After all was said and done in the in Shanghai, the favorite to win it did exactly that- Elizaveta Tuktamysheva won the event in stunning fashion, triple axel and all. There were surprises on the podium, as Satoko Miyahara won the silver medal and upset Elena Radionova, who finished in third place.
Russian Elizaveta Tuktamysheva had a hell of a comeback season. She completed an unheard of thirteen times this season, losing only to Radionova on two occasions. She now holds 3 of skating’s biggest prizes- Grand Prix Final Champion, European Champion and World Champion. And perhaps even more than that, she now carries a triple axel landed in international competition on her resume. The competition wasn't even close, point-wise, because of that triple axel. It was truly her season and it was great to see her cap it off with a well-deserved first World title.
I remember the first time I saw now-World silver medallist Satoko Miyahara’s free skate. It was at the Japan Open and I could tell I loved this program for this skater. Satoko skated her best short program of the season- with no jump calls!- and followed it up with a solid performance in the free skate. She did have one fall, but the program had such a wonderful quality to it. I really see lots of promise for her and I think she deserved this silver medal, even if it was a surprise to her and anyone else. I think her scores here in Shanghai show that the judges are ready to believe in her as well.
Elena Radionova had a fantastic year in her first full season on the senior level circuit: Two Grand Prix wins, Grand Prix Final silver and a Russian championship to boot. Overall, she’s been very consistent and had great competitive focus. She struggled a bit in her free skate at Worlds, but I think exhaustion played more of a part in it than anything else. Rumor on Twitter had it that she was sick also. She wins a bronze medal at her first senior Worlds and has all the potential in the world to push even further next season.
After their rough short programs, Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner had great free skates to finish in fourth and fifth, respectively. Gracie was second in the free skate to only Tuktamysheva and Wagner (third in the free skate) had the 2nd highest PCS, also behind Elizaveta. Most importantly, they keep 3 spots for American ladies at the World Championships next year in Boston. They both missed a huge opportunity here- had they had clean short programs, medals were definitely within their reach.
Rika Hongo finished her consistent season in the same fashion with a top six finish and Kanako Murakami finished seventh, after a few mistakes in her free skate. American Polina Edmunds finished in eighth after a technically good skate that got low PCS. China’s Zijun Li and Mae Berenice Meite rounded out the top ten.
Congrats to the medallists on fantastic seasons and a great competition. Each of the three seemed to struggle a bit in the free skate, but the judges made the right call here. I'm frankly surprised they didn't hold up Radionova based on reputation alone. I can’t wait to see each of them next year, with new skates- and possibly new tricks.
Gracie finally put down a clean skate (her only other one was her NHK short, I believe) in the long program, and finishing 2nd in that skate goes to show you how dangerous this girl is when she can pull it together. If she skated like that even half the time, she’d have a lot more gold medals to her name. She thrives technically but entirely lacks any performance quality or emotional connection. When can we see an authentic, present Gracie?
Ashley is the opposite- always wonderful to watch, but doesn’t have the technical consistency. I truly thought she’d come to Worlds with more confidence, but that wasn’t the case. Technically, that she got one lutz ratified in the short program and finally got level 4 spins. Considering where she started this year, she greatly improved and a season that contains 3 Grand Prix medals, a National title and a fifth place finish at Worlds certainly says something to all the naysayers that said she should hang up her skates.
The top Americans both showed good fight in the free skate, but World Champions don’t just skate well when pressure is off. What will it take for them to compete well under pressure?
Rika had a great, consistent season. She needs polish and some better posture, but she certainly improved this season. It was great to see Kanako skate a clean, beautiful short program here in Shanghai after her rough season. Her programs don’t have the technical difficulty of the others, so she has to skate clean to achieve higher placements.
Polina Edmunds had a good Worlds technically speaking- she was consistent and mostly clean. What holds her down is low PCS marks from the judges- and rightfully so in my opinion. Polina needs mature packaging and programs before the judges will take her seriously.
Li Zijun held up very well under the home crowd pressure and I’m excited to see improvement for her next season.
I will be back in the next few days with the other podium recaps and Fantasy results!
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Reviews, predictions and opinions in the magical, sparkly and dramatic field of figure skating.