Tag Archives: Rachael Flatt

Ladies Figure Skating Nationals: Czisny, Flatt & Nagasu Battle It Out

Alissa Czisny/ UniversalSports.com/ Chris Keane/ Reuters

Alissa Czisny spent this season turning her skating around after nearly retiring last year when she failed to make the Olympic team. She came into the U.S. Nationals as the new 2010 Grand Prix champion.

Rachael Flatt went into Nationals as the defending U.S. champion, knowing no woman has managed to defend her title since Michelle Kwan in 2002.

Mirai Nagasu came out of the short program with a narrow lead, only to continue her pattern of coming up short in the free skate every time that she has led in the short program, including her performance in last year’s World Championships and this year’s Cup of China, despite coming in 4th (highest of the American women) at the Vancouver Olympics.

It was über dramatic.

The three top U.S. women were virtually tied going into the free skate competition, Nagasu in the lead, followed by Czisny, with Flatt in third.

Czisny skated first of the top three, displaying the new form she has been working on this season: “there is a calmness, a focus about her skating that we have not seen before,” said Sandra Bezic. Technically, Scott Hamilton explained, “it’s how she rotates, her air position has changed ever so slightly.”

It was a dreamy free skate, and Czisny’s face said it all throughout. And depend on Hamilton to say it in that Scott way: “Alissa Czisny has it all and she just delivered it, what a comeback!”—along with various undefinable exclamations as usual, building up to her final score of 191.24.

Mirai Nagasu/ UniversalSports.com/ Chuck Burton/ Associated Press

And Mirai Nagasu had to skate right after that.

Before the top three skated, commentator Sandra Bezic said of Nagasu, “She’s an artistic being, so you never know what she’s going to bring to the table; one day it’s divine and the next it’s a mess.”

Unlike past examples of Nagasu’s fall from first place in the short program, she fought this one out, but no one could catch Czisny.

Comments?

Scott: ““Knowing Mirai for as long as I have, and knowing how volatile she can be—especially when the pressure’s on—after Alissa Czisny took all the air out of the building, she [Mirai] took command of that ice and she delivered a fine performance, that was very, very strong.”

Sandra: “She did [deliver a fine performance], and she looked genuinely afraid when she started, when she took that opening position, and  it looked like she battled her demons throughout, it wasn’t the joyous performance that we’re used to from Mirai—it was work.”

So that was rough, again—but it could have been a lot, lot worse.

Before she started her program, coach Frank Carroll was heard to say, “Believe in yourself, get out there and do it. You’re the best skater in the world. Believe it.”

During her “Memoirs of a Geisha” skate, Nagasu stepped out of a double axel a bit and had some balance issues on a spin sequence, which are usually her strongest point. Her final score came to 177.26, well behind Czisny and hoping to hang on to second place so as to make the U.S. team for Worlds in March.

On the upside, she has changed her costume since earlier in the Grand Prix season and I like this blue incarnation better. So, there’s a sartorial win.

Rachael Flatt/ UniversalSports.com/ Chuck Burton/ Associated Press

Rachael Flatt was last to skate (and people are still busy commenting about her short haircut), delivering an unusually unreliable performance given her reputation. She had a couple of mistakes at the beginning, mistakes that made it impossible to catch Czisny. On a combo that she almost lost, Scott’s verbal contortions changed ‘beautiful’ to a cry of lament: “beeeeeuuuuuuu-ooooooooohhhhh…”

Yeah.

Comments from Flatt?

“That was frustrating.”

Needless to say she came up second to Czisny with 188.38, in all likelihood claiming the second American spot at Worlds in Tokyo this March (the U.S. only has two spots this year because the American, including Flatt and Nagasu, did not score high enough last year).

Whamps.

All three however have been named to the U.S. Four Continents team.

Christina Gao/ UniversalSports.com/ Chris Keane

Andrea Joyce obviously got to stalk the champion when it was all over, getting a joyful and grateful snippet from Czisny: “I’m just so happy to have gone out there and done the best that I can do and really come back after last year… being able to find my love for the sport again.”

Newcomer that I liked?

Christina Gao. She’s speedy and surprisingly tall, and only almost knocked into the boards after a combination. Sandra says “the future is hers,” and that “Christina is just magical when she’s on.” I really enjoyed her Yellow River Concerto program. She finaled with a  167.20, finishing in 5th.

