Alina Zagitova (RUS): 194.37 (1st)
Alina ran away with this one. I think she has a solid base for a skater and she has potential to be more than just a jumping bean as well. With another two years or so (assuming she makes it past puberty) she could be quite lovely. I liked her SP but I found her FS to be nearly unwatchable even with her wearing Evgenia Medvedeva's adorable dress. Skating around for nearly two minutes doing nothing and then throwing out a bunch of wonkily landed jumps in the bonus...me no likey. ISU needs to nip the tano/rippon/backloading and general all out point whoring in the bud now. Still, great debut for her and she'll be one of the ones to watch this season...but those scores were ridiculous.
Kaori Sakamoto (JPN): 178.86 (2nd)
Kaori looks better than the last time I saw her. She has big and powerful jumps, nice speed and very good skating skills; however, she's a little boring. The programs were rather blah...nice, but generic. Nothing about them really stood out which is a no-no in this sport right now. Kaori needs more: more energy, more charisma, more personality...just more. In all honesty I think Kaori and Alina were equal in terms of performance. Both of them have a great base but need a lot of work. Good job by Kaori though. Hopefully we'll see her in the Final.
Rin Nitaya (JPN): 175.01 (3rd)
Of all the medalists Rin was my favorite. She has the maturity and polish that only comes with age and as she's several years older than most of the other competitors, that makes sense. I thought both programs were lovely, balanced and well-performed...yet her PCS did not reflect that. I'm not going to turn this into a rant about seriously whacked out judging but the fact that Rin was so far below Alina in PCS is a complete joke. Higher PCS due to high TES is why the scoring in this sport has gotten out of control.
As for the rest...
Ye Lim Kim (KOR; 157.79, 4th): She has potential but we're two years out from Pyeongchang and Korea still doesn't have anyone...
Alexia Paganini (USA; 149.87, 6th): The US juniors need to step it up. Russia and Japan are cranking out medal contenders on the junior level consistently. I'm still waiting on that breakout star to emerge at the junior level for the US...
This week is JGP Czech Skate and the debut of one of the Russians I've been keeping an eye since novice level, Anastasiia Gubanova. My money is on her to sweep all of the junior titles this year. There should be some good competition from Japan's Yuna Aoki and hopefully a few others as well. Later!