Tuesday, September 30, 2014

2014 Nebelhorn Trophy, JGP Tallinn Cup & Lombardia Trophy: Ladies Reviews

Lots of skating last week plus I'm behind from the week before, so there's a lot to catch up on.  I'll start with Nebelhorn Trophy before taking a look at JGP Tallinn Cup and wrapping up with a quick review of Lombardia Trophy.

2014 Nebelhorn Trophy

The final results:

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS):  Liza T finally seems to have found her spark again.  I think she has two solid program that compliment her style of skating and it appears as though she's getting a handle on her jumps.  She has always had really gorgeous jumps and now that her consistency is returning, I do think she could be an outside factor this season.  Unfortunately for her, trying to move up in the field is going to be one monumentally difficult task.  The competition in Russia alone is incredibly fierce.  In order to move up, Liza T will have to knock someone out of the top.

I think it may be possible for her to get past Anna Pogorilaya but for that to happen, Liza T will have to be perfect.  Anna's skating is lacking in many things but one thing she isn't lacking is technical firepower...plus she's coming off of a 4th place finish at worlds so it's likely she'll get a boost in her scores.  If Liza T wants to get back in the mix she'll need to get her 3Lz-3T back  and consistent as well as hit on everything else.  Her jumps here looked good though she does need to work on controlling her landings better (several turn-outs).  She's got a long way to go but so far it appears as though she's on the right track.  It was great to see that sparkle back in her skating...I've missed it!

Alena Lenova (RUS): It's pretty clear Alena should have left Morosov two seasons ago.  For the past few years she only looked like a shadow of herself but if this competition is any indication, she seems to be on her way back.  It appears that missing Sochi lit a fire in her because not only is she back to her cute and campy style in the SP, she's upped her content in the FS.

At this point in the season Alena is looking very good and I'm happy for her.  However, I'm still not sure how far she'll be able to go.  If she's able to skate cleanly in her Grand Prix events she'll be able to put pressure on people to perform.  As far as her overtaking the favorites, I'm not entirely sure that will happen.  In Russia alone there are four skaters minimum she'd have to get past, and that's not including the top skaters from other countries.  I'm happy for her for skating so well here but it's going to take even more than what she gave here to get back into the standings.

Gracie Gold (USA):  Seeing as how Gracie used her Grieg SP at all of the major events last season, I think she and her team should have come up with something new this season.  Given that all of the other top ladies will have new programs, I think keeping this SP is a mistake.  Everyone else will have something fresh to start off this new quad and Gracie will be doing the same thing as last season.  For the judges it's "seen that, scored that"...just not a good move in my opinion.

The FS is a lovely program and, on the right skater, it would be gorgeous.  On Gracie?  It's nice.  That's all; just nice.  Gracie does not have the ability to bring that something extra out of the music/choreography that would make the program exquisite and really stand out.  Instead what we get is a nice generic-looking performance that will get the job done but probably be forgotten two minutes after she leaves the ice.  Frank and Lori succeeded in smoothing Gracie out and helping her to be a more consistent competitor; however, their insistence on shoving her into that box labeled "pwetty pwincess" is turning Gracie into a rather boring skater to watch.  All of the stuff that made her exciting in the beginning (speed, power, explosiveness) is pretty much gone at this point. The jumps were okay here but they will have to be better by the time the GP starts.  Gracie usually starts off her season slowly but I don't think she can afford a slow start this season if she hopes to stay on top.

2014 JGP Tallinn Cup

The final results:

Miyu Nakashio (JPN): 51.81 (SP) + 108.83 (FS) = 160.64 (1st)
It was a very close race between the last group of skaters but, to my surprise, Miyu came out on top.  She had a decent SP though a < and e on her 3Lz left her in 3rd place, more than 6 points off of the lead.  Miyu skated last in the FS and she went for it: 7-triples including a 2A-3T-2T, all level 4 elements, and an overall strong performance to her tango FS.  I knew she'd done enough to land on the podium but I didn't expect her to win...after all, Miyu's content wasn't as hard as the Russians (she didn't have a 3-3).  It just goes to show what clean skating will get you.  Miyu fully rotated all of her jumps and in the end, that's what helped her to edge out Sotskova by 0.97 and win gold.  Miyu is the only non-Russian gold medalist on the JGP for the ladies this season.

Maria Sotskova (RUS): 52.06 (SP) + 107.61 (FS) = 159.67 (2nd)
Maria struggled a bit here.  She suffered a really painful-looking fall in the SP on her 3F-3T(<<) which cost her quite a bit.  Even with the bad fall she finished 2nd in the SP and was in perfect position to keep the Russian winning streak alive.  Maria started off with another fall in the FS but regrouped with a 3F-1L-3S and a 3Lz-3T.  Unfortunately both of the second triples in her combos were hit with < which cost her several points.  Maria went into the lead for the moment but ultimately the under-rotations cost her valuable points and she had to settle for silver.

Alsu Kaiumova (RUS): 51.09 (SP) + 106.62 (FS) = 157.71 (3rd)
Alsu had a few troubles in the SP with a doubled lutz and -GOE on her 3F-3T combo.  She placed 4th, less than a point out of 3rd place.  After Rin Nitaya struggled in the FS, Alsu seized the opportunity to move up by turning in a very strong FS which included a 3F-1L-3S and four other triples.  Her one mistake was a < on her 2A-3T which cost her around 3 points in terms of base value and -GOE...that mistake was pretty much the difference between bronze and gold.  Still, she fought back very well and landed on the podium for her first ever JGP medal.

As for the rest...

Rin Nitaya (JPN; 154.26, 4th) won the SP and went into the FS with nearly a 6 point lead.  She opened up with a beautiful 3T-3T but then everything went downhill: she fell on her next jump, popped the one after that, doubled another, under-rotated another...in the end Rin only completed 4 triple jumps, placed 5th in the FS, missed the podium and will now likely miss the Final.

Na Hyun Kim (KOR; 143.64, 5th) placed 9th in the SP but fought back hard with a solid 6-triple FS.  She placed 4th in the segment and moved all the way up from 9th to finish the event in 5th place.

Amber Glenn (USA; 142.83, 6th) had a rough SP but was still close enough to make a run at the podium.  She started off well with a nice 3Lz-3T but then ran into problems after that (under-rotations, doubled jumps, a fall) and finished 6th in the FS and 6th overall.

Only two JGP events left!  This week is JGP Pokal der Blauen Schwerter (which I will call JGP Pokal).  Here we will see Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) try to earn a spot in the Final as well as the season debut of Alexandra Proklova (RUS), who will compete at back-to-back events.  We'll also see Elizabet Turzynbaeva (KAZ) and Leah Keiser (USA) in their second events.

2014 Lombardia Trophy

I'm playing a little catch-up with this event.  Lombardia Trophy took place in Italy on September 18-21.  There weren't many big names there for the ladies but, given some of the performances I wanted to do a super-quick recap:

Satoko Miyahara (JPN; 183.90, 1st):  Wow, wow and wow.  Other than a < on her 3F in the SP and a ! on the same jump in the FS, Satoko was amazing here.  Both of her programs are simply gorgeous (as usual) especially her FS to "Miss Saigon."  Even though she doesn't get the same kind of attention some of the Russians and Americans get, I think it would be very foolish to count Satoko out.  She's got the content plus she's a very steady and consistent competitor.  I was very impressed with her strong performances here and her win was well deserved.

Hannah Miller (USA; 170.26, 2nd):  A fall on a 3F in the SP left her all the way down in 7th place but she rallied back with an excellent FS.  Her 7-triple FS (which included a 3T-1L-3S, 2A-3T and all level 4 elements) was 2nd in the segment and moved her all the way up to 2nd overall.  Hannah is such a wonderful performer.  I always enjoy (and admire) the energy and effort she puts into her programs.  She's very lovely to watch and I'm happy she was able to fight back and win silver here.

Angela Wang (USA; 160.25, 3rd):  The word is Angela's SP to "Paint It Black" was choreographed by Rachael Flatt.  Well kudos to Rachael...I think she found a solid side gig to being a doctor.  I thought the program was lovely.  Angela wasn't perfect in either program but she dug in and really fought back in this competition more than I've seen from her in the last few seasons, so that was a good sign.  I think she's such a beautiful skater and my fingers are eternally crossed for her.

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