So that’s that. Not too many commentary gems from Scott, but we’ll see what I can pull for the men’s programs. We shall see.

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Scott Hamilton Returns: Commentary at Skate America

Sure, Michael Weiss’ commentary based on working with various skaters on Stars on Ice and his empathy for newly risen senior skaters provides interesting insight to the world of figure skating. Tara Lipinski‘s subtle cattiness is splendid at times. And Tanith Belbin is just sweet as sweet all the time, especially when she is offering to find scissors to trim costumes that are too long.

But you cannot beat Scott Hamilton for amaze-tastic commentary. It is not possible.

Skate America 2010 witnessed the return of live in-house commentary by Scott Hamilton, supporting roles awarded to Tracy Wilson and Terry Gannon. Performances were peppered with cries of “Ding!” “Bam!” “Aughauhgghhg!” and “Niiiiiice!”

It was magical.

The dramatic verbosity kicked off immediately with the pronouncement that the participants of this Grand Prix “come to begin a new four-year journey at Skate America.”

While my heart was still doing flips over the return of Scott, he went ahead and elaborated that after an Olympics year “There’s kind of this almost chaotic changing of the guard. You got these grizzled veterans out here, some of these girls are eighteen years old—Carolina Kostner she’s 23—but they’ve got these young emerging talents coming up behind them and kind of nipping on their heels and sometimes getting past them and it’s like, ‘Wait, it’s MY turn!’”

Armin Mahbanoozadeh/Matthew Stock/Getty Images

Let’s get straight to my favorite gems.

“You wanna have the confidence, all that you can muster into the triple axel..and beautiful! That was nothing but neck, that was awesome!” regarding 19-year-old American men’s competitor, Armin Mahbanoozadeh’s free skate to music from Avatar.

In the realm of Scott saying things as I think them, “a lot of interesting body positions [Mahbanoozadeh’s] using in his spins.”

We’re on the same wavelength. Isn’t it great?

Anyway the young American had a great skate, beating his personal best thus provoking a jubilant Terry Gannon to declare, “His best has been—for the free skate—just over 121. And how ‘bout just waving at it as he sails by it?!” as the 143.56 score pops up.

Which is, naturally, how I feel about deadlines of course.

Then Scott nearly orgasmed over Adam Rippon’s trademark lutz jumps with both arms over his head which no one else in the world does (Brian Boitano does one arm over his head). One could almost see Scott leaping out of his seat in excitement.

Daisuke Takahashi/Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

And then all three of the commentators wrote an ode to the wonder that is Daisuke Takahashi (all the while, each of them pronounced his name differently), despite a free skate peppered with technical mistakes. A catalog of the madness? Of course:

“He’s an incredible showman. Because of his presentation he has about a six point buffer in the free skate program.” ~Wilson

“It’s the quality of every edge, his presence, the way he interprets the music—and then you throw on his extraordinary jumping ability on top of that.” ~Hamilton

“Look at this footwork, look at the way he moves!” ~Wilson

“So tight, so crisp, every movement is just bam, bam, bam. It brings the audience into the performance.” ~Hamilton

“As he flirts shamelessly with the judges!” ~Wilson

“No one in the world can really deliver choreography with that kind of dynamic. No one touches him in that regard.” ~Scott

If I had more time, I would have forged those comments into a sonnet. Possibly Scott Hamilton has already written one in his spare time.

At any rate despite the whole “moments of brilliance, sloppy at times” (Wilson) issue in Takahashi’s free skate the Japanese World Champion still placed first with countryman Nobunari Oda in second and Mahbanoozadeh slipping onto the podium for the bronze: “I heard the audience cheering for me and as I ended and I saw them standing, I just couldn’t believe it it was a great moment for me… I truthfully wasn’t even expecting to land on the podium, it’s beyonf what I was thinking would happen. I’m just ecstatic, maybe it will sink in tonight, I don’t know… I just feel like I wanna be considered competitive among the world’s best and I think today was a step forward.”

Bravo.

