Thursday, December 19, 2013

30 Days of Figure Skating in One Day!

Day 1: How you got into figure skating.
I got into figure skating when I saw it at the 2006 Olympics. My favorite skater there was Kimmie Meissner.  I was so mad when she didn't pull a Lipinski/Hughes and win.  Anyway, I kept thinking that my interest would fade over time, and it never did.

Day 2: Your favourite pairs program 

Day 3: Favourite figure skating spectatorship moment.
The day I watched people skate at the Blue Cross River Rink in Decemebr 2012.

Day 4: Up and coming figure skater you are most excited for.  Karen Chen. I love skaters with spellbinding exhibitions.

Day 5: Your favourite Dance program
Meryl Davis and Charlie White 2009-2010 OD "The Indian"

Day 6: Predict - gold medalists at 2014 Worlds.
Ladies: Tough one, I'll have to go with Mao Asada.
Men: Yuzuru Hanyu. 
Dance: Ekaterina Bobrova / Dmitri Soloviev. 
Pairs: Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov

Day 7: Your favourite Mens Program:
Evan Lysacek "Carmen."

Day 8: Your favourite Ladies Program
Caroline Zhang: "Lullaby for a Stormy Night."

Day 9: Code of Points - give your opinion. I'll admit. It's much more objective than 6.0.  Under 6.0, the judges could give whatever marks for any reason they wanted. At least under COP, there are some rules regarding GOE, deductions, etc.  However, 6.0 was much more dramatic.  According to the way the math worked, you could come up with a scenario (2002 Olympics, Ladies), where with 1 skater to go, 3 skaters could still win. Now under COP, with one skater to go, there are only two skaters that can win: the current leader and the final skater.   6.0 provided drama. COP is an accountant's convention. The ISU has made their choice.

Day 10: Last competition/show you attended. Never .

day 11: Your top 5 favourite male figure skaters. Max Aaron, Nobuari Oda, Nathen Chen, Florent Amodio, Maxime Billy Fortin

Day 12: Top 5 ladies figure skaters: Caroline Zhang, Rachel Flatt, Mirai Nagasu, Ashley Wagner, Miki Ando

Day 13: Top 5 pairs teams. Felicia Zhang/Nathan Bartholomay, Brubaker/Davis,  Caydee Denney/John Coughlin, Aliona Savchenko, Robin Szolkowy, Pang/Tong

Day 14: Top 5 dance teams  Alissandra Aronow & Collin Brubaker, Davis/White, Kharis Ralph/Asher Hill, Ekaterina Bobrova / Dmitri Soloviev, Shibutani/Shibutani

Day 15: Predict - gold medalists in 2014;
Ladies: Yu-Na Kim
Men: Javier Fernandez.
Pairs: Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Dance: Davis/ White

Day 16: Your dream 2014 Olympic medalists

Ladies: Caroline Zhang
Men: Brian Joubert
Pairs: Felicia Zhang/Nathan Bartholomay
Dance: Virtue/ Moir

Day 17: Least favourite skater. Is this really necessary? Chantelle Kerry

Day 18: Favourite figure skating music. Yanni. Until the Last moment.

Day 19: If you could marry any figure skater, who would it be?  Mirai Nagasu.

Day 20: Your favourite Olympic moment. When Kimmie lead at the 2006 Olympics.

Day 21: Team Johnny or Team Evan? Tean EVANATOR!!

Day 22: Favourite & least favourite commentator.
Favorite: Peter Carruthers. Least Favorite: Johnny Weir.

Day 23: Skater everybody loves but you don’t. Akiko Suzuki.

Day 24: Skater you love but nobody else does. Caroline Zhang.

Day 25: The quad. Give your opinion. Love it. The move revs the better.

Day 26: Saddest figure skating moment. US Nationals Ladies 2013.

Day 27: Your favourite figure skating moment of all time.
When Alissa Czisny won the 2010-2011 GPF.

Day 28: Favourite & least favourite costume.
Favorite Costume. Yu-Na Kim 2007 Worlds SP. 
Least Favorite: Gabrielle Daleman 2013 WTT SP.

Day 29: Your favourite figure skater of all time. Caroline Zhang.

Day 30: Why you love figure skating. I love the drama. I love the way they glide so effortlessly on the ice.

