Ol' Whats-His-Face And Company

I say what I mean and mean what I say here. I've had years of edge evaluation experience, and some of these kids just need to be told. They're doing well. They're doing badly. Whatever. And how to fix it, at least in one person's opinion. Take it or leave it. At least you're adding to my hit count.

I am not shorting the new entries here with shorter entries, merely saying what I need to say and assuming the rest is clear from the more extended analyses of the skaters from Nagano. It's easier this way, and makes sure everybody keeps track of everybody else. Plus which most of these kids could use being reminded to watch the big boys (or at least the bigger boys) anyway. Go for it.

And if you want a discussion of the word "edges" as I use it here, go here. This'll help. I hope. I have tried to write it clearly. I've done my best. Watch some skating with this stuff in mind and I think it'll help. Have fun.

ARMENIA: Edgar Grigoryan -- Look out. This one, I think, was born with an innate sense of posture and rhythm, as well as edges. Learn to stretch more during routines -- that hasn't been emphasized enough. When this one figures out how to kick with those edges, things will happen.

AUSTRALIA: Anthony Liu -- Oh come on. Just because you're from Australia doesn't mean you have to skate for the koalas all the time. This boy could use some serious mirror work. Somebody set up a video camera and let him knock out a couple of long programs for the camera. Maybe simulate camera angles the way the big boys at the networks set them up. Come on. This boy has got to learn to project. Okay, so he's not real comfortable with the fronts of his blades, but that's relatively minor right now. You don't have anything in skating unless you're aware of how you project to others and fine-tune that. First you have to have some idea of how you're coming across. He skates like he's in a dark room. I promise. Learn to project at least 3-5 feet away from you, then increase it to 10, then 20. When you can project to the edge of the arena, you'll be fine. Don't worry about selling yourself to the cheap seats up there yet. That's for later. The network cameras -- and most of the audience whose opinion will make a difference in your career -- including the judges -- are in the first three rows or so. Maybe five. Coach, drill him. Sit in that fifth seat back. Put his girlfriend or whoever back there. See what you think. Tell him. Write it down. Save it for later. Don't worry about costuming until he can hit the back rows in a plain white practice outfit. Then start getting snazzy. He'll deserve it. If you can't project in costumes, they'll just look clumsy. Keep it simple and clean and out of the way of his lines. Go look back, say, 1988 or so. Maybe 1984. They were doing good costuming then. Keep it out of his way. Work on edges if you want to, but this boy needs to learn to skate a circle about 10 feet in diameter projecting to the audience all the way. Just edges. Half of a figure eight. And then he'll be fine. Nail it to the back rows eventually. Not now, but soon. Please. You're too good to spend your life in front of the koalas.


BULGARIA: Ivan Dinev -- Good kid. Got to learn to skate straight. Test -- can you get on your right (inside) edge on your left foot and skate for 20 feet without stopping or breaking your edge (having it flip over to the other side of the blade)? If so, you're fine. But I think you've got some work. Put this boy back on your first couple of levels of figure work. That's right. The basic stuff. Make him do it backwards, forwards and sideways. Throw a few triple-circle babies in there. Make him do it. Work out both edges, both feet, and please, please, please, polish his back edges (backward skating). He has no business bringing triple jumps into a public arena like this with back edges like that. Especially on his takeoff foot. Please. That's what sets up your whole jump for success or failure. Good artistic sense, good potential -- but somebody's been letting him lean on that too much. Figures. Now. Or just plain edge work. Skate frontwards. Backwards. 20 feet. Both edges. Please. Do it.


