All the competitors. All the time. To the best of my ability. Here they are.
When I speak of edges, this is what I mean. Have fun. Hope it helps.
ARMENIA: Krasiltseva/Chestnikh -- Wow. Really good. They have the pop and spring that characterize great figure skaters. Their tech edges may not be there, but that's coming. They found two skaters like this? Not afraid of the jumps, not afraid of the low maneuvers like low spins and such? These two are going to be good in a few years' time! Just give them some time. Their basics, like love of edgework and love of connecting things smoothly together on the ice (without which you have no real skating, just throwing some elements out there on the ice and hoping they look good -- skating has to be smooth from start to finish), are really there. They're emerging. Give them time. Is a world medal at some point too much to expect? I don't think so.
AUSTRALIA: McGrath/Carr -- These kids could be really good with a little more work on projection to the audience and a deeper bit of realization of what kind of program they're trying to achieve. It sort of looks like they're moving around on the ice without any clear idea of what effect they're trying to achieve with their program. Skating has to come from the inside out or it isn't really skating, just moving around on the ice. Every motion has to be tied together by a deeper notion. Once these kids get that, they'll be fine. Details can take time, but these kids will basically have it together when they do.
AZERBAIJAN: Rodionova/Anichenko -- A little afraid of the ice. Probably shouldn't even be here. It looks like it's more her than him, but it's infected them both, and probably the coach too. You can't protect these kids too hard. Make them do some throw triples, break that wall, go for it, and not be afraid of themselves. The only way you learn is by trying. Go for it!
BELARUS: Katsiaryna/Guennadi -- Really good. Why are all these great little couples languishing down in the bottom ranks? Just because they don't carry Russian passports? C'mon. An emphasis a little more on line and that crucial pushing of the line of the foot stroke all the way back with her -- give it that little flip up to complete the stroke movement -- and she'll be fine. Which will give him the confidence to skate more. Yes, you picked the right person. Just more spin practice would help. Emphasize that mental keeping up with each other -- just basic pair technique. Jumps will come later when they're ready. You build it step by step and then it takes off up into the air by itself.
BULGARIA: Dimova/Tourlakov -- Gorgeous couple. Need to emphasize unison a little bit more. What will help is drawing a line on the ice, or starting from a hockey line in the center of the rink, and practicing those pushoffs for unison moves like pair jumps and (especially with these guys) spins. There is so much potential here...they should be twin twirling speed demons. Excellent line and blending artistically. Back edges will help. Especially her. Practice mirroring each other, first on the floor in a dance studio, then on the ice. That will help. Maintain that eye contact, two-three times during pair spins, once during jumps -- it can be done. A great technical couple potentially. I'd love to watch them when they get themselves together a little bit more. Coach not been focusing on them real hard?
CHINA: Shen/Zhao -- Nice! These guys obviously have a little ways to go with their edges and somewhat with their polishing of positions, but the positions I have always found come more naturally when you work on your positions on the ice (edgework, basic stroking, etc.) and how you relate to each other. Give these kids time. I think they'll do it! Sign me up for the fan club! They seem to have a real sense of elegance and of line, and I think that'll develop over the next five to six years. Give them time. They'll get there. Edges come naturally when you care about each other.
CZECH REPUBLIC: Berankova/Diabola -- They'll be all right. Just need some edge training. Especially her. What is it with these girls who can't control their edges? But they'll be all right - the Soviet system tradition still supports them (sometimes memory can serve as well as a present coach) and they look like they've got a coach who's whipping their skinny little rear ends on positioning. Only way to do it. Just don't be afraid to jump. To fly. To stand up for yourself. Remember, Eastern Europe can be proud! Look at what you gave us....Oh, for some Soviet edges....
ESTONIA: Nekrassova/Mintals -- Very good. Obviously building themselves up from the basics, but that is good if the basics are taught correctly. Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze film 24 hours a day. Even in your sleep. And practice jumping like them. Watch their takeoffs -- very elegant and smooth, and very, very self-confident. That'll help you guys nail it. Take them as your idols. Get their autographs. Put their pictures on your walls. Live at their practices. They can teach you much. Especially watch her. She is excellent.
GREAT BRITAIN: Poluliaschenko/Seabrook -- Wow. She is obviously better than he is. Native line and training. But he is paired appropriately with her, if he'll work over the last two years. I am going to hand you the basic Great Britain training program: Torvill and Dean. You are more similar than you are different. Watch their interaction on the ice, especially '82-'83. They were one, they skated as one, he helped her and she moved along and occasionally helped him. This is not a power play. This is a skating team. Watch your edges and make sure they move together. Talk to Chris and Jayne and sit in on a couple of those crazy little practices of theirs. Do ya good. Get some autographs and watch some shows. But the basis of their work is their pre-Olympic years. Devour tape. It will help.
