Worlds, Ladies and Ice Dance

There are often complaints of splatfests in Ladies competitions, and this weekend was not an exception.  Meanwhile, one of the things said about ice dance is that there aren’t too many falls(except for occasional incidents like the 2006 Olympics OD, where there are, until the Italians crashing causes Simon Reed to quip, “Not again!”).

However, this weekend I found myself thinking the same thing about the ladies and ice dance competition; that nobody in the final cluster made enough mistakes to really mar the competition too badly.  Of course, said cluster was smaller for the ladies than for the ice dance, since there were a couple of meltdowns in the penultimate group, while the last two groups of the ice dance, excitingly close to each other after the short, all put in beautiful performances, albeit with more errors on the twizzles(and a couple of times on the step sequences) than one would wish for.  But on the other hand, of course, ice dance did see the most heartbreaking of the night’s errors.  After the short dance, it seemed as if the only question settled about the top ten was who was going to win bronze; the only thing Nathalie & Fabian had to do to get what they’d worked so hard for this year was not fall down.  Any silly twizzle errors probably wouldn’t have cost them enough to make a difference.  But a two-person fall in the middle of the step sequence and they were relatively lucky they only dropped one place, except that I don’t think it mattered much to them whether they finished fourth or fifth.

On the other hand, it did lead finally to the result the US has been owed for two years, when there should have been a gold and bronze together to celebrate, but at least it’s there now, and when the Russian officials are now to try to deprive foreign skaters of their Russian coaches, but I doubt they’ll ever get Shilband back.  And really, you gotta be thrilled for the Shibutanis.  People have already been predicting them to rise to the top sooner rather than later, but I don’t think anyone believed these kids would even be fourth after the short dance, let alone on the podium when the dust cleared; if anyone was likely to knock the French off the podium, it was assumed it would be Bobrova & Soloviev.  Instead those twizzle errors related to the two Russian teams to 6th and 7th, a definite disappointment, but of course it could have been much worse; if Crone & Poirier had skated better one or both of them probably would’ve dropped another spot, and they wouldn’t have gotten the third berth back, without which Russian Nationals next year would’ve been a bloodbath.  Speaking of Canadians, it seems as if Weaver & Pojé can beat Crone & Poirier after all, and being the first of the two teams to make top five in the world probably doesn’t hurt either.  It also means not only was the podium a North America sweep, but four of the top five were North American as well!  Times have changed.  Russia may be back up for Sochi, but for now:

Of course in the Ladies, the US was on the opposite end of the stick.  Poor Rachael; no doubt the USFSA officials were glad to send her to Worlds alongside Alissa, sure she’d skate clean and get a comfortable top five spot for the latter to work with.  Nobody had reckoned with her ankle, which almost makes one feel like the US somehow isn’t meant to ever get its third berth back.  Though hearing now that her leg injury was discovered before Worlds, one must ask if it was even the best thing for she herself to go to Worlds, let alone for the team, and the responsible thing to them would absolutely have been to let Mirai, who certainly would have done better, go in her place.  And if the injury’s chronic, well, perhaps the wisest thing for her would be to focus on the hard college major she wants and leaving skating behind.

And of course, it was Alissa who lost the bronze medal to a fall.  But all bronze losses are not created equal, and after everything she’s been through, holding on to the rest of her program after an opening fall and earning fifth place is a very good accomplishment for Alissa.  The latest from this morning is that she’s thinking of continuing at least another year.  Let’s hope it’s a fruitful one.  Mattering even less in the grand scheme of thing were Miki and Alena Leonova’s slight mistakes; Miki still absolutely earned her second gold and the best thing her suffering country got out of these rescheduled Worlds, and Leonova, I think, we can say is officially recovered from whatever was wrong with her last year, and her reaction at the end of her program was wonderful to see.  Even Ksenia skated much better than she had for most of the year, even if the Zayak error overshadowed it.  Meanwhile, with three spots for Russia next year, both those ladies have a little breathing room, at least until Sotnikova becomes age eligible.  And then there are those ladies were even bigger errors can’t ruin it that easily:

Yu-Na’s much hyped long program may be the most beautiful thing she’s ever skated; you can feel how she connects to the music and works her magic with it. Who cares if she makes a couple of mistakes? Well, okay, the judges should care, and they did just enough for the right result to happen. And while Carolina Kostner can’t quite be granted that leeway, for this one she didn’t need it; she too may be skating one of her best programs this year, and she landed enough of those jumps this time around to make it lovely to watch. The bronze could have easily gone either way between her and Leonova, and the one left in fourth place still would have accomplished something good for herself even if their places had been switched. It’ll be interesting to see if either Yu-Na or Carolina continue after this year, but they both had good send-offs if they don’t.

As for Mao, she’ll be back; we’ll no doubt see her on the podium again before Sochi. Along with hopefully at least one American girl, though who that girl will be is still a mystery.

So the season ends. Just in time to start wondering when the Grand Prix meeting will take place, what new pairs are going to show up, and apparently Jeremy Abbott and Ashley Wagner are already choosing their music, so I hope for news of that soon.

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