So we have come to the end of the season. Yes, there is another team competition in Japan later this month (remember the good ole' days when those where in the U.S.) but all the major competitions have come to an end. An exciting, if unusual, season it has been.
So this season I have added some awards. I have so many to give out that I'm going to do this in two parts. Today I'll honor some of the best programs, tomorrow some of the more fun awards. I'll prepare you in advance, this will be a long post! The following categories for today:
*Best Ladies Free Program
*Best Mens Free Program
*Best Free Dance
*Best Pairs Free Program
*Short Program of the Year
*Best Forgotten Performance of the Season (NEW)
*Worst Performance of the Season (NEW)
*Skater of the Year
*Best Ladies Free Program was a difficult one for me. In the end I came to a conclusion and decided I would give this award to Joannie Rochette for her performance at Canadian Nationals. She skated from the heart with gorgeous artistry, picture perfect jumps, elegance, everything. It wasn't the most ambitious program of the season, but it was a program with class and in my opinion, the most impressive of the season. Of course, I considered basically every Yu-Na Kim performance of the season for this award, also Mao Asada's GP Final Free Skate where she hit two Triple Axels and Miki Ando's jumping clinic at World's.
*Best Mens Free Program for me was a no brainer! If you had the pure pleasure of being inside the Staples Center for the Mens Final at the World Championships you got an incredible glimpse of the future. Beginning the night in 17th place, Denis Ten of Kazakhstan put on a performance that brought the house down, shattering expectations that anyone in that arena had for him. He ended the competition in 8th place after nailing down a top six free skate...stunning! Before exiting the ice, he leaned down and gave it a kiss, grateful for its cooperation. To be sure, I heavily considered giving this honor to Evan for his performance of equal caliber later that evening. Jeremy Abbott's Grand Prix Final performance got some consideration as did Patrick Chan's Eric Bompard Trophy Free.
*Best Free Dance choice was only difficult because I couldn't decide which competition to award the team I definitely felt deserved the honor. In the end, I give this award to Davis and White for their winning Free Dance at the Four Continents Cup. They narrowly managed to squeak past Virtue and Moir for the win, an action that was reversed at the World Championships when Virtue and Moir squeaked past them for the Bronze. Davis and White's Worlds Free Dance was equally deserving of the honor. We missed Delobel and Schoenfelder at Worlds but I gave their "Great Gig" program at the Grand Prix Final some thought, I also considered Khoklova and Novitski's European Championship Free Dance as well young'ins Chock and Zuerlein for their Jr. Worlds Free Dance.
Best Pairs Free Skate honors goes to Denney and Barrett for their Four Continents Free Skate. But they had quite the performance at the U.S. Nationals as well as Worlds, simply underscoring the fact they deserve this award! Their performance at Four Continents proved their performance at Nationals wasn't a fluke. It was a season that showed us some great Pairs skating (I mean really great!). I almost gave the award to Savchenko and Szolkowy for their Worlds Free but then changed my mind at the last second. I also considered Pang and Tong's Four Continents performance and Dube and Davison's Canadian Nationals Free Skate. But aside from these, there was an enormous amount of fantastic performances this season!
*Best Short Program honors goes to Yu-Na Kim for her Worlds Short. Talk about spellbinding! I think that 'Danse Macabre' program may go down as one of those iconic shorts like Michelle Kwan's Rachmaninoff piece from 1998, amazing! Actually, I almost awarded it to Yu-Na for her Four Continents Cup short, but she got more points at Worlds! The other two programs I considered was Mukhortova and Trankov's Skate America short that was simply beautiful and Samuel Contesti's Europeans Short that put him back on the figure skating map.
*Best Forgotten Performance of the Year is one of my new awards. Seems like every season their is a great performance that we aren't talking about later in the season. This award remembers those programs and gives them a little bit of the due they deserve. I decided to give this award to Stepehn Carriere for his free skate at Cup of China. Can you even remember it? Well if you can, you'll remember he put down an amazing performance to finish behind Abbott who shocked all and won. Others I considered for this award include Johnny Weir for his Skate America Free, Akiko Suzuki for her NHK Free, and Faiella and Scali for their European Championships Free Dance.
*Worst Performace of the Year is the award...well basically it's an offer of sympathy. "Just because you were terrible doesn't mean don't still love you." Top honors goes to poor poor Carolina Kostner who just fubared it completely in the free skate at Worlds, not a single clean triple...ouch. I also took time to remember Emily Hughes attempt at a comeback at the Eric Bompard Trophy, didn't work...McLaughlin and Brubaker's less than par showing at Worlds, and Kimmie Meissner's Skate America flop.
*Skater of the Year is the final award for today. This was really a no brainer! Is there any real doubt that this title belongs to Yu-Na Kim...I mean...really? She shattered the record for highest point total for a women skater, she skated brilliantly all season, put down some of the best choreography the sport has ever seen, and done it all with grace and class. Really, well done! In full honesty, I never considered anyone but Yu-Na for this honor.
Check back tomorrow for the second half of the 2nd Annual Loop Axel Awards...I have some interesting awards to hand out!