Memorable Programs in Figure Skating (Pairs)

1988 Olympics:

Soviet skaters Ekaterina Gordeeva (just 16; nicknamed Katya) and partner Sergei Grinkov (21) are already World Champions known for their speed, split triple twist (she goes up VERY high), and Katya’s presence on the ice.  But they are still growing and learning (as we see in the profile below). 

Short Program (SP): It went pretty well, but wasn’t perfect.  We can see that Katya and Sergei wanted it to be better (ever the technicians).

Long Program (LP): They skated with such ease, kept up the speed, and had a flawless program!  Katya (looking like a young Natalie Portman) clearly enjoys being on the ice. 

1988 Worlds:

Isabelle Brasseur & Lloyd Eisler (CAN) were my favorite Pairs team growing up!  I loved their wonderful lifts and fast spins, which rivaled the dominant Soviet teams.  The confident/tall/English-speaking Lloyd (who was 7 years older) had skated w/ several different partner earlier, but shy/petite/French-speaking Isabelle was the match for him on ice.  They continued to work on their style over the years, in order to be compete with the best European teams.  They were Canda’s darlings, and U.S. audiences liked the excitement and sense of fun in their programs (esp. in exhibitions).     

SP: The music is great!  Isabelle is only 17; Lloyd is 24.

LP: At 1:50 mark, Lloyd lifts Isabelle with one arm- WOW!  They put in a good showing here.

1991 Worlds:

Brasseur & Eisler’s SP: Josee Picard. their coach, tells the story of how this pair got together.  Then, we have the peppy, fun-filled program which suits them quite well.  Their double twist is one of the BEST you’ll ever see!   

B&E’s LP:  They go for the gold here, but reach silver, though their program is quite impressive.  At 1:40, Lloyd lifts Isabelle up, then over his head.  The one-armed press star lift (one of their signature moves) is at 3:20; this displays Lloyd’s strength and Isabelle’s fearlessness. 

1992 Olympics:

Profile of B&E:

Mishkutenok & Dmitriev’s SP: Artur is one of the most strongest and dramatic (expressive) male pair’s skaters.  Natalia has incredible flexibility.  The costumes are to die for!  The spin they invented is at 2:55.

M&D’s LP: The Soviet Union has been broken up, but these skaters win the gold with their lyrical program. 

1994 Olympics:

There was a showdown between the Russians- G&G (now married w/ a little girl; back from pro skating) and the dramatic duo of M&D.  B&E did their best on the world stage up to that point; Isabelle had cracked ribs (so had them bandaged up tight before competing). 

G&G profile & SP: Their life was like a fairy tale (at that time).

M&D’s SP: Artur collapsed on the ice after finishing- the pair really put a lot of passion into this program.

B&E’s SP: They didn’t get as high as I’d hope on technical marks.  Isabelle showed so much spirit here, but then was calm/collected when the marks came. 

B&E’s LP: The Canadians did their nation proud with their flawless program; long-time fans could see that Lloyd had worked on his artistry. I loved the music and costumes they chose. 

M&D’s LP: It was very creative and passionate, but not quite enough for gold.  My dad and I preferred their style over G&G, though both teams were great. 

G&G’s LP: It wasn’t flawless, but the judges gave the gold to this superb pair.  My mom liked this team best.  This was one of the BEST competitions! 

Meryl Davis & Charlie White: Ready for gold!

UPDATE, 12/17:  David & White won the gold in ice dance- a first for the US!  It was a TERRIFIC free dance competition, w/ many couples skating at their best (including the Shibutanis, Chock & Bates, & the younger Russians)!  The sport has come a LONG way since the days of block judging.  YAY!!! 

Ice dancing gold is for Russians, right?  Not anymore!  In 2010, Meryl Davis (age 27) and Charlie White (age 26) won Olympic silver.  They are also both attend the University of Michigan part-time.  Davis & White won gold at the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships (the first for the U.S. in ice dance)  This team keeps getting better and better- I fell IN LOVE with them (again) watching their current programs!  

One of our strengths is that we never set a ceiling for ourselves.  -Charlie White

Short Dance (SD): In the past, there were 2 compulsory dances (CDs) & an original dance (OD), but now these have been combined into the Short Dance.  (Long-time ice dance fans have seen MANY changes and drama over the years!)  The CDs were purely to show the team’s technical abilities on the ice; they were routine and often seemed boring and unnecessary. 

Meryl brings to mind the great Russian female ice dancers of a bygone time- petite frame, light footing, posture, and unusually-colored dark red hair.  (I think that color is an homage to Marina Anissina, the Russian ice dancer who skater for France just a few years ago.)  Their coach, Marina Zoueva, hails from the former Soviet Union.  Charlie, on the other hand, is strong, energetic, and fun (showing his American-ness, but also bringing to mind French ice dancer Gwendal Peizerat, Anissina’s long-time partner).  Their success isn’t magic- they’ve been partnered for 16 years! 

Free Dance (FD): The free dance is where teams get to show all their stuff (artistic, technical); they better bring it (since technical elements like spins and lifts are a major part of ice dance now).  I love these elements, but not when they don’t fit with the choreography.  As the late Dick Button said of this sport: “Two shall dance as one.”   

