What do the Shibs need?
After watching the FD event at these Worlds, where the Shibutanis skated their "Memoirs of a Geisha" at their best (at least, this was my impression) and still ended up with the same placement (8th) that they received last year with a messy FD, and after reading some comments in the FD thread, which kind of program do you think they need for the Olympic season to show that they can still be the US #2 team? Something totally different from what they've done? Something following the MOAG theme (dramatic, emotional, elegant)? Something "happy", light and funny (again)? Something with a clear story to follow (like W/P or B/S this season)?
They need something dramatic. They have done cutesy too many times now, and obviously romanatic wouldnt work. An avant garde look like the Duchensays might be worth trying too.
Either way I think they will have a tough time getting in front of Chock & Bates. The thing is that C&B are still maturing their style as well, and have alot of room for improvement there even if the S&S make the needed changes to improve there, but C&B are already besting S&S on TES marks which are and probably always will be the Shibutanis main strength. The USFSA will also take note that they came 6th in the FD ahead of last years bronze medalists and likely put more support in their favor now.
Improvement will be crucial for the Shibutanis nonetheless not only to even try and keep close with C&B, but to fend off Hubbel & Donahue who no doubt will be working themselves to the bone in the off season after missing the World team, in an attempt to overhaul the Shibutanis for that 3rd U.S Olympic spot.
1.) To not go through any more growth spurts
2.) For Alex to not be injured from Maia's growth spurt
I don't dispute that they probably need some fresh choreography, but I think people are really underestimating the impact Maia's growth spurt/Alex's back injury had on them this season (and to an extent the end of last season).
It's hard to do awesome choreography when you're trying to relearn how to gel with each other when one partner grows several inches and gained 10 pounds. I think Marina's KEY mistake was having them do abstract choreography in the SD. They should have not listened to the USFSA and stuck with Mary Poppins. I think they would have skated to that quite well.
On the other hand, they did end with a solid SD score at 4CC and Worlds....but it took a lot of reworking to get to that point. Given that that they started late (likely due to Maia staring school at UMich) and everything else going on with them, they were better off selling the heck out of Mary Poppins instead of trying to convince people that they weren't copying the Duchesnays.
Given their quotes post-FD, I get the sense they were happy to turn in two solid programs (the two level 2s really cost them, but they got level 4s on everything else.) and satisfied that things were slowly starting to come together post-growth spurt/injury.