Welcome to my coverage of the Skate Canada 2017 men’s short program! No wine this time, damn it, just a big glass of water. But you can’t have big glasses of wine every night or you’re just a fancy alcoholic. I have to say, the men are probably my least favorite of the four figure skating disciplines (sorry, guys). But I’m excited because this competition includes Jason Brown and Patrick Chan, two artistic skaters I really enjoy. Let’s see how they fare. If you’d like to follow along, here’s the video I watched on YouTube. There is absolutely no commentary – it’s just you and the skaters.
Men’s Short Program
Michal Brezina | Czech Republic
- I thought this was a man-bun at first, but it’s just a ponytail. I have a feeling this ties into his music, Japanese drums.
- He opened with his jump combination, and telegraphed it for what felt like a really long time. But he pulled it off, so props. It’s not like I could go out and do that, so it feels kinda wrong to nitpick telegraphing. That combo was timed with the music really well, too – super-effective use of the drum beat.
- Wow, his triple axel was so open and airy! Sometimes you see these guys and they spin super fast and tight. Not this dude…that jump looked like the exact opposite of fast and tight, but not in a sloppy way. Pretty sure this means he’s used to doing a whole other rotation while in flight.
- I’m not digging the glittery dragons and things on his shirt. It’s kind of distracting. I’m wishing he went full ninja and just wore all black.
- A little slow in the combo spin. Come on, buddy, pick up the pace.
- I’m really liking the music, but I want more speed and some emotion. He has some weak fling-your-arms-out moments in the choreography, but when you’re skating to strong music like this, those arm movements really need to be punched.
- Triple jump – whoa, stumbled out of it. Not so good in the do-or-die short program.
- He’s got nice extension in his legs when he spins, but I want him to spin faster. He ended right on beat with the music – yay!
- Overall, I think he needs to pull from the pairs skating playbook and sell this a little harder. Really emphasize those movements, the arms especially, and keep ’em crisp like snap peas. Or like a ninja, which is a much better simile.
Technical elements: 42.09
Overall, this puts him in second place. Shit. Now I’m gonna have to back and watch the first group to see who’s ahead of him. And I thought I was being so clever and time-saving my skipping to the final group.
Jorik Hendrickx | Belgium
- Wow, a Belgian! I love your guys’ beers. Just sayin’. Also, you have the hardest name to spell. I had to double-check it, like three times.
- He’s skating to “Je suis malade” performed by F. di Cello. I am not familiar.
- Whoa, this dude is super-emoting from the first note – the total opposite of Brezina. The song is a French ballad, which could go really wrong or really right. We shall see.
- That triple axel was a tiny bit wobbly.
- Nice speed in the combo spin! Wow, then, like, another combo spin. And another spin, just for good measure. I wonder why he triple-stacked ’em like that.
- Okay, the super-emotey hands-to-the-head thing is getting on my nerves. I know it’s an easy way to convey emotion when you’re far away from the audience, but it’s too easy. And overdone. Sorry, this is just a pet peeve of mine.
- Whoa, he hung onto that quad for the combo – good for him! I think he’s nervous. He clearly can land all these jumps, but tonight, it’s just a bit shaky.
- Nifty footwork coming out of that triple loop!
- So, half his footwork sequence is set during an a capella part of the song – interesting choice. I think it draws attention to this part of the program, and it does look like footwork is one of his strengths. I support this decision. Check it out – an illusion! Yay! Decent speed through this footwork, too. Looks like he is REALLY this music. Either that or he’s a good actor. Either one will serve you well in figure skating, so good for him.
Technical elements: 41.89
This puts him ahead of Brezina, which I get. His style is more developed, and he’s got more difficult choreography, and although I’m on the fence about the emoting and the song, he did his best to sell this, and I dig that about him. Plus, his country makes amazing beer, so I’m gonna back him as a way of saying thanks.
Alexander Samarin | Russia
- Whoa, this guy’s shirt looks like blue plastic wrap…or like those mattress storage bags where you suck all the air out. It’s that tight and shiny.
- I’m a little confused and a little afraid. His music is listed as “Moonlight Sonata, I’m No Angel.” I will try to be positive.
