Was it immense pressure? She had a very strong lead and tremendous support. I chalk it up to youth and inexperience. She seems such a strong competitor in general that I would expect her to channel this disappointment into intense training and would look for her to come out guns blazing at GPF and Russian Nationals.
There are plenty of competitions before Sochi for Julia to shake off this performance. Hopefully she isn't too exhausted to continue skating well. Between the summer comps, 3 GPs, Nationals, Euros, Olympics, and Worlds that is a very busy season.
Julia Lipnitskaia...although she very well could win the gold medal if Yu-na magically head-cases and falls or steps out of a jump or two. Unlikely, but it could happen. Mao...eh, I somehow doubt she can win gold...she has too many issues with her jumps (falling, two-footing, hand down, under-rotations).
By what do you mean "headcases"? As in make errors? Because all the top skaters have in that case "headcased" at some point or another (most recently, Kanako and Julia). To use Kim and headcase in the same sentence is weird and even more insulting that when such terminology is used for any skater, given her remarkable consistency (although she's had her problems like 2010 Worlds).
And she came back from something like seventh after the SP (not even in the final group in the Free) to get within hailing distance of the gold medal by winning the FS, ultimately taking silver. So she didn't go home without her loot, even if she was zombied out.
If that's headcasing, I know plenty of skaters who should get in line for some of that.
As an aside: why is Yuna held to such different standards? People point to that competition and say that she bombed. Bombed? She scored over 190, one of only two skaters to do so (the other being Mao's winning performance). Given scoring inflation, I wouldn't be at all surprised if that were equivalent to a 200 point score today.
Any other skater gets to that scoring level, whether Mao or Julia or Ashley, and people start losing their minds on forums, and suddenly all manner of predictions are being bandied about that the skater in question is going to podium or even win Olympic gold. With Yuna, on the other hand, the reaction for a similarly scored performance is: yawn, that was crap, ya think she's done...?
Maybe I'm just antsy and feeling out of sorts because I haven't seen her skate in a while and I need my fix. But I'm hoping that she gets to a good start at Golden Spin two weeks from now, with performances that will force people to snap out of their collective amnesia and remember just who they're dealing with.
(I know that you were being generally complimentary, CanadianSkaterGuy. I'm just riffing off your post. )
EDIT: To answer the OP's question, I think Caro, Ashley and Julia are fighting for bronze. It's difficult to say. At the beginning of the season, I thought Caro was a podium favorite. But strangely, everything about her Olympic campaign seems somewhat tentative and passive. This includes her programs, her (lack of) energy, the lack of bravery in her layout (3t-3t? In an Olympic year? Really?), her costumes, even her post-performance demeanor. It's like she's daydreaming, and someone needs to snap open some salts of ammonia under her nose. Caro has never been one of my favorite skaters, but I've always respected her quality, and expected her to step up in what could be her last hurrah. She hasn't, at least not yet, which I find somewhat inexplicable.
Ashley and Julia are both fighters, and it's possible that this may be the quality necessary to overcome Caro's natural advantages in both athletic and artistic talent.
I believe the OP has the right idea about one thing, though: IMO, the competition for bronze may be the most closely fought battle for the ladies in Sochi.
I would really like to know what headcasing is. Does it mean putting out a subpar performance when you are known for consistency? Putting out consistently poor performances? Putting out great performances and then messing up on an easy element?
This was one of the money lines:
-In my experience, in order for someone to be justifiably described as a head case, the athlete must exhibit a chronic pattern of underperformance, that cannot be explained in more mundane ways (e.g. injury, or bereavement, physical change or depletion or exhaustion, etc.), and displayed over a body of performances sufficient in extent to statistically rule out the not-insignificant level of serendipity inherent in competitive figure skating.
I think it will be a battle for third between Caro and Ashley. If they both skate well
I believe they are capable to challenge for the third spot on the podium. IMO they have
the experience and talent over the other contenders.
Of course this is just my opinion cuz anything is possible at the Olympics.
As for the Gold Medal it will be either Yuna or Mao.
Anyway, assuming Yu-Na and Mao take the Gold and Silver, then I would rank the chances of Bronze among the Ladies as:
5. Gracie Gold
I don't think anyone else has a chance. The judges clearly won't give Murakami the scores she deserves. *sigh*