Wednesday, November 6, 2013

2013 Cup of China in Review

My medal predictions percentage keeps dropping as the GP progresses this season: 75% accurate for Skate America, 50% for Skate Canada, and now only 42% for Cup of China. Gotta turn that around with NHK!!

In the meantime, check out the CoC weekend in review below...

GOLD Anna Pogorilaya, RUS
SILVER Adelina Sotnikova, RUS
BRONZE Carolina Kostner, ITA

I didn’t like it. So... very... much... didn’t... like... the color of the bodice, the color of the skirt, the handkerchief design of the skirt that made me think she wanted to be able to yank one off at any time in case she gets another nosebleed like she did at Worlds...

Oh, sorry! I was busy thinking about Kostner’s FS costume. Unfortunately her skating left something to be desired too; so far, I’d say her take on Scheherazade is a work in progress at best. The Russian “A Team” (Anna & Adelina) delivered the goods much better—or at least in greater quantities—and deserved their 1-2 finish. Is it the ushering in of a new era? I wouldn’t say so just yet, considering no one in the event (including the two of them) had spotless programs. Maybe two weeks in a row of dazzling performances a la Skate Canada were too much to ask for.

Further down the hill, in 7th place, was Agnes Zawadzki of the U.S. Not a great finish, particularly in light of other national medal contenders that have GP’d ahead of her this year, and a lot of people probably pointed to the fact that she just made a coaching switch. Does the fact that Gracie Gold did pretty well in her first new-coach scenario mean that Agnes Z. is in trouble? I don’t think so... she didn’t have a great GP season last year either, and yet she still brought it when it counted at Nationals. In fact, she’s brought it two years running. So we’ll see!

GOLD- Yan Han, CHN
SILVER- Maxim Kovtun, RUS
BRONZE- Takahiko Kozuka, JPN

I saw Kozuka land his quad toe in the SP and thought Well, so much for him being inconsistent! Unfortunately, then there was the free skate... yet he still earned bronze, which tells you how “off” everyone else was. Except for “the teenagers” Yan and Kovtun, who obviously suffered very little in the way of first-time jitters at their respective GP debuts.

As for my prediction that gold would go to Florent Amodio—wow, that was a bust. Not only were his clean quads MIA, but his free skate (bow-tie and all) lacked some of the charm and breezy interpretation that has become his hallmark... not to mention a significant part of his score. His sixth-place finish was even bested by Richard Dornbush (finishing 5th), skating sub-par this week to a(nother) Beatles Medley. I could go for Dornbush taking on the Fab Four, but-- as with Daisuke Takahashi—the song selections and their respective arrangements aren’t cutting it for me. This time the crime comes in choosing several of their earliest hits. As my Twitter pal Truly S. (@hotincleveland) wrote, “Early Beatles should NEVER be orchestrated. That's elevator music, people. John and George are rolling over in their graves.”

And I’ve grown accustomed to seeing Dornbush cut loose a bit in the final minutes of his FS, but that’s precisely where the Muzak “Hard Day’s Night” and its counterparts come in... and this time, the fun expressions and hand gestures feel forced. Blah.

GOLD- Savchenko/Szolkowy, GER
SILVER- Pang/Tong, CHN
BRONZE- Peng/Zhang, CHN

Let me start by saying Pang/Tong never cease to amaze me. All teasing about their ages (born in the 1970s!!!) and alarming endurance (you know they’re held together these days by Scotch tape and poster putty, right?) aside, they are here for one more Olympic push and weren’t far from winning their event at Cup of China. Take that, whippersnappers! And their teammates Peng/Zhang (the latter of whom is nearly as old as they are) are improving enough to take bronze, although I still feel like the age and size difference between the two makes for an awkward, uncle/niece relationship on the ice.

As for Savchenko/Szolkowy... in using the Pas de Deux from The Nutcracker for this Olympic year’s FS, it feels to me like they’ve cleaned up the house (because company’s coming!), scrubbed up, and slapped on their Sunday Best. In other words, I’m not sure I’m buying it yet. Especially if they keep that throw triple axel in the final seconds, as they’ve got it currently. If they land it—as they did at 2013 Worlds—it could be epic IF the rest of their FS goes well. But they wiped out here in China, and that’s something they can ill afford to do once competing against the Russian World Champs. Why not go back to the throw triple salchow they used to do at that spot? Isn’t the risk/reward ratio pointing more in that direction?

GOLD- Pechalat/Bourzat, FRA
SILVER- Bobrova/Soloviev, RUS
BRONZE- Chock/Bates, USA

Apparently it was something of a surprise that P/B won this one. Really? Not that Bob/Solo’s World Bronze Medal is a fluke, but when both teams are skating their best, the nod tends to go P/B’s way. As for their respective FDs—I enjoyed Le Petit Prince et Sa Rose quite a bit. It’s refreshing and sweet, and I haven’t even studied the story behind it yet! Yes, the costumes look “like sherbet” (thank you Aaron @skating102 for that one), but what can I say? I guess I can go for sherbet every now and again. Bob/Solo’s Four Seasons was captivating and intense, but has that THIS IS AN OLYMPIC PROGRAM feel to it that, ironically, fails to stand out yet for me.

As for the U.S. reps here, Chock/Bates ended up bringing home the sole American medal for the weekend with their take on Les Miz. I’m still not crazy about the musical cuts, but it went a little better-- I didn’t get as much of that “rushed” feeling from them as I did when they competed it a few weeks earlier. Aldridge/Eaton are taking an interesting turn with a Bollywood FD this season—and while no one is likely to draw up any reasonable comparisons to Davis/White’s iconic OD from four seasons ago, it’s probably a good way for them to set themselves up for recognition in future years. (They’ll have to keep working hard though; it’s much more difficult to keep a genre like Bollywood going and in character for four minutes than it is for two-and-a-half.)

Watch this space for the NHK overview and predictions!

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