Julia Lipnitskaya (RUS): 63.71 (SP) + 119.34 (FS) = 183.05 (1st)
As expected, Julia ran away with this one though not in the manner I thought she would...rocketed away is more like it! I mean, the point spread was a little ridiculous: 32.84 points, a record for a junior lady as is her score for the competition. Her SP was very secure: clean jumps, good spins--but I can't say her program stood out. It actually blended in with the rest of the juniors who turn a blind eye to artistry and expression. Her FS was in the same vein, great spins and jumps except for a little trouble on the landing of her 3f, and the same disregard for artistry or connection with the music.
A lot of people are singing Julia's praises and I'm one of them...only I'm not singing as loudly. I do think that her skills are rather impressive for a 13 year old. She doesn't have that awkward Bambi-on-skates look that a lot of younger skaters have. She has nice posture and there's a decent amount of polish to her skating for someone her age. Julia also has good speed across the ice, her spins are really flexible and fast, plus she has interesting positions. I'm impressed with those aspects of her skating; however, the overall package leaves me with a general feeling of meh. She's good but I just can't get that excited yet.
Julia still has to survive her visit from the big bad puberty monster. She's grown since last year but she still has a ways to go. Her basics are good and her technique is relatively solid though she does get edge calls on her lutz occasionally. We'll have to wait to see if the height/weight gain affects her rotation though. Julia isn't a big jumper; compared to Adelina Sotnikova and Polina Shelepen, she actually jumps quite low. Her jumps kind of skim the ice; she gets good distance, but they aren't that high. If her rotation slows that will be a big problem.
I'll end my ramble about Julia by saying I like her. She has some really good qualities that are amazing to see in such a young skater but she still has a lot of work to do. Julia's gold medal gives her 30 points total and that massive score puts her into first place in the standings. She is definitely the favorite heading into the JGP Final later this year.
Anna Shershak (RUS): 51.48 (SP) + 98.73 (FS) = 150.21 (2nd)
Anna is one of the many surprises of this competition. This is my first time seeing her and I'll reiterate: Russia has a crap-ton load of talent in their ladies singles! Anna has a lovely appearance on the ice. Like Adelina, Polina S. and Polina K., she appears rather tall and statuesque with long arms and legs. Her presentation is very good as well and she has nice flow over the ice, good speed, decent spins...yet another strong skater for Mother Russia. Anna's SP was very strong (3t-3t) and she followed it up with a strong performance in her FS as well. Technically speaking, she doesn't match up against the top ladies. Her 3t-3t was nice, but she has no 3f, no 3lz and no 3lp; only toes and salchows and that won't fly. Only four triples in her FS--nicely executed, but it's just not enough. However, I will say I really enjoyed her programs. In terms of who I prefer to watch skate, I'd actually take Anna over Julia. Anna's programs are far better than Julia's in terms of choreography and connecting to the music, though that's a credit to Galina Ishenko (Anna's choreographer). Morosov is Julia's choreographer...nuff said.
Anna's silver medal here gives her 13 points with one event left to go. I'd say she has a decent shot of medaling this week but it's doubtful that her technical content will be competitive against Risa Shoji, Samantha Cesario and a few of the other girls we'll see this week.
Hannah Miller (USA): 52.78 (SP) + 93.96 (FS) = 146.74 (3rd)
Hannah has a lot of energy and spunk when she skates which makes her an entertaining skater to watch. She gives a little bit extra to her performance which is always appreciated, especially from younger skaters. Her "Danse Macabre" SP was good (only an edge call on her lutz) and placed her second in the segment. Hannah followed up her nod to Yu-Na's SP with a nod to Mao's FS by skating to "Masquerade Waltz." This program didn't go as smoothly: four UR calls, a popped salchow and an edge call lost her quite a few points and placed her fifth in the FS. She's another one who jumps a bit low and they nailed her with the calls on this one. Luckily her strong SP performance was enough to hold her up and she finished third overall. This was Hannah's only JGP assignment of the season so she doesn't have a shot to get in the JGPF but she should be very happy with the way she skated here.
Okay, on to the surprises...
So-Youn Park (KOR): 49.06 (SP) + 95.65 (FS) = 144.71 (4th)
One of the few pleasant surprises was So-Youn Park who came in fourth in the competition. I really enjoyed watching her. Good speed, nice lift to her jumps and really nice presentation as well. So-Youn had problems in the SP but had a really solid FS which was enough to keep her in fourth place overall improving upon her sixth place finish at JGP Austria. I think she's another skater from Korea to keep an eye on in the future.
Courtney Hicks and Satoko Miyahara: So originally, I thought these two would throw-down for spots in the Final. Of course my assumption was shot to hell by the time the SP was over...
