Sunday, September 18, 2016

2016 Russian Test Skates

I always look forward to the test skate videos.  It's always good to have an idea of what's coming before it gets here, especially when it comes to the Russian women.  I saw a number of programs I liked, a few I didn't, and even some I'm on the fence about.

I Like!

Anna Pogorilaya

SP:  I like that Anna went with a Latin choice this season.  I remember her senior debut program was a tango and it worked really well for her.  She has the maturity and poise to pull off a sexier themed program and I think she should play this one up: red lips, hot dress, the whole nine.  The thing that sets Anna apart from Evgenia and Elena is the fact that she looks more mature...she should use that to her advantage.

FS: I really like this program for Anna.  It seems like she's finding her stride in terms of nailing down her style and that's always a good thing.  I like the way this program builds and, aside from the PogoSplat at the end, that was a very strong performance for this point in the season.  I do hope she reconsiders the pink dress...I think a dark purple or blue would be better.  Either way this is a good one and I'm looking forward to seeing it in competition.

Julia Lipnitskaya

SP:  Very nice! I loved the music. Julia looks very strong and so relaxed out there.  Her movement around the ice and the ease of her jumps looks like it did back in 2014 whereas for the last two seasons she's looked a little labored and slow.  I loved the new spins as well, especially the combo.  I'm really hoping to see Julia bounce back and this SP has me thinking she may just do it.

FS:  I think this "Kill Bill" program is a good choice for Julia.  I really like that she's continuing to step outside of her comfort zone and try new music.  She just needs to work on bringing more personality and energy to the performance to really sell it.  The jumps were a bit scratchy here but she's looking better than she's looked in a long time.  My fingers are crossed to see her have a strong comeback this season.

Maria Sotskova

SP:  I think Maria looks stronger this year.  She seems a little faster and a bit more sure of herself than she's looked in the past.  I love her look on the ice: very Carolina Kostner-esque with her long arms and legs.  She's got the maturity and control needed to work the long limbs and make it look elegant and beautiful.  I think this is a very nice senior debut SP.

FS:  I like this program for her as well.  There's nothing that really stands out about it but the music is lovely and the choreography is nice.  It's going to be her delivery of the program that makes it work for her.  Maria isn't a flashy skater; she has a quiet elegance about her that is appealing but can be overlooked next to a "bells and whistles" skater.  It will be up to her to really turn on the performance and deliver something that the judges will remember after she leaves the ice.

Adelina Sotnikova

SP:  I'm really sad that there's a strong possibility we won't see this in competition.  I like the program for her.  It's really intense and dramatic and she plays to those moods and emotions very well.  I'm impressed by her speed around the rink and just how much better she looks in terms of her overall skating since 2014...and the jumps were good!  I doubt if this will see competitive ice but it is still a solid program.

FS:  Another nice program for her.  I'm glad to see her go a bit more traditional in her music choice this year.  I didn't mind the "Je Suis Malade" FS but I don't think I'd want to see two seasons of the same thing.  I like the drama and power of this and the program itself was nice...the jumps weren't exactly terrible either for her.  Again, not sure if we'll see her compete this but if we do I think it will be a well-received program.

Elena Radionova

SP: The performance was a bit of a mess but I really like the music choice and the program itself looks great as well.  I'm glad she's moved away from the overly dramatic and angsty vibe she had in the SP last year. Elena is more effervescent and engaging when she's skating to music that allows her to bring out her happy and fun personality.

FS: We'll have to wait to see what she has in store for the FS.  Lord, please let it be something better than last year...please!

On the Fence...

Evgenia Medvedeva

SP:  With Evgenia there's always some kind of story with the program. I have no idea what the program is about but it was solid, though not as strong as some of the others in my opinion.  It reminds me a lot of her previous programs which does make me wonder if her range is limited or if she just likes to do "I'm telling a story" type of programs.  It will score well as long as she skates well but I was hoping to see something different this year.

FS:  Again, I was hoping to see something different.  It's not a bad program but I feel like it's nearly the exact same thing from last season except with some bad music.  I really don't like all of the racket going on during the step sequence.  It probably makes sense to the story of the program but as someone watching it without background info (like most people will be), it sounds like a bunch of noise.  Again as long as she hits the jumps she'll score well but I'll be honest...I'm actually rather disappointed in these programs.  I was hoping to see some growth/range/variety from Evgenia but, like the SP, this one looks very similar to what she did last year.  Oh well...

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva

SP:  This isn't a good program but it isn't necessarily a bad one's just a program.  I think Liza T needs a lot more than this if she's hoping to get back into the standings.  I wonder if she's still attempting the triple axel?  At this point that's going to be the only thing that can give her a leg up over some of the other skaters.

FS:  Again, not terrible but not good either.  I wish we could see something other than just hip rolls and wrist-ography when it comes to Liza T's programs.  In all honesty she can get by with the slightly crappy programs as long as she can deliver on the jumps.  As Liza T is trying to work her way back into the standings (again) she's going to need a number of clean programs complete with as many triples (and triple axels) as she can get.  If that doesn't happen I don't know where she'll end up...


Serafima Sakhanovich

SP:  Eh...I didn't too much care for this SP.  It's a little generic in terms of the music and choreography.  Nothing really stood out for me and that's not good.  Serafima is in a majorly deep field and the only way she is going to get noticed is by standing out.  Doing the Rippon (both hands over the head) feature on everything is impressive...when it's done well.  She's sacrificing the cleanliness of the jump by going for the difficulty.  If you're going to do it, do it well.  If you're going to do it and do it sloppily, I just prefer you don't bother at all.

FS:  Same one from last year.  Again with the arms...if you don't land the jump cleanly then you've negated whatever positive GOE you were hoping to get from that added feature.  I don't know...I still feel like Serafima has a long way to go before she'll catch up to the other top names.  Her skating is still really sloppy.  Maybe she should spend a bit more time polishing her presentation rather than trying to beef up her GOE with Rippon jumps...just a thought.

Alena Leonova

SP:  Nope.  Can't say I liked that one.  To me this music works much better in a less structured program, i.e. an exhibition where you can punctuate the moments in the music rather than skating through them.  It could have worked but there are these obvious moments in the music that aren't being used and it aggravates me.  Additionally, Alena isn't 7 years old nor is she Kristi Yamaguchi, so lose the pigtails.  Alena needs a great program if she's trying to get back into the top 5 and this ain't it.

FS:  I, um...hmm. I really don't even know what's going on in this one.  I didn't care for it.  I didn't get the jumping rope and rocking a baby thing...I just...I didn't like it.  I do wonder what Alena's aims are as far as competing goes.  If she's competing just because she likes to that's fine, but there's no way she's getting back into the top 5 with programs or skating like this.

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