Sunday, January 30, 2011

US Nationals: The Ladies Free Skate

Watching the ladies final at the US Nationals is a tradition.  In many ways, it is a holiday.  I claimed I had a wedding to go to in order to ensure I had the night off from work, because no matter how shitty our ladies are at times, I don't miss US Nationals for the world.  There is something about seeing Frank Carroll and John Nicks put out little divas in pretty dresses that makes us all stop and watch.  As always, it was a year to remember.

The night before the ladies free skate, Margaret Thatcher called me in a panic.  "We need to get Agnes out of Colorado Springs immediately.  How many pieces of shit can Tom Z coach?!"  I agree.  Rafael.  Morozov.  Hell, have Frank fire someone and take her on.  Frau Muller was supposed to join me for Nationals, but is suffering from illness.  I watched Nationals with Mommy Dearest and Father Knows Best.  When the tweets started pouring in, it felt like the Olympics all over again.  No matter what, the ladies excite us.  Everyone has an opinion.

No matter how many jumps Melissa Bulanhagui landed in the third-to-last group, I suspected that the penultimate group would bomb.  They are always the ladies most effected by the cameras and live television broadcast.  For years, ABC Sports showed a group of dreadful skaters (most of whom were coached by Kathy Casey.)  Kristiene Gong also skated well in the third-to-last group, but her use of Salome had me throwing a gay fit.

The broadcast began with Alexe Gilles.  Prior to her program, my friends took bets on how many falls and popped jumps Alexe would have.  For the record, I said one fall and three pops.  Sadly, we didn't think to take doubles into account.  Alexe suffers from that weird twin issue where they are incapable of surviving without one another.  I imagine Alexe and Piper have some weird special language like Tara Lipinski and her friends who burned candles on the roofs of million dollar townhouses.  Mommy Dearest immediately noted that Alexe "didn't look like the other skaters" and she wasn't just referring to her height.  Sandra noted that Alexe has struggled with "inconsistency" over the past two seasons.  One could argue that she is can always rely on her for a last place finish at a Grand Prix.  Alexe is actually quite amazing in training.  Week after week, she shines at the Broadmoor skating shows.  The USFSA attends and she still manages to jump well.  After a swing Triple Lutz to open the program, she fell on a Double Axel.  Sandra said that her issue is following up a good jump with a fall.  After she mustered a Triple Flip(2 ft)+Double Toe, the program went to shit.  I'd never accuse it of going to shit quickly, because Alexe simply stopped moving across the ice and made it a very long four minutes.  It was painful to watch in a way that made several people mention wanting to mail college applications to her home.  Mommy Dearest declared Alexe ready for retirement at several points.  The jumps and skating skills weren't the only issue.  Her spins were S L O W.  Alexe lost the fight in her program.  Luckily, NBC had mercy on her and didn't show her marks.

My father had a important point: Why are there so women wearing flags?  Isn't everyone American?

Caroline Zhang was next and despite her improved flip technique, she has not improved in the manner that Scott and Sandra would like you to believe.  Mommy Dearest was a big fan of her costume, but found her skating to be quite slow.  This was after Mommy Dearest was weirded out by a lesbian scene in The Kids Are Alright, so she was in rare form.  Triple Flip+Doublt Toe followed by a fall on a Triple "Lutz."  Fall on an underrotated Triple Salchow.  It all went downhill very quickly.  Mommy Dearest was quite insightful last night.  "I guess you can't jump if you have no speed, right?"  Catty Comments, when watching Richard Dornbush, became outraged at Caroline when she learned that she had left his coach.  "Have I mentioned lately that Caroline is fucking stupid and pissing her career away?"  Well said.  After a number of jumps with questionable technique and slow stroking across the ice (to pretty music), Caroline ended the pain with a gorgeous layback spin.  It was the one element of the program deserving of positive GOE.  "She's on her way."  Um, what?  Suzanne Bonaly did chime in via text, "She's getting better.  She will get thin with Peter and Karen, or she will eat their children."

Joelle Forte was next.  They mentioned she has a degree in Psychology, which may be the only bachelor's less useful than Journalism.  After two jumps, it was clear that Joelle had done enough to beat Alexe and Caroline.  Hell, she could've stopped skating.  Joelle wound up landing more triples than anyone except maybe Alissa Czisny.  Her goal was to have fun, which perhaps should've been the goal for the two who preceded her.  I want to scream at her for putting the tights over her skates---it screams junior lady coached by Elaine Zayak.  There is nothing classy that ever comes out of Monsey.  Joelle's music was nice, but the choreography was SO Peter Burrows.  I could've come up with something better with five minutes and a box of crayons.  Mommy Dearest did NOT recognize Elaine Zayak and wouldn't shut up about it (it is a local thing.)

