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.


  1. Oh Phil Hersh is ALWAYS weary. Today was the best Ladies competition on the Grand Prix. The first two skaters out of the gate landed clean 3T-3Ts.

  2. Well, I like Rachael's programs. I am not a fan of her skating, but I am not so clouded by bias that I cannot appreciate what she is trying to do. The audience rewarded her great long program performance with a standing ovation. Her silver medal is more the result of botching the short than because she is "dull". Yes, she is at a disadvantage because she lacks flexibility and other "it factors", but she does her best to make up for it. Nobody's a perfect skater. Rachael is currently the most successful US lady on the GP. That is not too shabby.

  3. Patrick Chan ia a disgrace to the sport. Carolina Koster and the Finnish girls' jump ability is at juvenile level. But they keep on winning and winning because of the so-called 'skating skills'. PCS, my ass!

    Flatt is a lost cause, so boring. Zhang needs to go back to school. Her body type is more suitable for Judo these days...

  4. To the poster above: How is Patrick Chan a disgrace to the sport? It's not like it's his fault that he gets overscored. The judges are the ones that are the disgrace.

  5. Don't people always have a XXXXX come back mantra every Grand Prix season? *confused*

    And anon, bitch, like Carolina or not, her skating skills is by far the best. I'm by no means a fan of hers but Caro's skating skills is something very few skaters can match up to right now. With her poor jumping ability, everyone else should be capitalizing on that but very few have, ie: Kanako.

  6. I MISS YU-NA!!

    ladies figure skating is so mediocre without the Yuna-Mao rivalry :(

  7. Can somebody explain to me the appeal of the 2-costumes-in-one type costume Abbott is sporting in the SP?

    I adore Abbott but I just don't get it.

    And Oda...the first time I ever saw him skate was doing his Chaplain routine at I think the Cup of Russia last year - alas I didn't know his utterly charming persona there was the exception and not the rule. It's really frustrating seeing somebody like that failing to make use of their strengths. I wouldn't mind seeing him stupidly throw away points every now and then if he would just put some thought into selling his programs.

  8. At least Rachael tries to sell it.

  9. You mean ladies figure skating is quieter now that the fan wars has cease fire. :P

  10. While I normally find Flatt awful to watch, I enjoyed her at Skate America. Unlike AJ, I do think she deserved to win, but that's not saying much in this weak field. But I totally agree about Chan. One must always try to separate the skater from the judges, but his ridiculously high scores and his comments to the media are making that difficult.

  11. Did anyone watch the pairs competition at CoR?

    If Keith Olbermann starts to tally figure skaters, K/S must be his first choice of 'the WORST PAIR in the world'.

    Simply awful programs, awful lines, awful elements, ZERO connection. How the hell did they sudddently become world medalists?

  12. @ Anon 3:14: Kostner's injured and needs knee surgery. When healthy, she has very good jumps - though not always the mental strength to rotate them. I don't know why she's doing GPs while injured, instead of getting her knee taken care of. Maybe she wanted to regain confidence after her dismal 2009-10 season. Considering the level of competition so far this year, I suppose it was the right call.

    AJ - I agree with you and Hersh. I'm bored. The previous Olympic cycle got off to a much more exciting start.

  13. I love it how all of these people make comments and don't have the balls to use an actual name.. Stop being LAZY bitches and sign in under a real name! Maybe the fact that I am buzzing after a night of cocktails and shots has something to do with my straight-forwardness but I'm tired of people commenting as "Anonymous".. Anyway, the Grand Prix has been a SNOOZEFEST and I hope something changes ASAP cause I can't take much more of this crap.. I may have to resort to puzzles for entertainment..

  14. I agree with AJ: GP needs more Yu-Na.

  15. I've actually been quite entertained by the GP this year. If you are looking for Kwan Part 2 or Yuna Part 2, you will be disappointed. But if you take it for what it is, it has been just like any other year and plenty fun. This is a lot better than that "Skating with the Stars" nonsense we will be subjected to next week. You think Kostner's non-lutz/flip programs are bad? How about watching two hours of F-list celebs who cannot do crossovers or the basic skating elements? I would be grateful we can watch so much high level skating on TV, even if some of the GP events are worse than others.

