Philip Hersh had some things to say about the ladies at Four Continents this weekend. He had a glowing review of Caroline Zhang:
Caroline Zhang's free skate could be a transformational moment in her senior-level career. No matter how you looked at it, the 15-year-old Californian moved with far more confidence and speed than she had at any event since her brilliant 2007 junior season. This may have been good enough only for fourth, behind three contenders for world medals, but it was a big step upward for Zhang, especially after her slow, robotic performances at the U.S. Championships. Zhang finally seemed able to let herself go.
I am always impressed by Caroline's grace on the ice but I haven't been impressed with her as a competitor this season. Does anybody who was actually able to watch the skating (unlike myself) agree with that assessment? I will have to Youtube it, because if she has really had some sort of a breakthrough, it gives some hope for next season.
Hersh also said something to say about the other ladies:
Mao Asada of Japan and Kim Yu-Na of South Korea are exceptional skaters who almost certainly will finish one-two, in some order, at worlds. But I would get a lot more excited about both were they to get through a competition without a major error.
Kim won the Four Continents title despite falling in the free skate. Asada finished third because she fell in the short program and then won the free skate even though she turned an individual triple toe loop into a double -- to an elite skater, a double toe loop not at the end of a combination is ridiculous -- and a double Axel into a single. Asada won last year's world title after recovering brilliantly from a complete splat on the first jump in her free skate; Kim wound up with the bronze because she splatted in the short program.
I have to agree, is it too much to ask that people have some clean and not watered-down skates? Are the technical demands for the ladies too high (because they obviously aren't for the men) these days? I think both Kim and Asada are amazing and when they're clean they are mesmerizing, but there are definitely a lot of errors going on. Still, these two seem almost unbeatable, despite their mistakes. That's the level of their abilities.