Liveblog: Ice Dancing

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir skate closer to gold

Okay party people, 40 minutes til the first round of ice dancing starts. To get you even more pumped than you already are, here now is legendary footage of Brits Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean’s Bolero program from the 1984 Olympics. They won gold—the last 45 seconds sealed the deal, no doubt.

Competition is about to begin. Commentators saying that the compulsory program is about showing off technical strengths. There are 23 pairs skating tonight: Canadians Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier are up in the 10th slot, and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir—the favoured team—are on last tonight. This is an advantage. How big, we’ll see.

The Italians are first, Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, they’re warming up now. The British and Germans are on the ice too.

Apparently compulsory dance is rarely televised anymore. Unclear why.

Here we go. The Italians are on. It’s Cappellini’s 23rd birthday today. Will the gift be gold? Tango has begun.

Wow, this really is like ballroom dancing on ice…

Okay, so the first dance is done. Pretty, lots of facial expression and shoulder rolls…commentators saying they look like an Italian version of the Canadians Virtue and Moir…but not as good, right?

Cappellini and Lanotte score 33.13. Putting the Italians in first…because they skated first. Will this last?

Brits Coomes and Buckland are on. Rocking punk rock black and purple sequence numbers. Looking good, not as expressive as the Italians. Commentators saying the unison “isn’t quite there” and lacking speed. They apparently have a great coach. Their performance summed up this way by commentators: “They have a long way to go.” Oooh.

This may be the Brits first international competition. OH! Commentator says that Buckland’s younger brother is a better skater. Wow. Score: 25.68. Italians are still in first!

We have the first of four sibling pairs on the ice: Germans Beier & Beier. They’re each wearing a sexy flamenco number…Um.

Apparently they’re skating too softly and loosely. May appear lazy. Or maybe they’re just being brother-and-sisterly, not like lovers?

Commentators want to see the tango skated “tango-ier”. That means punchier, with more passion. Score: 30.31.

Next four pairs warming up. Russians, Ukranians, Chinese and Georgians.

Russians Bobrova & Soloviev are on. Again with the black and red sequence costumes…a real theme here.

They seem to be skating pretty well. But they aren’t looking like they’re having much fun, or sharing much passion. They’re “showing nerves”, say commentators.

Apparently good and bad ice skaters are defined by how well they do “the twizzle”…a spin while travelling down the ice. Where do the Russians stand? Score says it all: 29.86. Boo.

Ukranians are up, Zadorozhniuk & Verbillo. Swanky costumes (white, black, silver, sequence, lots of feathers), and a “very nice twizzle”. They are doing great, high legs, matching well, lots of eye contact and expression on their faces. Their tango music is sort of 1950s orchestral, less flamenco…Nicely done!

Oh, the Ukranians could take the top spot. He’s making a heart symbol with his hands in the “kiss and cry” area while waiting for their score. Deep breaths. They’ve done it: 33.87. A season best for them.

Huang & Zheng from China…They weren’t ready to start the dance. The ref restarted the music. Who knew they had refs in figure skating?

They are “tall and slender” say the commentators, and match well while skating. Lovely. They too are wearing red and black with sequence. They’re flowing so smoothly, pretty plain expressions, seem to be slowing down. Apparently her edges aren’t as clean as some of the other competitors.

They are breathing heavy. Score 29.22. That’s too bad.

Oooh, the Georgians are on, Reed & Japaridze. In black. Appropriate given their countryman’s tragic death. They are skating too far apart. But smiling and expressive. Lovely. And they gave each other double high fives to finish! That’s spirit.

Wow, Reed’s siblings are also skating in this competition for Japan. Their mom is from Japan. OH! She just wished them luck while waiting for the score. That’s class.

Georgian score: 26.65, ranked sixth.

We’re watching an intimate portrait of Moir & Virtue. Their story; how they came to skate together as kids, where they are now. He says, “Our connection sets us apart from everyone else.” They are a handsome pair. She says the Olympics were always “a distant dream.” No longer.

Next pairs are warming up. Czechs, Hungarians, Japanese and Estonians.

Apparently the compulsory element of ice dance competition is going on the chopping block in the future among senior skaters. Listening between the lines of commentators commentary, sounds like because it’s considered boring.

