Julia is fourteen, and most girls have hit puberty by then. She just doesn't seem to have experienced the stress and exhaustion that comes with growth spurts and weight gain, which can come out of nowhere and hit with the force of a semi. As long as she stays light and lean as a bird, though, she is Russia's current best. Compare her to the other big stars Liza, Adelina, and Alena, and you'll see why.
1. Liza T--One of the most mature teenagers out there (much more so than Julia), but as was already noted, she's been struggling with puberty and injuries. Did she seem slow and sluggish to anyone else at Skate Canada? I felt tired just watching her. Mishin was the one who said that she was going through a very stressful time for young girls, and was considering dropping out of SC up until two or three weeks before. Until she regains her 2011-2012 energy, she'll be finishing behind Lipnitskaia.
2. Adelina S--Massive jumps and usually has a good interpretation of the music, but consistency is her biggest issue by far. She yielded her lead to Gao at the Skate America free skate, and it wasn't much of a lead to begin with. She needs to work on more than just her jumps so that when nerves betray her, she has something to fall back on. She reminds me of Gracie Gold--huge potential, but hasn't found a way to channel that into artistry and fluidity.
3. Alena L--I think her seventh-place finish at SA speaks for itself, especially as she's been skating at the senior level for several years now. Any skater who can finish second at Worlds and then turn around and miss the podium at a GP will never be the federation's first choice when looking for reliability.
So the main issues for the Russians are consistency and puberty, neither of which Lipnitskaia has shown issues with just yet. I predict a growth spurt for her before Sochi rolls around, in which case one of the other teens (most likely Liza) will take her spot.
Liza and Adelina have different strengths. I'm not sure at this time how to rank them next to each other. If Adelina could be more consistent I'd give her the edge, but this is something else we'll have to wait and see about.
Alena is a wildcard I don't dismiss her like you, though. I think Russia knows what it has in a woman who has been competitive at worlds and can jump. She also has no mental hang ups and (SA notwithstanding) can pull out two error-free performances in a row with reasonable consistency. Now, if it turns out she has another outing like SA I will be reevaluating. However, at this time, I think the Sochi team is as likely to include her as not- it's really 50/50.
Liza, Julia, Plushenko.
I have always like Liza and hope she can soon literally 'grew out' of her current problems. Liza has the better innate artistry and presentation, Julia the techniques and flexibility, but she has so much room still left to grow and develop in the next few years, however a key to her realizing the craft is with the right people (Morozov not the best choice of choreographer, at times it feels like he is almost abusing her insane flexibility without thought or tact). Personally I'd love to see what Tat can bring out of Liza and Julia.
My bet on the Olympic team are Liza, Adelina & Alena.
As much as I like Julia, I doubt that she'll be ready to make a big splash on the senior figure skating scene by 2014.
From Russian Nationals at December 2010 (when Julia was 12 and a half years old) to now her base value of FS is about 56.25 (for comparing - Ashley Wagner's Total BV: 54.72 at Nationals 2012).
This weekend we will see Julia, Mao, Mirai at GP Event in China.
Adelina and Liza have problems now - Liza to be familiar with her new body, Adelina with nerves at first. How will they overcome - we will see.
Alena has a decent shot if Liza and Julia are going to have problems adjusting to their body changes, you cannot count Alena out she seems to be a fighter!!
Ksenia MAKAROVA - we do not treat her as "all in past", very nice skating.
Adelina SOTNIKOVA - her main problem now - her nerves.
Elizaveta TUKTAMYSHEVA - shows progress with respect to her state at beginning of season.
Polina KOROBEYNIKOVA - very nice skating, but unstable. Some progress in Nice.
These five have visible problems, but they have more than a year for overcoming.
Julia LIPNITSKAIA - one of two best skaters of 2011/12 (together with Carolina KOSTNER), no serious problems now.
These six (and may be some of 2 or 3 skaters not mentioned above) will pretend to Sochi. Who will earn places - nobody knows.
Last edited by AlexRus; 10-30-2012 at 10:31 AM.
The person not leaving Kiira any chance was Kiira herself. Julia was pretty much clean except for one step-out, but Kiira messed up the FS. Had she been clean, she would have won.Originally Posted by AlexRus
Additionally, Kiira might be a medalist at european championships, but I don't think she'd be considered a real contender for world medals.
I disagree that Julia won't be making a splash at the senior scene, she most definitly will. It depends on the other senior ladies too - Mao at CoC or Ashley at TEB should beat her no doubt if they are nearly clean (like Ashley at SA or Mao at JO minus the invalid spin) - but Julia is surely going to be on those poduims (which I'd consider great enough to be a splash).
So problem was not only invalid spin.
Julia ... She had some mistakes at Finlandia Trophy, but she may became better fast. For example, in her 2nd JGP Event 2011 past season her score was 10.5 points better than at previous (because of more clean skating), less than a month before.
Let us see at weekend.
I'm not convinced Liza is taking puberty especially hard. She was injured in the offseason and that might be the main cause of her struggles now more than anything else, not to mention there's also a lot of pressure on her after making such a big splash last season. Yes, her body has changed, but if she is through the bulk of her body changes by now, then she got off pretty lucky in terms of puberty. She's still very tiny. She's never had the willowy reed-like body type someone like Yuna had at 14, and her growing taller and filling out is minimal compared to the changes someone like Mirai, Caroline, Kimmie, etc. went through around that age. She can still jump well and do 3-3s, and she doesn't seem to be having issues rotating her jumps like many girls do when they grow (Mirai, Rachael, Samantha Cesario, Kanako, etc), so really, there isn't reason to panic. Her 112 score she put up in the FS with mistakes is pretty good for early in the season considering the mistakes she made. People will look different at their fighting weights, and there isn't one body type that works for skating, especially if you are very petite like Liza, she can likely get away with being more sturdy in build compared to someone tall. I mean, Shelepen has a beautiful lithe body type and puberty hit her hard and now her jumps are a mess, despite appearing to have the "ideal body type" for skating. So I wouldn't count Liza out yet. Mirai and Caroline grew 4-5 inches and gained probably around 30-50 pounds over the course of a few years, and came back to land jumps with their new bodies, so for people to be worrying about the maybe 2 inches and maybe like 5-10 pounds Liza's gained since last season seems a bit dramatic. She will likely be fine, and further her technique is way better than Mirai and Caroline's ever was.
Adelina is inconsistent for now so even though she has killer jumps the mistakes are going to hurt her regardless. A lot will depend on if she can regain consistency IMO.
As for Julia we will have to see. According to her ISU bio she's already grown 7 cm since last season, now 158 cm, so it is possible if she does in fact have similar genes to Sasha that she will not get much bigger, and for now, her jumps have survived her growth fine for now.
I think the top 3 as of now are Adelina, Liza T and Julia...but that could change.
Adelina is the most complete skater of the 3 but her confidence/consistency issues could take her out of the running...
Liza T is the best in terms of technique but her weak spins and lack of coverage hurt her a little. It remains to be seen if she can return to form after this injury/growth spurt...
Julia has a lot going for her but she's also the biggest question mark. At 14 years old she still has a lot of growing left to do and, given her relatively small jumps, if she gets taller/bigger and loses any rotation she's going to be in trouble. She lacks musicality and interpretation (like nearly every other junior) so that's an area she seriously needs to work on. And for the love of Jebus, someone please get her a choreographer who'll have her do more than pull her leg over her head...
It is funny to see the way people talk about Julia. So according to most everyone here she has weak little jumps, overhyped not so great spins or spirals, no artistry or musicality at all, is slow. Yet despite this she crushed a star studded field to easily win World Juniors, and has already posted one of the highest competition scores seen in recent years of the lately relatively lakcuster Senior ladies field to start the season. How does she manage to do all this with such poor jumps, no artistry, no great skills. She must be great at hypnotizing the judges.