Dec 11, 2011
GPF 2011: the Ladiezzz
Unfortunately, the ladies' event at the Grand Prix Final seemed somehow incomplete with the last-minute withdrawal of Mao Asada upon the news of her mother's illness and passing away. My deepest condolences and sympathy goes to Mao and the Asada family in this trying time.
As for the ladies event in general....unlike the men and the pairs, the ladies event seemed rather lackluster overall. Typical. Really, in terms of practically all aspects of skating--performance, ambition of jump content, skating skills, intricacy, choreography, transitions, ambition of artistic vision, etc....the men really put the ladies to shame. And I don't just mean the field at the GPF, but the respective men's and ladies' fields as a whole. Of course, the winner of most men's events is more or less a foregone conclusion these days, but the fight for the silver and bronze is nonetheless very exciting and all the top men seem to be constantly pushing each other to do more quads, more transitions, just....more. Meanwhile, the ladies are extremely unpredictable but many of them seem to be trying to out-do each other in watering down either their programs or their jump content (sometimes both). I for one miss the glory days of the Mao Asada/Yu-Na Kim rivalry, when ladies skating actually seemed quite thrilling to watch.
Carolina Kostner won her first Grand Prix Final on her fourth try with contemporaries like Mao Asada, Yu-Na Kim and Miki Ando finally out of the way at last. I admit, I'm a bit torn about Miss Kostner this season in general. On one hand, I love her programs, especially her long program to Mozart. The choreography is lovely, spirited, engaging and very elegant in terms of structure. Taken as a whole, her two programs are simply the best among the ladies this season. On the other hand, it's a bit sad seeing Miss Kostner win with that kind of jump content, especially considering the fact that the top 5 junior ladies at the JGPF all had higher base values than Miss Kostner. Of course, it's not Miss Kostner's fault that the ladies field is so weak right now, but it's a bit frustrating that Miss Kostner can't even seem to skate cleanly or consistently with this diminished jump content. Argh.
But....whatever. Miss Kostner certainly deserved to win the GPF here, especially with her lead after her very good short program, the best she's performed the Shostakovich piece this season. As for the long program, it was certainly not her best skate, but it was the best of a day of rather un-scintillating performances.
Akiko Suzuki won the silver with 179.76 points. Personally, I was rooting for Miss Suzuki to win here to strike a significant blow for the oldies in the Geriatrics vs. Toddlers battle that seems to characterize the topmost echelons of the ladies field this year, but alas, it was not quite meant to be. Although Miss Kostner's lead after the short was not insurmountable, Miss Suzuki's failure to tack on the second jumps after the latter 3Lo and 3Lz incurred the dreaded +SEQ penalty, which, coupled with her other mistakes, chipped away at her TES. However, despite the errors and the fact that I'm not a fervent fan of either of her two programs this season, Miss Suzuki was still a joy to watch, and it is always good to see a ladies skater go for it and skate with some real heart.
Alena Leonova placed third with 176.42 points. Ugh, it's only December and I feel like I've watched Miss Leonova's programs far too many times already. I barely remember how Miss Leonova skated at the GPF and I think that might not be a bad thing. In the notes I took when I watched the long program live, I just wrote down "dirge of the damned," which neatly sums up my opinions on the choreography of Miss Leonova's long program, as well as how I felt after watching it.
Elizaveta Tuktamisheva placed fourth with 174.51 points, a rather surprising placement as many expected her to land on the podium if not outright win the event. However, mistakes on two of her three jumps in the short program put her in a formidable twelve-point hole after the short program. Unfortunately, without Miss Tuktamisheva's exemplary jumps punctuating her programs with some excitement, her weaknesses most unfortunately come into the forefront: the lack of ice coverage, the way she seems to skate 'small' especially compared to ladies like Carolina Kostner, the lack of speed on her footwork, the lack of polish and maturity, the less-than-exemplary choreography and program construction, etc. Miss Tuktamisheva's second-place long program was much better, and I admit, even if I am completely cognizant of Miss Tuktamisheva's weaknesses, she's not bad for a fourteen-year-old! Miss Tuktamisheva has confidence and excitement in her skating when she's on, and there's some real potential buried in there somewhere. Hopefully Miss Tuktamisheva can discover it even if she's a Mishin student.....
Alissa Czisny skated terribly and as such, failed to defend her GPF title. Apparently Miss Czisny was injured, which explains a lot, as her jump takeoffs were even more hesitant than usual and she really couldn't seem to get any proper height on her jumps in the long program. This new development certainly makes the fight for the ladies spots at US Nationals rather interesting if the injury isn't fully healed by then.