Behind-the-scenes look at Davis & White’s rise:   

Olympic ice dancers’ moms ‘bring a little bit of home’ to Sochi (TODAY segment)

Michigan ice dancers Meryl Davis, Charlie White make perfect pair (Detroit Free Press)

2008 US Open (Qualifying Rounds)

This past week, I saw some tennis live (for the FIRST time)!  My yoga teacher (Astoria Sports Club) mentioned last Monday that the first 5 days of the US Open are FREE!!!  I was so surprised; no one had ever told me that before (and I’ve lived in NYC more than 3 years).  It must be a closely guarded secret, b/c a LOT of people don’t know about it.  I had time to go on Wednesday afternoon, Thursday (after teaching my SAYA! SHSAT class), and Friday (all day).  I had a GREAT time, and chatted with a few people (some were knowledgeable about tennis and some just wanted to check out something free)!  Below are some pictures and comments from the Open.

Jelena Jankovic

She was on the practice courts w/ her hitting partner.  I didn’t know who she was until someone (much more knowledgeable re: women’s tennis) pointed that out.  I looked her up; she’s currently ranked #2 in the world!  My mom was VERY impressed when I told her.

 

The Americans

Todd WidomHe’s got the flaming red hair (and a bit of temper, too).  His build and style are similar to that of Ryler De Heart (see below).

 

Michael YaniThis wiry 27 y.o. player is Chinese-American; he needs to work on his serve (a weak spot).  He is light on his feet and very focused.

 

Ryler De HeartHe’s only 24 with affability, energy, and steely determination; he goes for broke- this makes him an exciting player to watch.  The pic above was taken just after he defeated Diego Hartfiled of Argentina (see below).  I see a bright future ahead…

 

Robert Kendrick He’s tall, blonde, and resembles David Beckham.  Kendrick (28) and his wife have been spotted hanging with celebs, too.  But Kendrick should be lauded for his game, and GREAT presence on the court.  Kendrick’s serve is great, and he has a LOT of stamina- this makes him a VERY popular player.

 

International Players (with potential)

Aisum-ul-Huq Qureshi – This 28 y.o. family man (I saw his wife and baby) hails from Pakistan; his father was also a tennis player.  He’s scrappy, fast, and not afraid to reveal his personality (talks loudly to himself during games).  He already has many fans ALL over the world!

 

Bjorn PhauHis unusual looks come from his Swedish mom and Indonesian dad.  He’s well-rounded with a calm demeanor.  Many people were interested in seeing his skills; in Sweden he’s a big star.

 

Thiago Alves – Loud (he yells out with EACH shot he makes), energetic, and agressive are some words to describe this Brazilian.  He takes his time before serving, then struts across the court with confidence.  The leaps he made reminded me of Agassi, not to mention his build and (slightly wild) hair.

 

The SUPER-HOT Player: Diego Hartfield

Is it REALLY fair that some people look THIS good?  Seriously, this (smokin’ hot) guy was born to play tennis; you’ll sense it when you see him in action.  He’s tall (6’3″), has powerful legs, and moves across the court with agility.

“Beautiful,” “amazing,” and “wonderful” are some words spectators exclaimed while watching Hartfield.  He makes the game fast, tough, and VERY fun!

When Hartfield serves- watch out, baby!  De Heart defeated him, but he had to pull out all the stops to do so.  I cheered the entire time for De Heart, but Hartfied is AWESOME to watch as well!

 

Philipp Petzschner

Something about him made me want to root for this guy…  He’s German, only 24 y.o., and has many good qualities.  His backhand is lovely to watch, he can spin the ball well, and his serve is (usually) strong.  He shows TERRIFIC energy at times, too!

 

His slim build enables him to move around the court fast, as does his height (6’1″).  Petzschner was wearing a plain white shirt, so I don’t think he has any endorsement yet.  He wears ankle supports (perhaps in order to prevent injury).

At times, he shows impatience, frustration, and anger.  He questioned several calls, and asked for clarfications.  In one game, he hit his racket against the ground (very hard) and bent it!  Other times, he swore (English) and called out (probably not-so-nice) things in German.  I thought he was fun to watch!

 

Another point of contention here- not afraid to question authority.

 

Unfortunately, Petzschner was defeated by Thiago Alves this past Friday.   He played VERY well the previous two days (I saw three of his games); Alves was a little more agressive.  I hope Petzschner will build upon his skills, and (hopefully) learn how to manage his negative emotions.  If he does this, he can take on the world’s best!

You can learn more about him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philipp_Petzschner

 

AWESOME Tennis Drama: Lapentti vs. Minar

Giovanni Lapentti of Ecuador after his “medical break” (a trainer and official spoke with him).  His legs were hurt (obviously) but he chose to continue with the game.  The crowd was TOTALLY behind him!  Before he continued, he bent down to test himself.

Slowly, he readies himself to serve.  Earlier, he told the referree that he would do all he could.

Lapentti serves the ball as best as he can; he made Minar work for the victory.  Many people were watching by the third set; several were saying encouraging things.  “You can do it.”  “Make him work for it.  Don’t give it to him.”  “You can play on one foot.”

Minar won the game because Lapentti couldn’t return all of his serves.  The two men paused and spoke for several moments at the net.  Minar was noticeably concerned about his opponent; Lapentti patted him on the cheek.

He’s a REAL fighter- did all that he could under the circumstances.  Here Lapentti acknowledges the crowd with a big smile.  I hope he gets better soon!!!

More about this player: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Lapentti