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Thoughts on Skate America

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Skate America!  You are done.  Some dreams are lost and others have come true!  For joy!  Let's see...

Opportunities Lost

The Chance for Oda to take Gold

Wow, I hope Daisuke Takahashi puts a little thought into the thank-you gift he inevitably has to buy for Nobunari Oda, after Oda served up Skate America on a silver platter.  Oda added a combination to his last jumping pass, but he had already maxed out on the number of allowed combinations, so the entire jumping pass was null.  And, apparently, Oda has done this before!  The look on the poor guy's face when he figured it out was priceless. ODA!!!

The Chance for a Worthy Follow-Up to Out of Africa

Savchenko and Szolkowy's (second) free skate last season to Out of Africa was extremely well-received.  It was among many bloggers' favorite programs of the year.  It was subtle and heartfelt.  This season, the pair has decided to go in a different direction in their free skate, with The Pink Panther.  I pretty much assumed I wouldn't like it when I heard that, and then when I saw the costumes (HUH?) I figured I would not like it more.  Then it started and it wasn't as bad as I expected...but there were also moments where I felt like I was watching a really bad comedy routine.  I suppose they were trying to be playful, but for about 40 percent of the skate it didn't work.  I just don't think comedy is necessarily their thing, or if it is, they are not quite there yet with this program.  As for their skating overall?  Wonderful.  These two are amazing and intimidating.

The Chance to Make the B List

OK, so I feel like this was a chance for Denney and Barrett so assert themselves among what I am thinking of as the "b level" pairs, like Moore-Towers and Moscovitch, as well as Yankowskas and Coughlin.  But they could not do it here.  Their components are just about even with M-T/M, but their technical elements are too easy in the short program (where they tend to skate better, go figure) and they have been making too many errors in the free skates to keep up.  And if I had to pick an American pair to watch, right now, Yankowskas and Coughlin are much more vibrant than Denney and Barrett.

The Chance for Double Bronzes

Poor Adam Rippon.  He started out on track for another medal here after a satisfactory short program but, then...wow.  Let's hope he can somehow Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind that free skate out of existence.  It never happened, Adam.  Shake it off!

The Chance to Make me Love their Tango

I really like Davis and White's short dance (although I am not a short dance fan, still), despite Charlie White's twizzle mishaps.  But I am just not feeling their tango.  I think it will be like a work of art that I will appreciate but never want hanging in my living room.  Samson and Delilah and Phantom of the Opera are hard to forget, though.  Also unfortunate was the fact that they had a fall in the free dance here, but so did the other top team, Crone and Poirier.

The Chance to Finally Win a Grand Prix

Ohhh, Rachael Flatt.  Reliable Rachael.  Reliable Rachael is making a habit of underrotating her jumps.  This time, we'll blame it on the tendinitis in her left foot. But we will file it away in our Reliable Rachael filing cabinet.  Fortunately for Flatt, she is also making a habit of winning free skates.  She is like the anti-Mirai Nagasu.  She should have won here.  Judging from the way she skated in the free skate, she had the capability to do a clean short...and she did not do it.  And this one was her chance to win.

The Chance for a Double Gold

Carolina Kostner did not have a disaster here, but she did squander another good short program by looking much more like her old self in the free skate.  On a personal note, I am not on board with everyone who loves her free skate.  But Kostner's is still a bandwagon I'm not jumping on.  Although I am starting to think she may be on the world podium again this year.

The Chance to be Part of the Pepsi Generation

Poor Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates.  That is all I can think of when I watch these ice dancing competitions.  This was their chance to prove they are part of the new crop of ice dancers who will rule the sport in a few seasons and Bates's injury has denied that chance.  SAD.

Day, Consider Yourself Seized

Young Guns in Ice Dancing and Pairs

Kudos to Maia and Alex Shibutani on picking up a second bronze medal. And to Wenjing Sui and Cong Han for showing that they are no fluke and that that technical base score is not to be trifled with.  And congrats for ALMOST landing a clean throw quadruple salchow here.  Additionally, Canada's pair of Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch now officially have a better Grand Prix record than Dube and Davison did for the past two seasons.  The judges like them.  They really like them. 

Daisuke Takahashi doesn't earn Program Components; Program Components earn Daisuke Takahashi

(It doesn't make sense so don't try). Takahashi outscores all the other skaters here by a large margin when it comes to components.  Normally, I think it's a bit sketchy when a skater scores that much more.  But here, I just cannot argue.  When you compare his performance to even a brilliant technical skater like Oda, he is just so much better to watch.  And it's not in the creepy Evgeny Plushenko "I'll flirt with the audience by swinging my hips twice and watch how the points roll in" way. Rather, it's in the "I am going engage the audience every second of my very difficult program and not waste a moment where I could be doing something AMAHZING because I know that I should not only pay attention to the audience but also respect them enough to actually do something challenging" way.  That is my take, anyway.  That's why, even when the jumps are not good for Takahashi (and they were NOT last weekend), he'll still be in the mix.  Although this time, he should not have won...but for Oda's mistake.  ODA!

Kanako Murakami is like a Pixie Stick in a Can of Four Loko... that has been shaken up for like three hours

Murakami had another jazzy short program that captivated the audience and another so-so free skate.  But, Flatt couldn't make up the ground and Kostner blew it and Joshi Helgesson couldn't have overcome Murakami even if she hadn't placed fifth in the free skate.  And that's why Murakami has won the first of what I predict to be many Grand Prix events.

Alright Sweden!  Takin' over the Top Six

I am not usually a Helgesson person.  But to have a pair of sisters both finish in the top six here is amazing.  And for Viktoria Helgesson to come out and place third in the free skate must be a confidence boost for her (especially coming from 12th place after the short program).  I enjoyed watching Joshi skate in Portland as well, although I don't necessarily see her as Grand Prix medal material quite yet.  But that third place finish in the short program shows that I may not know what I am talking about.

Ladies, Making me Forget NHK

Ah, the ladies have been shaping up much better than they were at NHK.   The count of credited triples (that did not end in falls) in the free skates for the top ladies:

Kanako Murakami:  Five Triples

Rachael Flatt:  Five Triples

Carolina Kostner:  Three Triples

Joshi Helgesson: Four Triples

Amelie Lacoste:  Three Triples

Viktoria Helgesson:  Six Triples

That's what ARMIN Talkin' About!

I like Armin Mahbanoozadeh, but what I like the most is the quiet and GLORIOUS way that he skated at this competition.  (I will try to ignore the fact that he skated to Avatar, music that doesn't do it for me).  He is a beautiful skater and he deserved every moment of the standing ovation he got (only trouble in the free was a popped lutz at the end, but he completed the combo on that).  Was Mahbanoozadeh not invited to two Grand Prix events?  He pointed out on his Twitter yesterday that he spies a few openings at Trophee Eric Bompard. Let's hope that means that he will be filling one of the slots.  He deserves it. (UPDATED:  he just tweeted that there will only be one Grand Prix this year, so I guess he won't be skating at TEB.  Oh, well) Despite being ten points behind Oda in program components, he still almost matched his total free score on the strength of his technical elements. Of course, that's because Oda's last combination didn't count.  ODA!