With the skating season nearly compete and the Olympics next year, I have some homework suggestions for the U.S. top skaters this summer so that they may be ready for next season and the challenges it will bring.
Brandon Mroz - Presentation, presentation, presentation. You have such an amazing skating foundation, now build upon it. Look up at the audience more when performing, think about the music...don't skate to it...skate with it, show some emotion and bring the audience with you along your journey. Couple that with the solid technical aspects of your skating and you'll go far!
Rena Inoue and John Baldwin - Please hammer down solid side-by-side triple toe-loops! That is the single biggest thing holding you back and keeping you from truly competing with the best in the world. In addition to the triple jumps, try to shore up the triple twist. On the throw triple axel, either train it and put it in every free skate or ditch it all together...the whole maybe we'll try it maybe we won't tactic rarely works. Finally, no more Pasha Grischuk choreographing the programs please.
Samuelson and Bates - What strides you have made this season! The biggest thing to work on is to let the emotion and passion of your dancing shine through. When you skate your positions are precise and solid, now let's make them emotion filled.
Ashley Wagner - Despite the critics I thought your free skate this season was masterful! Keep that intensity in your skating, it's fierce and it's amazing. Work on being consistent on the jumps, making sure to fully rotate them. Also, work on getting those triple triple combinations back up to snuff...they will serve you well in the future.
Caroline Zhang - Speed, speed, speed! It is your biggest shortcoming. Keep working on getting speed in your programs. Also, tweek the entrance to your lutz and flip to make sure you aren't receiving edge deductions. Keep the effervescence and lightness to your skating you currently have.
Jeremy Abbott - Believe! You are one of the most talented skaters on the scene today...believe it! Take the ice like you own it and never look back. Keep working out the entrances into your jumps...it gets you a lot of points and it's amazing. Also think about attempting the quad more frequently...a quad coupled with your artistic ability would be formidable.
Mirai Nagsu - Get used to that new body of yours and stay healthy. Think about choosing a piece of music that gives you some grace and allows you to use the longer lines your new body has blessed you with. Think outside the box when it comes to choreographing your new routines.
Denney and Barrett - Transitions, choreography, finesse. Work out all the things you find in the second mark in skating because the technical is solid!
Davis and White - Keep doing exactly what you are doing...it's working!
Johnny Weir - Be healthy. Also, take risks. Don't be afraid to do something that is a complete departure from what people expect from you (aside from press remarks). Change it up and shock us as only Johnny Weir could. Also, like Abbott, the quad could be magic for you. Train it, get it, stick it!
Rachael Flatt - Find a way to connect with your audience. I suggest picking a piece of music that isn't so 'mature.' Have fun, let it loose, let it go. When you can get the audience in tune to your performance, you'll be in good shape. The triple triples have kind of slipped away this season...get those back.
Alissa Czisny - You have the makings of a beautiful skater, continue to play to your strengths...choreography, spins, positions. That said, you'll have to step it up technically. Consistency on jumps is essential as well as completing those rotations. A tall order indeed but adding a triple triple would be helpful.
McLaughlin and Brubaker - I'm actually going to suggest reducing difficulty by getting rid of the side-by-side triple salchows. Focus on the triple toe-loops and double axels and making them consistent. Keep that infectious connection with the audience and you will go far!
Belbin and Agosto - It was a rocky road for you this season but you pulled it off in the end. Stay healthy is the first goal. Second, don't feel like you have to become a Russian team with the over the top dramatics to compete with the best. Try to find that 'American' flair that will set you apart. Finally, skate with abandon and full out presence. It was the difference between Silver and Gold at Worlds, make it happen next season.
Evan Lysacek - What a road this season was. Continue to make sure those jumps are fully rotated...it was great the second half of the season. Let the footwork go. You've said Michelle Kwan is one of your inspirations...watch her foot work in competition and try to get that kind of feeling. It may be taking a couple of steps out but if you can get that in sync with the music it will be for the better. And finally, a selfish request, ditch the tan!
The fact that I have that much opinion about our skaters scares me a little...