Another thought, the male commentator called Gao's stand-still landing on the Axel a fall. Nice to see they are always hiring commentators with a real good knowledge of skating :-)
Alexe Gilles-- Disaster showings with this program in the Grand Prix. I don't really care for it, it's too cute and I feel like she could pull off dramatic or something cool and modern really well. Toe/toe was nice and the second jump in particular was a beauty. Lutz was crooked from the beginning and didn't really ever have a chance. Layback position barely laid and she covered up the rest of the element with sideways positions-- probably a good call. I'm not a hater, I'll just be happy when she gets a new short program :-)
Agnes Zawadzki-- Okay, let's be real about her. This program fits her really well, but the problems with her skating are her overall speed and her sloppiness in-between the elements. It's not horrible, but she can improve a whole lot in those aspects. All three jump elements were great (Axel out of a good Ina Bauer!) but the spins (aside from the I-position in the combo) could also be just a bit more refined-looking. Still, I like her a lot and I like the energy she gives off. Behind Czisny by less than a point-- high on components, for sure.
Caroline Zhang-- Definitely looks like she's in better shape here than in the Grand Prix. Flip had a HORRIBLE lean from the beginning and she fell hard. I absolutely cannot stand how her toe pick goes in right in line with her other skate, rather than drawing back and then lifting (hence why she probably has so many problems). It's like she's doing a loop just off of a toe pick rather than the edge, if that makes sense. Triple loop/double toe was nice, though. Axel pre-rotated as always. Layback looks better and more memorable than in the Grand Prix, thankfully, but still not the wow that she had up until this year. I give her a lot of credit, though. She's grown and lost some of the qualities that really had people raving about her for a few years, but it's going to be a long road to getting the technique consistent and then being able to really command the performance and make her stand out. Right now, she's just 'there'.
Ellie Kawamura-- Cool Mishima music. Loop slightly cheated and came down on two feet, and only a triple toe/double toe as her combo. Layback has nice stretch and variations are all strong and well-centered. Nice flying sit entry and variation and good speed. This choreography is reminding me of Beatrisa Liang, who I greatly miss. She's interesting! Components were harsh!!!
Mirai Nagasu-- Lutz/toe nice, she has a nice smile as always. Seems like her World Championship short program was so much longer ago than 10 months, doesn't it? Flip was big and had nice flow out. She's looking light and faster than in the Grand Prix, when I found this program to be a total snooze. Little bobble on the beginning of her camel in the combination spin, but she recovered and held it forever in a nice position. Axel had nice flow in and out. Death drop had a little up-and-down bounce at the beginning to get into position that we see from so many. Layback obviously one of the best and up into a Biellmann. Well done. I liked that so much more than in the early months of the season. Not as much as last years short, but I'll take it. :) I don't know about the components vs. Czisny, but she skated with double the speed.
Katy Jo West-- Nice effortless double Axel. You can tell she's happy to be at Nationals. Triple loop rotated late and had a turn out, but I think it was rotated. Basics below the others in this group and somewhat wobby throughout the footwork. Triple toe with a hand down/double toe. She has a nice quality. The thing I noticed was the several instances of having to check herself and her posture throughout. I suspect that's her nerves and maybe rushing everything just a bit.