16 February 2011 @ 09:23 pm
Zurich 2011, part 1: Art on Ice!  
I've been dying to post about Zurich and Art on Ice for over a week now, but job stuff cockblocked me. Anyway, here we go with the Art on Ice section. Warning: photo-heavy and a couple of wobbly vids, plus overuse of the words 'amazing', 'favourite' and 'loved'. ;)

I flew out from London City Airport, which I've never done before. I will again, though - it's easy to get to, has next to no queues and is therefore less stressful. It's pretty basic, but there was a Nero for me to get a coffee and brownie so I was fine. Zurich airport is the polar opposite: huge, modern and full of shops! I wanted to linger and start building my chocolate collection but decided that since the first AOI show was in a couple of hours I really ought to find the hotel (have had trouble doing this in the past: c.f. Barcelona!).

Turns out the hotel was not only near the Hallenstadion, it was opposite it. Hooray! Was very happy to find my second show ticket waiting for me at reception, so a big thank you to the staff at the Holiday Inn Zurich Messe for responding favourably to my crazy, desperate emails! :)

After admiring the fluffiness of my pillows, I headed off across the road to my second row seat. Now, this was quite an expensive seat, and I loved being so close to the ice and the skaters, but the seats at that level weren't tiered so my view was quite restricted by the 1st row (lucky, rich bastards). On balance, I wouldn't go for second row again now I've experienced the thrill of it. I was really pleased that I'd decided about 2 weeks before (lol ikr) to book a second ticket for one of the Saturday shows, because that gave me the opportunity to have an unobstructed view, if further away. I could get a clearer sense of the programs and didn't have to keep looking between ice and stage. Between the two shows, I got all the angles and experiences covered. Although I could have done without the repetition of the German comedy act doing the segue-ways. Ah well, the Swiss audience seemed to love them.

Onto the pics! I've mixed the 1st and 2nd night pics because it's just too confusing otherwise. Also, taking good photos of skaters is next to impossible without a swanky camera because they Won't. Stop. Moving. Omg. :p

The live singers for AOI 2011 were Katherine Jenkins and Donna Summer - so two completely different styles, but it worked really well. AOI skating-wise was pretty much my dream cast, Johnny Weir aside. :)

First up were the only decent skaters to come out of the UK since Torvill & Dean: John and Sinead Kerr. Like the majority of figure skating fans, I love the Kerrs because they're entertaining, original, do reverse-lifts... and John sometimes skates in a kilt. ;) No kilt here, but I loved them. And I got to see their 'Mad Men' routine!

^ Heh.

Next up, Maxim Trankov and his new pairs partner Tatiana Volosozhar. I've only seen one of their routines since they joined up - at Russian Nats this year - but it was v. promising so I was intrigued to see them. They skated to Katherine Jenkins singing 'Amore Sei Tu' (aka I Will Always Love You), and despite the over-familiarity of the song, they delivered a beautiful, flowing routine. The crowd were v. impressed. I can't wait to see what they do at Worlds this year.

^ This is the view from my second show seat, btw

The newly-crowned European Champion was next: Sarah Meier, skating in front of her home fans. Sarah is lovely and graceful, and has amazing spins (like all the Swiss), but didn't get through one of the 4 programs I saw her skate over the weekend without falling. In the second show, she doubled most jumps as a precaution. It's ironic, given that she was the only skater to hold under pressure and not fall in the free skate in Bern, but in the exhibitions and shows since she does seem to feel the pressure. I guess because she is suddenly the star of the show and there's an expectancy. Skating psychology is a minefield! Anyway, she was lovely to watch and it was great to hear the ovations the Swiss fans gave her. :)

^ Skating to Katherine Jenkins singing 'The Prayer'

^ Disco moves in the 2nd act!

Jeffrey Buttle was another skater I was keen to see, even though I was gutted in 2006 when he got a bronze in Torino while Johnny Weir didn't medal! I really loved his program to 'Sunglasses at Night', complete with sunglasses and hoodie. :p I've always thought his spinning is underrated - he's not that much slower than Stephane.

Ah Shizuka Arakawa. ILH so much. And not just because of her epic bromance with Stephane. She's beautiful and elegant and so damn BENDY! Even though she turned professional 5 years ago after winning in Torino, she can still do all the moves and puts most of today's ladies to shame. She skated to 'Who Wants to Live Forever' sung by Katherine Jenkins, and then 'On the Radio' by Donna Summer.

