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.
- Igor Pashkevitch -- If this one would just calm down and realize that he's performing for himself alone, he'd be fine. He has enough technical edges to have bought his way into World competition. He can relax and concentrate on fine-tuning his edges and his technical performance, and then we'll see the snazzy edges and flashy moves that we've come to expect with this boy. Except that they'll come from the heart (and the gut) instead of from the arms and legs, which is where this boy looks like he's moving from. Relax. You're there. Concentrate on your technique. The rest will come. And costumes and such tend to grow out of technical competence. Artistic is a measure of what's going on with the blade and how well you can interpret it. Keep going, kid. You're on the right track. Imagine giving Elvis some problems here in a few years. You can do it; it's also fun just to imagine. Might be a good way to train. Hassle the boys at the top. Show them what you want to. And do it.
- Serguei Rylov -- Needs to spin harder and faster. It's just a matter of throwing your body center into it hard and letting your arms and shoulders follow. He hasn't done this yet? Not been pushed hard enough? Come on. This one could be a technical master. Where is it? Let himself launch himself into his jumps. He seems to have a natural instinct for line and takeoff that has been squashed. Downright squashed. That's not how you train skaters. Let him fly. So what if he messes up on the landing a few times? The first part of the jump precedes the second, and once those takeoff edges and that line (and that confidence again) get locked into place, the landings will start to happen, and smoother and more balletic than you can imagine, probably. And then the turns and the spirals will come....a few more launches into jumps to improve his self-confidence, and this kid can do it. He's not competing against Elvis and the boys. He's competing against himself. There is only one person out there on that ice. This is not a pairs competition. There is only one person out there on that ice. Thank you.
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.
- Jeff Langdon -- Confidence problem. He's still not sure who he is under the floodlights, and National/World pressure can be a very scary thing. You have to look out for yourself, the audience, and most of all the judges, because they're the ones that are going to make or break you in this field. And I get the feeling this kid's terrified. Give him time. Was it wise to send him to Nagano? But there it is. Time to mature, kid. The floodlights are waiting. And just for one moment, practice without thinking of the judges. It'll help your skating. They don't go home with you at night. Skate for yourself and factor in the judges later. Coach -- this means hammering in on those edges, especially his jump (looks like lutz/flip) takeoff and landing edges. Somebody never drilled into him the basic edge technique for those babies. This should be standard by now at this level, but that's one of my beefs with big-time skating. Not enough edgework -- the toe loop should be more of a challenge. Anyhow, this boy looks especially weak on his left blade, inside more than out, although that outer looks shaky too. And then get his arms doing something in coordination with his body. I know positions have to look good, but they don't look good unless you coordinate them with the center of the body, and once you have that, the legs and arms (and head, anybody think about the head with this boy?) are working in coordination. Smooth coordination. Like cogwheels ratcheted together. Give this boy 2-3 years. Nagano is early to display him big-time. So is Worlds. But he'll do okay. Prepare for a couple of falls until he gets his gut under him, and then he, his arm and leg positions, and his edges (especially those jumps -- watch those takeoff points at the toe -- most crucial part of the jump!) will do fine. Go boy. You've got a lot of years. You don't have to be Elvis yet. If ever. Everyone has their own style. Don't let him intimidate you. Just because he's the bad boy doesn't mean you have to be. Or anybody. That's just him. Thank you. Now go work on those edges....
- Elvis Stojko -- Bum bum (chk chk) bum bum (chk chk) "Warden threw a party at the county jail/Prison band was there and they began to wail..." The song is a classic. The singer was a classic (and, who knows, may still be). The man we are speaking of today is certainly one. Snap it in a little bit tighter on those spins (yes, I said you, boy). Nail it a little higher on those lutz and axel jumps. And don't tell me you haven't got room -- you ain't quite busted open the top of the arena yet. And, believe it or not, don't be afraid to put yourself out on the ice. I think a lot of this bad-boy black-leather routine is a reaction to a crowd that simply won't accept him if he doesn't grab their attention somehow. Good technique and good skaters are scary. Very scary. How about some romanticism once in a while? Some symphonic music? Bring out that other side of yourself. Make it pretty. Seduce the ladies. And I don't mean with the thongs and cut-off shirts and stuff. Bring out that other side of yourself. Then you will be the best. You're just the best for now in the eligible ranks. Go sneak a peak at Brian Boitano. Go look at Mr. Browning (heard of him? Fellow Canuck who used to be able to jump a little). Go get the idea. Then go talk to Katia Gordeeva on bringing your real self out into the spotlight. That's half the reaason she made it on those edges when she was skating for gold in 1988. Her personality wouldn't let her falter. Go for it! "Let's rock, everybody let's rock. Everybody in the whole cellblock Was dancing to the jailhouse rock!" Bring that spirit into the White Ring (Olympic arena in Nagano) and you'll go far. Look out for that Yagudin boy. He's right on your tail. Jump higher! Spin faster! And sell yourself stronger. You got it. Yeah, I know. This is Elvis. But he still needs to. He's still a little unsure. I know. This is him. I promise.
