First and foremost, Alissa Czisny! She said after her free skate in Beijing "I almost feel like this is a new beginning for me. The past is gone - over and done with. I almost feel like I am a new skater." If it goes from almost to a certainty, none of the other girls have a chance at U.S. Nationals. We've all known for a few years now that if Alissa Czisny can put together a short program and a free skate in the same competition, she'd be formidable. Well...point proven! In Ice Dance and Pairs it was kind of what most people expected. Davis and White have virtually no competition currently with Virtue and Moir out so it was no shock to see them win. I think Savchenko and Szolkowy have refound their thunder (it was totally stolen by Shen and Zhao last season) and are back on track (despite a rather cheesy free skate to Pink Panther). Patrick Chan clobbered the field with a strong skate and huge component scores. Patrick has consistently brought in the biggest PCS score this season and now armed with a quad is the toughest guy to beat. The only skater currently in Patrick's neighborhood on PCS is Daisuke Takahashi and he was seven points back. Food for thought...
Oh Rachael Flatt. It was so unfortunate to see her come undone like that. Let's not even talk about the scores (I'll leave that to Phil Hersh). A lingering leg injury is partially to blame but she was dealing with that same issue at Skate America and skated much better there. This performance has many doubting her chances in Greensboro: "I'm going to go home, regroup and start over from scratch on a few things. I need to use the time to build up my confidence in my training again." The only other big loss I think was dealt to Miki Ando who finished ahead of Rachael in 5th. After a disappointing short program (a new short program), she rallied to win the free skate...and didn't move up a single spot despite out skating everyone ahead of her. She came in the favorite and leaves empty handed...and behind two of what promises to be tough competitors at Japanese Nationals; Akiko Suzuki and Kanako Murakami (who took the bronze).
I think Pang and Tong had a draw here. Coming off of last season where they won the Olympic Silver Medal and World Title, I expected them to push Savchenko and Szolkowy a bit more here. They didn't skate bad...but where not up to the level they need to be to keep pace ahead of the Germans. A draw for Carolina Kostner who continues to be awarded for easy programs...but not a win this time. And Nobunari Oda who has a Patrick Chan problem this season (the monkey on his back). He has to figure out how to 1) get all the way through his free skate clean and 2) figure out how to raise his PCS score. He's skating good...he needs to find a way to skate great.
And how about this video...definitely affected both of their performances. A nasty crash between Kozuka and Takahashi in practice. Kozuka had to fight for the bronze and Daisuke ended up off the podium (his doctor advised he withdraw but he chose to compete anyway).
Also, take a look at the winning performances!
Bonus Video! Check out American Richard Dornbush kill it in the Junior Men's Free Skate!