If you missed my link earlier today, you, too, can watch the top three performances from both the original dance and mens free skate. As always, my thoughts about each of the performances.
Original dance (and again, my least favorite/least knowledgeable of the disciplines.. but here's my take):
Paul/Islam from Canada - I've never seen this couple, but the obvious comparison as soon as the music starts that the concept and costuming behind this program are similar to the choice made by senior-level teammates and Olympic champions, Virtue/Moir. Off a bit on the first set of twizzles but they ended up together. Highlight lift when she's basically in a split and he ends up on one foot is nice, but not held too long.. His legs are just as skinny as hers! I think it makes his line a little sloppy.. if she has bad line, it's covered by her long dress but I have a feeling she's decent. Overall, pretty good. Everything could use a little more finishing off in general, but I enjoyed them. I think the first time I heard a variation of their music was during the 2002 season when Lithuanians Drobiazko/Vanagas used it as part of their original dance. I loved it and was afraid after a few seasons it would never be used again -- but it's sure picked up again in the last two years!
Monko/Khaliavin from Russia - Hello, costumes. Nice twizzle sequence, and both skaters' basics look to be pretty good. Dance lift was OK, but definitely didn't stand out like the previous team. The music goes from slow to really fast and I feel like all of the elements are done a bit slow compared to the speed they are using throughout the rest of the program. Not much else to say, and I think it's funny that these folk-ish type programs almost ask for the skaters to be somewhat frantic with their movements, maybe sometimes even masking polish or finishing of moves. Not my preferred style of program, but at least it was something different, I guess. I think they are a bit stronger than the Canadians on their basics, but I liked the overall concept and interpretation of Paul/Islam better.
Ilinykh/Katsalapov from Russia - Well they won this portion easily, let's see if I agree. They really FLEW into their first set of twizzles, but on the second set he really looked to be off. Awkward and not too attractive position on the lift but I actually really liked the complexity they used to get into it. It's unique. Strongest basics of the top three teams, by far. They get tons of power out of their pushes and going into their elements-- a big contrast from their teammates who seemed to slow down going into them. The program went by extremely fast for me and I enjoyed it. Interpretation was alright, and I have no doubt it'll get tremendously better as they start to compete in seniors. Definitely a deserved first place.
PS- my MacBook is telling me that twizzle is not a word. ;)
Mens free skate:
Nan Song from China - Wild triple Axel and really leaning but held on, another triple Axel combined with a triple toe- definitely better than the first. Triple Lutz/double toe/double loop with hand over head. Decent basics and posture, and his spins look like they are centered well, even if a bit slow- now hasn't China come such a long way from 10 years ago on things like that!? Triple loop was really wound up on the take off, his upper body way ahead of his lower body but he landed it just fine, double Axel, back spiral for a second into triple Lutz, pitched way forward but he held on, triple Salchow/double Axel sequence nice. Generally slow throughout the whole thing. Another double Axel, pitched forward a bit but again clean. That was good, better than I imagined it would be actually.
Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan - fast into the triple Axel, well done. triple Lutz/double toe with both hands over head, steps into triple flip, pitched forward but on one foot. Nice centering and positions and decent speed on flying sit spin. Very nice triple loop, decent amount of transitions going on.. definitely like this program better than his short program that I felt didn't do much for him. Triple Axel/double toe past the half-way point, had to really ride the edge on the landing of the Axel before adding the toe loop but still it was nice, triple Lutz nice again, Ina Bauer, triple Salchow/triple toe with no distance but pulled it off just fine, good combo spin again with a Biellmann, spread eagle into a double Axel. Sit change sit to end the program-- many different variations of position.. a bit slow, but well done. Only thing I can see with his basics is that he hunches forwards just a bit on the crossovers in order to gain more speed, but he maintains the speed throughout the program. Choreography and transitions were the strong point and he interpreted the music well. I don't think he will be a huge impact in Japan just yet, but with Takahashi maybe(?) retiring, he definitely can get some senior Worlds experience.. maybe starting next year?
Artur Gachinski from Russia - Not much speed into a possible quad toe? attempt, doubled it. Triple Axel/double toe. Skating pretty slow still and a lot of arm movements while stroking around the ice. Very nice second triple Axel, though. Triple Lutz/double toe/double loop-- little curled edge on the landing of the loop but landed.. Upright spin traveled a bit on the first half but the positions and center were better on the change foot.. Slowww into a nice triple loop.. triple Lutz looked like he started to rotate before the toe pick got off the ice but landed it, triple Salchow, flying sit spin, typical dramatic start to the straight-line footwork-- one of the better elements so far. Triple toe/double Axel sequence, final combination spin is okay. In replay he definitely twists the upper body on the Lutz jumps before he gets into the air.. My first time seeing him and I think he needs to skate with a lot more speed and with that, his ice coverage will obviously become better. Hardly anything in terms of transitions, and the choreography was very much based on arm movements. Lots of things he can improve on, for sure.