^ With Katherine Jenkins

^ A screencap from one of my vids.

Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder have been one of my favourite ice dance pairs for the last few years, so it was great to see them live. I loved their program to 'Uninvited', which included the use of a door in the middle of the ice!

^ A still from a vid.

Joannie Rochette is another favourite of mine. I fail to see how anyone couldn't have been touched by her emotional bronze medal skate in Vancouver. She does pretty much everything well, and her ex programs are always entertaining. She had two energetic programs here and showed off her strength on the ice.

My favourite pairs team still competing is Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany and I was so excited to learn they'd be doing their current free skate, Pink Panther. I love that program!! Aliona in that pink catsuit sure is an amazing sight. ;)

^ Damn you, Aliona's arm!

My other favourite pairs team is Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, who came out of retirement to win gold in Vancouver and then promptly retired again. They are just stunning on the ice. As a discipline, pairs can be rather boring and samey to me (danger element aside), but when done well - like Robin/Aliona and Shen/Zhao - it can be riveting and emotional. The latter skated to 'La Vie en Rose', performed by Donna Summer, and had the audience transfixed. So romantic. Helps that they're married to each other, I guess!

Now onto the great and much-medalled Evgeni Plushenko. He is so funny when doing exhibitions.. Interacting and flirting with the audience and getting everybody going. And in between that, putting about a million triple jumps into his routines. On the first night, it was amazing to be so close to his jumping. His 'whoo!' faces coming out of them were hilarious. He almost stole the show at AOI!

^ Look how close he was the first night! I hate my camera for finding that bloke in front's ear more interesting...

And saving the best til last... Stephane Lambiel! AKA the reason I flew my sorry arse over to Switzerland on a whim. :p

I was so overwhelmed by him and his skating, I can't even tell you. Especially that first night, where I could see all his expressions in the flesh - the emotion during 'Bring Me to Life' and the permanent smile and joy during 'Last Dance'. The hair flips! The hand positions! Hydroblading! Spirals! Even those silly legwarmers and weird frozen roses on his shirt. All perfect. And, if I'm being honest, seeing Dat Ass up close and personal was worth the money alone. Holy shit! Ahem. No really, he was beautiful. So worth it.

Btw, I was more than a bit worried when we'd had the finale and Steph still hadn't skated a second program, but it turns out he was the encore with 'Last Dance'. As he's described it, the 'cherry on the cake'. ;)

^ With Katherine Jenkins

Now, some stills from my vids - look at the smile!!!

Bring Me to Life (2nd show):

Last Dance (1st show):

^ Argh my camerawork :(

And some stuff from the finale:

^ Watch for Shizuka's trademark Ina Bauer and Stephane spinning up close.

^ Steph and Sarah were so cute together!

So that's it from the Art on Ice part of my trip. I'll post photos from my amble around Zurich on the Saturday between shows as soon as I can.

In the meantime, here's a zamboni in action:

Current Mood: accomplished
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[identity profile] ancabell.livejournal.com on February 16th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
OMG YAY!!! so glad you posted! wow your seats on the first day were awesome!! though i get what you're saying about having trouble taking it all in lol!
i was gonna quote almost yuor whole post, but then i realized that i jsut agree with you on everyone - Jeff, Joannie, John and Sinead, Sarah, Shizuka and of course steph! they're all so amazing - i think AOI is the best collection of skaters out there! your pics are awesome! mine from euros came out so blurry!!
<3 <3
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[identity profile] hazyshade.livejournal.com on February 16th, 2011 11:26 pm (UTC)
Hee! Thanks!!! :D
I got totally overwhelmed the first night. I mean, they were RIGHT THERE in front of me!! But I didn't worry too much about that because I knew I'd be back again and catch all the bits I missed while flailing and peering round the ppl in front.

I know, AOI had such a good cast - and it kept getting better with every new act they added. I was so lucky.

Did you have a good time at Euros? Just how cold was it in that arena? They kept complaining about it on tv!

