Saturday, December 19, 2009

2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships Ladies Preview

Two years ago at this very competition, the talent pool for U.S. ladies figure skating appeared limitless. There was Mirai Nagasu, the winner of the event who scored an eye-popping 70.23 points for her short program. Then there was silver medalist Rachael Flatt, who landed ten triples throughout the course of the competition, bronze medalist Ashley Wagner, who displayed a rare triple lutz-triple loop combination in both programs, and 4th place finisher Caroline Zhang, who skated an excellent long program while still finishing outside of the top three. Unfortunately, an age rule preventing Nagasu, Flatt, and Zhang from competing at Worlds meant that U.S. Figure Skating would be represented by the then immature Wagner, the interminably error-prone Beatrisa Liang, and the confidence-stricken Kimmie Meissner. Not surprisingly, the U.S. ladies failed to earn three berths for the following year's World Championships. The ladies' prospects for the 2009 World Championships hardly looked better, and the result was no different. Alissa Czisny managed to splat her way to win the 2009 U.S. title in controversial fashion, and she would splat once again, twice in fact, in her short program at the 2009 World Championships. Czisny would eventually finish 11th, while compatriot Rachael Flatt fared better to finish 5th; however, no U.S. lady had proven to have the technical and artistic gifts to realistically vie for a medal, and certainly not a gold, on a premier international stage.

Enter Sasha Cohen. The 2006 Olympic silver medalist was supposed to save the day; she was supposed to be the solution to win a medal at the Winter Games, or, at the very least, to ignite increased exposure for the Olympics that would not be existent otherwise. Fans around the world, perhaps delusionally, thought that this comeback effort would be brilliant. Cohen was looking fit on tour. Cohen was supposedly practicing triple-triples. Cohen was going to be coached by task master Rafael Artunian. Cohen was going to rearrange her "Moonlight Sonata" program that was so lauded on tour. Now, Cohen is merely attempting to save her own comeback from amounting to nothing. Cohen is on her third strike now, having withdrawn from TEB and Skate America, but it is still debatable over whether Cohen will even attempt to step up to bat in January.

While Cohen has been out of it, several of the U.S. ladies have been faring much better. Rachael Flatt beat current World Champion Yu-Na Kim in the free skate at this season's Skate America, and Flatt didn't even receive credit for her final spin combination. Ashley Wagner pulled off an impressive 4th place finish at the 2009 Grand Prix Final. Alissa Czisny has even managed to skate several clean short programs this year, and she won a silver medal at this season's Skate Canada. Mirai Nagasu's season has not been brilliant, but even she won the short program at the 2009 Cup of China. Cohen certainly has an uphill climb to make the Olympic team while planning to compete for the first time in nearly four years, but it is still not out of the question for her to do so if she is to miraculously become fit, healthy, and peaked for nationals. Despite what the selection procedure states about Olympic team results being decided on multiple events, all does come down to the results of the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. The training has been arduous; the pressure, intense; but the rewards of earning the right to compete at the Olympics speak for themselves. After January 23rd, 2010, two women will be able to call those rewards their own.

Skaters Featured in Post

Sasha Cohen
Alissa Czisny
Rachael Flatt
Christina Gao
Alexe Gilles

Emily Hughes
Beatrisa Liang
Mirai Nagasu
Ashley Wagner
Caroline Zhang

Red indicates commentary of skater is featured in part one of preview
Blue indicates commentary of skater is featured in part two of preview

Sasha Cohen

Expectations Going In: Cohen enters this event as the true enigma of the championship. The 25-year-old Laguna Niguel, California native’s programs have yet to be shown in their entirety, fans haven’t even seen her jump since a show at the beginning of October, and her injury - tendinitis in her calf - was first thought to be a sham. Cohen's injury was serious enough to keep her out of Skate America, which was host to a very weak ladies field (with the exception of Kim and Flatt). The blog "Aunt Joyce's Ice Cream Stand" reports that Cohen is continuing to struggle in training. Hence, few of Cohen's fans are so hopeful any longer, and it would be surprise to many just to see Cohen board a flight to Spokane in January.

Pros: Cohen's artistry far surpasses that of any of the U.S. women competing today. The two-time Olympian has supreme musicality and interpretation, qualities which were the prime reason why she won the 2006 Olympic silver medal and World Championship medals in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Armed with legs that extend to tomorrow, beautifully shaped feet, and a supple back, Cohen is one of the most limber athletes to ever compete in figure skating, with such flexibility allowing her spin and spiral positions to be nothing short of brilliant. Cohen has long been scored favorably both domestically and abroad, and the judges marked Cohen well at the 2006 Olympic Games, despite her having two major mistakes in her long program. ISU head Ottavio Cinquanta commented upon the announcement of Cohen's return that "Now we can have the Sasha Cohen era as a strong skater with more experience," and that "It is a good decision for the ISU and her." Statements such as those suggest that Cohen is still favored politically even after having not competed for years. U.S. Figure Skating, void of having a star in the ladies event since Cohen's departure from the sport, should feel no differently toward Cohen if she is to skate well in Spokane.

Cons: Cohen is a habitual flutz offender and will likely receive wrong-edge deductions for that jump that she did not receive during and before 2006. Cohen has yet to skate a clean long program at a U.S. Championships, World Championships, or Olympic Games. Cohen's injury situation is obviously dire- or at least it was a month ago - because her old form would have had no issue medaling at Skate America. Recent returns to competition after injury from Patrick Chan, Stephane Lambiel, and Daisuke Takahashi haven't exactly been smooth, and they weren't away from competition as long as Cohen, nor were they making their return to events with as much pressure as what Cohen will face in Spokane. Debuting programs and testing out jumps for the first time with an Olympic team berth on the line will be a daunting task for the 2006 U.S. Champion, who has never been an especially brilliant competitor or jumper, even while at her athletic peak. The other U.S. ladies have had time to test out their programs, get feedback on them, and to rearrange jump layouts if necessary; Cohen, however, has none of those luxuries entering this event.

Outlook: Even though Cohen is planning on making her return to a competition that is essentially an Olympic trials, she really has little to lose if she is to perform poorly here, provided she doesn't risk further injury. Cohen has already competed at two Olympics and won a medal, and a failed comeback won't be the first thing that defines Sasha Cohen to people in the skating community after all of this is said and done. After all, Cohen has commented that she misses the fire and intensity associated with competition, and what better way to experience that than at a national championship in an Olympic year. It is unknown how much or how little Cohen will factor in at this event, or if she will even make an attempt to factor in at all. Cohen would be the first lady in 74 years to make a third U.S. Olympic team, but the 2006 Olympic silver medalist's efforts to make that happen have likely been too little, too late.

Alissa Czisny

Expectations Going In: At last year's U.S. Championships, Czisny was one of four athletes (Flatt, Wagner, and Zhang being the other three) favored to make the world team. Out of the four, Czisny was chosen as the judges' favorite and she became national title in an extremely controversial result. Czisny only managed to land three clean triples in her long program, yet she placed above Caroline Zhang, who landed six triples, in that portion of the competition. USFSA's tactless and peculiar propping up of Czisny backfired when the reigning U.S. Champion continued upon her head case ways, as she fell twice in the short program at the World Championships en route to an 11th place finish. A disappointing outing in L.A., however, didn't seem to hinder Czisny's confidence badly in the least. Czisny won a silver medal at Skate Canada, and while she has met with trouble in several of her long programs this year, her short program has been successful competition after competition. Czisny is not favored to repeat as champion, but she does still make a strong case for the second Olympic berth.

Pros: Czisny is one of the world's most exemplary spinners, spinning faster than a tornado while maintaining immaculate positions. The two-time world team member has always been noted for her artistry and maturity on the ice, and she has two great programs to showcase that this year: a short program to Mask of Zorro and an improved revival of last year's long program to Dr. Zhivago. Her current programs have been well received by the international judges, as evidenced by Czisny having the highest average PCS score in the long program among all of the U.S. women this season. Czisny is one of the few U.S. ladies consistently capable of taking off of an outside edge whilst attempting a lutz jump, and she is also one of just a handful of skaters to ever perform a Charlotte spiral. Czisny has skated near-clean short programs at every competition she has skated in since the 2009 Worlds, and her SP score of 63.52 at Skate Canada has only been bested by current world medalists Yu-Na Kim, Joannie Rochette, and Miki Ando so far this season.

Cons: Czisny was coming into the 2006 U.S. Championships as one of the favorites to claim an Olympic berth after she had qualified to the Grand Prix Final. Instead, Czisny would fall five times throughout the course of the event and finish the event in 7th place. Czisny has taken much effort to improve her jump technique and her consistency in competition, whether it be attending numerous competitions throughout the summer or working on her jumps with Brian Boitano and his former coach, Linda Leaver. Czisny has improved, but her nerves are still bound to fail her at inopportune times. Czisny fell once in her long program at the Rostelecom Cup and twice in her long at Skate Canada, and she had nine triples downgraded between Nebelhorn and her two Grand Prixs this season. Czisny has not received full credit for a triple loop at an ISU event this season, and she does not attempt a triple salchow jump. She also has a tendency to take off of her triple flip from an outside edge, thus incurring an additional penalty.

Outlook: One shouldn't expect the judges to prop up Czisny like they did last year - particularly if Cohen competes - but she has been marked well internationally this season and her always favorable marks at the U.S. Championships should continue to come. The two-time U.S. medalist has been upgrading her jump content, as she has added both a double axel-double axel sequence and a second triple loop to her long program jump layout. She would be wise to scale back her second loop to a double axel, as her triple loop consistency from last season has vanished. Czisny should go for a safer jump layout because her PCS, spins, and spirals will be enough to cushion her over Ashley Wagner, who lacks Czisny's finesse and doesn't have as high a scoring potential in the short program. Czisny's consistency with short programs has been impressive this year, and continued solidity there should allow her to be ranked first or second after that phase. However, Wagner can surpass her in the long program if Czisny's downgrade woes continue. Czisny's chances for actually repeating as champion of the United States are low, as Rachael Flatt certainly has picked up much momentum after Skate America. Czisny should still have an advantage over Flatt with PCS, but likely not as much as before, and Flatt's jumps should have no issue making up any ground on the second mark. Czisny's case for making the team via the second spot is by no means assured; however, she is a strong enough skater to control her own destiny toward securing that ticket.

