Olympic Predictions!!!

Olympic figure skating is upon us! (Not my photo)

Its the Olympics!

Its the Olympics!

They’re here! And they’re happening! Granted, they’re happening in a bubble and there won’t be spectators and that’s weird but its the Olympics!!!!!

Dreaming of competing on this elite stage is what motivated me day in and day out as a competitive figure skater and the fantasy and thrill of it all still gives me shivers.

My good friend, Ravi Walia and his student, Katelyn Osmond when she won the bronze medal in PyeongChang!

While I am intimately involved in figure skating and I am personally invested in some of the top coaches right now, I love watching all of the Olympic sports. Skiing, bobsledding, snowboarding, luge… I don’t care. Its all freaking awesome.

I find myself curious about the individual athletes at this high level of sport. I think most elite athletes are somehow attracted to one another because we get what it takes to work so hard for most of your life to be at the top of your game and we respect athleticism.

But we’ll stick with figure skating and I’ll toss some names out there as who I think might kick some Olympic ass starting next weekend!

The Olympic medals for Beijing 2022 are unveiled! (Photo from International Figure Skating magazine, Feb.2022 edition)

There isn’t anyone around who would be surprised if Russia takes all three medals in the women’s event this time around. That country has a knack for pumping out talented wunderkids each and every year. Granted, they win that Olympic gold and then you never hear from them again (at least not outside of Russia, until they ((maybe)) make it as a coach for that country) but its still an incredible machine how they produce these skaters.

Sometimes they are artistic but right now they are mostly athletic. With the IJS points-system instead of the old-school 6.0 system, if you bang out a bunch of fully-rotated quads and triples and you put your hands up above your head while you’re in the air, then you can rack up the points and be the winner. Even if you are as artistic as a rock.

Or you flop your hand over at the wrist, which just drives me nuts.

Kamila Valieva from Russia. (Photo from IFS magazine)

Kamila Valieva is the Russian to beat right now. She’s got quads and a triple axel and both of those are rarely seen in the North American or Asian skaters. Again- its all about the points.

You can’t rule out her country mates, Alexandra Trusova (she does a quad Lutz and quad flip) but Anna Scherbakova might pull it off, too. These two are 17 years old compared to Valieva, who is 15. Not sure where any of them are on the puberty bus but Russians can get the jumps out of these tiny bodies.

Yes, these ladies have to skate well and ice is slippery so you never know. Japan’s Wakaba Higuchi and Kaori Sakamoto might make waves. I don’t think Americans Karen Chen, Miriah Bell or Alysa Liu have the same chances but Liu does whip out her own triple axel from time to time. She’s changed coaches twice already this season and gone through a huge growth spurt but I like her tenacity – maybe she could threaten the podium. I also really like little-known Loena Hedrickx from Belgium (coached by her brother… I think that’s cool.)

Alysa Liu in 2020, en route to her first National title (not my photo)

Onto the men…

This should truly be a contest between Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and Nathan Chen of the US. I love them both. Yuzuru moves like melted butter across the ice. His mastery of his blades is rivalled by none. He’s quirky and ballsy, too, and he’s gunning for a third Olympic gold medal. That, alone, demands my respect.

Hanyu is playing with a quadruple axel (unheard of!) and he tried several at his national championships in Japan. He is short on rotation by about a quarter of a turn but he often stays standing, albeit on two feet, which should still garner some points.

Nathan Chen busting it out in one of his signature Vera Want tunics a couple of seasons ago. (not my photo)

Nathan is a quad king, himself and I love his musicality. He has gone back to his 2020 long program set to a bunch of Elton John tunes and if he’s on his game the best part is when Benny and the Jets kicks in… by that point all of the jumps are done (and hopefully landed) and he really shows us who Nathan Chen is. Its one of my all-time favorite programs and I was tickled to see it when he won his most recent national title.

The men’s event isn’t as much of a lock as the ladies’, though. Others to pay attention to: Boyang Jin (China), Shoma Uno (Japan), Keegan Messing (Canada), Vincent Zhou (US), Yuma Kagiyama (Japan) and maybe-maybe-maybe Mikhail Kolyada (Russia).

