Fabs and Fabbers of the US National Figure-Skating Championship


well-played

We have a LOT to talk about with regards to the American chances at Worlds and next year’s Olympics, you guys. I’m not too worried about the women or the ice dancers at the moment, but when Evan Lysacek is talking about his comeback, I feel like the subtext of all of his very media-trained comments is “let’s get real, Scott Hamilton, I can make this team with one leg!” And I am worried that our pairs teams are going to get ice-slapped by basically every other country on the planet — none of the teams that placed last year even SKATED last year, in part because a bunch of them broke up. Which, obviously, I really need to hear the gossip about in the comments.

[Photos: Getty]

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Comments (78):

  1. Antof9
    0

    “you guys are elite athletes: Put your asscheeks away.”

    Drop the mic on the floor and walk offstage. That is it.

    • Sara Raju
      0

      OMIGOD thank you so much. i kept thinking that I WAS THE ONLY ONE who felt like their pants were TOO SNUG.

      also Meryl Davis/Charlie White=love and magic and wonder.

  2. Sarah
    0

    I am a little worried about the US women. Gracie Gold has so much potential, but potential isn’t the same as a track record. This is only her first year at Seniors though, so hopefully she’s much more consistent next year. And I have zero faith in Ashley Wagner to be good at Worlds, let alone next year. And then who? This might be a 1994 situation where the US only gets to send two women to the Olympics, or worse if both struggle at Worlds. I’m harsh, I know. Basically, women are Yuna Kim and everyone else.

    Anyhow, the dance costumes seemed remarkably tame this year, yes? Usually dance is where all the hot messes are, and there weren’t too many. Disappointing!

  3. April
    0

    Don Baldwin – what a blast from the past! I remember him from men’s singles in the 90s (with a long program skated to a 5th of Beethoven).

  4. Heather
    0

    I kept thinking Nathan Bartholomay was Zachary Quinto, so of course I was expecting him to eat some brains and/or skin someone.

  5. pinkcheese
    0

    No one skates like Gaston! (Goes on dates like Gaston! In a fencing match, nobody feints like Gaston!),

    OMG, Jessica I love you. Crying.

    • Other Emily
      0

      Perhaps one of my favorite posts ever. Thank you FugGirls. You are a national treasure.

      • Kris
        0

        Ditto!

        Noooooo onnnnnne SKATES like Gaston, goes on DATES like Gaston…

        HILARIOUS! I have been in a Disney mood all week (as evidenced by my Disney songs as statuses) and you have just completed the week for me!!! HA!

        • Aurora
          0

          OH MY GOD. That cracked me up like nothing else! I just watched Beauty and the Beast too. Somebody seriously needs to get on that Gaston routine

    • Sondra
      0

      That line, oh wow. Genius.

    • ChristieLea
      0

      DARN IT FUG GIRLS, WHY MUST YOU MAKE ME LAUGH WHEN I’M TRYING TO CHECK OUT GFY DISCREETLY WHILE AT WORK??….Best. post. ever.

    • Hermione
      +1

      I laughed so hard that I scared all the cats. They are glowering at me now.

  6. Jen S 2.0
    0

    Indeed, poor Mirai. They must have downgraded her on every single jump, because although she clearly didn’t have her usual verve, she didn’t look 9th-place-bad to my untrained eye, especially considering that she did relatively well in the short. But at least she looked great in her costumes.

    The whole world needs to put its asscheeks away. Good advice for life.

    • Mishka
      0

      You could tell she was really sick. She looked ready to pass out about halfway through the free skate. I love her; I was so sad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her crying so hard.

  7. Miss ?
    0

    I’m not going to say how, and I’m not going to say when, but Meryl is the one who taught me that tailors can add padded cups to just about anything. I’ll forever be indebted to her and will therefore root for her through thick, thin, and bad extensions.

    • Jessica
      0

      I don’t necessarily think they are BAD as much as they were REALLY flapping around during that routine. The half-up/half-down is not an easily controlled coiffure!

      • Miss ?
        0

        I’ll give you that; they’re not necessarily bad, but figure skating and any extensions rarely should mix – the flapping, indeed!

  8. Stefanie
    0

    God I love skating. It makes me SO SO angry it’s never shown in my neck of the woods. Gah!

    I totally agree about bro/sis teams. It can get weird….really fast.

  9. MelissaW
    0

    OMG, page 37 is the mutated offspring of bordello draperies and a lapshade..Ugh.

    And Baldwin (the last guy) looks like he stole Janet Jackson’s jumpsuit from that BusaRhymes video (you know, the one with all the rings on it).

  10. mujisan
    0

    Thank you for this figure skating coverage, as it is way more than NBC will ever give us. I actually felt a bit sorry for Sandra Bezic (who I never cared for) as she tries to engage the NBC dude.

    I was drinking a Coke when I started reading the comment on Davis/White’s which Disney character are you and the Coke almost came out my nose. Because yeah, no one can do anything better than Gaston. My first reaction to that costume was Snow White instead, which seems foolish now.

    Anyhoo, thank you and LMAO.

  11. Andrea
    0

    I don’t know why the US has had such sucky pairs teams for the last decade but for the love of sheer fabric and sequins, surely someone out there can stay together for longer than it takes to skate around the rink once.

    This may be heresy to say but I am willing to sacrifice Davis and White’s World Championship this season in order to get them Olympic gold next season. I know they beat Virtue and Moir at the Grand Prix final a few months ago but one must think long-term. And I *deeply* want Davis and White to win in Sochi.

    I love Jeremy Abbott but stick a fork in him ’cause he’s done. Also, in regards to Weir or Lysacek coming back? HAHAHAHAHA! They might do well at Nationals but they can forget international competition. Some gentlemen named Chan, Takahashi, Hanyu, Fernandez, Amodio, and Kozuka will beat them both in a rather embarrassing fashion.

    As for the ladies, Wagner finished 4th at Worlds last year and I think she’s got it in her to do it again. (Providing she stays away from Caesar salad before the competition.) Yes, I know Yu Na Kim is back and Mao Asada and Carolina Kostner are on the upswing, but if the US is just trying to get three ladies spots back for Sochi, Ashley placing 4th would leave Gracie the cushion to finish as low as 9th for her first senior Worlds. I think they can both accomplish this.

  12. michaela
    0

    I still miss Johnny Weir!:( Didn’t I hear that he was trying to make a comeback?

    • Nur
      0

      Yep, but he withdrew due to injuries (cough lack of decent training cough).

      • Jessica
        0

        I love Johnny, but don’t we feel like he has too many variable interests right now to be as focused as he would need to be, especially at his age (sorry, Johnny), to actually compete?

        • Nur
          0

          True, but then again it always seemed to me that he never had the discipline and killer commitment (like Lysacek did) to actually be a real contender despite all his talent. So it would be hopeful thinking to assume it would have been different this time around. Pity..

        • Mishka
          0

          Seems to me like he always has something going on to prevent him from training properly. Wasn’t this like, his third comeback? And there’s always some BS injury when it doesn’t work out. Man, I do miss the days when he was really good though.

  13. Jeanie
    0

    GFY Jessica, by any chance were the books you read the “Drina Ballerina” series? Those were fantastic books about a little girl who is destined to become a ballerina, but I can’t remember if she was ever Giselle….

    • KLeewrite
      0

      Actually, I was wondering if GFY Jessica read “Ballet Shoes,” which was about three sisters in London during WWII. One of them becomes a dancer, one an actress, and one an aviatrix.

      • Jessica
        0

        It was, in fact, Ballet Shoes. I think Giselle is in more than one Noel Streatfeild book, actually.

        • Edith
          0

          Oh, “Ballet Shoes”! I knew immediately that’s what you meant. And “Theater Shoes,” “Dancing Shoes,” “Movie Shoes”… All those talented kids, helping support their impoverished families through London’s wartime…. There was a whole “Shoes” series, though “Ballet” was first (and best, imho). Pauline, Petrova, and Posy Fossil, forever!

        • char
          0

          The shoe books are wonderful. I somehow missed them as a child (though they were very much something I’d have enjoyed. Does anyone remember “The Saturdays,” btw? But I digress) and only discovered them as an adult, when I bought them for my daughter who, sadly, had zero interest in reading them. So I was forced to. It’s the only thing I ever liked about that stupid movie with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks and the bookstore–I have blocked out the name–when she guides some confused customers.

        • Jenni
          0

          I think the BBC did an adaptation of that a few years ago, because I recognize the names but definitely haven’t read the books. Might be available online somewhere?

        • Edith
          0

          There was an older BBC movie, or miniseries, that was extremely faithful to the books, and a much more recent film version that takes some liberties (Garnie is consumptive! and finds love!) but is still awesome – it stars Emma Watson as Pauline. I think it’s on Netflix.

    • Caroline
      0

      I was thinking it might be Lorna Hill’s Sadlers Wells series (which I prefer to Drina). Oh, British ballet books from the 50s are just the best.

  14. Molly
    0

    Gossip: A very salacious rumor of a former US champ carrying on with her (married) coach.
    Truth: Men are screwed, time to root for the Japanese. Pairs are screwed, but they’ve always been that way.

    Truth: NBC’s broadcast was more absurd than Wagner’s PCS scores. For reals, how hard would it be to have a graphic that give me the d*mn skater’s name and song selection and maybe an indication of base points for their program if they execute all elements. “Gracie Gold is 17 and skating to BlahBlah. Her planned elements add up to a score of 60.1 but she can get higher than that with great execution. Her usual component score is between 60 and 70 points which means she should earn about a 120.” And then tell us why she did better or worse than that. Jeez, it isn’t rocket surgery. ;) Instead we get the usual nuggets about a skater’s legs being tired at the end of a program. No sh*t. NBC’s half assed presentation and their stoogey announcers are killing the sport’s popularity.

    Gossip: Okay, I don’t have any more gossip, just truth (or opinion):

    Gold has great jumps, but she needs to mature artistically FAST if she wants a shot at an Olympic podium. USFSA needs to stop aggressively homogenizing their skaters into utter blandness. Christina, Mirai, and Caroline got shafted – wonder if this year’s decree was “No Asians on the podium” ?

    Jeremy is a headcase and looks like a zombie in that oatmeal color.

    Pairs was a joke and Denny/Coughlin petitioned their way to Worlds. It was probably an easy decision after watching what else we have out there.

    Dance–at least there is one bright spot.

    • Jessica
      0

      THANK YOU. They NEVER EVEN PUT THE SKATERS NAME UP half the time. TV 101.

    • Sandra
      0

      Yeah, I read about those allegations at a skating-related website. Sad if it’s true, since that coach and his wife are actually a hell of a team. Also, boo to the skater since both have worked with her and essentially remade her career.. And regardless of everybody being of age, it is soooooo skeeevy when a coach hooks up with a much-younger athlete. The power dynamics in those relationships creep me out.

      • Grace
        0

        That coaching couple was together for a decade. Shame on the male coach and his student, who always acts like a frickin goody-two shoes. Maybe that hip injury was karma.

    • Mishka
      0

      Wagner’s PCS scores were outrageous! I hate the IJS scoring system. Hate, hate, hate. I’m a skater, and my husband is a coach, and we both sit with all those stupid codes trying to figure out what an SSp2CoBlahBlah is. And it’s totally not objective, which supposedly was the reason for changing it in the first place.

      NBC…god. Even when they try to explain something about the new system, they make it sound more convoluted. Never explaining the scores. Only “right now her legs are just screaming, and she’s doing that combination jump, and that’s why she gets a 10% bonus for those jumps after the halfway point!” Actually, I’m not sure the commentators understand the new system either.

      That was by far the worst pairs competition I have EVER SEEN.

      The best: dance team Princess Meryl & Charlie White’s Hair. Every time I think they can’t possibly get better, they do. That free dance was breathtaking. Sochi 2014!

  15. Sandra
    0

    1. Why the US has such sucky pairs teams: because they don’t stay together long enough to develop the precision and chemistry that it takes to do that shit right. Child-Bride Marley dumped Rockne Brubaker at the end of last season, despite their success. Don’t know if she didn’t like him or just wanted to go back to singles. Caitlin Yankowskas has a new partner but one of them is injured and so they were out. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin are also out with an injury. Coughlin and Yankowskas won two years ago and he promptly dumped her to skate with Denney. They won last year–Yankowskas didn’t compete–despite her costume and make-up resembling a Jersey Turnpike truck-stop waitress’ New Year’s Eve outfit. Not a chance in hell for three spots in Sochi

    2. The Code of Points is a craptacular way to judge skating. Nobody knows what’s happening, everybody skates the same damn thing, and jumps are the only thing that count. When did you last see a spread eagle or a good spiral or a scratch-spin? When Sasha Cohen was still skating, is when. Skating skills are totally sacrificed and people’s bodies are breaking down because of the jump-centric nature. I hate this completely.

    2. Max Aaron has no artistic development going on at this point. His whole program was jumping. Edging, footwork, transitions, musical interpretation—nope, none of it. He may have deserved to win the splatfest that was US Nationals Men’s competition, but he’s going nowhere at Worlds. I do not foresee three spots for US men at Sochi.

    3. Oh my god was it apparent that the judging in the women’s division was totally based on reputation and what the judges WANTED the outcome to be. USFSA needs to change how it selects its Worlds team or we will continue to see clusterf**ks like this. Gracie is the female Max Aaron; jumps like a jack-in-the-box but no artistic development yet. Ashley was a disgrace and she knows it. Those two performances were nowhere near the best in the competition and her program component scores were used to put her at the top. If the Worlds team was selected based on the entire season and not just nationals, we wouldn’t have to watch these farces every year. Mirai Nagasu was held down by the judges. She does have a reputation for flaking out at big competitions and doing one good program and one disaster. Her free skate was nowhere near as bad as her marks and her placing imply, but USFSA is done with her and sent a message. The women might combine for at total ranking of 13 or less and get three spots for Sochi, but neither one of them is standing on the podium. Gracie might someday, but Ashley’s best isn’t anything like top-3 in the world.

    4. Thank god for ice-dancing. This is the only discipline in which the US has any depth, though we’ll have to see what happens in the wake of the Igor Shpilband/Marina Zoueva split. Their teams have been the best in the world for the past quadrennial and most of the top ones have stayed with Marina. Rumor has it that the Shiblings’ dad was instrumental in Igor’s contract not being renewed.

    • Halo
      +1

      So much word to your entire post, especially point #2. Max Aaron to me is Stojko Part II, down to his face!

      Also, I irrationally hate Meryl Davis and while I should root for the Americans, I can’t help but like Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir better.

      • Louise
        0

        I totally just wrote to my sister that Max Aaron is so, so much like Elvis Stojko it is uncanny. He even wore the black gloves for the long! If the point system was more balanced, Ross Miner would have won the Nationals – he’s the complete package.

        I am still furious over the completely biased judging for the ladies. No way Zawadzski should have been second, and both Christina and Mirai were marked far too low given how they skated. Caroline Zhang, as well. I’m so sick of the judges marking based more on personal preference than objective skating performance. I know Rachael Flatt isn’t popular around these parts, but she was consistently marked lower throughout her career even than she ought to have been, simply because she didn’t fit “the mold.”

  16. Rayna
    0

    April – “skated to a 5th of Beethoven.” LOL

  17. Cat
    0

    Hooray, my favorite posts! The part with Gaston had me rolling… my coworkers probably thought I was crazy.

    Jeremy Abbott, oy. I liked his short program but he’s such a basketcase in the long program. Max Aaron definitely earned his 1st place finish. I’m a little fearful for Worlds, though. Our men have been all over the place for the last few years and with the strong Japanese/Europeans right now, we’ll be luckily to even get close to the medal stand next year.

    I’m disappointed at how harshly Mirai was treated by the judges. I’m not expert, but 9th place seemed very low, especially since her performance, while it had issues, didn’t seem *that* bad. If Ashley is back to normal for Worlds, I think she and Gracie Gold can earn us three spots for the Olympics next year.

    • Mishka
      0

      Mirai wasn’t that bad at all. She was clearly sick and therefore not quite herself, but 9th place was ridiculous! The judges were so biased against her.

