Tag Archives: Jeremy Abbott

Four Continents Championship: Exhibition Videos

Just for fun, as the Four Continents Championship was not aired in the U.S., enjoy some exhibition skates and a medal ceremony.

Why not.

Ladies medal ceremony. I wonder how much practice goes into those pre-podium fancy bows?

Going in podium order, first up: Miki Ando’s celebratory performance, skating as her usual graceful self in yet another white, long-sleeved, high-necked costume. It happens.

Mao Asada’s exhibition performance. I love Asada because when she’s in the zone, she can have this expression like she will just go ahead and end your life if you cross her. Not necessarily in this tulle-skirted exhibition, but after all, there’s no need to strike fear into hearts during the exhibition. Cannot wait to see her defend at Worlds. Also, dear lady throwing triple axels left and right. Fierce.

Mirai Nagasu looking vaguely surprised to hear her name (and possibly relieved to note that the announcer did not again mistake her for a representative from Japan), skating a fun EX after a belated proof that she can indeed take the other American ladies, despite flubs at U.S. Nationals

Daisuke Takahashi soaking up the love from the crowd. Possibly because he won the Words to Bumble Craziest Figure Skating Hair Award; probably because he’s been a top Japanese competitor for a long time.

FYI: there’s a pretty jazzy encore, so if the “Amélie” program is not your thing for some reason, stay tuned because the double feature starts around 4:20.

Yuzuru Hanyu skating to U2. I could make a really bad joke about dizzying nature of figure skating and “Vertigo,” but I’ll just mention the opportunity. Here it feels like he is just skating through the music, but nonetheless, he is Japan’s rising men’s star.

Please someone make the pleather go away. Not OK.

Jeremy Abbott’s adorable exhibition skate to Plain White Ts. He has a prop!

Exhibitions are so fun. Yes?

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Four Continents: Mirai Nagasu & Jeremy Abbott Strike Back

The Four Continents figure skating competition serves as a counterpart to the European Championships, bringing together athletes from the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania in a warm-up for the upcoming World Championships in March.

Mirai Nagasu/ UniversalSports.com/ Wally Santana/ Associated Press

Mirai Nagasu and Jeremy Abbott of the U.S. both suffered disappointment at Nationals this past January, where neither delivered a strong enough free skate (after Nagasu led and Abbott stood in second coming out of the short program competitions) to represent the U.S. at Worlds in Tokyo next month.

Nagasu was swept back by Alissa Czisny, despite a solid long program that still garnered her a bronze finish; Abbott suffered a couple falls and could not stand up to the positive energy behind Ryan Bradley, coming in just off the podium in 4th place.

Of course, bronze and one step off the podium—in the great scheme of things—are not to be sneezed at, but Abbott was the defending champion (and fourth place is always rough city in medal sports) and Nagasu has serious demons to battle whenever she leads in the short.

So basically, this Four Continents competition took the place of Worlds for Nagasu and Abbott this season.

They made the most of it.

After a strong short program that landed her in fourth position, Nagasu finally hit the perfect Memoirs of a Geisha free skate that has eluded her all season, winning her the bronze behind Miki Ando and Mao Asada (World Champion) of Japan, leading the American women at Four Continents.

The aerial view of a spin element around 1:45 is a neat vantage point not generally shown. The whole program was delightful and the expression on Nagasu’s face at the end because she knows it, is priceless.

Mao Asada & Miki Ando/ UniversalSports.com/ Reuters

Yay, podium!

Also the announcer accidentally proclaimed that she was representing Japan before a hasty correction was made. Hello awkward.

Abbott came out of the men’s short program in second position and delivered his season’s best in the free skate (148.98, 225.71 total), likewise landing himself on the podium with a bronze medal, the leading American man.

I love that Life is Beautiful free skate. Love it.

Sandra Bezic agrees, calling it “one of the most beautiful programs I’ve ever seen.”

Like Nagasu, Abbott prevented a Japanese podium sweep, standing behind Daisuke Takahashi and newcomer Yuzuru Hanyu.

