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Cup of China Thoughts

I know you are all hear to talk about Adelina Sotnikova's post-apocalyptic Bolero short program, and I won't stop you.  What an odd presentation.  She is so powerful and SOLID and fast and it was very much a "here I am, I have legs for days, deal with it" type of program (you know, those are so common)...but the jumps were not with her and so it wasn't effective.

And I think that's the story of a lot of skaters out there right now.  Without their powerhouse jumping, there is not much to recommend them (see Gachinski, Artur, free skate).  

Let's get pairs out of the way.  Pretty dismal, in my opinion.  Evora and Ladwig of the US have such great moments in their programs where they shine (mostly during lifts) but they just can't pull a full program together (or cleanly enough) that will compete with the top second-tier teams.  It's unfortunate, because I feel like the door was fairly wide open here for the bronze. Evora and Ladwig actually did fairly well (if not perfectly) in their free skate but they still came a couple of points from getting on the podium.

I was impressed with Russia's Kavaguti and Smirnov overall (although not with the height on those triple twists, so low!), but their Clair de Lune free skate was kind of a beautiful snoozefest.  I am fine with what they were trying to do with their Joe Satriani short program...it was a departure for them and I think it worked.  But I still have not seen too many pairs programs that I really like this season.  I think these two did a nice job here, but when you compare them with the technical ability of Savchenko and Szolkowy, they will not measure up.

Zhang and Zhang of China were themselves...powerhouses who may not have the connection of some other pairs but who will get the job done because they are awesome.  

I found Moore-Towers and Moscovitch to be disappointing this go-round.  They had none of the magic in their free skate that they displayed in their first Grand Prix appearance this season at Skate America.  Of course, they got the same color medal, so I guess it doesn't matter.

Back to the ladies.  This was actually not to bad at the top - Carolina Kostner and Mirai Nagasu both turned in nice performances.  Nagasu was  plagued with her edge troubles and Kostner was not perfect, but they both put together two nice skates.  I really love Kostner's free skate and Nagasu tried a little harder with hers here.  At the start she had some lovely facial expressions but she really does drop them not too far in.  Sotnikova was fine but not as impressive as countrymate Elizaveta Tuktamisheva.  She has so much potential, though.  If she lands those jumps, the pressure will be on.  Poor Kanako Murakami of Japan did not look good.  Some have pointed out that she appears taller - I just found her to appear very unrefined.  Last season that short program really sold her because she didn't have to be elegant...but the free never worked for me.  This season, she is trying very hard to look grown up, but she doesn't hit nice positions and when her jumps fail, she has nothing else.  

Similar disappointment with Christina Gao.  I thought she came out looking much more grown up last year but she seems to have stagnated and it still seems like she's in that gawky stage or something.  Her skating has not quite matured to where I thought it would be.  She's 17 now but I might guess she was younger.  Of course, she was coming off of an injury from the summer so that didn't help with the development.

Men! Ok, I really and truly loved Jeremy Abbott's free skate.  I am not sure the last time I did not like a Jeremy Abbott free skate, but this one I wasn't sure I would like.  And then it just perfectly highlights his beautiful smooth skating, and it made me happy.  His quad troubles did not make me happy, however.  I was also a bit disturbed by the sloppy jumping and wow...he did not land a triple axel in that free skate.  This was kind of an amateur night league during the free skate, so I'm glad he won because he should have won in this crowd the way people were skating....but you'll notice he only came in third in both the short program and the free skate.  Despite the gold medal, a worrisome start. 

Good for China's Nan Song for jumping the heck out of that free skate and winning it...two quads and two triple axels will do that for you. 

I honestly cannot remember anything about Nobunari Oda's two programs.  That's probably not promising.  He did not complete a quad here. 

And as mentioned, without his quad, Russia's Artur Gachinski looks much less like a champion.  Mini-Plushenko indeed. 

I'm not really sure what to think about the ice dancing.  I have never been a big fan of Russia's Bobrova and Soloviev.  I think they were overscored (how do their twizzles have such high grades of execution?  They are never in sync!  But they are fast).  I thought their short program was more interesting than the Shibutanis and that they were taking more risks.  I didn't see why they got such a higher program components score than the Shibutanis in both phases of the competition.

The Shibutanis looked very slow in the short dance.  They were technically sound but it wasn't a fabulous performance.  Their free dance is fine but safe and boring at parts (although Bobrova and Soloviev's seems just very heavy and kind of a mess at times).  I thought the Shibutanis looked better in the free dance but maybe they are going to have to take a look at those programs - there's obviously something missing from the judges' perspective.  They also received much lower levels on two elements in the short program than B&S, and they got credit for fewer elements in the free dance than the champs did.  I am sure they are going back over those programs with their coaches with a fine-tooth comb to wring more points out of them in the future.  But right now, I think it's safe to say that once again, Virtue and Moir and Davis and White are the only real games in town.

Predictions:  4/12 OY