Part I: Icenetwork.com picks faves from 2012-13
Correspondents reveal the things they liked most from this past season
|European correspondents Jean-Christophe Berlot and Klaus-Reinhold Kany found the North American dance rivalry the most intriguing. (Getty Images)|
Favorite program: Let me waffle between Yu-Na Kim's free skate at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships and Patrick Chan's short program at worlds. Both were superlative. Kim's skate was a dream in itself, and one can wonder if she really is from this planet. Chan's short was certainly the obvious proof that he was such a superlative champion.
Best performance: Javier Fernández at the 2013 European Figure Skating Championships. Fernández landed three quads, and they were only the highlights of an otherwise well-rounded and balanced program.
Best rivalry: Not the Chan-Denis Ten controversy, which was fueled by suspicion of judging and media hype, something that will never promote skating. Yet, I did enjoy the brotherly rivalry between Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. These four make ice dancing improve year after year, and that is certainly the sign of the most productive rivalry that will ever exist.
Favorite breakthrough performance: Please excuse me -- I would rather talk of the breakthrough season for Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. Their world bronze medal finally proves that the North American school of pairs skating is back at the top. It does belong to there, indeed, but we had not seen it at this level for a long time. It brings a kind of a humanity to that sport, and I cannot consider anything more "human" than a couple.
Best comeback story: Mao Asada never disappeared from the radars and did not really have to come back. Yet some two years ago, and again last year, she seemed to have lost the energy. Having to come back to Japan to train after her international experience could have been the end of her competitive story. Her mother passing away could have as well. Instead, she has worked steadily upon her basics and technique, and now she is back at the top. I am grateful for her.
Favorite under-the-radar story: At the 2012 Trophée Eric Bompard, at the end of a press conference with Brian Joubert, Sandra Stevenson asked Brian with her exquisite British little interrogative voice: "I read that you were coming back to your home town of Poitiers every weekend because of your mom's food?" (Sandra had read it in an icenetwork.com interview some two weeks earlier). Everyone in the room laughed, Joubert included. He then embarked on a surreal detailing of his home life: "Not only for my mom's cooking, but also to take care of my pets!" Joubert admitted that he owned ... six snakes in his house!
Biggest surprise: Florent Amodio landing two quads in his free skate at Europeans. Amodio was first after the short program. Fernández had landed three quads, and everyone knew that Amodio would have some difficulty landing even one. He landed two.
Biggest disappointment: To see suspicion about judging objectiveness and bias come back in skating. Our sport does not need any of this again. I strongly wish that the ISU does not react by rejecting the general opinion's point of view but trying to understand it and work again (and again and again) on the judging system. Many experts have great proposals: Why not work at them, even if it is only for after the Sochi Games?
Favorite quote: From master Jeremy Abbott: "Having the rules and not give up any choreographic detail is always a struggle for me." I wish we had more Abbotts on the competitive ice. His comment certainly describes best the dilemma in skating -- and what skaters and choreographers and coaches have to struggle against these days -- to keep skating popular and keep it ... as it is!
Another quote, this one on the funny side, and only given the tremendous respect I owe Jeremy. "It's been miserable all month," he said in Paris. His program was rightfully set to Les Misérables music ... hopefully, he'll elect to skate to the soundtrack of Victory or Olympic Glory next season.
Favorite outfit: Tatiana Volosozhar's short program. When congratulated about it, Maxim Trankov answered: "Dior, j'adore!" Volosozhar's outfit was inspired from the one actress Charlize Theron wears in the advertisement for the French luxury brand.
Favorite program: Virtue and Moir's Carmen.
Best performance: Kim's free skate to Les Misérables at worlds.
Favorite breakthrough performance: Kaetlyn Osmond's performances at 2012 Skate Canada and worlds, and Gracie Gold's free skates at the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and 2013 World Team Trophy.
Best comeback story: Kim at the 2013 World Championships. The best comment for her comeback would be the Latin phrase, "Veni, vidi, vici."
Favorite under-the-radar story: Great progress by Canadian pairs Duhamel and Radford, and Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch.
Best moment: I have three moments.
1. Fernández wins historical title in Zagreb, Croatia, at Europeans.
2. Osmond wins 2012 Skate Canada.
3. Ashley Wagner and Gold earn the third Olympic spot for Team USA at the 2013 World Championships, showing great personal and team spirit.
Biggest surprise: Ten's silver at worlds.
Biggest disappointment: Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy's performances at 2013 Worlds.
Favorite quote: Stephane Lambiel's words in an interview at the beginning of the season: "Skaters are doing more difficult entries into jumps; steps have become longer and more technical. Unfortunately, the artistry has been somewhat lost in the process. There is little room left for creativity and expressivity, as the judging system has become quite restrictive.
"Judging is done element by element, component by component, instead of based on the program as a whole. Creativity, personality and the 'je ne sais quoi' that has made skaters into legends cannot be analyzed objectively and, thus, are not properly rewarded."
Favorite outfit: Asada's outfit for her free skating program to Swan Lake.
Best performance: Hanyu's short program at Skate Canada.
Best rivalry: Davis and White vs. Virtue and Moir.
Biggest upset: Chan winning worlds despite an error-filled free skate.
Favorite breakthrough performance: Ten at worlds.
Best comeback story: Asada.
Favorite under-the-radar story: How the Belarusian dance couple (Viktoria Kavaliova and Yurii Bieliaiev) was able to skate at worlds, even though their skates were lost during their travels. (They had been refused a visa until the last moment.)
Biggest surprise: Osmond's victory at Skate Canada.
Biggest disappointment: Tomá Verner's arduous season.