Lena Marrocco started off well with a triple toe/triple toe and triple Lutz, but then had hard falls on a leaning triple Lutz and triple flip, and popped both of her Axels at the end. She already has a strong personality on the ice, smiling right at the judges several times, but the second half of the program had next to nothing to offer in terms of racking up the points. The triples, when she does rotate them, are really whipped around and all over the place in the air.
Mae-Bernice Meite is next. I saw a triple loop in the warm-up that looked identical to the way Bonaly used to go into hers-- arm and hand positions included. We get some Michelle Kwan Romanza music to start. Triple loop/double toe/double toe to start, but she also goes down on the triple Lutz. She does the footwork to a slow section of music which I think attempts to mask her lack of flow in general. She's getting it back together with the jumps, landing a triple flip, a second triple loop, and gets the Lutz this time in combination with a double toe. Nice triple toe double Axel! And she uses the second half of Kwan's 1996 short here, too. Double Axel and she's into it. I wrote in the short program highlights that I had a feeling she'd come back strong, and she's done it. Good job!
Candice Dider now has the pressure of hearing that score in this mini-French Nationals we have in the first three ladies. Triple flip to start, and in the opening seconds we see that the overall quality to her skating is the best of the three. Nice triple loop, too, and then doubles a Lutz. Flying camel hops around on the toe pick before it finds its centering. She's looking down and really focusing. Triple toe and she can't hold on to the edge and falls. Double Salchow/double toe, and a triple toe again in the same spot as the first, and again leans forward with a hand down and she falls out. Double Axel. The program goes from slow to fast and again slow to fast, but she's not changing her speed or energy in any of it. The footwork at the end just drags along and she trips a bit in the middle. Promising start (much like Marrocco), but nothing there at the end.
Sarah Hecken. Nice dress, pretty packaging, and she smiles to start. Triple toe/triple toe and the second jump definitely was bigger than the first. Stroking and all the in betweens still on the weak side. Triple Lutz and she's THRILLED even though it was telegraphed forever (and she looked at the ice the entire time). Double Axel and I think she's still smiling about the Lutz. Double loop rushed her upper body. Triple Salchow is cheated and she falls-- usually a really good jump for her. Another rushed Sal that is singled into a double toe/double toe, and then a double Axel/double toe. Looks like she used all the energy up on the Lutz. End of the program kinda fizzles off for her, too.
Sonia Lafuente. There's the triple flip again! Down to the other end and a triple loop/double toe. Triple Salchow is whipped around but landed fine. Big triple toe/double toe. Solid start, as usual. I really wish she'd go for the triple flip in the short or at least attempt another in the free skate. It looks pretty good. Slow section and a tiny but complete double Axel. Spread eagle into another double Axel/double toe and a triple toe... all of her jump elements have been spot on today. Circular footwork is on the slow side but she's giving it more energy than the rest of the program has had. She should be skating like she's elated! Lots of points left on the table, though. I suspect she should be able to do a triple toe/double Axel sequence because her toe is so big, and that gives room to add another triple in there somewhere.
Alright, come on Mao. SINGLE Axel after cheating the landings of several triples in the warm-up. Grr, she needs to just go for it. Triple flip this time in combination with a double loop-- her first this year, yes? I'll take it. Cheated triple Lutz that comes down on two feet.. maybe downgraded, not sure. Nice flying camel to a change edge and then makes it a combo with the nice split spin at the end-- very good. Single Axel again and you could see from the hesitation going in that she would probably do that.. and now a single flip too. Skating and in-between moves/spirals are gorgeous, but she's again leaving way too many points out there. Recovers with a nice triple Salchow, the best jump of the program so far. Footwork sequence is difficult and moves lightly, and she does a triple loop at the end. So three clean triples, a fourth cheated and maybe downgraded. Improving, but maybe the triple Axels just need to go.
Cynthia Phaneuf starts the second group. Triple toe/double toe/double loop, and by the way she picked in for the second jump, I thought maybe she was going to go for a triple. Lutz leaned from the start, and once again a fall. Triple loop landed a bit on the heel but she held on and combined it with a double toe. Slow section for spins and in-betweens. Nice triple Salchow. Another triple loop/double toe with a bit of a heel landing, but still good. Triple toe scratchy on the landing.. she's doing well, and then of course a single Axel. She has a nice style about her and her presentation has always been strong, but this program is just ordinary.
Here comes Fumie Suguri and her odd free skate. Triple f?Lutz is a good one, combined with double toe. Lots of power off of the toe pick. Triple flip looks good, too. Now I know Mao is having a mess of a start, but what if even Suguri tops her? And then she goes and comes out of a Salchow after about 1.5 rotations. Choreography in place and nothing too difficult in between. Second triple flip? doubled, fought for the triple toe. Lots of skating back and forth with nothing going on. Triple flip again and she goes down. Double Axel/double Axel sequence with a slight pause to check her balance in the middle. My feed died at the end but this whole thing has been hot and cold. I guess I'll still have to remember back to the good days for her. She drops behind Phaneuf, Asada, and Lafuente.
Alright, Czisny's turn and obviously the most important part of the Grand Prix Final puzzle. If she moves into first, she's basically guaranteed a ticket. Triple Lutz/double toe to start-- she took her time. Triple flip/double toe that again looked like an outside edge take-off but I thought the same at Skate Canada only to be proven wrong in replay. Good start. Triple toe. Triple loop leaned and she put her hand down and turned out. Spiral still remains a highlight move. Triple flip and she goes down. She's going to make this interesting I see. Double Axel with a big step out. Toe loop that picked in weird and she did about 1.5 rotations I think. Blah. She will still score high on the components, and let's hope that all of the triple she did do were all the way around or she's in trouble. She gets a strong applause even with the mistakes.. I still really enjoyed this program.
So she's into first, which means Haruka Imai can NOT make the Grand Prix Final, and the rest of the ladies are going to need scores over 120 in the free skate. Czisny looks strong for the Final.
Now Haruka Imai. Double Axel landed forward so no combination this time. Triple flip. Another triple flip? I must have gotten one of the two jumps wrong, probably the former. I was too busy typing the scenario for Czisny in a new post. Triple loop/double toe. Flying camel almost loses it at the beginning but she finds her center. Triple Salchow is cheated and will definitely be downgraded. Another triple loop/double toe. Double Salchow gets lost in the air and she falls out. Hot and cold. Disappointing really.
I missed most of Nagasu's program as my feed completely froze when I wrote a new blog post, but I did see the beginning and end and it looks like she had a decent skate. Maybe someone reading can fill me in. The double Axel/triple toe looked good.