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Thread: State of American Ladies: 2012-13 Season

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    Post State of American Ladies: 2012-13 Season

    So...it's that time of year where the next skating season is fast approaching us, and it is time to take a look at the state of the American ladies and, upon seeing early results, evaluate their chances at US Nationals, and perhaps even a world medal. So- who have we got?


    First, we've got Agnes Zawadzki, Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner who have debuted programs at summer comps and/or shows, and have established themselves as perhaps front-runners early on. Let's go through them one by one.

    Zawadzki: She's coming off a bittersweet ending to her season, with a superb SP at Nationals followed by a mediocre FS and a disappointing 3rd place, just missing the world team (even though it was a step up from 4th in 2011). Then, she went to Four Continents and at least managed to hold on in the FS, which was a triumph for her considering she was struggling with it all season long. Definitely, a top 10 finish in a relatively strong field is commendable. Fast forward to last week, where she made her 2012-13 competitive debut at the US Skating Challenge in SLC. Simply amazing SP, scoring 65 pts and leading the field which included Miss Gold. Normally, this would be a cause of concern for Zawadzki fans because she simply cannot hold on to an SP lead for long- she lets her nerves take over. Well, not this time. Her FS wasn't perfect, but it wasn't a disaster, either. She held on, skated respectably and earned the win. I think this is a big stepping stone for her- let's see if it will carry over into her GPs, and most importantly, 2013 Nationals. I seriously think she has a shot at the title if she follows this trajectory.

    Gold: After breaking out at Junior Nats last season, many people wanted to put her on the world team, perhaps at the expense of Czisny. But, she lacked senior experience and would have been a wildcard or a risk at best. However, she got the opportunity to make her senior debut at the World Team Trophy - on short notice after Czisny declined an invitation by USFS. Even though she didn't have a senior FS ready, she went out and held her own against the best. The big thing I picked up about her was while she had the jumps, she was still young and hadn't really developed the presentation yet...so it was more like skate, jump, jump, skate, jump. I think that is about to change, however. At the US Skating Challenge I saw a different Gold. A slightly more grown up, more mature Gold on the ice. I can tell she is trying to develop the presentation specifically in her SP and I'm curious to see how it progresses over the course of the season. Now, she had mistakes, and was edged out by Zawadzki in the standings, but I don't expect her to be perfect at this point in time. Don't want to peak too soon. I think she will easily be one of the top contenders for the 2013 world team (assuming good health, etc.) Be on the lookout.

    Wagner: After what could be well described as a breakout season for Wagner last year, picking up a national title and a 4th place finish at worlds, expectations for her are likely higher than ever before. This season will be a huge test for her, as it will determine how she handles the pressure of being one of the top skaters in the world, and perhaps set her up for the Olympic season. It already seems like she is well-prepared, as she's got a killer SP that further improves upon last year (yes, the chatter you've been hearing on Twitter is true - I saw her debut at the Weiss show and this could be a big one if she performs it to spec). Wagner is typically a freeskater, meaning she shines in the FS, so if she can really bring the SP up to that same level, she will undoubtedly be the top American with a shot at a world medal. I think the biggest challenges for her will be to keep nerves under control, to remain healthy, and to avoid peaking too early.


    Then, we've got the others- Alissa Czisny, Caroline Zhang, and Mirai Nagasu.

    Czisny: After the disappointment that was 2010, she seemingly reinvented herself and seemed to develop a newfound consistency in her skating that was sorely lacking for nearly a decade. This "new and improved" Czisny, or Czisny 2.0 as some called her, was good enough for GPF and national titles, and a 5th place finish at worlds after two previous finishes outside the top 10. Her mission last season was to try to buck the "roller-coaster" trend that has plagued her career...she seemed to be OK at SA and Nationals, if a bit off her game. But then we all know what happened - she came undone in spectacular fashion at Worlds. She later claimed injury at the time- careful not to make the same mistake Flatt did in 2011- and then went into surgery. I think it's going to take her some time to recover and thus I don't expect her to be a real factor this season. Even if she was at her best, it would still be tough- she will be challenged by Wagner and Zawadzki who will go for 3-3s in the SP. And now you've got Gold in the mix...unfortunately for Czisny, the sport is not going to wait for her to recover.

    Zhang: She was the "comeback kid" last season, coming out of almost nowhere to place a surprising 4th last year at US Nationals, and went on to win a medal at 4CCs. But it will not get any easier for her. She will need to be at her absolute best AND rely on mistakes from a few others to have a chance. Perhaps she could have taken advantage of one less contender at the top (Czisny), but then in comes another one to take her place (Gold). Still, after what happened last year I wouldn't count her out for a medal at nationals. I still think making the world team will be a tall order, though (not impossible, however!). BUT - we need to see her in action this season before we know much more about where she stands.

    Nagasu: A very disappointing end to her season with a 7th place finish at Nationals, and only 1 GP event this season. She definitely has the talent and skill set to challenge at the very top, but she might need the jumps to fend off the likes of Zawadzki et al. I will need to see her in action before I can say much more. She looked to be in ok shape at Weiss's show earlier in the month, but that was only an exhibition.



    That should be wraps for now. What do you guys think? Also, usual disclaimer at the end of post- as the season goes on, opinions/thoughts subject to change (perhaps dramatically).

    Also feel free to add thoughts about other American skaters I did not mention above.
    Last edited by R.D.; 11-01-2012 at 02:29 PM. Reason: 11/1: Removing Flatt's name from the list as she is out for season with injury

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    Quote Originally Posted by R.D. View Post
    Flatt: Last but not least, we've got the Stanford girl. She looked to be on her way out of the competitive scene with a surprisingly emotional FS performance at San Jose Nationals. That would have been a fine way to end her skating career which included an Olympic appearance, top 5 at worlds and a national title. But, she has chosen to continue on. She is currently signed up for SA, and I'm assuming she intends to try to make it to Nationals again. She needs to be seen in action, but (very!) early indications point to a epic struggle. She barely cracked 100 pts - as a TOTAL score - at a fluff competition about a week ago. I think she may have landed only 1 triple jump. But she has a month between now and SA to get things worked out. With college also on her plate, however, it's not that long. Regardless, I expect her to be a non-contender this year. If she enjoys the process of competing, though, more power to her.
    If Flatt really skates as badly as that, why doesn't USFSA give Flatt's spot at Skate America to Nagasu? I know Flatt still has a month to get ready, but a month is not long enough for this, and no matter what Nagassu's problems are, she surely can't skate as bad as that. The amount of places at GP is limited, so they shouldn't go to skaters who are underperforming. It seems to me that USFSA is a bit unfair to Nagasu.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hanca View Post
    If Flatt really skates as badly as that, why doesn't USFSA give Flatt's spot at Skate America to Nagasu? I know Flatt still has a month to get ready, but a month is not long enough for this, and no matter what Nagassu's problems are, she surely can't skate as bad as that. The amount of places at GP is limited, so they shouldn't go to skaters who are underperforming. It seems to me that USFSA is a bit unfair to Nagasu.
    I believe Rachael has been given SA four out of the last five years. Has Mirai been sent to CoC four of the last five years?

    Anyone see a pattern if not an agenda here ......

    Of course hope I am wrong

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    It's hard to handicap the field with nothing to go on but an exhibition and a couple summer competitions. However, I am concerned. I didn't actually see Gold and Zawadzki at the Challenge competition, but the reports weren't encouraging. Sounds like Agnes had her usual good SP followed by her usual subpar, spotty performance in the long. Okay for a summer comp, but not likely to cut it at a GP or Nationals. And Gracie's failure to land any clean triples in the second half of her long, and doubling the combo in the short, worries me. So far Gracie's performances at the senior level have been okay . . . but no more. Kind of like Sotnikova. I'm not writing Gracie off by any means--I'm thrilled she landed those two triple-triples in the first half of her LP and am hoping she'll improve in later comps--but . . .

    As to the other ladies, I can only go off impressions from last season. Yes, this year will be a major test for Ashley. I hope she's able to handle the pressure and do well! And I am rooting for Caroline--would love to see her improve and do even better. I think the relative lack of pressure and attention on her could help.

    Regarding Mirai and Rachael, unfortunately, I see no reason to expect things will be better for them. This may sound harsh, but I just have not heard anything from either camp that gives me hope. Of course they could surprise me.

