What with the paltry network offerings of the figure skating Grand Prix series and my schedule this past weekend, I have only seen parts of the men’s competition in Ontario, California—fair disclosure.
Michael Brezina delivered a phenomenal short program, putting himself safely ahead of the entire field going into the free skate.
29-year-old Belgian veteran, Kevin van der Perren (who you may recall as Skeletor skating to “Night On Bald Mountain” during the Vancouver Olympics) completed his short program in fourth place. On Saturday afternoon, he roared into first place with his free skate to the score of Man in the Iron Mask (which I personally feel strongly about as an under-appreciated body of cinematic music), fueled with a huge quad toeloop. The program was great fun to watch, and I have to say I am glad that contrary to beliefs during the 2010 Worlds, van der Perren has continued to compete. He says this year is all about European Championships for him.
I am also glad that the “Night on Bald Mountain” era is behind us, because I am still traumatized by that final vignette of Fantasia viewed as a child.
Following van der Perren’s long program, three more skaters took to the ice including Daisuke Murakami, Takahiko Kozuka and finally Michal Brezina.
Murakami suffered a disappointing long program. Kozuka came in just behind van der Perren (combined 212.48 to 212.09).
As Brezina entered the ice, the big question commentators pondered was whether he would really go after the gold, or just play it safe. Brezina delivered an overall underachieving performance, dropping points here and there, choosing not to attempt a quad, falling on a triple loop, and singling a lutz. Aside from those errors, the skate felt a little lackluster, and commentators seemed almost ready to crown van der Perren king for the day. Somewhat surprisingly, Brezina (who appeared frustrated and disappointed in the kiss and cry area) still managed to finish four points ahead of the field with an even 216 combined score (although van der Perren did win the free skate event of Skate America).
This announcement was followed by the most boring and rather bizarre of reactions. Rather than displaying signs of relief at the win, Brezina sort of shrugged with a bemused and rather unamused expression. He later complained about his coaches, saying that he had wanted to go out on the ice and try for two quads, but they had persuaded him to play it safe. Presumably, his expression is the result of the fact that even though he won, it was not the win he wanted. Alas.
Sidenote: I still hate half and half costumes.