Saturday, October 31, 2009

COC Pairs Free Skate Live Commentary

Start Order
Warm-Up Group 1
1 Vanessa JAMES / Yannick BONHEUR FRA

8 47.28

2 Amanda EVORA / Mark LADWIG USA
7 48.02

3 Huibo DONG / Yiming WU CHN
6 50.32

5 55.08

Warm-Up Group 2

4 61.92

3 62.54

7 Tatiana VOLOSOZHAR / Stanislav MOROZOV UKR
2 62.98

8 Xue SHEN / Hongbo ZHAO CHN
1 72.28

Vanessa James/Yannick Bonheur (France)
SBS 3S-doubled hers; fell on his
throw triple twist-messy landing
throw 3S-lovely
SBS spins shift from being on unison and off unison constantly
2A+2A+SEQ-he singled both of his jumps
Very creative exit to overhead lift
throw 3F-held onto landing
Pair spin-very slow
Very different forward entrance to final lift; drew gasps from crowd.

TES: 46.17
PCS: 42.32
Ded: -1.00
Total: 87.49
Grand Total: 134.77

Amanda Evora/Mark Ladwig (USA)
throw triple twist-slightly double footed
SBS 3T+2T-out of unison; UR on her part for the 3T
throw 3Z-landed on one leg but put her free leg down onto the ice very quickly
SBS 2A-landed
throw 3R- she was leaning slightly in the air but pulled landing off well
Superb lift where he balanced on one leg and glided across the ice
Fairly boring program with little emotional impact on the audience

TES: 49.10
PCS: 45.20
Ded: -2.00
Total: 92.30
Grand Total: 140.32
Rank: 1

Huibo Dong/Yiming Wu (China)
SBS 3T+2T-good
SBS 3S-both doubled with fumbled landings
throw triple twist-decent
throw 3R-deep landing but good control
throw 3S-same type of landing as that of throw 3R
Final pair spin-decent
Lifts are not the most difficult
A very bland team presentation wise

TES: 53.77
PCS: 42.40
Total: 96.17
Grand Total: 146.49
Rank: 1

Meagen Duhamel/Craig Buntin (Canada)
3T+3T+SEQ-rough landings from both on first jump but better landings on second
Adequate spiral sequence
double twist-OK
Pair spin- a bit slow
Decent unison on SBS spins
SBS 2A-singled his
throw 3R-good
throw 3Z-dropped free leg down very quickly upon landing
Best team we have seen thus far artistically.

TES: 52.68
PCS: 49.84
Total: 102.52
Grand Total: 157.60
Rank: 1

Warm-Up Group 2 out on ice. Zhangs did a beautiful throw triple salchow. Shen Xue is dressed in a darker pink dress and Zhao Hongbo is in red and black.

Zhao did clean 3T.

Dan Zhang/Hao Zhang (China)
2A+3T-wonky landings from both
SBS 3S-good
throw triple twist-excellent
SBS spins-decent
Throw 3S-superb
Throw 3R-good but didn't have the extension of position on landing that the throw 3S had
Great lift, awkward cut of music during that section of the program
Good final lift
Slow final pair spin
Pretty good program, one of their better ones IMO. They do try to emote to one another and create a relationship on the ice, but the key word here is try. They need to do.

TES: 65.77
PCS: 58.80
Total: 124.57
Grand Total: 186.49
Rank: 1

Lubov Iliushechkina/Nodari Maisuradze (Russia)
SBS 3S-she fell out of hers
Good one-handed lift
SBS 3T-two-foot and fall out from her
Throw triple twist-caught a little close
Throw 3Z-double footed
Throw 3R-looked double footed
Spin combo-started off well but she completely missed her exit and they thus became very out of unison
Finished well after music

TES: 40.44
PCS: 50.32
Total: 90.76
Grand Total: 153.30
Rank: 3

Tatiana Volosozhar/Stanislav Morozov (Ukraine)
SBS 3T+2T+SEQ-good
SBS 3S-singled his
Near fall on throw
Throw triple twist-nice
Throw 3S-double footed
Excellent lift
SBS spin-went back and forth between being on unison and off
She is a far more elegant skater than he is

TES: 54.41
PCS: 54.40
Ded: -1.00
Total: 107.81
Grand Total: 170.79
Rank: 2

Shen Xue/Zhao Hongbo (China)
SBS 3T-slight wobble from him but otherwise good
SBS 2A+2A+SEQ-fall out on her second jump; his landings were shaky
Good SBS spin combo
Unusual position in death spiral
Throw triple twist-excellent
Throw 3R-great landing and transition beforehand
Throw 3S-nice
Excellent performance. Their passion and artistry as a team are second to none today.

TES: 62.13
PCS: 66.50
Total: 128.69
Grand Total: 200.97
Rank: 1

Final Standings
1 Xue SHEN / Hongbo ZHAO CHN 200.97

2 Dan ZHANG / Hao ZHANG CHN 186.49
3 Tatiana VOLOSOZHAR / Stanislav MOROZOV UKR 170.79
4 Meagan DUHAMEL / Craig BUNTIN CAN 157.60


6 Huibo DONG / Yiming WU CHN 146.49

7 Amanda EVORA / Mark LADWIG USA 140.32

8 Vanessa JAMES / Yannick BONHEUR FRA 134.77

COC Mens Free Live Commentary

Here is my live commentary for the mens free skate, taking place at the 2009 Cup of China.

Start Order
Warm-Up Group 1
12 59.54

11 60.12

3 Ming XU CHN
10 61.02

4 Denis TEN KAZ
9 64.05

8 65.10

7 65.24

Warm-Up Group 2

6 66.65

8 Jinlin GUAN CHN
5 66.70

4 72.08

3 80.80

2 81.40

12 Nobunari ODA JPN
1 83.35

Armin Mahbanoozadeh (USA)
3A+3T-fall on 2nd jump; good attempt
Good flying deathdrop
3S-good; came after Ina Bauer (without back bend)
3Z+2T-lutz not as high as 1st, combo was cleanly landed nonetheless
Good final spin combo

TES: 65.29
PCS: 53.70
Ded: -2.00
Total: 116.99
Grand Total: 176.53

Kevin Reynolds (Canada)
4S-fall out
3R+3T-no speed coming out of 2nd jump but landed
3A-possible UR but landed
3S-preceded and followed by spirals; nice
3Z-low but clean
3F+3T(slight toe-axel)+2R-good
Spins were OK throughout program but the last spin combo was far and away the best with great speed
Transitions and expression have improved slightly from last season. Crowd liked the performance.

TES: 72.45
PCS: 55.90
Total: 128.35
Grand Total: 188.47
Rank: 1

Ming Xu (China)
Warsaw Concerto
3A-good but will only count as a sequence because neither 3A was in combination
Fairly simplistic footwork
3Z+1T-It looked like he missed his toe pick on the entrance to the toe
2A+2A+SEQ-good height; barely held onto landing of first 2A
Missed exit to spin
Interpretation and transitions are very weak. Choreography is repetitive but speed is OK.

TES: 52.45
PCS: 51.10
Ded: -1.00
Total: 102.55
Grand Total: 163.57
Rank: 3

Denis Ten (Kazakstan)
3A-very nice
Z-off balance on entrance, tripped, didn't leave the ice
Nice step sequence
Great middle section of choreo
3Z-fall; possible UR
3S-good (plus another jump that was landed in a sequence that I missed)
Very nice straight line step sequence
Good dynamic presentation

TES: 59.38
PCS: 61.20
Ded: -2.00
Total: 118.58
Grand Total: 182.63
Rank: 2

Chao Yang (China)
3Z+3T-great air time
2A-less height on this jump than previous triples but clean
Nice speed in spin combo
2A+2T+2R-very hunched over landing on 2A but otherwise OK
3F(slightly UR)+2T-landed with steps preceding jump pass
Footwork doesn't use motion of whole body; fairly bland
Flying deathdrop-slightly off-axis
Very tired and slow toward end of program
Off balance to entrance of final spin
Very bland artistically

TES: 66.49
PCS: 58.40
Total: 124.89
Grand Total: 189.99
Rank: 1

Stephen Carriere (USA)
3Z-good with steps preceding it
Good step sequence
3F-little off but held on
2A+2T-opened up in air and fell out of landing
3Z+Tano2T+2R(w/both arms above head)-close to the boards but clean
3S-forward on landing; held on
Good speed on final combo spin; traveled slightly
Much improved skating skills and musicality

TES: 65.94
PCS: 63.90
Total: 129.84
Grand Total: 195.08
Rank: 1

Warm-Up Group 2 is on the ice. Guan landed nice 3Z+3T. Contesti did a clean but wobbly triple flip. Lysacek is in black as usual.

