Let me begin with stating that this is the first event I've ever watched on Icenetwork.com...I'll adress this in a second post.
I'll begin with Dance where I must tell you I'm completly at a loss of words for the results. Let me also say, I found the Free Dances at Skate America really good...I think the free dances on showcase here in Canada...I think they need some work. Also...anyone see those scores in the OD...talk about a close bunch up! I'll mention the Americans of Navarro and Bommentre who had bronze almost in their hands until that free dance to dance music circa 1999. Wow...really? They had me mesmerized last season and then this. Didn't go well with the judges either...rethink that. The French team of Pechalat and Bourzat fell from second to win the bronze after an uninspiring free dance. I have to eat my words...to quote myself, "Sadly, it would appear no Canadians are in medal contention in Dance...how very sad." Well, I cannot tell you how but Crone and Poirier won the silver in what was one of the weirdest ice dance finals ever. They had a charming program but I felt it lacked the depth of some of the other teams...but what do I know! But above the fray was Davis and White who made a clean sweep of the competition on their way to their first Grand Prix Gold! I really didn't like the first half of their Free Dance at all but loved how it picked up in the second half. I know Samson and Delilah has been used over and over but it's a piece I love and I felt they gave the second half of their program great energy. And those crazy twizzles! So fast!
I was sad after watching the pairs. I really wanted Keauna and Rockne to have agreat program but the side-by-side jumps wouldn't work for them. Even still they won an bronze medal and will most likely make the final (we can't say positively until a couple more events have taken place, but my guess is their in). Dube and Davison really had a great program, they looked very strong for early in the season. Despite losing to the Canadians in the Free Skate, Kawaguchi and Smirnov of Russia held on to the title after a pretty good program set to (correct me if I'm wrong) Pagliacchi. I loved the Tamara Moskvina flourshes sprinkled throughout the program! Neither the Russians nor the Americans (Vise and Trent) landed a throw quad salchow...the Russians took it out of the program and the Americans fell on their attempt.
Among the ladies I was quite impressed with the medalist. Not medaling, however, was a pair of Americans and the reigning World Silver Medalist. Beatrisa Liang and Caroline Zhang each struggled with their jumps and finished 6th and 5th, respectively. Is it just me or has Caroline Zhang's technique on her triple flip got worst? She just slams the leg down and it looks so awkward. Carolina Kostner finished 4th and it was a comeback of sorts as she had been in the first group of skaters, however, her program was still cluttered with jump errors. Even still, she is the queen of building programs that know how to gain points even if she doesn't skate great. A bit of a surprise but it was lovely to watch was Alissa Czisny's bronze medal. She gave a beautiful performance and I just love those spins and that spiral where she ducks her head all the way down. I had commented on how Fumie Suguri needs to either show up and compete or hang it up...well we got a glimpse of the old Fumie this weekend with a solid silver medal performance that included two lovely triple lutz's...maybe she's back on track to being competitive in a ridiculously deep Japanese field. But the star was Joannie Rochette. To quote Governor Palin, "she was so amazing (in that Alaska accent!)." What a performance and so early in the season. I kind of felt like her short program was given a little extra boost but she blasted the field in the free as well. Job well done!
On a side note...little message to Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen. If you either of you are really contemplating a return to competitive figure skating, there's prime real estate in the U.S. right now!
Amongst the men, I simply think it's gone from being a bit nitpicky to absurd! The judging is hijacking the sport and killing it! Here's a complete rundown of the top 6 starting with Voronov who had an up and down performance (still no triple lutz in the program)...I'm still quite impressed with his quad however. Shawn Sawyer finished 5th, but important to note he won the free skate! He had a bit of a two foot on his triple axel but went on to hit everything else...the program is very musical and he improved upon what was already a solid performance at Skate America. While I just love this program, I don't really think it was worthy of the highest score in the free skate. Yannick Ponsero who led after a brilliant short struggled through his free skate to finish only 4th. The young frenchman will have to wait another day for his big breakout. Lysacek won the bronze, again with the best program that just didn't earn the points. Looking at his element sheet you can see where he was downgraded on his second axel (the one in combination) and his triple loop. They also took GOE points on his first axel and his double axel. My goodness...anyone watching at home who doesn't know squat about this scoring system would say it's wack that he lost this competition. No wonder skating is going down the tubes in the U.S., who'd wanna watch this? Ryan Bradley, my goodness Ryan Bradley, got the silver with a, well, very Ryan performance. He, smartly I think, went back to his 2007 Free and wowed the crowd with a great program that included a quad! And despite his crazy technique...no downgrades...and surprisingly few negative GOE's. The winner of it all was Patrick Chan wo was just so so. He actually was third in the free and even commented in the Kiss n' Cry..."I'll deserve it next time" noting that his performance didn't necessarily match the high placement. Lysacek is now on the bubble for the Grand Prix Final. Two bronzes don't always get it done and we don't know yet how Joubert, Takahashi, Oda, Verner and others competing will fare. Plus he has to wait and see what Weir, Kozuka, Chan, and Bradley do in their next events. Not a fun place to be.
You can see the crazy results here. Next week the skaters will be in Beijing for Cup of China. News has come down the pike that Americans Castille and Okolski have withdrawn...bummer
Little treat...Joannie's amazing performance!