For individual event reports follow the links at the left.
All photos copyright 2010 by George S. Rossano
Sunday, 24 January 2020
Events are done, teams are selected and thoughts turn to Four Continents and the Olympic Games. Four Continents starts in a few days and the team will be leaving for Korea directly from here without retuning home first.
Exhibition goes off at 12:30 PM.
Saturday, 23 January 2010
Olympic Winter Games Ladies Nominations to the USOC
Olympic Winter Games Ice Dancing Nominations to the USOC
Competitive events draw to a close today with the Dance Free Dance beginning shortly before noon. Then, later this afternoon afternoon the Ladies final will decide the last members of the U.S. Olympic Team. In the Dance event the greatest pressure is on Samuelson & Bates and Navarro & Bommentre. Backstage this morning Navarro's look is best described as distraught. Should the couple not make the Olympic Team, her disappointment will surely prove intense beyond imagining.
Many rumors have swirled around Sasha Cohen. Yesterday we heard the best one yet. According to this one, there was no way Sasha was NOT going to compete here this week as she supposedly has received $200,000 in appearance money. Further, the buzz has it that NBC is putting substantial pressure on U.S. Figure Skating to name Cohen to the Olympic team no matter what. The USOC, however, has a representative present at the selection meetings, so there better be a credible case to depart from order of finish should Cohen not place in the top two. That being said, our prediction remains Nagasu, Cohen, Wagner, Flatt. That's our prediction and were sticking with it.
Hubbell & Hubbell lead after the second warmup. They had a string skate and have a chance to move back up and finish in fifth place. Last warmup is now on the ice.
Super performance from B&A. PCs around 9.25-9.50. Room left for D&W to go up another 0.25.
A powerful performance from N&B. PCs around 7.50-7.75. Is it good enough? We will find out after S&B who skate last.
A pleasant skate from C&Z. PCs around 7.00. They will finish fifth. H&H will end up sixth.
Beautiful and energetic skate from D&W. Choreographically just another Phantom, but very well done. PCs around 9.50-9.75. They repeat as National Champions.
Precisely and cleanly skated by S&B. PCs around 7.50-7.75. They end up third and will be going to Vancouver.
Following the dance awards we are on to the Ladies. First warmup is on the ice. Kayla Howey withdraws after the warmup period. No reason given.
After the second warmup, Melissa Bulanhagui leads with 129.21 points.
Some decent jumps and spins and a few triples from Caroline Zhang -- but not much of a program. PCs around 6.00 and 138.27 points. Currently in first place.
Nice skate from BeBe Liang. Energetic and enthusiastic. PCs around 6.25 and 147.71 points. Currently in first place.
Alissa Czisny, jumps a disaster, the rest nicely done but too little points to help much. Painful to see her do down in flames. PCs around 6.75 and 140.37 points. Currently in second place. She will end up around tenth when we are done.
Emily Hughes, two falls, decent speed and power. Some drama in the presentation, but not enough here to help her move up much. PCs around 6.00 and 140.60 points. Currently in second place.
AlexeGilles, two falls, fair speed and power. Some pleasant skating to "On the Town". PCs around 6.25 and 143.31 points. Currently in second place.
At the end of the third warmup BeBe Liang currently in first place. Fourth warmup is now on the ice.
Amanda Dobbs, two falls and a step out of double Axel. Still a strong skate. She has made a strong positive impression in pairs and now here too. A big future awaits. PCs around 6.50 and 150.72 points. She is currently in first place. Will end up at least sixth in the end.
Christine Gao, one fall and a double Axel gone bad, but otherwise a strong skate. Good speed and promising expression. She will be part of the next generation. PCs around 6.25 and 156.53 points. She is currently in first place.
Ashley Wagner, a strong lovely skate. Did not throw the triple-triple. Good speed and presentations. She's a fighter. PCs around 7.50 and 184.70 points. She is currently in first place.
Sasha Cohen, one fall and several other jump errors. A brave performance but short of the mark in Transitions and presentation. Some pretty skating in places but did not attack to extent needed. PCs around 7.25 and 174.28 points. She is currently in second place. Will need divine intervention from the International Committee to make the Olympic Team.
Rachell Flatt, a solid performance with a few lesser jump issues. Some nice moments in the sequences. A tad slow, but she got the job done. PCs around 7.50 and 200.11 points. She is currently in first place. It's all on Mirai now.
Mirai Nagasu, a splendid solid performance. Superb. If that doesn't win, a pox on the judges.
PCs around 7.75 and 188.78 points. She places second. A pox on the judges.
