The Russian babies continue to dominate the medals in the ladies circuit this season, as Evgenia Medvedeva pulled out a large victory in Barcelona. Satoko Miyahara’s silver was the surprise (in a good way) placement of the event, with Gracie Gold and Mao Asada surprisingly (in a bad way) ending up at the bottom of the pack.
For Evgenia, winning the GPF in her debut season is a big deal. In the end, she had the two most clean and consistent performances of the group and it was a deserved victory. Truly what she has going for her is that her programs maximize points fully, she gets positive GOEs on all her jumps (ahem, tano) and that she’s consistent technically, which boosts her PCS (though I’m not sure those are 100% accurate). I do think her scores are too high for the true quality of her overall skating. She’s a front runner for Worlds, but I wouldn’t say she’s entirely unbeatable.I think a perfect Mao (It could happen!) could overtake her less mature style.
Congrats to Satoko Miyahara on pulling out a huge silver medal finish here. This field was packed, and she very easily could’ve been buried, but she did was she always does best- she was consistent and it paid off in a big way. I am so in love with her short program and her long fits her style perfectly, and it’s nice to see her scores reflect the artistry she really does perform with. Though it may be more subtle than others, it’s there and she should be rewarded for it. Not sure about that edge call in the short, but this was a great step forward for Satoko. It will be very interesting to see if she can top Mao once again at Japanese Nationals.
Elena Radionova seems to have overcome the rough start to the season she had at Cup of China. Bronze here was good for her, but she didn’t skate her best. I can’t decide if her landings are scratchier than they were last season or if I just liked her so much last year that I didn’t notice. I think she’s just adjusting this season and has to get through it. Though she can consistently skate (and score) well, she’s shown she’s vulnerable to more mistakes than last season, and I think of number of skaters could be beat her if only they could be consistent. I see her easily making the Russian World team, though, even in that huge field.
After NHK and a poor short program, Ashley’s personal best free skate was exactly the performance she needed. She has truly improved her skating over the last two seasons, from jumps to transitions to spins, and the judges are rewarding her when she skates well. She’s clearly worked so hard that it’s tough to watch her not grabbing the opportunity the judges are giving her by struggling with nerves. She is 100% capable of doing the elements and her scores reflect that she’s better than ever. NOW is the time for her to put together TWO good skates at an event. She’s closer than ever before and I want her to get what she deserves!
To be honest, when I saw the skate order for the short program, I knew Gracie was going to have mental issues. She really struggles when she skates after big skaters/big scores and skating here after Evgenia and Ashley really rattled her. Unfortunately, she lost a lot of momentum before Nationals in that poor free skate. Afterter Bompard, it was looking like Gracie was putting her confidence issues behind her, but this event really showed she has more work to do in that area. She is MORE than capable of winning any event she enters, but, like Wagner, she’s not going to get winning scores until she can be more consistent.
It’s heartbreaking to see a skater who is as incredible as Mao Asada is getting beat by baby Russians with questionable skating skills. She’s truly in a class of her own, and I am begging the skating gods to give Mao a break already. As many have said, it may be time to re-evaluate her jump content so that she can be more consistent. It’s not even her axel that’s causing issues! I still have faith that she’s going to be the one on top in Boston- a clean Mao is certainly head and shoulders above baby Russia and many others, based on quality alone. Here’s hoping we see a new jump layout and a confident Mao at Nats or Four Continents!
The respective National Championships for the US, Japan and Russia are going to be VERY exciting battles to watch. I will be attending the free skates at US Nationals, so make sure you stay tuned for lots of previews, event photos and recaps!
WOW. What an event! The men did not disappoint with their performances this weekend and it was quite refreshing, considering the men always seems to be the least consistent.
**IMPORTANT NOTE: I correctly picked the placements of ALL SIX MEN! This will probably never happen again, so I feel the need to acknowledge this moment. And honestly- the reason that I was able to predict so well was that THEY ALL SKATED LIKE THEY WERE EXPECTED TO! And bless them for that.**
After what he did at NHK, watching Yuzu break his own World records was incredibly stunning. He just looks SO focused, so hungry, so prepared and so in control of every movement. Technically he was flawless and his programs this year so perfectly highlight every nuance of the music and his skating skills. He is by far the best of the best right now and it’s truly exciting to see him living up to every bit of his potential.
