Friday, December 04, 2009

Grand Prix Final Free Skate Flash

Crone and Poirier (Canada) - Pretty program, lovely edges. I worry for them though. This program is very nice but lacks Canadian Nationals Weaver and Poje will have fireworks!

Cappellini and Lanotte (Italy) - Program seems slower every time I see it. This had been the one Requiem program that I actually liked until I see it in it's just bland. Into the lead but actually lost Free Dance to Crone and Poirier...oooooh!

Kerr and Kerr (Great Britain) - Linkin Park is a nice original choice but they need to make this program a little cleaner and sharper. Some sloppy moments, especially on the part of John, throughout. Love the lift where she lifts him!

Pechalat and Bourzat (France) - The other Requiem program...lacked punch. Last 30 seconds was hard to watch! The music reaches its climax at the end but they choose to go on for about 5 more seconds with this drone-like tick-tock...end the program already! Also, did an illegal lift...not sure if the judges caught it/cared?

Virtue and Moir (Canada) - Near perfection. Twizzles were stunning...perfect unison, excellent position, and close together. The lifts they do are unreal. Big score!

Davis and White (USA) - Amazing speed and equally unreal lifts. Almost perfect Twizzles (Charlie got a touch out of sorts but held it together). Davis and White have blazing fast dance spins (might have been the difference). Another big score, barely lost to Virtue and Moir in the Free Dance but hang on to become the first U.S. Dance team to win Grand Prix Final.

Kavaguti and Smirnov (Russia) - Lovely performance. Yuko had a couple close landings, hard to tell if there were tiny two foots or not. Couple of place the intricate choreography in the transitions seemed sticky. Yuko is so flexible.

Zhang and Zhang (China) - Struggles continue. They couldn't leave the ice and get out of there quick enough. Dan never seemed over her feet in the jumping department botching the side-by-side triple toe and throw salchow...complete fall on throw loop. I will say, the first half of the program there was a glimmer of emotion coming from Dan so maybe a slight improvement in that department...trying to find the positives here.

Pang and Tong (China) - Solid performance. Only error was a slight hand down on Jian's toeloop otherwise fine. Throws at the end of the program are like a dream. Awesome. Into a big lead.

Mukhortova and Trankov (Russia) - Something has clicked this season. Again, a beautiful performance. It's subdued and just lovely. Maria's landing edge on those throws were amazing. Love that they sneak Cinema Paradiso into this program. I was surprised they went behind Pang and Tong...thought they were at least "as good" and shoudl have maintained their lead over them.

Savchenko and Szolkowy (Germany) - Tough opening. Bailed on the toeloops, awkward landing for Aliona on throw flip (but she fought and held on) and then awkward landings on the double axels. After the opening jump weirdness though it was gorgeous. Amazing choreography. Throw salchow at the end was masterful. Judges REALLY LIKED Pang and Tong...they still have the lead!

Shen and Zhao (China) - Wow! The rise and fall in this program is so brillantly choreographed to the music. The explosive moments...the tender moments all brillantly woven together. Hongbo did single his first of two double axels but it hardly matters. For the first time this season that program blew me away. Only concern I had was the side by side spins...those need to be 'spiffier' but, details...details. Love the fist pump from Bin Yao! Gigantic score!

Tomas Verner (Czech Republic) - Doubled his opening quad but came back with another one and two lovely triple axels...then the program went to pieces. Fall on the lutz and then he couldn't even rotate jumps. Totally head case, he's so capable of competing with the best and so often lets mistakes get to him.

Jeremy Abbott (USA) - Has a new outfit every time he does this program! Missed the opening quad but was amazing after that. Two triple-triple combos (one a three jump deep in the program)...amazing footwork and spins...big ovation at the end. Nice work! Get's a 'two thumbs up' from Yuka!

Johnny Weir (USA) - Lots of drama in this program. Kind of scary on the first axel, was really leaning outside the circle but somehow landed it and corrected so that it flowed out. Everything else solid. I feel like the choreography isn't as intricate (point grabbing?) as say Abbott but he really feels the music and draws you in. Another big ovation from the crowd...American's are stepping up to the plate, swinging, and connecting! Slips just past Abbott.