Courtney Hicks (USA): 43.95 (SP) + WD (FS)
I'm not a fan of Courtney's skating at all--she actually makes me cringe. Still, I wasn't expecting this. Her SP was terrible! I don't know what was up with her but her feet were not under her at all. She slipped off the landing edge of her 3f in her combo and had zero time to gather herself before going for the lutz and she went down on that as well. The levels for her elements weren't as high as in Brisbane and she finished the segment in eight place. I'm not completely sure what happened for the FS that caused her to withdraw. Rumor is she may have injured herself during the warm up. That withdrawal takes her out of the running to make the JGPF. I can't say I'll miss her skating but it would have been nice to see how she stacks up against Polina S. and Julia...
Update: It's being reported that Courtney actually chipped a bone in her leg. Apparently she went up for a flip, came down and did not get back up. It's not like it's a six-week recovery; this will be more like four months which means she'll miss the rest of the season. Now the question is was this injury completely random? Or did they know she was injured coming in and just decided to go for it anyway? Judging by her SP, I'd say they must have known something was wrong especially with the way she collapsed in her jumps. Hmm...that's something to think about...
Satoko Miyahara (JPN): 44.91 (SP) + 98.33 (FS) = 143.24 (5th)
I really thought Miyahara would medal here, especially given the great scores she got at JGP Baltic. Unfortunately, she did not replicate those great performances here. Miyahara was hit with a DG and UR on her opening 3f-3t combo in the SP and ended up doubling her 3lz. Those mistakes left her in seventh place heading into the FS. She bounced back with a better FS, though she was peppered with UR calls on more than half of her jumping passes. Those URs and the -GOEs really hurt her, but she still placed third in the segment which was enough to pull her up from seventh to fifth overall. Miyahara's fifth place finish earned her 7 points giving her 20 points total...and that is not enough to make the Final.
While I don't disagree with her placement, I do think some of her scores were low, particularly her PCS. Miyahara's skating skills are amazing and her transitions are crazy-difficult, the most difficult in the whole competition...yet she got nothing over a 6.00 for TR and nothing over 6.50 for SS, compared to Julia who got as high as 7.50 for TR and 7.75 for SS, though her transitions and in-between moves were nowhere near as difficult. It bugs the hell outta me when skaters aren't rewarded for what they do well. I do think Miyahara's size has a lot to do with it. She's so tiny and that reduces the impact her skating has...sad.
2011-2012 JGP Standings..So FarMy prediction of Courtney Hicks and Satoko Miyahara making the Final was dead wrong; neither of them did. So after last week's competition, the JGP standings are as follows
Risa Shoji, Samantha Cesario and Anna Shershak are the ones to watch this week.
A gold medal for Risa will give her 28 points and place her third in the standings; silver will give her 26 points and a tie breaker would be needed to determine where she fits in (both Vanessa Lam and Zijun Li have 26 points as well). Bronze will leave her with 24 points and if both Samantha and Anna placed above her, that would knock her out of contention for a spot. Assuming those two medal, Risa needs to place second or higher to assure herself a spot in the Final.
Gold for Samantha will give her 26 points and put her in a tie breaker with Vanessa and Zijun. A silver medal would give her 24 points and might be enough to squeeze her into that last spot (assuming Risa wins gold). A bronze medal would give her 22 points. If both Risa and Anna finish ahead of her, she won't make the Final. To make the Final, Samantha can finish no lower than second; if she does finish lower than second, then she'd need either Risa or Anna not to medal in order to have a shot and she'd still have to win the tie breaker between Polina Korobeynikova and Polina Agafonova who both have 22 points.
I like Anna but like I said, her technical content can't match up against Risa or Samantha, so I can't see her getting higher than third unless one of them has a meltdown. BUT stranger things have happened. If Anna were to win gold that would give her 28 points and put her into third place in the standings. Silver would give her 26 points and she'd earn one of those final spots with a tie breaker. Bronze would give her 24 points. If Risa wins gold and Samantha wins silver, that would put Anna in a tie breaker for that final spot with Samantha. If Samantha were to win gold and Risa wins silver, then Anna would end up seventh and just miss earning that sixth and final spot. Anna's situation is the same as Samantha's: second place will assure her a spot, but with bronze she'd need either Risa or Samantha not to medal in order to nab that last spot.
Those are a lot of scenarios and that's only going by the top three coming into the competition--any combination of ladies can end up on that podium. One thing to take from last week's competition is that nothing is set in stone. Who would have guessed that both Hicks and Miyahara would be shut out? I know I didn't...With the standings as they are, two spots are secure but four skaters are locked for the final. Julia Lipnitskaia and Polina Shelepen's spots and placements are locked in the Final. Vanessa Lam and Zijun Li are locked for the Final, but their placements might shuffle depending on the outcome of this week's final competition.