Half time show: Thoughts from the season so far - MEN
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.
Last edited by ImaginaryPogue; 12-10-2012 at 11:04 PM.
I'm not too much a fan of the Japanese so won't comment.
If everyone skates clean at US Nats.....Abbott and either Miner or Brown. I would love to see Adam Rippon in there but....
Fernandez - charisma personified and a perfectly choreographed program for him. I could see him on the podium at Worlds. It would be great for Spain, too.
Chan - I still think he's the cream of the crop. He has it all. I don't like his La Boheme program though. It just isn't dramatic enough or strong enough But if he skates clean I don't think anyone can beat him. Maybe on the tech score but not on the presentation score.
Favorite program? Definitely Abbott's Les Miserables. Love the music, love his interpretation. He's really come into his own.
Exhibition. sadly, haven't seen any.
- * -
Japan - Takahashi's still my favourite, followed by Kozuka. I'm impressed with how Murakami and Machida have stepped it up this season, wish that Oda wasn't falling behind some of the others. I still can't enjoy Hanyu, although he's grown on me a bit. He just seems too rough around the edges.
US - IF everyone skates clean, it'll be Jeremy and either Ross or Ricky.. I can't really decide between the last two. I doubt that Jeremy or Ricky will skate clean though, that'll be Ross and.. I'm not sure. I haven't seen the others skate enough to judge.
Fernandez - Getting a TES of over 100 would be great for him. I'm impressed with how well he's jumping this season but his presentation (excuse the 6.0 word!) does have a lot of room for improvement.
Chan - His problems are worse than other seasons, as he has not finished third in an event since 2007, IIRC. Well, besides the Japan Open in 2012. The other guys have really stepped up their technical game, so he no longer has that quad-cushion over the rest of the field.
None of the other programs have enthralled me that much.. I have enjoyed a lot of them but more for the skaters rather than the programs.
Yay, a thread all about the Men!
Japan - My biggest concern is whether or not the 4-6th ranked skaters get two deserved GP assignments next season. Aren't GPs primarily assigned based on your performance at Worlds? If so, and those top guys aren't even gonna be at Worlds, I can imagine it'd be extremely tough for Japan to get assignments for all their skaters. Skate America for example would want to avoid a situation where the Japanese can sweep again, and now that skating feds worldwide are aware of the level of depth, they're not gonna be as open to inviting unknown Japanese competition who could potentially place above their own skaters.
Also going to be interesting to see who comes out on top at Japanese Nationals. Other than seeing who ends up #1, I think its a bit of a toss-up between Oda, Machida and Mura for #4. Pulling for Mura, but I feel really bad for Oda - he sits out one season due to injury and comes back having been leapfrogged.
USA - US Nats are going to be even more unpredictable than the Japanese Nationals (I think Japanese Nats will come down to Hanyu or Takahashi), so it'll be very interesting to see what happens. If everyone skates clean its Abbott and Dornbush for me, but its a very level playing field. Neither have shown any signs of being on their game so far this season, but I can't get over how Dornbush skated at Finlandia and Abbott is a superior skater to the other US men.
As to who's most likely to skate clean... no one I think Farris... maybe Abbott, seeing how he usually peaks at Nationals.
TES > 100 - I actually think Hanyu is equally likely to get this done. He had 91+ in TES at the GPF, and that was with a popped 4S. If he landed that quad, even without positive GOE he would've broken 100. His free skates this season have progressively improved by leaps and bounds, and I wouldn't be surprised if he skates this program clean at Worlds.
Fernandez just hasn't caught a break, has he? Rooting for him to podium at Worlds!
Chan - I feel for him. Hanyu and Fernandez are on their way up, Takahashi's quad is looking better, Kozuka's quad + confidence are looking better (though he still suffers from undermarking...), but Chan has stagnated technically and has very limited room to grow in terms of PCS, despite any improvements he might make artistically. Everyone else is on an upswing, while he's trying to somehow stick it out at the top without a clearcut plan. I admire him for wanting to improve and working on his artistry, and I actually like La Boheme a lot more than Aranjuez, but I'm skeptical as to the direction he's focused on. He's still thinking that, technically, the field has caught up to him, when IMO really the field is on its way to surpassing him. Hanyu has a 4T, 4S and two 3As. Fernandez has those 3 quads and a 3A. Takahashi and Kozuka each have two 4Ts and two 3As. Chan has 2 4Ts and only one 3A. I think his skating skills are still a notch above (except Kozuka) but PCS is a 5 category mark and the judges are rewarding his competitors for their transitions, performance quality, etc.
Don't know what's gonna happen at Worlds... there aren't enough podium spots . If I had to make a guess though, I wouldn't place any bets on Chan repeating either. Just seems like he's got too much going on this season.
