If you’re a U.S. elite figure skater in search of a “favorite” place to compete… might I suggest Australia?
It worked out pretty well for this weekend’s batch of American competitors… that’s all I’m sayin’.
Well, actually I’ll say a little more. But not without including some of the results:
GOLD: Jason Brown, USA
SILVER: Keiji Tanaka, JPN
BRONZE: Liam Firus, CAN
16 year-old Chicagoland native Brown—aka The Guy With The Ponytail—returns to the JGP this season while competing at the senior level domestically, and won handily… despite a couple of falters (but no falls) in his free skate, and without a triple axel to his name. I continue to be impressed as Brown (who finished a solid 9th at 2011 Nats) skates beyond his years in every way possible… except, maybe, for that triple axel he still seeks to possess. Tanaka, also 16, has one—had room for two in his program; the fact that he popped the second one might have given Brown the upper hand. Canada’s Firus might be one to watch as well…no triple axel, but there was something about his presence on the ice that echoed—dare I say it??—a little Toller Cranston to me. 18 year-old Philip Warren of the US finished in 6th place.
GOLD: Courtney Hicks, USA
SILVER: Risa Shoji, JPN
BRONZE: Vanessa Lam, USA
Not one but TWO U.S. medalists in this case, as up-and-coming powerhouse athlete Hicks, age 15, captured gold despite two falls in the free skate (overnight/SP leader Kim Hae-Jin inadvertently helped Hicks’ cause by falling FOUR times, taking her out of the medals completely). Lam, a strong 7th at Senior Nationals last January, held down bronze despite a fall of her own on a triple lutz—the kind of nasty fall where their face smacks the ice and you can feel your own chin split open in sympathy (sorry if that’s too graphic). But I must admit, 15 year-old Shoji almost stole the show for me with fine jumps (no falls!) and an impressive amount of elegance for such a young skater. Am I crazy to say I saw pale shades of Chen Lu in that performance? (You can see her free skate here.)
GOLD: Orford/Williams, CAN
SILVER: Bonacorsi/Mager, USA
BRONZE: Zenkova/Sinitsin, RUS
Orford/Williams were pretty captivating with their Gone with the Wind free dance—it seemed a little rushed, but I think the goods are there for the developing. Heritage/Fast (of the U.S.) finished 5th.
Next on the JGP Schedule: Poland!