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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.


  1. I also find it very disappointing that Carolina started winning with such watered down jump content. I am also still having a hard time enjoying her LP, I just dont quite get all the excitement. Then again, for me her Dvorak LP was and will probably remain the LP highlight of her career.
    As someone who had been rooting for Leonova since 2009 (granted I'm a Slutskaya fan), I am deeply troubled. At the beginning of the season, I was excited to see her consistency improving significantly, as well as her speed. Unfortunately, Morozov's obvious attempts to morph her into a sexually awakened woman with passion on ice is turning my stomach upside down. Not only do I cringe everytime her steps start in the pirates SP (I mean, really Morozov?), her gala programme (which I just recently saw) flat out disgusted me. I always imagined what a wonderful gala programme that Melody Gardot song would make for a mature ladies skater with a natural sexuality on ice. But my god, Leonova just looked like a lost clueless girl forced into being a blatantly sexual woman. I might not recover from that in a short while.
    I wasnt suprised to see Tukt falter, since such big wins at her forst senior events were destined to get to her. I am actually happy she's training with Mishin, as the man is clearly a master of teaching jumps and consistency. I believe she will grow into a better performer and skater, she seems to have the grasp of a lot of things despite being so young. Fingers crossed..

  2. To me, Miss Kostner's Canon in D SP at 2007 Worlds was the highlight of her career. Unfortunately, I do not think we will ever see the likes of a performance like that from Miss Kostner ever again...

    Also, you're a Slutskaya fan?! I'm surprised that the fumes of my virulent Kwan-uberdom have not driven you away from this blog. And I agree with your comments about Miss Leonova. I do admire her enthusiasm and willingness to perform, but those programs/Morozov packaging are an eyesore....

  3. Oh I just meant in terms of her LPs, Dvorak is my fav. I actually have quite a bit of favourites among her SPs. Granted, she had generally very good programmes in 2007 and 2008. I also like her 2009 Spanish themed SP. But my absolute fav Caro SP is from last year. It was such a wonderful vehicle to showcase her strengths compared to the rest of the field.

    I was a Slutskaya fan with no particular feeling (negative of positive) about Kwan, so it doesnt bother me much. Besides I do appreciate your analyses and the general tone of the blog. The only places I quit are the skating forums on account of excessively snarky & deragatory comments.