CHINA: Zhengsin Guo -- Oh man, has this one got talent! And he knows how to present himself without selling himself out to the audience. Keep it within yourself, click that little light on inside your gut, and use that to illuminate the rest of you. Don't wait for the spotlight -- create your own light. This one should be breaking through into the top ranks shortly. I hope. Better basic edges than Chen Lu (I know that's a heresy in some circles, but so there), real sense of style and proportion (doesn't try big-boy jumps in a small-person body and manages to make what he does look good -- looks like he scales his hands and his feet to the rest of him, watching the distance at all times and remembering he is a small person with only so much reach but yea much style and that can compensate), and just a real good sense of timing overall. When to hit the poses, when to strike the edge or the toepick for that takeoff to the jump....this boy'll go far. Just hang in there. You'll get the attention some day. I get the feeling it's pouring in now....Forget Chen Lu (see ladies' when I get it up). This is the show from the Chinese team. Keep on going. Wow.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Radek Horak -- Why do I get Paul Wylie flashbacks? Paul Wylie with good edges, potentially? Hmmm....I think the coach is doing this boy right. Just emphasize long, lean strokes on forward and reverse. Long and lean -- pretend he's Viktor Petrenko or somebody. (I know that was a mean reference, but hey.) Especially watch the edges, down to the very last point, when he extends back. Make sure there is good balletic extension (not looks-ballet, but work-ballet) and line and he'll be nailing those bad-boy triples easily, and maybe start to flow into a quad. You know they're ready for quads when it just about almost happens by itself on the rink one day. This one is close. Very close.

DENMARK: Michael Tyllesen -- Has potential, but isn't working on it hard enough. Apparently Denmark doesn't support real strong skating. Please go somewhere that does. You can make it. The backs of this boy's blades tend to drift from side to side when he's getting ready for jump takeoffs. He lets them wobble a little bit, they influence the direction he's going in, and bango, he's badly set up for a jump. You have to have all edges firing straight and under control to attempt a jump of the caliber required to survive in skating today at this level. His flip would sure improve if he did that, and his lutz wouldn't be far behind. Then the axel just might give in here. That's part of what's setting him up for these wobbly rotations that get so far out of line. The other part is that I don't think this boy has enough confidence in himself to believe that he can do what Elvis and the other big boys do. He can do it if he tries. Maybe back down to the doubles for a few days of practice, until he's solid, sure, and clean with them, and then back up to the triples. Don't ever take a jump out on competitive ice that you're not sure of, way deep down inside yourself. You'll know when it's time. Peggy Fleming always did. And then skate from your heart, skate for yourself, and maybe hope to please the judges a little. Look at Elvis. It worked for him. I know this boy is very classy and ballet-like, but he can do the technical stuff too. Artistic line grows out of confidence with the blade, and good technical skating does not destroy artistry, merely helps it come out to its highest potential. Artistry and techique are one in skating. It's time we realized it. I'm sick of this....kids like this don't know how to train...come on. Let's pull together so they can give us the entire package. Kids like this shouldn't have to choose artistic vs. technical. They should both be there. Thank you.

ESTONIA: Margus Hernits -- Wow. What a talent. Looks like he might have been born in the wrong place to get a start -- Estonia has been having some problems. Get wherever you need to go to train that will do you some good, and still allow commutes back home. This kid skates with the feel of home in every stroke of the blade. These are the ones that make it. The land skates with them and in them. This kid can make it. The edges will almost magically snap into shape once he feels comfortable where he's training, with technical and artistic resources that can help him grow, plus a good communication with home, the dog, and everything. This kid'll be fine. A new approach to skating. Very land-based. Actually, it's very old -- we just haven't seen much of it lately. Grab tape. This boy could be good.

FINLAND: Markus Leminen -- Excellent potential. Make this kid stretch to his maximum. Literally. Reach up. Get those legs pulled up when he moves with them -- extend! A couple of good, hard, solid ballet classes would do him good and help him relearn some of the marvelous motion habits I bet he had when he was a kid. Extension, line, and projecting a bit more with those arms as he projects with his legs and the rest of him. Then he'll be fine.


