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Some more thoughts on the World Championships

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The world championships wrapped up last weekend. Here are some of my additional thoughts on the competition.

Pairs

Orange you glad you aren't as addicted to tanning as Caydee Denney apparently is? She's the only one who got more tan once she moved away from Florida. It's a bit distracting. Other than that, they have obviously stopped Yankowskas-fying Caydee and she has gone back to letting her hair down. But let's get past the style and into the substance. Denney and Coughlin hit pretty much everything (well, they had a popped axel that I barely even noticed) and looked great doing it (except the lifts, I hate her lift positions).But they still only came in eighth in the free skate. I'm not sure I would agree with that given some of the sloppiness of other pairs, but their weaker basic skating is going to hold them back.

I was impressed with Sui and Han landing their quad salchow, though judging from the scores, the judges were not as impressed. Unfortunately, these two obviously could be skating without music and would probably look the same, but I can't wait to see them develop (and since they are a Chinese pair, I assume they will stay together for many years) and see how they mature as a pair.

Volosozhar and Trankov pulled it back together in the free skate but a little something was still missing for me. I swear out of sync spins really take the wind out of my sails or something. Anyway, I think these two were so nervous after the disaster of a short program but I did love seeing that smile after the last throw jump. And pretty much everything was right on other than those spins, so I can't complain about their amazing comeback. Good for them. Next year could be the year they break through for gold. I was surprised that they did QUITE so much better than Savchenko and Szolkowy, but they came in with a much higher base score, partly because of more robust jumping content. And they were the obvious winners on the night. Only a tiny bit more and the would have had the gold.

The second-to-last group was very good but that last group just did not show up or something. Bazarova and Larionov were back to their normal mistake-ridden form; the absence from competition caught up with Pang and Tong; Savchenko and Szolkowy were not bad but had a couple of deductions (some wonky spinning and a jump error); Takahashi and Tran had some rough jump landings but were able to pull it together and took advantage of others' mistakes. The highlight here for me was seeing Volosozhar and Trankov almost pull off the win. And also, was nice seeing poor Kavaguti and Smirnov come back from having the ice open up and swallow them (or whatever it is that Smirnov accused the ice of doing) in the short program. But I must say, Takahashi and Tran, as young as they appear out there, have really won me over with their free skate this season. Congrats to them on their bronze. It wasn't a clean program, but I enjoy watching them.

Ice Dancing

I don't know what to say. I've watched Davis and White and Virtue and Moir's free dances from worlds a couple of times now, and I don't see how Virtue and Moir's free dance gets even the same grades of execution and program components as Davis and White's, let alone a few points higher. Sorry, friends, I'm sure many of you disagree with me. But I truly feel that Davis and White's program was better executed and better choreographed and more difficult. This is one of those times when I wish I knew more about what goes on behind the scenes in this sport, because I just do not get it. And I won't even get in to Pechalat and Bourzat. I guess they were fine though not great. I have never preferred Weaver and Poje to them until this competition, so kudos to Weaver and Poje for winning me over. Though it could be because I hate Egyptian-themed programs.

The Shibutanis must be disappointed with their showing but they made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes in the free dance. It was probably not for the best that they did so well on their first time out, because now the failures will sting that much more. But Hubbell and Donohue had an auspicious worlds debut as the third US team.

Men

Gosh, I loved Michal Brezina landing that quad salchow - the LAST jumping pass in his short program. Often people will throw a quad at the beginning and then the rest of the program falls apart. So it was very sweet to see him land that. Too bad he can never keep up through the free skate anymore.

Jeremy Abbott.

Adam Rippon will never get the scores he needs to compete with these folks unless he adds a consistent quad. That's my verdict on him. Not really relevant as an international player right now. And he is particularly not relevant when he makes the mistakes he made at worlds and comes in 16th in the free skate.

What to say about Patrick Chan? Let's say what we always say. He has absolutely glorious skating skills and he landed some nice jumps and has exceptional choreography and is nice to watch and he made some faces at the right moments in his programs. He wasn't perfect but he deserved to win.

But the one who won the emotional vote for me and those in the arena was Daisuke Takahashi, as he usually is. He had what seemed like an amazing performance, and yes, there were deductions here and lower grades of execution there and it didn't matter at all to those who saw him skate. He creates some amazing moments out there. And he was not going to be able to catch Chan. So I will try not to ask what drug a person would need to be on in order to give Chan higher performance scores than Takahashi, and higher interpretation scores. I won't ask that. Nope.

What a nice job by Yuzuru Hanyu, winning a bronze medal off of a great technical performance in the free skate. He is another skater who has grown on me by leaps and bounds this season, and I guess he's grown on the judges as well.

I was very impressed by the Frenchmen as well. Brian Joubert and Florent Amodio turned in nice performances (including a quadruple salchow from Amodio), though it would not be enough to get them on the podium. And it's going to be difficult for them to do that worlds from now on with their relatively low program components scores. Although the fact that Joubert gets a similar components total to Jeremy Abbott is appalling.

Which reminds me. Jeremy Abbott. I do like that he appeared to have some fight in the free skate. But...sigh. That is all. Just, sigh. Actually, le sigh, because this was in France.

Ladies

Should I not complain that this year's ladies champ Carolina Kostner only landed four triples? And did not do a triple lutz? Should I be happy that this year's ladies champion wore a catsuit? And had a nice enough but completely unmemorable program lacking any attack? I don't know. I don't know what to think.

The highlight for me was Ashley Wagner's free skate. She really fought. Though she had an underrotation on one of her triples and an edge call on the lutz. But it was a gutsy performance. We did not see much of that at this championship. Also, she landed six triples, and that doesn't include the underrotation. So I am not loving the fact that she did not edge Carolina Kostner on the technical score, though Kostner is a neater skater. I am also a bit shocked at Wagner's components. I can take her being five points behind Kostner there, but is she really nearly eight points behind her? I mean, that's a bit much.

I was very pleased to see Akiko Suzuki win a bronze medal with one of my favorite programs of the year. I hated seeing her pop that lutz at the end but she pulled off her final triple loop. Overall it was a fun program and what a great thing to see her break through to the podium.

Mao Asada...I don't know what to say about her. She is another one who doesn't seem to have much fight these days. I am so over the triple axel that I feel like I have not only divorced it but I've also gotten remarried to a triple/triple combination. And I'm pregnant with a flutz.

Alissa Czisny.

Have to hand it to Alena Leonova. What an amazing short program - such attack and fire! And then she was not perfect in the free skate but she landed a ton of triples. She's not my favorite to watch but she earned her silver medal.

And the United States keeps just two slots in next year's single categories at the world championships and it seems like we are lucky to even have those at this point.