The outcome of the evening came down more to who didn’t fall flat on their butts than it did to excellent skating – because on that basis, Miki Ando would have placed third. She is a beautiful girl, but she needs to learn to really HEAR her music, to stretch in her spiral sequences (and sustain them), and her “extension” (pointing of toes) is abysmal, while her spins are at best second-rate as they are seldom centered or tight. Despite their falls, both Asada and Kim outskated Ando in the “program components” area (the old artistic score) – as did Kimmie Meissner of the U.S. Emily Hughes, as usual, managed to deposit her not insubstantial derriere onto the ice during the free skate. At least she’s consistent! In my view, there is no more overrated skater than Emily Hughes.
As a result of this final event, the United States managed one medal in the entire competition, the bronze medal won by Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, for ice dancing. Lest we lose perspective, this is the first time since 1960 that a Soviet or Russian skater was NOT on the podium in ANY discipline.
But of course, a number of the successful competitors from other countries trained in THIS COUNTRY with American coaches. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
The Canadian ice dance team of Moir and Virtue are already superb and look to only improve over time as they are VERY young, as are the equally promising Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Both pairs train in the Detroit area, alongside Belbin and Agosto and both pairs are mature far beyond their tender years. I see only good things in store for them both.
Finally, how utterly lovely was the magical performance of Shen and Zhao in what may be their final competitive performance? We shall not soon see their like again, if ever. And perhaps the MOST moving moment was as they were kneeling face to face on the ice at the end of their program. They were speaking to each other and then they kissed. That in itself was quite unusual, particularly for the somewhat stoic Chinese skaters but it was only later that we learned that, in that moment, Hongbo Zhao had proposed marriage to his longtime partner, and Xue Shen had accepted his proposal. Now THAT is romantic folks! I’m puddling up just thinking about it! In fact, I’ve been puddling up about it for about 24 hours.
And now for my rant. I’ve been building up to it all week and I cannot suppress it any longer!
To the ISU – why are you recycling judges on the world scene who are KNOWN to be “bent”. When a judge is so dishonest as to “tap dance” signals to other judges during a competition, he has forfeited all rights to the privilege of judging in perpetuity. And do we really need these corrupt officials at a time when rumors were already floating around that the international judges wanted to “hold up” Domnina and Shabolin, a pair of ice dancers who fall far, far below the formerly high standards of Russian ice dancing, with their excessive reliance on two-footed skating.
To the skaters: These are the world championships. If you’re going to compete, why haven’t you worked non-stop to achieve peak physical condition. I am particularly addressing this snarl at Elena Sokolova of Russia (cute only takes you so far darling and you’re getting a tad long in the tooth to be selling that commodity anyway), Johnny Weir of the United States and Stefan Lambiel of Switzerland. If your heart isn’t in it, why bother? If you’re only skating for the money, turn professional and don’t impose your lack of commitment on the competitive world and the hopes of fans of competitive skating in your country.
These are the world championships. If you’re going to compete, why haven’t you gotten a decent haircut (any number of men, Staviski in particular), touched up your ROOTS (Albina Denkova in particular had dark growth about 2” long), shaved (Staviski and Lysacek) and made sure that your skates (and laces) are immaculately clean? This is only showing respect for your sport, for the judges, your coaches, the audience and your peers – not to mention YOURSELF.
These are the world championships. Why is it necessary to perform in costumes that look as though they were attacked by a demented chicken? Aside from the fact that these outfits are ugly beyond imagination, they are a danger to the other skaters. Like anyone who has ever skated with any degree of seriousness, I HAVE tripped over a feather or a loose bangle that has fallen off some sloppy predecessor’s overdone costume.
Finally, some words to the American competitors:
Mr. Johnny Weir you are, without question, the most naturally talented male skater competing today. You would still be U.S. champion and probably world champion had you spent the last year concentrating on your TRAINING rather than all the other foolishness which catches your self-indulgent fancy. Either you are a competitive SKATER or you are a costume designer or a lifestyle maven or whatever else in hell you fancy yourself to be. Make up your mind who and what you want to be and then devote yourself to that. And if it is skating, you and your audience will all be the richer for it.
Mr. Evan Lysacek, I’d like to see you start shaving regularly. Otherwise, keep on doing what you’re doing – only more so. I still expect to see both World and Olympic medals around your neck. You are enormously talented.
Miss Emily Hughes, you haven’t got the heart of a champion and you are an embarrassment in major competitions. I have to admit, my dislike of you stems from your bratty behavior prior to the last Olympics and your complete disrespect of Michelle Kwan, an accomplished, remarkable, utterly classy skater whose laces you aren’t fit to tie. But nothing you have done since then has served to redeem my opinion of you, either.
Miss Kimmie Meissner, you are a treasure. However, you are old enough to lose the “Kimmie” and start being addressed in a more adult fashion. Somehow I think the judges will notice in a favorable manner. Beyond that, more attack and more consistency, coupled with a much higher degree of artistry will carry you as far as your dreams will take you, you are that good.
Miss Alissa Czizny, quit believing that your successes are the result of fluke. They are not. You are an elegant and exceptionally talented skater – the only one who doesn’t know that is you.
John Baldwin and Rena Inouye – retire now. You have achieved your highest level of success and any further competitions will only tarnish your achievements irrevocably as well as endangering Rena’s physical well-being.
Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, you are unique and immensely talented skaters. All you need to do is develop some new (and original) technical moves, watch the timing of those pesky lifts and be who and what you are as ice dancers – there is much success in your future and I am looking forward to seeing all of it.
There are some wonderful new pair and ice dancing couples “coming up” here in America. To them I wish all the best in terms of health and stability, good training conditions and success in the future.