Despite its many logistical flaws, the fist day of the Team Challenge Cup won me over. Great skating? Check. Cute Kiss-And-Cry antics from the teams? double check. TWO RATIFIED QUAD FREAKING FLIPS? Triple check. (Should that be quad check? Probably.) Prom-posals? Yup, it had those, too. The fun camaraderie of this event won me over.
(No, seriously. This thing is like World Team Trophy times 500.)
So, here are my top 10 highs/lows of this event. I did not get to watch pairs or dance, so those will probably not be in this.
10. Highlight: Promposal
No, this program was not the highlight. (It was a bit rough.) Skip to 6:15 for one of the iconic moments of the competition, in which Nam Nguyen asks Polina Edmunds to prom in the kiss-and-cry. Literally EVERYONE was talking about this-the commentators mentioned it, like, eight times throughout the event-and yes, in case you hadn’t heard, she said yes: https://twitter.com/PolinaEdmunds/status/724065223053733888. 😉
9. Low Point: Boyang Jin runs out of Quad-Power™
Official #Quadster (I made that up and I don’t care :p) Boyang Jin had a remarkable start to his season and continued that form, on and off, throughout the season, culminating in a surprise bronze medal at Worlds. However, it would appear that end-of-season exhaustion set in here, and he had mistakes on nearly every jump pass. When Boyang’s jumps aren’t working, there is really nothing to hold the program together, so this was really depressing.
Side note: Boyang confuses me because he can be such a showman in exhibitions (I was at the Worlds ex and the crowd went ABSOLUTELY BERSERK when he skated), but he shows so little personality and expression in competition. Why? Clearly he can be a great performer, with the right vehicle. Hoping he gets some better programs next year, preferably to more upbeat music. Heck, even his techno ex could be the inspiration for a new SP. (Minus the bouncy ball juggling, obviously.)
8. Highlight: Denis Ten Doesn’t Die
Denis Ten seems to have remarkably bad luck with injuries almost every season, but this one was particularly bad: he only competed three times prior to Worlds (which he bombed) because of various injuries. Lack of training time combined with his all-over-the-place inconsistency was, understandably, a recipe for disaster – until TCC. He put out a perfect short program, which I didn’t get to watch because I was in the car, but I read the protocols and I’m sure it was lovely while it lasted. Which it didn’t. He reverted to his usual ways in the free skate.
7. Low Point: Elena Radionova Loses It
Even while going through a growth spurt, Elena Radionova has managed to put out an admirable number of clean programs this season. Even if she didn’t skate clean, she never truly melted down (I think her worst skate prior to this one was her GPF FS, where she fell once). But whatever happened – exhaustion, growing even more and not being able to adjust, fill in the blank – Elena just couldn’t hold it together in her SP here. She missed the opening combination (due to a scratchy landing on her 3Lz) and I thought she would be fine because she is always so good at tacking combinations onto solo jumps when she misses the first one. But when she tried to put a 3T on her solo 3F, she went down and it clearly spooked her because she opened up and popped her 2A (not just into a single, but forward and on two feet). It was kind of a mess and she was clearly mad at herself. I don’t know what exactly happened, but I really hope it was not an indicator of how she will be skating come next season.
6. Highlight: Small but Mighty Tursynbaeva’s Flawless SP
Elizabet Tursynbaeva, or “Bitty Betty,” as I like to call her ;), has really made a case for herself this season. In her senior debut season, she medaled at four Challenger Series events and placed 4th and 7th at her GPs, 3rd at the Youth Olympics, 5th at Junior Worlds, and 12th at Senior Worlds. She’s also competed more than almost any other skater, skating in ten events. So it’s rather incredible that she still has enough energy to put out clean programs at the end of the season! Her sassy, charming “I Got Rhythm” short is much better suited to her style than the first one she had this season, and when skated clean (like here), is quite a lot of fun to watch.
5. Highlight: New SP & two Personal Bests from Jason Brown
Jason Brown sat out most of the season due to a back injury and made his highly-anticipated return to competition here. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this SP (which is new); I think I like his lyrical programs more than most of his upbeat ones, which (while excellent when done well) can come off as slightly cheesy.
Also, I could not believe that he wore a plain black shirt (blouse?) in competition. Dude, please don’t bedazzle that. It went very well with his understated program.
4. Highlight: Evgenia Medvedeva Breaks More Records
While I was not ever fully convinced that Evgenia’s first world record was merited, congratulations to her for breaking it. Even being skeptical of the merits of said record, you can’t deny that she is ridiculously amazing. Also, I really want her to skate to Valse Triste next year.
3. Highlight: In Which I Enjoy a Program I Previously Said I Didn’t Like
I have said some rather harsh things about Ashley Wagner’s short program on here before. However, I take them back after this performance, which I think was one of her best ever-in either segment. She got really into it, and the crowd got into it even moreso; at one point she even started clapping along to her music in a spin. That is how you engage and audience! Even though I’m getting tired of Moulin Rouge by now, at least I can now appreciate this program properly. 🙂
2. Quad Flipping Leprechaun is Numero Uno
Shoma Uno made history as the first skater to land a ratified quad flip in competition, landing one in his SP and one in his FS. Both were spectacular, but I prefer the FS, and the leprechaun reference would not make much sense if I didn’t include a picture of his green FS outfit, so I chose to highlight the FS. Also, 3A-1lo-3F has got to be one of the coolest combinations I have ever seen.
Gaaaaah, I am a blubbering mess…Gracie really needed this after Worlds and I’m ecstatic that she was able to put out a near-perfect program to end the season. I’m actually sad to see this program go – #TheSquat will be sorely missed. 😉
And now, I must face the reality that the off-season is upon us. GAAAAH! For this reason, don’t be confused if gymnastics and/or Summer Olympics-related posts start popping up in the summer. It’s just a coping mechanism. Expect many season recaps, lots of inane skating fashion posts, and possibly some random raving about Melitina Staniouta. 🙂