What will the 2011/2012 season bring us in ladies?
WHAT WILL THE 2011/2012 SEASON BRING US IN LADIES?
The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming
All bets are off. The Russian baby brigade is entering phase one of their plan to dominate the world, and that is early entry into the GP season (well, not early by any rules, but early because they won’t be age eligible to compete at Worlds). At first, I would’ve said that Leonova and Makarova are in a holding pattern until that group comes of age, and then they’re outta here. Now, we can see that they earned three spots for Russia next season, both buying themselves some time and a lot of good will. If one of them transforms that into a successful GP season, they may see themselves in a good position going into the seasons thereafter and ultimately Sochi.
Mao Asada did the SGP in the 2006 Olympic season and that obviously set her up well for the next quad. I rather look forward to Sotnikova attempting the same thing (only this time, Olympic Gold in Sochi).
Writing people off? I don’t think so....
This season was all about those people who had previously been written off c oming back and coming back strong. Alissa Czisny? GPF and National Champion, top five at Worlds. Sarah Meier? Battling injuries that wrecked a couple seasons, winning Europeans at home (and seriously, if you don’t cheer a little at her reaction to winning, you’re made of sterner stuff than I am). Carolina Kostner, after two seasons of truly disasterous skates at Worlds/Olympics, comes through during the GP season as well as at Worlds. Hell, even someone like Miki Ando, who seems to be written off every three seasons or so.
American ladies... a reason for optimism?
The single most gratifying thing about this season was seeing the steady rise of Alissa Czisny. What really stands out about how Yuka and Jason coached her was that they improved a few things incrementally. Her jumps are a little stronger. She skates a little faster. Her confidence has improved. Meanwhile, both Mirai Nagasu and Agnes Zawadzki ended their seasons with their best skates of the season (@ 4CC and World Juniors respectively). Christina Gao is now Brian Orser’s top skater. While these things individually probably don’t mean a whole heck of a lot, together.... they’ve given me some hope for the rebirth of American ladies figure skating. Toss on Courtney Hicks garnering sixth in her international debut, and you’ve got a pretty formidable quintet. It’ll be interesting to see which of the group medals at Worlds first. My money’s on Czisny.
Japanese ladies... a reason for caution?
We’re so used to the Japanese ladies dominating – three skaters in the top ten for five years running at least. And I don’t want to sound like I’m writing anyone off after point out the successful performances of those written off. But at the same time, I’m wondering if the Japanese spring is slowly coming to a close. I’m not entirely convinced that Mao Asada’s project to rework her jumps is going to result in a greater skater/jumper. I doubt that Akiko Suzuki will make another worlds team (though hope spring eternal). I’m not all that enthusiastic about Murakami. Miki Ando is closer to the end of her competitive career, not the beginning. And the junior ladies weren’t all that successful this season (though Shoji lost the JGPF bronze on a tie breaker and placed a respectable fifth at WJs). I’ll be curious to see if any of the younger skaters have a breakthrough
All interesting, Pogue, and some very hopeful. I love your section about not writing people off. I try to hold to that as a general policy, because you never know--the season might yield some delightful surprise, such as the one Czisny provided this year. Which brings me to your next point, the way in which Alissa has improved this year. You are so right to point to Yuka and Jason's approach with her. Look how they kept her on an even keel and gave her the confidence to keep going. When I saw her in that lovely Chrysler commercial about the revival of Detroit, I thought that it could just as easily have been a commercial about her path, as well. I will continue to enjoy whatever progress she and the other American ladies make.
You're probably right about Russia, and that's fine. With skating excellence, my feeling is "the more, the merrier." Every good skater adds something to the world of skating, not just to her country's reputation and medal haul. I hope, however, that you're wrong about Japan, though it is troubling not to see a large crop of successful juniors from them. I especially hope you're wrong about Mao Asada, who is a world treasure. As for me, if I'm not going to give up on Czisny, I'm certainly not going to give up on Asada! I'm sure you will be happiest if proved wrong in regard to this last section of your post.
Sotnikova Vs. Tuktamysheva! Watching them should be great. Obviously Tuktamysheva can have problems with short programs and Sotnikova can flutz and get edge calls. It would be something if they both came out and just did really well right off the bat.
I want to see Mao have a good GP season! 2009-2010 she was doing so many 3A's that she really wasn't ready until Japanese nationals and then 2010-2011 she was reworking so many things and again wasn't ready until Japanese nationals. I want to see 2011-2012 she be steady right from the first GP to the worlds. Kanako Murakami did not do well at worlds compard to how she started the season. Maybe a more normal season will be good for her. And Akiko Suzuki should start off well. No MIki Ando this season.
Kostner and Czisny repeating their very good 2010-2011 seasons would be good. Czisny for 2010-2011 was coming off a bad season but next she will be coming off a good season and hopefully that would lead to an even better season. With her new coaching and positive changes that is more possible.
I hope 'writing people off' was not meant for me. I do write about some skaters who are not skating as well as they were before, but that doesn't mean they can't podium. Anyhow, it is much much too early to predict now.
I will definitely want to watch Sotnikova in Juniors this season, and that other Russian junior whose name escapes me at the moment.
I'm very familiar with the Ladies of figure skating, and do not anticipate anything groundbreaking in additional Tech or Performances from them. They are all too familiar for me. I'm looking more for a competitive skater rather than a ballerina.
Adelina and Liza will be skating in your favorite next season - the senior GP series.
Originally Posted by Joesitz
I am not sure how Liza will do but expect Adelina to be in the GPF and most likely on the podium.
That's if she is healthy and doesn't grow 4 inches.
At Worlds she will have to skate as a junior and will try to defend her title.
Six Point Zero
If Adelina and Liza transition smoothly into the senior GP while Zawadzki and Gao up their tech we should finally see a pretty good amount of hard 3/3's next season. (And Liza might finally bring that 3Axel into competition.) Nothing technically groundbreaking, but bringing the average tech level up is always a good thing.
Originally Posted by Joesitz
If several girls develop a 3Axel there's always that potential for the first ever 8-triple program from a lady skater.
Zawadzki and Gao both have all their triples and I have a feeling we will see Agnes finally put out the 3lz-3t in competition this season, and if Christina can fix her 2a maybe she will start doing the 2a-3t along with her 3f-3t which is already a pretty consistent and solid combo for her. Add Adelina, Liza, Polina Shelepen to the list and I think we'll be seeing lots of 3-3s and 7 triple LPs in the coming season, which is exciting considering what happened this past season...