    Anonymous at 10:46 PM, yes I watched pairs at Cup of Russia and I completely agree with you about Kawaguchi & Smirnov. Her basics are awful. They shot up near the top of pairs because Moskvina at times gives them interesting choreography, and they are relatively consistent. Plus, they came up during a time when pairs in Russia was really struggling. But they have plenty of weaknesses, for sure.

  16. Hersh made me hilarious.
    Even Yu-Na set a world record in the Short program at 2007 worlds!

  17. The ISU is systematically killing the sport. What we have today is white bread -- bland, flavorless, and no nutritional value. They drum out anyone interesting (only exception: Daisuke Takahashi). And I agree, watching Rachel Flatt skate is painful.

  18. To Anonymous at 10:46 PM, ...They shot up near the top of pairs because Moskvina at times gives them interesting choreography, and they are relatively consistent...

    Interesting choreography? The only interesting part of thier choregraphy is her constant leg-splitting and arm-dislodging. She is a third-class circus/acrobat performer.

    K/S are as consistent as Patric Chan. She lands on her butt in every long program.

    The only reason they are ahead is judges have been hyponotized by Moskvia and the ISU Russian gangs.

    Hope AJ will come up with a feature some day on this entertaining pair though...

  19. Do you know ?
    Yu-na kim won the gold medal at 2009 world championship.
    You referred to only World Junior Champion & Grand Prix.

  20. Well, she didn't land on her butt today. But she does skate like a rag doll with her limbs flailing about.

  21. Anon at 10:17,
    AJ was only talking about the 2006-2007 season.

  22. The problem is that if Yu-Na did come back, she'd walk all over the competition as Marlie is doing and that would be equally as boring. Unless Marlie has a major fall, even with dances that don't suit them, they should win the Grand Prix and the Worlds in their sleep. This year, unless Mao's jumps come back quickly, there aren't any women who can really challenge Yu-Na. In a world of no vote-fixing, Daisuke should win the major competitions for the men if he keeps clean and no one really cares which Chinese team wins the pairs. All in all, there seems to be a top tier of skaters that includes a single person, and the rest are just fighting to be seen as relevant.

    And man, I agree with Hersh--Miki Ando looks like she could cut glass with those cheekbones of hers. Eat a sammich, girl!

    I'm glad Verner won the gold. I've loved him and dispared over his inconsistency. I hope this is his turning a new page and would love to see him reach Daisuke's level to really challenge.

  23. I kept waiting for Scali to skate over Faiella's skirt at CoP. Why is Faiella's skirt not well above her knees by now?

  24. I think the only skater who can give Yuna a run for the money should be Mirai.

  25. @Molly,

    it wouldnt be boring to see Yuna come back because she would once again set the bar high.
    scores havent been this low from the ladies when Yuna was competing.

    as for verner, i totally agree with you. i definitely hope this is verner's turning point and he continues to skate the way he did in COR.

  26. I agree with the above person who says don't blame Chan for his scores - it's the judges who are nuts.

    I DO however reserve the right to dislike him based on his comments in the after-interview w/both Vermeer and Abbott at the table.
    It's like he thinks it's no big deal he falls.

    Eva (and I DO always sign my name)

  27. Is PChiddy the most overscored male skater ever?

  28. ^^ No, that would be Plushenko. His artistic marks/ PCS/ transition scores were always incongruent with what he actually did on the ice. Just as in dance, posing and gratuitous arm movements do not have artistic merits.

    Basically if you want to complain about Chan then you should've also complained louder about Plushenko over the years. Plushenko got higher than deserved artistic marks when he hit his jumps. Chan at least gets docked accordingly in technical scores when he falls on his ass.

