I think Mirai definitely put herself back in the mix with her two strong skates at COR. Of the third place hopefuls she was the only one to medal on the GP this season.
I want to say she was lowballed in PCS at COR but at the same time it's not like she gave them a reason to score her higher. Both of her programs have potential, especially when she skates cleanly; however, she has to bring some energy/life/performance to these programs if she wants her PCS to increase.
Her FS was wonderful but she didn't come alive until after that final 3L...by then it was too late. She needs to go back and watch Yu-Na's Bond program to get a feel for how to engage the judges and the audience during the entire performance instead of the last 40 seconds. Same thing for her SP: lovely moments throughout but she's not bringing anything to the performance.
If Mirai brings that energy/fun/sass/life to her programs along with the speed and clean jumps, her scores will rise. That was the only thing missing from her performances...she just needs to let go and have fun. If she can replicate her technical performances from COR (and include that 2A-3T) and add some spark to her presentation, there's no way she won't make that team.
For the moment, I think the Sochi team should be Ashley, Gracie, and Mirai. Mirai still did not put her best out there and managed to medal. Her PCS in the LP was not too shabby overall, she actually got into the 7s - which shows the judges are willing to score her higher if she can dig down deep and perform even better than at COR. I noticed her transition score was in the 6s - that is something she can definitely improve on. She also obviously still must have the jumps. Apart from rotating them all (hard for her I know) I honestly think Mirai will have to work on upgrading her jumps again. She needs a 3-3 in her LP, preferably a 3Lz-3T but at least a 3F-3T to keep up with the best of them. It's probably too late for Nationals but even if she doesn't make the team for Sochi I think she still can improve tons. She's only 20 after all.
Barbie Long and Mariah Bell (2nd and 3rd at JrNats 2013) are not competitors for Karen. And they both are at Senior level now - qualified to Nationals at Midwestern Sectionals.
Amber Glenn (she qualified to JrNats) is not so good as Karen, but may make Junior title not so easy, she has 3Lz+3T and 3F+3T in FS. Not so stable, but ice is slippery, she may do it.
Is it interesting for Karen to compete with not so high level skaters?
And competing in USA at Senior level makes no problem for competing internationally at Junior level. All three US Ladies at JrWorlds-2013 was from Senior Nats.
However, Mirai is a solid top 10 bet in Sochi when she skates well. To do that, all she'll need to do is add that 2A-3T to her FS and nail the rest of her jumps. She did it in Vancouver and she just did it at COR so it's not like it's impossible. The only thing holding Mirai back from being in the mix with Ashley and Akiko is her presentation. Both of those ladies breathe life into their programs and choreography; they commit from the first note of music to the last and that's what Mirai doesn't do. She laser-focus skates until she's done jumping and then allows herself to sparkle...she can't score well doing that. Even when Agnes is falling all over the place she continues to perform and keep up the intensity of her music/program. Mirai really needs to learn to perform no matter what is happening on the technical side of her program.
A clean SP with a 3T-3T like the one she did at COR will score her very well at nationals. She scored a 64.39 last year and that was with less than perfect spins and a lack of energy. Piggybacking another strong SP on top of her COR one will boost her scores and adding more life to the program will boost them even higher. I think she could easily score 64-67 if she hits this year.
Now that she's lipping instead of flutzing, she may want to consider replacing the 2nd 3F with another lutz but if not as long as she includes that 2A-3T and skates well (and with spark) she'll score well and place well. Plus, of all of the people in contention for the Olympics this year (and still competitive internationally) Mirai is the only one with experience...experience is invaluable especially in a situation like this. So if Mirai skates well, I don't think the judges will hold Agnes up over her especially if Agnes doesn't skate well.
At first glance I thought Gracie should have been much lower but once I went and calculated my own scores I found that the judges were fair in the SP. http://thenakedice.blogspot.com/2013...nationals.html I do think she was very overscored in PCS in the FS but her SP score was pretty fair.
The 3rd spot should def go to cesario
Amber Glenn looks good for podium and could threaten Karen for the title, but I think Karen still has the edge.
I hope for fair judging at Nationals, and the top 3 go.
Mirai certainly can perform well, just watch her EX at CoR. when she puts her hearts in her skating, the quality of which is second to none. Please just keep training those jumps and put on one heck of performance at Nationals!
Prior to nationals last year Mirai's season mirrored this season: weak first GP, strong 2nd GP and a medal. I honestly feel that had Mirai not been so sick last year she'd have fared better in the FS (her SP was very good). I think Mirai's programs are better this year and if she can perform them as well as hit her elements like she did at COR, I think she's got a real shot at that team.
The problem with Mirai is that she skates as if she were somewhere else mentally. Looking disinterested doesn't score well either with audiences or judges. I've seen Mirai skate from the front row and it's like watching a department store dummy skate. She is SO blankfaced throughout much of her programs, and looks alive only at the very end. That's why she gets such low PCS scores internationally. She never looked like that as a junior, but that's been her habit for the past 2-3 years.
The only person I see the USFSA putting on the team if they aren't in the top three is Ashley. Ashley has been in the top five at worlds for two years and has won a few grand prixs to prove she's competitive internationally. Beyond Ashley, I think it will just be who skates into the top three. None of the other skaters have a strong enough record where I can see the USFSA deciding to put them on an Olympic team if they aren't in the top three spots. That being said I do think even with a bad skate the judges will find a way to keep Gracie in the top three as well. It's anyone's game after those two. Courtney Hicks and Samantha Cesario are much more consistent overall, but for all their inconsistency when Agnes and Mirai skate well they are rewarded favourably. I don't see Gao making the team short of anyone above really bombing.
My prediction for nationals:
3) Agnes or Hicks
My personal dream team: