Twizzle Talk


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Anatomy of a Titanic Program

This post has been in my drafts for a year—yikes! That’s a little embarrassing. But since 2017 is the 20th anniversary of the movie “Titanic,” and this post was initially intended to sing the praises of current U.S. World Team member Mariah Bell, it’s actually still relevant. High-five to past me.

The music from “Titanic” was a popular choice for skating programs when the movie first came out, and it still pops up in rinks from the local level to the World Championships, because it is such a movie favorite.

Last year, Russian Elena Radionova skated to selections from “Titanic” for her long program, and I just couldn’t get on the bandwagon for this program.

 

The voiceovers were a distraction, rather than an enhancement, and the music selection overall was too repetitive, too reliant on the “My Heart Will Go On” portion of the soundtrack, both with vocals and without. We all know it’s a long movie (anybody else remember the two-VHS boxed set?), and there is a wealth of music to choose from. I’m a fan of the Irish music from the steerage party scene, performed by the wonderful band Gaelic Storm. By the time Celine Dion’s voice comes into the program in the final minute or so, we’ve heard this crescendo of the music several times already, which diminishes the emotional impact and power of the moment.

In terms of the choreography, I didn’t love the constant open and uplifting arm movements…lots of people are dying here, including Radionova’s character’s boyfriend. It looked too triumphant. The jump entrances are held too long and are awkward, which is indicative of the trouble she was having with jumps last season, after a growth spurt.

I did enjoy that Radionova’s dress was a nod to the pretty dress that Kate Winslet wore as the ship was sinking:

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Image Source: awesomeinventions.com

Mariah Bell’s 2015 “Titanic” program, on the other hand, was much more my taste:

 

The opening of this program captures the tension of the film, both in terms of music and choreography. From there, it moves into a natural story: the piece with some pop and Mariah’s beautiful split jumps alludes to the triumphant send-off for the ship, there is a sweet portion in the middle for her footwork that fits with the movie love story, and the use of “My Heart Will Go On” is very subtle.

Skating programs usually build to a grand finale of sorts, with the most exciting, uplifting pieces of music at the end. This program ends quietly, and I liked the nod to the more somber end for the Titanic itself and the movie.

Also, her dress is gorgeous and looks like the ocean.

This Nationals, 2015, was when I first noticed the joy and “it factor” in Mariah’s skating. That’s still present today, in 2017, but she has made huge technical strides. There wasn’t a triple-triple in this program (she doubled a planned triple toe-triple toe), and now she routinely hits the triple lutz-triple toe. She said in her recent interview on the “Ice Talk” podcast that she moved to new coach Rafael Arutyunyan for technical help, so it is exciting to think about the strides she can make after a full season with Raf.

Are there any other well-known “Titanic” programs that you loved or hated? Let me know!


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Best Costumes of the Season So Far: Ice Dance

I took a look at the best ladies’ costumes first, but now it’s on to ice dance. This discipline naturally lends itself to more theatrical outfits, with thematic short dances informed by the required rhythm of a given year, and free dances that usually tell a story, whether it’s borrowed from a movie or musical, or it’s one that the couple created to go with their music.

I find that there are lots of fashion extremes in ice dance: the skaters either look fabulous or crazy. So here are a few who I think have looked fabulous this season:

Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron – free dance

The French team, now two-time World Champions, haven’t beaten the Canadian Olympic Champions on the comeback trail, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, in two head-to-head meetings this season. But I say they are winning the fashion contest, especially with these beautiful blue creations:

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Image Source: icenetwork.com

papadakis-and-cizeron-blue-costumes

Image Source: dailyherald.com

I had to include this second shot, so you can appreciate the beautiful ombre fade in her skirt. I love that both her dress and his top have nontraditional cuts in the bodice—his especially so, with the sleeveless! He is one of a few men taking advantage of a rule change that allows for sleeveless shirts this year, and I think it works well here. The theme of their program is a bit abstract this year, I think something about working through challenges, so it’s fitting that the costumes have this artsy, ombre vibe. Coolest part of these costumes? Cizeron designs them, according to their interview on the Ice Talk podcast.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje – short dance

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Image Source: insideskating.net

I love how unexpected, original, and fashion-y (that’s a technical term, right?) this look is on Weaver: menswear-inspired shorts, complete with a faux-necklace made of sequins. This works because of the impeccable fit—nothing is ever out of place, at any point in the program. She looks like she is about to hit a red carpet for a music awards show, and the leather accents on Poje’s pants and vest are an excellent complement to her look.

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier – free dance

gilles-and-poirier-tango-costumes

Image Source: Getty Images

Piper’s dress is my favorite here. I love that she went with blue for a tango (we usually see red or black), and this particular icy blue is gorgeous. As is the detail on the dress, with the sequined bodice and the gathered, lace skirt. The flower in her hair is a teeeeny bit big, but it keeps the tango character. Paul’s look is only ok here (though I appreciate the commitment with the mustache!)—if the accents in his tie matched the color of her dress, I think I’d be sold.

