Figure Skating: From the Boards

SA shorts – ladies, dance November 13, 2010

The last two portions of short programs are complete, and it’s no surprise who’s at the top, at least in on discipline!

The ladies competition didn’t play out quite like I expected. There were mistakes by some who are typically consistent, and clean skates by some who tend to struggle. But I suppose that’s why there are to portions of the competition…the free skates will be very telling!

Once again, Carolina Kostner ended up surprising me with a clean program. No triple-triple, but this girl somehow racks up the points no matter what, so I should have known that, should she skate clean, she’d lead. I know she has the talent, but to me there’s always something missing…something that shouldn’t allow her to have the highest PCS scores of the night! Still, kudos to her for pulling herself together after the past few dismal years. We’ll see how “clean” her long is…

Kanako Murakami is just an absolute joy. Personality galore is putting it mildly for this little firecracker! Her triple toe-triple toe combo was stunning, and her speed was very impressive! She still has some “juniorish” qualities, but the technical elements were there (minus a singled axel). Her musicality is wonderful, and you can tell she just loves being out there in front of the crowd! From the live feed I was watching, the crowd ate it up, too! Typically, skaters transitioning to the senior level don’t skate as well in the long, so we’ll see how her jumps hold up tomorrow.

Sneaking into third was Joshi Helgesson who skated a very clean, very complete short. It wasn’t a “wow” program, or a skate-of-her-life moment, but it was good. She doesn’t have the natural artistry of some of the other ladies, but in a competition riddled with mistakes, she was clean, and that was enough.

Rachael Flatt may be feeling the pressures of expectation. She doubled her lutz (although, good work to tack on the triple toe for the combo!) and you could tell she was really upset with herself for it. That said, her triple flip looked great, as did the double axel. And this may be the most I’ve ever seen her enjoy a program before. To me, there are a few too many stop-and-dance moments, but she certainly has fun with it and it may be her most engaging program yet. She needs to upgrade some technical elements (spins, in particular) to compete with some of the top international ladies, but here she is likely competing against Kostner in the long (now that I say that, Murakami/Helgesson will skate lights out and surprise me!). For Rachael, though, she just needs to keep that determination from the missed lutz in the short and just go after it, no holds barred in the long. She needs to make up 9 points on Kostner, but she is less than a point out of 3rd. She can do it.

Also notable, Caroline Zhang skated to a solid 5th place in the short. She’s going to have to work on some areas other than jump, spin, spiral, spin if she wants to compete with the best in the world, but I was happy to see her skate clean, and with some improvements. Now if she can put out a clean long, maybe this girl could get some confidence back!

Oh, also wanted to congratulate Alexe Gilles on her first triple-triple in competition! Not her best short overall, but still, an accomplishment nonetheless.

Overall results:

1. Carolina Kostner ITA (60.28)
2. Kanako Murakami JPN (54.75)
3. Joshi Helgesson SWE (51.17)
4. Rachael Flatt USA (51.02)
5.  Caroline Zhang USA (50.66)
6. Amelie Lacost CAN (50.55)
7. Mae Bernice Meite FRA (48.27)
8. Elene Gedevanishvili GEO (45.27)
9. Alexe Gilles USA (44.86)
10. Min-Jeong Kwak KOR (44.41)
11. Jenna McCorkell GBR (42.87)
12. Viktoria Helgesson SWE (41.91)

The ice dance competition was all about the second group, really. The final four short dances of the night were just wonderful! I’m not entirely sold on this short dance format, but these four teams made me think that it is possible to blend the compulsory and the choreographed sections seamlessly.

Davis and White were clearly the class of the field. A rare mistake on the twizzles from Charlie had the scores closer than they would have been, but each of their elements is just taken to the next level compared to, well, the rest of the world right now (with Virtue/Moir out, it’s all Davis and White!). Their speed and lines are impeccable, the surety of their lifts is stunning. And they have the maturity to pull of a grown up, elegant Golden Waltz. Beautiful.

Crone and Poirier of Canada have some fabulous elements, like their terrifying upside-down rotational lift right at the start of the program. It’s the first move, and it’s breathtaking! They skated with very nice control, but not the same speed on the twizzles as Davis/White or the Shibutanis. Still, very strong program.

Weaver and Poje, also from Canada, were very comparable to their teammates. In fact, less than a point separates the two. W/P had the technical edge, while C/P outdid them with the program components. But I have no doubt that these two will be battling it out for a long time for Canada (the ice dance event at Canadian Nationals could be the best competition of the entire year!).

Can’t end without some love for the Shibutanis. They may not have the experience or the maturity of the top 3 teams, but the have a spark that is contagious. They skated a bit cautiously, I felt, but that was likely due to some silly mistakes in the SD the last time out. While they avoided those same mistakes, they still had a bobble in the Golden Waltz section that clearly had Maia bothered in the Kiss and Cry. Still, their speed and posture impresses me, and they have an easy about their skating that makes them so watchable. They have a GREAT free dance, so if there are mistakes above them, look out for these two…they want a spot on that podium!

Overall results:

1. Davis/White USA (63.62)
2. Crone/Poirier CAN (60.41)
3. Weaver/Poje CAN (59.48)
4. Shibutani/Shibutani USA (56.46)
5. Riazanova/Tkachenco RUS (55.52)
6. Kriengrairut/ Giulietti-Schmitt USA (52.13) *bonus points for longest combined name ever?!?
7. Coomes/Buckland GBR (49.43)
8. Reed/Reed JPN (44.40)
9. Frohberg/Giesen GER (44.03)

And that’s just the beginning for tonight…Men’s and Pair’s free skates coming up soon!

Follow me on Twitter for live play-by-play and results. And of course, check back here for my complete thoughts (read: more than 140 characters!) after the event ends.

Until then…

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