2015 Worlds [Figure Skating Championships] in Shanghai

It saddens me that I can’t see any of this live, but going through YouTube with a list of 12 guys and 8 girls to watch, I will attempt to watch through the programs and do my usual commentary.

[a head’s up: this is a long entry with a lot to discuss so bear with me… I’m just finishing it down after working on it over the past four days]

Maxim Kovtun
Sergei Voronov
Javier Fernandez
Yuruzu Hanyu
Takahito Mura
Takahiko Kozuka
Nam Nguyen
Jason Brown
Adam Rippon
Joshua Farris
Denis Ten
Misha Ge

Ashley Wagner
Elena Radionova
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
Anna Pogorilaya
Rika Hongo
Polina Edmunds
Satoko Miyahara

I’m also staying off Twitter and Facebook for the duration of the weekend [at least until I can see all of these online]… I don’t want to be spoiled about who wins and loses, which I know US Figure Skating will do on Twitter and Johnny Weir will likely do on Facebook.

Through him, I already found out our American women aren’t quite as competitive next to the Russians.
Certainly not my favorite girl, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. I saw her “Bolero” short program, which seemed a little tentative at the beginning, not quite as confident, but she nailed her jumps and made it a show like always.

Yuzuru Hanyu was the first guy I watched. He didn’t execute his quad toe quite as well as he could have. He over rotated on the landing, doing some of it on the ice and touching his hands down. But the rest of his program was his usual best. Very clean and beautiful.

Maxim Kovtun started out REALLY well. Maybe it’s because I’m a little partial to “Bolero” after I’d seen two Russian skaters do programs do it. His quad salchow combination was powerful and so well executed. But then he popped his remaining two jumping passes, a quad toe and a triple axel that he jumped and couldn’t even get any rotation on. His spins were good, but lacked speed. His step sequences have improved since I last saw him. But yeah, I feel bad that he didn’t do well. He seems to choke on the big competitions.

Tahahiko Kozuka couldn’t get it completely together either. He finished the rotation of his quad on the ground and fell on his remaining jumping passes. His spins were beautiful, though.

Just because I saw him listed, I decided to watch Han Yan’s short program. (Lyrics, Johnny & Tara!) to “If I were a rich man”… he over rotated slightly on his quad, but his jumps and spins were immaculate otherwise and he really had fun with him. We’ll see about the free skate, but he could put Chinese skaters on the map in the future.

Sergei Voronov, I can see bringing it home from Russia, definitely. Granted, his quad combination wasn’t perfect. He swung on the landing of the first jump before doing the second (btw, kudos to him for opening with a quad combination. Nobody really does that… at least nobody currently competing with the exception of Yuzuru). Triple axel and loop that were solid, with some great spins.

Joshua Farris may have some nerves going on because he flat out fell on his first jump 😦 the rest was really good as always and gorgeous spins, but his reaction on the end kinda said it all. He didn’t do as well as he could have and I’d seen him do REALLY well with that Ed Sheeran program.

Misha Ge… my favorite program so far… it was BEAUTIFUL… too bad he doesn’t have a quad because that’s the one thing keeping him from competing with the major names. “Ave Maria” was great music for him to showcase that emotional excellence he has on the ice.

Denis Ten fell on his quad toe, but had a solid program. “Caruso” I’d heard a couple times, a beautiful piece of music, but it wasn’t his best showing that I’d seen.

at this point, I’m trying to figure out who got the high scores… Javier Fernandez is easily in 1st or 2nd, but I’m wondering if Jason Brown snagged first because he finally nailed his quad.

Takahito Mura… I thought he might be a top scorer, but he fell on his quad and popped out of his 2nd jump. his third in combination was solid, his step sequences went really well to the music (“Carmen”). It was nice hearing the crowd get behind him and clap in rhythm.

Nam Nguyen had a solid program with all the jumps perfect and such. I just don’t gravitate to his artistry like I do with Misha… they’re on the same level with their jumps, but Misha has that extra spark.

