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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Random Thoughts After Watching the Ladie's Freeskate

Last night after I got home from work, I curled up and watched what was left from the 2015 US Nationals Ladie's Freeskate. In no particular order, here are my random thoughts. You're welcome.

+Mirai Nagasu's routine was heartbreaking. I really feel for her--she obviously puts a lot of pressure on herself, and the stress and emotional drainage of wanting something so bad, but not being able to deliver it, is miserable. However, I really can't stand her skating. She doesn't feel the music, and her choreography seems not only bland but forced. The one high point of her routine, in my opinion, was her spins--she really is an elegant spinner and her positions are traditionally beautiful while still being interesting.

+Ashley Wagner is fierce and kick-butt and totally deserved gold. I love her claws-out style of skating and I really, really loved her freeskate. Not only was every single one of her elements spot on (my word! The triple triple!!), but her choreography and expression was such a good representation of herself. The audience gave her a standing ovation, and after the year she's had, she deserved it.

+Gracie Gold's routine fell entirely flat for me. Her dress was gorgeous, but otherwise I wasn't impressed. First off, she missed a big opportunity with music. This is the first year vocals are allowed, and she went and chose the most obnoxious sorta-vocals she could. She should have stuck with instrumental. Like Ashley, she nailed everything in her program (minus that one minor fall, which she recovered from nicely), but she didn't deliver any personality with it. Yes, Ashley, was a hard act to follow, but Gracie didn't even come close. Still, I will forever love her spiral sequences. I don't know why but I find them gorgeous.

+Karen Chen is frighteningly awesome. Everything she did was perfect. Literally, everything. I was most impressed by her height and ice coverage with her jumps, as well as her spin positions. She did this really cool spin where she was in a pancake position, but with a straight leg, and bending forward. I'd never seen it before! Plus, her high-energy choreography reminded me of how the younger Russian girls have been skating. Maybe Team USA will finally send some tough competition for ladies at Worlds! Karen is on the Junior World team, and I'm excited to see what she does.

+Courtney Hicks. I don't want to be mean, but I couldn't believe how ugly her program was. Not only did she not skate to the music, but she completely fell apart after her fall. Also, the dress had major issues. One of the announcer's made a comment that she really struggles with expression (no duh) and that every year she tries to reinvent herself into a more balletic skater.

Here's my two cents: If you're not a balletic skater, don't try to skate like one!

We as figure skaters are forever reinforcing the awful music-box stereotype! When are we gonna grow up, realize the sport has changed, and stop limiting ourselves as athletes and artists and creatives?

You don't have to be a perfect ice fairy to be a good skater. Skate technically well, but be YOU. Find your style and own it. Be the bollywood one, the fierce one, the peppy one or the quirky one. Skate with joy and love and find a routine that actually makes you feel comfortable. Don't pull a Courtney and look extremely uncomfortable trying to be something you're not.

+Polina Edmonds has some growing up to do. Obviously, after her Olympic debut there were lots of eyes on her this year. A fourth place finish at your 2nd senior championships is AWESOME, don't get me wrong, but it's obvious that Polina is going to have to grow up a little before next year. Her dress and music were not fitting for her senior-lady status, and I honestly felt like her program didn't present the best of her. After last year's amazingly advanced choreography, that was kind of disappointing.

DISCLAIMER: I realize a lot of what I said here could be considered mean, knit-picky, and overly rude. I would just like to say that I have the deepest respect for all the women I've mentioned, and in no way do I want to contribute to the tear-down that's already prevalent enough between figure skaters. However, these were my honest thoughts after/during their programs. 

Still, let me say it again--I have the deepest respect for all these women. For everything I didn't like, I find 10 things I did. Skating is the love of my life, and watching all these ladies compete has inspired me so much in my own practices. I feel like every year figure skaters are stretching themselves, both individually with tougher moves, but also as a sport as a whole. I'm really excited for the new wave of freedom and creativity coming out in recent programs.

Congrats Ashley! You combine grace and fierce competition in one dedicated, gorgeous package. :) #sasshley #swagner

Happy weekend, happy skating! xoxo

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