2017 US figure skating Championships

I’d been on my laptop so little lately… I wonder if it has anything to do with my job where I’m on a computer for nearly 8 straight hours… although it might have more to do with my new PokΓ©mon game.

But anyways…
the only reason I can allow myself to be on Twitter right now is talking about figure skating (Donald Trump is our president, FINALLY!! and it’s like everyone else is convinced the world is about to end… give it a chance, guys. Chances are he’s not going to fulfill any of the most extreme promises he said (like “the wall” and any mass exportations). Right now, I just want our relationship with Russia to be repaired. We don’t have to be besties, but if we’re on good terms, the rest of the world will be).

Moving on…

It’s clique to say it’s been interesting so far… and I’m sure I say that a lot. What else can I say, really?

This has been a tough competition so far.
There have been very few clean programs. A lot of falls. And in the case of Ashley and Gracie, under rotations.

It sucks that they had to have the ladies’ short program on a week night because I can’t stay up for the whole thing (there are very few reasons why I’d stay up to midnight when I have to get up at 5:30… and that’s not one of them… the girls winning gymnastics gold at Rio… yeah).

I went to bed before Mirai Nagasu performed and after finding out she was in 2nd place… I kinda wished I stuck around. But I saw it online and it was amazing. When she nails her jumps, she’s got great poise and artistry in her performance. (Loved her music- although that Chopin piece “Nocturne” always kinda brings me back to an exhibition where Plushenko injured himself last year- the one that led to the March 14th surgery).

Gracie started out really strong and she worked well with her “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” music. Then she had an issue with her second jump where she had to double it and the energy just got sucked out of the rest of it.
I did like in the kiss and cry when she sang along to “22”- I remembered she was friends with Taylor Swift.

Ashley was great with the exception of her usual solid double axel. It was slightly off and go under rotated. The energy also wasn’t as good as I remembered at Skate America where she blew the doors off the place. Here’s hoping tonight she’ll nail it.

Although with Karen Chen breaking the record for a US nationals short program, it might be tough. 72.82, I think she scored. Great fluidity in her movement and nailed all the jumps.

Mariah Bell had some issues with her jumps, but I loved how she maintained her “Chicago” character all the way through.

With the guys… I saw some familiar names from the junior grand prix series. Tomoki Hitawashi was dead last by the end of it. We tuned in and Andrew Toragahsev had just skated and did well.
Then Timothy Dolensky went and put up a number that was impossible to beat for the longest time. I liked his overall look on the ice. It was different than anyone else I’ve gotten to know. How that is, I can’t quite describe. The energy is different but a good different.

There were some really good performances, but the judges were super picky, almost like they didn’t want to give any big points away. They showed different colored dots on the screen for how the skills were performed and there were a lot of yellows and reds and not enough greens.
My favorite for a while was Jimmy Ma who skated to Eminem of all things… I HATE Eminem with such a passion… I got in a fight with someone on prince.org about it. I hate rap “music” in general. But Jimmy was so amazingly gangster the entire performance and he skated so well to the instruments. I enjoyed it. I won’t become an Eminem fan anytime soon, but that’s something I’m going to remember for a long time.

Honestly- it was a long day- and I fell asleep at one point. But then Vincent Zhou got on the ice and I forced myself to wake up and I stayed up the rest of the night. He did “Writing on the wall” and as I willed him to nail his jumps, I also felt very confident in him and that paid off. He’s in 3rd currently. I hope he’ll maintain that and maybe get a medal.

Ross Miner was a surprise. I recognized him in the warm-up but the name didn’t come for a while. But he did “new York state of mind” and he never looked as good as he did. I think I got a feeling that he was ready to bring it and he developed.

Max Aaron… man, I felt so bad. He was one of the few guys attempting quads (Vincent had one and obviously Nathan Chen had one) and his performance just fell apart. The jumps were all bad. Apparently he had surgery on a hernia last year and still might not be recovered from it. I wanted this so badly for him and it just didn’t happen.

Jason Brown had no quad to speak of… it’s sad that the guys are here have reduced themselves to playing it safe. Like “almost nobody is doing quads, so why should I do one?”
If you guys want to get on the world podium and get us extra spots for the next Olympics, YOU NEED QUADS! I cannot say this enough. There are great people here and they’re going to get left behind internationally without the quad.

Of course these days I want all my guys to have a minimum of 2 quads per program (free skate in particular, it’s ok if the short program has just one, but I’m excited for the day someone does all quads in the short program- well, one would be a combination with a triple, but you know what I mean).

Anyway, Jason Brown had a great performance that I enjoyed a lot. He did “Writing on the Wall” also, but his had more vocals while Vincent’s had more instrumentals. His mood and his artistry fit the music so well. The only thing that let it down with the technique. He did his first combination jump out of footwork and it was so smooth. But then he started falling and I felt bad about it. I still had a great time watching him, but I wished it was better. Then I could let go of the “no quad” thing, which I always seem to hold over him.
He’s also dealing with injury- a stress fracture in his right leg. Where it is, I have no idea… the commentators on Universal suck… they add nothing of substance to the performances at all.
If Johnny and Tara were there, I wouldn’t have fallen asleep. I’ll say that much.

Nathan Chen was the first of that last group to go, but his is worth saving last for my blogging.
He got over 106 points! A new US record. And I’m thinking… well, duh… nobody does quads here, so it’s impossible to break 100.
But that’s like a Yuzuru Hanyu number. Nobody else can do that.
I think I remember him having 62 for technical and 46 for components… the components score let him down last year.

I’m also sad to see Adam Rippon not here. He broke his foot the other week :/ I seriously hope he can get a spot on the Olympic team. He missed out these past couple years and he’s never been in better shape (well, minus this foot injury). Also one of the few guys here attempting quads. I mean, he only does one and it’s not always good, but at least he makes the effort.
Not to say Jason hasn’t made the effort. I know he has and I’m proud of him for that. I just doubt he’ll ever have it strong enough to make an impact internationally. Like his body can’t stand up to the demand- the injuries have happened because of it.

Yeah… I ask way too much of my own skaters, but I feel bad that I celebrate international skaters more than my own. I’d like a chance to be proud of us.

So now I’ll just leave here until tonight when it’s the ladies’ free skate.

And again, they’re starting with highlights from the men’s short program… why bother watching if they’re going to show it here anyway? πŸ˜› but now I can enjoy Johnny & Tara’s commentary!!

I remember seeing Timothy Dolensky stumble on his step sequence, now that I’m seeing it again.
I agree with Johnny- the quiet melodic quality he has is why I enjoyed this so much.

Damn, this makes me wish the men’s free skate was tonight!

oh, so the ice was the problem last night… not sure if I think that’s good enough of an excuse for me… it was hard seeing Max skate again :/ I am glad to hear Tara liked his music (which was new- I kinda had a feeling it was) cuz she didn’t like his Lion King music (neither of them did)

Grant Hochstein, I think was on around the time I was starting to fall asleep so I don’t remember his as well. He popped his quad into a double and had some other small issues.
Really great artistry, though. Really nice to watch. [Just maybe not late at night after being up since 5:30 am].

I cannot begin to say how excited I am to see Vincent skate again… ahh!!! Cannot wait to see what he’ll do, not just tomorrow but beyond.

They’re doing a nice little piece on Nathan Chen. Some great footage of his history, interview with his coach (who also coaches Adam and Ashley). So cute to see him say at the 2010 US Championship gala that he’ll be in the 2018 Olympics and his reaction to watching that. Great to hear how hard he works and how much he wants this. I’m so excited for his future. Just no more injuries, please!
He had two quads- a lutz and a flip. Just whoa- it blew my mind that he had the quad flip when Shoma had only just introduced it months before.
106.39- okay, I’ll mark that down for my future reference.

meanwhile, I’m polishing my newest Plushenko montage. I remembered there was footage from one gala in Sochi I wanted to use, so I’m adding that in and working to incorporate my other footage around that. My timing needs to be on point for a few key musical moments.
so I missed the encore of Ross Miner’s performance. but there’s always YouTube if I really want to see it again. It was really good.

I’d been saving my own commentary for the top 5 skaters, but Caroline Zhang is worth bringing up. She had a shaky start with her free skate, but then she started nailing jumps in the 2nd half and the crowd woke up and I had to take notice and watch. She had that killer instinct and with each good jump, the crowd cheered. It was infectious.
Paige Ryberg went before her and in her senior debut skated to Evita. It wasn’t perfect, but her skating is beautiful to watch. Johnny said it was a skeleton, but there is so much potential for her future in the sport. I’m paraphrasing because this was at least 20 minutes ago.

Mariah Bell- okay, now I can start going over every skater.
Again, her second half was better than the first. It started so off, but then it just started to pick up. Tara said she was nervous at the start, but somehow, she just got the momentum and started hitting it. And her reaction at the end was so great to see.

