The first round of short programs are complete from Portland, and I’m certainly not without my share of thoughts! Both the Pairs and Men’s short programs brought plenty to discuss, but I’ll keep it to a minimum (must work early in the morning, so I can’t be up all night blogging!)
For the pairs, it came down to experience, as expected. Savchenko/Szolkowy ended up in first, despite a rock technical performance (she doubled the side-by-side jump, the side-by-side spins were ugly, and not much was really well done), thanks to the PCS marks. I know I’ve defended the PCS marks in the past, but I’m not sure I see what the judges saw here. I wouldn’t have had them in 1st.
The Canadian dynamic duo of Moore-Towers/Moscovitch didn’t disappoint after their stellar silver medal-winning performance just weeks ago in Canada. They had their own glitches (no one was flawless), but they skated with speed and attack and great performance value. The out-skated the 3rd place team by less than a point in PCS, but had the edge technically.
Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett were almost clean – a little bit of a rough landing on the split 3-twist was the only smudge. This short, complete with throw triple lutz, is a much more mature look for them. I think their transitions need some work, but overall, a very nice skate. They had the best side-by-side spins of the night. (A pet peeve of mine, if you haven’t noticed!)
1. Savchenko/Szolkowy GER (63.99)
2. Moore-Towers/Moscovitch CAN (61.64)
3. Denney/Barrett USA (58.49)
4. Sui/Han CHN (57.53)
5. Stolbova/Klimov RUS (53.73)
6. Zhang/Toth USA (48.13) *solid debut for them!
7. Castelli/Shnapir USA (47.24) *Tough break with some falls, but they have some gorgeous elements!
8. Kemp/King GRB (42.00)
The Free Programs will be telling…who can hold it together and skate clean?
The men’s short program started out pretty clean, including a clean, solid skate from Armin Mahbanoozadeh (2nd highest TES score of the night!) that held up until the 2nd group. But the roughness hit later, as skaters like Stephen Carriere and Shawn Sawyer struggled.
The 2nd group, though, promised to be one of the strongest thus far this season…and it wasn’t quite what it could have been, until the top three!
Oda’s short, well, he’s just so smooth. Where his countryman Daisuke is fast and fabulous, Oda is smooth and subtle. His musicality is spectacular, and when his jumps are on, he’s got some of the best in the business. I feel like all anyone ever talks about is his knees, but the softness of those knees is what makes him so great. He hit what he needed to tonight, and was rewarded for it.
Daisuke is such a showman. His jumps weren’t quite on tonight, but even lacking perfection, he was still great. His footwork is so “In your face” but it’s not just show, it’s an impressive set of steps, and he makes it look easy. Combine that with the typically high PCS scores he rakes in, and he was set.
Then there’s the American, Adam Rippon. And his place in this list is tops when it comes to interpretation. The Japanese men are great, don’t get me wrong, but Adam makes me feel something when he skates. He opens up this whole other world…he lives Romeo and Juliet. I can imagine that every person in that arena took every step of that program with him, because he grabs you from the first note, and holds on until the last. A little mistake on the triple axel cost him, and his footwork may not have gained the level Dai’s and Oda’s did, but he is fantastic, there’s no doubt (and that triple lutz with both hands over his head is to die for).
These three men will dictate a lot internationally this season, and I’m loving watching them duke it out in Portland! Their Free Skates could be the highlight of the entire weekend.
1. Nobunari Oda JPN ( 79.28)
2. Daisuke Takahashi JPN (78.12)
3. Adam Rippon USA (73.94)
4. Armin Mahbanoozadeh USA (67.61)
5. Daisuke Murakami JPN (67.01)
6. Denis Ten KAZ (64.50)
7. Adrian Schultheiss SWE (63.71)
8. Kevin Van Der Perren BEL (62.22)
9. Nan Song CHN (62.21)
10. Stephen Carriere USA (59. 14)
11. Shawn Sawyer CAN ( 56.94)
12. Viktor Pfeifer AUT (55.01)
More shorts tomorrow!