The final country Grand Prix is over. The Grand Prix Final is set (until the inevitable withdrawals trickle out). Here is what I thought of Trophee Eric Bompard.
Wake me up when ice dancing is over
Ice dancing is the only event of the Grand Prix that has had zero competitiveness for gold this entire season. And although Pechalat and Bourzat have mounted a vigorous PR campaign to convince the judges that they should compete with the likes of a Davis and White, I really don't see that they're up there. That being said, the French Trophee Eric Bompard champs are a delight to watch this season. They have confidence and two good programs (I am partial to the Chaplin free dance, however overused that music might be). If anyone IS going to challenge Davis and White in the Grand Prix Final, it has to be this team.
Disappointed as I was that USA's Chock and Zuerlein couldn't climb up a podium spot and propel themselves into the Grand Prix Final, another bronze is still nothing to sneeze at. I'm actually excited about seeing the competition for silver this season at U.S. Nationals. And there's something that I really liked about Russia's Riazanova and Tkachenko, which I did not expect. Looking forward to seeing them get together a bit more and improve.
They're not tricks, they're illusions
Poor Mirai Nagasu. She has turned into one of those skaters who looks like they are skating really well and actually is leaving so many points on the table with underrotations and edge call GOE deductions. Her free skate at Trophee Eric Bompard (the winning free skate!) was a vast improvement over Cup of China. And she didn't fall. But I have to admit, from the moment she lost focus on that spin onward, I was not feeling any connection between Nagasu and the program. And I was nervous the whole time because so many jumps looked underrotated. Nagasu got credit for four triples, but one of them had an edge call so it was negative GOEs all over the place anyway. Two triples were underrotated. And of course, that spin! That spin that lost her the gold medal. Ugh. Still, it was her first senior Grand Prix medal and that will hopefully be a shot of confidence for her en route to nationals.
I have decided that Kiira Korpi's Evita program is my favorite Evita of the season (sorry, Ksenia Makarova!). She really did have some passion going on during that free skate and she sold her program to the audience and the judges. However, this was not quite a tour de force performance. The hardest jump she did was the triple loop and she had a fall and a pop on other attempted triples. Korpi's triple toe/triple toe may well be her trump card this season, as few of the competitive ladies are successfully completing triple/triples.
Haruka Imai's free skate was just painful - could she just not catch up to the music? So many errors but what struck me was how crazy frantic it was...I think she started a spin literally after the music ended. Sad follow-up to a third place short program. I thought Imai had a bit of a more mature vibe than Murakami until this free skate.
Czisny being Czisny. That's all there is to it. She managed to cling to a medal and a spot in the Grand Prix Final more due to other people being bigger messes than she was. But I could watch her free skate day in and day out. I loooove it.
Oops I almost forgot to talk about Mao Asada again. Not sure what to say. I feel like Asada exempted herself from criticism at NHK Trophy by stating that she is reworking her jumps and everything is going according to plan. I am getting a bit more of a desperate vibe after Trophee Eric Bompard, and to be honest, I found the free skate at Trophee Eric Bompard to be almost as disappointing as the free skate at NHK where she fell all over the place. I am always more disappointed by a skater who gives up on her jumps before she even tries them than a skater who falls. The Japanese nationals will determine who goes to the world championships and I would assume that if Asada doesn't make the team she might be saying adios to Nobuo Sato and moving on. I also would think she should halt the triple axel for now as she has zero confidence in them this season. But I thought the same thing last season, so what do I know...
Wow, the direct comparison of Florent Amodio's Once Upon a Time in Mexico short program with Brian Joubert's Once Upon a Time in Mexico short program is kind of jarring. Amodio seems limber, creative, and artistic. Joubert seems arthritic, dull, and contrived. I don't think Joubert is a bad skater but I think he indulges in terrible choreography. The spectators at Trophee Eric Bompard have seen the future, and its name is Amodio. The man's jumps were not QUITE as perfect in the free skate as they have been elsewhere, but they were great nonetheless. Nice to see someone feed positively off of a home crowd for once rather than crumble.
Sadly, Amodio's great skating did not necessarily mean he could contend with Kozuka. Kozuka followed up a not so hot short program (which I still hate, by the way) with a better effort in the free skate (although the quad wasn't quite there). The free skate fits him so much more and he has such wonderful components. Not sure he can share a rink with Daisuke Takahashi yet (although perhaps Amodio can, since he plays to the crowd), but when his jumps are there he is definitely a medal contender anywhere. In my opinion, the three best skaters this season in the men's competition are all from Japan.
Happy to see another medal for Brandon Mroz of the USA, although what a disappointment that he couldn't hold on for a Grand Prix Final spot. He is second alternate, I believe, behind Jeremy Abbott. I think Mroz's artistry has improved but he's still far behind the top men. Will he challenge an unsteady Jeremy Abbott and a quad-less Adam Rippon at January's nationals? The question has officially been raised. Although, Nationals are kind of Abbott's thing, so who knows.
In their next program, they will dress as anvils
Savchenko and Szolkowy are not a subtle pair (see clown costumes 2009). But I will give them credit..when they commit to something, they truly commit. Though I don't particularly like their Pink Panther free skate, every move (death spiral, spins, lifts) fits the theme that they have chosen. Which is to say...giant, slightly awkward, fuschia cat. I find them to be the most exciting pair to watch right now because they have the skills, they have the programs, and they have the presentation. They are the pair to beat this season.
Bazarova and Larionov, however, are more like the sedative that you give the Pink Panther before you take it on the plane or something. They are so calming and languid. I loved their short program here, though they had some ugly troubles in the free skate. Excited to see them in the Grand Prix Final. How will they fare against a team like Sui and Han, who have the bigger tricks but none of the presentation that this Russian pair has?
Germany's Hausch and Wende were also a joy to watch here...they didn't have a perfect free skate either but they just seemed so confident and they went out and grabbed that bronze medal by the throat. And would not let it go, wonky lift dismount be damned.
I was 6/12.