    Overall I would say both Chan and Plushenko are the two most overscored skaters in recent years. Chan is an exception, because most of the overscored skaters tend to be those who are all about jumps and suck at elements like spins or footwork while also lacking in artistry. Skaters like Slutskaya or Joubert comes to mind.

    Anyways, technical skaters would get huge scores overall if they hit all their jumps. Reversely, more artistic or complete skaters would be judged more harshly and not be given inflated scores if they happen to have one or couple of iffy jumps in their programs. It's almost as if the judges expect more from these complete skaters.

  29. Chan is definitely one of the most overscored skaters of all time, don't know about him being THE top overscored skater though. I agree Evgeny belongs right up there with Chan. Also Joubert and his non-existent transitions and "artistry"....the PCS he got when he skated clean, what a joke!

    It's true that complete skaters are at disadvantage, they don't get the benefit of doubt when they mess up a littel on their jumps. Then they get doubly punished by having their non-technical scores lowered, justly or unjustly. This was true going back to Browning and most recently with Lambiel.

    Maybe what's going on with Chan is a case of the judges trying to correct past wrongs. Technical skaters have gotten away with inflated scores for so long that FS was in danger of becoming a sport all about jumps. Skating skills and artistry do count for something. The skaters most remembered by fans even long after their competitive careers are the complete skaters whose artistry have withstood the test of time.

  30. Please explain to me how a skater can be considered complete, without having good jumps?

    I'm sorry Patrick Chan has major triple axel issues and while his quad is nice, its still extremely inconsistent. He also falls a lot on his other jumps.

    A skater without good jumps is no more complete than a skater with jumps and no artistry.

    Alissa Cizsny is no more a complete skater than Miki Ando is. Although on the rare occasisions Alissa lands her jumps than she's complete that day.

    Obviously Daisuke has jumping issues too, but he is far more consistent with the difficult jumps than Patrick is.

    I'm sorry but when I look at "complete skaters" I think skaters like Alexei Yagudin, Kwan (but Kim and Asada are for more strong examples since they pushed the boundries of the sport technically)

    The idea that a skater can be complete without good jumps is just as ridiculous to me as a skater being complete without artistry.

    And say what you will about Plushenko but I don't recall Plushenko winning competitions with four freaking falls. While he was totatlly overscored at the Olympics in 06, his win was deserved considering how poorly the rest of the men skated.

    And as for Lambiel, Lambiel has been one of the most hold up skaters in the last quad. He is a POSTER child for the problems of IJS. Given what Lambiel did technically in the short and long program at the Olympics, it is ridiculous and absurd that he was that close to Olympic bronze. I adore Lambiel's skating, but this is suppose to be a sport.

  31. And as for as complaining about Plushenko's PCS. Yes he was overscored in choregraphy/transition. But if you want to argue that I can point out that Chan is way overscored on many occassions on Interpertation and Performance/Execution. Patrick skates through the music, although you'd never know that considering how he's scored. And he's not exactly the best male performer either.

    At the end of the day yes Plushenko was way overscored, but Plushenko would have still won competitions anyways because he normally delivered when otheres didn't. If a male had come along who could actually deliver a more complete program and the jumps, I've got no doubt the judges would give it to that male-and heck they did look at Yagudin and Evan.

  32. Dear Eva, and/or Aunt Joyce:

    Please post a link to Chan's comments regarding falling after the COR.

  33. Bekalynn, Lambiel never wins when he has jump issues (barring others also messing up) and I'm not even talking about falls. Perfect example is Euro '08 where Verner got gold, generally his technical scores and PCS reflects his off-jumping days. The myth that he's overscored have been largely perpetuated by vocal French fed and Joubert fans. I grew up in Russia and have been following FS my whole life. I wanted to take up skating when I was young but I was put into dance school instead. In Russia, they sort you into sports or arts they think you would excel in.

    Anyways, if you go back and study how the men's comps were scored you'd realize that Lambiel was scored fairly a great majority of the time. There's a Japanese website that lists all the programs and scoring going past years, I don't have the link but maybe someone can provide it.