GEORGIA: Vakhtang Murvanidze -- Excellent native sense of motion. Has he ever gotten his hands, elbows, knees, and feet to work together? A long, smooth line would be a joy to see out of this boy. Start with the edges and move it from there until it gets to the top of the head. That would be a joy. And it's not that it's that far away for him. Project. Practice. Steal Ilia's mirrors. Make him give them up. Swipe them. Do you good. Extend. Line. Work. Edges. It all starts there.


GREAT BRITAIN: Steven Cousins -- Cute. But remember one thing. Your predecessors in big-time skating, Torvill and Dean (and I won't even go into John Curry here -- that's too historical and out of date), don't sacrifice edgework for the sake of looking pretty. Jayne can tell you this. Looking good comes from having deep edges. They should know. That's what ice dancing is about, just about (well, that, a few cute costumes and a nice flip to the hairdo). Polish your edges. Hang up your costumes and skate in black until you get used to it. And then bring it out for us to see. About six months...no exhibitions, no nothing...get the hang of it. And then skate. You'll be better. And why hasn't that left rear blade come out from under you?

GREECE: Panagiotis Markouizos -- More speed and character -- let this kid show his native lines, and he'll be fine. Stretch back on takeoffs with that whole body, keeping yourself in line -- and blam. Good jumps. Balletic line and extension, possibly natively there already -- see what happens. Let him uncurl and he'll be fine.

HONG KONG: Derek Hay Wai Leung -- I have had a soft spot for the Hong Kongers ever since some idiot bashed a HK pair who had better technique than projection style. If this kid watches his front edges and practices to soem elegant classical music (Bach or so) and tries to absorb the lines....and concentrates on himself, not on the audience out there - he'll be fine. When I see a decent good two or three feet worth of spiral out of him, good hand and leg extension in addition to better foot placement -- hold the head back a little and just sail -- I'll stop worrying so much.

HUNGARY: Szabolcs Vindrai -- This kid could be good if he would focus more on what he is doing and less on how the world looks at him. He has to concentrate on himself. Pretend there's a three-foot circle around you. Three feet in radius -- that's three feet from the center of your body, every which way. Then skate inside that. The lights are not there. The public is not there. The cameras are not there. Bring it up from inside yourself. I believe the edges will automatically straighten, his body posture will snap to attention, and his smile will be a lot brighter. The body has a lot of wisdom about how it wants to go. Audiences and cameras don't always know that. The skater is the one who is showing us this. We're just appreciating it. Let us back off and let him find what he has inside himself -- and on his skates -- to appreciate. I believe his whole skating outlook will change. He'll bring out what's inside himself. And we'll be a lot happier. Judges too. I promise. Sometimes it works that way. Go for it, boy!

ISRAEL: Michael Shmerkin -- This boy's got all the power in the world. Why does he not use it? Good sense of line and where his hands are in relation to the rest of his body (read the gut), good lines on the skates, almost perfect edges as far as they go....why has he not ascended further? I fell in love with this guy the night he skated after his Prime Minister was assassinated. He held on to edges I would not have expected him to hold onto under the circumstances. His blades didn't come out from under him once when I might reasonably have expected even Elvis to get sloppy. Tight, disciplined, good lines, good edges -- why can't this boy break the top ten and stay there? What's going on? Is Israel an uncool country to be from? What's going on here?

ITALY: Gilberto Viadana -- Wow. Can this one move! He's trying to accelerate into the big ranks with speed, timing, and fast jumps. It don't come that fast, boy. Kill the speed just a little until you get your technique and timing under control, and then with your power surges, you'll find the speed comes of itself. It always does. That's why I don't talk about it much. The body knows how fast it can take it. And buy some really, really, really good skates. That'll help you. Make sure the blades are top-notch. You can't afford to scrimp on such a basic notion at this stage of your career. And then skate. Skate for yourself. The judges will find you. Go for it! If nobody else loves you, Italy does. And that may be enough, at least for a while or so.


