Grand Prix Final Recap

Men:

Patrick Chan finally put together two fall-free programs and earned his scores.  He won the title by 17 points, crushing the field to win his first Grand Prix Final.  His programs still weren’t perfect and he had a handful of negative GOEs and singled or doubled a few jumps.  His PCS scores continue to be outstanding, even earning a 9.00 in interpretation.  If he can continue to put together clean programs, he should easily move to the top of the program at the World Championships.  Oda was able to take the silver but can’t seem to follow up his strong short program and hang on to the top spot.  He finished only 3rd in the free skate here but he has been dominant in the short program all season.  Kozuka seemed off his game in the short program after a crash in practice with Takahashi but rebounded to a 2nd place free skate.  He was able to secure the bronze medal, 5 points back from Oda.  Takahashi also struggled after the collision, showing off his great personality but faltering on his jumps and finishing 4th after a 6th place free skate.  Verner and Amodio did not top their scores from earlier this season and had problems with popped jumps in their short programs.  They finished at the bottom of the pack and Amodio finished almost 58 points out of 1st place. 

The biggest surpise at this event was the disparity between the competitors.  There were several clear divides between the competitors and Chan has proved himself as nearly unbeatable when he hits all his elements.  Amodio has made big gains this season but is still no where in the same category.  He is one of the younger skaters in the field, but he is the same age as Chan.  How much of an effect the collision had on Kozuka and Takahashi’s scores is unknown, but I don’t think either of them could have overtaken Chan. 

My predictions for order of finish were (2 correct predictions, picked 2/3 medalists):
Gold: Kozuka
Silver: Chan
Bronze: Takahashi
4th: Oda
5th: Verner
6th: Amodio

My USFSA Fantasy Team was:
A) Patrick Chan (1st)
B) Takahiko Kozuka (3rd)

Ladies:

The Ladies competition was simultaneously a story of triumph and heartbreak.  Alissa Czisny stayed on her feet for two programs and had me in chills by the end of the program.  Like Chan she wasn’t perfect, with a downgrade and a step out of jumps but the rest of her program makes up for these small errors.  She received almost all +2 and +3 GOE for her spiral sequence and all +2 and +3s for two of her spins.  I’d like to see her work on her step sequences and ramp up the difficulty as she is only getting Level 2s and these are points she is throwing away.  If Alissa Czisny can continue to turn her career around and consistently land the jumps in her programs, she could be hard to beat as the season progresses.  Carolina Kostner won silver, but I fail to understand her scores.  Her jump content is technically less than the other skaters.  She also performed 2 of the same elements back to back at two different points in the routine, yet received the highest choreography score of the competition.  In my opinion, part of the choreography score is how well the program is put together and putting a variety of elements in the program, which Kostner does not have.  She did receive no negative GOEs on all of her elements, which kept her technical score on par with the rest of the group.

Kanako Murakami pulled off two strong programs to win the bronze medal here, and lost out on silver by just .01 points.  I thought some of her program component scores were a little high as she doesn’t have the polished look of the other skaters here and some of her movements look a little flaily, but if this is how her scores look now in just her first senior season, with a little more maturity and control, she could be unbeatable in the years to come.  Akiko Suzuki finished in 4th place, which was somewhat of a disappointment.  A number of small errors kept her off the podium, such as under-rotations and edge calls, but she finished ahead of teammate Miki Ando, which might set her up nicely for Japanese nationals.

