USFSA announces World and 4CC teams

For a full list of the USFSA World Assignments: USFSA Press Release

WORLD TEAM

The USFSA announced its selections for the 2013 World Team today. The only variation from the podium placements at Nationals was in pairs, where 2012 National Champions Caydee Denney/John Coughlin received a medical bye to the upcoming World Championships. Coughlin underwent hip surgery in early December, and he is now back on the ice based on his recovery being ahead of schedule. I assume the USFSA will have some kind of observation/tryout to verify he’s in competitive shape, but given the weak state of the US Pairs, D/C can only be a positive addition to the team. Denney/Coughlin’s being on the team will help take some of the pressure off of Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir, who are going to Worlds for the first time. It’s a huge amount of pressure to be going to your first Worlds as US Champions.

Worlds will take place in London, Ontario from March 10-17.

FOUR CONTINENTS (Osaka, Japan, February 6-11)

Pairs:

Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir
Alexa Scimeca/Chris Knierim
Felicia Zhang/Nathan Bartholomay

Alternate 1 – Lindsay Davis/Mark Ladwig
Alternate 2 – Gretchen Donlan/Andrew Speroff
Alternate 3 – Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier

Men:

Max Aaron
Ross Miner
Adam Rippon

Alternate 1 – Richard Dornbush
Alternate 2 – Brandon Mroz
Alternate 3 – Stephen Carriere

Dance:

Madison Chock/Evan Bates
Meryl Davis/Charlie White
Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani

Alternate 1 – Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue
Alternate 2 – Lynn Kriengkrairut/Logan Giulietti-Schmitt
Alternate 3 – Anastasia Cannuscio/Colin McManus

Ladies:

Christina Gao
Gracie Gold
Agnes Zawadzki

Alternate 1 – Mirai Nagasu
Alternate 2 – Caroline Zhang
Alternate 3 – Ashley Cain

IN OTHER NEWS: Two-time US Champion Alissa Czisny underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in her left hip on January 25th. This is the same hip that she had operated on last June. Given her age (25) and her physical problems, one wonders if this might be the end of her competitive career.

2013 US Nationals

This year’s nationals are in the books, and some young skaters with big jumps made news. 17-year-old Gracie Gold, who blew away the field to win last year’s Junior title, skated a technically-packed free skate and stormed to the silver medal. She was in ninth place after the short program, having fallen on her combo and singled her Axel. Had she finished higher in the short, she would have relegated defending champion Ashley Wagner to the silver medal position. Many female American skaters have trouble with their jumps getting downgraded due to underrotation; not Gracie. She finishes her rotation well above the ice and lands straight backwards. This girl makes her triple Lutz/triple toe combination look like a walk in the park. She needs better choreography and more maturity in her presentation, but hopefully she’ll get there.

On the men’s side, 20-year-0ld Max Aaron landed two beautiful quad Salchows (one with a double toe) on the way to winning his first national title. His only error was a turn-out between the jumps of his triple Axel combination, but even with that small error, he scored a whopping 96.39 for his executed elements score, getting positive GOEs for all of his elements besides the 3A combo. I remember seeing him live last year in San Jose, and the height on his jumps had the crowd oohing and aahing in practice. He needs more work on interpretation, musicality, and presentation, but boy, this kid can JUMP (and he’s certainly far from artistically hopeless, thankfully).

I’m sure that Ashley Wagner was not thrilled with her free skate, but it was enough to retain her title. She is the first American woman to defend successfully since Michelle Kwan did it in 2005. Wagner fell on both her 3Lz and 3Lo in the free, and did not have a triple-triple combo, but to be fair, she had food poisoning the week before Nationals and was probably not back to full strength. She’s going to need a triple-triple to contend at Worlds.

The women’s event overall (at least the part that they televised on NBC, more on that later) was actually quite a well-skated event until we got to the top three skaters, who were the last three to compete. Agnes Zawadzki had several mistakes including a fall on her 3Lz, Ashley Wagner had two falls, and Mirai Nagasu was not fully recovered from a respiratory virus and suffered many jump downgrades. Given the fact that downgrades are a problem for her at the best of times, the fact that she was slower than usual and probably got less pop off of the ice did not help here. The thing about Gracie Gold vs. earlier wunderkinds like Nagasu and Caroline Zhang is that Gold is 17 and already has had at least some of her growth spurt. Nagasu and Zhang had success on the national stage at such young ages that they had not yet hit the hormonal highway. Now they are beautiful young women, but neither has been able to reproduce the success they had at a young age, at least not so far.

Three-time national champion Jeremy Abbott had too many errors in his free skate to retain his title. Of more significance was the fact that by finishing third he will not even get to go to Worlds. Abbott was short of rotation and fell on his 4T attempt, and he doubled the loop in one of his combos and doubled the Salchow as well. Ross Miner took the silver this year after being bronze medalist twice. His free skate to Captain Blood was well-skated, with a successful quad Salchow, but he singled his second Axel. With the huge technical scores put up by Aaron, Miner had no room for mistakes.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White, to no one’s surprise, won their fifth consecutive national title in Omaha with a marvelous free dance to Notre Dame de Paris. The American judges gave them level 4s for all of their elements, and they received perfect 10s for four of the five component categories. World judges tend to not be as generous, but we’ll see how it goes. Madison Chock and Evan Bates won the silver; Maia and Alex Shibutani won the bronze. All three teams will compete at Worlds.

