Skate America 2016

[this first part I wrote on my phone, so forgive the formatting]
Starting with Mao Asada- such elegance and grace. Interestingly she’s not doing her triple axel but a gorgeous double. Triple double and another great triple. She might not be able to stack up if she can’t get her technical score to match.

Mariah Bell- it’s two very different skaters. She did music from Chicago with non stop action. She had some wobbles landing her jumps and her triples and spins. She didn’t have that artistry but I loved that energy.

Gracie Gold- anyone who’s read my skating blogging before knows I’m not a big fan. I see a lot of potential in this program. “Assasin’s tango” from mr and Mrs. Smith- tango music works really well for her and that personality she brings into the ice. Her opening triple triple was flawless but after a fall on her 2nd jumping pass some of that energy was lost. However she is more than capable of coming back and winning. Her biggest competition here is Ashley- and when those two compete I’m always in Ashley’s corner. She’s in first now but I think only by a few tenths.

Roberta from Italy. I didn’t get a lot from that- not much of a connection. She had tango like music as well but it didn’t fit for me. She also had some doubles in place of triple jumps. But all I have to go by is her doing pretty woman last year.

Kanako Murakami- she had some scratchy landings of her jumps and that kept from really connecting. Also not seeing a lot of facial expression which could be something that comes with experience. She put her combination and another jump in the 2nd half and if everything was fully rotated she could still have a shot at a medal.

It started so good tonight but I’m finding it hard to really like anyone. It’d be nice if the next skater had music that’s more upbeat. A lot of slow pieces.

Mai Mihara- a newcomer from Japan.

Well I got half of my wish. That was so nice to watch. She jumps with such ease- reminds me so much of Satoko Miyahara in that way. Her final jump she had to fight for but otherwise flawless. She’s in the lead by a point.

Gabrielle Daleman from Canada. Had to fight for every jump but lots of energy with her classic accompaniment.

Almost hate to say I’m sick of everyone doing classical music cuz I’d been so spoiled by having a variety of choices.

Ashley is last to go and after Mai’s performance she needs every point she can get.

Tomorrow is going to be interesting… Ashley is leading by 4 points. Her music is completely different from most who skated before her. I’m a little iffy on the arrangement of Sweet Dreams because it’s one of my favorite songs (and yeah I have many favorites) but the way she skated so cleanly and lent so much personality to it with the performance and choreography I can get past that.

Nothing is guaranteed and I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t win this whole thing but to have a performance like that in front of such a great crowd (they were screaming when they announced her name)- that’s unforgettable

Time for the free skate broadcast for the ladies.

And it’s so nice to be able to revisit Ashley’s short program, knowing that she did well, and to just enjoy it. That’s going to be a highlight I’ll remember for the entire season.
And now they’re showing Gracie’s short program… makes me ask myself why I bother staying up late to only see the same performances multiple times.
But it is worth it just for Johnny & Tara’s commentary. It’s interesting to find out little tidbits about skaters from them. I don’t really get a whole lot from Ryan Bradley and Tracy Wilson’s commentary (I think that was them, anyway, didn’t really see the names beforehand). It’s sad that Gracie felt out of love with the sport after her disappointment at worlds. Just because I’m not her biggest fan doesn’t mean I can’t sympathize with that.

And skating season is officially back when they have that first Viking river cruise commercial. I actually looked them up, but none of the cruises look like anything I’m interesting in doing.

Ashley feels like a different person, not just with her skating but this interview. She seems so confident and cool with herself- I love that vibe so much. She’d come a long way since the first time I saw her in Sochi.

Park So-Youn is up first. They announced beforehand that Roberta wound up in 2nd place after her free skate.

She skated to “Concerto de Aranjuez”- an interesting arrangement with some instrumental and some vocal. She started out beautifully, but had a few jumps where she doubled triples. And there was a fall.
It was mentioned that they had upped the deductions for falling. It sounded like 2 points per fall and 5 points if you fall more than 5 times. Not 100% positive on that, but it sounds like a lot of added pressure.

They just had Gracie and Ashley’s short programs. But they spent some time talking about the rivalry… ugh… Johnny and Tara said in their podcast how America has fallen out of love with figure skating and they need something like a rivalry (like with Nancy Kerrigan and Tanya Harding) to do so. I don’t think that’s true. We can just as easily regain interest by getting medals in major championships. It just hasn’t been happening- at least not until Ashley won silver in worlds.

Just looking at the warm-up, my jaw is dropping looking at all the outfits. Everyone looks gorgeous. Gracie looks a little off in warm-up, had a fall and a conversation with her coach afterwards.

Gabrielle Daleman is up first.
She had some great comments and some not so much. Great combination to start. Then fell on a lutz with the hands over the head. Her legs didn’t look as tight in the air on her jumps, so it didn’t look as good to me. But she has a great smile and was performing with the music well. Wore an outfit like Evgenia Medvedeva last year, but with more sequins. Skated to “Rhapsody in Blue”
186.63- in first place right now

next, Mao Asada- and she looks like she’s ready to skate to Carmen. Nope “Ritual Fire Dance”
…my memory is terrible… I didn’t even realize it was the same music as she did for her short program. And she hasn’t done her triple axel because she’s had leg pain. And looking at how her program kinda came apart in the 2nd half, I can’t help but feel her being 26 is starting to get wear on her a bit. Like Plushenko, she wants to go to another Olympics to make up for what happened at Sochi, but I worry that neither of them will get there.

The guys have the quads- but I really wish the girls were pushing themselves to do triple axels to push the sport forward. The triple-triples are important, of course, but c’mon- bring those triple axels, ladies.

Mao got 176.78, which puts her in 2nd. Amazing component score, but the technical brought her down

Mariah Bell- East of Eden
I could nit-pick on some jumps looking a little under rotated, but a solid program. Very beautiful to watch and so smooth. Johnny said all her jumps were like cashmere (my mom was like “what?” lol)
191.59- a new personal best- wow- the crowd went wild and she was so happy.

No pressure for whoever come next…
and that’s Mai Mihara
oh, the Cinderella soundtrack, I still need to see that movie
I was half distracted during it, so I didn’t get a chance to get absorbed into it. Tara said that the soundtrack has her looking more juniorish when she should be more mature with her choices. She wound up doubling a lot of her triples, so that also took away from the overall effect.
189.28- 2nd place

Ashley’s up next… so I’m kinda nervous now 😛
…even more so after this… she had one combination that she missed out on and had to add back later. But it wound up just having a single loop at the end of it- should have been a triple salchow after it. That was the only flaw I really saw in the whole thing and I am hoping that with her lead and that beautiful artistry and that confidence (she didn’t crumble after that one mistake, she stayed in the moment). Loved the expressions in her face also- really feeling that music.
She skated to Exogenesis by Muse.

Gracie Gold is up next.

I had to scroll ahead to see if there was ANYONE else. And there’s still Kanako Murakami. The two of them have 64 points, 5 points less than Ashley. Mariah Bell had a 9 point deficit.

Ashley’s score is… 196.44- 5 points ahead of Mariah Bell

okay, here we go…

the pressure was off a little bit after she had a triple-double and she fell. But it just was hard to see her come apart afterwards. Had another triple turned into a double and another fall. It’s clear that she still isn’t back in love with the sport and hasn’t shook off what happened at worlds.
I’m kinda worried she might not even make it through the season. Don’t like seeing that happen to anyone.
184.22- 5th place… yikes

oh, that’s it… with the time left over, I thought sure that there’d be more one skater. Kanako finished 10th.

Ashley credited her coach with keeping her motivated in the sport and invested. She also joked “I’m not good at anything else” when asked why she had this late career boost in confidence and skill.

