The 2015-16 GP Programs Mega Recap, Part 2

Heeey!!! I wanted to get this post done before Christmas Eve, so here I am!

If you didn’t see my last post (the SP recap), this series is essentially ranking every program  of the top-15-placed ladies skaters on the Grand Prix-by how much I liked them, that is. (It’s about the programs, not individual performances.) I did the short programs already, so now I’m back with the Free Skates!

To get started, here is a graphic of the GP rankings:

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Now for Ze Programs!

15. Ehhhh…(Elizaveta Tuktamysheva)

I do not know who thought it would be a good idea for Elizaveta, who does best with powerful programs that aren’t balletic, to skate to Peer Gynt, but it is not pleasant. This is just not Liza’s style and, what’s worse, plays up her weaknesses, which is the exact opposite of what a program should do. I hope her team decides to go with something more her style next season.

14. Music Cuts of Death (Roberta Rodeghiero)

I suppose one consequence of breaking into the top tier as fast as Roberta has this season is that you aren’t prepared to actually be competitive with the best in the world, and this program shows it. It’s a fine program (except the awful music cuts), but it is clearly not up there with the best in the world.

13. This is not a very strong wind (Polina Edmunds)

Polina, I love you, but this program is incredibly generic. As much as I appreciate her attempts to show her new refinement and grace, this program just bores me. And this is the second disappointing FS in a row she’s had…

POLINA, YOU DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS!

12. I don’t really know what to call this (Kanako Murakami)

I like Kanako, but this program is kinda weird. It feels very abstract for some reason. I don’t really like abstract programs, so…yeah.

11. Pretty but Bland #1 (Julia Lipnitskaya)

I feel like every program Julia does is supposed to be a rehash of her iconic Schindler’s List program from the Sochi Olympics, and they’ve all fallen short. This meets both criteria. It’s pretty, but it’s also very bland (this seems to be kind of a trend this season).

10. Eventually, the show must end (Ashley Wagner)

This was a fine program last season, and it’s still a fine program, but I’m getting kind of sick of it. Ashley had so many iconic moments with this program that she’s kind of exhausted its wow-factor.

9. Pretty but Bland #2 (Yuka Nagai)

*Sigh* it’s an infestation…at least her dress is pretty.

8. Hey music: Pick on someone your own size! (Karen Chen)

I love Karen to pieces, and I think she’s doing a pretty good job with this program, but it was a really ambitious choice and I’m not sure it paid off. She’s skating to Les Miserables, which is really big music, and she’s usually good at projecting to the audience, but this program really overpowers her. She would do better with something a little more understated.

7. Queen Courtney: the Golden Age 😉 (Courtney Hicks)

THIS is a great example of playing up a skater’s strengths. Because this music is very big, Courtney’s speed and power are made very obvious. And because those are her best qualities, this program really works. I like it a lot and I’m glad she’s had some good skates of it this year!

6. Pretty but Bland #3 (Satoko Miyahara)

I will give Satoko a pass for going the pretty route because she is very graceful and soft classical is a style she does well. But this program is borderline bland-infestation™. No. Satoko, you are too good for that. Get something more original.

5. Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who’s the Pretty but Bland™-est of them all? (Evgenia Medvedeva)

Evgenia is!

While she’s really grown on me, I am still confused by this program. it alternates between hysterical arm-waving and tortured facial expressions and moments of garden-variety blandness. Coupled with the ridiculous amount of ‘tanos and the distracting backloading, this is not Evgenia’s best; however, even Evgenia’s worst isn’t horrible.

4. NEEEEEAR! FAAAAAR! WHEREEEEEEVER YOU AAAAARE! (Elena Radionova) 

This is a complete and utter cheesefest. However, cheese is delicious. 🙂

3. Borderline Pretty-but-Bland™ (Mao Asada)

I really hate calling this Pretty-but-Bland™, but it honestly does nothing for me. I get that it’s supposed to be artistic, but I’m not picking up on that.

