Here are my quick thoughts from the ladies short program. All other events to follow in time ;-)
2 Mao Asada - Last year, I think she had a bit of Miki's above problem going on-- lots of focus on the triple Axel, crawling around the ice preparing just for one or two major moves, etc. This year she has changed that and made the 'announcement' of the triple Axel attempt much more subtle. Almost there this time, just a bit short but the rotation looked tight and at least she actually went for it. What is my problem, though? This is a tango with really dynamic and sharp music. The way Mao performed today, it seemed to be very 'another day at the office' to me with no real passion behind her movements. If she can take the intensity that she had last year and put it into this short program, I think it could be very effective. Anyways, you better believe I'm happy that she's seeming to get it together more and more as the season progresses.
3 Rachael Flatt - Well, what a surprise. I liked this program at Nationals, but I LOVED it here. I think everyone can agree that we were sick of seeing the typical jazzy, stop and do silly arm/hand choreography during the footwork that we were so accustomed to with Rachael, and this program surprisingly really works. Put the Michelle Kwan comparisons aside.. I doubt anyone will ever top her performance to this music at the 1998 World Pros. This is still a great effort. The jumps flowed more than usual, there were some quality transitional movements, and the speed and ice coverage were great as well. I'm a definite fan, and it was my favorite of the day. Who knew?!
4 Mirai Nagasu - Not much to say here. I'm not blown away by this short program, but I've warmed up to it much more since the Grand Prix. Lutz looked off and there was no flow out of it, and then her flip was done right up against the boards. The highlight of the program for me was the first half of the circular step that she seemed to do with such ease on one foot. I don't think it has sunk in for many people that she was the *winner* of the short program at Worlds last year, and she didn't even qualify this year. Talk about an inconsistent discipline all the way around.
5 Alissa Czisny - Back to the old problems with the Lutz. I adore this program but I wish she'd go about it with more attack and speed. The music is slow, but she can still go faster (a la Ando). Anyways, her musical sense and overall interpretation were definitely the strongest of this top five for me. The judges thought she interpreted the music fourth-best. Hmph.
By the way, Amelie Lacoste of Canada received credit for a triple loop/triple loop combination with the < (under-rotated) mark. She has received full credit for the combination in the past (all the way back to the 2005 Junior Grand Prix!)