    As for his Oly SP and LP. He had highest skating skills scores of top 6, yet he got docked according in technical scores. He didn't skate his usual moving LP and his PCS reflected that, also the nervous jump landings gave him lower technical scores. His LP was technically and choreographically more difficult with elements like level 4 serpentine that he was awarded. I thought he was scored correctly and as much I love his skating I didn't think he deserved the bronze either with that nervous LP performance. But yes, a great number of Russian skating fans and Russian skaters including Yevgeny think of Lambiel as a complete skater.

    So a skater can't be complete without good jumps yet a skater can be considered complete without skating skills, spins, footwork? The point is that jumps have been given such precedence in the recent years that skaters were risking injuries at younger ages in attempt to get on podiums. Other equally important elements of skating like spins and footwork were being neglected because skaters realize that jumps would give them all the big points they need.

    Prabably the most complete male skater of past 20 years was Browning, Yagudin a close second IMO.

  34. Some interesting tidbits. Chinese fans are disgusted at Chan. Some of them are debating whether to put up a banner at GPF to protest Chan's scores. The proposed banner reads 'PCS != Patrick Chan's Score'


  35. I think Patrick Chan is THE MOST overscored skater in the past 20 years. Personally, I'm way less offended when jump-centric skaters like Plushenko or Joubert receive overinflated scores. At least they are pushing the technical boundaries of the sport. His results (2010 Olympics, 2010-11 GP) showcase everything that is wrong with the IJS, and proves that favoritism still reigns supreme in figure skating.

  36. Why is it that a great spin is so much more interesting to watch than the same jump passes over and over? I attended the '09 Worlds and was more entertained by Ana Ceclia Cantu's SP spins than 27 of the other skaters in the morning sessions. Czsiny and Lambiel do the same jumping passes that everyone else does. IMO I think that (when they skate clean) they should be considered complete skaters.

    I also saw Chan live at that competition, and I was unimpressed. He was fast, but there was no connection to the audience or to the music. Technically, his jumps and landings were sloppy and low, and his spins, average. I watched 24 men's long's that day, and there was nothing special about him. I don't get it.

  37. Anonymous Nov 21 @754pm, it's funny that you mention Ana Cecilia. I was also at Worlds 2009 and she just lit up the building with her wonderful spins and very entertaining Beetlejuice program. I was appalled when she got 4's for performance and execution and interpretation. She performed that to the max and did great.. so it was disappointing to see those marks come up. Her sit spin as she was in a corkscrew position lifting her free leg up was awesome.. ITA with the comments on here about skaters being overscored and really not showing much to deserve the scores.. Maybe the ISU knew that this season would be blah so they want to start a scandal on purpose?? :P

  38. I wouldn't have a problem with Chan's scoring... if he ever skated a clean program. He never, ever delivers, though. Based on his CoR press conference, it seems to me that he is perfectly content to skate a program full of errors... and why not, if the judges are going to continue to reward him on his "potential". It's frustrating to watch. His edges are amazing, but he doesn't look like he is able to control them. I don't know. If I were Patrick Chan, I would be embarrassed.

  39. Bunny Rabbit, I wouldn't say Plushenko or Joubert pushed the "technical" boundaries of FS. I think better wording if you want to make a case for what you're trying to convey, perhaps it would be better to substitute "jumping" for "technical". Let's remember that spins and footwork are also part of "technical", and the last time I checked Plushenko or Joubert aren't considered the penultimate masters of those elements. It's just as athletic to master these elements and in case of spins it could be even harder, according to Dick Button.