  18. Kristin
    0

    The tears of laughter came at slide 40 for me. Thanks for a good time, FUG girls :-)

  19. Elle
    0

    Nick Traxler’s face in slide 34 needs to be a meme.

  20. Bookworm
    0

    Have you seen the pics from Michelle Kwan’s wedding where she’s posing w/Dick Button? It made me happy and I thought of Heather & Jessica immediately.

  21. Tiffany
    0

    A rare ankle goiter! LMAO!!!

  22. Unstable Isotope
    0

    Picture #2, are those finger guns because finger guns would be awesome.

  23. Lisa
    0

    Always love the skating coverage. A Wags really needs to lock it up. She had an enormous lead after the short and G Gold was NOT happy about it. But G Gold needs to learn, you cannot suck at the short program! I’m really into Meryl’s aggressive extensions I feel like this is their year, since V&M’s Carmen is kinda boring. And did you know that Tanith Belbin is dating Charlie White? I miss Belbin and Agosto’s costume madness. What’s really more strange is that all these woman were once lauded to be the next great thing in figure skating, the next Michelle Kwan, but they’ve all floundered. It’s kinda sad.

    • Sandra
      0

      Part of that is due to learning to skate in an era when school figures are no longer required and the stupid scoring system doesn’t reward Kwan-like grace. Also, there’s the Tom Zakrasjek factor; an awful lot of those all-jump/no-skate people train in his stable at Colorado Springs. Flatt, Aaron, Zawadski. Abbott used to be one of his, before he went to Yuka to learn some presentation skills. Alexe Gilles made that transition too.

      • Kate
        0

        SCHOOL FIGURES. This is a big reason why skating has been piss-poor for years now. You can tell who studied them and who didn’t, and I’ll take somebody with excellent edges who can jump doubles over a girl who skids and slides her way to a quad.

        Get these kids off my lawn. *shakes cane*

  24. Karen
    0

    Jason Brown’s short program (which is what that is a costume for) was a Prince song. And it was a really great program -worth finding on youtube.

    Nardozzi/Traxler were skating to “Tennessee Waltz” & “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart”

    The red costumes of Cannuscio & Bramante was for “French Waltz & Can Can Mix” and the black & white ones were for The Artist soundtrack.

  25. Edith
    0

    So much love for this post, and for skating. Thank goodness for Isabella Cannuscio holding up the grand skating tradition of Olde Timey Prostitute, but I do wish she’d embraced the theme and looked more consumptive.

    I do have to say, though, that “Agnes will be skating to selections from Sex and the City 2,” is not “the most bone-chilling statement ever” – I know this because it reminded me of the actual holder of that title: “Tonya will be skating to the music of ‘Jurassic Park’.” I still use that when someone is particularly devoid of grace.

    Yes, Tonya, as in Harding, at the Olympics, a minute before she started wailing about a broken skate lace. All the hit-ordering knee-bashing DRAMA aside, she was such a inartistic skater; choosing music about lumbering herbivores and bloodthirsty raptors was doing her NO FAVORS. And I never understood why no one in skating ever taught that girl how to do her makeup, or to select costumes that didn’t make her look like a mack track.

    Damn, I remember that Olympics so well. When Tonya had her skate-lace-breakdown, Scott Hamilton deadpanned, “These sorts of wardrobe problems almost never happen at this level. They’ve happened to Tonya five times.” Heh.

    • AMS
      0

      Edith, I bow to your awesome Tonya Harding line and am co-opting it to use along with my other favorite thing ever written about her, which was something like, “Tonya Harding’s greatest sin, in the eyes of those in the figure skating world, was not that she lacked class, it’s that she refused to allow anyone to give her any.” (Paraphrased from my memory of a Joan Ryan column in the San Francisco Chronicle published sometime in the 1990s and which is apparently not archived on the Chronicle’s web site. Boo.) Jurassic Park and a neckline down to her navel, indeed.

      • Jessica
        0

        This is all brilliant. I clearly remember that routine but I totally blocked out the Jurassic Park aspect. I am SO STEALING that line.

        • Edith
          0

          The skate-lace drama can be relived here. Either I misremembered the Scott Hamilton line, or it came when she got her redo.