    When it comes to Alissa, I will draw the wrath of many in saying this, but my sincere wish is to see Alissa retire later this season. I am just tired of the disappointment and drama. And in any case, I don't see her being a factor internationally. She'd have a steep road to climb this year even without the injury. And now with the injury and the return of Yu-Na and Miki, I think the chance of Alissa doing well internationally is practically nil.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hanca View Post
    If Flatt really skates as badly as that, why doesn't USFSA give Flatt's spot at Skate America to Nagasu? [...] It seems to me that USFSA is a bit unfair to Nagasu.
    But would giving 2 GP for Nagasu and none for Flatt be fair? I mean, Flatt was better at nationals and the competition R.D. mentioned wasn't probably important. Everyone can have a bad day (look at Czissny) and there's still about 1 month for Flatt to prepare for SA. Making such a decision would be totally unfair for Flatt.

    When it comes to all ladies it's hard to choose my 2 favourites as I have 3 right now - Zhang, Gold and Wagner. It's a really hard decision who to root for at nationals the most.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eyria View Post
    It's hard to handicap the field with nothing to go on but an exhibition and a couple summer competitions. However, I am concerned. I didn't actually see Gold and Zawadzki at the Challenge competition, but the reports weren't encouraging. Sounds like Agnes had her usual good SP followed by her usual subpar, spotty performance in the long. Okay for a summer comp, but not likely to cut it at a GP or Nationals. And Gracie's failure to land any clean triples in the second half of her long, and doubling the combo in the short, worries me. So far Gracie's performances at the senior level have been okay . . . but no more. Kind of like Sotnikova. I'm not writing Gracie off by any means--I'm thrilled she landed those two triple-triples in the first half of her LP and am hoping she'll improve in later comps--but . . .
    I would not worry about any skater at this point in time. It is still very early in the season, lots of time to make improvements. The important thing is that I saw IMPROVEMENT in both Zawadzki and Gold compared to last season, and that's what we want to see. Obviously I was not expecting perfection from either of them in September.



    When it comes to Alissa, I will draw the wrath of many in saying this, but my sincere wish is to see Alissa retire later this season. I am just tired of the disappointment and drama. And in any case, I don't see her being a factor internationally. She'd have a steep road to climb this year even without the injury. And now with the injury and the return of Yu-Na and Miki, I think the chance of Alissa doing well internationally is practically nil.
    As tragic as this may sound in retrospect, her *best* chance for a world medal really was this year. Of course, she was rendered unable to take advantage of the opportunity, but even on the national scene, it will get much tougher for her. The young ones are coming up, her competitors are improving and (finally) bringing more to the table. She's been around for eons, time to wrap it up. She might want to end her career on a better note than 22nd at Worlds, though...so can't fault her for continuing at this point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cherryy View Post
    But would giving 2 GP for Nagasu and none for Flatt be fair? I mean, Flatt was better at nationals and the competition R.D. mentioned wasn't probably important. Everyone can have a bad day (look at Czissny) and there's still about 1 month for Flatt to prepare for SA. Making such a decision would be totally unfair for Flatt.
    Depends on how the USFSA wants to "play the game". It's an individual sport as to who gets the medal, but it's a team sport in who gets the bragging rights. If the USFSA wanted to play it more like some of the other federations/associations then... well... I don't think either Nagasu or Flatt would get even one pick.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cherryy View Post
    But would giving 2 GP for Nagasu and none for Flatt be fair? I mean, Flatt was better at nationals and the competition R.D. mentioned wasn't probably important. Everyone can have a bad day (look at Czissny) and there's still about 1 month for Flatt to prepare for SA. Making such a decision would be totally unfair for Flatt.

    When it comes to all ladies it's hard to choose my 2 favourites as I have 3 right now - Zhang, Gold and Wagner. It's a really hard decision who to root for at nationals the most.
    Yes, it would be fair. You don't want to have GP event like last year, where Flatt ended completely last. If she can't land the jumps now, there is only so much that can be improved in a month. Alternatively, both Flatt and Nagasu could have skate off a week before the competition to decide who is going. This isn't about how well Flatt skated in the past (and 9 months ago at nationals); I don't believe she deserves a chance based on the past. This should be about who has better chance to skate well at present. I have nothing against Flatt personally, but watching her skate at GP last year was quite hard.

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    She barely cracked the 100 points in the TOTAL score?! this means she's really not ready to compete against wagner, sotnikova, leonova, gao, imai, marchei etc at SA, they can all land more than one triple jump! I was watching her performance in vancouver, a couple of days ago, and now we know this... It's really sad...
    About nagasu, I really hope she will have a great season, her programs at Glacier Falls this summer were really good, she has just one GP and (in my opinion) she has a very little chance to make the world team but I just hope she'll perform well and be satisfied of herself, this is what she needs, satisfaction, she was always disappointed after her competitions, last year...
    I have already wrote what I think about Czisny, and I agree that this could be a breakout season for Agnes, as well as a magnificent one for wagner, if she skates well both in the SP and in the FS, the question mark for me is gracie: she has the jumps, she has the programs, she just needs mental strength, because competing in a Senior Worlds or 4CC requires a lot of control on your nerves, she can be the best or the worst among the american ladies, it depends on her...

