Rolled over and got out of bed just in time. Probably staying up just for the men and ladies.
Florent Amodio of France- triple Axel to start, same perfect deep-knee landing and extension he's had on most jumps all year. Second triple Axel/double toe right away, shaky landing on the first but still done. Rushed the loop and it became a double. Choreography starts for the circular footwork and if you've been living under a rock and haven't seen the program, he definitely gets into it. 18 seconds of standing around and selling some more 'choreography' and then a triple Salchow/triple toe, two triple Lutzes (one in combination with a double toe), a triple flip, and a double Axel all within about 30 seconds with nothing else in between and really nothing but skating from one end to the other. All of the jumps were landed, but none of them had the greatest flow coming out. Choreography picks back up for the straight-line footwork which goes on for a while, and then he ends with spins. I love Florent, I think this program is fun for the audience and casual fans, but I can't get past how much time he stands around and how none of his jumps have anything going on into them. Transitions mark should be extremely low, the set-up of the elements (those five jumps all so quickly together) is bleh and should affect his choreography mark, but his performance mark should be high. He only interprets the music when he's standing around or doing the footwork. Sorry, I'm not a hater. Just keeping it real! 140.26-- not quite a 7 average on the components. Don't get me wrong-- he's extremely exciting. Just this program is everything that the judging system doesn't ask for and it should be scored accordingly. Nice effort with the jumps once again, though.
Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic and we get back-to-back Michael Jackson. Triple toe, easy to start. Triple Axel/double toe and then right into a triple loop. Circular step is nice but moves somewhat slow, and then he does a combination spin on one foot which has nice positions until the final scratch travels. Second triple Axel, triple Lutz, triple Salchow, triple flip, triple Lutz/double toe with a turn-out in between-- all of those jumps were done in about 45 seconds, too, and the only transitions were some three-turns and simple movements into the jumps. I know he and Florent are hardly the only two to have a program set-up like that, but I hate it. Second footwork sequence once again has good content but once again he just doesn't have the power and speed off of his pushes that the next four men will do so effortlessly. Okay, tough for me again here. The concept is once again fun, but there really isn't that much going on in the program. He doesn't stand around, but he also is doing a lot of crossovers to link everything together. However, everything being watered down a bit this year and not attempting the quad has done wonders for his consistency-- I guess that's the trade off. He poses for the crowd in the kiss and cry. 148.27 for the free skate, 73 on components and he's in first place.
Takahiko Kozuka of Japan starts the final four and the likely race for the podium. Quad toe comes to a bit of a halt on the landing but it looked rotated to me and on one foot. Triple Axel with gorgeous flow coming out. Triple Lutz/double toe. Camel with a layover-- that's a decent effort, into a sit with variation and upright-- average speed. Now we see some transitions.. the first of the night honestly. One foot steps for the first part of his circular sequence and you see how easily he gains speed and flows. Triple Axel/double toe-- Axel was pitched forward a bit and the toe loop took a while to get the free leg back. I'm sure he wanted a double loop on the end but couldn't get it off. Triple flip, triple Lutz/triple toe with a wild run-out but it's done, triple loop, triple Salchow-- again all the jumps close together but at least he has some variation to what he's doing leading into the jump rather than stroke, stroke, stroke. Circular footwork sequence.. for skating clean so far he's not really getting into this or showing the excitement that he should have. Combination spin to end and the camel with a change edge could use work on the position but the rest of the positions are nice. Well, once again a clean free skate and he's going to put the pressure on big-time for the other three. Sato looks happy with that effort, smiling and clapping at the boards. I think he can do even more to the transitions and choreography of this program, but the difficulty level is seriously double that of what Amodio and Verner just performed. 159.89 for the free skate, just 77 for the components. Eh. Some of the jump landings weren't the best, but I'd still have him higher on components, especially comparing with the first two.
Daisuke Takahashi follows with Invierno Porteno. Quad flip comes down after 3.5 and on two-feet. Nice triple Axel, though, showing total control on the edge-work coming out. Triple loop lands on the flat but he gets the leg back. Combination spin with the first few positions somewhat thrown away (especially his camel), but the latter upright was nice. Circular footwork doesn't seem to have the speed that it usually does but he's an absolute master at using his full body, and the difficulty-level isn't easy in the slightest. Triple flip/triple toe and he can't hold the second landing after total curving the edge. Second triple Axel and he falls hard on that. Takes a second to get up. Triple Lutz, triple Salchow landing with no run-out, another triple Lutz that he thinks about for a second and then slips off the edge on that one and falls again. So his second Axel and second Lutz will both be called sequences because the first attempts were not done in combination-- lots of points lost right there. The straight-line step at the end doesn't have the normal spark, but the program itself has the best pacing so far and his ability to listen to the music remains among the best. Sorry, though, this was totally flat, especially the second half with the mistakes. 137.20-- they hit him hard but it's fair. He goes into second, but he's last on the free skate. Kozuka will medal.
Patrick Chan of Canada with Phantom of the Opera. Nice quad toe and it looked like he had time on the way down to stop rotating and adjust to the landing-- amazing. Triple Axel/double toe-- not a huge amount of flow between the jumps, but it's fine. Triple Lutz. Edge work on one foot and then his serpentine step-- just absolutely effortless and the speed he gets out of the pushes is ridiculous. Steps into his second triple Axel and he falls out. More steps all the way down the length of the ice and a Triple Lutz with a turn and step/ 1/2 loop/ double Salchow. I don't know if the second part of that will count-- there might have been a step too much. Triple flip/triple toe, triple loop-- none of these later jumps have very much flow and he looks extremely tight. Double Axel. Spins once again are fast and well-centered and all three have strong positions. I totally respect the amount of content in between everything, but like pointed out so many times before-- he skates to the music and does exactly what the system wants, but is there a lot of feeling behind anything he does? Not really. This performance started to fall flat in the second half when the jumps started losing their flow. It should still be enough to lead by quite a few points in the free skate, even with the two mistakes and rough landings. His coach and her preaching in the kiss and cry every single time annoys me. 174.16 and 87 points on the second mark. Haha.. here we go again with haters, I'm sure. He's 22 points ahead of Kozuka. I think this is one point behind the world record, and he's not even clean.
Nobunari Oda of Japan finishes the night. Quad toe and he's down. UGH. Well, at least I got the winner of the event right in my predictions. Triple Axel/triple toe that was cautious going in, perfectly fine landings but not the ease of rotation that is usual with him. Three-turns on one foot leading into a triple flip/triple toe-- again done, but muscled out more than just letting it happen. Footwork is much more of a non-highlight than the last two men. His spins between Skate Canada and now have become much more centered.. they were a mess there. Beautiful triple Lutz with steps leading in. Second triple Axel. Triple loop. Triple Salchow/double toe/double loop. Double Axel that he had and just slipped off the edge after a second. He looks like he's totally disoriented in the steps following, and this performance has had no energy. After having that brilliant short that I think he obviously really likes, this choreography looks really junior at times and he's not into it at all. So disappointing. I'd think he still gets silver after his lead over Kozuka in the short, but if he were to fall to third, I will have predicted the podium exactly right here. 156.22 for the free skate, he's third in the long and second overall. Highest-ranked Japanese man here. I think the components were a bit generous for as flat as he was and the program is. And there goes my dream of predicting the podium right by about five points ;-)