First substitute (replacing the injured Julia Lipnitskaia) Christina Gao of the United States started off the competition. She fell out of her triple toe loop and subsequently did not complete the combination, losing many points. The triple loop later in the program looked tight and two-footed, and was called under-rotated. I felt like she was a little shaky through the entire skate, and she finds herself in sixth place.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva started with a triple toe-double toe in the curve pattern that skaters like Alena Leonova have opted for. She also landed a nice triple loop but there were minimal steps entering the jump. I don't love the tango-themed program with pants, and as with Gao, I didn't really feel a spark with her today. I think I much prefer her free skate, but the half-cantilever move preceding the double Axel was a nice highlight.
Akiko Suzuki of Japan has lost out on two gold medals in the Grand Prix series this year because of poor short programs, but it was not the case here. She started off with a triple toe-triple toe and solid triple flip, and really got into the program from the beginning. However, she did have trouble on the latter part of her flying camel spin when she got off balance and was barely able to hold her half-Biellmann position. The huge difference between the first two skaters and Akiko was that she actually looked like she was ready to fight for the title here, while the first two were just skating like there was no importance in the event. I love the choreography in her Kill Bill program!
Kiira Korpi has been fighting the flu and back pains in the weeks prior to the event, but she was going to fight through it all to compete in her first Final. She was clean on the jumps, completing a tight triple toe-triple toe (first jump under-rotated), triple loop, and nice double Axel. Her Debussy short program has a nice feeling to it and she has some gorgeous basics, but sometimes I wish she would skate with more excitement regardless of the music. Anyways, she has to be very pleased with her segment score of 63.42 points.
Mao Asada of Japan has a different approach so far this year-- no more focus on the triple Axel. She landed a huge double Axel, triple flip-double loop, and triple loop. While the program gives me junior-level 'cutesy' vibes, she seems extremely comfortable with it. It also has content evenly spread throughout, as to where I think her free skate is really empty until after the half-way point. This was a nice skate, and she's in the lead with 66.96 points.
Ashley Wagner of the United States has been the top skater in the Grand Prix series so far this year, and she didn't let down with her Red Violin short program. I like the choreography and especially the layout of elements in the program, but I still think there is room to improve in terms of getting more transitions between the elements. She landed a triple flip-double toe and both the double Axel and triple loop later in the program. She's in second place with 66.44 points and continues to stake a claim as being a favorite at Worlds in a few months.
There are just over three points between first and fourth place going into the free skate. Here's to hoping for an exciting and close battle tomorrow!