After all was said and done at Skate America, my podium predictions came true- it was Elena Radionova who grabbed her first Grand Prix win. Countrywoman Elizaveta Tuktamysheva won silver and Gracie Gold (USA) finished third.
Elena did not skate perfectly, but she proved that her technical element scores were something to be taken seriously. I'm not sure J-Lo is really the right music choice for her short program (maybe without those vocals?) but she had her game face ON and showed incredible focus. I'm loving the mature music selection for her long program but she has a ways to go with the polish and maturity that will hopefully come to her with time. That said, her technical abilities make her a front runner for a spot at the Grand Prix final.
Elizaveta had a very strong short program showing, but early season fatigue seemed to be her enemy in the long program. She did not fall, but doubled planned triples and left points on the ice. Her program selections are good ones for her, so I think after a nice two week rest, she should be able to come back in her next GP event and also be a strong medal contender there. After the tough Olympic season she had last year, she's really come a long way; I would not count her out for a spot at the Grand Prix final.
An improvement over her last competition, Gracie Gold also stayed on her feet in both programs. In the short, her biggest mistake came at the end of the program when she missed a combination spin and forfeited several points. Her long program (as I predicted) was a struggle for her. NBC's commentators and Twitter alike agree with me that her Phantom music was a poor choice. She did not fall, but doubled many of her triples; she lost points for an entire combo because she repeated a double jump too many times. I will stick with my prediction that a spot in the Grand Prix final is truly a long shot for her.
Other news off the podium: Samatha Cesario had a great showing for fourth place. She was very consistent technically and I love the fire in her two programs. She has to work on her speed and spins to truly get to the top, but she should be proud of what she did in Chicago. Fifth place went to So-Youn Park from South Korea. The youngster has a beautiful quality about her and could really grow into a contender is the seasons to come. Mirai Nagasu had an unfortunate short program with a bad fall and missed combination that left her in 10th place. She stayed on her feet for her long program, but got many under rotation calls. She truly has two beautiful programs this year, but she needs to clean up those jumps to be a podium threat.
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