Sunday, October 26, 2008

Skate America Report 3

Right into it with the Free Dance. Summersett and Gilles were able to pull up a spot after a great Free Dance. This young U.S. team has a great deal of promise. Carron and Jost of France stayed in 5th after a not so special Free Dance. Speaking of young U.S. teams with promise, Samuelson and Bates stole the spotlight again. I saw Evan in the lobby and that guy is tall but he along with Emily move like liquid silk on the ice, amazing to watch and a nice ovation from the crowd. They finished 4th overall but were actually third in the Free Dance. The Kerr's from Great Britain managed to hang on to the bronze medal despite being eclipsed by Evan and Bates in the Free Dance...this team was another crowd favorite and winning the bronze wasn't their big moment...more on this in a bit! It was super close at the top. Belbin and Agosto finally managed to break through and win the Free Dance. Their program set to 'Tosca' is very intense and dramatic. You can tell there are some places in the program that need a bit of tweaking but it's well on its way. Tanith and Ben are a completely different team from the past, they have completely revamped themselves, we'll have to see if it pays off. Despite losing the Free Dance to the Americans, Delobel and Schoenfelder managed to take the title. Like the Americans, their Pink Floyd program still needs a little work but it's good as well. In the end, they won by just over a point. Wait...did I correctly predict the Dance podium too?

The ladies free skate didn't go well for the American ladies at all. Poor Kimmie Meissner...poor poor Kimmie. I just feel so bad for her because it appears her confidence still isn't there. She had a bit of meltdown, dropping all the way to 8th overall...ouch! She just keeps heading further and further down the rankings. I don't know what she needs to do...but she needs to do something.

Bad news for Mirai Nagasu as well. She had some jump issues here and there and on top of that, most of her jumps got downgraded because of cheated landings. You could tell at the end of her program, she knew it wasn't going to be good. She finished 5th overall. Rachael Flatt was the lone American to do okay, but she was up against a brick wall with the ladies from Japan and Korea! She did a pretty good skate and was the highest amongst our ladies finishing 4th.

The top three were very good. Miki Ando landed a lot of jumps in her program, problem was she didn't do a great deal of choreography. It was just jump to jump to jump. That was why her teammate, Yukari Nakano, with less technical difficulty surpassed her for the silver. Interestingly, both Ando and Nakano are skating too 'Giselle' this season. But Yu-Na Kim was stellar. Her only error came when she singled a loop, otherwise she was near flawless. She was simply amazing and at the end of her performance the crowd erupted, superfans and all! The score was huge, she beat the other ladies by about 20 points, it was crazy.

The exhibition performance was nice. Some of the highlights included the Kerr's Scottish Folk Dance, Kilts and all! They got a huge ovation and solitified themselves as the definite crowd favorites of the event. Evan Lysacek danced his butt off to a Michael Jackson/Chris Brown combo. Yukari Nakano impressed again with a gorgeous piece to Barbara Streisand's 'Somewhere.' McLaughlin and Brubaker continued to wow the crowd with their pairs skills. Delobel and Schoenfelder did this amazing number with huge scarfs. And Yu-Na Kim again (rhymes!) was mesmerizing.

10 things I've learned at Skate America about this skating season...

1. The judges plan on being very, VERY nitpicky this season. Rotate those jumps!
2. I really hate the fact that the judges are anonymous!
3. The Yu-Na Kim superfans are amazing!
4. By no means do Delobel and Schoenfelder have this season locked up.
5. Johnny Weir continues to be reliable and consistent....unbelievable.
6. U.S. ladies figure skating is in trouble...even our A team couldn't bring it.
7. The U.S. has a bright spot in pair skating in McLaughlin and Brubaker, they rock!
8. Skating in Japan is huge, NHK cameras where everywhere!
9. The U.S. Dance field is becoming extremely deep!
10. Never, NEVER count Japan out!

Well that's it from me...I'm gonna get all these amazing shots loaded onto a public album and share with all of you. Now that it's all over you can see the full results here. Next week I'll be just like everyone else watching the Grand Prix at home (on the computer for those of us in the U.S., crud!). I'm off to bed for an early flight tomorrow. Goodnight!


Nicole said...

Thanks for sharing your impressions of the event. It's always nice to read live reports.

Skate America always seems to get the most nitpicky tech. specialists and judges all together. Last year, the ladies event had tons of downgrades (Caroline Zhang alone had 5). This year, it seriously affected the outcome of the men's event. I'm thinking they'll be less trigger happy as the Grand Prix goes on.

Sharon said...

Thanks so much, Aaron, for your blog...almost as good as being there! My favorite skate was definitely McLaughlin/Brubaker...they were incredible and I'm so excited to have such a great US pair.

Aaron said...

They were great! I just love the chemistry between them and the energy they put forward on the ice. They are a joy to watch!

Anonymous said...

I think they need to be nit picky. Why should people who didn't rotate their jumps all the way get the credit when they didn't deserve it in the first place? If we want to call figure skating a sport, we need to be nit picky about the tech. details. it's a matter of fairness. I cannot wait to see how they will grade Asada's jumps this season!

Flatt needs to loose some pounds. I know she's young but look at Angela Nilkodinov. Before her pound loosing, no one was taking her seriously in international competition. But when she lost her pounds, all the sudden, she was on podiums internationally. Mirai skated much more maturely than last season when she won her US championship. I actually like her better now. Her skating lacked maturity last year. I almost feel like she won her first US championship because US figure skating had a void (kinda like when Meissner won her Worlds). The super inflated scores that the judges gave her was a joke. over 190 for her two programs? Give me a break. Mao skated brilliantly at the Worlds and only got 185.