Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Off Season Fun 2013-2014: Favorite Short Programs

Continuing on with Off Season Fun, now it's time to take a look back at the programs that made last season great.  First up, my favorite Short Programs...

5. Ashley Wagner - "Shine on You Crazy Diamond"

I really love what Shae-Lynne Bourne did with this program for Ashley.  It gave her skating a completely different feel and helped to set her apart from the rest of the field, who all went the more traditional route in this Olympic year.  I really love the musicality of the program: the arm movements with the guitar notes, the 3L right at the crescendo of the music and the amazing footwork.  Oftentimes the footwork is just a bunch of steps that travel across the ice but don't do much to highlight the music; this step sequence was excellent, especially that back-bend move in the middle of the footwork.  Ashley really dug in and pulled every ounce of passion, attitude and feeling out of this music.  It's definitely my favorite SP of hers to date.

4. Akiko Suzuki - "Hymne à l'amour"

Akiko has a very special ability to embody the music she's skating to.  It sounds sappy and silly but I really believe that she skates with her heart.  There's something so honest about the way she performs...it's rare to have a skater who can pour out their heart every time they step onto the ice but that's what Akiko does, and this program was the perfect vehicle for her.  I love the 2A timed with the music...it creates this giant wave of energy and emotion that Akiko rides all the way to the final note.  This is one of my all-time favorite Akiko SPs.

3. Yu-Na Kim - "Send in the Clowns"

If you look at Yu-Na's catalog of programs you'll notice that since her senior year all of her SP music selections have been up-beat and energetic ("Tango de Roxanne," "Die Fledermaus," "Danse Macbre," "Bond") or dramatic ("Giselle," "Kiss of the Vampire").  For that reason "Clowns" was such a departure for her. It took me a minute to warm up to this program only because I'm not used to seeing her skate to something that's so quiet, calm and introspective.  It was almost a throwback to the 6.0 style skating in its simplicity, which is usually where the most elegant things are found.  This program was all about the music and the feeling and Yu-Na pulled it off beautifully.  Her performance in Sochi was the best; she really captured the emotion of the music and captivated the audience that night.  I think this was her strongest SP since 2010.

2. Carolina Kostner - "Ave Maria"

Carolina has had more than her share of amazing programs.  After struggling through the first half of the season with programs that just didn't fit, I was so happy to see her find her way with "Ave Maria."  It's been done a zillion times but this is my favorite.  It's hard to put into words why I find this program so captivating.  Carolina has a gift when it comes to expressing and interpreting music and when she and Lori get together, magic happens.  There are so many beautiful and quiet moments:  the spiral with the vocals, the beautiful 2A into the footwork that matches the music so well...the long edges, the back spiral and that pause at the end of the footwork...*sigh*  It was magical every time she performed it and she had so many great performances of it: Euros, both SPs in Sochi, Worlds...it was a gorgeous program for her.

1. Mao Asada - "Nocturne No. 2"

This is my all-time favorite SP from Mao.  I thought her first "Nocturne" was beautiful: light, graceful, lovely...but this one tops it.  It's still light, graceful and lovely but also mature, emotional and absolutely stunning.  Again, hats off to Lori Nichol; this is a masterpiece.  The details in the choreography were remarkable and didn't get nearly enough credit in the scores.  The transitions in between the elements were smooth, seamless and flowed perfectly with the music.  What really made this stand out for me was Mao's delivery.  I'd never seen her give that kind of commitment to her choreography before.  She's always been beautiful to watch but I'd never seen her give emotion like she gave this program except in her exhibitions. She blew me away! The performance, the spins, that 3A, the footwork, all of the little details that highlighted the notes of the piano...this is perfection.  My favorite of the season and my favorite ever from Mao.

Rounding off my top 10...

6. Satoko Miyahara - "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence"
Satoko continues to impress me when it comes to her programs.  She's always had a nice style to her skating and it was great to see her lead off her senior debut season with such a strong and beautiful SP.  The music is so gorgeous and choreography is wonderful.

7. Adelina Sotnikova - "Carmen"
I'm rarely a fan of Adelina's FS choices but I tend to love her SPs.  I really liked this rendition of "Carmen" for Adelina.  I loved the back spiral transition into the 2A and the steps coming out. Tons of energy, lots of personality and you could tell she had a lot of fun performing it.

8. Elena Radionova - "Anna Karenina"
I love to watch Elena skate.  She has a natural ability when it comes to expressing music and performing.  I thought this was a great senior debut program for her.  The music suited her well, excellent footwork and I really liked how difficult and intricate all of the transitions were.

9. Valentina Marchei - "Torna a Surriento"
This was such a beautifully choreographed and wonderfully skated program.  Valentina is one of the top ladies in the sport when it comes to interpreting music (in my opinion anyway) and she cast an amazing spell with this program.  Very passionate and excellently delivered.  Bellisimo!

10. Angela Wang - "A Beautiful Storm"
I adore Angela's style of skating: it's very calm, controlled and easy. I always say she has that ooze quality to her skating that I love.  She always has really lovely programs.  The music and choreography were perfect for her, and I loved the ending with the long back-outside edge spiral reminiscent of Michelle Kwan.

Which one was your favorite Short Program of the season?  Make sure to let me know in the comments below.  Up next, favorite Free Skates!  Ta for now!

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