Yasmin Siraj was next and we finally learned out what exactly her heritage is: Half-Iranian, Half-Saudi Arabian.  My life suddenly feels complete.  Yasmin has really improved her presentation, but Bela Karolyi would be screaming at her to "smooooooth it out."  Her lines and fluidity need tons of work, as do her skating skills.  The talent is there, but she needs to spend a summer with John Nicks to really work on her positioning and beauty.  She could learn a Russian split while she's at it.  Yasmin made a big jump up to Senior Ladies and it was a big risk.  Luckily she raised her game, but a few mistakes due to the enormity of the event wound up preventing her from having any shot at the Junior World Team.  The girl certainly has guts.  She went for a Double Axel+Triple Toe (UR-fall) and never gave up on the program or the performance.  Mark and Peter teach decent consistency, but they are not going to give Yasmin the kind of skating skills to take her to the very top.  The girl is made of competitive mental win. Her final four jumping passes (Triple Salchow, Triple Lutz, Triple Toe, Double Axel+Double Toe+Double Loop) proved that she is a serious competitor and someone we will undoubtedly here about in the future.  She just needs to push through those big knees of her and find some speed.

Random Tidbit: It appears that all ladies at the Skating Club of Boston now learn the Kerrigan spiral.

NBC decided to help me lose the winter weight by showing a clip of Rachael Flatt practice her Betty Boop impression backstage.

Morgan Bell was next and proved why it was her first trip to Nationals.  Mommy Dearest labeled her "tattoo girl" for her costume (among other things.)  Morgan appears to have a brilliant future in synchro skating.  After one of her falls, Mommy Dearest (half asleep by this point) declared, "well we saw that coming."

I was worried that I would be the only bitch to call out Ashley Wagner on her SP errors.  I realize that she has the flu, but I also know that she's been skating well in practice from all the reports.  Luckily, Sandra Bezic came right out and said it.  Sometimes it is nice not having to feel like Skating Hitler.  Ashley's bitchface was ON and Priscilla was prepared with a matching scarf for good luck.  Once again, Ashley left the boards by hugging both coaches---it is a move that screams headcase and scared shitless.  Not the best move for the mental game.  I may be a bit different than the flag-wearing Southerners in the crowd at Nationals, but I prefer feisty Ashley to fake-happy Ashley on Universal Sports.  (Whatever did happen to Ask Ashley?  That's ME!)  Ashley started off with a Triple Flip+Double Toe (3-3 never gonna happen) and followed with a Double Axel+Triple Toe (UR and 2ft...Ashley is clunky under pressure.)  The girl did not stop fighting.  She landed a Triple Lutz and hit the second half with a Triple Loop+Double Toe+Double Toe, a Triple Salchow and another Triple Loop.  Ashley popped her last triple, but it didn't matter by that point.  She put together a solid effort.  Her face was red and winded from the illness, but she kept it together.  There was positively NO flight in her flying camel.  Dick Buttonn was having a fit wherever he was.  I'm a fan of feisty Ashley.  Yes, her skating is overdone and she's never going to get much better, but there is something fun about her bitchy personality.  I dig it.  Her gay brother deserves a special mention.  I'm not outing him---Ashley did that herself by tweeting photos of his shoe collection that he brought to Nationals. (110.73, 165.36 overall- 1st at that point.)

Finally, it was time for the final flight of ladies.  The USFSA is always smart about never scheduling a resurfacing before the final group; they know the penultimate group will wipe it up for them.

Sandra declared Mirai an "artistic" being during the warm-up.  Basically, she called her a temperamental hot mess and who I am to disagree.  I always like imagining what kind of wine Sandra Bezic is sipping while commentating.  She always sounds as though she is sporting a designer evening gown and a hundred-year-old glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wise Tracy Wilson whipped out the Alissa Czisny Nationals career trajectory graphic: 7-3-9-1-10-?  That is always a fun line graph.  Alissa looked on in warmup.  I wasn't even feeling nervous about her, which made me think I was living in an alternate universe.  After the men's event, I'm certain of it.

Fun Fact: Amber Czisny was the better twin until they hit puberty.

Tracy Wilson did lie to us by saying that Mirai has never won a competition when leading after the short program.  It is something that seems true, but actually is not.  Mirai won the 2008 US Nationals after winning the short program.  I didn't even have to look that up.  Then again, I've been in therapy for years.

Vanessa Lam started off the final flight dressed in a hot pink dress with black gloves.  It is an outfit that brings out all sorts of opinions.  Fun fact: Vanessa is coached by the main rival of Dorothy Hamill.  It is the same rival that allegedly had her mother try to run Dorothy down.  Then again, Dorothy is an ''artistic'' being and such a statement cannot be verified for historical accuracy.  It is important to note that Vanessa Lam is a Californiasian NOT coached by Frank Carroll at all.  We do not know how long that anomaly will last.  Her jumps are eerily similar to a young Tara Lipinski or Jenny Kirk.  I'm not even sure if Vanessa leaves the ice at times, but she is thin and rotates at light speed.  Triple Lutz+Double Toe+Double Loop, Triple Flip+Double Toe, Triple Flip (turn out), Triple Loop (turn out and hung on for dear life), Double Axel+Double Axel, Triple Lutz.  Sandra Bezic declared the program "business like."  It was skated with the expression of Miki Ando.  All about the jumps.  Vanessa is a good spinner, but she fell on her final jump, an underrotated Triple Flip.  It was very Sasha Cohen-2000 Nationals, minus the charm and charisma.  Vanessa managed a standing ovation for her short program, but I am thinking the music and Southern hospitality may have had a lot to do with it.  The technical caller was clearly having a field day with some of those jumping passes.  162.91 was her total, which was good enough for second place at that point.

Ashley Wagner was shown lounging around on the big orange couch like a diva.  Wouldn't it be fun if we got to kick them off of that thing?

Agnes Zawadzki finally took the ice and we got a shot of her beautiful Polish mother.  Apparently, Mrs. Zawadzki sleeps on a couch.  Given that Agnes has a bright future, I hope we see a fluff piece with her sleeping on it.  It reminds me of an ironic situation where a '90s skater slept in a closet while her mother was not-so-secretly dating her female coach (while married and living with her father---fun times.)  Agnes' Polish thighs give her height on her jumps that would make Nancy Kerrigan jealous.  Unfortunately, she hasn't been the most consistent long program skater this season.  That is likely due to nerves, as Agnes never had issues last season.  Double Axel+Triple Toe, Triple Flip-HUGE.  Going after Vanessa Lam made Agnes' jumps look positively Herculean.  Zero to hero baby.  While the lutz has typically been one of her best jumps, Agnes had a shaky edge entering her first Triple Lutz and intelligently decided to do a double.  For being known as a jumper, Agnes does have decent spins.  Contrary to Scott Hamilton's declarations that she is the new Oksana Baiul and has no weaknesses (consistency was never an issue for that orphan), Agnes' stroking is a bit slow.  It may not be terrible compared to his other students, but he hasn't had that many years with her.  It remains curious that she doesn't perform her Triple Toe+Triple Toe in both programs, as it might help her with her consistency.  While I was getting concerned after the first lutz, Agnes came back and nailed an enormous Triple Lutz+Double Toe.  It was sick.  Poland should be begging her to compete for them.  She won't even have to train next to a concentration camp like our favorite pair from yesteryear.  Agnes entered the Triple Loop a bit slowly and fell.  This jump has been as issue for her this year and it looks like it has to do with the placement of the jump in the program.  It was very consistent for her when she opened her program with it last season.  The technique is sound, so I wonder if she needs to pull a Kwan and get that beast over with.  Her Triple Salchow followed and was again disgustingly sick.  She turned out of her final Triple Toe, but tacked on a Double Toe+Double Loop.  The judges ate Agnes up.  There was positive GOE flying all around.  She now faces the challenge of Adelina Sotnikova at Jr Worlds, but a solid program will certainly content with the Russian starlet.  Agnes just needs to hit.  Sandra Bezic commented on her musicality.  It does exist, but her lack of speed hurts it.  There are moments when she goes in and out.  Her Tom Dickson short program is far better than the snooze Lori Nichol charged her 10 grand for last night.  Agnes' fierce Polish mother was happy---I know firsthand that those full-blooded,opinionated, domineering women are difficult to please.  (112.30, 173.84 overall-1st at that point.)

Christina Gao took the ice next.  Laetitia Hubert called me to point out that Brian Orser has most definitely been eating his feelings since Yu-Na left.  He looks grumpier than usual.  Someone must've brought up the sting of two Olympic silver medals.  Mommy Dearest, never one to miss a beat, declared him looking "bloated in the face.  He doesn't look good like Boitano.  He needs to skate every day like Brian."  I don't know what offends me most: the bangs, the Fresh-Off-The-Boat music choice or the random extra skirt fabric in the back.  It looks very junior.  I was not shocked when they mentioned her being from Kentucky.  I could see it.  That said, her presentation is improving.  Christina has the thin Asian-David Wilson thing going on like the Olympic Champion, but she is beginning to form her own style and sort out those limbs.  Like Tara Lipinski in '97/98, Christina is trying to downplay her growth spurt.  The commentators called her out on it and declared that she grew four inches, as opposed to the "inch or two" that she currently admits.  Dick Button would like to point out that is went all to her legs and is "just fine."  Christina opened with a Yu-Na-worthy Triple Flip-Triple Toe.  Mommy Dearest put it best when she remarked, "I guess Scott liked it."  Christina followed up with a Triple Salchow and then just about hit the boards on her Triple Lutz+Double Toe+Double Loop.  The camera angle made it mighty difficult to note whether or not she took off from the correct edge.  I was looking.  Triple Loop.  Double Axel.  She fell on an underrotated Triple Flip and then appeared to trip on footwork.  The voice of Dick Button reminded me that "the National Championships is the toughest event.  It is against your peers."  Her Triple Toe was tilted, but landed.  Christina really hit the accents of the music well.  She needs another 18 months to really get her style together and adapt to her long limbs.  There is a playful quality to her skating that is really beginning to develop.  I was glad to see that my adopted daughter was frustrated by her mistakes in the Kiss and Cry.  Her biological parents raised her well.  (108.77, 2nd place)

Alissa Czisny looked calm and confident as she took the ice.  Miss Val is going to love what Jason Dunjen said about ninety percent of competition taking place between six inches---the distance between your ears.  Yuka Sato and Jason deserve a raise for what they've accomplished with Alissa this season.  With each program, we are learning that this recent success is not a fluke.  They are tweaking her technique and managing her nerves.  Both of them have tons of experience---good and bad, as competitors.  Yuka got it together once she moved away from home and took control of her skating, which it appears she has encouraged Alissa to do as well.  The crowd absolutely loves Alissa and wants it for her.  Triple Lutz+Double Toe, Triple Flip, Triple Toe+Double Toe+Double Loop.  Who knew she could pull off a three-jump combo?  Alissa has always had good skating skills, but her programs really show off her deep edges and fluidity this season.  Her long program draws me in like a Kwan fan and takes me with her from winter into spring.  Alissa managed to hang on to a Triple Loop that she would've missed any other year.  It was an effort that showed us just has far she has come.  There is a fight there that was never there before.  She's a believer.  There is beginning to be a feisty, hungry tiger beneath the Audrey Hepburn exterior.  Triple Lutz+Double Toe, Double Axel, and landed a tilted Triple Toe that also would've been a splat any other year.  Who knew that Alissa Czisny would go on to win more National Titles than Sasha Cohen?  Insanity.

