Random thoughts heading into this year’s Worlds.
- If Davis and White win, that would make 11 of the 12 medalists from the Vancouver games World champion holders (all the men and pairs already; D/S and V/M; Kim and Asada). A quick glance at Wikipedia tells me that would put Vancouver at the top of the heap in that regard.
- For all its predictability, pairs is actually quite intriguing to me. We all agree: top four teams are V/T, S/S, P/T and K/S in any order. B/L secure in fifth. Melange of teams next in line including Y/C, Mt/M, D/R, E/L, B/T, T/T, H/W – any order, some more likely than others. But what order? You can easily rationalize any trio on the podium (though most of us have S/S winning). And how secure is B/L in 5th anyway? Could a remarkable skate from a team of the next pack unseat them? If not, how close are they to the top four? Are they world podium contenders for the future, with or without retirements/absences? How about anyone else
- The one thing that strikes me about pairs is that it has arguably been the slowest to adjust to COP. We still have pairs kicking around that have some senior/junior experience with 6.0, and that’s nearly unheard of in ladies or dance (less so in men). In dance, we saw instant results from the COP babies and the shift towards North American ice dance (as exemplified by the S/Z school in particular). Even with the newer COP teams, I wonder how long it’ll take to see improvement in this discipline.
- It’s quite remarkable how thoroughly that shift is being demonstrated this season. In 2006, we saw two North American Ice dance teams in the top five, the first time since 1987. In 2007, we saw a record setting five North American teams in the top ten (D/L, B/A, V/M, D/W and G/P). That number settled to three the next three seasons, but it was clear that North American dance would make itself a force like never before. And this season? With the retirements, that 2007 record could be broken with six teams in the top ten (five of the top nine season bests, as filtered through to world competitors, are N. American, + V/M who aren’t on the list). The thing is I’m not sure we’re gonna see that stay this way this quad, but it’s exciting to watch nonetheless.
- Okay, so many competing narratives in ladies. You have the mysterious question mark that is the reigning Olympic Gold medalist. You have the comeback ladies in Carolina Kostner and Alissa Czisny. You have the explosive newcomer that is Murakami, and WC stalwarts in Asada and Ando. You’ve got Kiira Korpi and even Rachel Flatt maturing as skaters. Last year saw such a terrific climax to the ladies event: perfection, history, and grace that there’s a “where do we go from here?” aspect to this season that I find somewhat appealing.....
- ... especially in contrast to the men. People seem so ready (if not eager) to crown Patrick Chan as champion. We forget that ice-is-slippery, the Skate Gods petulant and this season is long. We have our suspicions about who’s helped and who’s hindered by this delay (though it seems insensitive to acknowledge them). And again, those competing narratives.
- At Euros, it was definitely about old vs new. The newcomers stealing the short program from the veterans, with the veterans responding right back with the top two LPs & two of three podium spots. The early part of this quad was always gonna be about the emergence of new talent, but it’s rather remarkable to see it so clearly delineated: Amodio and Joubert; Brezina and Verner; Gachinsky and Plushenko’s shadow. We saw it at the US Nationals with that giant cluster of skaters (and indeed, we got both ends of the spectrum with Bradley and Dornbush/Miner).
- Watching the Japanese skaters is almost like getting a snapshot of an entire athletic career in one group. Part of me wonders what might have been had Takahashi been able to avoid injury in the 08/09. He’s already an all-time list skater for me personally but can you imagine how awesome it would’ve been if he had done what he’s done in the past (ie 4CC 2008) in Vancouver? This season feels a little harder for him – no one loves his two programs like they do his Eye/La Strada duo last season, he lost is National championship, and we know that he’ll have to have surgery after this season. For Oda, it’s always the story of what might have been? What could have happened if he was allowed to skate in the 07/08 season? What might have happened if he was able to maintain the momentum of his TEB LP throughout last season? What if he could count? He’s arguably one of the most talented skaters to never podium at Worlds/Olympics. He’s only a year younger than Takahashi, but less success (along with eternally boyish looks) make him seem much younger. How long does he skate for? And then we have Kozuka and Hanyu: Hanyu making good on his promise from last year’s WC with a strong 4CC skate and demonstrably willing to learn and improve; Kozuka for finally (finally) breaking through to the big leagues score-wise. These two seem to be the ones we’ll have for sure this quad.
- And wither the American men? It’s been talked about endlessly since the most surprising nationals I can recall. Next season (I know, getting ahead of myself) will be super interesting.
- I’m a big fan of narrative. I like complete sets of medals. I like story book endings in life (even if in books they are false). At the beginning of this season, I was rooting for Takahashi to defend his WC at home (especially since I don’t see him continuing to France etc). I wanted Virtue/Moir to win the GPF and defend their title as well, come second to Davis/White next year (in France), win in London, and have the momentum for Sochi to match Platov’s belief that they could join him/Grishuk as two-time OGM. I wanted Dube/Davison to recapture what made their 07/08 season so successful and use that for a successful run to Sochi (not necessarily for Gold, but for something more). Virtually all those narratives have been upended – some from the good (I genuinely didn’t anticipate Chan’s jumping improvement this season at all), most from the bad (injuries, splits...)
