Monday, February 11, 2013

TSL: Four Continents Ladies Recap


Our recap of the ladies event at the 2013 Four Continents Championships. 

43 comments:

  1. Christina Gao is giving me a bit of a Lu Chen vibe this year, and it's not just because of the half-sit spin. She has a flouncy, up-and-down kind of style. Maybe she needs a Sandra Bezic to show her how to dial things up. And I really can't fathom why her coaches took away her 3flip-3toe this season.

    Agree with pretty much everything y'all said, especially that nationals needs to be moved up if the U.S. wants to send its top singles skaters to 4cc. However, I do like the idea of it being a sort-of mini-worlds for our second-tier skaters who need the exposure/experience. But if other countries are sending their top talent that may not be the best strategy.

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    1. I get the Lulu vibe from Christina, too. Good call - now, yes, dial up Bezic and get the sexy back.

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  2. Nitpicking: Aren't everybody's "Keys To Success" is to skate two clean programs? ...Well, I do agree Akiko need to at least skate a free skate program some time soon to compete with the top ladies.

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    1. Nitpicking: Your second sentence makes zero sense.

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    2. Nitpicking: You know what I mean. Just comprehend.

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  3. I live for The Skating Lesson.

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  4. Akiko's long program this year is simply a dream. Definitely my favorite LP this season, especially since Wilson's gotten a little lackluster with Yuna's (though, it's not entirely his fault). Anyway, her peacock dress paired with the whimsical music makes for such a delight.

    I agree that we got a glimpse of Old Mao back. Yuna can still definitely beat her, but the fact that she didn't fall apart after the mistake on the 3A signifies that her confidence is back and her arsenal of jumps is almost ready!

    If we're talking about North American rivalries in terms of new senior skaters (Gracie and Kaetlyn), I think I'd have to pick Kaetlyn. Both seem to have presence on the ice, but I think Kaetlyn's more likable--haven't seen a bitchface from her yet. But I digress (perhaps a little too much). When Gracie's jumps are on, it is indubitable that they are amazing. On the other hand, Kaetlyn has so many transitions--there is no doubt that her choreography's better than Gracie's.

    I wish Christina would work on her speed. Her skating seems a little slow, but she is beautiful to watch. I agree on the tango part. Girl, if you can't WERQ it, don't do it. Hope she gets her 3F+3T back though.

    Zijun Li was like a fairy in her LP. Classic Chinese beauty too, I think. Very good for her to get that 2A+3T and 3F+3T. Ans sad for Kexin Zhang and her mistakes.

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  5. I feel like I'm watching a CNN-like analysis of the competition.

    I love it.

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  6. I agree with Jenny and Dave about Christina Gao. She's just isn't engaging enough for a FS. Consider that she's an "artistic" skater, her posture is piss poor. It shows how sorry of a field the ladies US skating is that there are complaints about Gao not being higher.

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  7. I love your recaps, too. I agree with most of what you say, except I wasn't that impressed with Mao's long program. I'm happy that she's happy, but the bottom line is that she only did four clean triples. Yu Na never gets < calls, does she? Mao has positioned herself to beat Carolina Kostner. That is the best I can say for her program. But having said that, I'm generally glad to see you accentuate the positive a bit more than in the past.

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  8. Jenny was fantastic in this piece. Really showed off her knowledge of the sport and how direct and articulate she can be; add to that she is very comfortable, cool (and of course, beautiful) and I could easily see her having a lot of success in broadcasting if she so chooses. Also love the term "Zhoosh" or however you say it that she used. Cannot say enough with how impressed I was with her here.

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    1. Much prefer AJ/Jenny real-deal commentary to Sandra & Scott's valium-induced, sugar-coated platitudes any day

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  9. I live for these recap/analysis shows. I might even love them more than the interview. Love the balance of Jenny the former competitor and Dave the extremely knowledgeable fan/blogger. These are the perfect length and I cannot wait for you guys to delve into Worlds!

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    1. I really appreciated hearing them talk about jumping, the problems of using one's shoulders to jump instead of legs (etc) - I don't think I've ever seen a TV commentator get into that and it was really informative.

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  10. For me, the big thing with Christina is how much she has improved this year. Yes, she still lacks star power, but in the past I found her rather ungainly and listless, and now I see some real focus and some polish. It gives me faith in her ability to continue to grow.

    I think too much credit is still being given to Gracie. Everything but her jumps are lacking and her performance ability is just poor. I also will say I find it questionable to skate to the Life is Beautiful soundtrack with a big sunny smile (considering the film is about the holocaust). The choreography to Jeremy Abbot's LP to the same music was a masterpiece and maybe Gracie should check it out and try to internalize some of those emotions.

    As for the top ladies. Love Kanako's LP - her technique's a little wonky but she performed it really well. Didn't like her SP at all though - maybe she should stay way from lyrical stuff. Akiko has the potential to do all things well but does not really have a wow factor - like a straight B+ student. Mao does have some real breathtaking qualities but feel like her programs were just so-so and she has exceptionally questionable taste in costumes - she should get some tips from Akiko.

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    1. Tarasova gave her her new FS costume as a gift. How is she supposed to say no? All of her questionable costumes that I have seen have been designed by Tarasova who has NO taste. The feathers make me want to scream.

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    2. Although Tarasova may not be the greatest designer in the world, many of Mao's questionable costumes are based on her own preferences. The SP costume is her own choice. Mao also loved the Olympic LP costume.

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    3. Mao's costumes:

      Masquerade LP (2008-2009)
      - Black lingerie
      http://www.sanspo.com/sports/images/090207/spm0902071600008-p12.jpg

      Masquerade SP (2009-2010)
      - Mint green
      http://imgnews.naver.com/image/001/2010/03/26/PYH2010032615140001300_P2.jpg
      - Pink
      http://www.sanspo.com/sports/images/091024/spm0910240917008-p1.jpg

      The Bells LP (2009-2010)
      - Japan Open
      http://image.sports.livedoor.com/photo/7/2/72b3a09bb0015cb2502be78955cfc681-o.jpg
      - Olympics
      http://www.sanspo.com/sports/images/091019/spm0910190503003-p5.jpg

      Caprice SP
      http://image.sports.livedoor.com/photo/5/3/5389331a008b35a4e96c72f37827b434-o.jpg

      Tango SP (2010-2011)
      - Worlds (absolutely unthinkable. shouldn't have been aired on TV)
      http://dl3.getuploader.com/g/maoisyou/313/005.jpg
      http://photos.skatetoday.com/albums/11Worlds/2011-WC-ladies-short-5-169.jpg

      2012-13 SP
      http://i40.servimg.com/u/f40/16/50/91/70/mao00110.jpg

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  11. Dave always has this look on his face like he just seen a ghost. He should work on that. It is quite distracting.

    1. Christina Gao. Sorry, don't see her making the Olympic team. She'll be second alternate if she's lucky. She's boring to watch, her skating leaves quite a bit to be desired, and she still hasn't gotten rid of that gangly look on the ice. Her extension leaves much to be desired. Her DA is terrible, and she has a Flutz. Those are huge TES and PCS hurdles to overcome and she simply doesn't have enough time to do it before the Olympic Trials.

    It's easier to be more consistent with an easier program. Wonder how consistent Wagner would have been in the GP if she was consistently going for a 3/3 and DA/3T in her programs...

    2. Gracie Gold: Her inconsistency puts the US in a volatile position. If she can improve her Choreography in the next year she'll be the only female skater the US has that can compete technically with top skaters like Kim and Asada (more on that), however, she obviously can implode and we all see the effects nerves have on her technique. It completely breaks down when the pressure is on. That is something her coach will have to work on. Perhaps being in a more competitive environment with other top skaters is something that could help her... It doesn't seem like she has that at her home rink...

    3. Asada: She cannot be relied upon to rotate her triples fully. It's nice that she went for broke at 4CC, but she wouldn't have done that if she didn't have almost a 10 point lead after the SP, cause she's quite aware of her jumping issues. Against skaters like Kim and Kostner she simply cannot afford to give away points in GOE and URs/Downgrades by going for jumps she can't rotate. She has to maximize whatever she can do flawlessly (which, in terms of jumps, is not really much). Her spin positions are great but Kim has better centering and speed on her spins so they cancel each other out. Kim skates faster and doesn't telegraph nearly as much as Asada.

    If Mao doesn't do the 3A in the SP then her easier combination and solo jump (since her Flutz is a built in deduction, she never uses it in the SP) will give Kim a built-in edge in both TES and PCS (due to Kim's better transitions in and out of jumps and better speed, etc.).

    Basically, Asada will need the skate of her life to beat a clean Kim, because the judges are seemingly less inclined to ignore her jump/UR issues like they were in 2009/10. Kim doesn't have that issue, and since her jumps are so much better than Mao's, she will basically gain almost an extra 3TL-worth of GOE over Mao in the FS - unless Mao delivers something she hasn't been able to deliver in years (disregarding URs the judges have overlooked).

