@hamst3r: It just kind of feels like you're asking for something out of Japanese storytelling that doesn't really happen that often. I can probably count on two hands the number of anime where characters in a relationship explicitly say "I love you" to each other. Hell most of the time they don't even kiss at all. Their relationship felt very obvious to me just from their interactions and the way the looked at each other. The need for characters to constantly validate their love for the audience seems like a very western thing which the director and many Japanese fans have brought up around this show. Your other points are pretty valid even though I enjoyed the other skaters mini-arcs quite a bit. Big chunks of the skating being reused didn't bother me so much because that's how ice skating works, but I can get how seeing it over and over again could be tiring.