Nov 29, 2011
Cup of Russia 2011: Ladies
(I am a terrible, terrible skating blogger. Please pretend this was posted two or three days ago.)
Quite a few strange, misshapen mutants stalked the ladies event at the 2011 Cup of Russia like...two giant stalking stalkers. No, not the skaters themselves or their costumes, but the musical selections used in their programs. Indeed, the event was truly a sight (or sound?) for sore ears, such that it was extremely difficult to choose which was the worst crime against musicality. I bit my tongue when the first strains of a truly horrible version of Bolero popped up during Adelina Sotnikova's short program, but after sitting through Mao Asada's equally grating and twinkly Scheherazade....and Vanessa Mae's ubiquitous screechy Turandot in Sofia Biryukova's long program...and that horrible schlocky version of Liszt's Liebestraum Adelina Sotnikova used....and then the tragic mashup of Barber's Adagio and Requiem for a Dream...I was just barely resisting the urge to watch the competition on mute. I personally have nothing against adaptations/special re-orchestrations of well-known classical pieces (e.g. Mao Asada's Liebestraum is perfectly respectable)....but just make sure they are at least as good as the original versions! Just because this is ladies skating doesn't mean that twinkly/'light' versions of everything are necessary....
Anyway, Mao Asada won the ladies event with a total of 183.25 points, her first win since the 2010 Torino World Championships. Admittedly, it was somewhat less than palatable--and not to mention surprising--to see how Miss Asada was able to win with literally three rotated triple jumps (two flips and one loop) in her long program. However, Miss Asada's strong non-jump elements (all level fours!) and high Program Components Scores certainly helped to pull her scores up.
If her GOEs and PCS from this competition are indicative of anything, it looks like Miss Asada is finally somewhat respectable in the judges' eyes again. Well, I suppose with Yu-Na Kim and Miki Ando gone, Miss Asada is the only World Champion left and those reputation marks have to go somewhere. In all seriousness, however, Miss Asada's overall skating quality was clearly the best among the field at the Cup of Russia, so her PCS were justified. If Alena Leonova is able to get 7s in transitions, choreography and skating skills, Miss Asada deserves at least 8s. Miss Asada was perhaps also helped by the fact that she was skating after Adelina Sotnikova's sad facsimile of a program and the general feeling of doom and despair effected by Miss Leonova's Adagio/Requiem mashup. In such bleak circumstances, Miss Asada's Liebestraum is inevitably a breath of fresh air.
Although things appeared to be going downhill after the 3Lz, it was good to see how Miss Asada fought back during her performance. I know I've previously said that the choice of Liszt's Liebestraum is an obvious and safe one for Miss Asada, but she really seems to embrace the music and everything seems to flow from within as a result. Miss Asada even manages to look positively beatific even after flubbing her jumps, which helps with the overall impression of the program. I just wish that Miss Asada would bring back some of the choreography from the original version of the program (e.g. that long, held-out spread eagle with arms that went with the music), but if this current layout helps Miss Asada land her jumps, I'm all for it.
Alena Leonova had the plum chance to beat Miss Asada and win her first Grand Prix gold medal, but a fall on her double axel and other avoidable mistakes at the end of her program relegated her to second place. Is it a stamina thing? Or a mental thing? Miss Leonova seemed a bit more consistent when she was younger. Her 3T-3T looks rock-solid, though, and was easily her best element across both programs.
As for the program itself....I tried to play the patented Morozombie drinking game while watching Miss Leonova's Adagiquiem long program, but I realized I didn't have enough booze in my cabinet. It is classic Morozov: illusion mesh, check; posing section, check; straightline step sequence, check; louder and faster music during straightline step sequence, check; face-stroking, check.....need I go on? I understand what Nikolai Morozov is trying to get at with Adagiquiem and I respect Miss Leonova's commitment to her performance and her choreography, but I can't help but wonder how much better this concept would look if it were done by another choreographer.
Adelina Sotnikova, looking like an errant bridesmaid from a particularly budget wedding, placed third overall with 169.75 points, thereby missing the Grand Prix Final. Why is Miss Sotnikova skating to the same piece of music as Miss Asada, along with a vaguely similarly colored dress? Bad life decision. Miss Asada's version is far superior in nearly every conceivable category--costuming, choreography, music cuts, interpretation, etc. Bad program choice aside, Miss Sotnikova looks to be wilting under the expectations of being the leader of Russia's horde of uber-ladies as well as the effects of her summer injury. After last year's string of consistently good performances by Miss Sotnikova, it's a bit bizarre how things have turned out once Miss Sotnikova has hit the senior circuit. At this rate, I'd expect Miss Sotnikova to lose her world junior title to Elizaveta Tuktamisheva this season.