GREECE: Asanaki/Schulten -- Why haven't these kids moved up further? They're technically awfully damned good. Watch their pair spins. Anything where they have to do anything in unison, they're virtually roped to each other. They are scary as hell. Sure, their lines get off a bit and their jumps and, more obviously, their speed, could use some work, so why don't they have the help they need? This is a top five couple that's rotting down there. Get your butt to some good training and someone who can help you fly through the air. Move it!
JAPAN: Arai/Amano -- Now here the girl's better. Good solid technical training. The boy is kind of weak, but he can keep up with her if he tries. And he'd better. This girl may be the best thing that comes along for him. They have the potential to make the podium (skating talk for placing first, second, or third, or other place for which medals are awarded (competitions differ). You get to stand on the podium to receive your medals) here in a couple of years if they'll try. Especially the girl. Not to let this boy hold her back. And get to the podium. He probably whines in practice, but he'll do it if she makes him. To the podium! Now! (Whap) Good old Japanese tradition, and in fact a good old tradition anywhere in the world. Use that iron skillet, girl. Make him do it. Sometimes the coach is helpless, but a well-placed skate blade (I didn't say that, did I?)... Oh well. Sometimes it's what it takes.
KAZAKHSTAN: Khalturina/Kroukov -- Go for it! These kids could be really good if they tried. What's the matter? Coach holding them back, maybe a little nervous? Conditions in the home country not the best? Nobody believing in them? So what? Dive forward; never mind the terain. You can do it if you want to. Nice balletic line, nice sense of class -- nothing holding them back except their own edges. And the edges are influenced most by the mind. Reasonable, since the mind controls the entire body. Go for it, kids! And don't let anybody stop you!
LATVIA: -- Sirohvatova/Salmanov -- Wow. Good. These kids are technically excellent. They could be technically superior if they learned to push that little more into the jumps -- wait until I get Elvis' quad analysis up. It will help. There are techniques there that can help any skater. For now, don't be afraid to lever yourself into the air and just go. Feel the flow around you. Jump into the air and back down onto the ice. That's the best way I can put it. Play around with each other. Don't take this as a job. Reserve a couple of hours just to play with each other, experiment with technique, and just have some fun with this partnership. This will bring some very, very deep results because these are very, very deep skaters. Keep your eyes on these kids. They just need a few hints here and there to go around scaring everyone else.
POLAND: Zagorska/Siudek -- Sigh. These kids could be good if they really tried. Lack of edgework on her part reveals the truth -- they don't really want to. She'd have cleaned up some of those second-class slops if her partner had really sat on her. And without decent edges, how do you get in position for lifts? How do you do jumps? How do you even do spins? Never mind keep them straight and together. It's there; she just doesn't want to do it. Quit wasting your parents' money or the rink time or whatever. Get those edges cleaned up or get off the ice. Now. So someone else can have it. Who will polish their edges. They're just lazy, to me.
SLOVAK REPUBLIC: Bestandigova/Bestandig -- If only all of you guys skated with this degree of unity. Their feet match in the oddest places. There is the depth of form and quality here required for a really first-class team. Unison needs some work; look at each other when you go up for those crazy moves and jumps and such! Click in with each other with the eyes before and after, and you'll even learn how to do it during. It happens. Almost automatically. Better skates. Please. Fast. Better costumes to show off that line. These two carry a lot of the old couples training tradition. Learn from them. Please.
UKRAINE: Filonenko/Marchenko -- Why bother saying anything? These kids will keep working and getting better no matter what we say. And they'll win when they want to. Get the lifts straight (as in his back on entry), get the lifts higher (as in her arms on takeoff and landing -- that tends to put them superhigh in the air), and everything else should be fine. A couple's lifts and spins tell about the rest of their work. Ain't nothing wrong with these kids' spins. They'll do fine.
UZBEKISTAN: Ponomareva/Sviridov -- Wow. Such an explosive couple. Do you realize what you have there in her? A virtual Tonya Harding of the pairs scene. And he is such a Paul Wylie, so laid back and flowing...it will be a major choreographic experience to get these two functioning together over the next couple of years, with those so-divergent styles, but wow. What you have now. And what you could have then. Let them speak from their hearts, both in choreographic sessions and in putting it together on the ice themselves. Please. You have a great couple here. Harnessing fire and ice...such an experience....can you imagine what a show team they'd make?