Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Five Observations from 2016 Four Continents

We’re still four weeks away from Worlds, so I’m declaring I have not yet exceeded the statute of limitations for a Four Continents review!! Hooray! Here we go...

Five Observations from Four CC 2016

1)The “Chan-pion” gets the last gloriously skated laugh... for now.
One of the biggest complaints about Patrick Chan is that he typically misses out, at least in part, on that “skating to one’s full potential” thing. Of course that’s what happens when one’s full potential is so freaking HUGE, right? But he delivered at 4CC. Mercy, did he ever. I mentioned he got his competitive groove back at Canadian Nationals, but even then, the 2nd triple-axel-in-the-free-skate thing eluded him—this, after acknowledging he needs additional content to stay competitive among the Hanyus, Jins and Fernandezes (Fernandii?) of the skating world. At 4CC, he nailed EVERYTHING, which was precisely what was necessary to come back from a 5th place SP to squeak a victory over increasingly stunning Boy Jumper Jin Boyang.

And that’s what’s notable as well: completely glorious as Chan’s FS was here, the score he received for it (203.99) still can’t touch Yuzuru Hanyu’s transcendent GPF performance from December. This is where the sport is at right now on its best days—untouchably special.

2) The U.S. guys are at it again. Or not...
The men’s SP wasn’t even over yet and I could see the tweeted headlines before they were even written: THREE SPOTS AT 2017 WORLDS FOR U.S. MEN? NOT LIKELY. And, unfortunately, they’d have a point. Max Aaron looked pained each time he finished a program at 4CC, and somewhat humiliated each time he awaited the bad news in the K&C (ultimately finishing 7th). Not a disaster—that dubious honor was reserved for Ross Miner, particularly his SP—but Aaron’s total of 220.94 would have only been good enough for 13th place at last year’s Worlds. And his score was the best of the U.S. guys in attendance; Grant Hochstein apparently fell victim to one of the strains of illness plaguing a number of competitors (see below) and skated well below his season average to finish just behind Aaron, in 8th.

So all we need by the start of Worlds is for Hochstein to get healthy again... for Aaron to relocate whatever sent him to the top at Skate America earlier in the season... and for Adam Rippon to keep doing what he does and add a consistent quad lutz to the mix.

Easy-peasy, right??

3) The Nagasu Mystique
It’s often a maddening thing to root for Mirai Nagasu. A high-ranking SP will beget a lackluster FS. A “pretty good” program will leave you wondering why it wasn’t a “great” program. And what seems like a showstopper performance will suddenly slam on the brakes when the judges have their say about edge calls and under-rotations. But here—kind of like at Nats, but even moreso, and without the pesky ripped-boot issues(!!)—Nagasu found her groove and skated right on with it to win silver behind Satoko Miyahara (who gave yet another pair of stunning performances). And for those of you wishing Nagasu could somehow find her way to the Worlds team from here, consider this factoid: in her nine years of competing at the senior level at Nats, Nagasu has only made ONE Worlds appearance to date (2010, where she finished 7th).           
4)Falls from Grace(ee).
I know that’s not how you spell her first name, but I guess I drew the short straw this time for having some headline fun with part of her name. Anyway, Gracie Gold’s downright miserable SP (and some subsequent references to her “not feeling fully prepared” for 4CC) leave one to wonder a number of things about this event. Anything from Will the timing of this competition EVER line up well with U.S. Nationals? To timing-schmiming; will Gracie EVER skate well enough long enough to build up any international momentum? I’m glad she rallied as well as she did in the FS, and I don’t really see this affecting what she does at Worlds (after all, she has yet to make it to the 4CC podium in three attempts). All I’m saying is that if the top U.S. ladies could just take a sip or two from the Mirahara (or Medvedeva, for that matter) Well of Consistency, that would be GREAT.    

5) All the highest-ranked U.S. skaters faltered, except...
Now let's see... Gold had a miserable SP, Aaron had a handful of miserable mistakes scattered across his programs, and Kayne/O’Shea were ill-at-ease all event long (or, we learned later, just plain ill in Tarah Kayne’s case). The exception to this year’s 4CC rule? The Shib Sibs, of course. I say “of course” because they appear to be riding a wave unlike any they’ve seen since maybe their first season as seniors. They did more here than hold their own; more than defeat Chock/Bates again... they defeated EVERYONE, giving Canada’s Weaver/Poje (who won bronze, behind Shibs and C/B) a disappointing end to what had to be an unsettling week... you’ve heard that Virtue/Moir plan to return to competition next year, right?

I wouldn’t have said this with much confidence in December, but can Maia and Alex be anything BUT Worlds podium contenders now? 


sara.raju said...

Worlds is gonna be SO crazy for ice dance. With the Shib-sibs streak and the French coming back from being out all season(BUT LOOKING INSANE). I want both of them to medal along with WeaPo and Chock/Bates but...theres only 3 medals :(

daniiltimin said...

Yeah, it's crazy that with at his very best performance of the free program Patrick is still far behind Yuzuru's score from the GPF. Although, I do think that Patrick will have a chance for a gold at Worlds. You can check out my thoughts on this topic here: