2015 Trophee Eric Bompard [#PrayForParis]

[I started writing this Friday night and wrote as I was watching the different performances on YouTube. Later, I will cut ahead to Sunday and how their coverage on NBC went].

Bordaeux is quite a-ways from Paris, but I couldn’t help but think about how the skaters are coping with the news of the attacks in Paris.
The more I hear about it, the more… I just can’t comprehend it even though I’m across the pond in the States. I cannot begin to imagine how they feel being in the same country when all of this is happening.
Wondering if they’ll even postpone the free skates tomorrow to give everyone a day to mourn or to sort things out.
I don’t know which part of France Brian Joubert is from, but I hope he wasn’t anywhere near all this.

So I went to YouTube to start watching the short programs.
Of course Universal Sports had to spoil the fact that Gracie Gold is leading… I really want to be objective watching these competitions. Whether it’s not knowing who is where in the standings or the whole concern about Patrick Chan being given preferential treatment from judges- everyone else can be concerned about that, I really don’t want to be.

But despite my reservations, Gracie Gold really did have a good program. She did take a little while winding into her triple flip- it looked like a triple toe loop at first- either she changed her mind or she just needed extra preparation.
Other than that, she really embraced the character of her music. And seeing her smile… that’s all I’d been asking for. I feel like she’s such an introverted icy skater and I hadn’t connected her quite like this before.

Considering she’s leading though, I hate to think what that means for the Russian ladies. Particularly Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. Hopefully she’s in 2nd place… and she doesn’t have as much ground to cover as she did at Skate Canada.
Sadly that might not be the case 😦 she fell on her triple axel- how she did, I can’t quite see. Either she slipped on her landing or couldn’t get her free leg around in time. She under rotated a triple lutz and in her combination, she rotated a few extra times in between the jumps. The step sequences and spins were gorgeous, but I don’t know what her chances are… at this point, all the skaters need to mess up their free skates for her to have a chance at winning.
It’s hard to see Mishin’s face when he was watching her miss the jumps. It must be so tough for him to watch.
Johnny & Tara said she had a slow start last season where she won everything, but considering how the Russian media hurt Yulia’s skating after Sochi, I’m concerned that that’s happening to Elizaveta as well.

The real test with Yulia is the free skate. The only time she had a truly strong free skate was the Sochi team event. Seeing as much skating as I have over the past year (and 9 months), I can see the slight imperfections in her jumps. How she swung on some of her landings- they weren’t solid, but they were stronger than when I saw her last. I feel like she is starting to get back to being as good as she was. Not the extraordinary wunderkind she was at Sochi, but certainly a lot stronger than she’s shown. Good for her! Can’t wait to see her free skate.

Because I don’t know a lot of the names, I figured I’d focus on the ones I do recognize. Plus, it’s been a long day and my eyes can only take so much right now.

With the guys, I know at least 5-6 names.
I’ll start with Shoma Uno and go to Patrick Chan after.
And Universal just spoiled that Uno is the leader… at least I can’t accuse them of favoritism, posting that Gracie Gold is leading just because she’s one of ours.

But Shoma Uno had an extraordinary performance that I really hope they show it on NBC because it is worth seeing again. I love seeing how he works with the music, his technique on his jumps is solid (great ice coverage on those jumps too!) and great step sequences.
The lead is definitely justified 😉
It’s so cute/funny seeing the skaters accept all these gifts and flowers 😛
Amazing score- 48.71 technical is really good. his presentation [40.85] could be better.
But seeing that the total is shy of 90 points… he’s good, but not at elite level quite yet. But very close.

There’s a bit of a gap between these two guys in the scores… and that should make all the people stop complaining about judging biases for at least this competition.
He did do well on presentation- with “Mack the Knife” performed by Michael Bublé- not quite at the level of Javier Fernandez, but better than I’ve seen.
But his jumps were not great. He had the opening quad combination- he popped his quad into a double and then did, I think, another double. Then he went forward on his triple axel and touched the ice with both hands. only the triple lutz was strong. But with 31.70 and 44.40 as his scores- total of 76.10. It should take him out of contention for 1st place.
The unfortunate thing is that there aren’t as many strong guys in this field, so he’ll make the podium easily. Where he’ll be will likely depend on the other skaters.
Of course I say this as I see Max Aaron as the next name… I completely forgot about him 😛

And I might have jinxed him by getting excited for him… he put his hands down on his quad, but did a double afterwards. fell on his triple axel- the edge on his blade was slightly off when he landed.
Patrick Chan obviously beat him in presentation. Max Aaron is more introverted and expresses more with power than with expression in his face and his body. but he’s behind him by at least 4 points.
at 4th place, he still has a shot at the podium.