Javier Fernandez had to fight to save his triple axel (the third jump) but otherwise, he had a great clean program. “Black Betty” is so contagious that the song lingers in my head for ages after I watch his program. He’s easily one of my favorites… he’s in first place as of this moment… I haven’t seen the other two Americans, so we’ll see…

Jason Brown gave a great solid program with all the tricks and artistry. 2nd place as of his moment skating, which certainly puts him in contention. Javier Fernandez has at least an 8 point cushion because of his quad.

Adam Rippon started out with 11.60 on a single jump, that quad lutz… and overall, his jumps were solid with some gorgeous spins. Yet he’s only in 7th place after all that…

of course in searching for who got first place, I ended up finding who got the medals πŸ™„ dammit… I wanted to avoid that… I thought for sure Sergei Voronov would win a medal, but he didn’t 😦

Javier Fernandez, Yuzuru Hanyu and Denis Ten medaled… a very respectable top three for sure, but it makes me sad for Russia… I don’t think they’d had a world medal in the men’s in a very long time.
[Artur Garanski won bronze in 2011, the last gold medal was Plushenko in 2004… by the time Worlds came around, he’d be knocked out by injury, or in the case of 2012, surgery]

now for the women’s short programs…

Satako Miyahara did hers beautifully to the “Magic Flute”
Rika Hongo’s was gorgeous as well with some more dynamics in her music

Gracie Gold didn’t have the best showing, but she’d had some trouble with consistency all season. She over rotated on her first jump and couldn’t get her triple-triple combination in. and the landings weren’t great on either of her other jumps. not fully rotated.
Ashley Wagner wasn’t at her best either. Usually when people fall on a combination jump, they fall on the first jump… she fell on the 2nd half of her triple-triple combination, she finished the rotation of her triple axel on the ice (which looked like jitters to me)… it must be so hard on the world stage, not to mention as the front runner of your country (where she’s used to the underdog position).

Anna Pogorilaya started strong with a beautiful triple-triple combination. I kept thinking the whole time how gorgeous she was, like a swan, while skating to “Adagio” (with vocals by Il Divo), but then she fell on a jump, quickly making it up with a solid one to follow.

Polina Edmunds had the best program of the American girls. No mistakes. Great artistry to some Spanish Tango music. [the comments are suggesting she was severely underscored, which kinda sucks… especially if that means we lose a medal over it]

…he probably doesn’t need to complain much now because I think he won the competition, but Javier Fernandez made a comment in an interview that he thought he should have gotten 95 instead of a 92… :shrug: while speaking of underscoring and such. makes sense from his logic because you should get more points for a triple-triple than a triple-double.

Elena Radionova did a great short program. the last time I saw it (which was the first time I’d seen the short program) how much I liked it. sounded like she was skating to Shakira or a similar sounding South American artist. beautiful spins and solid jumps. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if she was in 2nd place. It always seems to be between her and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva in these competitions for the ladies πŸ˜‰

Free Skate

Nam Nguyen was solid to “La Strada” (I’d heard this music before, but can’t remember where). His jumps were great as was his smile. Maybe I still find him not quite seasoned enough for the senior level, like I’m waiting for him to mature in his style, especially with serious pieces of music.

Misha Ge… wow, his reaction at the end. You’d think that he won πŸ˜› his technical score was just over 80 points, 8 points below whoever was leading. it could have been a personal best for him.
Anyway, he started out a little tight on his jumps. His opening combination, a triple axel-triple toe was a little disconnected, but after that, he got better. He brought so much emotion with him and that’s something I enjoy to see in anyone’s skating. It helps me connect with them better.

