Monday, December 07, 2009

Grand Prix Final Afterthoughs

I must say there were plenty of surprises at the Grand Prix Final. I think I'm just going to be done predicting this season...I'm getting nowhere with it!

Ice Dance was close at the top. Davis and White squeaked ahead in the Original Dance while Virtue and Moir slimly won the free skate. When the dust settled Meryl Davis and Charlie White held on by the skin of their teeth to take the win (and become the first American Team to do so!). In the Free Dance, Davis and White had the highest component score where Virtue and Moir had the highest technical score. In any case, it's tight between these two teams. Pechalat and Bourzat meandered their way to a bronze after a free dance that seemed less interesting than the last time I saw it. Interestingly, Crone and Poirier and Cappellini and Lanotte had the same exact score in the Free Dance...84.30.

The ladies event was a continuation of what we've seen all season...less than exciting. Leonova and Rochette coming completely undone was just sad to watch. The lone exciting moment in the ladies event was Akiko Suzuki's free skate. She lit up that room like a Christmas Tree! I was so excited for her. While her bronze does not guarantee her a spot on the Olympic Team, it should help her case. Also doesn't hurt that she had the highest technical score of all the women. Miki Ando had a golden opportunity to landing a major upset but she let it slip away from her. Her Cleopatra program, which is still severely lacking in interesting choreography, wasn't clean enough to get past Kim Yu-Na. Perhaps she was just trying to do her best to stay ahead of Akiko. Her silver did clench her the first berth on the Japanese Olympic Team. It was rather shocking to see that Kim Yu-Na's component score was barely higher than Miki's. Even on an off day, Kim Yu-Na's components are way better than Ando's. Kim Yu-Na, while she won, didn't land that blow to the field that would have set her up as the commanding favorite in Vancouver. Now, the buzz amongst the skating world is that she CAN be beat. Suddenly, the Rachel Flatt's and Mao Asada's don't seem so out of the equation.

The pairs event gave me my second wow moment of the season. Shen and Zhao blew me away with their free skate. Every moment in that program was brilliantly timed to the was just amazing. They've made the case for themselves...they are the ones to beat. Pang and Tong did a nice job of keeping their head's together and not letting the pressure of competing against their teammates for the first time in a while get to them. They, too, had a lovely performance. Savchenko and Szolkowy ran into a few problems at the top of their free skate. Once they settled down it was fine but those early problems were enough to keep them out of the hunt for Gold and stuck them with the bronze. Mukhortova and Trankov were solid in placing fourth. Less than four points separated 2nd thru 4th so it was very close.

The men, by far, were the most exciting here. Even without Lambiel, Plushenko, Chan, and Joubert...these guys put on an epic showdown! Weir, Oda, Lysacek, and Takahashi were stunning in their short programs. In the free skate, Abbott had to dig himself out of a hole after mistakes in the short, and did so with a fine effort that saw only one fall on the quad. Important to note that his score was less than a point away from winning the free skate and got him to fourth place overall. Johnny Weir kept it together to skate a solid (slightly tentative) free skate and pull himself up to the bronze medal for the second consecutive season. Nobunari Oda also skate well despite two silly popped axels and managed the silver after charming the crowd with his Charlie Chaplin free skate. Reigning World Champ Evan Lysacek showed he is a force to be contended with this season after a solid free skate (another silly popped axel) that not only won him the gold medal, but nabbed him the highest men's score of the season...and he did it without a quad (food for thought for Plushenko?). Takahashi, who had the lead after a brilliant short, went to pieces in the free falling all the way to fifth. Some would argue that the men's scores were somewhat inflated here...I'm not sure myself. In general I have a hard time understanding and relating scores from one competition to another so I'll leave that argument to the pundits.

A very talented group of Juniors took the ice this weekend as well. Congrats to Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu and Kanako Murakami for winning the Junior singles titles, China's Sui and Han for taking the Pairs competition, and Russia's Monko and Khaliavin for taking the Dance title. Maia and Alex Shibutani, Christina Gao, and Ross Miner all won bronze medals for the United States.

Full set of results for both the Senior and Junior events can be seen here.


Anonymous said...

Interestingly. If you take Oda's inflated short program score from the Grand Prix final which is 87.65 and combine it with his best none inflated score of 163.33 from Trophee EB, we come up with 250.98. Let's take Evan's inflated short program score which is 89.85 and combine it with none inflated score of 158.55 from Skate America. We have 248.4. Hmmm, seems like Oda comes out on top if we use the sp scores from inflated Grand Prix final and their individual best from other places where they actually skated clean. Let's take Oda's perfect short program from Trophee EB which is 79.2 and compare it with the inflated Grad Prix final score of 87.65. That's about 10.6% inflated. Evan got 79.17 for his perfect short at Skate America. Compare that with the inflated Grand Prix final score of 89.85. That's about 13.4% inflated. Let's just average those two and we get 12% inflated. Applied that logic to Plushenko's Skate Russia short program score of 82.25, he should get 92.12. Add that to his none inflated long program score of 158.40, we have 250.52. Here Plushenko comes in second after Oda but above Lysacek.

Of course the judges at the Olympics would be the 'fairest' since we have the same set of judges thus the judging criteria is the same. Guess we'll see the result next Feb! My prediction is Plushenko first (he can easily put in two quad triple combos if need be where as no one else can except Joubert), then Joubert (if he's healthy and can pull off 2-3 quads), then Oda or Evan for bronze. If Joubert isn't together (which is possible since he can't exactly train right now), the it'll be a fight between Oda and Evan for silver and bronze with Abbot being the possible spoiler if Abbot skates clean and throws in two quads like he did few weeks back.

Xan said...

Ouch. No American gold at Junior?