Gracie Gold
She had a rough go of it. No falls, but lots of doubles from triples. I’m not a big fan of her style as I may have mentioned a bunch of times before, but it’s sad to see how her losing it at worlds last year is still haunting her. It’s starting to feel like she’s never going to get that confidence back.
Ouch- she’s in third place currently, so she has no chance for a medal.

Johnny and Tara keep saying how they can put anyone on the world team, but Gracie really hasn’t shown this year that she can compete with the Russians.

Tessa Hong (only 14, wow!) is skating to “Caruso”- music I know from Plushenko’s Torino gala πŸ˜‰ this time, a woman singing it.
Apparently the song or opera is about a man dying and looking into the eyes of the woman he loves.
Thanks for that tidbit, Johnny πŸ˜‰
That was a mixed bag. She had great beautiful lines early on, but then she started jumping, it was rough. Popped her first three jumps into singles. Then the audience started to get behind her and will her forward and she started hitting jumps and they got more excited the better she did.

Karen Chen might have just won this. And I was reminded that she was on the podium two years ago, but couldn’t go to worlds because she wasn’t old enough.
She was so amazing. She had this killer instinct with this “Jealousy Tango” and the crowd just loved her.

I would not mind at all if she beat Ashley. She deserves it.

Now for Ashley- hope she skates clean enough for a medal.
and she did… just a question about which color it’ll be.

Mirai Nagasu did what she has done as of lately… she let it go and had loads of mistakes. And it was sad to watch. I thought she had a chance for a medal after her short program.

Ashley did amazing. I was kinda hoping a bit that she’d be able to win, but she didn’t quite do it. They were analyzing the fact she did a triple lutz and single combination at the end. Yeah, a bit of a silly mistake, but beyond that, she should be so proud of that. It was powerful and beautiful at all the same time.

Now I’m super stoked for the guys tomorrow.

Johnny, Tara and Terry opened up by saying Nathan Chen “no relation” to Karen Chen… I think I already knew that, but it’s good to have that reminder πŸ˜‰
Love Johnny’s ear bling. He looks amazing and Tara’s hair is all puffy and blown out. Stunning as always, the two of them.

I’m getting a bit annoyed with the fact they have to show encores of previous skates before the actual competition… I’ve already seen this one. I mean, unless it’s one of my personal favorites like Ashley, I don’t like encores too much. Just get to the competition already so I can see if Nathan Chen can hold onto his lead and win.

First guy they showed was Emmanuel Savary. I’d seen him on the junior circuit a couple times- he can be really good when he nails his jumps, but he didn’t do that today. A lot of mistakes. Interestingly, they said he beat Nathan Chen in an intermediate competition in 2009 and Nathan beat him in the novice level shortly after.
The fact he’s attempting 2 quads gives him a lot of credit- a lot of people here are afraid to try them or just lack the skill. Hopefully he can hone that over the next couple years.

Johnny and Tara had a little inside edge piece where they were asking how he warms up. Cute little piece. I love seeing skaters do quads and jumps off the ice. It’s so cool to watch πŸ˜›

Alexander Johnson is off to a good start.
skating to “in your eyes” by Peter Gabriel.
I’m not crazy about the song, but this arrangement with more strings and such- that was cool to watch. And he did well except for one or two under rotated jumps. Tara said he could go spin for spin with Jason Brown and I perked up. He’s not as connected to his music or as dynamic as Jason is, but the potential is there for him to be great. Assuming he can put together a couple quads.

Jordan Moeller got comparisons also- to Jeremy Abbott with his technique. I can totally see that. Oh man, I miss seeing Jeremy compete.
Jordan did a really good job overall. Only one or two mistakes. He skated to Romeo & Juliet (the DiCaprio version) and Tara said she’d prefer the original (yeah, the same one who’d heard a million times- sorry). He started to pick up momentum as the music did and there were flashes of brilliance.
Again, where are the quads?
How far into the line-up do we have to go to find them?

Tim Dolesnky
if anyone can get into the lead, it’s him. Nobody has been able to do that yet.
maybe not with those first couple jumps, but he had a really good 2nd half.
The music sounded familiar as did the person singing (maybe Boccelli). Then the music really came in and I gasped- it was “Tosca”… it was a cool version with some Spanish guitar playing a little off the beat. I didn’t think I’d like a version of that better than Edvin Marton’s- which is magic!
Apparently he’d been senior for 3 years and still hasn’t matured as a skater (according to Johnny). I hope he can find that maturity because I’d gotten to like him over this competition.

