As the 2015-16 season has officially ended, let’s take a look at the world’s top ladies and where they stand after this year- let’s continue with part 2, the U.S. ladies. Read Part 1
Ashley Wagner- Ashley leaves the season at a high point in her competitive career, with a World silver medal and back on top of the U.S. ladies in world ranking. Though her results from one event to the next were inconsistent, she earned several personal bests this year. She continues to improve her TES to match her strength in PCS. If there was ever a time to run with momentum, next season would be the year to do it before all eyes turn to the Olympics. Ashley will need to fine tune all her technical elements and compete with more consistency if she wants to firmly establish herself as the U.S.’s leading lady. Her programs this year showcased her strengths and I want to see more along the same lines next year!
Gracie Gold- Reflecting on her season, truly, it was the same as the last two- a great success when she’s clean, but no proven ability to be clean consistently. Gracie’s technical strengths and overall packaging make her a judges’ favorite and a medal threat for every competition she enters, but in terms of mental/competitive ability, she’s really making no progress. I think her team did make some progress in choosing *better* music, but I think they still need to do more. Gracie cannot connect to all of the classical warhorses that are pretty, yet boring. I feel like there’s a more intense side to Gracie that they are not tapping into. A dramatic, powerful program could showcase her, not confine her, and let her natural strengths shine.
Mirai Nagasu- Mirai should be proud of the incredible strides her career took this season. What stands out most was her CONSISTENCY this season. Every event, every skate, she looked solid and steady. Her jumps have improved and she looks happier on the ice. The great results she got this year will provide her with more competitive opportunities next season, and Mirai needs to continue to take advantage of those chances before 2018. I would like to see her programs next year have intricate choreography and transitions, and some Mirai sass! This season should hopefully give her the confidence to head into next year with the focus and mental toughness she’ll need to make a run at the top three U.S. ladies spots.
Polina Edmunds- It seems the last two seasons have been tough years for Polina, with a growth spurt, boot problems and a late season injury that took her out of Worlds this year. While she gets high scores domestically, the international judges haven’t been so friendly and Polina seems frustrated by that. I think Polina’s competitive drive is clearly there in competition but the overseas judges aren’t getting what they want from her. I 100% think more mature music and packaging choices need to be made by her team if they want her to move up internationally and fend off the other U.S. ladies from taking her spot in the top three. I liked the maturity of Moonlight Sonata for her but I’d like to see faster paced programs.
Courtney Hicks- Courtney competed at two Grand Prix events this year and came away with a medal, which was a great moment for her. Unfortunately rough skates at U.S. nationals ended her season. Courtney’s powerful jumps are exciting to watch, but without the jumps, her programs can feel empty as she lacks the refined lines of the top contenders. She’s made efforts to improve her artistry and I expect those efforts to continue again next year. If Courtney wants to get on the last World team before 2018, she’ll need to find a more balanced and complete package.
Karen Chen- In her debut season on the Grand Prix, Karen came away with two respectable top five finishes but equipment issues all year kept her from being consistent enough for a good showing at Nationals or Four Continents. Karen’s artistry, spins and spiral show tons of promise, however. I hope a restful offseason will take care of the boot problems and give her time to generate the consistent skating she’ll need to get back on the U.S. podium.
Overall, we no longer have to hear about the goddamn U.S. ladies World medal drought (thanks, Ashley!) but skating well time after time has been hard to find among the U.S. women. Though Wagner and Gold have been great at times, neither one has had the consistency to take the leading lady spot convincingly. I expect their battle to continue next year, as well as the battle for the third spot on a very important 2017 U.S. World Team.
As the 2015-16 season has officially ended, let’s take a look at the world’s top ladies and where they stand going to next year. I’m starting with the Russian ladies, because, well, they’re the talk of the town lately.
Evgenia Medvedeva- Let’s be real here, it was Evgenia's year. Aside from a loss to compatriot Elena Radionova, this girl won everything she entered. I am hesitant to get too excited about her, as Russia has yet to prove that they can produce the *same* champion year after year, but I do think she has future potential. Mostly because she really has the whole package- technical firepower and artistic performance ability, combined with that intense Russian competitiveness that has proved dominant. I would like to see them pick programs with more drama next year; the two she had this year were very similar to each other, and I like to see more of a clear storyline. Only time will tell if she can be the Russian superstar that finally finds some staying power. Your guess is as good as mine!
