Highlights/Low Points: NHK Trophy

Heeeeeeey people!

I hope I will be able to crank out this post in a semi-timely fashion after it took me four days to finish my Rostelecom post, LOL. So I’m going back to my dear friend the highs/lows recap, which I seem to be able to write with some degree of punctuality. #SayNoToProcrastination

BEFORE WE BEGIN:

It is of historical importance :p to note that all three standing records for men’s scores were broken at this event. The standing ones were set by Yuzuru Hanyu (SP-101) and Patrick Chan (FS and total-195? and 295). The new records were set by SP record holder Yuzuru Hanyu-106 for his SP, 216 for his FS and 322(!!!) overall. This was the first time a skater of any discipline broke 200 in the FS and 300 overall.

1. Highlight: Suprise GP Finalists! (Hubbell/Donohue-Short Dance)

At the beginning of the season (crazy to think we’re almost halfway through!), I thought Hubbell/Donohue were toast. All I’d seen of them was a very underwhelming, moth-wing-clad free dance at the US Classic, so I naturally didn’t think they’d be able to hold up to the ridiculously deep US dance field. But come Trophee Bompard, I was in for a shock: they actually managed to win a Grand Prix (ignoring the fact that they only skated a short dance and the field was pitifully shallow after Papadakis/Cizeron’s withdrawl). I couldn’t believe it-but then I watched their short dance.

It. Was. Breathtaking. And it still is. Another stellar performance of it at NHK secured them a spot in the Final (huge shocker!) and helped Team USA pull off something no country has ever done: qualifying three ice dance teams to the Final.

Hallelujah, indeed. 🙂

2. Low Point: This was no Skate Canada (Ashley Wagner-Free Skate)

 

There were no falls, and she still made the Final, but that was about the only redeeming quality of this performance. (That and the dress, which, by the way, is fabulous.) Her scoring protocol sheet was a minefield of carrots (AKA underrotation signs, AKA these things <) and edge calls. She also lost a lot of points in her spins and steps, only getting a level 4 on one (out of five). One element, a choreographic step sequence, only got a level 1. That, and the URs/Downgrades, proved her undoing, and she finished 4th-a disappointing showing after her personal-best performance at Skate Canada. Her gold medal from that event was able to save her spot in the Final, but she will need to step it up if she wants to medal there.

3. Highlight: An American in Pairs And Also the Final (Scimeca/Knierim SP and FS) 

 


 

American pairs are back on the map.

(Also, I’ve been waiting for a chance to use that pun for several months, so I hope you found it witty. 🙂 )

A U.S. Pair team hadn’t qualified for the GPF in eight years…until Friday. Scimeca/Knierim rose to the challenge, qualifying in 5th place with a silver (Skate America) and a bronze (NHK). This was not their best outing by any means (although their consistent scores in the high 60’s this season, which continued here, are very encouraging to see), but it was enough to hold on to the podium. And neither of them fell on an SBS jump, which was awesome (though several had wonky landings, hands down, etc.). I’m very excited to see what they’ll be able to pull off at the Final!

4. Low Point: UUUUURGGHHHHHHH. (Maxim Kovtun FS) 

 

I actually enjoy this program, so no, the ridiculous facial expressions and overacting are not the focus of this rant. (I find they amuse me greatly. *Sips tea formally*)

The focus of this rant is the multiple pops, stepouts, etc. in this program. Three pops, a Zayak violation (he did three 2As), and a whole lot of -3 GOEs is just plain unacceptable for a technically-proficient, top-level skater. Ironically, the program was the highlight: apparently over-the-top, goofy interpretations of classical music are Maxim’s forte (pun not intended) and he sold the heck out of this program. But it couldn’t make up for the technical errors, and he ended this competition in an embarrassing 10th place.

5. Highlight: Yup, she’s back! (Satoko Miyahara-Free Skate)

In an interesting plot twist, a diminutive teenager with no triple-triple (at least, in the FS) beat out a three-time world champ, the reigning GPF bronze medalist, and a bunch more solid contenders to win her first Grand Prix. Key to her success (besides all of her actual competition completely bombing, but I choose to pretend that never happened) was that she fully rotated almost all of her jumps, which she usually struggles with; of course, that was very exciting to see. Combined with maxed-out spin levels and excellent “PCS qualities” (interpretation, presentation, skating skills, etc.), this skate was more than enough to win and was the first time  she broke 130 in international competition. After a rather disappointing outing at Skate America, this was exactly what she needed to set herself up well going into the Final (her first ever). Well done!

6. Low Point: The (Literal) Fall of Mao Asada (Mao Asada SP) 

After her great performance at Cup of China, I though Mao would easily be the top skater this year.

Not so.

I’d actually prefer to pretend this never happened, but it did, and *sigh* I’m not so sure if she’s actually going to be that competitive if she keeps skating like this 😦

7. Highlight: WORLD RECORD Y’ALL! 

If you haven’t already, watch these programs now.

Done?

Good. Think about it. Reflect on it. Contemplate the meaning of life or whatever. Just commit this to memory, because it may never be topped-and certainly not for a very, very long time.

8. Low Point: The Pogo Slide™ (Anna Pogorilaya-Short Program) 

Anna Pogorilaya was once a consistent, robotic teenage jumping bean. But those days have gone by.

Anna’s artistry has improved, but in return, she’s become a class-five headcase mostly known for her terrifying wipeout falls (henceforth to be known as the Pogo Slide™-if you don’t get it, watch the video). And this was no exception.

She fought back valiantly in the FS, but it couldn’t undo the damage done by this 11th-place short program. I seriously hope she can fix whatever is going on with her before Russian nationals, because it is going to be a bloodbath for those three spots and if she skates like this, she could become this year’s Yulia.

9. Highlight: How exactly did this happen? (Courtney Hicks-Free Skate) 

If you’d told me before the Grand Prix started that three different American ladies would medal at GPs this year, I would’ve guessed the obvious Gracie, Ashley and Polina, or perhaps Karen Chen. But Courtney? …Never in a million years. So I was equally shocked and excited when I found out she’d won the silver! It only adds to the accomplishment that she did it in such a stacked field-if she can beat Ashley and Mao, I have no doubt she could get the third spot for Worlds if she skated clean at Nationals. Courtney’s (and Mirai Nagasu’s) great results here threw a wrench into my Nationals prediction; either could beat Polina if they skated like they did here, and there’s also Karen, Tyler Pierce, Mariah Bell and Angela Wang, who’ve done well on the Challenger Series/GP. Who knows?

The hunt for the Nationals bronze just got way more interesting.

1. Highlight: If they don’t win Nationals I’ll flip (Shibutanis FD) 

I love this program more and more every time I watch it, and the scores are going up with each outing. This FD scored them a personal best score of 106.35(!), which would have had them just a few hundredths of a point out of third at Worlds (in the FD). It’s not inconceivable to think they could be on the podium in Boston, and certainly possible they could win Nationals. Both they and H/D have scored higher in the free dance this season than Chock/Bates, who were, until now, the undisputed top Americans. They’re both in serious contention for the National title, which would’ve been unheard of only a year ago. And I am really, really excited to see how it all plays out.

On to the GPF!

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