Twizzle Talk


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The Return of Joshua Farris

Today is a great day. One of my absolute favorite U.S. men’s figure skaters has announced his return to competition.

Joshua Farris is back!

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Image Source: ifigureskating.com

My immense appreciation for his skating talents has been well-documented on this little blog, so it is probably a big understatement to say that I am thrilled.

He initially retired over the summer, after a string of concussions made it unsafe for him to continue training. But, according to Ice Network, he has been cleared by his doctors and is back on the ice, ready to finish his career on his own terms.

Let’s revisit his short program from 2015 U.S. Nationals, where he was the bronze medalist. Watch this beauty of a performance and tell me you aren’t excited to see him back in action:

I know Nathan Chen is the quad king for the U.S. right now, but Josh’s return adds an interesting new dimension to the U.S. men’s field. He told Ice Network very confidently that he will come back with a quad or two in his arsenal. If he returns to his prior form, as far as the spins, footwork, and artistry are concerned, and then adds some quads—it could be a real fight between him and his fellow artists, Adam Rippon and Jason Brown, for the remaining spots on the Olympic team (barring an injury or some sort of bizarre disaster that would keep Chen from PyeongChang).

It is, of course, one thing to tell a reporter you’re going to nail quads, and then to actually do it in competition, but I’ve got high hopes here! Now, to start a petition for this “Give Me Love” short program to also make a comeback…

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Favorite Musical Selections of the 2014-15 Season

The 2015 World Figure Skating Championships are a little over a month away and I’ve seen some fellow skating fans on Twitter bemoaning the long stretch of time until the event. What are we supposed to do without skating to keep us occupied for the next three-ish weeks?

I’ve pondered Jason Brown’s future with the quad and others are sizing up Ashley Wagner’s chances for a medal in Shanghai. But I think this lull is also a nice opportunity to take some time to enjoy the more unique, subtle aspects of skating that sometimes get overlooked in the scramble for points and medals. Let’s take music choice, for example.

Yes, people notice music choice, particularly if it is something outside the box (ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue using hip hop cuts from The Great Gatsby soundtrack in their free dance), or boring background music (commentator Johnny Weir’s analysis of Polina Edmunds’ Peter Pan long program), but they pay more attention to the technical elements. So let’s take a break from the math and focus on the artistic aspect of skating for a bit.

Here are my favorite musical selections from the 2014-15 season (in no particular order):

  • Ricky Dornbush, long program: “Yellow” and “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay

His footwork and connecting moves are all positioned perfectly within the music. I love how the vocals come in subtly at the end, mirroring how the choreography of the program builds to a big finish. Using the words throughout would have made it feel too much like an exhibition program; the familiar melodies are enough to draw the audience in—along with his smooth, edgy skating:

(This video is his long from 2014 Cup of China, where he made a number of small mistakes during the aforementioned “big finish”–it definitely would have been better if he nailed all those triples at the end, but the choreography is still fantastic).

  • Joshua Farris, short program: “Give Me Love” by Ed Sheeran

I know I’ve waxed on about the awesomeness of Farris’s skating here and here, but this is really one of the most spectacular programs of the season. I’ve known this Ed Sheeran song for a few years, and I’d even seen it performed live by Ed himself, and I didn’t fully appreciate all the intricacies of the music until I saw this short program (In defense of Ed, I was in one of the last rows of a giant stadium, in the pouring rain, and he was a relatively unknown opening act with only an acoustic guitar to back him up, so that may be why I didn’t fully appreciate it, ha). The attention to detail in the choreography and Farris’ commitment to delivering the moves are what make this music choice so fantastic. It has the intensity that a short program needs and doesn’t seem like a show program, despite the vocals. The section of the program where he does his footwork seems like it was composed especially for a footwork sequence, it works that well:

  • Elena Illinykh and Ruslan Zhiganshin, free dance: “Appassionata” by Secret Garden and “Antony and Cleopatra Theme” by Ferrante and Teicher

Interestingly, my first two favorites took advantage of this year’s new rule allowing vocals in all disciplines, but my third favorite pick is a bit more traditional. I love the power and emotion in this music, and it highlights the passion in this team’s skating. Since this is their first year as a team, I think it was a wise choice to pick music that is strong and captivating, because they are relying on their presentation skills as they continue to develop technically as a pair. The violin in the slow section is my favorite part—the twizzle placement is great:

Who is skating to your favorite music this year?


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Top 5 Surprise Moments from the U.S. Championships

We had the “wow moments” and the tearjerkers at Nationals this year, and I think there were also a few surprises. Check out my top 5:

1. The return of Joshua Farris

I ruled him out based on his recent ankle injury and a rough showing at NHK Trophy, but man, was that a mistake. And I’m glad it was, because he is my favorite of all the men’s skaters on the scene right now. Not only does he have the jumps, but his spins, footwork, and artistry are superb. His jump entrances are also unique (and difficult). Watch his footwork sequence get a huge reaction from the crowd in his Nationals long program (which is rare in a piece as somber and quiet as Farris’ Schindler’s List long program):

The best part about his skating is that he looks so natural on the ice, as if nothing is forced. Johnny Weir pointed out in that video that Farris is a natural artist, and I couldn’t agree more. Hopefully he makes a strong showing at Worlds! I think it is entirely possible, because Farris was one double toe loop away from winning the title at Nationals. He did three double toes in combination, which is against the rules and resulted in him not earning any points for his triple lutz-double toe combination. The 7 or so points that combo would have given him would have been enough for the title. A rough lesson to learn, but one that will not be forgotten any time soon and will serve him well in the future.

2. And as a bonus surprise, Farris is also a fantastic guitar player and singer. Thanks to NBC for revealing this hidden talent:

3. Mariah Bell in 6th place for the ladies was another pleasant surprise.

I loved her when I first saw her perform live in Boston last year and was thrilled to see her put out two solid performances this year. I bet she will grow a lot before next season and hopefully get some Grand Prix assignments. I think she flies a little too far under everyone’s radar–she skates with beautiful ease and pizzazz. Watch her short program performance and just try not to smile (really, you can’t not grin while watching this):

4. Tarah Kayne and Daniel O’Shea’s bronze medal in the pairs event

She had surgery on her right hip in July, and the commentators during the event mentioned that the pair hadn’t resumed full-time training until about a month prior to Nationals. It certainly didn’t show in their long program, and the emotion was palpable as they hit nearly all of their elements:

Quite the impressive showing for last year’s Four Continents silver medalists, and they will head to that event again this year.

5. There was some buzz surrounding 15-year-old Karen Chen (who is from the same town in California as Olympic Champion Kristi Yamaguchi) coming in to Nationals, but she still blew everyone away with a career-best performance that included six triples and earned the bronze medal. Too young to compete at the World Championships, she will go to the Junior World Championships instead. After withdrawing from Nationals last year with a broken ankle, this was a great moment for her: