Friday, September 9, 2011

2011 JGP Brisbane: Ladies Review

Okay, well...I've had time to watch the videos of the top ladies and, dear readers, you're about to be treated to the first Naked Ice rant of the 2011-2012 season...

Dear John Nicks...WTF?

JGP Brisbane is in the books and the results are as follows:

First off, congratulations to the top finishers.  Now that that is out of the way, I'll start my bitching...

Courtney Hicks (USA):  50.19 (SP) + 101.72 (FS) =  151.91 (1st)
Look, I'm all for an American lady at the top of the podium (mostly because it's so rare to see nowadays) but I have a problem with Courtney being on top of this podium.  I like the fact that Courtney skates fast, that her jumps are relatively big and that Tw'Hicks Pretzel spin she does (it's cool and I'd never seen it before, so kudos for coming up with it).  But that's about it.  Her skating brings to mind a number of unflattering adjectives:  clunky, wild, unrefined, grating, all-over-the-place, sloppy and totally juniorish.  There is a complete lack of regard for the choreography she's doing and the music she skating to.  Not only a lack of regard, but a lack of connection.  I saw no relation between the choreography and the music being played.  So that's either bad interpretation or bad choreography...personally, I think it's both.  Her lines are rather sucky, her extensions are weak, her Biellmann is atrocious and I'm really scratching my head as to how she got a level 4 for the step sequence.  She ended up with the highest PCS, though I don't understand how that happened especially seeing as how she had two falls.  True, her SS and TR should have been higher than everyone else's...but in terms of IN, CH, and PE? Somebody would have to explain the non-Earth logic and reasoning for that outcome.

Now, I get that she's a junior and these kind of faults are to be expected.  BUT when she wins a competition after turning in that kind of skating, when others skated better than her, I have a problem with that.  The judges were obviously biased towards her: one judge gave her a -2 for a fall, yet hit Risa with a -3 for an edge call...WTF is up with that?  Don't get me wrong, I get that Courtney has potential...but as of right now, I go by what I see in front of me and the only thing I see is her ability to jump.  That doesn't impress me anymore.  When she has lovely lines, presentation, maturity and control in addition to massive jumps, I will get excited.  For now, her skating irks me.

Here's hoping John Nicks gets off his aging British ass and introduces some control, extension, fluidity, elegance and choreography to Courtney because right now she falls squarely into the category of "junior jumping bean."  I apologize for ranting, but I think the judges got this one completely wrong.  I'd have had Courtney in 3rd place...not 1st.

Risa Shoji (JPN):  47.28 (SP) + 100.21 (FS) = 147.49 (2nd)
I'll just put it out there: Risa should have won this event and I think had she not had so much trouble in the SP, she probably would have.  Even with the SP woes, she should have won the FS.  She was the only one to have a 3-3 fully ratified (a 3-3-2 at that!), a 2a-3t, no falls, and to top it off, the program was beautiful.  In contrast to Hicks, who is rather asdlkjsalgkjslkgj when she skates, Risa has a graceful and more controlled style of skating which, I confess, I much prefer.  She skated without visible error--no falls or stumbles--but two UR calls lost her a few points.  Add those points to the points she lost in the SP, and there goes the gold medal.  Regardless, UR calls or not, I thought her overall skating was lovely and much better than Courtney's speed and big jumps (and two falls).  I have booked my ticket on the first "wuzrobbed" bandwagon of the season...

Vanessa Lam (USA):  49.58 (SP) + 96.20 (FS) = 145.48 (3rd)
Vanessa had some trouble: two edge calls and a hard fall/downgrade on her 3lz.  I think what's really going to hurt Vanessa in the future is her tiny jumps.  She maintains good speed throughout her skating BUT she has a 6-inch vertical on her jumps, which often gives the impression of them being URed.  Because of that she receives very few positive GOEs on her jumps and, on occasion, a few negative ones.  Jump issues aside, I think her skating has improved.  She's paying more attention to the choreography (not rushing through the movements) and is really feeling the music more.  I think her program was lovely and, despite that chest-grabbing fall (she almost looked like she hit her face!), it was well-skated.  Given Courtney's utter lack of choreography, interpretation, presentation and the fact that she had two falls, I'd have had Vanessa in 2nd place.

Polina Korobeynikova (RUS):  43.34 (SP) + 96.28 (FS) = 139.62 (4th)
Sheesh, yet another Polina!  How many is that now?  Three?  Anyway, I saw Polina K. for the first time a few days ago and I was a bit shocked.  In the video I saw, I could have sworn I was watching Alissa Czisny!  Polina's style, carriage, and even her dress reminded me of Alissa from time to time.  She appears to be rather tall, with long arms and legs, but she doesn't come across looking awkward.  She has good speed, nice sized jumps and lovely presentation.  Polina had quite a few problems in the SP but her overall skating had her within striking distance for the FS.  She turned in a semi-decent performance (2 URs, an edge call and a fall) and winded up placing 3rd in the FS to move up to 4th overall.  It'll be interesting to see how she develops as the season goes on.  She has the potential to be a threat if she can get her jumps under control.

Hae-Jin Kim (KOR):  52.26 (SP) + 78.76 (FS) = 131.02 (5th)
Hae-Jin suffered the fate most first-time leaders suffer: an implosion.  And implode she did--an edge call, three URs, a downgrade and four, yes, four falls.  Hey, it's a tough lesson but it's one that must be learned.  I think she has potential to be that go-to skater Korea will need in the future.  She has plenty of room left to grow and hopefully she will.  All she needs now is some time to get the international experience and really learn to compete.  The good news in all this is that the judges like her.  They placed her 1st after the SP and she still made top 5 after that nightmarish FS.  If she continues to improve, she should find herself on a podium in the future.  I'll be keeping an eye on her.

And so, my first rant of the season ends.  Again, I will say I like Courtney.  I really like her attitude towards skating, I like her fearlessness and go get 'em approach...but her skating is severely lacking in my book.  Please get to work Mr. Nicks!  I'm pleased with the improvements to Risa and Vanessa's skating, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Hae-Jin and Polina K. can do in the future...

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