WHOO-HOO! I achieved my BEST fantasy skating placement of the season for the 2015 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, fishing tied for 5th place with 2,335 points.
I got 9/12 picks correct- the most of the season- and it was my highest finish since Week 1 (73rd). I received 60 bonus points, thanks especially to a second place Joshua Farris and a third place Pang/Tong. I chose 3/4 winners as well; only Gracie Gold let me down.
Overall, I am now ranked 95th with 21,706 points. I would really like to finish the season in the top 100, so hopefully I can hang in there for good numbers at Worlds.
I'm passing these long days waiting for the World Championships by running some data as I muse over all the scenarios we'll see in Shanghai at the end of March.
According to my amateur math, here are the average season scores for the top ladies heading into Shanghai:
LADIES- Average 14-15 Season Scores*
*Events included: GP events, GP Final, national championships, Europeans, and Four Continents
1. Elena Radionova 205.02
2. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva 202.51
3. Ashley Wagner 193.57
4. Anna Pogorilaya 188.37
5. Gracie Gold 188.17
6. Satoko Miyahara 184.49
7. Rika Hongo 178.33
8. Polina Edmunds 174.93
9. Kanako Murakami 170.26
10.Gabrielle Daleman 169.78
11.Alaine Chartrand 168.42
12.So Youn Park 167.94
13. Li Zijun 163.33
14. Mae Bernice Meite 160.45
15. Victoria Helgessen 155.27
Well, this competition certainly ended in a surprise. I correctly predicted the second and third place finishers, but had the wrong American at the top.
USA's Polina Edmunds got her first big international win by placing first in the free skate to get the gold medal at the Four Continents Championship. Edmunds was clean in the short program but was slightly in fourth behind Miyahara, Gold and Hongo. She did get a few low GOE and jump calls in the free skate, but managed to stay on her feet and took advantage of some poor skates from her competitors. It was her best international finish of the season, but her scores here wouldn't hold up well at Worlds against those powerful Russian skaters we're all talking about. Even so, it was a good building block for her and she should have a shot at the top six in Shanghai.
Satoko Miyahara from Japan was leading heading into the free skate after a clean short program, and I really though she'd pull through for the win. She's typically consistent in landing her jumps, but often gets called for under rotations. After some jump mistakes in the free, she ended up second and didn't seem very happy about it. I like her style of skating and look for her to come back strong at Worlds with two solid performances. She needs some more speed and power before she can really contend for a medal at Worlds, but like Edmunds, she could battle for a top spot.
I'm glad I predicted this third place finish for Japan's Rika Hongo. She skated well and consistently. Her skating needs some polish in the next few years, but she should be happy with her performances and take some confidence away from this competition to Worlds. At Worlds, I could see her placing in the top ten.
The rest: Oh, how could I have forgotten Gracie Gold? Well, maybe because her performance here was so forgettable. She struggled in the short program and absolutely fell apart in the long program, making big mistakes on all of her combinations. I've never seen her look more lost on the ice. Her competitive focus seemed to be completely lacking. I know this competition was a short turn around from Nationals, so maybe she was emotionally and physically exhausted. The next five weeks will be critical for her as she tries to rest and recover from this utter disaster. She could still show up for Worlds, but she seems to have a mental issue more than a physical one.
Well, there's only one competition left of this season and I am certainly excited for it. All of the "battles" we've seen develop this season will be settled at World Championships as we finally see all of the best skaters compete together for first time of the season. I am sure the skaters are glad they have five weeks to prepare, but it will feel long for all of us fans! See you in Shanghai.
With no Russians allowed in this competition, everyone else gets a chance to step up and win some hardware!
Gracie Gold is the clear favorite here and my pick for first place. If she skates clean, she should run away with the title. Though she had mistakes at Nationals, her prior foot injury didn't seem to be the issue there and the practice videos I've seen of her this week look strong. I think she will be hungry for a win and if she does win, it certainly sets up a nice battle with fellow American Ashley Wagner for a spot on the podium at Worlds.
Japan's Satoko Miyahara is fresh off of her first National title win and had a fairly strong season in the Grand Prix, just missing a spot at the Final. I think that she will skate well and get the silver medal. She has had issues with underrotations in the past, so I'll be looking for her to clean those up here before Worlds. She has a wonderful style to her skating and I expect a strong showing from her.
Truly, many skaters could take third place, but I'll go with Japan's Rika Hongo. She performed well in the Grand Prix and especially in the Final. I am sure she's looking to rebound from Japanese Nationals. She will have to skate like she did at the Final to grab a bronze, but she can do it. The battle for bronze may end up being more exciting than the top two spots.
Others to Watch: Polina Edmunds rebounded nicely at Nationals, and could finish on the podium if she continues that here. Her components are really lacking for me, which is why I didn't pick her for a medal. She has the TES, though. I'm praying for two strong skates from Sammi Cesario so she can end her season well. She also lacks components and struggles with levels, so I don't think she'll podium, but a top 5 or 6 performance would be great for her. Canadians Gabrielle Daleman and Alaine Chartrand could also be in the mix for a medal with their powerful jumps!
Enjoy watching! I will be sleeping, but will catch the replay : )
After the European Championships, I was ranked 120th with 19371 points. Overall, I stand tied for 160th place.
