I began writing a detailed post about all of the Junior Short programs, but I just don’t have enough time to compare my notes to the scores and be as thorough as I’d really like to be. Instead I’m just going to write a few general thoughts, but if you’re interested in hearing my opinion about specific teams/programs/elements/etc., please ask!
- For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you know how obsessed I am with Haydenettes 2008-2009 Forbidden Kingdom LP. Skyliners used the same music for their short program so I got very excited, but also couldn’t stop thinking about the Haydenettes program as I watched. I liked Skyliners black tights for this program.
- St. Louis Synergy reminds me of Team Braemar in their “comeback year” (I just made this up, the year was 2008-2009 when they went to Junior Worlds). I didn’t love the SP dresses but the choreography was really original. Capitol Steps also had a very original SP theme and I appreciated seeing a theatrical short program.
- I really liked Lexettes’ SP dresses. I like their spreads better than last year’s. The whip intersection was so well-placed with the music, which was really cool. The girl in the front corner of the No Hold element had beautiful footwork and extensions like an ice dancer - so nice to watch! This program was definitely National Champion material and I hope they can skate this well next week at Junior Worlds. I wish they had a more powerful LP. The beginning is so strong - loved it. But the music gets a little unexciting as the program progresses.
- Miami had one of the best-looking whips in the SP. However, Lexettes and Synchroettes were the only two teams to have it called as an I4…
- I still always associate Chicago Jazz with their long sleeved, turtleneck, heavy fabric dresses, so I was pretty shocked when they stepped out on the ice for the SP. Personally I didn’t love the theme but the program looked a bit European in my opinion, maybe like something Fintastic would do.
- Smart move on Synergy’s part to go for the L3 and get it called with a high GOE. Nobody got the L4. Unless you can consistently get it called, I don’t really see the point in taking the risk on the interacting pivoting lines. It was pretty apparent that Lexettes wouldn’t get theirs called, they lost the 90 degrees early on in the element.
- The camera angles on IceNetwork were great for the SP but crazy for the LP. Believe me, I appreciate the artistry in camerawork but it just doesn’t fit for this sport! I could barely ever see lines in the No Hold elements, and they would always show the no point intersections from the short end of the ice, so you couldn’t see what was going on. Every program is oriented so that it looks good to the judges…show the programs from the judges’ view! I was pretty bummed they didn’t snow the beginning of Haydenettes SP from the front. Unfortunately I also wasn’t crazy about the commentary. Becky Search is extremely knowledgable and I think the commentary would be good for people who aren’t very familiar with the sport. One thing I do appreciate, though, is how she always points out the difficult elements and emphasizes how strong each individual skater has to be to do them. Hopefully people will catch on to the fact that it’s an athletic, challenging sport that should be in the Olympics!
I got pretty excited when I saw Marigold’s 2013-2014 SP for the first time. For those who may not have been synchro savvy in 2002-2003, the beginning of Marigold’s new SP is the exact same as their iconic 2002-2003 Lion King LP. One big difference: they now have 16 skaters instead of 20! How cool would it be if every team remixed their greatest programs?
Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
I had this fun idea to give out superlatives to the teams! I was also interested to compare my thoughts to the judges’ thoughts.
Best NHE: Team Russia 1. Judges agreed! They earned a 3 in GOE’s. Finland 1 and 2 both earned 2.29. This may have been the highlight of Russia 1’s program, for me (as it was in “Hallelujah” last season). Throughout this entire program, no note in the music was left unaccented. Every opportunity there was for choreography, as subtle as it may have been, was used. This program seemed truly complete. I also want to give an honorable mention to Team Germany’s NHE.
Best Creative Element (Cr): 3-way tie between Mexico, Japan and Russia 1. Best GOEs went to Russia 1 and Finland 1, who both received 0.73. It was so interesting to see how each team interpreted this element. It was also funny to compare freestyle ability between countries like Finland and Sweden, where skaters are trained in synchro from childhood, to Russia and USA, where freestyle is the first type of skating you learn.
Creative Element: This has been a great addition to IJS. It gives teams to showcase their freestyle skills and definitely added an element of entertainment to the LP that it may have been lacking. Right now, the only level you can get is Cr1. The rest is up to GOEs. I wonder if they will ever create levels for Cr. I sort of like it how it is now!
