2016 Nationals [Figure Skating Championships]

Hopefully the coverage won’t be pre-empted too much by this blizzard we’ve been having…

I finished reading Johnny Weir’s memoir a couple weeks ago [definitely would recommend it!] and this will be the first time I’d seen or heard from him since I spent that week with his book and all those YouTube videos. Not just of his skating, but also interviews and footage of his series “Be Good Johnny Weir.”
That was a lot of fun πŸ˜›
Now the question will be: am I going to have that little bit of affection still reserved for Johnny after spending that time with him? Or will things go back to normal? πŸ˜› Where I’m either agreeing with him & Tara in the commentary or plain disagreeing.

This time, I’m going into this completely blind. I don’t know who’s going to be in the lead…

and it’s Polina Edmunds in the lead?! Didn’t expect that, but also, I’m not too surprised, I guess.
Especially if Gracie & Ashley falter in the short program.
Looking at the standings right now, I’m REALLY hoping that they do show the short programs for the top 4. I mean, they have three hours here.

I’m still wondering why they only gave the men 2 hours and 3 to the women…
and then they decided they’re doing the men’s SP first… it’d make more sense to keep up the women.

Then they threw out Nathan Chen and all my ire vanished πŸ˜›
He wasn’t as flawless as he was in the junior grand prix series, but still, an 86 on the SP is really good.
His Michael Jackson costume is now red with gold trim instead of white with gold trim.
It’d definitely be something to see if he could make the world championships for junior AND senior cuz he’s capable of doing well in both.

Following someone who runs a Johnny Weir blog and has RT’d me a couple times on Twitter, I saw a couple of articles and videos where they were asking him and Tara why there’s less interest in figure skating in the US.
That was echoing what I was feeling and have been for a while. A lot of the guys aren’t doing quads and if they are, they’re not consistent. Can’t keep up with the Japanese men.
The girls likewise can’t compete with the Russians.

They’re trying to create interest by promoting the rivalry of Gracie & Ashley. Because the whole Nancy-Tonya rivalry in 1994. I wish they didn’t have to sink to that level just to bring in interest in the sport. This is supposed to be something enjoyable, not mean-spirited.
At least not when it isn’t concerning the judging system πŸ™„ I’ve had reservations about that for, going on, two years now.

Vincent Zhou is next πŸ˜€ another of my favorites from the junior grand prix series.
And he killed it. The great musicality is still there, nailed the jumps.
Tara was saying how his performance might not reach the audience and Johnny said he loved it (she then agreed with him)… I was like :high five:
they said he under rotated his quad salchow so might not get all the points he needs. It was downgraded.

Ross Miner, I saw early in this season, but have less memory of him. A little more understated.
But he had a smile the whole time and the crowd roared for him when he finished.
He made it look so easy. Especially that triple axel. The only thing kinda missing is the quad. No quad planned in this.
How’d he get a 90.90 without a quad?! That doesn’t quite make sense to me. I mean, Nathan Chen wasn’t perfect, but he had TWO quads in his program…

…now I’m thinking maybe they showed the women’s SP during the earlier broadcast where they focused on pairs and ice dance πŸ™„ dammit… I’m not really interested in couple’s skating. not as much as the individual events. I can’t explain why. Maybe because it’s more about their chemistry and less about performing to the audience. Or I just like connecting one-on-one with a skater.

They did a really good bio on Max Aaron leading up to his short program.
Talking about how he missed making it on the Olympic team [which had only two spots] and wants to redeem himself.
They were talking about how Elvis Stojko and Brian Joubert picked music that worked for their style and Max needs to do the same.
His triple axel and lutz didn’t have the best ride out on the landings.
He has his own style where his jumps look so strong and I worry if he’s going to land as easily as he took off.
After the halfway mark, even though he didn’t give himself a smile or relax, I felt pulled into his performance like gravity. And I rooted for him to get through each element.
Really good score of 91.83, but Johnny and I both wondered by his score and Ross Miner’s were so close…

It’s making me think of the part of his book where he says that the judges have in mind who they want to win before the competition begins… and that worries me.
Especially since they aren’t supporting the skaters who have quads as strongly as the ones that don’t.
We NEED QUADS to compete with the rest of the world.
[actually, not sure if he said it or I read it somewhere else… I read so much about this sport that it’s hard to know where I get my information from].

Adam Rippon doesn’t have silver hair anymore πŸ˜› but still looks stunning in that costume.
No quad, but brought a great performance. I felt it very strongly.
The technique, not quite as strong as it could be. He had to fight to land the jumps. Johnny says it was nerves.
So we’ll see what happens.
It’s a good strategy to reserve the quad lutz for the free skate, but we’ll see if he’s able to stay in contention for medals with that. Third place with 88.01.

It’s a very strong top four, so I’m excited for that πŸ˜€
Even without Jeremy Abbott and Joshua Farris in the field, there’s plenty to cheer for.

Ashley is in 4th and this is a position she’s familiar with- the underdog position. And usually it’s where she EXCELS and goes to on win. Fingers crossed I see a repeat that tonight πŸ˜‰

Polina is an 8 point lead over Gracie… so she has to really screw up for Ashley or Gracie to stand a chance to win.
Just looking at the highlights, Polina is such a different looking skater than last season. Not just taller, but great maturity in her skating. That’s the one thing I felt like I was missing from her. so it’ll be exciting to see how this plays out.

I missed the first maybe 30 seconds of Courtney Hicks’ free skate. She had a few issues with her jumps and choreography where she tried to grab her skate and missed out.
Her costume is more pleasing to my eye than before (it was gold, now it’s more of a lighter teal/blue). But I still don’t get her skating. I feel like something’s missing. And it seems like it’s focus a lot of the time. She loses it and it’s hard to get it back.

Phew, I’m still recovering from Karen Chen’s performance.
Not perfect. She fell once, had a combination that became a 1-1 (clearly she didn’t plan that) and another combo that looked like they didn’t get any points for (WTF?!).
But the performance was REALLY good. She gave everything to the expression and the crowd really got behind her.
I noticed how her jumps were timed perfectly to moments in her “Les Miz” music and that’s one of my favorite parts of this sport. Getting moments like that.

Angela Wang I saw once before, but don’t remember much about.
She skated to a variation of “Concierto de Aranjuez”- a piece I’ve become very familiar with πŸ˜‰ although this version had operatic vocals that kinda took me out of the beauty I usually get from it.
She had mishaps with a fall on a jump and a step sequence, but finished stronger than she started.

And apparently Gracie Gold has a sister who skates too…
it’ll be interesting to see how she and Carly’s styles will vary.

Bradie Tennell- Terry Gannon nailed it by saying we probably hadn’t heard of her before.
But she’s up and coming.
Junior turned senior.
Her music had some Tango influences in it.
She did really well, especially as a newbie on the senior circuit.
The commentators are stumbling over themselves trying to equate how good she was. Although Johnny said she needs to work on her artistry. That I noticed, but there’s always time for that.
She catapulted to first with an almost 20 point lead.

Hannah Miller has hockey players in her family. We’ll see if that gives her an advantage.
A lot of her jumps are under review for whether she fully rotated, but she never lost that smile the entire time. That was really great to see. Skated to some Puccini works and embodied the music.
They were talking about how she shares a coach with Ashley, Adam Rippon and Nathan Chen and how that’s helped her improve.
She could be one to watch for the next Olympics. We’ll see πŸ˜‰
Only 2nd place so far?! those damn under rotations!

I missed the first part of Franchesca’s performance, but she really had a hard time overall. Lots of mistakes and stumbles. Apparently she trains with a Russian coach and I knew right away Johnny would give us some insight on it πŸ˜‰ and I’ve noticed that too with Plushenko- how he gets through the first couple elements and really opens up in the 2nd half of his program.
And she was definitely thinking through her elements before getting to them.

Mariah Bell
I found her randomly on YouTube a couple years ago and enjoyed what she did.
Great artistry, but for whatever reason, she didn’t credit for two of her jumping passes. [one was ruined by adding an extra double-toe in an already two jump combination]
Johnny believes she could be a force in a couple years when she gets everything together and I absolutely agree.
The cry in the “kiss and cry” was definitely coming out 😦

okay, Ashley’s on! πŸ˜€
I seriously felt like we had one mind for this performance. I was with her for every second, wanting the best and she was getting it… until the last jump, which she popped into a single.
Now it’s just waiting through everyone else to see if she even gets a medal.
I’d hate for this to be the end of Ashley’s season 😦

Mirai Nagasu was very strong in her free skate. Got through all her jumps and spins with no mishaps and she looked really comfortable on the ice.
But fell short because, I believe, she was missing a triple-triple combination (had a triple-double instead).

