On Saturday we took another cable car, up to „Söllereck“ and from there we took a hike to Riezlern, which is a small touristic village in Austria, part of the tourist region „Kleinwalsertal“. In the morning the weather had been very foggy, which made for some beautiful „mystic“ photos.
In Riezlern we spontanously took the „Kanzelwand“ cable car, which was a great decision, because the mountain top was above the fog, so we got a very beautiful view onto mountains Kanzelwand and Fellhorn.
Pretty much a perfect day in the mountains.
We were back in the rink for the second part of the Pairs LP. After the SP had seen relatively many bad skates, I did not expect too much from this competition, but fortunately it was a bit stronger than the SP. Especially the Russian couple Efimova & Korovin had a much stronger skate than in the SP and even managed to grab the gold medal. I enjoyed both their program and their skating style. Knierim & Knierim again had a very complex program, but many technical problems and mistakes. It’s hard to say how much potential they have this season, with such rough skates. Deanna Stellato & Nathan Bartholomay were another interesting couple, since I still remember Deanna Stellato from her Singles career over 15 years ago, when she was considered one of the most promising young female US skaters. Obviously that didn’t work out, but it’s nice to see her back in pairs after all these years and I found their skating style quite pleasant.
The exhibition had a few boring music choices and programs, but overall I found it quite good, there luckily was a good mixture of upbeat music and the inevitable ballads. When the first of those „typical“ exhibition ballads was played at the beginning of the exhibition (I think it was „The Prayer“) my friend S. and I were joking that we’d also „like“ to hear „Hallelujah“, something from James Blunt and Ed Sheeran and „Music was my first love“…Funnily nearly all of those preditions came true (except the last one)…Skating is a lot of things, but not exactly known for all that much innovation 😛 The opening of the competition parts for music with lyrics just leads to all the typical exhibition music now also showing up in the competition parts 😉
I really liked the very traditional „kid’s group number“ to German folk music, that was done as an Opening. My highlight of the exhibition definitely was again Alina Zagitova, her „Survivor“ program was full of energy, entertainment and also high technical difficulties (which is something most other skaters don’t even try in the exhibition). I also appreciated the crowd pleasing programs from Keegan Messing and Alexander Majorov (since we had skipped all the men’s competition due to hiking, it was at least nice to see some of them now).
On Friday we had originally planned to do a longer hike up „Rubihorn“, but then a couple of things came in the way. First of all our hike from the day before had turned from a short hike to a very long one, the Nebelhorn cable car was out of order for a short while when we arrived there early in the morning (good to hear that they are planning to build a new one, since it’s rather outdated by now) and yesterday I noticed that my hiking boots (admittedly they’re over 10 years by now) were starting to fall apart at the soles. I had brought sneakers when I noticed that the day before, but still I didn’t feel all too comfortable about the thought of having to switch to sneakers in the middle of a hike in a rather alpine environment. Since some of my friends didn’t feel all that fit after the big hike from the day before either, we decided to postpone that hike until another year and went up Nebelhorn instead again and took a smaller hike towards „Seealpsee“.
Afterwards we arrived at the rink in time to see the whole ladies LP competition. While the first group had some rather weak skates, I still thought overall it was a rather good and entertaining competition. As in the year before I really enjoyed the skating style and choreography of Brooklee Han from Australia, even if her jumps weren’t all clean. The first real highlight was Marin Honda, who had a very lovely program with a very fitting very cute costume to go with it. She was a lot stronger and more confident than in the SP.
While I also really enjoyed the skates from Loena Hendrickx, Mai Mihara, Ashley Lin and Mariah Bell, the biggest highlight of the LP of course was the skating from Alina Zagitova, who had chosen „Carmen“ for her LP music.
A very traditional choice of course, but I really really liked the choreography and the jumps and execution of her program already were pretty much perfect that early in the season. What a great privilege and luck to get to see her skate live at such a small competition, she was as brilliant as one would expect from an Olympic champion.
The Free Dance afterwards did have some nice programs, but also the usual boring parts. Overall I have to say I don’t remember too many dances, but again Gilles & Poirier were very very lovely, skating to some romantic guitar ballad and pulling it off with a lightness that made it very enjoyable. Still my favorites in this FD were another team, that I had never seen before: Fear & Gibson from Great Britain. Their „disco“ FD was pulled off with so much power, energy and expression that it was great fun to watch and I also thought their lifts looked really effortless. They were rewarded with moving up 2 places from 6th to 4th overall.