Favourite programs -
SP: Hanyu's 'Parisienne Walkways,' Abbott's 'Spy...' Kozuka's 'Exodus' ... can't think right now.
LP: Fernandez's 'Chaplin', Chan's 'La Boheme,' Abbott's 'Les Mis,' Mura's 'Shogun,' Hanyu's 'Notre Dame de Paris' is growing on me! (Yes I'm a bit biased). And okay, don't judge me but I actually kinda like Joubert's 'Inception' program.
EX: Kozuka's 'Sound of Silence' for me too, also like his 'Moondance.' Hanyu's 'Hana Ni Nare.' Takahashi's Tango, not so much because the program is special, but because the guy can sure sell a tango .
Japan: I think as long as the non-Worlds guys are sent to 4CC for an opportunity improve on their SB, then I think we can expect all those guys to be back for the pre-Olympic GP next fall. Even if some of them don't get a 4CC assignment, their SB from this season should be enough for them to get two events fairly easy. Basically as long as Oda/Machida/Mura stays in the top 24 they are golden.
I think the most vulnerable person for Worlds is Kozuka, which pains me to say as I really like his programs this season and he was a delight to watch at Skate America. Kozuka may have better PCS than Oda, but Oda can make up any deficit by hitting all the jumps and racking up the TES. And as far as face-to-face match up at Japanese Nationals, Kozuka has only beaten Oda once, when he won 2011 Nationals. I don't think Oda is as out of the running as some think.
I like the idea of rewarding good GP skaters with non-qualified spots for Worlds. Machida was also a delight at Skate America and I am lucky I got to see him live. Yes, Machida lacks a lot of things the top Japanese men have, but I enjoy his expression, his movement and his beautiful triple Axel. I think he made the case
The 100+ club: Well as I said in another post, Javier AND Yuzuru are currently both members of the 90+ gold TES club and I agree both have the potential to go for the platinum 100+ club if they skate their programs to full potential. It will be interesting to see IF they hit 100 how that will impact their abilities to medal/win at Worlds, Euros and 4CCs.
America: Open field, I'd say. It could be any combination of Jeremy, Richard or Ross. Or Max Aaron could come in as the dark horse with those quads of his. Jason and Josh will do well and I expect them to improve on their respective placements from last year but I don't see either of them threatening the Worlds spots. I think both are more in line in 2018, so no need to rush them into seniors. But again it's an open field, so who knows.
Chan: Well he isn't doing as well this year. Which is a shame, because I do like his programs this year and he seems to be making an effort to connect with the audience and express himself rather than use his skating skills to express his programs for him. Still I agree with all of you that Chan clearly is concerned because his competitors are finding other ways to beat him whether it's by joining the gold 90+ TES club or by maintaining their 90+ gold PCS card (Daisuke). I don't see Chan off the podium in London, but I think he will need to step up his game to win.
So my fave programs:
SP: Machida F.U.Y.A (again, a delight to see live); Kozuka's Exodus (also a delight to see live); Oda's The New Moon in the Old Moon's Arms; Patrick's Elegie in E Flat Minor
FS: Hanyu's Norte Dame of Paris (his GPF performance sold it for me); Fernandez's City Lights; Oda's Sorcerer's Apprentice, Miner's Captain Blood; Brown's Libestraume
re: Oda vs Kozuka
Kozuka's GOEs are nothing to sneer at when he's on, and he'll likely outlevel Oda on spins and footwork. I don't think Oda's out of the running at Nationals, but I do think he's distinctively third teir (top tier: Hanyu and Takahashi; 2nd: Kozuka).
re: American men
It's not so much rushing, but Farris is going for the quad and triple axel and has beautiful jumps for both. A clean skate will eat up the TES. I don't think he's really threatening World spots, but I think that a clean skate from him is more likely. I think we'll see our two men come from one of each group, to be honest.
re: 100+ club
Chan, Takahashi and Kozuka have all scored above 90 in the past. Kozuka scored an epic 98.53 at Worlds 2011, which I believe is still the high water mark.
There's a degree of hubris in Chan's actions that rub me the wrong way if I think about it too much.
Last edited by ImaginaryPogue; 12-12-2012 at 10:24 AM.
Abbott and Miner for the US men. Wagner and Gold or Wagner and Nagasu for the US ladies. Don't know about Fernandez. Like Chan this season, surprisingly. And more surprisingly, I like him better than Takahashi this season!
Favorite programs, so far:
Wagner-Samson and Delilah
seems like a good idea to me.
Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue
I hope Kozuka will break 100 at Worlds. He is a nice gentleman that works hard for his goals, that never complains about the scores (the perpetual PCS underscoring), that never says anything bad about others...Even his downcast shy face looks so humble and respectful.
Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue
I think ImaginaryPogue is right about men in Japan. Taka & Hanyu are getting all the love from the federation, then Kozuka, then Oda and the others.
