Skate America as a whole was very underwhelming and, to be quite honest, extremely disappointing this year. It was probably a byproduct of the off season being so short this year and this being the first regular event for top skaters, but even so - I NEVER expected it would turn out to be such a mess. I was busy the day of the men's freeskate and the free dance; I still originally intended to do a writeup on the men, but after seeing the scores and hearing from a few friends what a complete and utter disaster it was, I decided to spare myself the pain of watching the men's freeskate at all (save for Denis Ten, who I'd heard had skated an all around decent program and I actually did enjoy it a good bit). I did watch some of the free dance and I was impressed with Asher/Hill, Pechalat/Bourzat, and Davis/White, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how much the latter two teams free dances develop as the season goes on.
As for pairs, I'm really impressed and pleased with Savchenko/Szolkowy for attempting a throw triple axel in their short program; while obviously, it didn't pay off in that segment, I love that they're continuing to push themselves to improve and it makes me respect them more than I already did. And also, I found their freeskate interesting and hope to see a clean version of it in the near future. One last thing before I get to the ladies - it was nice to see Zhang/Zhang back after a year away from competition! Even if their programs weren't my favorite so far this season, it was strange having such a veteran team away and I'm glad that they were able to come back so successfully. That said, let's get started!
Elene Gedevanishvili (Georgia): Pretty dress, (though I think it'd look even better if the skirt was a little longer, because of the ruffles.). Very nice, huge triple lutz-double toe to start, followed by a singled triple flip attempt. Double axel-double toe-double toe, good. Triple toe attempt popped into a double toe-double toe combo. An alright flying sit spin, then a triple lutz she had to hold onto. Nice triple salchow and Y spiral. Two footed triple toe, followed by a combination spin that had some nice positions. Footwork that had some good difficulty to it, but it was slow. I loved her camel positions in his last spin. There were some nice things in this program and it's really a shame about the pops - her jumps can be quite nice. TE 48.75 + PCS 49.46 = FS 97.61 + SP 42.91 = Total 140.12 (7th)
Valentina Marchei (Italy): Opened with an underrotated and two footed triple lutz attempt, followed by a nice triple flip. Triple salchow with a double three turn turn out between it and a double toe. Her spins weren't nearly as good as Elene's. Okay biellmann spiral, and a telegraphed triple lutz-double toe. Nice triple toe and a rough double axel. I really don't like the music or this program in general. Fall on an underrotated triple salchow that was somehow also telegraphed. Slow footwork and a poor spin to finish. TE 44.21 + PCS 48.77 Deduction - 1.00 = FS 91.98 + SP 43.19 = Total 135.17 (9th)
Joshi Helgesson (Sweden): Triple lutz-double toe, the latter of which was deemed underrotated. Underrotated triple loop that was also two footed (and the technical panel downgraded). Triple toe that was small but okay. Ugly catchfoot position in a spin, same for the spiral. Triple lutz, again small, and marked as underrotated. Triple toe-double toe, the triple was called underrotated. Alright triple salchow and another spin; it's positions and speed could be a lot better. Double axel-double axel sequence that was good. Footwork was kind of meh and the last spin was poor too. Her music got slow and heavy towards the end of the program. Not a good jumping day for her. TE 43.57 + PCS 45.38 = FS 88.95 + SP 45.03 = Total 133.98 (10th)
Ksenia Makarova (Russia): Her dress was a blinding shade of pink. Crash on her opening triple flip. She had nice speed over the ice. Triple toe-double toe was nice, followed by a underrotated triple loop. Very pretty layback position in her layback spin; biellmann could be better but it wasn't bad. Triple loop-double toe-double loop looked alright but they called the triple loop underrotated. Another underrotation on a triple salchow-double toe, followed by a fallout on a double axel and a handdown on a second double axel. Sudden music change to the Fox theme (the one from the beginning of Fox feature films) during a spin .. strange. Finished with a unimpressive footwork sequence and spin. I heard that Ksenia has a hip injury - I hope it heals well and soon! TE 45.20 + PCS 52.52 Deduction - 1.00 = FS 96.71 + SP 45.95 = Total 142.67 (5th)
