Tuesday, January 19, 2010


This past weekend, the pairs competed for spots on the U.S. Olympic Team, as did the men. The pairs final delivered an emotional punch that was unparalleled, and the men's final delivered technique, heart and perfection.

Denny and Barrett (if you don't know who they are - you will eventually) won the Pairs Championship in only their second year competing together. They represent a Florida figure skating club and train there. Methinks obscurity is serving them well. They were in first heading into the final and the general happenstance in those circumstances is that inexperienced teams either panic or have too much adrenalin and therefore perform poorly. Didn't happen to this team. Not even close. They were magnificent these two youngsters, skating with heart, skill AND joy! I hope they never lose that joy. It is heart-warming to watch. My best guess is that they will be really lucky to place in the top ten at the Olympics (although one never knows) and at the World Championships. But they are the future, and it is an exciting one.

Coming in second to them were Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig. They are excellent skaters with a magnificent future, but I don't see them finishing beyond the top ten. The perennial favorites John Baldwin Jr. and Rena Inoue went out with style and grace, skating an exceptional long program and even performing their ground-breaking throw-triple-axel (a jump nobody else is doing even today) at their advanced age (for skaters). He's 36, she's 33. Not bad for old geezers!

Now to the men: Jeremy Abbott defended his Men's Championship with a brilliant, near-perfect (minor minor glitches, if any) performance that included a quad, and seamless choreography. Evan Lysacek, current World Champion and current Grand Prix Champion probably lost the U.S. Championship due to his courage in attempting a quad at the outset of his program, which was brilliantly skated otherwise. Johnny Weir skated competently and in the short program, to use his own words, he "rocked the tassel" pretty aggressively. I just wish he wasn't so "affected" in his skating. Just put the moves out there, John. Your jumps and your spins are first rate. They don't require all the feathers, tassels and sequins to embellish them.

So there's half our team. The ice dancers and ladies will skate at the end of the week and through the weekend. The return of Sasha Cohen (she of the million dollar talent and the 25 cent heart) is much heralded and should take some of the pressure off out other ladies. But let's get real folks - YuNa Kim of South Korea is a force of nature with a brilliant coach and a first-rate work ethic, not to mention the heart of a lion. She'll be hard to beat at the Olympics!

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