World Championships 2015: The Ladies

Elizaveta TuktamyshevaThe ladies event at Worlds this year held a few surprises after a lackluster season. I’ve only recently accepted the fact that it will be a while before we see anyone with the ability of Mao Asada, Yuna Kim and Carolina Kostner and I think that with that in mind, the next season will be a little easier to swallow. Nonetheless, the results of Worlds this year are promising in a few respects and I thought I’d share a few thoughts about it in this post.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva took home the World title this year while making history at the same time. In her short program, Liza became the sixth lady to complete the triple axel in figure skating history. Of course, this is very exciting news for the sport and the triple axel itself was a beauty. Even with Mao Asada’s retirement, I hope that Tuktamysheva (and others) continues to push the boundary of ladies’ skating.

Nonetheless, despite her victory, Tuktamysheva has much to work on – and not just her, but all of the World Champions this season. While Liza has improved significantly by learning how to skate with speed and power and jump consistently with her new body, her choreography leaves a lot to be desired. My issue with Tuktamysheva this season mostly has to do with the fact that we’ve seen similar programs from her before – the same Latin or Middle Eastern-themed music, the same jarring spin positions that garner many points under the IJS but don’t seem to fit in with the larger story of the program and a ton of pauses and posing. Back when Liza started out as at the senior level, these transgressions could be overlooked – as a young competitor, she had time to improve and grow.

Back then, potential was the name of the game but as a serious senior competitor, it should be about pushing yourself even further, tackling your weaknesses and creating spectacular moments in the sport through athleticism and/or art. At the moment, I think Liza is on her way to accomplishing this but her hold on the top spot in the sport will be tenuous unless the judges decide that this sort of empty, jigsaw-like, incoherent program is in vogue. Personally, I hope that this is not the case for the sake of my sanity.

Young phenom, Elena Radionova, won the bronze medal at Worlds; although some of us expected her to be at the top or at least in silver medal position, considering that she skated her LP while in midst of fever is impressive. All in all, Radionova skated a clean SP though her performance lacked her usual gusto. Her LP was lacklustre and sloppy but then again, the fact that she was able to skate from beginning to end without keeling over and winning a bronze medal despite it all is a badass feat all in itself. Nonetheless, Radionova has a lot to do during the off season – her edgework and quality is considerably weak compared to skaters like Satoko Miyahara, or even Liza. I also noticed that her limbs look a lot longer than they were previously – not unexpected as she looks as if she’s growing into a more adult body. With these longer limbs and lovely lines, she’s going to have to learn how to present herself to the best advantage with this new look, as well as adjust her jumps to accommodate her new centre of gravity. I pray that Elena has the right work ethic and tenacity to achieve this because her star quality and love of performing is truly wonderful to behold.

As for something wonderful to behold, Satoko Miyahara managed to capture the silver medal, which makes me really happy. Miyahara may not have the biggest jumps in the field but her skating skills and performance display a certain maturity that you don’t quite see in many of the younger skaters. Miyahara skated well in her SP, though I admit the program was airy and didn’t seem to suit her style, not to mention Satoko’s presence feels too mature for a program such as this one. Her “Miss Saigon” LP, on the other hand, suits her very well and is probably one of the best choreographed pieces this season. Satoko had one botched 3Lz during her skate at Worlds but otherwise, she pulled out a great performance.

During her two performances at Worlds, there was something that bugged me about Miyahara’s skating that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. After watching her programs again, I realized that despite having wonderful control over her edges – Satoko has some really lovely step sequences in her programs – her crossovers don’t quite have the power that we see from some of the more seasoned skaters like Liza, or even Kanako Murakami. Her blades don’t seem to cut through the ice as smoothly as some of the older girls and as a result, she doesn’t quite have the speed and power we like to see throughout her programs. Still, I suppose that’s just something she’ll need to work on – she is only 16, after all and winning the silver at that age is quite the feat!

Some honourable mentions/random thoughts:

  • I love the fact that Satoko Miyahara can spin clockwise and counterclockwise. It’s something I wish we’d see more often in singles skating.
  • Although I’m not a fan of Rika Hongo – her skating or her programs this year – I have to admit that it was refreshing to watch her skate cleanly with confidence in her Carmen LP. Albeit all the slouching. Someone strap a board to her back.
  • I’m looking at the results and I realize that Gracie Gold placed 2nd in the LP. I know I watched her skate live but I seriously don’t remember anything about it. Probably because that program has not improved since the beginning of the season and I’m still bored out of my mind.
  • After looking at my live tweets (be sure to follow me on Twitter @RinksideCafe), I confirm my opinion above about Gracie Gold. Someone give her something to skate to that gives her joy.

gracie gold tweet

  • The fact that Kiira Korpi failed to qualify for the LP breaks my heart way more than I expected it to. Korpi may not have the jumps as some of the younger skaters do but her ability to interpret music and choreography is what all the young phenoms should aspire to be.
  • Speaking of ability to interpret music, no, I’m still not a fan of her programs or skating style but Ashley Wagner knows how to work the music and sell her programs and I really appreciate that.
  • With Russian ladies on the podium at this year’s World Championships, I wonder if Adelina Sotnikova will make the comeback that she claimed she would make. In this article, Sotnikova says she wants to prove that she deserved to be “Olympic Champion” but with Liza ramping up her game, I wonder if she can get that token World title to prove her point.

All in all, I enjoyed the ladies competition, mostly because it made me look forward to seeing the progress of many of the young ladies skaters.

What were your thoughts on the ladies competition? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Hbelle
    Apr 19, 2015 @ 22:28:46

    I know what you mean about Gracie Gold’s program this season. It was so boring!! She’s too good for that..I’m kind of surprised at Lori Nicol in selecting that for her actually. Interested in what they decide on for her next season.

    Reply

  2. Andrea
    Sep 23, 2015 @ 23:33:21

    Even though the have loads of talented skaters who could do it, I get the impression that the Russian skating establishment just isn’t so interested in “creating spectacular moments in the sport”. There is an optimising “that will do, that’s good enough” thing that runs through all they do; the poor cuts of music, the missteps with costumes, the technical issues that don’t seem to get ironed out, so long as the programs are clean and get podium places. I write this after having just watched the test skates for the forthcoming season. With Mao back in the mix it’s going to be interesting. I would love to see a well designed, carefully choreographed program for Radionova.

    Reply

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