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Thread: Olympic ladies singles competition analysis

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    Custom Title Phoenix347's Avatar
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    Olympic ladies singles competition analysis

    After a very interesting Japanese National championship, the ladies field for the Vancouver Olympics has become a bit more clear. Japan will be sending three very strong competitors to the Olympics: a resurgent Mao, an experienced and potent Ando and a fearless Suzuki. Ladies from other nations should breath a sigh of relief that Japan is only allowed 3 skaters because Nakano is just as strong as Suzuki. Not to mention the up and coming Murakami with her triple-triple.

    Mao had an excellent nationals... cleanest she have skated in a long time. Even her downgraded 3A in the short looked pretty good and might not have been downgraded if the technical specialist wasn't as strict. Granted that her total score of 204.62 might be somewhat inflated but probably not more than 5 points. And that was with a downgraded 2T and 2 downgraded 2Lo's in the FS in addition to the downgraded 3A in the SP. This shows the points potential of her programs even without the third 3A. Most of all, she looks confident of herself and her "game" seem to be back on. This is why I have seen saying all along that she should never have been counted out. She's going to be formidable at the Olympics. I think all her hard work on the 3A is finally paying off and she seems to be peaking at the right time.

    Going to 4CC might help her peak for the Olympics. Since it's in Korea, just a hop skip and a jump from Japan, it won't throw her off her training too much and no jet lag. Japanese ladies might even sweep the podium there since most of the Olympics bound skaters won't be there, giving them additional confidence.

    Suzuki had another great competition at the nationals. She banged out another 7 triple FS and in spite of the one fall, she did very well. The only thing that may hold her back at the Olympics is the PCS score... her PCS score from international judges have never been as high as the ones she got at this nationals. In my opinion, her PCS score has always been a bit underscored at international competitions. Perhaps that's about to change. I think one thing that will help her at the Olympics is that she will not feel any pressure due to no expectations and will skate another spirited and fearless performance at the Olympics. I thinks she has a decent chance for a medal.

    Ando did not have the best competition at this year's nationals. However, she didn't need to since she already qualified through the GPF placement. I thought perhaps she would try to put in a couple of the more risky elements (3L/3Lo or 4S) but I guess she didn't want to look bad in front of the home audience. However, I think she will regroup and come back strong for the Olympics. She's already shown that she can hang with Yuna at the GPF. She's always potent and will be ready pounce on mistakes of any of her rivals.

    That brings us to Yuna. Yuna had an unprecedented run of five almost flawless programs stretching from the 2009 Worlds SP to the 2009 Skate America SP. All of them either record breakers (Worlds SP, Worlds combined, TEB FS, TEB combined, SA SP) or near record breakers (Worlds FS and TEB SP). Has there ever been a run like this in the history of ladies singles competition? The problem is that she may have peaked too soon. Her performances at SA and GPF were less than spectacular. Not only that but her most potent weapon, the triple-triple, seem to be deserting her in competitions. She had three programs (SA FS to GPF FS) in a row when her triple-triple (3L/3T) was not successfully completed. That's a lot of points lost.

    Even if the downgrading of her her triple-triple during the GPF SP was questionable, it shows that she is indeed vulnerable to downgrading of her second triple in the triple triple combination. Not only that but her 3F has also been quite inconsistent this season, only 3/6 (50%) this season... which is not good for a jump that she relies heavily for points (especially GOEs). Even her 3T seem to be giving her some problems lately, either as the back end of a triple-triple or a 2A-3T. And her triple Salchow has never been a big point getter. Only her 2A and the non-combination 3 Lutz seem to be consistent this season. Thankfully her non-jump elements have been solid this year.

    During that interview after the GPF FS programs, she acknowledge that while she was happy to have won the competition, she wasn't satisfied with her performance. In addtion, she said she was really nervous during the competitiion. This led Scott Hamilton to remark that "If she's feeling the nerves here, how's she going to feel in Vancouver when she sees those Olympics rings on the boards?" While I don't always like Scott's overly effusive commentary, he can be quite incisive in his analysis and he does have Olympics experience. Perhaps all the attention and pressure is really getting to her. If she skates like she did in Skate America or Grand Prix Final in the Olympics, she might even be off the podium. She really needs to make sure that her triple-triple's are unquestionably solid at the Olympics or she might be in a lot of trouble. Perhaps her seclusion from the press for the next couple of months will help her refocus before the Olympics.