Hanyu, Takahashi, Abbott/ UniversalSports.com

So, dear Mirai Nagasu and Jeremy Abbott: Way to strike back. Words to Bumble ❤ you.

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Halfsies Are Sartorially Unacceptable

Kanako Murakami/Skate America/UniversalSports.com/Getty

Jeremy Abbott/UniversalSports.com/Junji Kurokawa/Associated Press

This should not be allowed to happen. Someone needs to talk to people like Jeremy Abbott and Kanako Murakami, who think that wearing half of one costume and half of another stitched together is OK.

It’s not a real thing.

It’s not a thing.

I am not even going to make jokes about ‘oh hey did you run out of black velvet halfway through?’ (like those Universal Sports fashion slide show folk). I am just going to say that you are hurting my soul.

Really. Stop it. Pick one.

You both look ridiculous. And I like you both, but I cannot condone these eyesores.

Stop the madness.

Stop it.

Kanako Murakami/UniversalSports.com/Toru Yamanaka/AFP Getty Images

Sidenote: Murakami obviously got some feedback about her Mask of Zorro costume, because she changed it from red to lavender… why, why, why did she not change the whole thing instead of just half?

I am boggled.

And Jeremy, wearing half a sports jacket cannot be comfortable.

Boggled.

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Jeremy Abbott Is Back & Better Than Ever: Michael Weiss on Grand Prix Japan

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…?

Jeremy Abbott and coach Yuka Sato awaiting final scores/ UniversalSports.com

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.

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Sparkles, Sequins, One Glove & a Disco Ball: Olympians & Other Stars On Ice

Ice Dancers: Davis& White, Belbin & Agosto

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These days there is only one national tour allowing enthusiasts to see their favorite figure skaters. The Ice Capades folded in 1995 after over fifty years of kitschy entertainment, Champions on Ice went out of business in 2008, and Stars on Ice is the last tour geared towards audiences looking for competition style skating rather than novelty shows aimed at children (i.e. Disney on Ice).

Group Finalé

Not that this prevents a certain level of highly entertaining kitsch. There are group numbers with loads of sequins and outrageous Star Search lighting during which tour members flit about to the likes of the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” and “I’ve Got the Music In Me” (Kiki Dee Band), among other selections that will make you giggle, including one number incorporating a giant disco ball for extra fun.

It is also vastly entertaining. Vastly.

At the risk of sounding a touch over-excited: There is nothing like seeing Olympic athletes perform in person. Truly. Especially when you have your own personal Scott Hamilton (read: Kathleen) to comment, gasp and clutch with you.

Group Skate #1

After the opening group number, the show began with Mirai Nagasu skating a version of her competitive short program to music including “He’s A Pirate” from Pirates of the Caribbean (I told you there would be multiple instances of pirates after the golden dollar debacle).

For reference, this is the program during which she spun so fast at the Olympics that she got a bloody nose on the way to a fourth place finish in Vancouver. Mere weeks later it was the program that garnered her a personal record at the 2010 ISU World Championships and first place going into the free skate with the break out performance of the competition.

Nagasu is purely delightful, the girl is going places; like she says, “I just want people to know that I’m the future.” Her signature grace on the ice came across even in the upper levels– sprightly footwork, fluid lines and unrivaled spins were a joy to witness in person. One might think that watching the same program for the fourth time [after televised coverage of Nationals, Olympics and Worlds] would have been old hat, but it was nothing of the sort– if anything, I just knew what I had to look forward to from the moment she stepped out onto the ice.

Mirai Nagasu

Suffice it to say that seeing what Nagasu can accomplish in the coming 2010/11 season will be terribly exciting, and I look forward to watching her show the world what she is capable of.

Second up, another Olympian in the form of Jeremy Abbott– another Words to Bumble favorite– who did not make out quite as well in either Vancouver or Torino for the Worlds. Sadly he did not perform his Beatles short program from the competition season, but he did don another classy mildly bedazzled shirt for a skate to Michael Bublé’s “At This Moment.”