The pairs event was a chance for lesser-known teams to shine, given the fact that defending champions Caydee Denney and John Coughlin were unable to compete due to Coughlin’s hip surgery. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir won their first title with a flawed free skate; Castelli turned out of the SBS 3T, and Shnapir missed their side-by-side spins altogether. Their almost ten-point lead in the short program stood them in good stead. Alexa Scimeca and Christopher Knierim have been together less than a year, but they skated well enough in their first Nationals together to take the silver. Their split triple twist was huge (they have the same coach as  Denney/Coughlin, who also have a fab twist). Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay, coached by Jim Peterson and former US pairs medalist Amanda Evora, took the bronze.

I understand that a color commentator may not know as much about a given sport as the so-called play-by-play commentators, but NBC seems to specialize in finding color commentators for figure skating that know little or nothing about the sport (yeah, Tom Hammond, I’m talking about you). This latest iteration, Mike Emrick, is a well-known hockey announcer, and has the additional trait of sounding a bit like newscaster Brian Williams (I kept waiting to hear, “This is his first year at the senior rank, and in other news, Washington is still deadlocked over the budget.”) I miss the days of Unca Dick and, yes, Terry Gannon–who is a basketball player but at least tried to do his homework regarding figure skating.

I saw my first commercial for Sochi during the skating broadcasts!! Can’t wait…

The attendance in Omaha did not look great. Someone I know that was there said attendance was pretty abysmal during the week, okay on Saturday. It looked like there were a lot of empty seats for the men’s final. Oh, the State of the Skate is not too good, unfortunately.

Next up: Four Continents, February 6-11, Osaka, Japan.

 

2013 Euros and Canadians

Interesting developments in the Men’s event at Euros: after falling in his short program and aggravating a back injury, Evgeny Plushenko withdrew from the event (or, he withdrew because he was in sixth place, hard to tell <sigh>). One has to wonder what this means for Worlds in six weeks. I think that one of the reasons Plushenko is even making a run at Sochi is because the men’s field in Russia is currently weak. I’m sure the Russian Federation was hoping that Plushenko’s skating at Worlds this year would be enough to qualify two Russian men for Sochi. Given that Voronov and Gachinski finished 17th and 18th at 2012 Worlds, the Russian men’s prospects for London could be bleak if Plushenko can’t compete at this year’s Worlds. I would bet we would see him in London unless he can’t walk….

Results from the European Championships in Zagreb, Croatia:

PAIRS:

Pl Name Nation Points SP FS
1 Tatiana VOLOSOZHAR / Maxim TRANKOV RUS 212.45 1 1
2 Aliona SAVCHENKO / Robin SZOLKOWY GER 205.24 2 2
3 Stefania BERTON / Ondrej HOTAREK ITA 187.45 3 3
4 Vanessa JAMES / Morgan CIPRES FRA 178.81 4 4
5 Yuko KAVAGUTI / Alexander SMIRNOV RUS 175.48 5 5
6 Ksenia STOLBOVA / Fedor KLIMOV RUS 167.23 8 6

Volosozhar/Trankov successfully defend the title they won last year in the absence of Savchenko/Szolkowy. Berton/Hotarek’s bronze is the first-ever pairs medal for Italy. Russia’s Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larionov withdrew prior to the event due to Larionov’s hand injury; they missed Russian Nationals as well.

MEN:

1 Javier FERNANDEZ ESP 274.87 2 1
2 Florent AMODIO FRA 250.53 1 3
3 Michal BREZINA CZE 243.52 4 2
4 Brian JOUBERT FRA 232.47 3 5
5 Maxim KOVTUN RUS 226.57 7 4
6 Alexander MAJOROV SWE 211.88 8 6
7 Sergei VORONOV RUS 210.18 5 7
8 Viktor PFEIFER AUT 194.77 10 9
9 Chafik BESSEGHIER FRA 189.67 11 10
10 Peter LIEBERS GER 187.96 17 8

Javier Fernandez becomes Spain’s first European champion.

DANCE:

1 Ekaterina BOBROVA / Dmitri SOLOVIEV RUS 169.25 1 2
2 Elena ILINYKH / Nikita KATSALAPOV RUS 169.14 2 1
3 Anna CAPPELLINI / Luca LANOTTE ITA 165.80 3 3
4 Ekaterina RIAZANOVA / Ilia TKACHENKO RUS 157.77 4 4
5 Penny COOMES / Nicholas BUCKLAND GBR 152.95 6 5
6 Nelli ZHIGANSHINA / Alexander GAZSI GER 147.28 7 6
7 Julia ZLOBINA / Alexei SITNIKOV AZE 144.83 5 10
8 Tanja KOLBE / Stefano CARUSO GER 142.54 9 7
9 Charlene GUIGNARD / Marco FABBRI ITA 142.48 8 8
10 Pernelle CARRON / Lloyd JONES FRA 140.00 10 9

Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat withdrew prior to the event; Bourzat has a groin injury.