KAZAKHSTAN: Yiriy Litvinov -- This kid could be good if he had somebody supporting him. I don't get the feeling that a lot of the small countries really get under and behind figure skating the way some of these kids deserve. Realize you've got the home support, but if you need someone else to yell for you, go hunt down coaching, support, whatever, help elsewhere. You can do it. Just that little boost of confidence from knowing that somebody is actually paying attention to his edges can loft this kid into frighteningly-high-jump territory. This could be one of those slamming his way into quad territory -- and landing it right -- if he chose. But he has to have all the support in the world. Go for it, kid!

LATVIA: Sergueis Telenkov -- You and Juraj down there could be buddies. Stretch more. Show the line. You don't need the ballet work -- you've already got it inside you. Do I see quintuple jumps inside this boy? Yes. Stretch it out (seems to be the theme this year for this gang), let those lines flow and let those legs go as they may. Squashing those takeoff edges and those stroking lines is going to be unfashionable here real quick if I have anything to say about it. Put some real old '60s lines and edges on the ice. Oh, this one is going to be nice. And an object lesson in why y'all should not have ever dumped figures. This one is a natural. Peggy -- this one's going to be fun once they get those edges straightened out. Just let it fly, boy!

LUXEMBOURG: Patrick Schmit -- Wow. I don't think this kid is a native skating talent, but he's made it this far on sheer drive. Get some decent coaching and get a good environment around you. You'll do fine. Edge work -- you've got the basics. Back, forward, inside, outside, right, left. You'll do fine. Jumps -- they'll come when you feel like you're doing something for yourself. You know how to drive, you know how to analyze, you know how to make it to the top. You've made it this far. Just pump yourself up, look at Kristi Yamaguchi or Katarina Witt for two ladies who took legs and ankles that weren't necessarily made for skating into lucrative (and beautiful) careers, and keep going. If some of these others can do it, not paying bit of attention one to their edges, then you can with the attention you have had to learn to pay to your edges, arms, and legs to get this far. You can make it to the top. All you have to do is want to. And get the coaching and support behind you. Guys, do you realize how much fan support means to these people? C'mon, Luxembourg. Yell! Maybe get Monaco and the Netherlands in there too! C'mon!

MEXICO: Robert Olavarrieta -- What talent. Stretch more and show more line -- more native edgework and line training. Make him stretch. Those jumps'll come when he's ready. The line will enhance the balance which will enhance the scoring....judges look for that. Prove the rest of it later. Line. Stretch to the ceiling. Grab for the rafters on spirals and such. Make him work! This one has talent he's not shown yet. Not that he's real lazy, just that it's still getting there. Arm and leg movement -- the center will snap into place. And so will those edges.

POLAND: Robert Grzegorczyk -- An awesome talent who has not had nearly good enough coaching so far. Think about those back and front edges, leaning on the front (especially on the right) and those turns and spirals will straighten out fast. And, of course, from them come the jump edges and everything else. This one should and could reasonably, quite reasonably, be popping out quads, and good ones, fairly quickly with the right edge stability and training. Zhengsin, you stand warned. (That's Guo Zhengsin, in case the rest of you have been asleep these last few years.)

REPUBLIC OF KOREA: Kyu-Hyun Lee -- Wow. All the talent in the world, but he doesn't know what to do with it. Look at the legs. They were made for skating. Natural sense of direction, natural wisdom about line and balance (look at those legs!), natural flip rotation for the jumps. Problem is -- I don't think this kid has ever heard a proper edge lecture. Go look at everybody else's. I do it there, with a million variations. You don't need to hear it over again. Just read. Pick up some ideas. Learn from what's around you. Talk to other skaters. Talk to other coaches. You don't have to stick to one coach if you don't want to. Do what is natural for you. Those legs and those shoulders will guide you. That's why his arms are so good, and so incredibly inflowing with the line of the body -- the shoulders guide. This could be one of the greats of figure skating. I promise. Don't give up just because they don't have a marquee name. This one's worth working with. Wow, what rotations....(where's the fan club?)