Three downgrades. Never mind, that explains it. The pox is lifted. The three downgrades cost Miai more points than Flatt's margin of victory.
Friday, 22 January 2010
The Junior Ladies go at it again in the Free Skate this morning. Agnes Zawadzki has a large but not insurmountable lead of 7.63 points and ladies down to seventh plae have at least a numerical chance of moving up into the medals. This evening the second segment f the Senior Dance event takes place, with the skating of the Original Dance.
Sasha Cohen has been a boon to interest in skating leading up to these National Championships and the Olympics. It is a great accomplishment that she has been able to return to competitive form in the relatively short time she allowed for it. If she makes the Olympic team even more so. The idea, however, that in making the team she will increase the chance of the U.S. medalling in the Ladies event seems a little far fetched at this point.
The last time a U.S. lady was not on the podium at the Olympics was in 1964. With Cohen out of the picture the conventional prediction is that the best the U.S. will do in the Ladies event Vancouver is about fifth. With the Cohen in the picture the situation seems to be pretty much the same. Unless Cohen goes out of Nationals with a runaway victory as champion with components in the eights, her chances at the Olympics are no better than for Nagasu or Flatt or any other U.S. lady who might end up named to the team.
The thought that Cohen's name recognition as 2006 silver medallist will help her in Vancouver even if her scores here are no higher than the other U.S. ladies have received in recent international competition is similarly farfetched. The Koreans, Japanese and Canadians have been politicking for their skaters for two years. It's a bit too late for the U.S. to be playing that game at this late date, with no international appearance from Cohen in four years.
If Cohen makes the Olympic team for the third time she has a good chance to place in the top five, and that would be a great accomplishment; but to medal in Vancouver that would truly require a miracle on ice.
In the Junior Ladies, Agnes Zwadzki handily won the Free Skate and captured the national title with 171.87 points, more than 20 pointe better than her nearest rival. Yasmin Siraj moved up to second in the Free Skate to win the silver medal with 151.05 points. The bronze was taken by Lindsay Davis with 133.97 points. She placed fourth in the long and fifth in the short. Kiri Baga had placed second in the short, but dropped to ninth in the long to earn 127.35 points. Third in the long was taken by Nina Jing, but an eleventh place finish in the short held her back. She was fifth overall with 126.38 points. Estimated attendance for the Junior Ladies final: 2800.
Senior Ladies practices are now starting up. Sasha Cohen's group is on the ice. Cohen did not do a complete run through. Most jumps were landed today, but also a few falls. From what was shown the potential for a nice Free Skate is there. She stopped a few minutes early and signed autographs before leaving.
Alissa Czisny had a decent practice, landing all her jumps -- not perfectly, but landed. Still, she is in a hole too deep to skate out of. Perhaps she can move up to be an alternate to the Olympic or World teams, but that is about it.
Flatt's and Nagasu's practice group now on the ice. Flatt did not do a complete run through. The jump passes in the first third were off -- a step out and then a 2F instead of 3F+3T. Rest of the run through, such as was attempted, was decently executed. The 3F+3T, is not going to be enough to guarantee moving into the top two.
Nagasu did a complete run through. All jumps strong except for one fall. Picked herself up and did not let it affect the rest of the program. She remains the skater who projects the most confidence and security in what she is doing. I sense a championship performance tomorrow (even without the most difficult jumps passes) and an explosive response from the audience.
Last Ladies practice group on the ice. Ashley Wagner did a complete run through. Jumps were temperamental today . Several with minor errors. Spins were well done but not spectacular. Like Flatt she will have to fight to move up in the final. Our picks after today's practice: Nagasu kicks butt, then Cohen. Flatt and Wagner fight over third place. Estimated attendance: 7000.
Davis & White opened up a slightly greater lead in the Dance event with a 1.22 point victory in the Original Dance over Belbin & Agosto. In the race for the third Olympic Team berth Samuelson & Bates overtook Novarro & Bommentre by scoring 2.00 points ahead of Navarro & Bommentre in the Original Dance. They now hold third place by a margin of 1.76 points. Madison Chock & Greg Zurlein also moved up one place after the Original Dance overtaking the Hubbell's by 0.50 points.
Thursday, 21 January 2010
Yesterday Sasha Cohen put to rest the wild speculations that she would not show up for Nationals, and if she did she would not be prepared. Today Belbin & Agosto will little doubt do the same in the Senior Compulsory dance. The Senior Compulsory Dance starts at 10:30 AM and in practices they have sown they are here to compete and ready to rumble. Also in the rumor category, is the speculation that the judges will get sentimental and put Navarro & Bommentre in third place to make the Olympic team as a parting reward for the positive image they have projected for the sport and the support they have given back to the association over the years. It also helps that they have fairly good programs this year. So, as Belbin & Agosto and Davis & White battle for the nation title, the secondary story will be the decision for third place, most likely between Samuelson & Bates and Bommentre & Navarro.
And the answer is ...
Davis & White edge out Belbin & Agosto by 0.42 points for a virtual tie for first and second place. Navarro & Bommentre squeak ahead of Samuelson & Bates by 0.24 points for a virtual tine for third and fourth place.
In the Junior Dance event, Maia and Alex Shibutani ran away with the competition, winning all three dance segments and besting the competition by 20.08 points. Their components were in the mid sevens with the couple showing both the skill and maturity needed for a Senior team. Rachel Tibbetts & Collin Brubaker placed tird in the Free Dance as they did in the Original, but held second overall on the strength of their compulsory dance. Piper Gilles & Zachary Donhue placed second in the Free Dance and ended in third overall. They trailed Tibbetts & Brubaker by just 0.40 points, their fourth place finish in the compulsory ultimately costing them one place in the final results.
Rachael Flatt leads in the Ladies Short Program with 69.35 points after the first warmup. Czisny is 15 points back. Her Olympic dream may be over.
Super skate from Nagasu. Clean jumps, great spins and steps. Great presentation. With 70.06 points she leads at the end of the second warmup group. Charoline Zhang had a mediocre skate, which made it better than several earlier this season. With 49.94 points she is currently in 6th place and out of the running for this year.
Third warmup group is now on the ice. Sahsa is back! 69.63 points puts her in second place, with only Ashley Wagner left with a reasonable chance to challenge the top two. Ashley skates last, in about an hour.
A better than expected skate from Emily Hughes. Landed everything, but components in the sixes. 53.75 points put her in seventh place with five left to skate, 16 points back. Her Olympic dream is now over too.
The event ends with Ashley Wagner, who had a generally good skate, but fell on triple Lutz. A costly error in a hard fought competition such as this. Her total score of 62.55 puts her in fourth place, 7.5 points back. The ladies go into the free skate with Nagasu, Cohen and Flatt neck-in-neck. Wagner retains an outside chance. The pressure will be on these four even worse than it was for the men in their final last weekend.
Estimated attendance: Senior Dance -- 3800; Junior Dance -- 4200; Senior Ladies -- 7000.
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Novice Dance starts the day, followed by the Junior Ladies Short Program. In the evening Junior Dance continued with the Original Dance. Senior Dance practice went well this morning with Belbin & Agosto, Davis & White, and Navarro & Bommentre all looking in top form. All eyes will be on the first ladies practice at noon to to get a first look at Sasha Cohen.
Ladies practice up next. John Nicks poked his head in during the last dance couple, so Sasha is backstage and we are all keyed up to see her practice.
Agnes Zawadski took the lead in the Junior Ladies Short Program with a well rounded performance. Kiri Baga placed second on teh strength of good spins and sequences and nicely expressed program. Algela Wang, who skated first placed third, followed by Yasmin Siraj in a unique mid-eastern themed program. Estimated attendance: 4200. The last practice group of Senior Ladies follows; then warmups for the Junior Dance Original Dance, and the OD competition.
The day ended with the Junior Dance Original Dance. Fourteen couples skated to a variety of folk themes. Maia and Alex Shibutani kicked folk butt with a Japanese themed program that helped them open up a 8.89 point lead in the Junior Dance event. Thir OD winning routine received Senior level component marks and the couple seems unstoppable in the Free Dance. Rachel Tibbetts & Collin Brunaker held second place overall after a third place finish in the OD. A strong performance by Piper Gilles & Zachary Donohue earned them a second place finish in the OD and they moved into third place overall. Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello placed fourth in the OD and dropped to fourth overall after a third place finish in the Compulsory Dance yesterday. Estimated attendance: 4200.
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
The Novice Dance compulsories started off the day. Aldridge & Eaton lead after the first dance (Starlight Waltz), but faltered in the second dance (Kilian) where they placed sixth and ended the morning in third place. Brother and sister couple Danvi Pham & Vu Pham placed second in the Starlight Waltz and then won the Kilian to end up in the lead overall. Joylyn Yang & Jen-Luc Baker placed third in the Starlight Waltz and Second in the Kilian to finish the day second overall. Only 1.85 points separate the top three couple. The fourth place couple, Kristina Rexford & Michael Parsons, lie another 1.41 points back.
For the Junior and Novice events attendance thus far has not been as robust as in 2007, but is still far better than other recent Nationals. This morning, however, is an exception. Perhaps 700 on hand for the Novice Compulsory dances. It's hard to draw an audience on a weekday morning at 8 AM for anything, no less compulsory dance.
In addition to the Novice compulsories this morning, the Novice Ladies final follows at 11 AM, and then the Junior Compulsory dance takes place this evening. The Pairs and Men are all done in all divisions, and the rest of the week is all Dance and Ladies. In putting the Senior Pairs and Men on the first weekend, the Novice and Juniors were also scheduled with them as a group.
The day concluded with the Junior Compulsory Dance. Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani placed first in the Argentine Tango followed by Rachel Tibbetts & Collin Brubaker and Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello. Estimated attendance: 3000.
Monday, 18 January 2010
The first half of the Senior events are over. Fans who came for only the first weekend began leaving yesterday after the Men's Free Skate. They will be placed by others in a few days arriving for the Senior Ladies and Dance events. Rumors are flying that Belbin & Agosto will not show up, or will withdraw before the event is completed. The official word is they arrive today, and that the rumors are just unrestrained speculation. Today is also the first day for official Ladies practice, and the Sasha watch begins -- though it is said Cohen is not scheduled to arrive in Spokane before Tuesday evening.
Olympic Winter Games Mens Nominations to the USOC
No. 1 Ryan Bradley
No. 2 Adam Rippon
No. 1 Ryan Bradley
No. 2 Adam Rippon
No. 1 Armin Mahbanoozadeh
No. 3 Alex Johnson
No. 1 Keegan Messing
No. 2 Richard Dornbush
No. 3 Jason Brown
In the afternoon sessions, Ashley Cain took the lead in the Novice Ladies Shot Program and sits 0.42 points ahead of Katarina Kulgeyko, and 0.44 points ahead of Leah Keiser. Following the Ladies Short Program, Cain competed in the Novice Pairs Final where she placed first with her partner Joshua Reagan. The team moved up from second in the short to win the Novice Pairs title. Tori Vollmer & Zack Sidhu placed third in the long to win the silver, and Mandy Garza & Brandon Frazier placed second in the long moving up from fourth in the short to win the bronze. Estimated attendance for the afternoon session: 2000.
In the evening session, Felicia Zhang & Taylor Toth won the free to win the National title by a margin of 6.51 points. Zhang will be competing later this week in Junior Ladies. Carolyn-Ann Alba & Christopher Knierim dropped to fifth in the Free Skate, allowing Erika Smith & Nathan Bartholomay to move up to third overall, after being fourth in both the short and the long. Brynn Carman & A.J. Reiss had a great skate in the long to move up to third in the long after being seventh in the short, but could not make up enough on their Short Program deficit to move into the medals. They ended up fifth overall. Estimated attendance for the evening session: 4000. About 2/3 of these stayed to the end, with a third filtering out during the last warmup group. A long day and an 11 PM finish on a weeknight makes it hard to hold an audience.
Sunday, 17 January 2010
Following the Men's final, the Novice events began with the Men's Short Program and Pairs Short Program. Nathan Chen opened up a 4.39 lead in the Men's event. In Pairs, Tori Vollmer & Zack Sidu hold a 0.50 point lead. In the evening, the Junior Men's Free Skate completed that event. Jason Brown edged out Joshua Farris by 0.19 points to win the gold.
The selection of the Olympic Team for pairs generates some discussion on the internet, and a harsh article in the Orange County Register, but here at the competition it is a non-issue. The general view in Spokane is that the correct teams will be going to Vancouver. No one can confirm that U.S. Figure Skating offered Inoue & Baldwin a place on the World Team. At best it appears they were asked if they would accept a berth as World Team alternates and they declined, as they are not listed as alternates for that event.
Estimated attendance: Senior Men -- 7500; Novice Men and Pairs -- 1500.: Junior Men -- 2000
Saturday, 16 January 2010
Olympic Winter Games Pairs Nominations to the USOC
Denney and Jeremy Barrett
No. 1 Rena Inoue and John Baldwin
No. 2 Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker
No. 3 Brooke Castile and Ben Okolski
Denney and Jeremy Barrett
No. 1 Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker
No. 2 Brooke Castile and Ben Okolski
No. 3 Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin
No. 4 Amanda Dobbs and Joseph Jacobsen
Castile and Ben Okolski
McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker
Yankowskas and John Coughlin
No. 1 Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir
Alternate No. 2 Andrea Best and Trevor Young
The Olympic Team is "nominated" to the USOC, as it is the
USOC that officially selects U.S. Athletes for the Olympics and
forwards their names to the IOC.
The Olympic selection was order of finish, as most everyone in U.S. Figure skating expected it would be. Some of the media tried to draw the skaters out into controversy about the selection process asking them what they would do (before the decision was announced). Mark Ladwig was a paragon of diplomacy and pointed out the decision is made by a committee, and it would never be just his decision.
Rena and John were more pointed in their comments. John said he felt the Olympic team should be chosen by order of finish. When pressed he said that when it came to making the decision, the judges did so when they judged the event. Rena made a key observation when she added that the Olympic selections should always be order of finish. She said she understood for Worlds there sometimes might be a reason to depart from order of finish since the results from Worlds determine the number of entries a country is awarded the following year. But for the Olympics she agreed the selection should be order of finish.
When asked if they would accept an assignment to Four Continents, Baldwin said no. They were not interested in a "consolation prize." Rena added that she was happy with their performance today, saying it was the kind of performance she wanted to leave with. In effect the couple said if they were not named to the Olympic team (and they weren't asking to be) this was their last competitive performance. So, though the word retirement was not said, once the Olympic selection was announce, it would seem that Inoue & Baldwin are done with competitive skating.
To liven things up even more, Baldwin took a slap at the way rules are followed or not by the association. He remarked that the rules are applied or broken as it suites the convenience. When asked if he had any advice for Denney & Barrett who are the beginning of their senior careers, as he and Inoue are leaving, he said they (and skaters in general) should not worry too much about those situations where the marks they receive do not seem right (are too low) for the way they skated. He urged them to focus on the process and not just the results.
John also mentioned the couple was looking towards finally getting married by this summer, though they did not say that a date had been set.
If the top two teams do not do Four Continents (almost a certainty) and Inoue & Baldwin do not go either, then teams four through six are next in line to be named to the Four Continents team, which at this time has yet to be announced.
Demolition (Junior) Pairs began with their Short Program this evening. In the practice just prior to the event there was a nasty collision, but all even teams took the ice for the competition before an estimated audience of 6000.
Friday, 15 January 2010
The clichι that the only constant in life is change, must have been invented for skating. Something is always changing. Always.
This year, the great experiment is splitting the Senior events, holding them on consecutive weekends. This concept came from NBC to maximize ratings leading into the Olympics. Television ratings for skating are higher on the weekend (and arena attendance greater), so putting the Senior events live for two weekends is actually a no-brainer. If this works, it can only be good for skating, despite the inconvenience it may cause some. Higher ratings make the broadcasts a more valuable property for U.S. Figure Skating, resulting in greater public exposure. All of these are good things. Further, by having the Pairs and Men this weekend and the Dance and Ladies next weekend, skaters from all three disciplines will have four weeks to finish preparing for the Olympics -- and though not a motivation for NBC or U.S. Figure Skating, it does get rid of the moronic (and patently unfair) approach of splitting a final between a morning and evening session. Good riddance to that -- even if only for one year.
The down side is for those who only come to Nationals for the Senior events either have to stay a substantially longer time (at substantially greater cost) or pick one weekend and forgo half the Senior events. In the two days we have been here several longtime spectators have told us they are only here for this weekend, and no doubt we will hear the same story from others next weekend. But for those who always attend the whole thing (and after all it is all about us) the impact has been arriving two days earlier than previously and leaving one day earlier than previously (since it is not possible to get out of town Sunday night, instead of having to stay over to Monday morning). Not a big deal, and in the process, there is more time between events to breathe. So, as far as we are concerned, if there is a big positive impact on ratings and public exposure, it would be fine with us if this schedule was retained in the future.
The Junior Men Short program was held in the morning, with an estimated attendance of 1400 and perhaps another 2500 grade school kids in the upper deck. Three men attempted triple Axel in the Short Program, probably a record for U.S. Junior Men. Max Aaron leads after the short but only 0.27 separate the top three. In the afternoon the Senior Pairs Short Program was held, with an estimated attendance of 4500. Denney and Barrett hold a 0.92 lead.
Baring disaster, the Olympic team for the Men seems to have been sorted out in the Short Program. More than likely it will be the top three men at this point, Abbott, Lysacek and Weir. All the other contenders are now sufficiently far back -- more than 10 points below third place -- that their Olympic dreams are over for this year. Abbott holds a 4.16 lead. Lysacek and Weir are neck in neck, 0.18 points apart. Adam Rippon was disappointed in his skate, but sits in fourth. Making the Olympic team is unlikely, but he has the chance to leave here viewed as the future for the Men's if he hold position in the Free Skate, given the large number of retirements expected after January 24. Estimated attendance this evening 7000.
Return to Home Page