Han Yan started with a really big impressive combination jump. triple axel-triple toe. then he got very sloppy, falling on his next two jumps. after doing footwork for a while, he tried again, but couldn’t quite get it together. it’s too bad because he’s a really great performer. This being in China, his home country, nerves probably played a part, but he also played to the crowd, his smile never stopping no matter what happened with his skating. I feel like he’s one of those people worth following over the next couple years in case something big happens.

Cutting away from the guys for a little bit, I’ll watch the two girls from Japan that I’m not quite as excited to see as I am with the Russian girls and the Americans.

Satoko Miyahara… I remember seeing her free skate in a previous competition… she’s so tiny πŸ˜› almost like a doll that’s come to life. and with her jumps, it’s hard to believe her talent sometimes. she wasn’t perfect, but she still made me smile.

Rika Hongo was great throughout her “Carmen” program. I just wish it didn’t take her so long to crack a smile πŸ˜› the first minute of her program, she was concentrating more on nailing her jumps. then the music cut out for a minute of the video (this happened during Sergei’s short program too so I don’t know if it’s my computer or the person uploading these videos) that took me out of the program for a bit. except for a combination where she took a while to connect the jumps, she was the stronger of the two girls from Japan.

…and the music cut out again during Takahiko Kozukua’s program… so I really can’t comment on it other than the fact he fell on his first couple jumps, had skated first, and his program looked strong overall.

Takahito Mura is one of two Japanese men skating to “Phantom of the Opera” (I know for a fact Yuzuru is the other). He got some great cheers, the crowd got behind him through much of the program. he popped out of one of his jumps, but otherwise did really well. for whatever reason, he’s just not one of my favorites to watch :shrug: probably because I have so many other favorites.

while keeping with the “Phantom” theme, I’ll go to Gracie Gold next.
it must be that one YouTube profile because her video of Gracie’s had the audio cut out very early on… but in locating another, I found my favorite British commentator πŸ˜€ that, combined with seeing her in a fresh new purple dress, I liked her program better than I had all season. There was a better connection with the audience. She smiled more. Her jumps were great overall with two exceptions.

Anna Pogorilaya I went to next because she’s one of those skaters that leaves me hot or cold… it’s never the same with each performance. I’d liked her “Firebird” program on at least one occasion and loved her short program.
Today, it was hard to get behind her- if I’m talking about being moved by her skating, which was hard when she had one of those terrible days. but I got behind her in the respect that I wished she didn’t have as hard a time as she did… it was painful 😦 hopefully with some new programs next year and with more training and working on those nerves, I’ll be moved more by her.

Polina Edmunds, I have that issue with as well… but some of it is her “Tinkerbell” program… I thought maybe it was a little immature for her to compete to at the senior level… or I just needed to warm up to it.
Either way, her performance at Worlds went really well. she was graceful and elegant. her jumps were under rotated in a couple spots, but if you weren’t paying attention, you wouldn’t have known. she kept her composure really well.

…on my third day now getting through these routines. I am dedicated to this, trust me πŸ˜‰

Adam Rippon holds so much intrigue for me, certainly after the show he put on at the US championships.
He didn’t have his quad lutz this time and he downgraded some of his jumps.
Maybe it was nerves, but it felt like he rushed the first minute of his program to get all the jumps out of the way. Then he had moments of brilliance scattered throughout… and my issue was that they were scattered.
What he needs to do to be competitive is finding consistency throughout his performances. And he definitely has the ability to do so. Just needs to hone his skills and get all those cylinders (the jumps, artistry, performance) firing.