Miki Ando had a disaster of a short program.  It was dull and uninspired with no performance quality.  She had two of her jumps downgraded (plus a fall) and only received a Level 1 or 2 on two of her spins.  She won the free skate by more than 5 points, but was unable to move up even 1 spot.  In her two Grand Prix assignments, she was able to come from behind after her shorts to win the event on the strength of her free skate, but this formula didn’t work here.  She’ll need to figure out her short program problems if she wants to medal at the rest of the events this season.  The jump problems in the short are especially surprising, considering that she successfully landed all of the jumps in her long with no negative GOEs.  Rachael Flatt had a terrible competition, placing 6th in both segments and having her characteristic consistency fail her.  She had an under-rotation and a downgrade in her short program and her step sequence only gained a Level 1.  She had four under-rotations and 1 fall in her free skate, doubled 3 of her jumps, and only received a Level 1 on one of her spins and a Level 2 on another spin and her step sequence.  Rachael has vowed to go home and look at her training and refresh before nationals.   

My predictions in order of finish were: (0/6 correct predictions, 0/3 medalists):
Gold: Ando
Silver: Suzuki
Bronze: Flatt
4th: Murakami
5th: Czisny
6th: Kostner

My USFSA Fantasy Team was:
A) Miki Ando (5th)
B) Kanako Murakami (3rd)

Pairs:

Savchenko and Szolkowy have set themselves up as the team to beat this season, running away with the competition, finishing nearly 22 points ahead of Pang and Tong.  They received no negative GOEs and received all +2s and +3s for their opening throw triple flip in their free skate.  They received Level 3s and 4s on their death spiral, spins and lifts in the free skate.  This victory was especially impressive considering the training time they lost after their skates were misplaced coming back from Trophee Eric Bompard.  They should be hard to beat this season and will likely win back their World Championship.  Pang and Tong had uninspiring programs here and seem to have lost some of the magic they had last season.  The finished just over 10 points ahead of their young teammates.  Their problems came mostly in the free skate where they singled an axel and doubled a toe loop in their side by side jumps, had an error with their pair combination spin which invalidated the element, and received only a Level 2 for their death spiral.  They did have high GOEs on their side by side spin, triple twist and throw triple salchow. 

Sui and Han had a great competition, taking the bronze medal in their first year on the senior circuit.  They have huge elements and tons of personality.  They received credit for their throw quadruple salchow in the free skate, but she fell on the element.  They received Level 4s on all their lifts and Level 3 and 4 on their spins in the free skate.  Their program components are still lower than the more mature skaters in the competition, but these scores will come up with time and maturity and combined with their elements, should have them challenging for higher spots on the podium in the future.  Iliushechkina and Maisuradze also had a strong competition, putting out two solid programs, and finished less than 2 points away from bronze.  They received only one negative GOE in their free skate and received Level 3s or 4s in all their elements but the death spiral.  They only have 3 elements in the bonus portion of the free skate instead of the 5 the top teams have.  Two more elements in the bonus would have given them a 3rd place finish in the free skate and closer to the podium. 

Bazarova and Larionov had several errors in their free skate that dropped them off the podium and into 5th place.  This is one of my favorite up and coming teams, and Bazarova looks so mature and polished, it is hard to remember that she is only 17 (and younger than Iliushechkina).  Their main problem in their free skate came when she had problems with the double axel sequence and wasn’t able to complete the second axel and he fell on the element.  They did receive all Level 3s and 4s for their lifts and spins.  This team has been prone to errors in the past, and they’ll need to figure out how to skate two clean programs if they want a shot at a medal at worlds.  Moore-Towers and Moscovitch placed 6th in both segments of the competition.  Their final score didn’t put them that far behind the field, but it was well below what they are capable of and have scored in the past.  They had mostly small errors that can’t be made in a field this tight.  Their short program received no negative GOEs, but most of their elements were only Level 1, including their triple twist, death spiral and step sequence and he had a fall on the steps getting into their step sequence.  In the free skate, they had two Level 1s, a fall on the side by side triple salchows and only three elements in the bonus.  If they work to bring their level of difficult up, they should see themselves back in the running.

