by George Rossano
Bradie Tennell (Team USA) in Ladies Short Program
Valentina Marchei & Ondrej Hotarek (Team Italy) in Pairs Free Skate
(11 February 2018) The second of the three day team event competition saw team Canada cement it's lead with a nearly unsurpassable current margin of 6 points, with three segments remaining to skate tomorrow.
On day two, all ten teams competed in the Dance Short Dance and the Ladies Short Program, following which the field was cut to five teams. After a brief break, the Pairs from the final five teams competed in the free skate.
Following the short programs team Canada led with 35 points followed by teams OAR with 31 points, USA with 29 points, JPN with 26 points and ITA with 26 points. Team China dropped out of the top five, being surpassed by team Italy.
In the Pairs Free Skate. Team Canada placed first increasing their lead, while a second place finish from Team Italy moved them ahead of team Japan. Team OAR was also able to increase it's lead over team USA from two points to three.
Dance Short Dance
In the first segment of the day, team Canada's Tess Virtue & Scott Moir placed first with a performance in which they did not hold back. The performed with energy and passion. Thirty-two out of forty five GoEs were +3, and the remainder +2s. Their components averaged 9.73, and included 12 tens.
"It was a very solid performance," said Virtue. "Sometimes the first one out of the gates at an Olympic Games everything is beginning and the excitement is on another level. It's really about maintaining composure, and I feel we did that today. We were very present and sort of allowing our training to shine through and speak for itself."
Commenting on the low scores for the event (there were no season bests in the event), their coach, Marie-France Dubreuil said, "I am questioning that too because after a full season to see the scores going down instead of up. I think the callers are trying to be extra strict and they are, which is a good thing. But I hope from now to the individual event, everyone will train a little bit more and that we'll see the technical score go up."
Maia & Alex Shibutani from team USA placed second, 5.05 points back. They missed a level in the partial step sequence and the midline not touching step sequence. They also achieved only one of the three key points in the first Rhumba sequence. Their components averaged 9.26. The dance was skated securely and with confidence.
"We felt that the skate was actually really good,” Maia Shibutani said. “We've been training so hard, and to be out on Olympic ice for the first time, we are really happy with it."
Team OAR's Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soliev were third. They missed a level in the partial step sequence and made only one key point in the first Rhumba sequence. Their components averaged 9.17. Compared to the higher placed two couples, their performance offered a mediocre interpretation and lacked energy.
Describing their performance, Soliev said, "It was the best performance of the season, ,but not everything worked out. The Rhumba didn't work out, it was a level two. We've worked so hard on it, we just didn't stop, we looked at it from different angles, we cleaned it up, and it was level two. We are upset about it, because we worked on it more than on the other elements. These are the points that we would have needed to earn a little more points for our team."
Anna Cappallini & Luca Lanotte from team Italy placed fourth. They missed one level each on four elements, but hit two of the key points on the Rhuma sequence. Their components averaged 9.05. They had one fall outside an element.
Lanotte also noted the low scores in the event. "It was good and it was clean. It was our first Olympic performance and it went well. The score was mediocre, honestly. It was not a good score. We have to see the levels to understand why and where we made mistakes for the next short dance of the individual event. It's going to get better."
Team Japan's Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed placed fifth, more than ten points behind the top four teams, but since the team event is decided by placements and not points, their result helped team Japan stay in the top five. They achieved level four only on their twizzles element, and hit only one of the key points in the Rhumba sequence. Their components averaged 7.50.
Ladies Short Program
Evgenia Medvedeva, skating for team OAR, showed she was back with a vengeance, earning a season's best score of 81.06. It was a beautiful clean skate with all the leveled elements achieving level four. Her components averaged 9.56 with two marks of ten, one in Performance and one in Composition.
"At this point I am happy with my result, but the performance was a bit tough, probably because this was my first Olympics," she said of her performance. I know I can do better. On a scale of five I'd give myself a four, maybe a bit less, a four minus a quarter," she related. "I know how I can skate in practice and I know that I can be more confident in myself. I think that is why I went out on the ice today, to feel myself and now I know the whole setup and know what to prepare."
Carolina Kostner from team Italy placed second, 5.96 point behind the leader. Her opening jump combination had an under-rotated triple toe loop on the back end of triple flip. All her leveled elements achieved level four, and her components averaged 9.54. Other than the under-rotation, the main technical difference between her program and Medvedeva's was that Kostner had only double Axel in the second half, while Medvedeva has all three jump elements in the second half. Skating to a Celine Dion rendition of "Ne me quitte pas," she expressed some emotion, but there were clear holes in the transitions.
The four time Olympian said, "I skated very well. I was fighting for some elements, but I am happy." She described her goal for these Games saying, "I just want to be able to say, 'I did my best' and go home with a big smile and one more experience. Everything else will just add to that."
Team Canada's Kaetlyn Osmund did not have her best skate of the season, but it was good enough for third place and helped to keep team Canada in first place overall. On the opening jump combination she had steps after the triple flip and then a poor landing edge on an under-rotated triple toe loop. Her leveled elements all achieved level four, but only the double Axel was executed in the second half.
Describing her jumps she said, "I was very excited and it's probably why my jumps were a little on the wild side. But it felt really good." On her current positions she said, "I am happy where I am. Some things were a little messier than I would like, but I was able to push through and I definitely feel ready for the rest of the competition."
Satoko Miyahara placed fourth for team Japan. It was a pretty skate to "Memoirs of a Geisha." She had under-rotations on both jumps in her opening jump combination (triple Lutz with triple toe loop). The rest of the program was clean, and she achieved level four on all the leveled elements. Her components averaged 8.66.
I thought I would be more nervous, but I had very much fun," she related. "I felt great. It was a little bit lower core for m, but I think the skating was good for me at my first Olympics. I want to cheer for my team and do the best I can in the individual event. Maybe the under-rotations cost me points. I think I had some, so I have to fix that," she said.
Team USA's Bradie Tennell, in her first Olympic appearance, placed fifth, skating to "Taeguki." Due to her lower world ranking, she skated in the first of the two warm-up groups. It was a clean, athletic skate, with all the leveled elements achieving level four. Her components averaged 7.5, and there in lies the rub. Her skating did not show the polish and finesse of the top ladies.
“It felt like I was doing another program on a practice session,” Tennell said. “‘You’ve done this program a million times, this is just a million and one.’ I get butterflies before the music starts, but then when the music starts I go on auto-pilot and lose myself. I couldn’t have asked for a better first program at the Olympics.”
Pairs Free Skate
Team Canada showed they were here to win this event by putting out their best pair team in both the short and long programs. Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford placed first in the free skate segment. It was a strong skate with only two minor errors. On side-by-side triple Lutz, Radford landed a bit on the toe, and on throw quad Salchow Duhamel put a hand down. Their components averaged 8.91. (For those who want good laugh over what some judges do, check out the marks of the Hungarian judge for this event. What competition was she watching?)
Following the performance, Duhamel said, "That performance felt really good. It felt great to lay out a solid long program at the Olympics, which we weren't able to do four years ago. That was a really great skate with a lot of room to improve for Thursday and the individual event." Radford added, "We are really, really happy. Definitely we were more nervous backstage than for the short program. So I felt a little bit more unstable, but once the music started we got past that twist and we started to settle in."
Placing second were team Italy's Valentina Marchei & Ondrej Hotarek. It was a stand out season best performance, that helped pull team Italy ahead of team Japan in the standings, and with reach of the bronze medal.
Skating to "Amarcord" by Nina Rota, their lively performance was nearly clean, with just three negative GoEs in their pair combination spin. Their components averaged 8.43, and they had a one point time deduction.
Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert made their Olympic appearance skating for team OAR, thanks to higher ranked Russian teams not being approved to compete in PyeongChang. They placed third with a mostly clean program. Enbert doubled a planned triple Salchow and had a few -1 GoEs scattered throughout the protocol. Their components averaged 8.28 and they a one point deduction for a fall by Zabiiako between two consecutive lifts. (We again draw the reader's attention to the enthusiastic marks of the Hungarian judge.)
Placing fourth, Alexa Scimeca Knierim & Chris Knierim had a few issues in their program, the most significant being a fall on triple toe loop by Chris Knierim. They also has some strong elements, particularly their opening triple twist. Their components averaged 7.84.
“It wasn’t a brilliant skate by any means, but we are just so happy to be here," Scimeca-Knierim said. "We’ve already won by being able to step on the ice; this is great.”
Team Japan's Miu Suzaki & Ryuichi Kihara placed fifth with an uncompetitive performance. Seven elements were scored negative, with a fall on throw triple Lutz, a downgrade on triple toe loop by Suzaki, which she also two footed and then singled a planned double toe loop, and two hands down on throw triple Salchow being the most serious of the errors. Their components averaged 6.18. Skating to "Romeo & Juliet" by Nino Rota the program was also hobbled by a lack of speed and emotion, and what was basically a performance to background music.
Copyright 2018 by George S. Rossano