- Emanuel Sandhu -- Raw native talent, at least pretty well coached and kept in line. You can't do much with this boy except tie a rope to him and make sure he doesn't go too far. And remind him he's not the big boys like the quad-jumpers yet....oh Lord, do we have another Kurt coming? Who will bound through the railings no matter what you tell him? Just put him in a good costume and send him out there. Not much you can do elsewise. Oh Lord....not another one.....
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.
- Philippe Candeloro -- He looks like he's getting a little tired. Been competing too long? All the programs starting to look the same? Well, just for a refresher, work on those edges (the basic stroking back and forth, spirals, leaps, jumps -- just the basics, work on the fancy rotations later), and then maybe a new program, one that comes from the heart, one that's just for Philippe. You have to do it for yourself when you've been out in the arena this long. That is something Katarina Witt has been able to do. She does it as long as she needs to, and she always makes it look fresh because it comes from the heart. She focuses on herself and then on the audience. Not leaving the audience out, but letting them see what's come from within. And then maybe you'll have the strength to pop a couple extra rotations on a couple of those jumps. And with clean, sharp edges and the height you need. And then go read a book or do something else fun. You need it, Philippe.
- Laurent Tobel -- Huh? Why is no one pushing this boy for high-level skating when he so obviously has it inside him and comes from a country that is obviously emphasizing the sport? Smack. A Philippe Candeloro is born of sheer talent and edgework, no matter what he chooses to do with it. That is his choice. You don't make them. You let them develop. Philippe had all the classical edge training in the world. Let this boy do what he wants. You start from technique and go with that. I don't care how unfashionable it looks on camera. Y'all learned the wrong lessons from Surya. You support your strong skaters to break the trend rather than squashing them to make them fit in. Then we have nothing to watch. No skating revenues. No TV contracts. Thank you. I believe I finally got through. Let this boy skate.
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?
- Sven Meyer -- Now if this one will learn to launch himself into his big jumps instead of letting his lines do it for him -- give it that old Elvis/Todd push. Hike it into the air. C'mon. Move! Use those muscles for something! And then more balletic line and extension -- film of Kurt Browning in exhibition ("Here I Am") comes to mind -- can help -- the Canadians know how to do this. I think this boy's trying to emphasize native line without realizing he has to have the technique to polish it. It can be done. This boy's gonna be good. Just let him flip....
- Andrejs Vlascenko -- oh, this one is gorgeous. Push him. I don't think he knows how to do it himself. Emphasize strength, edges, line, and the odd ballet class. Oh, this one is going to be gorgeous! Make him do those old circle-swings from a one-foot stance all the way around the ice, 360 degrees, all edges, all feet. You know how to do that. Then let him swing up into a good line and take off. Best way to start a spiral I know. Then push off (if you need to) and see what you've got. Best way to launch a high-level skater I know. Connect the lines with the funky maneuvers you all like to see so much. You don't get the cutesy little show skaters unless you let the competitive skaters develop their edges first. And if they develop their edges well, they're even cutesier later. Take Denise Biellmann as your idol and role model. She knows how to do it.
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.
- Takeshi Honda -- This kid's got potential. He's sure learning how to hold a line (be aware of where his body is from the top of his head to his feet and hold his positions accordingly -- you look pretty stupid if your arm's out one way and it doesn't coordinate with the rest of your body). He's also getting a little bit better on his edges. Give him time. This kid'll improve. As long as he realizes that skating is a technical discipline and you have to be aware of where your skates are at all times. This isn't a beauty contest and I'd hate to see him sacrifice a really good skating career to look good for the cameras. The cameras are a necessary part of the performance the way skating is run now, and you have to emphasize that, but the skates are where you start from. Remember that, Takeshi. You'll do well. And sometimes the love of your country is more important than what the Westerners (or anybody else) thinks. Go for it!
