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Thread: The American Ladies Leading Up To Sochi.

  1. #31
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    American ladies still have catching up to do to match the Japanese skaters, and now the up-and-coming Russians.

    Perhaps things will change with the new crop of skaters- Gao, Zawadzki, revamped Nagasu, etc. - but this much I know: the status quo just isn't getting it done. With all due respect to Flatt, Wagner, Czisny, Zhang, Nagasu- they just aren't good enough at this point. And with no one really stepping up, we're stuck in this sort of rut.

    I'll give a little credit to Czisny, at least- since she managed to surprise people by eeking out a GPF win, and winning Nats for the 2nd time (or 1st, depending on how you viewed 2009 ). Her score at the GPF, assuming SOME scoring consistency, would put her in medal contention at the Worlds. But we've seen time and time again that she has struggled with inconsistency throughout her career. She's gotten somewhat better about it this season, but with the extraordinary circumstances in place here, who knows what to expect at the Worlds.

    A third spot for 2012, IMO, would be VERY useful for the Americans- this would allow another skater to gain some experience- and perhaps up our odds of maintaining 3 spots given how deep the American ladies field has become.

    Past 2012- too soon to tell. I think we're in another transitional period here. Think 2008 when Meissner and Hughes were replaced in dramatic fashion by the current crop of ladies. I think something similar will happen next season. We've already seen skaters like Zhang- and now Wagner- fall slowly out of the running. We still have Flatt and Nagasu- Flatt looking to go to college next year (and even if she does continue skating, school will demand more of her attention and I don't think she will stay at a competitive level), and Nagasu struggling with nerves. I think out of our current crop of skaters, only Nagasu has the real talent to lead us through- but does she have the drive? the interest? the discipline/work ethic?

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaylee View Post
    I like both Agnes and Christina. I can't see Agnes as Caroline Zhang and Christina as Mirai...

    The big difference for me between them so far, other than their respective strengths and weaknesses, is that Agnes has been better in bigger competitions--Nationals and Junior Worlds--than Christina has so far. That goes a long way in my book. Whether it's mental strength of peaking at the right time...you've got to get it done. If you want to be a champion, you gotta show up in the big competitions, and you have to do enough to grab some hardware. Agnes is a two-time medalist at junior worlds, a US Junior national champ, and a medalist at US senior nationals. Christina ended up empty handed in her big competitions this season, contrary to pre-season expectation, where she herself set the lofty goal of making the US worlds team...senior. Something which still baffles me.

    Agnes very likely could have fallen into the trap of a letdown at Junior Worlds this season, after having competed as a senior all season. But nope. Under the pressure of skating last in the final group, she put out her best LP all season long. I was thrilled for her and impressed. I think she deserves a bit more credit for her mental strength as a competitor, which she'll be able to rely on in the future.

    But after all, I do agree that Christina has the potential to improve in the future. She is a lovely girl. I hope both Agnes and Christina continue to improve and develop in their skating and I look forward to seeing them compete in the future.
    Well you have a point, and it's a good one. Agnes does get the job done when it counts. I feel the same way about Rachael vs. Mirai, Rachael qualified for the GPF and made the Worlds team this season, and Mirai, arguably the better skater, was left off the roster for both events. Out of fairness to Christina though, she did medal at the JGPF last season, and finishing 5th at nationals was actually a big accomplishment considering no one really expected her to finish even that high last season. This season, yeah, she was a bit of a letdown at the JGPF and then at nationals when she had a good chance to medal where she drew to skate after Agnes in the FS but then didn't, and again at Junior Worlds when she was in medal contention after the SP but then got bumped off, again by Agnes. Some of that this season may have been due to her growthspurt, and in the case of junior worlds, she had a terrible warm up where she fell 3 times and then had to skate first - not saying that is an excuse, i'm sure it happens to everyone and the champions learn how to put it behind them, but it is worth noting in her defense. But we saw with Adam Rippon the same issue with peaking really early in the season, so I think that speaks more to a training regimen than anything else and hopefully Christina and Brian will sort that out in the offseason to try and prevent it from happening next season.

  3. #33
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    Nagasu may be the better SKATER of the two, but Flatt is the better COMPETITOR. At least in most cases...

  4. #34
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    Yes the Russian "girls" are very good. But they aren't done growing. It's unlikely they will have the same thin frames they currently have. Mirai and Christina are likely full grown and have adjusted technically to their new bodies. Wasn't it Mishin who said when asked why there weren't more good Russian women's skaters compared to Japan. He said "Russian women are built to lay rail road tracks" and don't have the narrow hips of the Asian women so they lose their jumps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tobynwinnie View Post
    Yes the Russian "girls" are very good. But they aren't done growing. It's unlikely they will have the same thin frames they currently have. Mirai and Christina are likely full grown and have adjusted technically to their new bodies. Wasn't it Mishin who said when asked why there weren't more good Russian women's skaters compared to Japan. He said "Russian women are built to lay rail road tracks" and don't have the narrow hips of the Asian women so they lose their jumps.
    Yes, Mishin must have been thinking about giant, hulking, railroad-building Russian women like Ekaterina Gordeeva when he said that. Or Elena Berezhnaya. Possibly Vera Bazarova as well. Their hips definitely don't lie.