When watching dance or pairs, I tend to gravitate towards what the girl is wearing first, maybe because I wear/have worn skating dresses myself. I also think the guys usually have simpler looks overall, so your eye can be drawn to the ladies’ beautiful outfits. I tried not to only pay attention to the girls here, and give the guys their due as well. Who is wearing your favorite ice dance costumes this season?


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Best Costumes of the Season So Far: The Ladies

It’s been awhile, blog. But I’m back to discuss something of utmost importance: skating fashions.

The second half of the season is about to kick off, and that tends to be the time of year where skaters switch up their look, or get an awesome new costume just before nationals. Sometimes I think it’s a great idea (see: Sasha Cohen’s gorgeous maroon Olympic free skate dress, compared to the gold she wore earlier in the season), but sometimes I mourn the departure of their first costume (RIP Meryl Davis’s stunning deep blue 2014 free dance dress, swapped for a lilac version for Nationals and the Olympics).

So, before any potential switches, I’m going to take a look back at my favorite costumes of the year (so far). Let’s start with the ladies’ looks that I loved:

Ashley Wagner, long program

ashley-wagner

Image Source: goldenskate.com

The gray ombre in this dress looks fantastic with Ashley’s coloring, and fantastic on the ice. I love how the dress is almost an extension of her and of her movements; it is fitted perfectly and the understated skirt flutters ever so slightly. The simple silhouette is a good contrast to the mega-sparkle factor. Her program, set to “Exogenisis: Symphony Part 3” by Muse, is about coming out on the other side of a dark, difficult emotional experience and the gray evokes that mood.

Evegenia Medvedeva, short program

ISU Junior & Senior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final - Marseille Day 2

Image Source: Excelle Sports

Her music has a river/winter theme, and the intricate beadwork on this dress looks like a river flowing, or even melting snow. I love the color, and appreciate that she didn’t go with a more straightforward blue. This one really pops on the ice. It looks like a river you might find in a watercolor painting, as opposed to in nature. But please, lose the gloves. My hatred of gloves is well-documented here and here.

Elena Radionova, long program

I haven’t always been the biggest Elena fan, in terms of both skating style and costume choice, but this dusty pink number was a game-changer. I love the unique semi-straight skirt, and the subtle gray accents. It’s a nice, more modern touch that the beadwork extends onto the mesh top portion of the dress, and gives the dress more of a runway-fashion look.  Plus, the swept-up bun is the perfect hair choice with this dress, clean and elegant.

Kaetlyn Osmond

Kaetlyn is owning it on the ice this season, with two medals on the Grand Prix circuit and a 4th place finish in a tough Grand Prix Final. And she looks great doing it—calm, confident skating, and sparkly, sleek fashion. I mean, just look at her face in this photo! She is clearly having some fun. And I’m even a fan of the gloves (shocker!), because they fit the French character of her short program so well. Bonus shot of her equally beautiful long program dress:

 

I kind of love the short sleeves—they remind me of a dress I had back in the day, and, based on some Googling, are a more modern take on the typical look for the lead in “La Boheme,” her long program music.

Fingers crossed none of these ladies make a mid-season costume change…but if they do, you’ll probably be hearing about it here on Twizzle Talk. Next up: ice dance!


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Grand Prix Viewing Interior Monologue

A peek inside my head as I watched this season’s Grand Prix events. And to be fair, it’s not always an interior monologue. Sometimes I talk to the TV and my buddies, Tara, Johnny, and Terry. Here’s what I’m saying:

Where happened to the right side of Ksenia Stolbova’s dresses? Did they both rip in the wash?

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2015-16 Short Program, Image Source: isu.org

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2015-16 Short Program, Image Source: isu.org

Are Satoko Miyahara’s skates too big for her feet? Feet too big for her body? Maybe those ugly Edea skates are the problem.

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Image Source: Getty Images

Fedora Frank is the man.

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Image Source: insideskating.net

Ashley, please stop talking to yourself before and after your program at center ice. It looks a little cray cray. Just keep it in your head. Interior monologue. Like this one. 😉

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Is Adam’s hair purple or gray? (Both, apparently, at various points. And teal.)

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Image Source: @adamripponshair

Mao Asada’s short program this year is the cutest.

On the flip side, her “Madame Butterfly” long program…not original. How many Japanese women have we seen skate to this Japanese opera, wearing a dress with a sequined butterfly? She’s more original than that, and this piece is creeping up on “Phantom of the Opera” status…

Rafael Arutunian looks like he could play a hit man in a movie. Especially when he leans over the boards and grips them with both hands, while wearing black leather gloves. (Unfortunately, my extensive Google search did not bring up any photo to do this justice. So here is his intense face sans gloves. But you know what I’m talking about, I know it.)

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Image Source: usfsa.org

Anybody else talk to the TV while watching skating? Tell me it’s not just me.


