Since so many were sleeping during the short programs from Beijing, I thought I’d give a quick run down of how things went (minus the Short Dances, as I was sleeping then, too!)
As all season long, the men’s competition has been the most exciting, and these boys did not disappoint!
Amodio and Verner skated will, but they each popped their triple axel. Single axels and no quad = subpar scores at the GPF.
Then it was Nobunari Oda. I’m going to say that he threw down the best short program of the year, bar none. He was flawless! Nailed a quad toe-triple toe combo to get things started, then added a triple axel and a triple lutz like it was no big deal. He had more speed throughout his spins and footwork than I’ve ever seen from him, and it stayed that way for the entirety of his skate. He finished and I honestly just felt speechless. I just said, “WOW!” Nobu came to play, and he nailed it.
Then it was Patrick Chan who’s had a monkey on his back this season, due to his high scores despite mistakes. Well, no mistakes to pick on here! He hit his own quad toe, then did a triple axel and a triple flip-triple toe combo of his own. And let me tell you, I could watch this boy do footwork all day long. I was happy for him after this clean short. As he said in the Kiss and Cry, the jumps weren’t perfect, but they were complete and that was good enough.
Daisuke Takahashi seemed to water down his technical elements a bit – no quad, and a very questionable lutz combo (it was a flip, but since it was intended to be a lutz, we’ll call it a flutz. But, for what it’s worth, there was no lutz in that program). Still, the crowd screamed like little girls at every move, and he maintained his showmanship, despite a little error in the straight line step.
Takahiko Kozuka just looked off here. First of all, his music doesn’t seem to fit him at all, so for me, this program always seems like a stretch. But here he just had no speed, no energy…no confidence. Perhaps he was shaken up by the collision he had with Dai in practice earlier, but he didn’t look himself, that’s for sure. Check out the crash if you’d like…
So, after the shorts the men’s standings look like this:
1. Nobunari Oda 86.59
2. Patrick Chan 85.59
3. Daisuke Takahashi 82.57
4. Takahiko Kozuka 77.90
5. Tomas Verner 65.37
6. Florent Amodio 61.64
The ladies were next, and this, as I’ve said, could have gone any which way!
Rachael skated first, and she didn’t look quite comfortable out there. She cheated and stepped out of the triple flip, and skated unusually slow. She took a big hit in her scores as a reflection of the missing technical difficulty, and the lack of spark didn’t help. This is a fun program for her, but she didn’t seem to have as much fun as usual with it…
Akiko Suzuki is such a delight. She skated a clean performance here, complete with very musical footwork and a wonderful sense of expression. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was good.
She was followed by Kanako Murakami, however, who lit the place up! She’s such a fireball and her energy is contagious. She hit the first triple-triple of the night, as well as a triple flip and a double axel. She skates with such speed, too. That really helps her push through her footwork, which was wonderful.
Carolina Kostner had a good Carolina program. I feel like this program had more tension and drama at the beginning of the season. Maybe I was just tired. Regardless, she hit a triple toe-triple toe combo as well, which was good enough, when paired with the triple loop and double axel, for a season’s best score.
Up next, Alissa Czisny. She was FABULOUS. Clean jumps, ridiculous spins, wonderful sweeping edges throughout the footwork, and artistry that can’t be matched by the rest of the field. She was wonderful. So happy to see her skating so well this season.
It all came down to Miki Ando who was debuting a new program to “The Mission” (which always reminds me of Matt Savoie a la 2006…he had a masterpiece on his hands with this music!). She looked beautiful, and really went after a triple lutz-triple loop combo, but it was very underrotated. Unfortunately, she followed that up with a fall on the triple flip, and a wonky sit spin. It was just too much to recover from, and she ended far below her best score this season.
Here’s how things are set heading into the long programs:
1. Alissa Czisny 63.76
2. Carolina Kostner 62.13
3. Kanako Murakami 61.47
4. Akiko Suzuki 58.26
5. Miki Ando 50.45
6 Rachael Flatt 45.19
Then there were pairs. This competition didn’t really get good until the final two, but it started off with the youngsters from China.
Sui and Han have the “it factor,” that’s for sure. And the crowd was squealing from the first note of music. They hit all of their elements (which are HUGE) and kept up the performance in the process! They came to play.
Iliushechenka and Maisuradze were next, and they, too, skated cleanly. I think their win early this season may have been a bit misleading, though….they’re just not quite ready to compete with the big names in pairs skating.
Moore-Towers and Moscovitch started their program well, but little mistakes crept in, capitalizing in a silly toe-pick fall by Dylan just before their side-by-side spins at the end of the program. It was so far from their best. They ended with a disappointing score, and a lot of ground to make up.
The other Russian team of Bazarova and Larionov skated cleanly. They have a very strong sense of style and line, which is nice to see. Some troubles on the side-by-side spins were evident, but overall, a nice job.
Then it was Pang and Tong – the team people had come to see. They’ve been a bit off their game at times this season, and taking on the Germans for the first time this year, they really needed to lay it all on the line. And they did. There were a few tiny little shaky moments, but otherwise a wonderful skate from the veterans.
Savchenko and Szolkowy had their work cut out for them…but these two don’t strike me as the kind to back down from a fight! They opened with a monstrous throw triple flip that was kind of an “anything you can do, i can do better!” statement right off the bat. They maintained that technical edge throughout, ending with the best side-by-side spins of the night (a pet peeve of mine, but they did it well so I’ll forgive them!), earning a score that put them into first by a mile…or so it seemed. It’s their competition to win or lose, that’s for sure.
They’ll head into the free skate like this:
1. Savchenko/Szolkowy 74.40
2. Pang/Tong 68.63
3. Bazarova/Larionov 63.86
4. Sui/Han 61.49
5. Iliushechkina/Maisuradze 60.06
6. Moore-Towers/Moscovitch 58.73
And for those of you curious about the dance standings, here they are:
1. Davis/White 68.64
2. Pechalat/Bourzat 65.66
3. Hoffmann/Zavozin 55.98
4. Weaver/Poje 55.51
5. Crone/Poirier 54.82
6. Bobrova/Soloviev 54.33
As you can see, there’s a pretty significant drop off between 2 and 3…but the battle for bronze is still very much anyone’s game, as just over a point separate 3-6.
Long programs tomorrow!