Wednesday, October 23, 2013

2013 Skate America Wrap-Up

A relatively quick look back at 2013 Skate America... 

GOLD Mao Asada, JPN
SILVER Ashley Wagner, USA
BRONZE Elena Radionova, RUS

Asada had only been at SKAM once before; her win here made her the only lady to have won all six of the current GP titles AND the GP Final. (Kwan, for those of you wondering, also won all available GPs in her time—and the final—but there were only five GPs back then.) Wagner’s silver medal is her 8th in the GP since she got on the circuit in 2007. Radionova took bronze in her senior GP debut, but as you may have heard several times on the NBC coverage... at 14, she’s not age-eligible for Sochi
Also noteworthy (for the right reasons) was Samantha Cesario, who skated a very solid and convincing Carmen FS on her way to a fifth-place finish in her senior GP debut. And noteworthy for all the wrong reasons, I'm sorry to say, was Caroline Zhang. With a FS that included several pops, only one triple attempt (on her once-reliable triple loop, which she fell on this time), and even a skate-through (total non-attempt) on one element, I couldn't help but wonder again why she'd received this GP assignment in the first place when the likes of National Pewter Medalist Courtney Hicks had to wait for a withdrawal at Skate Canada before getting any GP assignments at all. (For those wondering... so far I haven't heard any news of Zhang skating poorly due to illness or injury.)

GOLD Tatsuki Machida, JPN
SILVER Adam Rippon, USA

Machida’s win was a big surprise, especially in light of who he was up against (Takahashi, Kozuka), but maybe it shouldn’t have been—he DID win Cup of China last year, after all. I’m marveling even more at Rippon’s silver medal—it makes me so happy to see him skating so well! It was only his third medal ever won in the GP since 2008, and his best finish to date. He looks physically stronger, he’s skating with more command and polish (did you watch his hands? His hands alone were fantastic!), and both his programs fit him like a glove... unlike last year’s “Incredible Don Draper” FS, which we can safely say now was an unsuccessful experiment, yes? Oh, and the fact that he’s even got the quad lutz back in both programs gives me great hope. Never mind that he put his hand down on one of them, and crashed into the boards on the other. Just going for them puts everyone on notice that he is a CONTENDER this season.

GOLD Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov, RUS
SILVER Kristen Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch, CAN
BRONZE Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov, RUS

No contest here, as expected... Volo/Trank (and Trankov’s quickly-becoming-infamous Yellow Pants) looked every bit the World Champions they are, both in short form and in long. M-T/M, as far as I’m concerned, have become an excellent team and are a definite possibility for an Olympic medal, but they have to be spot-on with every element just to stand a chance of making it close with Volo/Trank... and they weren’t, though the momentum they’re building for a great national showdown with Duhamel/Radford. The bronze medal here marks the second medal for Stolbova/Klimov since they started the circuit in 2010; this puts them on even footing with (4th place finishers) Denney/Coughlin’s GP medal pedigree. Incidentally, D/C used last year’s Phantom of the Opera FS here-- can anyone fill in if they are going to use Casablanca later this season, as previously announced?

GOLD Davis/White, USA
SILVER Cappellini/Lanotte, ITA
BRONZE Shibutani/Shibutani, USA

Of course, no contest here either. The more uncertain result was likely the battle for bronze, and with good reason—the Shib Sibs grabbed it over Hubbell/Donohue by a margin of less than two points (though that would have been a tiny bit wider had Alex Shibutani not taken a quick tumble right at the beginning of their MJ free dance). Keeping in mind that the Shibs defeated H/D at Nats by well over 6 points, the question comes up again: are H/D that much improved... or are the Shibs doing that much more to find fault over? (As usual I leave this strictly-ice-dancing question to you guys.)

Incidentally, Hubbell/Donohue (and the aforementioned Hicks) are part of the U.S. contingency at this weekend’s Skate Canada... look for the preview/predictions on Friday!

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