- But seriously, can we just pause for a moment to say how fucking incredible “Moonlight Sonata” is? I listened to it on endless repeat for, oh, months while finishing up The Dante Deception – one of my characters is obsessed with it, and now I am, too. Sorry, Alexander Samarin. I’ll shut up and let you skate now.
- He hasn’t even jumped yet, but I’m really liking the way he holds his arms. It’s controlled and graceful – not punching the air, not limply raising them up for a crossover because that’s what you’re supposed to do. He turns an otherwise throwaway motion into something that caught my eye. Good on you, dude.
- Whoa, a little shaky on the second jump of his combo! But he held on, and it hit right with the beat of the music. Yes, I said beat. At the moment he landed the jump, “Moonlight Sonata” switched to some dude’s vocal. Oh, man, this is one of those songs that takes a piece of classical music and puts words to it. Not sure I’m wild about the pairing. Seems kinda like caviar and Cheetos at the moment, but let’s see how he works it.
- Nice positions in the combo spin, but I already expected that based on his superior arm-raising skills.
- Whoa, that triple axel was as crooked as the American pharmaceutical industry. I cannot believe he saved that. It looked pretty awkward, though, so he’s gonna get a big rocked on the grade of execution for that.
- Oh, he’s singing along with the song! I love that. So charming. He is INTO IT.
- Decent footwork…I think he really likes this part of the music. His energy level just went up. The choreography could be giving him more to work with. And he needs a tad more speed. He’s got the emotion down pat, though.
Technical elements: 46.40
This puts him in first place. Hmm. Even he’s shaking his head, like, no way, that’s not right. He had a couple stumbles here, so I’m not really sure what’s putting five points head on technical elements. Grade of execution on other stuff, maybe? He’s got the lowest presentation score of the three dudes in this group so far, which I find odd. I think he’s definitely competitive with the previous two style-wise. Clearly, this is why I’m not a figure skating judge.
Jason Brown | USA
- In all honesty, Jason is the reason I chose to cover the men’s skate here at Skate Canada. I love this guy. I will try to remain unbiased as we go through his program, though. But seriously, in a totally unbiased way, I fucking love this guy. 😉
- His music is called “The Room Where It Happens,” which means we’re doing Hamilton.
- His smile, you guys – look at that smile as he takes the ice. It’s genuine. This is a man who loves what he does. He’s out there for the fun of it. I admire that so much.
- Ooh, he turned out of his triple axel slightly, but had such a nice arm flourish at the end. Mad style props, but a teensy hit on grade of execution.
- Who else even bothers to do a stag leap anymore? JASON FUCKING BROWN.
- Triple lutz with the hand over the head – nice!
- Stupid-good extension on the catchfoot spin. Ditto for his Russian splits.
- Flawless combo! You go, dude.
- Nice footwork, but it’s a little slow. I’m guessing that’s because it’s so early in the season. Everyone is still getting to know their programs, especially in competition.
- Holy shit, that was a fast scratch spin at the end! Wow.
- I hate to say it, you guys, but I’m not feeling this program. I don’t think the jazz-inflected hip-hop Broadway thing is his jam. Or maybe this just wasn’t the right song choice. The song didn’t play to his strengths – it fell flat for me. The audience seemed to like it, so maybe I’m just off? I mean, I totally appreciate everything he does, so I’d have been clapping madly were I in the audience, too. This is the same way I felt about the Russian pair who skated to La La Land…it just didn’t work for me – something got lost in translation.
Technical elements: 45.64
Wow, he’s in first place! Holy shit. I was kind of nervous for him, but phew. He’s a bit below Samarin on the tech score, but Samarin’s jumps were harder, so that explains it. Brown scores mad points for grade of execution on, like, breathing, so that’s how he keeps up. He rocked everyone else hard on presentation. What was that Sojourner Truth quote I heard on an episode of The History Chicks yesterday? “I will make the United States rock like a cradle.” Or words to that effect. Yes, that is what Jason Brown does to most of the competition artistically and on grade of execution. Ironically, this is the only program of his I’ve seen that didn’t move me at all. I don’t know what to make of this.
