Monday, October 19, 2009

Trophy Eric Bompard Gets Grand Prix Underway

I must say I was quite impressed with the level of skating displayed at Grand Prix Paris for this early in the season. It shows these skaters are taking this season seriously and we are in for a great season.

The men's competition was a no brainer. If you read my comments I thought Nobunari Oda was just genius (see video below). Charlie Chaplin has been done many times, but I think it's a hard character to pull off. You have to be quirky but not over the top and I think Nobunari nailed it. Nice to see those jumps so incredibly solid. I think he'll be tough to beat and his win in Paris was very well deserved. I liked Tomas Verner's performance too, although it ultimately lost steam, he did skate initially with a new sophistication I haven't seen from him and I think he looks so much more put together versus last season; his silver was a nice treat for him I think. Speaking of treats, what about Adam Rippon! His short program, for me, was one of the best I've ever seen from an artistic point of view (It would be Brian Orser that would mold something effective with Neil Diamond). While his free skate didn't get me quite as excited, overall I think he has two great programs and I think for the first time I see him as a contender on the senior stage. Brian Joubert....oh Brian. I think Scott Hamilton said it best..."He's like a meat and potatoes skater; there's not a lot of parsley on the plate." He missed the quads and the program just suffered as a result. I was really surprised he finished fourth (that might save him later in the season when you look at making the Grand Prix Final) and I hope this jolts and makes him rethink some things. I like Brian Joubert and I know he is capable of much better than this. Ponsero and Voronov will need to step it up a notch as well.

In Ice Dance, Virtue and Moir were the easy class of the field. I love this teams lifts. They are so inventive and so complex. Their free dance, while gorgeous, for me is a little to stagnant. I wish the music had more rise and fall. But that's a minor complaint and really more of an opinion that doesn't really effect their scores. As I suspected, Pechalat and Bourzat sneaked past the Kerr's to nab the silver. Their free dance is fun. I don't think it's as interesting as last season's but this season's dance is clearly more difficult in terms of steps and movement. The Kerr's used a Linkin Park piece very well but had some tiny unison issues in there twizzles. Overall, however, I felt they were a smidge better than Pechalat and Bourzat and I was surprised there was that big of a gap between the two teams. The Americans were a hot mess, all over the map with their placements in each part of the competition. Samuelson and Bates finished fourth, Navarro and Bomemntre (loved their free dance!) finished sixth, Hubbell and Hubbell finished eigth...however none of them were consistent with their placements in each portion of the competition. I'm now very interested to see how Chock and Zuerlein stack up against these Senior teams. Also, I must toot my own horn and report that I correctly predicted the dance podium here!

The Pairs event gave us a little bit of a shocker. I've been saying as soon as Mukhortova and Trankov can get their heads together (and stop fighting with one another) they would be a force to be reckoned with. They put two solid performances back to back and out classed the field in Paris to take the title. While their "Love Story" program lacked a little love, it was well constructed and they were great technically. Dube and Davison nabbed the silver with a beautiful performance. They are struggling still a bit technically but their free skate is just lovely. The big shock came with Savchenko and Szolkowy placing third after only a fourth place free skate. They had a disastrous skate that culminated with a pop of their throw salchow at the end of their program and a lot of head shaking. A really out of character performance for them. Honorable mention to Inoue and Baldwin who finished fourth overall (third in the free) on the strength of a gorgeous throw triple axel.

The ladies event was interesting. Kim Yu-Na won the event, surprisingly by a margin approaching 40 points, and with a record breaking score. She accomplished the highest point total by a woman ever...without even performing a triple flip. While she was certainly deserving of the title, I don't think she was deserving of those scores. Overly inflated if you ask me. Mao Asada was a distant second with a performance that included a beautiful triple axel combination, solid footwork with deep edges, and impressive spins. While her performance was not to the level of Kim's, she should have been much closer in score. Yukari Nakano earned the bronze medal. The program didn't really sing but she did complete several triple jumps. Two American's finished in the top five. Caroline Zhang finished fourth after a program plagued with deductions due to her jump technique. She also played it safe at this competition nursing a healing injury. Alexe Gilles made her senior Grand Prix debut with a respectable fifth place finish. Caroline Kostner stumbled into sixth with two terrible performances. She still hasn't got her act together.

Full results are here. Next week the Grand Prix moves to Moscow, Russia for Rostelecom Cup.


Michael said...

I don't think Yu Na was overscored. If you look at the actual detailed scores, her points just add up to over 200. Each of her elements were worth a lot and she performed them with positive grades of execution. Her program components scores were also fair -- highest of the field, but only 6 points higher than Mao. Thus, most of her score came from her technical content which you can't argue were overscored. It's just how the numbers come out.

jk_ready said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jk_ready said...

First of all, thanks for all your postings in the blog - these are all great!

Regarding Kim's performance I have to agree with Michael above, although I wouldn't go into the scoresheet details. Thinking back, Joannie Rochette won the ladies event at JO 2009 earlier this month with her lovely new LP scoring 126 and change. Her jumps were very good except she stumbled on a couple of them. Considering that her program is far less technically demanding than Kim's and they are only apart by less than 7 points, it makes sense to me.

Anonymous said...

I think it'll be an interesting contrast between Oda and Takahashi. The Japanese judges seem to prefer Oda while the international judges seem to prefer Takahashi. It'll be intersting to see who comes out ahead if not performed flawlessly. This is going to be such an exciting Men's Olympic. You truly have an open field. Any of the following men can win: Oda, Takahashi, Weir, Lysacek, Chan, and Joubert. I think Oda, Takahashi, and Joubert has a better chance of getting gold because they do have at least a quad under their belt. Chan's triple axel is always a nail biter so that's not good. If Joubert can do another three quad in one clean program, I don't see anyone can top that score. But then again, his confidence might be down from the Paris Grand Prix.

The question marks would be: Plushy, Verner, Abbott, Lambiel. I don't think Plushy can sweep the field like he did when he won his gold. Does Lambiel has his triple axels back? Which Verner is going to show up? He can beat anyone if he skates clean. But to skate two clean skates may be a tall order for him especially at the Olympics. I would be very very surprised if someone else besides those mentioned above get an Olympic medal.

Women's competition is a lot weaker. It'll come down to Mao and Yuna and looks like Yuna has the upper hand right now. hopefully Mao can pull herself together. I like Yuna better than Mao but I can see Mao is probably more naturally talented than Yuna.

Anonymous said...

i think you had better see it with your own eyes :)
seeing is believing.
I want you to analyze protocol.

Aaron said...

Analyze protocol?

Anonymous said...

'analyze plotocol'
i am sorry about lack of my english ability.
in fact, i am studying english.
so~ my english is poorly.
reading? hum..... not bad.
writing? it's terrible!!
i am hard to translate. :)

hum.. 'analyze', i mean 'see?'
and 'protocol' is 'judges scores details'

your post are very interesting.
and i enjoy reading your post.

Aaron said...

Got it! I'm actually planning a post on this my next op-ed...gonna put her performance thru a 'stress test" of sorts to see if it passes 210 point muster.