    Then we have Rochette, the hometown girl. While we haven't seen her at the Canadian nationals yet, she had a quite uneven season. First the disastrous SP at Cup of China and barely scratching out a bronze there. Then a triumphal return to form at Skate Canada's short program only to have a stumble-strewn FS that was help up by generous home cooking PCS. Then the awful outing at the GPF. Where did the skater who looked so strong at 2009 Worlds go? I'm afraid that the pressure of the Olympics in her home country must be getting to her. Hopefully she'll recompose herself at the Canadian nationals and make her country proud at the Olympics. She still has the potential to medal at the Olympics. Maybe she can really use the home crowd energy to fuel her performance.

    And the Americans... I really don't think they have much of a chance at the Olympics in Vancouver. The most consistent American skater is Rachel Flatt even if she didn't make the GPF. She is a stronger skater than Wagner or Czisny overall. And there's Cohen who haven't showed up at either of her assigned Grand Prix competitions. Who know what we can expect from her at the nationals but I'm not counting on her to make the Olympic team. If she does come to the nationals, she should be able to place top 2 if she can land some triples. We'll see if she can surprise all us. As for Flatt, she is a nice skater who can perform a solid 7 triples FS. That should be worth something at the Olympics. Her PCS is lower than the top Japanese skaters (except for perhaps Suzuki), Kim, Rochette and perhaps the Finnish ladies plus Kostner (if she makes it to the Olympics) and that will make it hard for her to medal unless some of the top skaters have multiple problems (which is definitely possible). If she can skate without worries and inject her energy and spunk, she might have an outside chance at a bronze medal. I don't see her a silver or gold medal threat. Of course this is assuming that she makes it to Vancouver.

    As for the other Americans, probably the only ones who might have a realistic shot at making the Olympic team are Wagner and Czisny. Wagner put herself in contention by placing fourth at the GPF. She still has the Flutz issue but gotten some good international experience and has a good coach. Her program content is probably not strong enough to win a medal at the Olympics, however. As for Czisny, while her spins are painfully beautiful and has great lines, her jumps often seem to abandon her, especially in the long program. She could still make it to the Olympics by placing top two at the nationals but she won't have a chance at any medals at the Olympics unless she has a fall-less performances in both the short and the long. That's something that she hasn't done in a long time. It would be nice to see her at the Olympics, though. Such a lovely performer. Zhang is having a horrible season and probably has very little chance for making the Olympic team. Nagasu is another story as she has a lot of potential but her jumps are so prone to downgrades (especially during the free skate) and she seem so downhearted during Skate Canada's long program, her chances of making the Olympic team is not too high. She can only make it by winning the natioinals. Maybe she'll have to wait till Sochi.

    Lepisto won the Finnish nationals but not in a totally convincing manner. We'll see how well she does at the European championship. While a lovely skater, she is also prone to popping jumps and her technical content is not nearly enough to give her a great chance for a medal at the Olympics. Kiira Korpi won the silver at Cup of China but I'm not convinced that she's a medal contendar at Vancouver.

    Kostner is a big question mark. Will she even make it to the Olympics? While unimaginable a few months ago, her less than stellar outing at the Italian nationals has now made the European championship the tie breaker between her and Valentina Marchei. However, I believe she will outperform Valentina at the European to punch her ticket to Vancouver. It is rather strange as she was so powerful only a year ago and now her jumps have seem to deserted her. She is still a fast and elegant skater but if she keeps falling down, she won't even be near the podium at the Olympics. European championship should serve as a good harbinger for the Olympics.

    Also, let's not forget Leonova. However, can she recover from her tearful last place finish at the GPF? Will we see her brilliant smile at the Olympics or sorrowful tears? Nevertheless, she is unlikely to medal at Vancouver.

    I think we are going to have a very exciting ladies competition at the Olympics, unlike what many people were saying in the beginning of the season. It's going to be a dogfight between the Japanese ladies, Yuna and Rochette. If Yuna and Rochette falters badly, it might even be an all Japanese podium. That leaves a couple of Americans and Europeans lurking at the edges of the podium. They can sneak in if the top ladies falter. What I hope is that all the competitors have a good performances and that the medals are not determined by who has the least number of falls and mistakes. I would love to see a lot of great performances at the Olympics. That would be great.

  2. #2
    Mashimaro on Ice
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    Great analysis I agree that it will be a fight among the top contenders. I feel a lot of people think Yuna is unbeatable now since she had such a terrific season. But we have to consider that her top rivals haven't really skated their best programs this season. But from what we've seen in the last three olympics, anything can happen. I think Yuna said it best when she said she has a good chance for the gold but she can't keep her guard down at the Olympics.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix347 View Post
    .....Yuna had an unprecedented run of five almost flawless programs stretching from the 2009 Worlds SP to the 2009 Skate America SP. All of them either record breakers (Worlds SP, Worlds combined, TEB FS, TEB combined, SA SP) or near record breakers (Worlds FS and TEB SP). Has there ever been a run like this in the history of ladies singles competition?...
    I think the closest parallel might be Irina Slutskaya leading up to the 2006 Olympics. She did not set a new world record every time out, but staring with the 2004 Granbd Prox she had an unprecedented run of huge scores and first place finishes: 2004 Cup of China, 2004 Cuo of Russia, 200 4 Grand Prix Final, 2005 Europeans, 2005 Worlds, 2005 Cup of China (new world record, 198 points total), 2005 Cup of Russia.

    Her first misstep was the 2005 Grand Priz Final, where she lost to Mao Asada.

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    I thought it was already established that it was wrong for Yuna's second triple of her 3-3 at GPF to be downgraded, and that the persons responsible for her downgrade were also responsible for an incorrect call on her flip edge in the 08-09 season. I think it's rather obvious you've gone out of the way to bolster Mao's claim to OGM and denigrate Yuna's chances. This isn't wrong in itself but I do wish you'd carried out your mission with a little more transparency.

    A prime example I can pick from your analysis is the fact that while Yuna won all her events this season, despite being shaky in the latter two competitions, suddenly a big cloud is hanging over her head... while Miki, who was bested by Kim in the GPF and had a poor showing at Nationals, will "regroup and come back strong for the Olympics". What's the deal?

    Additionally, the points inflation issue... I assure you that the Japanese nationals did not bolster its performers' points by a mere 5 points as you suggest. Prior to the event, Akiko's best ever score was mid-170s, and suddenly she gets sky-rocketed up to 195 at Nats, even with a fall. Mao performs a 5 triple program and that receives 135 (in international competition this would have been a world record), with only the one triple axel and a stash of underrotated doubles.

    I thought that I needed to defend YuNa, who is my favourite. While I agree that it's exciting that Mao is also skating well now (in truth, she's probably my second favourite), I do wish some people would be a little more consistent in their analyses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marrymeyunakim View Post
    I thought it was already established that it was wrong for Yuna's second triple of her 3-3 at GPF to be downgraded, and that the persons responsible for her downgrade were also responsible for an incorrect call on her flip edge in the 08-09 season. I think it's rather obvious you've gone out of the way to bolster Mao's claim to OGM and denigrate Yuna's chances. This isn't wrong in itself but I do wish you'd carried out your mission with a little more transparency.

    A prime example I can pick from your analysis is the fact that while Yuna won all her events this season, despite being shaky in the latter two competitions, suddenly a big cloud is hanging over her head... while Miki, who was bested by Kim in the GPF and had a poor showing at Nationals, will "regroup and come back strong for the Olympics". What's the deal?

    Additionally, the points inflation issue... I assure you that the Japanese nationals did not bolster its performers' points by a mere 5 points as you suggest. Prior to the event, Akiko's best ever score was mid-170s, and suddenly she gets sky-rocketed up to 195 at Nats, even with a fall. Mao performs a 5 triple program and that receives 135 (in international competition this would have been a world record), with only the one triple axel and a stash of underrotated doubles.

    I thought that I needed to defend YuNa, who is my favourite. While I agree that it's exciting that Mao is also skating well now (in truth, she's probably my second favourite), I do wish some people would be a little more consistent in their analyses.
    If you noticed, I did say that the two month of seclusion from the press may give Yuna a chance to refocus for Vancouver. I think her last couple of competition should definitely sound alarm bells in her camp. I'm sure Orser is working very hard with Yuna to get her confidence back as that seem to be the main problem since her fundamental skills are very sound. As for Miki, the nationals were probably not that important for her and she probably didn't focus on that competition. She was awfully close to beating Yuna at GPF and it wasn't even that great of performance for her.

    If everyone skates clean, Yuna will most definitely win. Her total score would probably be in the 215+ range which no one can really match. The question is how clean will Yuna skate in the Olympics. If she has some problems, it will give her main competitors (mostly Mao and to some extent Miki and perhaps Rochette) a chance to match her. Her rivals can only hope to catch her if she makes multiple mistakes. Unfortunately for her, she did just that in the past two competitions. There are going to be 2-3 really tough rivals at the Olympics and one or more of them are likely to have strong performances. Yuna has to find a way to calm her mind and do what she does regularly during practice; hit her jumps. She can do it. It really is her gold to lose.

    As for Suzuki's score at Japan nationals, the main difference there and the Grand Prix Finals is the PCS score and that she had a better SP. They were probably more generous with the GOE also. She received about 13 more total PCS points at Japan nationals than GPF. In addition, she did not UR the 3Lo in the SP. I would say the PCS she deserves is about 5-6 more than at GPF so in her case she, the score was inflated about 12-13 points than what she really deserved. I don't really think she's a real contender for the gold as her international PCS scores just aren't high enough as I stated before.

