Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kwak, Lee, LaFuente… New Senior Ladies with A Running Start?

Consider this another session of POGSS (Post Olympic Grad Skating School), with the focus this time being on the equivalent of skating’s “D List”.

It’s not as bad as it sounds. Think about it… you’re a virtually unknown athlete who not only gets to represent your country at this year’s Worlds, but this year’s Olympics, too… and you make the finals for BOTH. What an amazing accomplishment that is all by itself! And you get to skate in the first group… virtually pressure-free! What a sweet deal!

But, I imagine the D-listers generally aspire to something higher—which is why I’ve made a little list of some with the potential to do just that:

CHELTZIE LEE, Australia…
Age: 17 20th at Olympics; 17th at Worlds

Season highlight: While her FS at Worlds pulled in a just-slightly higher Season’s Best (SB), I still think it was her Olympic experience that shone the brightest. Lee was a junior-circuiter who was thrust into an uneasy spotlight earlier this year when Israel ceded its Olympic slot, and Australia (and she) were the surprise beneficiaries. Then Lee (and her story) made it onto NBC’s coverage in both SP and FS versions—suddenly the girl’s got an audience! (By the way, Israel’s Tamar Katz did compete at Worlds… unfortunately she didn’t make it to finals.)

Anyway, I think Lee showed some fine potential. Her biggest weakness for now is the lack of some serious triples (her program appeared to contain only the triple salchow and toe loop)…and granted, that is a sizeable issue. But as young as she is, I’ll hold on to hope she’ll bring more to the table next season.

Age: 16 13th at Olympics; 22nd at Worlds

Season highlight: Olympics Free Skate; it was rated the 12th best of the night.

What’s it like to skate in the shadow of one of the biggest, brightest skating stars on earth? If Kwak’s placements are any indication, it’s quite the roller coaster. She made a pretty big splash in Vancouver with a top 15 finish, but wept then put the CRY in Kiss-and-Cry after her problematic SP at Worlds. Still, I hope she’s taking her Worlds experience in stride. After all, unlike other D-listers, she does have the tougher jumps already in her arsenal. And she was hardly the only one from S. Korea to make mistakes in Torino this March…

Age: 18 22nd at Olympics; 20th at Worlds

Season highlight: Worlds FS; despite falling on a 3F she had her SB score there.

Apparently Lafuente is the first Spanish skater to medal on the Junior GP circuit (which she did twice). While her jumps indicate she may have already peaked as a junior (she fell on 3Lo in the Worlds SP as well as that FS fall, and there was no lutz to be found in either program), I saw a certain flair there that I hope gets developed further. Between Lafuente and, to greater degree, male skater Javier Fernandez, Spain could very well make a little name for itself in the skating world over the next few years.

I’m including Lafuente’s FS from one of those medal-winning Junior GP events (Sheffield 2007) as the
Clip of the Day , where you can see she has her lutz just fine at approx. age 15… so if the puberty monster is responsible for wreaking havoc with some of her work, I kindly ask said monster to cut Lafuente a break.


trewyn said...

Interesting... Kwak definitely showed potential at Olys! I'd have to take a closer look at Lee and Lafuente... I haven't really paid that much attention to them... I think Sarah Hecken is also a very promising youngster! Her 12th place at her Worlds debut surely was impressive. I can't recall her jump arsenal that well, other than the 3T-3T, but I do recall her skating with enthousiasm and a really big smile. I always like that in a skater! Hopefully she'll do well next skater.

Kelli Lawrence said...

Oh, I definitely took note of Sarah Hecken as well.. only reason I didn't include her is because she was more of a "C" lister (typically finishing between 11th-15th). And yes, isn't her smile infectious and lovely? I was trying to figure out who she reminded me of in terms of the face and I came up with a cross between Jennifer Kirk and Jennifer Garner (the TV/film star). Not a bad combo, but I'm still not sure if it's the best description of her. In any case, I too look forward to her progress!