Ladies Free Program, As it happened!

Alex D

Record Breaker
Joined
Sep 23, 2013
Ladies Free Skating, As it happened


After our great first day with the Ladies, we had a day off to regain some strength, fix our messy hair, get some refreshments, tell all skaters either in person or on social media how proud we are on them and finally look forward to what we can expect today.
From seven elements in the short, we now move to 12, which is almost twice as much and therefore even more demanding physically and mentally than on Wednesday.

Will the lack of practice due COVID be noticeable, are we going to see ACDC this time and what about the great variety, will it be found as well in the Free Program? How will the costumes look like, which skaters will have the most unique approach and will my questions from day one find answers today?

Whatever happens, I am sure it will be an absolute delight, I am truly looking forward to all performances and hope that every single one will enjoy her time on the ice, just as much as we will enjoy watching. As always, I will try to focus more on the artistry, style and compositions, while the official ISU website will give you all the protocols and in depth technical analysis you desire.

Besides that, If you want the most immersive atmosphere, my advice cool down your room to minus 10 degrees, put on your team jackets and a hat and shout each skaters name when they enter the ice!

Let the Magic begin.​

Group 1

Our very first skater once again, how else could it be, was Lindsay van Zundert. Our young lady from the Netherlands who loves to always go first, might also consider herself a career as a DJane, as she truly has the skills to light up the place and get the crowds in a very good mood. Phone me if you are up for that Lindsay!

As for her program today, WOW! Those were indeed my first words not when I was born, but when she finished her program. The depth of that composition is exactly what I was talking about days ago, the dutch just have magic if it comes to stepping up and presenting us what artistic sports could look like in the future. If not mistaken, Jorik was involved here too, he surely is making himself a name with such good work!

Her Tango had two parts, the more traditional that however, had a very modern and unique arrangement in which she showed fantastic musicality always being on beat and in motion with the music, while the second part was seamlessly transitioned into, with very warm pads, the piano and soft vocals. At this point, I already had tears of joy in my eyes, as this was exactly what I wanted to see from her.

Every single second of that program offered you something and while this comes probably a bit sassy, I felt her program was equally complex as some of the ice dance choreography's that we will see on Saturday.

Needless to say, her program did not offer any mistakes, great jumps in and out of combination, and when her legs got more tired, she even added a final double Axel with that difficult entry and smooth transition, as if it was at the start of her routine. If my notes are correct, I did count six triple jumps and I like how she presents them with so much confidence all the time, she really has nice posture which was a key element in her Tango.

Dankjewel!

From one beautiful young lady, to the next and didn't she look absolutely stunning, our Natasha McKay? WOW, she rocked that dress, this truly was only tailored for her with lots of bling – bling, even on her wrists. Imagine those were diamonds, then you might see the value that skaters like her have for this sport.

Always supported by Simon Briggs behind the boards, she was fighting like a lion today and I believe the lack of ice time in preparation showed more today than in the short. Her first Axel was popped and while not intended kind of worked with her facial expression while their was a shriek in the program music. Sadly, that wont be reflected in the scores, at least not positive.

Overall, her whole composition was kind of sneaky in my eyes, like a cat waiting for its pray and she always looked for interaction with the judges, who as always, are similar to Broccoli, not cracking a smile at all.

From my point of view, yes, there were mistakes, but I still enjoyed that program a lot and I think its a very brave move to pick “best friend” by Sofi Tukker, its a very effect loaded type of dance pop music, with a driving baseline and our judges might not understand this type of music, but Alex does and I am sure many at home do so as well and this is what I mean with thinking out of the box!

Hongyi Chen, our third skater had a more traditional approach, skating to big orchestral music and a choreography by Lori Nichol and I felt that the “strength to fly” left her at times during her routine. It was a mixed bag to be honest, with great aspects like when she was gliding on her knee transitioning into the spiral, but also the triple toe combination was well done. But if there is sunshine the clouds can crawl in as seen with her first Lutz that did not find company today and also the second had to remain alone, which caused a deduction in base value and surely was not intended like that.

