I was blown away by Hannah Miller's skating. I haven't seen that kind of speed, energy, flow and command over the ice in a very long time. If only she could get some height on her jumps she'd really shake things up.
Ashley peaked in 2012 and even then her difficulty declined compared to 2010. She never could really land a jump on one foot consistently.
Mirai lost all her charisma and (ad nauseum) she just can fully truly rotate the triples. It's a shame because the spins used to be spectacular.
Frank ruined Gracie's raw power and fierceness. The trade off for an Ice Princess are the huge jumps she used to have. He really watered her down.
Take Hanna Miller's flow and speed, add Gracie's huge jumps, Carolina Zhangs pearl spin of 2010, Alissa's looks and incredible spins as well and the U.S. would have another Olympic Gold Medalist.
That's the problem. There are a number of ladies who have one special talent (like Caroline's pear spin), have one good year but can't do it again (Alissa), or seem to lose something in transition to seniors.
Very interesting take on Gracie Gold. I never saw what was so great about her, actually. To me she's a generic, top level skater--nothing unique in style, music, etc. She's good, to be certain, but I never got the hype or saw this "raw power." Hope it comes back someday.
I mean.....is Ashley Wagner really any worse than Jill Trenary? Holly Cook? Nancy "elected to do a double" Kerrigan? I agree that Ashley is not spectacular, but she is a very solid, complete skater. The problem is that the field is just deeper than it used to be, and the technical requirements are getting more difficult. The U.S. ladies have some catching up to do to match the Asian phenoms, but all is not lost.
I agree on the Mirai front. I was a bit baffled by her standing ovation at Nationals. She has become quite sluggish and stiff. I'm just not going to get excited about a skater who sacrifices her choreography and transitions in favor of landing the jumps.
As far as original post goes about champions not skating like Ashley as Nationals............I have to strongly disagree. Once upon a time judges were more willing to put the "right" skaters on the podium no matter what. It didn't matter that Caryn Kadavy bombed the free skate at 1988 Nationals. The judges did what they needed to do to give her the bronze. Watch Nancy Kerrigan's gold medal free skate from 1993 Nationals to see the sorriest performance by any U.S. National champion. At least things have become slightly more transparent.
I felt the same way about Mirai's standing ovation. I was at Nationals in the front row and watched Mirai's blank-faced, lifeless FS and was astonished when the audience stood up and applauded. Yes, she landed jumps, but there were SO many places where she just stopped and posed, and there was no choreography to speak of. Mirai cracked a smile only when the performance was over.
Speaking as one who stood up when Mirai finished her LP at Nationals - I did it because I was happy that finally she had put 2 skates together without landing on her butt and giving up!
Hannah has been off the ice due to injury for much of the fall. For her to come back with that kind of performance was terrific for her. Her jumps have never been huge, even before her injury, though and this needs to be resolved if she's going to take the next step.
Some of the coaches from our rink were at Nationals (for their Intermediate Pair team, so no horse in the Championship Ladies event) and were suprised at how close it was points-wise between Polina and Mirai. They thought that there should have been a bigger gap in Polina's favor because Mirai was slower and had limited choreo and transitions and they felt Polina had way better ice coverage to go with that big TES mark in comparison.