NHK Trophy 2013 and Plushenko is Back

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First, everyone must see Plushenko’s new FS, which he debuted this weekend in Latvia. For having numerous surgeries in the past few years and recently having a disk in his back replaced you have to admit that his progress and jumps are quite amazing. Plus these jumps at his age are remarkable.

However, this program just might be the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Seriously! The music is ridiculous, yes I understand it’s supposed to be the ‘Best of Plushenko’ but the music is so disjointed and the music cuts are so abrupt. The actual program isn’t much better. I really don’t think there was a transition in sight. It was crossover-crossover-jump-pose-crossover-pose-crossover-jump-crossover-pose-pose-spin. Seriously, how has he not learned that programs are no longer like this? I feel this program is very early 2000’s. In no way do I feel this compares to Patrick Chan’s transition filled FS (or even Takahashi/Hanyu/Fernandez). Receiving the scores he did is absolutely atrocious. Horrible judging. It is nice to see that his Transitions score was the lowest, but still 92 total is far too much for PCS.

And now everyone should be able to see this masterpiece: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=8zoNehVl6Bw

Also, today Plushenko withdrew from Rostelecom Cup in Russia at the end of the month. He received the minimum scores he needed in Latvia and now I wonder if we’ll see him again before the Olympics. Personally, I think he should compete against one of the top men in the world before the Olympics?

NHK Trophy

Pairs

There have been some unfortunate injuries this season for Lawrence and Swiegers. With her injury I question their decision to skate in these Grand Prix events. Would it not have been better to stay at home and rest? I feel this team is only a shade of what they used to be. A couple seasons ago they had so much potential but now I feel they’ve stagnated and will possibly be past by younger teams at Nationals.

I still find the Peng and Zhang partnership rather odd. This season they do look more like a complete pair but their age difference still weirds me out. They’ve made such progress in a just a year, but I have to wonder how much longer Zhang will stick around and how much more time he’ll invest in this partnership. That quad twist though was rather amazing.

Sui and Han are adorable. I quite enjoyed them at Skate Canada, however today was a bit of a disaster. I’d prefer them to make the Olympic team over Peng and Zhang and hope they can skate better at Nationals.

Volosozhar and Trankov are fabulous! I’m still not a fan of their program but when they skate like that it doesn’t matter. If they skate this well no one can catch them and based on the scores they’ve been receiving it looks like no one will.

Ladies

Goodness I do not like Gracie Gold. I think she’s rather immature and her programs need some work. I feel she doesn’t quite have a connection to the music and program. She’s still young so I’m sure that will improve. And when she doesn’t have her gorgeous jumps I feel there’s even less for me to like.

Elena Radionova is adorable. I actually like this new batch of young Russians. Elena and Julia have amazing jumps and have a presence on the ice. They like to perform which is nice to see. I’m excited to see their progress over the next 4 years. Elena needs some polish and work on her basics but for 14 I think she has a decent base to start with.

Akiko is delightful. Hope she can battle some of her inner demons and skate great in her final season.

I love Mao, more now than I ever have. She’s soft and light and lyrical, such a lovely skater. I’m glad her jump struggles are behind her; she now skates very freely. I’d like her to give Yu-Na a run for her money in Sochi.

Dance

As a whole I think I’m kind of over Gilles and Poirier and would rather have Paul and Islam make the Olympic team. However, I do though think Piper and Paul’s FD is superb (Kris I hope you’ve seen it!) It’s odd, weird and quirky, not something I usually enjoy. But I enjoyed that program and am excited to see it grow throughout the season. It’ll be an interesting fight at Nationals, plus interesting to see if Piper will get her Canadian citizenship in time.

I enjoyed Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov and the Swan Lake/Black Swan program. It was beautiful but dark. Much better than the Ghost monstrosity of last season.

I’m not entirely sure about the Shibutani’s. The Michael Jackson program is fun, but nothing new or super exciting. Or maybe I just don’t like the brother/sister pairing much.

Capellini and Lanotte are adorable. I greatly enjoy the Italians. They are a very enjoyable team to watch.

And I’ve shared my thoughts on Davis and White in the past. Yet again, if you’re a huge fan I recommend not reading.

I think the FD score here was slightly ridiculous, 112 on the Grand Prix. Goodness what are they going to get in Sochi. In watching their FD I think Meryl needs to point her toes more and a couple of the lifts looked rather labored, delayed and not necessarily in synch with the program. Additionally, I feel like every push they take isn’t perfect. They don’t make every step gorgeous which is one place where I feel Scott and Tessa thrive. As the program progresses I feel they start to flail and reach for each other. And as always there is no connection between the two of them. But then again those are just my thoughts (they are really fast and have gorgeous twizzles too).

Men

I’m not quite sure which US men I’m rooting for this season. I don’t know if I exceptionally like any of them. Jeremy’s fine, Adam’s fine and Max’s fine, but I just don’t love any of them.

I would like Nobu to get an Olympic spot. He’s been so close to the Olympics and World medals before but silly mistakes have kept him from the top. He’s proven he’s ready to compete this season. I hope he gets on of the three spots (just not Yuzu’s spot!).

Javi Javi! Not sure what happened here. While the jumps were a miss (and I’ll give him his next Grand Prix to redeem himself, he did skate amazingly at the Japan Open at the beginning of October) I don’t think I’m a huge fan of his FS. But maybe I just need to see it skated with better jumps. He is a charming skater but some of his lines, edges and overall quality can be slightly lacking.

Brian Orser needs to work on the mental toughness of his men. I still want Yuzu and Javi on the podium in Sochi, not Plushenko and Takahashi up there with Patrick.

And it seems Takahashi has decided since Skate America that he wants to be in Sochi. He was a completely different skater here than just a few weeks ago. His quads were landed and axels perfect, call me surprised and rather impressed. I had almost counted him out. I’ve never been a Takahashi fan but his skating, flow and edge work is some of the best in the world. You can especially see it when you watch Javi right before. Good for him for delivering at his final NHK Trophy.

Next week we head to France! I’m excited, yet again, for Yuzu and Patrick!

Thanks for reading,
PB

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