I felt it was a real pity that we couldn't see this program in the way it was supposed to be, overall she looked really sad, so that its time for our first virtual hug of the evening!

With Eliska Brezinova, we sadly do have our second lady in need of a few hugs, as her skating to “La La Land”, was of similar struggles. Me never having watched the movie, still felt greatly entertained especially at the start, where she so I believe, showed us some key parts of said movie and didn't she look super gorgeous in that dress with fitting gloves?

I so enjoyed how she gave everyone a smile during her starting position, sadly those smiles started to vanish and were replaced by a shaking head after the program. What I noticed and I say that as someone who never did any of these jumps, when she gets her timings right, they never appear to be in danger of not having their full rotations, while when the timing is just slightly off as in the second part of the program, they are hard to salvage. My lack of expertise tells me, that this should mostly be an “energy” sorts of issue, so if she manages to get this fixed, her elements should be working until the end, as she is such a great fighter and did just run out of steam today.

With Nicole Schott we do have our German contribution of the day and I am really curious how the lack of preparation due COVID will play out today. Lets start by saying that she was much better than in the short, great relief for her after finishing the program, you could see it that she was very pleased with her performance, in which also the triple Flip - triple Toe combination, with a tiny “addition”, worked again.

While we don't know yet where she will end up, the chances are there for the Olympic qualification and that was probably the most important thing for her today, who was still breathing very heavily at the kiss and cry.
Skating to four seasons, her balletic skill-set showed multiple times with graceful arms and yet, powerful jumps. She always finds a nice balance between these two things and similar to Eliska if she is on, her jumps will be fully rotated with great height, nice play with the music on her last jump, the double Axel too.

Last but not least, we had Eva-Lotta Kiibus from Estonia, the young lady who had the Avicii soundtrack in the short! This time she showed up with classical music by Rachmaninoff, while still keeping that darker vibe in the first parts of her program.

There was one moment when she did the triple Loop right in front of the judges, when she did crack a smile, which was so in contrast to everything she did before and yet so well placed due the whole composition of her choreography!
Skating to “piano concerto 2”, she captured the essence of the music really well and now mind you a short expedition into classical music.

After Rachmaninoff's first symphony, he entered a state of mind that many might know as depression. This second piano concert, actually is believed to show the light and day he was facing throughout multiple years around 1900, where he struggled to find self believe and creativity also due heavy critics of his former work.

If we take this into consideration, then we truly have to applaud our young skater Eva-Lotta here, as she truly understood these circumstances well, with first giving us the darker side and towards the end, she started to smile more and more, even with the popped double Axel, when the music started to lift up more with the piano and strings.

Overall her jump technique is really strong, it looks so clean yet without too much force involved and I like that she has tiny elements of Hip Hop / dance integrated into her program, that don't overload the routine and are just minimal, yet well enough placed in between to make a difference. Benoît Richaud, former ice dancer truly did a wonderful job here! Pity, we wont see her Gala performance this time.

This wraps up our first group of skaters with lots of variety, great fighting spirit and a few hugs here and there.

Group 2

Lets start with Alina Urushadze, who truly has something unique in her eyes, she so reminds me of an actress from Israel Kim or Azulay!

But, as said yesterday, she is far from just being a pretty face, she has so much more to offer. In an absolutely astonishing dress, she skated to three different pieces of music starting with “Non, je ne regrette rien “ and she truly has nothing to regret.
Arms aloft at many of her jump elements, a bit tight on the rotations at times, but she recovered greatly overall, from that little rendezvous with the ice at her first combination of triple Flip – triple Toe.

As I said on Wednesday, she is making it more difficult for her all the time trying to squeeze that little bit extra out of the judges, including her interaction with them that she likes to have and I asked myself all the time why I am not sitting down there today, as it has been a while that some lady was flirting with me like that!

