The problem is Agnes doesn't even get to the big stage like Rachael and Alissa did.
The problem is Agnes doesn't even get to the big stage like Rachael and Alissa did.
The complicating factor is that Nagasu was ill at the time. It was clear that she was sick at the post-SP press conference...hence, the FS was obviously going to be a challenge for her. She still has a chance to make a statement at the GP this fall, but then again, Nagasu was always a "late-season" skater. She's not completely out of it, but at the same time she is clearly not a top Oly contender. Currently, I have her chances higher than Czisny's, but lower than Gao's.
As for Zawadzki, well, jury's still out on her. If she ever gets it together I think she could have the same (or greater) level of success that Wagner has seen in the past two years...of course, it's a BIG if though.
Well, Agnes has been to the semi big stage of four continents twice, managing a sixth and an eighth. Those are worse placements than Nagasu, worse than Gao, worse than Zhang, and slightly worse than Czisny and Flatt. She also has had 6 GP's in three years with equally unimpressive records. Her international PB is likewise below Nagasu, Gao, Zhang, Czisny and Flatt.
Mirai and Christina have really gotten the short end of the stick at Nationals for awhile now. I would have had Mirai 1st at Nationals in 2010 (above Flatt, I only saw 1 UR there not 3) and 2nd in 2011 (again ahead of Flatt, Mirai was penalized too harshly for the spin errors and Rachael not enough for messy jumps), and Christina I feel should have been 4th in 2011 (when she had 2 strong skates and landed a high quality 3f-3t in both programs, and Agnes again had more issues and less content in her programs yet finished ahead of Christina regardless) and 2nd or 3rd this year (and I know I'm an uber, but I would even say a case could have been made for Christina to have won Nationals this year just where Gracie bombed the SP, Ashley bombed the FS, Agnes was generally overmarked and had major errors in both programs, Hicks is about as refined as a bull in a china shop, and Christina actually skated 2 strong programs and only made mistakes on spins).
It's unfortunate because both Mirai and Christina have proven themselves internationally and scored well there, whereas someone like Agnes has a PB lower than junior skaters like Miller and Pogorilaya, and rarely even scores or skates that well internationally (or even nationally, if we're being honest). Same goes for Alissa, and granted she did have some international success but even skating her best, she finished 5th in a rather weak field at Worlds and only really had consistency for half of a season if we're being perfectly honest (2010 GPF, 2011 Nationals, 2011 Worlds - she was good at SC that season too but did not skate well at Sectionals or TEB which is why I don't consider that fall for her particularly consistent, even though she somehow managed to win bronze at TEB anyways).
There is only one result I disagreed with, and that was giving Flatt the win over Nagasu in 2010.
In 2011, I guess I can see the case for Nagasu being 2nd, but honestly, both were lackluster and it could have gone either way.
In 2012, no excuses for Nagasu there- she sank her own battleship that night.
In 2013, like I said above, she had a chance (especially after Wagner fell) but couldn't capitalize. Probably hard to do so given her illness.
With the 2010 results, you HAVE TO ROTATE YOUR JUMPS. All the jumps called on Nagasu were legitimate calls depending on the strictness of the tech panel (two of those jumps were borderline and would most likely get < in today's world from most tech panels, but the third was most definitely < and possibly even << in today's world). Flatt got credit for full rotations on her jumps, which is really and truly what enabled her to stay consistently in the top 5 in Seniors in the US.
As for the spin mistake in 2011, she got ZERO points for it and lost by less than the BV of a L2 flying spin. Even if she does a crappy flying sit there, she is second. Flatt didn't put out a stellar performance, but she got credit for everything, even with -GOEs which enabled her to squeak ahead. That is where IJS falls down - a crappy performance where everything gets credit > a nice performance with a major mistake that gets no points.
2012, Nagasu was a mess. 2013, she did as well as could be expected with her physical wellbeing what it was.
As to Gao in 2013, I have said it before and will say it again: she needs to up the power in her skating (she doesn't look effortless in her flow across the ice and that tango program was such a poor fit for her fluid style that it dropped her IN and PE marks down a bit) and really improve her GOEs. She lost to Zawadski and Hicks because of her lack of GOEs. She doesn't do anything special if you look at her GOEs across all her events both internationally and nationally. She really doesn't do anything poorly, but nothing stands out (lots of zeros). I don't think you can make a case for her to win or be second until she fixes these two things (Gold put down such a HUGE LP score which looking at her international scores was deserved and she was nailed pretty hard in the SP if you compare it to Tuktamysheva's score at Worlds where she had a missing element (spin) and another mistake).
Gao's PB isn't actually very high, despite what some may believe. That score has easily been bested by Nagasu, Gold, Wagner, Flatt, and Czisny -- not to mention the Russian ladies, the Japanese ladies, and the Big 3 -- and would barely have gotten Gao in the top ten at Worlds. If Tuktamysheva and Sotnikova hadn't been messes at 2013 Worlds, there's no chance Gao would have placed any higher than 11th.
So, no, I don't understand how she could have WON this year's Nationals. Gao is very similar to Yuna in how she is proficient in pretty much all aspects of her skating, but unlike Yuna, she doesn't stand out in either technical abilities or presentation skills. mskater93 makes a very good point about Tuktamysheva at Worlds -- she actually LOST two of seven elements (no points at all) in the SP and still received a higher score than Gracie did at US Nationals for a fall and a pop. If there's favoritism going on here, I don't see it.
I strongly believe that Gao will receive high scores nationally and internationally once she improves in the areas that mskater93 mentioned.
I have a tough time making a case for Gao...nothing about her really stands out or makes one pay attention to her on the ice (some may refer to that phenomenon as "star power"). She was good but unimpressive...
IIRC, her SA performance (her best, mind you!) would have placed her around 9th at worlds this year. That would have meant no 3rd spot for Sochi...
Then again, Gold did better than expected (at least in my view) at worlds. Still, Gao even at her very best would have struggled for 8th place.
RD, I think we are saying the same things about Gao: needs more power and effortlessness in her skating (you call it "star power") and she does nothing to make her stand out on the ice (jumps are completed but not excitingly large or having difficult entries/exits (like Kim, Gold, Wagner, Sotnikova, Kostner), spins are done and meet the requirements for levels but aren't particularly stellar in position or speed (like Lipnitskaia, Czsiny, Sotnikova, Asada) and on the PCS side, she's pretty average and could use programs that are tailored to her soft, lyrical style (think how Mao's good programs are more tailored to this style of skating; Gao is NOT a Kim knockoff no matter that their body structure is similar and that has been what David Wilson has done with a lot of her programs, to her disservice) along with working on her power and effortlessness in her skating. I could see a case for Gao third/fourth this year at Nationals, but not second...not with how Gold knocked the LP out of the park!
Gao's PB of 176 from 4CC this year is STILL 10 points higher than Zawadzki's however, and she had a costly fall in that program on a 3lz that was meant to be in combination (she didn't add the combo in elsewhere) and also stumbled out of her 3 jump combo, even so, that would have had her 9th at Worlds, a fraction of a point behind Osmond in 8th. Plus to put it in perspective, people who think Alissa was so amazing during the 10-11 season need to realize that her scores were actually quite similar to Gao and not all that high. She won the GPF with 180 points and was 5th at Worlds with 182. Those were the best skated competitions of her career and she's still only around 5 points higher than Gao's PB which she earned with 2 errors that easily cost her 5 points if not more. Granted, Czisny wasn't totally clean at those events but they were the cleanest we've seen from her in a long time so I doubt she'd be doing better now coming off 2 hip surgeries. Hicks has a PB of 153 internationally, so even those who are saying Gao is not strong enough to have earned being placed ahead of Wagner or Gold at Nationals, clearly her international scores from this past season are indication that she should be able to place ahead of Zawadzki and Hicks when skating well.
Mirai has a high PB score but that's from a long time ago when she had a different coach, better programs, and hadn't grown into her adult figure yet. I don't know if it's feasible for her to start skating like she was 3 or 4 years ago just considering how much has changed since then. She's still very talented, but her best score from this past season was 176, a few tenths of a point higher than Christina, and given she got that with a number of URs, it's promising and indicative that she can do better, but for people that are saying Gao's scores aren't that high, that's really only in comparison to Wagner and Gold, she's right in the mix, and arguably at the top of it, international score-wise with the other ladies in contention for the 3rd spot on the Olympic team.
But, you were suggesting Gao could have/should have won Nationals or at least gotten second initially in your post (might have beaten Wagner and/or Gold; sorry, no way) which is where a few of us are pointing to areas of improvement. As I said, I can see where you could make a case for 3rd/4th, but not higher than that at Nationals in 2013.
I really enjoyed seeing Christina live at Skate America last fall and I was happy to see how she won the silver medal. But I can say that she would have been bronze had it not been for Adelina Sotkinova's numerous errors (including zayaking a combo in the LP). When I compare those two, Christina had a lovely style I appreciate, very subtle, great musicality (particularly in her SP). But Adelina skates BIG. I don't know how to explain it, but she just fills the rink. She projects herself to the top of the arena. Even with the errors, I could see the potential and promise.
Ashley showed this power in her program that also reached the audience as well. She has pretty good speed as well.
Christina, on the other hand, is a bit more inward. She doesn't have that same projection. But she was thrilling (I gave a standing O for her after her LP) when she was clean and did all her jumps and skated it with a lot of energy. But that didn't change the fact Adelina, even with her errors, still got a higher PCS scores. I agree that Christina needs to work on the detail, the little oomph that will make her stand out with the judges. That includes getting additional GOE on the jumps and working on projecting herself during her skates.
ETA: I also agree the tango program wasn't quite a great fit for her. I really think her SP was quite lovely and was a better fit for her.
Even with mistakes, Wagner and Gold were the class of the field. Gao DID beat Gold in the SP with mistakes, but Gold just creamed the rest of the field with an amazing and electrifying FS. And Wagner with mistakes has better PCS than the rest of the field this past season.
Hicks was skating internationally as a junior this season, making the comparison moot.
An international PB of 176 really ISN'T all that high. I didn't bring Zawadzki into the argument because her PB is also low. We know that Mirai and Alissa are capable of scores in the 180's and 190's. A perfectly clean Christina at 4CC would likely not have broken 180; at Worlds, at the absolute best we've seen her, Christina would have finished ninth behind Osmond (who fell twice). More likely, she would have finished behind Tuktamysheva.
Christina will not be at the top of the mix for the Olympics as long as Ashley and Gracie are still in the game. Zawadzki has nicer jumps (her problem is landing them consistently), and Mirai has much better presentation skills. Honestly, Christina doesn't have much wiggle room in terms of making mistakes and still staying in contention. Ashley and Gracie, while both imperfect at Nationals, both showed that they could revive the one-two American punch at Worlds.