ROMANIA: Cornel Georghe -- This one has talent, but he has to remember that he's not just skating for the hometown folks who no doubt need the inspiration, but for us out here in the big-time too. He's focusing his attention too much on his local audience and his friends back home. This one needs to remember that each stroke of the blade reaches millions of people when you compete at this level. I'm willing to bet that that introverted personality will uncurl a little bit more and we'll see stronger, sleeker edges in time. He just needs the encouragement. ABC (or whoever it is after the Olympics), can't you turn the cameras on this kid? He needs the reminder -- and someone please give him videotape. That's all he needs, a little bit of a talk, a couple of years of practice with edge stroking and jumps (they really do matter at this level), and the encouragement of friends back home to do well for the big audience. It's okay to be Romanian, but remember the rest of us too. Show us what you've got to offer, don't keep it at home. Thanks!



SLOVENIA: Jan Cejvan -- Needs to learn to spin more and to hold elegant straight back positioning. Stretch up during those spins! Entry and exit could use work also. Work on right back edge. And, really, spinning will straighten out many edge problems. That and straightening up....

SPAIN: Daniel Peinado -- Gorgeous skater. Surprised he hasn't done a lot better. Old-line spirals and positioning. He's a little hesitant on launching himself into moves -- I notice it especially in spirals, edge moves, and particularly jumps. Launch himself cleaner and more insistently -- look at Elvis for takeoff rotations. And there is a certain point where you think of the two together. This kid's almost at that level. Man, can he skate! I'd love to see this boy in the big-time. A little more confidence backing down into sitspins and you'll have it. Sign me up for the fan club on this boy.

SWITZERLAND: Patrick Meier -- Now where is the coaching and fan support on this boy? You have to yell if you really want these kids to do well. This one has at least another five notches up worth of climbing in him. At least. Yell! The edges look downright spiffy. Work on maybe back spins and other back rotational moves. You'll be fine. Polish up those forward spirals so the judges can see you. That's it. You really don't need any more. Ballet -- the sense of the discipline is in your bones. Just polish your costumes, a little simpler, a little prettier, and be yourself. You'll be fine. Just needs some confidence. Where are those Swiss flags in the audience? C'mon!

TAIPEI: David Liu -- Wow. What talent. This kid can go far if he really wants to. I don't think he's been pushed. But once he decides to do it, he can break up a couple-three notches in the rankings. Depends on how much he wants to. And of course no one is ever limited by others' expectations. The gold medal spot is available to all. Just work your butt off and pick the right coach. Please. Forward and backward edge work, just 10-20 feet without wobbling (you know how to do that, but you need encouragement on your forward and backward stuff). Then pick up some turns. When you can do a pretty Todd-Eldredge-style spiral, looking as good as Todd's (and remember he has had coaching out the yin-yang and artistic work like you wouldn't believe), then you'll be fine. Your edges will be better than his. And you will be ready to make your ascent. Any position you want to -- rotate your spiral positions, trying new things out. Constantly. Work those edges. Then you'll be fine.



UZBEKISTAN: Roman Skorniakov -- Wow. Good potential. Why isn't somebody pushing this boy further? Has he outstripped all the coaching within a 200-mile range? There's got to be somebody who can handle him, help him keep his jumps in line (why does everybody have trouble with flips and lutzes? Those should be the easiest jumps of all if you have your edges under control, but that's me whining). It's worth the money. It's worth the travel time. It's worth it for a major skating career. Which is what this kid can have if he wants to. Possibly fifth or seventh place in the standings at some point, at the very least. The very least. Go for it, kid. It's yours to work on. If you have no choice (and I don't think you do -- there aren't that few good skating coaches around), work on your edges. One at a time. Straight. Back and forth. Up and down. Polish them. And then take them off the ground with those jump takeoffs -- your toe assisted takeoffs should be improving with this too. Look at the boy from Bulgaria's recommendations. Go for it. And find yourself a coach...

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