Ted Leung on the air
Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
Sun, 16 Jan 2005
Was that a triple axel?

This year ABC doesn't have the contract for the ISU figure skating events, so those of us without ESPN are experiencing a drought of decent figure skating on TV. Today was the once a year marathon of the US National Figure Skating championships, which have been darkened by the death of Angela Nikodinov's mother.

I wasn't very enthused about watching today, because it seemed to me that there hasn't been much movement in the U.S team. Turns out I was wrong. The men's field continues to improve -- Johnny Weir successfully defended his title, and I really enjoyed watching him, despite the languid music that he is using. I was also really impressed with Evan Lysacek's skating.

Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto are turning me into an ice dancing fan. They are continuing to improve, and it seems like there's no end in sight. Their attitude towards their citizenship obstacles regarding the Olympics was refreshing. I also liked the very new team of Stiegler and Magerovskiy.

I wish I could say that I enjoyed the pairs competition, but when you compare our teams with the Russians and Chinese, you realize that we (still) have a long way to go. It seems odd to me that we are improving in dance but not in pairs, because I think that pairs plays more to our strengths as nation than dance.

The women's field has been relatively predictable: Michelle Kwan puts out a solid program, Sasha Cohen fails to put together a clean program, and everybody else takes turns getting third place. Which was pretty much what happened tonight. The established senior competitors were fairly predictable. What was unpredictable was the performance of a pack of teenagers who are still relatively new on the scene. Beatrisa Liang turned in a pair of very beautiful performances, which were a treat. The highlight of the day was 15 year old Kimmie Meissner who turned in a flawless performance topped off by a triple axel, which makes her the second US woman ever to do a 3X. I was shocked when I saw her do it in the warmup -- light, easy, and beautiful. My mouth just hung open for a few seconds after I saw it. I thought that she was doing it to psych her opponents, but I didn't expect to see it during the program. Usually the ABC commentators would have talked this up quite a bit more, so I was also surprised to see her uncork it during he program. It wasn't quite as clean - she didn't quite have control over the landing, but still it was good. Combine this with beautiful posture and line, and you have something truly wonderful to watch.

Meissner, Weir, and Belbin and Agosto were my picks for memorable performances.

One other comment. Figure skating is one of those sorts of semi-esoteric content that is screaming for the podcasting or tivocasting revolution. If it weren't for USFSA or ISU rules, it would be great to see some fans go into a competition with an HDTV camcorder, make some MPEG4 videos, and put them up for bittorrent. I'd even be willing to pay for this kind of narrowcast video.

[00:06] | [skating] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Tue, 02 Mar 2004
"Money is not richness"
2002 Olympic Champion Sarah Hughes is one of my favorite skaters, as much for her off the ice life as her on the ice skill. Yesterday's USA Today article on her is a good illustration of why. Here you have a young woman who has captured the most desired championship in her sport, and she's quietly attending Yale and trying very hard to be a regular person and good student. I've consistently been impressed with her (and her family's) down to earthness and her ability to avoid most of what I consider to be the excesses of professional sports. People like this are hard to find, Olympic Gold medal or no.
[23:14] | [skating] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sun, 11 Jan 2004
U.S. Nationals
The U.S. Figure Skating Nationals are over, and I have to say that I enjoyed them more than I expected to. Here's a quick rundown on the events:

Ice Dance: very nice performance by Belbin and Agosto. Technically, it looked good to me (I have very little idea of what makes an ice dance performance good - like which holds, and how far apart bodies can be and circle closure and so for). They really do a good job musically with the program.

Pairs: As long as I can remember, the U.S. pairs have always lagged (along with the entire rest of the world) the Russians. Today, they lag the Chinese and the Russians, in that order, and it doesn't look like that will change for the forseeable future. Too many falls and lots of little mistakes as well. Makes me even more annoyed with ABC that we haven't seen any other pairs competition for the whole season until now.

