Sunday, January 17, 2010

U.S. Nationals (Day Three)

Scheduled Events for Today:

Senior Men's Free Skate
Novice Men's Short Program
Novice Pairs Short Program
Junior Men's Free Skate

Check this post for results and musings. I'll also be tweeting during the Senior Men's Free Skate at 1:30 p.m. (Eastern). You can follow me on Twitter @skating102. NBC will be showing the final two groups during the Senior Men's Free Skate Live. Check local listings.

The Men's Free Skate just concluded. First, in another post, I have to harp on NBC Sports which bought the rights to the final two groups of men which kept Ice Network from showing it live. Trouble is, NBC didn't show it either, robbing viewers from seeing the skaters ranked between 7th and 12th place. One off those skaters was Brandon Mroz, who had a tremendous skate that included a quad. He moved up to 6th and managed to save himself from having a tougher time getting back to nationals next season.

The top six were quite exciting. Ryan Bradley skated first and skated a tremendous skate! Two quads, one in combo and a standing ovation. He set the score to beat and neither Adam Rippon or Armin Mahbanoozadeh who skated after Ryan could beat him. Adam struggled on his triple axels and finished 5th overall while Armin's hip injury gave him problems and he fell to 8th. Evan Lysacek skated next. He attempted the quad but fell and looked tight from that point on. He doubled a triple loop and had a scratch axel combo. He recently reworked his program to make it harder and he looked a little uncomfortable with the new layout. Still, Evan gave a solid performance and took the lead from Bradley (but lost the free to him), and locked a spot on the Olympic Team. Johnny Weir was next and after a gorgeous triple axel combo, let the nerves creep in. He popped his second triple axel, stepped out of his triple toe behind a lutz, and skated very slowly. Despite finishing only 5th in the free, his lead from the short was good enough to get him in second ahead of Bradley and again probably locked a spot on the Olympic Team. Final skater of the night was Jeremy Abbott who blew the field away! A perfect skate that included a quad...I don't think many men in the world could get close to Abbott if he skates like this in Vancouver. He was brilliant and sent the roof off of Spokane Arena. His score was a whopping 263.66...and that was with, in my opinion, no inflation. I think that, at least for me, was the finest free skate from a man that I've ever had the pleasure to see. Pigs INDEED can fly!

UPDATE: Johnny Weir, Evan Lysacek, and Jeremy Abbott have all been named to the U.S. Olympic Team.

Several other events took place today in Spokane. After the novice men's short program, Nathan Chen leads Emmanuel Savary and Phillip Warren. In novice pairs, Vollmer and Sidhu lead Cain and Reagan and Oltmanns and Santillan after the short program. The junior men's competition wrapped today with a stunning performance from Jason Brown who took the Gold. Joshua Farris took the silver medal while leader after the short, Max Aaron settled for bronze.

Video courtesy KHQ Spokane


Anonymous said...

Well, like I said before, the top 4 contender at the Olympics are: Plushy, Joubert, Takahashi, and Abbot. Only they can pull out the quads consistently. If Abbot can repeat what he did last night plus put in a quad during the sp, I can see him winning silver if not gold (if Joubert doesn't do another 3 quad lp or Plushy putting in quad triple, double combo + quad triple). Kinda reminds me of Hughes who was more or less seen as fourth inline to win gold and came up golden.

As for Evan, if he thinks he can get away with an Olympic gold without a quad, he's dreaming. Olympic champions are the ones who take chances and go for it. Not for the tepid ones. Putting in a quad at this point of the season is a bit too late. Should have start putting that in during the Grand Prix season. At least he can retire and said that he had won just about every title out there except an Olympic gold (or any color Olympic medal for that matter). Which is still commendable. He kinda reminded me of a better version of Kimmie Meissner's career. Came in at the right time when there's a void in the sports. Now the real competition comes in and they get burried.

Weir had his chances. And it was four years ago. Now he just looked tired. He used to be able to pull out triple triples with no problem and his triple axels were like a sure thing. Now, he can hardly do any triple triples and his triple axels are iffy. Yes, he made it to the Olympics again, but his glory days are well behind him. Top 5 finish? yes. Podium? no.

This really is the strongest US men in a long long time. Perhaps the strongest ever. Unfortunately, they are more like the 4-6 best in the world not 1-3. Their placements depend on how others do. That's not the way to win the game though. You want to have the skills to control your own placement and not wait for others to falter. But then again, Arakawa won her gold with a pathetic 5 triples. She wouldn't have made it onto the podium during the dual between Michelle and Tara in 1998. So I guess in another words, you never know.

Aaron said...

Anonymous...let the competition happen before you write all their histories!

Stella said...

Can I say how much I hate the nickname 'Plushy'? I see it and it rhymes with tushy and that's all I can think about :)

I don't know about anybody else - and maybe I'm just super idealistic - but I really don't think it's so cut and dry that medaling at the olympics is all about the quad and only the quad. I also feel like anonymous's rundown on the state of the the American men is extremely and maybe overly pessimistic.
I'm really looking forward to the olympics. I'm hoping for an incredible competition with clean and passionate programs from all of the top contenders and I don't really care who medals. (ok - though I will be rooting for my home country)
Isn't it ok to really just hope for that?

Aaron said...

I think this season has shown us ANYTHING is possible.

And I agree, the quad is not the 'be all-end all' by a longshot.

I think a lot of guys have a shot at Olympic Gold with nobody at this point clearly winning the expectations race.

I think it will be a close, exciting competition that none of us can predict.

Anonymous said...

quad is definitely not end all be all. But when it is done by several of the top players, it becomes a must have. When the only person (more or less) who was doing it was Joubert in the past few seasons, no one gives a damn. But now with Plushy, Joubert, Lambiel (if he's back), Takahashi (we shall see about this one), and Abbot, not to mention others who are executing flawless ones, then it becomes a must have. The bottom line is all the top players' "artistic" scores hoovers around 70-80. And yes, even the robotic Joubert is getting 70s. Then that means the only way to differentiate oneself is by throwing out quads. More the merrier because then one can differentiate one's technical scores from the rest of the field. What Evan trying to do is he knows he can't compete on the quad front so he's trying to earn his way to the top by doing flawless jumps to get those +1s, etc. But when his jumps don't have the ride outs that he wants, or he might land them funny, then he's screwed. Bottom line is I can see Abbot on the podium, the other two... not so much.