Oct 29, 2011
Skate Canada 2011: Ladiezzz
Unlike the short program, the ladies free skate at Skate Canada was a relatively decently-skated event at this point of the season....well, at least for the top three. In a charming twist of fate, the youngest competitor on the senior Grand Prix (Elizaveta Tuktamisheva) won gold, placing just ahead of the oldest competitor on the Grand Prix (Akiko Suzuki). Very revealing about the nature of this noble sport, n'est-ce pas?
Elizaveta Tuktamisheva. Miss Tuktamisheva, the bane of non-Russian commentators and announcers everywhere, won the gold overall but placed second in the free skate. Well, say what you will about Alexei Mishin, but the man knows how to teach jump technique, if Miss Tutktamisheva is any indication. Simply gorgeous jump technique with such speed and flow coming out of her jumps, and presentation-wise, she's not bad for an acolyte of the Mishin school! Although her sheer jumping power should take her quite far, Miss Tuktamisheva nonetheless needs to work on her level 1 spins, and make sure her speed is constant throughout her program--I'd like to see her carry over the speed she has into her step sequence, which sort of drags. Overall, great potential, but not only as a jumper--there's clearly a performer and skater in there somewhere.
Akiko Suzuki. Miss Suzuki appears to be finally receiving credit for her superlative qualities in the program components department. Miss Suzuki won the free skate as well as on PCS, a well-deserved accomplishment. Great to see her get a level 4 on her wonderfully jaunty step sequence as well. If there's one thing that Mirai Nagasu needs to learn, it is the way Miss Suzuki powers through her program despite the bobbles, selling the damn thing until the very last second. As they say, it ain't over till it's over.
Ashley Wagner. I was never really a fan of Miss Wagner's skating, but her Black Swan was pleasant enough to watch, though I wish she would delve more into the more darker elements of the Swan Lake story (use that bitchface, girl!). Love the arm movements during the spiral, and overall, Miss Wagner looks to have benefited from her move to John Nicks: there is a discernible refinement in her movements and she looks less frantic than she has in the past. Unlike Miss Nagasu and Miss Flatt, Miss Wagner looks in good shape, hungry and ready to shove past her compatriots to get to the top of the US ladies heap.
Mirai Nagasu. I really don't know what to say about Miss Nagasu anymore. Everything seemed so promising after the very good 3Lo-2T, but the entire program after the first jumping pass was a downhill stumble the entire way. It's difficult to say what's worse--the well-deserved negative GOE on every jumping pass after the 3Lo-2T (except for the final 2A), or the completely lackluster performance that garnered some shameful 5s in PE and IN. Miss Nagasu, who usually skates with such speed and verve, looked to be crawling around on the ice at times--particularly during the step sequence--and looked off-pace with the music at key parts of her program (e.g. spread eagle came a few seconds too late, etc...these things add up and leave a negative impression).
Moreover, the choreography for Spartacus is appalling. The way the music is cut is a slight improvement from Memoirs of a Geisha last season, but...that's about the only positive thing that could be said about the content of the program. Miss Nagasu needs to ditch Lori Nichol ASAP and hire someone who actually gives a shit. It's not that the music of Spartacus is a poor choice for Miss Nagasu--it's the slipshod choreography that consistently fails to take advantage of the powerful music: the pointless split-second back Charlotte spirals, the spread eagle at the program's climax that should have been an arabesque spiral, the way the music abruptly changes during the step sequence....Miss Nagasu's Spartacus is a mess and a waste of good music. The PCS--48.92, behind freaking Alena Leonova!--simply says it all. Disgraceful for someone of Miss Nagasu's talent level.