Monday, January 25, 2010

In reflection...

Ummm...that was a LOT of skating the past two weeks with only more to come in the coming weeks. I feel that the past two weeks have taught us a lot about where things are headed. Here are some reflective thoughts I had about how I see things moving forward:

The Olympics are Evgeny Plushenko's to win or lose. Believe me, it pains me to say that. Some out there will probably disagree but I think it's just how it is and I think we should get used to it. Aside from the fact that despite being off for a few years he's technically solid as a rock, the judges (and lots of fans for that fact) simply love him. Also, he has an overwhelming amount of self confidence (bordering on near arrogance) in the belief that he IS the best. I'm a big believer in become what you believe and for Plushenko it's complete commitment to the belief that he will win Gold in Vancouver.

On the flip side, I think many will give Plushenko a run for his money and if he should stumble...well there are plenty of under-studies to step in as the leading man! Despite some minor issues in Spokane, I think Evan Lysacek is right on track to be a serious medal threat. If he can work out the kinks in his technically revised free skate he'll be formidable. Lambiel looked strong as well at Europeans actually defeating Plushenko in the component scores and could be a threat. Jeremy Abbott emerged as a serious (serious!) threat to anyone in Spokane with two amazing performances and a free skate including a quad. Takahashi and Oda are also lurking out there as potential spoilers. Also, if Joubert gets mad enough about his beat down in Tallinn he could kick it into high gear as well!

Ice Dance will be a ridiculously close fight in Vancouver. It was close between Davis and White and Belbin and Agosto and that was just U.S. Nationals. Add in Virtue and Moir from Canada, Domnina and Shabalin (controversial OD and all!) from Russia, a surging Faiella and Scali from Italy, and wildcards Delobel and Schoenfelder from France and you have yourself a fantastic competition! I can't tell you how this will all play out in the end but I'm certain those are the six teams to watch in Vancouver.

In pairs, expect the unexpected. McLaughlin and Brubaker's struggles coupled with Evora and Ladwig's triumph only proved the point that nothing is ever a done deal and anything can truly happen. Kavaguti and Smirnov also sent a clear message not only to Savchenko and Szolkowy but to Shen and Zhao...they are as much a contender as they are. Kavaguti and Smirnov were desperately close to catching Shen and Zhao's record total at Europeans and that was with a bobble on Yuko's triple toe in the free...imagine a clean skate. Denney and Barrett's ridiculous consistency as well as pure inspiration at the mere chance to be Olympians may find them skating amongst the best.

Team Canada will be under the pressure cooker! Virtue and Moir, Dube and Davison, and Joannie Rochette had big performances at Canadian Nationals...BIG! know...90% of the eyes that will be on them in that arena...will be expecting them to repeat those performances and rake in the precious medal hardware. For Patrick Chan, they'll be expecting him to improve upon his performances as of late and live up to his potential. I think having the opprotunity to skate in the Olympics at home must either inspire or weigh one down from the pressure and expectation. I would expect most would be envious of them while at the same time glad they aren't dealing with the same level of pressure.

I've said it before and I'll say it again...don't count out Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu. Their heads are perfectly together and they don't have near the pressure or level of expectations that Kim Yu-Na, Mao Asada, Joannie Rochette, or Miki Ando (possibly Suzuki). And realistically, past those four or five, who else is making a serious podium threat and/or skating as well as Flatt and Nagasu. The European Championships showed that the top European Ladies are nowhere close to being able to compete at that level. The USOC has adopted as their motto: Amazing Awaits. I think it may indeed!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is Plushy's gold to win or loose. A perfectly clean sp+lp will guarantee a gold medal. A close second would be a clean Takahashi, Joubert, Lambiel, and Abbott with minimally one clean quad. Kinda hard to imagine every single one of these guys skates a faulty sp + lp (which makes the following tier an unlikely gold medal winner or even silver medal winner). The next tier is Evan, Oda, and Weir. But Weir's program is too weak to be considered as a contender for a bronze. If Evan gets lucky and draw a late sp, he can see what others do before he decides whether or not to attempt a quad in his sp. If say Plushy, Joubert, Lambiel, Takahashi, Oda, Abbott all goes before him and all skated a clean sp with a quad, he'll have no choice but to attempt it. But if there are multiple faulty sp, then he can just do his usual triple triples and hope to go last in lp and see what others do first during lp. In many ways, winning a medal at the Olympics also have to do with luck (unless you are Plushy and don't have to care about anyone else because you consistently get the job done regardless what other skaters will do). Remember Arakawa? Everyone fell apart and all she had to do is stand on her feet. She downgraded several jumps and ended up with a gold (it was so sad not to see Michelle in the Olympic champion line up this weekend. Her 98 skate more than top Arakawa's).

It's hard to imagine that Kim Yu-Na, Mao Asada, Joannie Rochette, Miki Ando, and possibly Suzuki all fall apart. This means there is absolutely noway for US ladies to get close to gold or silver. Bronze might be a possibility since Joannie, Miki are rather inconsistent and Suzuki's best is more or less on par with Flatt or Mirai's best so I can see perhaps one US lady might be able to sneak in and grab a bronze. But the likely result would be 4th or 5th place at the highest.