Congrats to Sasha for her first Nationals gold. It was a cautious skate and probably slow (hard to tell on TV), but understandable considering she hadn't had a full runthrough of her LP in since getting the flu. Plus it looked as if she may have cut back on some things, eg, she didn't do her Russian split at the beginning of the circular footwork but an easier stag jump. But maybe that was a choreographic change. I love the new choreography and music cuts. The program both flows much better and is more interesting. David Wilson was definitely a good move. Even though sick and lacking spark, IMO, Sasha's training and experience carried her through except for the step-out/hand down on the 3toe at the end, which is when her endurance would be at its lowest, as it was with Kimmie.
Sasha's spins have started getting their speed back and I think they will continue to improve as the season progresses. BTW, thanks to those who answered my question about why her spins had gotten slow and ITA that it was due to trying new positions. Overall, the core of Sasha's skating has improved so much since '02, IMO. She used to be all highlight moves. Now there's real substance between the spirals and choreography. I also find Sasha very musical and thought she was in both her short and long programs.
Now she needs to increase her speed, still get down into her knees more, convey her natural personality through her skating, connect more with the audience, and manage her concentration, technique, or whatever it is on what was supposed to be a jump sequence before her final jump. Scores at Nationals are always inflated, so I'd knock off about 10-15 points from both her SP and LP total. But I'd do that for everybody in every discipline. Dick Button only talked about Sasha relative to Irina, but there are a fair number of other skaters that can beat Sasha, such as Suguri, Shizuka, Kostner (on a good night), and Michelle, provided she's healthy and goes. Plus there will probably be a surprise skater.
Tonight Kimmie skated the way that impressed me when I saw her live at COI. As I've said before, I was surprised at how much presence Kimmie had when I saw her live, which I hadn't seen come across on TV. I'm not crazy about her LP, but it looks as if they've made improvements to the choreography.
Add me to the list of Stephanie Rosenthal fans, though I wasn't surprised at her strong dance and performance qualities. You wouldn't think it, but Mormons are really big on the arts--as long as they're "nice" arts. So all the Salt Lake and even small town high schools have great dance programs, and the figure skating coaches make use of all the high calibre dance training and choreography in SLC.
Of course, you can have all the dance training in the world and still be dull as a doorknob as a performer. But combine good training with the kind of effervescent personality Stephanie has and you just want to grab every skater who doesn't understand why they have to take "boring old dance classes," make them look at Stephanie, and say, "That's why!"
I think she should go straight on to Stanford because I don't think she has the body to be competitive as an elite figure skater, but I hope she keeps skating because she so clearly enjoys it. I can also see her becoming a coach or choreographer, someone who can help bring out the joy of skating in her students. I don't know, but my guess is that her family has instilled a sense of balance in Stephanie and that as hard as her studies may be at Stanford, she'll be sure to make time to skate, and perhaps compete at the college level. But she was definitely the "sheer joy of skating" highlight and also showed the importance of knowing how to move in skating.
I'm hoping by the time I finish writing this post they will have announced the Olympic team. As someone said, somebody's heart is going to be broken. Now it's just a matter of whose. And things could still change after that! As if Olympic seasons aren't stressful enough.