Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This and That

Sam Peszek's "In The Huddle."

Courtney Hicks won Junior Ladies by a mile despite falling on her Triple Lutz.  Hicks is apparently a giant diva who went coachless for a time.  She certainly has a personality to keep us interested.  Hicks has great jumps, but needs Nicks to work with her on refinement, especially when it comes to her posture, step sequences and camel position.  The potential is obvious.  She has brilliant jumps and some amazing spins.  Her Biellmann does need to go.  Lauren Dinh placed second and Katarina Kulegeyko finished third after a rather gross skate.  She even skated through her first jumping pass.  Nina Jiang continued to struggle, as she has for most of this season.  Popped jumps and a fall on a Triple Flip killed her.  Mary Beth Marley also struggled with her jumps.  Her packaging is just a bit off, but it remains most curious that Philip Mills, a choreographer without a skating background, is her singles coach.  Mary Beth does work with John Nicks in pairs.  She is perfect for pairs, as her skating lacks the style, artistry and excitement necessary to stand out at the senior level.  There is a Caydee Denney quality about her that has me think "pairs skater" whenever she strokes around.  Mary Beth is built to land throws.

Kat Ding sprained her foot and will be out for three weeks.  Her frustrating season continues.  It will take longer for her to get back on vault, but they definitely could use her during the post season.

Video from practice at US Nationals.  Parker Pennington and Jason Wong skated in this group.

USA Gymnastics announced that the Ranch is now an official Olympic Training Site.  Um, because it wasn't before?  Basically all it means is a press conference and added funding from the USOC and sponsors.  It'll mean a few bonus checks for key people and they'll now hold Level 9 and 10 camps there in the summers, as they try to groom talent earlier.  It'll also mean more fund raisers like TOPS and they will bring in Trampoline and Tumbling, which no one in this country gives a shit about.  It was a bit curious that they didn't have Shawn and Nastia go there for the media today, but perhaps they don't want them in the line of sight until they're back in better shape.  Both will be at camp later this week/next week.

Note all the coaches saying how happy they are to be at the Ranch.

Gymnastike was among the press invited, as they lack any discerning brain cells.

Question of the Day: Why is Tatiana Perskaia National Staff on bars?  Um, Ashley Postell?  It isn't as though the Soviets were known for being great bar workers.  Oksana Omeilianchik was never exactly a genius on that event.  Why not put Perskaia on floor or beam, where she'd actually be useful?  Next they'll be having Tatiana teach seminars on how to pace athletes to peak at the Olympics.

Raisman on beam.  Note how Mihai's girls always throw combos on beam that they will never connect under intense pressure.  Ever seen Alicia hit all of her planned combos?  Even in training?  Why is Aly Raisman connecting skills to her switch 1/2 when she is extremely lucky she gets credited for it?

Jordyn Wieber's Amanar


  1. I read that MBM only spends 45 minutes a day practicing her singles and the rest is dedicated to pairs - I hope she's realizing that that's really where her future is!

  2. Oh gosh, calling a skate "gross" and comparing someone to Caydee Denney... It must have been a rough Jr Ladies LP. lol. Unfortunately, I totally see the Denney comparison to be quite honest. Marley's upper body carriage is better, but her lower body is very Denney.

    Actually, the Jr Ladies skated just like that- Juniors. The nerves came out for the LP. You can tell they are inexperienced and so focused on the jumps that they end up missing levels in their spins, and are missing some spark. They are young and will learn. I like Hicks, but she does need more refinement and I'd like to see how her jumps hold up.

    I don't understand Marley's choice of singles coach either. The girl is short and can jump-- I'd like to see her work with someone technical. She was doing 3F last summer in competition. I think she needs more than a choreographer as coach. Still, a top 5 finish for her first trip is good. I thought Kulegeyko showed glimmers of hope as well. She was rough tonight, but she has ability. Dinh is the typical Tom Z skater, but she does have some decent jumpis. Nina Jiang doesn't have the necessary triples yet, but she's even younger than the others, so there is a chance she could get one of the harder triples.

    I wonder if the ranch is now an Olympic Training Site because it will soon no longer be all about the Karolyis?

  3. "She is perfect for pairs, as her skating lacks the style, artistry and excitement necessary to stand out at the senior level."

    I wish pairs wasn't a dumping ground for singles skaters. I think her artistry is decent for her age. She's only 15.

    It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy for her though-- of course it's going to be harder for her to do well in singles if she's spending such little time on it per day. 45 minutes isn't ideal by any means, and her coach is a choreographer, not a single coach. She does quite well for putting such little time into it. But I think she just got nervous tonight. I doubt it was easy to skate after Hicks. I think she should keep with the singles, especially since her pairs partner is so much older than her. Top 5 in this field is pretty good and she'll get a JGP.

    I wonder if Courtney Hicks will get Jr Worlds? Theoretically, they could send Zawadski, Gao, and Siraj, but hopefully Hicks will be in the running.

  4. Wieber's Amanar looks pretty nice. How random we get to see two routines from Camp.

  5. With her learning pairs, I would assume MBM did not get as much practice in singles as she would have liked, and that includes the time she probably needed to settle on a singles coach. Mills is serviceable, but has he ever coached a singles skater at a higher level? Maybe MBM will add another singles session as she stops having to cram for pairs. That one Level 3 spin that's usually Level 4 was all it took to cost her a medal.

    Ashley Cain has done well balancing pairs with singles. I think she will ultimately become a singles skater, so it's good to see her doing pretty well there.

    The Jr ladies have good potential. They should do well on the JGP next year with the top Russian girls going to Srs.

  6. Aly Raisman probably has to connect skills on BB because it's hard for her to find ways to up her start value. She'll need higher start values to get in the Bross/Wieber area, so connections on BB might be one of her only options.

