Oh Japan, Poor Japan
Seriously. No other nation presents a clearer example that the three-spot quotas are needlessly restrictive. I mean, 6 of the top 9 season’s best are from Japanese skaters (including the top two). Now, looking at the scores, there’s a big enough gap between third and fourth (15 points) to suggest a demarcation point, but come on. When your own Nationals could theoretically be as good as the final group at Worlds, you have something magnificent. We won’t be seeing Oda, Mura or Machida at Worlds. In a way, the popularity of the sport perversely hurts these skaters who are really good, but not quite good enough. If they plan on keeping the minimums they way they are, they can at least require that countries without a skater filling that slot (Spain, Kazakhstan, Belgium and Italy all have second spots that currently can’t be filled) to the next ranked skaters on the SB list. That’s certainly fairer than “we haven’t earned a second slot, but want it anyway.” And it rewards skaters for competing and excelling on the GP circuit, something that the ISU wants anyway.
Stars and Stripes
a) If everyone skates clean at Nationals, which of the American men make your top two (answer: Jeremy and Dornbush, probably)?
b) Which of the high level men would most likely skate clean? (answer: Miner and..... Brown? Farris? Chen? Okay, not Chen cause he’s not senior and maybe injured)
And that’s the rub. With dance and ladies, at least one team is in both categories (D/W, Wagner). And an injury is the only thing preventing that being true of the pairs (D/C). I still don’t know who the US number one is. Pretty curious if they even get one by next year.
Fernandez.... TES > 100?
Consider this: he has the same skate as he had at the GPF with a 3 Loop like in Skate Canada. His TES = 99.69. Consider this: he skates well in Canada (silver and gold medalist at Skate Canada, 2011 and 2012; bronze medalist at GPF 11/12) and Russia (leading LP score of the year GPF 12/13; silver medalist at CoR 2011). Given that scores generally trend upwards as the season goes on and the presumed boost to his confidence a three quad LP gives him....
I want this to happen. Just so we’re clear. Also, I want him to go for two quads in the short program. That would be epic.
Okay, we know Chan’s MO. He starts out struggling. Multiple falls, sketchy landings, etc. He raises his game at Nationals, has at least one more great international program, and does well. It happens every season. I don’t think it’ll happen this season. Am I being pessimistic? Man, its times like these I wish I could rewrite history.
Favourite Programs of the Season
SP: Takahiko Kozuka, “Exodus”
Epic music, scintillating skill, sinuous skating. It’s really glorious how he manages to weave all the elements together. The spread eagles matched to the percussion, the great glory of that final spin. I’m a footwork man at heart, and his is simply divine.
--Honorable mention: Javier Fernandez, Elladj Balde, Anthony Kan (I know he’s a junior, but check it out.), Daisuke Takahashi (I mean, come on, a genius’ lesser work is still likely amazing)
LP: Jeremy Abbott, “Les Miserables” (no link until he skates it clean)
Abbott’s always been a very interesting short program skater, but I’ve never loved his LPs. Not until now, anyway. I don’t know how he manages to convey so much, but he does.
--Honorable mention: Javier Fernandez, Takahiko Kozuka, Patrick Chan, Brian Joubert (though I’m tempted to wait until next season just so I can declare it the best then, presuming he improves like I hope he will
EX: Takahiko Kozuka, “The Sound of Silence”
If a picture’s worth a thousand words, this guy’s Murakami (speaking of, he’d do a great Sinfonietta).
Honorable Mention: Patrick Chan, I guess. Haven’t seen much, don’t care to.