Welcome to the first event of the 2018-19 Grand Prix Season! Skate America is back in its rightful place at the top of the schedule and the senior season is officially underway. The Ladies brought us carrot cake, a stealth Russian bronze medalist, and two of my favourite Japanese ladies finishing 1-2. Glide this way to the sequin buffet!
UR What UR
The ladies event was a surprise exercise in stringent under rotation (UR) calls. The majority of the field had the dreaded carrot appear on her protocol sheet. Cue confused faces in the kiss and cry and a collective howl of outrage from Skating Twitter. The UR calls were so pronounced the replay editor for the CBC livestream started cutting to slo-mo closeups of every skater’s feet on her landings.
Under rotation and edge calls are the two technical faults that prompt maximum confusion for new fans and enrage die hards: “It was clean! How dare you punish my favourite?!” Adding to the ire is the inconsistency of those calls. Skaters with chronic under rotation faults aren’t reliably called on those errors. The cynics among us count that as the cost of watching the sport: the higher the world ranking the less likely a skater is to receive an under rotation or edge penalty. Clearly the judging panel at Skate America thought otherwise.
I welcome consistent edge calls because it encourages skaters to maintain better technique and improves judging predictability. It may also cut down on the social media hand-wringing if fans know the < is coming and learn to spot the under rotations as they happen.
Miyahara Reigns, Sakamoto’s Silver
All hail the Queen:Embed from Getty Images
Satoko Miyahara defended her Skate America title with a pair of gorgeous performances. Her short program to Song for the Little Sparrow is classic Miyahara, lyrical and elegant. If you had asked me to bet on free skate music, I would not have laid money on a Piazzola tango. I’m delighted to see Miyahara is pushing her technique by making interesting music choices. She also continues to break my heart, one layback spin at a time:
Meanwhile, Kaori Sakamoto also repeated her silver medal from 2017, skating two clean programs of her own. The spiral sequence into the closing triple loop in her free skate has become my 2018 season crack. The music and the choreography build to A Moment and I’m a sucker for it every time:
Sakamoto still has considerable room for improvement. I love this choreography sequence, but there are small tweaks I want to see: stronger posture after lowering the leg out of the catch spiral; better extension in her arms; a stronger, sharper launch into the stag after the landing on the loop (it looks a bit wilted in this performance). At 18 years old and in her first senior competition of this season I’m confident the program is going to tighten up as the year progresses.
1. Satoko Miyahara JPN – 219.71 (75.00, 70.85, 145.85)
2. Kaori Sakamoto JPN – 213.90 (75.41, 67.20, 142.61)
3. Sofia Samodurova RUS – 198.70 (72.07, 62.22, 134.29)
4. Bradie Tennell USA – 192.89 (65.86, 65.31, 131.17)
5. Laurine Lecavelier FRA – 172.41 (56.45, 56.39, 112.84)
6. Megan Wessenberg USA – 170.33 (54.23, 55.90, 110.13)
7. Polina Tsurskaya RUS – 159.45 (47.30, 53.73, 101.30)
8. Marin Honda JPN – 158.04 (37.66, 58.64, -1.00, 95.30)
9. Alaine Chartrand CAN – 155.49 (53.60, 54.90, 108.50)
10. Starr Andrews USA – 150.56 (43.59, 51.94, -1.00, 94.53)
WD Loena Hendrickx BEL