Here We Go! Pairs' Short Program
Trip Start Feb 14, 2010
12Trip End Feb 21, 2010
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As I stepped off the bus I basically bumped into a scalper and impulsively asked him what he had available. He offered my a C level ticket for $150. Thought to myself, 'hey, it's a once in a lifetime thing so why not' and paid for it. Somehow, the guy was having trouble finding the right ticket so I joked I could take the A level one instead. To my surprise, he answer it would be mine for an extra $50. Decided to go for it. It turned out to be a good move as I ended up in the corner to the left of the judges and only 9 rows up. Turned out it was the VISA-sponsored section where nobody knew anything about skating but they're still very appreciative of it. Sitting with that crowd was an experience, definitely different to what I'm used to.
But back to the beginning, My first impression upon entering the arena was how much it had been improved since the 2009 Four Continents. The stairs were now green and blue as opposed to the dull, gray concrete the year before. Simple yet very nice improvement.
The moment I saw the big Vancouver logo centre ice it finally hit me that finally, after 7 years of waiting, I was finally at the Olympics with the first of the figure skating events just about to begin.
Had to make sure to be in my first warm up group as Xue Zhen and Hongbo Zhao were first to skate. It was so amazing to hear the announcer, PJ Kwong, let us know we're waiting for the the worldwide broadcast expected to be watched by millions of people would begin shortly and then see the countdown on the jumbotron. Seconds later the skaters took the ice for their warm up.
Xue Zhen and Hongbo Zhao (CHN) were very good, wonderful unison on the perfectly landed side by side 3t and respectable speed throughout the program. A few criticisms, the sbs spins were done rather far apart and with a slight timing issue after the first position change, also the choreography was rather lackluster with limited transitions and a little bit too much of over the top emoting, IMO. The muzaky version of "Who Want's to Live Forever" wasn't all that great either.
I was really looking forward to seeing the two following teams Maria Sergiejeva and Ilia Glebov (EST) and Joanna Sulej and Mateusz Chruscinski (POL). The first, because they're coached by Dorota and Mariusz Siudek in Poland, the latter because they represent my country of birth. Unfortunately, neither couple managed to avoid mistakes on the jumps but still skated well overall and got their got the first time out on the Olympic ice butterflies out of their system.
Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig (USA) had one of my favourite performances of the evening. It looked like she might have touched down with her hand on the triple jump but all the other elements and the program itself were exquisite, smooth and powerful at the same time. She has great presence on the ice. Loved how they maintained great speed throughout.
Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay (CAN) Opened with clean SBS 3's! It was a pleasant surprise after the disaster she had in the warm up. Followed it up with a clean 2Tw and nice 3 throw. The death spiral (the catch foot one everybody and their mother seem to do nowadays and yet it's just as attractive as the 'dog peeing on a hydrant' spiral that used to be popular in the ladies' skating a few seasons back) was solid and so were the sbs spins. Step sequence had a lovely soft quality but it lacked speed what was really the case from start to finish. Very well done overall and the crowd went crazy after they had finished!
(SUI) Nice throw to start their performance to "Bohemian Rhapsody", 2Tw was done but didn't get much air. SBS 2A's landed in unison, good for them! Throw with a very soft landing but her technique on that element is just too bizarre, the delay in rotation always looks freaky to me. Spins could have been better as far as positions go and closer together. Death spiral had nice control and speed. The crowd loved them and seemed to disagree with their marks. I didn't.
Stacey Kemp and David King (GBR) - another team coached by Siudi. The elements were done as planned (although they only do a sbs 2f) and of better quality than they used. The work Dorota and Mariusz have done with them is quite apparent, especially in their throw jumps and list. I was thinking Stacey needed to pay more attention to finishing her moves, her positions tend to get sloppy towards the end and between the elements.
Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov (RUS) Started the program with a huge 3Tw! Unfortunately, they followed it up with a big and quite shocking mistake on the sbs 3t - Maxim had a big fall and Maria put her hand down. Their next element, throw 3 loops was amazing, though. They lost some speed in the second half of the program. Crowd liked them a lot but, understandably, were crushed, especially Maxim. I think he was in tears. Definitely not the performance they expected after such a successful and consistent season leading to the Olympics.
Quing Pang and Jian Tong (CHN) Lovely SBS 3Ts followed by a 3Tw with insane amount of height to open the program and the crowd goes wild! Throw
jumps even better with massive distance and smooth landing. Yes! The program was seamless and the elements were done in time with the musical accents. That was beautiful, my first standing ovation of the night.
Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang (CHN) Another team that I really like and have been rooting for since their fantastic SP at the 2008 World Championships in Sweden. What's interesting, that's the exact same one they had decided to do in Vancouver after their original one for this season, "Sing, sing, sing" didn't bring hem much success in the Grand Prix events. Opened the performance with an airy twist, and HUGE to SBS 3s that both landed really well. SBS spins were off from the get go but then they managed to get back in sych together somehow. Solid performance but compared to Pang and Tong's it felt rather flat.
To sum it up, it was a wonderful night of skating and a great first Olympic experience for me. So glad I decided to get that ticket. I must admit I though the judging was a bit off at times. I'd have Sawchenko and Sholkovy first, followed by Pang and Tong and Shen/Zhao or at least have the three of them even closer in points. But yes, I do realize I don't have a point calculator in my head so I should probably give the judges a benefit of the doubt. ;)
Going back to the fact that some of the people in the audience, especially in my section, didn't understand a thing of what they had been watching. But nothing can beat some of them coming in after Shen and Zhao and leaving before Savchenko/Szolkowy. Congrats, folks! Great timing and judgment!
Be back with more. Next day - Monday and my first Men's practice of the Games. Stay tuned.
P.S. Attaching some of my photos of the event. Have I mentioned how great my seat was? ;)