I think it's because Suzuki doesnt have the skater's "body"I truly think she's talented considering she's almost 27?28? And I admire how she's so competitive regarding her age. However, I find that figure skating is not just athleticism, but it's the beauty of the sport that matters. I don't want to get into a debate in whether or not certain skaters are pretty or not, but I think Suzuki does lack in beauty part(overall beauty). She also doesnt have the long extension of the legs which makes her appear even smaller than she is right now. Comparing Akiko to Mao, Yuna, and Kostner, Akiko's body is really a disadvantage of this sport. Those top 3 skaters illuminate "beauty" in their ways, but Akiko fails to do so because of her body structure. Akiko can definitely show her musicality such as in her "O" program, but something just kept me away from having it as one of my favorite program, and I think it's because of her overall look as a skater. Again, I'm not saying Akiko is ugly in any way, I just think she just doesnt't fit in this sport where beauty is considered important.
Long legs, long arms, and great posture makes skaters , especially in ladies, stand out, and since Akiko doesnt have these components, I dont have the same connection with her while I do with skaters like Mao, Yuna, and Kostner.( just an example, i could go on and on!!!)
Disclamer: this is my opinion only, and no way I'm saying Akiko is ugly. She's beautiful in her own way.
Melon, I hope you're wrong about Akiko having the wrong "look." For myself, I find her exceedingly beautiful. She's not a sylph, but I think that her compact, muscular body adds to the impression of fluidity, smoothness, and power in her skating. And then there's that smile.
I'll leave it to more technically savvy audience members to evaluate her jumps and other elements. She certainly looks better than almost anyone we have competing in the U.S.! Unfortunately, she's in the absolute top country at the moment for ladies' singles skaters, and it's crowded on the podium. Ironically, if she were Korean, she'd be a shoe-in for her country's Olympic team, because next to YuNa, there's no one else at that level. I hope she is the third (or second!) member of Japan's Olympic team, much as I like Miki. Suzuki has been working herself into the ground for the last few years, and I hope that will give her the skill advantage she needs to get on the team.
Six Point Zero
Akiko lacks political support and a "wow" factor, nothing else. The former is due to being in a crowded ladies field in Japan, where she is outshone by younger more popular stars, and the latter because her teammates (and other top skaters in the world) have 3Axels or triple-triples. Physical beauty isn't as big a factor as some people think. Beauty helps somewhat in scoring, but not looking like a supermodel doesn't hurt. You don't have to be tall, skinny and pretty, but you do need to stand out in some way. Akiko's "wow" factor to me is very subtle. She is very musical and lyrical, but unfortunately that's not enough in this field.
My phone autocorrects "Yuna" to "Tuna" (Sorry!)
I would have to disagree with you on her "body type" being a disadvantage. Sasha Cohen has short legs in proportion to her torso as well, but no one really ever commented on that because she was off doing this all the time. Akiko is actually the same height as Sasha Cohen and Michelle Kwan (5 ft, 2 in), and no one ever said their shorter limbs hindered them. I do believe that Akiko uses her arms and hands well in her programs.
Originally Posted by Melon
What Akiko lacks is probably, like you said, extension. She doesn't really skate like she stretches out, but she does do a pretty good arabesque spiral. I think Akiko is pretty; she might not be pretty in the "conventional" sense like Zijun Li ("Chinese Beauty"), Yuna Kim ("Korean Beauty"), or Alissa Czisny ("American Princess"), but her looks, I think, are above average. And while she wears her heart on her sleeve during her performances--particularly in exhibitions--I sometimes sense that she lacks the conviction and "star quality" (i.e. something that would make her really stand out) that the "top three" have.
With all that said, Die Fledermaus and O are two of my most favorite programs ever.
She lacks reputation and respect from the judges. If she has problems with her spins, fine, reflect that in the technical mark. Akiko should be getting very high marks in performance, execution and choreography, at a minimum. Someone said the other day, "she skates with her soul." It is true. She is being held back unfairly, in my opinion, because she is older, a late bloomer, and not a pretty princess.
The only thing that I can say about her jumps that I noticed is she usually needs a long preparation before them, especially the 3L. But you know, maybe that doesn't hurt her much since Carolina does this even more yet her jumps are thought to be one of the best. Aside from the long preparation I don't think Akiko's jumps are small or cover too little distance.
I never wanted to believe that being Japan's, US', Canada's or whatever first lady makes a huge role but after trying to find an answer why Suzuki seems to be getting underscored it seems there's something in it.
Or maybe we should look at it from a different perspective? Why do we think she's underscored? What if she's actually judged properly and these are the fans that overscore her in their eyes?
To me, Suzuki doesn't have a "wow" factor like Adelina (spins) or Gracie and Liza (jumps). When Akiko nails a program, you look back at it and none of the technical elements stand out.
