John Kerr's thoughts on Free Dance, Worlds 2011


May 2, 2011
By John Kerr
Photos © Vicky Azhoychik

Since I am taking a rather long flight from the US to Scotland via Ireland today I will keep my impressions to the Top-5 today.

On an exciting night of competition, Meryl Davis and Charlie White made history by becoming the first American team to take the World ice dance title.

Their Tango free dance was a technical masterpiece full of intricate transitions and high energy. The attack in this routine was extraordinary, and they held absolutely nothing back, which was just as well considering
how well Virtue/Moir had performed moments earlier. It was the type of attack that can often lead to a mistake, but they were foot perfect. My only criticism would be that even though they displayed great physical intensity in the routine, they didn¹t have the intense emotional connection that marks the truly 'authentic' Argentine tango. I am being picky, but I have to be because they really have no other weaknesses that I can think of.

I had no idea what to expect from Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, but they totally blew me away with their performance. They took themselves completely out of their comfort zone (Mahler, etc.), and they succeeded brilliantly.
Latin is not always the easiest style to take on the ice because it is basically a static dance (i.e. it does not use a lot of space on the dance floor). I honestly thought their performance might give them the gold medal, but sometimes the competition can look very different on TV as opposed to being there in the arena. I personally preferred this performance to Meryl &Charlie, but both teams are so close in ability that it can really come down to personal preference- or a call on an element...

In my review of the Short Dance I stated that only a monumental 'f*** up of epic proportions' could deny Nathalie Pechelat and Fabian Bourzat of the Bronze medal. Unfortunately that's exactly what happened. It was all going so well until Fabian leaned a little too much into his skating foot on the first step of their step sequence which brought him, and Nathalie, crashing to the ice. Because this they were forced to miss the entire one foot section of the step sequence, which meant that it could earn no more than a Level 1 with a -3 GOE. They lost a minimum of 8 points for a slight loss of control on 1 step in a routine containing 100's of steps. It¹s a harsh punishment, but that is the nature of modern ice dancing.

In Worlds last year Fabian said something to me in the changing room that helped me reconsider thoughts to retire. He said, and I paraphrase 'you know we are the lucky ones getting to do what we do'. That was something I had forgotten about and it resonated with me to such an extent that it helped me make the decision to come back for this season. I'm sure he will be hurting right now but he is the kind of guy who will get over it pretty quickly.

The biggest surprise of the Dance event was the Bronze medal of Maia and Alex Shibutani. They skated beautifully and from an aesthetic point of view I could not see one arm, leg, finger, toe, or head out of place in over 4 minutes of dancing. Like the short dance it did not have the difficulty in transitions that you would expect in a dance so highly placed but if they gave up something in difficulty then they certainly regained it in the execution.

In 5th place was my favourite team of the competition. I didn't always feel that the Free Dance of Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje was quite up to the same level as the Short Dance but that certainly wasn't the case on Friday night. They held absolutely nothing back in their content packed routine to 'Moulin Rouge'. Some might feel that there are too many changes of music in it- the entire movie synopsis condensed into 4 minutes, is how I first described it- but on this showing I think it worked perfectly. Great lifts, excellent skating skills, and wonderful choreography have taken this team to a truly World class level this season.

Love, John K

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