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    Overall Thoughts on Skate America

    Oh, where to begin!

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    All right, me first.

    General
    Disappointing. It seems that the hometown bonus is tempered in Skate America (will be interesting to see attendance records and compare across nations). But even then, the skating didn't seem all that inspired. So many skaters have either left behind or have yet to get their competitive legs, it seems. Also, doesn't it seem that the runaway scoring we saw on the GP circuit last season is pretty much gone? No Olympics to inflate things for any more, I guess.

    Mens
    Dai vs Nobu? Dai wins on a technicality. Mostly disappointing as yes, Nobunari did skate better but he spots too many points to Takahashi artistically for such flagrant disregard of the rules. Adam... whoa, that was disappointing. I'm always concerned when the skater's reaction is "I don't know what happened," but the moment he stepped out on the ice, you could tell this skate was heading south. He couldn't really maintain his program at all.

    But Murakami? Whoa. You've gotta wonder if you're Japanese or American how much easier your chances would be at international success if you were skating for say, Hungary. The fact that he's not even real contender for the Worlds team with Hanyu/Kozuka/Machida/Oda/Takahashi standing in his way is just another reminder of that. And Armin? Well, if he skates like this at Nationals, it won't be a question that he'll be on the world team. Lovely performer (reminds me of a softer Florent Amodio)

    Ladies
    Here's Kostner's 2007 SP. We're a long way from Tokyo. Yes, Kostner's sense of artistry is gratifying in a field dominated by the prepubescent. But given that it's coming at the expense of an engaging technical side renders the achievement specious at best. Murkami's delightful and spunky, but I don't care for spunky. Flatt... you know, I like Flatt. I know she's had a lot of detractors, but I admire her skating. I found her SP last season a complete delight and thought that her SP this season was well on the way to becoming something brilliant as well. Then there's that tonal shift and it's no longer "Summertime" (guys, "Summertime" doesn't need anything else.). Good for Viktoria for coming back like she did, and Joshi for having the skate she did. I cheekily predicted they'd tie for fifth. Well, one was fourth, the other sixth, so lets average it, shall we?

    Pairs
    A tale of two cities.

    Let's start with the depressing one, shall we? It tells the tale of half the top ten at worlds missing part of this GP season. It speaks of potentially career ending injuries (Bryce Davison), splits - both tabloid (Murhkotva/Trankov) and calm (Langois/Hays; Volosozhar/Morozov). It speaks of a depressing Canadian field, a worse American one, a confusing Russian one, and an increasingly stagnant Chinese one. So, in those circumstances, the performance here was nothing unexpected. The top team remained the top team (even if they were a little overscored, it was gratifying to see a fully thought out, entertaining pairs LP after the fiasco that was the Olympics). The rest was underwhelming, uninspired or both. It speaks to a barren four years.

    BUT..... we have the junior teams really making a mark this season. Sui/Han's high risk elements are really getting the benefit of the doubt. Klimov/Stoblov suggesting that they could join the rich tradition of Russian pairs with an intriguing SP (don't much care for the LP). Takahashi/Tran medalling earlier this season suggests that the future could be bright.

    And then we have Moore-Towers and Moscovitch. Again, two stories. One tells of an unrefined team with very little musical ability scoring high thanks to their elements and the fact that they remain standing. The other story tells of a team that in the space of a year has improved a great deal, shows competitive vigour and strength. A team that clearly loves to compete and is completely relaxed doing so (watch them in the SP warm-up.). They're not a top five team, but the way this season is heading, I don't think it's unreasonable to predict them in the top ten.

    Dance
    ....sigh. So many narratives came to a screeching halt this season. I'm not gonna write D/W off like some have. They have two ambitious programs that represent a big step out of their comfort zone. I don't know about you, but I thought this was necessary for my continued interest in their career (As great as "Samson and Delilah" was and as thrilling as POTO could be, epic romance can get tiresome). They're clearly hard workers (remember, they followed up the narrowest medal loss in COP history with a free skate that told the world they were aiming for the top). But they won't be cruising to the title like I thought they would.