Well, at the US Nats, it was the new taking away the old.
The 4CC, unfortunately did not have the US Nats podium, and that Lady didn't do all that well, and the Man barely made the podium.
That's the way it is in Skateland.
As for winning two Oly Golds, I believe the anti N.Americans were busy. There may be a STOP the V/M in the planning of 2014. Quien sabe?
I'm in agreement there..........not only V&M, but D&W and the rest of them (north americans) as well. Unfortunately.
Originally Posted by Joesitz
Although Russia was embarrassed last year, this year they have developed some strength in ladies, pairs and dance. We will have a couple of years until Sochi for Russia to continue to build momentum. Olympic officials like to reward the country holding the Games with medals if at all possible, so I expect a much stronger Russian team in Sochi. It will be interesting to see where Russia places overall this year. Although this year Pechalat & Bourzat are likely to medal as are Virtue & Moir and Davis & White in dance, next two years may be different as the Russian teams could knock one or two of these teams down a notch leading into Sochi as prime contenders for the podium - but which team team will be the loser and which team the winner? Moscow results may give us a hint.
- * -
I don't think Bazarova and Larionov are a lock for 5th place. Any of the Canadian or American pairs or Berton and Hotarek could upset them with a really good performance. That being said, Bazarova and Larionov could very well end up on the podium too if one of the four frontrunners has an off night. I don't think this will happen as they're seasoned competitors with other partners, but Volosozhar and Trankov could let the pressure get to them. Pang and Tong also have been making mistakes this season, as have Savchenko and Szolkowy (although I think they'd have to have a huge meltdown to not medal as they won the Europeans with a huge mistake by Aliona on a spin).
I think B/L are a lock for 5th giving the scores that have been given out this season. They would have to miss out on several elements for D/R to come close on their best day and D/R would have to be given points they didn't deserve. For B/L to move up K/S or P/T would have to really mess up big time and both teams have; K/S at nationals and P/T during the GP and B/L still couldn’t beat them. Gold should go to S/S unless they have an epic melt down and another team takes advantage of that but I doubt it will happen. What happened to Aliona (and Smirnov) at Euros was an isolated incident and I'm sure was due to the cold.
V/T would have to compete like they did at Russian nationals to beat them and they haven't competed like that all year and international judges will not score them that generously even if they did. Trankov tends to choke so it will be interesting to see how they fare at this one, I'm sure he has a boatload of excuses ready no matter what happens.
P/T have not had one good competition all year so I have no idea how they will do they may win gold or withdrawal, I have no idea. K/S I'm sure benefited from the extra month of practice since they didn't start training until September so maybe they are re-energized or burnt out.
One thing that is worth mentioning is that Canada's momentum heading into Vancouver was based on two things: massive investment AND a successful Torino Olympics. I'm sure the Sochi contingent from Russia will be frightfully strong, but I'm not sure we're gonna see a lessening of that unified front that made Vancouver so successful for Canada.
For what it's worth, my hopes were just that... hopes. In general, I actually think it would be bad for dance to have such a firm grip on the top.
I'd be interested, though: Outside of the Russian teams and Pechelat/Bourzat, the junior/younger teams in Europe have a long way to go.
I think everyone pinned too many hopes on Russia at the last Olympics.
The ladies were bad; now they are getting better and might be good come 2014.
EP was good in Canada and only missed the gold by less than a point and a half. The med are getting better.
K/S had only been together for only 3 & 1/2 years and were only 2.50 out of first place going into the free. They could have done well but I blame their coach for changing the program before they skated and because of that they bombed, 4th place is a great place for their first Olympics but I would have liked to see what they would have got if left alone. M/T & B/L were just not good enough.
I was hoping to see the dancers do better than 3rd but 3rd is great too. Russia is only is going to get better in all disciplines by 2014.
I would love to see a D/W win!
I'd question your assertion that the men are getting better. Borodulin is injured, Vornov stagnating, Lutai is gone, the last two National champions are aged skaters.... and the next generation really doesn't seem to be capturing the imagination of figure skating fans the way the ladies, dance and pairs are.
Everyone will see Gachinski later this month and if he gets two spots for next year by placing in the top 10 that would be big success compared to Voronov last year.
- * -
But we all know Plushenko wants to come back so we don't have to worry jk
Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue
This must be a miracle but I agree with all you said. And sadly I am thinking P/T will most likely be the one of the top four to miss the podium altogether at the moment.
Originally Posted by mousepotato
I think P/T will be the one to fall off the podium too.