Cup of China 2014: Highlights and Recap

I apologize for the delay for this post. I was busy all weekend with friends out of town so it’s taken a while to get some time for myself and write this post.

xiaoyu yu yang jin 14 coc lp

First of all, I think I should say that I did take a look at the results over the weekend and when I did, I was in utter shock. There are times when I don’t mind being wrong with my predictions but for the most part, I’m a little miffed that my predictions are wrong, mostly because the results and the skating last weekend was a complete clusterf*** with very few highlights. Expect another cranky post though I tried really hard to be less cranky this time.


Maxim Kovtun winning this competition is to me, everything wrong with figure skating right now. Kovtun’s jump technique is a little odd – he’s not very tight in the air and the way he enters into some of his jumps feel a little awkward to me but what paved the way to his victory was his ability to rotate and somewhat land his jumps. Even worse was his PCS which were consistently high even though his interpretation of the music involved doing a very good imitation of a windmill. For the entire duration of his long program, it looked as if his music just happened to turn on while he was skating. I don’t even know what else to say about this. I know that the talent thinned out considerably after the Olympics but you’d think that the winner of a GP event would be better than this.

Lexus Cup Of China 2014 ISU Grand Prix Of Figure Skating - Day 2

The story of the weekend was, of course, Yuzuru Hanyu‘s huge collision with Han Yan. Despite some nasty looking injuries, both skaters opted to skate. For Hanyu, I can somehow forgive his scores in the SP, where he lost to Kovtun since he tripled his 4T and didn’t do a combination jump (though the decision to count his 3Lz somewhat confuses me) because the program is the most substantial piece of choreography I’ve seen so far this season for the menfolk. But even as someone who is generally supportive of Yuzuru, I have to admit that the overscoring in the LP was a little egregious. Let’s not even lie, it was outrageous. Yuzuru fell 5 times and only finished second to Kovtun in the LP because of the 5 deductions he incurred for falling. In terms of inflation because of his Olympic champion status, this is Patrick Chan level inflation. The choreography in the program is, again, perhaps more substantial than we’ve seen from other competitors but the kitschy costume and not to mention the numerous falls that break the flow of the program as well as the constant dazed and tired look on Hanyu’s face does not warrant the PCS that he got.

Yes, Hanyu was very brave for skating his LP but the scores exist to acknowledge good skating, not bravery.

Han Yan skated a half decent SP to wind up in third after that portion of the competition but the judges were not as kind with Yan and his tired skate dropped him down to 6th overall. Yan reminds me somewhat of Takahiko Kozuka with slightly more personality. He has lovely edges, posture and landings (when they happen) but I’m not quite sure if I like how similar his programs are to each other this season. I’d like to see more from him and right now, it looks like he’s having a slow start to the season. Pity.

To me, Richard Dornbush was a pleasant surprise at this competition. When his jumps are with him, they are lovely and unlike the majority of skaters, he actually skates with awareness to the music. Furthermore, his choreography does not feel less like a mindless checklist of elements than most and transitions exist in his program. Sadly, he started to unravel in the second half of the long program, popping jumps and falling, which made me really sad. Was any part of this competition good?


Elizaveta Tuktamysheva won this competition. I really don’t know what to say to that other than she’s lucky that she’s staying during a season when the field is very shallow and her fellow countrymen are either succumbing to puberty or injury, which allows her to be a contender for top Russian lady.

During the Olympic season, all eyes were on little Julia Lipnitskaia but despite all the hype, I was always a little apprehensive when they talked about her “bright future in figure skating.” Even at her peak last season, Lipnitskaia’s jumps – though landed – were small. After seeing Satoko Miyahara, I thought maybe Lipnitskaia was the brand of jumper that jumped small but landed wonderfully but once she began her SP with the 3T-3T, I knew that puberty had set in and it’s only a matter of time when Julia will have to either revamp her jumps or fall to the wayside. Her LP confirmed my suspicions as she popped a few jumps and seemed to run out of steam in the second half. Her jumps, even in the SP looked more laborious than usual and the way she picked into the ice for her toe jumps looked off for some reason. Julia will need a lot of work to get back to where she was last season but I’m not sure if she can ever go back to her former glory.

Before I start talking about Kanako Murakami, can I say, WHY THE HELL ARE THERE SO MANY GODDAMN PHANTOM OF THE OPERA PROGRAMS THIS SEASON??? Seriously, I listen to “All I Ask of You” during the off season ONCE for nostalgic reasons (I won a cassette tape of the original Canadian cast of PotO in grade 3 by beating all the all-stars of each grade at music bingo) and somehow there are a ton of Phantom programs (to versions of the musical that aren’t that well sung too!). Am I being punished for something??? And Kanako commits the crime of skating to not only one Phantom program but TWO. I can’t even deal right now. Moving on.


Pairs was probably the most palatable result in this competition. The Chinese swept the podium though with such a thinned out roster, I guess it wouldn’t have been hard. Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang won easily though this team still falls apart in the falls (mostly her fault) and in the spins. This team is really starting to gel and they have a great connection on the ice right now but I’d really like to see Peng work on her jumps. It’s strange to see her so confident up until she executes the SBS jumps.

Silver medalists Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin were a wonderful surprise. They are a Chinese team but their lines and the way they move reminds me of the Russian pairs teams with their classically pretty balletic lines. This team may need to straighten out their technique (there was a scary moment during their LP during one of the lifts), a lot of polish (she needs to turn out her foot and point her toes) and some of the signature big tricks that other Chinese teams have but they have half decent jumps and unison, which is something Chinese teams tend to lack. I really want to see these two improve. I admit to being a fan already.

