Figure Skating: From the Boards

Ladies Short Program Recap April 29, 2011

We’ve arrived at the ever-prestigious Ladies event (appropriately on the same morning as the also prestigious Royal Wedding!) and the ladies took to the ice with much to prove.

Canadian Amelie Lacoste skated early, but had a nice Worlds debut that kept her in first place until Mae Berenice Miete had her turn. She included a triple-triple combination, followed by lovely a triple loop and double axel. She has a beautiful quality to her skating, and a great combination of power and presence. I was quite impressed!

Kanako Murakami is the young fireball from Japan, and she came out with the usual energy and vivaciousness! She hit a big triple toe-triple toe combination, a solid triple flip, then had an unfortunate step put on the double axel, but her interpretation of this music is impeccable. She has oodles of energy and this program is great for her. I do miss her polka dot dress, though!

The first of the Russian hopefuls took the ice in an unfortunate, clown-like dress. However, as Irina Slutskya sat nervously with clenched fists on the sidelines, Elena Leonova skated a wonderful short program. She, too, hit a triple toe-triple toe, a triple flip, and a double axel. Everything was on cue and strong. The reaction from the crowd didn’t hurt, and she easily took the lead.

Carolina Kostner has the unfortunate reputation of skating poorly and being overly rewarded in the scores. She started out strong with a triple toe-triple toe combo, hit the double axel, then fell on the triple flip. She skates with great speed, but her transitions are average as are some of the other elements. Still, she ended up tied with Leonova after the short. And still, I don’t understand 8s for her components.

Ksenia Makarova followed up her teammate’s solid skate with an impressive one of her own. She, too, hit her triple-triple, the solo triple, and the double axel. She skates this program with confidence, sass, and character. I think it truly suits her! She and the crowd were thrilled with her skate, as well as her 60+ scores.

Then came the final group.

Miki Ando set the bar with a stunning short program. She did go the conservative route, only doing a triple-double combo. But her overall edge quality has improved tremendously. I think this short program has been great for her — it has challenged her artistically and creatively, for sure, but I also see improvements technically since she’s had to make sure things are controlled instead of a bit crazy as she’s used to. It was delightful.

Alissa Czisny has been battling the doubters all season long, proving to herself (perhaps most importantly!) that she was a deserving National champion. Here, she had a minor issue on the solo jump that received an edge call (which I missed) and -1.20 overall on grade of execution. Her spins were all level 4s, but there is some question to the grade of execution marks she received, compared to those who finished above her. Still, a very solid outing for Alissa!

Kiira Korpi has a beautiful short program to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” but she struggled today. She fell early on and the program lacked the pizazz it usually has. She ended up 9th overall.

Rachael Flatt has been eager to skate her new East of Eden short program here in Moscow. It’s a great stride forward for her. However, today, she too struggled. She didn’t do the triple-triple combination, and then doubled the solo jump. The footwork was much more controlled — yet still ever so passionate! — and she carried great speed throughout. However, she struggled in the component marks, too, getting mostly low 7s. She’s about just about 4 points out of the medals right now.

The third Japanese lady happens to be the reigning World Champ. However, Mao Asada has had quite the uphill battle to fight this season. Really working to improve her jump technique, she was a disaster at the beginning of the season. To her credit, she’s looking quite put together now. However, her short was riddled with little mistakes. She stood up on the triple axel, but it was downgraded and severely two-footed. The triple in the combination was also under rotated. She is skating to music far too “big” for her, in my opinion, and while it’s beautiful and sweeping and dramatic, it’s too heavy and it doesn’t do anything for her skating. She ended up 7th overall. — disappointing, since she was quite excited about the rematch with Yuna Kim.

Speaking of Kim, she skated fairly well for her first competition since the Olympics. However, she missed her triple-triple combination, falling out of the first jump. She tacked a double toe onto the next jump to get credit for the combo, but nothing was a seamless as normal. This short program doesn’t have the WOW factor that her last few have, but it’s still quite lovely. The footwork was the highlight. Despite the fact that she didn’t really show anything more than the top three at the time, I expected, somewhat unfortunately, that her reputation would keep her in the lead, despite the mistakes.

Now, don’t get me wrong — Yuna is fabulous. I have such respect for her for coming out and skating with such command in her first competition back. I know she has a massive following and they’re all over the moon about seeing her today. However, 1st place was generous. Her layback, while difficult, does not have the quality to get grade of execution marks higher than Alissa’s. Yet, that’s how the judges scored it. And to have performance/execution marks in the 9s is a little odd, since she was far from flawless. In fact, the “clean-ness” of it wasn’t any more than the top 4.

But, the judges did keep it close. Only .33 separate 1st and 2nd. Only .15 separate 3rd and 4th. There are just over 6 points between the top 6. All that adds up to is a very exciting Free Skate tomorrow!

Here are the complete results:

  1. Yuna Kim (KOR)    65.91
  2. Miki Ando (JPN)    65.58
  3. Ksenia Makarova (RUS)    61.62
  4. Alissa Czisny (USA)    61.47
  5. Alena Leonova (RUS)    59.75
  6. Carolina Kostner (ITA)    59.75
  7. Mao Asada (JPN)    58.66
  8. Rachael Flatt (USA)    57.22
  9. Kiira Korpi (FIN)    55.09
  10. Kanako Murakami (JPN)    54.86
  11. Mae Berenice Meite (FRA)    53.26
  12. Sarah Hecken (GER)    52.73
  13. Cynthia Phaneuf (CAN)    52.62
  14. Amelie Lacoset (CAN)    51.98
  15. Elene Gedevanishvili (GEO)    51.61
  16. Joshi Helgesson (SWE)    50.25
  17. Ira Vannut (BEL)    49.23
  18. Cheltzie Lee (AUS)    48.20
  19. Bingwa Geng (CHN)    47.89
  20. Elena Glebova (EST)    46.28
  21. Jenna McCorkell (GBR) 45.99
  22. Juulia Turkkila (FIN) 45.70
  23. Irina Movchan (UKR)    45.68
  24. Viktoria Helgesson (SWE)    45.40
  25. Sonia Lafuente (ESP)*    44.59
  26. Karina Johnson (DEN)*    42.19
  27. Bettina Heim (SUI)*    37.23
  28. Dasa Grm (SLO)8    36.63
  29. Belinda Schonberger (AUT)* 35.73
  30. Viktoria Pavuk (HUN)*    33.70
*did not qualify for the free skate
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