I didn't wake up to watch this event live, so I've spent my afternoon downloading all 30 performances and writing some quick notes. Here we go...
1 Patrick Chan CAN - I'm a fan of Patrick's, but there are definitely a few other skaters that I enjoy much more. However, he absolutely ran away with this short program by a mile. All of the elements were solid, and they fell right into place in the program without anything having long preparation or breaks. His ice coverage is amazing, and his weakest element (change-foot camel) was still pretty good. I'd even venture to say that comparatively speaking, his choreography and especially his transition mark seemed a bit low(!)
Sounds like a it'll be a really positive review after that, right? Hmph...
2 Nobunari Oda JPN - I keep mentioning how he is always my dark horse, and he's put himself in good position. Unfortunately today, though, he was totally flat to me, especially compared to the Grand Prix Final.. he was on fire there. Quad toe with a big step-out and then a wobble in the footwork. Everything else was alright, but again.. nothing remarkable.
3 Daisuke Takahashi JPN - Both his triple flip and triple Lutz looked like they switched edges, however that is possible. The flip at the very least seemed to take off from the flat, and he got called for it. His change-foot camel was poor at best (and I still hate that dumb flying upright spin), and I have an issue with the judges giving him +2 and +3 for his footwork sequence when his bobble was, in my opinion, just as noticeable as Oda's. It's a fun program, but I think the choreography and overall package was infinitely better in last seasons short. As much as I like him, his choreography mark shouldn't have beaten Chan, and his transitions mark shouldn't have even been close.
4 Artur Gachinski RUS - I've ragged on him all year, and I really want to like him since he is so young and progressing well. However, the choreography of this program literally consists of arm movements and maybe a single three-turn towards the beginning. He skates on the slow side so there is hardly ice coverage, and there was really nothing going on besides having a nice quad toe/triple toe. The loop had minimal steps into it and then he caught his heel on the way out.. at least he fought to stay up on it. I'd have all of his components down from what they were, but it is what it is..
5 Florent Amodio FRA - I like this program. I don't love that all of his jumps come so quickly in the beginning, but he really gets into it. The flip was definitely on the outside edge and he got called for it, and everything else was good, but I wouldn't say he's at that 'great' level yet. Still, I'd have him in front of Gachinski.
6 Takahiko Kozuka JPN - I've tried all year to get into this program, but it's just not what I want to see from my favorite skater. It doesn't showcase his gorgeous skating skills, and the whole 'fun' feel just doesn't fit his personality at this point in his career. The Axel was so crooked that he is pretty lucky that he just put his hands down. Choreography a whole .25 better than Gachinski? The judges are so generous. Sarcasm.
7 Michal Brezina CZE - He, along with Javier Fernandez, has one of the most effortless triple Axels I have ever seen. Gorgeous. Flip/toe was a little big and he had to step out of the latter. All three of his jumps were done in the first 30 seconds a la Amodio.. not such a fan of that. The program was good, but I feel like it could have had more intensity and built to a stronger finish.
8 Tomas Verner CZE - He went for the quad toe but went down.. the only fall in the top 14. Lutz/toe had a little hop around on the landing. I like the personality that comes through in his programs, but I just don't see the difficulty or speed that some of the men above him have. I feel like the changing coaches might have made him more consistent, but it also seems to have watered down the overall content within his programs.
9 Brian Joubert FRA - If you have been competing for as long as you have, there is no excuse to not add a triple toe on the end of the flip. He probably threw away four points right there, and then he'd be about five points off of the bronze medal heading into the long. Seriously, it infuriates me. Anyways, I think he was lucky with his score considering he followed Amodio who had the same music and a stronger program, and I still hate his flying upright spin, too. He doesn't have the skating skills to match Chan or the Japanese skaters, so he usually relies on his flair and intensity. It has never come through with this program (and the judges finally seem to be more accurately scoring him in PCS).
10 Denis Ten KAZ - Well I was sure wrong with my suggestion that he might be in danger of qualifying for the free skate! Axel was gorgeous, lutz/toe had a bit of a shake out of it. One of the few really nice camel positions in the event, and a great set of of spins. Stephane Lambiel did well choreographing this program, even if Denis is still a bit introverted on the interpretation. PCS should have been higher, but he skated very early in the day.
The Americans-- Richard Dornbush is 11th. His jumps really fly. I much prefer his free skate but he's put himself in a really good position after skating 3rd of the 30 men today. Ryan Bradley is right behind him. He did a quad toe/double toe that was hunched over between the two jumps, but he did a beauty of a triple Axel. Even so, He's one of the slowest men out there, he crawls through relatively simple footwork, his spins are poor at best, and he doesn't skate to the beat of the (moderately quick) music at all. I'd be a hater and go lower on the PCS. At least the judges had him third of the three American men in that regard. Ross Miner is 13th, and I haven't seen his performance yet. I heard a lot of talk on Facebook and elsewhere about the possibility of only one American man even making it to the later groups-- they've all done themselves well so far.
And some other comments down the line...
15 Kevin Van der Perren BEL - Another joke in PCS, nothing new. Almost 7 in skating skills and choreography? This was one of the most minimal programs of the night, and he spends most of the time skating around on two feet. The footwork and spins haven't ever been exactly great, either.
16 Peter Liebers GER - One of my personal favorites of the day, and probably the most screwed. Infinitely improved since last season, and I'd have his transition and choreography scores higher. There's no way skaters like Gachinski, Bradley, and Van der Perren deserved higher PCS than this effort.
19 Kevin Reynolds CAN - It's like all of the energy has been sucked out of him since Skate Canada to start the season. No quad, and nothing spectacular. His skating has improved, so I expected much more.
The Swedes both failed to qualify, with Adrian Schultheiss finishing 25th and Alexander Majorov 28th. Schultheiss didn't seem to be into his performance, and had falls on both the triple Lutz and in the middle of his footwork. Majorov was possibly the biggest shock performance of the day after such strong skates earlier his season and in qualifying. He fell out of his triple Axel and popped his combo to a single Lutz/single toe. Any pop just kills the score.