Grand Prix Series - Audi Cup of China 2017

Samstag, 4. November 2017

   Welcome to the third event in the Grand Prix Series, the Audi Cup of China 2017 in Beijing, China. I've wondered why I've seen people call it the 'Cup of Disasters', but after I watched the short programs and free skates of the men, ladies and pairs, I certainly understood where people were coming from. A lot of strong performances but also a lot of flaws, mistakes, falls and disappointments, so lets just jump right into the medalists and my thoughts on them.

Men

  1. Mikhail Kolyada - Russia - 279.38
  2. Boyang Jin - China - 264.48
  3. Max Aaron - USA - 259.69
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   The first day was quite the surprise filled event for the men with Mikhail Kolyada taking the surprise lead with more than a nine point advantage over Boyang Jin and thirteen over Javier Fernandez, skating a clean and magnificent program that resulted in (I believe) his first score above the 100 point mark, 103.13 to be precise. I, as well as a lot of people on twitter, was very happy about the results of the first day, and actually thought that the final results and the podium would look a little like this at the end.
   The fact that Javier Fernandez only came in 6th at the end of the competition was a true surprise. Something about his two programs just doesn't seem to work, and despite everyone seeming to love them, I dislike both. The Charlie Chaplin short program has its comedic, reference type moments but little else, in my opinion. His free skate isn't much better, and looking at his results for the free skate, merely 162.49 points, it should definitely give him quite a bit to think about. It also makes me wonder if maybe at a certain point, and age, skaters are possibly just not able to squeeze Nathan Chen amounts of quads out of their bodies anymore.
   Boyang Jin also seemed to have some troubles with his programs, both not really convincing me, though I know a lot of people love his free skate because of the partial Star Wars music used for it. I thought he was much stronger last season, but I hope he'll manage to return to the same level of skating, at least. 
   The fact that Max Aaron made it onto the podium, well, I have quite a few thoughts on that, but I will leave it at - I think it should've been Han Yan from China (who came in 5th with only 5 points behind Aaron) because his free skate was truly amazing.
   On the other hand, as I mentioned before, Kolyada was quite the surprise, at least during his short program. His free skate on the other hand, well, it went a little in the same direction as the previous time we've seen him perform it. Maybe it was the pressure of being in the lead that he just wasn't quite able to deal with well, or just bad luck or the need for more practice, but despite popping two jumps (and I think falling once?) he still managed to win. This is actually his first Grand Prix title so it's truly exciting and I am very happy for him. He definitely earned it!

Ladies

  1. Alina Zagitova - Russia - 213.88
  2. Wakaba Higuchi - Japan - 212.52
  3. Elena Radianova - Russia - 206.82
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   The ladies competition was on fire during the free skate, the quality just getting better and better and each lady set the bar higher and higher. If this is giving us an idea of what we'll see during the Olympics in February 2018, I am even more excited. We have seen amazing performances, clean and marvelous to look at. 
   Alina Zagitova definitely caught my eye with her Swan Lake short program, and the amazing costume she paired it with that looked like she could wear it on the ice but then also join a ballet company and fit right in. Her skating is marvelous and she will definitely try to give Evgenia Medvedeva a run for her money, not that she would actually be able to beat Evgenia, but push her to somehow be even better than she already is. Her free skate was also marvelous, though I will admit I wouldn't have given her gold.
   Wakaba Higuchi and her Skyfall free skate were it for me. She had the speed perfectly showing her skills, the jumps and just the overall presentation. She is an artist and I am loving both her programs. How the judges gave her lower PCS (presentation scores) than Zagitova is beyond me, but I loved watching those two perform nonetheless.
   Elena Radionova was also pretty damn good, though certainly not as good as the two ladies above her, which shows in the point difference she has to them. I definitely liked her programs the least out of these three, but that doesn't mean they were bad by any means. She is a very good skater, I will give her that, so third place definitely seemed appropriate.
   I have a feeling we will certainly see quite the fierce competition this season once you'll also place Medvedeva, Osmond, and Kostner in the ring along with them.

Pairs

  1. Wenjing Sui / Cong Han - China - 231.07
  2. Xiaoyu Yu / Hao Zhang - China - 205.54
  3. Kirsten Moore-Towers / Michael Marinaro - Canada - 194.52
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   It is safe to say, and certainly easy to see, that the Chinese pairs dominated this competition on their home turf, and Sui/Han won very much rightfully. They are the reigning World Champions and they were untouchable in this competition. I mean, have you noticed that almost twenty six point advantage they have over the silver medalists?
   Watching Sui/Han perform both programs was mesmerizing, captivating and simply awe-inspiring in every way you could think of. The ease with which they skated, as if it was the easiest thing ever and it wasn't a competition but just the exhibition skate or something, the chemistry between them, the quality of their jumps, spins and throws, their figures and costumes, everything was utter perfection (even if Sui slightly messed up one of their jumps). I could watch them all day, every day, and I so hope that they will not only win every competition leading up to the Olympics, but also Olympic gold.
   The other two pairs were great, too, but they definitely stood in Sui/Han's shadow without any chance of getting even close to them. Maybe seeing their points, watching their programs and performances will push all the other pairs to improve even more, strive after them, even though I am sure they all stand no chance of ever actually reaching them.

   And that's it, my thoughts on the medalists of the Audi Cup of China 2017. Of course ether was also Ice Dance, but I didn't watch it so I can't share any of my thoughts with you on that, sorry! What did you think about the competitions, the winners and 'losers'? Let me know in the comments below or on twitter (@Alice_Reeds).

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