    4. I think Osmond is overrated and her coaches have overloaded her programs in an attempt to pull her up to competitiveness, but it doesn't seem to be working nearly as well as they'd hoped. I think sometimes less is more. A lot of junior skaters tend to overload their programs with steps, so when I see a frantic program like that, it makes me think I am watching a Junior competition.

    She has good qualities, but she's simply not on the level of the top ladies. Same can be said for Gold. They are both better than Gao when they don't *massively* implode, though - easily.

    I'm thinking Gao will have to wait until after Sochi before USFS will allow her to be competitive with those top spots, and hopefully it's because she will have improved her weak areas by then. The US doesn't seem as well set up for the future as Russia or Japan - especially Russia, since they seem to have an endless supply of phenoms cropping up.

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    1. Great analysis! Thanks!

      GOE on a triple jump is now factored by 0.7 so that Yu-Na is not capable of garnering as many points based on GOE as she used to. She also cannot use 2A-3T after the rule changes. Her spins were not looking great this season so far. So I predict that Yu-Na will be much less dominant than she used to regardless of her superior jumps and skating skills.

      Re Mao- I think Mao is taking too much risk. Her planned 8 triple program is great on paper, but the reality is the she's completed only 3 clean triples at every international competition she's entered this season. She's winning everything based on PCS, spins, and steps. She says that her chances of completing all of her most difficult jumps (i.e., 3A, 2A-3T, and 3F-3Lo) are about 30% at practice. In competitions, she popped 3Sal three times out of four, under-rotated 3Flip five times out of 12, and popped 3Lz twice out of four. Base on these statistics, I predict that she'll have a three triple program as she did at 4CC and all the other competitions. Prior to 4CC, her coach said that the chances of her completing her difficult elements were "like lottery." My guess is that he lets her do it probably not because he thinks it the most strategical route, but more for her motivation and for the experience for Sochi. Based on her past behaviors, I predict that Mao will go for them at Worlds no matter what regardless of the condition, which will open the door for her competitors.

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  12. Lol how does Kim have better centering on her spins? And her spins aren't as fast as they used to be this season. And the judges no longer overlooking Mao's underrotations? *Roll eyes* Please look at past protocals before making such statements.

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  13. Dave: Love the idea of TSL. Jen is really getting great at broadcasting. I think you deleted my other post asking you to retract your statement re: Cancer program as a sponsor. I want to ask you what you actually do for a living? The job that pays the rent and of course your great skating coach? Post some more clips of your lessons. Those are fun to watch and may encourage adults to take lessons. Don't get mad, but what is wrong with your eyes? Do you have a condition? They keep bugging out and I think viewers would over look it more if they knew the truth. If you want to be private, totally understand. I am all for health privacy but just wanna ask. Will check back here later tonight. Thanks again for these podcasts/blogs.

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    1. I didn't delete any such comment. I assure you it is still up there. There joke wasn't meant to be offensive, it is just unusual to see Cancer in the name of a title sponsor. I fully support Cancer research. I am a paralegal in real life. As for my eyes, the muscles got used to being held in a certain way when I was over-prescribed adderall in college. It is something Jenny is dying to grill me about when we interview one another during the off season.

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    2. I love how anon at 3:57 manages to be an asshole, lack a sense of humor, be rude and be paranoid that their post was deleted. All at the same time.

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    3. Dave, if you get some distance from the camera, you're gonna be ok^^
      By the way,Anonymous(February 12, 2013 at 3:57 PM)
      You are very Rude!

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    4. Many of the great ones have those same eyes. Having you, Tony Dungy, and Dominique Moceanu's husband all looking at me at the same time would be quite an intense experience.

      Maybe you guys could transfer some of your intelligence to me through your eyes.

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  14. I love how people are chiding Anon 3:57 for being rude to Dave. Um hello? Have you ever read this blog or...for pete's sake looked at the title of this blog? He's making fun of Nicole Bobek's mother's deceased partner.

    Dave has dished out plenty of stuff far worse on this blog than what he received from Anon 3:57 and I'm sure he would defend his actions by saying that rude or insensitive comments are one of the perils of being in the public eye and he would be correct. So...

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    1. He isn't making fun of her aunt. He is making fun of the fact that people didn't know what to refer to gay people as in the nineties, so they referred to Joyce as her aunt to make them more comfortable.

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    2. Well that's good to know, but still doesn't negate the fact that Dave has said a LOT of rude and offensive things about a LOT of people on this blog through the years, which was ultimately the point.