Jeremy Abbott

The unfortunate thing about Abbott is that as delightful as he is when he is on, he clearly tends to succumb to nerves after even a minor slip up. During his second solo on the ice Abbott had a few issues and touched down on the ice once or twice, never seeming to recover from an early issue.

Comment from Kathleen: “That boy really knows how to swivel his hips.” This is why she is my own personal Scott Hamilton.

Incidentally, Stars On Ice was founded by Scott Hamilton when his Ice Capades contract was not renewed in the mid-eighties.

Olympians Meryl Davis and Charlie White skated their Indian original dance from the 2009/2010 season. Theirs was one of the few at the Olympics that was not entirely scarring, and its energetic pace definitely translated well as a piece of entertainment to keep the show going. Their crazy lifts (like the one where Davis stands on the back of White’s calf) are responsible for my growing enjoyment of ice dancing, which I often find to be a bit trying, frankly.

Meryl Davis & Charlie White

Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto gave a narrative performance to Jason Mraz’s “If It Kills Me,” telling the story of a relationship over the years, from childhood into adulthood, complete with props and multiple costume changes. It was pretty adorable.

Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto

Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto

Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto

Alissa Czisny

One of the most distressing aspects of the evening was the low energy of the audience. It was pretty obvious that the lack of enthusiasm was dragging on skaters throughout the evening, most notably Alissa Czisny’s second solo, “I Like the Way You Move,” which should have been a particularly high-energy number.

Michael Weiss on the other hand was particularly adept at connecting with the audience with a rocking crowd-pleaser performance of “Keep Your Hands to Yourself,” complete with my favorite thing ever: back flips!

There was clutching, there was gasping, there were joyous exclamations with each jump– and it was not just Kathleen and myself–everyone was loving it! I always miss back flips, I think there should always be more back flipping– it just brings joy.

Michael Weiss

However, the ultimate crowd favorite was Olympic champion Evan Lysacek (and how relived am I to be writing about his figure skating skills again instead of Dancing with the Stars!?). I had wondered if he would perform the date that brought him to the dance. He did not, but what he did was amazingly fabulous.

Evan Lysacek

Picture this: the crowd goes insane when “our” Olympic champion is introduced. He appears on the ice… Is that a singular sparkling glove that he is sporting?

Yes it is.

What are those dulcet tones that I hear? Oh, Michael Jackson? Oh, “Man in the Mirror?” Yes, please.

I die. So much joy. Just… watch it. Do yourself a favor. Try to be cranky after that.

Evan Lysacek

As you may surmise, clutching ensued. That was one of the most entertaining things I have ever seen. And they say Lysacek is boring and mechanical. Did they not note the glove?

Sheer joy aside, the one thing I took home from watching Lysacek skate is that he is one tall man. It never really came across to me while watching televised events, but seeing him in person– I repeat– that is a tall man. He towers over other skaters, even alone on the ice his height dominates, which may be part of why he is so impressive. So says Kathleen.

Todd Eldredge

Other members of the tour:

The ever delightful Todd Eldredge: Discuss the fact that Eldredge has been skating since I first started watching… and he is still awesomely at it.

Yuka Sato has been on the tour for several years and is also Jeremy Abbott’s coach, so this has been an interesting little exercise for them figuring out how to tour together as colleagues rather than coach and coachee.

Yuka Sato

Lastly, Sasha Cohen skated as the only survivor of Champions on Ice. Apparently in the figure skating world, the dissolution of previous ice tours and the dominance of Stars On Ice is chuck full of drama– drama for another time perhaps.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience. A little bizarre, a little campy, but also fantastic. There was a little something for everyone: classical pieces, pop programs, campy musical theateresque group numbers, Olympic caliber programs from the faces the world learned to love in Vancouver– overall good times. Plus, when you have gotten used to sitting through an entire night of compulsory dances, the variety brought the best of the best into one whole.

Sasha Cohen

So if you have ever pondered trekking out to see  a figure skating tour, I fully recommend the experience. If you cannot make it out: check out the gallery of additional photos from the night on Long Island.

