A Rivalry Reignited: Torino Worlds Ladies FS

Expect the Unexpected

Miki Ando: When the commentators talk about Miki’s “blank” eyes, what they’re not getting at is that she just doesn’t have the same “acting” ability as someone like Yu-Na or Phaneuf (ie: compare their Cleopatras). It’s not just about “spunk,” or “personality”…these girls know how to tell a story with each glance and gesture. I think that’s a gift, but surely it can be nurtured, if there is a willingness. However, Miki doesn’t seem to tap into that deeper well, and may just not be capable of that degree of nuance. That being said, she skates a clean program, albeit sans her 3/3 (instead a 3Lz/2T), and rather emotionally dull. A respectable end of season for her, whether she medals or not!

Kim Yu-Na (2nd): It seems all the world is hanging on this performance. The moment she starts it becomes evident that Miki was largely just skating around doing elements. Even though it’s clear Yu-Na is skating “safe,” she still gives each move a purpose. She starts strong, but falls on her 3S, and gives up on her final 2A, popping it. Honestly, I like that she has a chink in her armor (pardon the pun). This does enliven the rivalry with Mao, and frankly, doesn’t allow fans and viewers to just assume she’ll skate clean (ala Kristi, or M.K. when not at the Olympics). It makes her vulnerable, and almost more interesting to me. My friend Richard jokes that “Queen” isn’t enough…she should have a planet named after her: “Yu-Na.” Her name even sounds a bit cosmic.

(AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Cynthia Phaneuf: Again, Phaneuf’s Cleopatra makes Miki’s look emotionally junior. She skates a clean program, and lands 6 triples! How unexpected. I hope this gives her renewed confidence for next season. She competes so hot and cold, but is SO talented. She does telegraph her jumps a bit too much, but who cares, if she can skate like this!

Júlia Sebestyén: This girl is ALL legs! She starts with good speed, but pops at least 2 triples. Her music is bad Euro-Crossover. But, we all have to worship at the altar of Júlia…this girl is unstoppable. The commentators LOVE to talk about who is the future of skating (ie: Makarova as the future of Russian skating, etc.)…Richard quips that Julia is “the past, present and future of Hungarian ladies skating.” Ba-hahaha-haha! I love it. It makes me wonder whatever happened to Viktória Pavuk, who came on strong in ’06-07 but disappeared just as quickly, like a comet.

The Finish Line

Carolina Kostner: As the current mistress of playing “Musical Coaches,” and quintessentially inconsistent, she is the modern day Nicole Bobek. Her reverse catch spiral showcases just hot tall and long she is…quite striking. (BTW, I miss the Charlotte. I think it should be scored highly in the CoP, so we could see more girls executing them, like back in the days of M.K.) She fights through every jump, but skates pretty clean. For the first time in history, she appears to not be overmarked. I thought for sure that since we are in Torino, she would be just lavished with unearned points in the FS, to get her on the podium.

Mao Asada (1st): TWO 3As again! She is such a rock, knows the door is open here, and clearly has a vendetta after Vancouver. I’ve said it all season, but I’ll say it again, this program music is like getting Waterboarded. Make it stop! During her spiral arm gestures Richard says in his best Russian accent: “I am Russian. I have gloves on.” Next season, let’s revamp this Tarasova-Russian-bitch-look! Amazingly, Yu-Na is still one point ahead of Mao in the FS, but Mao is in 1st overall. She has dethroned Yu-Na!

Rachael Flatt: The commentators pull out their tired ole monikers: “tough competitor,” “consistent”, and note AGAIN that she’s already been accepted into many colleges. I resist throwing the remote at the tv. As Johnny said…people, can we please talk about her skating? Unfortunately, Rachael does not walk through the open door. She skates slow, is visibly off, and tired. She starts off by doing a 3F/2T, not a 3/3, and pops her second 3Lz. She is not happy in the kiss-n-cry.

Laura Lepisto (3rd): What a figure! She has the perfectly fit physique to achieve fast rotations on these jumps, and a perfect back. Her dress is flawless, a fresh change from the other ladies. Her long, prancy footwork section at the beginning, with little movement across the ice calls to mind Oksana in Lillehammer. She looks strong and nails her 3T/3T, but she pops THREE later triples. Overmarked!

Mirai Nagasu: She has the bronze medal, or better, awaiting her on a silver platter. She looks relaxed and “on!” I really love the 2A/3T that she and Yu-Na do. There’s something exciting about immediately following a double with the snap and fast rotation of a triple. It looks harder than a 3/3 to me. She offers a spin clinic, and is virtuosic in her lines and extensions. But, she starts to come unglued. She steps out of her 3Lz, and goes down on her 2A. What?! These 2As are really giving them trouble today. Her legs get tighter looking throughout the skate, and almost appear to shake on the footwork. In the kiss-n-cry she SO wants to cry. She misses a potentially defining moment, and closes the door. Not only that, but she and Rachael do not seize upon the ripe opportunity to regain 3 berths (Ashley’s at home cussin’). She is LESS THAN 4 points from the bronze!@#$ The 3rd through 7th ladies are in a virtual tie for the bronze.

(AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Ksenia Makarova: Strong 3T/3T, and with not a lot of speed going into it. She’s “rockin’ her pink tassle”…er, wait…her pink kerchief. CJ likens it to the waddle of a turkey. It’s a little distractingly close to her VJJ for my taste. She goes down on her 3S, her only mistake. I thought she would land in 4th, but down in 8th? She was undermarked. Not enough name recognition yet amongst the judges?

Up in The Loft

Johnny appears to be wearing a red Kabbala bracelet. Somehow I missed this all these years. Back in ’05 he stated that he’s a Kabbala “practitioner,” just like Madge!

Richard does his best Johnny impersonation, in the form of a brief mock interview:

Q: “What was the highlight of the ladies competition for you?”
A: “Ksenia Makarova”

Q: “What moved you the most?”
A: “Ksenia Makarova”

Q: Who is the future of ladies skating?”
A: “Ksenia Makarova”

How true! I love Johnny’s honesty, but I think he’s a little too strong in delivering biased, personal favorites, rather than keeping it more neutral, as most of the commentators (try) to do.

All kidding aside though, Johnny and Tara both proved themselves to be very well spoken, and passionate commentators. I’d love to see a lot more of them. I also like the retribution that this provides Tara, as she has always felt like the undeserving and forgotten stepchild to the highly favored M.K. Tara may not be getting an honorary doctorate, but she’s back in the fold!

Bye-Bye Torino

Cynthia Phaneuf lands in 4th in the FS? Whoever would have predicted that!?

In the men’s and the ladies, we were SO close to an Asian sweep on the podium…just the bronze putting a kabbosh on that in both disciplines.

Thanks Torino! Now we can look forward to Worlds in Tokyo. Now, that’s an exciting prospect, with such a deep Japanese field, and the Mao/Yu-Na rivalry reignited!

See complete final ladies results here.

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