Stars on Ice
Kurt List

Sears Canadian Open 2002

Enmax Centrium, Red Deer, Alberta, Dec. 6-7, 2002

written by Hoo

Here's a quick review of the Canadian Open held in Red Deer this past weekend. I'm still incredibly tired (nothing like flight problems on both ends of a cross country trip!) so please forgive any errors. Feel free to repost this review on other forums, just keep my name with it and let me know where you post it :)

The women:
In sum this was an incredibly disappointing field and the performances weren't that great really. Highlights: Volchkova - my gods that girl can jump! Huge effortless jumps were so great, and when she smiles she lights up the arena. Robinson - a disappointing SP, but her IF was really cute. Sort of a playful 50s go-go dancer costume in pink with lots of personality in the program. Cute choreography - it was a bit rough here but I think once she does it a time or two it will be a great exhibition for her.

Jamie & David were pretty darn flawless and it was nice to see their "Lovin Touchin Squeezin" number performed with some spark (which I thought it was missing in Lake Placid). It's a fun number for them and the lift near the end where Jamie gets flipped around so that she's basically doing a handstand on David's arm is quite the trick! But the real highlight for me was seeing Sato & Dungen do "Since I Fell For You" again. I loved it when I saw it at Scott's show and it was just a good here. Her stroking is just so beautiful to watch and she really just seems to have complete joy on the ice :)

Kurt Browning:
Both nites we were treated to exhibitions by Alberta's own Kurt and he definitely didn't disappoint.

On Friday he pulled out Rag-Giddon-Time and he really worked the audience with it. This time Raggy starts out toward the judges carring a pile of cards which he then drops and has to scramble to pick up again and get sorted out. Turns out their judges cards and with a flourish he gives the judges a 0.6 mark and then has to redo it all to give them a 6.0 - it was pretty funny. Kurt has just really created such a character that lives and breathes with this program that you really forget it's Kurt out there and not Raggy the clown! He landed several really nice jumps including a 3toe-2toe combo. And of course he brought the audience to their feet :^)

On Saturday we were treated to Kurt's new holiday number to "My Favorite Things" which he performed while carrying a 'brown paper package all tied up with string.' Like most of Kurt's prop programs, the small box (shoe-box size) was integrated into all the moves, including this rather cool move where he's skating forward on one foot with the other bend behind him and the package balanced on the heel of the blade. THe only time he set it down was when he did a spread eagle around it, but then sprayed snow on it before picking it up and dusting it off. It's a really cute program :)

The Men:
I have to say it was very odd to attend a Canadian Open without Brian or Steven and imho they were greatly missed at this event.

Todd Eldredge:
SP: "Freedom Battle" This is Todd's newest short program and it fits right in with several of his past exhibitions or long programs with a dramatic sweeping score. It was interesting though to see him use music like this as a SP, it was really effective. Todd opened the program with severl moves in the field including a nice spiral. Unfortunately Todd took a terrible fall in the opening 3axel-3toe combo, coming down hard on the axel and then taking 10-15 seconds to get up and shake it off. Later that night Todd said that it was a freak kind of fall, he came down too far back on the blade and then the blade got stuck in the ice and wrenched him back. He said he was rather sore, but not otherwise injured. Following the fall, Todd got back into the program and pulled off a nice 3flip and 2axel plus the usual compliment of great spins. The straight-line steps were from his "Carmina Burana" SP from last year plus a circular step sequence. While not his best performance, I am personally happy that here he went for a 3axel-3toe/3flip/2axel program instead of trying a quad like last year. He just doesn't have it, and in a short field like this there's no reason really to attempt it.

IF: "Channel 1 Suite" This is Todd's Buddy Rich jazz drums program from SOI. The program was much better here than in Lake Placid where I think opening night jitters hit it a bit. The footwork was definitely faster, and it will be great to see how this program gets better the more it's performed. Interestingly Todd didn't opt to add more jumps to the program than the 3 it already had (probably would have really fouled up the footwork) but the massive footwork amounts and spins should have made up for it. While the program does look better under show lighting, I just cannot understand how he got 5.8s for tech and 5.5 to 5.7 for presentation. Made no sense whatsoever.

Alexei Yagudin:
I don't know how he's going to make it through a whole season as he was definitely favoring his leg as he walked around the hotel. But he seems to be playing it somewhat smart as reports from practice say he only attempted 2-3 jumps and just worked on stroking. Same for the warm-ups for both programs. While full rest would likely be better, at least he's not killing himself in practices with excessive jumping.

SP: "Racing" Now this was another dynamite short program for Alexei! He really just gets right into the music and the motions and seems to be having a fabulous time with the whole concept. His jumps were 4toe-3toe, 3axel and 3flip (though amoungst my group there was some argument over whether this might have been another 3toe - even if it violated the rules). And of course the footwork was first rate.

IF: "Overcome" This is where I thought it really showed that Alexei was injured. Of course that may be because I've seen the program at least a dozen times so the missing bits stand out a bit more :) Alexei did give it his all, but you could tell that several of the parts were a little "less" than they normally were and after each jump in our corner he visibly let out his breath and looked thankful that he'd gotten that over with. That being said, it was still the winning program of the night, and if you didn't know what was different you'd have thought it was Alexei near his best.

Jeff Buttle:
I really think this kid is going to be going places in the future, and I can only hope he avoids the Canadian curse. What I love most abotu Jeff is that he seems to have such enthusiasm for his skating so that even when the jumps go off, he never stops selling the program. He had some jump bobbles on in the SP which put him last in the field, but his IF was really great. I'm blanking on the music at the moment but it was a really great number for Jeff, and one I hadn't seen before. The jumps were much better in the IF and he had the audience clapping along right from the beginning. SOme excellent footwork sections and his spins really are darn impressive!

Takeshi Honda:
Ok, I admit it, I'm not a Takeshi fan and never have been so it's hard to really review his skating. He did have a nice short program with a quad in it. He seems more comfortable with the program now and you can tell that it's Kurt Browning footwork - very complicated stuff there and Takeshi performed it well. His IF on the other hand was less than impressive. It had some great choreography in it, but the music was somewhat annoying. COupled with some jump problems throughout the program and he came in last in the IF (overall 4th as well, losing the tie-break to Buttle because of the IF).