Saturday, November 13, 2010

Skate America 2010: Painfully Mediocre

The Grand Prix events are so packed that sometimes sacrifices need to be made. In this case, it was the first half of the Ladies' Short Program (and likely Free Skate, if the quality of the scores so far is any indication), and so I unceremoniously cut Mae Berenice Meite, Alexe Gilles, Min-Jeong Kwak, Viktoria Helgesson, Amelie Lacoste, Jenna McCorkell, and even Joshi Helgesson (sisters?) from my day. You know it's time to move on when your greatest skating claim to fame is being married to Kevin van der Perren.

And so this segment for me began with Kanako Murakami, who fits the definition of "total sweetheart." On one hand I was a little dismayed by her dress, but on the other it seems to go with her age and personality quite well. And damn, she has speed. Her triple toe + triple toe combination covered an insane amount of ground, but sadly she was only able to pull of a single Axel.

In a nutshell.

Plus, Machiko Yamada is so crazy and fabulous, even the Kiss & Cry is exciting. I think her 54.75 could have been a little higher, though. Oh well.

From one Asian to another: next was Caroline Zhang. She is such a tragic mess I wasn't sure what to expect, but her jumps do seem to have improved a bit from the past. I saw none of the famous mule-kick (although she may just have left those jumps out of this program), unless you count her wild free leg on her solo triple jump. What is really curious to me is how Caroline seems to come to a dead stop before muscling out her double Axel. She's also improved her speed, which is very refreshing to see. 50.66, good enough, right?

So when did Elene Gedevanishvili go blonde? And why does she keep switching coaches instead of retiring? She fell on her opening triple Lutz and doubled her Salchow, I believe, but she somehow made herself get through the program. Perhaps her 45.27 will finally start waking her up to the state of her skating.

I really, really try not to be catty about actual appearances (costuming choices don't count because they're actually in a person's control), but when it comes to Rachael Flatt, I cannot help myself. Her haircut makes her look fatter than ever, and the all-teal one-shoulder dress does not help her at all. Her opening combination was a little bit weird (a double flip + triple toe), and she tried a little bit to hard with her choreography (including some strange, "jazzy" hip wiggles and hand flips). The commentator mentioned that Rachael has been taking dance lessons lately, which comes about 10 years too late. 51.02, behind Joshi Helgesson--please go to Stanford.

The final skater--Grand Prix competitions are mercifully short--was Carolina Kostner, who is another "Are you still around?" type of skater. Her planed triple-triple turned into a triple toe + double toe, but technically the rest of her program seemed more or less okay. In terms of performance quality alone I would put Kanako ahead of her, but the judges quite dramatically disagreed. 60.28? Please. The commentator says that it's because Carolina "did everything else," but unless by "everything else" she means "being from Italy," then I'm not buying it.

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