Monday, October 28, 2013

2013 Skate Canada Wrap-Up

Here's a look back at this past weekend's Skate Canada: 

GOLD Julia Lipnitskaia, RUS
SILVER Akiko Suzuki, JPN
BRONZE Gracie Gold, USA

Gumbyskaia skated very clean and very strong. Yes, she also skates like she’s 15, meaning her connections to the music and emotions (of which there are plenty when your FS is to Schindler’s List) are often tenuous at best. But she’s proving to be a fierce senior competitor with crazy-consistent jumps, speedy, well-centered spins, and as we all know, flexibility for days. Having turned 15 in June of this year, she is just barely age-eligible for the Olympics... meaning she may have the great fortune to compete at the biggest event of her sport while also being young enough to still have the waif-ish, girl’s body with which she mastered such tough elements. Just sayin’.

Meanwhile, Gold looked much better here than she did at the Utah Challenge event last month. That was expected, given her situation (“breaking up” with one coach while not yet fully signed on with another). But her 69+ SP score had to be a surprise, even knowing she’d skated well! Too bad she couldn’t keep it together well enough to retain her lead this time, but I’m sure her day is coming...

ALSO: Christina Gao, who has now finished 4th at three of her biggest international events of the past year (Trophy Eric Bompard, 4 CC, and this one) must feel like that “almost girl” weight is settling onto her shoulders now that Wagner has shrugged it off... it was a real shame that Kaetlyn Osmond had to withdraw after the SP (with a hamstring injury, not a re-visit to the foot injury she had recently)... Courtney Hicks didn’t exactly light up the joint in her GP debut, but her Evita FS was much better than her SP, allowing her to finish 6th instead of last.

GOLD- Patrick Chan, CAN
SILVER- Yuzuru Hanyu, JPN
BRONZE- Nobunari Oda, JPN

Team U.S.A.’s Douglas Razzano wondered (via Twitter) if any of these guys had any interest in winning this event—and if you were watching, you know why he felt compelled to say that. Popped jumps, missed jumps, tripled quads, fumbled spins... it’s like the minds of 9 guys got together and said So we know Chan is going to crush all of us, so let’s just get in and out and be done with it, OK? Save the fight for another time. And that’s too bad, because there are moments of brilliance in so much of what went down in the men’s event: Jeremy Abbott’s relatively successful quad (he still got negative GOEs for it I guess) in the SP... TWO successful quad salchows by Michal Brezina (yes, Brezina!) in the FS... a senior GP debut by Josh Farris that landed him in 5th overall, outscoring Abbott by less than 1 point. And let’s be clear: neither Oda nor Hanyu were slouches in their respective medal finishes—they both just had sub-par nights in a sport where the bar (especially for the Japanese men) is INSANELY high. But Chan could’ve gone out, doubled all his jumps, and still won... and we couldn’t have cried foul in good conscience. Having said that, Chan doubled enough jumps near the end (and singled an axel too) to underscore that fact just a wee bit. But two great quads (one in a 4/3 combo) within the first 90 seconds of the program was much more than necessary this time around.

GOLD- Stefania Berton/Ondrej Hotarek, ITA
SILVER- Sui Wenjing/Han Cong, CHN
BRONZE- Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford, CAN

I’d said it was Duhamel/Radford’s to lose, and it was... and they did, after leading (though not by much) in the SP. Berton/Hotarek only managed 5th place at SkAM with these same programs, but this time around they surprised everyone (themselves included!) with Italy’s first-ever pairs GP victory. They were helped with some smaller mistakes on D/R’s part and one glaring one—an aborted lift in the FS. (I’d usually call such misses “rare” except it happened at least three different times in this event.) Sui/Han were right—as in less than half a point overall—behind the Italians, convincing me that they are not only healthier than they were earlier in the year, but are maturing nicely too. In the middle of the pack (5th and 6th) were the U.S. teams Denney/Frazier and Davis/Brubaker, respectively... not bad GP debuts, though disappointment was etched on Brubaker’s face, particularly after the SP.

GOLD-TessaVirtue/Scott Moir, CAN
SILVER- KaitlynWeaver/Andrew Poje, CAN
BRONZE- Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue, USA

Just last week I was saying something about the odds on successful completions of those soaring-yet-risky straight-line lifts. If I spoke too loudly for those angels who oversee such moves, I apologize... for here, the Russian team of Stepanova/Bukin suffered a big snag (though it could’ve been much worse) on such a lift, dropping them soundly from 6th place to last. Higher up the ladder were the usual Canadian suspects for gold and silver, with six points separating the two... and my dark horse pick Hubbell/Donohue easily bested the other Russian team (Riazanova/Tkachenko) for bronze, so I hope that bodes well for them as the U.S. battle for bronze continues to heat up.

Cup of China is the next stop on the GP circuit! Got any favorites competing? Post about them (or the SkCan results, if you prefer) in the Comments! 

1 comment:

sara.raju said...

It's funny that you mention the lifts again, because it seemed to me that V/M while doing the lifts were kind of unsure of themselves. The lifts were unusually slow for them. At this point in the season I have to say that neither V/M nor D/W's programs are setting me on fire. Hopefully that changes over the season.