Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Vancouver Ladies' Night... Is the Feeling Right?

Let's see how my guesses have been working out so far…

PAIRS—2 of 3 made podium; 1 exact (I picked Shen/Zhao for Gold)

MEN—1 from wish list & 2 from “real” list; none exact

DANCE—all 3 from “real” list; none exact

With slightly less detail (because time’s of the essence—gotta get this posted!), here’s an alphabetical-order list of the skaters I expect to see in the TOP 10 by the end of the free skate… with my predictions at the bottom of the list:

+ Miki Ando, Japan… Age: 22… 2007 World Champion.

PROS: Very strong technically (once had a quad salchow in her jumping arsenal)

CONS: Tends to be less artistically inspiring than others; might be seeking redemption too hard here (she finished down in 15th last Olympics).

+ Mao Asada, Japan… Age: 19… 2008 World Champion.

PROS: Triple Axel, Triple Axel, Triple Axel. (That is to say “she’ll throw at least one and, when fully successful, it brings a TON of points.”)

CONS: Asada is gloriously talented, but it has been a rough year for her… and her current programs (short and long) are so plodding and triple-axel focused she skates as if she left her natural joy and effervescence on the plane.

+ Rachael Flatt, USA… Age: 17… 2010 U.S. Champion; 5th in Worlds 2009.

PROS: Very good technically, spirited, not rattled easily in competition

CONS: Not a lot of international experience at the senior level, sometimes dinged for lack of speed and artistry.

+ Yu-Na Kim, S.Korea… Age: 19… 2009 World Champion.

PROS: Excellent all-around skater, great competitor, currently ranked #1 in world.

CONS: No triple axel (compared to Asada), sometimes has trouble with triple flip jump, enormous pressure as the “heavy favorite”

+ Carolina Kostner, Italy… Age: 23… 2008 World Silver Medalist.

PROS: Her height (she’s 5’6 ½ “, very tall for a skater) and her speed create great, powerful lines that tend to boost her artistic scores (though some would say they’ve been overinflated)

CONS: weak jumping at times; past year of competition has not been good to her.

+ Alena Leonova, Russia… Age: 19… 2009 World Junior Champion.

PROS: Bubbly personality on the ice is very Irina Slutskaya-like.

CONS: Possible that she peaked early in the season and won’t be at her best here.

+ Laura Lepisto, Finland… Age: 21… 2009 European Champion.

PROS: Has many nice moments, stylistically speaking… holds her own at international events… and not trying to be catty here, but she’s a fairly dependable European female skater at a time when there aren’t that many.

CONS: She’s not a particularly strong jumper; consequently her technical level isn’t as high as others.

+ Mirai Nagasu, USA… Age: 16… 2008 U.S. Champion.

PROS: Great all-around skater.

CONS: Very little international experience on the senior level; frequently receives “downgrades” for cheated jumps.

+ Joannie Rochette, CANADA… Age: 24… 2009 World Silver Medalist.

PROS: A powerful skater with artistic, well-crafted programs who has the proven potential to do well under intense pressure.

CONS: Has also gone the other way under the pressure… but more importantly, her mother just died of a massive heart attack over the weekend… how she’ll hold up throughout the multiple-day event is anyone’s guess.

+ Akiko Suzuki, JAPAN… Age: 24… 2009 Japanese silver medalist.

PROS: Has gained a ton of momentum this season after anorexia forced her to rebuild her career. Consistent with a lively style to her skating.

CONS: Not a lot of international experience to build from.

PREDICTIONS? If I stay true to form, the podium will have a lot of “my” picks on it but not in the same order…

How I’d LIKE to see it:
Gold—Yu-Na Kim
Silver—Miki Ando
Bronze—Joannie Rochette

How I think it WILL look:
Gold—Miki Ando
Silver—Yu-Na Kim
Bronze—Mao Asada

I should explain this one a little. Aside from trying to play a little reverse psychology with the forces of the universe, I’m thinking of the expectations heaped upon Kim… and wondering if anyone could transcend that kind of pressure. If she falters, and/or Asada does the same, I can see Ando winning in much the same conservative (for her, anyway) fashion that Shizuka Arakawa did 4 years ago.

Oh, and as for the U.S. contingency? I’m thinking 5th-8th range for both… and don’t be surprised if Nagasu places higher of the two.

See you back here for the breakdown, either later tonight or early tomorrow (or both!)


jumping clapping man said...


although, i bristle when ando is compared to arakawa. yes, she's a much more consistent jumper, but nowhere near the quality of skater that arakawa was (ie: ina bauer, spins, edges, spirals, etc.).

(i realize you might be more comparing their surprise attacks at gold, not their skating style.)

Laura said...

That is a bold move picking Ando. But I do assume she is most likely to swoop in and take the gold if Kim cannot handle the pressure, so I get it.

Also brave to suggest Nagasu might place better than Flatt. Nagasu has won me over since Nationals began - she seems so much less stressed than she used to be and is joy on the ice. But the judges will be on the lookout for those cheats, so who knows.

Kelli Lawrence said...

Keep in mind that I'm using my "success rate" with these predictions as the set-up here... for instance I'd love to see an American swoop in for a medal, but I figure it'll never happen if I wish for it so directly :-)

(always fun to pretend our guesses make such a difference, huh?)

Is Ando compared to Arakawa a lot? I didn't know that. Yep, JCM, I'm thinking more about strategy and/or very successful but conservative skates rather than comparing their style.

Lotta said...

Ando seems to be the underdog here more than Flatt and Nagasu (well, that's according to American media hype :P). She's the 07 World Champion and has had a better season than Nagasu and Flatt have this year. BUT Nagasu and Flatt, if they can hold it together, could pass by a messy, nervous Ando. I'm a big fan of Ando-san more than I am of Nagasu and Flatt. So I'm cheering for her and Asada-san!!! I hope both of them keep it together, especially Ando-san! I definitely want either of them to win! \m/ Asian sweep!