Thoughts on the top ladies after the season & looking forward to what's next
JAPAN’S TOP THREE
SATOKO MIYAHARA: I still remember seeing the video from Satoko’s free skate at the Japan Open before the season even began and I remember thinking there was something I liked about this girl- and that program. She’s this little, tiny dynamo and I can’t wait to see what comes from her next. She’s got such a light, graceful presence on the ice that is so pleasing to watch. She can struggle with jump deductions that cost her points, so hopefully she can grow and gain some strength for that bigger jumping power she needs. As a now World silver medallist, she has some more international credibility and I look for the judges to be more favorable to her next season. If Mao Asada makes a return to competition next year, Satoko will really be given a run for her money to keep her Japanese title. My biggest hope, though, is that her 80-s throw back short program dress (or anything like it) will never make an appearance again.
RIKA HONGO: Rika truly made some improvements in her skating this year. There is much improvement left to do, but by the end of the season I could see that she was performing to her music better and her surprise win on the Grand Prix circuit brought lots of international competition experience her way. Her hunched shoulders have to continue to be worked on and she needs to push emoting on the ice as well. She’s got a big task in taking over the Japanese throne from Satoko or Mao and some big leaps in her skating would have to be taken for that to happen. There’s also some talent coming up from the junior ranks in Japan as well. To stay competitive, Rika needs to throw down mature programs that flow better and demonstrate some better jumping technique.
KANAKO MURAKAMI: It was a scratchy season for Kanako. She had an inconsistent Grand Prix season and struggled at the Japanese nationals. She had a breakout performance in the short program at Worlds and it was lovely to see her skating at her best. She had issues in the long, but she still posted her highest score of the season at that event. Overall, though, I’m not sure Kana has the technical difficulty to break into the top 6 in the World. She runs an easier set of technical content and her season average score (174.46) was twelfth best. I love Kana as an artist, but she also runs a huge risk of being overshadowed by the other talent in her country. And please- no more Phantom next year? I did love that short program on her, though. But two POTO programs is really too much.
Next? Part 3 Ladies of the US!
Thoughts on the top ladies after the season & looking forward to what's next
RUSSIA’S TOP THREE:
LIZA: Okay, girl, I gotta hand it to you- you had a hell of a season. After the disaster that last year was for her, this season’s results are INSANE. And her triple axel is one of the most beautiful jumps I have ever witnessed. Her overall jump technique is truly impressive. I would like to see some improvement, though. First- call me traditional, but I’d like that hair in a bun like the mature skater you are. Thanks. Second- the “afghan-caftan moments” (quote Johnny Weir) happening in your costuming this season does not work for me. The colors were great, but the cheapo sparkly gold stars on that long program costume do not speak “World Champ” to me. And most importantly- I’d like to see some choreography and musical interpretation that has some depth to it. Her choreo this season relied heavily on arm movements - which while flashy, isn’t the most sophisticated of presentation styles. What was great about Liza this season though was her incredible consistency and the ability to perform under pressure. Hopefully she can build on that next year and not let the pressure of being World Champ drag her down.
ELENA RADIONOVA: There’s a lot I like about Lena as a skater. She’s always got a fire in her eye and I like that intense competitiveness. She seems like a firecracker to me and I like it. I was all impressed with her at the beginning of the season, but that faded as the year went on. She’s got this scratchy, jerky way of jumping that is so ungraceful that it taints her performances for me a bit. She’s got technical consistency, though, and that’s what made this season so successful for her. I also feel Elena emotes and performs well for someone of her age. It was fun to watch her rivalry with Liza, but their scores really weren’t that close by the end of the season. To compete with Liza next year, Elena is going to needs TWO mature programs (Read: NO J-Lo) and I’m hoping for some smoother lines and jumps. And for the love of God- some costumes that aren’t terribly gaudy? Hers this season were a vast improvement from the past, but I’m all for simple and elegant. And- will she unveil a triple axel of her own to compete with her teammate?? Hmmm….
ANNA POGORILAYA: Our ‘beloved’ PogoStick had a rough go of it by the end of the season. She started out fairly well, but she was a hot freakin’ mess by the time Worlds came around. She used to have technical difficulty that would keep her in the medal race at events, but by the end of the year she didn’t even have that! Her performance skills have always been lacking, but she looked especially lost on the ice this season- screwing up spins, footwork and practically belly flopping on the ice at Worlds. WIth the crazy-intense talent in Russian ladies skating right now, Anna is in true danger of being overstepped and left in the dust. If Evgenia Medvedeva had skated the whole year as a senior, Anna wouldn’t have even made it to senior worlds. (Not to mention that Julia may be back next year, too.) Recent reports from Anna say that she’s patched things up with her coach (who looks like a total blast, btw) and is working on harder jumping content to get back into form for next year. You’ve got some work to do, girl!
Part Two: Japan’s Top Three Coming on Friday : )
I hate to admit it, but it was the ever popular Olympics that brought me back to the magical world of figure skating in 2013. I watched the US Nationals that year and then all of the Sochi coverage and have been hooked ever since. Fantasy skating, IceNetwork and all of the generous and enthusiastic fans on Twitter have brought me back to the sport in a major way and I couldn’t be more excited to be a fan today.
The earliest memory I have of skating was my dad picking me up from school ( I would’ve been 7) and telling me that Nancy Kerrigan may not be able to compete at the Olympics because she had been attacked. I casually watched throughout my early teens and was a huge Michelle Kwan fan back in the day, but I fell off the bandwagon after she lost the 1998 Olympics as my high school and college years offered other things of interest.