    The head-to-head between C/P and W/P went decisively to C/P. And this Shibs responded to C/Z's "right back at ya!" SC bronze with a second medal of their own. And the depth in American ice dance is just sickening with Kriengkrairut/Giulietti-Schmitt proving that they belong on the senior circuit. I think a top five finish at US Nationals is plausible, and that would be terrific.

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    I think the word I’d use is underwhelming. But that was expected, given the field. The year after the Olympics never has the same depth and aside from retirees, there were a lot of injuries/splits/time off. Each event did have some good skates and highlights for me.

    Dance

    Top 4 teams delivered. Sure, there were some hiccups, but I enjoyed all 4 performances none the less. And Maia and Alex show such promise. Love them. Has any head-to-head between C/P and W/P ever gone to W/P? I'm sure C/P will come out on top at Canadians as well. They're higher in the dance hierarchy.
    And I think that W/P should be watching over their shoulder for Paul/Islam.

    D/W may have only won by about 7.5 points, instead of a 20+ margin, but they don’t have the Olympic year inflation and made several mistakes. The twizzles, falls, and lift deductions did them in about 5 points in TES, plus any GOE, plus whatever they may have lost in PCS. And only 4/8 elements got level 4s in the FD. They’ll score higher as the season progresses.

    Pairs

    Aliona and I definitely don’t have the same sense of style. That being said...

    Agree that junior teams are full of potential and are really making their mark. I just hope Wenjing doesn’t seriously injure herself with all the high risk moves. She’ll take herself out of the competition. I can’t help but wonder if she’ll still be doing quad throws four years down the road. She’s gutsy & tough, you’ve gotta give her that.

    As for MT/M, I’m excited by the technical elements, and hopefully the musicality will be developed with time. If they only develop a fraction of the artistry and emotion that Shen and Zhao were able to after being accused of the same crime, they’ll be good. They’ve kind of burst out onto the scene, without a lot of history, junior experience, or time together, so they aren’t as refined or mature or “senior-y” as you’d expect from a team that made the GPF.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scout View Post
    I think the word I’d use is underwhelming. But that was expected, given the field. The year after the Olympics never has the same depth and aside from retirees, there were a lot of injuries/splits/time off.
    My sentiment exactly.
    Most of the olympians natually haven't worked up the intensity of focus they had prior to the 2010 Olympics, and promising new comers haven't quite broke out yet. That said, to me, what compels me to watch figure skating is rivalry among skaters.

    The year after the Torino Olympics, Mao-Yuna rivalry was pretty well established among the lady's singles. They both were also exceptional skaters. It makes me wonder if Kanako Murakami's skills as a single skater equal Mao or Yuna at that stage. I would also like to see Kanako being inspired to be pushed by her contemporaries. Could it be Ksenia, Christina Gao? I don't know the answer to that, but I'd like to see it happening.

    Same kind of rivalry could be said about D/W & V/M for ice dancing back in 2007-8. I would love to see compelling rivalry among, say, Shibs, Illinykh/Katsalapov, & Paul/Islam.

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    Ladiezz:

    Viktoria Helgesson - She's really pretty, and is a good technician when she lands her jumps. Nice skate from her today. Maybe she can win a medal at Euros if she skates well there. Her layback spin is awful though

    Jenna McCorkell - Well, she landed most of her jumps, but I still say it's time for her to retire.

    Min-Jeong Kwak - She skated better than in China and was nice to watch due to her gorgeous spins, flexibility, and long limbs. Sal and axel jumps solid, the rest iffy. To me it seems like she's made for pairs, if she can find a tall asian guy to be her partner, I think she could really shine .

    Alexe Gilles - She's very pretty and her jumps are huge when she lands them. Not a great skate from her but it had her moments. I feel for her, she must be upset.

    Elene Gedevanishvilli - Hate the blonde hair but the dress was pretty. Her 3lutz is humongous but the rest of the skate was pretty forgetable. Nice flexibility.

