Where to begin? What a crazy set of short programs today at the 2015 Skate Canada International. We got two of the best in the world looking downright average today here. World champ Elizaveta Tuktamysheva looked under the weather as she placed 7th in the short, while Olympic champ Yuzuru Hanyu was out of sorts in the last two jumping passes and sits in 6th. Let's have a quick look at what happened now that we are halfway through the competition.
- Tuktamysheva doubled a lutz and turned out twice on her triple toe-triple toe. There wasn't much of the spark there that grabbed your attention last season, and you have to think something else was up. She wasn't at one of the practices this week, which likely means illness?
- After 11 short programs where no one hit it out of the ballpark, all Hanyu had to do was rotate. But he didn't. He doubled the quad toe and then doubled the triple toe at the end of his lutz combo, which invalidated that jumping pass altogether (you can't repeat a jump in the short unless it's in the same jumping pass, like a triple toe-triple toe). He's in sixth. Good news? At least he's in the final group and just an average jumping pass away from first.
- Now to the good stuff. U.S. champ Ashley Wagner skated her best short program ever and earned the first-ever 70+ short of her career in international competition. It was fiery, sassy, unlike any other short program we've ever seen from her - which partly means that she has transitions like she's never had before. Just when you think she's can't get any better, she keeps improving. It's great to see.
- World champs Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford weren't absolutely perfect, but they didn't need to be. It was an easy 8-point lead with their usual sky-high difficulty. But the joy and impact from this short program could be felt in the last row. More importantly, you can expect them to plan TWO throw quads in their free skate, the salchow and the lutz, which is new this year.
- The pairs in general were just super fun to watch. Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro looked to have taking some huge steps in their skating and connection this season, Evgenia Taraova/Vladimir Morozov were breathtaking with their big skills, especially that triple twist, and in their Grand Prix debut, Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran proved that they have all sorts of star potential.
- This was Patrick Chan's comeback Grand Prix, and all things considered, it was a promising return. The quad toe is back, which is generally most important for him, because without the quad toe, he just doesn't have a trustworthy enough triple axel (as evidenced yesterday) to keep pace. The lutz was more fluke than anything, so expect Chan to be plenty competitive this season.
- Was Nam Nguyen underscored? I'd say maybe a point? But it wasn't egregious. When he's up against the likes of Chan and Hanyu, the quality of his skating is just not quite there. And that's not to say that he hasn't improved - he certainly has on all fronts since last season, and he will continue to this season. Having a fall never helps when you're being on PCS, which generally and unfortunately will put you at the lower edge of the PCS range that the judges are willing to give.