Note: this blog post is in English, in case some international figure skating fan Facebook friends want to read it 😉
This year was quite a monumental anniversary for Germanys oldest figure skating competition: Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf took place for the 50th time. In the past couple of years my friend S. (see her blog Glimrende for her impressions) and I haven’t missed this competition very often and despite the fact that our figure skating fandom has become rather mild over the years, we still enjoy the yearly tradition of visiting Oberstdorf for Nebelhorn Trophy. Of course the fact that Oberstdorf is a lovely place in the middle of absolutely awesome mountains doesn’t hurt either 😉
In the past years Nebelhorn Trophy always started in the morning and usually our favorite competition parts took place during the day, which made it sort of hard to combine watching figure skating with hiking. So we were very pleasantly surprised when we looked at the schedule for this year, the competition never started before 2pm and they finally put the men’s competition parts in the beginning, something we’d been hoping for for years (nothing against men’s skating, but in the past year it has become rather technical and focused on quad jumps and it’s just never been my favorite competition part to watch in the first place). This meant we’d have plenty of time for hiking and would still get to see most of the skating. I really hope they keep this time schedule (I also still wonder why the competition always started like 4 hours earlier for the last 49 years, this new schedule seems much more audience friendly too, since I don’t think casual tourist visitors will show up in the morning (unless it rains badly), when there’s so much other stuff to do in the mountains). Talking of audience, it seems the Olympic win of Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot had a big effect on attendance, since all the competition parts seemed to have double as many viewers as usually (it will be interesting to see whether this will slowly drop down to normal over the next few years…).
This year we’d arrived a day before the competition, so we could use the arrival day for getting some yummy cake and taking a small walk outside Oberstdorf.
On Thursday we had planned to only do a small hike through Trettachtal near Oberstdorf, we had planned to walk from Oberstdorf to Gerstruben and then directly back.
But since the weather was so beautiful we decided to walk a bit further towards „Spielmannsau“ and then back to Oberstdorf by the very small, but impressively blue lake „Christlessee“.
Overall this meant a hike from over 20 kilometers, but it was absolutely worth it!
Bring on the skating
Since we arrived a bit later than planned, we only saw the last group of the ladies short programs. I really enjoyed the competition, first of all it was a great opportunity to get to see the Olympic Champion Alina Zagitova. She skated to „Phantom of the Opera“ and of course was clearly the best of the competition (although I was not THAT crazy about the SP music, which was a bit overly dramatic). I also really liked Loena Hendrickx from Belgium, who has improved so massively over the last few years, what I especially like about her is that she’s both technically strong and powerful, yet also very artistic and expressive. Mariah Bell from the US also is a skater with a powerful yet expressive style. I liked both well enough that I could even forgive them for both choosing Celine Dion for their short program music 😉 Mai Mihara from Japan also had a lovely skate in her typical understated and elegant style. Overall I thought the ladies SP was very entertaining, despite nearly all of the music choices not fitting my musical taste.
I expected near to nothing from the Short Dance or Rhythm Dance (it seems to change names every year at the moment), since ice dancing has become rather boring and uninspired over the last couple of years and decades. Also the theme of the RD was „Tango Romantico“ which brought back memories of one of the most boring Compulsory Dances of the past. But luckily the variety of music that falls under Tango Romantico was a lot more varied and dynamic than I had feared. I have to say I enjoyed most of the programs, even though a lot of the teams still had some „early season“ problems (I think we saw 3 falls). My favorites were (as expected) Gilles and Poirier from Canada, but I also enjoyed the dances from Jennifer Urban and Benjamin Steffan, since the Tango theme seemed to fit their personality really well and from Koch & Nuechtern. Generally I thought the German dance teams looked quite good at Nebelhorn Trophy (even if I still hope that Joti Polizoakis also finds a new partner soon, the more competition the better ). Overall I enjoyed this rhythm dance more than any of the ice dancing at Worlds in Helsinki last year…
Unfortunately the last competition part of the evening, the Pairs SP was the weakest in my opinion, since many of the teams still seemed to struggle with their elements. Especially Knierim & Knierim seemed rather overburdened with the complexity and difficulty of their SP, so on top of problems with the jumps, their skating and transitions looked rather laboured. Hopefully they’ll be able to grow into the program and Aljona Savchenko as a coach won’t expect stuff from them that is beyond their abilities…still they managed to hold on to first place, since the rest of the field didn’t do better either. A rather positive surprise were Minerva Fabienne Hase & Norman Seegert, who seemed rather polished this early in the season and had a good skate after initially messing up their 3twist a bit. Also the Croatian team had a rather clean and nice skate, even if they of course were not as strong as the top teams overall. The only thing that was pretty much equality unwatchable from all the teams were the sbs spins, which apparently nobody manages to do in synch anymore…