Honestly, when she was skating to the first lines, she expressed the freedom of the words by Édith Piaf really well, by keeping her arms spread and wide open, but also having such a calm expression on her face.
Piaf did not regret anything, she was in peace and obviously proud of her life and that exact same feeling I had about Alina at this point of the program. Quite interesting was, that she did not use the third part of the Chanson, where there is also talk about a new love!

The second part of her program was like the score of a movie, which could easily be identified as a flashback of the struggles she had in “her” life, skating more thoughtful and quiet before moving to the third “Milord” where she shows us her flirty site, especially during the line “Je vous connais, Milord “, loved the tease she did there!
She truly captured the character of the little girl at the harbor so well, I am honestly impressed by this talent she brings if it comes to acting and hey, she is a damn good skater as well, finishing with a change of tempo and high energy!

I really enjoyed all the other skaters we had so far, but for now I think the story of Alina is my favorite of the day and yes, it was hard today, but you did great young lady!

Also great, or should I say fantastic did our young lady from Bulgaria, Alexandra Feigin with a totally different approach skating to Moonlight Sonata, showing us a very classical performance, in which also Lutz and Flip all of a sudden did appear, elements we did not see from her in the short!

Something very cute was when she smiled at us during the choreo sequence, kicking some tension out of her body, that surely was there right at the start, but as more clean elements appeared, as more she started to also visually enjoy her performance. A look at my notes, I counted seven triples, including triple Lutz – triple Toe and I really enjoyed how she positioned her spins in the program as those were greatly supported by the music and she finished with a sit spin on the outside edge, also a very unique variation by the young Bulgarian.

Overall, I think that the composition was very smart, putting her positives in the spotlight, while giving her some breathing room before the grand finale.

And now we have someone here, we did all not expect this early on, our wonderful Satoko Miyahara! Lets start by saying that we will never hire this bus driver again, as he has not yet arrived with her jumps!

Skating to “Tosca”, the pain in her face during the signature part of her music said it all, it just was a true battle for our young lady. What we all have to respect is that at no point in her program, she stopped performing, even after everything collapsed around her, she was here to perform and that she did until the last second of her program with that painful expression, still being 100% in character.

Its really sad to see a skater of her great format to struggle so much, she has incredible skating skills, with so much to give and even though the jumps were mostly not there, we still saw what she has to offer and hopefully she will never forget that she is liked by millions out there, who will cheer for her as soon as they are allowed back at a skating ring again.

Not sure if she will be allowed at yet another skating rink any time soon, as she is stealing the show from everyone, what a great performance by Josefin Taljegard, again.

I belong to the 0.00001% of people on this planet that did not yet watch the Joker movie, but I still have quite an understanding about the story there and that the Joker was a mad man, who was torn apart by different personalities, moods and voices in his head and exactly that Josefin showed us today.

The constant change of facial expression, all those pictures she created, fierce, afraid, crazy, violent it was all there! She did smoke a cigarette or was that a Joint young lady? It was kind of the program of a mad person, she completely stayed in character and what I absolutely loved was the fact that she did not need tons of make up, to make the magic happen.
She did it all naturally with what god had given to her, this is absolutely brutal to do and shows her great talent for slipping into all kinds of roles, naturally.

Needless to say, that she did a clean program with five triples, lovely choreography giving us a glimpse of what this “Joker” was all about, transitioning from a smiling funny person, to a maniac and killer, back and forth, exactly what Joker would do. I am sure Josefin is already preparing her next Clou, Bravo and well done!

I wish I could say the same now about Jenni Saarinen, but sadly her nerves played a too big role today and sometimes you clap for a skater because of the great performance and sometimes you do, to get behind them and guide them through. Sadly, latter was the case today with her, it just didn't come together and she did have some nasty falls, one on the elbow that must have hurt so much but she kept fighting and skated her program until the end.

These girls are so tough, I would have cried my eyes out, but not this young lady here, who did skate to “oriental” music in a lovely dress, kind of like Sheherezade and she wanted to seduce us with her skating just like the famous story teller once did with her words and its so sad that it just did not work in the way it was supposed to be.
Kaetlyn Osmond had 6 falls in a program some years ago, she later won Olympic bronze and gold in the team, silver and gold at worlds. If that isn't a reason to just try again, Jenni! Best of Luck!

