Saturday, February 19

Four Continents - The Ladies Short Program

Here are my quick thoughts from the ladies short program. All other events to follow in time ;-)

1 Miki Ando - All three jump elements flowed well, particularly the Lutz/loop. The individual loop had some really nice footwork directly leading into it, probably the highlight of the program for me. The footwork sequence has some nice and difficult content, but it goes on forever and loses me by the time it is 3/4 done. On that note-- this program, while it works 5000 times better than her prior short program, seems to be a practice session where she is told to go from one element to the next with very little going on in-between. She received the highest transition mark (well, all five components actually), but she didn't even have transitions in all honesty. The program didn't fill the ice well at all, and her speed was at the "meh" level the whole way. The music might ask for slower skating than usual, but not that slow. Even though I'm sounding really harsh about her, I *do* like this program and I guess at this point in her career, designing a program that makes her confident in herself is a great idea. Clean skates in the ladies short program are so rare these days!

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!)

Friday, February 18

First Things First.. Remember Walter Toigo?

If you were following my blog back in late-August or September, you might remember my post about Italian judge Walter Toigo, and the videos I linked to from YouTube that made it seem as if he was copying the marks of the judges nearest him in the Junior Grand Prix Courchevel competition. Read part one and part two if you haven't yet been enlightened to the drama.

I was told today that Toigo has indeed received a two-year suspension by the ISU, and it also extends to being banned from judging national competitions during this time.

Maybe the ISU does have some sense after all? :-)