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Skate Canada Hairstyles

There was some great skating at Skate Canada over the weekend—and some fabulous hair. I tend to notice hairstyles no matter which sport I am watching. I’m not the only one who loved the braids and ponytails that the soccer players rocked at the women’s world cup last summer. And every time I see another football player with flowing locks like this:

Image Source: nflrush.com

I can’t help but think how uncomfortable and sweaty it must be under that helmet. In figure skating, hairstyles are more important than most sports, since it can be part of the “look” of a costume or character. But at the same time, it needs to be practical and keep the hair out of the way during a performance. (Yes, I’m looking at you, female ice dancers who don’t pull your hair back. It’s distracting. And gives fuel to people who think skating is less of a sport.) My hair all-stars of Skate Canada are:

Most Improved: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Russia

Last year, Elizaveta was always sporting a messy ponytail with lots of visible clips. It was a look that was more “Sunday afternoon at the gym” than “World Figure Skating Champion.” This picture doesn’t even really capture how bad it was:

Image Source: olympics.nbcsports.com

This year, she has come out much more polished, with a braided look. Unfortunately, there aren’t many good pictures of it, but you can get the gist here:

Image Source: icenetwork.com

Image Source: icenetwork.com

MVP: Ashley Wagner, USA

Ashley has been a pretty consistent bun-wearer for the past few years, except for the polished ponytail in her Pink Floyd short program. I loved seeing her switch it up here, with the side part and twists into the bun. The red color also suits her much more than the really light blonde she had going on last year, in terms of both appearance and her sassy personality. Here’s a side view of the ‘do:

Image Source: wtop.com

Best Short Hairstyle: Meagan Duhamel, Canada

It is pretty rare to see a female figure skater with short hair. Short hair is difficult to pull back and limits your style options if you are going for a specific character. Canadian pairs skater Meagan Duhamel probably has the most well-known short hair in skating these days, and sometimes even she has bad hair days (like this overly curly situation at the Sochi Olympics). But I loved her look at Skate Canada; enough volume that it didn’t look flat or boring, but not so much that her hair overshadowed the rest of her.

Image Source: icenetwork.com

Image Source: icenetwork.com

Most Eye-Catching: Adam Rippon, USA

I can’t do a post about figure skating hairstyles this season without mentioning Adam Rippon’s gray locks:

Image Source: thefinersports.sportsblog.com

There was lots of chatter over the summer about this look; whether he’d dye it back before the competition season started, and whether it would be off-putting to the (sometimes old-fashioned) judges. While I’m not the biggest fan of the look of the gray, I will give him props for staying true to his own style. I just don’t love hair colors that were clearly created in a bottle and not in nature.

Who sported your favorite looks at Skate Canada? Am I wrong about ladies who leave their hair down? (It would take a lot to convince me of that…) Share your favorites in the comments!


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Fashion Friday on Flashback Friday

For this week’s Flashback Friday, rather than reminiscing about a favorite skating performance, I thought I’d go with my two favorite skating costumes. When I was around 11 or 12 years old, it was my dream to grow up to be a figure skating dress designer. I had taken one after-school sewing class–where I made a blanket and a pair of pajama pants (which ended up being several inches too short because I mismeasured the fabric)–so I thought I was well on the way to my goal. And the two dresses I’m about to write about were definitely the kind of costumes I saw myself creating. Now, be forewarned, because there is a trend here. And it’s a sparkly one. In no particular order, my two favorite skating dresses of all time (so far) are:

Nancy Kerrigan’s long program dress at the 1994 Olympics

Image Source: starcentralmagazine.com

And Sarah Hughes’ long program dress at the 2002 Olympics

Image Source: NY Daily News

These two are my favorites in terms of pure beauty and style. They both pop against the white ice–Nancy’s with the nearly 12,000 rhinestones and Sarah’s with the lavender color. Nancy’s dress is (very famously) a Vera Wang creation and Sarah’s was designed by renowned skating dress designer Jef Billings. To me, these dresses are quintessential ‘figure skating.’ Glamorous, beautiful, and they complement the skater’s body movement without being distracting (and you skating fans know how distracting some bad dresses can be). The detail on both of these dresses is also impeccable.

There are other costumes that I love that perfectly fit the character of a program without being the most beautiful dress. Sasha Cohen’s 2006 short program gypsy dress comes to mind. Not only was it a stunning color, but it immediately established the gypsy character of the program, skated to a Russian folk ballad, “Dark Eyes.”

Image Source: sfgate.com

In the case of my two favorites, neither skater was portraying a specific or well-known character, so the dress could be inspired by fashion rather than a character’s dress or costume. Taken on their own, both Nancy’s and Sarah’s dresses are beautiful works of art and don’t need the musical or character explanation that some other skating costumes do.

What are some of your favorite dresses? Or men’s costumes? I’ve got a few favorites on that front too, so stay tuned for that in a later post. Since I never did pick up enough sewing skills to create these beauties, I’ll stick to admiring them from afar.