"I think I just fell in love with a woman."- Frau Muller

No one skates with the subtle beauty of Alissa.  Yu-Na has the drama, but that beauty just isn't there.  (128.74, 191.24- 1st place)

Mirai took the ice and looked ready for another crying scene.  Frank Carroll is getting feisty and is losing his regal austere a tad.  There is no talking about clouds with Mirai.  "You're the best skater in the world.  Go out there and do it."

Mommy Dearest: Her dress is very Chinese-looking.
Aunt Joyce: She's Japanese and skating to Memoirs of a Geisha.
Mommy Dearest: Her dress is very Japanese-looking.

Mirai fought for her opening Triple Lutz+Double Toe, but it was instantly obvious that she was not going to catch Alissa Czisny.  The fight was to determine whether or not she'd make the World Team.  Double Axel+Double Toe (supposed to be a Triple Toe.)  In the words of Dick Button, "she receives no marks off for reducing the number of rotations in that jump.  She will just not receive the same technical merit."  Triple Flip (UR?), Weird, bizarre music cut for the layback.  WTF Lenore Kay?  This program has little to do with a Geisha after a while.  It is not a magical vehicle for Mirai.  It is time for Frank to kick Lori's ass to the curb after giving Rachael "East of Eden."  Triple Lutz (UR).  Triple Toe+Double Toe+Double Loop(UR)  Double Axel (Turn out.)  Mirai needs to go to David Wilson or someone with a clue.  Even Wagner's choreographer would be an improvement.  Mirai was injured this year, but in the words of Laetitia Hubert, "Skaters who have what it takes find a way to get it done for Nationals."  Mirai missed a flying sit spin and it made the entire program appear hairy.  Perhaps they were too busy working at the restaurant, but Mirai's parents have failed her as Asians.  After reading Amy Chua's book, I'm convinced that they accepted four-year-old Mirai's poorly-constructed cards she made them for their birthdays.  Being a good Asian parent is all about imparting your child with an inferiority complex that drives them to Kwan-like success.

Suzanne Bonaly was shocked that Mirai "wasn't thin enough" and wanted to have a word with the prima ballerina sitting next to Frank and Mirai in the Kiss and Cry.  Most curious was Frank's venom after the program.  He was not having it.  "Well, you gave it away.  Sorry!"  It was as though she was Tim Goebel and he was taking out his rage after Michelle kicked him to the curb for demanding too much money.  Frank and Mirai need cameras following them 24/7 at competitions.

Frank always manages to get hit in the head by something.  He was hit by a stuffed animal in the Kiss and Cry and it appeared that Mirai was lucky that it happened in order to ease the tension.

Rachael Flatt closed the competition.  She declared that she will major in Chemical Engineering at Stanford and it explained everything we needed to know about her "artistry."  Unlike Mirai, she is an engineer.  No one has ever accused her of being an "artistic being."  Rachael skated two "clean" long programs in Greensboro, so it was surprising when she opened her program with a Double Axel+Triple Toe(UR).  Rachael sported a constipated "oh wow!" look to start the program and piss me off sufficiently.  Rachael appears to have lost some of her confidence.  A year ago, she wouldn't have missed a jump.  The fight is gone and I question whether she'll push through both skating and school at Stanford.  The speed was just not there. Double Lutz.  Triple Flip, SLOW skating, Triple Lutz+Double Toe.  SLOWER.  Triple Flip+Double Toe+Double Loop.  S L O W.  It appeared that she was just trying to be steady and stay on her feet.  Triple Loop.  The cutesy, Betty Boop footwork didn't draw the crowd in with her because unlike the flailing short program steps, this sequence lacked speed in a serious way.  Triple Salchow (Turn out.)    Sandra declared that it "looked like work," which was true.  Her performance ability has improved a tad, but she is still just a bore.  Even her ending Ina Bauer didn't receive the intended audience reaction.   Lori gave her music that is a known "no-no."  Skaters have never won using that music. The story isn't well-constructed and it appears that Lori has really just lost it.  While the commentators raved about her AP classes a year ago when they couldn't muster anything complimentary besides "consistent" about her skating, they just mention her 'sassy' new hair-do.  Did the Flatts describe it as such in her media bio?  Plenty of people beg to differ.   Her cutesy act needs to go.  Have some self-awareness and emphasize your strengths.  Don't draw attention to your weaknesses.  You don't see Aunt Joyce trying to star in heterosexual porn. (121.06, 2nd place. Ew)

"Lori is a choreographer, not God.  There isn't much to work with besides big thighs and bad hair."- Suzanne Bonaly

"You know, I think Rachael's a sweetheart, but could that haircut get any worse?  She looks like a lesbian lumberjack."- A Peacock Network News Producer

The USFSA announced the World Team after the competition: Czisny and Flatt

Four Continents: Czisny, Flatt, Nagasu  (Wagner is the alternate)

Junior Worlds: Zawadzki, Gao, Hicks

This may be the final kick in the pants Mirai needs to get her shit together and compete like a champion. If not, Frank needs to fire her in favor of Agnes.


