Skate Canada was pretty interesting and, wow, what a successful competition for the home team! I liked seeing a bunch of new skaters win medals but I do wonder if they will be competitive on the larger scale this season.
The ladies competition here was much better than at NHK, in my humble opinion. Alissa Czisny's two programs fit her so well and were lovely, just like she always is. She actually fought for a few landings until she brought us back to reality and sat down on her final triple toe. But, she landed five triples (including a lutz and two flips - take that, Carolina Kostner!) and only recieved a downgrade on that fallen triple toe. Her components scores were great (although I don't remember seeing any particularly amazing transitions into jumps, which had long setups, but it was probably more noticeable with Czisny because everything else she does is so beautiful). Would she be able to compete with a clean Mao Asada or a triple/triple landing clean Rachael Flatt? A definite no for Mao, at least.
Overall, the ladies were pretty impressive. Ksenia Makarova fought for her jump landings and usually it worked enough to land the jumps, although she lost a lot on GOE. She was about ten points from Czisny in components, which is stark but Czisny is tough to compete with. Makarova skated to Evita so she and Kiira Korpi can have a blonde ambitiou skate-off later in the season. American Agnes Zawadzki was particularly impressive in the short program; free skate did not work out as well technically; a fall and lots of doubling and bad landings. She looked fairly unpolished to me in presentation so hopefully that is something that will come with more experience. The judges liked her spins but that spin where she lifts her foot over her head while she faces it really looked almost out of control. Canada had a medalist in Amelie Lacoste and she has a solid free skate (as far as the choreography) but she had many areas for deduction; she kind of got lucky because short program leader Cynthia Phaneuf and Zawadzki did not do as well in the free. Japan's Haruka Imai actually came in third in the free skate. And for those desiring a count on credited triples (excluding falls) in the free skate:
Alissa Czisny: five
Ksenia Makarova: seven (including a triple/triple)
Amelia Lacoste: four
Cynthia Phaneuf: two
Haruka Imai: six
Agnes Zawadzki: four
What a difference a week makes.
On the men's side, I was very happy to see Nobunari Oda have a successful competition. He has too much talent to go out the way he did at the world championships last season. What a great short program. The program itself was fine if not particularly memorable, and Oda has to be careful not to just start blending into it rather than standing out, but he was great and his beautiful skating came through. In the free skate, Oda just held onto his quad and then had a lot of beautiful jumps and a fall on the triple axel. Similar to the short program, the free skate was nice but not special and he didn't perform it as well as others could have. That's why he can't always measure up to some of the other skaters. I am in love with Adam Rippon's short program and he had a great one performance-wise. His free skate had only one error but did not have a quad, which did hurt him here. He's got some tough jumping in there, though. Great job. Lots of arms over the head in both the short and free skate...I am wondering if that is helping his GOE? I also kind of thought that Javier Fernandez managed to make a way overused piece of music (Pirates of the Carribean) slightly adorable.
In pairs, I loved seeing Canada's Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, replacements for Jessica Dube and the injured Bryce Davison, win the free skate with their dynamic Les Miserables routine. They had a fall on the triple salchow but they kept my attention the whole time (the music helped) and they had some great lifts. Lifts were a fun spot in the pairs programs overall; lots of unique positions. The Russian gold medalists, Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze, seemed to lose a lot of steam halfway through their free, although their unison at the start of their program was so impressive, as was their awesome triple twist. They had a bad landing on a throw triple and another shaky landing, along with little troubles here and there. But they have some really nice qualities. And wow, how different was their free skate style from that of their Marriage of Figaro short? I preferred their free but the short was cleaner.
Nice job by Crone and Poirier for winning the dance competition in their home country. I really liked their Eleanor Rigby free skate, although it wasn't performed as well as I would have expected and I was a tad surprised that their GOE were that high on all moves. But they only got scored for seven elements (as opposed to eight) so it's even more impressive that they won. I didn't like the part of the song where the lyrics came in...could have done with just instrumental on this one.
So impressed by Chock and Zuerlein for winning bronze, and for Chock's adorable short dance outfit. Also, I actually remembered enjoying their short dance, which is a win for me. And Canada's Paul and Islam had the free dance of their lives, actually coming in second in the free with their enchanting As Time Goes By free dance.
The pairs competition overall was very sloppy...although that's not so unusual for pairs, I guess. I enjoyed watching so many pairs I haven't seen much of but when I thought back, overall, I can't say that these folks could compete with Pang and Tong and Savchenko and Szolkowy anytime soon. I was sad to see Canada's Paige Lawrence and Rudi Sweigers have such a mistake-ridden free skate. The beginning to their vampire free skate was pretty cool. And Americans Marissa Castelli and Scott Schnapir had many errors in the Avatar free skate, including a fall on the throw triple axel. They had entered the free skate in second place after a solid short (but a program I didn't love to Pink Floyd), so it's too bad they couldn't medal here. Also, they seem a bit fixated on Castelli's extension; pretty sure she was in a split position for a good minute and a half. If you've got it, flaunt it. And then beat it to death.
Cynthia Phaneuf looked gorgeous in the short program (not sure what was going on with the costume, but she just looked so pretty). And her skating was so great! I am pretty sure she got a good old Canada bonus on that score, but then she just had a terrible free skate. What a wasted opportunity.
Short dances are still boring me to tears. Even the good ones are not very exciting. Hated to see Kerr and Kerr make that mistake on the lift in their free skate - I feel like whenever the door is open for them to really take advantage of a competition they end up making a mistake like that. But they do have some awesome moves in the free skate.
I used to be just so in love with the way Patrick Chan skated. Then he started getting overscored. And he started giving really obnoxious interviews. And he could not skate a clean program to save his life. So I have been a bit wary of Patrick Chan. His "Take Five" short program here was a disaster (he fell twice and stumbled once for another deduction). I think the program was extremely cheesy and not at all up to par with some of his other work, and I also thought it was way overscored in components for this performance, to the point where I was maniacally laughing as the scores came up because it was so business as usual. So, that brings us to the free skate. Chan is using his free from last year, which I think was a beautiful program that he never really skated to the best of his abilities so I'm find with him reusing the music. Chan landed an absolutely perfectly wonderful quad. It was amazing, it was the kind of jump that makes me shocked he could ever miss. Then he had a perfectly typical fall on his triple axel right after. Then he racked up some unearned GOE points on his triple lutz, which had not the smoothest landing but was definitely clean. The footwork in this program is superb. And he had two triple axels planned, and landed the second one (not wonderfully but landed it) and finished the combo. So that was great. He later got downgraded on a triple toe, and none of his landings were great on the jumps. I would say he was padded a bit on his GOE here and there. But overall, this is a great program and he performs it so well, and it was nice to see him do the quad. He might be winning me back, but my goodness, wouldn't it be nice to see him skate clean for once? I think the judges are doing themselves a disservice with Chan. There is no need to prop him up - mark him fairly and he will still be ranked higher than most others whether or not he falls here and there.
Congrats to the home team for winning five medals here, at least one in every discipline. However, the pairs and ladies bronze medal performances were not really great and I would hope that such showings will not be good enough to medal in future competitions.
I actually had another great week on predictions. 9/12.