2005 Liberty Open

This year's Liberty Open is being held at a new venue, the IceWorks skating complex in Aston. I hope they keep it here -- it's a huge place with 4 ice surfaces, a large snack bar that serves real food, and generally good facilities for both skaters and spectators.

Also new this year is the use of the CoP for the final round junior and senior events. I've been sitting near the trial judges where I can hear the caller over the speaker they have set up there, and I'm rather puzzled about how it works. Often the caller calls the element before it's even completed, and they almost never seem to be attaching levels to spins and step sequences no matter what the skater does -- e.g., they'll say "circular step sequence" when the skater is only a third of the way around the circle, and that's it. Hmmm.

Friday's report

Junior Men Final Round FS

Jeremy Anderson (7): black with a blue stripe down the front. Peppy/dancy blend of electronic music. 2z, 3t/2t, 3s/25, flying camel to upright spin, 3z fall, 2t, 3s, camel/semi-layback spin messy, circular steps with the crow clapping along, 2x, 2f step out, dancey straight-line steps, camel/sit/back camel/sit spin very weak.

Traighe Rouse (4): black vest over white shirt, "Phantom of the Opera". Big death drop into a funky inside edge sit, 3t very nice, circular steps with no relation to music, spirals, 3z fall, straight-line steps, 2f, change sit, 3z, 3t/2t, 2s, 2x, camel/broken leg sit/back sit/upright spin.

Geoffrey Varner (3): "1492" in a black outfit with gold and red sparklies on one shoulder. 3z/3t almost fell, 2x, change sit, 3f/2t/2r, straight-line steps, 3r fell on hands, 3s, flying camel/sit/forward sit/upright/back sit, 3z, 3f fall, circular steps, 2x, death drop into a mushroom position.

Adam Rippon (6): Irina Slutskaya's "Queen of Hearts" music in red and black mesh. 3s scratchy, fast skating into 3z fall, 2t, flying camel with a hop into a sit spin, 3f/2r a little hesitation between the jumps, 3r, sit spin to donut, 2x landed on two feet, circular steps, 3z with a fist pump, 2f/2t, spin combination with many position including layback and back cross-foot sit. Some of his choreography and hand mannerisms reminded me a lot of Johnny Weir.

Jordan Miller (5): Elaborate asymmetric blue sparkly outfit, funky bluesy music that sounded like Kenny G in parts. 3f/2t, 2x, 2z, serpentine steps, 3s fell out, sit spin, 3f landed on wrong foot, 2f/2t messy, back/front sit with weird positions, circular steps with no relation to music, 2x, camel/sit/A/inside-edge/back sit/inside-edge spin. I noted that he seemed to have odd picking technique on all his toe jumps.

Charlie White (9): Black vest with a tree design over a burgundy shirt. Good speed into 3f step out, 2z leaning in the air, 2x hand down step out/2t, back camel/sit/change/hop/etc, 3r fall, back-to-front sit spin, spirals, 3z fall, 3f fall, circular steps, 2x step out, 3s fall, back camel/sit/forward camel/sit. I'm not sure what's going on with Charlie's jumps -- he seems to me to have good technique, nice spring and tight rotation in the air, but he was just collapsing on every landing.

Stephen Carriere (2): Burgundy shirt, brown pants, "Once Upon a Time in Mexico". 3s, 2x, 3z/1t, straight-line steps, flying camel/sit/mushroom/upright/forward sit/upright, 3f nice, 3r turn out, death drop with sit position variations, serpentine steps, 3z fall, 3t/2t, flying sit. Not his best performance, but his skating continues to mature.

Doug Razzano (1): "Dr. Zhivago" in light blue. 3t, 3f/2t, 3z/2t, death drop into inside edge spin, 2x from steps, change camel, 3z, 3r, circular steps kind of slow, 3s hand down, 3t/2t, spread eagles, camel/sit/back sit/mushroom. Good skate for him.

Ehren Jaleel (8): "Lawrence of Arabia" in a blue sparkly shirt with a sash. 2x, 3z/2t, crawling into 3f fall, flying camel with layover, stretchy spiral, 3s fall, 3r hung on, camel/sit/back sit/upright spin very slow with weak positions, 3z fall, circular steps, 3s/2t/2r, 2x fell out, 2??? with arm overhead, scratch spin.

Senior Ladies Short Program

My tolerance for senior ladies is pretty low, so I only sat through a couple flights and caught a few other skaters as I was wandering in and out of the rink during the afternoon. No detailed notes, but.... Emily Hughes looks to be in very good shape for this time of year. She's kept the "Concerto in F" music from last year, but I think she's completely rechoreographed the program. One move she did that drew gasps from the audience was a charlotte with her hand on the ice into a pivot move on a deep inside edge, which she used as the entrance to her layback spin. Jane Bugaeva didn't have a great skate, but it looked to me like she's been working to give herself more "stretchy" spirals. Stephanie Rosenthal's new program was a disappointment, generic pretty music and choreography that doesn't do much to showcase her unique style, and she didn't skate it well, either.

I missed Megan Oster, who won the other group. Both Katy Taylor and Christine Zukowski popped their axels. Ambar Kaiser had axel trouble too, and even worse, fell out of her spin combination.

Senior Men Short Program

Tommy Steenberg (6): romantic violin music in basic black. 3z/3r trip out, death drop, 2x, change camel/donut, straight-line steps into 3f very close to boards, more straight-line steps back down the other direction, circular steps, camel/sit/semi-layback/back sit/upright. Nobody seems to know if Tommy is really moving up to senior this year or was just skating up a level here, but he looked quite at home at this level, with good choreography and interpretation.

Parker Pennington (3): jazzy piano music in a silver vest. 3x, 3z/3t, flying camel on an inside edge, slow edgy straight-line steps, back/front sit, 3f, serpentine steps, camel/sit/back sit/mushroom/catch-foot. He really looked pleased at the end of this program, and with good reason.

Michael Solonoski (12): "Lawrence of Arabia" in a plain red shirt. 2x fell, 3f turns 2t, death drop, 1z, straight-line steps, circular steps, camel/sit/semi-layback/back sit/scratch. I must have missed his other spin.

Jordan Brauninger (4): Middle-Eastern sounding music with a lot of percussion, looked like a practice outfit. 3z/3t, 3x, change camel, good steps into 3f, straight-line steps with a big stop and a lot of pivoting and posing in the middle, flying sit, circular steps, camel/sit/scribble/camel/sit/front catch-leg/upright spin. More power and bigger jumps than Parker, but the spins are his weak point. This program didn't "grab" me immediately as did his shorts from the previous two seasons, but maybe it'll grow on me on successive viewings. Choreography is by David Wilson.

Ken Rose (7): "Blues for Klock" (or whatever it's called) in a bright Hawaiian-style shirt. 3z/2t, 2x, change camel, camel/sit/upright/back camel/sit/etc, flying spin in the corner where I couldn't see very well, straight-line steps, 3f fall (looked kind of lipped to me), circular steps.

Wesley Campbell (13): "Somewhere in Time" (back to the slow, romantic kind of music he's favored in the past). 3x badly two-footed, change camel, straight-line steps with lots of twizzles, 3z fall, 1f, serpentine steps with more twizzles, flying camel, spin combination. Aside from the jump problems, he was having some trouble with a poor-fitting costume. For some unknown reason, Wesley has dyed his hair black, which makes him look rather like Shepherd Clark.

Scott Smith (1): Same program as last year in the blue unitard with a bird on it. 3x, 4s slightly two-footed with a turn out into 2t, camel/sit/upright/back sit/upright spin with a messy exit, straight-line steps, 3r, death drop, back-to-front sit, circular steps. Looks a lot sharper than last season when he seemed to be struggling with everything.

Keegan Murphy (10): Sounded like movie music, outfit was a typical Canadian men's uniform. 3f maybe two-footed/3t, death drop, no choreography into 3x fall (for a moment I thought he had forgotten his program, and then I saw he was just setting up the jump), circular steps, change sit, 2z, straight-line steps, spin combination. The program didn't do much for me.

Igor Matsipura (5): Black with sparklies on one side, "Matrix". 3f/3t kind of ground out, 3x, change sit, circular steps kind of slow and ditzy, 3z, death drop landed upright and then into a sit position, straight-line steps, camel/sit/semi-layback/back sit/front catch-foot. Decent skating, but the choreography didn't really seem to "present" to the audience.

