|I just love this photo of Kiira Korpi|
Sonia Lafuente (9th) made it through the first few seconds of her program without incident this time (she fell on the opening steps at Skate Canada and had to restart). She has a new dress, which is fine in itself, but then she has a weird black print on her shoulder/down her arm and also down the side of her leg.. I could do without it there. She showed her usual jumps here. I wish she'd go for the triple flip that she's added to the free skate. Flying camel didn't have much speed and the double Axel didn't really lift up, and overall I felt like she skated through the music until the end footwork sequence. She's improving, but not enough to make a huge impression in the World standings just yet. The camera did a split-screen of her coach in the last few seconds of the program for some reason. I guess he's nice enough to look at.
Lena Marrocco sits in last place after falling on an under-rotated triple Lutz and triple flip. She bombs into everything with no fear, and she didn't give up on the program after the mistakes. Still, I question her moving up into the senior Grand Prix with being just 15 and only having competed in one Junior Grand Prix event in her life (and a respectable 11th at World Juniors). It's not that she's way below all of the other seniors here, but I'm not sure what getting lost towards the bottom of the standings in her events is going to do for the overall picture. I guess France is desperate to find their next top lady, which I suspect will be Yretha Silete. Mistakes aside, I still enjoyed Lena.
Mae-Bernice Meite is in 11th. She also had a fall on a crooked and under-rotated triple Lutz to start her program, and a fall-out of her triple loop. When I first saw her, I saw a million comparisons to Surya Bonaly when she was a young skater, but she's really smoothed out this year and lost many of those similarities. She's powerful, but I thought the soft Forrest Gump music still worked for her. A disappointing skate, though, as she did well with the short program at Skate America. I suspect she will come back strong in the free skate.
Fumie Suguri got herself up into 5th place completing a nice triple fLutz/double toe loop but then doubling the triple flip out of steps. Her flying sit slowed to a near halt on the end, and I found a lot of her choreography to be really dramatic for the Adagio music and somewhat irrelevant. She used to be such an expressive skater in her days as a top contender, but now I get no such feeling from her. There were people standing in the crowd for her efforts. Maybe they were standing because they saw her compete here eleven years ago (and also in 2004) and they are amazed she's back. All jokes aside about her still being around, this program didn't make her look too far past her prime. I just wish she still had that spark about her.
Sarah Hecken is in 9th place and competing in her first Grand Prix event this season after withdrawing from a few early competitions due to injury. She looks like she's grown even taller which doesn't help that she's never exactly been polished or graceful, and she struggled on both the triple Salchow which she stepped out of, and her double Axel didn't have a strong run-out. Her interpretation comes from her face lighting up when she skates well more than interpreting the music itself, but it makes me want her to do well. By the way, she's grown into a beautiful young woman. Remember last year at this time, she still hadn't found what make-up was!
Haruka Imai is in third place, and I knew it was a mistake to not include her in my preview thread. I love the Don Quixote Gypsy Dance music, and I really enjoy this program. Triple loop/triple toe! covered great distance and the second jump was just as big as the first. She had nice pacing throughout the music changes, and while the first (basic) position in her flying camel wasn't ideal, she went into a Nakano-quality donut position. The triple flip might have been two-footed, but this was still a great effort. Remember, if she wins and Czisny is fifth or lower, she has a chance to get herself into the Grand Prix Final. Unlikely, but she's well on her way to being a World team contender this year.
Mirai Nagasu leads after the short, and if you read my Cup of China thoughts, you know I'm not blown away by this program. She did look much lighter and faster this time around, and her spins as always are great highlights and maybe even the best in the world with Czisny (aside from the trouble she had getting into the flying sit position), but there's something still missing for me with this pretty piano music. It gets better with the second half and she skated well to earn a loud applause from the crowd, but I can't exactly say what is missing with it. Hopefully, as the leader, she can deliver a strong performance in the free skate and reverse history where she tends to drop off the podium.
Alissa Czisny is in fourth place. A podium finish guarantees her entry to the Grand Prix Final, and a strong fourth place should also be enough. The Lutz didn't have much height and she had a big step-out on the landing. She fought for the flip and combined it with a double toe, but it looked to be like it might have been on the outside edge on the take-off. Sato was shown several times in this program.. I don't know how I feel about all the shots of the coaches. You can tell they notice it on the big screen and they all look up for a split second to check if they really are on camera. Anyways, nice flow and ice coverage, and great posture. The program is beautiful.
Cynthia Phaneuf is 6th. She has a new dress with a deep, deep V down to about her belly button. I think I prefer the old one better. The triple Lutz was landed forwards with a hand down, and she was wise enough to combine the triple toe later on with a double toe. I really like this program and genre on Cynthia, but I get distracted with her arms when she's doing crossovers. She seems to ALWAYS have at least one arm bent out in front of her with her fingers all spread out.. I'd like to at least see some classic arm positions (to the side) every once in a while. Two of the spins looked a bit weaker than usual today, and the crowd wasn't there to go nuts in the last 15 seconds as they did at Skate Canada. Still, this is a million times better than her snooze of a free skate.
Kiira Korpi is the somewhat surprise of a leader after the short, but how many times have I and many others said that the judges are ready to give her the top marks if (and when) she delivers? She did a triple toe/triple toe combination and a triple loop with a turn-out, and her components scores were nearly two points over the next highest lady. I agree with the high scores for all of the components aside from the skating skills, as she's not particularly fast or completely smooth with her stroking. Nice edges, though. Shae-Lynn Bourne and David Wilson have given her two really strong programs this season that I think have a lot of people saying, "Finally..". Well done here. More numbers. If she can hold on for the win and Czisny stays in fourth place, Kiira is going to have to beat Alissa by 18.05 points in the free skate. If she wins and Czisny drops below fourth, then Kiira will go to the Grand Prix Final. We mustn't forget how inconsistent most of these ladies are, though..
Mao Asada rounded out the short program with more troubles and she is down in seventh place. She went for the triple Axel and fell onto her knee but it wasn't a complete disaster, and then did a triple loop/double loop combo. However, story of her season so far.. the flip goes up crooked and she goes down hard. If my memory serves me right, I think she's fallen on every single attempt of that jump so far, except for one that she maybe popped to a single? So frustrating, especially when I was sent a link of her practice and she pulled one off just fine. Her basics are definitely improved and her crossovers now have actual pushes to them rather than just dragging her free skate just above the ice.. I suppose we can thank Sato for that. I still don't think this was the best choice of a short program for her but maybe it could be really intense and commanding if she skates it well. I think I'd be just fine if she didn't have any more programs choreographed by Tarasova, though.