Our last skater in group 2 was Ekaterina Ryabova skating to the Godfather OST, a movie I actually watched multiple times, not always in the right order, but I could barely count to three as a kid so that is to be expected.

What I did expect of her, was a fight and that she did. The first triple Lutz – triple Toe combination was tremendous work, she just didn't want to let it slip through her toes, much respect there and you could see it after the double Axel – triple Toe – double Toe, that she was so exhausted and I did so worry for her at this point.

But I should have known better, she kept going for each single element, what a massive fight there, her thighs must have been burning at this point and in the end our birthday girl was rewarded with seven triples and at least 13th position and maybe, even a top 10 result, depending on what happens with our final 12 competitors.

Besides the strongest technical program so far, she really used the music well to support her skating. At first it was more dramatic, she was even shot at and afterwards she just glides softly over the ice. During longer notes she had graceful extensions and softer turns, while during the shorter ones she was more explosive and sharp, positioning jumps or spins there, while the Climax of her program with the three jump combination was being positioned during the “hookline” of the soundtrack.
Needless to say, she looked super stunning, very fitting to the 1940s with that black dress, I truly loved the piece of fabric at the back, it gave the whole outfit such an uplifting and yet elegant touch! Congratulations!

12 skaters done, 12 more to come and I would say so far, the competition held up greatly to the expectations with lots of variety, some drama and classical influences.

Group 3

We are starting with a young lady that everyone did expect to come much later, but here she is Alexandra Trusova. She kind of is a mixed bag for me, because of her crazy ability to do these quads, an element I actually didn't even have on my notes here to put a cross in and she brought a total of 5 quads, but also four triple jumps and my piece of paper here had to be adjusted just because of this. She is simply put on her own scale, even the spins are all level four!

She is by far the best athlete in that regard and I doubt we will see anyone going over her score today.

Now and I am so sorry about this, but I feel that while we have that amazing athleticism, her components and the composition of the program are somehow not at such a high level we have seen so far and will see later.
That she can do better, we saw a few times. This girl is not unable to act, she can do that, from her step-sequence onwards there was more happening than just jumps, she was actually really good there, but the overloaded program with the high difficulty, just doesn't let her do more in that regard, so my impression.

She did skate to Romeo and Juliet, we remember Sasha Cohen and others doing that program and we remember the story telling, with our Sasha here, we will remember the quads and now the question is, is someone out there who can tailor her a program with maybe a tiny bit less difficulty, yet superior to everyone else, while also adding the components, the story and the art?

This I would love to see, honestly, someone who turns this great talent into a sparkling diamond that she could be in the right hands. A mix of Plushenko and Eteri, that would be absolutely insane and maybe the best figure skater ever.

One of the best programs from the short, came from this young lady here, Olga Mikutina, who has a very different approach to what we saw earlier, yet in my opinion not less interesting to watch. Primavera stands for the awakening of nature, also known as spring and exactly that we saw her do. It was almost as if she was the wind, slowly touching the flowers, waking up the animals from their winter sleep, it was so soft and touching, as if she was running around with a little stick in her hand and everything she touches comes back to life.

Very noticeable to me was how much fun she had, which is exactly what you would expect from spring. Youth, energy, fun and all that she had on the ice. At the start she was slowly waking up, her motions were truly in line with the phrasing of the music, I kind of had this picture in my head of her stretching her arms and legs slowly crawling out of bed and then when the music becomes more busy, her motions and elements such as the triple Lutz – triple Toe do so as well.

It was actually quite remarkable that the popped Axel early on, did not disturb her one bit, leading to a total of seven triple jumps, but also those unique approaches with difficult positions as seen in her spins.

At least on the outside, she was always confident with a smile on her lips and that impressed me a lot! Overall, her involvement and commitment was just like in the short, really spot on and those edge changes not only brought difficulty, but also fit as a story element so well, as spring indeed has elements of winter and summer and is often changing between those.

