The arena went wild last night when Alissa Czisny won the ladies figure skating championship in Cleveland, Ohio (she's from Bowling Green). She won the spectators, commentators, and myself over with a mature performance. Unfortunately, she was one of the few top ladies who didn't skate cleanly; she actually placed third in the free skate, but Rachael Flatt (who placed second in free and second overall) didn't have enough on her to win the whole thing. I was so happy to see Czisny finally do enough to win.
There are a few other amazing ladies I want to discuss from last night. A big HOORAY for Mirai Nagasu, who you may know has had a rough year. First, a stress fracture and a growth spurt. Then, poor performances in the Grand Prix. Then the news this week, with all these weird interviews about rebellion and her coach Charlene Wong saying she shouldn't be skating. Then she crashed into the boards during her short program and maybe has a bone bruise as well. It's no wonder she was in tears at the start of her free skate. And to see her quickly compose herself, and go out there and land everything, it just showed this girl has guts! It was especially ironic because the commentators were essentially saying how it would all pass, etc. Well, open your eyes, guys, she just skated a clean free skate at nationals!!! Unfortunately, she likely had some downgrades, but she came in fifth in the free skate and fifth overall, and hopefully will work out whatever demons or physical problems have been plaguing her this year.
Another HOORAY goes to Ashley Wagner, who I love, and who won the free skate last night. She wasn't perfect either, she sort of stepped out of a jump landing, but she was so impressive and I so admire her ability to come back from 12th place to finish in fourth. I am sure she is thinking of what might have been had she had skated cleaner in her free skate, but this girl is the full package. She can do the triple/triple, she has the energy, grace, and speed (despite the fact that I still do not like her Spartacus costume or step sequence!), and I hope that she does some big things next season.
And Rachael Flatt - I have to be honest, if I were completely objective (which I wasn't, but hey, neither were the commentators!) I might have given her the win. But her program components score was so much lower than Czisny's, and I agree that's something she definitely has to work on. She is beyond consistent, but her skating is just not as nice to look at as some of the other ladies, and the choreography is fine, but perhaps not as difficult, I can't tell. She has to work on capturing that audience. Sometimes she does a better job, but last night it was almost a checklist performance, and I didn't really feel anything.
Caroline Zhang came in third, and I loved her attitude in the kiss and cry, heh. She was OVER the downgrading, although some of her jumps were obvious cheats. She is so lovely!! She tries a triple/triple, which I have so much respect for (since it is rare in U.S. ladies these days, and pretty necessary to contend internationally I think), but her technique just doesn't allow the full rotation. She's so young and so little, I hope that they can fix these issues. A good performance from her.
I have to say, that was a good championship. Clean skates, fire, someone winning on the basis of the overall package and not just because she is a jumping bean...I was pretty impressed.
See the full results below. I also have some links here to articles that might interest: