Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NHK Trophy preview


The NHK Trophy is the last of the grand prix events of the 2014-2015 season before the final in Barcelona. Here are my podium predictions.

MEN


1. Yuzuru Hanyu: no matter what you throw at him he will always pull it off. Yuzuru Hanyu might not be at his best, considering the serious injury he has been exposed to in his last grand prix appereance. In fact, after the collision with Han Yan at Cup of China, he spent several days out of practice in order to fully recover. He claimed that he is determined to compete at his home competition, and, as brian Orser claimed, he has been training for 9 days landing all jumps, inclding quads. His strategy should be to water down a little bit his extremely demanding programs to get the qualification for the final.
2. Takahito Mura: he surprisingly won at Skate Canada defeating Javier Fernandez. he probably doesn't have the same sofistication of Hanyu and Machida, however he was able to get a monstrous 173 in his free skate which featured two quads and two triple axels.

3.Alexei Voronov: he is not his federation's favourite as well, but at Rostelecom Cup he pulled off two incredible performances, especially in the short program. His technical prowess will very likely puti him ahead of the other talented but inconsistent skaters of this event.

DANCE


1. Weaver/Poje: prediction is made very easy here. The leading Canadian dance team is in a very good place to win their second grand prix event in Japan. Their main goal will rather be scoring enough to send a message to the other dance teams who have won the other grand prixs. In fact, both Chock/Bates and Papadakis/Cizeron have scored incredibly high in the last few weeks, and performing well during this weekend is absolutely key for the rest of Weaver/Poje's season.

2. Coomes/Buckland: they have also dramatically improved in this fall season. They got their first grand prix medal (a bronze) in Russia two weeks ago. Their free skate was spot on, but they bombed the short program technique wise, so they have still room for improvement.

3. Sinitsina/Katsalapov: one of the weirdest thing of this grand prix season is that Ilinykh/Zhiganshin's grand prix final qualification will occur just if Sinitsina/Katsalapov get into the second place here in Japan. This couple debuted at Cup of Russia for the first time, where they performed pretty decently. 



LADIES


1. Gracie Gold: the ladies event at NHK Trophy is a very peculiar one for the fact that none of the ladies has ranked more than third in a previous grand prix. Gracie Gold, Satoko Miyahara and Kanako Murakami are the ones who got a podium position so far in the series. Even though a lot of promising and talented skaters are listed in the NHK entries, no one really stood out in this fall season and anything could happen. I am predicting Gracie Gold to be the winner because she is the most consistent out of the "more experienced" competitors and because she has been reported to have improved her condition after Skate America.

2. Kanako Murakami: she was very lucky to get on the podium at Cup of China, because her free skate performance was under any expectation. She was completely out of control during the first half of her program as she popped several jumps. That has to be said that the quality of her skating is incredible and she has all the potential to perform better in front of her home crowd.

3. Satoko Miyahara: Satoko has had a great season last year winning her first National Championships medal, which is quite something in Japan. She has a very good musicality and she schedules an interesting set of jumps. She tends to under rotate every now and then, but I believe that she has an edge over the others in this competition. The only one who could likely get on the podium is Polina Edmunds. However, the US silver medalist has two lutzes and two flips that are often considered a wrong edge. the result is that her technical score is negatively affected by this call.


PAIRS


1.Kavaguti/Smirnov vs Duhamel/Radford: honestly, both Kavaguti/Smirnov and Duhamel/Radford could win this competition, as the scores they previously got are very similar, and technical content is almost the same for the two couples. As far as free skate is concerned, they both dare a throw quad salchow that they both nailed in their last grand prix. Duhamel/Radford have a slightly higher technical content as they schedule their famous triple lutz side by side; on the other hand Kavaguti/Smirnov have an edge on the second segment of the score due to their maturity, flow and overall skating quality.

3.Yu/Jin: the reigning world junior champions debuted in the senior circuit at Cup of China, where they made history for it being the first time a single nation got all three podium spots. They came in second there, but they didn't express all of their potential as they lost many points on an aborted lift. Assuming that they won't rank any higher than third at NHK Trophy, their goal is to score enough to get a ticket for the final in Barcelona. In order to achieve that, they will need o score more that Tarasova/Morozov did at Cup of Russia (around 173 points overall).



Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pairs TEB free skate



Stolbova/Klimov: 3twist, throw 3f, sbs 3t-2t-2t, reverse lasso, death spiral, sbs spin, choreo spin, sbs 2a, backward lasso, pair spin, press lift, throw 3s. 138.61

Sui/Han: 4twist, sbs 3t-2t-2t out of sinc but completed, gorgeous and innovative press lift, throw 3f, pair spin, sbs 3s, throw 3s, sbs spin, choreo sequence, death spiral, reverse lasso, axel lasso. Very determined to nail all the elements. 133.41 with almost 70 of TES

Wang/Wang: 3twist, sbs 3t-1t, sbs 2s, axel lasso, death spiral, throw 3f, throw 3lo, choreo sequence, backward lasso, sbs spin, reverse lasso, pair spin. Except for th side by side jumps there was quality throughout. 118.72

Scimeca/Knierim: gorgeous 3twist, sbs 3s, sbs 2a-2t (2t under rotated for Alexa), axel lasso, throw 3loop, sbs spin, reverse lasso, throw 3flip, pair spin, axel lasso, choreo sequence, death spiral. excellent performance. 120.28

James/Cipres: Angels and Demons. 3twist with a scratchy landing, sbs 3t-2t-2t, sbs 3s, death spiral, pair spin, axel lasso, throw 3lz, choreo sequence, sbs spin out of sinc in the middle but nicely recovered, throw 3s landed forward, backward lasso, press lift. 113.68

Della Monica/Guarise: Mask of Zorro. 3twist, sbs 3s-2t, sbs 2a, pair spin, throw 3lo, death spiral, reverse lasso, choreo sequence, axel lasso, throw 3s, star lift, sbs spin with great unison. they have improved dramatically from last season. 107.79

TEB ladies free skate


Elena Radionova: Rachmaninoff. 3lz-3t, 3f, 3lzstep sequence, combo spin, 3lo-1lo-3s, 2a, 2a, 3lo-2t, flying combo spin, choreo sequence, layback spin. Great performance

Julia Lipnistakaya: Romeo and Juliet. 2a-3t-2t to start, 2a-3t, flying camel spin, step sequence, 2lo, 3s, rough 3f, 3f under rotated and fall, 3lz-2t, choreo sequence, layback spin, combo spin. Spins save her, but jumps are not her usual. She has come back to her junior schedule, with many jumps in the second half of the program, but she looks incredibly tired as the program progresses. 118.39

Ashley Wagner: Moulin Rouge soundtrack. 2a, 3f fall, 3s, flying sit spin, flying combo spin, 3lo-2t, 3f-1t, 3lo, step sequence, 3lz-3t very brave but terribly under rotated, choreo sequence, combo spin. 116.39

Courtney Hicks: Anna Karenina soundtrack. 3f-2t, 3s, flying camel spin, 3lo, combo spin, 3lz-2t-2lo, 3lz, step sequence, 2a-1a, 3f, choreo sequence, combo spin finished after the music stopped. Jumps are her biggest strenght, they are very high and long. Big congratulations on presenting two lutzes and two flips 116.88

Mae-Berenice Meite: 2a, 3s-3t, 3lz turn out, 3f, layback spin, 2a-3t, 3lo-2t, 3s, problematic flying camel, step sequence, choreo sequence, combo spin. Amazing jumps, anything else was not very convincing but good jumps go a long way. 111.85

Samantha Cesario: Carmen. 3lo-1lo-2s, 3t,3f-2t, combo spin, 3lz (wrong edge), 3lo, 3f-2t, layback spin, step sequence, 2a, choreo sequence. Good jumps, average spins and steps. Loved the choreo sequence, one of the best I have ever seen, thanks to some gorgeous spread eagles. 106.51

Maria Artemieva: gigantinc 3lz-2t, 3lo fall, 3t, 3t-2t, combo spin, step sequence nicely interpreted, 2a fall, scratchy landing on the 3lz short of rotation, 2a fall, layback spin, choreo sequence, combo spin. Such a pleasant skater to watch but for some reason she can't jump with consistence. 104.11

Haruka Imai: Giselle program. 2a-3t nice and flowy, no rotation issues, 3f, 3s-2t, layback spin (quite short with no biellmann), camel spin, 3lo-2t, popped her second triple loop, 3s(< hand down), 2a. Step sequence and choreo sequence were quite slow and with no energy. Finished with a combo spin. She is very interesting but needs to improve transitions wise. TOT: 99.98

Anna OVCHAROVA: 3lz-3t, 3lo-2t (first jumps of the combos to be reviewed rotation wise), 1lz, 3lo, 2a, 3f (very under rotated), 2a-1lo-2s. 32.68 for TES

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Cup of China Men's free skate recap

Image preview

The men's free skate of Cup of China was going on in the most regular way when the most tragic warm up of the last years happened. If you didn't happen to get involved in the drama of this competition that is what briefly happened. During the warm up of the men's second group, Han Yan and Yuzuru Hanyu collided. They were both lying on the ice, when the warm up was interrupted and the injured athlets taken off the ice to be visited. 
About 15 minutes later the athletes were allowed a supplementary warm up. Han Yan, who was hit  on the shoulder and chin wasn't present, so that according to many it was clear that he had withdrawn from competition. Yuzuru Hanyu, who had apparently passed out because of a head concussion, appeared in the warm up with a bandage on his head. He nailed some jumps during those minutes but was clearly in pain. Video of the crash

As the second group started to skate, everyone was concerned with the health conditions of the two skaters and the whole competition was shadowed by the accident.
Nam Nguyen and Richard Dornbush both pulled off a very convincing free skate, with highs and lows. In particular Nam Nguyen did a similar skate as the one of Skate America with a very solid quad salchow and a couple of triple axels. Richard Dornbush, who got his first grand prix medal today, started very well but fell on a triple lutz and popped few jumps.

Han Yan decided to compete after all, and it has to be said that he tried anything he could for his crowd, but he didn't perform at his best, as obvious. Yuzuru Hanyu followed him. He proved to be able to fight during the whole program, tried two quads (he was scheduled to do three) but fell five times. He nailed an incredible triple axel-1loop-triple salchow, but apart from that the only high base value of his program held him into the second place overall. After the free skate he was absolutely exhausted, cried his heart out when he saw the result and after that needed to be carried away the kiss and cry. We could discuss if it was appropriate that his staff and the referee allowed him to skate. Brian Orser stated that Yuzuru was very determined to skate and was allowed to skate because it showed that he was not in severe conditions. However the Japanese Olympic champion is now being checked by doctors and nothing too serious should have happened.

Maxim Kovtun was the last to skate and appeared as shocked as anyone else in his free skate. He nailed a quad salchow and a triple axel, struggled throughout but managed to get his first gold grand prix medal.

Tuktamysheva wins Cup of China


Tuktamysheva performed a clean and solid free skate featuring six triples. She did a good triple toe-triple toe in the second half of the program. Her only flaw was the second lutz doubled at the beginning of the program, but considering the poor competition she has had, that was more than enough to win her third grand prix event and qualified for the final. 3lz-2t-2lo, 2lz, 3f, 3t-3t, 3lo, 3s-2a, 2a 196.20

Julia Lipnitskaia had a unexpected disastrous free skate. She started off well with a 2 axel-triple toe-double toe but then she started to struggle on every element she did. She fell on the triple salchow and triple flip, under performed the flying camel spin, stumbled on the steps and popped several jumps. Because she had 10 points lead on Murakami after the short and basically no one except Tuktamisheva delivered today, she gained the silver medal. 173.57


Kanako Murakami started off her free skate very badly landing a triple loop, a usually solid jump, on two foot and a single axel-single toe combination. After a very weak start both technique and performance wise, she regrouped and managed to mantain her podium position thanks to the gap between her and Edmunds in the short program. 169.39

Polina Edmunds came back strong after a quite disastrous short program. She nailed some very good jumping passes, such as a triple lutz-triple toe. She pulled off two axels and seven triples. However some of her jumps were under rotated and ahe lost almost 10 technical points as the judges reviewed the elements. 161.27

Friday, November 7, 2014

Lipnitskaia and Tuktamisheva on top of the Cup of China ladies short program




















Russia smashed the competition as in the others grand prixs so far. Julia Lipnitskaia performed stunningly despite she has had some problems during the early months of the season. She avoided the triple lutz, but nailed a triple toe-triple toe  and a triple flip. Elizaveta Tuktamisheva continued her winning strike with an incredible short program. She nailed everything in her program including a triple toe-triple toe and a gorgeous triple lutz.

Kanako Murakami debuted her Panthom of the Opera short program. She was quite solid with a triple toe-triple toe combination. She stepped out of her triple flip but gave an overall good performance. Gabrielle Daleman wasn't one of the most promising skater of the competition, but with prominent skaters struggling across the board she deservingly placed with a clean short program featuring a huge triple toe-triple toe.


Zijun Li was highly expected as the only female chinese skater here. She skated better considering the lows of the past season. She completed a good triple flip-triple toe but her worst mistake was on the triple loop, where she fell. That has to be said that she completed the jump in the second half of the program and preceeded by an interesting series of steps. The other elements of the program were well executed, although she finished very tired.

Polina Edmunds continued the series of underwhelming short programs in the first group of the ladies short program. She fell on the triple lutz, which was meant to be on combination, did a good triple flip yet with a slight wrong edge. The other elements were mighty good, but a fall and no combination lowered her technical score and she placed.


lipni: 3t-3t, 3lutz

Shibutanis win Cup of China short dance


Maia and Alex Shibutani performed with great passion and energy. They skated clean and scored their season best getting into first place in the short program.

Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, reigning European and World champions, had a little bit of trouble going into the twizzles and on other elements. They scored the fourth technical score of the segment and will need to bring their A game to recover an almost 3 points gap with the Shibutanis.

Papadakis/Cizeron had great ambitions in this grand prix and they performed very well technique wise. They put themselves in a good position in order to conquer their first senior grand prix medal.

Cup of China was the international debut for the newly formed couple Ilinykh/Ziganshin. Second to skate in the first group, they gave positive signals, scoring over 60 points. Their fortes were the no touch and the twizzles, struggled a little bit more on the paso doble sequences. Their performance level and their chemistry wasn't exceptional and they will need to work a lot to become world contenders, but they surely are incredible talents and have a great room for improvement.