The final qualifying competition for the Grand Prix final took place in Kitchener, Ontario last weekend and was - to say the least - an interesting competition. The astonishing pair of Savchenko and Szalkowy (Germany) took a huge risk after their rather mediocre season debut earlier in the Grand Prix series. The created an entirely new free program just 4 weeks ago and debuted it this weekend, serving notice that the two time and reigning world champions are a force to be reckoned with. The new program looks totally polished and technically challenging and was skated with the speed and precision for which this team is known. And gave them first place in the competition. The Chinese will be a factor in the Grand Prix final, however, and at the Vancouver Olympics.
Canada's occasionally inconsistent Joanie Rochette won the Ladies' competition but not by a lot over America's enchanting Alissa Czizny. It appears to me that Yu-Na Kim will have some solid competition at the Grand Prix Final and also at the Olympics in Vancouver.
Jeremy Abbott of the United States won the men's competition, skating with some emotional turmoil (the skiing accident death of a dear friend of his just a few days before) over Takahashi of Japan who is recovering from knee surgery and skating better than anyone could hope to expect. Of course, for all of them, there is the spectre of Plushenko at the Olympics, but he won't be at the Grand Prix final and thus, the competition is between these two and Evan Lysacek, also of the U.S. Great skating expected.
As to ice dancing, Virtue and Moir of Canada won, thus setting up some serious competitiveness for the Olympics. Belbin and Agosto, White and Davis and Virtue and Moir all will be challenging for the gold medal.
Now for the carp! The women of ice dancing have a bad habit of showing up for competitions in beautiful outfits with filthy skates. Not just the laces, although those tend to be disgracefully dirty but the skates themselves! Ladies, there's this new invention called shoe polish! Use it!
Dark roots seem to be fewer and fewer between but men with 5-o'clock shadow are my new gripe. Is the idea of a competition for which you and your families and sponsors have spent thousands of dollars preparing not sufficiently important to cause you to SHAVE? Come on! No point in looking like a bum from the neck up fellows! Scruffy is a look, but not a good look!