HUGE congrats to Ashley Wagner on an unexpected win here at Skate Canada! This result is a great start to her season and she can carry some good momentum forward. She had a moral victory by having a strong short program, as she usually struggles with nerves there. I love the SP music for her and I think she’ll do well with it this season. I’m still waiting for the story on her wearing Marissa’s dress, but mostly looking forward to seeing what her actual costume will look like. Speaking of costumes, I am SO happy she has a new one for her free skate. The red one from last year is my favorite of the two, but I think the repackaging was necessary when she’s reusing music. I give her props for also rechoreographing the free to make the transitions more difficult. I feel like she didn’t make all the changes that we saw from her practice video, but I expect those to come as the season progresses. She stood up in her free skate under pressure, which she has to feel REALLY good about. She wasn’t perfect, but she stood up, performed her little butt off, and got a standing O for that skate. She did herself a great favor in collecting 15 points here, as she has a tough field to face at NHK, with Asada, Miyahara, Pogorilaya, and Leonova. She looked in great shape for this event and I hope this is an indicator of the rest of her year.
Reigning World Champ Elizaveta Tuktamysheva saved herself from disaster by winning the free skate to earn the silver medal. I expected some errors from her, just based on her preseason events, but I was shocked with that poor SP that left her in seventh. Not sure if she’s tired, if she’s feeling the World champ pressure or if some of her true colors are finally showing through. Ashley beat Liza in PCS in the free skate (rightfully so) and I think we’ll be seeing a dip in Tukt’s PCS this year- some of the shine of her comeback has faded and her true lack of PCS is starting to show through. When you compare the quality of her skating to a Mao Asada, well… there really is no comparison there. She showed some fire in that free skate, though, so I have this feeling she’ll have a lil chip on her shoulder for TEB- she could really make a statement there. She’ll face Gold, Lipnitskya, Daleman, and Murakami.
Surprise bronze medallist Yuka Nagai made a fabulous Grand Prix debut here. I loved her free skate costume and music, but many (including myself) acknowledge the bad luck of choosing a Madame Butterfly short program in the same year that Mao is using that music and wearing a very similar costume. Overall, she skated very consistently and truly took advantage of the opportunity to skate in the last group and grab a medal in a deep field. She needs some refinement, which is understandable of someone so young. She skates next at Rsotelecom Cup, where she’ll need her consistency against a consistent field- Medvedeva, Radionova, Hongo, and returning Olympic champ Sotnikova.
Kana Murakami finished in fourth after some technical struggles. I have to say I love her short program costume, but I’m not feeling the music cuts for her- I’m not sure they suit her style well. Her long program certainly does, though- I love that choice and costume for her. She was in third after the short because she made a costly mistake on that 2A, so I was hoping she could grab a bronze in the free, but it wasn’t to be after placing 6th in that portion of the event. Kana is at a pivotal point in her career, considering the heavy talent in Japan right now and the return of Mao Asada. I’d love to see her make another World team, but Japanese nationals will be a really tough field.
Huge moment for Gabrielle Daleman in the free skate, placing third and moving up in the standings to finish fifth. I love both of her costumes this season and I think she made some good music choices. She really pulled together a great free skate, and it was nice to see her have such a happy moment in her home country. I’m sure she feels incredible pressure to keep her national title, even with the return of Katelyn Osmond. She often gets compared to the U.S’s Courtney Hicks because of their prevalent athleticism, but in my opinion- Gabby moves with so much more fluidity and shows much more artistic potential. I really like her and I hope she can follow up this performance at TEB with a strong skate there.
Polina…okay, she’s not my favorite but I’ll *try* to be fair. TSL can say all they want about Ashley “thinking she’s better than she is”- but if you ask me, the U.S. lady that thinks most unjustly highly of herself is Polina. And apparently, international judging panels agree. I feel Moonlight Sonata is a good choice for her short, but I think they missed the mark on the costume again- it’s far too busy, which really takes away from the maturity of that music. (I do think the spin call in the SP was too picky, though- she just has long legs!) The long program- like last year’s- put me to sleep. The braids and bows of her packaging just need to go, people, they need to go! Whatever her team is trying to put together for her, it just isn’t working. I want to say that she’s young and needs time, and maybe she’ll be a Carolina Kostner by the end of her career. However, the world of figure skating often doesn’t give you that opportunity. I think this Nationals will either be the year she solidifies her spot as the third U.S. lady- OR (more likely IMO)- the year she gets passed up for good. I tried to be fair, okay, I tried.
Elizabet Tursynbaeva finished in sixth after some mistakes. Everyone was talking about her at the beginning of the season- was it just much to do about nothing?? I see lots of potential, she just needs to grow and refine with time. I would think we should probably see her again at Four Continents before Worlds.
Honestly, outside of the Shibs, this was kind of snoozy event for me. Maybe it’s all of the waltz music luring me to sleep.
It was expected that Weaver/Poje would win- and so they did. It was a good choice for them to switch from their Elvis short dance to a new one and their costumes looked great. This music is unoriginal, but much more on their level. Their free dance costumes are also fabulous, and I appreciate the more edgy music choice. Overall, I don’t personally connect to this team, but you can tell that she especially has a hunger this season after getting bronze at Worlds. They skate next at Rostelecom Cup, against Capellini/Lannotte and Ilinykh/Zhigashin, where they will most likely punch a ticket to the Grand Prix Final.
The Shibs made me have A MOMENT in their free dance. Maia tweeted that they thought this Coldplay free dance would be really special, and already-it is. They had a rough start at a preseason event, so to see them get the marks they are capable of here was really fantastic. They had the highest technical score in both segments of the competition- and rightfully so. I mean, those Twizzles are the best in the world, hands down. Seeing Alex’s reaction to their free dance literally made me tear up, and that does not happen often. I give them huge props for not giving in to the politics of ice dance and continuing to improve their skating. I think they made a bit of a statement here, and they have a great start towards getting to the Grand Prix Final. They skate again at NHK, where they will see Babrova/Soloviev again and the reigning World Champs, Papadakis and Cizeron.
I never really followed the skating of Babrova/Soloviev, so for me- this was kind of the first time watching them. I liked her dresses and overall, they seem to be a well matched team. Grabbing a medal in their first event back on the ice bodes well for them, but it will be interesting to see how they will fit into the Russian ice dance scene. They skate next at NHK.
I may do a men’s/pairs recap later, but I did not catch most of those events live so I have to catch up. Stupid social life : )
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Reviews, predictions and opinions in the magical, sparkly and dramatic field of figure skating.