Kiira Korpi has never made the Grand Prix Final until now. She landed a tight triple Lutz and a triple flip (although on the outside edge) here which is a big step for her. The loop, on the other hand, is usually one of her most solid jumps but she doubled one and fell on the second this time. Everyone seems to want her to do well (especially the judges!) but I feel myself rotating between loving her to being completely bored with her from season to season. This year is a one where I really enjoy her programs. A well-deserved win and the end of this Once Upon a Time in America program is beautifully choreographed.
I liked Gracie Gold's free skate much more than her short program. I still think looks a little junior with her appearance and choreography, though. Two triple flips in the free skate, I'm not sure if that's the best tactic. They are on outside edges, and combined with the two triple Lutzes she does, she's essentially doing four triple Lutzes here. The flips, even when clean get majority -1's and -2's. This program was really hit-and-miss with the jumps and I'm actually surprised she was as close to Korpi in components as she was. Clean up the entry edge on the flip and she would have won here.
Agnes Zawadzki has such big jumps, and many of them come with very minimal preparation. The program doesn't really do much for me, though. I don't think I've ever been blown away by a Rhapsody in Blue program, though, so it's probably just personal preference. While it seems to have nice pacing, seven of her first eight elements are all of the jump elements with a layback spin thrown in the middle. As I'll mention with Sotnikova, a lot of ladies go this route, but I'd like to see more variety. Definitely a big improvement with her posture and speed, but I much prefer the short program.
Kanako Murakami has strong and crisp choreography-- nice pacing and the jumps are placed well. Footwork in both sequences goes with the music very well. I really enjoy this program and I think it works well for her. As she gets more familiar with it, I think that she will be able to let loose a bit more in the beginning. Here, it was a little tight until the middle section. Things to work on are still her posture and the way she bends forward so much at her waist, and also stretching out the camel spin more. She lost at least 3.5 or so points here by not including an Axel-type jump in her program. The triple toe she did as jump-element seven did not count. She also lost points by not including a second jump on the end of her latter triple flip, as the first one was not done in combination or sequence, either. Sad to say that those technical mistakes were enough to keep her off the podium (.27 away from bronze). It might also be the difference between a ticket to the Grand Prix Final and just missing it.
Adelina Sotnikova, in my mind, is still the one to watch from Russia even with her disappointing showing here and most likely missing out at the Grand Prix Final in Sochi. I wasn't really into this program at Skate America and I'm keeping my opinion here. She's definitely grown in the last year and I feel like her jumps all start to learn immediately after getting off the ice. I am not a fan of the way the jumps are laid out in the program, either. Like many other skaters, there are three in the beginning and then four all in a row right around the half-way point. She has fun with the latter part of the program and Christina Aguilera's wailing, but it just makes the program seem twice as long as it is.
It still amazes me whenever I hear Alena Leonova's age-- still just 21! She's interesting in the sense that there seem to be two extremes for her: either very intently focusing on the choreography and keeping a total stone face, or completely over-doing it with the facial expressions. Really, is there ever any emotion in the middle? I like the program better than last seasons free skate but she just doesn't seem to be feeling it as much this year. I like the moves in the field sequence towards the end, and to her credit, the elements are spread out much better than with Sotnikova's program. For a Morozov effort, I actually somewhat like it. The only jump element that received positive grade of execution was the final 2Axel/2toe combo. Also, to the technical panels credit, they completely downgraded the double toe on the end of her triple flip-- as it was a complete toe-Axel (taking off forwards). It's so weird how that happens with some jumps but with others (3toe/3toe, for example) there's no sign of pre-rotation.