At least I knew Japanese Nationals was happening last weekend, even tried to watch belated coverage, though that didn’t work out. Though noone told me Russian Nationals was happening too, until people started tweeting about it. And when unlike Japanese Nationals, which is really a two-discipline event(Sure, Takahashi-Tran and the Reeds showed up to claim the pairs and ice dance titles, but I’m not sure that was even televised), Russian Nationals was worth following, even if merely by(Chrome-translated) live scoring, for four pieces of drama:
Japanese Men: And for one moment it looked like both the reigning World Champions might finish out of their own country’s top three(until the Ladies Short actually happened, that is), but ultimately things got back to predictability after that. Good for Kozuka to win a National title, especially since he’s growing on me, and he might even pass Oda, but this can really be chalked up to Takahashi’s GPF injury; he’s still got a good chance of defending his World title if he falls down less than Chan. At least until Hanyu finishes his ascent up; this was a good competition for him even if he couldn’t hang with the big three just yet.
Japanese Ladies: Poor Akiko. Really, that’s just about my only reaction to this competition. I don’t particularly care whether Miki or Mao won this title; I wouldn’t assume it’ll reflect at all in their results after that, or maybe it will, but I’m still too busy mourning for Akiko to care. I just hope she can stay ahead of the other up-and-coming Japanese girls to get back to Worlds next year, when Miki will apparently be out.
Russian Men: Wow, way to go, Constantine LESS, as the Chrome translate rendered his name(they also identified a Mark CHESS, which was even funnier). Seriously, seeing 28 year old Konstantin Menshov take the title, I’m starting to think Russian men are developing a habit of skating strong in their old age. Consolation for poor Sergei Voronov perhaps, who’s going to need a late wind to salvage his career. Though then again, we do have this kid Artur G, who’s age I’m not sure of, though he is apparently old enough for Euros/Worlds. Also, kind of amused at the multiple American imports, and the one winning bronze.
Russian Ladies: On the other hand, Russia continues to throw out 2008 US Nationals-style dilemmas, where three of the top four are too young to go to Worlds(and is this Julia Lipnitskaya person even old enough for Junior Worlds? I watched a vid of her short and she only looked about eleven!). But at least one person’s happy; Alena Leonova needed a good result here for any kind of future. Now Euros becomes another reckoning for her, as well as for poor Ksenia Makarova; they must both hold of Biryukova for Worlds, and next year I think Adelina Sotnikova will be old enough(she was born on July 1! I can’t remember right now if you have to be born on or before), which means unless they can pull out a third spot at Worlds(not entirely impossible; a 6-7 finish especially is doable, but they both have the skate well, and neither can be relied on), one of them will not be going back.
Russian Pairs: Speaking of imports, it seems all the talk is about Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov. Their long was the first program from this competition that I’ve watched, I’ve seen their short as well, and I will say: hype? ABSOLUTELY DESERVED. Scores absolutely deserved too, but I think that was a given; I don’t think they would have been the Russian federation’s first choice for top pair, especially since her year’s wait won’t be up in time for Europeans, and thanks to the new minimum score rules they technically aren’t even qualified for Worlds yet(though I’m sure there will be a Senior C competition in late February/early March they can win. If there isn’t one on the calender the Russian federation will probably cobble together one!). Speaking of Europeans, I’m kind of sad I&M are going to just miss it for the second year in a row. They’ve had some hard luck.
Russian Ice Dance: And speaking of Russian skating politics, I haven’t seen much of this competition yet, but I have been given to understand Khokhlova & Andreev have been pushed upward to fourth without deserving it in the slightest, but then again, I don’t *think* the Russian federation will send them to Europeans over Ilyinch & Kats, because if they do, they’re bloody idiots. Which of the top three teams go to Worlds will probably be determined at Euros, too, though I suspect Bobrova & Soloviev have nothing to worry about. This year. Next year and by the Olympics, who knows?
Also much fuss and bother over ice dance withdrawals at British Nationals(though the Kerrs get a free pass, at least), Brian Joubert showing Florent Amodio he is not abdicating at French Nationals, and I don’t even remember what happened at Italian Nationals anymore. And the show hasn’t even started here in North America yet!