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Thread: State of the American Ladies III: 2014-15 Season

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    State of the American Ladies III: 2014-15 Season

    Well, you know what time of year it is. After the Olympics, how do the US women stack up? Like in previous editions, I would like the discussion to focus mainly on the US women and how they stack up against each other, and not on the international scene (it's fine to reference int'l skaters but please don't sidetrack).
    _____

    So, we'll begin. I'll do it in order of finish at 2014 Nationals, for the top 4:

    Gracie Gold

    - Status: Went from runner-up in 2013 (and 6th at worlds), struggled at the beginning of the Olympic season...got a new coach and new attitude...suddenly she makes the rise to the top I predicted all along, winning 2014 Nationals convincingly...does respectable at the Olympics (4th, along with a team bronze medal) and despite a rough Worlds, still remains top 5 and improves one spot over last year.

    - Needs to work on: Mental toughness. She's made progress here, but if she cannot finish the deal when she is in medal position, she'll never win anything major.

    - Would like to see: More personality from her. Too cookie-cutter/ice-princessy for my taste.

    - Hopes for next year: That she finally qualifies for the GPF and takes a medal there. Ends the 8(!!!!!) year drought for the US women by getting onto the 2015 World Podium.

    Polina Edmunds

    - Status: Appeared seemingly out of nowhere this year. Very few people even had her in contention for the 2014 US team but she swoops in and grabs 2nd at Nationals (plus a spot on the Olympic team), serving notice to everyone else to watch their backs...9th and 8th place finishes at Olympics and Worlds, while not exactly lighting the world on fire, are quite respectable for her first international senior competitions. Don't think anyone was expecting miracles from her, anyway.

    - Needs to work on: Improving her PCS mark. She has phenomenal technical ability...if she can develop the components to back it up (without losing her jumps), she could be a formidable competitor.

    - Would like to see: That she makes it through puberty unscathed (or with minimal effect).

    - Hopes for next year: Establish herself on the international scene and gain some "street cred" so she can compete with the Russians...

    Mirai Nagasu

    - Status: Mostly counted out by fans early on in the year....I figured she could be right in the mix if she got her 2010 form back. She showed improvement throughout the GP, even if she didn't exactly light things up. Then, in the SP at Nationals she proved she meant business. We saw a fire in her that had been missing for years...she really wanted to get on this Sochi team. 2 strong performances put her in 3rd, but unfortunately she gets passed up for Olympic & World team selection in an unprecedented move by USFS, which devastates her. She gets 4CCs but isn't able to redeem herself at that competition. She had a great chance at a medal but finished with a whimper...and that's all she wrote.

    - Needs to work on: Jumps! Get rid of those pesky URs. And mental toughness as well...her inconsistency sinks her time and time again.

    - Would like to see: Find what motivated her so strongly in 2010 and again in 2014 and FIND A WAY to let that drive her through these next 4 years. Now she knows (for better or worse) that she can't just sleepwalk here and then do another "Ta-da!" in 2018 expecting USFS to send her to the Olympics.

    - Hopes for next year: If she has a strong season and finds her way onto the World team in 2015, just one wish: please don't wilt...Anyway, I just want her to be proud of whatever result she achieves. It was tough to watch her dreams crushed right in front of everyone.

    Ashley Wagner

    - Status: Came into this season as the top American for the past 2 years...maintained that status through the GP, qualifying for the GPF and getting bronze there. However, behind the numbers and results, she was slipping....Things bottomed out at Nationals as she felt not only the pressure of the defending champ but saw her lifelong dream of becoming an Olympian flash in front of her eyes. Unlike 4 years ago, with 3 spots this time all she needed to do was STAND UP. She had numerous sponsorships and NBC was promoting her quite heavily in its coverage. It all culminated in her worst competition in 3 years, putting her 4th with 3 spots going to the Olympics. It seemed as if she'd just miss out on the Games for the 2nd straight time. Then came the wildcard that changed it all - USFS, in a most unprecedented decision, chose to deviate from order of finish at Nationals in naming the US Team when there was no injury, petition or extraordinary circumstance to consider...and picked her to go to the Olympics. Bittersweet moment for her as the response from the public and fans was swift and vicious and they let her have it on social media. Wagner chose to make some drastic moves...went back to last year's FS, buckled down on her training, shut out social media distractions...proved the haters wrong by holding it together in the team SP and individual competition en route to a 7th place finish...then went to Worlds and perhaps had the freeskate of her career to place 7th there as well. Finishes season as #2 American behind Gracie Gold, with Polina Edmunds nipping at her heels. Wants to continue another 4 years.

