Let’s start with the obvious: our gold medalist wasn’t from Russia for the first time on the Grand Prix this year. With the way things are going, the Grand Prix Final is going to be like a mini Russian Nationals. Is there a limit on the number of entrants per country?
Several of the ladies included spirals or short spiral sequences in their long programs, which I was happy to see. I still miss the required spiral sequence! (I know I’ve said this before, but I can’t help but crusade on behalf of my beloved spirals.)
I’ve also mentioned before how I think the music of “Carmen” is a little overused, but gold medalist Rika Hongo of Japan pulled it off well in her free skate. I think I liked it because the cuts of music were a little more varied than what people usually choose. She earned the gold with personal best performances in both the short and the long program, a huge improvement on her 5th place showing at Skate Canada earlier this year. Sometimes the entrances to her jumps can be a little hunched over, but considering she was Japan’s Junior National Champion last year and this is her first full year as a senior, there is plenty of time to work on that. What she already has going for her is some great showmanship and the ability to play to a crowd:
Russian Anna Pogorilaya couldn’t match her Skate Canada victory and came away with the silver. I thought she looked tired—actually, everyone looked a little tired, which is understandable given the grueling pace of this weekly series. Commentator Johnny Weir called it a “disconnected” performance and I have to agree. It can’t have been easy to skate as the favorite in her hometown of Moscow.
Bronze medalist Alaine Chartrand of Canada showcased some fantastic spins. She was nervous since she was in the lead after the short, but kept her cool and held on for a medal. I thought her dress was beautiful, but didn’t love the gloves (apparently I am at odds with gloves in general…what is wrong with me?).
Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. finished just off the podium—she lost a whooping 10 points to downgrades. It was interesting to see her reaction in the kiss and cry. She started expressing some disbelief at the numbers but then was quickly silenced by her coach Tom Zakrajsek. My favorite part of her program was the gorgeous spiral and three turn sequence into her triple loop.
Fellow American Ashley Cain was 8th with a bit of a rough performance—she looked tired after also competing at Cup of China the weekend before. Continuing the spiral theme, Ashley’s were gorgeous! Her “Evita” program is fun and makes good use of the new rule allowing lyrics to help tell the story: