Wednesday, February 4, 2015

2015 Four Continents Championships schedule

Seoul, South Korea (GMT +9)

Thursday, 12th February
11.30: short DANCE
14.10: PAIRS short
17.15: MEN short

Friday, 13th Febraury
13.30: free DANCE
17.00: LADIES short

Saturday, 14th Febraury
14.30: PAIRS free
17.30: MEN free

Sunday, 15th February
12.30: LADIES free

Sunday, February 1, 2015

What to look at during 4ccs: MEN

The Men's competition has often been one of the most interesting discipline of Four Continents  in the past years, due to the supremacy of Japan and North America. Even though things have slightly changed since Sochi 2014 (most of the higher ranked skaters competing in 2015 are Europeans), the Four Continents held in Seoul next week will be exciting for different reasons. 
First of all, it will be a chance to see whether Denis Ten will be capable of a consistent performance. Denis is a skater whose physical condition builds up as the season progresses and often has his peak during World Championships. Being the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist, he nailed a beautiful short program at Trophee Bompard, but literally crumbled in the free skate. His result in Seoul will make a good indication about his state going into Worlds.

The competition will also be a showcase of new, young talents. Nam Nguyen of Canada is certainly one of those as, debuting this year in the international Senior circuit, he won Canadian Nationals. Even if very consistent as a junior, he never stood out because of his poor technical content. However, from the latest fall season he started to nail programs with gorgeous quads and triple axels, elements that were definitely out of his league just one year ago. His short programs are still a bit safe, but it is his free skate that has been a strong point for him and, if skated as well as he has always done so far, it could propel him on the podium at this event.
Also very young and tremendously improved in the last months, Shoma Uno will debut as a senior at Four Continents. Winner of the junior Grand Prix final, Uno is becoming a very complete athlete with the quad toe and all the triples in his repertoire, as well as fantastic skating skills that assure him an incredible flow from start to finish. What is really outstanding about him is that he completes every single element of his program with a lot of quality so that, as long as his jumps remain consistent, his scores will get higher and higher after every competition.

A little bit older than Nguyen and Uno, Jason Brown and Joshua Farris will attend Four Continents for the first time in their carreer. Joshua Farris has been for a long time the leader of the US junior skating, bevo ing the junior world Champion in 2013. He has had some struggles entering the senior circuit, until a couple of weeks ago, when he won the bronze medal at Nationals. Unfortunately, a triple double toe repetition cost him the title as he wasn't counted a triple lutz-double toe combo.
Jason Brown must one of the most loved skater of all. That is because of his lovely personality, but definitely because he has a great ability to connect with the audience through detailed choreography and strong sense of musicality that watching him skating live is a true privilege. However, his technical content, even though the jumps he executes are almost perfect, his repertoire is rather poor. He doesn't have a quad and even his triple axel sometimes eludes him.  
Adam Rippon has also competed well during Nationals, ranking third after some disappointing seasons. His main feature is the quad lutz, always judged under rotated, but that sets Rippon's strategy. Apart from that, Rippon remains a very elegant skater to watch.

Finally, Four Continents will be a test before home Worlds for Han Yan, the Chinese champion, after that dreadful collision that compromised his entire fall season.

European Championships: Pairs free skate

Kavaguti/Smirnov: sbs 3t-3t seq, sbs 2a,  throw 4s (!!), 3twist, throw 3lo step out, difficult exit of the press lift. Gorgeous program overall, but the end was quite shaky. they win the title.

Stolbova/Klimov: 3twist, throw 3f step out, sbs 3t-2t-2t with great unison, good sbs spin, sbs 2a, fall just before the throw 3s, so that they were not able to do it. Door wide open for Kavaguti/Smirnov. They were very temptative throughtout the entire program.

Tarasova/Morozov: gorgeous 3twist, sbs 3s with great unison and running edge, sbs 3t-2t good as the previous one sbs, high throw 3lo, throw 3s, aborted star lift. Gorgoeus program for them, they lost some points on the lift, but quality was there otherwise. TES around 64, 125.89 free skate score

Marchei/Hotarek: sbs 3lz, throw 3f, 2tw, sbs 2s-2t, throw 3s. Very good program, with difficult lifts. They were incredible considering that they have 5 months of practice.

James/Cipres: 3twist with shaky landing, sbs 3t-2t-2t, sbs 2s, aborted axel lasso, throw 3f, throw 3s step out. They just lost the bronze medal by a landslide. 107.16 

Della Monica/Guarise: 3twist, sbs 3s step out, sbs 2a, throw 3lo step out, throw 3s. 107.34

Vartmann/Van Cleave: 3twist, sbs 3t fall for both, throw 3f fall, sbs 1s, good sbs spin, throw 3s, good quality lifts, that boosted their technical score. 100.91 free skate score

Yankowskas/Gaman: 2twist, sbs 2t fall, aborted on death spiral, sbs 1a, throw 3lo step out, throw 3s hand down. Every element was completed with difficulty. TES 33.60 at the end of the program. They will probably drop.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

European Championships: Ladies free skate

Anna Pogorilaya: 3lz-3t without a long running edge, 3lo-1/2 lo-3s, 3f hand down, 3lz hand down, 2a, 2a, 3lo-2t tano. Technical score around 65 for her, good performance but probably not enough to put pressure on Radionova and Tuktamisheva. 125.71

Elena Radionova: 3lz-3t, 3f, 3lz, amazing spins, 3lo-1/2lo-3s, 2a, 2a, 3lo-2t. Gorgeous performance, what a champion's attitude. 139.08

Viktoria Helgesson: 3lo-2a, 3f, 3s hands down, 3lo, 3t fall, 2s-2t, 2a. It was hard for her to skate after Radionova, but she gave her best for her home crowd.

