by Sandra Stevenson
Ladies Short Program: Gold Looks Golden
1. SP 69.45 (38.53+30.92) Eighteen-year-old Gracie Gold, USA, changed coaches in September. She now trains with Frank Carroll at the Toyota Center. The veteran coach was pleased with her showing which was set to “Three Preludes” by George Gershwin. She wore a complicated but attractive outfit, black on the left side which had no sleeve, and white and silver on the right side which included the one sleeve.
He was not quite so pleased with her Press Conference comments in which she declared her admiration for his teaching career. “I was having some struggles. You want an experienced guide, and he’s got almost a century of figure skating!” The maestro, who oversaw Michelle Kwan for most of her amateur career, doesn’t like to be specific about such personal matters, but he is believed to have been born in 1938, and has a quarter century to go before hitting the 100 mark!!
Gold was runner-up for the U.S. title earlier this year and sixth in the world championships. In Saint John, she earned five +2s and four +1s for her opening move, a solid triple Lutz to triple toe loop jump combination, from the panel of judges who included the American, Taffy Holliday. The referee, Joe Inman, and the data operator, David Santee, are also American.
Gold’s second element, Level 4 (the maximum) straight line steps, earned an even better seven +2s and two +1s. Her Level 3 flying camel spin gained two +2s and five +1s. The triple loop and double Axel jumps were set to take advantage of the 10% bonus on jumps executed after the halfway stage and received an extra +0.40 and +0.50 over their base values. Her last two elements were Level 4 spins which both earned three of the maximum +3 GoEs which gave her +1.14 over each spin’s base value.
Gold explained Carroll is, “trying to take all the voices and all the doubt out of my head.” He says, “I’m trying to get the philosophy in her head of being a “warrier”. I call her Gracie, Warrior Princess, because I want her to go out there and be a warrier, not a scared competitor. If she makes it to the Olympic Games, she has to go with a different philosophy than one in which all she thinks she needs to do is stay on her feet.”
2. SP 66.89 (37.95+28.94) Julia Lipnitskaya, Russia, is the 2012 world junior champion, who was second in that event earlier this year. She turned 15 on June 5. She trains in Moscow with Eteri Tutberidze. She had a sensational ending of her final move, a change foot combination spin which ended with a blur with her spinning on her right foot and pulling her left leg into a vertical spin and rotating so fast, she was a blur. Just amazing! However, when asked about this feat, she said, “That wasn’t my best. I was travelling a bit and wasn’t spinning anything like as fast as I can.”
She presented her Short Program to “You Don’t Give Up on Love”, dressed in a pretty blue outfit. She opening jump combination was the same as Gold’s but got one more +2 than the American which resulted in an extra 0.10. Gold’s double Axel scored +0.47 more in part because it was executed in the bonus section and the Russian’s was not. Gold did a triple loop while Lipnitskaia executed a triple flip, and ended up with two points more than the American. All four of the Russian’s moves which received Levels were the maximum Level 4 but Gold had a Level 3 on her flying camel. However, Gold’s steps were superior and she ended up with 0.58 more on the Element score. Lipnitskaya gained three +3s, two for her layback spin and one from one of those judges for her concluding combination spin.
3. SP 65.76 (33.19+32.57) Akiko Suzuki, Japan, 28, was the bronze medalist in the 2012 world championship but the volatility in skating is such that she was only 12th this past March. Her performance today in the Short Program was beautiful, very mature with no apparent mistakes. While waiting for her marks, she was given a white cuddly bear with a purple dress to of the same material and color as she wore for her performance.
She opened with a combination of two triple toe loops, but the second jump got an arrow for slight under-rotation. The triple flip which followed gained an extra +0.40 and her double Axel was awarded +0.79. Her first two spins were Level 4 with +0.64 for the flying camel and +0.57 for the layback. Her last spin was Level 3 with +0.86. Her best element was her Level 4 step sequence, which gained four +3s from the judging panel along with four +2s and two +1s.
4. SP 62.82 (33.96+28.86) Christina Gao, USA, from Cinncinnati, is trained in Boston by Mark Mitchell & Peter Johansson. She has ranked fifth in the U.S. championships for the past four years. She turned 19 on March 7. Skating to, “Close Without Touching” by David Arkenstone, she gave a mature showing with no obvious flaws beginning with a combination of two triple toe loops. All three spins were Level 4 and the steps were Level 3 with +0.71.
5. SP 60.32 (32.49+28.83 -1) Kaetlyn Osmond, who will turn 18 on December 5, is the current Canadian champion, who was 8th in the world championship in London, Ontario. She had won bronze in Senior nationals the year before. She was born not that far from Saint John, in Newfoundland, but left for Edmonton when she was ten. She is trained by Ravi Walia in that city. She has already won two internationals, the 2012 Nebelhorn in Germany and last year’s Skate Canada Grand Prix in Windsor, Ontario. Recently, however, she has had “a huge problem” with her skates. It was the result of training rather than from a specific incident. But, it was significant enough to have a walking cast on her left foot for about two weeks and was off the ice for most of September. She resumed skating earlier this month. And, yes, initially they did “contemplate” withdrawing from this event.