I love Akiko's skating, but she lacks consistency. She usually skates well in the Grand Prix, but at Japanese Nationals, her results have been uneven over the past few years: 2nd in 2010 and 2012, but 4th in 2009, 2011 and 2013. Since 2009, she's skated in four 4CCs, finishing 2nd in 2010 and 2013, but 7th in 2011. She was 8th at the 2010 Olympics, and at Worlds she was 11th in 2010, 3rd in 2012 and 12th in 2013.
It's nearly impossible to predict how she is going to skate at a major event.
My phone autocorrects "Yuna" to "Tuna" (Sorry!)
Oh my goodness. It's like she's the new Carolina (in terms of flip-flop placements) now that Carolina's more consistent ...
Originally Posted by chuckm
I dont think she is undermarked in general. Yes she should have won NHK but other than that I cant think of a time she was robbed. When she skates well she always gets pretty good scores and results, but she often doesnt perform well (eg- Worlds and Japanese Nationals this year, short program of many events). Then even when she does skate well she is still going to be marked below Kim, Asada, and Kostner who are simply better skaters with much stronger jumps in both difficulty and quality, stronger spins, and who skate with more speed and power.
I love Akiko.
For me(please, read, FOR ME), she is complete.
Also, she is my second favorite now(behing Caro, who is my favorite skater ever). I prefer Akiko over Yuna and Mao. Akiko has very interesting music choices. She skates unique programs. She shows her personality. Her step sequences are sooooooo difficult. Did you forget the Choreo Sequence of the "O"? Perfect.
The only thing that some people can consider a disadvantage is that her skating style is understated. She goes there, quiet, and does her job. She doesn't skate in a "big style" (like Caro, Yuna). But, for me, skating subtly is not a fault, it is her style. She seems very tidy to watch. And, honestly, I have to say that I like that. I like different skating styles. Sometimes, she me reminds me of Gao, who has a more "understated" skating style.
Suzuki became a "top skater only in Japan" at the time of 2011 NHK trophy. In that season, Ando was taking a season off and Murakami (apparent #2) bombed badly at Cup of China (one week before NHK). Suzuki skated fairly well at Skate Canada. So they decided to "push" Suzuki to save the three spots, with the help of some home advantages. Before then, she was never considered a top skater even in Japan. She was blessed with another luck at GPF. Asada was forced to withdraw due to the well-known reason. Suzuki was given a silver medal with the help of Japanese corporate sponsors. If Asada was competing there, Suzuki's treatment would be far from favorable. It surely influenced her chance of a world medal.
Now Murakami is the clear #2 Japanese. Ando is said to be coming back. Miyahara is making a senior debut. Suzuki (3 years older than Ando, 13 years older than Miyahara) is losing her place in the Japanese team... I expect Suzuki's status will be back to the level of spring 2011. If she skated poorly at Skate Canada, it would be the end of her Olympic challenge.
Or maybe she won because she skated well in the SP and decent in the LP while the other ladies except Carolina bombed badly either in the SP or Lp. At worlds she skated a very good LP, second on the night (and probably should have been second all around) with Mao competing there.
Originally Posted by NMURA
Also I can't understand the Miyahara hype. She may have been lucky to beat a disastrous Akiko at nationals but she failed to crack top 5 at Jr worlds thanks to her major Ur problems. I would rather see Imai making the team before Satoko. But seriously, that is not going to happen. Akiko redeemed herself at World Team trophy where she once again beat Mao even on PCS (and while Mao was not at her best, it was way better than her 2012 Worlds performance). Baring a disaster, she is on the team.
And Miki will have to land all triples, including the flip, to stand a chance, as I understand. I don't see it happening.
Japanese nationals is kind of a ceremony rather than a real sport competiton. The winner and the top 3 are basically decided beforehand. If the national judges (=JSF) want to give Miyahara the Olympic experiences (I believe so), there is no problem for that. She was not just "lucky" last year. The national judges just considered her the 3rd skater after Asada and Murakami. As long as the #3 lady has no chance of an Olympic medal, "future" should be the keyword. In this sense, Ando is in the same boat with Suzuki. Suppose Suzuki's "expected score" is around 185 and Miyahara's is 175. Suzuki would have a definite edge at international competitions but not at Japanese nationals.
Miyahara's real challenge is to win a recognition as the most promising young skater. Well, Miyahara's PCS will rise suddenly and underrotations will decrease once she gets the recognition. She is lucky to have NHK trophy for her debut. If my understanding is right, they are planning to promote Miyahara at the cost of Suzuki, with the help of home advantages. Otherwise, there's no plausible reason to choose Suzuki over Murakami for NHK trophy.
A "top skater only in Japan" has no chance of an Olympic medal but can place ahead of Asada if she makes an error in the SP. If Asada gets dropped out of the final group because of that, it could be a disaster for the JSF and the general public (including media) in Japan. Miyahara is the "better" choice in this respect.