So the final three are Ashley, Mariah Bell (who looks like she could be the next great in this sport), and Mai Mihara, who has some growing to do, but lots of potential to excel.

And Mariah now having the same coach as Ashley is definitely helping her a lot.

Now onto the guys…

Depending on when we wind up going pumpkin picking tomorrow, I might wind up missing seeing live :/ I sincerely hope not because I might find spoilers even on YouTube.

Boyang Jin… I figured with his costume he looked like he was skating to “spider-man” music 😉
the original “spider-man” song, mind you…

He fell on all three jumping passes and had no combination at all. But I gotta say how much I enjoyed watching him aside from those mistakes. He started out very stiff last season in his debut. Not a lot of personality coming out and the choreography wasn’t sharp. Here, it was sharp and he played with the music and showed so much personality and finesse. I can’t wait to see him do this cleanly… and I hope with that footage in the warm-up, him falling on that first jump, I hope he doesn’t have an injury on the horizon.
72.93 with 37 points on both scores- really good for the junior circuit, but not here. But considering some of the guys competing, not a lot of quads going around, he might still have a shot.

Timothy Dolensky skated to “Awaken my Soul” by Mumford and Sons. I hadn’t really heard anything from them besides their biggest hit on pop radio.
As for his performance, except for the two footed landing on his combination jump, it was a very crisp strong program. All the elements were great. The spins, he looked like he had studied Stefane Lambiel’s style because that reminded me of that. AS a skater, this is my first time seeing him, so I still need to figure out how I feel about him.
It would have helped to not be distracted by writing about the previous skater 😛 I just could not wait to write about him. Considering he fell on every jump, it’s saying something that I still connected with his program. Boyang Jin just gets better with the component score every time I see him. He really works hard at it.

Timothy Dolensky got 77.59. So he scored 5 points more. and he had no quads in his program.

Sergei Voronov
“The Skin I live in” soundtrack is his music. I read in an interview that he found the movie interesting.
He fell on his quad, but the next two jumps were really good. It was an interesting skate, not quite sure what to make of it.
Interesting of them to say he’s getting lost in the shuffle of the great Russian men… I didn’t think there were really many great Russian men in the senior circuit. Alexander Petrov is coming up technically and Mikhail Kolyada had a great appearance at worlds, but other than the juniors, no great Russians currently competing come to mind.
78.68- in first place 😀 42.08 is really good for technical, definitely.

Nam Nguyen
skated to “Love me or leave me” by Sammy Davis Jr.
This music suited him so well. He bounced back amazingly from his disappointment at worlds where he didn’t even qualify for the free skate. Nailed the jumps and kept his personality up the entire time.
79.62- in first place

So this final group includes Maxim Kovtun, Jason Brown, Adam Rippon and Shoma Uno.

…oh man, I get so excited when I see them flash the logo for the next winter Olympics. I’d been waiting what feels like a long time for that 😛

Shoma Uno looks amazing in warm-up 😀

Adam Rippon looks cool and confident, I guess him becoming US Champ has helped with that 😉 but I personally feel like he started to excel after he came out as openly gay. I don’t know if it’s something he had struggled with, but the difference in his skating from the previous US championships to this last one- he caught our attention when he did the quad lutz in the 2015 US championships cuz we’d never seen it done before. It’s like he suddenly felt free and comfortable with himself- he skated with such ease.

But of course Jason Brown has to go first.

During the warm-up, they were talking about guys needing the quads. A good conversation to have.

Maxim Kovtun is first. And this will be a test this season.
he’s only 21? I don’t know why he kinda seems older to me- maybe because I’m in such a hurry for him to quit to give up his space for other Russian who look like they really want to be here and have more natural talent as performers. Although I don’t really see a lot of that in Russia’s male skaters.
67.43- 6th place- they gave him 6 extra points on components score, but I wouldn’t have given even that much away.
He hit his first quad combination so cleanly, but he popped the two following jumps and just felt apart. The commentators kinda had it right when they said that if you rely on those elements and they don’t work, all you can do is do the math to figure how much longer you have to go until the program is over.

It’s unfortunate. When he nails his first jump, I feel like I’m really to click with him and engage. But then the mistakes start to crop up and I give up alongside him.

Jason Brown is on now.
85.75- in first place

Shoma is next.

Okay, Jason went for the quad, got all four rotations, but had two feet on the ground and fell. But he nailed his other jumps. What annoyed me and kept me out of the performance was the commentators saying how he won’t get credit for a combination spin cuz he didn’t established the different positions well enough.
Yet in the end, he still got 80 something points. I don’t get that.
He skated to “Writing’s on the wall” by Sam Smith. After seeing Vincent Zhou skate cleanly to the same music, it was just hard for me to connect. Hopefully Jason can do it cleanly in the future. I’m sure he’s trying to add the quad to subdue critics like me who say all great skaters need it. I say this with saracasm- I’m not a real critic.

Shoma meanwhile had to fight but landed all his jumps including a quadruple flip. Overall a very strong program. Can’t believe that it was a year ago when I saw him for the first time and it was like “whoa”… surprisingly good for someone so young.
His technical score was pretty darn high when the program ended.
89.15- whoa! that’s impressive

Adam Rippon- wow, that crowd loves him 😀
87.32- currently in 2nd place
Interesting selection of music- can’t remember the name, but it was a more modern type of piece. It allowed him to skate strong and with lots of attitude. When he had those moments, his cheering section went nuts screaming
He had no quads, so that’s the difference between him in first and second place.

Should be interesting tomorrow- seeing if Adam can bring the quad lutz to his free skate, if Jason can nail a quad and more elements, and if Shoma can hang on and win as he did last year.

I didn’t catch where Sergei finished, but Maxim Kovtun was dead last. The only one of the guys to nail get a score in the 70’s or 80’s. This may be the season where he could get left off of the Russian national team because there are some skaters who are more consistent than him.

Between the top three, though, it’s still anyone’s game at this point. But with multiple quads at his disposal, Shoma has the biggest advantage going in. And I REALLY hope I’ll be able to watch it live.
And maybe then I can see Jason’s program without feeling that disconnect with the negativity. I’d spent too much of last season being critical of him for not having the quad and beating out other skaters who did.

Men’s Free Skates

I rewatched Jason and Shoma’s short programs before we had to leave.

we managed to get back from pumpkins shopping in time for me to catch Sergei Voronov’s score.
he got 80 on both marks for a total score of 245.28.
That sounds like he had a REALLY good performance. So I will definitely have to check out how it all played out.
He was in first at this point and Boyang Jin was just under him- so it sounds like he didn’t nail his jumps very well.

They showed a highlight and it was Adam Rippon winning the US championships. A nice segue way to him performing live.

He didn’t land his quadruple toe loop, which was unfortunate. These American guys NEED to nail their quads or they won’t be able to get gold. And I wouldn’t want to them to get gold without them either- otherwise it would be unfair. Not to mention skating in their home country, it would seem like favoritism.

Anyway, the rest of Adam’s performance was flawless. I didn’t fully click with it until they started playing the piano intro to “Flock of Birds” by Coldplay. According to Adam’s interview, he’d only been working with this program for 1.5 weeks, so with time he should be more comfortable with it. But it was gorgeous to watch the quality of it. Then when that music came out, I just flew away to another place the way I often do with Coldplay- their Ghost Stories album in particular. I just can’t wait to see it when it’s done perfectly, quad and all.
Score was 261.43
I balked a little at him having 89 points for technical despite him falling on a quad when I’m sure Sergei had nailed his. Although I couldn’t argue with the ease of Adam’s skating.