Yannick Ponsero (France)
4T-very nice
3A-slightly forward on landing but clean
3Z-fall backwards
3A+2T(he was leaning in the air in the 3A, hopped and turned out of it but did not put his foot down and tacked on the 2T)
3R-leaning over right side and fell
3T+half loop+3S-nice
Good spins
Incredible speed in his stroking; program was not as fun and carefree as the theme of the music suggested to be.

TES: 61.77
PCS: 68.70
Ded: -2.00
Total: 128.47
Grand Total: 195.12
Rank: 1

Jinlin Guan (China)
3F-lovely air time and smooth landing
2A-good height
3F-hand down; leaned in the air
Guan has good understanding of subtlety and holding out movements to match some of the sections of the score that have slower tempos. Good expression; footwork sequences need more speed and power.

TES: 57.35
PCS: 63.90
Total: 121.25
Grand Total: 187.95
Rank: 5

Samuel Contesti (Italy)
3A+3T-Put his hand and free leg down to the ice on 2nd jump but did not fall
3F-crashed into boards
3A-good height
3R-fall out
Very fun, quirky program, but his western-themed LP from last year worked better because it carried a theme and it was explored in a comedic manner. Contesti's facial mannerisms are fun to watch at first but become repetitive.

TES: 69.47
PCS: 67.30
Ded: -1.00
Total: 135.77
Grand Total: 207.85
Rank: 1

Evan Lysacek (USA)
3Z+3T-forward on landing but OK
3S-slightly off to left side but controlled landing
3A+2T-landing on 3A a little wild but clean
3R-landed; possible UR
3F(possible double foot)+2T+2R(possible UR)
3Z-slightly wild landing, held on
Great climax to straight line step sequence
Very dramatic program. I prefer something like his Gershwin LP from last season that is more subtle; the more dramatic programs like this, Carmen, and Tosca, go very overboard with expression.

TES: 72.87
PCS: 78.50
Total: 151.37
Grand Total: 232.17
Rank: 1

Sergei Voronov (Russia)
4T-held on
2Z+3T-dealt with mistake on lutz well
3A+2T-very good
Nice use of levels in footwork
3R-excellent; finished revolution well before landing
Program doesn't really go anywhere and his movement does not always reflect the intensity of his music.

TES: 65.59
PCS: 73.40
Total: 138.99
Grand Total: 220.39
Rank: 2

Nobunari Oda (Japan)
3A+3T-entrance a little slow but otherwise excellent
Good spin combo
3Z+3T+2R-great recovery, very solid
3F-preceded by spiral; good
Very nice performance. This Charlie Chaplin themed program is different, but is also something that can be very easily appreciated. The programs flows together very well and maintains the fun, comical theme throughout.

TES: 78.13
PCS: 78.10
Total: 156.23
Grand Total: 239.58
Rank: 1

Final Standings
1 Nobunari ODA JPN 239.58
2 Evan LYSACEK USA 232.17
3 Sergei VORONOV RUS 220.39
4 Samuel CONTESTI ITA 207.85
5 Yannick PONSERO FRA 195.12
6 Stephen CARRIERE USA 195.08
7 Chao YANG CHN 189.99
8 Kevin REYNOLDS CAN 188.47
9 Jinlin GUAN CHN 187.95
10 Denis TEN KAZ 182.63
12 Ming XU CHN 163.57

Friday, October 30, 2009

COC Ladies Free Skate Live Commentary

I will be doing live commentary of the ladies free taking place at the 2009 Cup of China. Below is the startlist and note that Binshu Xu has withdrawn.

WD Binshu XU CHN

12 37.08


11 44.24

3 Bingwa GENG CHN

10 47.64

4 Beatrisa LIANG USA

9 50.76


8 51.28


7 52.12

Warm-Up Group 2


6 55.46

8 Rachael FLATT USA

5 58.80


4 59.52

10 Carolina KOSTNER ITA

3 61.12

11 Kiira KORPI FIN

2 61.20


1 62.20

Warm-up group 1 has taken to the ice. Geng in red, yellow, and black dress. Liang in dark blue. Liang-clean 2A.

Rochette in same blue dress from WTT. Yan Liu in red.

Warm-up has concluded.

Diane Szmiett (Canada)
white and silver dress
3F-leaning forward but held on; possible hand down
3S(swingy free leg but held on)+2T-landed
2A+2A+SEQ-little speed coming out of either jump
Very poor spiral
3T-held on, big smile
Footwork not musical, slow
Last spin traveled back to Canada

TES: 55.64
PCS: 44.40
Total: 100.04
Grand Total: 144.28

Bingwa Geng (China)
3Z+2T-good takeoff edge, forward on landing of 3Z
3F-long entrance, fell out of but rotated
3S-fall; possible UR
good spin combo
Spiral sequence-extension needs improvement
3Z-good; possible slight UR
2A-step out
good donut spin
footwork is fairly simplistic
Weak layback position; great speed going into catch foot and Bielmann spins

TES: 38.28
PCS: 37.28
Ded: -2.00
Total: 73.56
Grand Total: 121.20
Rank: 2

Beatrisa Liang (USA)
3Z-fall; possible UR
3F-preceded by spiral; swingy free leg but good
1R-three turn entrance into it
2A-good control of landing edge
deathdrop to pancake spin-good
Spiral-extension is not as strong as 2007 IIRC but is decent
3Z+2T-good; possibly double footed first jump
footwork-good in places; intensity and speed not continuous
3T-held on
good final spin combo

TES: 39.15
PCS: 42.48
Ded: -1.00
Total: 80.63
Grand Total: 131.39
Rank: 2

Yan Liu (China)
2Z-very simplistic entrance
3R+2A+SEQ-little speed coming out of either jump but clean jumping pass
Weak Bielmann
Adequate spiral
3S+2T+1R-popped last jump but otherwise good
2A-low but clean
Footwork is extremely bland
2S-preceded by spiral; bailed out mid air and it will be counted UR as a single salchow
Final spin combo-traveled
Fairly clean skater but her transitions mark should be no higher than a 1.0. There was nothing interesting going on in-between her major elements.

TES: 39.84
PCS: 41.68
Total: 81.52
Grand Total: 132.80
Rank: 2

Joannie Rochette (Canada)
3Z-forward on landing; possible UR
good fast spin
Adequate spiral placed at awkward point in the music
3Z+2T-decent; possible UR
3T+2S+SEQ-I'm not positive if first jump was 3T but I think it was
2A-fall backward
Very detailed program choreographically and demonstrated tremendous use of skating skills and transitions. Interpretation of the music is very strong also.

TES: 53.42
PCS: 58.64
Ded: -1.00
Total: 111.06
Grand Total: 163.18
Rank: 1

Warm-up group two out on ice. Suzuki singled flip. Kostner in same dress from TEB. Kostner just took a hard fall on 3R.

Nagasu in red. Korpi in same dress from TEB. Nagasu just landed 3Z. One minute left in warm-up.

Fumie Suguri (Japan)
3Z+2T-slight flutz but good
3F-held on; possible two-foot
Good speed in spin
Relatively weak spiral
3S-UR, struggled valiantly to keep free leg up off the ice
3F-heavily two-footed; possible UR
Footwork didn't always correspond to intensity of music
Final spin combo-good speed, some positions weak

TES: 39.89
PCS: 50.64
Total: 90.53
Grand Total: 145.99
Rank: 2

Rachael Flatt (USA)
Dressed in red and gold
2A-preceded by spiral; landed
3F+2T-a little off on 3F landing but otherwise good
3Z-step out, possible UR, way off-axis in air
Spin combos weak positions
3F-step out
Very nice footwork, the only remotely interesting aspect of the program choreographically.
Not a great skate. I would say this is the flattest of Flatt's programs so far, footwork excepted. Jumps look lower and not as centered in the air.

TES: 48.51
PCS: 50.40
Total: 98.91
Grand Total: 157.71
Rank: 2

Akiko Suzuki (Japan)
3Z+2T-swingy free leg on lutz but otherwise OK
Good centering on spin; positions weak
Adequate spiral
3F-very calm landing
3Z-good landing; possible flutz
3R+2A+SEQ-somewhat wild landing on 2A but clean
3S-low but landed cleanly
Excellent energy in footwork
Lovely program!

TES: 64.58
PCS: 52.56
Total: 117.14
Grand Total: 176.66
Rank: 1

Carolina Kostner (Italy)
3F-fall out; possible UR
Good position on camel; sit spin not low enough
Excellent spiral; nice transition with choreography between Y-scale spiral and standard spiral
3R-unsteady but held on
2A-wobbled on landing and sharply put free leg down onto the ice
3S-fall; possible UR
Great footwork; lots of one foot skating
Good speed and expression throughout

TES: 38.38
PCS: 55.68
Ded: -1.00
Total: 93.08
Grand Total: 154.18
Rank: 4

Kiira Korpi (Finland)
2Z-rough landing
good spin combo
1S-Bailed out mid-air; landed on two feet
Adequate spiral
Flying sit spin-doesn't maintain speed and low position when she changes her arms and focus to the side
Footwork fairly simplistic
2A-held on
Much improved from TEB. Expression and maturity has improved as well.

