hazyshade: (Stephane Lambiel - chill out - by me)
hazyshade ([personal profile] hazyshade) wrote on February 16th, 2011 at 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:

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