So...after Skate America, what are your thoughts?
I admit I underestimated Gao's ability- she came out and really surprised a lot of us with solid routines. She has also developed apart from jumps and is not as shy as she used to be (although her style is still very much the reserved kind). But then- I like surprises. I hate it when everything is boring and predictable. I like it when someone shakes things up. Especially one of our own!
Gao was solid here at SA, getting a silver when I figured the best she could do was 5th. BUT- I would not put her name in the Contenders' ring just yet. She skated about the best she possibly could here at SA, and this is just one event. As we all know, skating is all about CONSISTENCY. She will have to at least maintain that intensity into her 2nd event (France in 4 weeks) if she wishes to be taken seriously and elevate herself to that top rung. So- the question to be answered here is: Is this the beginning of something big for Gao? Or did she simply have the competition of her life? Also remember that she's a full-time college student...as classes really kick up, we'll see if she can maintain this level.
For Wagner, nice start for her and congrats on her first GP win. I felt her SP wasn't the "wow" (seeing it on TV) that it was when I saw it live. Either the oomph was lost in translation...or she held back somewhat. Which is OK, because we don't want her to peak too early. She fought for many of those landings in the FS, but remained upright and that's what's important. 127 to start the season, not bad at all.
And as for Flatt, I think I was right about her. I take it she is on her way out as she said school is now her #1 priority. Frankly I don't even know why she bothered to compete this year...I'm sure she could have found a show or two to skate in because that's really all she's bringing to the table. She is no longer competitive. Then again, having said that, she is nursing an injury so it's possible that held her back. But somehow I feel it's less the injury and more her just simply moving on mentally and physically from top-level skating. Someone else (Nagasu?) probably should have gotten her SA spot.
The good old U.S. of A. came with three arrows in its quiver and hit the bullseye twice. Ashley and Christina could hardly have been better, especially at this stage of the season. Too bad about Rachael; she does not seem to be competitive any more. I can't wait to see what Gracie Gold and Caroline Zhang bring to Skate Canada next week.
I missed Rachael but saw Ashley and Christina. Both were impressive. How great for them!
Also, she's dumped Frank Carroll because "the drive was too far." That seems like a grave and childish mistake to me. I know it's hard to leave the nest at her age, but she only gets this shot for a short period of time in her life. I'd have thought a top skater would want to relocate closer to their world-class coach for a while until the Olympics, rather than settle for a lesser coach.
Last edited by JPierce; 10-21-2012 at 11:43 PM.
^ Nah, Mirai's not like that at all. Phil Hersh put her in the top ten "funnest" athletes (all sports) in the country.
I thought Mirai didn't relocate closer because her mother didn't want her to live with another family (for various reasons)?
Actually, while I'm at it- may as well link the videos to Wagner and Gao as well, just for reference.
Wagner SA SP http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1SMi4QwAq0
Gao SA SP http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TKHO4xNEZo
Wagner SA FS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lu5JWRNutk
Gao SA FS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d90P_GKo6lc
and I'm not a fan of Frank so I'm not sad about their separation. I think Mirai is going to do just splendidly with her new coach, who looks a lot like an older Bebe Liang.
Holy cow. Christina and Ashley were both fabulous today at Skate America. Christina was a total surprise to me. Her presentation skills are much stronger this year and we're finally seeing the jumps landed. What a treat. I definitely understand what people are saying about seeing how she does in France. If she equals this in France, I think she'll likely get scored higher/it will be make for one hell of a set up into Nationals.
Despite some of those wild landings, I think Ashley's LP has already gotten stronger. It's starting to turn into that show piece she really wants it to be. She had the audience in the palm of her hand by the end of that skate and she knew. This program is clearly designed to do that. There was more power, style, and nuance in her performance tonight. She also looked deeper in her knees than at JO. I'm not one to gush about Ashley, honestly her style is not my favorite, but that was quite the way to kick things off. She's going to be hard to catch if she keeps this up.
Rachael... I mean what is there to say? She's injured, but she also looked not to be in the best we've seen her in. And I'm not suggesting she's overweight. I still think she looks good, but she's not a tight and toned as we've seen her in the past. This goes beyond it being October, she's clearly very busy at Stanford and struggling to balance that. But I don't blame her for it, I'd want to have my cake and eat it too, but it's just clearly very hard.
I'm not worried that Mirai is no longer with Frank. She seems more mature on the ice this year, her spins are faster, there's personality. Brightphoton, I totally see the Bebe resemblance in her coach. When I first saw them together I thought it was Bebe! If she skates her LP to it's potential it will be a show stopper.
AFTER SKATE CANADA
We saw the season debuts of Caroline Zhang and Gracie Gold. Thoughts?
My first thought is that although Gold gave into nerves here, I could clearly see her talent. With it being early in the season as well, I'm willing to give her some time - but again, it illustrates the "danger" behind excessive hype of skater(s). If they don't completely blow the roof off, it becomes like a failure and I don't think it is really fair.
Zhang has taken a step back since last season, but like Nagasu she is known for peaking later in the season. Apparently a near-wardrobe malfunction prevented her from doing some of the more difficult spins in the FS which cost her a few points, but even with that aside, she is clearly in B-list territory.
Looks like at least for now, Wagner is in a class by herself when it comes to the American women. It will be interesting to see:
a) how the other US ladies (that we haven't seen yet) perform in their GP events
b) how much improvement (if any) they will make
c) whether all can stay healthy throughout the season
d) given (c), if Wagner will be feeling the pressure at Nationals. Remember, first-time champions have failed to defend for at least the past quarter-century IIRC
Last edited by R.D.; 10-28-2012 at 01:20 PM.
Going to be honest here--even with Gao's performance at Skate Canada, I don't foresee her being a serious contestant for the Nats medals in January. She gets less support from the US federation than Ashley or Gracie, who are the figure skating equivalents of "America's sweethearts," and the complaints will be deafening if it seems that they were underscored.
Who knows, it may actually work to her benefit. It may lower expectations and when people are no longer expecting her to be the savior of US skating, it will be easier for her.Poor Gracie. She said afterward that she was getting ahead of herself throughout her routines and failed to focus completely on the jumping elements, which would have scored her massive points and maybe even put her on the podium. It's upsetting to see that people are tossing her into the reject bin for one bad turnout, and her GP debut at that.
I do wish someone else (besides Wagner) would step up though because we need TWO solid, consistent skaters to get us that 3rd Olympic spot again. As we saw last year, Wagner cannot do it on her own