Twizzle Talk


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Flashback Friday: The Perils of YouTube Autoplay

You know what I’m talking about (with this post title). The YouTube autoplay feature that automatically plays a video similar or related to what you just watched. Second to the Netflix autoplay feature, of course, but still problematic.

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Image Source: googlesystem.blogpost.com

My skating friends and I send each other YouTube links constantly. One of my coworkers is a fellow skating fan, and we love trading links to our favorite performances (I’ve got two in my inbox right now, from the 2017 Europeans exhibition, awaiting my viewing).

But this is when things get dangerous. This is when I get into a YouTube skating hole, and find myself watching way too many programs in a row, for far too long. The original dance from the 2006 Olympics! Vintage Michelle Kwan! Virtue and Moir’s exhibition program to Justin Bieber.

I know I’m not the only one who’s been there.

And sometimes this skating binge-watching leads to the rediscovery of a forgotten gem, like this lovely exhibition program by U.S. ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, from nearly 10 years ago. This was one of my all-time favorite programs of theirs, to “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin, and you should check it out for your Flashback Friday:

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Flashback Friday: Sasha 10 Years After Torino

Even though I keep putting 2015 on all my to-do lists and journal entries, it’s time for me to accept that it is 2016. Which also happens to be 10 years since the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. What?!

It doesn’t feel like 10 years since I sat in my parents’ family room, inches from the TV, cheering on Sasha Cohen in her epic “Dark Eyes” gypsy short program and her (though imperfect) triumph of mental toughness to “Romeo and Juliet” in the free skate. But time has passed and a lot has changed for Cohen, the Olympic Silver Medalist in 2006 and a 2016 inductee into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

Forbes caught up with Cohen, for some reflecting on her skating career and the 10 years since Torino. My favorite excerpts from the four-part piece:

On being proud of her silver medal: “I had tears, but they were mixed. I had some tears of disappointment earlier [at not winning gold], but at the same time I was really proud. I think that was a pivotal day for me to be able to keep believing, to pick myself up when I didn’t know whether anything was still possible. It was very rewarding.”

On going back to school: “I’m going to school on my terms now, because I want to. I had a limited education. All my energy was diverted to sport. The people that shaped the world had just passed me by. That made me sad. I decided to not tour as much and make time to be a student full-time.”

You can read the entire thing, with links to all four parts, here, for this week’s Flashback Friday. Next week, our flashbacks with the U.S. Hall of Fame inductees continue: Belbin & Agosto are on deck.


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Flashback Friday: Shib Sibs Grand Prix Victories

American ice dancers Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani won their first Grand Prix title since 2011 at last weekend’s NHK Trophy. Their other Grand Prix victory was also at an NHK Trophy.

Let’s flash back to their 2011 win:

I love the exuberance and enthusiasm of this program. And don’t they look so young?! The Shib Sibs were clearly great then, and would go on to win bronze at Worlds that year. But bringing it back to the present day, I loved watching that 2011 program in contrast to this year’s free dance. Check it out from their NHK victory:

They’ve increased their speed and connection with each other, and their interpretation really captures the nuances of the music (Coldplay’s “Fix You.”). That twizzle sequence is exquisite—not only in the execution but also in the use of the music. The commentators (love those British Eurosport guys!) say at the end of the performance that they didn’t want it to end, and I’ve got to agree. And isn’t that the mark of a great skating performance? Making it all look smooth and effortless so your audience feels at ease and gets lost in the performance. There is nothing worse than those programs where the skaters are just gritting their teeth and making it through, both for the skaters themselves and the audience.

I feel like this free dance, as well as the 2011 program, is a great vehicle for them in that the brother-sister dynamic isn’t detrimental to the performance, as it can be for the more romantic rhythms, like the tango, for example. Well done, Shib Sibs. Can’t wait to watch them take on everyone at the Grand Prix Final, Nationals, and Worlds with this fantastic piece.


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Flashback Friday: Mao Asada

Mao Asada has been the talk of the figure skating world since 2006, when she was too young to go to the Torino Olympics, despite being that year’s Grand Prix Final champion. She won an Olympic silver medal in Vancouver in 2010, is a three-time world champion, and finished 6th in Sochi in 2014 before taking last year off from competition. But she is making a comeback this year and has started out strong with victories at the Japan Open and Cup of China. Her season-long comeback reminds me of her epic comeback at the Sochi Olympics, where she climbed from 16th after a disastrous, mistake-ridden short program all the way up to 6th with an inspiring long program. If she can skate like this again, she’ll be a force to be reckoned with at Worlds in Boston in March. Take a look back at Mao’s 2014 Olympic long program on this Flashback Friday:


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Flashback Friday: Skate Canada 2010

Inspired by Ashley Wagner’s Skate Canada victory last weekend, let’s take it back five years, to the last time an American lady won Skate Canada. For this week’s Flashback Friday, Alissa Czisny and her glorious spins taking gold at Skate Canada 2010 in Kingston Ontario:


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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.