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Skate Canada 2012
by Sonia Bianchetti
October 2012

Skate Canada, which was held this weekend in Windsor, Ontario, is the second Grand Prix event of the season. It was an interesting competition with some excellent skating.

The event I preferred by far, as was the case at Skate America, has been ice dancing. Here all the programs, both the short dance and the free dance, were original and constructed to the music, and the skaters' attention is focused on its interpretation and expression. Besides, in ice dancing we can still appreciate the beauty of deep long edges, which have become rare both in single and pair skating even among the top skaters, due to the unbelievable number of turns required by the rules to get the highest levels. Perhaps it would be a good idea for the ISU to add long and deep edges as a "feature" to get level 4 in step sequences!!!! It is very important, to me, at least, that the whole event is enjoyable and pleasant to watch, from the weakest programs to the best, and not for just a few, as is the case now in the other disciplines, where mistakes and falls play a major role even among the top world competitors.

Fantastic was the "Battle of the Carmens", as we can call it, between Anna Capellini/Luca La Notte (ITA) and the World Champions TessaVirtue/Scott Moir (CAN). It is just amazing that both these couples have chosen the same kind of music, but their interpretation was quite different. More passionate, sensuous and captivating was that of the Italians, where Anna really interprets Carmen as she is in the opera by Bizet.

The Canadians, in my opinion, although fantastic from a technical point of view, with some innovative lifts and spins, skated to the music from Carmen, but they were not representing Carmen and Don José. They did show passion and emotion, but for me this was just another love story with a sad end with Carmen's music playing in the background. There is no doubt that the Canadians technically were superior but from the artistic point of view, I must say that for me Anna and Luca were the best. Anyhow, I found them both breathtaking.

The second best event, in my opinion, was the men's. The victory of Javier Fernandez is a historic achievement since it is the first time that a Spanish skater has won a Grand Prix event. Fernandez was first both in the short and the free programs. His free program, skated to Charlie Chaplin, although not flawless, was easily mastered, very appealing and amusing. The music suits him perfectly. I really enjoyed it. Excellent was also Patrick Chan's program performed to "La Bohème". Chan's elegance on the ice is beyond question, but there are still too many mistakes. Let's hope that he will be able to master his jumps later in the season. The bronze medal went to Nobunari Oda from Japan.

The ladies were unpredictable as usual. Definitely too many errors both in short and free. Kaetlyn Osmond, only 16, from Canada was the surprise winner. It was her first participation in a senior Grand Prix. She is a very promising, beautiful young lady. Akiko Suzuki and Kanako Murakami, both representing Japan, performed good and elegant free programs, placing second and third.

In pairs, the performance of the four-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy did not convince me. First of all, I was shocked by the costumes chosen both for the short and the free programs. To me they are just clownish, more suitable for a show in a circus than for skating competition, unless they are portraying Harlequin, which is not the case. As a matter of fact, there is really no relationship between these fancy colored costumes and the music of their free program, which is "Bolero" by Ravel. And, apart from the bad taste, I even wonder whether they comply with ISU Rule 500 on costumes, which states that "Men must wear trousers: no tights are permitted".

"Bolero" obviously brings to memory the fantastic and unique interpretation of this piece of music by Torvill and Dean at the 1984 Olympic Games in Sarajevo, when they received a shower of 6.0 marks in Artistic Impression. So it is always a challenge for anybody to choose this piece of music. However, besides the costumes, the interpretation of this piece of music did not fit, either. "Bolero" is very rhythmical all the way through, and therefore definitely more suitable for ice dancing than for a free program where jumps, lifts, throws and spins must be included. And these elements can hardly be performed as measured steps to the music.

Second and third placed were Canadians Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford and Italians Stefania Berton/Ondrej Hotarek. As an Italian, allow me to congratulate and thank Stefania and Ondrej for their excellent performance.

We look forward now to the Cup of China and the Trophée Bompard in Paris.