2. #BirdHands (Gracie Gold)

Okay, this is admittedly cheesy. But as I said, CHEESE IS DELICIOUS. 🙂 Apparently slightly-cheesy is Gracie’s best style…

1. Surprise! (Rika Hongo)

With this FS, Rika Hongo has officially bumped Julia Lipnitskaya out of my third-favorite-ladies-skater slot, because this is something I actually keep track of.

And so it ends! 

P.S.: Depending on how bored I am tomorrow, I might post something about Russian Nationals or whatever.

 

The 2015-16 GP Programs Mega-Recap (SP)

Soo…hi!

First off, sorry about not doing a GPF recap. It was too depressing. It would’ve ended very badly.

Second, I am going to be doing something else instead: a giant mega-recap of all 30 programs from the top 15 ladies on the GP (programs themselves, not specific performances), starting with this, the short program recap.

So, these people:

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But wait, there’s more…these will be ranked from worst to best, not by the skater’s placement. And because why not, they will also be given a witty title thing…

 

15. Mesh and Sound Effects! (Elizaveta Tuktamysheva)

Music: Carmina Burana (Remix)

When I first saw this (now-defunct) short program, I actually liked it. I thought it suited her. But…butbutbut…two things.

  1. She never skated it clean (I’ve heard this is why she went back to her last SP); and
  2. She/her team decided to add spooooky! Sound effects (um…why?!?).

Also, this is really shallow, but the dress was entirely inappropriate and that did not help. But on the topic of the actual program, it had potential, but that potential got lost in translation…very lost.

14. The Subject of Tonight’s Lecture is Rhythm Annoying Repetitive Song Choices (Ashley Wagner)

Music: Hip Hip, Chin Chin by Club de las Belugas

I am not really a fan of samba-type programs, nor am I a fan of spoken voiceovers in programs, or repetitive music in general. So…heh. I really wanted to like this program, but I just don’t. However, I admire Ashley’s commitment to her performance in this program. It is obvious she really connects to it, so I suppose that’s what really matters…

Even if the music selection drives me out of my mind.

13. 50’s Nostalgia…ish? (Yulia Lipnitskaya?)

Music: Medley of songs by Elvis Presley

This was hard for me, I must say. I really love Yulia, but…this program…blergh. Suffice to say it’s not my favorite. And also, I was greatly conflicted on which of her GP performances to use for this: her good skate at TEB, or her marginal skate at Skate America featuring the fabulous cornea-burning rainbow dress of doom. (I picked TEB, to placate any Yulia fans mad that I put her this low.) But back on topic, it just doesn’t seem like she’s feeling this program. As much as I dislike it, this music is not the kind of music you can skate to with an “I will kill someone if I don’t win” face. This program doesn’t work if you’re not having fun with it, and I don’t think she is. Yulia, please get better programs next year! I want to love your skating again!

12. Well, this one was just meh…(Roberta Rodeghiero) 

Music: “He Sleeps,” “Pretty Woman”

I really didn’t dislike this program; it was just kind of, well…meh. Also, the music cut could’ve been done a lot better, to say the least. However, this was a very good skate, so there’s that. I just don’t have much to say about this program. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t a world-contender-level program.

11. Nope, no feelings beginning… (Courtney Hicks) 

Music: “The Feeling Begins”

Again, there was nothing bad about this program, but it kind of bored me, which was disappointing, seeing as Courtney had one of my favorite SPs last season.

 

10. Copycat Mao (Yuka Nagai) 

Music: Madame Butterfly

If you’ve seen Mao Asada’s free skate, it doesn’t take long to figure out how similar the two programs are…except that one of them is markedly better than the other.

9. TBH: kind of sick of Tango de Roxanne (Kanako Murakami) 

Music: Tango de Roxanne

I like Kanako, and she really sells this program, but at this point I am very sick of Tango de Roxanne.

8. Just wait for the Free Skate recap… (Rika Hongo) 

Music: “Quidam” from Cirque De Soliel

The middle of this recap is the hardest part because I like programs 5-9 but I don’t absolutely love them, so I have to figure out how to order them fairly…and this is the quandary I am facing with Rika. Her skating is really improved this season, and this program is a good fit for her, but there are a lot of programs on this list I like better. I like Rika’s energy and commitment to the performance, but there are other programs I prefer.

7. Mixed Feelings (Satoko Miyahara) 

Music: “Firedance” from Riverdance

I like Satoko a lot, and I really admire how artistically proficient she is at such a young age. I’ve loved most of her programs in the past, but I haven’t really warmed up to this one. It’s very understated and that’s not really my thing. However, it is a very sophisticated program and well-suited to her, thus the fairly high ranking.

6. #BalletArmsFTW (Polina Edmunds)

Music: Moonlight Sonata

In my Glacier Falls recap (one of my first posts, actually), I said I “loved this program to death.” I can’t exactly say that anymore, but I still like it a lot. It still amazes me how much more refined Polina is this season than she was last season; the aforementioned “ballet arms” are a reference to that.

5. An Abundance of ‘Tanos (Evgenia Medvedeva) 

Evgenia has grown on me a lot over the course of the season. When I saw the videos of her at the Russian test skates, I thought she was boring as tar; now, I can at least say I like her, even if I’m not a huge fan. Her refinement and softness is very refreshing in a country whose current crop of skaters are mostly known for over-the-topness. As annoying as the backloading and constant ‘tanos are, she has a lot of redeeming qualities. Evgenia seems to really feel this music, too, and I cannot stop raving about her dress. I really can’t write anything about her without mentioning it, LOL!

4. J’Taime indeed (Elena Radionova) 

Music: “J’taime” by Lara Fabian

It pains me to have to put Elena out of the top three, but it was for good reasons: she’s behind two world-class programs and a sentimental favorite. A lot of people don’t like this program, but I did; it suits Elena better than a lot of people give it credit for, and it’s great that she’s branching out artistically. However, it wasn’t enough to crack the top three.

3. The epic debut (Karen Chen) 

Music: Nessun Dorma from Turandot

I got to see this performance in person.

It was about the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced. That spiral into the music? Actual tears. *Sigh* It was so perfect…

2. Please Leeeet Me Explaaain! (Mao Asada) 

Music: Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen

This program shows a side of Mao she hasn’t really shown before: #SassyMao. 🙂 Considering the programs she’s done in the past, I didn’t think this program would be a good fit for her, but it has quickly become one of my favorite of her programs. (The others are Nocturne, Fantaisie-Impromptu and Czardas, so that was a very high bar!) She’s never skated it entirely clean, but if she ever does, I can’t even imagine how awesome it would be. (World record for sure…)

1. *Air quotes* “Didn’t see that coming…” (Gracie Gold)

Music: El Choclo by Angel Villodo

This is it, folks. This is what it looks like when Gracie has a program that actually fits her.

*Whispering dramatically* It’s majestic. 

 

Hopefully I’ll be back with my FS recap before Russian Nationals on Wednesday. Thanks for reading!

Pre-GPF Skater Rankings: Ladies

So, the Grand Prix is officially over *sobs* and there’s still over a week to the Final *sobs more*, and I can’t get the Golden Spin of Zagreb livestream, but I want to post something, so here is a new thing: Post-GP Skater Rankings!

Basically, these are post-GP analyses of the skaters who made the Final, ranked by “power” (from least to most), with little blurbs that explain why I placed them there. Plus, I will try to predict placements. Woohoo! Watch me fail miserably at predicting stuff! *Punches air triumphantly*

 

6. Ashley Wagner, USA 

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Qualified in: 6th

Achievements: Qualified for five GPFs, medaling at three (a silver and two bronzes); three-time US Champion; multiple-time GP medalist; Multiple top-5 Worlds finishesFinishes on 2015-16 GP: Skate Canada-1st; NHK Trophy-4th (24 pt.)

Why I Placed Her Here: While the GPF has kind of become Ashley’s “signature competition”, as she almost always peaks there, I could be very wrong about this. After all, last year she qualified in last and then won the bronze medal unexpectedly. I thought she was due for a repeat after she won Skate Canada over the reigning world champion, but a near-meltdown at NHK changed that. While she’s known for surprise GPF medals, I don’t think she has one in her this year.

 

5. Satoko Miyahara, Japan 

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Qualified in: 3rd

Achievements: 2015 World silver medalist; 2015 Japanese Champion; four-time GP medalist; 2015 4CC silver medalist

Finishes on the 2015-16 GP: Skate America-3rd; NHK Trophy-1st

Why I Placed Her Here: Despite being high in the qualifying order, I don’t think Satoko will medal here because her underrotation issues tend to derail her. She has lovely spins, skating skills and presentation, but her jumps are so small that she hardly ever rotates them all. However, she’s one of the most consistent skaters in this field, so she might surprise us.

4. Mao Asada 

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Qualified in: 4th

Achievements: 2010 Olympic silver medalist, five-time world medalist (three gold), six-time 4CC medalist (three gold), six-time GPF medalist (four gold), two-time Junior World medalist (one gold), JGPF champion, can’t-even-keep-track-of-the-times GP medalist

Finishes on the 2015-15 GP: Cup of China-1st, NHK Trophy-3rd

Why I Placed Her Here: with an achievement list like that, it’s pretty clear that Mao is already a legend-so why place her this low? Well, after CoC, I probably would’ve had her first or second, but she melted down at NHK and the rest is history…while she’s got an insane technical layout planned, and her “PCS Qualities” are class-of-the-field, I’m afraid her consistency has gotten worse sense she came back. She could easily win if she skated cleanly, but I’m not sure how likely that is.

3. Elena Radionova, Russia

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Qualified in: 5th

Achievements: 2015 World bronze medalist, 2015 Russian champion, 2015 GPF silver medalist, 2o13 and 2014 Junior World Champion, six-time GP medalist, 2015 European silver medalist

Finishes on the 2015-16 GP: Cup of China-3rd, Cup of Russia-1st

Why I Placed Her Here: Elena, my Princess of Poor Posture, is a total wildcard: she will either medal or melt down, and there is really no in between. Of course, I want her to medal, and she certainly has the goods and is usually consistent. But her less-than-stellar CoC outing leaves a bit of doubt as to which version of the Baroness of Biellmans :p will show up at the final-the rock-solid jumper who never puts a foot wrong, or the one who makes us cry hysterically.

2. Gracie Gold, USA 

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Qualified in: 1st

Achievements: 2014 Olympic Team Event bronze medalist, several top-5 finishes at worlds, 2014 US Champion, six-time GP medalist, 2012 Junior World silver medalist

Finishes on the 2015-16 GP: Skate America-2nd, Trophee Bompard-1st

Why I Placed Her Here: Okay, so this is a bold choice considering Gracie’s awful track record with consistency, but I really think this is the right place to put her. She’s been far more consistent this season, has better programs, improved her interpretation, and is skating with more attack-all the things she needs to do to contend with the best. The judges are willing to score her high if she skates well-we saw that at SA and TEB-so if she skates anywhere close to clean, I expect a medal. She’s always had it in her-she just needs to land everything under pressure for once.

1. Evgenia Medvedeva, Russia 

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Qualified in: 2nd

Achievements: two-time JW medalist (one gold), 2014 JGPF champion, two-time GP medalist, Russian bronze medalist

Finishes on the 2015-16 GP: Skate America-1st; Cup of Russia-2nd

Why I Placed Her Here: Evgenia is a consistent competitor with strong jumps and a layout that, when done right, can’t really be beat (except by a clean 3A). She also has good spins and skating skills; her presentation is all right as well. I find her a little bland, but the judges are more than willing to reward her in PCS despite being a very new senior. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Evgenia melt down, and that’s why I’m putting her in first-you can count on her.

 

Any thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!