Best Group Lift (GL): I’ve got to give it to Sweden 1. Judges agree, they were given a 3. That lift is still unbelievable.
Highest Base Value: Finland 2 - 47.10
Highest TE score: Finland 1 - 65.74
Highest PC score: Canada 1 - 74.06 (Russia 1 in close second with 73.71) Russia 1 received the highest marks for Transition/Linking Footwork and Interpretation. Canada 1 earned the highest marks for Skating Skills and Choreography/Composition. Finland 1 won Performance/Execution.
Best Music: Sweden 1. I love Beyonce. Honorable mention to Finland 2 for “Chess.” An underrated musical!
Best Dresses: Tie between Sweden 1 and USA 1. Sweden 1’s were simple but they sparkled more than any dress I’d ever seen before. I love the cut and color of USA 1’s LP dresses. I like the back of it.
Worst Dresses (sorry, I have to): Croatia. They reminded me of tucans.
Worst Music: Tie between Canada 2 (“Tango de Lola”) and Finland 1 (“Living Proof”). I disliked the tango only because I feel that piece is used too much. As far as Finland 1, I just did not understand the whole thing. What was the story here? I felt like I was in church (or what church looks like on TV and in movies).
Best Cheering Section: Tie between Canada and Finland. USA doesn’t count because it was home ice :)
Merging Edge (Mexico): Wow. I am so looking forward to what this team brings in the years to come. Clearly these skaters are very strong individually. Once they figure out the sport a little bit more, they’re going to be really competitive. This was definitely the most heartwarming and inspiring skate. I heard a rumor that over half of the skaters have a clean double axel…
Team Berlin 1 (Germany): I really like this team in general. I feel bad that they always seem to be stuck around the Top 10 area and I feel like they definitely have the potential to break though and consistently be in the Top 10. I liked their music and choreography a lot. They need to be altogether cleaner and less sloppy, but I think they have all the makings of a top team. I hope to see good things from them in the future and I hope they move up.
Paradise (Russia 1): These girls are athletes. There is no other way to put it. They are strong and flexible but they also have grace and artistry. My favorite thing about them is probably, like I said before, that they use every opportunity for choreography. I also love that they do everything to the maximum. Their 135s are 180 - instead of doing what is asked of them, they do the maximum. I was really hoping for them to earn a place on the podium but at least they got a medal for the short program.
Team Surprise (Sweden 1): I love this team because they are always innovative. In my opinion, they are the most creative team in the world right now. I love that they strive to be different. It really shows and honestly, IJS owes many of its rules to Team Surprise. Imagine if every team tried to be as innovative as Team Surprise…
Playing it safe/Innovation: I hate to say it, but I felt so many teams were playing it safe this season. Canada 1, for example. Beautiful skating, nobody can deny that. But where was the risk? They did only what was asked of them, nothing more, and as as result they had neat shapes and clean step sequences. Sure, that’s one way to get good marks. There are different types of “WOW.” On one end we have Nexxice, who cause you to say “WOW” because of their smoothness and softness. On the other end we have Team Surprise, who make you say “WOW” because they are so creative and take big risks. My personal preference is to watch a Team Surprise-style “WOW” program.
Ages: While I was watching Russia 1 I noticed that it seemed like the average age of the skaters was probably 24. I could be completely off, but they just seemed like such seasoned athletes. USA 1 and 2 probably have average ages of 19 or 20. Obviously there is nothing that USA 2 can do about this, because they’re a college team. USA 1 offers (offered? not sure if they still do this) a stipend for skaters if they move from out of town and go to college in the Boston area to skate for Haydenettes. While this was a very successful effort to get skaters from other parts of the country, it also means they’re getting more skaters who are college-aged. I think the Haydenettes should try to do something that attracts older skaters. Sure, the Haydenettes have a mature skating style, but I see such a huge difference in athleticism between them and Paradise.
This was a really exciting weekend. This sport is making so much progress! Tell me your thoughts! To whom would you give these superlatives? What was your favorite part of the weekend?