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    I wouldn't write Czisny off yet. She had 'only' labral tear. That means torn cartilage. That's not as serious as if she had torn ligament or tendon. I had similar operation as she had a week later than she had it. I had it a bit worse, I had torn cartilage and also partially torn two tendons and one more injury to top it up (four in total). I am already back on the ice. Of course I don't need to do triple jumps, I am only an adult skater, but if I (with four injuries) could come back on the ice after three months, I think she will be fine for nationals in December/January. She is obviously in much better shape than I am, so her recovery must be much quicker than mine.

    The only question is, will she manage emotionally to come back? After going through such nightmare at Worlds, it must be really hard to do a competition without thinking about the last one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    I believe Rachael has been given SA four out of the last five years. Has Mirai been sent to CoC four of the last five years?

    Anyone see a pattern if not an agenda here ......

    Of course hope I am wrong
    Mirai has been to CoC four out of five times, and NHK one out of five. I never noticed it before.

    Haha, it's funny because the USFSA officials are probably racist.

    well it's not that funny. But still probably true.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brightphoton View Post
    Mirai has been to CoC four out of five times, and NHK one out of five. I never noticed it before.

    Haha, it's funny because the USFSA officials are probably racist.

    well it's not that funny. But still probably true.

    Maybe Mirai requested CoC? Are skaters allowed to make such requests?

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    Quote Originally Posted by eyria View Post
    Maybe Mirai requested CoC? Are skaters allowed to make such requests?
    Why would a Japanese -American skater keep requesting CoC? Why would anyone for that matter?

    Anyone could fairly assume that after finishing 4th at the Olympics and 1st at Worlds in the SP Mirai was potentially America's #1 Lady. And this at the age of 16.

    She was repaid for her efforts by being shipped out...year after year.....

    It's feels like a strong case of favoritism IMHO. Perhaps it's not.....but waiting for explanations....and NOT holding my breath.

    Flatt as a featured skater at SA year after year hints at an agenda .

    After years of this...................

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VXLwEcmkcw

    .........not to mention Kwan's elegance why would US Skating think American's want Rachael every year ar SA?

    All very puzzling to me.
    Last edited by janetfan; 09-23-2012 at 07:11 PM.

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    Mirai has had plenty of chances to shine. She has the potential, but she has never translated that into consistent success. We know she scores well when she does well, but it seems that she only happens when the pressure is off. I agree she can be the dark horse now that everyone's eyes (and the pressure that comes with it) is on the trio of Ashley, Agnes and Gracie. I think Mirai is a great skater and she seems to have a new focus, so perhaps she can change the tide.

    While Rachael is not popular on figure skating boards, I think that should not be indicative of how the general figure skating public feels about her. On Facebook, she has nearly 7,000 followers and more than 12,000 followers on Twitter. No, she's not Michelle Kwan, but she definitely has a following. I don't see how Mirai, who Rachael beat at Nationals last season, would somehow garner more ticket sales. I've heard several times -- including on these boards, even -- that Rachael tends to be great in person.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs. P View Post
    Mirai has had plenty of chances to shine. She has the potential, but she has never translated that into consistent success. We know she scores well when she does well, but it seems that she only happens when the pressure is off. I agree she can be the dark horse now that everyone's eyes (and the pressure that comes with it) is on the trio of Ashley, Agnes and Gracie. I think Mirai is a great skater and she seems to have a new focus, so perhaps she can change the tide.

    While Rachael is not popular on figure skating boards, I think that should not be indicative of how the general figure skating public feels about her. On Facebook, she has nearly 7,000 followers and more than 12,000 followers on Twitter. No, she's not Michelle Kwan, but she definitely has a following. I don't see how Mirai, who Rachael beat at Nationals last season, would somehow garner more ticket sales. I've heard several times -- including on these boards, even -- that Rachael tends to be great in person.
    Hello......was talking about the last 4-5 years.

    How Flatt got SA AGAIN this year is a mystery to me.
    Last edited by janetfan; 09-23-2012 at 04:49 PM.

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