Ladies: The big battle between Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen. Kwan on top, with nerves of steel, Cohen fading under pressure. In spite of the roaring crown and the large number of 6.0's, I wasn't actually all the impressed with Kwan's program. Skate, jump, skate some more, jump. Oh, all done jumping? Finally turn on the juice and look like you're having a good time. For me, the highlight of the ladies was Jenny Kirk, who is not Michelle or Sasha technically, but has visibly improved in every area.

Mens: After last year's mens disaster, I wasn't expecting much. Goebel and Weiss the two front runners have failed to deliver all season. Goebel bombed his short and withdrew, leaving Weiss and a bunch of very unknown names. The amazing thing is that the men pulled it together and the competition was of very high quality. Although the competition was quad-less -- I didn't count Weiss's two footed quad, there were plenty of triple axels and triple-triple combinations. Matt Savoie stood up (mostly) and delivered jumps from unconventional entrances. Ryan Jahnke delivered solid program and moved up quite a number of places. I don't care much for Weiss' skating but he was cleaner than usual. This was my first time seeing Johnny Weir actually skate -- he crashed out of last year's Nationals. A clean program, effortless jumps, very good spins, decent footwork. What a relief. He still doesn't connect during the performance, but that could have been nerves. (Of course, it's not like Plushenko connects to the audience that well either. Alexei Yagudin, where are you?). But on the whole, the men were the highlight this year.

[23:53] | [skating] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Thu, 01 Jan 2004
Figure skating: sport, art, or soap opera?
I'm not big on sports. I wasn't very athletic when I was young, and I've shied away from most sports. It wasn't until college that I started picking up athletic physical activities -- ultimate frisbee and ice skating of all kinds. I think that it's harder to avidly follow a sport that you haven't participated in.

The major sports that I've followed in my life are major league baseball (when I was a kid -- and we played lots of backyard wiffleball), and figure skating. For some reason following ice hockey just doesn't get into my blood, although I enjoy a good hockey game, I'm just not into it enough to follow it. Figure skating is something else, because I've actually tried to do it, and I understand what people are supposed to be doing. It also combines my interest in music, so there's another plus.

Tell someone that you're interested in figure skating, and many people will tell you it isn't a sport. The judging has a lot to do with it. I suspect the the outfits and music have something to do with it as well. That's fine by me, I don't really get too hung up on the competitive / scoring aspects of it, even though I can critique.

All sports have their social / political dimension, and skating is no different. The "semi-sport" nature of it seems to exacerbate it. Take for example this week's news that American sensation Sasha Cohen is switching coaches (again). To make the drama better, her new coach is Sarah Hughes' old coach, Robin Wagner. I've been a big Hughes fan -- more of her off the ice behavior than her on ice performance (the Olympics certainly helped), so this will be interesting to watch. The 2003-2004 skating season has been mostly dull this year. There are competitions, people are winning, and there's a new judging system, but most of the skaters are uniformly boring. I wish that Alexei Yagudin wasn't retiring... The standout skaters that I've actually seen are Canada's Jeffrey Buttle, Belgium's Kevin van der Perrin, Japan's Shizuka Arakawa, and Italy's Carolina Kostner, each of which has had at least one memorable skate, but none of which have had consistent performances throughout the system. I've no opinions on the pairs or ice dancing, because ABC isn't showing any of those events.

[23:50] | [skating] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sat, 08 Nov 2003
I snuck out
We had a few more free skating coupons (they were in the newspaper, and newspapers are cheaper than skating sessions), so I snuck out this morning for a last weekday skate before I start at OSAF on Monday. I also wanted to try out the sharpening job that I had done after the end of the session last Sunday. The sharpening helped some, but I was still having trouble with the left inside edge.

I've been skating on my hockey skates because its easier to do that with the kids. Today there was someone helping people with various skating moves (as well as serving as a skate guard). We go to talking because the rink is looking for people to play hockey, which is not something I want to do at this point. So I asked her about figure skating and lessons. She told me about the various programs and then started asking me which moves I could do. I feel self conscious about this. In college I had figure skating lessons, but we didn't spend a lot of time on basic edge work and stroking, although I was working on jumps -- I was up to loops. In hindsight, I wish that I had a better foundation for edges and basic skating. I think I'm somewhere between Adult 2 and Adult 3 in the USFSA Basic Skills program -- I'd have to test to find out. It was nice to get an idea of where I would fit in the program. Unfortunately, I won't have time for lessons over the next 6 months so. Next step for me is to go out on figure skates the next time I skate -- whenever that is...

