Which is preferable: a bizarre event (men) or bizarre judging (ladies)? As painful as the former was, the latter is certainly quite a bit more disheartening.
Miki Ando. Miss Ando wins her second world title since 2007 with a solid performance only marred by a stumble on the back half of her 2A-2T combination. Miss Ando has, for this season, displayed a rock-solid consistency with her long program which would have been much more impressive had it not been brought at the price of a program that is so transparently designed by stopwatch as to be laughable. Perhaps this is the genius of Nikolai Morozov: he has given Miss Ando a program that milks CoP for all its worth with absolutely minimal risk. And it has paid off in spades with little penalty whatsoever despite what the rules say about choreographic quality and efficacy. Listen up choreographers next season, this winning formula is as follows:
(1) Insert two jumping passes at the beginning
(2) Insert another two back-to-back spins right after to take up more time
(3) Do enough energy-conservative and trite posing to take up time until the halfway point of the program is reached
(4) Insert 5 back-to-back jumping passes after the halfway point to rack up those bonus points
(5) Insert trademark Morozov straightline step sequence to end
Of course, every skater skates programs that are designed to rack up the points but Miss Ando's program this season is designed to do so more tranparently than most, with very little acknowledgement of the music until the step sequence. It is Mr. Morozov's and Miss Ando's prerogative to play it safe by skating a strategic program at the cost of aesthetic value and artistic considerations but it is an absolute farce that this program is receiving high 7s and 8s for choreography, interpretation and transitions. Am I the only one who notices this? Or am I just cynical and overly prone to grumbling? I don't understand.
Yu-Na Kim. Giselle may not have impressed but Homage to Korea LP certainly did. Miss Kim's LP this season is elegant, heartfelt and absolutely lovely. Not only is the music beautiful, but the program had so many Moments: the step sequence set to the vocals section, the way her jumps were positioned to hit notes in the music, and of course, the ending section of the program with the soaring music and spirals. Choreographically the best LP Miss Kim ever had, no? Pity that the program was delivered via a half-baked performance. Miss Kim's decision to sit out most of the season definitely cost her--it's clear that Homage to Korea would have soared with more mileage in it. I hope Miss Kim continues to compete next season with this LP again--this one's definitely a keeper.
Carolina Kostner. Miss Kostner's bronze medal here confuses me greatly. On one hand, her placement here prevented Miss Leonova's exceedingly tacky effort from making the podium. On the other hand, Miss Kostner has definitely been the beneficiary of some very generous scoring for what she did. Not only did her fairly mediocre SP give her an undeserved cushion going into the long but it hurts my soul
Alena Leonova. Miss Leonova hit the jumps but the fact that her sloppy and unrefined skating came within a hair's-breadth of the podium this year can only be explained by behind-the-scenes political wheeling and dealing on the level of what Didier Gailhaguet did for Surya Bonaly back in the day. Miss Leonova's packaging and skating is just so....tacky, for the lack of a better word. We need to stage an intervention here--I mean, even Irina Slutskaya cleaned up eventually. It is also a complete and utter travesty that Miss Leonova beat both Alissa Czisny and Mao Asada in PCS. This flagrant denial of the gulf in overall skating quality and ability between Miss Leonova and Miss Czisny and Miss Asada is so ludicrous it's verging on the surreal. I don't even know if the judges and I are watching the same skaters anymore.
Alissa Czisny. Congratulations to Miss Czisny for not melting down after falling on her first 3Lz as I fully expected. In this case I am happy to eat my words. Still, fifth place is a very respectable finish for Miss Czisny, especially since the vast majority had seemed to write her off after failing to make the Olympic team last year. Too bad about the fall on 3Lz--if Miss Czisny landed it, she would have made a much more satisfying bronze medallist than Miss Kostner.
Mao Asada. Being shut out of the final group in the LP definitely hurt Miss Asada here--she was definitely undermarked for what was a fairly decent performance, particularly in PCS. The most farcial thing about how Miss Asada was scored, however, was the highly questionable--actually, to be honest, completely bogus--<< downgrade call Miss Asada received from her 3A. The 2A-3T is more understandable but upon watching Miss Asada's 3A in her LP over and over again, I really cannot fathom how on earth the 3A could be considered underrotated by over a 1/2 revolution--i.e. landed forward. That kind of call is reserved for Sarah Hughes-type underrotators, which was definitely not the case here. That 3A should have been penalized by no more than a <. Absolutely ridiculous. God knows what Shin Amano was hallucinating when he was overseeing this event--how can one justify Miss Asada receiving a << on her 3A in the LP while jumps like Miss Kostner's 3F in the SP are given full credit? This wildly inconsistent calling just makes a mockery of the increasingly nonsensical crusade on underrotations.
The judging was so disappointing at this event, enough to make this post extremely difficult to write on my part without veering into entirely incongruous ranting. Sometimes I think I should only emotionally invest in sports that involve much more objective means of assessing performance.