  1. AWag did a 3F-3T at Cup of Russia.. Yea, two footed, but I was surprised how good it was. I wonder if she will get more comfortable with it over time. I'm assuming she was trying to go for it in the SP, and probably rushed it or something.

  2. Just want to say, I nearly lost my dinner I was laughing so hard at your kind words about Alexe and Caroline...

  3. Mirai also won the Junior National title in 2007 after winning the short.

    I think the point though, is that she doesn't (or no longer does) skate well when in the lead (much like the Kween at the Olympics). I am so bummed out for her for missing Worlds, especially since I was convinced that she had done enough to have the silver.

  4. OMG, I know who you are talking about from the '90s, but I had never heard that rumor...and I thought the parents were still together today. How "not so secret" were they?

  5. Can someone please tell me if the skaters are required to come within milimeters of hitting the side boards when they skate? I'm sure they must cover the whole area, but I thought most of them at some point in time were going to slam into the sides. I could already hear the commentary. "Huuuge triple lutz. Just beeeeutiful. OH smash did she break her ankle?" What is the deal with that please?

    Also, who came up with the idea of them spinning around wadded up into balls with variations of legs and arms poking about? And seriously, if you're gonna do it with your leg sticking out, you should get extra points if you keep it straight.

  6. Can you start a fund for Rachael Flatt's college education? I do not want anything to stand in the way of her taking all the classes she can wrap her AP-sized brain can handle this fall. We must make sure silly little things like skating do not interfere with her life.

    You were in fine form tonight, AJ. I think Kathy Casey is proof that lesbians should not be looked to as skating tastemakers.

  7. I agree that Nagasu's botched flying sit made the rest of her program look far worse. With it, she may have had a shot against Rachel Mayonnaise. Hell, I still would have placed her in second.

    Although I understand her kimono/"Memoirs of a Geisha" packaging anticipated worlds in Tokyo, the program lacked an arc - the choreography and music were just not there. Should have looked to Chen Lu's "The Last Emperor" program to see how beautifully this kind of thing can work.

  8. 7-3-9-1-10-1! Czisny's career is completely inspiring to me. Weaker people would let a bad result crush them, but Czisny shows that anything is possible with dedication and perseverance. I was never a fan, but now I am. Love her.

  9. HAHA I love that you consider this a holiday! My family does as well. EVERYONE, even extended family, comes over to watch Nationals all day on Saturday. It's honestly the best day of the year!

  10. "Laetitia Hubert called me"

    HAHAH are you serious? That's so random. I totally remember her.

  11. Laetitia is a nickname for a former skater.

  12. Ugh, Mirai's plenty thin enough. She just has some weirdass mental things go on in her head sometimes and sometimes that wonky technique of hers causes her to underrotate. Skating after Alissa's standing ovation was the main problem. It totally spooked her.

  13. Mirai is spooked by her own shadow.

  14. I don't like Mirai's LP either... I hope she tries a different choreographer next time.

  15. Rachael has always skated slow.. it's just more noticeable now because she's actually missing jumps here and there. I'm still amazed she generates so much speed in that frantic footwork of hers in the SP. I just want to know why her y-spins are so bad... the girl is not THAT inflexible. When she does her spiral sequence, her y position (or whatever it's called) is nice.

  16. Very enjoyable read, Aunt Joyce, as always! I enjoyed watching the men much more than the ladies this year, which is not the norm.
    And a biology degree is pretty useless too, unless you follow it up with med school, which may or may not have been my original plan...

    I had the same thought as Tarasova's Mink: please don't let anything get in the way of Ms. Flatt starting college!

  17. (My husband cleverly noted that especially with that new hairdo Rachael Flatt has a definite "Miss Piggy" thing happening. Ouch.)

  18. Q : That Suzanne Bonaly is real Suzanne? Not a nickname for AJ your friend?

  19. Rachael was boring as shit and her LP just proved how 70% of the audience's wild reaction to SP was simply b/c of the East of Eden music. Don't expect the international judges to give her those kind of marks at 4CC or worlds; they don't like her ass. I hope she changes that puke-worthy yellow dress and for fashion sakes, gel that damn hair down in the front! When she finishes skating she looks like a cow's been licking her hair!! Sassy haircut my ass! That shit is a fugly disaster!

    Alissa was lovely and though she lacks fire she was chill as a cucumber that night. Very calm and steady and easily the best of the night. Finally, a national title she deserves! She may be able to reclaim those 3 spots she lost the US back in 2009. Yay for redemption!

    Mirai needs to fire Lori and use the money she saves to go to a sports psychologist. I want to believe her when she talks about being the best but I just can't anymore, even though I want to. Her headcase issues are becoming tiresome. Get it together! Get some better programs, get some confidence and come back next year ready to prove that you're the best like you say you are...

