Sunday, January 30, 2011

2011 U.S Nationals Phase 4: The De-Briefing

Such an interesting U.S. Nationals deserves some relatively quick observations… let’s see if I can come up with a few:

1) Gotta start with the men and work backwards, since it was the most surprising…wow. And again I say wow! So much talent bubbling underneath! So many (relative) veterans fumbling the ball! And the biggest veteran of all goes home with the gold despite a far-from-perfect free skate! Crazy.

2) And just when I thought they might break from tradition and send Jeremy Abbott and Adam Rippon to Worlds anyway—after all, as I mentioned before, it was their efforts last year that got us 3 spots this year—USFS put these two on the 4 Continents team (along with Armin Mahbanoozadeh), and kept the podium finishers (Ryan Bradley, Richard Dornbush, and Ross Miner) on the World team. Add this to my list of Things that make you go HMMMM… though it admittedly hasn’t been the best of seasons for either Abbott or Rippon, even before they had their troubles this weekend.

3) Which reminds me—that thing I said in the predictions about how picturing Abbott and Rippon in 1st and 2nd wasn’t much of a stretch? Yeah, scratch that. But as for that other thing I said about watching out for Dornbush…

4) Over to the ladies… I got the names right but the places wrong on the 1-2-3 finish, and was never so happy to be wrong. I’d pictured it being close, but that Alissa Czisny would perhaps err just enough (e.g. a stepout of one jump, like she did with the double axel at the GP Final) for a technically packed program from Mirai Nagasu to get the edge. Somehow I managed to forget, though, that Nagasu has yet to win an event after leading in the SP. And that Czisny could skate back-to-back clean performances! How cool was that! (And thank you, David Michaels or whoever was directing at NBC, for staying on Czisny’s face for that whole afterglow. TV directors around the world, take note!)

5) So what’s the verdict on Rachael Flatt’s take on East of Eden? I thought it was much better than expected, though I’m sure the comparisons to Kwan’s version will continue to abound. My only complaint was one that I’ve seen elsewhere; that she was kind of in “flailing arms” mode by the straight-line footwork time. I know she was trying hard to sell it, as they say… but in this case I tend to think she almost tried a little TOO hard. Still, I think it will serve her better for the remainder of the season than did her previous SP. Now if I could only get over the fact that her costume had long sleeves! (I’d read that she hated them because she got too hot out there in long-sleeve dresses.)

6) And (sigh) what to do about Ashley Wagner… I love her skating, but not her jumping. Kind of like I love her free skates, but not her short programs. Especially at Nationals. If she’s around next year, maybe we should pray for her to have a Czisny-esque revelation or two…

7) While I did manage to get my podium predictions correct for dance and pairs, I didn’t expect the placements to be quite so definitive—as in 19 points separating the 2nd place Shibutanis from the 3rd place Chock/Zuerlein, and 10 points separating 2nd place Evora/Ladwig from 3rd place Denney/Barrett. Too bad Denney/Barrett can’t go to Worlds; they obviously weren’t the best in show this weekend, but they still skated much better than they did earlier this year.

8) And if you were thinking during the Yankowskas/Coughlin free skate Gee it’s a shame that his mom passed away in the past year, but come on, NBC, aren’t you overplaying that hand a little? – just keep in mind that they love, love, LOVE their sentimental backstories, and I’m not sure they’ve ever downplayed one. And with the Y/C free skate to Ave Maria, dedicating it to Coughlin’s mom and all... the stage was already set for them. Remember how the commentators stayed quiet as Y/C made their way to the Kiss’n’Cry? There was a reason for that.

9) Speaking of NBC—kudos for that little segment they did explaining/demonstrating the role of the technical specialist.

10) But boo to my local NBC affiliate for pre-empting the first 20 minutes of today’s coverage with a press conference announcing the firing of Pacers head coach Jim O’Brien… luckily I think it only affected the recap of the short programs.

But I digress... what did you think of this year’s Nationals?


Robin Agnew said...

LOVED the surprises in the men's competition, and LOVED Alissa's beautiful skate. Very exciting competition all around.

Anonymous said...

Nagasu has won competitions while leading in the SP: 2007 Jr. Nationals and 2008 US Nationals. I can't believe the commentators just ignored that.