Saturday, January 23, 2010

U.S. Nationals (Day Nine)

Scheduled Events for Today:

Senior Free Dance
Senior Ladies Free Skate

Check this post for results and musings. NBC will be showing the final two groups of both the Senior Free Dance and the Senior Ladies Free Skate live. Check your local listings. I may be tweeting during the Senior Free Dance and will definitely be tweeting during the Senior Ladies Free Skate at 7:00 p.m. (Eastern). You can follow me on Twitter @skating102.

Free Dance just wrapped and Meryl Davis and Charlie White have successfully defended their National Title...this time competing against Belbin and Agosto. Tanith and Ben started the final group off strong with a powerful performance to Ave Maria. They seemed a bit slow at times but really connected with the music. They went on to post their highest total score this season. But there was little they could do as Meryl and Charlie took the ice and skated with no inhibitions and complete abandon. Easily skating the best Free Dance of any team this season (sorry Canadian Fans...even better than Tessa and Scott!), the wooshed past Belbin and Agosto and took the title easily even with a deduction (can't figure out what that was for?). Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates claimed the bronze and likely the final Olympic berth. Navarro and Bommentre were 4th and Chcok and Zuerlein 5th. As soon as the Olympic Team selection is official I will post.

UPDATE: It's official. Davis and White, Belbin and Agosto, and Samuelson and Bates have been named to the U.S. Olympic Team.

Ladies free just wrapped and what a wild ride! Your 2010 National Champ is...Rachael Flatt! I tweeted she managed to avoid the three times a bridesmaid jinx and win. Rachael had a very solid skate that included a muscled triple flip-triple toe combo. It was smooth sailing from that point on. The first of the top four ladies to skate was Ashley Wagner who also had a tremendous free skate. She two footed a couple jumps but attacked and gained strength as the program progressed. Her score went up and it was a big number to beat. Sasha Cohen's short program was a jolt to Figure Skating that was much needed. We all held our breath as she prepared for her free skate and wondered if she could equal her performance from Thursday. It was a tough program to watch. Sasha struggled on the majority of her jumps and it culminated with a fall on her triple flip in the second half of the program. Her artistry is unmatched and she finished fourth here, simply happy to have come back and skated at Nationals one last time. Mirai Nagasu was the final skater and turned in an amazing performance. Most thought she would easily take the title but upon close review of her jumps she got those pesky downgrades on three jumps causing her to miss the title. Still she finished second, with Wagner (who was second in the free) taking the bronze. Again once they selected the Olympic Team I'll update the post...an announcement is expected at any moment...

UPDATE: U.S. Figure Skating has named Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu to the U.S. Olympic Team.

14 comments:

Stef said...

For the deduction, Maybe an Extended lift??

Sharon said...

Protocols said extended lift deduction. GOEs were sky high as were their program components including one 10 for interpretation/timing. Wow. What a FD!

Anonymous said...

Rachael Flatt was not better than Mirai Nagasu. She jumps great, no question, and has this half Doris Day, half Liza Minelli 'I'm am too going to make it, babe!' brass about her at like 17, but the power and precision of her brawn did not match Nagasu making you believe you're looking at art and then nailing all her jumps, too. And when Ashley Wagner was landing her own jumps, the announcers kept talking about how she's fighting for it. That was code for 'she's not as good.' I thought she was better than Flatt, who the sportswriters call "rock solid" when they mean "meat and potatoes." What Wagner and Nagasu and especially the beguiling master Sasha Cohen have that Flatt doesn't is that air of grace. They project star and she's a gamine chorus girl. And that is what figure skating is about, looking like an enchanted lilly sprite while executing jumping spins on blades that shame Ninjas. This perception is based on stereotypes and archetypes that figure skating creates and encourages. I'm not attacking the girl; I thought she skated great, and I like to watch her knock down jumps like she's rolling a Jersey strike, but I don't think her style brings home gold. -- boxodreams

Anonymous said...

Totally agree. Flatt is a meat and potato type of gal. You can count on her to get the job done. But she lacks the "it" factor. I don't know how to say it. She just doesn't sparkle for me. Mirai, on the other hand, has stars written all over her. She draws you in. You're with her when she skates. I would definitely have Mirai's component marks much higher than Flatt's. It's kinda like watching Joubert and Abbott skating. Joubert gets the job done and throws in couple quads on top of it, but his skates doesn't inspire like the ones of Abbott. You just feel Abbott is much more artistic and more pleasant to watch. The performance is there. Either way, it's good to see both gals going to the Olympics. They'll represent US well if they have the same exact sp and lp performance (minus Mirai's downgrades of course). If they can skate the same skate and the top girls (Mao, Yuna, Joannie, and Miki) have some mistakes, US will have a good chance to medal. Gold, not likely. Bronze, yes. BTW, that Gao girl has Mao's lightness in her jumps. She'll be the one to watch for the next Olympics for sure. Her skates is a bit raw but give her a couple years, I can see her going head to head with Yuna and Mao if those two are still around.

Anonymous said...

cool. thanks for writing. You know what you're talking about: Can Mirai fix her jumps to eliminate the downgrades? She looks flawless to an untrained eye, and her height might have been best among the top girls, if that counts for anything. - boxodreams

Xan said...

I completely disagree. Rachel Flatt skates with joy, verve, ambition and an utter determination. The power women always garner this; not to get too philosophical over a sport, but I think there is an inherent sexism in our preference for the delicate blossoms. I think in the end we are uncomfortable with women like Rachel who are upfront about their ambition, and who throw their physical strength and stamina in our faces instead of hiding them behind "grace" and "delicacy."

