Tuesday, 22 October 2013

2013 Skate America

Skate America, the first Grand Prix event of the season wrapped up on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. This competition established a few things about this season's skaters and personalities very early on... some of them obvious, and some more subtle in nature. I'm going to take a look at some of the performances and skaters that really stood out in my mind (keeping in mind I haven't had the opportunity to watch everything yet) and share a few thoughts. I want to thank all of my readers who have been wonderful lately... I've been going through a difficult month and a move and haven't had chance to do as much writing and interviews over the last few weeks as I'd hoped but rest assured that I've got lots more coming your way over the coming weeks and months. Now... Skate America.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White's dominance in ice dance at both Skate America and in general is
pretty much absolute. Posting an overall score like 188.23 this early in the season at a Grand Prix
event and receiving the kind of reception that they did for their "Sheherazade" free dance only shows
just how they are going to be to beat this season. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir might have more work
cut out for them than previously thought, but as I stated in my blog article Meryl And Charlie .VS.
Tessa And Scott: New Free Dance 101, I think there is certainly a depth and maturity to Tessa and
Scott's program that will still make for a very compelling competition as the season goes on... and
when the two teams meet for the first time and looking towards Sochi... you know, the city in the
country that Sarah Palin can see from her back door. Amurica!


Ashley Wagner! God, I love her. She went out there guns blazing and really proved that she's serious
about this season. Was that a surprise? There's such a quiet intensity and drive to her skating that
I admire, plus the fact that she's basically one of VERY few skaters to have the balls to open her mouth and oppose the whole anti-gay Sochi foolishness only makes me adore her even more. I think that her programs can and will continue to grow and improve... and the fact that she's doing the triple flip/triple toe combo is HUGE. Mao Asada's showing she's in fine form and also is a good bet for a podium finish in Sochi, but Ashley's relative proximity to her score wise (less than 10 points) shows that with continued improvement on her jumps (especially the lutz), Ashley's (in my opinion) stronger presentation could be the deciding factor in contending more than people would ever think this year. Sarah Hughes? Kimmie Meissner? She wouldn't be the first American ladies skater in recent years to do it, by any stretch of the imagination. Although she finished third in the free skate, Liza Tuktamysheva's 9th place finish in the short program nails home the fact that an injured Alena Leonova still has a chance. I'm crossing my fingers, toes... and yours when you're not looking! haha

Like Davis and White, Volosozhar and Trankov have made it very clear that they are a team that is going to be extremely hard to touch this season. They're also human and face their biggest competition from Canadians - not only Moore-Towers and Moscovitch who showed that they are VERY much in it to win it but the obvious threat of Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, whose programs this season not only showcase their obvious technical edge above the competition but a huge development in the artistic field. Both Canadian teams once again look very strong this season... and there are also the Germans to think of. I think pairs is going to be one of the most exciting disciplines this year.


Among the men at Skate America, I noticed some subtle things to keep an eye on. Daisuke Takahashi, as established as a star as he is, finished off the podium. Tatsuki Machida won (rightfully so). I think Machida is definitely a skater who, like Takahashi, excels in the PCS department... and I am comfortable sharing that in my humble opinion, these 2 Japanese men are stronger artistically and in the area of musical interpretation than the other Japanese men... including the obvious threats. This competition was full of great artists on ice... Adam Rippon, Jason Brown... and Rippon edging Max Aaron (who rebounded VERY strongly after a disappointing short program result) showed to me that all three of these men are ALL contenders on an even field. We're talking a ten point difference in overall results from Rippon with 241.24, to Aaron with 238.36 and to Brown with 231.03. That's a gap that can be bridged and with so many more great American's skaters yet to compete on the Grand Prix and ultimately at Nationals, it's going to be fascinating to watch the drama unfold. I don't think there's a clear front runner or a dark horse yet. There's also no Evan Lysacek... or Johnny Weir yet. Rulebooks aside, if you believed the media (real and sensationalist) over the last few months, you'd think the drama wasn't over until one of the two stormed the ice at U.S. Nationals or they showed up in Sochi to perform a Blades Of Glory duet to angst-filled Russian classical cover of Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" in matching Vera Wang black bodysuits.

The lesson in all of these rivalries and results in early season competition isn't who wins or loses
but in the stories that unfold in their own unique ways on their own time. We'll see people who
fell on every jump last week win two weeks later, skaters who we've written off win medals and people that we think unbeatable prove once again that they are unbeatable. Carving out stories on the ice is no easy feat and it's our responsibility as skating fans to always be conscious of the fact that the stories of the ice are as winding and convoluted as a serpentine step sequence. I can't wait to see how they all play out this season!

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