I don't ever remember a more interesting pre-season, where the early senior competitions have been so important or interesting. I applaud skaters for even attempting what they attempted on the ice this early in the competitive season. Bravo!

With that said: I am glad that Johnny Weir has returned to competition. Big kudos to him. He has such strong stage presence that he usually commands your attention when he's on the ice but the performance at Finlandia was like a deer in the headlights.

I hope he has gotten his stage fright out of his system now and shows up at the next competition ready to compete. Level 1 footwork won't cut it either. His team needs to revisit the footwork pronto. Good job for showing up this early though.

I don't get the hoopla surrounding Julia Lipnitskaya. The hallmark of a good skater to me seems to be, if you take the jumps away are they still interesting to watch?

Julia is not. She skates through the music rather than to it. She does not even seem to be aware that music is playing.

She's all about the jumps, but they don't seem very high quality either. They barely get off the ice. The entry edges are often wrong (flutz, flutz, flutz). They just don't sing. When you take away the jumps your left with???? What? Her stroking and ice coverage are so poor...it's like her skates are stuck in molasses. I just don't understand why the judges love her so much.

I was impressed with Evgeny Plushenko. Yes...all the flaws are still there...the lack of in-betweens, the empty programs, the arm flailing and mugging, the posing and skating in place (or just big rests), the lack of stretch and polish, the wobbly spins...all the flaws were still there, but boy does he have stage presence. You can't take your eyes off him when he skates. He's a great skater. I am glad he's back.

I was deeply impressed by what Ashley Wagner put out on the ice. To be this good, this early shows me a fire and hunger. She seems ready and confident.

I am not so sure about Mao. She seems to have regressed so much under Sato. More than anything else, she seems to lack confidence...such as the confidence to really take command and own the performance. Swan Lake is horribly overused by skaters, so anyone using this music needs to own it, to understand the meaning of it and the power of it. Mao seems to throw it all away. It's too bad because she has some really wonderful qualities as a skater such as her soft knees which allow her to float effortlessly over the ice. If only she knew how good she is.

If you take away every jump in Patrick Chans skating programs, he is still the most interesting skater out there, with the best, most difficult programs jam-packed full of interesting transitions and skating moves. He is such a throw-back to the days of "Figure" skating. He does not hide behind his jumps. Even with four falls, the program still worked. It was still interesting. It was still the best. Patrick fulfills my definition of good skating. His programs stand without any jumps.

Ditto for Jeff Buttle. Wish he were still competing as an eligible skater.

I was very impressed also by Mirai Nagasu. She seems to have her fire back and her skating is just beautiful...her jumps are so big, so light, so airy, they cover so much ice...wow...her speed, stroking and edging are so superior, her spins are fast and beautiful...she takes command of the ice surface. I could watch her all day long. I think the judges were stingy with her marks. How was she called for a lutz edge in the LP but Lipnitskaya was not? CoP or no CoP, judges still play favorites. Some things never change. I'm just so glad to see to see Mirai rediscover her joy on the ice. She has everything else to be a champion.