Tyler Pierce skated really well to Danse Macabre (one of my favorite classical pieces, though I’ve yet to hear it in full). But she had her slip-ups, not perfect. So Ashley’s still in the lead- which means she’ll get a medal for sure.

Polina Edmunds, she’s a completely new skater.
Great technique, nailed all her jumps and gave her best performance. But the “performance” aspect wasn’t there for me.

When Gracie came up, I was thinking she didn’t have a shot at winning with there being an 8-point difference in the short program.
I spent a lot of worrying about how much she’ll beat Ashley by.
They were saying how she was tight in warm-ups and nervous. There were no nerves at all. She embraced the character of her program and fought for every jump- no under rotations at all.
At the end of it, she freaking won…

okay, when we get to future international competitions, that’s when this is really going to count for something.
right now I’m still having a hard time of this
Gracie doesn’t show a lot of emotion when she skates. I saw nothing out of her really until she found she won. I want to feel that connection on the ice with her, to be moved and want her to succeed.
Instead, I just spent my time whispering hopes that she’d fall so Ashley would get at least 2nd.

I don’t think I’m going to be completely okay until I know for sure if Ashley will go to the 4 Continents Championships and Worlds…
[And she will be- they showed Gracie Gold’s winning skate twice on Sunday, I guess to rekindle interest of the American public in the sport. I watched it through the second time and I do have to confess, technically, it was flawless and gorgeous… but being Team Ashley, she’s still going to have the majority of my support when these two are competing at the same event]

Hopefully, the men’s competition will be easier on me. That the right person goes on to win the whole thing and the scores are given correctly to the right people.
With the scores being as they are between first and 2nd and Nathan Chen being 4th… I’m a little nervous.

I took notes on the men’s event on my iPhone and emailed it to myself- this is the result.

Shotomi omori- did well as a junior, had struggles getting to senior level. Good music but Johnny said it didn’t fit his style. Struggled with under rotations.

Sean rabbit-started shaky but really rallied in the second half.overachiever- was on that’s so raven and danced with Britney and valedictorian.personality started coming out and crowd cheered at the end. Took Tara’s advice to backload his program.

Vincent Zhou-had shaky landings on some jumps to start, might not get credit for a quad he finished on the ice before doing the 2nd jump. Did really well and got emotional and crowd was on their feet.

Grant Hochenstein-might have under rotated quad and popped triple into double but did really well. Emoted for the whole program and got the crowd at the end. [The judges gave him full credit and Johnny & Tara disagreed… but with great artistry and a performance like THAT, I find it REALLY hard to dock the judges for that decision]

Alexander Johnson-years ago had ankle surgery and said he might not skate again. Had one mistake and did well overall, all things considered.

Timothy Dolensky-clean program and did very well. Not quite there performance-wise. No quad but has been practicing one. Asked composer for permission and he said he could use any of his works

Nathan Chen-had FOUR quads and overall clean program. Did so well and had technical score over 100 but was undervalued a little artistically.

Max Aaron-such strong jumps and powerful. Felt like it was his to lose. Great performance.

Adam Rippon- fell on quad lutz but rest of program was strong. Got swept up in the energy of it. Surprising he was put in the lead. But thrilled. Ross miner was a footnote comparatively with the mistakes made early on. Didn’t come back strong enough to make an impact. Finished 5th behind Grant.

There’s talk of Jason brown petitioning to go to worlds. With these performances, it just doesn’t seem fair. Especially if Nathan Chen doesn’t get to go because of it. I can see to a point with Nathan artistically and going with experience but they really should favor someone who has all those quads if they want to be among the best in the world.
[And as of this post, they made the choices for the teams and Nathan is going to Worlds for junior AND seniors… that’ll be interesting. Hopefully he’ll make an impact in both and he isn’t stretched too thin]

At this point, I don’t know how everyone’s going to stack up against the rest of the world. But this competition restored my faith in the U.S. team. They do have potential to be really spectacular.
The question is if they can bring that best version of themselves to future international competitions.
Maybe having Worlds in the US will help them out…

Although with people like Yuzuru and all those Russians from the women’s side, it’ll be tough.
But it doesn’t seem as impossible as it did before- if not to win, they definitely have a shot at silver and bronze.

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