Wednesday, November 13, 2013

2013 NHK Review & Results

NHK Results... and yes, I’m painfully aware my predictions were only 25% accurate this time! Yikes. (This time I highlighted the correct guesses.)

GOLD Mao Asada, JPN
SILVER Elena Radionova, RUS
BRONZE Akiko Suzuki, JPN

At least I was close on this one—had Suzuki been successful with her two triple lutz attempts (she popped one, fell on the other), second and third results would have at least been closer if not reversed. Radionova continues to shine in her debut season on the circuit, and will surely make the GP Final... where we may hear the usual rhetoric about it being a crime that one of the most successful athletes currently in the sport is too young to qualify for Sochi. At which time I’ll point to Asada (also clearly destined for another GP Final, the sixth of her career) and say “She needs to take this one.”

Meanwhile, Gracie Gold turned in a solid (if not stupendous) pair of performances at NHK to finish in fourth... actually tied with Radionova in the SP, but a few errors in the FS plus a wipeout on her triple lutz/triple toe took her out of the medal hunt. Incidentally, I’ve put my finger on what I don’t like about her music this season—and no, I’m not talking about the “screechy” violins that some seem to dislike in her Gershwin SP. (They don’t bother me. Honestly. If it’s Gershwin, I’m almost always on board.) I’m talking the last cut of her Sleeping Beauty FS. It’s not fast enough. It does pick up a little by the time she hits her final spin, but for me it’s too little too late. Anyone else?

GOLD- Daisuke Takahashi, JPN
SILVER- Nobunari Oda, JPN
BRONZE- Jeremy Abbott, USA

Who’d have thunk it: the ONE guy I guesstimated correctly this time (or close; I had him for bronze) was Oda. Javier Fernandez—in second after the SP—was at least within striking distance of the gold I’d predicted for him, but an 8th place (eighth place!) free skate changed all that. And Max Aaron (who finished 7th) continued to be less than quad-solid with both programs; consequently, he was nowhere near the podium either. Who WAS there was the Dice-K man, who perhaps took his recent 4th place finish at SkAM (his worst GP finish in four years) as a much-needed wake-up call. Ditto for Abbott, whose 6th place at SkCAN was his worst GP finish since 2007 (when he finished 8th at the same event)! But they had to come at these “comebacks” with decidedly different angles: Dice-K blazed through his SP and earned over 95 points, while Jeremy came out forward on his SP quad toe (not a good sign for ANY jump) and could only secure a 78.78. So one had to basically hold his own in the free skate, while the other needed to skate as he knew he could, but had failed to do in most of his outings this calendar year. Bravo to both of them for showing the fight that remains... a fight that will be absolutely essential for both of them as they make their way to their respective Nationals.

One confession I must make though: when I watched Adam Rippon’s NHK FS (another strong one!) without the benefit of commentary, I thought he’d done enough to possibly move into third. And when I saw Fernandez tank, I really thought it. So when I checked the final results and saw Abbott’s name ahead of Rippon’s, I was more than a little surprised... and definitely bummed out on Rippon’s behalf. This, coming from a huge Abbott fan! It’s not that I begrudged him the medal... but Rippon was in 4th after the SP (with a quad toe this time; had to put a hand down but got credit for full rotation!) and I think I forgot about the fact that 4th and 7th were separated by only a few points. Was this outcome an omen for Nationals? You’ve gotta wonder...

GOLD- Volosozhar/Trankov, RUS
SILVER- Peng/Zhang, CHN

It’s been a long time since a pairs team has looked this unstoppable, hasn’t it? Even in terms of the Russians I think it’s true. Count one more runaway win for Volo/Trank as we try to put the yellow pants out of our minds until the GP Final.

Meanwhile, China only gets to send two pairs teams to the Olympics... and that race took on a new dimension as Peng/Zhang placed higher here than teammates Sui/Han (who had a hot mess of an FS, only staying on the podium because the rest of the teams were so far behind the top three). P/Z really look to be up to speed in only their second season together, so at this point it’s anyone’s guess which team will join Pang/Tong in Sochi. Both are likely to make the GP Final now; we’ll have to see how they fare in that event.

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

It was business as usual for D/W and C/L, so the Shibutani subplot was what had my attention: could their Michael Jackson free dance outscore Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov’s Swan Lake? With the fans, yes. With the judges, I wasn’t sure... particularly since I/K outscored the Shibs at this event last year (with that Ghost program I was so unfond of). But they did, which should keep their spirits going as they continue the Olympic fight. In case you’re wondering, by the way...

Shibutani GP scores this season: 154.47 (SkAM)/157.58 (NHK)
Hubbell/Donohue GP scores this season: 152.98 (SkAM)/153.20 (SkCAN)
Chock/Bates GP scores this season: 150.53 (Cup of China)/TBD at Rostelecom Cup

I’ve heard it’s not really fair to compare scores from different events, but nonetheless it surely wouldn’t hurt Chock/Bates to step up their game when they get to Russia in a couple of weeks...

As for this weekend, it’s Trophee Eric Bompard time! Look for a preview and predictions in the next two days. 


sara.raju said...

It is crazy to me how deep the US dance field is compared with the other disciplines. I have to admit also, that I'd prefer D/W, Hubbell/Donahue and Chock/Bates, but I love the Shib sibs too, so it's pretty hard for me to decide!

Tiff said...

I know people have been saying C/B are a lock for the 2nd spot at US Champs and that the Shibs and H/D are fighting for the 3rd spot, but both of those teams have looked stronger than C/B so far. I wouldn't be surprised to see C/B skate into 4th and off the US Olympic team if they don't improve.