Shoma was up next and I was almost on pins and needles the whole time. I was so nervous for him to do well and hit all his jumps. Everything was great except for the fall on his final jumping pass, which was probably meant to be a triple, half loop and triple salchow.
As nervous as I was for him to nail it, I was also in awe of what a performer he was. Johnny and Tara used the phrase “Shoma the showman” when he debuted last year and I completely felt that. Immediately, he’s one of my favorites to win medals this year.

Jason Brown, meanwhile, had to follow that (nice to see him clapping for Shoma after his performance ended). And he did it with no pressure on him at all.
He FINALLY!!! landed his quad and it was such a smooth performance all the way through. Admittedly, and I hate to say it, I was hoping he’d fall or make one mistake because I was afraid homegrown favoritism might give him the win.

Luckily the results were exactly as they should be. He got 2nd place with 268.38. He had to score roughly 17 points above his personal best to win and he scored maybe 9-10 points higher than his personal best.

So the way it shakes out- the winner has 2 quads, 2nd got 1 and 3rd got one failed quad attempt.

In that case, I need to see Sergei’s performance so I can adequately judge.
😀 I love how my YouTube page seems to know me. They have Boyang Jin and Sergei’s performances under the recommended heading.

I opened up a couple of tabs, so now I have those two, Maxim Kovtun (just to soothe my own curiosity) and Nam Nguyen. Just cuz he’s from the US, Timothy Dolensky, I’ll have to see about as well.

Nam was so good! 😀 the landings on the first two jumps were a little off, but nonetheless he was on his feet. His music sounded like something from an old music with Bing Crosby or someone similar. He played the character so well

Timothy Dolesnky I’ll do next.
Not quite a work of art like the other guys from the US- the transitions are kinda flat between elements, but there were some beautiful moments with this music. An interesting arrangement of “Tosca” with some vocals, not quite as commanding or powerful as another version I heard and that’s how I like it. It highlights the music just as much. He popped his first jump and had some scratchy moments with others, but he had one triple axel that was spectacular.
The music was more contemporary, like someone like Josh Groban could have a hit with it.
the music was called “Sometimes I Dream” by Mario Frangoulis- really nice music.

Maxim Kovtun
I think this is the best I’d ever seen him skate… “Iron Sky” is really good music for him- allowing him more maturity and composure, which is something his programs need more of. He still needs to work on facial expressions- he always looks like he’s out of breath to me. He had one fall, so I think he’s a little upset about that. Not being able to do a clean program. But I’m happy with that. A step in the right direction.
230.75, which is a season’s best. 88 for his technical because it looks like he landed two quads. 75 is also good for presentation. If he hadn’t screwed up in the short program, he could have gotten a medal.

Boyang Jin did so much better than in his short program, which again is unfortunate. Could have made the podium otherwise. The music is so familiar- either from a Chaplin film or “The Artist” but he embodied it well. He nailed his quad lutz and most of the jumps but there were also some moments where he had to fight for landings.
I hope to see it again with him having more of a chance for a medal.
phew- 95 for a technical mark- that’s impressive (Shoma got 100) and 78 for performance- it could be better, but he gets better everytime. 245.08 overall

now for Sergei Voronov- I hope I saved the best for last 😉
That was REALLY good. The best I’d seen him maybe ever. He’s lacked consistency and I’d seen him this good maybe once or twice besides this. Wow… but I can also see why he didn’t get a medal. The entire program didn’t flow flawelessly from one element to the next. The transitions need to improve so it really feels like a performance, not just nailing the jumps.
I really wish I had been around for Johnny and Tara’s commentary to hear what they thought of him. I hope they liked him 😉
excuse me, that was 86 for his technical mark
245.28 overall. he skated to the same music as Ashley

anyway… where do I go from this point?

Overall, a great competition.

I’ll just end it on one note.
I’d gotten likes from Jason Brown, Adam Rippon and Max Aaron recently replied to me. This is the first time Ashley had noticed one of my tweets and it feels pretty awesome


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