    Mae Meite - She needs a lot of polish, but her jumps are very nice and strong. A good senior debut for her, I hope to see her at Euros this season.

    Amelie Lacoste - Doesn't do much for me, and I thought she was a little overscored. Her jumps are very powerful when landed but the skate was a bit messy tonight. She's definitely been working on her artistry though and it shows.

    Caroline Zhang - Disappointing skate after doing so well in the SP. Opening 3f was nice but her lutz and 2a still need a lot of work. Loop technique is still iffy as well. To me she seemed slow but I was very impressed with her footwork sequence. She's been working hard and you can tell, I just think this will be a bit of a transition year for her as she gets used to her new technique and body.

    Rachael Flatt - Great skate and for once the costume was really flattering! She didn't do the 3-3 but apparently she's hurt? Good job regardless, the standing ovation was well deserved.

    Joshi Helgesson - Awesome for her to skate so well after having come straight from China last week! She doesn't do much for me but I loved seeing her so happy after she skated. Hopefully she can make a splash at Euros this season.

    Kanako Murakami - She's cute as a button and has a killer 3t-3t but the rest of the program wasn't so hot for me. I thought she was a little overscored, I would have had her behind Flatt. Regardless it's great she won her first GP and the joy she skates with is just a breath of fresh air. She reminds me of Mirai circa 2008, very cute!

    Carolina Kostner - A little off tonight but I guess she is injured. Her overall skating is in another league from the rest of the ladies but the jumps weren't there tonight. Still, I thought she deserved her bronze just based on her SP and superior basic skating.

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    I love the skating of both Helgesson sisters. I hope to see more of them.

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    I'm too tired to do a long write-up (already did a write-up of the mens & ladies free skates).

    But I need to say this, the advertising was deceptive & outrageous, and I'm speaking on behalf of my fellow seatmates that sat next to me. We all thought that the Ladies FS began at 11AM PST, but when we got there we were shocked to see that ice dance was up first? That really POed me because I have the flu and I just barely made it throught the mens, then I find out I will have to sit through 4 hrs. of this all together. I only wanted to see the Ladies, same as the couple next to me, then we find out this b.s. *two huge thumbs down*

    On the bright side of things, I managed to make it through ice dance & ladies without leaving my seat & going to vomit. And the ice dance was tolerable, though me & my niece almost fell asleep during the song "Eleanor Rigby". Also, the Shibutanis were simply wonderful, classic, perfect, a joy to watch skate! And on a shallow note, Meryl Davis & Charlie White are gorgeous in person (though not once did I see Meryl look up; she seems very shy).

    Hmm, what else, oh yeah I recall the audience near me being a tad confused as how Nobunari Oda lost to Daisuke Takahashi.

    And I'll NEVER forget that much deserved standing O Rachael Flatt received from the audience. She was by far the favorite of not just me, but the whole audience, which simply made my whole year, YEAH!!!! Their reaction solidified what I thought the very first time I saw Rachael skate at 2008 Nationals ~ she's A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nadine View Post
    And I'll NEVER forget that much deserved standing O Rachael Flatt received from the audience. She was by far the favorite of not just me, but the whole audience, which simply made my whole year, YEAH!!!! Their reaction solidified what I thought the very first time I saw Rachael skate at 2008 Nationals ~ she's A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I loved both her SP and LP; I think she has learned to express herself, the only thing she needs to cement her success is more difficult choreography. But as is, her performances do seem to draw people in. Well at least the two of us and the audience at Skate America.

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    And me, too!! I loved Rachael's programs this year. She is so charming and expressive. I think she is enjyoing skating a lot more than before. Having no pressure form school work must be really helping her. I am not sure what she is going to do from next year since she has to start Stanford and it is really difficult to balance both study and skating. I remember Dereck Delmore skated internationaly and studied at Stanford. I am sure Rachael can manage it well.