Its actually quite interesting to have these two so different approaches to figure skating right after each other and now it is your turn to decide what the preference is, I think you know mine.

Moving on, we are now on the ice with Loena Hendrickx, the girl I said about two days ago, that she struggles to finish her programs at times. Not so this time, however! From start to finish she kept her composure and its crazy to say but yes Beyoncé was indeed in a band and I always liked Destiny's Child more, than the solo artist, yet I was greatly entertained by this program here, thanks to a stunning young lady from Belgium!

Years ago, at my last worlds, the score of 208.44 points, would have been a medal, so much the sport has progressed in the recent years!

As for Loena, she always is so fast on ice, even her spins are lightning fast, if others are driving a Porsche, she is driving a Ferrari and she always looks like a million dollars, with great interpretation and a very balanced composition and honestly, if we look at this program then I ask you, what could she do better, as besides the obvious triple Axel and Quad, which might decide who wins today, she has pretty much everything you want a skater to have.

Lets hope we can keep this high level of skating with our next lady, who was a major surprise for many, Madeline Schizas.

While in the short she was so confident and positive in everything she did, now in the Free she seemed hesitant and tight, maybe knowing about the responsibilities of securing that second slot for Canada in 2022.

If looking at her reaction after a good, but of course in this field not good enough program, she maybe even felt that she had screwed it, but honestly I think its not fair to put blame on her, it has been her first world championships and she did a fabulous short program, the Free is just the next step she has to take now and she should go home knowing that 50% are already there and I see no reason why the other 50% should not appear next time!

We are by far, not looking at someone who cant do it, her short was among the top programs on day one and I mentioned it before, Kaetlyn can tell every Canadian skater a story or two about failure and success and that it only matters how often you stand up again and I am confident that Madeline will be back with a bang.

Quite a bang, was Haein Lee in the short, our youngest skater in the field also at her first worlds and also with a lot of pressure on her tiny shoulders.

Flawless in the short, her Free did start with a fall on her triple Lutz – triple Toe combination, which, however did not disturb her much as she just kept going, attempting six triples if I counted right. Skating to Black Swan, her program had a nice progression, building up to a dramatic finale, unfortunately I never saw the movie, so that I look a bit dumb now, not knowing its story, but based on what I saw on the ice, I would assume that the “swan” progressed from a white swan to a black swan and she portrait that metamorphosis.

Overall, I am quite impressed that someone at such a young age, has the qualities to skate to what I would consider “difficult” music, as its quite demanding on the skater, due its nature of change in tempo and atmosphere, where sharpness and awareness are required. While there are things to improve, she does have a very good foundation that she can build on.

Of to our last skater in group three Bradie Tennell and the big question, has someone found her triple Toe! Yes, someone did indeed, herself, as it was not to far away actually, just captured by some mean little gnome, right?

Landing her triple Lutz – triple Toe right at the start with that lovely smile on the landing, as if she knew about what I said, was the start to a wonderful program of contemporary art. Skating to Sarajevo, she introduced us into a world that we normally only see for lots of money at Paris or St. Petersburg.

Dealing with the aftermath of the Kosovo conflict, music and skater came together to show us that war never is the answer to anything, something that is more important today than ever before.

Bradie offered us all, despair, hope, anxiety and she understood well how to align her elements with the different phrases of music. At the start of her program, it was as if we were looking down on the destroyed buildings, while the citizens slowly started to crawl out of the ruins, wonderfully choreographed by the more hesitant expression of Bradie, moving on to the double Axel, which was followed by that wonderful picture with the hug, which represented the desire for warmth and comfort so well. The yearning to just hug the beloved ones once again or just someone, was shown wonderfully by the young American.

All that despair which was shown after the triple loop, again wonderfully choreographed matching the energy levels of the program music, with her accelerating accordingly, absolutely flawless into the more energetic part of her first program music.