    The thing is, there are so many good Russian girls that the odds are at least one of them will be able to retain their jumps post-puberty. For example--I believe Mishin himself has made inquiries about the physical size of Liza T's parents before taking her on as a pupil.

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    Quote Originally Posted by evangeline View Post
    Yes, Mishin must have been thinking about giant, hulking, railroad-building Russian women like Ekaterina Gordeeva when he said that. Or Elena Berezhnaya. Possibly Vera Bazarova as well. Their hips definitely don't lie.

    The thing is, there are so many good Russian girls that the odds are at least one of them will be able to retain their jumps post-puberty. For example--I believe Mishin himself has made inquiries about the physical size of Liza T's parents before taking her on as a pupil.
    Apparently Liza's mom never worked laying railroad tracks in Siberia.

    Lucky for Liza, although maybe it is her mom who is the lucky one.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by evangeline View Post
    Yes, Mishin must have been thinking about giant, hulking, railroad-building Russian women like Ekaterina Gordeeva when he said that. Or Elena Berezhnaya. Possibly Vera Bazarova as well. Their hips definitely don't lie.

    Not to mention all those gymnasts, including Khorkina, who competed well into her twenties and was quite tall for a gymnast to boot. Some men ought not to be allowed to talk about the other gender. They have no expertise at all and in fact plainly lack an understanding of fully fifty percent of their own species.

    But even if Mishin is correct about the so-called "Asian body type" (I'm sure he can't be thinking of the sturdy but unparalleled Midori Ito), this gives the U.S. and Canada an advantage, because we are a multi-racial society. And yet Zhang and Nagasu are floundering currently, each for different reasons. I agree that we don't have anyone who's up to the current level of the Japanese skaters (and the one phenomenal Korean!), but there's something else involved, clearly. Is it training? Dedication? Just the sheer luck of not having a skating genius coming along at the right moment? Whatever it is, we have work to do, and at the moment the only thing in America that seems to be spinning is our wheels--as in no traction on the slick roadway, whirring faster and faster but making no mileage.
    Last edited by Olympia; 04-20-2011 at 09:51 AM.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by R.D. View Post
    Nagasu may be the better SKATER of the two, but Flatt is the better COMPETITOR. At least in most cases...
    Maybe you are right but let's consider their last big Intl competitions.

    Mirai beat Rachael at the Olympics. Mirai beat Rachael at 2010 Worlds. Mirai beat Rachael at 4CC. These are all prestigious Intl ISU events.

    It is true that coming off an injury Mirai did not qualify for the GPF this season. No need to bring up how Rachael performed at the GPF.

    Not so sure I see a pattern or basic results that show Rachael is a better competitor than Mirai, atleast at the biggest Intl ISU events.

    The other fact worth noting could be that Mirai equals or beats the scores she gets at Natls at Intl events.

    Maybe I should look it up, but I dont think Rachael typically matches her Natls scores at Intl events.

    Just saying

  9. #39
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    When you look at people like Dai, Mao, and Miki, you see the most amazing determination to overcome hardships, the most exceptional work ethic. I'm not sure I see that when I look at Mirai. (Has Frank ever praised her work ethic?) She still comes across as a child in many ways, compared with the Japanese skaters - and I'm not talking about age but maturity. Yet she has every bit as much talent as they have, as far as I can tell, and one of the best coaches in the business.

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spun Silver View Post
    When you look at people like Dai, Mao, and Miki, you see the most amazing determination to overcome hardships, the most exceptional work ethic. I'm not sure I see that when I look at Mirai. (Has Frank ever praised her work ethic?) She still comes across as a child in many ways, compared with the Japanese skaters - and I'm not talking about age but maturity. Yet she has every bit as much talent as they have, as far as I can tell, and one of the best coaches in the business.
    Mirai and Frank have been quiet since Ntls/4cc. I wonder if the next big coaching change we hear about will involve Mirai and Frank.

    Just a thought, have heard nothing so I am just specualting. I hope Frank does not dump Mirai just as I hope Mirai does not quit Frank.

    But it wouldn't surprise me if they decided to make a change.
    Last edited by janetfan; 04-20-2011 at 10:13 AM.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hernando View Post
    Just a thought, have heard nothing so I am just specualting. I hope Frank does not dump Mirai just as I hope Mirai does not quit Frank.

    But it wouldn't surprise me if they decided to make a change.
    Maybe Mirai needs a change. It's not about good/bad, right/wrong, and other judgements but about what works. The old saying of "never give up" refers to the goal, not the methodology. We all know what Einstein's definition of insanity is.

    I know Mirai genuinely loves skating. I also know about her irrepressible personality but I have no idea if she is an ambitious competitor with a high aim. Maybe somebody can enlighten me on that, or I need to look up more of her interviews.

    Oh, the only skater with the babushka hips that comes to my mind is an American male.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hernando View Post
    Maybe you are right but let's consider their last big Intl competitions.