Xuehan Wang & Lei Wang were given some pretty good choreography in both their programs and although they skated them with gusto and an impressive speed across the ice, there were times were I felt as if the partnership didn’t quite exist. It almost felt as if both of them happened to be skating on the ice and touching each other. They had some moments that were quite good like some of their side-by-side spins but overall, Wang & Wang felt a little bit junior-ish compared to Yu & Jin. Technically, they looked similar and stylistically, Yu & Jin are more dramatic while Wang & Wang are more airy and fun. It will be interesting to see how these teams progress but China seems to be building a strong pairs arsenal for Pyongcheng 2018.

Ice Dance

The results of the ice dance competition confused me most of all. How on earth did a rookie team beat two veteran teams, especially when one of them are last season’s World Champions??? What surprised me too was how none of the teams broke 100 points in their free dance.

I liked Gabriella Papadakis & Guillame Cizeron last season (they even made it to my favourite program list last year) but I didn’t expect them to shoot up the ranks this quickly. Their SD was a little hard to appreciate, mostly because of Papadakis’ long skirt which was distracting and covered up her leg lines, which made her skating a little hard to see. Their program was intricate but these two don’t quite have the presence to carry this program through to the end. They don’t project themselves the way a team like Virtue & Moir do to fill up the entire rink with their story. I’m a little surprised that they got the highest PCS of the night for their FD but maybe it’s just me. What did you guys think of them?

The Shibutanis surprised me by winning the SD but it seems as if the judges were harsh on some of the levels of their elements in the FD. I do think the Shibutanis should consider maybe a different choreographer for a program or two simply because we’re getting similar routines from them every season. Marina is running out of ideas.

I guess what caused my initial confusion at the rankings and scores were how far Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte had fallen. I had expected a lot more from last season’s World Champions as they seemed to be the team the judges had given the torch as the next top ice dancers. Their SD didn’t quite have the right feel for a Paso Doble (it felt like a parody of a ballet) and it looked as if Anna was trying to be a burnt marshmallow in her dress. The program itself was cheesy with moments that felt a little sloppy and rushed in the second half and they looked a little slow going across the ice. Their FD was a tired mess with Luca falling on a step sequence and a sloppy lift. The entire skate looked slow, tired and far from what we’ve seen from them in their FD last season. It’s times like these where you wonder if their coaching change was a good idea.

Sigh. Another GP event that was a bit of a disappointment due to the post-Olympic year. Did anyone feel this way or did you see some sort of highlight that I missed? If so, let me know in the comments! I’d love to see it!

~Rinkside Cafe

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Andrea K
    Nov 13, 2014 @ 23:53:06

    Yes, I felt the same way about this event; a fizzer, with an unsettling sense of Hanyu’s scores being inflated for Japanese TV (the event is broadcast live). So many low points; the crash, double Phantom, strange scores, Julia’s LP, double mu-mu, Maxim Kovtun looking depressed to win gold…I didn’t enjoy it. Surely the season can only improve.


  2. ay-sa
    Nov 14, 2014 @ 00:21:14

    TBH, I think the primary reason why Julia Lipnitskaya did a 3T-3T in the SP was because the ISU increased the deduction for wrong edges this season. Her lutz is almost certainly going to receive a ! if not an e. It’s not worth it for her to do a combo as risky as a 3Lz-3T if she’s going to get a 30% deduction in base value on the lutz…


  3. burdens
    Nov 14, 2014 @ 09:43:39

    I think you guys are over negative. The competition was very terrible but ever since when post Olympic season has any exciting GP series? And I am tired of people act like the score for Hanyu is the end of FS. It’s just one bad competition and generally no one were exciting. You guys act like you guys were there in the arena. Well, for the most part we were not there. Frankly after watching CoC I don’t think the scores were outrageous, but the fact that people let those boys went to to skate were outrageous. it’s nit easy to be the judges these days.


  4. Grace Wilson
    Nov 15, 2014 @ 03:37:53

    I’m Australian and we have had a big issue with Concussions in AFL a few years ago. They brought in a concussion test, which any player who it deemed to possibly concussed must pass (they do it twice in case of a slow onset due to adrenaline) before they can go back on the field. From watching multiple concussions in AFL and my own experience having had two, Hanyu was very clearly concussed. He should not have been allowed to skate with a concussion. I’ flabbergasted that the medics at the rink would not have their own concussion test (which is basically a simple test, since concussions affects your brain function and logical reasoning) and would not have insisted and him conducting one, based on what I’m seeing in this video. Serious long term damage can be done if you try to force yourself to do cognitive things (including skating a program!) on a concussion. I think it was brave of Hanyu to skate, but it was extremely stupid of the officials. This is perhaps a case of concussions just not be as common in skating compositions as they are in AFL (commonly one every week or fortnight) but they are an subtle and very dangerous injury.
    In saying all this though, if an AFL player gets a concussion they can come back the next week and try again (assuming it wasn’t a major one) but skaters can’t do that in competition. They do need to be taken more seriously in competition though, in my own experience with my two, and with my second love that is AFL, you have to take them seriously because they are so so so much worse than they appear outwardly.
    I don’t how he skated the way he did, as many falls as there was, with a concussion. It shows his skating skill, especially in the footwork. My first concussion I felt drunk for days, and the second one all I could do was sleep. His performance (wether you think it was overscored or not) is definitely commendable in these circumstances.


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