Thursday, August 7, 2014

Off Season Fun 2013-2014: Top 5 Favorites From the Past 4 Years (2010-2014)

Off Season Fun continues with me attempting the impossible! Okay, I'm exaggerating but still, attempting to condense four long years of skating down to only five favorite things per season wasn't an easy task.  So much has happened over the last quad but these are the things I will remember the most.

2010-2011 Season

1. Yu-Na Kim's "Homage to Korea" FS

The uniqueness of the music and the beautiful choreography along with the personal feeling she brought to this made it a masterpiece in my mind.  I truly lament the fact that this program was never given a proper chance in the competitive arena.  Even with the errors, it was a stunning program.

2. Mirai Nagasu's 4CC FS

After Vancouver everyone expected Mirai to be the next big thing in figure skating, but she struggled all season long.  After a disappointing showing at nationals, Mirai went to 4CC and delivered the kind of performance that people had been expecting to see from her all year long.

3. Alissa Czisny Wins Nationals

Alissa's story is one of perseverance.  For so long she struggled with inconsistency but somehow everything came together for her this season.  She won the Grand Prix Final and delivered two amazing performances at nationals to secure her second title.

4. Mao Asada's "Liebestraum" FS  

I hated both of Mao's programs from the previous season so to see her return to her classical music roots was such a relief.  It was a rough season for Mao but this soft and beautiful program was a highlight and proved that the old Mao was still in there.

5. The Debut of Kanako Murakami

Kanako debuted on the senior scene in a whirl of polka dots and hair bows.  I loved it!  She brought a fresh new energy and enthusiasm to the competitions and proved that younger skaters could contend with (and beat) the big girls.

2011-2012 Season

1. Caroline Zhang's Comeback at Nationals/4CC  

Caroline will always have a special place in my heart. Her SP at nationals this year was such an amazing moment to witness.  She delivered her best performances in years and followed it up with two great performances and a bronze medal at 4CC.

2. Carolina Kostner's World Title Win

By this time I'd fallen in love with Carolina.  She'd developed consistency with her jumps and her artistry was tops this year.  After struggling for so long, she found her stride and was able to deliver well at worlds and earn a world title.

3. Ashley Wagner Emerges at Nationals/4CC 

It took Ashley a while to find her footing in the sport but this was the year she emerged as a true medal threat.  After a solid GP season she convincingly won nationals with her signature "Black Swan" program and then followed it up with a gold medal at 4CC and a 4th place finish at worlds.

4. The Debut of Elizaveta Tuktamysheva 

Liza T debuted on the senior scene and scared the bejesus out of everyone with her difficult jumps and clockwork consistency.  She coasted on the GP this year, winning both of her events.  No newbie has managed to replicate that kind of success in their debut season since.

5. Julia Lipnitskaya's Undefeated Season  

Julia owned the Junior Grand Prix this year.  Nearly all of her wins were blowouts (more than 30 points at one event!) and she set several scoring records throughout the year, including the world record for highest total score at junior worlds.

2012-2013 Season

1. Akiko Suzuki's "O" FS  

This program was the highlight of the season for me. The music, the costume, and the remarkable intangibles that Akiko brings to her skating in a way no one else can.  This was a masterpiece and will definitely be the program she is remembered for.

2. Mao Asada's "Swan Lake" FS 

Mao continued her climb back to the top with "Swan Lake" and I loved it.  There was a simplicity to the choreography that worked so well for her.  This program showcased Mao's incomparable gracefulness and elegance as well as her beautiful skating skills and footwork.

3. Yu-Na Kim Returns 

I never expected it to happen, so to see Yu-Na return to competition was incredible.  More incredible was the way in which she returned.  After competing in only two minor events, Yu-Na showed up at worlds and ruled it as if she'd never left, winning both segments and earning her second world title.

4. Carolina Kostner's "Bolero" FS  

Carolina ascended to a new level of musical interpretation and performance with her FS to "Bolero."  I'd always hated this music but Carolina owned it and brought it to life in the most amazing and spectacular way.

5. Elena Radionova's Undefeated Season 

Elena continued the Russian reign on the junior level by winning both of her JGP events and the Final.  Elena placed 2nd at senior nationals but won junior nationals on her way to winning junior worlds.  On the junior level, she was undefeated that year.

2013-2014 Season

1. Top 3 Performances from the Sochi Olympics

Scoring controversy aside, this was an absolutely phenomenal competition.  It was incredible to see the top 3 ladies all skate so well under the pressure.  Whether you agree with the results or not, you can't deny all three delivered their best on the big stage of the Olympics.

2. Mao Asada's Olympic FS  

After the heartbreak of the SP, Mao delivered THE moment of the night with her historic 8-triple FS.  She may not have gotten the result she wanted but she definitely achieved her Olympic moment.

3.  Elena Radionova Makes History

Elena debuted very strongly on the senior GP this year, medaling at both of her events and placing 4th at the Final. She capped it all off at junior worlds by defending her title and making history: Elena is the first 2-time junior world champion.

4. Mirai Nagasu's Nationals Performances  

Four years after her electrifying performances at the not-Olympic Trials, Mirai was able to recapture some of that old magic and personality that had been missing for years.  Despite being left off of the Olympic and world teams, Mirai proved that she still has what it takes to compete.

5. Julia Lipnitskaya's Rise to the Top  

With her improved artistry and unbelievable consistency, Julia emerged as a true gold medal threat this season. In her sophomore year Julia earned two GP golds, a GPF silver, became the youngest European champ ever, earned an Olympic gold medal, and topped it off with a silver medal in her first trip to worlds. Julia has established herself as one of the premier skaters in the field heading into this next quad.

This has been a great era of figure skating.  With most of the top names exiting, we're heading into a new era of skating that already promises to be very different from what we've come to expect in this sport.  Who will emerge?  Who will fade away?  What will happen in these next four years?

I have no idea...but I can't wait to find out!

1 comment:

  1. I think out of all the ladies who retired recently - I'll miss Akiko the most. She may not be the best out there, but there's a sincere and earnest quality to her skating that never fails to take my breath away. Also her camaraderie with her coach is so endearing.

    Also, first time commenter, but long-time lurker here. I love your blog and have been reading it for quite sometime, but only had the gumption to leave a comment now ^^;; Thanks for all the great posts and for taking the time to share your views with us!