Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Cup of Russia Wrap Up
Kavaguti and Smirnov were the undisputed highlight of last weekend after The Cup of Russia proved to be another utterly sloppy event. It will perhaps best be remembered for the number of withdrawals in the Ice Dance event.
What did we learn?
Patrick Chan continues to average four falls per competition. He managed a bangin Quad Toe+Triple Toe combination but the Triple Axel continues to plague him. As always, it boggles the mind that we live in an age where a skater who falls so often is ranked so highly in the world. His artistry isn't THAT good.
It may be good that Jeremy Abbott will not make the Grand Prix Final. Jeremy is happy that he finally medaled at both of his Grand Prix assignments, but he is understandably disappointed with his free skate.
For a skater who has had months of equipment troubles, extra training time at home could be just what the doctor ordered. While he clearly let the program get away from him, I was impressed that Jeremy put out the quad. Jeremy's best qualities aren't always aptly rewarded by the judges, but PCS is somewhat reliant upon consistency. By putting the quad out there, Jeremy got over one mental hurdle. He also went for a Quad and two Triple Axels, which he did not attempt when he won his second national title.
The equipment issues may be a blessing in disguise, as they could lower expectations for Jeremy and keep him from peaking too soon. When at his best, Jeremy is certainly contending for a spot on the rostrum. Life Is Beautiful is a perfect vehicle for Jeremy Abbott. Kudos to David Wilson for bringing out Jeremy's warmth and gentility.
It is more than a bit curious to see Agnes Zawadzki struggle again in the long program after producing a consistent short. Agnes appeared to have a strong warm up prior to taking the ice. Her coach is known for his use of negative reinforcement. If anything could come out of this, perhaps she will realize that a coaching change is necessary if she wants to contend with the best in the world. Agnes was certainly not a "short program skater" last season. Strong shorts and bad longs are a sign that something is awry. Tom Z's skaters are known for practicing full run-throughs, so one needs to wonder if nerves are the issue. Her PCS are noticeably weak, which means that she needs the jumps to place well.
According to Tara Lipinski, Ashley Wagner "wants it" too badly. It would certainly make sense, as she is using almost the exact music cut Kristi Yamaguchi won gold with 18 years ago. Ashley's overly-exuberant reaction to a performance with a fall is certainly troubling. The girl acted as though she just won a National Title. While the performance was an improvement, it was far from what is necessary to compete at the highest level. She remains a skater in desperate need of her own style. Her Led Zeppelin program was a step in the right direction, but that was kiboshed by the powers that be.
It remains extremely depressing that Miki Ando manages to collect title after title with uninspiring skates. Being the "best of the rest" is not much consolation when one has witnessed her winning a World Title in the past.
Kudos to Evora and Ladwig for managing a medal on the Grand Prix. They are much more polished and up to snuff than they were a season ago. If they remain on this course, it is quite possible that they could earn their first national title. I must admit that Nessun Dorma is one piece I never want to hear again. While I once enjoyed the music, Meno and Sand ruined it for me. We've all had more than our share of the Ginger G+G over the years. Evora and Ladwig's lifts never get old, but their last lift reminded me far too much of the infamous 'swoop' exit Scott Hamilton gasped over at every available opportunity. "Don't try this in your living rooms."
With so many withdrawals in the dance event, there isn't much to say. One must wonder about the future of Faiella and Scali. The judges may have given them a 'Worlds In Italy' boost a year ago, but that is certainly not the case this season (nor do they deserve it based on their performance.)
Bobrova and Soloviev grow on me more and more each day. One must note that the free dances are supposed to have distinct differentiations in tempo, but theirs does not. Tanith even mentioned that she'd like to see more variety in terms of expression but that it wouldn't necessarily be appropriate given the mono-tempo program.
One thing I will never get used to is hearing that ice dancers need to be "more like the North Americans." I'm sure the Eastern Bloc isn't used to it either. Tanith was dead on when she said that Ilinykh and Katsalapov's Don Quixote is simplistic in terms of transitions. One almost doesn't care about their lack of power and difficulty after witnessing Elena's gorgeous posture and extension. Almost.