Let’s start this roundup of the Nationals ladies by looking over the results from last weekend’s Junior Worlds in
The best news (for
fans): all 3 nationals entrants—Josh Farris, Jason Brown, and Shotaro Omori--
made it to the podium in the men’s division, resulting in a full-U.S. sweep. It
was the first sweep of junior worlds medals since Rachael Flatt, Caroline
Zhang, and Mirai Nagasu did the sweep in 2008. (And Zhang, Nagasu and Ashley
Wagner did the same thing in ’07.)
The very good news: Denney/Frazier (5th at Nats) won the Pairs event over the favorites Fedorova/Miroshkin, RUS, who were 7th in SP but won the FS... and Yu/Jin, CHN, the leaders after SP who were 5th in the FS and finished in 4th. It was the first time THAT has happened since McLaughlin/Brubaker did it in ’07. Fingers crossed this victory leads to a better overall ending.
The pretty good news: Aldridge/Eaton won their 2nd consecutive Junior Worlds bronze medal, just behind the same two teams that took gold and silver ahead of them at last fall’s JGP Final—Stepanova/Bukin of RUS, and Papdakis/Ciezron of FRA. But Papdakis did their FD on a sprained, heavily taped ankle that forced them to stop mid-routine and start up again several minutes later (much as Virtue/Moir did at 4CC last month). And once again (as with V/M) there were no deductions for stopping down the program. I know there is precedence for this—Zhang/Zhang, silver medalists at the Torino Olympics to name one of the better known cases—but right now the “penalization” for being unable to complete a program straight through seems increasingly arbitrary. Hopefully the ISU will address this in the off-season? But I digress...
Now, the not-so-good news... the
junior ladies were unable to get to the podium at all. The sweep in that case
was Russian; Elena Radionova, Julia Lipnit “Gumby” skaia, and Anna Pogorilaya
went 1-2-3. The U.S. senior
ladies pewter medalist, Courtney Hicks, finished 5th, while SP
winner Samantha Cesario (8th at Senior Nats) slipped to 4th
place after several of her triple jumps were downgraded. Yasmin Siraj (6th
at Senior Nats) finished down in 11th.
Speaking of Hicks’ fourth-place finish at Nationals, here is a little breakdown as to how 3rd/4th/5th in the ladies final turned out as it did (Zawadzki/Hicks/Gao)... and I’ll add up front that I studied this because I was pretty agitated to see Gao in 5th place yet again (as I probably said at the time!):
With regards to the free skate scores between these three ONLY...
Elements: Hicks got the highest score, followed by Gao, then Zawadzki
Components: Zawadzki highest, then Gao, then Hicks (and it’s worth noting that in most areas, Zawadzki’s score was around a half-point higher than Gao’s).
Spins: Hicks, then Zawadzki, then Gao. The first two had level 4’s on all three spins, while Gao lagged 3 to 3.5 points behind them... not helped, I’m sure, by the level 1 given for her flying spin. (NOTE: talking about the FS here, not the SP when she unfortunately had the glaring error on her final spin.)
Footwork: Gao (with Level 4 FW), followed by Hicks (level 3) and Zawadzki (level 2—about 1.5 points lower than Gao).
Considering the difference between 3rd and 5th place was around 3.5 points, you could blame some combo of the component score and the spins scores... but also considering the fact that Zawadzki only had the 7th best FS of the night and, like Wagner, earned her medal on the strength of her SP... I’d have to go study the SP protocols as well if I really wanted to get to the nitty gritty of these differences. Haven’t done it yet, but... who’s curious besides me? Anyone? Let me know.
Finally, a few words about Mirai Nagasu’s dismal 11th place FS at Nationals (which ultimately took her from 3rd after the SP to 7th overall)... you’ve probably heard by now that downgrades and underrotations were to blame for her remarkably low elements score (49.80; Gracie Gold’s, by comparison, was 71.14). A level 2 spin and a fall on her triple flip didn’t help either... but the brutal truth was that of the five triples she landed in some fashion, four of them were “dinged” by the judges in one way or another. It adds up fast. (If it’s any comfort, her total score this year would’ve been good enough for fourth place last year!)
And for anyone wondering why NBC chose to stay on an uncomfortable close-up of Nagasu in the K’n’C after learning her fate... rather than cut away ASAP to the joy/relief shared by Wagner and Gold... all you need to know is that I can almost guarantee the man directing (aka “calling the shots”) for NBC is the same man who was responsible for staying FOREVER on the miserable close-up of Nancy Kerrigan as she sank to a 5th-place finish back at the ’93 Worlds. I talked to him several times for Skating on Air, and much as he loves the innate drama of a good old-fashioned rivalry, he seems to love the raw (read: agonizing) emotion of defeated athletes just a little bit more. Better get used to it if you aren't already...
Worlds predictions coming up... by necessity... in the next few days!!!