Maxim Kovtun, I’ve been REALLY hot and cold about him all season… firstly because any Russian skater, I will be comparing, so that already puts him at a disadvantage… but I’ve also taken issue with his costume and choreography for this Muse number for his free skate. I don’t feel like it does him any favors and Johnny Weir has said in his commentary that he doesn’t agree with the music for him. After this season, I’m excited to see what else he can do, especially with different music.
All that being said, this was probably the best I’d seen him. He did fall on his 2nd quad and he downgraded a couple of jumps, but I felt that was due to fatigue towards the end of the program. He seemed a little winded. His jumps were huge and I worried if they’d end as good as they start because he’s crazy in the air, not as controlled as he could be. But I really felt the choreography from him today and saw flashes of brilliance where he could really compete on this level. He just needs to hit it every time he goes out on the ice. Doesn’t have to be perfect, but I’d be happy with any performance if it was close to what he did here. [Technically at that point, he could have finished on the podium… but was just outdone by the top three]

Jason Brown has a great performance with his “Tristan & Isolade” program. Other than one two-footed landing and lag between a combination jump (although it could have been a planned half loop… I never know), he did really well. One of the best looking programs. He’s just off the podium because he doesn’t have that quad.
Hopefully next season (along with him having a thoughtful short program and a dynamic exciting free skate), he’ll have that quad… and it will be excellent.

I think there might be a benefit of seeing these online after the fact… it’s more spontaneous and I’m better able to connect with some skaters I usually don’t…

Joshua Farris continued to have trouble on the world stage… on his 2nd jump, he didn’t get fully rotated, his feet got tangled and he fell. Then on another jump, he singled. It sucks. I know he’s so much better than this and probably just had some bad luck. I hope he continues to improve, but I will miss his Ed Sheeran program the moment it’s gone. As long as the thoughtfulness and artistry stays with him, that’s what matters because I feel like that’s his signature.

Sergei Voronov had an even tougher time. He didn’t fall, but he lost a lot of technical points on incomplete jumps. his quads evaporated into singles and doubles. other jumps, he transversed more ice when he should have focused on getting more height. maybe it was because he wasn’t focused… and I thought his fellow countryman had issues with nerves.
but when he got to the “Come together” portion of his music, he stopped completely on the ice, cracked a smile and did the step sequences I’d come to really enjoy from him. I can’t help but recall comments on Plushenko’s qualifying performance at 2003 worlds, where the commentators said “he’s a showman like Yagudin”… and it will be too soon before I utter that man’s name on this blog again… seasoned figure skating fans may tell me that he’s THE legendary Russian skater, and I won’t deny that I get curious every now and then about how the two Russian legends would compare… but I really don’t want to investigate one of Plushenko’s toughest detractors. And yeah, part of me is afraid I will like his skating better.
I would hate to do the same to Sergei and say he’s a showman like Plushenko… but the thing is, he is ALSO a showman that puts on performances I really enjoy watching. But he do his own thing, brings his own charisma and trickery to his skating.

Both Russian men are unfinished products that need a lot of shine and polish, but they do have a great future in the sport. Maybe not legendary status, but if they can get more consistent, they’d be a stronger force in the world.
…or I could just lie and pretend that would be enough incentive for Plushenko to compete again.
But I won’t because I’ve found reasons to believe these guys have that potential to be amazing and if he’s so concerned about the male skaters, the best thing to do is give constructive comments, things they can work on, and he’ll do his own part :shrug: whether it’s giving them tips or educating the next generation or starting coaching

Tomorrow, I’ll end with the top three [if I am to believe Ashley Wagner ended in the top three with the two Russian women] for the men and women.

…I really need to revisit Denis Ten’s performance at Sochi because these past couple times I’d seen him, he’s REALLY impressed.
Including his bronze medal performance at this Worlds.

He started a little shaky, his quad combination was reduced to just a quad, but he nailed it so cleanly at his next opportunity. I think he was born in Moscow, but lives in a Korean region of Kazkakstan, his home country. But that would explain why he has become one of my favorites to watch. When they’re really good, Russians have this self-assuredness that I respond to. I haven’t seen that quality from Maxim Kovtun quite yet, but certainly with Sergei Voronov and Plushenko.
He has all the components. The quads, the great jumps (his only other misstep was a triple axel where he over rotated), the interpretation of the music (something I RARELY see from other skaters)… he got a little tired towards the end and his spins weren’t as fast and clean as they could have been, but LOVED this. Probably my favorite program so far.

