I just knew Kaetlyn Osmond was going to make a splash here! I think her short program was actually a bit underscored, while I wouldn't have gone as high in the free skate. Her programs are packed with transitions and movements right into and out of the elements, and she carries amazing speed. Ladies skating has been missing that power presence and Kaetlyn is going to slide right in. If I had to really critique her, I think she could have a little more control coming out of the jumps. This is very fixable, though. See Joannie Rochette circa 2002 and 2003. Her jumps were huge but had absolutely no control on the landings. Complete difference in 2004. I'm so impressed, but I still wouldn't have her components averaging 7.50. 6.50, or so, is more like it for skating skills. The rest (should be) higher.
Akiko Suzuki is one of my favorite ladies and I love the diversity between all of her programs. The hydroblade/side shoot-the-duck choreography in the short is really cool! When I first saw her free skate at the Japan Open, I thought to myself, "Alright, finally some more abstract choreography and concepts that we don't see anymore in ladies skating." She looked a little tight throughout the program, but even on a bad day, she still should have scored higher in components than Osmond. Spins looked more challenging for her than I remember them previously being. All in all, I'd probably have her winning the event.
Kanako Murakami is skating to Prayer for Taylor for the short. I don't know why, but I always have a flashback to the 2002 Lalique competition and where Yukari Nakano, who also used this for a short program, completely wiped out on a flying camel spin. Anyways, I like the program on Kanako but I prefer last years short and the way it built to an exciting finish. Her free skate keeps me interested and I noticed that her Lutz, while still on an inside edge, seems to have been worked on quite a bit.
down the line..
Ksenia Makarova has a much better free skate this year after last years Marilyn Monroe disaster. I'm happy she kept her beauty of a short, but it's so predictable that she's going to drop big-time after the long.
Amelie Lacoste should have had among the highest, if not the highest, components in the competition. Her basics are incredible and she gains speed from very minimal movement. Her programs are always very IJS-friendly, but the judges never quite go for them like they should.
Gracie Gold-- too much, too soon? We can't completely judge her after two performances this year, but I think the hype that she received 'aka-- she will be on the World team in 2013, she should have been on the World team in 2012, etc' might have gotten to her in the long off-season.
I have really grown into enjoying Javier Fernandez's skating. There's a straight-forward quality to it, while still satisfying a lot of the needs of IJS. Best decision of his life was to get away from Morozov, where he had predictable and flashy programs. He seems like he has a really solid head on his shoulders as well, so I hope for continued success from him. 4toe in the free skate after the half-way point-- good going!
I think Patrick Chan will hit his stride later in the season, and when he does-- boy, watch out. A lot of people prior to this season had an issue with his interpretation mark specifically, because they felt that his presentation was superficial and mechanical. I see a complete change in the way he moves and listens to the music, particularly in his free skate. But still, the jumps have to be there.
I love Nobu Oda, and his new free skate might be my favorite program of his to date. I was worried about how 4.5 minutes of it would go, but it worked well. He still has the best landing positions in the world, and I guess we should give him special credit for this performance for being able to count his combinations and realize that when the second triple Axel didn't go as planned, that he had used up a block of his combos/sequences. If you have followed him in the past, you know this has rarely been the case (and has cost him two world medals and a trip to the Olympics, literally!)
I like Florent Amodio and his programs this year are better than the last two years, but see above with Fernandez. The best thing he could do, and it needs to be relatively soon if he wants to rework himself for Sochi, is dump Morozov. Remember how amazed most of us were in 2010 with him? I could still watch his Olympic short program all day long. He's not the same anymore.
Denis Ten is using the same soundtrack for both the short and long. I think this is the first time that he was given something character-driven rather than something generic, and I think it's interesting. There's still a reserved quality to his skating that holds him back, though, in my opinion.
Takahito Mura, like Amelie Lacoste in the ladies, is totally robbed on the components. His skating skills are probably in the top five in the world right now.
I'm a huge Savchenko/Szolkowy fan. Unfortunately, neither of their programs are really doing it for me after this first competition. The short is a little too eh (the most interesting thing was their costumes, which I surprisingly like), and the free skate is just too monotonous with no real highlights. I love Bolero, but this version has something missing as opposed to the original which builds wonderfully. Maybe I'll grow into them as the season goes. Then again, maybe they are putting blah stuff out there this year so we are all blown away next year :-)
Duhamel/Radford have gotten to the point where they actually look like a top pair. Prior to this season, they were a team that could do all the big tricks and score high because of it. They move and relate to each other in a believable way now, and I was worried how I'd feel about their free skate after seeing a clip of it at an early-season competition. I like it.
Not sure what to think of Virtue/Moir. I think Davis/White are easily going to run away with everything this year if everything stays as-is. The short dance is just alright, while I was completely blown away with Davis/White's Giselle. I don't really love either free dance, and while I can see the creativity behind Carmen, the off-balance type of choreography they have going on doesn't really show off their strengths at all. And by the way, about 3 or 3.5 minutes in.. that rotational lift with her crotch right in his face.. I mean, come on.
Cappellini/LaNotte had the better Carmen in this battle, if it was up to me. No, I wouldn't have placed them ahead of Virtue/Moir, but their performance was much more believable. They always seem to make tiny mistakes that keep them from reaching the top levels. Remember how long they sat in that 11th place or so position at Worlds?
On to Cup of China tomorrow!