For example here's what's expected in Choreography/Composition:
I suppose the only bullet where "arm flailing" and "stone-faced looks" can come to play in this particular category is perhaps in the purpose category. But Gracie actually has good sense of timing/phasing, decent ice coverage. And while her programs look like she's doing choreography, she IS doing choreography. She needs to be marked down in IN.An intentional, developed and/or original arrangement of all types of movements according to the principles of proportion, unity, space, pattern, structure and phrasing.
In evaluating the Choreography/Composition the following must be considered:
– Purpose (idea, concept, vision, mood);
– Proportion (equal weight of parts);
– Unity (purposeful threading of all movements);
– Utilization of personal and public space;
– Pattern and ice coverage;
– Phrasing and form (movements and parts structured to match the phrasing of the music);
– Originality of purpose, movement and design;
– Shared responsibility in achieving purpose (for Pair Skating).
Since chuckm brought up P/E let's put those as well:
Again, stone-faced looks and arm flailing do not come into play here, except maybe in "carriage." But she does a great job of projecting herself (big speed, huge jumps, etc.), though her choreography can be improved, Gracie doesn't break from it (unison).Physical, emotional and intellectual involvement;
– Style and individuality/personality;
– Clarity of movement;
– Variety and contrast;
– Unison and "oneness" (Pair Skating);
– Balance in performance (Pair Skating);
– Spatial awareness between partners - management of the distance between partners and management of changes of hold (Pair Skating).
To be honest, the criticisms of Gracie's skating, if you look in the bullets, should mainly be placed in the category of interpretation. This is the area where she can use the most improvement. However, she still performs the heck out of her programs (though its a bit robot like) and her choreography does tick off the bullets even if she doesn't interpret them well.
So let's talk about Zijun Li. I absolutely love that girl and think she has great musicality. But again, in this particular category, she does not have the ice coverage that Gracie has, which is a bullet in choreography. She also needs a bit more power as well, which is a bullet in P/E. I think there's a case for having Zijun's scores a bit higher, but I don't see anything where she should be far superior to Gracie's and closer Ashley Wagner, for instance.
Now I'm not saying Gracie's arrived in the PCS category. Let's consider the fact that she's still three points below Wagner and about 8-10 points below the big three. The judges are still saying that she still needs to improve if she wants to be in the top echelon. But I think they acknowledge what she does well. And as others noted Gracie isn't resting on her laurels either. I think we will see improvement from her.