Anna Pogorilaya- Anna seemingly came out of nowhere at Worlds to win what was probably the most unpredictable of podium finishes in Boston. After an early season that was plagued by “Pogo falls” and uneven results, she put down two clean skates in Boston to overcome teammate Radionova and bring some of that hotly contested Russian spotlight back to her. Anna has always had the technical firepower to score big numbers, and she certainly proved she can compete with the world’s elite when she can be consistent. Her style of skating is not necessarily something I connect with, but it also isn’t glaringly terrible. Her programs this year were fine (not great, not awful), so I’d like to see something with a “spark” next year. You gotta keep that spotlight on you, kid, and it won’t be easy.
Elena Radionova- After being one of the Russian darlings of last season, Elena had to power through a literal growth season, working through adjusting her jumps to her new height. I actually thought she pulled them all together well by Worlds. New body issues aside, I think Elena made some wrong choices in the music department this year. The style of programs she chose emphasized her flailing, uncontrolled skating style and it left a bit of a messy impression. Program content matters and I think they just made the wrong choices this year. Next year, I’d hope to see her with cleaned up jumps and the heart and passion she always skates with. Maybe a powerful type of music (latin again maybe?) would be a better move.
Adelina Sotnikova- We saw Adelina win a medal on the Grand Prix this season (Please note that was Cup of Russia*) and finish 6th at Russian nationals, behind the 3 ladies mentioned above and juniors Turkskya and Sotskova. While it wasn’t a comeback of epic proportions, she needed to get back in the game if she wants to make a world or Olympic team in the next two seasons. Jumping issues aside, I actually think the time off made the rest of her skating better and I found her much more enjoyable to watch than in 2014. She has tough competition ahead of her and making a comeback to the Russian top three is a huge challenge. However, if she gets her jumps together, I 100% think she’ll get the backing from Russian feds to do it.
Julia Lipnitskya- It was nice to see a little bit of life from Julia by the end of this season. I think her coaching change was an incredibly great move and she actually looked to be enjoying being on the ice by years end. I wasn’t a fan of her Elvis short program, but she was really into it, and I think it helped her get through the year. This girl has so much talent that I would love to see her stage a comeback. The jumps seem to be coming back slowly, and next season would be the perfect time to build the stepping stones to a great Olympic season. I don’t care what she picks for programs, as long as SHE likes to skate to them.
Elizaveta Tutkamysheva- Her rise last season and her incredible fall from grace this year are shocking to me. I don’t think she was necessarily the strongest skater or performer, but man, she had jumps and she had consistency last year! I don’t know if it was physical exhaustion or mental pressure, but this season was certainly not the momentum she was hoping for. With a free schedule at the end of this year and other Russian stars getting the spotlight, all you can hope for this former World Champ is that she’s rested and healthy and ready to be back on the ice. She’s such a wild card, but she’s certainly in danger of being passed up for good by the other Russian ladies if she can’t pull it together.
Looking to next year, I am not sure if any of the Russian junior ladies are planning to go senior, but they certainly collected hardware on the junior circuit. It looks like the Russian talent pool won’t be running dry anytime soon; the question is WHO will it be at the top of the list?
I made a little video recapping my favorite programs, moments and costumes from the season. Enjoy!
For the last two years, I've played along with USFSA on their fantasy skating game and have loved it! It makes watching all of the competitors at each event more fun. It gets a little crazy during the six straight weeks of the Grand Prix with having to remember to get your picks done and all, but overall, I recommend it to anyone who hasn't tried it yet.
Last year, I think I finished in the 20s overall, but this year I improved on that and finished TENTH! WHOOOOO. Going into Worlds, I was actually in 7T, but let's just say Worlds wasn't my best event.
Four Continents has been my best event in both years I've played (19 this year). Maybe it's easier when half the competitors aren't there? My worst event this season was Trophee Bompbard (273T), which was cancelled after the short programs.
Overall, I think the consistency of playing every time plays in your favor, so even a bad event won't totally tank your points. I'll definitely play again next year, and I'd really like to win an event.
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Reviews, predictions and opinions in the magical, sparkly and dramatic field of figure skating.