Czech pair, Hajkova & Vincour. Apparently their accreditation wasn’t in order in time, and they had to practice on their own. Or maybe that of their coach. Anyway, more red and black costumes, a flower in her hair. It’s a tango dance, we get it. Commentators saying their hips are too far apart from each other. But they had a clean twizzle! Oh no: He stumbled. This isn’t going well. Scathing commentary: “Maybe they should have had their accreditation ready and skated with everyone else. Might have helped.”

The Czechs were shaking their heads. They aren’t pleased either. Their score: 23.19. Woah. I feel bad for them.

The Hungarians are next. Hoffmann & Zavozin. Ooh, she’s wearing long black gloves, that’s tango-y. They apparently have never skated in an international competition together. They are working some passionate facial expressions, kinda angry-sexy. Lots of sharp head tosses. That’s tango-y too, right?  She has a full scowl now. They are getting tired, a little unsteady.

They may have suffered a “brain cramp” say commentators. Uh, okay. So, what’s the score? She’s blowing lots of kisses, and doesn’t seem disappointed at all. He’s cute too. They’re saying things to the camera I can’t understand, but love language is universal. They’re pleased. That is pleasing to watch. Their score: 31.9, a personal best. Puts them in third.

Japanese siblings Reed on now. All black, look sharp. Apparently she skates on blades that aren’t a perfect fit on her boots, they’re a little longer. Don’t know why, but gather this is noteworthy. It looks weird, anyway.

Commentators are dead quiet. What does this mean? They seem to be smooth and matching and expressive. Now we’re hearing they are slowing themselves down by being too much on their toes…

Okay, the Reeds are about to get their score. They look like brother and sister, what a resemblance! Score: 29.49. Ranked sixth. They look disappointed.

Estonians Shtork & Rand are on. This is an international senior debut for them. They are so young-looking, and petite. She’s in bright red, he’s in black, restrained sequence. She has a small smile. They aren’t skating too fast. She is being forced to “skate around him” like he’s “a pole”, we’re hearing, so their unison isn’t great. She looked at the judges, he looked down.

They’re 16 & 17 years old. Wow. So they have plenty of Olympics ahead of them. Which is good news because they aren’t going home with a medal this time. Score: 21.73. They’re smiling though, which is great to see.

Next pairs warming up: French, CANADIANS!!!!!, Americans & Israelis (another bro-sis team).

France’s  Delobel & Schoenfelder are up. She had a baby five months ago. Stunning! They are a gorgeous match; her in all black, just a little colourful sequence at her lower back, him in a black suit. The crowd is pumped.

Oh, they are expressive. They are “high quality” say commentators. Awesome, that was beautiful.

The French are waiting for their score. The Canadians stepped on the ice, and they crowd went wild. Now, for the French score: 37.99! Oohh-la-la! They are in first.

Canadians Crone & Poirier are on, and the crowd is raving mad with enthusiasm. Their costumes are a pleasing change: bright purple. She’s apparently worked on her womanly expression recently, whatever that means. This is the tango, I guess. They are skating great. He’s smiling, and composed. They look terrific, the matching and unison seems in sync. No glitches so far. Commentators are silent; holding their breath, surely. But wow, that was terrific. And the fans are behind them!

Are the judges with them too? Sorta. 31.14, in fifth. Good for them.

Americans Samuelson & Bates are up. He’s in red & black, she’s in red…and…blue. With lots of sequence. Nothing like a tango to mark true U.S. patriotism.

They’re smiling. Looking great, clean movements. Nice movement together. She is making a lot of faces, again that sort of angry-sexy scowl. No real low points in the dance.

Passively snide comment of the night: commentators telling us she once fell flat on her face and knocked out two teeth while bowing after a performance. Score: 31.37, taking the fifth spot from Crone & Poirier.

Here are the Israeli siblings, Zaretsky & Zaretsky. Here we go again with the red and black. Am I asking too much for a little more creativity when interpreting what to wear while doing the tango?

They are skating in remarkable unison, and very closely. She is full of joy! And we’re learning they control their edges effortlessly. They are feeling the music! Fun to watch!

Apparently there is only one ice skating rink in Israel, the Canada Centre. And that’s where they train. Man, they look alike too. They are saying a lot of names into the camera and cocking eyebrows, pointing fingers. Score: 34.38, for second! (Not a personal best though.)

