Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Me, elsewhere

Yesterday, my publishing sister and awesome critique partner, Jen Malone, interviewed our editor at Aladdin, Amy Cloud. It's a fun interview, and Amy gave a shout-out to yours truly at the end. :) Read the interview here.

Today, I got to introduce myself on the Fearless Fifteeners blog! Read that post here.

And now back to edits for me. Edits and Olympic skating!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pairs vs. Ice Dancing

During the Olympics this past weekend, I saw a commercial that referred to "pairs ice dancing."

No. This is not a thing.

You see, there is pairs. Then there is ice dance. They are not the same. In fact, the only thing they have in common is they require a man and a woman to skate together.

I sputtered at the TV for a moment, and then decided to write a blog post about the differences between pairs and ice dance. It occurred to me that not everyone is all up in the skating like I am, and this might be helpful to normal people who have lives and stuff. ;) are the differences:

Pairs lift.
Used under a Creative Commons license;
attributed to David W. Carmichael
PAIRS: Inspired by singles skating.
ICE DANCE: Inspired by ballroom dance.

PAIRS: Has side-by-side jumps, throw jumps, pairs spins, side-by-side spins, death spirals, and throw twists. It operates on the WOW factor.
ICE DANCE: Has dance steps, dance spins, and focuses on rhythm, closeness between the skaters, expression, edge quality and one-footed skating, posture and toe point. It operates on the DRAMA or ROMANCE factor.

PAIRS: The lifts are often (but not always) done overhead, as if the woman is flying.
ICE DANCE: Overhead lifts are not allowed. As a result, the lifts are often innovative and insanely difficult-looking.
Dance lift.
Used under a Creative Commons license;
attributed to David W. Carmichael.

PAIRS: The partners do many elements separately, but in unison.
ICE DANCE: The partners rarely separate from dance hold.

PAIRS: The ladies wear traditional skating dresses.
ICE DANCE: The ladies often wear slightly longer dresses.

PAIRS: The skaters usually have prior (and sometimes concurrent) singles skating careers, and start pairs later. (Note: This may be more common in the US than in other countries.)
ICE DANCE: The partners often start training dance together from a young age.

PAIRS: Program music must be instrumental, like in singles.
ICE DANCE: Program music may have vocals, if the skaters choose.

This is a very basic overview, and I'm sure I haven't nailed all of the differences. But now if you see a couple skating, you should be able to determine whether they're doing dance or pairs.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Olympic Countdown: 1 day!

Only one day until the start of the Sochi games! Thursday night will feature the brand new team figure skating competition. I'm really interested to see how this turns out, and which skaters each country will pick to compete in this event.

So, this is the last installment of Gail's completely biased and non-expert opinions on the US figure skating team. Today's topic: ice dance!

Ice Dance...

Meryl Davis and Charlie White
Used under a Creative Commons license;
attributed to Ludwig Welnicki
First up: Meryl Davis and Charlie White. If you watched the 2010 ice dance competition, you might remember the rivalry for gold between Davis and White, and their training mates, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Well, buckle up, because it's happening again! Both teams are considered the top contenders for gold in Sochi. But this time around, David and White, who were the 2010 silver medalists, have a slight edge. Not only did they win the Grand Prix Final in December (as they did in 2010, and, well, every year since 2009), they're also the reigning World champions. But that slight edge is definitely slight, as both teams are really equal in the quality of their skating. It also means that neither team can make the tiniest mistake in either the short dance or the free dance. This should be a very exciting competition to watch!

In somewhat unrelated but sweet news, Charlie White has been dating former Olympian ice dancer Tanith Belbin since 2010...awwww! More awwww to watch for: adorable clips of Davis and White skating together as little kids. Awww....  Also, Charlie has really great hair, don't you think?

Madison Chock & Evan Bates
Used under a Creative Commons
license; attributed to Luu

Madison Chock and Evan Bates won silver at Nationals and a spot on the Olympic team. These two have skated together since 2011. That's not very long, but they both had some success with previous partners. (Bates skated with Emily Samuelson at the 2010 Olympics.) And if anyone ever says that ice dancing isn't tough, you can tell them that Bates once ended up with a completely lacerated Achilles tendon after a lift went wrong. Ouch! Chock and Bates placed third at both of their Grand Prix competition assignments this past fall, and are definitely a team to watch.

Maia Shibutani &
Alex Shibutani
Used under a Creative Commons
license; attributed to
David W. Carmichael 

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani are siblings who captured bronze at Nationals and are now headed to the Olympics. They train with Davis and White, and Virtue and Moir, in Michigan. They've been skating on the senior level since 2010, and have gathered quite a bit of international experience. This past fall, they won bronze at both of their Grand Prix competitions. These two are great skaters and a lot of fun to watch.

Did you miss some of my Olympic Countdown? Here are my opinions on the US ladies' team, the men's team, and the pairs' team.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Olympic Countdown: 3 days

Welcome to the third installment of Gail's completely biased and non-expert opinions on the US Olympic figure skating team! On Friday, I discussed the men's team, and last Wednesday, I pontificated on the ladies' team. Today, it's all about pairs!


Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir
Used under a Creative Commons
license; att'd to Jamie Hull

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir won the gold at Nationals. These two have been skating together since 2006, which in US pairs, is a long time. They'd been just outside the Nationals podium bubble for a couple of years, but finally broke through and won their first National title in 2013. Castelli and Shnapir do an insanely difficult throw quad salchow. They're one of the few pairs in the world to attempt one, and when she lands it, it's something quite amazing to see. Here's a short video of a successful one at Nationals practice:

Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay claimed second place and Nationals and were named to the Olympic team. These two have only been skating together since 2011, but even last year they were good enough to land third at Nationals. They train in Florida, which seems to be the new hotbed of pairs skating (both of the 2010 pairs teams trained in Florida, and Amanda Evora, who was a 2010 Olympian, is now one of Zhang and Bartholomay's coaches). Zhang and Bartholomay skate a gorgeous free program to music from Les Misérables. They are so new to the international skating scene that again, I can't find a creative commons photo to use here, so here's a link to a video of their free program: