashback Friday from the 2012 Rostelecom Cup ladies event, which was full of some great performances! Here’s to some more this weekend at 2018 Rostelecom.


Leave a comment

Flashback Friday: NHK Trophy 2018 Edition

I’m still catching up on all the coverage of last weekend’s Grand Prix of Helsinki, but the best moment by far had to be Yuzuru Hanyu’s quad toe-triple axel combination.

I watched it over and over again, marveling at the spring and height on the triple axel. It would have been excellent on a solo triple axel—the fact that it was directly off a quadruple toe loop was nearly unbelievable. It is amazing and inspiring to see a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist continue to push his own boundaries and the sport forward.

So in honor of Hanyu’s awesomeness last weekend, this NHK Trophy Flashback Friday goes back to 2015, when he broke the world record with this sterling performance:

I love the ease and confidence throughout the program. This was the first time anyone topped 300 points in the IJS, and he cleared it by 22 points, beating silver medalist Boyang Jin by 55.97 points.

And then, because sometimes the only person Hanyu needs to outdo his himself, he broke this very record just a few weeks later at that year’s Grand Prix Final.

Happy NHK viewing, figure skating fans!


Leave a comment

Flashback Friday: Grand Prix Finland 2018 Edition

This weekend, Finland will host its first-ever Grand Prix event. China declined to host their annual Cup of China this year, so the event was moved to Helsinki, which played host to the World Championships in 2017.

Back on the 2012 Grand Prix circuit, Finnish champion Kiira Korpi won the Rostelecom Cup. That victory, combined with a bronze at Cup of China, earned her a spot in the Grand Prix Final that year.

Let’s take a look back at the last Grand Prix victory by a woman from Finland in this week’s extra alliterative Finland Flashback Friday: