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Rostelecom Cup Thoughts

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Rostelecom Cup may have seemed like a bit of a nightmare at times, but it did indeed really happen.   (Although the sports of men's skating and ice dancing would probably like to erase it...)

The most prominent sign in the arena was for Evgeny Plushenko.  So that's all you need to know right there.

Worst competition so far for the men!  I mean, any competition with Patrick Chan is automatically going to cause me agita.  That is the way it is these days.  And I am so hard on him now, too.  He has such gorgeous edges and he has some beautiful jumps and spins.  And then I was watching him skate Phantom of the Opera here and I think he really does skate with little to no soul.  He makes what he thinks are faces that are the right emotion for the moment, but I would never get lost in it and forget that it is the great Patrick Chan skating.  He reminds me of a precocious child who knows how "talented" they are.  Like a little girl trying out for Annie.  This is Patrick Chan to me. And he never seems to care that he fell.  He is always like...ah, falls happen.  Yes, Patrick.  They do happen.  But they happen to you a lot.  To be honest, I can't really complain too much about him medaling here considering the competition.

Pulling myself out of that rant, let's get to the facts.  Chan fell three times in that free skate.  And in the short program, he scored the same amount on the triple axel that he fell on than Jeremy Abbott did on the triple lutz he landed (the judges were a bit much giving Abbott negative GOEs on that landing).  If that isn't evidence that something is wrong with the judging system, then I don't know what is.  Jeremy Abbott fell twice in the free skate, and had a lot to say about why.  He is still having boot problems, and I am starting to worry that he won't iron this all out anytime soon.  Scary.  Czech Republic's Tomas Verner deserved to win, but his free skate is a glorified exhibition and it is also kind of boring (and the jumps were not so good last weekend but then, whose were?).  I still find Samuel Contesti quite entertaining although I may never be able to take him seriously.  I think I'm a little cranky. 

Overusing Claire de Lune is fine with me

I have to say, I thought Evora and Ladwig's short program was light years better than it was at their first outing.  But then they got downgraded and their spins are not great.  The free skate was flawed but good enough to get second in the free here.  And they didn't let the errors ruin the whole program.   I'm very happy that they medaled, but I also think it was a weak field.

Takahashi and Tran of Japan continue to do nothing for me.  And her behavior in the kiss n' cry after the free was kind of annoying, although I get that she was excited.

I thought Kavaguti and Smirnov's free skate was lovely.  No one gets their spins as in sync as those two.  And have we seen the end to the throw quadruple salchow from them?

Miki Ando:  iron woman

Skaters never get enough credit for skating through injury and boy did Japan's Miki Ando look in pain here.  And she skated pretty well regardless.  I don't like the short program and she said in an interview that she might be changing it, so, yay!  Good for her to power through the pain and skate clean like that. 

Akiko Suzuki, I would like you to be my new best friend, please.  Suzuki is an absolute joy.  She has two good programs, she skates with emotion and elegance.  She won't always land all the jumps, and she will pay for that.  But she will always be entertaining and I can't wait to see her in the final.

I am so happy to see Ashley Wagner medaling again.  Her short performance was a vast improvement over her NHK Trophy performance (although this was not a new program for her so it should be very comfortable). She seemed to feel the music much more here.  It was a good job overall and I'm glad she took advantage of this opportunity.  I am very worried that she is still plagued by downgrades and edge calls.  Those will always make a difference.

Russian ladies were quite the disappointment here.  I adored Sofia Biryukova in the short program, although she seemed to run a bit out of speed at the end.  She seemed to have no energy at all in the free skate.  She could barely stay on her feet to bow to the crowd.  And Alena Leonova and Ksenia Markarova were complete nonfactors here after medaling in prior competitions.  What a disappointment for the home country. 

Agnes Zawadzki has some great jumps but I would love Tom Zakrajsek to invite someone to his rink to work on these ladies' postures.  It seems to be a recurring problem for all of his female skaters.  I think Zawadzki has a lot of maturing to do.  How sad to have an even worse free skate than before.

Italy's Valentina Marchei obviously hates me because she chose to skate to Requiem for a Dream despite my consistent pleas to all of the skaters to never skate to that ever again. Ever.  But she did pretty well, I guess.

Triples Count:  Another great day for triples in the ladies free skates.

Miki Ando:  Five Triples

Akiko Suzuki: Five Triples

Ashley Wagner:  Five Triples

Agnes Zawadzki:  Three Triples

Valentina Marchei:  Five Triples

Sofia Biryukova:  Four Triples

If more than 25 percent of the ice dance competition drops out, does it still count?

Unfortunately, yes.  And I don't know that the quality actually dropped with the loss of those teams (sorry, guys).  Let's start at the bottom of the podium:  Russia's Ilinykh and Katsalapov had a terrible short program.  It was a combination of them not being that great (and not together on their moves a lot) and a few disasters...a fall and what appeared to be an aborted lift.  Somehow they managed to claw their way into third place after the free dance (and by "somehow" I mean, "thanks to the other teams dropping out,").  Their free dance is much better than their short, though.  Russia's Bobrova and Soloviev won the event. This team's success is a bit of an illusion... It does not directly correlate with their development as dancers.  Their twizzles are being done in different time zones.  They don't appear to be comfortable in what they're doing the way other top dancers are.  But, that all being said, they deserved the win here.  Hungary's Hoffmann and Zavozin I actually quite enjoy watching in both the short and the free dances.  They have personality and a nice style.