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    One more thing I wanted to say, Carolina Kostner's classical soft program didn't come across as well in person as it did on t.v. And not just her, but slow classical performances don't seem to translate well in person that much, except if you're Oksana Baiul that is. Seriously, to go from Rachael Flatt's high voltage audience pleasing "Slaughter on 10th Avenue" to "Afternoon of a Faun" was a huge contrast. The former made you sit up & be part of the journey, included the audience, while the latter was more introspective, self-contained. And to go along with the slow music Carolina might've had to tone down her speed imho. This is why she didn't appear like a speed demon to me. Just some thoughts...

    Also, my older sister, whom was watching from her home, said that Carolina really came across as a tall, elegant, balletic danseur, with long lovely arms & legs. She loved it! But in person it didn't capture the audience imho. And I'm definitely a Carolina Kostner fan.

    And as regards Kanako Murakami, yes, I might be biased, but I honestly went to Skate America with an open mind & heart. And she honestly did not impress me whatsoever. She jumps the way Caroline Zhang used to, with her chest almost touching the ground & a high mule kick. As God is my witness she kicked up the most ice during practice. It even flew on us, the audience. Her lavendar dress, at least I think it was lavendar, seemed to be as non-descript as her. I saw no charm, no personality, nothing during either the practice or her skate. The only thing I did like was her 3/2/2 combo., same as Rachael's.

    And I am not lying when I say Rachael was by & far the favorite amongst the audience, and rightfully so! Btw, in my original post I made a mistake, I actually saw Rachael for the very first time at 2007 US Nationals (she was 14 yrs. old), wherein she made a HUGE impression on me (which should be in the archives). Her effervescene & joy reminded me of Oksana Baiul, and that 3/3 combo. she did in the SP (which was called UR, but the replay showed it was NOT) was outstanding!!!!!!

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    I am new in this forum and I feel privileged to post here.
    My first post is about Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
    I am a very average skating fan. Not much knowledge about technical details, but enough to love the sport. Just like millions of others.
    I loved Meryl and Charlie. Really loved them. Great pair!
    After SA 2010 - tiny, tiny bit less....
    Why? I think they came to the competition without caring much about it. And without caring much about the fans either.
    First warmup - no chemistry. Other pairs were warming together, talking about last technical details, cheering each other, being aware of each other. Maryl and Charlie? Didn't see each other in the box before entering the rink, then during the warmup skated one mile from each other. At the very end of the warmup they finally acknowledged each other a tiny bit.
    The two competitive programs - nothing spectacular. Just nothing new. Expectations were high, they aim to be the best in the world, but their programs were just average for their level. They didn't try. They won because they had to win, there was no other choice. But the programs were shaky, not polished, they tripped twice - once in each program.

    The autograph signing was actually nice. They chatted, they looked relaxed.

    Then the gala. The biggest disappointment. To me, an average skating viewer, they came to the rink in their practice clothes, skated around the rink with no purpose, and left.
    No artistry, no chemistry, no choreography. Probably their practice sessions look better. Other skaters gave their best at the gala to entertain the public. Maryl and Charlie - didn't care.
    And the public gave them what they wanted - a polite and rather cold applause.
    Armin Mahbanoozadeh and Adam Ribbon got roaring ovation. Kanako Murakami the same. How entertaining! Aliona and Robin - spectacular! They won Portland's hearts!
    Maia and Alex - I am in love with them! And so is entire Portland!
    Even Carolina, who to me has rather little personality, tried to entertain.
    Maryl and Charlie - nothing. Just just came and left with no impact.

    Well, I understand they take a break after the exhausting olympic season. But why did they come to Portland then? For the fans this is the only occasion to see them. No matter how tired and burned you are - when you come to a city with a performance you give your best! Or you don't come at all!

    Anybody has similar observations?

    P.S. I will post some photos later. I already posted them in my first try, but then run to some problems with the site's automated administration. I will try later after the server gets used to me and starts treating me like a friend...

    Regards,
    Cezar M.

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