    I think for those who prefer to see jumps dominate the sport more than it already is, it might be better to have a separate competition of only jumps. Kinda like how they used to have figures, except it would just have skaters doing jumps. The sport can be called ice-jumping. It would be a gluttony of jumps likely to bore those who enjoy watching beautifully skated, well-rounded programs, but would probably entertain those who like to see jumps galore

  40. K/S's performance was among their best ever - they have a very sweet connection, and I think Claire de lune highlights that - lets their gorgeous lines lead the program too [their stroking has improved steadily over the last five years and now appears effortless]. Woe be the Russian women though, more fits than starts this GP season. Incidentally, look at Katerina Gerboldt moving to pairs skating.... this is the Russian ladies' junior champion of three? years back. I was horribly suspicious, but it seems like this might turn out to be something more than an experiment. There's understandably not much video of this team, but it seems that she regularly struggles to land a 3T, which in the context of her just coming off of singles is disquieting, but it does seem as she's expended enormous effort working on her line. I think she also looks less manly when put next to an actual man, so that's a happy accident. We shall see, there's really just no room at the moment among the top Russian three pairs - and there won't be through Sochi unless something unfortunate happens. Looking forward to Volosozhar/Trankov's debut... They're nominally on the Russian national team atm, but I hope they come around to skating for Ukraine, just for the benefit of the field.

  41. I thought I would clarify something related to the opening graf of this post.
    When I wrote, ``And the Kim Yuna who would have an Olympic performance for the ages wasn't even in the picture at that point in the 2006-2007 season,'' that referred to observations at the time of Skate America in Oct., 2006.
    At that point, Yuna had yet to win a senior event. Winning the World Junior title often means little: Beginning in 1996, only four women who won world juniors (Yuna, Mao, Miki and the eminently forgettable Julia Soldatova) have gone on to win medals at worlds. If you look at all the world junior medalists since then, most have done little of note in the senior careers.

    By the end of the 2006-07 season, we all knew what Yuna could do. As I wrote about her short program at worlds: ``Kim, 16, delivered a performance that may be remembered as the moment the sport's latest great talent began to command the world stage.''

    Philip Hersh

  42. Molly,

    If you are watching figure skating only for the sake of competition, perhaps Yu-na coming back may make the GP more boring.

    However, I think many people (myself for one) watch the GP for the quality of skating and performance and I think that this year the GP is definitely lacking in terms of quality compared to years past. Hence, I am eagerly awaiting the Worlds where I hope Yu-na brings quality yet again (and hopefully Asada as well).

  43. simonbel, Smirnov's lines are okay, and Yuko is flexible, but gorgeous lines? Nah. Sometimes her hands, knees, etc, are out of whack and unfinished. They skated well in that free skate though, I'll give them that.

  44. She is one to flail a bit too much, but this is a trade-off with the flexibility. I'll gladly modify gorgeous to gorgeous when she isn't overselling it. Still, I think line, finish, extension, and, frankly, posture are a particular strength of this team and of Russian skaters in general. It's something one can credit to the Chinese as well, but the Russians seem to develop earlier in their careers. S/Sz are probably stronger in this regard than anyone right now, actually, but as of late they don't seem to take full advantage of their capability.

  45. I don't know why - but this ridiculous over-scoring for Chan does not bother me nearly as much as the over-scoring for Plushenko.

    Chan at least makes an attempt to do interesting programs, where I felt like Plushenko's sloppy choreography was such a big "FU" to the art/sport of figure skating that I felt both personally offended and amazed the judges were rewarding him for his insulting attitude.

    It's all pretty ridiculous, but with Chan I am more able to laugh it off than I was with Plushenko.

  46. Chan is not very consistent in those high jumps, but he is by far the most exciting skater to watch (male or female) in cup of Russian.

  47. I don't mind Chan either. At least when he falls, the rest is pretty to watch.

  48. This is Eva: I don't know if the person above who asked WHERE I'd seen Chan interview in a way that I found icky (I don't know what would be the word to use - he just ticked me off) was at the Cup of Russia interview of the podium finishers. I believe you can find it on youtube.
    His attitude frosted me, the guy fell more than once in the LP and he was not in the least but apologetic; Tomas Verner skated clean and he wasn't so douchey (MY opinion). It was like after SkateCanada when he was suddenly a quad maven when previously the "quad was overrated"
    I happen to LOVE "Take Five" and when AJ posted the skate here I was shocked. He made a great piece of music grate on me.
    I was watching the NBC COR show, and when he came on my husband asked me to change the channel at his second fall; he was mad he silvered.

