JGP Ostrava is a wrap, and from the looks of it (I haven’t gotten to watch a lot of the men’s and dance programs yet, but I saw the results), it was a much stronger competition across the board than the first event. Despite a lot of lackluster free skates and some truly insane scoring inflation in the ladies event, it had its strong points, too. Let’s get started!
1. Anastasia Gubanova, Russia — 185.59
What Happened: Coming into this competition, a lot of people (myself included) had their eyes on Anastasia. She’s one of the most watchable skaters I’ve ever seen: her balletic carriage, gorgeous use of her hands, wrists and arms, and beautiful extension make her skating about as aesthetically pleasing as it gets. However, her jumps…are another matter. Her technique would make my coach cry, and her 3-3s are terrifyingly unstable because of her hold-onto-your-hats 3T takeoff. She reminds me of Yulia Lipnitskaya in almost every way: refinement, expression, extension, spins, and some reeeally sketchy jumps. However, despite falls in both programs, Anastasia’s polish, spins, and the jumps she did land were enough to squeak out a win by the narrowest of margins. This gives her a great shot at the Final, and I can’t wait to see her at her next event.
The Programs: Her short program to “The Swan” is kind of exactly what you’d expect someone like Anastasia to skate to-soft, elegant and balletic. Not exactly a creative choice, but it’s gorgeous. (She does need to look up more, though. My coach would be all over her for looking at her skates throughout the whole program.) I really love her “Romeo and Juliet” FS: it uses my favorite version of that music, shows off her best qualities, and really brings out the passion of the music. (Random: sometimes I’ll see a junior do an R&J program and think, ‘he/she’s too young for that music,’ but then I remember that in the play, Juliet was 13…and then I slowly die because it freaked me out when I first read it and it STILL FREAKS ME OUT.)
2. Rika Kihara, Japan — 185.51
What Happened: Rika was another skater everyone was looking at coming into this competition. A video had recently surfaced of her landing a perfect 3A-3T, and it was rumored she would unveil her 3A here, so fans were anticipating the possible debut of the Triple Axel That Was Not (sorrynotsorry, spoilers!). Her SP, despite not having the 3A, was impeccable, and she lead by a healthy margin. Most of her FS was good, too, except for the Triple Axel That Was Not™: she fell hard, and I didn’t look at the protocol, but it definitely looked <<. Still, gotta give her props for trying. She missed the win by only .07 points-possibly the smallest margin between medalists I’ve ever seen.
The Programs: eh…not sure how I feel about either. Both of them (the SP to “Tzigane” and FS to “Rhapsody in Blue”) are polished, well-choreographed programs, but I don’t feel like she was really “living up to” the very serious, well-known classical music she used. I’m all for juniors using classical music, and “Rhapsody in Blue” was a nice choice (I think that’ll be a nice program when it’s gotten more mileage), but “Tzigane” seemed…too heavy for a junior. Something lighter, like a waltz, or something up-tempo and fun, like “Czardas”, might have been better choices for someone Rika’s age who wanted to use classical music.
3. Alisa Lozko, Russia — 162.28
What Happened: Ted Barton of the JGP Live Stream said it best: Alisa’s a “spinner from heaven.” But her jumps…yikes. She fell in the FS, and through both programs, she racked up so many URs I lost count. It might have been partly because she is better at -3Lo combos than she is at -3T combos, which she had to do her because of the 3Lo being a required solo jump, but those were far from the only things hit with <. However, there were bright spots: I loved her footwork in both programs, and her spins are some of the best I’ve ever seen. (I tried to do something like her biellman variation, where she grabs her knee while spinning in a nearly-split position, at practice the other day, and I almost fell on my head. And it didn’t look an eighth as pretty.) Sadly, if she can’t fix her awful jump technique, she’ll probably get buried in the constant stream of Russian juniors.
The Programs: I’m not really sure how I feel about the music to Alisa’s “Pavlova” SP, but the program itself is really nice. Her “Milord” FS could be really fun, but she isn’t really engaging in it. She has wonderful musicality and uses the music well, but almost no expression, which makes it somewhat hard to connect with her skating.
4. Yuna Aoki, Japan — 155.79
What Happened: Yuna is a category-five headcase, and her leg wrap in jumps drives me crazy, but she is beautiful to watch. She has lovely polish and grace, and her interpretation is top-notch. However, she can’t seem to get through a program without falling or singling something, so I have no idea how she will hold up as a senior.
The Programs: Her “Meditation from Thais” SP is elegant and gorgeous and a joy to watch. The FS (“On My Own”) is nice, if a little generic.
5. Ha Nul Kim, Korea — 149.25
What Happened: essentially, URs kept Ha Nul out of the top five in the SP, and she came back with a fairly strong FS. She’s a nice skater, and her presentation is improving, but I still don’t really get anything out of her skating. Nice, but not anything earthshaking.
The Programs: her SP (forgot the music, but it’s something by Caro Emerald) is really fun, but the FS is nothing special. Since I’m too lazy to go into a long statistical analysis of why I think this, I’ll just leave it at that.