Nobunari Oda (Japan) - DEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPP breath before start of program. Took out that 3-jump quad combo and instead focused on a clean skate. Crusing along until second triple axel which he popped. Popped a silly double axel at the end as well. He has the character of Charlie Chaplin down perfect though! I don't feel those two mistakes really hurt the program as a whole, the quality of everything he did well is amazing.

Evan Lysacek (USA) - Same as Oda. Cruising along until that second axel which he also pops. Trouble for Evan is that he planned to do his combo there. Still an amazing performance. What happened to the see-through shirt? Still a season's best...get's the lead!

Daisuke Takahashi (Japan) - Iffy opening. Crashed and burned on the quad. Then bailed on his second triple axel and followed it up with a messy spin. Then he missed the back part of the lutz combo. Oh my. I was shocked when he slipped heading into that second lutz that he got the jump off and managed it in combination. All the jump errors kept this program from singing like it did at Skate Canada. At the end he seemed out of gas. Way down to 5th...eeeeek!

*WOW Evan and Johnny! Gold and Bronze! Nice comeback too for Abbott!

*Trying to watch the women but it wont load at Ice Network....aarrgh!

*Opting to just wait until tomorrow NBC telecast...the ladies free skate link is been removed entirely from the site.

Ashley Wagner (USA) - Beautiful program. She has to figure out how to get those jumps on one foot to really pull up into the medals. I think this event definitely puts her square in the picture in Spokane.

Akiko Suzuki (Japan) - Bingo! Squeaky clean. I'm absolutely sick of this music yet she makes me love it! She could have stood on that ice for ten years and the audience would have kept screaming. Amazing!

Joannie Rochette (Canada) - Scott Hamilton said something that was very telling during her performance..."Timing seems off." I think this program is weird for her and she has never gotten her timing together. If I were her...Canadian Nationals and Olympics...I'd go back to last season's free. It's battle tested and it works. That or completely re work this program. She needs to do something!

Alena Leonova (Russia) - Kind of a learning experience. Bit of shock to find herself in this field of women and in the thick of it. Pressure finally got to her here. Without the jumps the life goes out of this program and it becomes unimpressive. Too bad.

Kim Yu-Na (S. Korea) - Tentative. Easier lutz combo and the two footed triple toe behind the double axel was unusual. Again, this program doesn't blow me away...but then again I expect so much more from her because she is truly far more advanced than the others. Nice to see the flip how about the loop?

Miki Ando (Japan) - Before she skates I'm thinking she can totally win this on the strength of her jumping ability. She came so close...really needed the triple loop behind the lutz and the triple salchow to be cleaner. But she did a nice job of at least keeping it close. Both Miki Ando and Rachael Flatt have given hope to the rest of the ladies field!


Sharon said...

As a huge D/W fan, I'm thrilled they won this. I was realizing how much money they've earned this season! But more than that, they are real contenders, finally. I still don't get the Level 3 for their spin, what was up with that? The twizzles were a little off, maybe they didn't grab their blades quick enough for 4? What I'm most pleased about is their improved and so deep now. V/M were also wonderful but I just can't love Mahler. I want to, but Valse Triste is still my favorite program of theirs. The rest were fun to watch but nowhere near the league of the top two.

Anonymous said...

Surprised that Takahashi is still having this much trouble with his long this late in the season. I guess if he's not together by Japan Nationals, we can probably write him off for the Olympics as a medal contender.

Evan is always nice and steady. Can't believe he popped his triple axel. It was a nice solid program.

Overall I'm not sure if Oda's program was 8 points below Evan's. But it is what it is. It's really too bad that he also popped his triple axel.

Good to see Weir skating fairly flawless program. Although not exact what he intended. Hopefully he'll be flawless by the Nationals.

Good for Abbot to skate so great after crashing his quad. I think the American men are doing so well right now. They are definitely knocking on the doors for Olympic medals. It would be amazing to see American men 1,2,3. But that might be too much of a stretch unless Plushy, Oda, and Joubert all crash and burn.

Overall the Grand Prix Men's Finals' scores are very inflated. I would not be surprised to see the scores back down to earth during the Olympics. Therefore, even though Evan has the highest score of the season, I kinda doubt that it deserved it. I would say Oda or Plushy should have that honor.

The bottom line is whoever bring it, will be the ultimate Olympic champion. My money is still on Plushy.

Anonymous said...