My predictions in order of were: (2/6 correct placements, 2/3 medal winners)
Gold: Savchenko/Szolkowy
Silver: Pang/Tong
Bronze: Bazarova/Larionov
4th: Moore-Towers/Moscovitch
5th: Sui/Han
6th: Iliushechkina/Maisuradze

My USFSA Fantasy Team was:
A) Savchenko/Szolkowy (1st)
B) Moore-Towers/Moscovitch (6th)

Ice Dance:

There were 3 classes of skating at this event: Davis/White, Pechalat/Bourzat, and everyone else. 

Davis and White finished 9 points ahead of the rest of the competition and have set themselves up for their first World Title, becoming only the 2nd team to win back to back Ice Dance Grand Prix Final titles.  They have worked out the programs in their short dance, receiving Level 4s on everything but their midline step sequence, which received a Level 3, and had no negative GOEs.  They continued their reign as technical masters with Level 4s on all the elements in their Free Dance, except the diagonal step sequence which received a Level 3.  They had all positive GOEs and received a 9.0 for their interpretation/timing.  Their programs were great and amazingly difficult, however are not as inspiring or memorable as last year.  I think that if Virtue and Moir do come back this season, they will have a hard time catching up, but if they put out a free dance that rivals their Olympic Free Dance they could slip ahead.  Pechalat and Bourzat had a strong showing to take home the silver, 23 points ahead of the bronze medalists.  They had all Level 3s and 4s in their short dance with no negative GOEs.  They received all Level 3s and 4s in their Free Dance and all positive GOEs.  They fall behind Davis and White because their GOEs are lower and their program components are lower.  I can see this team medaling at Worlds this season.  They’ve put the miles into their programs and have received seasons bests at all their competitions. 

Crone and Poirier pulled up after a disappointing short dance to win the bronze medal.  Their short dance received only one Level 4 and had Level 2s on the step sequence and 2nd section of the Golden Waltz.  They didn’t receive any negative GOEs.  In their free dance, they received Level 3s and 4s for everything but their dance spin and had all positive GOEs.  I’m not a huge fan of this program and don’t think either of their programs really go with their music or have a lot of personality or emotion behind them, which I think is reflected in their program components.  Bobrova and Soloviev finished a disappointing 6th in the short dance with Level 2 twizzles with a negative GOE.  They were able to rebound in the free dance to finish 4th with Level 3s and 4s on everything but their curve lift and only received a negative GOE on their twizzles.  This team is really making a splash this season and have lots of nice elements.  I’m not sure they have what it takes to push them into podium contention and with 6 Russian dance teams in the Junior Grand Prix Final and a sweep of the podium, they are going to have some tough internal competition next season.

Weaver and Poje finished 4th in the short dance with Level 3s and 4s on everything but their twizzles (Level 2 and only negative GOE).  They finished 5th in the free dance with Level 2 step sequences and a negative GOE on their second step sequence.  They have had problems with their free dance all season, and I don’t think it suits them as well as their elegant short dance.  If they can fix the problems with their step sequences, they could pull up in the standings.  This team is coming up fast, and I prefer them to Crone and Poirier and expect them to challenge them at Canadian nationals and throughout the rest of the season.  Hoffman and Zavozin were the surprise third place finishers in the short dance. They received Level 3s and 4s on all their elements and only had a negative GOE on their twizzles.  Their component scores were far below the top teams, and if they can bring these scores up, they showed they have the technical elements to compete with the best.  They seemed to fall apart in their free dance, and just looked lost on the ice.  They received Level 2s on two of their elements and had two negative GOEs.  I’m not quite sure what happened in this segment, but hopefully they can solve these problems before Europeans.

My predictions in order of finish were: (6/6 exact predictions, 3/3 medal winners)
Gold: Davis/White
Silver: Pechalat/Bourzat
Bronze: Crone/Poirier
4th: Bobrova/Soloviev
5th: Weaver/Poje
6th: Hoffman/Zavozin

My USFSA Fantasy Team was:
A) Davis/White (1st)
B) Bobrova/Soloviev (3rd)

I had 10/24 correct predictions and predicted 7/12 medal winners.  My fantasy team finished 26th.