Craig Ratterree (11): "Beethoven's Last Night" in a burgundy shirt. 3x hand down/1t, 3z hard fall sliding on the ice on his stomach, change camel, circular steps more square than circular, flying sit, straight-line steps with twizzles, playing with snow on his blade, 2x, camel/sit/back camel/sit.

Ryan Jahnke (8): Jazzy latin music in a black outfit with gloves, asymmetric red and orange trim around his waist, and multicolored tassels on the right sleeve and left leg. Spread eagle into 2z awkward step 3t, 3x messy step out, camel/sit/twist/back sit/cannonball, straight-line steps, 2f, back to front sit kind of wild, circular steps, buttefly spin. Sigh. Ryan's jumps just seemed to not be there for him today, and even the spins were not up to par.

Rohene Ward (2): Same blues program and outfit as last year. 4t/2t, spiral into edge changes into 3x (all on one foot) fall, change camel very fast and strong positions, straight-line steps, cantilever into brackets into 3z, flying sit, circular steps, camel/twist/A/back camel/cross-foot sit. I'm rather surprised this program wasn't a clear first in spite of the fall because Rohene is just a better skater overall than Scott.

Derrick Delmore (9): Strange cello/latin arrangement of "Czardas" in a black sparkly outfit I've seen before. 3f/2.5t hit boards, 3x fall, change camel with variations, 2z, death drop, straight-line steps, camel/semi-layback/butterfly/back sit/etc. Derrick doesn't really look like he's ready for the new season yet.

Joel Watson (14): Some familiar Bond piece in black and gray. 3z hands down/2t step out, 2x hand down, flying sit of some sort, cirular steps, camel/sit/back sit/upright, 2t, straight-line steps, back/front sit weak. Not only were the jumps and spins weak, but his in-between skating really seemed to lack energy compared to the guys who skated immediately before him.

Saturday's report

Senior Men Free Skate

Craig Ratterree (12): Either "Todd music" or "Elvis music", or maybe both. :-P Generic outfit with a white sparkly shirt. 3x turnout, 3z fall and hit boards, 3r, change sit with variations, 3t/2t, 3f fall, 2s, back camel/Toller sit, 1z, serpentine steps, spin combination, straight-line steps, death drop with a wild landing.

Michael Solonoski (11): "Tosca" in a black outfit with diagonal red slashes on the chest and sleeve. 2z, 3r, 2x, straight-line steps, flying camel to inside-edge sit, pop r, 3f hand down, 2s, death drop, 3t/2t, camel/side sit/back sit/catch foot/upright spin, 2x, circular steps, camel/sit/semi-layback/back sit/scratch. I'm really impressed by how much his basic skating has improved since I first saw him a few years ago.

Joel Watson (13): Same black and gray outfit as for the short program, music with heavy breathing and lots of percussion cut with more "Todd/Elvis music". 3t/2t, 2x held on, 3s, camel/sit/back sit/upright, 2z step out hand down, back/front sit, circular steps, 2f, really crawling into 2r step out, 2x fall, flying sit spin/upright almost fell on it, straight-line steps, 3t fall, camel spin really weak. He seemed to run out of energy by the halfway point of the program.

Keegan Murphy (9): Vaguely sparkly blue/black shaded shirt, some kind of new-age piano music. 3f/3t step out, 3x fall, death drop, circular steps, 3z, 2f, 3t/2t/2r, cross-foot upright spin, flying camel with inside edge variation, 2r, 3s, straight-line steps, 2x, camel/sit/back catch-foot sit/etc.

Ryan Jahnke (6): "Rodeo" in a white cowboy shirt and brown pants with asymmetric belt trim on the hips. Great 'tano 3z, 2x overrotated turn-out, good steps into 3f with a turn before 2r, spin combination, 3x fall, back camel to donut spin, spread eagles into 3t/2t/2r, circular steps, 2s, 3r fell out, butterfly sit, serpentine steps, 2x with arms folded, camel/sit/upright spin. In spite of the jump problems, this is a beautifully choreographed program and it really shows off the basic quality of Ryan's skating. Afterwards, he was commenting on some of the different parts -- the circular steps are where he gets into a fight, he's riding his horse during the serpentine steps, later there's a part where he tosses his hat and picks it up again.