TES: 49.51
PCS: 52.56
Total: 102.07
Grand Total: 163.27
Rank: 2

Mirai Nagasu (USA)
3Z+2T+2R(looked UR)-otherwise clean
2A+3T(borderline for downgrade)-wobbly landing
3F(possible UR)+2T-landed
Good spins as usual
Great spiral extension
3Z-slightly off-axis landing but held on
3R-bailed out mid-air and fell
2A-low but landed
Excellent final spin

TES: 42.90
PCS: 51.28
Ded: -1.00
Total: 93.18
Grand Total: 155.38
Rank: 5

Final Standings
1 Akiko SUZUKI JPN 176.66
2 Kiira KORPI FIN 163.27 
3 Joannie ROCHETTE CAN 163.18 7 2
4 Rachael FLATT USA 157.71 5 5
5 Mirai NAGASU USA 155.38 1 6
6 Carolina KOSTNER ITA 154.18 3 7
7 Fumie SUGURI JPN 145.99 6 8
8 Diane SZMIETT CAN 144.28 11 4
9 Yan LIU CHN 132.80 8 9
10 Beatrisa LIANG USA 131.39 9 10
11 Bingwa GENG CHN 121.20 10 11

Congratulations Akiko!

COC Ladies SP Commentary

Here is my commentary for the ladies SP which took place earlier today in Beijing. I am watching this event without knowing the results beforehand and this page will be updated as I see the competitors skate.

Skate Order:
Warm-Up Group 1
1.) Bingwa Geng (China)
2.) Binshu Xu (China)
3.) Yan Liu (China)
4.) Diane Szmiett (Canada)
5.) Beatrisa Liang (USA)
6.) Mirai Nagasu (USA)

Arena is about half full. Same arena as last year's Cup of China. Binshu Xu in pink top with blue skirt. Yan Liu in light blue. Szmiett in red; Liang in black; Nagasu in black and gold.

Liang looks a little out of shape but just landed a triple toe. Nagasu did a triple flip which looked slightly UR. Yan Liu stumbled out of her triple loop slightly.

Nagasu did a triple lutz with a slight fall out and inside edge takeoff. Liu (I believe) did a 3Z at the end of the warm-up.

Bingwa Geng (China)
Purple dress
Looks like a young Caroline Zhang, and is skating to Meditation from Thais
3S-good steps before, entrance was long but the jump had great height and a good landing
3Z-fall out, +1T-won't get credit for 2nd jump, put her foot down in-between, takeoff edge looked clean
spiral-extension is good, not great
Good donut spin
Layback position is too turned in but her Bielmann is great
Nice ending pose
She will get marked down quite a bit for her mistake on the triple lutz but otherwise a very nice performance. Geng could be a legitimate contender at major competitions in the future. Good choreography, nice use of arms, and did express herself well in places.

TES: 28.20
PCS: 19.44
Total: 47.64
PCS are a little low IMO but scores at this event were rather tight last year.

Binshu Xu (China)
3T-fall; likely UR
3S-solid; slightly UR
spin combo-good speed; weak positions on layback and Bielmann
spiral-extension is decent; skating edge is very wobbly
last spin combo-good speed but traveled
Very weak projection to the audience.

TES: 19.36
PCS: 18.72
Ded: -1.00
Total: 37.08
Rank: 2

Yan Liu (China)
IIRC the same as last year's SP
3Z+2T-a little slow coming out of 3Z and possibly flutzed; otherwise clean
Rough transition from standard spiral to catch-foot spiral
2A-coming after front spiral; very good
good layback to catch-foot spin
footwork-relatively easy and not very continuous
Very flat program artistically; she is a mature skater but has no relation to the audience whatsoever. However, it was a very fluid, clean skate, and it was certainly one of her best short programs as of late.

TES: 30.00
PCS: 21.28
Total: 51.28
Rank: 1

Diane Szmiett (Canada)
Skating to West Side Story
3F+2T-long entrance but otherwise good
3Z-two footed first and then fell
2A-fell out of
spin combo-traveled in beginning but centered it afterward
Very poor attempt at Charlotte Spiral (if that was even what she was trying)
Relatively slow footwork
Great speed in catch foot spin at the end
No emotional depth to program; speed is decent.

TES: 25.08
PCS: 21.16
Ded: -2.00
Total: 44.24
Rank: 3

Beatrisa Liang (USA)
Tango de Roxanne
3F-little wobbly, very slight UR
layback to catch foot spin combo-very good
spiral-good extension
2A- step out
good spin combo
This program is a great one for her and really enables her to showcase expression, drama, and musicality. A shame about the mistakes at the end but at least it started off well.

TES: 29.04
PCS: 22.72
Ded: -1.00
Total: 50.76
Rank: 2

Mirai Nagasu (USA)
Pirates of the Carribean soundtrack
3Z(likely UR)+2T-landed; also looked flutzed
Spiral-great extension and speed
layback to catch-foot to Bielmann spin-excellent
2A-from Ina Bauer-very good
footwork-good energy
Good last spin combo
Her growth spurt has caused her to under rotate jumps more so than when she was tinier but it has helped her out tremendously with speed. She travels across the rink very quickly no matter if it is stroking, footwork, or gliding across the ice. Good skate.

TES: 37.40 ( I guess she got the lutz credited?)
PCS: 24.80
Total: 62.20 (Nice!)
Rank: 1

Warm-Up Group 2
7.) Akiko Suzuki (Japan)
8.) Fumie Suguri (Japan)
9.) Kiira Korpi (Finland)
10.) Rachael Flatt (USA)
11.) Joannie Rochette (Canada)
12.) Carolina Kostner (Italy)

Flatt in pink; Korpi in a light green/yellow; Rochette in black.

Flatt did 2A; landed but looked low. It looked like Rochette did 3Z+3T with a slight wobble on the landing of the 2nd jump. Flatt doubled her lutz. Flatt just did 3Z; looked lower than usual but landed.

Akiko Suzuki (Japan)
3Z+2T-slight loss of speed coming out of 3Z but otherwise good
flying camel-slightly off balance but got her centering back
Spiral sequence-adequate
2A-good control on the landing edge
spin combo-good speed but traveled towards the end
footwork-very fluid, creative, and fast
Good last spin combo
Very nice performance. Suzuki has great expression and she is very musical. Great attack with the footwork and showed a lot of character in the section immediately following the triple flip. Spins and spirals were not nearly as strong as Nagasu's.

TES: 34.40
PCS: 25.12
Total: 59.52
Rank: 2

Fumie Suguri (Japan)
Good expression at the start
3F(slight UR)+2T-good speed coming out
3Z-flutz, double-footed, possible UR
Spiral sequence-adequate
2A-great height; slight wobble on landing
Combo spin-good speed but lost speed when grabbing her leg in the catch foot layback position
Footwork-good movements but slow
Finished after music

TES: 30.38
PCS: 25.08
Total: 55.46
Rank: 3

Kiira Korpi (Finland)
3Z(possible flutz; hand down)+2T
3R-good; three-turn entrance
Good continuous speed in spin combo
Spiral sequence-decent
Flying sit spin-nice low position
Good speed in final spin
Improved expression but still bland in places.

TES: 34.80
PCS: 26.40
Total: 61.20
Rank: 2
Score is higher than she deserved in my opinion. Her PCS should be in line with those received by Nagasu and Suzuki, not ahead of.

Rachael Flatt (USA)
3F(forward on landing, possible UR)+2T
flying camel
Spiral sequence-adequate
Good position on layback; speed could be improved
2A-forward on landing; held on
Improved footwork from previous seasons
A cute program that has potential but Flatt will need to sell it even more to bring the entertaining concept home. All of her jumps looked lower.

TES: 33.40
PCS: 25.40
Total: 58.80
Rank: 4

Joannie Rochette (Canada)
Music is to La Cumparsita
2Z-opened up in air
3F-good but didn't add in a combo
Adequate spiral
Footwork a bit slow in places
Spins were all OK
The program is very well choreographed, and she does have the most mature presentation that we have seen today. Perhaps this whole battle with landing the 3-3 is messing with her nerves? In that case, she should just stick to a triple lutz+double toe, something she does consistently in the long.

TES: 23.92
PCS: 28.20
Total: 52.12
Rank: 6

Carolina Kostner (Italy)
Spiral-great speed and extension
Spin combo a little slow
Flying deathdrop-sit spin position should be lower
Good attack in footwork
Good presentation.
Interesting jump layout! She seems to be saying to hell with the 3/3 and is putting the triple toe in as a solo jump. It will put her behind in base value but a clean program will keep her competitive because of her high PCS scores.