[00:02] | [skating] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sun, 02 Nov 2003
Back on the ice...
This morning we took the kids ice skating at the new Bremerton Ice Arena. Actually, it's not that new any more, because it's been open for about 6 months. We've been meaning to get out there, so it was nice to finally see the new rink. As far as I know, it's the only ice rink on our side of the Puget Sound, so it was a big deal (at least to me) when it was constructed. Abigail and Michaela each got a "private lesson" from me, which consisted of a series of laps around the rink while learning how to fall, how to get back up, and how to stand with your feet slightly apart and knees bent. Both of them had a great time, and were asking to come again, so I count it a big success. It takes time to learn to skate, so I was happy to see them meet real ice and still come away enthusiastic.

For me, I've set foot on the ice exactly once in the last 8 years, prior to today. I discovered ice skating when I was an undergraduate at MIT, because we had to accumulate physical education credits in order to graduate. I took beginning skating for the first credit, fell in love, and promptly looked for any excuse to be on the ice. Hockey, no problem. Figure skating, no problem. I was skating about an hour a day, 6 days a week during my last 3 years as an undergraduate. I wasn't quite as dedicated as a graduate student, and when we moved to the west coast, I discovered that university students are spoiled rotten with free ice time.

I was having trouble finding some of the edges in my hockey skates today, so I took my skates to the pro shop at the rink to get them sharpened. The guy in the pro shop took at look at the blades and the skates (CCM 451 Tacks) and guessed that the skates hadn't been sharpened in a long time -- he was right. And it made me feel a little better about the falls that I took today. Unfortunately, this happened at the end of the skate session, so I'll have to go back some other time to find out how good the sharpening job was. It's a shame that the rink is so far (it's a 45 minute drive each way), or I'd be there a lot more often. Or perhaps its a blessing in disguise. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed gliding across the ice.

[23:51] | [skating] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

twl JPG


Ted Leung FOAF Explorer

I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, not those of my employer.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Now available!
Professional XML Development with Apache Tools : Xerces, Xalan, FOP, Cocoon, Axis, Xindice
Technorati Profile
PGP Key Fingerprint
My del.icio.us Bookmarks
My Flickr Photos

RSS 2.0 xml GIF
Comments (RSS 2.0) xml GIF
Atom 0.3 feed
Feedburner'ed RSS feed

< January 2005 >
2 3 4 5 6 7 8


Macintosh Tips and Tricks

Blogs nearby
geourl PNG

/ (1567)
  books/ (33)
  computers/ (62)
    hardware/ (15)
    internet/ (58)
      mail/ (11)
      microcontent/ (58)
      weblogs/ (174)
        pyblosxom/ (36)
      www/ (25)
    open_source/ (145)
      asf/ (53)
      osaf/ (32)
        chandler/ (35)
        cosmo/ (1)
    operating_systems/ (16)
      linux/ (9)
        debian/ (15)
        ubuntu/ (2)
      macosx/ (101)
        tips/ (25)
      windows_xp/ (4)
    programming/ (156)
      clr/ (1)
      dotnet/ (13)
      java/ (71)
        eclipse/ (22)
      lisp/ (34)
      python/ (86)
      smalltalk/ (4)
      xml/ (18)
    research/ (1)
    security/ (4)
    wireless/ (1)
  culture/ (10)
    film/ (8)
    music/ (6)
  education/ (13)
  family/ (17)
  gadgets/ (24)
  misc/ (47)
  people/ (18)
  photography/ (25)
    pictures/ (12)
  places/ (3)
    us/ (0)
      wa/ (2)
        bainbridge_island/ (17)
        seattle/ (13)
  skating/ (6)
  society/ (20)

[Valid RSS]

del.icio.us linkblog



Listed on BlogShares

Locations of visitors to this page
Where are visitors to this page?

pyblosxom GIF