Nov 24, 2012
The State of the Union: 2012 Grand Prix
Akiko Suzuki is a lovely and talented skater with two strong programs this year. Her O long program is especially a delight to watch. It is a travesty that the judges consistently refuse to acknowledge Ms. Suzuki's skills by lowballing her PCS and thus robbing her of the gold at both Skate Canada and at the NHK Trophy. What would it take for Ms. Suzuki to break into the 8-range of PCS she deserves? Maybe a more supportive federation. Or maybe a name change....
Patrick Chan has shut me up. Well done, sir.
Our purported future overlords, the Russian superbabies, have mostly underwhelmed this season. Julia Liptnitskaya still skates like a small robot and her jumps do not look like they are going to survive puberty. Elizaveta Tuktamisheva has also been been struggling with her growing body and her purported artistic Renaissance with David Wilson choreography, etc., has mostly stayed mired in the dark ages of Mishin. Adelina Sotnikova continues to mystify with dreadful programs and performances despite her obvious talent level. There is no salvation in Polina Shelepen, Polina Korobeynikova or Sofia Biryukova. Contrary to the lofty predictions of some, the tantalizing prospect of a ladies OGM at Sochi looks like a distant proposition for the Russians from the way things are looking right now.
Is Yuzuru Hanyu the new Sasha Cohen? Sometimes it does seem like it. Both are thin, bendy, have kickass short programs but can't seem to survive a long program without botching something major. For Mr. Hanyu, it is startling to see the stark difference between his short and long programs. The boy smashes records and skates with sensational speed, power and confidence in his short, but his long programs have consistently underwhelmed so far. Not only is the choreography not as good, but his stamina (or lack thereof) have made both his long programs on the GP this season exhausting to watch even for the viewer sitting complacently in front of his/her computer screen. The first half of the program is skated with the speed and power of the short program, but as the program wears on, Mr. Hanyu gets droopier and droopier, his speed noticeably drops, the mistakes piles on, and the interpretation and attention to detail goes out the window. Not surprising the judges at NHK slammed him with only 7-range PCS during his long program there. If, however, Mr. Hanyu can hold himself together in the long program, he will be difficult to beat. His insane transitions, GOE-happy jump quality and high base value will make him nigh-untouchable even if his PCS isn't exactly up to scratch.
What is this? A Canadian lady who can land (most of) her jumps under pressure, skates with flair, and doesn't seem like an absolute headcase? Kaetlyn Osmond has established herself as a force to be reckoned with this season with her win at Skate Canada (questionable, some say, but she still won). Her overall packaging and polish needs quite a bit of work--especially that Katarina Witt-wannabe Carmen LP--but her big jumps, difficult transitions and raw performance ability will take her far. Also note: Worlds is in Canada this year. Just saying...
The Japanese have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to their men's division. It is insane that their random #591053158-ranked skaters can win GP events. It is insane that they have won 4 out of the 6 GP gold medals for men. It is insane that they have won 10 out of the 18 available medals GP men's medals available this season. Japanese Nationals is definitely going to be some sort of a gladiatorial fight to the death this season. The Japanese Skating Federation would be stupid not to put Daisuke Takhashi, Yuzuru Hanyu and Takhiko Kozuka on their world team, but Nobunari Oda, Tatsuki Machida, etc., are going to make them work for it. If there is a country that deserves more than three spots at Worlds, it's Japan. Can't we take away France's or Canada's third men's spot and give it to the Japanese instead?
On the other side of the spectrum are the American men, all of whom look increasingly hopeless as the years go by. There is talent there, but somehow it never seems to come together. It is sad that a skater of Jeremy Abbott's caliber continues to bumble off podiums and lose to random obscure Japanese skaters like he does, but it is what it is. With things looking as they did on the Grand Prix this year, it seems pointless to hope that resurrected veterans like Evan Lysacek will revive US men's skating and get that third spot back. It's not like Mr. Lysacek has the goods to compete with the likes of Yuzuru Hanyu, Patrick Chan and Daisuke Takahashi anyway. Maybe it would be best to write off this generation and actually give Joshua Farris a senior GP assignment next season. Or pray that Jason Brown will acquire a consistent quad and triple axel....
Mao Asada may have won two GP gold medals for the first time in many years, but her jumps remain a mess. Ms. Asada may have (wisely) put her 3A on the backburner for now, but URs, two-foots and doubling still proliferate among her other triples. Despite all this talk about working on her technique, there hasn't been much discernible improvement and it doesn't look likely that it will happen in time for Ms. Asada to win the only prize that she's lacking: Olympic gold. Also, did anyone else notice that Ms. Asada's I Got Rhythm SP seems rather reminiscent of Mirai Nagasu's I Got Rhythm SP from the 2007-2008 season? Choreography for both by Lori Nichol (of course):