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Apr 30, 2011

2011 Worlds: Ladies LP Recap

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 a little to see a program with a single 3F as the most difficult jump make the World podium in 2011.

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.


  1. Great commentary as usual. I totally agree with you about the judging. It's veering on the ridiculous. I don't know what Amano was smoking but Mao's 3A definitely didn't deserve the severe downgrade. More baffling is his dinging of Kanako's 3-3 in both programs. I watched it on replay and saw no problem with them! It's also ridiculous that Alena PCS is ranked above Aliss and Mao. Overall, this competition was disappointing. There were no inspiring performances and lots of questionable judging.Imo.

  2. I agree with you on almost everything - except for Miki's marks. In my humble opinion she showed considerable improvement from the previous season, especially when it comes to expressing the music and her spins. While her LP isn't exactly abundant in transitions, 5 jumping passes including 2A-3T in the second half isn't what I would call a "safe" strategy (yes, she failed to land 2A-3T here, but she was that was caused by a shaky landing on 2A).
    It's a shame she didn't try a 3-3, but to accompish that she would have to bring back 3F, and practicing that jump (or rather falling on it) causes her injuries to cause her grief again. I think she simply wanted to skate one season just enjoying herself before taking the year off.

    Having said that, I believe Mao should have scored higher than Miki at least on TR and IN. I'm not even going to mention Elene scoring higher on PCS than Mao, the bizarre way the GoEs were awarded or the questionable downgrades.

    Surreal, indeed.

  3. I agree with you on almost everything:
    - Miki: sure, she's improved a lot, but I never liked her skating and here her performance was absolutely forgettable. She totally played it safe.
    - YuNa: I'm glad she was the only medallist who landed (went for) a 3-3, and she was lovely, as usual, even though I didn't find her programme particularly spectacular.
    - Carolina: She was just lucky...
    - Leonova: well said Morozombie: tacky is the right word indeed.
    - Alissa: I would have loved to see her on the podium instead of Carolina, but oh well:(
    - Mao: here, I totally disagree with you! Mao's so called "3A" is just weird double axel, I'm sorry. Of course they downgraded it! She looked tired and shaky, I seriously think she's got some problems. She's too thin and unhealthy looking. Her performance was terrible, really.

    Thank you!


  4. Seriously, Tigerlily. Do you even know what a triple axel look like? Your bias against Mao is so obvious in all your posts. Yes, we get it, you don't like her but I also don't think you know much about skating to comment on the specifics. *shrugs*

  5. mao asada was sooo robbed, at one point it felt like the judges tried to give the russian a medal.. and I can't believe that MAO ASADA received those downgrades I mean asada is known for her awesome jumps... this was really ridicuoles, it's seems like this shin amano has something about mao.. well maybe he is jalous since a woman is executing jumps that are much more diffecult then he ever tried...loool.. anyway this is a fricken bad joke mao asada in 6th... not even in my dreams would I have seen that coming... can't believe that they scored costner, alena more then mao even with her mistakes... right now this worlds was soo disappointing.. I already look forward to the next season where mao will beat the hell out of everyone lool..and for gods sake keep shin amano away this guy clearly has no eyes.. and simply isn't fit to judge such an important event in the future..

  6. I have similar feelings to yours on this event on the whole. Leonova's scores aren't even funny.

  7. Yeah, Anonymous, I don't like her anymore because she keeps insisting on that 3A, even though she can't do it. She can do a beautiful 2A, why not go for that one instead? Since she became obsessed with that element, her expression (even off the ice) is always sad, worried, and she doesn't seem to have her joy of skating anymore. I'm sorry but she does look worryingly thin and unhealthy. And did you rewatch the "3A", the one she did tonight? How can you not see there's a half revolution missing? How can you be so blind?
    And another poster said "I can't believe that MAO ASADA received those downgrades I mean asada is known for her awesome jumps"...ok so skaters should get their marks according to what they're known for? It doesn't make any sense to me.


  8. I usually prefer Mao's skating, but I adored Yu-na's LP. I actually wished she had used it last year to win the Olympics instead of the underwhelming and somewhat soulless Gershwin. That music was gorgeous. Hopefully Miki will retire now. She really can't do any better, and these cookie-cutter programs shouldn't ever be the gold standard after this. Carolina has had the weirdest skating career ever. Since she medalled this year, her previous results clearly show that she place 12th in 2012.

  9. Tigerlily, clearly you only focus on her sad pictures because there have been many pictures of her off-ice where she's seen smiling. And I'm not blind, her 3A wasn't 1/2 short of rotation and Skateskates provided shots as proof. Go check her blog.
    Anyways, as for skaters being scored on what they are known for. That has happened to other skaters far more than it has for Mao. IMO. I mean Kostner always seemed to get the benefit of doubt for her jumps because she's know for her good technique and skating skills. So whatever.

    Lastly, I agree with the poster above. Yuna's LP is much better than Gerswhin. She should have used this for the Olympics. The effect could have been more felt.

  10. Well you know, smiling doesn't mean happy; I'm talking about the joy of skating that she doesn't seem to convey anymore, that's it. (You know a bit like Fumie)
    I agree there's lots of strange judging, but Mao's was ok tonight, in my opinion.
    As for Yuna's LP, I personally prefer Gershwin, even though I think it was great of her to choose a traditional music to thank her country and all. I really really hope she continues, she's still so young!
    And thanks for reading and replying, Anonymous!^^


  11. Yuna cried. She expected what?

  12. ^
    She interviewed she just welled up b/c she was on the podium.

  13. If you suggest Yuna was crying on the podium bc she "expected" somethingelse- i.e., a gold medal, you are just being mean.

    She said in an interview afer the ceremony that she got emotional about standing on the podium again after going through the hardest time in her life after the Olympics.

  14. I think Mao's triple axel (full) downgrade is insane!
    How could Amano be allowed to be a technical specialist when he has a reputation of downgrading Japanese skaters more than anyone else? Well, anyway, I LOVED Mao's program this year! I will miss it so much!
    I am not a HUGE Yu-Na Kim fan, but I enjoyed both of her programs. She has to be one of the most emotional skaters I have seen on the ice!
    Many people love Alissa Czisny. I am just speaking in my opinion, but I don't see anything that amazing about her other than her flexibility in spins and spirals. She is still a great skater though, and had she landed the 3 Lutz, she probaly would have gotten bronze.
    All I'm gonna say about Kanako was that she was robbed from her 3T+3T, with a < on the second 3 Toe.
    This year I like Miki's program a lot! It was a pretty difficult program. Even though it was not her best performance this year, I was still so proud of her. My question is why did she change her short program from the one she did earlier in the season like at Cup of China? Her footwork in that program had SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much expression! It was exciting! I still like the other short program though.
    All in all, I think the placement was somewhat logical. I just don't think she should have gotten first in the short program, actually. One judge gave her GOE +1 on her 3 Lutz, how is this possible?! Every other judge gave her negative GOE's but somehow she got a +1 from one judge? And another thing, when Yu-Na singled her Flip in the long, she didn't get minuses, but when other skaters single a jump, they do!
    No I am not a Yu-Na hater, her skating is really breathtaking, but I just think she was overscored at this World Championships.

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