Debrief: Grand Prix Final 2015 – Part I

 

satoko miyahara 15 gpf lp

As a few of you have remarked, my predictions for the Grand Prix Final were oh so terribly wrong. Although my predictions are incorrect a lot of the time, these ones were wrong through and through and when I thought about it, I drew these conclusions:

  1. Not having the 2nd half of TEB really messed things up. I point to my overestimation of Gold and Chan’s abilities. I thought they were going to medal here but I suspect that should TEB have played out completely, their weakness for this season would have been a lot more clear.
  2. Never base your predictions on your hopes. Just stick to the status quo until it changes.
  3. Even if you do stick with the status quo, ice is slippery. I did not think that anyone could beat Duhamel & Radford. Their streak is over.

Moving on, let’s go to the highlights and debrief!

Highlights

Even though he broke both of his records here, I preferred Yuzuru’s LP performance at NHK. Nevertheless, his SP was finally skated to perfection. Happy tears. So many happy tears.

This is indeed a rare moment. Yes, I’ve seen similar programs like this before from Chan and he seemed to have trouble finding his blade on a lot of his exits but this is probably the most expressive skate I’ve seen from him. I absolutely adore the step sequence at the beginning with that spread eagle variation.

Remember back in the day when you just knew that Sasha Cohen was going to completely bomb her LP by the nervous expression on her face? This was definitely the opposite. You could tell by Satoko’s expression when she took her starting pose that she was going to kill it and that she did. Miyahara is often such an introverted skater and watching her can be akin to watching a painter or dancer who’s in their own little world – entertaining to those who love them but a bit bland or confusing to the rest of the world. This time, Satoko really did well to reach out to the audience with her energy and the crowd definitely responded. Brava!

I try not to put once skater twice in the highlights section but I think this LP deserves it. I’m still not completely taken with it but the skating skills, the buttery smoothness of her edges. I have a hard time believing that she got the lowest skating skills score of the night.

Men

  • Yuzuru. #flawless Although in terms of his scores, he did score level 3 on his step sequences in both programs and not all of his GOEs are perfect. Technically, there are still ways for him to break his record again. Personally, I just want him to bring me to tears at Worlds.
  • Personally, I’m a little confused by some of the decisions made by Javier’s coaching team this season. Despite his silver medal, he was utterly lacklustre in both his programs. It looked like he was having difficulty with many of the landings of his jumps and his heart wasn’t in the performance at all.
  • It seems as if the SP is trying to play to the the suave side of Javi’s personality but he’s not selling it and if you’re not going to be 100% comfortable with a program, it might as well be a program with a theme to challenge you to show that you’re willing to learn and grow. As for the LP, I’m not sure if anyone really enjoyed the average Joe in suspenders program a la PChiddy when Chan was skating it and although Fernandez sells this better than Chan, it’s still not as charming or fun as people conceptualize it to be.
  • Shoma Uno has just secured his spot at Worlds with a bronze at the GPF. Nonetheless, his skating kind of reminds me of a home video of a talented actor/actress in their teens doing theatre at school. The ability is there but it’s not packaged too well (his costumes aren’t horrendous but they don’t add to his programs either), and the marks inexperience show throughout his performance – the long pause in the middle of the LP, his general over-acting, the long set-ups for some of his jumps. The comforting thing is that Yuzuru used to be like that too so Uno still has time to grow and he’s off to a great start.
  • Skate Canada gave me the impression that Chanflation was back but fortunately, the GPF proved otherwise. Chan’s scores seem to have been tempered and I can watch him without feeling completely and utterly annoyed. Even though he didn’t medal here, I think he’s slowly improving over the course of the season, which is a good start on the comeback trail
  • Considering his competitors, I’m not surprised at Daisuke Murakami’s placement but I did very much enjoy his SP. I’d like to see him work on his posture and he’s a little forward on his jump landings. Being in the GPF was a feat and I hope he finds his consistency in future seasons.

Ladies

  • Am I annoyed that Evgenia Medvedeva won? Yes. Am I surprised? No. Her programs were built to take advantage of her current jumping ability and the way points are allotted for jumps. It’s a pity because she is a lovely skater and the back-ended programs really ruin my enjoyment of her skating. Overall, I think the Russian Federation’s new strategy for the ladies event is quantity over longevity. There are a ton of talented young Russian ladies both in the senior and junior ranks and I suppose they figure that by the time 2018 rolls around, one of them will have enough experience and jumping talent unmarred by puberty to be a threat to the podium in the style of Lipnitskaia. Because seriously, I have a feeling that Yuna Kim would’ve ended up with the silver anyways had Lipnitskaia skated well in the singles event.
  • This GPF competition solidified my adoration of Satoko Miyahara. I was a little skeptical about her when a close friend of mine was raving about her and her Miss Saigon LP from last season was good but I wasn’t 100% sold. Her skates here, however, made me remember all the lovely things about skating – the way a blade can effortlessly cut across the ice, as if all of it were effortless. My only disappointment is for the judges – seriously, guys? Satoko’s been consistently undermarked in her PCS but you’re telling me that her skating skills and transitions were inferior to Wagner’s in the LP. I shake my head. To end on a non-negative note: I really hope that Satoko seeks choreography from Marina Zueva and gets something similar to what Kanako got in the 2012/13 season. (Jeff Buttle might also be a good match for Satoko’s style.)
  • Oh Elena. Every year, you come out with choreography that’s a little… tacky/frenetic/way beneath you and every year, I can’t help but enjoy myself while watching you. Despite winning just the bronze here, I think that it’s commendable that she’s maintained her position in the top echelons in ladies skating after her growth spurt over the summer. Elena has charisma in spades but I would love to see her finish her movements and develop her musicality. I’ve seen this girl’s edges and they can be great but neither of her programs really showcase that. In terms of her jumps, I’d like to see her get more into her knees in her landings for a smoother edge coming out. I will continue to pray for you, Elena, and hope that next season brings a program that is worthy of your Star Power. (To name a choreographer, I’d say an inspired David Wilson.)
  • Yes, yes, her SP wasn’t perfect but what I’m most miffed about Ashley Wagner is her PCS in the LP. It’s a lovely program for Ashley, who’s a great performer but in terms of its athleticism, there are a ton of pauses strewn throughout the program, windmill arms, not a lot of difficult transitions and far too much posing to deserve some of the PCS that she got.
  • Gracie! You were supposed to win this for me because I was betting on this being your year! AHHHHH!!!!!!!! I am screaming in frustration. Please excuse me for a second. Her programs are a better fit for her this season but somehow, I felt even more agony than I did last year when I was watching her LP. (Her SP wasn’t bad but the rules penalize double jumps for the non-combination/non-axel jumping pass quite heavily this season.) I’ll admit: I hate Shostakovich and Firebird but Gold was moving so slowly and tentatively across the ice that the music was just extra salt on the wound. I’m pretty sure she was also off the music for most of her program. (And she still got a higher PCS than Miyahara!?!?!) There are also a few issues in the choreography that I’ve mentioned before that I still take issue with – the giant pause in the middle of the program (literally 10 seconds of posing), the frequent awkward movements/poses that lends itself too easily to the “burnt chicken” image that flies around whenever people skate to Firebird. I can’t even anymore. Let’s just move on.
  • Poor Mao-chan had a rough time at the GPF and it looks like her comeback isn’t going as smoothly as I expected it to be at the beginning of the season. Mao was skating without attack and was super tentative on all of her jumps that weekend. At the very least, she’s landing her 3A a lot more consistently nowadays but she also seems to be prone to popping her jumps, which will cost you a lot under the IJS. Personally, I have yet to warm up to her SP and part of it is because she doesn’t feel it and part of it is because it’s quite empty at the beginning where it’s mostly jumps and setting up for jumps. We need more skating skills and transitions Mao but for now, I’ll chalk it up as a warm-up season and I will expect her to do a lot better next season.

Anyways, this has been a long post so I’ll end it here and post part II in the near future!

What did you think of the men’s and ladies competitions at the GPF? What were your highlights?

~The Rinkside Cafe

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tyler the Creator
    Jan 29, 2016 @ 21:37:06

    Yay thanks for posting! I too love Satoko, just gotta ignore her tiny jumps..

    Elena’s choreo is like ????. And then I found out it was choreo’d by Nikolai Morozov and then I was like oooo dat y

    Reply

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