  20. Mirai should do a reality show. I'd watch it.

  21. Tarasova's Mink- give Flatt a gymnastics scholarship. She can fetch water, move mats and bring the team's GPA up a point or two.

    Mila- yeah I guess hitting ugly positions gets you points? There's some rule about how you get lots of points if you switch positions a dozen times. It was really visually grating to see mirai do that lovely layback and then drop her leg in such a fugly way. I wonder if she lost points for that.

    also interesting how every skater wants to do the leg above the head spin that Sasha pretty much trademarked and everyone has a different way of getting their leg up above their head.

    Do skaters get deducted for moving around on the ice in spins? I've noticed the good spinners tend to stay in one spot. Agnes was all over the place on her sit spin, she moved left, then right, it was odd.

    Anyway, with Alissa and Flatt going to worlds don't count on the US getting three spots for its women this year. Poor Mirai.

  22. Some random thoughts:

    Can't stand Zawadski. She looks like what happens when the little bitches on Toddlers and Tiaras grow up.

    I can't wait to see the breakdown of the judges' marks between Rachael and Mirai. I figured the judges would be more punishing to Rachael, even though she didn't make as many mistakes. And, did I dream it, or did Tom Z. say in one of the fluff pieces, "This is the last nationals we'll have with Rachael"? I don't want to get hopes up prematurely.

    I was surprised to see Frank be that openly cunty, and I was more surprised that neither Sandra nor Tod Hamhock commented on it. The shank-eye Frank threw at the kid who hit him with the teddy bear was priceless, though. Bet she ran back to her seat real quick.

    I was chatting with my mom, and she was less than impressed with the newer skaters.

    Mom: I felt bad for that one girl.
    Me: Which one?
    Mom: The one who fell on everything.
    Me: You need to be more specific.
    Mom: The big one with the bad makeup.
    Me: ummmmmm... still not sure.
    Mom: The one who hadn't been there before.
    Me: Ah, gotcha.

    I'm happy for Alissa and hope she holds it together for worlds. I hope she skips 4CC and that Mirai and Ashley can go and kick ass.

  23. Why has nobody seemed to notice how much Mirai's body has changed since the Olympics? I may be wrong, but I don't think it's a matter of being fat - her shoulders are really muscular and her bigger thighs look to me more like muscle than fat too.

    I think this and not a 'lack of training' is doing a number on her spins and flexibility. She still seems to be very much a goofy kid a heart, yet she is developing this stately woman's body - her mind and body seem to me to be out of synch.

    Guess this is something most female skaters have to go through as they grow up - Mirai is lucky she still has the long legs (unlike poor Caroline Zhang) but I DO get the feeling she may not make it - she seems to lack the centered-ness that helped someone like Michelle to make adjustments.

    All that said - I think she WAS the second best ladies skater at Nationals, which doesn't say much for the field.

  24. Excellent review AJ. I want to get behind Mirai but I think she might just be a lost cause.

    Except for Czisny, and maybe Agnes, I was underwhelemed. Meh.

    Alex Forrest

  25. Do you mean Surya Bonaly? Her mom's name was Suzanne but she wasn't a skater.

  26. Did you mean Surya or Suzanne ;)

    A case could certainly be made that Surya was no skater.

  27. Mirai didn't feel bad until Frank the grouch said something and I love Frank. I wish Jason and Yuka had room for Mirai. I can see their vibe working better with Mirai. Frank was just too negative and I don't ever remember him being that way. Maybe they don't click since there's since to be conflict according to Frank.

  28. Jeff Buttle studied Chemical Engineering and is an eminently artistic being. But he's a rare and special case :)

  29. Mirai needs a small image makeover--it involves ditching the over-the-boot tights and wearing white boots.

  30. First off, EXCELLENT job AJ with your summary. As always it was a complete pleasure to read! I actually can't wait to read your review of the Men's Competition.....I was certainly shocked and unprepared for those results after a 24 hour shift.

    Alissa's performance was beautiful and I really hope she can keep it together for Worlds. As for Mirai, she should be on the Worlds team, but alas is not. I'm actually glad Frank Carroll yelled at her. She really did throw away her spot to go to Tokyo. You're right, hopefully it will be the impetus to get her act togther.

    As for Rachel Flatt, my sentiments are the same as with Sarah Palin....I WISH THEY WOULD JUST GO AWAY! But who knows maybe her and Alissa will get the job done. Maybe we'll get back three ladies spots by 2014!!!!!!

  31. It's wrong to equate having an artistic soul to being dumb in the left side of the brain. Da Vinci was an engineering genius in addition to being an artistic genius. But then again he was the penultimate genius. I got my biochem degree after I quit ballet professionally, so it's really not that rare for people to have both left/ right side brain attributes.

    Rachael skates like a Type A personality trying to conquer the ice, instead of someone who truly enjoys skating. That hair only adds to her frumpiness, you can only pull of a pixie cut if you are thin and pixie-like. Rachael looks like a soccer mom.

    Christina Gao needs to donate some of her leg length to poor Caroline Zhang. It would do both of them good. Caroline's build reminds me of Midori Ito's, but at least Midori could jump. Christina please do not grow any taller in the legs.

  32. Worlds for ladies and mens has more train wreck potential than usual. The international judges seem to have as much disdain for Rachael as many of us do, so Alissa will have to have the performance of her life for the U.S. to get the three spots back. Men retaining three spots is a long-shot, too.

