Words to Bumble has seen Jeremy Abbott perform live. Words to Bumble loves Jeremy Abbott, but sometimes last season it was just so hard to watch him skate—because chances were he was going to be doing lovely and then bite it. It was nerve-wracking.
And then a couple of days ago I watched his free skate from the 2010 ISU Grand Prix opener in Nagoya Japan (the NHK Trophy competition)… and it was lovely, and lovely, and I was holding my breath and grimacing in fatalistic expectation of frustrating face plant that never happened.
It was glorious. Lack of engaging photos notwithstanding.
Abbott skated to music from Life Is Beautiful, bringing back delightful Oscar memories of Roberto Benigni frolicking about the auditorium post-win.
But really, Abbott was just on for the free skate. His skating was smooth, exuberant and engaging throughout. He opened strong with a triple axel-triple toe loop, and continued in control to the finish. A great solid opener to the season, scoring high enough to win him a place on the podium with the silver medal (free skate 143.57, total 218.19).
Commentator Michael Weiss who performed with Abbott in Smucker’s Stars on Ice after the Olympics, attributed new consistency with the effort put out and the experience gained while on the tour: “I toured with Jeremy this year after the Olympics, and each night he went out there and did all of his difficult elements in exhibition programs. With spotlights and no warm up, and he would do triple axels each night—and I think that’s gonna gain him experience now, so that when he goes out there this year he’s going to have that confidence that ‘I can do those jumps whenever and wherever I need them.’”
In addition to the technical ability to execute his jumps, Weiss also called the viewer’s attention to the high-grade of difficulty that Abbott incorporates into his takes offs and landings: “Every one of these jumps that Jeremy does has a difficult entrance, into and out of [it]… So it’s adding to his transition mark, it’s adding to his grade of executing. He’s really a master at fitting the jumps into the program.”
The success of Abbott’s free skate as a work of choreography stems from the skillful mélange of his nature as a skater, required elements for competition and the creation of a story to tell on the ice—something at which Abbott excels in his performances. This “La Vita e Bella” program just works: “Jeremy is just such a comfortable skater to watch, and I think this program really accentuates his best qualityies—and that is ease and comfort and deep edges. They did a great job of putting this program together.”
Weiss also noted that although last year was a tough one for Abbott, in which he did not manage much international success despite winning the ISU Grand Prix final in 2008, that “When he’s on, he’s almost unbeatable… when he’s at his best, there’s very few who can beat him.” With such a great start to the season, maybe this will be Mr. Abbott’s year…?
Fun Fact: Abbott’s coach, Japanese figure skater Yuka Sato also toured with the 2010 Smucker’s Stars on Ice cast. Words about that situation from Abbott? Of course: “Yuka’s on the tour, and I do have a couple of numbers with her. And it’s really great having her here. But here, she’s not my coach, she’s a skater and a performer, and she has her job to do,” on the other hand, “She’s making sure I don’t get out of line, or that my technique is not getting off.”
I am just going to say that I would probably be overly awkward about that situation.