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Sunday, March 17, 2013

2013 Worlds and some implications for the Olympic season

Worlds are over except for the gala, and we've had some expected results, some shockers, a few head scratching moments, blatant robbing of skaters, and some bizarre scoring. Or in other words: it's business as usual in figure skating! I will never claim to know all and see all when I look into my crystal ball, but I do make the occasional correct prediction (e.g. that of the comeback skaters, only Shen and Zhao would win OGMs in Vancouver), so I will attempt to divine what the results mean for the coming year and how some skaters and federations might wish to proceed.

The expected: Volosozhar and Trankov, in their third season together, easily won their first world title as they attempt to regain the pairs OGM for Russia. Which they likely will, despite crappy programs.
Head scratching and kind of wuzrobbing: how on earth did Savchenko/Szolkowy top 130 with that LP performance to finish ahead of Duhamel and Radford? I am tempted to add it to my scoring inflation post.
The shocker: ha, none. Except maybe Smirnov botching that final lift in K/S's lovely February LP.
What to expect: Volosozhar and Trankov basically need to show up. If they can score 9s in PCS with their material this season, they cannot be stopped next year. Savchenko/Szolkowy seem doomed to retire without ever winning the gold medal that their innovative and difficult programs so merit. Unless this season was all part of Ingo Steuer's master plan to make them look good next year - because really, it was just a miss in every way: sartorially, musically, conceptually... maybe they figured they should get all this out of the way pre-Olympics, unlike 2009-10 when they ran into trouble in the Olympic season.

Trankov once had good programs, and Volosozhar too. Just not with each other.

The expected: Patrick Chan skated poorly in the LP, but won anyway.
Head-scratching and wuzrobbing: Joubert was screwed.
The shocker: Denis Ten won the silver and the LP, and was this close to winning the whole thing.
What to expect: If Ten's medal and Kevin Reynolds' 4CC win has taught us anything, it's that even though there are some clear favorites, the men's discipline remains unpredictable. At this point, Alexei Yagudin could announce that he is returning with a bionic hip - and win, for all we know.

Ice Dance
The expected: Davis and White zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Head-scratching: Even thought they are the European champions, how on earth were Bobrova and Soloviev allowed on the podium? One of these teams is not like the others!
Wuzrobbing shocker: oh, Nath and Fab. If only you didn't have to rush your return from injury. This will hurt them on the GP next year, because they will be in the 4-6 finishers group for assignments - and judging from past seasons, this means that they will almost certainly have to face Virtue/Moir at the Trophee Eric Bompard.
What to expect: Virtue and Moir will not do slutty again. Davis and White will give us more of the same. The USFSA will inexplicably continue to back Chock and Bates as the number 2 team, poor Shibs. Pechalat and Bourzat will explain that they rushed their return from injury and thus performed poorly, in an attempt not to drop behind Bobrova/Soloviev in the judges' eyes; Russia will have to decide what disciplines it wants to focus its politikking on, so this might work. Cappellini and Lanotte will wear cute red and white costumes. The Finnstep will be a million times better as an SD than the stupid Yankee Polka.

As I was saying.

The expected: Yuna Kim, jump machine.
Bizarre scoring: certainly some of the technical panel calls, and I guess Gracie Gold's PCS.
Semi-shocker: an event to forget for the Russian ladies.
What to expect: Kim has competed so little since Vancouver that she remains something of an unknown quantity. Training in Toronto allowed her to get away from the media and the pressure last time, but now she's in South Korea full time - how will this affect her? Can Carolina Kostner, who has not finished off the podium in three years, keep it together one more season? Will Mao Asada rotate her triple axels - and her other jumps, for that matter? Can the Russians bounce back, and/or will their federation make sure that they do?

A sampling of the known unknowns:
Who can keep it together mentally? Where will the big federations focus their attention? Who will decide to make a serious play for the team event? Is Plushenko coming back? Is Lysacek (with a quad, presumably)? How will the Japanese men situation shake out? Will Patrick Chan ever skate a clean LP again? Does it matter? Was Denis Ten's performance at worlds a sign of more to come or a flash in the pan? Will any skaters give the judges food for thought at the upcoming World Team Trophy? Does a certain skater who shall not be named really resemble a shark? Will there be a  scoring controversy at Sochi, with scores as bad as some of those we saw this past week? And what will we do when all our favorites retire in less than a year's time?

Stay tuned...and may the best skaters win (especially if they are French!)

Don't expect this same result in Sochi.

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