Interesting analysis by freestyle designer Karen Robinson of the Olympic freestyles and the judging.
If what we suspect is true, if international judging is as sick as it seems, it isn’t just a couple of bad eggs that need to be thrown out. Something fundamental would need to be purged from the collective judging conscience. I still think the judges become giggling school girls when the sport’s two biggest stars head down centre line, but that’s not Anky’s or Isabell’s fault. They are just doing their best like everyone else. When I head to the Global Forum in October, I am going to make a serious effort to figure out what the hell it is that has to happen for this sport to improve its legitimacy. I suspect it’s honesty (come ON, just admit you are human and we can take it from there) and accountability, but please keep my comment a secret. I don’t want Mariette to get wind of it. I want it to be a surprise.
Other than a couple of superb performances, I was let down last night. Maybe I’m becoming desensitized to freestyles like soldiers in war get desensitized to death. No, I don’t really believe that. I did still get goose bumps, just not enough of them.
So, highlights? For me number one was Hans Peter. I thought Nadine’s flower child music suited her to double goosebump standard, and HP really rode to his music. I loved the way he used “for every season, turn, turn, turn” for the pirouettes. Cool! Great arrangements and editing. Five stars.
Four stars to Steffen, and I think five is in the near future, maybe at Vegas next spring. He had very difficult choreography (in spite of what Riexinger said in his failed efforts to justify how Isabell could have beaten him), and to see such a talented but green horse try so hard for his rider was one of the more inspiring moments of the night. I thought I was going to hate his music when I read what a mish mash it was: Vangelis, Rolling Stones and Men Without Hats? How can that sound like it comes from the same radio station? But it was all arranged (hats off, Terry Gallo) and played by the same group of musicians in Memphis; so even though we jumped from new age to bad-boy rock to androgynous eighties, it worked. It really suited the horse too.
I’m digging deep to find a third favourite here. Bonaparte was a Very Good Boy for Heike, but her surfer medley leaves me tepid. Pink piaffe machine Balagur looked tired to his tired old Broadway hits. I find Isabell’s music puzzling because it really never has a beat that does a thing for Satchmo’s gaits, and I hate that she caved to the judges when they told her that her March With Me was too risky with the vocals – these days just about everyone has vocals creeping in somewhere. I don’t envy Anky’s job with her music. The transitions for movements like the tempi changes are so subtle as to be almost nonexistent. I admire the heck out of Wibi the wunder-composer, but there is some magic missing from that one for me.
My very least favourite freestyles were a couple of the early Scandinavians. Elevator and ice cream truck are descriptors that come to mind when I think of their syntho-pop programs. I recognized some of the songs but I failed to place them because they sounded so unlike the originals. Not that it’s a bad thing to have a cool and different arrangement of a familiar song, but it shouldn’t sound like it was done on a computer using the keyboard for piano keys. A word of advice for those whose scores actually dipped below what they got in the Speciale – don’t put things in your choreography that diminish the quality of your performance. No one likes dressage to look labored or impossible. Well, except maybe for five ‘O’judges who gave Satchmo two sevens, two eights and a six point five for harmony.