This weekend I did lots of head scratching. I mean, I couldn't believe some of what I was seeing.
First, Ice Dance. The shake up that was the free dance. I thought coming in this was a no-brainer with Tanith and Ben winning, Khoklova and Novitski placing second, and the Italian's Cappellini and Lanotte placing third. Well things went crazy in the Original Dance with the Russians placing 5th in that portion of the free skate (they did manage to stay in 2nd overall however). Then things got even more tricky in the Free Dance with Zaretski and Zaretski charging forward to place second in the free dance allowing the Italians who were third in the free to slip in for the silver (and surprisingly locking them a spot for the Grand Prix Final) and the Russians dropped to third...excuse me...fourth overall (and enter the Grand Prix Final bubble zone as a result...more on this in another post later this week). Oy vey (thus the head scratching)! Completely above the fray, however, were Belbin and Agosto who breezed their way to victory.
The men here, I mean really? Conventional wisdom on how I perceive the way these competitions will play out I think must be thrown out the window. First the mess that was Verner in the short program. He came back a wee bit in the free but still who could think that would happen (somewhere Johnny Weir is jumping up and down happily having been saved for the Grand Prix Final)? And then Amodio and Mroz basically botching a golden opportunity to medal here and getting sub-planted by Shawn Sawyer and Ryan Bradley? Can I get another Oy vey! I watched the men's competition the whole time with my mouth open in disbelief. Again, much like ice dance, Evan Lysacek skated to an easy victory waltzing over the competition making only a small mistake on his triple salchow.
More head scratching in pairs where, I had predicted quite the competition, but got the "Little Engine that Barely Could" instead. The American teams were frustratingly underwhelming. Zhang and Zhang pulled in (barely) for the bronze with a program that was peppered with uneasy moments and devoid of any emotion whatsoever. The funny thing is that effort was actually second best in the free. Volosozhar and Morozov, equally uninteresting, managed the silver. And Shen and Zhao, who I was ready to anoint as the clear favorites for Olympic Gold, spit and sputtered their way to Gold with a program containing mistakes. All of a sudden I'm looking at Pang and Tong and thinking...maybe, just maybe...
And then the women, who shocked me most of all, with the big shocker being Kim Yu-Na is in fact human (who knew?) and can possibly (that's possible with a question mark behind it!) be challenged this season. I don't know that I've ever seen her have a performance so bad...I was speechless. Many have been going crazy to know how many points Rachael Flatt left on the table with the spins in her free skate and the fall in her short program. Well...13.07 was the difference between Flatt and Kim. At Cup of China Rachael received a combined total of 7 points for those spins at the end. In the free skate at 2008 Rostelecom Cup of Russia she earned 9.10 points for a triple flip triple toe combo...2.60 more points than she received in the short here. Add it up and she's still 3.47 points short (but that's well within the wiggle room of a GOE here and level there!). Even still, the fact that Rachael even beat Kim Yu-Na in the free skate is a major (MAJOR) accomplishment in itself. She may be the only skater who'll get to say "I beat Kim Yu-Na (kind of...) this season!" It's like global news when she makes even one mistake and to make three huge mistakes on the three toughest elements in her free...unusual. Still, she handled the failure with class and I suspect she'll bounce back quickly. 'Queen' Yu-Na will get the chance to re-substantiate her throne in Tokyo in December at the Grand Prix Final having clinched a spot in Lake Placid.
Full results are here. Later this week I'll crunch the numbers on the Grand Prix Final...Skate Canada will be exciting to say the least!