Joelle Forte (USA): Opened with an okay triple lutz-double toe-double loop combo (double loop was underrotated), followed by a triple flip (underrotated) and a nice triple salchow. Her flying sit spin that slowed at the end and a double axel that was a little swingy on the landing. Her layback could be arched more (you might've noticed that I'm picky about laybacks and spirals, haha.). Extremely underrotated triple lutz that she fell hard on, followed by a nice triple toe-double axel sequence. Footwork wasn't particularly good and was on the slow side, and an underrotated triple salchow-double toe. Ended with an okay spin. A lot of underrotation marks, but I thought it was a pretty respectable effort for a skater on her first Grand Prix assignment ever. TE 45.43 + 46.41 Deduction - 1.00 = FS 90.84 + SP 48.86 = Total 139.70 (8th)
Viktoria Helgesson (Sweden): Those white fuzzy wrist cuffs on her costume..anyway, opened with a triple toe-double toe-double loop, she had to eek out that last landing. Fall on a triple lutz that looked bad from the takeoff and was underrotated. Held onto a triple loop and then a slow camel spin that did have some decent variations. Big pop on a flip followed by an average spiral sequence. Good double axel and then a combination spin that could use better positioning and speed. Okay triple loop (called underrotated) -double axel sequence. Handdown on her last triple salchow and her final spin was very slow. TE 44.41 + PCS 51.21 Deduction - 1.00 = FS 94.62 + SP 51.13 = Total 145.75 (3rd)
Haruka Imai (Japan): Nice triple loop-double toe to begin, followed by a triple lutz that looked nice but was called underrotated. I really like the way that she uses her arms; it's very graceful. The music changed from soft to very peppy... I preferred the soft, personally. Fall on a triple toe that looked under to me. Stepout on a triple loop, followed by a combo spin that traveled and slowed. Underrotated triple salchow-double toe and an okay biellmann spiral. Fallout on a second underrotated triple salchow and just held onto a double axel. Okay footwork and then a layback that had nice arch, but her free foot should be turned out and a nice doughnut position in the followed spin (though it could be a bit faster). It's too bad -she's pleasant to watch, even if I'm not a huge fan of the peppy music. TE 39.08 + 50.19 Deduction - 1.00 = FS 88.27 + 54.67 = Total 142.94 (4th)
Caroline Zhang (USA): Disappointing freeskate after a good short program. She had problems on almost every jump, save for her triple loops. Her lovely layback/pearl/biellmann spin is back, which is great to see. She said in the kiss and cry that she doesn't know what happened. TE 38.81 + 49.84 PCS Deductions -3.00 = FS 85.65 + SP 55.05 = Total 140.07 (6th)
Carolina Kostner (Italy): Pretty dress. Good triple loop and triple flip at the start. She has great speed over the ice (but not overly fast like she's seemed in the past to me.). An alright spiral sequence followed by a good double axel and a spin that was on the slow side. Double axel-double toe combination was nice. Triple toe-double toe, also nice; I wonder if it was an intended triple-triple though. Very nice triple salchow followed by her sole jumping mistakes, doing a double three turn out of a triple salchow on her triple salchow-double toe-double toe and singling the latter. Her footwork was fine and she finished with a couple of spins that were slow, though the second was a bit better. Good skate! I'm not a fan of her skating in general but this was nice; the music suits her. TE 55.45 + PCS 61.67 = FS 117.12 + SP 60.23 = Total 177.35 (2nd)
Alissa Czisny (USA): Opened with her planned triple lutz-triple toe combination, but the toe was clearly very underrotated and consequently downgraded. Fall on a downgraded triple flip attempt, also given an edge deduction. Held onto the following triple loop and her spiral after that was nice, as usual. Nice flying spin, though the camel position wasn't my favorite. Second triple lutz okayish, marked as underrotated, then a double salchow and a turnout on a triple salchow-double toe combination. Nice double axel-double toe-double loop, ending with a nice footwork sequence and two impressive spins, including a gorgeous layback/biellmann. TE 51.37 + PCS 62.91 Deduction - 1.00 = FS 113.28 + SP 64.20 = Total 177.48 (1st)
I personally am not a fan of either Alissa or Carolina's skating, but in my opinion, Carolina deserved the win much more than Alissa today. She DID have less technical content, but almost every single jump was extremely well done, while Alissa dealt with several downgrades, underrotations, and flawed landings. I know the numbers ended up being very, very close and it's not like Carolina hasn't won medals when I hadn't felt she'd earned them either, but regardless - this didn't sit well with me.