Twizzle Talk


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Time to Grow

Sometimes I judge programs too harshly upon first viewing. I remember watching Ashley Wagner’s “Moulin Rouge” long program early in the 2014-2015 season and thinking it was kind of terrible. I thought the lyrics were overkill, used in too many of the cuts throughout the program. Fast forward to her stellar performance at 2015 U.S. Nationals, and she made me love it. I was thrilled she kept it around for another season, and was on my feet, screaming and cheering at 2016 Worlds in Boston when she brought the house down with an even better, more technically difficult and emotionally poignant rendition of this program.

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Image Source: USA Today

Today, I’d say that this program would be a great blueprint for how to use lyrics well in a skating program—Wagner and her choreographer Shae-Lynn Bourne chose songs from the movie that captured the essence of that story, as well as the story of resilience that they wanted to portray.

This season, there have been a few programs that I didn’t enjoy upon first viewing, but have really grown on me as the skaters settled in to them, and made improvements as the season has progressed.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates (USA), free dance “Under Pressure”

This song choice seemed more like noise than music to me, at first. They created quite a buzz by beating Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in the free dance at Skate Canada with this program, but I still wasn’t convinced. But after seeing two excellent outings of this program, at 2016 U.S. Nationals and Four Continents this week, I’m enjoying it much more. I love how the arm movements and lifts subtly reference the lyrics without being too cheesy or showy. The sharpness of their movements and commitment to the choreography are also fantastic. The entries and exits to all of their lifts are so difficult, yet they pull them off without any disruption to their speed or smoothness.

 

Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres (France), free skate “Sound of Silence”

I saw this program live at Skate America this fall and was underwhelmed. Partially because I associate this song with Nyle DiMarco’s performance on “Dancing with the Stars” and how incredible and impressive it was to watch someone who is deaf perform a fantastic routine to this song, and partially because James and Cipres had a rough skate that day and seemed visibly annoyed with each other. When they were on the “Ice Talk” podcast, they talked with Jackie Wong about putting this program together, and the intentional way that it starts slow and soft and builds throughout. Between learning that, and then seeing them perform with so much heart and confidence at Europeans, I’ve totally come around to this program. If you don’t watch the whole thing, you’ve at least got to check out the incredible, difficult death spiral entrance at about the 4:01 minute mark in the video:

 

Maybe I wrote off these two programs too early in the season (I’m pretty sure it was October, after all). I’m excited to see how much farther they’ll go in the month or so that both of these teams have before the World Championships in Helsinki.

Which programs have grown on you this 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.