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.
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Reviews, predictions and opinions in the magical, sparkly and dramatic field of figure skating.