I’m happy that Javier could put together a strong competition in Barcelona. He FINALLY landed that 3rd quad in his free skate and it couldn’t have happened at a better moment than at home. There was no winning this competition with Hanyu skating the way he was, but a second here over Uno and Chan means good things for Javi. He will not see any of these men at Europeans, so he should have an easy cruise to another European title before Worlds.
I am so in love with Shoma Uno and his skating. He has *such* potential and a medal here was no small feat in this field. The Japanese nationals has such a deep men’s field, but Uno has truly established himself as a favorite for that second spot for Worlds. I expect we will see Uno again at Four Continents and I think it’s important for him to put down strong skates there against Patrick Chan to set him up well for a medal at Worlds.
Kudos to Patrick Chan for pulling up in the standings with a great free skate. His jumping is still not where it needs to be for Worlds, but he certainly has time to improve that. I think Four Continents will be a biggie for him- he needs to skate well there to prove that he has what it takes to contend at the top. Comebacks are never easy in this sport, but Chan still has a quality to his skating that is hard to deny. If he gets the jumps, don’t count him out.
I still love Dai’s short program and I am happy to see the judges scoring Boyang fairly- impressive technically, but needing time to grow and mature in PCS.
This is the last time we'll see this entire group of men before Worlds, and let's not forget that Denis Ten posted a nice score at a smaller competition recently- will we see a repeat of his record performance at Four Continents? The men's field certainly is never short of story lines, but I am thrilled that the one to come out of Barcelona was simply great skating.
Storylines to Watch: Duhamel and Radford are on a hot streak and they look to collect their third gold medal of the season in Barcelona. The two Russian teams will be battling for a higher step on the podium before Russian nationals and two Chinese teams look to score well against their rivals. Scimeca/Knieirm are the first US pair to appear at the Final in many years- can they move another step up in the international scene with a great skate here?
The X Factor: Kavaguti/Smirnov’s quads are going to be a key factor to which Russian team comes out ahead of the other. Overall, Stolbova and Klimov are more of a polished and powerful team, but if Kavaguti and Smirnov can land two throw quads in the free skate, they can accumulate a lot of points.
My reasoning: I think that Duhamel and Radford will be more relaxed and focused on a total performance after deciding they would not include the throw quad lutz in their free skate. I think they’ll be stronger here than we’ve seen them yet this season and will be most consistent for gold. I think Stolbova and Klimov will continue their rise and that their overall skating quality will put them ahead of their teammates, who I don’t think will land both of their quad throws.
I think Peng/Zheng had a really tough GP situation, having to compete back- to -back and one of the events being cancelled halfway through. I expect them to have more training time behind them and them taking this opportunity to re-establish themselves as China's number two pair. I hope that the rest of the field has a great event, with clean performances. I love all three of the other teams and am excited to see them skate, even if they may be out of the race, point-wise.
Storylines to Watch: Weaver and Poje come in as the only undefeated team and I think they are competing with a vengeance after bronze at Worlds last year- can they continue that success? Similarly, can the Italians continue their resurgence after posting very strong scores in their events? You know they want to get back onto an international podium and getting a medal here would really provide a boost to their career this season. The biggest battle may come from Chock/Bates and the Shibs as they look to make a big statement here before US Nationals.
The X Factor: The top two American teams can really shake things up. The Shibutanis posted the highest score of the GP series and a medal for them here would be a big move up the international ladder. Chock and Bates scores seem to be slipping a bit early in the season but they’ve had a long time to prepare for this event and I expect to see improved performances.
My reasoning: I think Weaver and Poje will have a consistent performance and will score very well here. I think Madi and Evan will come to Barcelona with improved performances and that the judges will reward their programs better. I think that Anna and Luca may be in third after the short dance, but will lose ground to the Shibs and their magical free dance. I think Hubbell and Donahue will improve on their free dance score from NHK and be able to outscore the Russians.
