I thought this would be interesting to talk about and I wanted to share my opinions. Rank these programs based upon their choreography/interpretation/performance qualities. I've linked videos of what I feel are their best performances of the programs in major competition this season.
1. Akiko Suzuki - I love the almost seductive opening. I love how she does nearly an entire footwork sequence, the kind which would be seen by great skaters before CoP or during the early days of CoP, when the music changes tempo after the first spin. I like the usage of her arms during the spins and how well the spins go with the music for the most part. I love how she can express a nearly deadly seriousness at one moment and then suddenly be overcome with unbridled JOY the next. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w1WhfcEWus
2. Carolina Kostner - Very playful, with pretty good attention paid to hitting the accents of the music with steps and using strange arm movements that feel at home with this music. A few of the movements would benefit from being even more strange though, some of it feels a bit safe, and she should probably be less playful in tone when the very low piano notes and aggressive violin section of the music comes in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30fmkWt1HP4
3. Alissa Czisny - The choreography is very thin but it's pleasant enough and the step sequence is wonderful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx_fj_6QgA0
4. Alena Leonova - This is very similar to Czisny's program in construction, just much different in style. Leonova makes more of an effort to build the character here than Czisny does but the footwork isn't as effective. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=to17jalWLFA
5. Mao Asada - A bizarre musical arrangement that never finds its footing. None of the ideas ever form into something substantial. Mao's natural ability does a lot of heavy lifting here with giving the program any kind of appeal. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKVVFyB8w94
6. Ashley Wagner - Great music, great dress, uninteresting choreography that has little connection with the music. The one good part of the program from earlier in the season has even been taken away because of the new timing of her solo triple jump. For super-detailed thoughts from me about this program, read here - http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/sho...rks#post577730
1. Ashley Wagner - This program could be so much more but she clearly has the required moxy and the choreography has improved since the start of the season and contains a couple highlights that are the probably best of the season among female Long Programs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kq_Fgh4Qwb4 (yes I know her Four Continents performance is technically cleaner, but this one is a better performance showcase)
2. Mao Asada - I really wish they hadn't changed this program from what it was during the first half of the 2010-2011 season. Such a magic gem down the drain. Still, this version of the choreography remains worthwhile and Mao interprets the music so naturally and beautifully when she is on form. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH9vcInDAFY
3. Akiko Suzuki - Delightful, but there aren't any amazing highlights and it's rather one-note. The first two spins she does aren't a good fit for the music. She clearly relates to the music, though. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCWa7-tsraI
4. Alena Leonova - I like what she is attempting here, and it keeps almost getting there at times, but doesn't ever really break through all the way. Definitely hindered by unnecessary CoP movements that are in the program just to gain the levels. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWgTNNfEMRQ
5. Carolina Kostner - The opening is gorgeous but after that (starting with the first Double Axel) it goes downhill in a big way for me. I don't see much connection to the music from that point. The "Mr. Roboto" arm movement she does during the resting section is distracting and completely goes against the tone here; it looks like it was carried over from her Short Program. The sudden spiral pose shortly after is similarly out of place. I really dislike how she does the two Salchow's back-to-back in the exact same spot on the ice. The footwork sequence and her final spins could have been taken from any program, they don't have much to do with this music. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65TaOgZeXn4
6. Alissa Czisny - A big miss. The section where she goes into her Flying Camel is nice, but otherwise...yeah... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zA158YOWQVE
And then my overall rankings would be 1. Akiko Suzuki, 2. Ashley Wagner, 3. Mao Asada, 4. Carolina Kostner, 5. Alena Leonova, 6. Alissa Czisny
Taking technical content into consideration, though, my ranking if all of them skate perfectly would be: 1. Mao Asada, 2. Akiko Suzuki, 3. Ashley Wagner, 4. Alena Leonova, 5. Carolina Kostner, 6. Alissa Czisny
Of course, the programs/performances can still be improved upon before Worlds. You never know for sure until they actually skate.