    WHY is the ISU pushing these new standards? I remember decades ago when Trixie Schuba won Olympic gold and was booed during the LP at the Olympics because she was NOT an inspiring free skater but won because she was greatest school- figure skater in history or something. During her skatm, thru the booing, the announcers mentioned that because of her they were getting away from school figures, they were going to be doing a "short program" which would contain all the elements of the school figure-session.

    Well if the short program is supposed to be about doing all the technical elements so perfectly, HOW the heck can somebody get scores like Chan got for "Take Five?" The judges (or the ISU) are nuts. HOW can falling get a skater more points than NOT falling (and I know, they are rated higher for trying a quad than succeeding at the triple)?
    I can blame the ISU and the judges for the weight put on elements, but I can blame Chan for acting like his scores are right and just and not just some kind of weird result of the system. But I HATED watching him skate at COR (I watched the youtube shorts of each skater)because his lack of care about his performance angered me. I could SEE that Jeremy Abbott was unhappy with his performance, but, hey, ho, no biggy for Patrick Chan.

    There are a few people who discussed above how fast and exciting Chan skates; I don't see it. Take Five's choreography did not feel connected to the music at all for me.

    I just consider him an unworthy champion,


  49. If you're really involved with the daily skating process, you would know when one incorporates high jumps especially quads, it's very hard to
    to do a clean program. If Chan didn't put the quads, he probably would deliever a clean program , and to get high score like Carolina Costner's. But what is more meaningful? Dose that help
    him in the long run? No! Chan should be proud of himself of taking the challenge and putting the quads in rather than be embarrassed of the fall. Fall is normal, it's a learning process. After all, what is important is the national, World, and Olympics. Also, all elite skaters are human like us, Chan is only 19 years old, of course he sometimes talks and acts like a teenage. This should be very understandable if anybody has a teenage boy at home.

  50. This season isn't shaping up to be the best but when is a post-Olympic season ever anything but a mini-snoozer? In terms of the ladies this season two of the top 3 are out, the other is in a re-working process; several others are injured, making changes to their skating or coming off of injuries, and the rest are new to the senior scene. This is how it always is. Yes, better skating would be appreciated but to be honest, I'm not surprised. I don't really expect things to pick up until next season.

    To be fair, if you want excitement check out the junior ladies. I've never paid attention to the junior Grand Prix ladies prior to this season but there is some massive talent coming up through the ranks right now. Adelina Sotnikova of Russia could wipe the floor with the current crop of senior ladies and Elizaveta Tuktamisheva isn't far behind. Risa Shoji of Japan is a lovely skater and even the Chinese ladies are seeing improvements in their team (Zijun Li is wonderful). The JGPF is going to be more interesting than the GPF in my opinion and next season when these newbies debut, the excitement will be back.

    Just be patient people, it's coming...

  51. Anon @ 7:54: I think you are my mental twin...I was also at both the ladies SP and mens LP in '09. And to this day, after sitting through every single skater (53 of them), I still remember liking Ana Cecilia Cantu's program the best! (Who's that girl? I asked myself). There was something very intriguing about her and I thought Beetlejuice was a very clever program. In the mens, Patrick Chan did not get me going at all. The ones who made an impact that night were Lysacek, Joubert, Denis Ten and Samuel Contesti.

  52. "If Chan were not to include the quads, he would probably deliver a clean program..."

    Your joking right? Why not try if Patrick didn't include the triple axel and the quad, he'd do a clean program. I'm sorry but the last time Patrick did a clean long program was 2/3 years ago at Canadian nationals, when he only attempted one triple axel.

    He's a fine skater, but its not like he's just falling on quads.

    I think including the quad for him may be a good idea. But the thing is that it doesn't mean he deserves high scores, when he doesn't deliver it.

    In the end, I don't think Patrick's really the one who should be ashamed though, he can't help his scores its the system.