Storylines to Watch: All eyes will be on Hanyu as he has to continue his season after his performance of a lifetime at NHK- can he possibly continue that success? This event will also be a good indicator of where Patrick Chan stacks up against last season’s top men. The battle I am most interested in seeing is how the judges will score Shoma Uno, not only compared to the top men but also to quad wonder Boyang Jin.
The X Factor: Quads, quads everywhere! The men’s field in any event always is hard to call because of the difficulty of their technical elements and those elements not always being reliable. I think Jackie Wong estimated we could see as many as 25 quad attempts in this event. Whoever gets on the podium will have to land several clean quads.
1. Yuzuru Hanyu
2. Javier Fernandez
3. Shoma Uno
4. Patrick Chan
5. Boyang Jin
6. Daisuke Murakami
My reasoning: I don’t think Yuzu will be as perfect as he was at NHK, but I think he’ll be good enough to win. He can dominate on both sides of the scorecard and I think he has the best shot at pulling out a consistent, well rounded competition. Javier looked better in his second event and some of his quads are really looking great. His programs can generate high PCS as well, which he will need to keep Shoma Uno off his heels. I want to see Uno give a great set of performances here. If he can be consistent, he has everything he needs to get on the podium.
If I had to guess, I anticipate a few mistakes from Patrick Chan. His PCS always seem to carry him, but it won’t be enough in this field if he can’t put down the jumps. I am sure Boyang will put down a majority of his quads, but it’s too early in his career to pull out the PCS he would need to be at the top. If the rest of the men are a mess, he could get to the podium based on numbers alone, but he needs help. Daisuke is kind of out of his league here, point-wise, but I’m glad he made the Final. I love his short program and I hope he can skate well here.
Storylines to Watch: It’s all about national rivalries in the ladies field, with two skaters each from Russia, Japan and the United States. Each lady will be skating against her rival and will be extra motivated to have a strong showing before their respective national championships. Which skater from each country will beat their rival and place higher?
The X Factor: In my opinion, the results of this entire competition rest on the shoulders of Mao Asada. If we see a performance like her Cup of China short program and/or her Japan Open long program, the other ladies will be battling over silver and bronze. However, if she skates like she did at NHK, she won’t even make the podium in this incredibly packed field.
My reasoning: I think it’s a battle between the baby Russians for the top spot, as they’ve both thrown down high scores this season. Evgenia has been the most consistent but I think Elena can carry the PCS necessary to get on top of her Russian teammate if both are clean. I am praying we see a stronger Mao Asada here, with at least one successful triple axel. If she can keep close to Gracie in the technical mark, I think she’ll get the PCS to keep a medal spot here.
The battle of the American ladies is such a heated rivalry and I just hope we see comparable performances (i.e. either both do well or both not so well) so we get a quality preview before Nationals. It’s amazing to put a skater like Miyahara last, but this field is so intense. In my opinion, she’s the one most at jeopardy to get both low TES and PCS marks.
I cannot wait to watch this field! I will be live tweeting it and I hope you join in!
Thanks again to these fabulous people for letting me be a part of this! Check out this fantastic recap! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpB-WODdfiE
Monday night, I got a fabulous opportunity to join 2/3 of the fabulous Lutz and Glory team in their event recap podcast!! I was so excited to participate and I truly think the convo will be a great one to listen to. I will post it here as soon as it is up and that will replace my written recap, since I would mostly say the same things : )
I must have special luck with NHK Trophy, because I got the best results there last year as well as this year, I am happy to report!
USFSA: YAY! I was 46T for the event with 2402 points- (thank you, Hanyu!) I got6/12 picks correct, including all 3 dance picks. Overall, I am climbing up those standings with 10,001 points and 34th place.
The Skating Lesson: For NHK, I was 131st with 454 points. I got 10/24 athlete picks correct and got 9 bonus questions right.
About the Blog:
Reviews, predictions and opinions in the magical, sparkly and dramatic field of figure skating.