Rachael Flatt

Expectations Going In: The 17-year-old native of Del Mar, California, won the U.S. silver medal in 2008 and 2009, both competitions of which some felt she should have won. Too young to qualify in 2008, Flatt made her first trip to the senior worlds in 2009, where she took full advantage of others' mistakes to finish in the top five. Her 2009/2010 season started off abruptly with a weak showing at the Cup of China, where she finished 4th, but the disappointment of that event was erased with a strong second place finish at Skate America, where she landed seven triples in her long program and beat Yu-Na Kim in that phase. Although Flatt narrowly missed qualifying to the Grand Prix Final, she does enter her fourth U.S. Championships at the senior level as the favorite.

Pros: Flatt marked a personal best score of 116.11 for her long at Skate America, which is the highest long program mark attained by any American lady this season by over seven points. Flatt attained the score even though her final spin combination did not count, and her long program and overall segment scores from that competition have only been bested by five women thus far this season. The reigning U.S. silver medalist has improved several aspects of her skating for this Olympic season, including her presentation to the audience (best evidenced in her short program to "Sing, Sing, Sing") and her lutz, which received no edge call at Skate America or Cup of China. Flatt has skated cleanly (minus a downgrade on her triple-triple last year) at the last two U.S. Championships and is easily the most consistent jumper among the top American women.

Cons: Flatt has a very awkwardly proportioned body and it hinders parts of her skating such as flexibility and posture. Flatt is routinely criticized for her lack of speed and this weakness continues to be very much on display during her long program to "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini," where Flatt gets little power in her stroking during the later part of the program. Flatt's posture is considerably hunched over, and she thus doesn't have great usage of her upper body as she skates. To top that off, several of Flatt’s spin positions are less than desirable, with her catch-foot spin being particularly poor. In regards to political favor, Flatt has not received the benefit of the doubt at the last two U.S. Championships. In 2008, Flatt went to skate a clean short that contained a triple-triple, but she only finished third in that phase and was over seven points behind Nagasu. In 2009, Czisny's short program scored over five points higher than Flatt's short (with both skating programs with similar content and execution) and Czisny's three-triple long program only placed a little over a point below Flatt's six triple long program at that event. Flatt's PCS score during her long at those U.S. Championships was also only the 5th highest of the night for a basically clean skate, and she scored over seven points back of Czisny on that mark.

Outlook: Flatt was nearly 18 points away from the bronze medal at the World Championships, but the international judges are warming up to her and with Cohen's comeback woes, Czisny's jump issues, and Wagner's inconsistency, Flatt looks to be the only American woman with even a remote shot of contending for an Olympic medal. The judges can arrange the marks how they want to, but Flatt has marked over 116 for a long program when Wagner's best is under 109 and Czisny and Nagasu are struggling just to break 100. Slow, mundane, boring, flat, whatever you want to call her, Flatt is more and more looking like the top American woman and the U.S. judges ought to recognize that and favor her instead of favoring someone else who will diminish the need for a Zamboni. With the results of the 2009 Worlds and Skate America, Flatt's PCS should increase for the U.S. Championships, and she should be looking at a first U.S. title and a ticket to Vancouver if she arrives as fit to Spokane as she has for the past two years at this event.

Christina Gao

Expectations Going In: Gao is not a contender for the Olympic team, but she could make a case for either the Four Continents team or the Junior Worlds team if she continues her rapid improvement under the tutelage of Brian Orser. Gao will be entering her first U.S. Championships on the senior level after finishing third last year on the junior level. She bested Canadian Cynthia Phaneuf during the long program at a competition in Quebec last summer, and she won three bronze medals this year on the Junior Grand Prix circuit, including one of them that was attained at the Junior Grand Prix Final.

Pros: Gao scored personal bests in both phases of competition at the Junior Grand Prix Final, and she completed all of her planned triple jumps successfully. Gao has both a high jump and a quick head spot, which enable her to rotate her triples consistently. Brian Orser's magic as a coach is clearly rubbing off on Gao, who has gone from being the third ranked junior skater at U.S nationals last year to becoming the top U.S. finisher at the Junior Grand Prix Final. Gao has the 7th highest seasons best among the U.S. ladies, and she was credited with landing six triple jumps at the Junior Grand Prix Final, something that Czisny, Nagasu, Wagner, and Zhang have yet to do in an ISU competition this season. Gao can also be lauded for her ability to go outside the box with different music choices: she skates her short program to "Morning Passages" from the film soundtrack of The Hours and her long program is to the music of the ballet "La Fille Mal Gardee."

Cons: Gao is in desperate need of extension in her sit spins, spirals, and choreography. Gao lacks stylistic maturity and is not one to project and express herself to the audience. Her personal best score of 151.47 achieved at JGPF is solid, but even when adding in 3-4 points for a missing spiral sequence (as the juniors aren't currently allowed to have a spiral in their LP) and a possible score inflation, Gao would still have been 10-15 points back of placing in the top three at last year's U.S. Championships with clean skates. It is also worth mentioning that Gao's scores at her opening two Junior Grand Prixs were over 16 points lower than what she attained in Tokyo at the Final. Gao has an egregious flutz, and she doesn't appear to have enough speed coming out of her triple lutz or a strong enough toe-pick assistance on her double toe to upgrade that combination to a triple-triple. Gao will not only need to speed up to challenge the top U.S. women, but she will also need to augment her currently rudimentary choreography.

Outlook: Gao should be extremely proud of her improvement, as she went from scoring a 128.69 at last year's U.S. Championships to a 151.47 at JGPF in less than a year. Gao should have no issue breaking the top ten in Spokane and solid performances like those she produced in Tokyo could even break her into the top six. A strong showing at nationals should get Gao either a Four Continents assignment or a Junior Worlds assignment, the latter of which being more likely. Gao turns 16 in July 2010 and has a bright future ahead of her. She still has much room to grow and improve, but she has come a long way in the last year and should continue to do under the eyes of Brian Orser. Gao is blessed with a very ideal body for a figure skater, and she will hopefully fine tune her technique and artistry in the coming future to let her skating reach its fullest potential.

Alexe Gilles

Expectations Going In: Gilles appeared to be a possible dark horse for an Olympic team after winning the bronze medal at the Junior Grand Prix Final last season and placing 5th at Trophee Eric Bompard this year. Unfortunately, a 10th place finish at Skate America won't do well for Gilles's nerves, nor will it serve her in good stead in the eyes of the judges in Spokane. Gilles has a reasonable chance for a Four Continents or Junior Worlds assignment, but her prospects of making an Olympic or World Championship team are far darker than even a dark horse's.

Pros: Gilles has a charming, elegant presence on the ice, which she best shows off in her beautiful short program to Strauss's Cinderella. Gilles placed 2nd in TES and 4th overall during the short program phase of this year’s Trophee Eric Bompard. Gilles would go on to beat Carolina Kostner, Kiira Korpi, and Elene Gedevanishvilli to finish 5th, and Gilles was just 1.24 points away from taking 4th ahead of compatriot Caroline Zhang. Gilles is one of the only U.S. skaters who are consistently capable of taking off from the correct edge on her lutz, and she did not receive any downgrades for her triple jumps at TEB. Gilles gets nice height on her triples and is also solid in the other elements of her skating, as evidenced by her receiving level threes and fours for all of her non-jump elements (except one) throughout her two Grand Prix events.

Cons: Gilles doesn't have much of a reputation domestically or internationally, and her scores at both TEB and last year's U.S. Championships were both thought to be too low by many fans. Gilles has somewhat erratic jumps and it will be difficult with her 5'7" frame to be able to gain that consistency (just ask Carolina Kostner). Tara Lipinski also commented at Skate America that part of the problem that tends to give Gilles issues on her jumps is her lack of speed going into them. A lack of speed throughout Gilles's stroking and non-jump elements does impede her overall scoring potential sizably. Gilles is somewhat prone to lipping, as she received an "!" edge call for all three of her triple flip attempts at Skate America. Also, Gilles has relatively weak flexibility and has a particularly unflattering Biellmann position (if one could even call it that). The choreography in Gilles's programs is fairly elementary, as are her transitions preceding major elements.

Outlook: Gilles is a talented skater with a creditable sense of musicality and pretty jumps when they are on. However, she has quite a bit of room for improvement and will need to fill that if she is to ever make a World Championship or Olympic team. Gilles is actually fairly consistent with rotating jumps despite being so tall, but her timing has to be 100% precise to land the difficult triples considering her height. Gilles will need to skate faster in all of her elements: stroking, spins, spirals among them. Gilles also needs to add more difficult choreography and a triple loop entering her jump repertoire couldn't hurt either. Despite these weaknesses, Gilles's basics are there. Her edges are decent, she has nice square hips while approaching her flip and lutz jumps, and she does have an innate sense of musicality. Gilles is 17 and should thus have the next quadrennial to make these improvements if she chooses to continue skating. While Gilles may not be in Vancouver, it is very possible that she will be skating at several major competitions to come.

Part two to come shortly.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

2009 Grand Prix Final Ladies Preview

Thousands of Japanese skating fans bought tickets to the 2009 ISU Grand Prix Final with the expectations that they would be witnessing their hometown heroine, Mao Asada, take on her premier rival, Yu-Na Kim, in a pre-Olympic showdown. While Kim easily qualified to this event, Asada's career hit rock bottom at Cup of Russia, where three failed attempts at the storied triple axel lead her to finish off the podium for only the second time in her career as a senior level skater. Asada's absence from the Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo next week is of a particularly sad irony, as the 2008 world champion won this event in that very arena back in 2005 when she was not age-eligible to compete at the 2006 Olympic Games. With Asada out, the Japanese will now look to 2007 world champion Miki Ando, the winner of two Grand Prix events this season, to try and match Kim. Another athlete from the host nation, Akiko Suzuki, will be looking to secure an Olympic berth at the Grand Prix Final, which would be quite an inspirational culmination to a career that was stagnated by Anorexia five years ago. Alena Leonova will be making her first trip to the Final and could be looking at a podium finish if her consistency remains intact. The only United States representative for the ladies in Tokyo, Ashley Wagner, is seeming to provide some light at the end of the tunnel for the shallow state of U.S. ladies figure skating. However, Kim's top rival won't be Suzuki, it won't be Leonova, it won't be Wagner, and it may not even be Ando. The international judges have not always sided with the five-time Canadian champion Joannie Rochette, but they are appearing to favor her immensely now, late in her career, to become the first Canadian ladies medalist at an Olympic Games since Elizabeth Manley in 1988.