Elizaveta Tutkamisheva: 3lz-2t-2lo, gorgeous 3lz, 3f, maybe lost a level on the layback spin because of a very short biellmann, 3t-3t, 3lo, 3s-2a, 2a. TES around 74, incredible jumps, energy and zest in this program.

Joshi Helgesson: 3lz-2t, 3t, 3lo step out, 3lz step out, 3t-2t, 1s-2a, 2a

Friday, January 30, 2015

European Championships: pairs short program

Stolbova/Klimov had not their best program today. There were some exceptional elements such as the side by side triple toe and the side by side spin. The triple twist wasn't great and in the landing of the throw triple flip Ksenia's free leg slightly touched the ice. However, with some good GOEs and the highest components score of the afternoon assured them a 71.38 that put them in first place.

Kavaguti/Smirnov skated a superb short to the music of Meditation from Thais by Massenet. They were flawless technique wise, doing a side by side triple toe, a good triple twist that is usually their nemesis and a throw triple loop. Their elegant program was worth 33.44 points as components score for a total of 69.86

James/Cipres, despite having had a difficult fall season due to injuries, skated their best with energy and attack and got a surprising third place. They nailed a not so clean triple twist, a very good side by side triple toe and a huge throw triple lutz. 60.13

Marchei/Hotarek debuted as a couple at the European Championships short program. They skated early in the second group. Valentina Marchei did her first appereance as a pairs skater. Their performace was very decent considering her unexperience in the discipline; they nailed a side by side triple salchow, a double twist and a throw triple flip. Even though new pairs always need some time to rodate, Marchei/Hotarek are the perfect match as a debuting couple because Valentina is a good single skater and Ondrej is very experienced as a pair skater. 57.95

Tarasova/Morozov were serious contenders for a medal position. They opened with the best elements of their program, a gorgeous triple twist, but then started to faltered. At first Eugenia doubled the side by side triple toe and stepped out of the throw triple loop. The other technical elements had a high quality, but the mistakes cost them few positions. That has to be said that they have all the potential to recover from their debacle and improve their ranking in the free skate, even with three points separating them from third place. 57.13

Thursday, January 29, 2015

European Championships: ladies short program

Elena Radionova skated as second to last knowing the solid performance that Tuktamisheva has produced. Despite that and the fact that this was her European championships debut, she competed as a true champion, nailing everything superbly. She opened with a triple lutz-triple toe and then a triple loop and the double axel in the second half of the program. She got two points more than Tuktamisheva as far as technical score is concerned, probably due to her better spins, and a point and a half of overall lead. (38.44 32.02 70.46)

Elizaveta Tuktamisheva confirmed to be one ofthe top contender of this year. She has been unbelievably consistent: she did a triple toe-triple "tano" toe and her trademark triple lutz. With an intriguing interpretation of Bolero, she scored a personal best of 69.02 and her highest components score of 32.34.

Anna Pogorilaya, after the troubles she had during the fall, she performed an exeptional short program that featured a gorgeous triple lutz-triple lutz and then a triple loop and a double axel in the second half. Her only flaw was her flying camel spin that had a difficult entry and that probably cost her a level.  66.10 

Kiira Korpi has returned to the international competitive scene after two years of stop due to injuries. Her technical content wasn't very difficult, as she nailed a triple flip-double toe and a triple loop. She had a light touch down on the double axel, but the rest of her program was well executed and she earned 60.60 points.

Joshi Helgesson despite some physical problems, accomplished a clean yet watered down program with a good triple toe-double "rippon" toe (with both hands up) and a double axel. She also trains the triple axel and the triple-triple, but she preferred a safer version for the home Europeans. 59.55 
Viktoria Helgesson was very clean as well, skating to Kate Bush she gave the most elegant and emotional short program on the afternoon. 60.37

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

European Championships: Men short program

Javier Fernandez skated after Voronov and Kovtun who didn't perform at their best and had left the door wide open for the reigning European champion. Fernandez didn't completely seize the opportunity he was given: he opened with a stepped out quad salchow, then had a minor step out on his triple lutz-triple toe. However the rest of the program was near perfect nad a stunning triple axel in the second half of the program and the highest components of the competition helped him get an eight points lead over Voronov. a 89.24

Sergei Voronov started off his program with a gorgeous quad toe-triple toe combination, but then doubled his triple axel, planned in the second half of the program , that was preceeded by a very long preparation. Afterwards he nailed a triple loop and got 81.06. 

Michal Brezina had a chance of a lifelime considering how Voronov and Kovtun had skated. He started incredibly well, nailing a stunning triple axel and an almost unseen quad salchow. But then he spoilt any opportunity of being second he had by falling on the triple flip of the combination. He saved his ranking with the second best components of the competition. He scored 80.86.

Maxim Kovtun had quite a debacle. He was planning two quads but hasn't nailed any of those. The first one, a salchow, was meant to be in combination with a toeloop, but did a step out and touched down at the end of the salchow. He did a step out also on his quad toe, so that he wasn't able to do any combination at all. Those two elements brought his score down to 78.21 since they both received very negative GOEs due to the fact that none of them was either preceeded by a step or in combination.