Next four pairs warming up. France, U.S., Russia x 2.

Up first, France’s Pechalat & Bourzat. She’s in a graphic red and black number, he’s in a black suit with red accents. France is working the male skater suit. Nice.

Plenty of smiling from her, and they are dancing closely and with fervor. And they were quick and light on their feet, we’re hearing.

French pair are quiet, smiling, seem nervous. Score: 36.13, for second. Great, but not great enough to beat the other French team. They sighed, seem unsatisfied.

Americans, much hyped White & Davis. They are the team to beat Virtue & Moir. Wow, lots of smiles and drama from them to start. They’re wearing…can you guess what colours?

Terrific speed and unity between them. They seem to be totally at ease. Commentators are impressed with their big movements and smooth transitions. More mention of them in relation to the Canadian gold-medal hopefuls: “This team knows Virtue & Moira. They are rivals.” They train together apparently, and share a coach.

The Americans seem very happy, as do their coaches. He seems to be teasing her. The score: 41.47!!! They nab first from the French. They should be happy!

Russians Domnina & Shabalin. Okay, they too are wearing red and black. They’re skating with lots of flair, and they seem tall and strong. We’re hearing they may be slowing down and not close enough. But “they may have trained to skate that way.” Yeah, stick to that story.

Russian score:  43.76!!! The drama for gold has truly begun. They take first from the Americans!

And now, for another Russian pair, Khokhlova & Novitski. They’re wearing all black. Her hair is bright red. They too have a flamboyance about them. Lots of happy expressions. Nice turns together. Oh, she gave the judges a wave! They may be losing some speed, but they are moving neatly. Commentators saying they may have lost confidence, but that’s hard to see.

Can the Russians take the first spot from the Russians? She’s pulling on her ear. For good luck, maybe. Nope, not this time. Score: 37.18, for fourth spot. They look shocked and put off.

Next four—and last four—pairs warming up: Americans, Italians, Brits & CANADIANS VIRTUE & MOIR.

Americans Belbin & Agosto are up. They are skating in great unison, and they are both really making a lot of angry-sexy facial expressions. They want this, bad. Commentators say that their leg work is unique, didn’t catch the details. They are dramatic.

Quick shot of Moir & Virtue getting ready to take the ice soon. Now the Americans, saying names into the camera, seem happy, giddy, really. She’s wiping her teeth, in case there is lipstick on them. Smart. Score: 40.83, for third. Not happy. Commentators aren’t not happy either.

Italians Faiella & Scali are up. Red and black costumes, yahdah, yahdah. They look like they could have invented the tango though. Lots of fierce facial expression and sharp movements. Commentators saying they show “skill and good partnering”. Moving well, she’s smiling at the judges. They seem to be skating effortlessly. Big movements.

Another shot of Moir & Virtue tying their skates. She has a hole in her fishnets. And now for the Italians. They’re blowing kisses. Their score: 39.88, for fourth. That’s too bad.

Brits Kerr & Kerr. They are siblings too. But they have said that when they’re on the ice they like to pretend their not brother and sister. That would help when performing the tango romantica. They’re wearing black sequence numbers. Look great, steady speed. Moving well together. They have stoic facial expressions. No angry-sexy here, nope. Commentators saying not much.

Moira & Virtue are on the ice, and the crowd is celebrating! And they haven’t even skated yet! She looks gorgeous in a burgundy and taffeta, one-strap costume, he’s in black.

Americans are calm, but the score ain’t great: 37.02. Rank seventh.

Moir & Virtue are starting. Commentators: “The drive for gold begins here.” Crowd cheering. They look fantastic. Both moving sharply, very clean edges and dramatic facial expressions. Commentators are quiet. Crowd is going crazy. They have great speed, and huge movements. The crowd is applauding again, this time to the beat of the music. Virtue is smiling, you can tell they’re enjoying this. OH! That is drama. Moir clenched his jaw on the finish. Virtue smiled wide. Virtue’s sister was fanning herself in the stands, Moir’s brother wiped a tear. The pair are smiling. Commentators are gushing: “Fabulous!”

Moir & Virtue are smiling because they know what’s coming: 42.72, for second! It’s a personal best, and “they are only a point back of the world champions—GAME ON!” say commentators. And apparently the free dance is where they excel…which means the best is yet to come.

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