While the Grand Prix Final is not life or death, there is still much to be gained and much to be lost at this event. For Kim, another less than desirable performance could cause some of her immense favor from the judges to diminish. Despite winning Skate Canada, Rochette has not skated with enough quality this season to realistically challenge the likes of Kim. Ando and Suzuki are both battling one another to become the highest placing Japanese skater, and thus, a winner of an Olympic berth. Leonova is set to be on her nation's Olympic team, but needs a strong competition here to even be considered as a remotely realistic prospect for a medal in Vancouver. It is certainly advantageous for Wagner to be the only American here, but having just barely placed ahead of the top two finishers from last year's U.S. nationals, Alissa Czisny and Rachael Flatt, Wagner's opportunity for receiving one of the two Olympic berths allotted for the American ladies in Vancouver is by no means assured. When also factoring in the potential return of 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen, Wagner needs nothing less than a strong showing here to further prove her worth of an Olympic berth. The Grand Prix series up to this point has been unpredictable enough, and with six of the top female figure skaters in the world skating in one event, that unpredictability shouldn't die off. With much to gain and much to lose, the skaters will be demanded to produce their competitive mettle to wish for a medal at this competition. This event could ultimately foreshadow what is to occur at the biggest outing of these athletes' lives, the XXI Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada.

The Finalists

Miki Ando (Japan)
Yu-Na Kim (South Korea)
Alena Leonova (Russia)
Joannie Rochette (Canada)
Akiko Suzuki (Japan)
Ashley Wagner (USA)

Miki Ando (Japan)

Top Achievements: 2007 World Champion, 2009 world bronze medalist, Four-time Grand Prix finalist, 2009 NHK Trophy Champion, 2009 Rostelecom Cup Champion, 2006 Skate America Champion, 2006 Olympian, 2004/2005 Japanese champion

Pros: With Asada's demise, Ando has become the current top female skater in Japan, having won both of her Grand Prix events this season. Lauded for her high, secure jumps, the 2007 world champion is the only female skater to have ever landed a quadruple jump in competition. Ando is capable of landing triple lutz-triple loop combos, a jumping pass more difficult than the triple lutz-triple toe Yu-Na Kim is currently attempting, and Ando has also avoided receiving an edge call on either her lutz or her flip this season. Ando has shown improved artistry in her programs for this year, with a short program to Mozart's "Requiem" and a Cleopatra-themed long program to the soundtracks from both the television series "Rome" and "Marco Polo." The judges have been marking Ando's PCS marks favorably this year, and her artistic score has been consistently higher this season than it was during her Grand Prix events last year.

Cons: Ando's improvement artistically still does not make her a true "artist" on the ice, as she lags behind several of the top female skaters in musicality, posture, and extension. Ando's primary resource for boosting her score is jumps, but those haven't been especially brilliant since last season's worlds. Her lone attempt at a triple-triple so far this season ended with both a faulty landing and a downgrade on the second jump. Ando has also had issues with her double axel-triple toe loop combination, both falling and under rotating the pass at the Rostelecom Cup and nixing the combo entirely when she struggled with it during the women's free warm-up at NHK. Particularly with the intense media scrutiny in Japan, Ando will have much more pressure placed on her at this event being the top female Japanese skater, a position she has little experience filling. Ando has historically not done well at the Grand Prix Final: While she has qualified four times, she has never brought home a medal.

Outlook: Ando is one to perform at her peak whilst the underdog, and with Asada out of the Grand Prix Final, entering the competition as Japan's premier female skater will bring about all sorts of new challenges for the two-time world medalist. Perhaps these challenges are what Ando is most looking forward to overcome, however, as she has commented that she absolutely wants to erase the disaster that was her 15th place finish in Torino. Although Ando did win both of her Grand Prix events, that accomplishment is not especially great when considering that her scores at Rostelecom and NHK were the two lowest winning scores throughout the six events, and her score of 162.55 at the latter event would not have even medaled at either Trophee Eric Bompard or Cup of China. However, perhaps, that is good news for her. Ando has not often shown to be capable of staying at her peak for an extended period of time, and poor showings at this event in 2006 and 2008 did not negatively impact her showing at the World Championships for those seasons in the least. Claiming an Olympic berth here would be ideal, and if Suzuki doesn't regain her Cup of China form, Ando should have no issue doing so. Considering Suzuki's poor showing at Skate Canada, and Ando's victories over Leonova and Wagner at Rostelecom and NHK, Ando appears destined for her first Grand Prix medal, but Ando winning this competition is about as likely as Sarah Palin disappearing from the public eye.

Yu-Na Kim (South Korea)

Top Achievements: 2009 World Champion, 2007 and 2008 world bronze medalist, 2006 and 2007 Grand Prix Final Champion, 2008 and 2009 Skate America Champion, 2006 and 2009 Trophee Eric Bompard Champion, 2009 Four Continents Champion, 2008 Grand Prix Final silver medalist, 2007 and 2008 Cup of China Champion, 2007 Cup of Russia Champion

Pros: The Roger Federer of ladies figure skating, South Korean superstar Yu-Na Kim owns both the current World title and the world record scores in the short program, free skate, and overall segment score. She achieved her world record free skate score of 133.95 at the recent Trophee Eric Bompard, where she completely jettisoned her triple flip and had four of her five non-jump elements only graded at a level three. Kim has been undefeated since this event last year, and the last time any of the 2009 Grand Prix Final qualifiers beat Kim was when Miki Ando won her world title in March 2007. Kim has breathtaking jumps, including her signature triple-triple combinations, and is the only woman to have ever received at or above +2 GOE on a jumping pass under the code of points in international competition. Kim also demonstrates commendable speed and interpretation in her two current programs: a flirtatious, scintillating short to the medley from the "James Bond" movies, and a polished, elegant long to Gershwin's "Piano Concerto in F."

Cons: Kim had one of her worst long programs in memory at her most recent competition, Skate America, losing that phase of the event to Rachael Flatt, a skater whose score at the 2009 World Championships was a staggering 17.94 points off of securing a medal. Kim had far less pressure and outside competition than she will in Tokyo or in Vancouver at Skate America, and her overall score at that event would not have medaled at last year's worlds. Kim has a colossal amount of pressure from the people of her homeland and she was seen in tears after performing her short program at last year's Grand Prix Final (held in South Korea), where she popped open her triple lutz. The current world champion has also struggled with maintaining her health for key competitions. Kim was ill for this event last year, and entered both the 2007 and 2008 World Championships battling a back injury. At all three competitions, Kim missed the gold medal at stake. Kim has not landed seven clean triples in a single program since 2007 Cup of Russia, and has not even done six cleanly since 2008 Skate America. Kim has substandard positions on her layback, Bielmann, and spiral positions, and she appears to be no longer keeping the triple loop jump in her repertoire.

Outlook: Kim picked the perfect competition to have a poor long program at Skate America. She seemed relieved, albeit disappointed, in the kiss and cry following the skate, which perhaps means that she just needed an event to get a bad skate out of her system, much like last year when she had a shaky outing at GPF only to win Four Continents and Worlds thereafter. If Kim goes clean, or close to it, she will simply be untouchable for the other women. Kim has broken 76 in the short program three times, whereas the highest score ever posted by any of her competitors at this event was a 70 by Rochette. Adding 5.5 points for the lost triple flip to her Trophee Eric Bompard long program score, Kim would be looking at a mark near 140. Add in some positive grades of execution for that element (during her short program at Skate America she received +1.8 GOE), a few more level fours for her spins, and a slight increase to her PCS score, Kim could be looking at a LP score near 145 if she goes absolutely clean. Taking Asada's score from WTT where she had an excellent free and adding back the points she lost for two downgraded jumps (plus some additional positive GOE) her score "only" hovers around 137. Kim has this gold medal and, most importantly, the Olympic gold medal, in the bag if she skates near her full potential. Winning this event will be a help to Kim's confidence and will win her a medal and some prize money, but in the end will count for hardly anything. If Yu-Na Kim is able to enter the Olympic Games in February in prime physical condition and a confident mindset, her name will be plastered adjacent to 1 on the scoreboard. There will simply be no way for anyone to catch her, not even a hometown boost for Rochette, not even three triple axels for Asada.

Alena Leonova (Russia)

Top Achievements: 2009 NHK Trophy silver medalist, 2009 Cup of Russia bronze medalist, 2009 Finlandia Trophy Champion, 2009 World Championships-7th place, 2009 World Junior Champion, 2009 European Championships-4th

Pros: The vivacious Russian is continuing to build off of her breakthrough last season with a win at the Finlandia Trophy and two medals on the Grand Prix circuit, which enabled her to qualify to this competition for the first time. Leonova finished a strong 7th at her first World Championships last year, and is noted to be one of the more consistent jumpers in the world today. Leonova has a full arsenal of triples (besides the axel) and has upgraded her jumping content from last season with a new triple toe-triple toe combination. Leonova is a fan favorite for her spunky personality on the ice and shows that off to its best with a short program to the Russian folk song "Barynya" and a long program to the soundtrack from "Chicago." Leonova could gain political favor at this event, as she is the only European lady to have qualified.