The ladies free skate presentation was prefaced by a replay of fabulous new Japanese lady Kanako Murakami’s short skate, which is adorable and marvelous and made me fall a little bit in love with her at the Grand Prix Japan. Scott cried out in joy for her jumps and Wilson enthused, “Well she’s the bright light that’s already shining through, heading to the Olympics four years away, and I say with four years to improve, her timing could be perfect. She’s got a bounce to her step , she’s a bundle of enthusiasm, she’s so much fun to watch!”

True story.

She does the whole nod emphatically to her coach and then race away to her starting pose, reminding me of Mirai Nagasu’s typical pre-skate demeanor.

Kanako Murakami and coach Machiko Yamada/Universal Sports

She and Scott opened energetically crying, “Triple toe biiiig—and triple toe ! LOTS of speed coming out!”

It wasn’t her most magnificent skate, but she still scored a 110.98 (total 164.93) placing ahead of US Champion, Rachael Flatt… and everyone else for the gold in her second senior Grand Prix event!

Plus, her coach Machiko Yamada is super glam, wearing fabulous scarfed and sunglasses all the time. Love.

Flatt was her typical “Reliable Rachael” self—a phrase of which commentators will apparently never tire. Scott, in a frenzy of praise at the end of her program elucidated, “There’s a work ethic there! If you can just skate like that everytime—and she does—you’re going to have success!”

Thanks for the explanation of her success, Scott. I thought maybe she never practiced or something.

“Ding!”

“Bam!”

“Niiiice!”

Thank you Scott. I look forward to Nationals, where I imagine you will also be commenting.

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Grand Prix Catch-up for Japan and Canada, Ready for Cup of China

Rachael Flatt/DailyLife.com/Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

First and foremost, Rachael Flatt got a haircut. So now we match. That is what’s important here, right?

Secondly, she—and many others—continue to wear awkwardly colored tights. There are taupe tights, there are overly-tan tights, there are tights that can’t decide whether they are nude or a very sheet black. This ongoing problem continues to distract me endlessly during the ladies’ programs. I can’t help it.

But seriously, what has been up with our faves from last winter/spring on Words to Bumble?

I have already expounded of the wonderfulness of Jeremy Abbott’s season debut—so check that out if you missed it.

Rachael Flatt was the élite American lady representing the United States at the same competition—the ISU Grand Prix Japan NHK Trophy. She won the free skate with her “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” program, maintaining the vaudeville-y burlesque music type from last season. She raked in 107.35 for the long program with a total of 161.04 overall, taking her to the podium for a silver medal, mirroring Abbott’s podium placement in the men’s competition.

Words from commentators? First of all, “This is a year, a post-Olympic year when you take it up a notch and announce,  ‘Listen, I am going to help dictate what the next four-year cycle is going to be like.’ It starts right now.”

Well.

At any rate it looks like Flatt has been working on her audience engagement a bit, getting some more emotional connection into her skating, etc. Commentator Tara Lipinski said, “I think what she’s been working on is her artistry—the second mark, the presentation. And she’s adding more facial expression and emotion, but I think she still needs to focus on paying attention to developing the basic flow of her skating and extension.”

Carolina Kostner/NPR.com/AP

Either way, she was solid enough to open the Grand Prix season with a trip to the podium for silver behind Carolina Kostner of Italy (with serious skin-tone fabric issues) and ahead of newcomer Kanako Murakami.

Meanwhile, Meryl Davis and Charlie White dominated Ice Dance and took home the NHK Trophy for their competition, closing with a tango featuring their usual grace, perfect synchronicity and the occasional truly weird and impossible looking lift.

Not a bad start to the international season for Team USA.

To follow-up, last weekend Alizza Czisny took home the gold at Skate Canada with 172.37 points (which, thank you NBC, will not be airing until this coming Saturday). The men’s title went to Canadian Patrick Chan, with American Adam Rippon coming in third.

Meryl Davis & Charlie White/UniversalSports.com/Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

 

And coming up this weekend, possibly airing never on NBC? The Grand Prix Cup of China will see the return of Words To Bumble ladies’ favorite, Mirai Nagasu who will be skating to “The Witches of Eastwick” and “Memoirs of  Geisha.” The girl must really like John Williams, but then… who doesn’t?

I will miss her “Pirates of the Caribbean” program, but always treasure the memories. Kind of like how I miss Jeremy Abbott’s Beatles program, but will just have to treasure the memory of the purple vest outfit and Beatles love.

Very much looking forward to seeing how Nagasu looks in China. She will be my personal highlight of the goings-on, but the United States will also be represented by Amanda Dobbs and Kristine Musadembra.Miki Ando of Japan should also be great to see.

In the men’s competition look out for the return of Brian Joubert of France, in the market to erase Olympic memories of No. 16. Ross Miner and Brandon Mroz of the US will compete as well.

There is a slide show of skaters to watch on UniversalSports.com for the Cup of China, if you want to know it all.

Recaps and ponderings forthcoming.

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Goodbye Scott & Sandra: Ladies Free Skate

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What a night.

We start out with Sandra pointing out the obvious with near-show-tune of the night: “It’s figure skating so of course we’re going to hear some Carmen tonight.”

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Rachael Flatt laid out a strong performance to Scott Hamilton’s delight: “She’s a rock, she’s so consistent… skates her best performance of the year!” Sandra went with declaring that “She’s really doing it… she has saved her best one for the Olympics games!” Unfortunately our eyes are once again scarred by her insistence of wearing dark taupey tights despite a pretty jazzy red costume. Even more unfortunately, our friendly commentators believe that Flatt may have been underscored; Scott again falls into great turns of phrase saying, “she didn’t get any slack from the collar tonight.” Flatt ended up in seventh position.

Mirai Nagasu on the other hand made it within sight of the podium with her interpretation of Carmen, landing herself in fourth place with another personal best. Before heading out onto the ice Nagasu was looking pretty grim before her coach told her, “Smile!” Scott was obviously super excited about all of her jumps shouting out the combinations: “double lutz, double lutz, double TOE!” He also noted that as compared to her performance at Nationals “every jump looked a little higher and a little bit tighter here… Everything about her is just quality.”

As for Sandra? ” Everything about her is just beautiful, pristine… She went out tonight and just nailed it, she did sparkle!”

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The best thing about Mirai is how stoked she was at the end with a big open grin, how thrilled she was with her final score and how excited she was later on to take a picture with Joannie Rochette. She’s just spunky; she says, “I don’t care about results, I just want people to know that I’m the future!” Spunktastic. Even Dick Button thinks that she is “a really spiffy young lady,” who deserves a medal. Plus her red and black sequined costume was the perfect accompaniment to Carmen, I mean, if you want to get sartorial about things.

Sartorially speaking about the inspirational Joannie Rochette, her costume features that awkward faux bare midriff situation with which I take issue. Miki Ando of Japan also had that going on with her Cleopatra program. Sigh.

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But back to business: Rochette managed the skate of her life just days after her mother unexpectedly passed away, “a kiss for her father, a performance for her mom.” Her story definitely became the emotional center of the women’s figure skating competition/ the whole Olympic games. Scott was especially emotional, choking up as he wondered how she could have persevered: “I’ve never seen such a super human determination… She went after everything, she was athletic, she was determined… it was just a wonderful thing to see… I’m so inspired by her performance.”  I personally teared up a few times and when her program was over I actually almost clapped in my living room. My hands actually twitched to life, something unique to her performance.

So how did she do it? Rochette spoke to Andrea Joyce afterwards and explained, “Ever since I’m young, my mom she was really a tough woman and she taught me that… it was really important to be… so she is happy where she is.”

Take a break, grab a tissue.

Next up Mao Asada who created history by landing not one but two triple axels in her free skate, in addition to one landed in her short program. Epic. Scott… back to you–

“What courage to come out after that [Kim Yu-Na] and to throw those jumps that she did!”
“I was so proud of the effort, of the courage.”

nbcolympics.com/ Getty Images

It was very impressive. Mao is Kim’s closest rival and she totally threw down last night. And to top it off, she had a delightful costume that Molly described as “burlesque” in a way. Very old broadway or vaudeville or something, black and red, sequins, gloves, a choker– the works.

And finally… Kim Yu-Na, who “owns and operates the rule book.” Scott was so f’ing excited about this lady, saying “My heart just started beating a little faster,” as she came onto the ice. Really. She is amazing, fluid gliding and spinning over the ice which she covers so completely and with such graceful speed that Scott compared her to Apolo Ohno, oddly. From here on out, I just need to list some of the things that the commentators said, because it’s all just too much.

“Oh my goodness this is glorious! It’s one of the greatest Olympics performances I have ever seen!” ~Sandra

“Jumping to their feet, the coronation is complete, long live the queen!” ~Tom

“No one can walk a mile in those shoes!” ~Scott

“What was magical about the performance were the moments she took to focus into the audience and play with choreography and to feel relaxed.” ~Sandra

“To me, the crowd was just spellbound.” ~Tom

The quotation paradise of figure skating never ends. Never.

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Kim lost some of her legendary composure at the end of her skate, obviously well aware that she just broke the world record through the roof taking a 159.06 for the free skate and a composite of 228.56. The tears she spilled at the medal ceremony were apparently a complete surprise to her, being the first she has ever shed after a performance: “I was really happy that I did what I wanted to do.” “I think it was both [relief & joy].” This was the first figure skating medal for South Korea… lots of pressure.

And that’s the end of Olympian figure skating until Sochi 2014. I leave you with this tweet by short tracker J.R. Celski:

@celskeet i wonder if it would be harder to transition from speed skating to figure skating, or the other way around? i know for sure i can’t spin…

Things to ponder.

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Scott Hamilton, We Missed You: Ladies Short Program

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Before we get down to the women’s figure skating short program, let’s just have a moment to love Scott Hamilton and his commentary and how happy we all were to hear his voice last night.

@KathElizW Glad Scott Hamilton has come back to me. #Olympics

@JohannaAP25 @KathElizW I missed Scott a lot. A lot. Ice dance was like a drought. #olympics

@Kmwrather Scott Hamilton was getting choked up over that

@KathElizW@kmwrather He gets so engrossed. I love it. The man has many emotions. (that being said, it was very moving).

nbcolympics.com

This last tweet of course referring to the most emotional performance of the night, Joannie Rochette skating a personal best  to rank third despite her mother’s recent sudden death. As Rochette came onto the ice to thunderous applause, commentator Sandra said, “It’s like she’s found solace on the ice.” Scott only tried to comment once during the performance and as noted above it sounded like he was trying to hold back serious tears, and who wasn’t? Later in the evening a slightly more composed Scott declared, “The importance of this performance wasn’t the Olympics, it was life… [and] it means so much.”

After noting the triumphant significance of Rochette’s Olympic experience it will be difficult to regain the tone with which I prefer to imbue these posts, however with no disrespect–here we go:

Overall the most striking element of the evening? How difficult is it to pick a “nude” fabric that matches your own shade of nude? It was a sartorial massacre, despite otherwise passable-to-enjoyable costuming. And the nudes were off across the field of competition, hence “massacre.” One example?

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Rachael Flatt… why were your legs taupe when clearly your actually body is not? Distracting. The photos don’t even to justice to the skin tone discrepancies that flashed across the screen last night. Meanwhile, Dick Button says that her performance was like “sunshine coming down,” placing her into fourth place; good thing you don’t get judged on your tights.

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Mirai Nagasu, the other American contender placed  sixth for the night with a seasonal best, showing “lots of moxie and lots of potential.” Oh Sandra,  way to step up your vocabulary due to the fierce competition brought by Scott! She’s right– girl’s got spunk, plus her spins are so beautiful and so fast that she ended the program with a slight bloody nose! Scott says her spins are among the best out there. So there.

The headliner of course was Kim Yu-Na of South Korea who is basically “the biggest superstar South Korea has ever seen.” She gave a world-record-breaking skate to the musical stylings of James Bond– a delight. She faced and conquered “her nemesis the triple flip” (thanks Scott) and delivered a program full of “strength and sensuality, with a little flirt thrown in there too” (Oh Sandra, you really are stepping it up)!

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But seriously, the American ladies represented well last night, both placing into the top six, in prime position for the upcoming free skate. And aside from the non-nude nude issues and the propensity of the ladies to insist on wearing tights stretched over their boots… my eyes were not terribly scarred. Have I simply become immune to figure skating fashion faux pas as a result of overexposure during the past two weeks?! Something to ponder.

One last gem from each commentator? You’re welcome:

“She’s someone who can be spectacular, or who can implode.” ~Sandra on Miki Ando of Japan
“Let’s rock the house!” ~Scott regarding Rachael Flatt’s attitude

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