Pairs podium in PyeongChang… the silver medalists are the only ones coming back as the same team… (not my photo)

China’s tiny Wenjing Sui and Cong Han are definitely favorites for the gold. They narrowly lost the gold 4 years ago and they are hungry seasoned veterans. The world has watched these two grow up and mature into a pretty cool couple who have a mutual love and respect for each other. I want them to be a couple in real life but I honestly don’t know if they are.

Pairs and ice dance are funny that way. Part of the magic is imagining if they are as “in love” as their routine depicts. I think every couple falls in love with each other at one point or another, even if its just for a week or even if its unrequited at the time. You’re training intensely, you’re wearing spandex, and you have your hands all over each other. It just happens.

Heartbreak for Tarasova and Marozov in 2018 when they finished off the podium. They’re back…. (not my photo)

While Russian teams of Anastasia Mishina & Aleksander Galliamov and Aleksandra Boikova & Dmitri Kozlovskii are probably the favorites based on their mad skills and speed (and their results on the Grand Prix this past fall), my sentimental favorites from Russia are Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov. I love their look and the fact they’re still kicking out great routines. They are very classical in how they skate and they have the skills and experience to challenge (although side by side jumps tend to haunt them.)

Canada’s new team of Eric Radford (he’s on the bronze podium finish with Meghan Duhamel in that earlier picture from 2018) and Vanessa James (formerly of France) are kind of fascinating in that they’ve made the Olympics and I am rooting for them but Japan’s Rika Miura & Ryuichi Kihara, who train in Canada could be a global surprise as well.

Jockey & Martini this morning together, listening to me talk about all of these great skaters!

Finally, on to the ice dance competition. This is where the United States really shines and we have two teams absolutely in contention with Madison Chock & Evan Bates and Madisson Hubbell & Zach Donohue. While Chock & Bates have grown on me over the years I still think she is way too over-the-top with her expressions. Yeah, I know its ice dance and isn’t that the whole point, you’re asking, but you can have too much of a good thing.

Canada brings Piper Gilles & Paul Poirer, who are the reigning World bronze medalists from 2021 and I have enjoyed watching these two become amazing artists and performers over the years.

I mention these couples but, come on, the gold belongs to France’s Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron. There might be media buzz about them because Guillaume came out this past year and some judge made some stupid comment about it. The only buzz about them should be that they are supremely talented athletes who deserve to stand on the top of the podium (if they skate well, of course!)

Russia has ice dancers, (of course they do!), as well, including Victoria Sinitsina & Nickolai Katsalapov. It would shock nobody to see these lovelies on the podium as well.

Piper & Gilles from Canada this fall on the Grand Prix. I freaking love these outfits! (photo from IFS magazine)

So that’s my scoop for this year’s Olympic predictions!

I have my favorites and my national allegiances and I have my back ground stories for some of the skaters that affect my judgement- (Bates dumped his previous partner, Emily Samuelson, years ago after she patiently stuck around for him to heal after knee surgery for months… clearly I’m still not over it!)

I hope all of the athletes have the performances of their dreams and make Olympic memories that will last for years. I hope they know so many of us will be watching on TV because nobody can be there in person and I hope the ice isn’t slippery in a bad way!

Here’s to Olympic Glory!

An older, more mature Tarasova & Morozov (photo from IFS magainze)
Martini likes helping me when I’m at the computer.
Made an appearance as straight-haired-Tanya the other night! On with the Olympics!

Snowmageddon 2022

Big Red… my bestie this time of year!

I know I live in Western Montana at elevation and I know every year I write about the snow. Some years (2017-18) are terrible and have led to insurance claims/woes/headaches but most years are just snowy. A bunch of snow falls, we all move it from here to there and then the sun comes out and the sky turns blue and everyone goes snowmobiling. We put that on repeat and that’s how we do it in Seeley Lake!

Can’t remember which plow trip this was on which day…

And everyone knows that the majority of the snow seems to fall when Alistair is in Bismarck and I’m up here at the big house with a few cheeky pets. You are all well aware that our 1996 one ton Dodge Ram, Big Red saves my ass each and every winter when he fires up and lets me clear our road.

We are the last house on a long driveway so I need to be the one behind the wheel if I’m going to have a road to the rest of the world.