Cons: Leonova has the lowest average short program score from the Grand Prix series among the six qualifiers, and has the second lowest average PCS score from the long program. Also, Leonova's seasons best scores in the long program and overall segment total are the lowest among the six qualifiers. Leonova has unsatisfactory extension and her spins are far from brilliant. Leonova received edge calls for each of her four lutzes that she did throughout her two Grand Prixs, and she has failed to complete her new triple-triple combination after four attempts in competition thus far. Although Leonova always sells her programs, there is little else in her skating that supports her program components score. Her transitions are relatively choppy and her choreography is not the most difficult; therefore, the judges have yet to give her superior marks in that area.

Outlook: Leonova may be lacking in polish and refinement, but one thing she has that cannot be said for any of the other top European ladies is consistency. Gedevanishvilli, Korpi, Kostner, Lepisto, and Poykio struggle with varying degrees to consistently land their jumps and to avoid meltdowns at major events. Kostner is absolutely the top European lady at her prime, but that she has been not since her meltdown in Los Angeles and 6th place finishes at Trophee Eric Bompard and Cup of China. If Kostner doesn't get her act together, Kiira Korpi may end up being Leonova's top rival for a European title if Korpi's over scoring from Cup of China continues. This is where the importance of this event comes to Leonova. A strong placement here, and especially a podium finish, should not only help Leonova's confidence, but it also should give her a boost from the judges come Europeans to vie for the gold medal. Leonova is doubtful to reach the medals stand in Vancouver, but strong showings here and at Europeans should help the 19-year-old Leonova to stay competitive and to fend off a potential influx of upcoming Russian ladies skaters in the next quadrennium.

Joannie Rochette (Canada)

Top Achievements: 2006, 2008, and 2009 Skate Canada Champion, 2009 World silver medalist, 2008 and 2009 Four Continents silver medalist, 2005-2009 Canadian Champion, 2004 and 2008 Trophee Eric Bompard Champion, 2006 Olympic Games-5th, 2004 Grand Prix Final bronze medalist

Pros: Rochette is one of the best examples of skaters who combine the technical and artistic aspects of skating seamlessly, as her skating possesses strong, high jumps, and creditable musicality and choreography. On the technical side, Rochette not only avoids the wrong edge deductions on the lutz and flip, but also rotates her jumps consistently, and she is rewarded for being one of the few female skaters to consistently demonstrate those merits of fine jumping technique. On the artistic side, Rochette has strong skating skills and agility of the blade, and has augmented her expression and artistry over the past several seasons. Rochette has taken much effort into improving her ability to peak under pressure, whether it be touring with Stars On Ice or announcing publicly her intentions of winning a world championship medal last season. Having been successful in her endeavor to win a world championship medal last year, and having just recently won Skate Canada by over 20 points without skating at her optimum, Rochette has proven that she is entirely in the running to win Canada's first Olympic medal for ladies figure skating in over two decades.

Cons: Rochette had a meltdown during her short program at Cup of China, doubling the front end of her combination and leaving out the second jump entirely. She later went on to single her axel, finishing 7th in that phase and 3rd overall. The short program was what cost Rochette a medal at this event last year, and she also finished behind Cynthia Phaneuf (who had a fall) during the SP phase of the 2009 Canadian Nationals. Rochette has hopes of doing a triple-triple combination in her short, but has not once completed the element successfully. Rochette delivered a superb free skate at the Japan Open, a competition of little significance, but her condition went down at Cup of China and Skate Canada, where she executed weaker free skates that scored around 15 points lower than what she received at an inconsequential competition early on in the year. Rochette's potential scoring ability when going clean is considerably less than that of Kim or even Asada. Rochette's score for a clean, seven-triple long program at last year's Canadian Nationals was a 131.77, over two points lower than what Yu-Na Kim received in France for a five-triple program. Even when adding a hypothetical triple lutz-triple toe combination, Rochette's SP score at Skate Canada would still only be 72.7 (give or take depending on GOE and PCS), which is over three points lower than the personal bests of Asada and Kim.  These scores, of course, are given in the event where Rochette is to do a clean long program, something she has never done internationally, and when she is to do a triple lutz-triple toe combination in the short, something she has never done.

Outlook: Rochette is faced with a dilemma off the bat. On one hand, she needs a triple-triple in the short to stay within striking distance of Kim for the gold medal, but she has every potential to still be in the running for an Olympic podium spot, but not necessarily gold, with a triple-double combination. This is where the Grand Prix Final comes in handy. It will be the ideal event for Rochette to test out the triple-triple combination, and to see how her rivals, specifically Kim, are looking. Rochette would obviously enjoy a podium finish here, and two strong showings should easily do the trick, but the five-time Canadian champion has not been especially impressive thus far this season. Her Cup of China performances were uneven, and she had a shaky long at Skate Canada. Thus, it is possible that Rochette may perform below her optimum at this event as well, but even a poor outing shouldn't diminish Rochette's reputation entering the Games, as she has plenty of that already in the bank from her world silver last year. Both the Grand Prix Final and Canadian Nationals will be events where Rochette won't have much to lose, but she will still have much to gain. An international event against world class skaters and a national event at home should be the ideal combination of competitions to get Rochette fit for Vancouver.

Akiko Suzuki (Japan)

Top Achievements: 2009 Cup of China Champion, 2009 Four Continents Championships-8th, 2008/2009 Japanese Nationals-4th, 2008 NHK Trophy silver medalist, 2008 Finlandia Trophy Champion

Pros: Suzuki has made a resilient comeback from Anorexia to become one of the top female figure skaters in Japan. 2009 Skate Canada notwithstanding, Suzuki has been a fairly consistent competitor throughout the last two seasons and has shown to be especially consistent when skating in Asia. At Cup of China, Suzuki scored the second highest free skate score of this year's Grand Prix series en route to her first career Grand Prix victory. Suzuki finished 4th at last year's Japanese Nationals, a placement deemed too low by several fans who thought that she was robbed of a podium finish because of an unfairly downgraded triple salchow in her long program. Suzuki has a full arsenal of triple jumps (besides the axel) and skates with fervent passion and speed. Suzuki generally skates her best when she is competing in or near her home country, as last year's NHK Trophy, Japanese Nationals, and this year's Cup of China have shown. Suzuki is the only skater competing at this event who actually trains in Japan, let alone Asia.

Cons: Suzuki has never been a judge's favorite, in part due to her weaker transitions and extension. Suzuki's average PCS score during the Grand Prix for her long program is the lowest among the six qualifiers, and she is prone to receiving deductions for turning onto an inside edge for her lutz. Suzuki is not an especially strong spinner, and her spirals leave much to be desired as well. Suzuki is lucky just to have qualified to the Final after a poor outing at Skate Canada, where she only landed three clean triples (one marked down by an edge call), but she survived to stay in the top five after epic meltdowns from Cynthia Phaneuf and Caroline Zhang surfaced. Even with two of her best performances, Suzuki was only able to place 4th at Cup of China during the short program phase, and her winning long program had a substandard PCS score of only 52.56. Suzuki was the lowest rank qualifier to this event, so she will fulfill the unenviable task of skating first in the short program, a start position often destined for lower marks.

Outlook: Suzuki would want nothing more than to snatch her Olympic berth in Tokyo for the Grand Prix Final. Miki Ando should be favored enough at Japanese Nationals to get a medal through PCS even if she doesn't skate well, such as what happened last year at Suzuki's expense. The same cannot necessarily be said for Suzuki, however, particularly after her poor showing at Skate Canada. Fumie Suguri may not be performing well so far this year but one absolutely shouldn't count her out: in 2005, she placed 8th at Skate Canada and went onto win Japanese Nationals under an even deeper field than what will be in store at this year's competition. Yukari Nakano at her 2008 worlds form should also have no issue finishing ahead of Suzuki and claiming an Olympic berth. Suzuki always seems to perform well at home, however, and if she can regain her magic from Cup of China she could be looking at a podium finish and an Olympic berth coming from this event. Although, without the judges on her side, Suzuki will need to take the hard way to the medals stand.

Ashley Wagner (USA)

Top Achivements: 2009 NHK Trophy bronze medalist, 2009 Rostelecom Cup silver medalist, 2007 and 2009 World Junior Bronze medalist, 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships-4th, 2008 World Championships qualifier, 2008 U.S. bronze medalist, 2007 Trophee Eric Bompard bronze medalist

Pros: Wagner has always been a creditable jumper; however, since changing coaches to Priscilla Hill, the 2008 U.S. bronze medalist has matured her presentation immensely and shows off that improvement this season with a dramatic short to the soundtrack from "Once Upon a Time in America" and an elegant long to "Polovtsian Dances." Wagner won the long program at last year's U.S. Nationals with a program that only contained five triples, and she could have won the overall title were it not for a faulty short program. Wagner scored personal bests for the long program and overall segment total at the recent Rostelecom Cup. The 2008 U.S. bronze medalist takes full advantage of the rule allowing 10% bonus to be awarded for jumping pass after the midway point of a long program, as she does a triple loop-double axel sequence, a triple flip-double axel sequence, and a triple lutz deep into the program. A well-rounded skater, Wagner demonstrates both excellent speed and refined positions throughout her skating.

Cons: Wagner has an egregious flutz, and she has yet to not receive an edge call on that particular element this season. Wagner's triple-triple combinations seem to have disappeared, and she doesn't look capable of adding a triple toe loop as a combination jump, as she has a tendency to toe-axel her double toes (something she had a downgrade on at the 2009 U.S. Nationals). While Wagner is able to execute difficult jumps after the halfway point of a program, her stamina goes out the door when straight line footwork is concerned. Her straight line step sequence at the conclusion of her long program is fairly lethargic and makes for a poor concluding impression of her performance. Wagner has proven very susceptible to nerves: At last year's U.S. Nationals, she was completely in the running for a U.S. title, but an error littered short program prevented any hope of that happening. Wagner was only 16th at her first World Championships in 2008, and a shaky free at the NHK Trophy prevented her from winning a championship that was entirely within her grasp.

