2016 NHK Trophy

It’s actually somewhat of a relief to get some of the results of this competition beforehand.
I’d been so nervous for Yuzuru and just wanting badly for a clean short program from him. I mean, he’s skating to Prince [the very reason I started this blog- long before I covered figure skating]. That demands perfection and I’m glad to know he’ll deliver close to that before seeing him. He’s got a score over 100 with no deductions, so that’s a good sign.

But girls first…

Alaine Chatrand from Canada looked a little tight to start. She was forward on her first jump and had to add the combination to a later jump. Maybe some of the performance was lost while thinking about that. I think the music works for her better than what I’d seen her skate to before. Decent skate, but could be better.

Anna Pogorilaya
I can nit-pick on the spots that weren’t exactly perfect. Her combination jump looked tight and maybe under rotated. One spin, she traveled on and she was a little off on her axel. But otherwise unshaken and unwavering, and it was so great and fun to hear the Japanese crowd (Sapporo) clapping in time with her music and really appreciating her. But then, the Japanese audience appreciates everyone who skates well.
(Tracy Wilson said how she connected well with Misha Ge, who choreographed this for her… well, of course… I think that’s a good part of why she’s just killing it this year and she deserves it)

Maria Sotskava
and she’s only 16? wow!
maybe it’s the fact she’s wearing blue or her pale skin tone… but she is so beautiful to watch. Beautiful lines and artistry. Can’t wait to see how she continues to grow. Hit all her jumps, not completely crisp on the landings, but still well done.

Satoko Miyahara
she’s skating to another Puccini piece [from “La Boheme”]
she fell… can’t remember if I’d seen her fall before. She’s usually so clean. but she maintained her composure the entire time. the combination, which she had to move from 2nd to 3rd jumping pass- the 2nd jump was just tacked on and didn’t flow well as well out of the other jump
love watching her, though. her poise (minus that fall) works to well with that music. I’m sick of a lot of these skating standards already, but with her, it feels natural and almost brand new.

Karen Chen
so sad she had that one mistake- she missed a jump and only did a single and lost all credit for it. The program set to “On Golden Pond” was just so beautiful to watch, breathtaking. Loved how she had the one glove that looked like the beak of the bird with the sequins. It was like something Johnny Weir did for his Olympic short program.
58.76- in 4th place

Yura Matsada
cool and confident, hard to believe she’s only 18 (then again, Satoko is the same age and she always felt so much older to me with her being so consistent and strong)
great combination in the 2nd half, triple loop-loop
60.98- 4th place

Wakaba Higuichi
first time I’m seeing her (she got 3rd in France this year)
unbelievable she’s only 15- she feels like she’s Mao’s age with that maturity and confidence in her performance.
she didn’t get fully rotated on her 2nd jump so she had to put the combination at the end and it was a triple-double.
62.58- now she’s in 4th place… this is getting repetitive… I’m trying not to repeat myself too much. It’s hard to really comment when every skater is doing relatively well and is so beautiful to watch.

Mirai Nagasu
her combination was under rotated on the 2nd jump, so that might be a problem further down the road. Great program and performance throughout. One of the best times I’ve seen her. I thought the music sounded familiar- it was a Chopin piece Plushenko had performed to and I remembered seeing first signs of his latest injury that led to this most recent surgery. (Can’t believe that was 8 months ago… but I hadn’t seen many recent performances from him so it’s hard to judge)
63.49- another 4th place, but the last time I’ll say with this competition tonight.

Anyway, the women’s competition- if those 4th places I kept writing is any indication, it is going to be a tight fight for the finish for sure. Even Anna isn’t safe at top of the leaderboard with only a 2 point lead. Going to be interesting for sure.

Now for the men…

Yuzuru is 2nd to last, dang it… at least I know he’ll do well.

But first, a Russian šŸ˜‰ Mikhail Kolyada
78.18- 37/40- that’s not bad to start, but with people like Yuzuru and Nathan Chen to go, he needs to be better. I love that he has this quirky presence about him when he skates. It helps set him apart, but I felt bad that he just didn’t do as well as he would have liked to.

speak of the devil…
Nathan Chen
dang, he fell off two of his jumps. one was a quad lutz and the other a triple axel. He did a quad flip/triple combination… I swear, I blinked and missed it because it just doesn’t compete. Quad flip?! Shoma Uno only just perfected that recently and he makes it look SO easy. It’d be hard to believe what he’d score if he KILLED these jumps… he could tap 100 points like Yuzuru has done so easily a couple of times.
87.94- 48/40

Keiji Tanaka
he skated to Tango music- “springtime in Buenos Aires” and worked well with it. He fell off his quad salchow and that’s going to set him back a little bit. But the rest of his program was so strong. And of course the hometown audience helped him by clapping in time with the music.
80.49- currently in 2nd behind Nathan Chen

Jason Brown
-that’s right, he’s skating to Sam Smith. I thought I remembered that šŸ˜‰
I was buying whatever he was selling with that choreography. That was just WOW- beautiful artistry as always, but this was the most I’d liked a performance from him in a very long time.
He two-footed his quad, his triple axel he had to fight for and his combination missed on the 2nd jump, something went array with it.
74.33- 31/42 (great mark on that artistry)

and next fleet is Yuzuru and everyone else, lol

Alexei Bychenko is among them. One to watch for sure if his recent appearances are any indication.

Elladj Balde from Canada- another great artist on the ice

and Nam Nguyen will be last

watching the warm-up right now

Alexei is up first of this group.
he started so strong with his triple axel, but his other jumps weren’t the best. his quad, he slipped off the edge and didn’t quite get it. Then his combination was only a triple-double. I think he got some good moments in there for the artistic mark, though
75.13- 4th place… yikes… I think he do much better. But I wouldn’t count him out of the medals just yet

Elladj Balde
oh that’s right he did this interesting “Sound of Silence” cover…
whoa, he was born in Russia… that explains the artistry. But the lack of quad is the one thing keeping me from fully investing. He had some off jumps, some mistakes here and there with under rotation and such.
76.29… 4th place [omg, I don’t want to say that anymore…]

okay, here we go… Yuzuru Hanyu

just missing that quad loop- I could read his expression afterwards where he was like “this close”…
but yeah, that was amazing. Nailing the quad salchow-triple combination and then the triple axel like it was nothing at all. He hit the beats on all the musical points he needed to and the crowd clapped right when the crowd claps on the record.

103.89 with 57/48

Nam Nguyen… can’t believe we’re at the end already
yikes- he did so well until the final jump and he just fell. hit a quad combination like it was nothing and a triple axel and just blacked out on the last jump. and it kinda knocked the wind of the sails of his sails afterwards

So it looks like it’ll be Yuzuru and Nathan Chen fighting for the win… nobody really comes close with them being in the 70’s… although Jason Brown can make up a lot in the artistry department. But if Yuzuru hits most of his jumps he’ll be untouchable within this field.
16-point lead… bleck, I’ve seen too many big leads get erased this year. For once, I hope he gets to keep one.

Now I gotta find a video of his performance so I can share it with the Prince Facebook group I’m a part of.

Free Skates

They opened with an encore of Yuzuru’s short program. And Tara commented when Terry mentioned people waiting hours to see Yuzuru skate- “well Terry, Prince is playing”… I had to tweet I loved her.
seriously, as much as I love skating, I have to watch the short program as a Prince fan first and skating fan second… that’s just how I have to roll.

They started with Karen Chen’s free skate.
A few under rotations, but otherwise clean. It was a nice classy, somewhat sassy tango program.

Mirai Nagasu had a free skate that I guess was just okay. It was pretty to look at, but there was no wow factor to it. Johnny and Tara were pretty hard on her, saying she’s capable of being great but hasn’t been able to make it happen for her. I can’t help but agree. She could make an impact, but just hasn’t.

I wonder if it’s a requirement that you need to wear a headband if you’re skating to Scherharzade… Wakaba Higuichi did well with the exception of a jump she popped into a double. I didn’t get a lot of emotion or connection with it. Johnny and Tara said she needs to work on expression and that components score.
Personally, I don’t really care to hear that music again because I don’t see it really skated well. Anna Pogorilaya had a rough time with it. If anyone could have nailed it, it was Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. She may or may not have performed to it. I can’t quite remember.

Anna Pogorilaya, I think, is next.
She scored over 210, nobody came close to her. So happy for this new success, so happy to see her smile and enjoy it. She seemed like a bit of an ice queen the first time I saw her and she’s really blossomed into a strong overall skater.

Satoko Miyahara had issues with under rotations, but otherwise had a nice beautiful skate that she’s almost always able to do without trying.

Maria Sotskava had a pretty skate, but she needs to mature more in her style and with that components score.
She finished third.

So we have four Russians, plus Kaetyln Osmond and Satoko in the grand prix finale. And no Americans. Ashley is the first alternate, but I doubt that’s going to come into play.

With the guys, we started with Jason Brown. He had the worst performance I’d seen him give. It started with his fall on the quad and kinda unraveled after that. He maintained the character of the piece, but the technical side let him down.
Johnny made an interesting comment that would explain why he always seems to score so high. He has no normal skating in his performances. Everything has meaning, so he’s very strong in transitions and choreography in general.
But without the quad, he might not be considered a favorite for the next Olympic team.
[at this point, I’d point to Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon and maybe Max Aaron as favorites. at this point, I doubt we’ll be strong enough to get 3 spots for the team]

Alexei Bychenko had his share of mistakes and that took him out of contention. Good to see him fight for all his jumps, though. And hearing Johnny say he wants to do more than just show up at the next Olympics.
All the Isareli skaters apparently practice in Hackensack, New Jersey. And of course they mention Daniel Samohin is up and coming.

Keiji Tanaka, they said is choreographed by an Italian ice dancer and the music doesn’t quite work for him. He’s definitely selling it with his expressions and such, but I don’t completely buy into it. interestingly, they said he’d been a senior for a couple years, but just hasn’t been able to break through. Certainly not the way Shoma has.

Yuzuru šŸ˜€ so excited… I already know he’s going to do well šŸ˜‰
I can’t say this for every time… but when I know Yuzuru is going to win or at least skate cleanly, I can really just lay back and enjoy him performing. This wasn’t perfect- he fell on his quad salchow in the second half [NAILED the quad loop finally after they showed him do it clean in both warm-ups], but I just lost myself in the music and the beauty of his performance. OMG… when he’s competing, he is my favorite. He’s the one I want to do the best even with Javi and the skaters from my own country are competing.

Tough act to follow for Nathan Chen…
all this time left over, I hope they can interview both of these guys.

yeah, he had mistakes throughout with some of his quads and other jumps, but definitely one of the best out there. They only had enough time to interview him (boo hiss!) and it was a hurried interview because he was still out of breath from competing.

So for the guys… it’s a stacked field and it’s just about who “shows up” for game day.

Definitely looking to see Javi do well, HOPING to see Yuzuru nail it like he did here. It’d also be nice to see Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon attempt to make an impact. Just as long as Patrick Chan doesn’t win…

I’m going to have to go back and see how Mikhail Kolyada did. Kinda sucks how they just they didn’t have time to show him. He finished 5th, but I would have liked to hear Johnny and Tara’s commentary for him… if only to hear a Plushenko namedrop.
He had a quad lutz where he under rotated and a quadruple toe loop where he rotated but fell. He had a few mistakes with the rest of his jumps. But I felt his performance and really got into it. Just wished he could have done better technically.

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