Which leaves the mystery of who is in 2nd place. This one guy was 40.39 technical points… I’d like to believe it’s Maxim Kovtun, but I’m not that lucky 😛
And I’m not… but I feel very lucky that he’s still here. I had my misgivings with him last season, not quite believing all the hype in Russia about him being the next great male skater.
I don’t think he made the Sochi test skate and I don’t think I’d seen him since Worlds in April. He still needs to work on expressing through his eyes and his face more composure- he still looks a little frantic. He had two quads, a hand down on his stand-alone quad toe, but he had two different quads with one in combination. A solid triple axel. And with that circular footwork, using both edges of his blade- I will never hear “I can’t dance’ by Genesis the same way again. And that is a good thing 😉
I was very impressed with him.
45.64 technical (really! good) 41.18 presentation (it could be better, I agree)- 86.82 is a really good score for him.
Again, the true test is the free skate… that seems to be a weakness for a lot of Russian skaters… except Elizaveta- her weakness seems to be the short programs earlier in the season. He’s in 2nd place for the moment (with only a difference of 3 points)

Denis Ten still got 80.10 points despite mistakes he made- that’s pretty good. That quad really seems to be his weak spot. It hasn’t been right since he accured that hip injury and seeing him get off the ice, it looks like it hurts him too 😦 he had a solid jump after and a good combination, although the second jump was under rotated.
39.24 technical 41.86 presentation… this was tough at points and the free skate is only going to be tougher for him when he isn’t in the best condition. I’ll keep my fingers crossed anyway, though. The fact he’s still competing despite the problems says to me that he really wants this bad and I have to respect that.

And it seems that Shomo Uno is only ahead because he had his quad in the 2nd half of his program. Maxim Kovtun had all his jumps in the first minute

Somehow I missed Daisuke Murakami… he’s in 3rd… he’s the mystery man with the 40.39 technical points that I saw several skaters chase (and only one catch up).
And I wanted to see Alexander Petrov as well, no matter what place he winds up in.
…and he did very well 😀 he’s just missing the quad. it’s the only thing keeping him from really contending for a top three finish.

Daisuke Murakami did it again 😉 another great performance. I think I’m tearing up more to the music than his skating, but he performed it so beautifully. other than fighting on the landing of one jump, he did it with such ease like he didn’t have to try.
But he made one major mistake- I didn’t even see this until I looked at the ISU .PDF that breaks down the scores.
I was so swept up in the music that I didn’t realize what he did with his combination- he did a triple lutz and followed it with a single jump… as if he forgot he had to do a combination jump and tacked that on at the last second. the score-sheet put a star next to it, saying it was an invalid element…
other than Maxim Kovtun being the only skater with 2 quads, that’s the one thing that kept him from being in 2nd place.

Yulia is in 2nd place behind Gracie Gold, but there’s a 8 point difference… meaning it’ll be an uphill battle, assuming she skates well tomorrow.
And it looks like she might have under-rotated her triple flip because there are a lot of negative numbers with it.
Elizaveta is at 5th place, 9 points away from Yulia.
The girls in between from Italy (Roberta Rodeghiero) and Japan (Kanako Murakami… I wonder if she’s related to Daiuke?).

Sunday

Hearing on Saturday that the rest of the competition was cancelled, I worried that they wouldn’t show anything at all. But they showed the short programs, even threw in a pair’s short (the couple from Russia who dominated in Sochi) and short dance (a couple from the US).

I didn’t notice until almost 1:30 that the coverage was on for two hours. Considering how much I flipped out the other week about them not showing all the skaters I wanted to see, I was bracing for them do that again. I guess they realized at this point there were too many skaters to sequester it to 90 minutes.

I still feel very broken up about Paris [heck, they did a breaking news bit during HalfTime at the Eagles game and I broke down in tears… but I hadn’t felt completely well lately either] and it was good to get away for two hours to watch these skaters again.

I only saw three women and I joked that they were going to show everyone I didn’t see 😛
They opened with Angela Wang from the US- Johnny & Tara said how she’s still junior-ish, not fully completing her elements. But she had a good start for her first season.
Roberta Rodeghiero from Italy was a big surprise for me. It’s hard to believe she’s 25 and it was her first grand prix season- I guess “Ice Princess” with Casey Carlisle starting the sport at age 16 isn’t too far-fetched. I didn’t realize until she started skating to “Pretty Woman” that she was dressed like Julia Robert’s Vivian. She made her triple-triple look so easy and just had a lot of gorgeous moments.
Then I heard a couple familiar pieces of music with some mixed results…
Kanako Murakami from Japan skated to “Tango Roxanne” (a version that had vocals from “Moulin Rouge”). I didn’t feel like she fully committed to the music, like something was missing. A few mistakes were made, but there’s room for improvement.
Angelina KUCHVALSKA from Latvia did “Tosca”- the original version, not the Edvin Marton “Fantasy” remix. I’m glad Johnny & Tara at least agreed with my thoughts that she didn’t connect to her music and needed to work on her artistry. I’d feel guilty if I judged her simply because her music is iconic to someone else…. it doesn’t matter that “Tosca Fantasy” is my all-time favorite Plushenko program.

Interesting fact on Yulia’s program- she wanted to do “Moonlight Sonata” but her coach insisted she do some Elvis songs instead to make her resonate more with the world audience. It doesn’t quite fit her, but I’m willing to work with it if she is. And she did make it work. That could be the confidence boost she needs to move forward.

The fact Elizaveta followed Gracie Gold would explain why she performed as poorly as she did… I didn’t think she was one to suffer from nerves, but apparently so. I still love her style. I can’t care what anyone say.

It was great to see Gracie Gold again. Tara nailed it when she said that she was bringing sass, which they’d wanted to see.
I think at that point, the share of opinion was starting to end 😛

I loved how Tatiana VOLOSOZHAR & Maxim TRANKOV looked like a single unit as they skated together, as if finishing each other’s sentences.
Then with Madison HUBBELL & Zachary DONOHUE, great chemistry and how they embraced when the program ended- it felt like EVERYTHING.

Patrick Chan was the first of the guys they showed and Johnny & Tara were a little harsh on him. Which is understood because he has done better than this. We realized around the same time that his sweater looked a little too big on him. Of course Johnny notices fashion choices, but yeah, it looked off.
An interesting comment was that he felt rushed when he did this at Skate Canada, so they added some time with the music. That does seem to be the issue, he’s focusing on the jumps so much that the choreography and showmanship is getting lost.

Speaking of showmen, #ShomaTheShowman is probably trending in the skating community now. It was a lot of fun to watch him skate again. The music sounded like something out of a video game (a bit in the Stewart Copeland style, but that’s me speaking from personal experience).
He and Daisuke Murakami have great sensitivity to their music, but each have their own style, which is nice to see when so many skaters are to run together after a while.
I do know my favorites, of course.

It was nice for them to show Alexander’s performance since they didn’t the last time.
Then they kinda went into the whole quadruple jump debate and I was fighting not to FLIP OUT.
Talking about if a man can win without a quad and how that whole mindset changed after Vancouver… which to me kinda says Plushenko got screwed by the system and they changed it AFTER it robbed him of winning that Gold medal. And the ironic thing is that he fought so hard for the quad and it is the one thing that may keep him from contending at the next Olympics- whether or not he’ll be able to do it again (for health reasons) or able to do multiple ones in a program.

Like I’ve said in multiple occasions, you can’t change the past and I wouldn’t because if not for all those events, I would not be here blogging about all this.

Every now and then, I have a moment where Johnny & Tara frustrate me because we aren’t agreeing.

But at this point, it feels like I’m the only person who liked Maxim Kovtun’s program. I did see more of the flaws in his jumps, particularly the triple that came after his quad in combination. But I really liked his music and his choreography. I can see why they said it was more of an exhibition program because it was so silly and goofy.

The dude is the only one who brought two quads to their program- stop complaining!
But then if he was from any other country but the US or Russia, I’d probably be as critical as they were.
[And they confirmed he suffered from ankle injury- which explains why I hadn’t seen him in so long]

Ado about Results…

Which leaves the whole question about how the cancellation of the free skates and dances will affect the standings in the Grand Prix series.
I can accept things as they are because it’ll make things interesting in the long run. It might help others to get the GPF that might not have had a chance before.
Some people who have won previously now have a 5th or 7th place finish here and others who are currently 2nd and finished further down in the rankings previously- things have equalized a little bit.
Shoma Uno got 1st and 2nd between the two competitions, so he’s the only sure thing for the GPF for the guys. Gracie Gold is in the same situation.

It’s unfortunate that more benefits go to those who have yet to compete or have their 2nd competition yet to come.
Patrick Chan, Elizaveta and probably Max Aaron will be the ones who suffer the most because they didn’t get a chance for a free skate redemption.
But it’ll benefit Yulia and Maxim Kovtun who tend to falter in their free skates.

Cup of Russia is next week and I’m already pretty excited for that… although the only person I know for sure is competing is Adelina Sotnikova. I’ll find about everyone else on Thurday.

#PrayForParis

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