Zhang and Zhang look like they are off the Olympic podium. I always thought they look super stiff in general. But their tech skill was what got them the Silver last time. But it ain't gonna happen this time.

Pang and Tong did really well except one hand down. But other than that, I don't think they could have skated that program any better.

Savchenko and Szolkowy had too many mistakes in the front to be in front of P & T. They were really the third best of the night. I really enjoyed their choreography. They also look very sharp.

Shen and Zhao was just amazing. I love them. The only criticism I have was the spins. They were not in sync and too far apart. But other than that, there's nothing to criticize about this team. They should and deserve gold at the Olympics.

jumping clapping man said...

i wept watching shen/zhao. their comeback is the most beautiful gift to this sport. they just have an ability to tug my heartstrings. perhaps their off-ice love imbues their skating with that extra something special.

btw, are savchenko and steuer a couple? i always get that feeling, but haven't read it anywhere. sorry to see them not skate their best.

SOOOOO PROUD OF JOHNNY! great progress for him, and a good confidence booster. and, i LOVE jeremy's new "shirt"...although it'll likely change again, eh?

poor daisuke. he can beat anyone with clean skates, but this wadn't it, of course!

kudos to davis/white on their historic win! i wish i cared more about their skating. it feels more technically good than transcendent, but ah well...great work!

jk_ready said...

I am scratching my head after seeing Ando ended up getting the same transition score as Kim; I mean, really? I don't see any "transition" in Ando's skating! And how Kim gets zero GOE for her opening 3-2 is a mystery to me, letting alone the downgrade of 3-3 to 3-2 in her short program yesterday, as Scott also pointed out.

Anonymous said...

Kim's 3-2 combo is shaky? What do you expect? +3 GOE?

Anonymous said...

Poor Joannie. I'm all about skaters graded correctly. I was extremely unhappy to see in Skate Canada they held up her scores with a pretty uninspiring skate. But to see Joannie essentially fell apart at Grand Prix long is just unwatchable. Almost feel like maybe they should throw her a bone or two.

The only exciting program for the ladies was Akiko's. That's really sad. You can't even count on Yu-na! This sets up a splat-fest at the Olympics ladies competition. Whoever splat the least is the one who's going to win!! Who would have thought! With Yuna's recent performances, I guess she has come down to earth which is sad in a way. But on the other hand, it makes ladies competition much more exciting in terms of not knowing who's going to win the Olympics. If she has an off day and Ando skates clean, Ando can easily skate away with a gold medal! That would be the most shocking thing in this season!

Men, on the other hand, is extremely exciting. You have Plushy who you can count on landing his quads and triples. You have Oda, who skates a beautiful Chaplin program with the softest knees with a possible quad. You have Joubert who skates like a robot but can out jump everyone except Plushy when he's on. You have Evan who is just solid and you can pretty much count on all his jumps except quads. Just too many guys to count who contend for medals. Plus Weir is there to sneak in a medal if people starts to fall onto wayside and Abbot, who on his best day, can also medal. Then there is Lambiel!! Who knows what he got under his belt! This is just so exciting!

evilapprentice said...

I found Miki Ando's free program to be light years better than it was previously in the season, although I still don't really see any emotion from her whatsoever. If she would just CONNECT with her music, she would be so amazing! (when she's on, of course)

Kim was extremely tentative in this performance, but it looks like it paid off. No HUGE mistakes at least...and I even read somewhere that she was having trouble with her skates at this competition. If that's true, then WHOA.

The men's free skate was a hot mess without the hot. None of the top finishers did anywhere near as well as they could have. I'd say I'm proud of Johnny for his bronze medal, but I don't know that I really am. He has certainly improved on his previous two events, but he's still not doing anywhere NEAR as well as he can. He's also not doing anywhere near as well as he NEEDS to in order to be any kind of threat in Vancouver. He's damned lucky Abbott crashed and burned the way that he did on his free skate, or else Jeremy would have had the bronze, not Johnny. G-d, I hate saying that.

I would kill to see either Oda or Lysacek come out ahead of Joubert and Plushenko in Vancouver. They both must skate cleanly to manage that, though.

Pairs: There's nothing more to say about Shen & Zhao other than that they're gods of pairs skating.

Murkhotova/Trankov: They still need to actually skate with some emotion, considering their choice of music, but their skating gets better and better each time that I see them.

Germans; Oy, what's going on with them???