So about the 2010 installmenmt of the NHK Trophy...
What I Liked
NHK Trophy gave us a good peak at some of the young and up-and-coming talent from Japan. In the short program especially, Yuzuru Hanyu and Kanako Murakami came out like gang busters...very impressive. And while not perhaps their best performance, Takahashi and Tran did a nice job of putting Japan on the Pairs radar as far as seniors go. I loved some of the new programs out there including Daisuke Takahashi's short, Jeremy Abbott's short and free, Denney and Barrett's free, Shawn Sawyers, free, Yankowskas and Coughlin's free, Ilinykh and Katsalapov's free dance, and the Shibutani's free dance. I also loved that the Shibutani's nabbed a bronze medal in their Senior Grand Prix debut! While I'm not jumping for joy over the programs (yet), I love the class and sophistication Davis and White and Pang and Tong brought to their victories.
What I Didn't Like
I was not a fan of the short dances. One of the things I asked Ice-Dance.com on Twitter was what should we look for with these and one of the most important things was the transition between prescribed steps from the old compulsory dance to the original choreography. I felt like few of the teams managed this well. It seemed like there was a compulsory dance, and then there was a mini original dance, and all the teams were huffing and puffing around the rink trying to get all the requirements in on time. Only Davis and White I felt managed a smooth transition between the two types of 'ice dancing' required in the short dance. I also didn't like the result of the ladies competition. I think Rachael Flatt should have had an easy win here and yet she found herself second behind a watered down Carolina Kostner. I poured over the judges protocol and on the technical side, the judges were slightly more generous with positive grades on the things Carolina did well vs the positive grades for what Rachael did well. Carolina had 1's and 2's where Rachael had 0's and 1's. Also, a near seven point gap between Carolina and Rachael on the PCS scores seems ridiculous to me. I think in some areas (some!) Carolina may have a slight advantage...but overall I feel their skating is quite even on a component scale. I would love for a judge to sit down with me and explain point-by-point how Carolina is that much better. In general, I don't feel the judges were very forthcoming with scores for any of the American competitors.
What I Hated
First, watching Mao Asada have an utter meltdown! Nothing worked for her here, either in the short or free. And with an 8th place (yes 8th!) finish, a trip to the Grand Prix Final in Beijing is near impossible. I hated the ridiculous number of Tango's this season. Not just in dance, but in all the disciplines so many competitors have a Tango! The best Tweet during NHK Trophy was from @icedancecom! Only Daisuke Takahashi's Tango passes the Axels, Loops, and Spins overused music test and gets a pass. I even still have to warm-up to Davis and White's Forever Tango/Il Postino. The final thing I hated was the scoring amongst the top three in the mens competition. First I had a hard time with Amodio sneaking past Abbott in the free skate (even though he placed behind him overall). The sophistication of Abbott's program coupled with the fact he only had one major jump error led me to believe Abbott would sail past Amodio but not the case. To be fair it was the technical score that got Amodio past Abbott but still. I mean standing at center ice for 11 seconds doing Michael Jackson isn't exactly skating. On the flip side, Takahashi was scored nearly 7 points better than Abbott in the PCS score on his way to a win. No way is Takahashi 7 points better than Abbott in PCS...at best they are about dead even. Like the women, I want someone to sit down and explain how Daisuke is 7 points better...anyone? I'll get off my soapbox!
As for my fantasy picks...wamp wamp! I'm tied for 365th place. Get em' next time!
You can see the full results here. Next week, Skate Canada!