With NHK Trophy just a couple of days away, I wanted to have a quick look back at Cup of China last week. For whatever reason, Cup of China has been associated with some terrible performances and unfortunate accidents in the past few years. And last week, we got our share of fine performances and disastrous outings. We’ll do this in lighting round style – here are eight takeaways from the competition.
- Patrick Chan’s quad toe looks as solid as ever, and he made a valiant comeback to overcome a double-digit deficit to Boyang Jin to win his second GP of the season – and deservedly so. Though still an underdog to Yuzuru Hanyu and Javier Fernandez because of his quad count, Chan is very much in the running once again.
- Speaking of Jin, he had a much stronger showing in Beijing than he had earlier in the season at Skate America. The execution of a few of his jumps made the difference between gold and silver, but this was a promising step up for the World bronze medalist.
- On the other end of the spectrum was Ashley Wagner, who had her worst career showing on the Grand Prix (sixth). Six out of her seven triples in the free skate were called underrotated – three of those jumps were clear underrotations and the other three were borderline. And it was certainly one of those cases where the technical panel was just not kind to the borderlines. If we know Wagner, we know that she will come into her next competition angry and ready to go. Whether or not it will be the Grand Prix Final, we will find out this week.
- Underrotations were called across the board. Technical Specialist Shin Amano is known for being on the harsh side of the law when it comes to close calls. 27 underrotations and 4 downgrades in the ladies' free skate. It was not a pretty sight.
- But three cheers to the medalists in the ladies’ event, Elena Radionova, Kaetlyn Osmond, and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, all of whom have been on the comeback in some way. Radionova dropped off the World podium last season, Osmond broke her leg a couple of seasons ago, and Tuktamysheva didn’t make the World team after winning the World title in 2015.
- I don’t know about you, but I’m still not having a great relationship with the new short program draw process this season. The draw process, in essence, is random for the short program. And for the second GP in a row, Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani had to skate first in the short. Chan also had to skate first in the short. If only component-inflation didn’t exist.
- Oh Daniel Samohin. In my competition preview for Skate Canada, I noted that Samohin is just an incredibly unpredictable skater. And he unpredictably put down two solid performances there. But at Cup of China, after putting down a personal best short, he was predictably unpredictable in the free – with a disastrous and deflated program that took him down to tenth place. One Worlds spot on the line between him and Alexei Bychenko, and it’s Bychenko who has the Grand Prix medal this season so far. We will see Bychenko again this week at NHK Trophy.
- And finally, so far so good for the Chinese pair switcheroo. Xiaoyu Yu/Hao Zhang won Cup of China in only their second competition together. And their previous partners, Cheng Peng/Yang Jin, took second in their first competition together.