Sorry these updates are not timely; I realized it would be nice if I had actually seen some of the performances and could give at least a little bit of insight. You all must know by now that Japan's Mao Asada is finally a world champion. I think we've all been waiting for this since she was too young to compete in 2006 Olympics and everyone was questioning how legit that competition was without her. Second place went to Italy's Carolina Kostner, and South Korea's Kim Yu-Na actually won the free skate which catapulted her into the bronze medal position. Unfortunately, I have only seen the short programs thus far, so I will give my take on that and write more on the long programs later.
Anyway, I have to say that short programs are quite interesting under this code of points because the difficulty range is so much starker. You used to see most of the big names doing the triple lutz/double toe combo, with some really going for it with a triple lutz/double loop. Now, it's all different combinations, some doing triple/triples, some triple/doubles. I don't see how the ones not doing triple/triples think they can keep up with the likes of girls like Mao Asada, who completed a triple flip/triple loop combo.
I must say, I think Carolina Kostner was a bit overscored - I was surprised she was ahead of Asada after the short program (she stepped out of her triple lutz!) but the announcers said that Asada didn't hold her spirals long enough so I guess that lost her points. Kostner did, however, land a triple flip/triple toe combination and she has some great speed and nice jumps when she lands them right. I think she got extra points for skating to "Riders on the Storm" by the Doors, which, I guess I can't really argue with cause that's kind of awesome. Although it was the muzac version.
The judges also seemed a bit unduly under the spell of infomercial goddess Kiira Korpi (will she ever live that down? Not on this blog). She is absolutely gorgeous so I can understand the distraction, but she also, she did a triple lutz/double toe and almost crashed into the boards, and her other triple was a triple LOOP!?? and I just cannot believe she was in fourth place going into the long program. It seemed like everyone was just smitten with her. I guess a pretty face (and a grown-up woman's body!) will still get you far nowadays in this sport of girls and jumping beans.
I thought Asada was great - she had so much speed on the ice it's like a breath of fresh air.
Kim Yu-Na didn't have the same speed and energy and I think she was lucky to be in "striking distance" since she wiped out on a jump.
Japan's Yukari Nakano was lovely to watch but I she's another one who was completely overscored - a triple flip/double toe combination? Is this 1988? How is that acceptable and how did she get placed in the top six for that, let alone the top three?
Reigning world champion Miki Ando was unfortunately forced to pull out of the long program due to injury, and probably received the short program placement she deserved at 8th place - she was a bit all over the place with her spins and spirals and certainly didn't seem to enjoy herself.
Another thing I noticed in these championships were the lack of amazing spirals. I don't remember any that stood out for me and many were shaky and completely unimpressive. I hope that people work on that - it was always a joy to watch in Michelle Kwan or Sasha Cohen's programs. I hate shaky spirals! Kostner almost had a nice spiral but she didn't hold it long enough for me to enjoy it.
As for the Americans, they were obviously an afterthought in this competition. None of them did triple/triples in the short program, although they all completed their programs without major error. I enjoyed watching all three but that's not enough to give any of them a chance to medal in a world championships anytime soon.
I should also mention that obviously when I talk about placement, it means nothing anymore, since the points are everything. But it's easier for me to type out 8th place instead of going into points values most people (myself included) won't understand out of context anyway.