TES: 31.80
PCS: 29.32
Total: 61.12
Rank: 3

Good thing I didn't have any money riding on this competition. Also, AKIKO SUZUKI WAS ROBBED!!!!!.

That is all.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

2009 Cup of China-Ladies Preview

Rachael Flatt (USA)

          The two-time U.S. silver medalist is consistent, reliable, and yes, flat. However, with Sasha Cohen's withdrawal from Trophée Eric Bompard and both Mao Asada and Carolina Kostner's respective meltdowns at COR and TEB, Flatt has a very strong opportunity of qualifying to the Grand Prix Final after missing the final last year by two placements. Flatt won her first U.S. silver medal in 2008, skating a clean long program which contained seven triple jumps. Subsequently competing at the World Junior Championships, she repeated the same clean skate and defeated both Mirai Nagasu and Caroline Zhang to win the title. Flatt once again settled for silver at this year's U.S. Championships, missing the gold medal in a very controversial loss to Alissa Czisny. Flatt went onto the 2009 World Championships and finished 5th in her first try. Flatt has competed twice since the conclusion of last season in summer events, including the Colorado Championships and the Golden West competition, beating Alexe Gilles at the former and Caroline Zhang and Mirai Nagasu at the latter. Flatt showed visible improvement in her swing-themed short program with her presentation and speed, but reverted back to her fairly mundane style in the long program, choreographed to Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini."

          While Flatt's style is not necessarily bad - she actually does make a fairly strong effort to use facial expression and relate to the music - her lines are impeded by her rather awkwardly proportioned body. Her neck is very short; thus, when her shoulders lift, even just ever so slightly, it creates a very distorted line of both her back and overall upper body. She is not an exceptionally flexible skater, nor a very fast one. However, Rachael Flatt made it to the top five at last year's worlds in spite of these flaws, and her innate ability to compete and remain in the moment when the pressure mounts has been her ace in the hole thus far in her career. She has also been remarkable in avoiding major injury as a figure skater, something that has also been advantageous to Flatt against her fellow adversaries.  Flatt is doubtful to reach the medals stand in Vancouver, but she stands a solid chance of claiming an Olympic berth in Spokane come nationals. One of her closest competitors for one of those spots, Mirai Nagasu, will be competing against Flatt at this competition, and it will be intriguing to see who is ahead at this stage in the game.

Carolina Kostner (Italy)

           For more info on Kostner see the TEB preview post for the ladies. The two-time world medalist has quite a ways to go when it comes to returning to peak form after her sixth place finish just over a week ago in Paris. For Kostner to have any chance at qualifying to the Grand Prix Final, she would need to win this event, a tough task in of itself, and then hope that others meltdown at future Grand Prixs so that she could qualify. While one can argue several different ways regarding why Kostner was overscored at the 2008 worlds, it certainly did help her that she was the bronze medalist from the Grand Prix Final and the current European champion heading into those Championships. Now that the Grand Prix Final is most likely out of the question, winning Europeans will be of the utmost importance for Kostner heading into Vancouver. Kostner should be able to win a European title very easily at her optimum, but she is still capable of losing gold at that event, doing so last year to Laura Lepisto.

          Both of Carolina's programs that she debuted in Paris are hardly her best; they don't appear as well composed or emotionally inspired as several previous programs of hers, including her "Canon" short and "Memories of a Geisha" long from the 2006/2007 season. Her low finish in Paris is, while a setback reputation-wise, by no means an indication that she has glossed herself out of the picture for an Olympic medal. In 2004, Kostner only finished 7th at Cup of Russia and went on to defeat Michelle Kwan for the bronze medal at worlds. Similarly in 2007, Kostner did pull off a bronze medal at Cup of China, but she was competing against a very weak field and skated extremely poorly in the free. She would later go on to win the world silver medal that season. Kostner has already been making several changes to her jumps since moving to Frank Carroll (such as taking a more fluid entrance to her triple flip and not telegraphing), and consistency with these changes naturally take time, as her warm-ups looked excellent in Paris but during her competitive skates her nerves ended up taking center ice. Kostner is never strong at her first event of the season, but does often improve for her second. In this all important Olympic season, she needs that to be the case here.

Mirai Nagasu (USA)

Although a seemingly benevolent, dainty personality, the 2008 U.S. Champion has not been one to hide her emotions or thoughts to the public. Nagasu arrived to her free skate at last year's U.S. Championships in tears, but finished the program without a major error and beamed with pride. Recently, during the U.S. Olympic Media Summit, Nagasu arose concern in the skating community with her comment, "...I'm not very smart and I'm not very pretty and there's nothing else that stands out about me besides my skating." Nagasu was also the only skater to vocal her concern over what Sasha Cohen's comeback would mean for her Olympic chances. Nagasu came out of nowhere to win the gold medal at the U.S. Championships on the junior level in 2007, defeating heavy favorite Caroline Zhang in the process. The following year, she shocked many once again by taking the senior U.S. title, but was age-ineligible to compete at the 2008 World Championships. The following year, a disastrous 8th place showing at the NHK Trophy continued to fire off tensions between Nagasu and her then coach, Charlene Wong, largely because Nagasu was opting out of resting a severe ankle injury. Nagasu toughed it out in her free skate at the U.S. Championships, finishing 5th, and upon concluding her season, she decided it was best to resume her skating under the tutelage of Frank Carroll.

Judging by the recent Golden West competition, Nagasu does not look as strong as Flatt overall, but does have several things going for her. Nagasu has routinely been plagued by under rotated jumps that often stem from a lack of amplitude, but at Golden West her jumps looked visibly higher and stronger. Her Carmen long program also looks to have great potential, and the music arrangement of the program has several of the more unused selections of the score. Nagasu has a fairly steep hill to climb to make the Olympic team, but appears to have started off on the right off toward getting to the top of the hill, something that cannot be said for many of the athletes vying for tickets to Vancouver.

Joannie Rochette (Canada) 

Although some past Olympic and world champions have peaked at 15 or 16, Joannie Rochette has taken the slow and steady route to peaking at the ripe old age of 23, having just won a world silver medal. Rochette earned her first world championship medal on her eighth try and comes toward this season with what will likely be her last opportunity to win an Olympic medal. While debuting her new long program to "Samson and Delilah" at the recent Japan Open, Rochette looked fit, confident, and polished. Rochette landed all seven triples and scored a 126.39, the highest free skate for her in an international competition to date. Rochette certainly needs to be mindful of not peaking too early; however, one shouldn't be too concerned because she did perform expertly at last year's Skate Canada and, with one exception (Grand Prix Final), maintained that level of solidity throughout the season's entirety.

With Mao Asada and Carolina Kostner struggling and Sasha Cohen's "comeback" in question, Rochette has found herself with more than just a realistic aspiration of winning an Olympic medal. At this point, it looks as though Rochette is the only woman capable of even challenging South Korean superstar Yu-Na Kim for the gold, although Kim still is the unwavering frontrunner at this point. Once noted for her inconsistency, Rochette has worked diligently to correct this foible. The current world silver medalist remarked in a recent CTV Olympics article that touring with Stars and Ice in Canada has been beneficial to her psych and that the presence of media attention motivates her to perform at a superior level. Her mindset is obviously working, but will she keep her confidence intact when faced with skating for an Olympic medal in her home country? We shall see.

Fumie Suguri (Japan)

It hasn't exactly been smooth sailing for Suguri since winning her world silver medal in 2006, but she shocked many when she won the silver medal at the 2008/2009 Japanese nationals, defeating Miki Ando, Akiko Suzuki, and Yukari Nakano. Suguri qualified to the 2009 World Championships, her first worlds since 2006, and she also qualified to the Four Continents team, a competition where she placed 6th. Battling a shoulder injury, Suguri had a relatively shaky long program at the World Championships and was unable to muster anything better than an 8th place finish. Suguri stands a decent chance of making the Olympic team, a chance which she hopes to augment by moving to Alexei Mishin, coach of Evgeni Plushenko. Upon changing coaches, Suguri also scrapped both of her scheduled programs for the 2009/2010 season and has replaced them with a short program to "Air on the G String" and "Tocatta and Fugue" by Bach and a long program to Khachaturian's "Spartacus."

Suguri performed poorly at the recent Finlandia Trophy, finishing 7th against a weak field. However, once adjusted to all of her changes, Suguri should be a force to be reckoned with for a spot on the Olympic team. She only finished 8th at her opening event of the 2005/2006 Olympic season, Skate Canada, but stunned all by winning the Japanese nationals, defeating the then reigning Grand Prix Final champion Mao Asada and eventual Olympic champion Shizuka Arakawa. With Miki Ando and Mao Asada near locks for the team (even with Asada's issues, she has far too much recognition and stardom to be left off), Fumie Suguri is in a race for the third ticket with Yukari Nakano and Akiko Suzuki, the latter of whom she will compete against this week. Suguri may not be primed to do well this week if Finlandia Trophy is any indication, but she has proven capable of sneaking up on her rivals when something big is on the line and can certainly do that again with jump doctor Mishin by her side.