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Skeletor Returns to the Ice: Men’s Figure Skating World Championships

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The most upsetting thing about watching the ISU Figure Skating World Championships is that the Olympics were about five minutes ago and most people are skating the same programs with the same costumes– and let’s face it: discussing sartorial choices is a major highlight of figure skating commentary in my mind.

On that note, I tip my hat to Kevin Van Der Perren of Belgium for changing up his free skate program. You may remember him as the skeletor man from the Olympic short program. For his free skate at the World Championships in Torino, Van Der Perren chose to mix things us and perform a program to “Reflections of Earth” (of Disney World fame) which appears to be a piece that he originally skated in the 2000/2001 season.

UniversalSports.com

Inexplicably this is the only image Universal Sports has to offer of his performances in Torino– but know that it was dramatic and spangled. And the music started out just as terrifyingly as his “Night on Bald Mountain” skeletor skate. Van Der Perren is one scary intense dude; he executed a magnificent quad-triple-triple combination worth 19 points out of his 144.88 season’s best score. Johnny Weir, who has been commentating the competition on Universal Sports, described Van Der Perren’s execution of the combination “like shooting an arrow,” after stating that the Belgian skater is not a a fan of choreography, rather for him the sport is all about the jumps, which– for the record– are pretty epic. This was apparently the last competition of his career.

So with Evan Lysacek and  Evgeny Plushenko both absent from the Worlds (Plushenko is apparently injured, but I think he is too busy polishing his fake gold medal), who else was there?

Damien Meyer/Getty Image/ UniversalSports.com

Jeremy Abbott skated as the highest ranked American man, putting in a redeeming short program after a disappointing Olympic performance. Afterwards he said, “I was very pleased with how I skated today… it wasn’t easy– I wasn’t in the zone,” but managed to lay it down anyways. He has repeated said that a misdirected mindset in Vancouver seriously handicapped his performance and that in Torino, “I made the goal about performance outcome instead of trying to win, and I think it really worked out for the best… I can’t control placement, all I can do is skate.”

sports.yahoo.com

Abbott took a few spills after a nice start to his long program the next day, but really at the ISU Worlds placing fifth is no mean feat. Plus Abbott’s high placement assures the US the right to a full team of three men to compete next year. Here is looking forward to seeing more of Jeremy Abbott and maybe some more Beatles choreography. Plus, you can always depend on Abbott for a tasteful costume and let’s face it– we all appreciate that!

Meanwhile, Brian Joubert of France took the bronze with performances of redemption after his own disappointing Olympic showing. In case you missed: Joubert’s free skate program begins with a full body heart beat interpretation.

Patrick Chan took the silver for the second year in a row (and someone should tell him that when you wear all black without much texture the details on your costume do not read well at all). This another redemptive moment after a fifth place finish Olympic games in front of the home crowd in Canada.

Olympic bronze medalist Daisuke Takahashi skated for the gold, becoming the male first world champion from Japan. Unfortunately, this means that he again stood on the podium wearing the fringed, check and cowl-necked, peasant vested sartorial situation. Not OK. Sorry.

Regarding Takahashi’s skate,  Johnny Weir said, “He was crisp and clean and perfect… to the end.”

I hope that Weir keeps commentating, because it is amazing and the best is yet to come once we recap his own recap of his Olympic performance and the totality of his World Champion commenting.

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Things Scott Hamilton Says: Men’s Free Skate

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Again, I really must chide people who missed the men’s free skate last night (never mind the other events which we will get to later), because it was truly magnificent. Furthermore, it was a nail biter to the end. Beautiful skating and fierce competition! Perfection.

For starters, let’s congratulate Jeremy Abbott for persevering and managing to overcome himself after a sketchy start to his free skate. Let’s face it, we like Abbott a lot even though this was not his Olympics. After two flubbed jump jumps Abbott pulled himself together and stuck on, prompting an ever supportive Scott Hamilton to exclaim, “He fought for that!” And as Abbott pushed through the rest of an enjoyable program, it appeared as Scott said: “as though he is waking up from this nightmare.”

I too was surprised that Scott did not use the up and coming phrase “nightmare covered in molasses” too. Meeeee too. Clearly Scott was feeling friendly: “I’m proud of him. I thought that was a great effort.” I concur.