- Yamato Tamura -- This kid could be really good if he'd focus more on himself and what he's got inside. You have to bring a skating performance -- or any performance -- out from inside yourself, no matter what the cameras say. Please don't emphasize, all ye Japanese, looking good for some international audience at the expense of not looking like yourself. We've already given you Disneyland and McDonald's. You don't need anything else. His edges'll sharpen up readily once he gets that down. The mind controls the edges, and the body knows what it wants to skate. Please let Yamato do this. Thank you.
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!
- Ilia Kulik -- Awright. We need to have a little talk here. What's a fine little Russian boy like this doing waving sloppy edges like that around in a World arena? Unh uh. You have a tradition to maintain. Go for it. Somebody just needs to lock this boy away from the costumes and the mirrors and stuff and just make him think "forward stroke, backward stroke, right inner edge, left inner edge, jump, land, now what edge was that on? And how did I look?" for about six months. Maybe seven. Then maybe he'll get the hang of it. Prettiness is always shown off best when you're doing your thing. And if you are a skater, your thing is based on the edges. Nothing else. Stop the dance classes. Stop the preening. Get back to skating. And make your ancestors proud. And maybe -- if it's not too politically incorrect to say this -- the Motherland. What would Katia Gordeeva have to say about this? Has Artur Dmitriev talked to him? What's going on here? This boy has a tradition to maintain. And you can still have your burgers and Cokes every once in a while, but listen to your old babushka. Get back to skating, have some borscht, and knock it off. Thank you.
- Alexei Yagudin -- Boy, has this boy got the talent! And he's training in one of the top places in the world to get talent polished. Go for it, boy! He looks like he's got the lines and extensions all down, always (well, pretty much) keeping in mind where his body center is (you can't relate the rest of your body to something if you don't know where that something is -- generally in the region of the gut, the center of gravity). He looks poised and refreshed and not about to let anybody disturb his equilibrium or mess up what he's got to skate for himself. A little more practice and this one'll have it. Sometimes the jumps take a while to mature, sometimes the edges look a little shaky, but that just takes a little more performance on the ice and a little less worrying about yourself. Costumes that reflect the inner person instead of some outer choreographer's idea will work well for this boy. He has to stay centered on himself, and remember the audience second, the cameras and coaches third, and the judges last of all, if he's ever going to beat Elvis. Because that's precisely what Elvis is doing. And this one has a chance. If not now (and I'll cringe if it's now -- the Stojk still has too much edge experience on this boy), then later. Let him mature. It'll be there. And the rest of us can yell. Whoo boy!
- Robert Kazimir -- Somebody else who needs to work on his edges. Think forward, backward, right, left, inside, outside, and go find the Bulgarian guy's blurb and hit those exercises. 2-3 hours a day for six weeks. That oughta straighten out your jumps. Your spins -- will be more natural with confidence that you are skating and can skate well and truly perform in front of an audience. That's all this kid needs, a strong arm around the shoulders, encouragement (in barrel loads, and have more in the back room ready for when he needs it) and time. Lots of time. 2-3 years? Maybe more, if he goes the slow route to really develop his edges. 2-3 hours. A day. Six days a week. Go for it. You can really snap out those quads if you try. Encouragement enough? And you've got the natural body line to sell in front of an audience. What is this kid doing in the back ranks? C'mon!
- Juraj Sviatko -- Wow. Can this one skate. Why is no one really encouraging this boy to his technical potential? Trying to turn him into a pretty skater? Won't work. Do you know how much potential this guy has? It's incredible. Very, very elegant, fast jumps. It's almost like someone's making him squash his takeoff edges and the full extension of his edges whenever he swings a leg or something. Make him pull it out -- good old classical ballet work will straighten that out -- get a good ballet mistress on him and he'll be fine. One of the old bitchy-type ones. This should have been there all along. It is okay to combine power with prettiness. In fact, that's what gives you prettiness. Quit messing with my television viewing!
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.
- Dmitry Dmitrenko -- Wow. This one has the potential to go far. He just has to do it. Please remember to stay stable on your edges. You are allowed to use the entire blade to stand on, not just the toes or the ankles or something. And get your coach to give you a workout on your inside and outside blade edges in both forward and backward directions. Once a day for six months, at least. Then you should be okay. Remember your performance reaches millions worldwide. You don't have to change yourself, just direct yourself to those who are watching. This boy can go far if he remembers that he is an ambassador for the Ukraine every time he steps on the ice -- and there are those of us who want to see it. Please polish his edges and give him a voice, a big one, in costume production. Then he should feel like he's doing something for the people out there. And then maybe those edges will improve from that standpoint also. If you want to sell yourself better, your edges will automatically improve. And this boy has something to show off. The skates know what they're doing. Let this boy do it.
