Updates, as promised, on two recently completed Nationals…
In what may have felt a little like an emotional repeat of Joannie Rochette’s performances at the Vancouver Olympics, Mao Asada completed her own return to the ice (following her mother’s recent passing) with a national title— her fifth. Although Kanako Murakami was the “overnight leader” (meaning after the SP), she was only able to hang on to bronze by the event’s end. In between the two was Akiko Suzuki, who actually bested Asada by one point and won the free skate (a sort of reverse on their performances at NHK, if memory serves me correctly). Fourth place went to Haruka Imai; fifth to Miu Sato, sixth to Satoko Miyahara. Can anyone share if the top three (Asada, Suzuki, Murakami) are officially representing Japan at Worlds, or if Four Continents results will have any bearing on that decision?
By now you probably know the answer to my earlier question about Evgeny Plushenko competing at Russian Nationals… yes, he did, and yes, he did in fact win the event. How will he fare against the likes of Javier Fernandez at Europeans (not to mention Chan and Dice-K at Worlds) remains to be seen. What’s that you say—Plushy can’t compete at Worlds this year; he can’t possibly have the ISU point minimum, since he hasn’t competed since Vancouver? Well, not to worry, according to this article that ran at Golden Skate:
Plushenko…faces an unexpected challenge on his road to the ISU Championships: he does not have a minimal score which the ISU requires, and there are no competitions for Senior single skaters planned until the Europeans in the end of January.
“We are aware of the problem,” said coach Mishin. “We are working on it, but I am not going to tell you what we are doing.”
Without even speculating on what that might mean, can I just say that this is one of the reasons I don’t like Plushenko returning to competition. That above-the-law vibe is already creeping in… just sayin'.
Enough about that. The ladies event saw Adelina Sotnikova take home her third straight national title, with Julia Lipnitskaia (the one with the insane extensions that I’d like to re-name Julip Gumbyskaia) taking silver, and Alena Leonova getting bronze (she took a tumble on her 3T/3T in the short program; not sure about her free skate). Ksenia Makarova, she of the very rough GP season, managed a 4th place finish. As for Liza “with a triple lutzzzzzz” Tutkamysheva, she too fell on her planned 3/3 in the SP and had to settle for 6th place this year. But, like Sotnikova and Gumbyskaia, she is too young to compete at Worlds this year anyway. That results in Leonova and Makarova heading to Euros, with the third spot apparently up in the air between 7th place finisher Polina Korobeynikova (who apparently may have visa issues) and 9th place finisher Sofia Biryukova.
The pairs event was made a lot less interesting with the absence of both Volosohzar/Trankov and Kavaguti/Smirnov—both of whom got waived from the event due to injury (but will still be able to compete at Euros based on their strong GP performances). This cleared the way for Bazarova/Larionov to win their first-ever national title, with Stolbova/Klimov in silver and Martiusheva/Rogonov in bronze. As for dance, Bobrova/Soloviev nabbed their second straight national title, with Ilinykh/Katsalapov and Riazanova/Tkachenko rounding out the top 3.
This is likely my last post of the year… and incidentally, I’m told this is my 500th post since this blog launched in April 2008. So thanks as always for reading… Happy New Year, wherever you are… and here’s to (at least?) 500 more posts at State of the Skate!