The truck and blade aren’t giant, though, so I do run into limitations as to how far I can shove the snow and how high the berms along the sides of the road can get.

Early last week… berms weren’t very high at this point. D’embe joined me on my walk!

We do have a large tractor with a very large snow-blower and when Alistair is here he climbs in and tosses the berms way off to the side somewhere, making the roadways and paths so much wider and easier to plow again.

And every now and then I get a 2- or 3-day stretch where he isn’t here and the snow just doesn’t stop falling.

I just got through that.

Snow fell for a solid 3 days and then it blew around a teensy bit yesterday.

I’ve wizened up a little bit this year… (yesterday afternoon)

By that point yesterday I had hired Tim and Daniel to remove the large amount of heavy snow from our roof and they spent a few hours hacking away at it. They are due any minute this afternoon to tackle the back of the house.

Its a big house, mostly on one level so the large roof takes a bit of work.

We learned our lesson with that roof, as it was the major chunk of the change our insurance company had to shell out when we needed a whole new one.

We’d rather avoid that at all costs.

I think this was day 1 during the morning plowing session… where are the berms?

This 3-day blizzard was difficult at times during the day because life was basically one big, scary white-out. You often can’t see the side berms at all so its relatively easy to drive or slide off the road.

I made a point to set my alarm clock for zero-dark-thirty so I could get up and plow with headlights illuminating the path and I also plowed early into the darkening evenings.

Good morning, Sexy Beast! (The second day.)

The snow that fell was pretty wet (it actually rained at points at lower elevations nearby) so while its heavy, I can actually sometimes end up tossing it over the sides of the berms I’ve created if I have the balls to go at it aggressively enough.

I chose to do that on the second morning and I was successful! A little worried about ditching myself but I was successful.

(Cheering me on from the cd player, Keali’i Reichel was singing some awesome-sounding Hawaiian song that I just kept on repeat.)

After the first day. Occasionally the snow would pause.

And I share pictures about all of this on social medial largely to let Alistair and my friends and family know that I’m okay. Many of them are dealing with their own snow loads so I don’t think for a second that they are actually worrying about me but… you know… just in case.

I am a 5’3″ little person with a penchant for sparkly things and the color pink. I enjoy playing with makeup, dancing, and red wine and I’m probably still more comfortable in glittery spandex than I am in my snow suit and huge boots. My figure skating crowd were horrified enough when I went to veterinary school. They likely can’t fathom me behind the wheel of a truck I have to free fall a little to get out of with a stick shift on the floor and a huge beast of a blade on the front.

After the second round on the third day

And yet…

So, here I am once again sharing the wintery tales of life on the Fyfe Farm when Mother Nature shakes the snow globe that is our meadow in the middle of nowhere in Western Montana.

Alistair is on the road as I type today so even if we get more snow he can fire up Victor (the tractor) and the snow-blower.

And hopefully Tim and Daniel will arrive at some point to take the heavy weight off of our new, mega-thousand dollar roof.

Boys on the roof after my plow job yesterday

And while I’ve been living in my plow truck and I haven’t gone anywhere and I have been getting up early and I’m also doing some shoveling outside I have also totally enjoyed this weekend because not only is it the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, which is played at Kapalua (we were just there in October!!!!), it was also the Canadian and US National figure skating championships with Olympic berths on the line!

Tanya = happy!!!!!

Watching these events we’ve recorded with a one-eyed kitten, an older red-headed Siamese and some tasty wine felt like a very special reward each night, tailored specifically for me and my hard work.

John Rahm and Cameron Smith are duking it out at the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Maui. (Martini finds it stimulating, apparently…)

I’ll limit commentary on the skating to the fact that the US has some incredible talent coming up in the Men’s department once Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou eventually dry their blades for the last time (although Nathan’s short program… I mean, come ON! Quad lutz combo after the halfway point in a short?????) Don’t forget the name, Ilia Malinin. Quad-quad combos? He IS a Quad God!

Happy Winter Wonderland from the Fyfe Farm!

The barn kitties are waiting to help my snow removal team today (they climbed up the ladder to get there!)
Probably not driving Big Silver anywhere for a few days…
My favorite sports on TV are rewarding me this weekend!
Don’t do it, Martini….
She is fitting in just fine!