Derrick Delmore (4): a recycled costume again, jazz/blues mix including "Harlem Nocturne". 3z/2t/2r, 2.5x landed forward, flying camel/sit/upright spin, 2.5f, good combination spin, 3t, 3s, spiral, 2r, straight-line steps, spread eagles, 1x, 3s/2t, death drop.

Igor Matsipura (10): white shirt, gray vest, black gloves. Probably some kind of movie music. 3x fall, 3f/3t step out, 3x turn out, 2z, change foot sit with variations, pop r, flying camel/sit/forward sit, circular steps that included something that looked like a tuck axel, flying sit spin, 3t, straight-line steps, 3s fall out, camel/sit/semi-layback/back sit/catch leg spin. The music was so blah that it seemed he couldn't do much with it in terms of choreography or presentation.

Tommy Steenberg (8): black and red outfit with flappy fringy stuff on the arms. Probably more movie music, but at least it was more interesting movie music. 3z/3r fall, 3r/2t/2t, 2x, inside-edge sit spin, straight-line steps, 3s, back spiral into 2f hand down, 3t turn out, flying camel with a deliberately ugly position, 3z step out, change sit, 2x hop 2x sequence, circular steps, camel/sit/back sit/pancake/twist. Lots of upper-body choreography and emoting.

Ken Rose (7): loose white shirt with pink, purple, and black ruffles on the back and sleeves, piano tango music. 3z/2t, steps into 3f, 2x, 3r, circular steps, camel/sit/back camel/sit/catch something sit, flying sit with more variations, 2x with a hard check, 3f/2t, flying camel, 3z underrotated fall, straight-line steps, 3s, spin combination. He landed a lot of jumps, but they were all of poor quality, with bent-over landings, and a lot of his in-between skating seemed sloppy to me as well.

Jordan Brauninger (5): Bliss piano concerto in an old costume. Started out with some toe steps to the music. 3x turnout 2t, 2s, 3z/3t, death drop, 3x step out, flying sit with variations, 3r, circular steps, steps into 3f/3t with a hop on the landing, really weak flying camel, straight-line steps, split jump, 2x, camel/sit/back camel/sit/catch leg. Interesting, mature choreography; I found that by the halfway point in the program I'd lost interest in ticking off elements and just wanted to enjoy the skating, which is always a good sign. Spins definitely need work, though, and unless I missed something he only has 7 jump elements in the program.

Parker Pennington (2): I recognized the blue outfit from last year, but not the program, so maybe it is new? 3x, 3z/3t, 3r, death drop with a twist position, straight-line steps, 1x, flying camel on an inside edge, very stretched and held for a good long time, 3z, spiral and turns into 3s, flying camel/sit/front catch spin, walley into 3f fall, circular steps into 2x, camel/outside edge, sit/mushroom/back sit/catch foot spin. I liked it.

Scott Smith (1): "Zorro" in black with a blue sparkly belt. 3x/2t, 4s heavily two-footed step out, 3x, 3r, camel/sit/catch leg/back sit/upright kind of fizzled out at the end, 3z, spiral into 3f fist pump, 3t/2t/2t, spread eagle, back camel/sit/upright, back sit/mushroom spin, straight-line steps, 3s/2t, split, circular steps, death drop. Looked to me like he's made some improvement in his speed and flow as well as doing pretty well with his jumps for this time of year.

Rohene Ward (3): New tango program in an old outfit. 4t fall, 3x fall, butterfly into back crossfoot sit spin, 3f/3t, circular steps at the end of the rink rather than the middle, 3t, spin combination with beautiful positions, back spiral into 3z/2t, 2x, reverse 2x iffy landing into hops into 3s in his normal direction fall, change-edge spiral, charlotte, 3r, layback spin better than I've seen from a lot of girls, straight-line steps, camel/sit/twist/A/back sit spin. Good for him for picking up the end of the program after the two big mistakes up front. I do think he needs to take out the reverse jumping, sigh -- it's not rewarded at all under CoP, and it means he can't do some jump that is stronger for him or more difficult there. Not having seen the protocol, I think that because of the bad landing on the axel he lost the rhythm of his intended jump sequence so it was marked as two separate jumps, which meant he wouldn't have gotten credit for the loop he did as the last jump of his program.

I'd been intending to stay for the junior ladies final round, but I ended up going out to eat with friends instead and by the time we were finished it was really too late to go back to the rink to see anything. So that's all for today.

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