Friday, November 2

Russian Sailors: Which Do You Prefer?

Viacheslav Zagorodniuk




Alexander Abt




Sergei Voronov

Lipnitskaia Pre-Rotations

I tried to take screen captures from YouTube to show Julia Lipnitskaia's pre-rotations on her Lutz and flip jumps. Obviously the photo quality isn't going to be perfect, but I think they are good examples of just how much she turns on that toe pick before getting into the air. You be the judge.

On the Lutz, her toe is just leaving the ice about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the first rotation. 
Again on the flip, we see her toe still on the ice around that 2/3 mark. Initially, I thought the flip wasn't as severe.

Cup of China Day One

Short Dance

Pechalat/Bourzat debuted a nice short dance beginning and ending with the Can Can. I thought they looked sharp and really confident for the first time out. Their score here shows that they can be right up there with the Americans and Canadians.

Weaver/Poje.. hmm. Something about this program just points out their weaknesses. They have never been at the same level as many other top teams in twizzles, and I feel like they were really rough with their edges today. Her posture sometimes looks more like she's being dragged along by Andrew than holding her own, if that makes sense. I think their score was a gift.

Bobrova/Soloviev continue to impress me. Their levels were not high during their Yankee Polka sequence and they need to work on it, but I'd still have this easily ahead of the Canadians. Such a secureness and I think they really believe in themselves this season.

By the way, coming up at Cup of Russia, Ruslan Zhiganshin, who is competing here, will face off against his sister Nelli Zhiganshina.


Ladies Short

Julia Lipnitskaia won the short. The Lutz in combination had nearly a full turn on the ice before it got into the air. It should technically be downgraded. The flip also has heavy pre-rotation. You get a picky technical panel, and I'm not quite sure they will let it slide. That aside, I thought the program was alright but it didn't blow me away. Components were rightfully not 7's yet, and I'd probably have them slightly lower.

Mao Asada looks solid and happy this year. I'm glad the triple Axel attempts are gone and she's focusing on a clean skate. While I've never loved anyone skating to this music, I like her program. I don't quite understand or love the dress.

Mirai Nagasu looks a lot different with the change in make-up. I like it. The jumps look powerful, and I love the choreography with the Ina Bauer into steps and the triple loop. She's been doing that for a few seasons and it has great flow. Awesome spins. The music is one of those 'just there' kinda things, but she has fun with it.

I love Kiira Korpi, I love her dress, and the music. She seems to venture into jazzy music a lot, and I don't think it compares to the more lyrical and soft pieces. Nice program, but I think she's always a bit overscored. You can tell the judges are just waiting for her to really get it together.

Zijun Li made an impressive senior debut and she's half of a point out of third place.

Amelie Lacoste is amazing. Her skating skills are out of this world, and she's so powerful. There's no reason her components shouldn't be the same level or even higher than Korpi. I'd have her 4th or maybe even 3rd, probably. More importantly, she's already delivered two clean short programs this year. With Osmond putting the pressure on, she's going to need to keep it up in the free skate and gain some momentum.


Mens Short

Daisuke Takahashi can take any piece of music and make it work. The quad was very obviously short and on two feet, but the Axel was a beauty and it came late in the program. One minor nit-pick that I have always had with him is that he always seems to curl his landings on the combination jumps rather than having any flow out of them. I wish he'd work on it-- he'd get better GOE there.

Tatsuki Machida is a little over a point out of first and has a ten point cushion ahead of 3rd place. If he can remain in the top 2, he has a solid chance for the Grand Prix Final. I still think his components may be a little high.

I knew what Sergei Voronov's music would be as soon as I saw the outfit. It's very similar to the one that Viachelsav Zagorodniuk wore when he skated to the Russian Sailor Dance. He's in a surprising 3rd place right now, and was able to pull off a quad toe/double toe combo. A lot of movements in this program reminded me of Alexander Abt's version, which gets somewhat forgot as he didn't really have much success in his final few seasons.

Adam Rippon cut all of his hair off, and I think that is a good move. Much like Armin Mahbanoozadeh, sometimes I feel like the judges don't quite mark him up to the level he's at because he looks so young. The hair cut helps. I do not understand why ANYONE uses the Jeff Beck version of Turandot, though, and there have been several in the last few seasons. Worst. Version. Ever.

Brian Joubert was a mess. I like the Genesis music, but everything seems to be the same for him now. He tried to be different for one season, but he was totally uncomfortable and he reverted back to his old style, which unfortunately doesn't hold up with the top men in the world. He's one of the few skaters that takes a big hit on his transition mark (almost a point lower than his skating skills/the rest of them), and I would go even lower. I respect his longevity and his passion, but he just doesn't do it for me anymore. How long has he been working with Annick Dumont?


Pairs Short

I was impressed with the attack Pang/Tong had today. Completely different than Skate America where they looked unprepared. I wish throughout all the years they have been around that she would have learned to stretch on the lifts :-)

Kavaguti/Smirnov don't do much for me. We have seen this music on them previously in their Olympic free skate. Even if they aren't my favorites, I think they should have been closer to Pang/Tong. She needs to learn to smile in the kiss and cry rather than pursing her lips all the time to appear moody.

Moore-Towers/Moscovitch have a fun program and she keeps improving her basic skating quality. I like them for their attack and power, and I feel like their programs this season don't really show that off. Watch their Henry V from Skate America last season, for example. Amazing intensity and excitement.

Peng/Zhang were impressive for being a new team. She is much more expressive than Dan Zhang was, and the pairing seems to have drawn the character out in him, as well.

Thursday, November 1

Isn't There Something in the Handbook About This?

I mean, really?
Thoughts?

Better Late Than Never Skate Canada Wrap-Up

Ladies

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.

Men

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.

Pairs

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.

Dance

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!