I was stunned that Machida got 2 GP spots this year, BTW, b/c he always looked so meh next to the top dogs at nats (which I watch every year). I still can't warm up to his skating. Something about it is very off-putting...unpolished and rough in presentation, but made up for it with puppy-like enthusiasm.
I feel very bad for Kozuka though b/c I really think he gets low-balled in PCS from time to time, esp. since he's not Japan's #1 guy.
Re: American men -- I have no real high expectations for them at the worlds or 4CC.
Re: Chan -- it wouldn't bother me if he finishes off the podium in London, but I doubt that's going to happen.
Two of my favourite FPs this season have not been skated even remotely to potential - namely Plushy's & Brian's. Which I find really fascinating, actually - I love to see the programs grow and progress, until they hit capacity. My third favourite FP, on the other hand, has been skated very well indeed - Javi's FP.
But, as I remarked on another thread, the men's competitons so far have disappointed me rather. Because they haven't been - how shall I put it? - as good as they could have been. Some excellently skated programs - like Dai's SP and Javi's FP now on the GPF - but otherwise a lot of tumbles, popped jumps and other mistakes, when taken all together, gives the competitons a rather... I'm not sure sloppy is the right word? - unfulfilled maybe? - unfulfilled appearance. Well, hopefully things get better, and the next half of the season will... kill.
Now I'm looking forward to French Nationals and Russian Nationals (French is first, I believe?) Go, Brian! Go, Plushy!
leave no stone unturned
I agree with those who said Kozuka's sp is the best this season, music choise is superb, the small choreo details, and he skates like in a cloud.
the other sp that I rewatch is Hanyu' s.The SA skate was amazing.
Men's skating - the most interesting and unpredictable year for a long time. Now that the other skaters have pushed themselves & caught up to Chan, anything can happen.
I'm loving Javi's Charlie Chaplin program - it could just be the winner at the Worlds.
Jeremy Abbott's program is divine IMO - if only he could settle his nerves and do a clean FS, he could be on the podium.
The Japanese men - Takahashi and Hanyu have flashes of brilliance but I'm not loving their programs -- too inconsistent so far.
Chan - a slow season with "growing pains" as he's focuses more on the dance aspect of his skating, but don't count him out - with the love of a home crowd at Worlds he could easily take a 3rd title.
Fav LP: Fernandez's Chaplin, Abbott's Les Mis, Chan's La Boheme
Kozuka is underscored? Not now. He’s actually overscored in TES. He and Fernandez had no steps preceding 4t or break between the steps and 4t in the SP but did not get -3 or -1 GOE. I mean how can Kozuka continuously be overscored and get away with it in his SP? This is unfair to other skaters who challenge themselves technically, and having steps before the jumps makes it more difficult to land your jumps. Plus, most of Kozuka’s jumps have very little height even when he lands them and he often under-rotates his quad, so I think he already gets gifted on GOEs.
As for Kozuka’s PCS, his programs don’t have the difficult transitions like Patrick Yuzru and Jeremy have. After all those years Kozuka’s presentation has not really improved. His LP is the most boring LP among all six competitors at GPF. His PCS is not low at all for that LP. As for his SP, I like the music but there’s nothing original from Kozuka. Last season he tried to be a Takahashi clone with Inner Urge program but failed. He saw the audience and the judges liked Yuzru’s powerful OST program, so this season he’s trying to be a Yuzru clone skating to powerful OST… but he showed no expressions and no connection to the powerful music at SA. Of course the judges did not like that. At GPF his expression improved a bit but still the whole time he was skating I kept wishing Yuzru would skate to that Exodus music instead of Kozuka, just like last season I kept wishing Takahashi would skate to Inner Urge.
Plus, Kozuka only shows 100% of his good skating skills in exhibition programs. During competitions he usually skates tensely and a lot slower than at galas, so everything deteriorates except his nice spread eagle. If I want to watch Kozuka’s good SS then I may have to go to an ice show. He also had more than one big mistake in his LPs at SA and GPF but got PCSs of 84.28 and 82.30, which were not low at all. I think Kozuka was very underscored in PCS at 2012 Worlds but not underscored this season, and I wish he will not be overscored in TES anymore.
leave no stone unturned
Kozuka's skate is quiet and his artistry no forced. I think he is quite original and uses his whole posture to express the music rather than one arm here and one head there. As for skating skills, the two times I ve seen him live I didnt see he had to envy anything from the top top skaters. You didnt hear anything while he was practising, one of the most silent gliding. His choises in music are also outside the usual, his Lp last year was divine even if not skated well.
Michida is not worlds worthy. Really is not up to the new jump standard. No quad in sp and plans one but can barely do it in a fs. His skates could win some gps but no worlds is no loss and really wouldn't reflect Japan well.