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What I Learned From Cup of China

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(Aside from the fact that Icenetwork hates me, that is).

Even When She Doesn't Skate, Mao Asada has a Bad Week

The Japanese Skating Federation is supposedly putting a great emphasis on Grand Prix results for Olympic team selections. And if that is truly the case, then Akiko Suzuki's Cup of China victory is another blow to Mao Asada, who failed to medal at her two Grand Prix events. Suzuki looked very good here and she kept me interested in her "West Side Story" free skate even though we've heard that music a million times. Unfortunately, she had relatively little competition in China; it will be nice to see her skate in a competition where people are performing better and see where she stacks up. But this, coupled with last season's NHK Trophy victory, have to make a good case for her for one of Japan's Olympic spots.

Cup of China Judges Love Them Some Kiira Korpi

There is a little known bonus in the scoring system. It's called the tall(ish) blonde bonus. Really savvy judes know of it. The last time they used it was in last year's Grand Prix for Carolina Kostner. I'm pretty sure it exists, or else I have no way to explain the scores Korpi garnered for her lethargic performances and not so pretty jumping. I mean, no speed coming out of those jumps whatsoever. I don't think her program components deserve the scores that she gets at all. And those cheeseball arm movements she was doing have not been seen since my first grade tap recital. As Kelli said at State of the Skate, it's really hard to say who else might have won that silver medal, but I still would have scored Korpi lower.

The American Ladies are Still in Trouble

Great short program by Mirai Nagasu, but there is a bit of immaturity that pervades her skating for me. Usually she gets away with it by being so darned adorable. But in the free skate, it made its way into those jumps and it was downgrade after downgrade. Not strong.

As for Rachael Flatt, as Jennifer Kirk points out, Flatt usually uses her technical consistency to benefit from others' mistakes. In that case, this would have been the perfect competition for her. But unfortunately, a lot of the mistakes being made here were hers. That made her weaknesses even more pronounced, as well as the weaknesses of her programs, which were not very special. When you skate to "Sing, Sing, Sing," you have to work it, and Flatt did not. I also did not see her costume or hairstyle as meshing with the big band era at all in that program.

Evan Lysacek was Good, but Oda has the Judges (and me) Charmed

I liked Nobunari Oda's short program at Trophee Eric Bompard. I loved it here. If he skates as well as he has been, he can compete with Plushenko, especially if he gets that quad going. Oda popped a triple axel in his free skate, and did not perform it with nearly as much spunk as at TEB, and it was still very good. Lysacek had some not so attractive jumping and downgrades in the free skate, but overall I thought it was a good showing. I thought both of his programs were good, and gotta love the patented Lysacek step sequence ending on his free skate (although he is going to have to get those levels up!). I was nervous looking at the scoring; Oda just seems to have the potential to score so much more than Lysacek. It will be a tough season for the World Champ with all of these great competitors but not a bad start.

Feeling Kind of Bad for Zhang and Zhang

Well, maybe this wasn't their best. But Shen and Zhao are looking good. They were strong and only got stronger as the free skate progressed. That competition should give them a lot of confidence as we move into the season.

Belbin and Agosto's Free Skate Did Not Fit Me Just Right (my search continues!)

Although I did enjoy it. But...not sure where I would rank it against Davis and White and Virtue and Moir (although I think maybe V/M is still my fave thus far). It seemed like Belbin and Agosto were working a bit more at theirs and weren't as comfortable with lifts and such. I think I'll like it more as they get a bit more experience performing it.

Predictions?

I had eight podium spots picked exactly right, although I guess they were easy. Overall, I chose nine medalists. I did quite well although I am annoyed at how poorly my ladies podium came out!