Monday, March 24, 2008


To say that the results were a major disappointment for our country is understatement. On the other hand, that we (or any nation for that matter) would expect our athletes to ALWAYS bring home gold medals is both unfair to the athletes and also unrealistic in the extreme. That said, here’s my assessment, such as it is:


Despite imperfect short and long programs, the victor was Japan’s Mao Asada. She is a charming sprite of a young woman who, with maturity, may remain a force to be reckoned with. Carolina Kostner, a skater who does not impress me, won the silver. Both Mao Asada and this year’s bronze medalist Yu-Na Kim of South Korea, who is 20 days older than Asada, sat out the 2006 Olympic Games because they were both three months too young. But I can’t help but consider that three U.S. skaters, all too young to compete at Senior World’s (including U.S. Champion Mirai Nagasu) just finished going 1-2-3 in the World Junior Championships. What concerns me is that there seems to be some serious burnout going on with the ladies, none of whom seem to have the staying power (perhaps because of the too-much-too-soon syndrome) of say, a Michelle Kwan. One can only wait and wonder. But the bad news is that because of how poorly the U.S. team performed, the U.S. can only send 2 ladies to next year’s World Championships.


Jeffrey Buttle skated brilliantly in both his short and long programs to win gold. He is the first Canadian world championship since the days of the extraordinary Elvis Stojko.

I have always been super critical of Johnny Weir, less for his flamboyance and more for his lack of focus and self-discipline. For the entire past season, Mr. Weir has been displaying none of his previous behaviors, he has been training seriously and has been entirely focused on his skating. His infatuation with all things Russian led to him changing coaches to the extremely successful Tatiana Tarasova and her son in law Viktor Petrenko, and it has worked. He definitely earned his bronze medal and I foresee many and better things ahead for him. More important than even Weir’s bronze medal (the only medal earned by any American), is the fact that because he placed third and Steven Carriere placed 10th, three men will be able to represent the U.S. at the 2009 World Championships. Brian Joubert skated surprisingly well considering his recent and very serious encounter with a most resistant virus which wholly sapped his strength for many weeks, rendering practice impossible. And let’s face it, Joubert is definitely the sexiest male skater in the world today! Next year, if Evan Lysacek is healthy, the men's event should be really exciting!


Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany won the pairs title at the World Figure Skating Championships, and given the unending controversy surrounding their coach, Ingo Steuer which must cast a pall over their training, I cannot begrudge them their victory in any way. I was, however, sad to see China's Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao beaten. Canada's Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison won the bronze. America’s Rena Inoue and John Baldwin and Brooke Castile and Ben Okolski, skated competently but I do believe that our chances next year (only 2 pair may compete in 2009) will be markedly improved if Inoue and Baldwin retire (and they should) and our U.S. Champions who were too young to compete this year, Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker and Castile and Okolski represent our country.

Ice Dance:

Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder won the gold medal. I’m happy for them. Maybe now they’ll go away! I have never liked their skating. At least this year her rather severe patent leather hairdo reflected the chilly reserve they have always exhibited in competition – technically precise and utterly removed from both the emotion of their performance and the audience for whom they are supposed to be skating.. Clearly, skating together for 18 years has paid off for them on a technical level.

On the other hand, I cannot say enough good things about the beautiful skating of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada who won the silver medal. They are exquisite and technically brilliant. I am underwhelmed (and then some) by the overly flamboyant, technically deficient pair of Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski, who won the bronze. If they are the future of Russian ice dance, it’s in big, big trouble!

Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto disappointed themselves and their fans by placing 4th. And maybe that’s a good thing. Belbin and Agosto have made no secret of the fact that they are pacing themselves toward the 2010 Olympics. Better a setback of this kind now, than next year in the run-up to the Olympics! And U.S. ice dancers will have three 2009 worlds spots, with up-and-coming Meryl Davis and Charlie White finishing sixth.

It was a great, self-indulgent weekend of enjoying figure skating! And next weekend the “special performances” will be broadcast, and that’s enjoyable. I recorded all of the action and can replay it when the temps outside are 90° to create the illusion of cooler climes!

Congratulations to all who competed. To even make it to the World Championships is an amazing achievement. And to all of you who’d like to see next year’s World’s in person – they are in Los Angeles and you can start planning your trip now by going to where I am also exploring the possibility of being there in person – blogging live!

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