It's a sport. It has rules. Just as a touchdown doesn't count if it only makes it to the 2 yard line, proper execution of elements is what makes a champion in the end, as Rachel proved last night.

I for one, think the right person won.

Anonymous said...

Xan, I don't disagree with you; I just think the sport usually does. NBC looked surprised, almost disappointed that Flatt won. The post-victory interview felt empty and anti-climactic. It was probably a good thing that she won, though, because, yes, there is an inherent sexism involved, but it is not anti-women, just anti a certain presentation of women. "Utter determination" is rewarded far less in figure skating than "effortless beauty" when all jumps are equal. If the judges just want technical execution, the skaters should ditch the complicated art and sexy costumes. You can leap and spin straight through the ice to China, but without what they call "aristry" and sex appeal to match jumping prowess, you are not bringing gold home in the Olympics. Fans and judges both prize the big jumps but also demand the elusive rest. They want to fall in love, and it matters, whether right and fair or not. This gets back to the whole subjective/objective argument about figure skating. I'll stand by my belief that you must have the former -- just look where these skaters go when pro, into ice shows where they often expand their interpretive magic. Yes, Sasha Cohen benefits from an incredibly flexible body, but she uses it to extend her vision of how stunningly expressive a skater can look on ice. She didn't achieve nearly the height or jumping authority of her younger competition, but she projects a mastery of form and flow that is equisite and beyond, at this point, the three gals who finished in front of her in Nationals. Mirai Nagasu is giving her a run for the money, however, and if she can quickly figure out how to make the technical adjustments to erase her deductions, she will be hard to deny very high marks.
boxodreams

jumping clapping man said...

i agree with Xan.

YES, nagasu and cohen have star quality. and wagner projects some amazing expression.

BUT, our sport would become boring and one-note it all skaters were cut from the same mold...think harding (sans the whack), bonaly, etc. not that flatt is like harding, but she's a hybrid of that attack/strength, with some of the evolving grace of the others.

and, "X/It-Factor" is certainly a plus, and makes a performance memorable, but that gets you on Wheaties boxes, on a reality show, and/or greater interest from the media, it doesn't necessarily make you a better skater, or more worthy of a gold medal.

Xan said...

I also disagree that Rachael doesn't have an "it" factor. I get a kind of "That's the girl next door? Who knew!" sense from her. She's the Wow lurking in all of us.

And I'll tell you who she reminds me of, right down to the negative press and the complaints about lack of artistry: Irina Slutskaya. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irina_Slutskaya)

Laura said...

"I think in the end we are uncomfortable with women like Rachel who are upfront about their ambition, and who throw their physical strength and stamina in our faces instead of hiding them behind "grace" and "delicacy.""

I feel like the above quote and some other comments are wrongly characterizing Rachael Flatt. She is not the new poster girl for strength versus beauty in skating. She may be a clean skater, but she by no means flaunts her power; she does one triple/triple combination in her free and it's not even the most difficult one we've seen performed. She breaks no technical ground and is not trying to challenge the skating establishment with her style. She is trying very hard to be just as graceful and delicate as the others. Her problem is that Yu-na Kim and other skaters are as proficient as (and sometimes stronger than) Flatt is on the jumps, but they are also stronger on other elements that are more associated with overall presentation and "beauty."

I think that Flatt obviously deserved the win last night. But if she skates against someone in the future who is on par with her technically, then why shouldn't the skater who better executes the additional elements (like spins and spirals) win out? It's a matter of who is bringing more to the table - it's not only the jumps that have points attached to them.

Anonymous said...

I would hardly call Yuna or Mao "delicate flowers". Any lady who can execute triple triples without much effort or triple axels at ease is in my book, someone with "ambition and an utter determination". Flatt just comes off flat. No sparks. Maybe her sp has some. But her lp was boring although technically sound. I can sit there watch Mirai skates her lp over and over again. But definitely not Flatt's. Does she deserves to win. Absolutely. But I can say majority of the audience enjoyed Mirai's lp more (as evident by audience's reaction on TV). End of story.

Aaron said...

Well luckily...we'll have plenty of time to debate this as BOTH ladies are Vancouver bound!

It's like apples and oranges...some prefer one to the other...but both are delicious.

I for one think they are both great and each bring great qualities...I'll let all of you decide which qualities are more important!

Anonymous said...

I think Laura probably has it about right with her impressions of Flatt, and, sheesh, it really is beginning to look like we're teeing off on her. Honestly, congratulations, Rachael, if you ever read this!

p.s. -- Irina Slutskaya. She was very good...

boxodreams

evilapprentice said...

Wow. We're having the exact same debate over on the icenetwork forums...

A lot of people really thought that either Rachael was overscored or Mirai was underscored on the PCS side. Mirai barely edged out Rachael in that department, when it's very clear that Mirai has a much, MUCH better performance quality than Rachael. Mirai owns the artistic side of skating, even when her jumps aren't always rotated fully. Although this judging system was supposed to reward that sparkle and flair a bit, it certainly never seems to accomplish that.

Rachael seems like a really great girl from everything that I have read about her and from all of the interviews that I've seen with her, and she is certainly an amazing jumper. However, skating isn't supposed to be about ONLY the jumps. I can't stand to watch Rachael's spins--she does the ones that get her the most points, regardless of the fact that she simply lacks the flexibility to really pull them off. That's not an attack on her in any way. It's just the way that it is. And it's not just Rachael--lots of skaters try things that look just awful on them, only because a particular bonus point or whatever for trying them. Listen to Dick Button's kvetching about the catch foot position...you'll see what I mean.