Apparently Gracie Gold is leaving Frank Carroll’s coaching… I hope that’ll help change her skating for the better because she’d had a really tough time this year. And maybe then I might get to like her style a bit better.

Andrew Torgashev
really good skate here. some mistakes of course but I cheered when he nailed his quad… the first nailed quad today. there was a little disagreement on the panel about the music and whether they liked or hated it πŸ˜› Terry liked it and the other two didn’t.
Glad to hear Johnny mention Alexei Krasnozhon winning the junior title here… I had to go on Twitter to find out what the hell happened to him. He should be here like Vincent Zhou is. Also didn’t know Polina Edmunds was also of Russian descent like Alexei and Andrew. Andrew was asked if he wants to go back to Russia since there’s a drought in the men’s ranks. He said no because he’s American and he was born in Florida. His mom was an ice dancer and his dad was in pairs.

Both of our countries have had droughts with our men. At least Russia had Plushenko for a couple years. We haven’t had a really good male skater in ages. Not one who did quads anyway. Evan Lysachek and Johnny during his time rarely did.

Shut the front door! Nathan has four quads planned for his first four jumps… and may be doing his 5th quad in place of a triple loop… phew…
and Vincent is attempting a quad lutz as well… wow! Already super excited for this πŸ˜€ he has 2 quads planned, but potentially 3.

Jason Brown
Except for that last jump combination, there was no evidence at all that he was dealing with an injury. Beautifully skated and of course mentally I’m hoping he doesn’t win without a quad.
I’m still kinda incensed last year that Nathan Chen got 3rd place when he had more quads than the top 5 guys combined.

Then I had a bone to pick with Scott Hamilton just before this. He said “arguably the greatest skater of all-time, Dick Button”… no way! Unless he’s just talking American guys, Plushenko is the best ever. That might be something Yuzuru will take away from him (and maybe already has)… but Dick Button is only considered the great skater he is because he was in a time where there were no quads and he won two Olympics in a row.
Something Plushenko could have done if not for the whole quad controversy.

Grant Hochstein is up next. Jason’s currently in first.

I guess Max Aaron did so bad in his short program that he couldn’t qualify 😦 that’s so sad

Grant is skating to “Caruso” and some other opera pieces.
Really good skate overall. Maybe some issues with under rotations and putting a hand down on one jump. He beat Jason technically (a quad attempt will do that) but with the components score, maybe not. I don’t know how far apart they were in the standings a couple days ago.
he’s in 2nd place now

Ross Miner is up next. Definitely has a little more points on the table. Hope he can put together a strong skate because he seems to be doing really well.
He started off with a great quad but then after an axel mistake, he started making mistakes left and right. I don’t think I ever wanted someone to do well so badly that I hadn’t already formed a close bond with. I just keep thinking how badly we need someone with quads to get to worlds so they can make the top 10 so they can secure 2 spots for the Olympics. Jason isn’t going to do that for us.
Good to hear the crowd get behind him, though.
he’s in 3rd place

Nathan Chen needs to nail this NOW, PLEASE!!!

hope Vincent can make the podium with this…
he got 2nd!! yeah!
his skate wasn’t perfect, but he had 2 good quads. and he was a cool customer throughout it. Loved that reaction in the kiss and cry when he found he got 2nd place πŸ˜›

But Nathan… OMG! I was freaking out so much. Holding my breath on every quad. Then halfway through, I started to relax a little bit. Freaked when he did a 5th quad, something nobody’s ever done.
He’s not just going to have the record here, but he is probably 2nd behind Yuzuru for the best total score in the world.

All I can ask now… just PLEASE, no injuries. He needs to be at worlds. He might not beat Yuzuru, but if the grand prix final was any indication, he can get a medal for us.

He may not read or see it, but I sent a tweet to Plushenko that I hope he sees Nathan’s free skate. I mean, he saw Jason’s program when he went viral in 2014 before the Olympics. Surely, he has to appreciate someone who can land 5 quads πŸ˜‰
And I really hope that our two countries can mend our relationship because it’s been tough, between the sanctions against Russia and the report that Russia had athletes that doped in Sochi.

I just HOPE so bad that Russian figure skaters aren’t banned from these next Olympics. The men especially. They need that chance to prove themselves and hopefully we can find a new best skater there that could take Plushenko’s place at the top.

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