Sunday, November 11
Rostelecom Cup - Mens Free Skate
Patrick Chan is just amazing, whether people want to see it or not. His short program, in my opinion, could have been marked even higher components-wise than it was. It's a masterpiece, whether clean or not, and when you compare it to some of the other programs that we saw here, it's infinitely more complex and packed with movements between the jumps. The free skate continues that trend, although I'm not as in love with it yet. He's really addressed his facial expressions and overall understanding of the music this year. If you listen closely when he's skating, you can constantly hear the 'crunching' sound of the ice as he works his edges. They are deep, powerful, and gain speed almost instantly. A few instances of doubling jumps here, but so much better than his previous two competitions. I'm not even a hardcore fan, but I really, really respect how much he pushes himself in his programs and just how far ahead he is of many other skaters.
Takahiko Kozuka is just so traditional in his movements. I say it just about every time I review his skating, but I really could watch him all day. Good for him for attempting two quads at the beginning of his free skate, but it seemed like on this day, having trouble with both made him a little lifeless and 'heavy' with the rest of the program. I always enjoy his choreography but he seemed much more into the program in his first event. US commentators mention that his dad competed at the Olympics in 1968 in figure skating. Did anyone know this? I believe it's the first I heard it. Anyways, both he and Chan earned a ticket to the Grand Prix Final here, joining Tatsuki Machida as the three qualifiers so far.
Michal Brezina is having problems with the quad this year but still has one of the most beautiful triple Axel jumps that I have ever seen. While I wasn't initially thrilled that he retained his Untouchables/Deadmaus free skate, I think it's a whole lot better than the disaster of a short program he has (see my components scoring post for an idea of just how much I don't like it). Spins still need work but I keep seeing slight improvements in them. Remember at Skate America I suggested that if I was his coach, I'd put ALL of his spin elements during the slow section of the program. He loses all of his energy with this free skate during the jump elements towards the end and then the spins and footwork are somewhat lifeless. If he can get those quad Salchows together (or even one of them), he's going to score huge. For now, I still think his components are really generous.
Konstantin Menshov gets all my respect for having the best results of his life this year, and he's 29 years old. He's really making a case, in my opinion, to be the lone entry to Worlds this year from Russia (if Plushenko does not compete), and that comes with added pressure to get more than one spot for Sochi in 2014. The quad toe loops are just SO easy for him, it's insane (and he's 7 for 9 with the attempts internationally this year-- the two he missed were just tripled). Components still entirely too high. 8 and 8.25 for skating skills? 7.50-8 from some judges for transitions? We are watching different programs. The crowd really got behind him here, but he still could improve in all areas aside from the jumps. The doubled triple toe at the end cost him the bronze medal, as he lost out to Brezina by under a point.
Artur Gachinski's movements and his facial expressions tell two different stories to me. I see a lot of flamboyance and confidence in his choreography (very typical Russian arm movements), but his face seems really reserved and almost shy. Even though he skated very well in 2011 to win the World bronze medal, I think it was way too much too soon. His overall skating quality isn't anywhere near the level of many men and the choreography is just too much upper body with nothing much going on with his feet besides basic crossovers. Components all-around were way too high for all of the Russian men here, in my opinion. Three triples in the program and the quads didn't work. I see potential in him, but skating under Mishin isn't going to get him top results unless he's absolutely perfect. I'd like to see him skating a more traditional, slower program that really makes him hold out his moves.
Nobunari Oda, even with the second-best free skate, was only able to move up to fifth place overall after his disappointing short program. He will not qualify for the Grand Prix Final, and likely has an uphill battle in his own country at Nationals; Hanyu and Takahashi still have great shots at also making the Grand Prix Final.
Johnny Weir withdrew after finishing last in the short. He said, "I don't want people thinking that the withdrawal from this competition means that it's the end of my career." I haven't heard yet if he's going to try to skate at Trophee Eric Bompard next week.
at 5:48 PM