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2019 Skate America Ladies

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany

Anna Shcherbakova (RUS)

Ladies Free Skate

The ladies free program at Skate America 2019 in Las Vegas had a relatively good level. Four skaters had more than 200 points, only two were really weak.

One month after winning the Lombardia Trophy in Italy at her senior debut, 15-year-old Anna Shcherbakova from Moscow jumped from fourth position after the short to the first and won Skate America, this time with 227.76 points. Skating in the first two minutes to "Gnossienne No.1“ by Eric Satie in a blue costume, she opened with a very good combination of quad Lutz and triple toe loop (18.66 points), followed by another excellent quad Lutz (14.79 points). She is the first senior lady ever to perform two quadruple Lutzes in an international competition. She can rotate so quickly only because she is very slim. Two double axel followed. When the music switched to Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird, she turned a few times and did a quick mid-ice costume change within one second, because the Firebird requires a red costume. Five triple jumps followed, two of which, however, were under-rotated. Her spins and steps were stellar, her components were around 8.5.

She commented in remarkably good English: “My goal was to show two quad Lutzes and all my other jumps. This medal is very important to me because this is my first senior season. We work on the quad Lutz a lot and we jump it every day, every training.”

Bradie Tennell from Buffalo Grove near Chicago won the silver medal with 216.14 points, skating to the soundtrack of “Cinema Paradiso“ by Ennio Morricone. Her style has improved and she skated with more emotions than before. 11 of her 12 elements were clean and very well performed, including the first combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. Her spins and steps were excellent, only in her second combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop she stumbled a bit on the toe loop.

The detailed result sheet showed that she did a double toe loop after the Lutz in this second combination. But the Technical Panel, which consisted of three persons from Germany, Italy and Switzerland, had made a mistake. It is also possible that the data operator from USA pushed the wrong button and the Jury did not see his mistake. Tennell said in the press conference that it was a triple toe loop and videos on Youtube prove this. Every human being can make mistakes, but there are three persons who decide and not only one. Therefore this should not happen. Unfortunately such wrong decisions cannot be corrected any more since the last ISU congress, because the new and stupid rule says that a decision must remain as soon as the points are published on the screen if it was a mistake of the jury and not a mathematical or calculation error. The final result was not affected because the difference between a shaky double and a shaky triple toe loop is no more than three points, but Tennell was nine points behind Shcherbakova.

Tennell said: “I’m happy with my skate today. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement. Obviously the second triple Lutz-triple toe was a little wobbly, so I’d like to clean that up a bit. Also, I just want to be more free. So I think going into next week (in Canada), that’s my main goal to just skate free. I’m always trying to improve in every aspect of my skating.“

The 2015 World Champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva from Russia won the bronze medal with 205.97 points. She performed an almost clean free program which included two good triple Axels, four other good triple jumps and an under-rotated triple loop. But she was a bit slow entering into her jumps and therefore mainly had GOEs of only +1 and +2. She said: “I’m so happy to skate an almost clean free program. I can’t do a quad toe or quad Lutz, so for now it is just the triple Axel.”

Kaori Sakamoto from Japan finished on fourth position, winning 202.47 points. Four triples were good, but her Lutz got an edge call and she doubled two jumps which were planned triple. Eunsoo Lim from South Korea is fifth with 184.50 points. Three triple jumps were clean, three others not. The second Japanese lady Wakaba Higuchi took sixth place with 181.32 points. Only two triple jumps were good, but she singled and doubled others.

Amber Glenn from Euless, Texas is on seventh place with 169.63 points. Four triple jumps were clean, but she popped two jumps and fell on the second triple flip. Her best element was her layback spin at the end. She commented: “Going into the free skate, I was very excited but very nervous. I tried to keep my mind in the right place, but I got distracted.“

Karen Chen ended up on eight place with 165.67 points. After a good triple Lutz, five of her other jumps were under-rotated and she fell three times. She explained: “It was definitely not what I trained myself to do. I started off with one mistake and it just kept building. After I screwed up and put the triple toe after the double Axel, I just got tenser and tenser.“ She tries to go to university fulltime and be a competitive skater at the same time, like Nathan Chen.