Outlook: The first order of business for Wagner is to replace her triple lutz in the short with a triple loop. The loop has been a solid jump for her this year and would actually get her more credit than a lutz with an "e" edge call, or even an "!" call. Wagner rearranged her jump layout several times last season, and appears to be doing the same this year as well. Hopefully, she won't be changing her jump layout too much more, but there are still some potentially easy switches of jumps in her long program that could be beneficial to her. Wagner has a fairly competitive jump layout for the long already, but her flutz at the end with an "e" call is going to get her about the same credit as a clean triple toe loop, so she would be wise to make that change as well. For a podium finish here, Wagner is going to rely on other skater's mistakes because she does not possess consistent triple-triple combinations or the high program component scores given to Kim, Rochette, and Ando. However, even just skating well and improving upon her personal bests will be a tremendous confidence boost for Ashley and will give her a leg up in the tight race for the two Olympic berths when U.S. Nationals arrive. Wagner has been scored well domestically for the last two years, and a strong finish here will help her create her own destiny toward making that Olympic team.


Gold: Yu-Na Kim (South Korea): Yes, she had one of her worst long programs ever at Skate America, but it has to be noted that every other top ladies skater has had, at the very least, a mini-meltdown in some shape or form this year. Kim has the top two overall segment totals this season and has proven to have a fairly comfortable margin for error even over her toughest adversaries.

Silver: Joannie Rochette (Canada): Rochette has the judges on her side and just needs those jumps to be the same. A couple of less than desirable skates throughout the Grand Prix should invigorate Rochette to skate with solidity here. A peaked Rochette should have no issue beating Leonova, Suzuki, or Wagner, even if they skate at their absolute best, and the Grand Prix Final has not historically been a great competition to Miki Ando, who has not looked so superior to Rochette thus far.

Bronze: Miki Ando (Japan): She never peaks for this event, but because of the huge advantage she will have on PCS over Leonova, Suzuki, and Wagner, Ando should be on the podium if she just skates decently. Competing at home and as the top ranked Japanese female could give Ando a slight boost to her marks as well, but on the flip side, Ando will be bound to feel more pressure at this competition, which could negatively impact her skating.

4th: Akiko Suzuki (Japan): She generally does well at home and can probably bounce back at least somewhat from her poor Skate Canada outing, but she simply doesn't have the polish nor the reputation behind her to give her a medal against far more seasoned skaters, unless of course she skates lights out.

5th: Alena Leonova (Russia): Her overall score from Rostelecom and NHK was higher than that of Wagner's, and Leonova did much better at her first worlds (7th) than Ashley did at hers (16th). Both will be making their debut here, but Leonova has slightly more momentum to ride off of from her silver medal at NHK.

6th: Ashley Wagner (USA): She should have an advantage on Leonova and Suzuki with PCS, but being that this is a major international event, it is possible that Wagner may succumb to pressure and not perform at her best. It is imperative for Wagner to deliver two quality skates, as she can often deliver one great program in a major competition, but not both.

That is all.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

2009 Skate Canada Ladies LP Live Commentary

Start Order

Warm-Up Group 1

11 40.48

10 45.50

9 47.48

8 53.10

5 Caroline ZHANG USA
7 54.58

Warm-Up Group 2
6 55.10

5 55.58

4 55.74

3 56.34

10 Alissa CZISNY USA
2 63.52

1 70.00

5:58 CT Judges being announced.
Warm-up group 1 on ice.
Arena appears to be nearly full.
Helgesson-decent 3S
Hecken-doubled 3T
Suzuki-good 3Z
Suzuki-good 3F
Zhang-3F+2T-landed (mule kick has gotten worse)
Zhang is in blue
McCorkell-good 2A
Warm-up concluded.

Joshi Helgesson (Sweden)
Sit spin-not low enough
2A-little off on landing but clean
3T-likely UR
3T-fall; will only be counted as a sequence
Spiral sequence-dreadful extension
2A+2T-landed; looked as though she had a 2R planned but didn't have enough speed to try it
Whoever cut the music should be shot
Footwork simplistic
Occasional moments of energy but movement doesn't match music. Extremely poor transitions.

TES: 32.85
PCS: 36.08
Ded: -1.00
Total: 67.93
Grand Total: 108.41

Sarah Hecken (Germany)
3T+3T-slight cheat on 2nd jump but landed
1R-long, slow entrance
Slow combo spin
Spiral sequence-slightly better than dreadful extension
3S-leaning to the right; two-foot; fall out; likely UR
Good energy in footwork but no involvement of entire body during step sequence
Good energy but relatively poor skating skills and transitions. Choreography is bland but she sells what she has.

TES: 45.50
PCS: 37.98
Total: 78.90
Grand Total: 124.40
Rank: 1

Jenna McCorkell (Great Britain)
3Z-fall; likely UR
Deathdrop to sit spin to pancake-decent
Spiral sequence-slightly better than dreadful extension
3F-both hands down
3T-big UR; leaning way to the left in air
Straight line step sequence-slow; looks very tired
Good speed in catch foot layback in spin combo
Her Cirque LP from last year was much better than this program. Not very difficult choreographically and her movement was very lethargic towards the end.

TES: 37.98
PCS: 39.04
Ded: -1.00
Total: 76.02
Grand Total: 123.50
Rank: 2

Akiko Suzuki (Japan)
3Z+2T+2R-good; a bit of a toe-axel on 2T
1A+3T-second jump looked UR
Spiral sequence-adequate
3F-nearly fell
3Z-stepped out
Flying camel to catch foot-a little slow; good centering
Straight line step sequence-good speed and expression
Flying camel to sit spin to sideways layback-decent
Carried artistry of the program well despite the many jump errors. Good speed and have transitions have improved but her consistency with hitting jump just vanished after the first pass.

TES: 47.98
PCS: 46.64
Total: 94.62
Grand Total: 147.72
Rank: 1

Caroline Zhang (USA)
2A-landed; no speed entering jump
Sit spin to pancake in spin combo traveled
3F-fall; will only be counted as a sequence
3R-slight cheat but landed
3S(slight cheat)+2T-landed
Circular step sequence-slow
Spiral sequence-a tad slow but positions are stunning
Excellent layback to pearl to Bielmann
Extremely flat program choreographically that goes nowhere. There was a particular section before the second 3F which had no choreo, no footwork, no arm movements or anything of that nature. Very poor skate.

TES: 39.32
PCS: 40.56
Ded: -2.00
Total: 77.88
Grand Total: 132.46
Rank: 2

Warm-up group 2 on ice.
Lepisto-good 3S+2T+2T
Czisny-good 3F
Rochette-landed (I believe) a 3S
Nagasu-3Z(slightly UR)+2T-landed
Rochette-fall out on 3F
Lepisto-popped lutz
Warm-up concluded.

Amelie Lacoste (Canada)
3R-good height; turned out
3F-turned out
3Z-landed; possible UR
3T-awkward landing but held on; possible UR
Spiral sequence-adequate
Straight line step sequence-good use of whole body
Spins decent but a tad sluggish throughout
Good speed in final spin
Finished after music
Transitions aren't extremely complex but overall a pleasant presentation from her. Good musicality.

TES: 40.23
PCS: 46.80
Ded: -1.00
Total: 86.03
Grand Total: 141.13
Rank: 2

Cynthia Phaneuf (Canada)
3T+2A+SEQ-great 3T; fall on 2A
3Z-fall; possible UR
3R(very forward; possible UR)+2T-landed
Deathdrop to sit spin to pancake-good
Spiral sequence-adequate
3Z-fall; UR; will only be counted as a sequence
Straight line step sequence-nice movement and musicality
3T-landed but will receive zero points because it was the third type of triple jump repeated in the program
This program is lovely when the jumps are on par like they were at the 2009 Four Continents Championships but if falls flat when jumps are not on, as was the case tonight. Disaster.

TES: 34.90
PCS: 46.00
Ded: -4.00
Total: 76.90
Grand Total: 132.48
Rank: 3

Laura Lepisto (Finland)
3Z-landed; possible UR
3R-very forward on landing
Deathdrop to sit spin to pancake-good
Sideways layback to catch-foot layback-good
2A-turned out
Spiral sequence-adequate
Nice energy in circular step sequence
Final spin combo-good speed but traveled slightly
She is really coming into her own as an artist, but her jumps are regressing. Good program with great expression and speed.

TES: 48.62
PCS: 54.16
Total: 102.78
Grand Total: 158.52
Rank: 1

Mirai Nagasu (USA)
3Z+2T+2R-slight flutz; little speed coming out; landed
2A(a little slow)+2T-landed
3F-very nice with steps coming before it
Nice sit spin to pancake
Layback-(good position but traveled) to catch-foot layback and Bielmann (very good positions but Bielmann traveled slightly)
Spiral sequence-excellent
3Z-fall out; slight cheat; flutzed
3R(possible UR; turned out)+2T-possible UR
Circular step sequence-Good speed but expression is (oddly) non-existant
Good final spin
Much improved speed but presentation was a bit better at COC. Very nice posture and good flow in-between elements.

TES: 51.69
PCS: 48.80
Total: 100.49
Grand Total: 156.83
Rank:  2

Alissa Czisny (USA)
3R-landed but UR
2A+2A+SEQ-a little slow but solid
3Z-fall; likely UR
3T-landed but slow coming out
Spiral sequence-very nice
3R-fall; possible UR
Step sequence-speed is average; good use of whole body
Final two spin combos excellent
Presentation of program is very mature and actually has improved somewhat from last season. Unfortunate falls broke flow of the program but decent effort.

TES: 46.57
PCS: 55.44
Ded: -2.00
Total: 100.01
Grand Total: 163.53
Rank: 1

Joannie Rochette (Canada)
3Z+2T+2R-good; slight bobble of 2R
3F-fall out; good steps preceding it
3R-hand down
Spin combo-good
Spiral sequence-a little wobbly; extension adequate
Good energy in circular step sequence
Finished slightly after music
Not as on top of the music and sharp choreographically as she was when she debuted this program at the Japan Open. Still, excellent skating skills and transitions.