    - Needs to work on: Normally I would say she needs to work on eliminating the 2-foots on her jumps and end it there...but if she truly wants the success she craves, the list lengthens considerably. Everything from spins to smarter program execution/planning to upping technical difficulty to regaining the street cred she has lost this season...she has her work cut out for her. And she's likely already very near the ceiling of her capabilities...

    - Would like to see: Similar style programs for next season. She plays the fierce, confident persona very well and that is her style. And it would be nice to see her finally get that world medal as I know how badly she wants one and how hard she has worked up to this point. But that shot gets exponentially longer every passing year.

    - Hopes for next year: Regain the street cred she lost last season and begins getting scores that truly reflect her level of performance. Remain healthy (she has been on the scene a while and is getting up there in skating years...)

    ______

    I was thinking of adding Christina Gao and Agnes Zawadzki but I don't know if they are sticking around or not.

    Anyway, thoughts? This isn't so much a prediction thread (although it can be as the season nears) as it is an evaluation/hopes thread.
    Last edited by R.D.; 04-01-2014 at 10:08 PM. Reason: fixing a typo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by R.D. View Post
    Well, you know what time of year it is. After the Olympics, how do the US women stack up? Like in previous editions, I would like the discussion to focus mainly on the US women and how the stack up against each other, and not on the international scene (it's fine to reference int'l skaters but please don't sidetrack).
    _____

    So, we'll begin. I'll do it in order of finish at 2014 Nationals, for the top 4:

    Gracie Gold

    - Status: Went from runner-up in 2013 (and 6th at worlds), struggled at the beginning of the Olympic season...got a new coach and new attitude...suddenly she makes the rise to the top I predicted all along, winning 2014 Nationals convincingly...does respectable at the Olympics (4th, along with a team bronze medal) and despite a rough Worlds, still remains top 5 and improves one spot over last year.

    - Needs to work on: Mental toughness. She's made progress here, but if she cannot finish the deal when she is in medal position, she'll never win anything major.

    - Would like to see: More personality from her. Too cookie-cutter/ice-princessy for my taste.

    - Hopes for next year: That she finally qualifies for the GPF and takes a medal there. Ends the 8(!!!!!) year drought for the US women by getting onto the 2015 World Podium.

    Polina Edmunds

    - Status: Appeared seemingly out of nowhere this year. Very few people even had her in contention for the 2014 US team but she swoops in and grabs 2nd at Nationals (plus a spot on the Olympic team), serving notice to everyone else to watch their backs...9th and 8th place finishes at Olympics and Worlds, while not exactly lighting the world on fire, are quite respectable for her first international senior competitions. Don't think anyone was expecting miracles from her, anyway.

    - Needs to work on: Improving her PCS mark. She has phenomenal technical ability...if she can develop the components to back it up (without losing her jumps), she could be a formidable competitor.

    - Would like to see: That she makes it through puberty unscathed (or with minimal effect).

    - Hopes for next year: Establish herself on the international scene and gain some "street cred" so she can compete with the Russians...

    Mirai Nagasu

    - Status: Mostly counted out by fans early on in the year....I figured she could be right in the mix if she got her 2010 form back. She showed improvement throughout the GP, even if she didn't exactly light things up. Then, in the SP at Nationals she proved she meant business. We saw a fire in her that had been missing for years...she really wanted to get on this Sochi team. 2 strong performances put her in 3rd, but unfortunately she gets passed up for Olympic & World team selection in an unprecedented move by USFS, which devastates her. She gets 4CCs but isn't able to redeem herself at that competition. She had a great chance at a medal but finished with a whimper...and that's all she wrote.

    - Needs to work on: Jumps! Get rid of those pesky URs. And mental toughness as well...her inconsistency sinks her time and time again.

    - Would like to see: Find what motivated her so strongly in 2010 and again in 2014 and FIND A WAY to let that drive her through these next 4 years. Now she knows (for better or worse) that she can't just sleepwalk here and then do another "Ta-da!" in 2018 expecting USFS to send her to the Olympics.

    - Hopes for next year: If she has a strong season and finds her way onto the World team in 2015, just one wish: please don't wilt...Anyway, I just want her to be proud of whatever result she achieves. It was tough to watch her dreams crushed right in front of everyone.

