My weekend consisted mostly of college football. Why am I bringing that up here? Not to dilute the Cup of China talk with football news, that’s for sure! But only to say, I missed much of Saturday’s Cup of China coverage. I’m still working my way through some of the free skates, so I’ll keep my final thoughts short and sweet. Besides, most of us are ready to move on to thoughts of NHK Trophy!
But before we go there…
Ladies — a culture shift?
Carolina Kostner won the event with only four clean triples in the free skate. Mirai Nagasu was second (good girl, Mirai!) with only three clean triples (both lutzes were under rotated). Adelina Sotnikova had five clean triple jumps, including an impressive triple lutz-triple loop combination, but struggled a bit throughout.
Remember the days of seven-triple performances from all the top ladies? I know, I know. I’m going back to the “golden days” of 6.0 to find them. And sure, all the “extras” we get now with the Code of Points are great — the transitions, the footwork, the entrance and exit moves. It’s all great. But not as great as a clean, steady, sure-footed, emotion-packed seven triple masterpiece.
This is the part where I applaud those going after technically challenging programs, and hope we see a few stellar, seven-triple skates from the ladies yet this season!
Carolina Kostner, by the way, did punch her ticket to the Grand Prix Final with her win here. Congrats, Caro!
Man of the hour
Am I the only one who was thoroughly distracted by the knee-deep fog throughout the event? Certainly not. I had to wonder, though, if the skaters were. Perhaps not directly (or visually) by the fog itself, but what about the cause?
Several skaters commented in the Kiss and Cry about how hot it was in the arena. And after the plethora of missed jumps in the men’s event, I wondered if the heat (how strange to say that about an ice skating event!) was making an impact.
Anyway, when the falls were finished, Jeremy Abbott stood tallest, despite flaws (including a tumble on the opening quad toe) of his own. This program seems to need a little polish yet, but when it gets the miles, it will be stunning! Nobunari Oda moved up from fourth after the short to finish just over one point behind Abbott. And in potentially the best performance of the night, Nan Song pulled ahead of Yuzuru Hanyu and Artur Gachinski (both of whom struggled significantly) to win the bronze. With two quads (one a 4-3 combo) and five more triples, he actually won the long program. This kid is something special, I’m going to say it now. If he can get some consistency, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
(Shout out to Jeremy for his short program! That choreo is intense because it is non-stop. It’s fun, it’s creative, it’s original … just like Jeremy. Nicely done Team Abbott!)
From Russia, with love
Remember my gushing about Yuka Kavaguti and Maxim Trankov’s Clair de Lune free skate? …it’s baaaack! And I couldn’t be happier to see a program for another season. It wasn’t flawless (but honestly, what was at this event?), but they earned 122+ which was more than enough to give them the gold.
Surprisingly to me, Wenjing Sui and Cong Han dropped out of medal contention. Perhaps back-to-back events wasn’t good for the young duo? Regardless, they fell out … and their countrymates swooped in.
Zhang and Zhang still haven’t wowed me this year, but they are steady. At this point, that’s more than many teams can say. They did have a fall on a side-by-side triple, but with Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch struggling, it was enough.
The Canadians did, indeed struggle, as they tried to hold off Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig. They *just* did it. Amanda and Mark finished two points from the podium (did I mention I’m in love with their short program? In. Love.)
Pacing the field
My apologies to Russian dancers Bobrova and Soloviev. I fully expected the young Americans to come out, guns blazing, and prove their third-in-the-world status with a win. Instead, it was the Russians who proved a point: they aren’t about to just let the American kids take their spot without a fight. Six of eight elements were called level 4s, and they won by nealy 15 points. Kudos to them.
Maia and Alex Shibutani have some work to do. Perhaps their inaugural senior season placed unfair expectations on their shoulders, but they’ll need to drastically improve on their 90.61 free dance score to keep up with the 100+ scores already from the likes of Davis/White and Virtue/Moir.
Looking forward to watching all these matchups as the season continues … and as programs clean up!
Next on the agenda, NHK Trophy. “See” you there!