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Additional Analysis of 2010 World Championships

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Dice-K

I would like to congratulate Daisuke Takahashi for being the only competitor to truly come out and win this championships (Asada did amazingly as well, but those downgrades are way too costly!).  He truly peaked at the right time in what must have been such a difficult comeback from major knee surgery.  He had the jumps and the components, and the artistry, which is something we can't really say for the other competitors at this competition.  I am glad he is talking about trying to defend his medal in Tokyo next year, because it means another couple of Takahashi programs that we get to watch next season.  It also means he held off Patrick Chan for another year, and I'm not sure if I could have handled the Canadian media/quotes from Chan that would have accompanied a victory. 

Redemption?

I wonder if the worlds medal for Joubert and Mao Asada's win offer some sort of redemption.  I am not sure anything could make up for the Olympics (particularly for Joubert whose Olympics was not respectable), but I suppose the storylines gave people something to write articles about. 

The Predictability of Ice Dancing

Davis and White versus Virtue and Moir has been the only true competition in any ice dancing event this season.  And when Virtue and Moir won the Olympics you had to assume they would win worlds.  But I have to say that Davis and White's free dance was absolutely spectacular - that will be forgotten among Virtue and Moir's Olympic victory and overall victory at worlds, but man, everyone should just go watch that free dance one more time.  Davis was literally bleeding afterwards...these kids throw everything into their work.

What does this mean for Nagasu?

Count me among those who were super worried that Mirai Nagasu was in first place after the short program.  I didn't want a "too much too soon" situation for her because I honestly think she has a lot more growing to do as an artist, and she truly can get to that great status when she's a bit more mature.  I also worried because of how poorly she handled winning nationals in 2008...she was a wreck the next season due to physical issues but also inability to deal with the expectations.  However, I didn't expect her to have a program like she did in the free skate in Torino.  That becomes additional evidence that Nagasu is afraid of the pressure or cannot handle it - coach Frank Carroll said she was scared heading out for the free skate.  I hope she can bounce back from this and realize it was just one skate in her very first world championships.  She showed so much potential at the Olympics...hopefully she can continue on the path she started there, and forget about Torino. 

...and for Flatt?

I am starting to doubt that Rachael Flatt has the goods to medal on the world stage right now.  I mean, it seems obvious that the international judges would rank a clean Flatt behind an inevitably flawed but acceptable skate by someone like Laura Lepisto or even Carolina Kostner when she isn't having an implosion.  And then when Flatt errs, she's obviously lucky to even make the top ten.  She is going to have to make some major changes in order to truly compete on this level.  It becomes difficult when your entire chances of medaliing depend on other people screwing up. 

...and throw in Abbott for good measure

Jeremy Abbott appears to be an on-ice basketcase.  Granted he was underscored in his short program at worlds (Johnny Weir thinks he was being punished for his poor showing at the Olympics).  I almost could not watch him in the free skate, he shows every inch of self-doubt and depression on his face throughout his programs.  He may have finished fifth here, but I assume his psyche is every inch as delicate as it was after the Olympics.  He needs some sort of sports pyschologist or something...anything.  He is better than the way he is performing these programs.  It's so sad when skaters who have all the goods to win competitions cannot live up to their potential, but we've seen it so many times now that I will have to try not to get myself so excited when I see him on the ice.  SAD.

Adam Rippon and Michal Brezina, welcome to the show

Michal Brezina has the jumps and the ability to land them, although he left his quad out of his worlds programs.  All  he has to do is work on his style and choreography...I find him captivating so he really has to take advantage of that. He's been consistent all season and by no means came out of nowhere at worlds.  Rippon, on the other hand, needs to become more consistent with his jumps.  When he lands them, they are gorgeous, and his overall skating is sublime.

Mao looked mad in her kiss n' cry (Mao versus Kim Protocols)

She lost the free skate to Yu-na Kim, who not only fell on a jump and waltz jumped in place of a double axel walleyed a planned double axel, but who also was missing a lot of emotionaly intensity she has had in the past and at times looked to have given up on things.  However, our expectations are so high with Kim that whenever she does not live up to what we have seen her do in the past, we get upset.  For example, although she does often make errors (I believe that the Olympics were the first time I can remember seeing her skate without any sort of error in either of her programs), she skates like she didn't do anything wrong.  You forget that she even fell or bobbled or skipped a jump because she skates like a queen, literally.  And her movement is so beautiful that it's mesmerizing.  But here, she couldn't quite sell it like she normally does, so despite all the beautiful moves, it felt like a flawed performance.  And that really is all about the performance (well, also about the two major errors, but you know what I mean).  So I tried to look at Kim's scores in relation to the other skaters, rather than to what I know Kim can do, if that makes any sense.  Also, I don't think this showing (which after all, won the free skate and the silver medal) in any way tarnishes her legacy or her Olympic gold.  And I don't think it's necessary to continue speculating on why Kim competed in Torino and how much pressure she's under and how she couldn't find the motivation to train after the Olympics - there are plenty of reasons why all the skaters did not skate up to their potentials.  She showed up, she'll get judged on what she did on the ice, and that's that.  I don't think anyone needs to worry that people will think Kim is not a great skater now, or something.  She's obviously a great skater.

Anyway, to the scores.  I'm not even bothering with the technical scores.  This is a story of living and dying by program components.

Choreography

I'm not going to argue with the choreography comparison between Kim and Asada (8.15 to 7.55).  That's a big difference but you have to take into account how perfect Kim's program is for her and how sublime it is.  I would argue that Asada's is not appropriate for her and it's not an amazing program by any means.

Interpretation

On this night, I don't see the justification for the difference in scores (Kim: 8.45 to Asada: 7.90) - in fact, right off the bat Kim lacked her normal commitment to the movements (and musicality) and there were times when she literally stopped skating, like after her triple salchow.  I was unsure for two seconds what would happen next.  Even her gorgeous footwork lacked her normal spark.  Compare that to what Asada did on her footwork, which was very strong and passionate.  And if you're either solely a Kim fan or solely an Asada fan, you'll obviously strongly agree or disagree.  But in that free skate, I would have thought Asada would score more than Kim in this category.  And I'm not sure if I would ever have said that at another time.

Skating Skills

These were very close (Kim:  8.35 to Asada: 8.25) and I can't really argue with that.

Performance

Tie - 7.95 each.  I think Asada spends the first minute of her program focusing on her triple axels, so it takes her a bit to sell the program.  But Kim lost her way at the end after her salchow fall.  Still, I think Asada did a better job performing overall - she definitely showed more passion that night.  She should have had the higher score. (Again, others will think that Kim could sleep walk through a program and still outperform Asada, and vice versa.  But this was my view on the night). 

Transitions

Kim (7.75) to Asada (7.40).  Again, I won't argue.  I think Kim's transitions are absolutely fantastic and she obviously did (most of) the same transitions here that she normally does - although she probably scored lower in this free skate than normal.

Overall, Kim bested Asada in program components 65.04 to 62.48.  I think the judges got it wrong - even if Kim should have won components, she shouldn't have won them by that margin.  I think Asada should have won the free skate (updated just to make sure I had that line in).  I also think this further proves how important it was that Kim skated so well at the Olympics, because she was probably going to win no matter what (and she probably would have deserved to) and sometimes it gets a little confusing for the audience to see someone make major errors and still beat somone who appeared clean.  In this competition, Asada was lucky to be so far ahead of Kim after the short program.  Hopefully Asada will start working on her components and get her triple/triple back, because she has a ways to go in order to be truly competitive with Kim again.

But whether you thought the Kim/Asada scoring was right on or flawed, please tell me you agree that

The Lepisto bronze medal was the most inexplicable medal of the championships.  Am I right?  Three triples?  And two of  them were toe loops?  For her next trick, Lepisto will compete in the 1987 world championships, because I think that's about her competitveness level right now.  I tried so hard to figure out what it was about Lepisto I don't like, because she's graceful and she is a nice skater and seemingly inoffensive.  I think I am reacting to what I consider to be overscoring by the judges.  The same thing happened with me and Carolina Kostner a few years ago. 

Anyway, your 2010 world championships are over, as is the skating season.  Were these worlds fodder for those who think post-Olympic worlds are ridiculous?  I think, yes, but the joy of seeing Takahashi made it worth it for me.  And to see Pang and Tong rewarded at the end of the season.  And to see people like Brezina and Ksenia Makarova skate well. 

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