    Ashley Wagner

    - Status: Came into this season as the top American for the past 2 years...maintained that status through the GP, qualifying for the GPF and getting bronze there. However, behind the numbers and results, she was slipping....Things bottomed out at Nationals as she felt not only the pressure of the defending champ but saw her lifelong dream of becoming an Olympian flash in front of her eyes. Unlike 4 years ago, with 3 spots this time all she needed to do was STAND UP. She had numerous sponsorships and NBC was promoting her quite heavily in its coverage. It all culminated in her worst competition in 3 years, putting her 4th with 3 spots going to the Olympics. It seemed as if she'd just miss out on the Games for the 2nd straight time. Then came the wildcard that changed it all - USFS, in a most unprecedented decision, chose to deviate from order of finish at Nationals in naming the US Team when there was no injury, petition or extraordinary circumstance to consider...and picked her to go to the Olympics. Nagasu would be the odd one out (mentioned above)...bittersweet moment for Wagner as the response from the public and fans was swift and vicious and they let her have it on social media. Wagner chose to make some drastic moves...went back to last year's FS, buckled down on her training, shut out social media distractions...proved the haters wrong by holding it together in the team SP and individual competition en route to a 7th place finish...then went to Worlds and perhaps had the freeskate of her career to place 7th there as well. Finishes season as #2 American behind Gracie Gold, with Polina Edmunds nipping at her heels. Wants to continue another 4 years.

    - Needs to work on: Normally I would say she needs to work on eliminating the 2-foots on her jumps and end it there...but if she truly wants the success she craves, the list lengthens considerably. Everything from spins to smarter program execution/planning to upping technical difficulty to regaining the street cred she has lost this season...she has her work cut out for her. And she's likely already very near the ceiling of her capabilities...

    - Would like to see: Similar style programs for next season. She plays the fierce, confident persona very well and that is her style. And it would be nice to see her finally get that world medal as I know how badly she wants one and how hard she has worked up to this point. But that shot gets exponentially longer every passing year.

    - Hopes for next year: Regain the street cred she lost last season and begins getting scores that truly reflect her level of performance. Remain healthy (she has been on the scene a while and is getting up there in skating years...)

    ______

    I was thinking of adding Christina Gao and Agnes Zawadzki but I don't know if they are sticking around or not.

    Anyway, thoughts? This isn't so much a prediction thread (although it can be as the season nears) as it is an evaluation/hopes thread.
    Have a feeling that in one year the conversation about the state of the American Ladies is going to include Karen Chen with Ashley possibly being urged to retire...

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    I don't think Karen is going to rise pass Ashely so soon, and I doubt she would ever be better than Wagner. Karen is very tiny but seems to getting fuller; even her 3-3 is a big question now.

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    My hope is that this time next year, Polina is the US #1. I don't like her all that much but I don't see myself ever being on the Gracie bandwagon. Artistically she is making very little advancement.

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    Thanks for starting this thread, R.D.

    I think Samantha Cesario is someone to watch. She was just outside the the medals and she even beat Ashley Wagner in the FS (yes it took a meltdown from Ashley, but still worth noting for the record). She needs a little more power and speed in her skating and some more difficult content, but she is a very consistent skater and can be a factor next season.

    I think Karen Chen will stay junior another season. She probably wants to pick up that junior national title. Not only that, she's also too young to compete senior internationally. But who knows.

    Amber Glenn is also too young to compete senior internationally, but she will be senior. I don't see her shaking up the standings but maybe will finish top 10.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drivingmissdaisy View Post
    My hope is that this time next year, Polina is the US #1. I don't like her all that much but I don't see myself ever being on the Gracie bandwagon. Artistically she is making very little advancement.
    from your mouth to god's ears

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    I would agree with most of the post but I really don't think Mirai has it in her anymore. After watching the Olys and Worlds I just don't see Mirai as a contender with either. She's still a little too shaky and her head still gets in the way. Which isn't to say I didn't enjoy her Nats skates! But I'd have to see that type of "involvement" from her again before I'd predict any kind of a future for her. I do agree about Samantha Cesario but would hope that her choreographer would not try to keep making her out to the sex kitten and just get down to some fine skating.

    Artistically - Gracie is worlds ahead of Polina!!! JMO. Polina still reminds me of a colt! And I don't mean that in a bad way - she's just all legs and arms right now. But who knows what will happen in another year. I think the Gracie-haters of the world are in for a big surprise!

