Thursday, October 30, 2014

Gone With the Windy City: 2014 Skate America in Review

I’m so out of BlogShape... post some predictions, watch some skating, tweet about it, drum up a commentary, make some more predictions... all within a week or so?? Really?

Oh wait, I forgot—I’ve done this drill the past eight years. Just because I became a slacker this off-season doesn’t mean I’ve lost all my muscle memory. So here’s a look back at last weekend’s Skate America—where I managed a 6-for-12 with the medal predictions—and while you’re reading this, I’ll be on the treadmill for the next one.

SkAM 2014 in Review

Machida (1st overall)—No contest. Even with a couple flaws.
Brown (2nd overall)— He did better at Nebelhorn, but I like these programs. Especially his Tristan & Isolde FS.
Ngyuen (2nd in FS, 3rd overall)—My biggest underestimation of the event. What an impressive senior GP debut! Reminds me of the guy who won bronze at this event last year (who happens to be the guy who won silver that I just talked about)
Ten (4th overall)—The pattern continues... meaning one where you can see where the reigning OBM intends to take us with his programs but isn’t able to get the job done. Yet. The last minute or so of his FS promises to be especially moving if gets the jumping passes on his side.
Abbott (2nd in SP, 6th in FS, 5th overall) – Sigh. Speaking of a pattern continuing... what can I say? At least he didn’t seem too upset about it.
Razzano (8th overall) – I’m starting to think of Razzano as the U.S.’s Jeremy Ten—an athlete whose work shines through his competitive jumping errors just enough for us to see what a beautiful skater he really is. But unfortunately, for now, the inconsistencies take center stage as they did here.

Radionova (1st overall)—The skating world wouldn’t be the same without some perpetual force of Unstoppable Dynamo, and for the time being, that force is Radionova. Fortunately she doesn’t yet seem to feel the weight of the world on her diminutive shoulders... no matter how many crystals and stones they pile onto her FS costume.
(Have you taken a good look at that thing? It’s bench-pressable!)
Tuktamysheva (2nd overall)—I should have taken into account how many back-to-backs she’s done; we’re not even out of October yet and she’s competed internationally FOUR times, winning the other three events! And she still won the SP here!
Gold (3rd overall)—She goes into this season for the first time as The Hunted, a.k.a. National champ and highest finisher in Sochi among the U.S. ladies. Not an enviable position. She’s now 19 years old and 5’5”... not a young sprite by skating standards (even though she’s only been in the spotlight a couple of years). So while I’m not saying she’s lucky to have any medal at all from this event, based on how she skated, it’s understandable why it was bronze this time. I think she’s capable of more. We’ll see if it happens.
Cesario (4th overall)—She’s increasingly fun to watch, even in her second year of using Carmen for her FS (dare I say, especially when she’s using Carmen? Nah, I’d better not. We all know the reality of Carmena Overdosa...)
Park (of S. Korea, 5th overall)—Kim Yu-Na’s influence is clear with Park as she skated here more like she did at last season’s Worlds (where she finished 9th) than the Sochi Olympics (where she ended up 21st). It will be interesting to see if she can keep this up at Rostelecom Cup in a few weeks.
Nagasu (6th overall) – making up for a dismal SP with a score in the upper 40s (!!), Nagasu skated a clean FS—or seemed to, until the jump downgrades chipped away at her TES. Were they all justified? Or is her reputation her destiny? Honestly the bigger problem, for me, is that she looks to be skating emotion-free. To Madame Butterfly, no less. Maybe it was due to a determination to focus and bounce back at this event, but I got a similar vibe (or lack thereof) when she skated the same program at Japan Open a few weeks ago.

Kavaguti/Smirnov (1st overall)—apparently Moskvina really came up with the perfect vehicle for them while Smirnov was resting his injured shoulder last year. What a comeback!
Denney/Frazier(2nd overall)—Armed with a Lion King FS, these two got the best finish by a US couple at a GP event since 2008!
Peng/Zhang (3rd overall)—Had I seen their new FS in advance, I might not have predicted them to win. It didn’t rub me the right way.

Chock/Bates (1st overall)—I like this An American in Paris FD much, much better than their Les Miz offering last season. Did you know Bates and his former partner Emily Samuelson had American/Paris as their 2010-11 FD? Sadly most of us never saw it, as an injury crushed that entire season for them. I wonder how Samuelson feels about his using it four years later? But I digress...
Shib Sibs (2nd overall)— Their Blue Danube FD definitely brings back the clean lines of their Nat King Cole-infused heyday of a few years ago. But it wasn’t much of a showdown between the Shibs and Chock/Bates; the 10+ point gap between 1st and 2nd allows plenty of room for yet another U.S. dance team to sneak into the mix. What’s a top brother/sister team to do? (That doesn’t have to be rhetorical; if you have a suggestion for them leave it in the comments!)
Stepanova/Bukin (3rd overall)—I like ‘em. I like their music choice (haven’t heard Eleanor Rigby in the FD since Davis/White used it many years ago), I like their simplistic look, their lines, and their rather unique choreographic moments. They’re young, so I know all this (sigh) might change in a year or two. But for now? StepKin is somethin’ somethin’ :-)




SFM said...

What’s a top brother/sister team to do?

Probably not be brother and sister, especially in ice dance. I say this only because ice dance is primarily associated with love, passion, sexiness, etc., etc. and this does not favor a brother/sister ice dance team too well.

Granted, ice dancers do not always have to be skating to a lover infused piece of music and they can be extremely elegant and effective without the romance and the Shibs are, but I think their relationship holds them back with the judges and many fans. This relationship limits (in my opinion) what music they can dance to, how they can dance to it, and where they can take it.

Is this fair? NO! But I do think it is on the minds of the judges...for better or for worse.

Kelli Lawrence said...

**Nodding my head**