          (The clip is worth watching for Oksana Baiul’s coat alone.)

        • Edith
          0

          And to see the perfect match of inartistry and music, here’s her full long program from her redo. And it has Scott’s quote (four times, not five), and some CLASSIC Nancy & Oksana bitchface reaction…..

        • Kim
          0

          Thank you for sharing that clip. I was watching skating a ton back then, but hadn’t seen that in awhile. I was so angry that Nancy Kerrigan didn’t win gold that year.

        • MG
          0

          I wondered when someone was going to bring up that awful, purple, Jurassic Park, busted skate lace, blubbering to the judges Ms. Harding. No one was as dreadful as she was.

          On a more positive note since we’re going down memory lane, who else loved that ice dance pair Klimova and Ponomorenko? They were married, and did that amazing routine to Bach’s Tocatta and Fugue in 1992. Of course their costumes were inspirational.

    • Mishka
      0

      Your comments are hysterical. I remember that so well too! I forgot the Jurassic Park thing, though. Oh my goodness. She was such a hot mess, always.

    • Hermione
      0

      I remember when the whole mess was going down, some (not big name) designer made Tonya a very pretty white dress and had it expressed out to the Games. Alas, Tonya didn’t even acknowledge it, preferring her dress that looked like flesh mesh and paint chips.

    • Kate
      0

      Awww, to be fair, Jurassic Park has some GREAT music. But yeah, not a good title to announce when you’re Tonya Harding.

      I LOL’ed at the “Sex and the City 2.” Oh, girl.

  26. jean
    0

    Jessica I never knew you were such a skating fan. You actually know their names! Well done. I gave up watching sometime during the Boitano era, but I do watch the Olympics. This is a nice primer. Thanks!

  27. Sajorina
    0

    The Belle/Gaston thing was INSPIRED BRILLIANCE! Loved it! For some reason, I kept reading “Pairs Free” as “Paris France”! Maybe it’s because I had an Architecture class today and the professor talked incessantly about The Louvre! Good job, Jessica, I enjoyed this very much!

  28. Brooke
    0

    OMG…I thought the whole “Shoes Books” thing WAS JUST PART OF THE SCRIPT for “You’ve Got Mail”. I feel like an idiot.

  29. Aoife
    0

    Jessica, have you ever seen Dancing on Ice? It’s the ice skating version of Strictly come dancing (or dancing with the stars) – the latest series is on at the moment and you’d love the costumes!

  30. Kristin
    0

    Name of Meg Ryan’s shop in “You’ve Got Mail” is “The Shop Around the Corner.”

  31. TQB
    0

    Bates & Chock, Short Dance – the piano player at the tiki bar runs off with the hula-girl shaped novelty rum bottle?

  32. gryt
    0

    It all seems rather tame to me.

  33. Evie
    0

    PLEASE do Worlds as well
    Please do Worlds as well
    Please do Worlds as well

    …pretty please? You KNOW you’ll have far more material. The Russians alone should serve up thrice the amount of wtf-ery than this whole photo-post combined…

    • Nur
      0

      I second that. Worlds post, pretty please! There are a few things more fun than skating fashion police posts. Although the costumes are indeed too tamed this year.

  34. Ladyblahblah
    0

    #29 is Dr. Perry Cox from Scrubs on ice.

  35. Sara Raju
    0

    just as an fyi, ashley wagner’s sp is to the red violin, so her costume was supposed to make her look like a violin, i thought it was pretty well done and elegant!

    AND MERYL DOESNT HAVE EXTENSIONS WHUT.

  36. Hermione
    0

    In that first pic, Jeremy looks like Zombie Colin Firth.

  37. Apsutter
    0

    I haven’t been paying attention to men’s skating all year because I don’t like either Jeremy Abbott or Patrick Chan so a Max Aaron totally came out of left field for me. But what a skate!! I absolutely love WWS and he completely did it justice. I like him! I have to say that I’ve missed pairs skating and I think this is the first time I’ve seen it in at least a year because NBC doesn’t show it anymore! Can’t wait for Sochi even if the only medals the US get are in ice dance.