Akiko Suzuki (Japan) 

Suzuki had her best season to date last year, winning a silver medal at the NHK Trophy and achieving a 4th place finish at the Japanese nationals. Much like Joannie Rochette, Suzuki has been slower in reaching her peak, and part of this is because of an eating disorder she suffered from in 2003, which kept her out of competition for the 2003/2004 season. Suzuki was inspired by Shizuka Arakawa's 2004 world title and became motivated to give the sport another try. Although success was slow to come after that, she did improve dramatically for last season and made the most out of her year. Suzuki does stand a legitimate chance of making the Olympic team, and were it not for a (perhaps unfairly) downgraded triple salchow in her long program at Japanese nationals, she may have been a part of the 2009 world championship team. Suzuki is set to debut her new programs for the first time internationally in China, which are a short program to Andalucia and a long program to West Side Story. Former world champion ice dancer turned choreographer Shae-Lynn Bourne worked with Suzuki on her long program for this season and praised Suzuki's skating ability and work ethic on a Japanese television fluff. Suzuki already has had a good start to her season, winning a regional championship in Japan with a score higher than what she received at last year's Japanese nationals. Suzuki is a solid jumper and an attractive artist; she should do well here if her consistency from last season is any indication. As the Japanese Skating Federation appears to be making much of their Olympic team decisions based on Grand Prix results, Suzuki wants to leave her first major event of the season with a bang.

Predicted Standings
Gold: Joannie Rochette (Canada)
Silver: Rachael Flatt (USA)
Bronze: Akiko Suzuki (Japan)
4th: Carolina Kostner (Italy)
5th: Mirai Nagasu (USA)
6th; Fumie Suguri (Japan)

That is all.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mao Asada Update

The following was reported by Canadian skating commentator PJ Kwong on her twitter: "Mao Asada in press conference today said no change to music in SP and FP and no change in 3As in SP (1) and FP (2)...Tarasova concurred"


Thoughts On the Ladies Free In Moscow

I've been fairly busy this weekend and have thus not been able to watch all of the individual competitions from the Rostelecom Cup. However, I did watch several performances from the ladies free skate, and I wanted to comment on them because there is much to be said for several of the competitors.

Mao Asada (Japan)

Within a couple of hours of this video being posted there were already a good 60 comments on it. The Japanese view Mao as their star and pride, and for her to have finished off the podium at a Grand Prix event for the first time in her career is a devastating result. Now, Asada will most likely not be able to qualify to the Grand Prix Final. This is of especially sad irony to her because the 2009 Grand Prix Final is being held in the very same arena where she won the gold medal in 2005, when she was not age eligible to compete in the Olympics. The fans have been nearly unanimous with the thought that Asada should leave coach Tatiana Tarasova, and her assistant, Shanetta Folle. If the Japanese Skating Federation had the gall to pull Asada from her former coach, Rafael Artunian, while she was having a good season and leave her without a coach entering into a World Championships, the likelihood that the federation would pull off similar actions in this far more dire situation is high. I will do a post later on analyzing what Asada needs to do to get back to the top, if she can get back to the top, and who she will be attempting to get back to the top with.

Ashley Wagner (USA)

Very nice performance! The program is a bit rough around the edges, and she could stand to soften her arms and hold out her positions longer, but her program has quite a bit of potential. I saw even further improvement with expression from last season, which she particularly demonstrated in the opening part of the program and the part after her double axel in the middle. However, her jump layout is a bit puzzling. She put in a second double axel in place of her triple toe after the halfway point of the program, and I'm guessing that's because she wants to make her opening combination a triple flip+triple toe? Wagner appears to slightly toe-axel her double toes in combination, and I'm skeptical as to whether she could pull off a triple toe as the second jump of a combination. Ashley would be better off sticking to a triple+double combination in the beginning of the program as she has been doing, putting the triple toe back as a solo jump, and replacing her triple lutz with either a triple loop or triple salchow. Her salchow is slightly more consistent than the more valuable loop jump, but either way that would be a better substitute for her lutz, which basically gets -2 GOE before she even takes off. With all that said, this was a great showing here from Wagner and she has put herself in a position to make the Grand Prix Final. She will face a relatively deep field at NHK Trophy, which includes Miki Ando, Alena Leonova, Sarah Meier, and Yukari Nakano.

Alena Leonova (Russia)

I don't particularly like the music cuts, but this is a fun program with good energy and the typical spunk we have come to expect from Leonova. She has put effort into improving her extension over the summer and, while it has improved, it does have a ways to go. Her intended triple toe+triple toe combination at the beginning has failed her now at three successive competitions, and she would perhaps be wise to go back to her triple toe+double axel sequence that she was doing last year. Similar to Ashley Wagner, Leonova also has to be mindful about fixing her flutz, who also received an "e" edge call. Leonova's short program is superior to her long; it is better put together and showcases her speed much more. Leonova, a model of consistency, had a slightly rough long program here, and also at Finlandia Trophy, but perhaps those slightly weaker skates are merely indicative of her desire to not peak now. If Leonova has realistic aspirations of competing at the Grand Prix Final she must not finish lower than 2nd at her next event, NHK Trophy.

Miki Ando (Japan)

Ando looks quite trim and fit this early in the season, having only one mistake in this program to "Cleopatra." I saw this program from a video taken at the recent "Stars, Stripes, and Skates" show and I actually much preferred her performance there than at this competition. Ando didn't seem all that committed to her choreography (not really a surprise), and her slow step sequence was even further marred by her intense usage of arm flailing. I much preferred Cynthia Phaneuf's interpretation (which she will supposedly be reprising this season) of Cleopatra in her long program from last season. I would advise Miki to leave her aspirations of landing the quad (if she has not already) and instead put her triple salchow in place of her double axel after the halfway point. Her triple salchow is always extremely solid, and she could switch the double loops that she does after her triple toe and put them after her triple salchow for more credit. As I said initially, Ando looks very trim but could stand to do more conditioning to get her stamina in check, as her footwork sequence at the end was quite lethargic. She has added more transitions into the beginning of her program, but the musicality is just not there. Ando looks good overall, however, and she, with Asada's slump, has the ideal opportunity to establish herself as Japan's top female skater.

Alissa Czisny (USA)

First off, I must commend Czisny for her short program, which has so far been consistent for her while choreographically appealing. She could demonstrate a little more fire in her short, particularly in her step sequence, but the program is coming along nicely. I cannot say the same for her long program, which I wished she hadn't chosen to keep for another season. The program doesn't really go anywhere, and the score, although beautiful, doesn't evoke any passion from Czisny and it causes her to look tense and nervous while she is skating. She really needs to focus on rotating her jumps, something which has been a longtime issue for her, but it's good to see that she is standing them up much more consistently so far this season. Her lutz jump technique actually looks improved; she still takes a while with the entrance, but the actual jump is getting more spring. She had both of her loops downgraded, but considering that her double axels are fairly problematic, she should try to do them both again at Skate Canada and work on getting more height on them so that they are rotated. Finishing behind Ashley Wagner didn't exactly help Czisny's Olympic chances, but she did score higher than Caroline Zhang and Alexe Gilles did last week in Paris. Czisny will face Laura Lepisto, Mirai Nagasu, Joannie Rochette, Akiko Suzuki, and Caroline Zhang at Skate Canada in November.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

COR Preview-Men


Florent Amodio (France)

Born in Brazil and adopted as an infant by a French couple, Amodio recently won the French Masters competition, beating far more experienced and acclaimed skaters such as Brian Joubert, Yannick Ponsero, and Alban Preaubert. At 19-years-of-age, Amodio has commendable talent, but his inexperience has shown through for him at several competitions, including at last season's World Junior Championships, where he placed 15th. This low finish was especially surprising, considering that it came shortly after his victory at the Junior Grand Prix Final, and his 2nd place finish at French nationals. His silver medal did not grant him a world team berth, however, because Brian Joubert withdrew from that competition. Fortunately, Amodio was granted the experience of competing at the World Team Trophy directly after worlds, where he placed 10th in the men's competition. While Amodio's recent defeating of Joubert at French Masters is doubtful to mean that he will suddenly start besting Joubert every competition out, his win there is impressive nonetheless, largely because of the great room for improvement he had in both of his programs. Amodio did attempt a quad salchow (which appeared rotated, but had a fall) during his free skate at French Masters and his slight, lean build enables him to rotate jumps with little to no effort at all. Amodio has a tough task at hand to get the second ticket on the French men's team, but he has already gotten his season off on a satisfactory note. A solid placement here at his first senior Grand Prix event (preferably in the top five) will win him further respect from the French judges who will help decide his Olympic dream, particularly after compatriots Ponsero and Preaubert (especially the latter) had weak outings at Trophée Eric Bompard.