Yi Christy Leung from Hongkong China sits on ninth place with 163.68 points. She opened with a strong combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, but later made some mistakes. Veronik Mallet from Canada is tenth with 161.75 points. Three triple jumps were clean, but two more not and she did not try any Lutz. Stanislava Konstantinova from Russia made four serious mistakes and ended up only on 11th place with 143.39 points. Mako Yamashita from Japan also missed four jumps and finished 12th and last with 142.40 points.

Ladies Short Program

The Ladies Short Program at Skate America had a good level because at least five competitors performed more or less clean programs with all elements they had planned.

Bradie Tennell from Buffalo Grove in the Chicago area, seventh at Worlds 2019, took the lead with 75.10 points, which was an international personal best for her. Skating to two music pieces of 29-yeaar-old Russian composer Kirill Richter, the student of Denise Myers began with an excellent combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, followed by a good double Axel and a stellar triple flip. Everything looked easy and she confirmed her usual consistency. Her spins have improved since last season and therefore she got many GOEs of +4 and some of +5 She skates with deeper edges and more playfully than before, result of a successful work with French star choreographer Benoit Richaud, and had components with an average of 8.4.

She commented: “Tonight, I was really happy with my skate, especially after my injury and working my way back to full training. I went out there with the mindset of doing what I do every day in practice and not trying to make anything any better, or certainly any worse. I wanted to enjoy myself, be relaxed and perform,” said Tennell, who suffered from a stress fracture which kept her out of training for two months in the summer. “So to show this program is a challenge for me, but it's a challenge that I welcome. And I was very excited to put this program out there because I'm very proud of it."

Kaori Sakamoto from Japan is currently second with 73.25 points. She also performed a clean program which included a sovereign combination of triple flip and triple toe loop and and an outstanding triple loop. “I came into this event feeling not so confident. I am happy that I was able to skate without mistakes“, she said.

The second Japanese lady Wakaba Higuchi sits on third place, earning 71,76 points after a good short program with a good combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. She explained: “I was really happy to skate a clean program after a long time. However, I left some points on the table on the spins and steps.“

Anna Shcherbakova from Russia, second at Junior Worlds 2019, is currently on fourth place with 67.60 points. After a very good double Axel and an excellent triple flip, the triple loop after the triple Lutz of her combination was under-rotated and she fell during the step sequence. Her teammate Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, World Champion in 2015, was the only lady to perform a triple Axel, which was good, but two other jumps were not clean and therefore she sits fifth with 67.28 points.

The second American Karen Chen of Colorado Springs finished on sixth position, winning 66.03 points. She started her program with her combination, but after the triple Lutz she added only a shaky double toe loop. Double Axel and triple loop were good and her spins excellent. Her music was "You say“ by Lauren Daigle and her elegant style helped her to get components of 7.8. She had had lots of health and boot problems in the last two years.

Later she said: “I was really nervous about that first jump. Obviously it didn’t go the way I planned for it to go. This year is my comeback year, and so I wanted to make it count. I’m skating and I’m also going to Cornell University. It’s been tough balancing, but I do really enjoy it and I think it’s the right decision. There’s a rink 10-15 minutes away from campus, and they’ve been really good about getting me the ice that I need.“

Amber Glenn of Euless, Texas, is seventh with 64,71 points. She competed more aggressively than before. In her combination, the triple toe loop after the good triple flip was under-rotated, but all other elements were very good. She commented: “I didn’t want to let myself get intimidated. I wanted to go out there, perform and do my job. So I just tried to focus on that and it worked out well.”

Eunsoo Lim from South Korea finished on eighth place, earning 63.98 points. She stepped out a bit on the triple Lutz and therefore added a combination later which was not clean. The best element was her Biellmann spin.

Veronik Mallet from Varennes near Montreal in Canada is currently on ninth position with 56.69 points. She made no real mistake, but had only a combination of triple flip and double toe loop and a triple toe loop as individual jump.

Yi Christy Leung from Hongkong is on tenth place with 54.25 points. She trains in Colorado Springs with Tammy Gambill. The triple toe loop after the triple Lutz got downgraded and her double Axel was not clean. Stanislava Konstantinova from Russia was unconsistent again and fell on her two under-rotated triple jumps and therefore is only 11th with 48.27 points. Mako Yamashita from Japan missed all three jump elements and is 12th with 46.21 points.

Bradie Tennell, first after the Ladies Short Program