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  15. This site has been acting up and erased my post twice. I'm the anon who asked about the eyes. He is an adult male and I'd respect his decision not to comment, but come on the pic is there for us all to see. I have never heard of that from Adderal but it's good to know so a big thank you for that. I have seen unusual eye issues like this frequently in my work with those who have mental/emotional issues, so no, I was not being rude and I did mean it that I liked his skating lessons vids. More people should be brave to try things.

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    1. Maybe you should think about emailing people privately if you want to know whether or not that have some mental or emotional issues? You also seem constantly paranoid that your posts are getting erased. Did you meet people with eye issues in group therapy or something?

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    2. To 3:44 AM, I don't want to get into responding to the commenters on here but to clarify what I meant was the site or could even be the internet somehow was erasing the posts while I was working on them. More of like a system error on my side or maybe the site was busy or who knows, not that I was paranoid that it was being done on purpose.
      Plus, aside from some of the nasty comments the blog owner has made and others here told him the same thing, I am a fan and wish TSL all the best. I didn't know how to email privately and wasn't intending to get into the issues that far unless he wanted to discuss it but I get what you mean.

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  16. One more thing is that I think it is FINE and appropriate to refer to someone close as an aunt. Straight or not. I think you can keep your private life in the bedroom to yourself if you want and nobody should question as I know 2 kids who were really destroyed when the truth came out that the parents, in one case mom and the other dad, had a same sex partner. Having said that other kids don't seem as affected and some spoiled brats are angry even if mom meets a nice new kind husband and so on. Let's not hate. Let's all get along.

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  17. Lol some of these commenters are special. Who the fuck cares about his eyes? If it bothers you so much, don't watch.

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    1. Lol and if people's comments bother you don't read them.

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    2. The bottom line is AJ and Jenny have killed it yet again. They continue to kill it, as AJ did with this blog in its heyday. They are quickly becoming two or the most influential voices in skating because they match intelligence with honesty and humor. I believe AJ and Jenny both make each other better in many ways. AJ is more positive and going on camera. Jenny is being more hard hitting. They've improved in the six weeks they've produced this show. It is remarkable because they live in different states. There is obviously a serious work ethic that goes into it that I don't think many of the commentators appreciate. Agree or disagree with what they say, you're all watching and reading.

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    3. I also think they have run the Manley Woman out of town. She hasn't posted a podcast since they started and they quickly have matched and outdone her audience. I simply don't think she can compete. I get the impression that Manley Woman is very competitive and it is clear that AJ and Jenny are as well.

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    4. I don't know how busy MW (ManleyWoman) might be in real life, so I would cut her some slack when it comes to her podcasts. Of course it'll be hard to compete--TSL has two hosts, not one; AJ and Jenny's workload is halved.

      I actually like AJ's blog posts and formspring interactions much more than MW's podcasts back when he hadn't yet teamed up with Jenny, but this is my personal preference. However, I also fully appreciated MW's interviews, especially with people who were not the usual subjects of skating interviews. It was nice to learn about the Ice Capades, FS broadcasting, and other things I never knew before.

      MW has a different approach from AJ and Jenny to interviews, and that's okay for me. I like the variety. Perhaps the launching of The Skating Lesson is prompting MW to deliver even better interviews than she has previously recorded, and that's what she's working on right now. The bottom line for me is that I hope these great people continue to churn out quality work.

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  18. Sometimes when people win you don't necessarily have 'it'. You can have a lucky day or lucky skate only to never win big again. Whatever spark Tara had when she was little is gone and Sarah had jump after jump for one skate then got lucky when the better skaters messed up.

    All these skaters need is one great day with others making mistakes to win. I think this is what the U.S. is counting on. That seems to be the goal of the U.S these days.

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  19. Thank you Jenny, for analyzing Mao's jumps! That was quite insightful. Many of Mao's programs tend to look almost clean, which might make one wonder why she doesn't get the tech marks she might have deserved. It's insightful to learn that Mao rotates her upper body faster than her foot (if I am understanding correctly of what you said). This creates an illusion that she's completed the rotation when she actually has not. It looks like her 2A-3T is getting closer and closer and I wish my very best in rotating on her jumps at the coming Worlds!

    I have a concern about her speed. I acknowledge many of her nice qualities such as the effortless flow and the ability to do difficult footworks. But during her FS, she looks slower than most of her competitors. I understand that she's being tentative setting towards the difficult jumps, but she's also slow at other parts of the program. What factors might be affecting her slower speed? Is that due to shallower edges, less power, less stamina, or combination of all? How can she improve the speed? Does anyone have any ideas?

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