In the second part, she was skating to “dawn of faith” and again, the picture right at the start, in which she looks far into the distance with all that desire and indeed faith in her eyes, hoping for a better future was really spot on. I loved how she then started to just swing on with the arrangement of the music, as if she was now going into a new chapter of life, really well done there by the choreographers and of course Bradie.

Whats been really lovely to see for me, was the whole concept of the program with a progression that demands a lot from the skater! Towards the end she really had to attack that step sequence, to not lose the momentum of the music and she did this so well, but also her timings and transitions were spot on, as we could witness on her second double Axel that she transitioned into from the spread eagle, timing her rotations in the air, perfectly to the “shhh” sound effect in her program music.

Overall, this skate had an immense level of eye candy, her last spin with the big dramatic chorus, the dress that was not overdone, but kind of reflecting the aftermath with burned ground and ashes, being symbolized by the darkish / grey colors. From head to toe this was an absolutely stunning performance by the young American!

I really hope that you folks in the US know what you got there, she is a wonderfully rounded athlete and you hopefully tell her this every day, so that she stays with us for many more years to create magic on ice.

With this masterpiece of artistry, we now move on to our last group.

Group 4

Six more Ladies to come, I honestly don't care who wins this, I am just enjoying all these beautiful performances, what a treat this competition is.

Kaori Sakamoto, had a little head start at the presentation and so much I said about Bradie, can also be said here.

Skating to Matrix, she captured a lot of signature moments of the movies, from bullet time to the phone calls, wonderfully placed right at the start, as that is indeed how it all started, with a call. Overall, her elements have been positioned really well, she got the timings right, her step sequence was right on the Hookline, with the change of position in the following spin, being right on beat, well aligned with her program music, something we saw as well during the final spin with all that energy in the music greatly expressed by Kaori.

Her running edge on the jumps is for me the best of all skaters here, she covers an enormous amount of ground while in the air and the spiral right in front of the judges, seriously if I would be sitting there, I would have no hair anymore, so sharp her blade is, what an exceptional piece of choreography, so well executed by the young Japanese skater, sending out a message to those with the scores “do not mess with me, or else!”.

Looking back, to Short and Free, I still think she could be a bit more involved, if we compare her to Bradie or Anna later, because with them there is just more happening in regards of facial expression, but that is something she can work on, this is not witchcraft, it just takes a bit more willpower to overcome this, but I know she has it in her, she just needs to let it out a bit more, it would greatly be reflected in her components score.

With Yelim Kim, we are now moving into a very different world with a very balletic skater and her “love story”. With so many clean programs today, we sometimes might forget how difficult and at times unrewarding this sport can be as the slightest mistake, can cost you medals and good positions. Yelim, skated to beautiful music, with a lovely costume and great balletic atmosphere, but the mistakes in her jumps were hard to ignore and kind of overshadowed her program.

It all started so well with her triple Lutz – triple Toe combination, graceful expression and soft gliding, before a few rocks hindered her from keeping that path. What I liked was the softness in her emotions, it was there if you looked closely, but it was not in your face, if that makes any sense what I am saying. Its kind of doing it, very naturally with minimal “effort” yet, great impact.

Putting her into perspective, we saw that the bar is very high for all these ladies, the entries and transitions are much more demanding these days, than years ago and as we saw with her fall on the second Lutz, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't.

I still feel, she has great potential, surely the pressure in South Korea with the legacy of Kim Yuna is huge, if she can withstand it, we will surely see much more from her, next time without the tiny rocks, but elegance in execution.

Her execution was spot on in the short, Karen Chen now on ice with a dramatic love story, about standards in old China, where women could not go to school unless they disguised themselves as men, just think about that for a second!

First, spot on costume with the flowers, butterflies and shiny things, which probably prevent her from ever wearing it outside, as birds love to steal everything that sparkles! Karen looked super stunning and well positioned within the story of her routine. The book about two lovers, that had to die to be together was showcased very well by the young American, with great commitment and emotions, showing their tragic separation and reunion, with no major mistakes in her jump elements, but always the will to fight for them as seen on the triple Salchow.

