First of all, condolences to Mao Asada, whose mother recently passed away at age 48. Mao was to have skated in the Grand Prix Final, but returned to Japan on Thursday upon learning that her mother was in critical condition.
For some reason, the ladies have not been terribly impressive to me in recent years. Everyone talks about how lyrical and graceful Carolina Kostner is, but she still looks a bit like a colt who has yet to grow into its legs for me (not as much as she did when she was younger, but still..) Also, it speaks to the relative weakness of the ladies’ field when a skater that still doesn’t do all of the triples can win a competition against the best in the world. Actually, not doing all the triples has done wonders for Kostner, but that’s not the point. She had some errors (a hand down on the 3F and a singled Axel), but still won quite handily.I don’t mean to be “Kostner bashing”, but her music makes me sleepy as well. I do love how Akiko Suzuki looks like she loves skating whenever she’s on the ice; it makes me want to be out there with her. Alena Leonova tried something a bit different than most of her previous programs with her long program to “Adagio for Strings/Requiem for a Dream”. I really like the program. It builds to a nice climax with her straight-line footwork sequence. She’s had a pretty good season.
We are starting to see some of Russia’s very young and very talented skaters come on to the senior international scene. Even though Elizaveta Tuktamisheva had a rough short program, she obviously shows great potential. It will be very interesting over the next couple of years to see her, Adelina Sotnikova, and some of the other young up-and-comers mature. Will they be derailed on the hormonal highway? Tuktamisheva reportedly can do a triple Axel. But was anyone else who watched the GPF uncomfortable seeing her revealing free skate costume? I know it’s flesh-colored fabric, not real flesh, but still, she’s only 14!! We won’t be seeing either Tuktamisheva or Sotnikova at Worlds this year; they’re both still too young. (BTW, is Elizaveta Tuktamisheva Johnny Weir’s younger sister? They look so much alike in the face!!)
Alissa Czisny suffered a left ankle injury in GPF practice, and she probably should have pulled out of the event. Every time she went up for a jump, I cringed. Picking in or landing on that leg was quite obviously painful for her, but she skated anyway. I don’t remember if she landed one fully-rotated, clean jump in the free skate. With US Nationals only about six weeks away, I hope she can recover in time. Even if she does, she will surely lose practice time, not good for a skater who has had major confidence problems in the past. She is probably the only ladies’ skater who can match Kostner’s composition marks, so the US needs her on the world team. We’ll see what happens…