Saturday, February 27, 2010

KIM, ASADA, & ROCHETTE (with Nagasu on their tails!)

As we come to the end of another Olympics, I must say that I'm pretty flabbergasted at how fast time is passing by. I feel like I had just rang in the new year not long ago, and now I'm literally a day and a half away from March. Time flies.

And again, another Winter Olympics is on its way out.

I have to talk about the marquis event of the games -err, what the media tends to bill as "THE marquis event of the Winter Olympics" ... Women's Figure Skating.

No surprise, the fight for the finish was between the skating world's top two: South Korea's Yu-Na Kim (who took home the gold), and Japan's Mao Asada (who took home the silver). And each of them created records for the sport, and themselves. Kim's overall score is the highest ever in women's skating under the latest scoring system, and Asada became the first woman ever to land a triple jump (Axel, was it?) three times at an international event -- 1 in her short program, and 2 in her free skate. They both have much reason to be proud, as do their respective countries.

The bronze was the medal up for grabs, with several of the world's top skaters vying for the podium including Japan's Miki Ando (2007 World Champion), and the current U.S. ladies' top two finishers - Rachel Flatt and Mirai Nagasu. But the honors would go to Canada's Joannie Rochette, who - despite the passing of her mom just days prior to the ladies' short program - won the hearts of her fellow Canadians (and the world) by skating and pouring out her heart on the ice.

Not to be outdone, Mirai Nagasu - the 2008 U.S. Ladies Singles Champion - bested team mate, and current U.S. Ladies Singles Champion, Rachel Flatt, by finishing in 4th overall behind Rochette. Both of Nagasu's programs were seasonal and personal bests, and she was more than happy to finish where she did in her "maiden" Olympics berth. She was 6th going into the free skate, and finished 5th after.

Olympian-sized feats: Kim after receiving the highest scores ever in the ladies' overall, and an ecstatic Nagasu learning of her un-predicted 4th overall finish (just missing the podium) at the Games (Photos: Jamie Squire/Cameron Spencer/Getty)

Flatt skated a perfect, albeit conservative, long program. While she landed all of her jumps, and completed a clean routine, her combined overall score was good enough for an overall finish of 7th place (she placed 5th in the ladies' short, and 8th in the free skate).

Not a bad finish for the U.S. women, considering none of them were favorites to stand atop the podium. And with 12.49 points separating Nagasu from Rochette, it goes to show that the current U.S. silver medalist is now among the top skaters in the world.

Here is where I will get a little stank...

After the performance of Flatt and Miki Ando, I happened to be on Twitter, and noticed that Rachel Flatt was trending. I had to check out what that was all about, and to my non-surprise a lot of the 'tweets' were well wishes for her clean free skate. But soon, those well wishes turned into horror at the realization that Miki Ando had placed above Flatt for what seemed to be a not-so-great performance. Well, while that may be true -- I have to be real for a second... Yes, Rachel Flatt did well, but how can you compare her athleticism to Miki Ando's? Clearly, the reason why Miki was given higher marks is because she had harder elements. She may have had less speed in her program, but truth be told... she done jumped her ass off. Rachel Flatt's program, while a personal victory - and one that she should be proud of, was just a tad "flat" compared to the free skate routines of the other contenders, hence the 8th place finish.

To me, Rachel Flatt is a good skater, but not in the mold that superstars are made from. I truly believe she was lucky with her win at the U.S. nationals. She edges out her competition technically, however artistically I don't find her as appealing as other skaters like Nagasu. Where Mirai tends to fall short technically (she tends to face down-grades for under/over rotation with her landings), she excels artistically over Flatt. Nagasu has the potential to be as charismatic on ice as Michelle Kwan or Sasha Cohen. Flatt - well - eh...

That's just my opinion. Haha!


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