Keeping it going..
As with all disciplines, the sixth-ranked skater in the standings starts things off. Here, it's American Rachael Flatt. Her music is Summertime and Oh, But on the Third Day. Triple Lutz with the usual swing back and forth into it/double toe-- looked like she thought about a triple. Triple flip comes out forward after 2.5 rotations and will be called a double with -3 GOE. Layback and the program so far seem slower than usual. Change of music into flying camel with a layover and catch-foot. The last position was not great. Double Axel wasn't big but it was fine. Straight-line step and this performance seems much more introverted than usual for Rachael, even if she has the cute choreography in the middle of the element. I don't know what is up but she's still looking slow and labored to me. Combination spin to end with a nice upright y-spin variation that changes edges-- that's not easy to balance. Sigh. No spark here whatsoever, and she's over it. 45.19. Well, this panel certainly isn't playing games today.
Akiko Suzuki of Japan is up next. Jalousie by Jacob Gade. Triple flip/double toe is good.. she sometimes has a toe Axel going on. Triple Lutz isn't directly out of steps but this is one of the bigger ones I've seen her do. Flying camel isn't fully stretched but the positions on the latter half are decent and the spin kept up the speed. Layback is really good until the final Biellmann-type one hand catch-foot that kills the speed. Clean double Axel so good on the jumps. Straight-line step is of course one of the best in the business and it gets the crowd going (by Chinese standards). Nice applause for her. Her posture isn't the greatest, but she's one of the few ladies that still gets into their program and listens to the music rather than focusing on the elements the entire time. Jumps were all rotated. She's 25 and only getting stronger-- good for her. 58.26, seasons best.
Her teammate Kanako Murakami is next. What an impression she's already made this year. Music is Swing Kids and she has the crowd already clapping in the first few seconds. Triple toe/triple toe looks alright, and there was even a delay on the first jump. Triple flip with the slight pause in steps but that is also good. Layback that goes up into a Biellmann at the end and it's rough-- she kind of stumbles out. Double Axel is good this time around. Geez, her smile is just amazing. Flying sit that is right at the wall-- I don't care for choreography like that. Straight-line step keeps up the performance level and she uses her entire body. Final combination spin has strong positions. So, as expected, she's good through the short program. I think everyones' big worry is the free skate, which I don't think suits her skating at all. However, great start here aside from the trouble coming out of the layback. Triple/triple looked good to me in replay. 61.47... hmmm. Her program is really fun but I prefer Suzuki. She really had the crowd going, though.
Carolina Kostner from Italy, skating to Galicia Flamenca. Triple toe/triple toe and I question the rotation on the second jump there-- both jumps went up crooked. Double Axel is nice though. She's really improved that over the years. Flying camel again not particularly strong positions but she stretches higher than most. Triple loop with a lack of direct steps into it but that's always a good jump for her. Layback doesn't have much lay to it and it seems to just get the required revolutions. Circular footwork again her strong element and it's well done, and a combination spin to finish. Again here, the upright position is really just the finishing up of the spin, doing two quick revolutions. I'd rather see something held for a long time, but I suspect she was a bit behind the music. Second triple toe should get the under-rotation call, but not a full downgrade. 62.13. Over it. That's a lucky score.
Alissa Czisny of the USA. Triple Lutz/double toe is good. Triple flip-- looks like the landing edge got a little bit stuck, which makes me think it might have slightly been short. Double Axel, well she got through the jumps here. Flying camel in a beautiful position into a donut and catch-foot-- a million times better than anything else we've seen so far, seriously. Combination spin again brilliant. If some of these other spins are getting +1, then she deserves higher than a +3-- they are that much better. Layback that ends in a Biellmann and she holds it. Okay, I'll stop raving about her spins. That was excellent. Now, just the question of whether the flip was rotated. In replay, it seems about 1/4 short-- the same as Kostner's triple toe just was. If she gets an under-rotation call, I'm going to be furious at the inconsistencies. 63.76. Well, Kostner and Czisny both should have gotten the call but if one wasn't going to get it, then I suppose I'm happy they kept it the same for the next. Suzuki was (still) robbed.
Miki Ando from Japan finishes the ladies event, skating a new short to The Mission. I still love this score and I'm hoping I like this program. Triple Lutz/triple loop-- wild free leg on the landing and I have no idea about the rotation. But if they are going to be lenient with the others, I guess now is as good a time as any to go for it. Triple flip though and it's too delayed at the start and she falls, definitely cheated there. Nice double Axel. Flying sit spin that is ALL off at the beginning and she just has to pray and muscle it to make sure she gets around eight times-- still, it should be negative on the GOE. This is a really nice footwork sequence and it matches the music. Combo spin with a change-edge camel-- the whole spin is nice but a bit slow. Layback to end and none of the positions are great-- the last one was barely held. She's trying to listen to the music, and I think the music itself will help her. Much better than her previous short. 50.45 and she's in fifth.
Czisny - Kostner - Murakami: who would have thought?
Once again, I think Gusmeroli and company were extremely generous on the rotation calls for some of those jumps.