TES: 50.02
PCS: 62.88
Total: 112.90
Grand Total: 182.90
Rank: 1

Final Standings
1 Joannie ROCHETTE CAN 182.90
2 Alissa CZISNY USA 163.53
3 Laura LEPISTÖ FIN 158.52
4 Mirai NAGASU USA 156.83
5 Akiko SUZUKI JPN 147.72
6 Amelie LACOSTE CAN 141.13
7 Cynthia PHANEUF CAN 132.48
8 Caroline ZHANG USA 132.46
9 Sarah HECKEN GER 124.40
10 Jenna MCCORKELL GBR 123.50
11 Joshi HELGESSON SWE 108.41

The GPF lineup is Kim, Ando, Rochette, Leonova, Wagner, and Suzuki

That is all.

2009 Skate Canada Pairs LP Live Commentary

Start Order

Warm-Up Group 1
1 Ksenia OZEROVA / Alexander ENBERT RUS
8 40.28

7 51.14

6 52.42

4 Caydee DENNEY / Jeremy BARRETT USA
5 55.46

Warm-Up Group 2
5 Anabelle LANGLOIS / Cody HAY CAN
4 55.52

6 Jessica DUBE / Bryce DAVISON CAN
3 57.90

2 65.80

1 74.16

12:28 CT judges being announced.
12:30 Warm-up group 1 on ice.
Denney-clean 2A
Denney/Barrett-decent triple twist
Landed 3Z throw from Ozerova/Enbert
Warm-up concluded.

Ksenia Ozerova / Alexander Enbert (Russia)
SBS 3T-fell out of his
double twist
2A+1A+SEQ-funky landing from her on 2A
Throw 3Z-fall
Positions not fully extended on lift
Spiral sequence-relatively poor
Throw 3R-double footed, possible UR, good turning transition into it
SBS Spins-off unison on transitions and on the exit, he was yelling very loudly (I know many pair skaters do that but he was yelling especially loudly; is there a deduction for that?)
Completely missed entrance on lift and aborted element
Very slow pair spin
Very poor program technically and artistically

TES: 40.16
PCS: 33.92
Ded: -1.00
Total: 73.08
Grand Total: 113.36

Kirsten Moore-Towers / Dylan Moscovitch (Canada)
SBS 3S+2A+SEQ-wobbles from both on first jump but completed; clean 2nd jump; fairly long transition between two jumps
Throw triple twist-low and closely caught
Throw 3R-low but landed
Decent pair spin
Excellent, difficult lift combo. Crowd loves it.
Spiral sequence-very weak extension from him
Throw 3S-turning transition entering element; forward on landing
SBS 3T-landed
SBS Spins-traveled noticeably but decent unison
Fairly undetailed program artistically but good technical elements.

TES: 55.21
PCS: 40.56
Total: 95.77
Grand Total: 146.91
Rank: 1

Caitlin Yankowskas/ John Coughlin (USA)
Triple twist-spiral preceding it; good
Throw 3S-slow going in; slight bobble on landing
SBS 3T-good
SBS Spins-off unison at times and hers traveled noticeably
Spiral-nice extension from her; awful extension from him
Throw 3R-fall out; slow entrance
2A+2T+SEQ-fell out of his; totally off transition going into 2T
Good lift combo but slightly rough exit
Pair spin-a tad slow but decent
Improved presentation.

TES: 50.87
PCS: 40.32
Total: 91.12
Grand Total: 143.61
Rank: 2

Caydee Denney/Jeremy Barrett (USA)
Throw triple twist-slightly wobbly on exit
SBS 3T-landed well; slightly off unison
Throw 3Z-very nice; revolutions finished well before landing
SBS Spins-decent unison; his spins traveled
Lift combo good but exit was awkward
Spiral sequence-relatively poor
Throw 3R-very good control on landing
Decent final pair spin
Great speed but choreography doesn't always reflect music. Flow across the ice is improving but they could emote to one another and the audience more. His shoulders are always tense and lifted. Good skate overall.

TES: 57.07
PCS: 44.56
Total: 101.63
Grand Total: 157.09
Rank: 1

Warm-up group 2 on ice.
Dube/Davison-good throw 3R (slightly forward on landing)
Davison-good 3S
Warm-up concluded.

Anabelle Langlois / Cody Hay (Canada)
Throw triple twist-slightly rough exit
SBS 3S-hand down and possible UR from her
Throw 3S-slow, peculiar entrance but well done
SBS 3T+2T-heavily double footed and possibly UR 3T from her
SBS Spin-off unison in places
Good lift combo
Spiral sequence-poor
Throw 3F-heavily double footed
Music suits their style fairly well but their choreography is very simplistic, so the overall presentation is somewhat bland.

TES: 56.67
PCS: 47.76
Total: 104.43 (Big overscore; should not be ahead of Denney/Barrett)
Grand Total: 159.95
Rank: 1

Jessica Dube/Bryce Davison (Canada)
Throw triple twist-a little low
2A+2A+SEQ-singled his 2nd jump, skaters came extremely apart from one another
SBS 3S-fall out
SBS Spins-off unison in several places
Death spiral-very low to ice
Throw 3Z-good
Good one-handed lift
Spiral sequence-relatively poor
Throw 3R-leaning to the right and hand down
Good extension from her during lift combo
Final pair spin-missed last position
Very emotional program. Nice presentation.

TES: 52.95
PCS: 56.08
Total: 109.03
Grand Total: 166.93
Rank: 1

Maria Mukhortova/Maxim Trankov (Russia)
Throw triple twist-good
SBS 2A-solid but very far apart
SBS 3T+2T-good
Good lift combo
Wardrobe malfunction-had to stop program
His boot strap apparently came off
Continuing now
Throw 3R-very nice recovery
Spiral sequence-not terrible
Throw 3S-double footed
SBS Spins-off unison in places
Final pair spin-decent but transitions between spins are a bit rough
Good presentation but interruption ruined the spark they had afterward.

TES: 63.11
PCS: 58.80
Ded: -2.00
Total: 119.91
Grand Total: 185.71
Rank: 1

Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy (Germany)
3T+3T+SEQ-scratchy landings from both on first 3T
Throw 3F-beautiful
1A-spread eagle going into it
SBS Spins-good
Pair spin-decent
Throw triple twist-decent
Good lift
Spiral sequence-best one today
Throw 3S-nice
Dramatically improved technically from their TEB disaster but the program really is not an improvement over their original one. It has some good moments (like the ending) but the program as a whole is quite bland.

TES: 66.55
PCS: 66.00 (Overscored)
Total: 132.55
Grand Total: 206.71
Rank: 1

Final Standings
1 Aliona SAVCHENKO / Robin SZOLKOWY GER 206.71
2 Maria MUKHORTOVA / Maxim TRANKOV RUS 185.71 2 2
3 Jessica DUBE / Bryce DAVISON CAN 166.93 3 3
4 Anabelle LANGLOIS / Cody HAY CAN 159.95 4 4
5 Caydee DENNEY / Jeremy BARRETT USA 157.09 5 5
6 Kirsten MOORE-TOWERS / Dylan MOSCOVITCH CAN 146.91 7 6
7 Caitlin YANKOWSKAS / John COUGHLIN USA 143.61 6 7
8 Ksenia OZEROVA / Alexander ENBERT RUS 113.36 8 8

Check back for live commentary of ladies free at 7:00 ET tonight.

That is all.

Friday, November 20, 2009

2009 Skate Canada Mens SP Live Commentary

Start Order

Warm-Up Group 1

2 Jeremy TEN CAN
4 Denis TEN KAZ

Warm-Up Group 2
11 Patrick CHAN CAN

6:54 CT Judges being announced.
Warm-up group one on ice. Big crowd responses for two Canadians and Contesti.
Denis Ten-good 3F
Contest-very nice 3Z+3T
Carriere popped lutz
Russell-near fall on 3F
Jeremy Ten-fall on 3A
Mahbanoozadeh-good 3Z
Carriere-landed but wobbly 3A
Contesti-nice 3A
Warm-up concluded.

Joey Russell (Canada)
3A-fall out; possible UR; interesting entrance
3F+3R-leaning to side on landing of 3F; 3R looked UR
3Z-landed but weight forward
Sit spin needs to be lower
Footwork somewhat simplistic but well executed
Sit spin combo a tad slow
Decent final spin
Very good energy and extension for such an inexperienced skater. Some good nuances with the choreography, particularly in the sequence with the spread eagle and the head  movements prior to preparing for the triple lutz. He loses that presentation in places but good effort.

TES: 34.72
PCS: 27.10
Total: 61.82

Jeremy Ten (Canada)
3A-fall; looked rotated
3Z-looked flutzed; leaning to the right and fall out; no combo
Deathdrop to sit spin-traveled slightly
Circular step sequence-quirky movement in places but not nearly as fast as he is capable of doing the footwork
Straight line step sequence-same thing as circular step
Traveled on forward catch position spin
Good speed and good edge work, but his body was not at all centered during his jumps.

TES: 21.84
PCS: 25.30
Ded: -2.00
Total: 45.14
Rank: 2

Armin Mahbanoozadeh (USA)
Funky fall at beginning during choreo
3A-a litte low but good landing
3F+3T-nice delayed rotations; excellent
Interesting position in spin
Decent footwork
Sit spin-nice and low but traveled slightly
Good expression in footwork but movement not especially difficult
Good last spin
Very nice expression throughout. He has a strong sense of musicality and if he could combine that with a bit more speed and complexity in his choreography he will be a forced to be reckoned with come the next quad. Nice effort.

TES: 39.70
PCS: 26.60
Ded: -1.00
Total: 65.30
Rank: 1

Denis Ten (Kazakstan)
3Z+3T-slight wobble on 3T but otherwise great
3F-slightly off in air but well controlled landing
Great spin combo which includes Bielmann attempt
Great circular step; good speed and energy and very quick turns
Pancake spin traveled ever so slightly
Slight slip on straight line footwork, working music well but head movements are far too over the top
Just beautiful speed and jumps. Expression could use improvement but other than that quite creditable skating.

TES: 43.60
PCS: 31.85
Total: 75.45
Rank: 1

Stephen Carriere (USA)
3A-hard fall back; looked rotated
3Z(weight slightly forward)+2T-I think he could have still done the 3T
Sit spin slow and traveled greatly
Straight line step-noticeably slower than Denis Ten's but good use of whole body
Good pancake spin
Great last spin combo
Edges have improved but not as fast as he is capable of. Expression has improved slightly but still has a ways to go. Didn't convey the strength of the music completely in choreography.