Story wise, I could see a few signature parts of the book being well presented, such as her being happy to be able to study, meeting someone she loves, trying to seduce the book worm he was, finally being together, but then separated and last but not least, the reunion lovely shown with the spiral, backed up with the full orchestra and her smile, the happiness was truly spot on there, great picture!

The American finished her program with a really nice triple Lutz – double Toe and lovely spins, while the music slowly gained some distance, just like the two butterflies did.
Karen was skating in multiple facets, always supported by strong in character skating, with great involvement and dedication. Absolutely one of the highlights today, wonderful skate Karen, America is blessed with so much talent!

So is Russia and yes I skipped this whole FSR thing, politics are not my strong part and so I am now looking forward to Elizaveta Tuktamysheva.

Lets start by saying that this young lady deserves everything so much she has accomplished, she never gave up or bowed down to the critics that were plenty, especially about the components, but I believe that is as so often just a matter of taste.

About 11 years ago, she did skate to “memories of a Geisha” and now at Stockholm 2021, she went with yet another program based on a Japanese story and the tears in her eyes, the gratitude to have been given this opportunity, will always be the thing that is remembered first, when talking about this event.

While not everything worked for Liza, she still went for it, with two landed triple Axels, the second even better than the first, despite the difficult entry. Besides the technical aspect, she also offered us very good components and choreographic sequences, like when she puts the super quick Euler right on the gong, during the double Axel – Euler – triple Salchow combination.

What everyone immediately noticed was her charisma today, there is something special happening when she steps on the ice, her style is very unique, I often refer to her as some girl with a snowboard, as she is so laid back with everything she does. But also the way she looks at those in the stands, appreciating the support, making it look as if she wanted to tell you, that she is only skating for you, is quite special and unique.

Unique was also her approach to finding a choreography, skating to “Chronicles of a Mischievous Bird, “ a program that fans and friends, but also her choreographer Yuri Smekalov put together in a few Instagram sessions. What a great group effort with Liza in the spotlight tonight, showing her gratitude to all those involved.

I am honestly so happy for her, she had COVID in December, could not practice like she wanted to, had to find new ways of preparation and if you know Liza, you will know she is not someone who just sits down doing nothing, so that must have been super hard for her, to be in Quarantine.

Everyone knows I like her a lot, I will probably buy one of her hoodies now, as Liza is also off ice a very talented young lady. Much respect and thank you, so much, what an achievement to not only get into the most contested national team in the world, but to also win this medal!

ничего себе, молодец!

Two more to go now, I have to settle my nerves a bit, as with all the excitement, we have two more skaters that we want to judge fairly while hoping for a clean skate. Rika Kihira impressed me a ton in the short, will she do so again?

First of all, she looked so lovely, I felt the outfit with all those little feather like pieces of fabric, worked amazingly well with her light and soft skating technique in combination with the piano.
I truly enjoyed how she used the key strokes of the piano for her elements, steps and interpretation, she is a very musical young lady and the program really suits her.

Sadly and that is also what happened, the pressure got into her head and she couldn't repeat the flawless performance from the short. The supposed quad Salchow at the start did not show up today, maybe a sign of tension knowing about the importance of this skate for Japan, which I always think is so unfair to the athletes.

Why do they always have to skate for a whole nation, why do they have to carry so much weight on their shoulders, if their well is so much more important than anything else!
Especially if we consider that fans can be quite mean if an athlete doesn't deliver and I so hope, she will not be confronted now with bad words, but lots of support to carry her through this.

She tried everything, but sadly it just wasn't her day! Looking back two years, where she was so close to a medal, the gap this time was much bigger and if we look at Liza, who knows where Rika will be next season, as she will bounce back for sure!

And now, we are moving on to Anna Shcherbakova, our last lady on ice and hot favorite to win the gold!

Lets start by saying that her choice of music couldn't have fit better looking at many of the programs today, where skaters tried big but couldn't perform in the way they had hoped to. A movie OST that is all about forgiveness and accepting that making mistakes is part of life, was resembled in a most likely unintended way today.

Anna started big with the attempted quad Flip and I couldn't help but feel that the mistake there kind of carried through the program, leading to a few ups and downs, while still landing three triple – triple combinations, with the Lutz – Loop at the end as an icing on the cake.

It is always a fine line between victory and defeat, risk and reward, but also the acceptance that you can only move forward if you have failed before. What Anna does really well is keeping a well rounded expression throughout the whole program.
Early on she expressed vulnerability and uncertainty while later on during the well placed step-sequence on the hookline, she was all smiles even though I am sure she was not believing that she would still have a chance for gold.

Besides the artistry and her lovely extensions, she doesn't settle for easy transitions either, as very well shown on her double Axel, where she adds this really difficult entry and then just does the Axel with ease.

In the end, her fighting spirit carried her through this program, which wasn't the best of the evening, but she absolutely made up for that with the flawless short which was an absolute delight to watch. Congratulations Anna, well deserved!​

Conclusion

And here we are now, with three Russian Ladies on top of the podium, without the Russian anthem, but a few chuckles by Sasha and Anna. All three as different as they might be, have quite an edge over everyone else if we talk about the technical base value.

Liza did not show her quad today, but once she saw the guys do it, she felt she should learn it too and maybe we will see it next season, together with her two triple Axels and that wonderful charisma she presents.
Anna showed us her Quad Flip, sadly not clean, but three triple – triple combinations and then there was this breathtaking lady Sasha, who did attempt 5 quad jumps, while nailing her spins.

I am sure there will be discussions again, if this development is good or bad, if the components are lost in the process and if it is attractive to an audience that most likely doesn't always see the difference between a quad and a triple, but between landing on the feet or the butt.

From my personal point of view, the most enjoyable programs with the best stories came from other ladies today and if I would have to say who is currently closest to combine difficulty and components, then this would indeed be our winner Anna, so from this point of view, we are on the right track and please give Sasha more space to act, she can do this, trust in her!

At the same time and here I agree with Alexei Mishin, its all about personal preference and all these skaters have a fan-base that values how they are doing it.

As someone who doesn't care who wins, who doesn't dislike a single skater or follows any national agenda, I was greatly entertained and partly shocked about the development in my absence. Each lady who did compete in the Free, had at least one very good program and it would be wonderful to see them again next year, with two of those.

Thinking about what my favorite is, I probably have to go with Alina Urushadze. Her story, the acting, but also technical difficulties were the total package for me, while Liza winning silver is my absolute favorite moment here, as I love this lady so much and she deserves this more than anyone right now!

I was heartbroken for our Japanese and South Korean girls, while I am absolutely delighted for team USA, you have so much talent guys, please value it and be nice to your skaters! This sport isn't only about the gold, its about commitment, passion and spirit to give everything you've got and they have done all that!

Last but not least, I want to thank everyone for their programs, also those that didn't make it into the Free, I so hope to see Dasa again, but also our Italian lady who both couldn't qualify for day two.

Maybe, until next time, have a great Eastern and stay safe!

P.S. I hope its alright to have made a second thread for the Free, I dont want to spam, so let me know if you want it changed @ Mods.​
 

skylark

Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset
Record Breaker
Joined
Aug 12, 2014
I just saw this thread/post today and wanted to thank you for it. It's great reading, and makes me want to replay the whole event.

while I am absolutely delighted for team USA, you have so much talent guys, please value it and be nice to your skaters! This sport isn't only about the gold, its about commitment, passion and spirit to give everything you've got and they have done all that!

^^^ This. I think you're addressing USA fans, but I'm not 100% sure of that. But I think we do need to be reminded to appreciate our skaters and be nice to them. It isn't just about winning the gold!
 

ladyjane

Medalist
Joined
Jun 26, 2012
Country
Netherlands
@Alex D Thank you for your great extensive review. So constructive, in the sense you have something positive to say about every skater without forgetting to express your own feelings about how everyone skated and also mentioning mistakes and such. Wonderfully positive!
 
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