Here we go..
Rachael Flatt starts things off. Double Axel/triple toe that looked clean, but both jumps had such a twist on the take-off. It's always all muscle with her. Triple Lutz that looked like an inside edge take-off and she sat down on it. Camel change camel.. positions eh. The choreography of this program is so similar to the short program, and the music is similar too. Nice triple flip. Flying camel with little fly and then a sit position with an ugly free leg and up into a y-spin. She looks so much slower here than usual-- maybe she's always this slow and I never noticed. Second Lutz doubled, second flip doubled. Where is this coming from? She's usually such the model of consistency. Loop doubled. About six points total for those last three jump elements-- that will kill her score. Footwork is crawling and heavy-looking. Triple Salchow/double toe/double loop. Camel in the opposite direction with a donut position-- that, oddly enough, was one of her better positions in the spins. Somethings up with her-- total lack of energy, no speed at all, and lots of mistakes we usually don't see from her. She has to rely on her consistency to gain energy from the crowd, but when she's off, there's really nothing left. 82.38. Nearly 30 points below her seasons best, and I think that alone tells the story well enough.
Miki Ando skating second after her disappointing short. Triple Lutz/double loop this time. Nice turns into the triple loop and nice flow out. Flying sit with that ugly twisted stretched free leg-- I could do without it. Camel is actually a good position but then a weak sit/y-spin is stretched but slow. It disappoints me in moments like the one in the middle of this program where she's told, 'okay now this is your place to breathe', so she does actually listen to the music. But then as soon as the elements come back it's all business without any attempt to listen. Double Axel/triple toe looked rotated. Nice second triple Lutz, and a triple Salchow. Triple toe at the other end is also good and then a double Axel/double loop/double loop-- typical Morozov to have all of those jumps clumped together with not an ounce of choreography or transitions. Great technical effort and then the footwork is listless and a bit slow. Flying camel with a change edge and illusions that get her traveling/change/ sit again not the best position and a layback catch-foot that is a weak effort. No building of energy in that program. WHY? When you skate well, show it. And then of course when she comes off the ice she is all smiles for coach Morozov. I don't get it. 122.70 is her seasons best for the free skate. 7.25 for choreography and 7.29 for interpretation. Oh I see.
Akiko Suzuki skating to Fiddler on the Roof. Nice triple Lutz. Double Axel/triple toe loop looks good to me. Her jumps this week look bigger to me than they have in the past. Triple loop with the long telegraphed entry but the jump is nice. Flying camel with a weak position into a sit/change layback catch-foot-- nothing was amazing there. Her speed and pacing is already a million times better than Ando, and I just know I'm going to be mad when the components scores don't reflect that. Triple flip/double toe loop. Double flip. Triple loop/double Axel sequence is gorgeous on both jumps. Triple Salchow. Another flying camel with the weak stretch and a bent-leg variation to catch-foot. Now the program picks up and the crowd claps along for the footwork-- the definite highlight of her skating. She's emoting now but I would have liked to see her get into the performance a bit earlier. Final combo spin with a nice y-spin but that camel really needs some work. She gets a partial standing ovation and there are tons of Japanese flags in the audience. I love her skating, and I'll reiterate that she's now 25 and it looks like she's just getting stronger and stronger. Total credit to her. This SHOULD be enough to stay ahead of Ando. 115.46 on the free skate, and she's in first overall but just barely. Same score as Ando for interpretation, and she was lower on the choreography mark. Ha.
Kanako Murakami rounds out the three Japanese ladies in a row. Triple toe/triple toe solid as always. Triple Lutz that takes off on the inside edge. Sit positions are the best we've seen so far, and the speed on her spins is very good. Flip where the toe-pick went in wrong and she singles it. Layback/catch-foot/Biellmann and the final position was nice but it made the spin slow down a great amount. Triple flip/double toe loop. She reminds me of Yoshie Onda on these jump exits where it seems like her arms don't really know what to do so they just flail around a bit. Triple loop is nice. Double Axel. Triple Salchow looked two-footed/double loop/double loop. Combination spin to end is her best and the y-spin has tremendous speed. This program has more spark than prior in the season, but I still don't think it's the right vehicle for her. I felt her components scores were very generous in the short program and I suspect it will be more of the same here. Her overall skating quality isn't bad, but she has to use so much power in between and leading into the jumps, that it gives off a real sloppy and rushed feeling. Still, more going on in her program than Ando had and she at least has flashes of skating to the music. 117.12 for the free skate, first overall by 5 points and she's shocked that she stayed ahead of both of her teammates-- doesn't that mean she might have a ticket to Worlds already? Way too high of a score.
Carolina Kostner of Italy now. Triple toe to start. Double Axel. Surprised she didn't go for a triple/triple again but she only has so much she can do with only attempting three different kinds of triples in the program, I guess. Another double Axel. Remember when she used to fly around the ice? This music doesn't ask for it, but she seems so slow. Triple Salchow. Single loop/double toe loop. Recovers with a triple loop/double toe this time. Nice pacing and choreography with spirals leading right into a nice footwork sequence. Triple Salchow/double toe/double toe muscled out at the end. Flying camel/donut/catch-foot trails off into the ending pose. Eh. The lack of technical content worked earlier this year, but her spins are slow and the most difficult thing she did was a loop/toe combination. The judges loved her from a components aspect in the short and I'm sure they'll love her again, but this really should be behind all three Japanese ladies. Bloody hand-- she must have clipped her blade. 116.47 for THAT? I mean, if she adds two flips and a Lutz back, she's going to score 130+. Well, whatever. Into first. Suzuki has once again been royally screwed in my opinion. By the way, .01 ahead of Murakami overall.
Alissa Czisny closes the show. Triple Lutz/double toe to start. Triple flip/double toe. As always with her, probably going to need to check the jumps in replay to make sure they got all the way around. Triple toe goes up crooked but lands fine. Flying camel in a great position and then a donut spin to catch-foot. Perfect centering, good speed. Not carrying much speed around the ice, though. Triple loop lands with a deep curving edge. I-spiral and then she drops down into a traditional position. Second triple Lutz that she really fights for, again questionable rotation. Double Axel was tiny and she stepped out. Triple toe, all of these later jumps are being really fought for. One-foot combination spin with all excellent positions. Circular step is nothing special but her ending layback is a million times better than any other spin in this ladies competition. She's happy with that, and if she rotated both Lutzes and the flip, she should EASILY win this competition. 116.99 and she wins overall by two points. Ando wins the free skate, but stays in fifth overall.