Highlights and Recap: TEB 2014

Trophee Eric Bompard ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - Day Two

Last weekend, we were finally treated to a competition where the skating wasn’t actually that bad. Since I’m a little short on time and I’m rushing to get the predictions for the NHK trophy out, I’ll try to keep my thoughts short and sweet.

On a completely random note, I was 3/3 for podium predictions for TEB for the ladies, pairs and ice dance!

First of all, the highlights.

I feel as if this program has been skated slightly better in the past but Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov were still solid enough to run away with the gold medal. I’ve found myself rather fond of this LP, mostly because of that throw triple salchow at the end of the program. It just creates such a dynamic and exciting ending to everything. Also, is it just me or did they switch to the French soundtrack all of a sudden? (I kind of prefer the French, actually…)

I’m rather upset at the men’s results but this was quite a lovely skate from Denis Ten. The choreography is very reminiscent of Patrick Chan (Lori Nicholl’s doing, I’m sure), which in a sense is a compliment since this is probably one of the more intricate programs this season.

I still hate the music cuts in her SP and if it were any other skater, I’d be bored out of my mind, hoping for the program to end. This LP is slightly better though the beading on her costume is still a little distracting at times. Nevertheless, Elena Radionova‘s star power allows me to forgive most of her transgressions. I think I’m still a little iffy on the idea that she could very well be the top lady after the Grand Prix Final – there is still so much to work on – but I enjoy watching her skate and I hope she continues to improve as the season progresses.

I love this team. Sara Hurtado & Adria Diaz have some of the most interesting programs. The cynical part of me would like to write this program off as cheesy but there’s something quite charming and lovely about it and despite the fact that they’re not as fast or skate as close together as some other teams, they’re wonderful performers and they have presented some choreography that is simply wonderful. (Shibutanis take note – these are the types of programs that they should be exploring.) I wish the PCS would reflect some of the aspects of their programs and skating but alas, I think we expect too much from the judges here.

As for my comments…

Men

As mentioned above, I’m peeved at the results. Maxim Kovtun may have won this competition but his gold medal was more of a reflection of his opponents’ missteps rather than his achievement. Kovtun delivered some big jumps but otherwise, his performances were forgettable unless you want to memorize his windmill movements across the ice. Tatsuki Machida seemed to have a lapse in consistency as he made mistakes throughout his long while the grandiose music of Beethoven’s ninth seemed to eat him  up as the program progressed. I’m not sure what caused this but at least Machida will have a few weeks to regroup and prove himself to be the #1 Japanese man in the GPF. If he doesn’t do it there, his chances of being the top man at Japanese nationals might get smaller. Dennis Ten also fell apart in his LP after skating a lovely SP. Somehow, I’m not surprised considering his history.

Ladies

The results of TEB have been very revealing for the world of ladies skating as Elena Radionova collected her second GP medal this season while her fellow Russian teammate, Julia Lipnitskaia, settled for silver. The margin between the two ladies were huge in the end (18 points) as Lipnitskaia fell apart in her LP. I thought that Julia’s jumps were going to succumb to puberty soon enough and it was lucky that she managed to be old enough for the Olympics while she was at her peak last year. In terms of the onslaught of Russian ladies (4 of them will be at the GPF!), I think Elena is leading the pack now that Lipnitskaia is failing to deliver this season.

Ashley Wagner delivered a decently entertaining SP and LP, though the Moulin Rouge LP is a little tacky and overdramatic at parts. Ashley has a lot more polish and performance quality than the young Russian girls but her underrotations have been costly for her this season. Gracie Gold is likely to surpass Ashley again this season and I’m interested to see how Wagner will respond.

Pairs

I am seriously surprised at how pairs has gone from my least favourite discipline to my favourite discipline after an entire Olympic cycle. Wenjing Sui & Cong Han performed decently well. I’m not sure if I can say if they’ve improved since their last GP assignment since I see a lot of the same mistakes – lack of timing and synchronization in their side by side spins and problems with their side by side jumps but I’ll wait patiently and say they’re on their way.

The story for this competition to me, had to be Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov. I’ve become quite fond of these to and their stoic style of skating. I’d like to see stronger and higher triple twists from them but otherwise, these two are solid. The GPF will be an interesting match-up with at the very least, this team and Duhamel & Radford. I wonder if the technical elements or PCS will win out in the end there.

Ice Dance

I’m still a little confused over Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron. I’m not sure if I see the speed or the edges from them that I’ve seen in top teams in the past (Tessa & Scott and Meryl & Charlie have spoiled us all, I suppose) but maybe I’m missing something. They’re through to the final so I’m curious as to see how they stack up against the rest of the field. This is a rising team that I should keep an eye on.

In any case, what were your thoughts on TEB 2014? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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