This post basically serves as a reply to the article I just read by Philip Hersh, who discusses how brilliant Alissa Czisny was en route to winning the Grand Prix Final this weekend and how miserable Rachael Flatt was in her last-place finish of the six qualified ladies.
First of all, note the bold term above. Only six ladies make it out of the Grand Prix regular season events, and Rachael Flatt earned silver medals at both the NHK Trophy and Skate America en route to qualifying her spot in Beijing. Her overall total score from the two events was 323.90 points. Whatever you think about comparing scores across events aside, that total was good enough for fourth-best of all the ladies that skated in two events. She finished higher than eventual Grand Prix Final silver medalist Carolina Kostner at Skate America, and she finished on top of bronze medalist Kanako Murakami at the NHK Trophy.
You want more stats? Mirai Nagasu finished with 314.02 points, Ashley Wagner 310.75 points, and Agnes Zawadzki with 308.13 points. It wasn't earth-shaking when Nagasu dropped from first in the short at Cup of China to fourth overall, and it wasn't a big deal when Wagner earned just 90 points in her free skate at NHK Trophy, her first event. Those three, along with Czisny and Flatt, figure to be among the front-runners for the two World Championship spots up for grabs at the National Championships next month.
Rachael will not be the next Michelle Kwan or Sasha Cohen in terms of popularity in the United States, but this event was one of the worst (if not the absolute worst) of her life and already it's the end of the world in Philip Hersh's eyes. Flatt did her part at the 2009 World Championships in hopes of earning the US three spots to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but then-National Champion Czisny finished outside the top 10 at the event. She may not have had the best Grand Prix season the following fall, but she did best Yu-Na Kim in the long program at Skate America. It seems like everything I read about her lately just focuses on all of the negatives, but we seem to forget how Rachael was the model of consistency for some time while plenty of other American ladies were either crashing and burning all over the ice or under-rotating every other jump (and some still continue to have this problem).
By the way, Philip Hersh: "dead last" is such a dramatic way of describing the situation. There's six-- yes, just six of the supposed best ladies in the world competing in the event. It's not like she finished 25th in the short program at the World Championships. Give me a break. Yes, I'm aware that the scores she posted may very well have her 25th or lower in the event that it was Worlds, but it wasn't.
In all honesty, I'm not that wowed by Rachael Flatt. But if you read my comments about most of the other ladies this season, there's not much a difference. The discipline itself is just not that interesting anymore, and Flatt is not a severe unique case by any means. However, comments such as these
Unless Flatt's fortunes improve dramatically the rest of the 2010-11 season, she would be wise to consider ending a competitive career that will be judged as an impressive success, with the U.S. title, the world junior title, an Olympic appearance and two world team appearances.
Flatt has so many other good things to do with her time - and the intelligence to do any of them.
The temptation is to tell her there still is time to enroll at Stanford for the winter quarter.honestly make me want to root for her even more when she shows up to Greensboro. One bad event should hardly make one suggest that she should give up. If anything, preaching about Czisny just paragraphs above those statements, while reminding readers that she went from 3rd to 9th to 1st to 10th at Nationals in the last four years, should show that everyone has a bad day.