  33. Regarding that girl who slept in the closet: I hate that I know this, but her name was Shelby Lyons, wasn't it? She was a petite little brunette with a Jill Trenary "get my hair set by Mr. Walter every Friday afternoon" haircut.

  34. Mirai probably would not have won even if she was clean, but if she did the 2axel/ 3 toe clean it would have been REALLY close. she would certainly have made the team over sub-par Flatt. Mirai blew it for herself again. she is not a little girl anymore. if having Evan around was the only thing keeping her in line Frank should have hired an assistant months ago. not like Evan is doing that much else nowadays.

  35. I liked this recap. Czisny is great. I mean Flatt may be bland at her core but she tries so hard to be something on the ice and Nagasu just didn't do that great.

  36. No one brought up this so far I guess...if having 2 nationalities keeps on making conflict in the kid's mind, then it'd make difference if she drops one of the nationalities as soon as possible. It's not her fault at all to have 2 nationalities but it probably is the cause of her anxiety attack whenever she's almost there to win.......Just the thought of winning and the winning means she will have to fight against her other nationality must be extremely difficult for a top athlete, not to mention the athlete is very young.

  37. What like something of a Yamaguchi/Ito? Well Yamaguchi beat Ito!

  38. Leave Mirai ALONE. Maybe she just had a bad skate. She is coming off of a stress fracture, for goodness sake. It's not like she sucked... She just wasn't as great as she could be. I still would be sending her to Worlds because her scoring potential is better than Rachael, but the USFSA is too damn cocky to care about such things. They have a "We're winning so many medals, so we much be doing everything right!" attitude and it sucks.

  39. I laugh at the person who called Mirai a "lost cause". She's third in the entire country, you dolt. She's only 17, coming off of a long season and a pesky injury. CHILL.

  40. 10:04 PM, huh? Mirai isn't worried about fighting her "other nationality". It's a skating competition-- she's fighting other skaters. Just like Mirai wants to beat everyone at US Nationals, she'll want to beat the Japanese skaters at Four Continents. I don't see how her having dual-nationalities impacts her skating negatively.

  41. Mirai needs to suck it up and work HARDER. Stop goofing off in practice and listen to your coach. As if she only started to work hard 3 weeks before Nationals???? Who does that? Either get yoru act together or get out of the sport and stop wasting your parents hard earned $$$$

  42. I'm kind of concerned about the message Frank & co are sending about Mirai. Why do they want to paint her as this aloof, headcase-y artist who doesn't know how to work hard? Even if it's true, you don't think the judges consider that? And USFSA officials?

    I understand that Frank is a genius and I'm sure he has something planned, but I just can't figure out what it is. I've been wondering all year about this narrative they're putting forth for Mirai.

  43. @6:17--It's the anti-Flatt narrative. j/k

    Actually, I don't think they are crafting an image at all with that. I think Mirai just happens to be real with the media (whether her team likes it or not) and they are calling it like it is. Not like Flatt whose entire image has been planned, vetted ridiculous. I'll be shocked if Flatt actually does a chemical engineering major; that's likely just a continuation of the "look how smart she is" PR meme. Wasn't Hughes going to be a doctor, after all? That isn't going to happen.

  44. I think Frank and Co. are trying to get through to a very talented girl who has rested on talent for her entire life and not pushed through. There is a lack of self-awareness, commitment and discipline there (perhaps intelligence) Mirai has improved in her year and a half with Frank, but she has so much more to do. The technique still crumbles when she is distracted. The bottom line is that Mirai has the talent of an Olympic Champion and the discipline and work-ethic of a novice lady. Mirai gets a free pass from fans because we all love her for being fun, honest and engaging. Part of that shows up in her performances, which lack restraint and refinement. It is that aspect that also keeps her from competing with the best in the world. Part of the issue is that Mirai has only had a coach who is an 'A Lister' for a relatively short time. She never had to work like that before. Before Charlene, Mirai was a disastrous hot mess of talent who couldn't hit.

    Frank has every right to get through to Mirai this way. Mirai is about to be an adult and she definitely needs a swift kick in the ass. Phil Hersh wound up just printing a quote from Frank stating that same very thing. Nothing has seemed to get through and ''click'' with her yet. One can argue that "oh, she is young," but she really isn't. Champions who have won had that discipline in their teenage years. Michelle, Evan, Lipinski, Fratianne, etc all trained with purpose, intensity and discipline. It has to come from within.

    I tend to wonder if Mirai is an ADD case, who would be amazing on adderall.

    Bottom line, she needs that focus throughout life. When she was off the ice, she needed to be swimming everyday, doing pilates and yoga and not just taking time off as it sounds like she did. There certainly wasn't a huge commitment to off ice training and avoiding the vacay mentality.

  45. I would like figure skating a little more if/when Rachael Flatt is gone.

  46. Well said AJ. I'm a Mirai fan, but after a while watching a favorite miss her chances isn't cute or fun anymore.

  47. forward outside loopFebruary 1, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    Don't pick on Rachel so much, pick on her packaging which is likely decided by someone else. There's a packaging for Rachel that would frame her athletics and hard work better, but instead, the powers that be are trying to hard to present her as 'all american'. Actually, a long program that was more modern and athletic (kinda like Armin's) would suit her better and cover up the fact that her positions aren't classic. Her consistancy might yet help us keep our spots and maybe even gain one back. A year or so ago she beat Yu-Na in the freeskate at Skate America and was the only woman to beat her in a long time....

  48. I think Frank should have Mirai watch the tape of Michelle at 2004 Worlds after her skate-around was interrupted by the streaker. It was the definition of sangfroid. That is what Mirai should aspire to. (And I know that Michelle only got the bronze at that competition--but that was because she was blindsided by the time deduction in the short. Some of the judges actually put her first in the long over Shizuka.)

  49. Alissa Czisny has a huge smile as broad as Rachel Ray's. Rachael Flatt looks pissed most of the time, especially at warmups and she seems to act bossy....Definitely not America's sweetheart.

  50. Believe me, I have a plethora of critiques about Rachael Flatt, but sometimes I do stop and think that wow, she's only an innocent 17-year-old girl, and we sure are really attacking her on a lot of petty things, like her thighs, her haircut, her dresses, her ability to shape-shift into a 1960s soccer mom at the snap of the fingers, etc.

    That said, even if it's mean, I do have to say that I agree with everyone who said that the only reason that Rachael got a shit-ton of applause during the short program was because East of Eden is a divine, poignant, swelling piece of music that makes me feel like running full speed in a field of daisies with sunburts and butterflies. In other words, the music kicks ass, Rachael's skating does not. During her footwork sequence, while I appreciated that she actually showed genuine connection to the music and the audience (passion?), her movements were unbelievably bizarre. That wasn't footwork, that was...something else entirely. Whoever said that Evan Lysacek looked like a windmill didn't see Rachael's footwork sequence. She takes the cake on psychotic, windmil-esque, awkward, deranged footwork.

    (And seriously, why on earth would she give people any reason to compare her to Michelle Kwan by using that music??)

    Also, someone who was watching the skating with me pointed out that two of the reasons that Rachael's footwork sequence, and maybe choreography in general, doesn't look pretty is because a.) her hair is flailing around and it is honestly quite unruly and very distracting, and b.) her mouth is always open! She was agape the whole footwork sequence, and that was another distracting thing. It was like she was trying to eat the music or something.

    I feel a little bad for harping on her, but if she is as smart as the TV Commentators keep shoving down our throats that she is, then she will realize that she is never going to be a slim, pretty, balletic ice princess, and she needs to embrace who she is as a person, an athlete and a performer in order to find herself as a skater. She's spent many years trying to fit an image, to please other people, to impress the judges with her cutesy choreography and faux-artistic programs, and while that's gotten her some moderate success, I can't see her going further if she maintains this status quo.

    Rachael would be very well-suited to skating in a more simple, streamlined, athletic costume and embracing her power and athleticism. Maybe that would inspire her to pick up some speed, too. Drop the Betty-Boop bullshit, and man up, Rachael!

  51. Rachael's footwork was like out of the Twilight Zone!

  52. Mirai's costumes this season are like art pieces. Her LP costume looks so lovely on HDTV.

  53. I agree with Olympic Effect. People seemed to be shocked that Frank was being shitty to Mirai in the K&C but I say more power to him. Mirai needs tough love, someone to get in her face and tell her that 90% of the time she doesn't win it's not b/c someone was better than her; it's b/c she gave it away and she needs to understand that.

    Mirai did look like she'd given up before she even skated. She looked terrified before she started and Frank should point that out. Hopefully calling attention to her defeatist attitude will make her realize what she's doing and she'll straighten up.

    She's still the best skater the US has across the board in terms of content, packaging and potential. And though Mirai says she's the best, you can tell by her actions that she doesn't believe it. When is she gonna start to believe it?

  54. I feel offended by Rachel Flatt's skatings....and would like to see her as little as possible.

  55. Do you think if she start to believe that she's the best she's gonna skate better? NOOOO. You don't become the best by believing it, you become the best by working and training hard. BTW, with shaky edges for flip/lutz (she got "e" for both jumps this season) and URs, she does not deserve to think she's the best. Unfortunately, compared to other skaters in US, she's a bit better altho i think she'll never have drama of Yuna Kim or beauty of Alissa... She's just very limited in terms of interpretation because of how she looks.

  56. Alissa made Latina/Latino look good by skating so well this season. Look forward to Worlds for another heartfelt performance from her.

  57. In regard to the above post, what do you mean that Alissa made Latina/Latino look good? She isn't of that nationality, as far as I know.

  58. Just visited the stats over at usfsa and noticed 7, arguably 8 (if you consider yasmin's family origin of iran, a nation technically a part of near asia or central asia of the middle east, an extention of the far east of asia) of the top 12 ladies were of asian extraction. there really is an asian invasion occurring, although Asian Americans are about as rare as a Unicorn in the Western Wilderness:

    "The appearance of Lions and Dragons expel negative energy, evil and bad spirits."

    Pro-Active Chinese Lunar New Year, regardless: "Overall, the Census Bureau also estimates that as of 2008, the Asian American population stood at 15,480,349 (13,549,064 of whom are monoracial Asian) and Asian Americans comprise 5.1% of the total U.S. population of 304,059,724."