There is finally an embeddable video. Ladies & gents, all the competitors for the Games beginning this week. Password is “sochi” Enjoy.
And look back on my predictions for the men’s event: well, I was somewhat right. It seems the Spanish men made up best they good Saturday for all the other woes of the team this year, and Sergei Voronov stayed where he was too, which was the real surprise there, but otherwise a good deal of movement, and not only a silver but a bronze medalist noone saw coming. But hey, after what he’s been through, and considering it might prove his final competition, you have to be happy for Konstantin Menshov, walking out with a medal a year after he was rudely deprived of his chance to compete here.
As for the situation for Russian men in general and the Olympics, I’m starting to think they should just send Voronov. I really think they should’ve sent him to Worlds last year anyway; he was the silver medalist at Russian Nationals, after all. No, he doesn’t have much besides the jumps, but he’s reliable on those, and that’s more than anyone else is offering unless you can get an ironclad guarantee Plushenko won’t break his back or something. But it probably won’t happen. More interested, in fact, in what the French will do at this point. If Amodio was less in favor with the federation, I think they just might have decided to give up their second Olympic berth after all he’s done this season. As it is, one wonders if they’ll get over whatever snit they have with Joubert long enough to put him in the team competition, where he’ll likely do better for them than Amodio would.
At least the Russians might just be fielding the favorites for the bronze in the ladies as well as the ice dance; hell, if Julia L skates like that in Sochi, she might even get higher. Plus they now have two pairs that could take bronze. But on the other hand, it was not a smart idea for Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov to lose the free skate, especially to a pair that’s still just breaking out. It raises the question of just how hard is might be for Savchenko & Szolkowy to beat them after all. Also just how consistent they really are.
First off, wow, Coomes & Buckland! Beating out both the lesser Russian teams for the bronze. Though speaking of them, you have to feel for Riazanova & Tkachenko, with it now confirmed they will suffer the same fate as Ekaterina Rubleva & Ivan Shefer last quaddrenium, spending the entire time as the Russian number threes only to lose their status just in time to miss the Olympics.
But with I&K performing less than their best, I’d say this doesn’t really increase Cappellini & Lanotte’s chances at that bronze in Sochi much; they didn’t win by enough for that. But hey, the European title itself is worth having, so glad they got that, at least. Same assessment of the ladies’ result too, perhaps; Kostner didn’t skate her best. On the other hand, she very often doesn’t; perhaps the main different between this year and the past if that there are skaters in Europe capable of beating her when she does make mistakes. And the way Lipnitskaia’s been going this season, I think she is looking like the skater most likely to take the bronze. Poor Leonova, though; finally recovered, but it’s too late; there’s no room on Olympic team for her.
And meanwhile Kovtun being behind Voronov is something Plushenko may yet take advantage of, but while I would be extremely happy if Tomas followed up the good short with a good free, I expect some changes in the men in the next round. Even Javier Fernandez might or might not hold onto the big lead, if only because Spanish skating seems to continually disappoint this season. LaFuente continues to struggle, and though at least Hurtado & Diaz made the top ten(do Robledo & Funero have the tech minimums to go to Europeans next year?), they had their issues too.
Men: Really more volatile than we thought, especially considering what happened in the free program: Chan was very close to clean, Hanyu fell on his quad, and the latter still won the segment, when the common wisdom held Chan could only lose if he made mistakes and the other guys didn’t. It seems very far from impossible that either Fernandez or Takahashi could easily have done the same.
Ladies: On the other hand, I’m starting to wonder again if anyone here could’ve beaten Yu-Na had she skated well. Even Mao keeps getting that triple axel called underrotated, even when we all think she’s pulled it off. Lipitskaia at this rate might be the favorite for a medal, but her score has still dipped from Canada. Also, Ashley’s landing the 3-3 isn’t getting her any higher in the rankings.; a singles medal for the US doesn’t seem too likely.
Pairs: And Volosozhar & Trankov are not unbeatable. But they weren’t too far behind Savchenko & Szolkowy when the Germans skated clean and they didn’t, and the way they trounced them in the short program is some indication should both pairs skate clean, the Russians will win. Add that they’re far more consistent than the Germans, and V & T are still firm favorites in Sochi.
Dance: And that Davis & White won both segments here when Virtue & Moir were much more pulled together than they’ve been and even looked like they might have won the short makes their gold even more likely still than it’s already been. And bronze is between the Russian and French, unless both really blow it.
Actually wasn’t sure I’d get an opportunity to post today, but I’ve got a couple of hours free, so here goes nothing:
Men: And with Plushenko still ailing, I’d say Kovtun has a leg up, and I’m going to think he edges this one out. But I don’t think Fernandez is going to collapse two events in a row at this point, and I don’t think Machida will collapse either, so I’m going with Kovtun, Fernandez, Machida. I’d love it if Menshov medaled instead, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Ladies: The way Lipnitskaia is going I think she’s going to edge out Kostner for this one. More torn about whether Liza T or Murakami will take the bronze, but the latter seems to be doing better than the former for a while not, so Lipnitskaia, Kostner, Murakami. But all I really want now is more Mirai to do better than she’s been doing. She doesn’t even have to medal, just not finish so low anymore.
Pairs: Pretty sure this one is going Savchenko & Szolkowy, Moore-Towers & Moscovitch, Bazarova & Larionov. Curious, though, to see if Takahashi & Kihara can rebound from Nebelhorn as Estonia’s citizenship decisions get them into the Games after all.
Ice Dance: If this wasn’t Russian ice, I might think Weaver & Pojé could pull the win off, but on it that might be too much to ask. So that’s Bobrova & Soloviev, Weaver & Pojé, Chock & Bates. I hope it’s close, though.
Because I’m so wonderfully good at it:
Men: I don’t see Chan losing this for the second year in a row, plus his main opponent isn’t Javier Fernandez, and is Japanese, and right now Japanese men seem to be trending unpredictable. Still, I think Hanyu and Oda could probably both beat Brezina(who has his own consistency issues, after all) and poor Jeremy, but the way Oda’s skating early this season I think he’ll surprise Hanyu by beating him, so that comes out to Chan, Hanyu, Oda.
Ladies: And with the exception of Popova(the definition of “happy to be here”) and host invite Mallet, everyone here has either medaled on the Grand Prix, or it feels like they easily could here. Typically at Skate Canada that does not lead to a good competition. If it comes down to consistency I might put my money on Hicks and/or Gao medaling, Lipnitskaia making few enough errors to survive. I think she might make few enough to beat those two American girls as well, and since Hicks seems to be doing better than Gao lately I’ll predict Lipnitskaia, Hicks, Gao.
Pairs: Duhamel & Radford are looking really good for their first Grand Prix gold here, especially after Berton & Hotarek’s disappointing showing last week. I suspect they’ll finish below Sui & Han too, and maybe even not medal again, but I’m not sure either of the two American pairs are ready to beat them yet, and I’m not ready to predict Lawrence & Swiegers ahead of them either, so that leaves me with Duhamed & Radford, Sui & Han, Berton & Hotarek.
Ice Dance: And the top are obvious, but I’m going to be daring(or maybe just wishful) and predict a home sweep: Virtue & Moir, Weaver & Pojé, Paul & Islam.
A zillion skates to watch, but perhaps none anticipated so much as this one:
It’s not quite the same program, of course, and he’s gotten another version of the guitar section(a more intricate one that has greater impact, I think), but at base it’s the program that stunned us all two years ago and is starting to look like it’s going to be Jeremy’s signature piece. Though now I only wish I could believe he’s got a serious chance at an Olympic medal. He may need a perfect skate out of this just to make it to the Olympics…
Of the other Japan Open programs I watched, I was impressed by Joannie working so hard to learn a new long and then doing such a good job with it(I haven’t seen the programs by the other retirees yet…), and happy Ashley’s sticking to her plan and going for her 3-3. Also, I like that she avoided the more cliche choices of Romeo & Juliet music, using pieces from Prokofiev’s ballet besides “March of the Knights.”
Speaking of which, and moving over to Finlandia Trophy, how many skaters with their Phantom programs make such extensive use of “Think of Me” in them? That was smart of Akiko; it suited her. But watching her make a Phantom program work, I still couldn’t help but think that even if this program worked, she’d be so much better with music she didn’t have to make work. Contrast that the Julia Lipnitskaia, who while also outskating her technically had a program she fit into hand and glove(I question whether any Russian should be doing an actual portrayal of Schindler’s List right now, but the fact remains it really suits Julia). Also mixed feelings about Mirai. Downgrade issues aside, I felt the free suited her more than the short, but she lacked her spark in both.
Saw barely any of Ondrej Nepala between one thing and another, but still extremely happy Tomas won it. Now if he can just keep skating well again…
Anissina claims she’s coming back
2016 ISU championships assigned
Evgeny Plushenko cleared to jump
A few more music announcements
Hollins Trophy concludes
Fields & Arcieri reportedly team up
Young Artists Showcase announces contestants & challenges
Artistry on Ice & Skate for Hope
Ukrainian judge suspended
Cheryl Peake dies
Coca Cola & Samsung announces Olympic sponsorships
Note: This was originally posted at FSU, right after the World Team Trophy.
So now that the season has finished out at the WTT, and meanwhile there’s been time for the results of Worlds to settle in, I’ve been thinking lately about the results of the Russian ladies. When it comes down to it, how many people really thought they’d go down to two spots, that Adelina Sotnikova and Liza T wouldn’t get the job done? Except that I’m thinking now maybe we all should’ve seen it coming. Especially American viewers, who saw this happen in our own ladies field four short years ago.
Remember 2008, when our age-eligible ladies couldn’t keep three spots for the life of them, and meanwhile Rachael Flatt, Caroline Zhang, & Mirai Nagasu were sweeping the podium at Junior Worlds? If only those pesky age rules hadn’t kept them out, we all said. All the older girls better retire right now, we said, because they’d never go to Worlds again; these three ladies would take over. Their Junior Worlds scores, scored at Senior Worlds, would’ve kept three spots. And perhaps if the age rules hadn’t been in place, they would indeed have preserved the spots. That year.
Things weren’t quite the same at 2009 Worlds, because only Rachael Flatt made it there, and also she actually did pretty well, and Nationals bronze medalist Caroline Zhang was still doing well enough it was assumed at the time that had she gone, she could’ve made the top eight. But given how she nose-dived the following season, one wonders how sure of that we can now be. Maybe we should’ve paid more attention to Mirai Nagasu, who took an early fall(though how easy that was to forget the following year, when she kicked herself back up).
Even without this example, we knew there were reasons for the Adelinas and Lizas of the world to struggle as they got older and grew. Not just physically, either; now they’re old enough to feel the pressure too. Of course they didn’t even need to third berth for them both to make Worlds, though that was simply because Alissa Czisny had a better Nationals than Alena Leonova. But it all panned out the same: hyped as the salvation of Russian ladies before they were old enough to do it, a trio of them already designated as the team for the next Olympics, then when they had the magic birthday couldn’t do it.
Unless one wants to think Julia Lipniskaia would’ve done better; since another difference is that all three of the American baby ballerinas became eligible in the same year. But her own track record this season makes that far from certain.
And what now? Two of the American trio proved the US representatives in Vancouver, and at the moment it seems likely enough two of Liza, Adelina, and Julia will likewise represent Russia in Sochi(but it looked not unlike for the American trio at this time last quadrennium, before Caroline plummeted). It’s an interesting question whether any of them can medal, especially since replace Joannie Rochette with Carolina Kostner and that situation too is eerily similar; if all three of her, Yu-Na, & Mao skate clean or even close to it, and is it even possible for anyone else to medal? Though Mirai came in 4th, so if one of them blows it will may see a Russian girl on the podium at Sochi.
But afterwards? There are many Russian girls all ready to pull a Gracie Gold, more than there were here in America, and I wouldn’t be so quick to write Leonova off absolutely. Three years later, Rachael Flatt is gone partly because she had other priorities, but also because of injuries, Caroline Zhang looked like she was back in 2012, but this last season not so much, and Mirai Nagasu has hung in somewhat, but is now coming off a second Nationals disaster in a row and a deeply uncertain future. None of them are likely to make it to Sochi. When we got three spots back in time for the Olympics, it didn’t involve any of the baby ballerinas. If they have to rely on their baby ballerinas, Russia could be in for a long and hard quadrennium after next season.