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    Mashimaro on Ice
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    It would be good if everyone skates clean and the top contender wins but unfortunately that never really happens at the Olympics. I just hope the person who wins the games is actually one of the best skaters in the world (Yuna or Mao or maybe Rochette or Miki to a lesser extent). Just hope there is not another upset like the one in 2002.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marrymeyunakim View Post
    I thought it was already established that it was wrong for Yuna's second triple of her 3-3 at GPF to be downgraded, and that the persons responsible for her downgrade were also responsible for an incorrect call on her flip edge in the 08-09 season.
    Established by whom? Was this official--that it was an incorrect call?
    Last edited by Ptichka; 12-30-2009 at 10:17 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marrymeyunakim View Post
    I thought it was already established that it was wrong for Yuna's second triple of her 3-3 at GPF to be downgraded, and that the persons responsible for her downgrade were also responsible for an incorrect call on her flip edge in the 08-09 season.

    Established by whom? Was this official--that it was an incorrect call?
    By yuna fans! just kidding LOL right, it wasn't exactly established, but it was actually criticized around the world. Many figure skating fans and some notable former skaters, and commentators doubted the call. Even Japanese media thought the score was too low for her SP.
    Last edited by Basics; 12-29-2009 at 09:06 PM.

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    [QUOTE=chloepoco;444073]
    Quote Originally Posted by Marrymeyunakim View Post
    I thought it was already established that it was wrong for Yuna's second triple of her 3-3 at GPF to be downgraded, and that the persons responsible for her downgrade were also responsible for an incorrect call on her flip edge in the 08-09 season.
    /QUOTE]

    Established by whom? Was this official--that it was an incorrect call?
    Wow. Now I finally know why passive voice is such a problem (it lets you make relatively baseless statements because it conceals that there's no actual subject... note that I'm calling the establishing of the questionable downgrade baseless, not the questionable downgrade itself).

    On to the post itself: I'm assuming that this is more of a word-choice issue more than anything, but if you actually mean "denigrate" with the full connotation of the word, I don't think there's anything in the original post that's denigratory of Yu-Na. More accurately, the post observes the trends in performances and notes that, while the 2009 World Champion has had a stellar season, her performance at GPF showed that she's not invincible as we thought at the beginning of the season. This, when combined with the improvements that other skaters promise to make, make the Ladies' event more exciting.

    I think this last point is worth emphasizing. I think it's a stretch to say that the original post was meant to bring down one particular skater. Rather, it sheds light on the fact that this is an exciting time for ladies' figure skating, since there are so many ladies in contention for the OGM.

    SO EXCITED for the ladies' event; if you haven't already gathered!

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    OK, sorry folks. I reacted rather strongly to the opening post when I shouldn't have.

    I didn't mean "denigrate" in the fullest sense of the word. I just thought that it was clear the analyses was lacking in the consistency and wholesomeness I like to see. It doesn't mention the fact that Mao had a disastrous GP series, for example, or the fact that 3 3-A's in your programs is very risky. This, in contrast to the analysis given to Yuna, must have set me into defend mode.

    In any case, I fully expect Mao Asada to win the OGM. I think that she is peaking at the right time, and Yuna appears to be so much of a favourite that an underdog will win instead. Just a thought... the less the pressure, I think, the better it is for a skater.

  11. #11
    Mashimaro on Ice
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    I think it's kinda hard to predict these things because anything can happen at the Olympics. Obviously the favorite contender of the moment has a greater chancer but as the last three Olympics showed, the odds against the favorite skater just prevailed on Olympics even when the odds were pretty slim (remember 2002?). Besides Yuna, I think Rochette has the most pressure since it's in her hometown. The Japanese girls are the underdogs now and being the underdog may work in your favor as the past Olympics have shown.

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    [QUOTE=Marrymeyunakim;443915]
    Additionally, the points inflation issue... I assure you that the Japanese nationals did not bolster its performers' points by a mere 5 points as you suggest. Prior to the event, Akiko's best ever score was mid-170s, and suddenly she gets sky-rocketed up to 195 at Nats, even with a fall. Mao performs a 5 triple program and that receives 135 (in international competition this would have been a world record), with only the one triple axel and a stash of underrotated doubles.



    I agree with you. I'm sure scores were inflated by 10 points at least. Miki's performance was surely better at GPF but she received higher score at nationals, and same for Suzuki.

    Mao was much better than she was in gp series but she still has ur issues and she needs to work on them. Unlike what the original poster said, I don't think technical judges were strict at all (although I don't think they were lenient either). That means in international competitions, judgements can be even more harsh.

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