Takahiko Kozuka (Japan)

Kozuka was one of the men who experienced a breakthrough season last year, but said season concluded on a fairly sour note. Kozuka shocked many by defeating both Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek at last year's Skate America and went on to win the silver medal at the Grand Prix Final, but he finished over 13 points shy of making the podium at worlds, and he also finished behind less talanted skaters such as Vaughn Chipeur and Sergei Voronov at the World Team Trophy, where he placed 8th. Kozuka is blessed with some of the softest knees and securest edges in the world, but his expression is nearly non-existent, and he has yet to land a quadruple toe loop in competition. The judges were rallying to Kozuka's support in the early part of last season, with them giving him higher PCS marks than those of Johnny Weir's at the Grand Prix Final for both programs. As soon as Patrick Chan and Evan Lysacek improved significantly for the Four Continents Championships, the judges' interest in Kozuka appeared to wain and his PCS marks dropped at that competition and at the World Championships despite executing similar skates. Kozuka is immensely talented, but is a darkhorse medal threat for the Olympic podium at best. His competition in Los Angeles was far less than what it will be in Vancouver, and yet he still finished three places off the podium. As far as this event is concerned, Kozuka is doubtful to win with the return of reigning Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko on his home turf. However, Kozuka is entirely capable of finishing 2nd. His main rival for that placement is Johnny Weir, who Kozuka defeated at two competitions last season. With Nobunari Oda's win at Trophée Eric Bompard, and Daisuke Takahashi's victory at the Finlandia Trophy, Kozuka seems destined to enter the Olympic Games as the third ranked Japanese team member, and will thus have to wait longer before he is truly in contention for a world championship or Olympic medal.

Brandon Mroz (USA) 

Mroz was another skater who enjoyed a breakthrough season last year, shocking a plethora of observers to win the silver medal at the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships with two technically sound programs. The 18-year-old St. Louis native went on to finish 9th at his first World Championships, doing just enough to help Evan Lysacek claim three berths for the United States men at the upcoming Winter Olympics. Mroz is under the tutelage of Tom Zakrajsek, who formerly coached one of Mroz's top rivals in the United States, Jeremy Abbott. Now that Abbott has relocated to Michigan to train under Yuka Sato, Mroz could improve his skating over the next year with him likely to receive more attention from his coach. Although a very consistent short program skater, the reigning U.S. silver medalist has yet to recapture his performance in the long program at nationals at any other competition. Mroz may need such a performance to make the Olympic team, as he only beat Evan Lysacek, with a shaky long program, by less than a point in Cleveland. The gap between Mroz's skating technically and artistically is quite sizable, and it will be a necessity for him to develop a more mature presentation for this Olympic season. Mroz has stated that he wishes to learn a quadruple salchow and upgrade to a quad-triple combination for his short. These are both quite ambitious plans, if he chooses to follow through with them, because his quad toe was landed only one time out of five competitions last season. No longer an unknown, Mroz must not rely on an optimum result at just one competition to get himself a ticket to Vancouver.

Evgeni Plushenko (Russia)

The much-anticipated return to major international competition from the Olympic and three-time world champion has finally arrived. Plushenko has been out of competition ever since winning his 2006 Olympic gold medal, and cited his reason to comeback to the current weakness of men's figure skating in Russia. The announcement of his comeback has some fans in ecstacy and others (perhaps far more) in anguish, but the Russian seems determined to make this comeback a strong one and will settle for nothing less than a second Olympic gold. Nonetheless, his programs of which he revealed at the recent Cup of Russia in Perm defied the limits of boredom, particularly his long program to "Tengo Amore" by Edvin Marton (shown in the above video). Plushenko's jumps are looking very solid, however, and the mere fact that he has a quad in his arsenal should boost his PCS scores. Brian Joubert was wrong to claim that the quad is not valued high enough; while it may not be rewarded justly on the technical score, it is often rewarded on the program component score (particularly when the skater is well-known), as has been the case in the past for Plushenko. Joubert certainly didn't beat Jeffrey Buttle's PCS score during the long program of 2008 worlds for his comparatively inferior expression and edge quality. Plushenko received high PCS marks through the roof at the 2006 Olympics for stylistically bland programs, and while one hopes that the judges will judge him more strictly after his time away from competition, such an instance cannot be guaranteed.

Shawn Sawyer (Canada)

An exceptionally limber skater, the 24-year-old Canadian finished 5th at both of his Grand Prix events last season, winning the long program at Skate Canada with a score of 142.36. The string of fifth-place finishes continued for Sawyer, as he unfortunately finished two placements at Canadian nationals from what would have qualified him to the 2009 world championship team. Now that Canada has only two Olympic spots available for the men, the three-time Canadian bronze medalist has a tough battle in order for securing the second spot on the Olympic team. Conquering his nemesis, the triple axel, would help his prospects of competing at a second Olympic Games significantly. Grand Prix results didn't seem to have much of an impact on the results of Canadian nationals last year, as Shawn Sawyer had stronger showings at his events than Vaughn Chipeur did, but Chipeur wound up beating Sawyer by three places at Canadians. Chipeur, who after last season seemed like the best bet for the second Olympic spot, just recently finished last at Trophée Eric Bompard. Sawyer did peak too early in the season as last year, as Chipeur did not, and that was what made the difference when it came to who was chosen to compete in Los Angeles. Ultimately, a strong showing from Sawyer here may not be the greatest indication that he will compete in Vancouver.

Kevin Van Der Perren (Belgium)

The two-time European bronze medalist is not realistically in the Olympic medal hunt, but wishes to step back onto the ice on the right track after a disappointing 14th place finish at the 2009 World Championships. So far he has not done so, falling to 12th at the recent Finlandia Trophy. Van Der Perren has already competed in two previous Olympics, placing 12th in 2002 and 9th in 2006. His highest finish at a World Championships was a 6th place showing in 2008, scoring the third highest free skate score of the competition.  At his peak, Van Der Perren is an excellent jumper capable of landing quadruple toe loops and triple-triple-triple combinations. Unfortunately, he lacks the superior line and complex choreography of the other top men and thus often receives less than desirable program component scores (even when his jumps are solid). Although Van Der Perren is unlikely to qualify to the Grand Prix Final and would not risk his Olympic spot by performing poorly here, he does wish to perform well to gain prize money to support both he and his wife's training (Jenna McCorkell is his wife, who will be competing in Moscow). At 27 years of age, it remains very probable that this will be Van Der Perren's last season competing.

Johnny Weir (USA)

Last season started off decently for the three-time U.S. Champion, but concluded bitterly with a fifth place finish at the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, a competition which came after a severe illness he had contracted while skating in Japan and South Korea. U.S. Figure Skating showed no mercy to Weir in their selection for the world championship team, leaving him off of both that team and the Four Continents team. Although he has not actually competed in a major event since January, Weir did show his long program at the MidAtlantics last month, and performed his new short program at the recent "Stars, Stripes, and Skates" show in Connecticut. Weir only marked slightly above a 129 for his long program at MidAtlantics, where he apparently left out his footwork and some of his transitions because of the small size of the rink. His second triple axel was downgraded to a double (an extremely rare occurence for him), and he doubled his lutz (also a rare occurence). He encountered similar errors at the show, double footing and slightly under rotating his triple axel, and putting his hand down on his triple lutz. Weir trains on an Olympic-sized rink and appeared to have trouble adjusting to smaller ice surfaces, but Nobunari Oda still managed to land eight clean triples whilst debuting his Charlie Chaplin themed long program on the same rink. Much like Brian Joubert, how Johnny Weir's first event of the season goes generally showcases in some form how he will do later on in the season. In 2007, a brilliant showing at Cup of China led to a world bronze medal. In 2006, one of the weakest long programs of his career at Skate Canada led to a third place finish at nationals and an eighth place finish at worlds. Thus, one should be able to determine much based on Johnny Weir's performances at this competition alone.

