I'm glad Mirai has made it through the summer injury free. I found it interesting to hear her talk about getting back into competitive shape after having to miss so much training time last summer. She was playing catch-up all last year and didn't really get into form until the end of the season at 4CC and it showed. She delivered a flawless LP that earned her a massive 129+ score and her first 4CC medal.
The good news is Mirai appears to be working hard this off-season, participating in summer competitions and really getting herself ready for the GP in a few months. She seems to have her head in the right spot this year (Thank God!). I'm glad she's listening to the people around her who are telling her that she's better than what she's been putting out. Mirai has been the most talented US lady for a number of years--the problem is she rarely skates like it. We've seen moments of sheer piddle-inducing brilliance from her: her SP at the 2008 and 2010 nationals, her 2010 LP at nationals and at the Olympics, her 2010 SP at worlds, her 2011 LP at 4CC...she's proven that she's capable of skating to a high level and electrifying both crowds and judges alike.
|Will we ever get this Mirai again?|
Mirai has all of the natural talent she needs; however, the crucial things she seems to lack are drive and focus. At times we get reports of her being "difficult" at practice or not putting forth the effort needed to get the results she wants. She blamed it on growing pains and "being a teenager"...well, the angsty emo kid excuse has officially played itself out. It's time to grow up (she's 18 years old) and start acting like a young adult. No more of those craptacular "I let the bad practice get to me" or "that little negative voice in my head" excuses...start skating like a champion, dammit! Now is Mirai's time to really step up and assert herself as the one to beat. With Yu-Na and Miki (and possibly even Mao) out this season, that top spot is wide open. And with the younger skaters moving up and coming to the senior ranks, it's time to stake her claim as a top contender.
I'm holding out for Mirai, I really am. I hope like hell that this is the season she finally wakes up, realizes how awesome she is, and goes out there and skates like it. That's my hope anyway...
I'm glad to hear John Nicks is forcing some technique on Ashley, though I can't say he's the expert on that. I mean, Sasha Cohen always looked like she had impeccable jump technique and yet her jumps occasionally folded like chairs so, who knows how that will work out? Regardless, Ashley's working on it, so that's great. I've always found Ashley's lower placement among the current crop of US ladies a bit confusing. She's more exciting than Rachael Flatt, her level of technical difficulty is higher than Alissa Czisny's, and she's had more success on the GP than Mirai...and yet Ashley rarely gets any love from the judges. I guess her jump consistency issues have held her back--she is a bit notorious for two-footing her landings in addition to being a chronic flutzer. Hopefully introducing some technique to her jumping will help iron out a few of her jump problems.
Ashley debuted her programs at the Glacier Falls competition a few weeks ago and looked very sharp for so early in the preseason. I like both of her programs so far. They are far less frenetic, frantic and frenzied (yay for alliterate synonyms!) than her past programs. As a result, a softer more controlled and elegant side of Ashley emerges and you can get a better appreciation for how lovely her skating is. With a few months left to tweak and polish her programs, they should be ripe and ready for the GP season.
|That damn short program...|
I've since forgiven Ashley for her overt bitchiness. Since then, she seems a lot less snotty and full of herself. The experience of missing out on the Olympics, coupled with her health issues that next season, appears to have humbled her to an extent, and that's good. There's a fine line between being confident and cocky, and Ashley was leaning far more to the cocky side for a while. She's righted herself, however, and I think it will pay off for her in the end. A strong, solid, confident but not cocky Ashley has a good chance of nabbing one of those two spots on the world team if she can keep it together and skate her programs to their potential.
Ashley is healthy again and seems ready to attack this season head-on. With her new pompous British coach (you gotta love John Nicks!), new programs and new California location (and hair color), I think Ashley's set to have a good year. If she skates well, this could be somewhat of a break out season for her. I'm cheering her on...and should she fail, well there's always her sublime bitchface to look forward to.
So is this the year Mirai and Ashley will finally get over their issues and rise to the top of the US lady heap? Your guess is as good as mine.