Sunday, November 28, 2010

Trophee Eric Bompard: Men's Freeskate

Today, two men qualified for the Grand Prix Final in an extremely impressive fashion, and I really don't think I could be much more excited! Takahiko Kozuka and Florent Amodio were the clear standouts on a day where most performances were uninspired. However, those two MORE than made up for it.

Zoltan Kelemen (Romania): Started with a fallout on a triple axel that also looked underrotated, though it wasn't marked that way. Triple lutz-triple toe, the latter of which again looked underrotated, in addition to being two footed. Good triple loop and a rather nice sit change sit - that really surprised me. Fall on a triple lutz, followed by a triple flip-single toe-double toe combo that had a weird fallout. Some footwork that was okay, but not great, and an underrotated triple flip-double toe. The triple salchow after that was fine, as well as a combo spin with decent speed. A good double axel for the final element. That was probably one of the most empty programs I've seen in a good while. I think I saw maybe one transition, and there didn't really seem to be much choreography. Didn't really care for the music either, but the crowd really seemed to like him. 58.10 TE 51.58 PCS -1.00 Deduction ; 108.68 FS = 161.70 (9th)

Anton Kovalevski (Ukraine): Why are they showing a judge on the screen when Anton is beginning his program? Weird... Fallout on an underrotated triple axel at the start, but came but with an alright triple lutz-double tano toe. His flip and lutz techniques are odd though (I've probably mention it before), he seems to stick his free leg out to the side a bit before picking in. Okay triple flip, and a cool double axel with the tano arm; I've only seen that a couple of times. The triple loop was really crooked in the air, but landed somehow  (little underrotated though). His flying sit spin with a twist variation was okay, and the first footwork sequence was kinda good. Oh gosh, the music changed and there was a random gunshot in it and it made me jump so high! I can't believe I forgot that from Russia. Triple toe-double toe-double toe combo was eeked out somehow and the triple salchow after that was good. Another flying sit with a variation and an okay, but rather blase footwork sequence. Finished up his freeskate with a decent double axel-double toe combo and an okay combo spin. Anton's spins and artistry could definitely use some work, and he could also work on rotating some of those triples more. Fixing the lutz and flip technique wouldn't hurt either. Overall though, he was much better than he was at Cup of Russia. 60.41 TE 57.72 PCS ; 118.13 FS = 173.92 Total (8th)

Nan Song (China): Opened with a triple axel-triple toe that was alright (I was surprised he pulled it off, since the axel wasn't really great), and a triple lutz-double toe-double loop that was okay, but the lutz was a little too big (he didn't control it well). A sit change sit that could have had better speed and positioning, but a good double axel after that. Singled an attempted triple loop and had a slow sit spin with a variation. Held onto that second triple axel, but the triple flip after that was good, but wrong edged. First footwork sequence was okay technically, but there's zero connection to the music or the audience.  Singled a flip after that, but held onto a triple salchow and tacked a double toe onto it. Second footwork sequence... meh. Nice spread eagle into a combo spin, which ended up traveling and being really slow. Not much stood out about this performance, and as far as interpreting the music, it may as well have been a practice session. I'm beginning to think that skaters that lack artistry should take acting classes... couldn't hurt, right? 61.73 TE 56.92 PCS ;118.65 FS = 181.53 Total (6th)

Kevin Reynolds (Canada): Again, the dang camera is fixate on the crowd instead of the one actually skating! Finally, back on Kevin, then he goes for a quad salchow; looked a little underrotated to me (otherwise fine though), but it received full credit. After that he went for the second quad, a toe loop, which he fell on after underrotating it. Triple axel (maybe underrotated)-triple toe was alright - I definitely wasn't expecting him to land that. I like the position in his change foot upright spin that is similar to a layback. Triple loop was fine, but he singled the second triple axel attempt. Tough triple lutz afterwards, also deemed underrotated. Flying sit was alright, but I don't really like the over the top movements in the footwork, especially the way he was using his head. Nice triple salchow, though the triple flip-triple toe-double toe was kind tight. Second footwork sequence was much better than the first, to me at least, and he finished with a combo spin with a bit of traveling, but it had some nice positions. Kevin has nice lines in some of the movements in this program; I think they should emphasize that more. He could probably place really well if they worked more on his spins and components (I've heard that Kevin's been working on it, but I'm not seeing much still). Maybe he'll get the whole package together eventually. 70.42 TE 64.58 PCS -1.00 Deduction ; 134.00 FS = 200.13 Total (4th)

Peter Liebers (Germany): Really great triple toe at the beginning, though it was probably a planned quad. Good speed into his first triple axel, but he fell out of it, and put a triple toe on it, but the latter didn't count. Walley into a tough triple lutz, but the footwork after that was okay. Flying sit was okay, but then a fall on a second triple axel attempt which was underrotated, though he didn't get dinged for that. Triple salchow-double toe after that was alright, followed by a tight triple loop. Combo spin was slow, with not so great positions, and then another fall on an underrotated triple flip. He wrapped things up with an okay double axel and second footwork sequence, but that last flying sit combo spin was so slow. That's a shame, I was hoping to see him skate at least fairly clean. This program could be so fun with some more interpretation. 54.37 TE 56.64 PCS -2.00 Deductions ; 111.01 FS = 177.54 Total (7th)

Chafik Besseghier (France): Huge reaction from the crowd was his name was announced. Quad toe attempt opened up into a scarily popped single, and the same thing happened for the first triple axel. I think he's letting crowd expectations get to him, but I can't really blame him - it's his first senior international and it's in his home country! Fallout on a triple lutz, but the footwork after that was done well, though it only received a level 1. Death drop was mostly good, and he held onto his second triple axel attempt and added a double toe to it. It seems like he's regained control of this performance, thankfully. Nice triple loop, followed up by a nice, albeit relatively simple triple toe-triple toe. Triple salchow was also nice, and the second footwork sequence was alright. Pulled off a double axel-double toe-double toe, though it was tight on the back half of the combo. Slow combo spin and a slightly better sit change sit at the end. Not too shabby of a skate, all things considered. Those pops in the beginning had me scared for his safety though. He might really be something with more experience. 55.34 TE 60.02 PCS ; 115.36 FS = 185.69 (5th)

Brandon Mroz (United States): Quad toe as his opening jump, which he leaned a bit forward on, but landed. Triple axel-triple toe was good, and then he landed a crooked triple lutz. Footwork that was nice, but appeared really slow on tv. Good triple loop, and a death drop that was fine. Brandon looks sleepy. Fallout on the second triple axel (it leaned a bit in the air). Triple lutz-double toe was alright, as well as a triple salchow. I really don't like most of the music in this program. Triple flip (edge called)-double toe-double loop, good. Camel spin with a donut variation, had a little trouble catching the foot, but okay other than that. Ended with another alright footwork sequence and decent combo spin. It was a good overall skate, but Brandon just doesn't do anything for me. 76.05 TE 65.80 PCS ; 141.85 FS = 214.31 Total (3rd)

Florent Amodio (France): Really great triple axel to start off, followed by a two footed triple axel-double toe, overall okay. Triple loop was a little rough, at least compared to how his jumps usually are now. The face he makes when he starts his footwork sequence is great - it's funny seeing a serious hip hop look on him, and the footwork was alright overall. Flying sit with okay speed and positions through, followed by an easy triple salchow-triple toe. Good triple lutz and triple flip, but the latter was edge called. Triple lutz-double toe-double toe was alright, and finished the jumps with a double axel. Haha, he was obviously happy after he landed that. Footwork good, (what I saw at least...cameraman went to Morozov. Gr!) and a sit change sit and combo spin that were both alright. That was really good! When Florent is on, his jumps really sing - they look so effortless. Not a whole lot going on transition-wise, especially in the latter half, but he performed it well and was technically solid. Unfortunately, the more I see this program, the more I see how much Morozov rehashed Takahashi's Hip Hop Swan Lake. This program is fun, but not a masterpiece, nor as good as Kozuka's. 77.26 TE 76.50 PCS ; 153.76 FS = 229.38 Total (2nd)

Takahiko Kozuka (Japan): He opened with a quad toe, which was two footed, but looked about rotated and it wasn't a bad two foot (clearly underrotated, scratchy,etc). First triple axel was a little held, but alright. Good triple lutz-double toe, followed by a combo spin that slowed, though it had good positions. Very pretty footwork that was really well done - his skating skills really are highlighted there. Triple axel-double toe-double loop was good, and a great triple flip. Triple lutz-triple toe, also good and really late in the program. Okay triple loop, and fine triple salchow, then a good death drop. Great footwork, again, rather beautiful to watch. Final combo spin slowed but picked up speed on his last scratch position. He's so excited about how he skated! He still could improve more on expression, but he has said he is working on it and I do believe it is getting better. I did see some facial expression starting to occur in this freeskate, and I think the artistry picked up more towards the end. Overall, beautiful performance (there were so many gorgeous movements!), and hopefully just what Takahiko needs to boost his confidence. 89.63 TE 80.80 PCS ; 170.43 FS = 248.07 (1st) Monster score! He couldn't believe it, and his reaction was absolutely priceless.

*Sidenote: Brian Joubert withdrew before the freeskate due to having a stomach flu. I wish him a speedy recovery!

Congratulations to Takahiko, Florent, and Brandon on their medals, and congratulations to the gold and silver medalists on their Grand Prix Final Qualification!

Freeskate Results
Overall Results

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