Caroline Zhang #1: Road to Pyeongchang

Caroline in the Summer

And you know, Caroline probably was in very good shape earlier in the year. She posted some personal photos on FB that showed she was very fit, the thinnest she has been post puberty. From looking at Caroline on and off the ice these last few years, and this is entirely my personal opinion (I don't mean to spread any rumors), it seems her weight has fluctuated drastically very quickly. She could well be suffering from some kind of eating disorder, which could be causing havoc with her training, fitness, mental health, etc. Given how successful she was at a young age, and how the rug was suddenly pulled out from under her in terms of the judging system, in terms of how her coach left her (Mingzhu Li) to coach the Chinese national team, and in terms of her own body changes (which exacerbated her technical deficiencies), she may well have felt like she needed to keep something under her control to stay sane...
I've said for a long while now that Caroline Zhang's best shot for making the Olympic Team is in 2018.

Two words: Akiko Suzuki.

Akiko Suzuki was also a promising up-and-coming skater for Japan, but suffered from an eating disorder.

Suzuki was an up-and-coming junior skater. She came in seventh at the 2001 World Junior Championships, won two Junior Grand Prix events, and was a bronze medallist at the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final in 2002. Then her ascent stopped.
Now at age 28, she is a world bronze medalist, multiple GPF medalist, and multiple Japanese National Silver medalist.

Caroline needs to
1. Start from square 1, and develop superiod skating skills.

2. Develop a better jump layout (backload, backload, backload!),

When she is able to do this, she could be the next feel good late bloomer story.

Caroline Zhang at 2014 Nationals

For what it’s worth, Caroline Zhang’s short program score of 51.11 at sectionals was the highest SP score she’s received since the 2012 Skate Canada from October 26-28.

She also received 0 underrotation calls!! (first time since 2012 Cup of Russia).
Believe it or not, it actually won’t be that hard for her to make top 5 at Nationals.

Since the US started using IJS in 2006, the two lowest scoring nationals have been Olympic year Nationals.
Year Score
2006 134.903888888889
2007 138.651428571429
2008 142.307
2009 138.54652173913
2010 136.933181818182
2011 140.687727272727
2012 150.642631578947
2013 151.0905

So, for the US Ladies at Olympic year Nationals, lots of skaters tend to do poorly.

So far this season,
Gao has been hit or miss.
Nagasu has been hit or miss.
Zawadzki has been hit or miss.
The list goes on and on.

Zhang at her best would beat Gao, Nagasu, and Zawadzki at their worst.
Is that likely? Not really. But it’s more possible that one might initially believe.

Friday, December 13, 2013

International Ladies Power Rankings

1. Kim YuNa.  With her 204.49 at the Golden Spin, she's beatable, but still reigns supreme.

2. Mao Asada. The judges have been giving her ridiculous scores all season.

3. Julia Lipinskaia. Anytime you can beat a 3-time World medalist by tanking, you know you're good.

4. Ashley Wagner.  Diva Wagner skates to bedroom Juliet.

5. Carolina Kostner. Caroline and Olympic Years just don't mix.  We will see how her injury affecst her.

6. Akiko Suzuki.  One of the most impressive runs of a female skater in their 20s ever.

7. Adelina Soltnikova.  She's still Putin's favorite!

8. Gracie Gold.  I can imagine the NYT headline right now if Gracie Gold ever wins an OGM. "Grace and Gold."

9. Kanako Murakami. She should have gotten to go to WTT because Suzuki skater poorly at 2013 worlds.

10. Anna Pogorilaya. She seems determined to correct her mistakes.

USA Ladies Power Rankings

US Ladies Power Rankings
1. Ashley Wagner. Although she had a rough outing at the GPF, Wagner still reigns supreme as the #1 US lady. In fact, the last time Wagner lost to another US lady was [SIZE=4]Nationals 2011.[/SIZE] That's pretty remarkable! Also remarkable was that up until 4CC 2012, her personal BEST International score was 167.  Starting with 4CC 2012, she hasn't had an international score [B]below[/B] 176.  It's like night and day.  Wagner looks as confident as ever, and is poised to take home an Olympic medal if there is a splatfest.

2. Gracie Gold. She has the potential to score big if she is clean. Problem is, she's never clean.  However, Gracie Gold is America's next shining star.  She (like Wagner) had a disappointing Nationals experience in 2010-2011.  But in 2011, Gracie Gold worked her butt off to improve her jump technique and has come out one of the best jumpers that we've seen in a while.  If she stay's healthy, she will be tough to beat a US Nats after Wagner retires.

3. Courtney Hicks. Heck, yeah!  Courtney is one of the more underrated American Ladies.  In this calendar year, she won the International Classic (beating Gold, Cesario, and Zadawski), Glacier Falls (beating Chiera, Nagasu, and Edmunds).  She had a relatively rough outing at Skate Canada, but still managed to win the Ice Challenge.  Courtney's Remarkable stat is that she is a much better skater while skating in the USA, then when skating internationally.  I'm not talking about a Rachel Flatt-type scoring difference; there's an actual [B]performance[/B] difference.  For example, Courtney was less than impressive at the JGP Slovenia, and she wasn't in the conversation for Nationals.  Then, she went to Nationals ans skated cleanly.  People expected her to medal at Junior World, but she finished 5th, behind Cesario.  Then she was impressive at Glacier Falls and The Classic and earned a Skate Canada Spot.  She blew the short program at Skate Canada.

4. Mirai Nagasu. As much as I hate to say it, she still has the potential to make a big splash.  Mirai was the only one of the "3rd spot" hopefuls to medal on the Grand Prix circuit this year.  Underrotations are killing her score though.  I don't expect her to make the team.

5. Christina Gao. Yep, she's in 5th again.  Christina's programs are not that technically demanding, yet she continues to struggle with them. Her GP performances the past 3 years have been the opposite of Mirai's. Mirai tends to do poorly at her first event and do well at her second. Christian tends to do well at her first event and do poorly at her second.

6. Agnes Zadawski.  She's kind of a sleeper here. If she lands her jumps, she will score HUGE. Problem is, she hasn't been able to land her jumps.  Liza will never skate a clean short. Adelina will never skate a clean long. Agnes will never skate clean for either program.

7. Hannah Miller. Ooh, she's the dark horse.  She just put up a 174 at sectionals.  She is from the same area as Gracie Gold, is one year younger, but hasn't had the same success that Gracie Gold has.  She might have her breakthrough at nationals.

8. Polina Edmunds.  She has been really impressive on the JGP, but it's really easy to be impressive when there are no expectations on you.  However, she got no UR calls with freaking Shin as the caller.  That's impressive.

9. Samantha Cesario.  Note to Sam, stop trying the 3R-3R, seriously..  Samantha Cesario has competed very little domestically in her career because of injuries.  It's weird that she's basically the came age as CZhang, but Zhang is considered to be on her way out and Samantha is a rising star.  Her programs this year are showy.

10. Ashley Cain. Ashley put in a solid performance at sectionals, and has skated well enough to now not become all the butt of all US Ladies jokes. ala "Raisin Cane with Ashley Cain!".

Thursday, March 7, 2013

"Olympic Year Inflation" is a Myth

Below are the average total scores for the US ladies event by year.
2006     134.903888888889
2007     138.651428571429
2008     142.307
2009     138.54652173913
2010     136.933181818182
2011     140.687727272727
2012     150.642631578947
2013     151.0905

As you can see, the two years with the lowest averages are Olympic years.  This may be due to the fact that in Olympic year nationals, although some ladies rise to the occasion, many others completely bomb because of the pressure.

Below is a link to the scores for each year.

Senior Nationals Ladies Results under COP

(Records are bolded)

2006Sasha Cohen 65.15Sasha Cohen 134.03Sasha Cohen 199.18
2007Kimmie Meissner 65.69Alissa Czisny 119.59Kimmie Meissner 181.68
2008Mirai Nagasu 70.23Rachel Flatt 125.82Mirai Nagasu 190.41
2009Alissa Czisny 65.75Ashley Wagner 115.05Alissa Czisny 178.06
2010Mirai Nagasu 70.06Rachel Flatt 130.76Rachel Flatt 200.11
2011Mirai Nagasu 63.35Alissa Czisny 128.74Alissa Czisny 191.24
2012Agnes Zadawski 66.24Ashley Wagner 123.96Ashley Wagner 187.02
2013Ashley Wagner 67.57Gracie Gold 132.49Ashley Wagner 188.84