Predicted Standings-Men
Gold: Evgeni Plushenko (Russia)
Silver: Takahiko Kozuka (Japan)
Bronze: Johnny Weir (USA)
4th: Brandon Mroz (USA)
5th: Florent Amodio (France)
6th: Shawn Sawyer (Canada)

That is all.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

COR Preview-Pairs and Dance


Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larionov (Russia)

Bazarova and Larionov demonstrated considerable potential in their first season competing on the international circuit, winning the silver medal at the 2007 World Junior Championships, and placing 7th on the senior level at the Russian nationals that same year. The team improved the following season, winning the Junior Grand Prix of Great Britain and winning the bronze medal at their first senior international event, Skate America. The team went on to take the Junior Grand Prix Final title that season, but the result was short-lived and the consequences to come were not so. Larionov was suspended after the competition for a doping violation, thus putting the team out of international competition ever since. His suspension was initially supposed to terminate in January of next year, but was moved back to July 17th, 2009, allowing the team to return to competition for this year's Rostelecom Cup. Bazarova and Larianov recently performed at a small competition in Perm, performing two strong programs. While shabby in places artistically, the team demonstrated an especially creditable technical base, completing elements such as throw triple flips, throw triple twists, and exemplary lifts. The team did mark a 57.14 in their short program and a 113.36 in their long program at that event, scores which, while likely inflated, would be very competitive for a medal at this competition. With Russia having three berths available for the 2010 Olympics and 2010 World Championships, the first two spots essentially belong to Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov and Maria Mukhortova/Alexei Trankov. However, the selection of the third spot will be a far more difficult process, and Bazarova and Larionov will face one of their top rivals for that Olympic ticket at this competition, the team of Anastasia Martiusheva and Alexei Rogonov. Considering Bazarova and Larionov's recent showing in Russia and their past success as juniors, this team should be in good stead to at least challenge for that third spot come Russian nationals, and will be granted an even stronger advantage if they are to perform well here.

Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov (Russia)

As Scott Hamilton remarked at this year's worlds, the thought of someone "defecting to Russia" would have been inconceivable as little as two decades ago. However, times have changed, and Yuko Kavaguti is certainly grateful that they have, as she is enjoying her greatest success thus far of her career doing pairs representing Russia with Alexander Smirnov. Kavaguti placed no higher than 13th at a World Championships with her first two partners, but is now the current world bronze medalist with Smirnov. Likewise, Kavaguti is Smirnov's third partner of his career, and he has been having his greatest success of his career with her. Training under the tutelage of legendary Russian coach Tamara Moskvina, Kavaguti and Smirnov are not as passionate and musical as some, but demonstrate an impressive amount of athleticism, speed, and extension. The team's technical assets are broad, with Kavaguti armed with limitless flexibility and Smirnov capable of lifting his partner like a ragdoll. However, the emotional impact of their presentation does not come across nearly as strong as that of Shen/Zhao or Savchenko/Szolkowy. Kavaguti and Smirnov are the only currently competing team to consistently attempt a quadruple salchow throw, an element which they missed at the 2009 worlds. Despite missing the element, the team won their first world championship medal, even ahead of former world champions Pang/Tong, who Kavaguti and Smirnov will be competing against here. Kavaguti and Smirnov are looking to convey contrasting themes in their programs, with their short program set to "The Swan" and their long program choreographed to "The Blue Danube."

Keauna McLaughlin/Rockne Brubaker (USA)

An exceptionally talented team, McLaughlin and Brubaker were lauded as future Olympic medalists when they were victorious at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, winning the senior title on their first try. The team's consistency has waned since them, and the Americans came away from the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships expecting far greater than their 11th place finish, a placement attained with one of the poorest free skates the team has performed since competing on the senior level. McLaughlin and Brubaker subsequently packed their bags and headed from Colorado Springs to Aliso Viejo, California, where they are now training under the adroit eyes of John Nicks, best known for his coaching of Sasha Cohen and former world champion pair Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner. The move to Nicks is a wise one on the part of McLaughlin and Brubaker, as Nicks has immense experience to aid him with dissecting the team's weaknesses, which have been related primarily to inconsistency (particularly with side-by-side jumps). The team has especially commendable speed, but often sacrifices their ability to breathe and create emotion between one another when they are always doing their elements quickly, as was the case with sections of their "West Side Story" long program from last season. Despite the fact that the current two-time national champions were bested by young upstarts Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett in Los Angeles, McLaughlin and Brubaker have mostly been the top U.S. pair team since their first senior national title in 2008, and stand a great chance at claiming one of the two spots allotted for the U.S. pairs at this coming Olympics. With Kavaguti/Smirnov and Pang/Tong battling it out for gold, and the inexperience of the other two Russian pairs, McLaughlin and Brubaker will be satisfied leaving Moscow with a bronze medal in hand.

Qing Pang/Jian Tong (China)

At their optimum, Pang and Tong nix together excellent throws and twist lifts with exemplary musicality, but in spite of this, the team has not medaled at a world championship for the past two years. Pang and Tong have produced a couple of impressive upsets in their careers thus far, including their victory at the 2006 World Championships, where they beat the favored Olympic silver medalist team of Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang. More recently, Pang and Tong defeated both the Zhangs and Savchenko/Szolkowy for the gold medal at the 2008 Grand Prix Final, but both teams got the last laugh at this year's World Championships, where Savchenko/Szolkowy and the Zhangs went 1-2 and Pang and Tong, held back by a flat long program, finished over five points shy of the medal stand. It appears as though Pang and Tong are battling six other teams (Dube and Davidson, Kavaguti and Smirnov, Mukhortova and Trankov, Savchenko and Szolkowy, Shen and Zhao, and the Zhangs) for those three spots on the podium. Pang and Tong are by all means capable of medaling - their scores at GPF and Four Continents would have placed them 2nd at this year's Worlds, but they must reach their peak condition at the Olympics and not prior to. As far as this event is concerned, Kavaguti and Smirnov appear to have the slight upper hand on Pang and Tong. The former has a home field advantage, and is coming off from having just beaten Pang and Tong at worlds. The 2006 world champions have not been victorious at their first Grand Prix of the event of the season since 2003 Skate America.

Predicted Standings:
Gold: Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov (Russia)
Silver: Qing Pang/Jian Tong (China)
Bronze: Keauna McLaughlin/Rockne Brubaker (USA)
4th: Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larionov (Russia)

Ice Dance

Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (Italy)

The 2nd-ranked Italian team recently placed 10th at the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships in Los Angeles, duplicating their finish from the 2008 World Championships. Cappellini and Lanotte, now in their fourth season together, broke the top five at this year's European Championships and finished 4th at this competition last year. Cappellini and Lanotte don't have much of an opportunity to break into the medals stand at future World Championships/Olympic Games, and certainly won't be doing so with the top ranked Italian team, Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali, still competing. Cappellini and Lanotte actually have very strong interpretation of the music and expression, and had a very strong "Love Story" free dance last season. Unfortunately, their extension and speed don't compare to those of the top teams, and their lack of difficulty and originality within their elements are weaknesses to hold them back also. However, with world champion teams Domnina/Shabalin and Dolobel/Shoenfelder out of the Grand Prix, and their withdrawing from the events (Domnina/Shabalin-COR; Dolobel/Schoenfelder-SA) of which this team is competing at, Cappellini and Lacotte have feasible opportunities to medal both at this event and at Skate America. The team is favored for a silver medal here, having finished two places ahead Canadians Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier, at the 2009 World Championships. Crone and Poirier are expected to be Cappellini and Lanotte's top rivals for silver at this event, with Meryl Davis and Charlie White nearly assured to win the competition.

Vanessa Crone/Paul Poirier (Canada)

As is the case with Cappellini and Lanotte in Italy, Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier are the second ranked team in Canada, achieving the silver medal at this year's Canadian nationals in just their second year competing on the senior level. The Canadians were second at the 2008 World Junior Championships, and made their debut at the senior World Championships this year, finishing a respectable 12th. Their placement and Virtue and Moir's bronze medal did not, however, meet the criteria for Canada to have berths for three dance teams in Vancouver. Crone and Poirier are likely to attain the second spot on the Olympic team, considering that they beat the bronze medalists from last year's Canadian nationals by over five points. Crone and Poirier are a technically proficient team with commendable lifts, and the Canadians did receive six out of a possible eight level fours for their free dance elements at worlds. Unfortunately, the team's speed, artistry, and creativity need to increase sizably if they are to eventually equal the success earned by their countrymen, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Crone and Poirier are only 18 and 17, respectively, so there is still much time available for growth to be made. Beating Cappellini and Lanotte at this event for the silver medal would be an excellent result for the Canadians, but Crone and Poirier should consider a bronze medal satisfactory enough.

Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA)

The current U.S. champions have come to prove that U.S. ice dancing is not merely a showcase of Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, as Davis and White rapidly improve to what they hope will culminate in a world championship or Olympic gold medal. The team, coached by Igor Shpilband and Marina Zueva, has competed at the last three World Championships, controversially missing the bronze medal in Los Angeles by just .04. That result means bad news bears for their 2010 Olympic medal prospects, as Tanith and Ben's experience gave them an advantage over Davis and White in the judging at last year's worlds, and Virtue and Moir now have the bonus of competing at home for this season's premier event. Davis and White recently made their debut of their new free dance to "Phantom of the Opera" in a U.S. summer competition. The program was rough around the edges, but showed considerable improvement by the time the Nebelhorn Trophy came by, where Davis and White were competing against a weak field and thus easily won the competition. The team has particularly dynamic expression and speed, but a particular weakness on Meryl's part is her lack of extension, with her leg line and foot form being inferior to that of Tanith Belbin and Emily Samuelson. Davis and White have no issue racking up exemplary TES scores; in fact, they received the highest TES score in their free dance at 2009 worlds. Davis and White's PCS marks were what prevented them from medaling, likely more due to reputation than of their actual skating at that given competition. Davis and White received a noticeably larger ovation following their free dance in Los Angeles than that of Belbin and Agosto, but the judges did not respond in kind. It may remain that way until Belbin and Agosto retire for Davis and White to become the top U.S. ice dance team, and will need to be so in order to medal at a future world championship or Olympic Games.

Ekaterina Rubleva/Ivan Shefer (Russia)

The current Russian silver medalists are perhaps better known for Rubleva's wardrobe malfunction during the compulsory dance at the 2009 Europeans then they are for their actual skating, but nevertheless, this team stands a very good chance of snatching the third spot on the Russian Olympic team for ice dance. This is especially true, considering their strong 5th place finish at the recent Trophée Eric Bompard competition, where Rubleva and Shefer bested current U.S. bronze medalists Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre and fellow compatriots Kristina Gorshkova and Vitali Butikov. Rubleva and Shefer have competed at one World Championships thus far in their careers, in 2008, where they placed 15th. Rubleva and Shefer have a tall task at hand of trying to become the top Russian team before they retire, even if Domnina and Shabalin hang their skates up after 2010. Rubleva and Shefer are an elegant team, but have a long way to go to match the current strength of current Russian and European champions, Jana Khoklova and Sergei Novitski. Rubleva and Shefer don't exactly have years ahead of them to improve either, as they are 24 and 26 years of age, respectively. Rubleva and Shefer's premier priority for this season is obviously to claim that last spot on the Olympic team, and the process of attaining that begins here. Beating the two other Russian ice dance teams competing will put Rubleva and Shefer's Olympic chances in even superior stead.

Predicted Standings
Gold: Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA)
Silver: Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (Italy)
Bronze: Vanessa Crone/Paul Poirier (Canada)
4th: Ekaterina Rubleva/Ivan Shefer (Russia)

Next post: COR Preview-Men

That is all.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

TEB Ladies Free Skate-Live Commentary

Start Order

1 Gwendoline DIDIER FRA

10 41.96


9 43.86


8 48.68

4 Carolina KOSTNER ITA

7 51.26


6 54.20

Warm-Up Group 2

6 Caroline ZHANG USA

5 57.26


4 58.22


3 58.96


2 59.64

10 Yu-Na KIM KOR

1 76.08

11:29 CT Ladies are currently warming up

11:32 Kostner is in blue, Gedevanishvili in black. Kostner did a clean triple salchow earlier in warm-up; Gedevanishvili doubled hers.

Gwendoline Didier gets big ovation; looks very nervous.
3Z-maybe double-footed
3S-UR, hand down, double-footed
Very different, awkward catch-foot with right leg crossed over left shoulder in spiral
2A+2T-landed with no speed
3T (possible UR)+2T-landed
Slow footwork
Lethargic final spin

TES: 37.87
PCS: 38.24
Total: 76.11
Grand Total: 118.07

Anna Jurkiewicz (Poland)
3T-both hands down
fast catch-foot layback spin
3T+2T-solid, good height on first jump
1S-long, slow entrance
final spin compo-good speed
Good speed and expression in places but doesn't carry those traits throughout the program.

TES: 30.76
PCS: 41.44
Ded: -1.00
Total: 71.20
Grand Total: 115.06
Rank: 2

Elene Gedevanishvili (Georgia)
3T+3T-double footed, possible UR
3S-good, with Y-scale spiral coming before it
2A-good with spiral going into it
Deathdrop traveled slightly
3S-fall, will only be counted as a sequence
slip while stroking
good spiral
Dynamic finish
Robin Wagner is pleased

TES: 47.99
PCS: 47.76
Ded: -1.00
Total: 94.75
Grand Total: 143.43
Rank: 1

Carolina Kostner (Italy)
3F-hand down, dropped free leg quickly
Excellent spiral
3T-UR, hand down
3R-hop out of it
Completely bailed out of her axel
3S-landed; possible UR
Good expression in places but the choreography of this program doesn't appear as difficult as past programs of hers have been. The footwork sequence is very dynamic, but overall the program doesn't really go anywhere.

TES: 41.85
PCS: 55.52
Ded: -1.00
Total: 96.37
Grand Total: 147.63
Rank: 1

Kiira Korpi (Finland)
Doing last year's program
3Z-UR; step-out
3S-good height but fell
Very weak extension on spiral
2A+2T-slight toe-axel on toe but otherwise clean
2A+2T-landed with little speed coming out
This performance had a more dynamic presentation then I've seen from her in the past but the jumps were just not there for her tonight.

TES: 35.15
PCS: 50.48
Ded: -1.00
Total: 84.63
Grand Total: 138.83
Rank: 3

12:11 CT Warm-up group two. Huge crowd ovation for Kim and a big ovation for Asada as well.

Mao is in a different dress from WTT; it's red on the top and black at the bottom. Kim is in blue, and she just landed a solid triple lutz. Nakano in the same God awful costume from WTT.

Nakano just landed 3F. Asada landed 3F+2R+2R, Kim did 3Z+2T (clearly opened up 2nd jump, which was intended to be 3T). Zhang is in a light blue dress.

Nakano just landed 3Z. Kim landed 3Z.

Caroline Zhang (USA)
3F+2T-mule kick as present as ever but landed
3Z+2T-flutz, otherwise OK
2A-landed but slower entrance than in SP
good spins
3F-step out
3R- landed
3R+2T+2R-not much speed coming out of the first jump but was able to pull off the combo
Stunning spiral
Great pearl to bielmann at the end; spin combo traveled slightly
Very flat performance. This program is significantly weaker than her short, the latter of which actually showcased improved speed and expression.

TES: 47.89
PCS: 48.00
Total: 95.89
Grand Total: 153.15
Rank: 1

Alexe Gilles (USA)
2T+2T (bailed out on 2nd jump in the air)
3Z-hand down, possible UR
3R-good recovery
Weak Bielmann
Spiral has adequate extension
2A-lovely spiral coming out of it
3F(possible UR)+2T+2R
Very cute program! She maintained good expression throughout, and hopefully she can develop her consistency further to become recognized by the international judges who underscored her on PCS during the short.

TES: 45.70
PCS: 48.00
Total: 93.70
Grand Total: 151.92
Rank: 2

Mao Asada (Japan)
Enormous ovation
3A-UR, Double footed
Good spiral extension
3F+2R+Tano2R-possible UR on last jump but otherwise clean
2A-fell out of; very strange error
Excellent footwork
One-handed Bielmann to end, finished after music

Much improved from the Japan Open. She needs to take the 2nd 3A out pronto; it isn't working. Skated with improved speed and expression.

TES: 55.07
PCS: 60.96
Ded: -1.00
Total: 115.03
Grand Total: 173.99
Rank: 1

Yukari Nakano (Japan)
2A+2A+SEQ-very good
3F+2T-leg wrap but otherwise clean
3Z-UR, double footed
3F-good besides wrap
3S(possible UR)+2T-landed but leaning in the air on 3S
3S-Double-footed and step out
Spins good throughout program.

Improved performance technically and choreographically from Japan Open. Showed much more personality, but this is still an inferior program to her "Giselle" from last year and her short program.

TES: 48.86
PCS: 57.20
Total: 106.06
Grand Total: 165.70
Rank: 2

Yu-Na Kim needs 97.92 to win.

Yu-Na Kim (South Korea)
Lost balance and completely bailed out on the triple flip
2A+2T+Tano2R-lovely, with Ina Bauer before it
Footwork a little slow

What a peculiar error on the triple flip, but she recovered extremely well. The program is very elegant and fun, and it's very much designed around the code of points. I like the program very much, it has lots of great moments but I wouldn't say it's a masterpiece.

TES: 67.55
PCS: 66.40
Total: 133.95 (New world record!!!)
Total: 210.03 (New world record!!!)

Final Standings
1 Yu-Na KIM KOR 210.03
2 Mao ASADA JPN 173.99
3 Yukari NAKANO JPN 165.70
4 Caroline ZHANG USA 153.15
5 Alexe GILLES USA 151.92
6 Carolina KOSTNER ITA 147.63
8 Kiira KORPI FIN 138.83
9 Gwendoline DIDIER FRA 118.07
10 Anna JURKIEWICZ POL 115.06

I won't be doing commentary for the dance free; I have my life to tend to in the meantime.

That is all.