Wednesday, November 27, 2013

2013 Rostelecom Roundup as the GP Finalists are Determined

Here's a roundup of Rostelecom Cup of Russia 2013; scroll down further to see a list of the Grand Prix Finalists... 

Gold- Julia Lipnitskaia, RUS
Silver- Carolina Kostner, ITA
Bronze- Mirai Nagasu, USA

I was way off on my “dark horse” pick for this one... I said to keep an eye on Kanako Murakami, but while she rebounded very nicely in the free skate, her last-place SP was a sad sight to see (and it’s hard seeing such a normally cheerful young woman so disappointed in herself). Nagasu did what teammate Agnes Zawadzki did not: skate two strong programs, easily breaking the virtual tie between them (after the SP) to grab bronze while Zawadzki tumbled to 6th. Gumbyskaia got the overall victory here, but based on her exit interviews seems none too happy with her performance (a sizeable points cushion after the SP allowed her to edge out Kostner by the slimmest of margins). But no worries, O Bendable One; even the best have their “off” days. (I have it in quotes because the performance in question was still quite good.)

With this silver medal, Kostner will miss the GP Final for only the third time since 2007. By the way, what’s the consensus regarding her new Scheherazade ensemble? I (kiddingly) mentioned on Twitter that with all the beading and crystals weighing down the front side of the bodice, I worry now that she’s going to faceplant on a spiral. I DO like this dress better than the other one, but not by much. How about you?

Gold- Tatsuki Machida, JPN
Silver- Maxim Kovtun, RUS
Bronze- Javier Fernandez, ESP

I got the order all wrong, but was right about there being no other guys for the podium but these three. (Though Konstantin Menshov got much closer than I’d ever have guessed.) Machida now heads into the GP Final as the only man besides Patrick Chan with two gold medals—who’d have called THAT at the season’s start? But there wasn’t much contest here after Kovtun delivered a less-than-impressive free skate. In fact about the only performance I can think of in the FS that was MORE unimpressive was that of Fernandez—in fact, Kovtun and Fernandez were 4th and 5th in the FS behind 3rd place Menshov and 2nd place Richard Dornbush (who was still 20 points behind Machida and, thanks to a lackluster SP, brought home another 5th place finish).

Gold- Savchenko/Szolkowy, GER
Silver- Bazarova/Larionov, RUS
Bronze- Moore-Towers/Moscovitch, CAN

Did Baza/Lario get THAT much better in a week (between TEB and CoR)? Well, their SBS elements were more successful—still didn’t look great, but at least the rotating was kept to a max while falls were minimized. But they also got some help from M-T/M, who seemed oddly off their game here... not just with the jumps, but did you see that one exit from a lift where M-T ended up falling forward? Oof. As for Sav/Szol, it was gold medal business as usual, save for the throw triple axel splat in the SP. Kudos to them for replacing it with their throw triple salchow in the waning moments of their Nutcracker Free Skate; they certainly didn’t need the points to win this event. But some said Savchenko was crying in the apt-named K’n’C after the botched attempt, as if in pain. While I understand the reasoning behind wanting to keep this high-risk/high-reward element in their arsenal, I wish there was some other way they could be compatible for Olympic gold.

Gold- Bobrova/Soloviev, RUS
Silver- Weaver/Poje, CAN
Bronze- Chock/Bates, USA

Welcome to the Controversy of the Weekend. Wea/Po actually won the free dance here, but it was likely a hollow victory knowing the insurmountable advantage B/S had after the SD. It’s not that B/S were overscored there; it’s that Wea/Po appear to be seriously underscored, considering the nine point difference from their SkCan performance. Looking at the protocols from both events, it’s about the levels—a 2 for their curve lift at CoR (compared to a 4 at SkCan), and two patterns (I’m guessing that’s what they were?) that went from 4’s for both to a 2 and a 1, respectively. Pretty blatant stuff happening there. Have there been such disparities in any other couple’s TES dance scores this season?

As for Chock/Bates, their 2nd bronze of the GP season is surely a nice boost as they work toward the medal they want the most (the one that’ll qualify them for Sochi). Their 153.37 overall score here is enough of an improvement on their NHK score to put them in a much tighter battle with Hubbell/Donohue, but the Shib Sibs remain untouched by other U.S. teams in terms of the silver spot (behind Davis/White, of course).

So here’s the lineup for each discipline at the GP Final. I’ve included the 1st and 2nd alternates in bold, as they often get called up to replace someone in an Olympic season:

LADIES: Asada, Lipnitskaia, Wagner, Pogorilaya, Sotnikova, Radionova, Suzuki, Kostner

MEN: Chan, Machida, Hanyu, Kovtun, Takahashi, Yan, Oda, Rippon

PAIRS: Volosozhar/Trankov, Savchenko/Szolkowy, Pang/Tong, M-T/Moscovitch, Duhamel/Radford, Peng/Zhang, Sui/Han, Barton/Hotarek

DANCE: Davis/White, Virtue/Moir, Bobrova/Soloviev, Pechalat/Bourzat, Weaver/Poje, Cappellini/Lanotte, Ilinykh/Katsalapov, Shibutanis

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