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    Quote Originally Posted by drivingmissdaisy View Post
    My hope is that this time next year, Polina is the US #1. I don't like her all that much but I don't see myself ever being on the Gracie bandwagon. Artistically she is making very little advancement.
    How do you figure that? Just watch Gracie from 2 years ago as a Junior and compare how much better she is now overall. And this after only about 6 months with Frank. Now she has all summer to get good programs and work with Frank. People forget she didn't even have a coach when the season began she was on a one way road to disaster this season. I think she did pretty well with all the unrealistic pressure she had on her.

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    LOL, Karen Chen ahead Ashley???? no way!

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    Jammers. It's nice to read someone saying something nice about Gracie for a change!!! I think the expectations placed on her this year were outrageous. And as I said in another thread, National title, 4th at the Olympics and her placement at Worlds - for some skaters that's a career! And she's only 19. Frank will work his magic this year.

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    IMO, Gracie, Ashley and Polina did very well at Worlds this year.

    Gracie was very nervous, but let's face it, that was the worst possible spot, ending the competition. She really didn't have a shot at the podium, since no one was going to beat Kostner for bronze. However, I would have liked to see her beat Pogo, who has to be the most expressionless skater I've seen in a long time. I'm sure Frank will give her a stern talking-to about that!

    Ashley did rise to the occasion and had her best performance of the year. She still can't seem to land that elusive 3/3 without two-footing, but she never let the performance get away from her. Having an appreciative audience did seem to make the difference for her.

    Polina put to rest the idea that Nagasu should have gone to Worlds instead of her. She landed seven clean triples, something Mirai has never done and IMO could never do. Polina was 12th after the SP, was 5th in the FS, and finished 8th overall in her first Worlds. Pretty darn good for a 15-year-old!

    As for Mirai, she still doesn't have a coach. She left Colorado to join the SOI tour in Japan, which means she will be delaying training for the new season until that tour ends (and it ends a lot later than the tour in the US). She is eligible for GP invitations since according to my calculations she will still be in the top 24 on the WR and SB lists, and is in the USFS A Envelope, Tier 2 so will be submitted on June 27 when the GP meeting is held. But if she remains in Japan again to train with Mura's father, USFS cannot send her to a fall "B" event if she still remains technically coachless. She will have to name a coach in order to attend the GP events. You have to wonder how committed to training Mirai really is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckm View Post

    As for Mirai, she still doesn't have a coach. She left Colorado to join the SOI tour in Japan, which means she will be delaying training for the new season until that tour ends (and it ends a lot later than the tour in the US). She is eligible for GP invitations since according to my calculations she will still be in the top 24 on the WR and SB lists, and is in the USFS A Envelope, Tier 2 so will be submitted on June 27 when the GP meeting is held. But if she remains in Japan again to train with Mura's father, USFS cannot send her to a fall "B" event if she still remains technically coachless. She will have to name a coach in order to attend the GP events. You have to wonder how committed to training Mirai really is.
    Um, I thought Mirai was doing SOI in the U.S., not Japan. Or is she doing both? Is that even possible?

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    Here's my state of the union:

    Polina: Looking good for her, I've really grown to like her. Now she needs more mature programs and choreography. And certainly a few more lbs are coming her way, hope they don't throw her off. She could be the next Carolina!
    Ashley: I look for better from her next year. I hope she chooses the strong music she favors, and now that she has settled in with her new coach, consistency can only help. I'd like to see better spins from her.
    Gracie: Her season was so all over the place, and unlike Ashley, I don't have a years long history to think about and draw an opinion from. I hope that now she is familiarized with Frank and his coaching style, the focus can just be getting down to work. I'd like to see her present less of a "chilly" feel when she skates.

    I think these three will be the top three again next year in any order. I like the skating they all put out. I wish I could include Mirai in my list, but without a coach, it's impossible to tell what will happen. I just hope all stay healthy and well so we can enjoy the best they have to give next season.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckm View Post
    IMO, Gracie, Ashley and Polina did very well at Worlds this year.

    She will have to name a coach in order to attend the GP events. You have to wonder how committed to training Mirai really is.
    Why do you have to name a coach to compete on the GP? And could she just name, for example, her dad, if she fails to find a 'real' coach?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs. P View Post
    Um, I thought Mirai was doing SOI in the U.S., not Japan. Or is she doing both? Is that even possible?
    Mirai left for Japan before Worlds. There are two SOI shows, one in Japan and one in the US. It's my understanding that the one in Japan pays better.

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