Elena Radionova had a shaky performance, but had moments of brilliance as the usual. I felt like she was concentrating so much on getting through the jumps that I couldn’t really connect with her or enjoy the program.
She meant to open with a triple-triple, but she missed out on the combination. She had one or two jumps that didn’t get fully across, although she stayed on her feet the whole time. LOVED her spins, they were gorgeous. There was one towards the halfway point that ended with her grabbing her skate, spinning around once or twice before ending it and moving. Only towards the end did she allow herself to express emotion and smile.

I went into this believing that Ashley Wagner at least got third out of this… unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case. There’s a video for the medal ceremony and she wasn’t there… it looked like the two Russian girls and someone from Japan.
I realize she was maybe 11th going into the free skate, but I enjoyed her more than the Japanese girls. At least with the artistry. Her program wasn’t perfect, not quite as excellent as her showing at US Nationals. She had some under rotated jumps, particularly in her triple-triple combinations.
By the end, I think I was close to crying more so because this is the last time I’ll see the “Moulin Rouge” program from her. It is so her style and brand. I’m gonna miss it.

I think I’ll finish with Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and finish up with the guys.

Speaking of programs I hate saying goodbye too…
it makes me sad that I never got to see a perfect version of Yuzuru’s “Phantom” program. He’s lucky he had that cushion of being first place in the short program (even if he was only 2 points ahead of Javier Fernandez) because with his first three jumping passes, he only amassed 14 points. And one of those jumps was meant to be a quad.
But he fought for every jump after that, had great interpretation of the music… I got swept up in the excitement even more when the crowd CHEERED… louder than I’d heard them for anybody else.
Then there was a massive barrage of stuffed animals when he was finished. And as he was coming off the ice, one bounced off his back.
Hopefully in the off-season, he can completely heal and he’ll be able to get himself back into shape.

Beforehand, I saw an interview of him after his short program. His English is so cute. He’s not entirely comfortable with it and it wasn’t perfect, but I like that he conducted himself well. So polite while being self-critical of his less than perfect performance.

It kinda sucks that Denis Ten, again, has to settle for third when the first and 2nd place finishers fell during their skates and he was otherwise clean.

Javier Fernandez definitely deserved this win.
Other than the fall, it was a great skate. He’s easily one of the most composed skaters there. He has great control over his jumps, great spins, and of course, a great performer for the crowd. And it all went so quickly because it was so enjoyable.
But his expression when he realized that he won… priceless πŸ˜€ meanwhile, Yuzuru’s applauding him in the lounge where he’s waiting with the other skaters to see how the standings at the leaderboard will change. They both have Brian Orser for a coach, so of course, he’s very happy for him.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva had some nerves early on in her program. She over rotated some of her jumps, finishing them out on the ice. But sooner or later, she did what she always does: makes me smile. It’s nice when she allows herself those moments to smile, entertain and enjoy herself.
After getting so into the men’s skating during Sochi, I didn’t think I’d feel the same for the women. She and Ashley Wagner got me excited about the female skaters again.

It’s also nice seeing Alexei Mishin outside the ice rink waiting for her. After seeing him so much from Plushenko’s past competition, it’s reassuring to see a familiar face and have that old professionalism back in the vicinity. I almost feel like he’s the last part of the older generation of this figure skating world and coaches like Brian Orser will carry on for the next generation with skaters like Yuzuru and Javier Fernandez.

Glad that YouTube had an interview with her after her victory. She said she was nervous going into it (understandably) because she knew she couldn’t make mistakes if she wanted to win, and said it was a great atmosphere with the audience supporting her.

[Top three: behind Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was Satako Miyhara with silver and Elena Radionova with bronze]

And to everyone who stuck around to the end of this entry, thank you for reading and hopefully you enjoyed my play-by-play of the final figure skating competition for the 2014-2015 season.

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