Let’s take a moment…
(This was part of an earlier post but I decided that it was so long that I should make it a post on it’s own. I still miss them.)
With the sad news that Seguin and Bilodeau have split, let’s take some time to remember them. I fell in love with them at Skate America 2015.
A joy to watch! You’re absolutely right. Although this wasn’t their cleanest performance of this particular program, there was something about them here that came across and pulled you in. The terrific twist to open, the beautiful running edge out of the throw loop, how they look at one another and connect, not just performing to the judges, Julianne’s face that is always so expressive and invested but never looks forced, awkward or comic (I’m looking at you Evgenia Medvedeva, Ashley Wagner and Lorraine McNamara). She’s just shining!
And then the 2015 GPF:
Such a fabulous performance and such a fabulous program! Everything they did should always have been about their speed and connection.
This program I thought was lovely too and it had some good showings. Even though Julianne doesn’t have long lines, I think they really developed lifts that work.
Now some thoughts on the split. I don’t know if this is the best decision. I think Charlie might be hoping to find something that isn’t out there. I think if you look at the Olympic podium you see three pairs that no one would have naturally put together expecting medals. None of the pairs, Savchenko/Massot, Sui/Han or Duhamel/Radford really match physically; they all had many obstacles to overcome to become blended pairs and successful teams. So much of their success just had to come down sheer determination and pushing through and making it work. Pushing through something like Seguin/Bilodeau’s World results this past season could have really moved the team on to the next level. But of course, this is all hypothetical now and it could be very hard to know for how long one should give something a chance. Many teams have been on the cusp for many years and never broken through or realized that early potential; other times a break through comes after several years (like James/Cipres). How much patience is required?
It’s true that Seguin/Bilodeau were stagnating, at least in terms of results. They never really came through at Worlds after their first and they weren’t moving up the placements. But I think a lot of that could have been due to their injuries and the toll that they can take on their training and bodies: their once solid jumps started to become more inconsistent; it was odd how their twist didn’t seem to impress like it once did. A lot of it too could have been program choices. I think this year neither program was a terribly good fit. The short never really seemed entirely comfortable and the muted music of their free didn’t do a lot to emphasize their speed and it certainly didn’t stand out in the field. I don’t think these programs really brought out their best or allowed them to perform at their peak. There is something to be said for happy programs. When the skater likes the music and it puts them in a good mood, they skate freely and their happiness comes across to the audience.
I also said to my sister that I wonder whether their situation is an example of a team losing some of their strengths as they focus on improving their weaknesses, or even more so demonstrating more maturity or variety in their skating. Sure, you don’t want to skate the same thing every time you go out but you need to remember what works for you. If you focus too much on what you think people want to see rather than the essence of who you are and your strengths, you start to lose what made you special and get lost in the shuffle. I think this is in part what happened to Weaver/Poje a couple seasons back and maybe effected Seguin/Bilodeau, particularly this past season. For Seguin/Bilodeau, it should have always been about speed and connection. I shouldn’t be too much of downer on this past season though because their free had some good skates and they had a great Olympics! I do love the first lift in this program and it had some nice moments.
I really hope Julianne and Charlie both keep skating, even if it’s not with each other. I would hate for Canada to lose two experienced, young pairs skaters like these guys, and they both have a lot to offer. Charlie really presents his partner well and is expressive; Julianne has lovely expression and charisma and can really spot a throw; and they can both jump. Remember when they were working on side by side loops? I really hope they both find partners and we get to see more of them.