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Skate America 2012: Final Thoughts

Victoria Gordon |
October 21, 2012 | 3:45 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Jeremy Abbott's unclean free skate cost him a medal (Wikimedia/Creative Commons)
Jeremy Abbott's unclean free skate cost him a medal (Wikimedia/Creative Commons)
I must say, I wasn't necessarily looking forward to Skate America before it happened, since the Grand Prix of Figure Skating this season has been full of withdrawals and alternate selection drama. Overall, though, I actually enjoyed the weekend competition, the traditional beginning of the Grand Prix. If you want to see the full results from Seattle, take a look here, but keep reading for my take on the weekend. 


In the short program, Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu set a new world record: 95.07 points. To give some context, of the 34 singles skaters, pairs and dance teams who competed this weekend, 10 scored lower than Hanyu's short program score... in their free skates. Otherwise, the Men's Short wasn't a great start to the weekend. Plenty of falls combined with so-so skating made me a little less optimistic for the rest of the weekend (luckily, this was not a lasting trend). 

Then came the Men's Free Skate. I was really excited for this, with three of my favorite skaters in 1-2-3 (Hanyu, Japan's Takahiko Kozuka and USA's Jeremy Abbott, respectively). Abbott also has a free program I adore. And I really hoped that Czech Republic's Michal Brezina would improve on his not-so-hot short program. The good news: Brezina improved. Other great news: Kozuka and Hanyu remained on the podium.

The sad news? Jeremy Abbott pulled a classic "Jeremy Abbott" and made a mess of the free skate, falling three times and placing eighth of ten in that segment. 

On the whole, the men were pretty good, but aside from Hanyu's record-setting SP, I didn't see a whole lot to look forward to here, unless everyone becomes more consistent (especially Kozuka, who ultimately won the gold when Hanyu faltered in the long program). 

Ashley Wagner captured her first GP title (Wikimedia/Creative Commons)
Ashley Wagner captured her first GP title (Wikimedia/Creative Commons)

The ladies events were the best of Skate America. Here's why:

1. Ashley Wagner, my favorite U.S. lady for as long as I can remember, won her first Grand Prix title with a resounding victory. Both of her programs were exceptional (here's her short program and here's her unbelievable free skate).

2. Christina Gao, an American skater who's placed fifth at Nationals three times in a row, won her first major international medal here. She placed second at, arguably, the busiest time of her life: the straight-A student began her college studies at Harvard this semester. The change in training certainly agrees with her, because she's never been better. 

3. Valentina Marchei, an Italian skater who often gets shunted to the side in favor of her much more successful teammate, Carolina Kostner, placed fourth and skated with such personality and sparkle

4. Most of all, I really felt like these ladies set the bar high, moreso than the men, pairs or dancers. Wagner showed that last season wasn't a fluke; Gao showed not to count her out; just about everyone--just about--skated very well for October. 

I could rave about the ladies competition for a while. I'm just going to settle for watching the videos on repeat.


The pairs competition featured seven pairs, including one of the best pairs in the world (Russia's Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov), who won the event with little trouble. They beat former world champions and Olympic silver medalists Qing Pang/Jian Tong of China by nearly 10 points.

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir have a wonderful short program (Wikimedia/Creative Commons)
Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir have a wonderful short program (Wikimedia/Creative Commons)
The pairs competition was pretty vanilla, to say the least. My favorite short program was American pair Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir's Pink Panther short, but I didn't really enjoy any of the other pairs that much (which is shocking when you consider that my favorite American pair, Gretchen Donlan/Andrew Speroff, skated here.)

Israel's Danielle Montalbano/Evgeni Krasnopolski were allowed to skate despite not attaining the ISU's required minimum score for competition (further proving that the ISU realizes it set up a dumb rule). They placed seventh overall.


The American dance team of Meryl Davis (the classiest woman in skating) and Charlie White won Skate America yet again. Olympic silver medalists Davis and White, who in 2011 became the first American dancers to win a world title, were the overwhelming favorites, so I wasn't surprised to see them win (just thrilled, since I love their skating).

Next came Russia's Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev, followed by Canada's rising stars Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje. Not a shocking podium at all, but it's exciting to see

Meryl Davis and Charlie White remind us why they're brilliant (Wikimedia/Creative Commons)
Meryl Davis and Charlie White remind us why they're brilliant (Wikimedia/Creative Commons)
Weaver and Poje really push forward in the sport. I hope to see them seriously contending for medals this season.

Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giuletti-Schmitt (an American team with the hardest names to pronounce in all of skating, hands down) came in fourth. Because American dance is such a deep field, these two don't always get the exposure they deserve, but they handily beat Germany and Italy's "A-teams," so I hope they're able to increase their scores on the international stage and, perhaps, make the Worlds team? 

Dance was a great competition, but nothing too surprising here. 

Final conclusion: Skate America was a good start to the season. At the very least, we got a glimpse of some top competitors for this season, and I got to pick out some programs I can't wait to see progress (along with a few I would like to forget). 

Next week: Skate Canada, Stop No. 2 on the Grand Prix, is bound to be brilliant and features several reigning World Champions (Patrick Chan and dancers Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir), as well as Canada's next great senior lady, Kaetlyn Osmond.


Reach Staff Reporter Victoria Gordon here or follow her on Twitter.



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