    Mirai beat Rachael at the Olympics. Mirai beat Rachael at 2010 Worlds. Mirai beat Rachael at 4CC. These are all prestigious Intl ISU events.

    It is true that coming off an injury Mirai did not qualify for the GPF this season. No need to bring up how Rachael performed at the GPF.

    Not so sure I see a pattern or basic results that show Rachael is a better competitor than Mirai, atleast at the biggest Intl ISU events.

    The other fact worth noting could be that Mirai equals or beats the scores she gets at Natls at Intl events.
    You have a point...however, since 2008, Nagasu has not beaten Flatt at US Nationals. This is flatt's 3rd worlds appearance, while Nagasu has only been on one (2010 Olys/Worlds). But it's more than just results. It's performance, consistency issues. Now, since Flatt got injured, she has had a few more off-nights, including the infamous GPF meltdown. Still, Nagasu continues to let her nerves get the better of her even when she is in peak condition. She doesn't seem to trust herself, believe in herself. But those are not things that happen automatically.

    Note that I'm not saying any of this to put either skater down. I wish both of them luck in the future.

    P.S. that "irrepressible personality" is one of the things I enjoy most about Nagasu. You don't always get the typical canned, scripted answers in her interviews. That said, it's definitely possible that it could be getting in the way of her true success..
    Last edited by R.D.; 04-20-2011 at 11:21 AM.

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spun Silver View Post
    When you look at people like Dai, Mao, and Miki, you see the most amazing determination to overcome hardships, the most exceptional work ethic. I'm not sure I see that when I look at Mirai. (Has Frank ever praised her work ethic?) She still comes across as a child in many ways, compared with the Japanese skaters - and I'm not talking about age but maturity. Yet she has every bit as much talent as they have, as far as I can tell, and one of the best coaches in the business.
    Could you elucidate the hardships that Dai, Mao and Miki had to overcome. I believe the Japan Fed is quite able to take care of its skaters. Japanese elite skaters do not have the struggles of those skaters who come from nonBig Six countries.

    If Mirai does not like Frank's work ethic, she can go to another coach. Until she does, we have no way of knowing that Frank upsets her. She's the youngest of those you mentioned and happens to be so talented that she is competing against skaters with more experience than her. I don't think her goal is to win the Olys at the youngest age. Tara has done that, and the ISU blocked anyone else from doing it.

  14. #44
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    ^ Not sure it's fair to talk about Nagasu continuing to wilt under pressure even when in peak condition. She did anything but wilt skating last at the Olympics, after Mao and Yu Na. I don't think we saw her in peak condition this season. She was injured and off the ice for two months before the season began and I'm not sure if she was even caught up by Nationals. Frank said she "didn't get her act together until about three weeks" before Nats and "that's not really long enough." http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/.../mirai-nagasu/

    Hopefully next season will show us what kind of competitor Mirai is now when she's in tip-top shape. Go, Mirai!

    ETA: Joe: Dai had major surgery, was off the ice for a long time, and had to reconstruct his skating. Mao has struggled with the long, hard challenge of rebuilding her jumps and getting horrible results since the Olympics (well, her results are not horrible now but they're still not what they were). Miki, after getting a spot in the 2006 Olympics, did badly there and lost face bigtime in Japan; she was pretty much written off as over the hill by fans everywhere, and now look at her.
    Last edited by Spun Silver; 04-20-2011 at 12:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tobynwinnie View Post
    Yes the Russian "girls" are very good. But they aren't done growing. It's unlikely they will have the same thin frames they currently have. Mirai and Christina are likely full grown and have adjusted technically to their new bodies. Wasn't it Mishin who said when asked why there weren't more good Russian women's skaters compared to Japan. He said "Russian women are built to lay rail road tracks" and don't have the narrow hips of the Asian women so they lose their jumps.
    This is true but Irina Slutskaya who had a sturdier build for a skater was quite the amazing jumper, meanwhile Polina Shelepen who has the right build to be a runway model has struggled with her jumps all season. So I think it really depends. Miki Ando was at her jumping prime when she was substantially heavier than she is now, and obviously Midori Ito wasn't a pixie, and even Shizuka Arakawa, who was and is really thin, had wide hips despite her thinness. So filling out could potentially hurt these girls jumping abilities, but there's a chance it could also help. Adelina is still very small, but was much more fragile looking last season when she was struggling with her jumps and this season she was so consistent with her jumps. Gaining a few pounds of muscle and wider hips could potentially help someone like Polina Shelepen become more consistent with her jumps as well. It really depends on the skater and the way they jump. Girls with poor technique and extra quick rotation in their triples are usually the ones that lose their jumps after puberty, but girls who actually jump their jumps and have good technique usually fair better. Just my observation. Adelina and Liza can really jump and have great technique so I'm not too worried about them losing their jumps and further, looking at how Agnes towers over both of them, I don't think either girl will wind up being above 5'5" when all is said and done.
    Last edited by silverlake22; 04-20-2011 at 01:23 PM.

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