TES: 31.70
PCS: 28.70
Ded: -1.00
Total: 59.40
Rank: 4

Samuel Contesti (Italy)
Western themed program
3Z+3T(3T was low)-landed, slight cheat
3R-UR, bailed out mid air, split jump preceding it that had especially poor extension
Sit spin-nice and low but weak leg extension
Great expression in footwork; good steps; maintains theme of program throughout
Last spin combo a tad slow
Very entertaining as always. Posture is not the best but has improved slightly.

TES: 36.60
PCS: 30.70
Total: 67.30
Rank: 2

Warm-Up Group 2 on ice.
Brezina-fall on 3A
Chan-good 3F+3T
Brezina-excellent 3F+3T
Chan-hands down on a jump(I believe 3A; missed it)
Preaubert-good 3A
Warm-up concluded.

Daisuke Takhashi (Japan)
Very dynamic expression at start
3F(slightly forward)+3T-landed; looked slightly cheated
Good camel to sit to layback variation in spin combo
Very musical straight line step sequence; perhaps not as fast as he is capable of but very good
Great circular step
Very musical and dynamic program with superb energy. He seems to be showcasing his expression much more so than before his injury. Good skate.

TES: 39.20
PCS: 37.10
Total: 76.30
Rank: 1

Jeremy Abbott (USA)
3F+3T-a tad low but well controlled landing
3A-great entrance; a little wobble on landing but clean
Circular step-excellent; great expression, great abandonment in movement
Nice low sit spin
Straight line step-good but not as musical as circular step
Brilliant program. Circular step sequence is to die for. He nixes together technique and artistry very well.

TES: 42.60
PCS: 36.40
Total: 79.00
Rank: 1

Michal Brezina (Czech Republic)
3A-very high; a tad wobbly
3F+3T-good height on both jumps; well controlled landing
Sit spin combo-traveled on second variation; a tad slow
Step sequences-movement is OK but his expression is almost non-existant
Decent last spin combo
He has great speed but his posture a bit hunched over in places (like his triple flip entrance). This program could be sold a lot more than it currently is but great jumps.

TES: 40.02
PCS: 31.90
Total: 71.92
Rank: 4

Alban Preaubert (France)
3F(somewhat stiff legged landing)+3T-good
Sit spin variations not low enough
3R-possible UR; leaning to the right in air
Very fun footwork; loses speed in places
Spin combo traveled slightly and is slow
Very humorous section in choreo
Great expression in straight line step
Nice program for him and he was really committed, as always, to entertaining to the crowd. Very unpolished and skating skills are abonimable but a good skate for him.

TES: 38.50
PCS: 33.80
Total: 72.30
Rank: 4

Patrick Chan (Canada)
Good speed at start
3A-fall; looked rotated
3F(weight back)+2T-landed
3Z-good height; held on
Superb movement in circular step; improved expression
traveled following deathdrop part of spin combo
Deathdrop to sit spin-traveled greatly and wobbled in spin position; messy
Great straight line step sequence
Good last spin
The lingering effects of his injury are still evident. Great program that actually looks improved slightly from last year choreographically but the technical elements were a mess. Finished slightly after music.

TES: 31.74
PCS: 37.90
Ded: -1.00
Total: 68.64
Rank: 6

Kevin Van Der Perren (Belgium)
1A-looked wobbly on entrance
Good low spins in combo but not especially fast
Straight line step sequence-not especially dynamic nor difficult
Circular step sequence-same as straight line
Good last spin
Finished after music
Good combo and solo jumps but other than that a very flat skate.

TES: 29.06
PCS: 29.80
Total: 58.86
Rank: 11
He is disgusted by the scores.

Standings After Mens SP
1 Jeremy ABBOTT USA 79.00 1
2 Daisuke TAKAHASHI JPN 76.30 2
3 Denis TEN KAZ 75.45 3
4 Alban PREAUBERT FRA 72.30 4
5 Michal BREZINA CZE 71.92 5
6 Patrick CHAN CAN 68.64 6
7 Samuel CONTESTI ITA 67.30 7
9 Joey RUSSELL CAN 61.82 9
10 Stephen CARRIERE USA 59.40 10
11 Kevin VAN DER PERREN BEL 58.86 11
12 Jeremy TEN CAN 45.14 12

I will not be providing commentary for mens free tomorrow but I will be doing live commentary for pairs free and ladies free.

That is all.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

2009 Skate America Mens FS Live Commentary

Start Order

Warm-Up Group 1
12 51.45

11 55.90

10 59.05

4 Jialiang WU CHN
9 59.16

8 59.24

6 Yasuharu NANRI JPN
7 59.35

Warm-Up Group 2
7 Andrei LUTAI RUS
6 60.64

5 65.95

4 67.55

10 Brandon MROZ USA
3 71.40

11 Florent AMODIO FRA
2 72.65

1 79.17

7:58 CT Judges have been announced. First warm-up group out on ice.
Reynolds-clean 3R; dressed in black and gold
Renyolds-fall on 3F in warm-up
Wu-fall out of 3R
Nanri-lovely 3Z
Bradley-popped axel
Verner-turned 4T into triple; fell out
Bradley-landed 4T+2T
Warm-up concluded.

Igor Macypura (Slovak Republic)
3A+3T-good height; well done
3Z+3T-barely held onto 3T but landed
Step sequence slow
Good low sit spin
Spin combo traveled
1R-landed on two feet
1A-slow entrance
1F-totally off in air; landed on two feet
2A-almost no preparation or speed going into it but landed
No energy left
Extremely pedestrian choreography. No speed whatsoever throughout program.

TES: 47.07
PCS: 46.50
Ded: -1.00
Total: 92.57
Grand Total: 144.02

Tomas Verner (Czech Republic)
4T-fall but looked roated
3T-opened up in air but landed
Footwork good but not as fast nor as expressive as he is capable of executing that element
Sit spin position could have more stretch
3F-good, maybe lipped
Straight line step sequence-a bit slow; footwork is good, however
Final compo spin-traveled slightly
Very methodically skated program. Not much spark or speed but much better than Friday.

TES: 68.06
PCS: 71.10
Ded: -1.00
Total: 138.16
Grand Total: 194.06
Rank: 1

Kevin Reynolds (Canada)
2T(intended 4T+3T)
3A-(hunched way forward on entrance; landed jump while leaning forward on landing)+2T
3A-possible UR
3S-weight back but well controlled landing
Footwork-needs to get down into ice more; more speed needed
Straight line step sequence-movement aren't bad but don't reflect music
Traveled in final spin combo
Has improved slightly artistically; his short program demonstrates that more so than his long.

TES: 72.28
PCS: 58.90
Total: 131.18
Grand Total: 190.23
Rank: 2

Jialiang Wu (China)
3Z+3T-Weight was slightly back but adjusted very well in the air; nicely done
Spin combo fairly slow
Hunches over while stroking
3R-two footed; fell out
3F-awkward landing; possibly double footed
Speed and energy is completely gone
Simplistic footwork
Straight line step sequence-extremely slow; void of any actual steps
3Z-hard fall to the side
No presentation.

TES: 55.00
PCS: 51.10
Ded: -1.00
Total: 105.10
Grand Total: 164.26
Rank: 3

Ryan Bradley (USA)
4T+2T-slightly forward on landing of 4T but landed
Great expression in footwork
3A-leaning to the left slightly but well controlled landing
3Z-great landing and finishing arm position
Straight line step sequence-slow and not as difficult as others' step sequences but well-executed; good energy
3F-barely picked in; fell out of
3R-good; little bit slow coming out
1S+3T-way off on salchow but centered himself and pulled off 3T well
2Z+2T+2T-landed but slow going in and out of jumping pass
His skating skills are fairly poor but he really does all that he can with expressing to the crowd. Good skate.

TES: 70.38
PCS: 68.50
Total: 138.88
Grand Total: 198.12
Rank: 1

Yasuharu Nanri (Japan)
3Z-little slow coming out of it but solid
3A- fall
Good centering in spin combo but sit spin not low enough
3R-struggled to solidify landing but clean
3F-nice height; forward on landing; possibly lipped
Footwork OK but simplistic; very slow during the last part of it
3F-heavily two-footed; looked lipped; perhaps slightly UR
3S-turned out
Circular step sequence-good movement; could be faster
Adequate skating skills but needs to keep up the speed of the program as it continues. Relatively bland presentation.

TES: 51.69
PCS: 58.80
Ded: -1.00
Total: 109.49
Grand Total: 168.84
Rank: 4

Warm-Up Group 2 on ice.
Lutai-good 3R+2T
Mroz-Good 3F+2T+2R
Amodio-Low but landed 3R
Lysacek-Good 3A
Lysacek-Good 3S
Mroz-Fall on 4T
Warm-up concluded.

Andrei Lutai (Russia)
3A-little forward but landed
4T-hands down; fall out
3A-fall; will only be credited as a sequence because neither 3A was in combination
Good straight line step
Good speed in start of spin combo; slowed down and traveled towards the end
Circular step sequence-slow
Last sit spin to pancake not low enough
3S-landed awkwardly but held on
Some good moments in the choreography but quite bland after that.

TES: 49.15
PCS: 60.00
Ded: -2.00
Total: 107.15
Grand Total: 167.79
Rank: 5

Shawn Sawyer (Canada)
3A-two-footed; turned out; possible UR
3Z-leaning forward on landing; possible flutz
Great split jump transition
Great musicality in step sequence
3R-good with split jump preceding it
2A+3T-hand down
Great spiral
2A-turned out
Very entertaining; nicely executed straight line step sequence
3S(scratchy, possibly two-footed landing)+2T+2R-landed
Spin combo a tad slow; traveling; great positions
Very entertaining and polished program.

TES: 68.86
PCS: 69.10
Total: 137.96
Grand Total: 203.91
Rank: 1

Adrian Schultheiss (Sweden)
3F+3T-fall out
3A+2T-little awkward going into 2T but landed
Quirky step sequence; very contemporary
3A-fell out of; possible UR
3Z+2T-very low 2T; fell out of
Straight line step sequence-sluggish
Music is very different but the program itself, with the exception of a few parts, is actually quite generic. Needs to improve speed, particularly when he is entering or coming out of a jump. Noticeable improvement from his performance at this event last year.

TES: 56.32
PCS: 61.20
Total: 117.52
Grand Total: 185.07
Rank: 5

Brandon Mroz (USA)
4T-fall; looked rotated
3F(very slow coming out)+2T+2T(hopped out)-landed
Improved footwork; good quick turns
2A+2T-spread eagle coming before it; intended 3A+2T
3Z+2T-very close to the boards but landed
3R-put free leg down very quickly
Decent straight line step sequence
Skating skills have improved but jumps were just not there tonight. A poor warm-up directly translated to his skate.

TES: 71.40
PCS: 61.40
Ded: -1.00
Total: 102.60
Grand Total: 174.00
Rank: 6

Florent Amodio (France)
2A-intended 4S
3A-held on
Very creative and expressive footwork
3A-turned out; will only be counted as a sequence
Random fall while stroking but comically shrugs it off
3S+3T-barely held on
3Z-step out
3F-double footed
3Z-fell out of; will only be counted as a sequence
Very quirky skater like Preaubert, Contesti, and Bradley, but has superior skating skills to them all. Good speed but his jumps were quite shaky tonight.

TES: 57.03
PCS: 68.30
Ded: -1.00
Total: 124.93
Grand Total: 197.58
Rank: 3

Evan Lysacek (USA)
3Z+3T-spread eagle going in; excellent
3A-swingy landing but looked rotated
3S-weight back; fall out
Step sequence-Good musicality but could use more motion throughout his entire body as opposed to doing so many arm movements
Nice sit spin to pancake
3A(possible UR)+2T-landed
3F(possible UR)+2T+2R-good landing with spiral preceding jumping pass
Great straight line step sequence
Very expressive program

TES: 77.55
PCS: 81.00
Total: 158.55
Grand Total: 237.72
Rank: 1

Overall Standings
1 Evan LYSACEK USA 237.72 1 1
2 Shawn SAWYER CAN 203.91 5 4
3 Ryan BRADLEY USA 198.12 8 2
4 Florent AMODIO FRA 197.58 2 6
5 Tomas VERNER CZE 194.06 11 3
6 Kevin REYNOLDS CAN 190.23 10 5
7 Adrian SCHULTHEISS SWE 185.07 4 7
8 Brandon MROZ USA 174.00 3 11
9 Yasuharu NANRI JPN 168.84 7 8
10 Andrei LUTAI RUS 167.79 6 9
11 Jialiang WU CHN 164.26 9 10
12 Igor MACYPURA SVK 144.02 12 12

That is all.

2009 Skate America Ladies SP Live Commentary

Starting Order

Warm-Up Group 1
6 Susanna POYKIO FIN

Warm-Up Group 2
11 Rachael FLATT USA
12 Yu-Na KIM KOR

5:59 CT Judges have been announced. Warm-Up Group 1 about to take ice. Gilles in pink; Glebova in green.
Gilles joking with Tom Z.
6:00 Competitors take ice.
Emily Hughes gets big ovation; one noticeably louder than compatriot Alexe Gilles.
Hughes is in black dress.
Gilles-clean 2A
Glebova-good 3T; Tara Lipinski commentating and mentions Glebova struggling in practice.
Hecken needs greater than a 128 total score to make Olympic team for Germany.
Poykio in blue dress with rhinestones.
Hecken-Clean 3S
6:07 Warm-up concluded.

Emily Hughes (USA)
1Z+2T-big mistake; very slow entrance
3F-landed well but likely UR
2A-good height and controlled landing
Spiral-good height of the free leg but leg is slightly bent. Back is too dropped.
Great layback to catch-foot layback to Bielmann
Good straight line step sequence
Decent final spin; a tad slow on the last few revolutions
Good expression and speed

TES: 21.56
PCS: 23.72
Total: 45.32

Tugba Karademir (Turkey)
2F+2T-didn't get down into ice on takeoff and big toe-axel on 2T
3S-OK; possible UR
Turned-in layback position
Spiral Sequence-nice leg line
Good spin combo
Footwork a bit simplistic
Last spin combo-well centered but a tad slow

FYI: Lipinski's commentary is awful.

TES: 27.50
PCS: 21.92
Total: 49.42
Rank: 1

Alexe Gilles (USA)
3Z+1T-possible UR on 3Z; double footed first jump
1F-weight off in air
2A-nice; good transition preceding it
Good layback but slow and poorly extended Bielmann
Nice spiral
Flying sit spin-not much amplitude; leg in sit spin not extended fully
Footwork starts off well but gets slower
Very elegant program but not nearly as strong as her SP from TEB.

TES: 24.04
PCS: 22.52
Total: 46.56
Rank: 2

Elena Glebova (Estonia)
3S-good but intended 3F
Spiral-relatively poor extension
3T+3T-very nice
Sit spin/pancake variation-well centered but a tad slow
Footwork-good in places but bland overall
2A-low but landed
Completely missed her flying sit
Decent final spins
Relatively bland program; she skated to a strong piece of music of which she had trouble living up to in her skating. I enjoyed her "Songs My Mother Taught Me" SP from last year more. Good skate technically aside from unusual spin error.

TES: 28.80
PCS: 23.48
Total: 52.28
Rank: 1

Sarah Hecken (Germany)
2T-intended 3T+3T but slow entrance; legs loose in air; forward on landing of 2T and didn't do combo
Slow spin
Very poor spiral
Decent catchfoot layback
Footwork-needs more speed; moves not finished; decent expression
Camel extension poor
Facial expression is decent but other than that her movements are very unpolished and slow. First jumping pass was off but the second and third were very clean.

TES: 24.10
PCS: 19.76
Total: 43.86
Rank: 5

Susanna Poykio (Finland)
3Z(very slow; leaning in the air, hand down and likely UR)+2T-landed
2F-fall out
Turned-in layback position
Spiral-dropped back; relatively poor free leg extension
Footwork slow
Finished after music
One of the worst skates I can recall seeing from her. Extremely bland, slow program

TES: 22.80
PCS: 23.92
Total: 46.72
Rank: 3

Warm-Up Group 2 on ice. Kim from same dress as TEB. Suguri from same dress from COC. Lipinski mentions Suguri having issues in practice.
Flatt in pink (I believe same one as COC)
Kim-Good 3F
Kim-Another good 3F.
Kim-good 3Z+3T
Flatt-Good but likely UR 3F+3T.
Warm-up concluded.

Joshi Helgesson (Sweden)
Nice expression at start
3T-landed well
3Z+2T-good height; landed; slight loss of speed coming out of 3Z
2A-good; spiral coming out
Spiral sequence-extension poor
Footwork a bit slow, lots of twizzle-esque movements
Turned-in layback position
Weak Bielmann
Very quirky presentation and a clean program; really needs to work on both polishing all of her positions and improving her transitions from element to element

TES: 29.48
PCS: 21.84
Total: 51.32
Rank: 2

Fumie Suguri (Japan)
3Z(slightly flutzed; free leg very crossed over on landing; possible UR)+2T-landed
3F-good control and height; slight cheat
Good speed in spin but positions are weak
Spiral extension relatively poor
Deathdrop-traveled slightly; sit spin could be lower
Footwork a bit slow; good expression
Finished slightly after music
Better attention to the music and the choreography than she has done in several previous programs. This program is quite a bit better than her LP.

TES: 29.28
PCS: 26.76
Total: 56.04
Rank: 1
3F apparently got downgraded

Elene Gedevanishvilli (Georgia)
2Z-legs too loose upon propeling up into the air
Nice spiral extension
Spiral immediately into 2A-slightly forward but controlled well
Good combo spin
Good use of edges in footwork; not as expressive as she is capable of
Nice sit spin/pancake variation
Not as much spark as she is capable; a good program overall but the technical mistakes seem to diminish her interest in the performance

TES: 27.90
PCS: 24.28
Total: 52.18
Rank: 3

Julia Sebestyen (Hungary)
3Z+2T-great height and control
3F-good height; possible slight cheat
Good donut spin
Spiral extension relatively poor
Traveling in layback; poor position; slow
Footwork-decent energy; a bit slow
Lacks flexibility and polish but has great height on her jumps and good speed. Decent energy.

TES: 32.10
PCS: 26.44
Total: 58.54
Rank: 1

Rachael Flatt (USA)
3F+3T(leaning to the right; fall; possible slight UR)
3Z-leaning to the side; didn't hold landing very long but clean
Spiral sequence-adequate
Good layback; a tad slow
2A-low but landed
Great energy in footwork
Good speed in final spin
Actually a very nice program aside from the opening fall. Much improved musicality and personality from COC.

TES: 33.40
PCS: 26.40
Ded: -1.00
Total: 55.80
Rank: 1

Yu-Na Kim (South Korea)
3F-very good
Layback through to Bielmann-good speed; positions not great but improved
Spiral-good speed; position not great but improved
Good deathdrop to sit spin
Footwork-very good expression; a tad slow in places
Good final spin
Excellent expression and speed; she really got into the character of the program even more so than at TEB. Fabulous.

TES: 44.00
PCS: 32.28
Total: 76.28 (New World Record!!!)
Rank: 1

Standings Entering LP:
1 Yu-Na KIM KOR 76.28 1
2 Rachael FLATT USA 58.80 2
3 Julia SEBESTYEN HUN 58.54 3
4 Fumie SUGURI JPN 56.04 4
5 Elena GLEBOVA EST 52.28 5
7 Joshi HELGESSON SWE 51.32 7
8 Tugba KARADEMIR TUR49.42 8
9 Susanna PÖYKIÖ FIN 46.72 9
10 Alexe GILLES USA 46.56 10
11 Emily HUGHES USA 45.32 11
12 Sarah HECKEN GER 43.86 12

Commentary of men's free to start in 25 minutes.