Jeremy Abbott's smiles in warm-up frustrate me, because they usually disappear by the time of the performance.
Keegan Messing starts this off. I really, really enjoyed him in the short program. He's made huge improvements in his skating. 3A forwards but landed, 4T with a hand down but rotated. Huge air on flying sit and fast rotations but it's traveling more than any other spin so far in this free skate. Spread eagle and a reverse turn into a 2A, that was some nice choreography. 3Lz/2T. Flying camel not the best of positions into a change edge and it's again not amazing. 3A had to get way down in his knees/2T. Straight line step and how I want to be in the audience. The atmosphere there has to be ridiculous after all of these brilliant skates. Low sit spin into an upright twist variation/sit and this time it's well centered and the fastest of any spins so far. This music from The Hulk was on an episode of Family Guy I'm pretty sure. Just saying. Circular footwork step is a nice change of pace in the program. Still scratchy and not the best basics but there really is an excitement to all 5'3 of him. 3Lo, 3F/2T/2Lo, 3Lz at the LAST second. Wow. Program components won't be as strong as the previous three, but with two triple Axels and a quad that I think was all the way rotated, he might make this close. 76.56/66.94 = 143.50. 213.29 and he drops to fourth behind all three of the men in the previous group.
Douglas Razzano- 3A an absolute beauty. 4T that was rotated but he had to step out. 3A that he had but then lost balance and tried to fight it on his blades and fell backwards. 3Lz gets him back on track. Not much else going on so far in the program, though, and that should be reflected in his components scores. This is tango music but he's another one that seems a bit too focused on everything rather than letting muscle memory do the work and really sell it. 3T/3T. Spread eagle into 3S. 3Lo a good one too. 2A/2T/2Lo. He's a good skater and he's landed all of his jumps aside from the second Axel, but his focus really detracted from the audience involvement here and he could have capitalized from the energy of the previous four skaters. Still, he's been a really nice surprise in this event. Now that he knows what he is capable of, hopefully he's able to show his confidence. 206.76 and down to sixth. Pretty sure his coach said "my ass" when reacting to the components scores.
Ross Miner- Circular footwork to start. He has nice speed and great flow from one end to the other. Big 3A/2T. 3Lz/3T-- a beauty. 3A again and he holds on to it, curling the landing edge. Flying camel/fly over/sit/upright. My feed cut out for a second, but back for 3S/2T/2T. I actually think I missed a good minute of that program. 3F with nice height and distance. He's bringing it, too! I said he was the forgotten one at the start of the short program. 2A. Well, I missed two jump elements but if he went clean on those, he's sure going to make this interesting. Based on his reaction, I'm going to guess that he was clean. Another standing ovation. 81.80/74.56 and 224.something overall, so second by a point or so.
Jeremy Abbott- My favorite long program of the year. Please, no nerves this time around. 3Lz to open. 3F. 3A/2T. I'm already nervous for him, and I haven't felt nervous this entire free skate. Now he relaxes for choreography and hopefully paces himself for the rest of the program. Circular steps match the music and are complex. 3A with the same difficult entrance as the short program, and a hand down. Not a severe mistake. 3Lz which was completely underrotated and fell. Should be called a double. 3Lo/2T/2T-- the loop looked cheated and the last toe loop came to a stop and he hopped around. 3S is good. 2A. He's going to get high scores for components, especially in the choreography and interpretation marks, but this should not be the first place free skate at this point. Luckily for him, he has a comfortable lead over third place and the rest of the field coming in. Still a beautiful program, but those three jump elements in the middle killed it. 66.91 79.86 224.16 and he's THIRD. Wow. This is going to be tough to decide who goes to Worlds.
Brandon Mroz- All this talk about needing music that he relates to, and I'm surprised. I don't think this On the Waterfront does much for his skating. He's a very internal, technical skater to begin with and you can tell the choreography isn't natural. 4T cheated, probably called a triple and stepped out. Things are REALLY interesting now. Dornbush has at least bronze, Miner at least fourth. 3A/2T backwards on the Axel, causing only a double on the end. 3Lz is back on track. 3Lo. A big factor in his score is going to be that quad, if it's downgraded, he's only going to get about 2 points for it. 3A again, he's fighting. 3Lz/3T, second jump he couldn't hold on and put the hand down right away. 3S. 3F/2T/2Lo-- the third jump had a big pre-turn but the loop allows that, so he might be okay. I like Brandon and he's been one of the most consistent if not the most consistent US man this year coming into the event, but when you have the performances of Adam, Richard, Armin, and Ross, he just doesn't stack up. 73.66/68.22 141.88 and 213.49 and down into sixth. Dornbush will be no lower than second, and Miner no lower than third. Abbott and Rippon follow. Who would have thought?
Anyways, though, aside from not seeing Jason Brown, the top 12 here (well, depending what Ryan does) have all been amazing. This would have been an awesome competition to attend.
Ryan Bradley- 4T is messy and he steps out. Not sure about the rotation there. 4T two-footed and fall-out and he does a 2T on the end. This gets REALLY interesting now. My original thought was that if Miner held third place, Abbott would go to Worlds over him based on only being .20 behind him in the total score. If Dornbush and Miner stay 1-2, their spots should be guaranteed and then there would be a mess between Bradley, Abbott, and Rippon. 3A is a little wild but landed. 3Lz. Let's not get ahead of ourselves though. Ryan can still win this. 3A/3T again shaky and but landed. 3Lo again a fight. He's landing the jumps but I think he's losing critical points on the GOEs. 3S/2T/2T-- again, first jump bent over. 3F. I don't know. His interpretation should be high, but his spins are definitely the worst out of these last two groups and his overall skating quality lacks. I don't hate him, I know some people seem to think I do after the short program comments, but I just don't think he did enough.. at least in my book.
151.51, he wins!