- Viacheslav Zagorodniuk -- Very great talent, great potential if he'd listen to his coach. It looks like his coach has been telling him things and they've only been sinking in halfway. Things like ice positions, where you stand on the blades, how you maneuver. You hired your coach to tell you. So listen. Or go solo. And listen to the reaction then. You have to be driving your coach crazy. Position and line look fine, except that he's missing those fine points that could make him great. And he's gotten the rest of it somewhere. Maybe a good workout (3 weeks or more) with Irina Rodnina, master of Soviet ice placement (if she'll work with a solo -- her expertise was pairs) would help. Somebody strong. Somebody from the Eastern European tradition (or somebody who can coach that way, no matter where they come from -- not many of them -- stick with the hard technical coaches). And some pretty costumes to show off those lines. And, quite frankly, that body. Skate for yourself. It'll work. And listen to your coach.....
- Evgeny Pliuta -- Wow. What spins. What finesse. When he finally puts it all together, he's going to be something. Get this boy to a coach who will make him focus on the most important thing -- keeping it all in one place, sitting on him, and making him do excellent technical work. Feet, center of the body, arms. Maybe the head. Once you have a year or two of that, this boy's going to be gorgeous. Think feet. Think lines. Think face -- the camera projection will count for something at some point. Edgework and timing will make him a powerhouse. A real threat. But he has to have it all together first. Not thinking about it one element one second, another element the next, and so on down the line. All together, all at once. Every move. It may take some practice, but he can do it. And launch himself into the medals. I promise.
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...
- Todd Eldredge -- Wow. Great talent on sloppy ice blades. And they don't make them sloppy enough to account for this. This is him. This is not his coaching. I know he skates with a coach who is capable of coaching excellent technique (look at Tara Lipinski), so this has to come from somewhere else. Artistic is nice, but it has to come from the edge of the blade, mediated through that magical center of the body, before it gets anywhere. This is skating, not Hollywood, no matter how much we try to confuse the two. And trying to look pretty without focusing on your skate blades will only mess you up. I promise. I tried it. It doesn't work. Not even the judges liked it. No way. Just ground yourself. Maybe start by unscrewing your blades from your skates and looking at them thoroughly to know what you have, how it feels, how sharp it is, and where it goes. Put it on your foot. See how it feels. Maybe after 3-4 hours of this, screw them back on the boots. And then go out dancing. This boy likes to dance, but you can't dance if the soles of your shoes are wrong. Get to know your blades. In the language of ice skating, those are the soles of your shoes. You can do nothing without them. They are your contact with that ice. This isn't a dance floor. We might like to believe it is sometimes, but it isn't. And get a Tara-style workout from ol'Richard. Might help. And don't ignore him. Coaches are there to help. Sufficient spanking? I hate to see talent go to waste. This is ice skating. Not Hollywood...how many times can I repeat it? I have felt often in the last few years, not enough. Not nearly. So listen. I'm yelling this time.
- Michael Weiss -- Somebody's trying to tell this boy to skate big. Too big. He's not ready for the upper triples (the fancy jumps with the big air time and big landings) and quads yet. Just concentrate on the lower (easier) half of the triple roster, making those look really good and Air-Jordan-ish with nice soft balletic landings (yes, there is room for ballet in this sport, I don't care what your gender is), and just make nice little one-foot or possibly occasionally solid two-foot or flick of the second foot on landings on the big jumps (axel and the other tough triples). File that quad until you have at least a decent-looking (from all standpoints, no matter who comments on you) triple lutz. I promise. It'll pay off. Work on your lines, where your arms are (in relation to your gut, not your elbow or your upper body), polish your leg landings and other leg positions somewhat (free leg on those landings -- it should swing out as a natural result of a good landing with good rotations and good air time - guess what. It all comes back to the takeoff edges. Make your coach work you out on those for 3-4 hours per day per jump until you get them. No compromise. Nothing. I don't care if you look like Todd or not.) and then you should be okay. I don't ask much, do I? It's the nature of the sport. Think from your edges, literally transport your brain down so it's talking from those blades, and you should be fine. Anything else and this isn't ice skating. And it's okay to take your time. Nobody's rushing you. Who deserves to be listened to. Go for it.
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