Friday, November 19, 2010
Thoughts On The Grand Prix
Yu-Na come back...
In all serious, there is a feeling of a void this Grand Prix season. Phil Hersh writes about his sense of weariness in his latest blog entry, but he makes a mistake when he points out that the Olympic Champion wasn't even on the radar at this time four years ago. Yu-Na Kim was the reigning World Junior Champion and debuted on the Grand Prix that fall, winning Trophee Eric Bompard and placing third at Skate Canada. She wound up winning the Grand Prix Final and TEB was not the last event that season.
As far as ladies skating goes, the top four are not themselves. Carolina Kostner won NHK with the technical content necessary for gold at 1987 Worlds.
I have struggled with how to put this, but Rachael Flatt's career continues to be a sad case. Flatt is a Tom Z student, so her skating skills and PCS are extremely poor for this level of competition. Her lack of speed does not help in remedying why audiences find her to be so dull (which her mother certainly reads on message boards.) The commentators discuss her "sassy" soccer mom haircut. While she finally has a dress that fits her, her programs are unimaginative and off the mark. Slaughter On Tenth Avenue attempts to create a character, but a gun shot and five seconds of personality do not make an entire program entertaining. Rachael skates into jumps and spins out of character. While some skaters are able to grab the emotion of the audience and the music by charging into a spin with dramatic changes of position, every Flatt does are merely adequate. While she seemingly landed seven triples at Skate America, two wound up being downgraded. Given the depleted field, this was her big moment to win on the Grand Prix circuit. Based on the blahness of the performances this season, it is possible that Flatt will place in the Grand Prix Final. The final won't mean much once Yu-Na is back and Mao's jumps are consistent again.
Kanako Murakami has added some joy to the circuit, but she is very much a junior skater. She is not yet at the level of sophistication needed to win in a normal field, nor is she delivering the performances that would normally earn a gold medal on the senior international circuit.
Yuzuru Hanyu is a great addition to the men's field, but he is being buried at the always curiously-judged Cup of Russia. His line and sense of music and style are a welcome addition, but his speed and command of the ice need a year or two before he can reach his potential.
The result of the ISU's decision to inflate the value of the quad and minimizing the penalty for missing it has led to skaters performing sloppily without repercussions. Patrick Chan and Daisuke Takahashi have won with several falls and significant errors. The clean program is no longer valued or rewarded. A skater like Nobunari Oda has been more consistent, but he is a skater with the performance ability of Tatiana Malinina. It is difficult to feel bad for Oda after his loss at Skate America due to performing too many combinations, because one would think he'd get the memo after missing an Olympic Team. He officially trumps Johnny Weir's reluctance to perform three-jump combinations.
One of the biggest things missing this season is personality. With more reserved cultures emerging at the top of the ranks, outward displays of emotion are not what they were during the era of Russian and North American dominance. Also exacerbating this lack of personality is the short dance. It is difficult not to be let down by the short dance after a year of Bollywood and Aborigini. Love or hate the ethnic Original Dances, they were certainly entertaining and attention-grabbing.
The choice of the golden waltz as the compulsory pattern for the short dance only adds to the snoozefest that has been dance at most events this season.
NHK remains the most exciting Grand Prix event this season.
The USFSA did not waste its sure bets for medals on the Cup of Russia, as the event has always been political in the vein of Skate Canada.
Jeremy Abbott has been performing well, but we are left crossing our fingers that he will miss a jump or two in order to save his winning programs for later in the season.
While Agnes nailed her technical elements at Cup of Russia, her PCS remain among the lowest of the day.
It leaves us with the theme of the season: Leave Tom Z. Run.
Unfortunately, the sloppy success of Patrick Chan remains a giant middle finger being flashed on behalf of Skate Canada's newfound political power. Groan.