  7. MBM is not going to be a great singles skater. She has always been weaker artistically. She finished second to Baga at 2009 Novice Nationals despite being the better jumper. Baga was the better overall skater. It is apparently known as a curse to win Novice Nationals according to Debi Thomas' interview with Manley Woman. If you notice, the previous two Novice National Champions in ladies aren't at Nationals this year.

    Not all of the Russian Girls are old enough for seniors.

    Mary Beth will make a very good pairs skater because she has the singles background. Her jumps tend to be quite strong (when she hits), which makes her desirable for pairs. She'll be able to do the harder throws with ease. As her pairs career takes off, I doubt she'll do singles for much longer. It is really too difficult to do both at the top level. Expect a rough skate from Felicia Zhang, who has been beat up and burnt out for much of the season after doing both. It isn't done because it is just too draining.

  8. Well Leah Keiser didn't make Nationals in that loaded Pac Coasts field, but Baga is injured. I think the point is that with the younger girls, you just don't know how any of them will truly be in a year from now. I'm sure nobody thought Hicks would be anywhere near this level after being 5th at Nationals in Novice a year ago. With the girls growing, changing, and learning it's too hard to write anyone off. Remember when Ellie Kawamura won Jrs? The future of these girls is very random and unpredictable.

    As for the Russian Jrs, I imagine the top 2 will do SGP, and the others are all very inconsistent, same as any country's Jrs. I think we have Jr Ladies now who really can do well on the JGP, whereas last year we had to rely on the Sr girls like Gao and Gong.

  9. You mean Raiman's switch leap half? I think she's always connected a back pike out of that.

  10. Great pair skaters are supposed to be strong artistically as well. Being a good jumper isn't enough in any discipline. Pairs requires even more artistry in some respects because there should be a genuine emotional connection with a partner, lines/elegance that match a partner, etc. The US treats pairs as a purgatory to go to when you are unable to learn any harder triples. But that's not what it's supposed to be. It is easier to get better results in pairs because there are fewer teams, not because it's less demanding artistically. I would think Marley is doing pairs because she's short and compact and can be thrown around like a rag doll, not because she's failing artistically in singles. I think she's right where she should be artistically for a 15 yr old. In fact, I think her artistic weaknesses are more glaring when you pair her with someone who's so much older. Her PCS were some of the best of the Jr Ladies and would have been higher had the jumps gone better for her. I think she just needs more experience. In the yr she didn't qualify to Nats, she had a meltdown in the LP. She's just a bit nervy, but has the ability in her. Who knows if she will even have the opportunity to skate pairs past 2014. And she'll still be a teen by then. If she likes singles, I think it's wise for her to continue as long as she is capable of doing so.

  11. All the girls like singles because that's where the glory is. I mean, look at this post... It's about the Jr Ladies. You don't see any mention of the Jr Pairs. There's just a different level of "prestige" with it because the US historically does not "get" pair skating. The younger girls would rather work on getting their triple lutz than trying to pretend they are in love with their adult pair partner. It's just different. It's the reason why so many girls who try pairs end up continuing with singles. I am interested in seeing what happens with Felicia Zhang now that she's been injured... I could see focusing on just singles, especially because it seems like her injuries stemmed from pairs. But who knows, she may want to both once she heals.

  12. How is Gymnastike EVERYWHERE? They are literally everywhere. I want to know how they do it.

  13. Lauren Dinh's arms are SO long! I bet she will be tall.

  14. Felicia Zhang would be an idiot to do singles over pairs. She only has a Triple Lutz and a Triple Toe. She lost her Triple Flip as of 10 days ago. Felicia may look tiny, but she is a senior in high school. Her singles career isn't going to happen.

  15. With regards to Raisman, there's having a connection in your routine, and then there's getting credited for making that connection competition.

    AJ/Dave was saying that Raisam kind of cheats her split half and doesn't really get her hips around so she may or may not get the skill or combo credited.

  16. To argue that Marly is going to be this great pairs skater, but then mention that she's losing competitions over skating skills, artistry, when she seriously out jumps someone like Baga is mindblowing to me.

    If you can't hack it artistically, and skating skills wise in singles, then how exactly are you going to be this great pairs skater? Lines, posture, skating skills, those things are immensely important in pair skating. And they are what seperate the Cadee Denny's from the Volosohar's, Savchenkos, and Maria Murkahatov's

    Now if the US had a young skater who had amazing skating skills, lovely lines and artistry, but struggled with getting the harder jumps, and this skater was small, then pairs would be a good place to send said skater.

    Maxim Marin and his partner were both former singles skaters. Maxim probably had the best basics of all the young Russian men, he just realized he couldn't jump like Yagudin and Plushenko. He certainly didn't make a switch cuz he couldn't hack it skating skills wise.

  17. Jordyn may be boring, but that amanar is fab!! If she and ASAC can make it to Worlds in one piece, Jordyn, ASAC, and Maroney would be an incredible vault lineup.

  18. On Tatiana Perskaia, Ashley Postell was a head case on Bars at most Elite Events, but she still had some of the best lines, toe point, and form, not to mention some of the best handstands ever!!! With this in mind I'm sure Perskaia can teach the girls a thing or two when it comes to form on bars

  19. That amanar is amazing....does jordyn have a second vault? Just curious!

  20. National event coaches can't actually coach anyone on the national team, so they don't have many to choose from. Artur Akopyan was bars coach for years but had to quit when Larson and Shapiro went elite. Their first Jr USAs he was not allowed on the floor with them because he hadn't quit yet.

    Anne of Gimnastike is everywhere because Daddy is a rich banker.