Patrick Chan | Canada
- His music is “Dust in the Wind,” you guys. I can totally see him pulling this off. I’m feeling the ’70s rock this week. I heard “Whiskey in the Jar” for the first time the other night (I know, I live under a rock) and I freaking loved it. Not the Metallica version, the original Thin Lizzy one. Anyhoo, I’m psyched about this music choice for Patrick.
- Also, can I just say how stoked I am that his outfit has no bedazzling on it?
- Oh, fuck, you guys. This is spot-on from the first note. The long, slow circle at the beginning…he’s already got me. This guy has artistry in his snot, and you can quote me on that.
- That lean, you guys – that lean to the right, timed just with the first lyric. I can’t even. It’s Jordan Catalano all over again.
- He nailed the quad in his combination, but ended up leaning a little too far backward on the triple. He held on, though! Phew.
- The other triple (flip?) is rock solid. If it’s possible to describe something as powerful and gentle at the same time, that jump was it.
- And one rando in the audience goes “Whoo!” during his camel spin.
- Look at those arm movements when the strings kick in. Part of this is just kick-ass choreography, but it wouldn’t work if he didn’t know how to express it.
- This is a gold-medal program. Unlike, say, the Christina Aguilera disaster from the pairs winners.
- He’s a little tilted on that triple axel…I bet he’s nervous, too. But even with a couple bobbles, I’d still take this guy over anyone who’s come before in this competition.
- His coach is Marina Zoueva, and I’m guessing she’s behind the choreography? It’s amazing.
- Good speed in the final combo spin!
- Okay, it’s official – this program just made it into my YouTube playlist of favorite figure skating programs.
Technical elements: 48.01
This puts him in first, natch. I mean, come on. Was there a doubt? He’s a few points over Brown in the technical score, which makes sense. He’s only about one point higher in the presentation mark, which I find a bit odd. Normally I wouldn’t, but this program of Brown’s seemed oddly lacking in connection with the music and the audience. Chan FTW.
Shoma Uno | Japan
- He’s skating to “Winter” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I’m a sucker for Vivaldi. On the down side, it’s one of those classic skating pieces of music that has been done many, many times. It’s hard to bring something new to it.
- This guy has such an intense artsy vibe – the hair, the outfit, his stance. I dig it.
- Super solid quad – amazing technical ability.
- Ugh, I’m not wild about the curved leg position for that camel spin. I’m sure it’s an edge thing – usually when I don’t understand something (like the unflattering raised-leg death spiral), it has to do with edges.
- He’s got a lot of quick turns that aren’t jumps or spins – it goes really well with Vivaldi.
- Okay, now we’re getting to the super-famous fast part of “Winter.” He’s using to build speed and emotion. I hope he can make this pay off!
- He doubled the second jump in his combo. Still super solid and impressive, but there’s a point or two lost, I imagine.
- He uses his hands a lot, and it’s mostly effective, but the actual choreography for the movements leaves a tad to be desired.
- Ugh, the famous fast part kicked in and he went into a spin. I’d so prefer for this part to be footwork, not spins.
- Overall, I liked this, quite a bit, but I didn’t love it. I think it struck me as a bit fussy after Chan’s performance, which had emotional heft and simplicity at the same time. This didn’t really have either of those. It did have good speed, pretty good choreography, and rock-solid jumps. It was just the placement of the steps to the music and some of the arm movements that bugged me. Overall, this kid is so solid.
Technical elements: 57.12
That’s enough for first! Wow. His technical score is 10 freaking points higher than Chan’s. I really need to figure out how that works, because your average viewer (me) can’t understand a 10-point difference. Less than 5? Sure. But 10? I need convincing. Also, they were both in the 46s for their presentation score. Pretty sure I would have given the edge to Chan by at least a full point, just because his movements paired so much better with his music. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.
I enjoyed watching these guys more than I thought I would. I’ll post the long program write-up sometime this weekend. Brown, Chan, Uno – who’s going to take home the gold?
That’s the end of the men’s short program! Who do you think kicked ass?
In case you missed it, here’s the rest of my 2017 skating posts: