*Over West Side Story as a choice of music. It MUST be retired. Chose another Bernstein classic. On The Waterfront, Candide, Olympic Hymn.
Brodeur and Mattatal (Canada) - A pleasant surprise. Mylene struggled a tiny bit on the side-by-side elements but by no means a disaster. Ever since Kurt Browning, Gene Kelly and Canadians are like Bread and Butter. I thought they were great.
Martiusheva and Rogonov (Russia) - Shame their side-by-side elements abandoned them because I love this team. I think they are so exciting to watch. One's to watch for the future.
Della Monica and Kocon (Italy) - Another surprise. With The Mission, I either love it or hate it and I loved this. There was some quality their. Side-by-side elements need to be closer and he needs to clean his footwork up on lifts but nice.
Bazarova and Larionov (Russia) - Ho hum. Nothing special. Really nice unison on side-by-side spins.
McLaughlin and Brubaker (USA) - Kind of rough. Seems like a work in progress. Felt slow, especially the spiral sequence. However, anytime anyone is under the care of John Nicks I feel they're in good hands. They should work with a bollywood dancer and add a little more creative dance here. Needs more Mumbai!
Kavaguti and Smirnov (Russia) - Classic Tamara Moskvina. There are some wonderful, inventive moments in this program. I love how the music builds and the fun that's there at the end. If this team is clean in Vancouver, they'll be tough to beat.
Pang and Tong (China) - This program is so much better suited for them than last seasons. So many teams pass up Man of la Mancha and instead skate to Don Quixote, so happy they went with the former. Really pretty program.
Brandon Mroz (USA) - Why does Brandon love those ruffles so? But what a different skater from the short. Quad! This music was far better suited to him, the jumps except that one triple axel were fine, and he settled down and skated. Really he's so capable.
*Why is it that so many American men are struggling with the triple axel this season?
Florent Amodio (France) - Outfit...hot mess. Good choreography, great program. But not up to snuff technically. Another one to watch for the future.
Shawn Sawyer (Canada) - I love this program and I'm glad he stuck with it from last season. Did better keeping those jumps on one foot. Even if he never reaches the pinnacle of figure skating he'd be an awesome choreographer.
Kevin Van der Perren (Belgium) - Good, but no triple axel. Also surprised he didn't do trademark triple triple triple combo. Slow at the end. Isn't this a revamped version of his 2006 Free?
Ivan Tretiakov (Russia) - Felt kind of jump to jump to jump. Lack of experience shined through in the free skate. Really out of gas at the end.
Adrian Schulteiss (Sweden) - Is that PAC-Man I hear in his program? How are Sweden's skaters so cool (Kristoffer Berntsson)? PAC-Man, techno music, 80's dance music, robots, disco...they are always entertaining. This is far more what I expected from him along music choice lines. Issues...but interesting. The scream at the end...little scary!
Artem Borodulin (Russia) - Looked like he was ready to keep up with the top guys in this competition. Again, lots of frantic a-la-Plushenko arm waving in this program but the Russian crowd loves it. Sergei Voronov is in trouble.
Johnny Weir (USA) - He really surprised me here. He debuted stronger last season at an earlier event. I thought he was going to be in top form in Russia. Lacked technical content but I think the program is nicely choreographed. I don't think this is a program that can go toe-to-toe however with Takahashi, Lambiel, or Oda's free we've seen. Needs more work if he's gonna be in Vancouver...but maybe it's his plan to peak in Spokane, not here.
Takahiko Kozuka (Japan) - Quad in the program...nice to see he's going for it. There's a freedom in the music that's just perfect for his style of skating. He needs a bit more expression but the program is great. All three top Japanese Men this season have great programs that totally suit them.
Evgeny Plushenko (Russia) - That cocky SOB!!! Any thoughts of rust or inability to compete with these guys after four years was just thrown out the window. He' so confident and sure of himself that even if he wasn't prepared his confidence would have bridged the gap and got it done anyway. I'll note, however, his score was a couple points less than Lysacek's winning score at World's. A glimmer of hope still exists for the other skaters.
Crone and Poirier (Canada) - They seem far more settled this season. Last season, Paul especially, they seemed almost unsteady on the ice...almost like they were hanging to balance. This is much better. I love this piece of music for them. That first set of twizzles they did were amazing.
Rubleva and Shefler (Russia) - Lovely skating. I don't feel it was as easy across the ice as Crone and Poirier but I appreciate the difficulty they have in this program. Nice to skate like that at home. Breakthrough for them.
Cappellini and Lanotte (Italy) - I hate this music, but somehow I liked it here for them. I love the pictures this team creates with their lifts. I love how the position is instant and they hold it. I'm quite impressed with this program! The low score was a shocker though. They were leaps better than the Russians.
Davis and White (USA) - Tremendous skating. The lifts that Igor Shpilband's teams are doing are ridiculous! My one concern or little nitpick is that sometimes I feel they rush a little. They hit so many gorgeous edges and positions...I want them to really lean in to them and let them sing rather than just moving quickly to the next position. Also note, their final score was about 4 points higher than Virtue and Moir at TEB! Uh oh!
Mao Asada (Japan) - She has lost everything good about her skating this season. She doesn't even look Olympic podium worthy, and that's a sad commentary on Mao Asada. She needs to go all the way back to the drawing board. If I were her, i would ditch the short as planned...I'd ditch the free as well and go back to The Nutcracker from 2006. She's got to find herself because this nightmare is just getting worse. I think she blew her chance at making the Grand Prix Final...eeek!
Ashley Wagner (USA) - Well done! I love the landings of her jumps, they just flow out with that deep knee. The program was excellent with the exception of her straight line footwork which lacked intensity and connection with the rest of the program (perhaps still working on that piece of the program). She's obviously worked very hard at making sure those jumps are fully rotated.
Alena Leonova (Russia) - She's so much fun to watch! Could she have picked a better piece of music than Chicago? Her ability isn't quite as high as some of the other ladies but she makes up for it in charisma. Jump issues early but turned it up in the back half of the program (was she wing'n it?).
Miki Ando (Japan) - It's just element to element...there's no real choreography or transitions there. I didn't get Cleopatra at all from that. The jumps were mostly solid though. Nothing to write home about. Kind of surprised she beat Ashley.
Alissa Czisny (USA) - She fought for almost every jump. I think she had some cheated landings too. That program didn't feel easy. Unfortunate splat on the flip. Her best qualities, no matter her performance, always shine through. Gotta rotate those jumps though.
Julia Sebestyen (Hungary) - Lost the focus she had in the short. Too many doubles...too many faltered landings...not enough content. Bland program...I feel like every female skater from Eastern Europe has skated this exact program. Back to the old Julia.