As it is, they had to modify the routine. Instead of a triple flip to triple toe loop, she does a combination of two triple toe loop, which had -0.50 subtracted from its base value, and the triple Lutz has been changed to a triple flip, which earned an extra full point. All three spins got Level 4.
She also has had to reduce her training to only two hours a day instead of three. However, she has been doing more off-ice training, including hot yoga, Pilates, strength training, biking and swimming.
“By nationals, I should be perfectly fine. Actually, I have more pain when I’m walking than when I’m wearing skating boots.” This summer, she spent a delightful couple of weeks training with Frank Carroll, in Southern California, along with coach Walia. She explained, “I have worked with Frank Carroll in the past. Our rink (in Edmonton) doesn’t have much ice time in August, so we took the opportunity to train with a legend (who guided Evan Lysacek to the 2010 Olympic gold). The trip, she explained, was very positive. “I need(ed) to get out of my cloud for a while.”
She presented an upbeat jazzy Short Program to Bob Fosse’s “Sweet Charity”.
6. SP 59.13 (32.10+27.03) Amelie Lacoste, Canada, who trains in St. Leonard, in Quebec, will turn 25 on December 17. She has competed at Senior level six times, winning the national title in 2012 but placing only 4th last January. She performed to “The Feeling Begins” by Peter Gabriel, in a red two-piece creation with straps giving the impression of many rubies.
She opened with a triple loop to double loop which earned an extra 0.70. The subsequent triple flip received +0.20. Then came her Level 4, +0.14 flying sit spin and her +0.57 double Axel. After a Level 3 layback spin, she presented her step sequence and change foot combination spin. The technical panel gave both the maximum Level 4 and the judges, collectively had +1.0 and +0.57 added to the base value of Level 4.
7. SP 52.36 (27.96+24.40) Natalia Popova, Ukraine, who turned 20 on September 15, was born in Simferopol, but trains in Hackensack, NJ, with 1992 Olympic champion Viktor Petrenko and his coach, Galina Zmievskaia. Skating to Concierto de Aranjuez, by Joaquin Rodrigo, she opened with a triple flip to double toe. Then came a controversial triple toe loop. Two judges thought nothing was wrong with the jump and it was satisfactory in every aspect and so they gave a zero which means nothing was subtracted from the move’s base value. However, one judge punched in -3 which is the maximum negative, which must be given for a fall. Four judges punched in -2, one thought -1 was appropriate, and the remaining judge thought it was good enough for +1!! Two of her spins were Level 4. The final spin, a layback, was Level 3, as were her steps. The double Axel got six zeros and three +1s.
8. SP 50.71 (27.31+24.40 -1) Veronik Mallet is a 19-year-old from Sept-Isles, Quebec, who placed 5th in her debut in the Canadian Senior championships last January after being runner-up for the Junior national title in 2012. In her first international ever, this summer in Oberstdorf, she gained fourth place in the Nebelhorn Trophy.
Here in Saint John, skating to “Papillon” by Rolf Lovland (Secret Garden), in a pink high neck backless creation, she opened with a triple loop to double toe loop jump combination but then fell on her subsequent triple flip. She brought off her double Axel and two of her spins were the maximum Level 4. Her layback was Level 2 and the steps Level 3.
Her coach, Annick Barabe, explained that Mallet had only recently mastered a triple flip and Lutz and that it is very unusual for a competitor to succeed in that goal once they had got into their late teens. “The jumps are so much easier to learn when the girls are a lot younger. Veronik was an exception.”
9. SP 50.70 (26.67+24.03) Courtney Hicks, who will turn 18 on December 15, won her first ever Junior Grand Prix in Brisbane, Australia, and gained the 2011 US Junior title but missed almost the whole of 2011-12 season, because she broke her leg in a fall during the Junior Grand Prix in Milan. However, this past season, she finished fourth in the US Senior championship and fifth in the 2013 World Junior Championship, which was also in Milan, although at a different rink.
Earlier this season, she won the U.S. International Classic in Salt Lake City. She is trained by Jere Michael and Alex Chang at the Paramount rink in California. She skated to the soundtrack of “Soul Searcher”, opening with a triple flip to double toe loop. Then followed two spins, and the step work, all of which earned Level 3, with positive GoEs. But then she doubled her triple Lutz attempt which meant she only banked 1.41 points for this move.
She skated second of the nine competitors, to music from the soundtrack of “Soul Surfer” by Marco Beltrami, dressed in royal blue with touches of silver, backless and sleeveless, she opened with her combination of triple flip to double toe loop. Her third jump was only a double, not the planned triple Lutz.
Alena Leonova, Russia, who was originally entered, badly sprained her ankle while landing a jump off the ice. Despite the fact that this became known half way through October, she kept hoping that she was making enough progress to compete here, but eventually conceded that was not so. However, by then it was too late to get a replacement.
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