Johnny Weir also garnered a warm reception from the crowd and the commentators, even provoking commentators to question whether he had been short-changed by the judges. He calls the program “Fallen Angel,” which represents the way he has felt about his career since disappointment at the Torino games in 2006. It was divoon. He ended up in sixth place, and really it does seem that he deserved a touch better. Of course he rocked another delightful costume. The thing about Weir is that his costumes are not actually as out of control as one might think they would be; often they are no more ridiculous than any other on the ice. The truth about Weir’s costumes is that are artistically executed and fully integrated into his program which is a gesamtkunstwerke of art. Just sayin’. To top off his performance, a fan presented Weir with a bodacious crown of enormous roses.

telegraph.co.uk

Hamilton’s thoughts? “And that is the best he’s ever been, ever!

And Tom Hammond: “He skated his life out here in Vancouver and did it as always on his own terms.”

Back to Hamilton, for the sassiest sum up of Johnny Weir:  “When you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk ,and he just skated that skate!”

I know. I wonder if there is a job available where you just get to hang out with Scott Hamilton and preserve all the magical things he says for posterity. I want that job.

Of course the man to chase for the gold was Evgeni Plushenko of Russia, a man who clearly styles himself as a prince of darkness. He skated well… but not well enough. Also his program was so creepy and made me SO uncomfortable that I could barely watch at times. There was gyrating, swiveling, blowing of kisses, stroking of self… ew, ew, ew! Plus he was wearing a black unitard with an appliquéd sequin vest and tie, just to top it off in terms of things that are unacceptable. At one point he landed a wonky jump and Scott Hamilton illuminated our lives yet again: “A little scary! This guy’s a cat, I don’t know how he landed that!” And villanous cat, like the Siameses from Lady and the Tramp, only a lot scarier. Reerrrrr!

@kmwrather no.no.no.no. NO HIP SWIVELS ALLOWED. At least not from you, Plushenko. #OYlmpics

Kathleen: I am sooooo creeeped out. I want to see Scott’s face.

I’ll give him one thing, he wins for least sportsman like response to his silver medal.

It’s always nice to have a clearly defined villain to beat out, right? Sure in today’s  interview during afternoon Olympic coverage on NBC Evan Lysacek defended Plushenko as being a nice guy, probably due to the fact that he is a nice guy. Also, he won… spectacularly, with “the skate of his life,” as put by Tom Hammond.

nydailynews.com

The spirit of the performance was summed up early by Scott Hamilton who exclaimed, “HAW” upon the first perfectly landed combination. Once it was over, Hamilton decided to elaborate with a jubilant, “technically, he did everything he came to do!” Too true, too true. Plus, Lysacek skated long before Plushenko, so he just skated his perfect Olympic moment without even knowing the performance that he would have to beat: “I dreamed about having the moment on the ice at the Olympic games… everything I dreamed it could have been,” and then the wait whilst basking in a “personal victory” no matter what the final outcome. There was a lot of gushy tweeting. No apologies.

JohannaAP25 @kmwrather OH MY GOD I KNOW, EW/ YAYAYAYAYAYA EVAN!!!!! #olympics

Celebrity tweet? I think so: ApoloOhno RE: http://bit.ly/bA4l8X he smashed it tonight!! Congrats Evan!

JohannaAP25 Hey hey @kmwrather… two #Chicago gold medals… sayin’. #olympics

kmwrather @JohannaAP25 I know! Shani and Evan, way to rep!

Oh yeah, for those of you who aren’t the informed types Shani Davis has also taken home a gold for long track speed skating.

Whew. Sigh of relief. Even reliving the night to recap was stressful. You should have been there. Also, I should have been there, but that’s another story completely… How did I not foresee my unemployedness?

With Evan what he did, what he did last night was really representative of what he does every day… He skated beautifully, he did everything he needed to do… just do what you do best and that is from start to finish a beautiful program… There was no one more prepared for that moment than Evan Lysacek. ~Scott Hamilton

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