The field is set, as they say!
Gracie and Ashley! Weaver and Poje! Sui and Han! Wait, they’ve scratched (due to injury)... Peng and Zhang! Yuzuru and... oookay fine, he’s currently standing all by himself after last weekend. But we’ll get to that later.
First, as promised, let’s take a step backwards and see what was worth remembering at Rostelecom Cup AND NHK Trophy:
+ Rostelecom Russian Sweep: Many predicted it; I was not one of them (sigh)... but give
this: they picked the right young women for this event. Medeveda is Russia’s
current “It” girl, Radionova was last year’s “It” girl (if you consider
Tuktamysheva last year’s comeback queen, that is), and Sotnikova and her OGM
probably made her the headliner above both of them. Then, for an added twist,
Radionova got the win! One prediction I got correctly here was Sotnikova for
bronze, and while I actually think bronze should’ve gone to Polina Edmunds, Sotnikova’s
first time back in the GP ring was good. Not great, but good. Which, I think,
is how I’ve characterized her skating all along. And I still don’t think she’s
ever really elevated beyond “good”. Not even in Sochi.
+ Pogorilayaaaaaaah!!!: Then,
sent the struggling Anna Pogorilaya to NHK Trophy a week later... and we
witnessed one of the most painful SPs we’ve seen this season (the other one
that comes to mind is Kaetlyn Osmond’s at Skate Canada... back to her in a
moment). Three jumping passes, three falls. Hard falls. No, make that brutal,
sprawling, spirit-crushing falls and a couple “OMG did she hit her head??”
comments on Twitter. It thumped her to last place—and while she bravely eked
out a much more on-her-feet FS that landed her in 9th overall, you’ve got to
feel for her as they head towards Russian Nationals. I can only speculate, but
right now it seems like it’s between Pogo, Tukta, Sotnik(ova) and Lipnit(skaia) for that
third World Team spot. Oof. Advantage Tukta, without a doubt.
+ Chartrand’s chances of holding her SP spot (when attempting a triple axel in the FS): slim to none. Alaine Chartrand may very well become the first Canadian woman to land a triple axel in competition... but based on results, maybe she should shift that goal to next season. Twice she’s attempted it in this season’s GP, twice she’s fallen on it, and twice the rest of her FS has been a wash. The 88.80 last place score she got at Skate America was merely a morale-guzzler, since she was 6th after the SP. Rostelecom, though, saw her in 2nd place (over Evegenia Medeveda, for heaven’s sake!!) after the SP... so even though she was able to improve on the SkAM debacle by some 17 points, that skid down to 6th place overall had to hurt, especially since she made the podium last year. She’s clearly capable of very good work, so I hope she takes a cue from Adam Rippon and ditches the huge points-getter that ain’t getting her any points. A World Team spot at Canadian Nationals may depend on it.
+ Osmond’s rocky road back: She’s getting there—just not at the pace she hoped for. After experiencing ankle pain, a blistering flying spin wipeout, and a dizzying array of stumbles and falls at Skate Canada that left her in 11th place, Kaetlyn Osmond was decidedly in the middle of the pack with a 6th place finish at NHK. The near 25-point gain she made from one FS to the next was definitely helpful... still, like Chartrand, I’d say absolutely nothing is guaranteed to her come Canadian Nats. Perhaps she said summed it up best in this Twitter post shortly after NHK:
Everything is a learning process. Practices have been perfect, just getting used to competing is the trick. I know I can just keep building.
+ The American trail mix: we had an interesting assortment of
ladies’ performances over the past few weeks. Up in Moscow,
current pewter medalist Polina Edmunds turned in a pair of pretty strong skates
only to find herself in that familiar 4th place. The good news to be
found from that: she lagged behind reigning OGM Sotnikova by less than 2 total
points. The bad news: in my opinion, she shouldn’t have. In the FS in
particular, Edmunds had the higher tech score. But—oh hello, more subjective
components—Ade got an average score of 8.67 compared to Pol’s 7.59. This goes
back to what I said about Ade being good-not-great... I think her components
should be a fair shot lower. No more than a 7.9 to Pol’s 7.6. But oh, what a judge’s
world must look like through OGM-colored glasses...
Anyway, NHK proved interesting for all the reasons Ashley Wagner didn’t want it to: a few misses in the SP? Check. A few more in the FS? CHECK. Finishing off the GP podium for the first time in 4 years? CHECK! While your teammate finishes ahead of you? Ai-yi-yi...
Speaking of the teammate! Courtney Hicks kept the mustard FS dress, but left behind the jitters that took her out of the running the last time she had a top-3 SP to build from. Well, she left behind some of them, skating fairly well in a sea of disappointing performances (save for Miyahara, the NHK winner). But that first-ever GP medal she won could go a long way when it comes to confidence at Nationals.
(For Hannah Miller and Mirai Nagasu, who also competed at Rostelecom and NHK, respectively, I’m leaving them out of the trail mix conversation because Miller’s 10th place and Nagasu’s 5th were pretty much what I expected—both before and after they skated.)
+ Honestly, I don’t have a whole lot to say about either the Rostelecom OR the NHK pairs event. All three from the Rostelecom podium (Stolbova/Klimov, Kavaguti/Smirnov, Peng/Zhang) are competing at the GP Final now that Sui/Han have scratched due to injury, and all three from the NHK podium (Duhamel/Radford, Yu/Jin, Scimeca/Knierim) will be at the final too.
+ One notable addition to this list: Seguin/Bilodeau of
who turned out to be the sole beneficiaries of the rule adjustment made by the
ISU in the wake of the cancelled Trophee Eric Bompard event. One notable
absence: Volosohzar/Trankov, the reigning OGMs back from their one-year hiatus.
Since they only competed at TEB, there was no way for them to rack up enough
points for the Final. Those awaiting a Russian/Canadian showdown between this
team and Duh/Rad—who have won every
major event they entered within the past two seasons to this point—looks like
you’ll be waiting until Worlds.
+ Speaking of Duh/Rad (that looks so silly; I think I want to change that abbreviation to Doo-Rad), I want to talk about THAT MUSIC. Even if you don’t recognize the song they’ve chosen for this season’s FS, you might have already deciphered it to be sung by the currently omnipresent Adele. “Hometown Glory” is the closing track on Adele’s debut album from 2008; it was also the first single released from that album and is reported to be the first song Adele ever wrote. The team of Doo-Rad is not the first to use “Hometown”—Jeremy Abbott, to name another, made it an exhibition piece from 2010 through 2012—but with vocals only in their second year of use in competition, I happen to think Doo-Rad are making an excellent case “for” the vocals side of debate. (And yes, I still plan to dedicate a post to that topic!)
+ On the “against” side: the 70s mix tape that the Italian team of Marchei/Hotarek have for their FS. I was a little concerned when Wikipedia listed their FS music as The Way We Were followed by Saturday Night Fever (meaning some sort of medley from the film’s soundtrack, I assumed, since unlike “The Way We Were”, “Saturday Night Fever” is not an actual song). But the actual program contained not only those unlikely music bedfellows, but—in between SNF cuts—a snippet of the 1977 megahit ballad “You Light Up My Life”. WHAT?? I then had an indelible image in my head of Debby Boone (the squeaky-clean singer of that song) trapped in Studio 54, begging to be released but going unheard amid a relentless Bee Gee bass line. GAH! Mar/Hot, for heaven sakes, turn off the disco ball and go get a new program before Euros gets any closer!
Next up, Next time: Men and Ice Dance!