I somewhat remember Michelle’s career post 1998 and vaguely remember Sasha Cohen, but after that - I’m a complete blank as far as remembering details other than who won the Olympics in 2002, 2006 and 2010.
Having recaptured my interest in a big way for the sport, I’ve recently had a desire to recover those lost years. Thanks to YouTube, I’ve begun my quest to watch the top three ladies videos from the US Nationals and World Championships from 1994-present. It doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but it sure adds up.
If I can stomach Dick Button’s commentating and the lack of high definition in the videos, it should be a nice project to bide my time before the new season starts.
Wish me luck : )
The level of ladies competition this past season took a big turn at the World Championships when Elizaveta Tuktamysheva unveiled her triple axel. It was a gutsy move, but one that turned out to be well worth it, as she posted the highest short program score for any lady in the 2014-15 season by over six points.
2014-2015 Season Best Short Program Score
But even when not cleanly landed- her fully rotated triple axel was worth more than the standard 2A that the rest of the ladies are doing. At World Team Trophy 2015, Elizaveta scored a 4.5 for her Triple axel attempt (8.5 Base Value - 3 for GOE and -1 for the fall). Gracie Gold’s clean double axel scored 4.13 with bonus points and a .50 GOE.
Which begs my question- As a skater, how do you compete against someone with a triple axel? Elena Radionova- the only skater to beat Elizaveta at a competition this season- skated very well at Worlds and World Team Trophy but her scores were could not touch Elizaveta.
Shortly after the season ended- and even before- several other skaters (Anna Pogorilaya, Gracie Gold, Ashley Wagner, Serafima Sakhanovich) announced plans to begin working on the jump or even a quadruple jump. It seems that they, too, understand the gap that can exist in the scores between the have 3 axels and the have nots.
I am all for the technical advancement of the women’s discipline in figure skating, and am excited to if more ladies begin to compete with it- a triple axel is certainly exciting to watch. It does make me nervous, though, for some of my favorite skaters who are already struggling to keep up with the competition technically.
The last lady to consistently compete the triple axel is three-time World Champion Mao Asada, who recently announced a competitive comeback. She competed with the triple axel from 2006-2014, winning an Olympic silver medal, five World medals, 6 Grand Prix final medals, and 15 medals in the Grand Prix circuit in that time.
Obviously, a triple axel doesn’t make a skater unbeatable by itself, other factors come into play. Mao landed 3 of them at the Vancouver Olympics and still came in second, due to other jump mistakes and competing against Kim Yuna.
However, Liza’s shocking consistency over the season coupled with a consistent triple axel and the judges love for giving her huge PCS could certainly be an unbeatable combination : )
What do you think--- will we be seeing more triple axels from the ladies? AND possibly quads??
When USFSA announced details for the 2015 Skate America, I was very excited to see the release date for the 2015 Grand Prix assignments announced. The press release states that June 15th will be the day that assignments will be posted, which means we are less than one month away from the news!
The skating off season can really drag on, so it will nice to have some new information to speculate over for the summer.
I looked up the procedure on selecting Grand Prix assignments, and here's what I gathered in case any of you are interested :
For each event, the number of entries will be 8-12 for Mens/Ladies and 6-8 for Pairs/Dance.
1. Those who place 1-6 at the 2015 World Championships are automatically drawn two events. It will pass down to the next available skater/team in the case of retirements or injuries
2. Those who place 7-12 in mens and ladies and 7-10 in pairs and ice dance at the 2015 World Championship are invited to two events. It will pass down to the next available skater/team in the case of retirements or injuries.
3. Skaters/teams who have an ISU ranking 1-24 or have scored in the Top 24 of season best scores for 2014-2015 are guaranteed one event assignment, but are often invited to two.
4. Any host country can invite their own skaters to participate at their country's event, up to three entries per discipline.
5. Elite skaters who are making a comeback after an injury or season off are given priority in assignments when they return.
6. Any spot not filled by the rules above can be given by the host country to any skater/team with a score in the top 75 2014-15 season best scores.
Twitter was buzzing late last night and early this morning with news from 2014 World Champion Mao Asada's press conference. She says she wishes to continue her competitive career and has returned to daily practices to get into competition shape. There's no information yet on whether we would see her next season.
Whenever it happens, it would be very interesting to see this past champion compete against dominant Russians Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Elena Radionova, especially considering that Tuktamysheva made waves this season with her triple axel, a jump Mao is famous for.
Between the Olympics in 2010 and 2014, Mao competed all four years internationally and won many titles. If Mao returns to the Olympics for 2018, we could be in for even more interesting competition than expected.
Many news outlets have shared articles, but it's mostly the same information. Here's one from the AP.
It may be the off season, but news is always coming out! I will try to share news once a month so everyone is updated!
Wrapping Up Last Season
Retirements, Comebacks and Injuries
New Program Info
and am officially on my way to attending my very first competitive skating event live! WHOO-HOO!
With my all event pass, I also have access to practices so I cannot wait to share photos, videos, and info with all of you! Make sure you follow me on Twitter for instant updates!
I also plan to attend Nationals in January that are also near me in Minnesota, so plenty of info to come from there as well.
If I was excited for next season, before I am even more so now! Excitement will be very high as the season officially kicks off at Skate America in October and I will be there for every minute of it!
You can see the schedule, tickets and event info for Skate America 2015 at www.2015skateamerica.com.
About the Blog:
Reviews, predictions and opinions in the magical, sparkly and dramatic field of figure skating.