Good lord, the ladies short program was quite the wild ride. It was all the drama that it promised to be... and more. I had to watch the footage again before I wrote this because I felt too sleep-deprived and emotionally drained after it was over at 3 AM!
RUSSIA GOES 1-2
As expected, Elizaveta Tutktamysheva and Elena Radionova are in first and second respectively, earning the two best TES and PCS scores of the night. Elizaveta got a standing ovation after successfully nailing her triple axel and posted the third-highest ladies score ever of 77.62. Radionova skated very well as anticipated, but she is eight points behind her teammate. It was a great showing for Elena in her first senior Worlds, but baring a complete and utter disaster from Tuktamysheva, she will be getting the silver medal.
JAPAN STEPS UP
These ladies were seen more as contenders in the top ten then the top six, but all three of them really showed up with great performances in the short. Satoko Miyahra is currently in third after a light and airy performance- with no jump calls to speak of! Kanako Murakami is in a very surprising fourth place after a fantastic short program- the best we've seen from her in quite some time. Rika Hongo skated consistently and cleanly to land in fifth place. Her jumps looked better to me, which is an encouraging sign for next year.
China's Li Zijun conquered the hometown pressure to skate very well and land in sixth place. She got one underroataion call, but overall it was a great skate for her.
Yikes, ladies, that was a rough one. Polina Edmunds landed all of her jumps, but got an unclear edge call on her triple flip. She got the sixth highest TES score but continued to struggle with the PCS, getting the ninth highest score there to place seventh. Gracie Gold's consistency struggles continued in Shanghai, with two jumping mistakes. Her TES score was only the 10th best, but some favorable PCS (third highest) saved her to land in eighth behind Edmunds. Ashley Wagner had a disastrous performance, with mistakes on all 3 jumping passes leaving her in 11th place. Her PCS were the fourth highest in the competition, slightly behind Gold. Ashley finally got all level fours on her spins, but her step sequence got a level three. If there is a technical plus to find here, the judges did not give her an edge call on her triple lutz, which she's struggled with in the past.
Tuktamysheva stole the show with such an exciting performance! She nailed that program and will most likely win a well-deserved world title. Glad to know my Fantasy A pick is safe and sound with Elizaveta : ) Elena was great as usual, but there is no competing with a clean triple axel. This was a fantastic season for her and as she grows and matures, hopefully she continues to improve. One must wonder though- does she now need a triple axel to have a hope at beating her countrywoman?
It was so refreshing to see Kanako have a great skate. Her Phantom short program is so well suited for her and she's capable of so much more than she puts out on the ice sometimes. It was also great to see Satoko get high, fully rotated jumps. I love her style and glad she held it together under pressure. Rika was consistent and I see improvement. Well deserved placements for these three.
I think Polina's placement was also well deserved. Technically, it was strong but she does not have the maturity, packaging and performance quality to play with the heavy hitters quite yet. Gracie's technical struggles are quite the mystery to all. She has such talent and always trains well but cannot figure out how to COMPETE well. Her PCS saved her but were a bit generous in my opinion. The judges really like her and her score was respectable considering the mistakes.
Oh, Ashley- it was all setting up quite well for her... mistakes by Pogorilaya, Gold and Edmunds really opened the door. The judges awarded her good PCS despite the mistakes, so she very easily could've been in the top three-five with clean jumps. She was last to skate, which is a position she struggles with and she just lost all focus. Her back was bandaged while she skated, but there was no mention of that in her quotes after the competition. If anything, I hope this bad performance lifts the pressure off her for the long program.
I will be back in a bit for part two of this post... this one is getting long!
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