I admit that I did not do too much research into this event... I think I was still suffering from post-Nationals hangover. I was happy to have called the ice dancing winners, but they were the only ones I did pick. Onward and upward!
Well, this competition was rough one for me in terms of fantasy points. I got 6/12 picks correct. I usually excel in the singles categories, but this time around I did much better in the team events, with 3/3 dance picks correct and ⅔ pairs picks correct. Steven Carriere’s last minute WD from competition hurt my score, but I successfully picked the winners in the mens, pairs and ice dance event.
Ladies: I don’t even care that my A pick was incorrect, because Ashley Wagner was incredible and I’ll pick her victory over mine : ) I wish I would’ve picked Karen Chen for the B pick, though, because of the bonus points I could’ve earned with her third place finish. My C pick finished dead last, which I can only laugh about because I don’t follow the young skaters very well.
Men: I was right- Jason Brown really had a moment at Nationals. After struggling in the Grand Prix with the jumps, he was perfectly clean as he won his first National title- and the audience. Adam Rippon and Josh Farris definitely gave Brown a run for his money (I almost feel like Rippon should’ve won) and I can honestly say I was blown away with the artistry of the top men at this competition.
Pairs:My A pick was spot on with Scimeca and Knierem winning their first national title. In the short program, they were technically stronger than they had been all year (or in the past) and they hit their quad twist in the free skate, which was a huge moment. Personally, I like Denney and Fraiser’s style and artistry much better, but S/K ‘s quad twist- and the momentum that came with it- was too much to beat.
Ice Dance: Ah, US Figure skating’s OTHER rivalry. The Shibs may have lost out here, but I have to say their short program was my favorite of the two and Maia and Alex have the most insane set of Twizzles I have ever seen. I was very impressed by Alex’s performance- he really connects to the music and the audience. Both teams skated incredibly well here, but Chock and Bates are collectively a more dynamic team on the ice. I can’t take my eyes of Madison when she skates!
Let’s face it- the night belonged to Ashley Wagner. The now three-time National Champion threw out the best performance of her career, landing seven CLEAN triples and bringing the audience to their feet with her inspired skate. She set a new record for a free skate at the US Championship and won the competition by over ten points. Her skate was the most exciting moment of the championships for me, and it was wonderful to see her deliver a performance like this when it mattered most. She surely has rebounded in a big way from the rough start to her season. Hopefully, she will carry this confidence and momentum into the World Championships, where I cannot wait to see her skate again!
Gracie Gold faced a tough challenge in directly following Ashley Wagner’s incredible skate. She had to wait on the ice while Ashley’s huge score was announced and I think it made her even more nervous. Gracie started the program well, completing several jumping passes, but ultimately falling and losing any hope of reclaiming her title. Overall, I felt Gracie was very uncomfortable in her skin and on the ice at these Championships. She seemed even more disconnected to her music and the audience than usual. How much her injury has factored into the mistakes and her lack of confidence, is hard to say. Her job post-Nationals will be to clean up the nerves and jumping mistakes for the Four Continents Championships and Worlds.
Well, there’s always one young phenom at Nationals, isn’t there? Little Karen Chen won the bronze medal with two relatively clean skates (some underrotations). The youngster talks big, but jumps small, so hopefully some physical growth in the next few years can improve those technical issues. I am impressed with the quality of her components, and she could really grow into something special if she can weather the storm as she hits the often tumultuous mid-teen years. As she is too young to compete at the senior level internationally, she will compete next at the Junior World Championships.
So far this season, Polina Edmunds had struggled more in her free skate than the short, but it was the opposite problem here. She rebounded from her rough Grand Prix season to compete well in the short program, but unexpectedly fell in the free skate. Personally, I don’t think her long program really suits her. It does not allow her to emotionally connect to the performance or support the more mature image she is trying to pursue. The good news for Polina is that her performances in Greensboro were definitely a step up and she gets the opportunity to improve further as she competes at the Four Continents Championship and Worlds later this winter.
Wow, what a rollercoaster of a competition this was for Samantha Cesario. She was in 11th place after the short program after the judges harshly picked apart her program. She vaulted all the way to 5th place in the free skate with an emotional and fierce performance. I could tell she really wanted to prove to the judges that she’s someone to take seriously. I love Sami’s performance quality, but I do see the judges point on her lacking technical skills. Sami has a well-deserved opportunity to compete one more time internationally at the Four Continents Championships. I hope she skate solidly there to end her season on a high note.
Mirai Nagasu suffered yet another Nationals disaster. After finishing fourth in the short, she took to the ice in the free program with a chance to grab a medal. She completed a few elements before one of her blades suddenly hit the board, causing her to fall and injure her knee. She continued with the performance, even landing some jumps, but she was visibly in pain and obviously had a hard time focusing on the preformance. She left the ice in tears, but sat in the kiss and cry with calmly while she got her less-than-stellar marks. She seemed to be walking fine as she left the arena.
Others: Courtney Hicks fell apart technically in the free skate to finish eighth. I love the fire she brings to her short program, and I wonder why they didn’t pick more aggressive free skate music as well. Honestly, the whole program was a bit of a hot mess. Courtney has the jumps together, and she now has the rest of the season off to work on completing the rest of the package. Ashley Cain and Angela Wang had disappointing finishes, placing 14th and 15th, respectively.
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Reviews, predictions and opinions in the magical, sparkly and dramatic field of figure skating.