2006 USFSA Winter Cheesefest

I'm not normally a big fan of exhibition-style "cheesefests", and the only reason I went to this one is that (a) the tickets were cheap ($25 for a second-row seat right next to the kiss-and-cry end) and (b) the event was being held within walking distance of my home, at Agganis Arena in Boston.

cheese This event really was a genuine cheesefest, with the same utterly cheesy fan-voting format as the original one held in Green Bay, Wisconsin (home of the cheeseheads!) that gave the genre its name. It's really just a popularity contest and not a competition; I suppose the results must be interesting to the USFSA and ABC for commercial sponsorship reasons, but that's about it. The cheap seats didn't have voting keypads, but that was fine with me, because I didn't have any particular favorites to vote for in this event anyway.

I took photos rather than notes at this event, and since the whole thing was shown on live TV I see little point in giving a blow-by-blow summary. Instead, just a few random impressions....

Most of the programs skated here were pure exhibition programs, and more than the absence of jumps, I really noted the lack of speed and ice coverage. As usual, the timing of this event with respect to the Grand Prix Final is lousy, and I suppose the skaters who have to do both back-to-back don't want to put themselves out here any more than they absolutely have to.

Based on what she showed at this event, I would be very surprised if Sasha Cohen is planning to compete this season, or perhaps ever again. In her "West Side Story" program, in particular, she was incredibly slow -- even her spins were sluggish. Her second program was skated with a little more speed and authority, but still only a double axel and triple salchow for jumps. I'm guessing she's only still talking about competing again and going to the next Olympics because her visibility and PR value will go down as soon as it's official that she's retired.

I'm not a huge fan of Johnny Weir, but his second program (the revised version of "The Swan") was the skating highlight of the afternoon. Also good were Katy Taylor and Emily Hughes, and Belbin & Agosto -- none of whom made the cut for the second round. At the other end of the spectrum, I thought both of Kimmie Meissner's programs were utterly generic and lifeless, and Inoue & Baldwin's second program was so sloppy it had me cringing. Everything else was somewhere in the middle.


Photos are Copyright (c) 2006, Sandra J. Loosemore, and are provided for personal viewing only except as noted in Skateweb's photo use policy.

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