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[identity profile] ancabell.livejournal.com on February 16th, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
it was REALLY COLD!!! we had like a bazillion layers, plus swiss army blankets wrapped around and it was still freezing - especially during the men's free, it was night and this wind started! thank god brian kept us warm and screaming at the top of our lungs lol!!
we came back and watched everything on eurosport and nicky and chris cracked up up with their comments, i love them!!!!
it was just a surreal experience, because stephane sat right at the entrance, and when we came in we were suddenly right next to him - so so surreal! i didnt want to go to our seats heh! and the atmosphere of the competition is just the most amazing thing i have ever experienced. lee didnt particularly like figure skating before but now he is completely addicted!
should i post photos? do you think anyone would be interested???
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[identity profile] hazyshade.livejournal.com on February 17th, 2011 12:00 am (UTC)
I'd be extremely interested!! I want to know what your view was and what you got to see. Did you go every day?

I felt pretty guilty sitting at home watching it in the warm lol. But I did wish I was there! The emotion of Brian's recovery in the free, Sarah's win and Florent getting the crowd in a frenzy looked amazing. Shows are great, but I want to see a competition. Euros are in the UK next year, but I'm also secretly wanting to go to Worlds in France. ;)

So glad you got to see Steph! He's just magnetic, isn't he? And awesome that Lee got into it all! Makes your life much easier, right? ;) I do think that if most people who dismiss figure skating actually saw it live they'd realise how athletic and pressured and amazing it is as a sport and a spectacle.
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[identity profile] ancabell.livejournal.com on February 17th, 2011 01:33 pm (UTC)
we didnt go every day, just for the ladies and mens free, and to the gala :) we really wanted to see switzerland as well - but now that we know how it is, we will definitely be going to more days in the future!
about lee - i know! its awesome, he's completely hooked, i cant even believe it! hes' already making plans for sochi!!!! :o
we didnt really mind the cold, becasue we loooove cold :)
and omg yes, sarah's win was by far the most emotional thing!! everyone was tearing up and steph was so cute next to her - and when she was skating he was so... out there on the ice with her lol!
we want to go to worlds in france too!! hopefully we'll see you there! having been to the gala, although its not AOI for sure, i have to say there's nothing like the atmosphere of the competition, it was ELECTRIC! jut thinking about it now gives me goosebumps!!
even me, as much as i love and always loved figure skating, was in awe of how much it really is a SPORT, it was just... blargh i'm just speechless from the experience!
i will make a post too then, so i can stop spamming your lj, but thanks again for the report, and looking forward to the rest!!!
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[identity profile] hazyshade.livejournal.com on February 17th, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC)
Oh good choice! Like you say, the mens and ladies free were the best events - with some real drama! I was tearing up for Sarah at home - I can't imagine what it was like there! On the Swiss tv channel Stephane was commentating on they showed his reactions to Sarah's skate...have you watched those vids yet? His squealing was so cute.

I hope we both get to go to Worlds next year! I would definitely try and get tickets for the mens & ladies free. Lol at Sochi! I'm not sure how easy it will be to get there, as opposed to say Moscow, but knowing me I'll be looking into it. ;) I can never seem to go on a straightforward holiday!

Will look forward to your post! ♥
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[identity profile] sakurazukalori.livejournal.com on February 17th, 2011 07:45 am (UTC)
Awww, such an awesome post !! :D OMG you were so close !!
Thank you very much for sharing., sweetie !! :D ♥

(and of course *SQUEEEEEE* St├ęphane !! ♥ :DDDDDD)
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[identity profile] hazyshade.livejournal.com on February 17th, 2011 10:21 pm (UTC)
Hee, thanks! :D Almost close enough to touch! Although not even I was crazy enough to pay for front row seats ;)

I had a big grin on my face the entire weekend!
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fiore[identity profile] kinseymill.livejournal.com on February 17th, 2011 12:31 pm (UTC)
Looks like you enjoyed yourself! :D *squishes you*
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[identity profile] hazyshade.livejournal.com on February 17th, 2011 10:22 pm (UTC)
Haha how can you tell?? ;)
I had an amazing time! *huggles*
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[identity profile] dissonant-dream.livejournal.com on February 17th, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
I am so in love with this post! Thank you for sharing! ♥ ♥ I'm so glad you had a great time. :D
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[identity profile] hazyshade.livejournal.com on February 17th, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
No problem! I had to share or I'd get to thinking I imagined it all... ;) Thanks, hon ♥
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[identity profile] sembcara.livejournal.com on March 8th, 2011 11:16 am (UTC)
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[identity profile] rehilleu.livejournal.com on March 11th, 2011 07:07 am (UTC)
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