Since Cup of China is happening again in a matter of a few hours, and one needs a little bit of sleep to be coherent overnight, I'm going to share a few very quick thoughts on the first day of competition at the third Grand Prix of the season, starting with a look at Mao Asada's strategy and then going straight into one-sentence Rocker lightning round. So here goes.
Asada's short program layout strategy
Mao Asada looks as strong as she ever has, but that lutz, as much as she's improved her entrance edge from the egregiously inside edge takeoff in the past, is still getting the edge call. But strategically, it's still worthwhile, because if she does the triple flip-triple loop, she can't do another triple loop. Her next best option is to put in a triple salchow, which is worth less than an edge-call on a triple lutz, so I see what her team is doing there with the layout. Historically, a flip-toe is not as reliable for Asada, so I don't see that coming in the future.
Rocker lighting round!
- A nice artistic leap for Javier Fernandez in this flamenco short program - a definitely step up in commitment to choreography.
- Boyang Jin became the first person to ever land a quad lutz-triple toe in international competition - that's like 20 points in one element. Ridic.
- Madison Chock/Evan Bates were a surprise second in the short dance, thanks to low levels on a few elements, including a level 1 twizzle sequence. Ouch.
- We've called this event "Cup of Disaster" before (see: Hanyu-Yan collision last season), but with the exception of half of the men's short programs, it's been a great event so far.
- Speaking of half the men, poor Richard Dornbush:
- The Chinese pairs were ON today, including two big personal bests from the less-heralded two pairs who are up-and-coming. And the PBs were deserved, not inflated with home-field PCS.
- Kristina Astakhova/Alexei Rogonov skated a pretty solid program, but Rogonov took an off-element tumble and they got another fall deduction - to clear up any confusion, whenever a skater puts their hands down so much that they are supporting almost all of their body weight on their hands, it can be considered a fall. That's what happened after Astakhova stumbled out of her solo salchow. And they also got a time violation to boot. Insult to injury, really.