LADIES:

1 Carolina KOSTNER ITA 194.71 2 2
2 Adelina SOTNIKOVA RUS 193.99 1 3
3 Elizaveta TUKTAMYSHEVA RUS 188.85 4 1
4 Valentina MARCHEI ITA 171.06 3 4
5 Viktoria HELGESSON SWE 155.72 6 7
6 Nikol GOSVIANI RUS 154.41 12 5
7 Sonia LAFUENTE ESP 152.29 11 6
8 Joshi HELGESSON SWE 150.40 5 9
9 Nathalie WEINZIERL GER 147.52 8 10
10 Mae Berenice MEITE FRA 147.14 13 8

Carolina Kostner just barely edged out Adelina Sotnikova, whose  3+ point lead after the short was not enough to win the overall event. This is the fifth European title for Kostner. Last year’s silver medalist Kiira Korpi withdrew with an Achilles injury prior to the event.

CANADIAN NATIONALS–January 13-20, Mississauga, Ontario:

PAIRS:

Rank Name Section Total points SP FS
1 Meagan Duhamel / Eric Radford QC 206.63 1 1
2 Kirsten Moore-Towers / Dylan Moscovitch WO 204.54 2 2
3 Paige Lawrence / Rudi Swiegers SK 171.13 3 3

MEN:

Rank Name Section Total points SP FS
1 Patrick Chan CO 273.75 1 1
2 Kevin Reynolds BC/YT 261.26 2 2
3 Andrei Rogozine CO 207.85 4 3

DANCE:

Rank Name Section Total points SD FD
1 Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir WO 187.23 1 1
2 Piper Gilles / Paul Poirier CO 170.81 2 2
3 Nicole Orford / Thomas Williams BC/YT 152.56 4 3

LADIES:

Rank Name Section Total points SP FS
1 Kaetlyn Osmond AB/NT/NU 201.34 1 1
2 Gabrielle Daleman CO 163.90 5 2
3 Alaine Chartrand EO 157.22 6 3

Looking ahead to Omaha

US Nationals start tomorrow in Omaha. I wish I were there!

Pairs:

What a mess. Let’s look at last year’s podium. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin will not be defending their title due to John’s having hip surgery in December. Both the silver and bronze medal teams from 2012 have split. Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker’s split happened so late that Brubaker did not have time to get a new partner and compete this season (Marley has retired). Amanda Evora also retired; Mark Ladwig is competing with Lindsay Davis this season. They were seventh at Skate Canada and sixth at NHK.

This could be a big opportunity for Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir and Gretchen Donlan/Andrew Speroff (2012 pewter medalists).  Former National Champion Caitlin Yankowskas will be competing with Joshua Reagan, who skated pairs last season with Ashley Cain. My goodness, is it possible for a US team to be together more than a few seasons?!

Men:

If only Jeremy Abbott could skate internationally like he skates at US Nationals. I have seen two of his three championship free skates live, and when he is on, he is mesmerizing–and can compete with the best in the world. With the exception of winning the 2008 Grand Prix Final, his international results have been fairly disappointing. Nevertheless, he is the favorite to win in Omaha. Neither Johnny Weir nor Evan Lysacek will be competing, even though that was their plan earlier in the season. Both of them have suffered injuries this year. Ross Miner landed his first quad in competition this season, so he could factor in to the medals as well.

Dance:

Obviously, Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the prohibitive favorites to take their fifth national crown. Maia and Alex Shibutani will probably take silver, although the gap between them and Davis/White is enormous.

Ladies:

When was the last time that the US had a real favorite to win Nationals? That probably has not happened since Michelle Kwan took her last national championship in 2006. Ashley Wagner won her first national title last year, and followed that with a stellar season, winning her two Grand Prix events and taking the silver at the Grand Prix Final. Two-time champion Alyssa Czisny will not skate in Omaha; she had hip surgery in June and recently dislocated that same hip. One wonders if, at age 25, her competitive career is over. Mirai Nagasu has been quite inconsistent (and has grown quite a lot physically) since winning the national title in 2008.

TV Coverage:

There is good news and bad news on the TV front for US fans: NBC will be broadcasting some of Nationals, but no short programs (I would so much rather see shorts than the exhibition!!):

2013 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships 
NBC Broadcast Schedule (all times Eastern, subject to change, check local listing)

BROADCAST DATE

EVENT

TIME (ET)

Saturday, Jan. 26

LIVE pairs free skate and free dance

3-6 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 26

LIVE Ladies free skate

8-11 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 27

LIVE Men’s free skate

3-5 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 2

Smucker’s Skating Spectacular

1-3 p.m.