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Four Favorites: Internationaux de France 2019

Cup of China has come and gone, but here I am looking back at Internationaux de France from (not quite) two weeks ago. I was out of town the weekend of the competition for an excellent coaching seminar with Learn to Skate USA and got behind in my skating viewing, hence posting about France after the next event has already been completed. The skating was honestly a little haphazard in France, so I went with fashion for my four favorites from this event:

Ladies

Poor Maria Sotskova of Russia finished last here, and looks to really be struggling to regain the form that earned her a spot on Russia’s 2018 Olympic team. While her jumps didn’t look good, her short program dress really did. Unfortunately, the last place finisher apparently doesn’t make it to YouTube or Google Images, so I’m utilizing some very professional screenshots of NBC Sports Gold from my browser. All rights to NBC Sports Gold and the ISU, of course.

Front:

Maria Sotskova 2019 SP Dress Front

Back:

Maria Sotskova 2019 SP Dress Back

I love the color against the white ice, the asymmetrical cutout, and the hint of sparkle. It was very classy without being too traditional or expected. This was her only Grand Prix assignment of the season, and with the Russian ladies field as stacked as it is, I’m not sure we’ll see Sotskova or this lovely dress again this year, outside of Russian Nationals.

Men

Shoma Uno of Japan had a disastrous competition here, and in the long program, especially, his falls were wild and troubling. His free side was completely out of control and it looked like he was going to really get hurt if he kept going. But apparently the theme of this post is me loving the outfits of people having tough performances, because I thought his long program shirt was gorgeous. It looked like a starry night sky, or the lights of a city as viewed from an airplane window. Here’s a fan video of the program:

Pairs

Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier’s “Lion King” program re-run made my favorite programs list after Skate America, and I mentioned then how much I liked their outfits. I noticed them in even more detail at Internationaux de France, including the subtle leopard print! The brown is a color you don’t see often in skating, but this one is a deep enough shade that it looks great against the ice and is not drab. You can check out photos of Denney and Frazier from the competition via the event coverage on Figure Skaters Online.

Dance

In a year of Broadway-themed rhythm dances, there are no shortage of fun and memorable costumes. Spain’s Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz were my favorites here, with their very authentic Grease getups. (I’m choosing to ignore the questionable message of the movie/musical, that a girl needs to change who she is for her boyfriend…) With these two, there is full commitment to the Grease theme, right down to Smart’s curled hair a la Olivia Newton-John; does Diaz need to add a bit more gel to his look to really nail the Grease theme? This photo of the costumes is from an early-season event, but they are the same ones the duo wore in France:

Now I’m off to go finish watching the men’s and the ladies events from Cup of China!


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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.
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    Rhythm dance dress; Image via TSN

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

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    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?


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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

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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

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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.