Wow the ladies event at Skate Canada was brutal. It was the weekend of people crashing into the boards. First of all, the gold medalist, rather unsurprisingly, was Alexandra Trusova who also set three new world records, with the highest ladies combined total, the highest ladies free skate score and the highest technical score (100.20 – another wow). She looked very nervous in the warm ups for both of her programs and she has never really looked nervous before so I am delighted that she was able to skate the way she did. She placed third in the short program behind Rika Kihira and Young You. I really like her short program; it suits her very well musically as it allows her to be strong and aggressive. She won the free skate thanks to her quads. I know a lot of people have mixed views about her skating and don’t care for her quads: personally, I love them and think they’re great. If men are allowed to do them, then I don’t see why ladies shouldn’t, especially when they’re as consistent as hers are. Yes, she fell on the opening quad salchow, but that didn’t stop her from landing three more (two in combination, including a quad toe loop, half loop (it’s not an euleur, I refuse), triple salchow in the second half which shows how powerful she is mentally as well as physically. I think it is her weakest quad (she didn’t include it in her free skate last season), but I’m sure she will go back to Russia and make sure she won’t (hopefully anyway) fall on it next time. I could talk about Alexandra Trusova all day, but I won’t because this is not a piece about her; I will just finish by saying that I prefer the dress she wore at the Ondrej Nepela Memorial Trophy and the Japan Open to this blue one. It’s still very pretty and suits the program, I simply prefer the other one.
In second place was Rika Kihira (yay, I got the top two right on my second round of predictions) who deservedly won the short program. Her triple axel is looking very effortless now and it’s good to see that she hasn’t popped any of them as last year she would often pop the one in the short. She’s such an easy skater to watch, but I really do not like her short program music, it’s too wailing for me. I don’t find the music of her free skate as memorable as last years either, but maybe both of them will grow on me more as the season progresses. Unfortunately she had a step out of her first axel in the free skate and did not do the triple axel triple toe that she was doing in the warm up; at the moment, this is easier technical content for Rika as she’s still coming back from an injury and does not currently have a lutz in either of the programs, nor is she doing the quad salchow she has been training. Hopefully we will see that before the end of the season and I really hope she makes it to the Grand Prix Final.
I seemingly forgot that Young You could do a triple axel when I made my predictions (although I do think Medvedeva could have won the bronze medal had she had a more successful short program, but I’ll get to that) and her one in the short program was so good and it was lovely to see a huge smile on her face after she landed it. She holds a long edge into it, unlike for example Alena Kostornaia who did it out of turns at the Finlandia Trophy, but she is forgiven because it is a triple axel. Unfortunately, she fell on her one in the free skate and became the third skater to crash into the boards in this event. She also has one of the best laybacks I’ve seen; her positioning – and there’s something about the way she holds her free hand that is just fabulous – is divine. I would like her layback please. The free skate music is also a really good choice – especially on her step sequence to Buenos Aires. It’s a shame she doesn’t have another assignment currently, otherwise I would have thought she would have a good chance to make the final.
Bradie Tennell came fourth after two good skates (she fell out of the flip towards the end of her free skate): it would have been nice for her to medal, but this was such a tough competition so fourth is very respectable and she will probably be an alternate for the final. Then there was Evgenia Medvedeva in fifth place and, from what I gathered from Instagram, everyone was gutted for her. She had been looking so solid in the short program warm up, the axels were good and I’m just so sad for her that it didn’t go the way she wanted. It was also really hard to see how disappointed she and Brian Orser were in the kiss and cry. That fall on the triple lutz looked painful enough without sliding into the boards as well (Yelim Kim also fell into the boards in what I think was the same corner so it was just an unlucky corner this weekend) so I admire her for getting up and finishing her program the way she did. It’s a gorgeous short program (and that pantsuit!) and I really do think she could have been in third place had it been clean given how she skated in the free. I’m so happy that she could pull it together for the free skate; her triple salchow triple loop is fantastic and I loved how you could just make out Brian cheering for her after she landed the jumps towards the end. Sadly, she doesn’t really have a chance to make the final now, but I hope we can see a strong performance from her at Rostelecom.
Before I finish, I would like to mention Marin Honda: she was in a car crash just a few days before the competition which explains the bandage on her leg so I hope she is taking her sixth place finish as a win. I really, really like her free skate to La La Land – she’s such a good performer. Finally, Gabrielle Daleman had quite a successful weekend: she’s has not been skating or competing properly in well over a year and, after her dreadful injuries from World Team Trophy last April, has only recently begun training again. Her short program was almost clean – thankfully she saved the flip – and she earned a score that was nearly twenty points higher than her one at the Finlandia Trophy a couple of weeks earlier. I’m delighted that her triple toe triple toe is back – not quite as massive or as confident as before, but this is a start and for her to be fifth after the short program in this field was significant. Unfortunately, the free skate was not quite as strong: she came second from last in this segment and tenth overall, with three falls, including one on the step sequence. That said, I can see potential for this program and I love the music (although not the way it is cut) so I hope that she will be able to skate up to it after more training. Nevertheless, I’m happy to see her back skating and to she how she handled herself after the free skate, she was smiling and laughing which suggests she was satisfied with what she did for where she is at with her training and I think that’s all anyone can really ask.
Next week is the Internationaux de France and my podium prediction is Alena Kostornaia, Alina Zagitova (to be honest, I’m very torn as to who will be first out of these two and I think it will be very tight, but this is what I’m currently going with) and Kaori Sakamoto.
What was your favourite bit of Skate Canada?
My highlight: I’m a Trusova fan so it has to be her free skate.
(Also as one final added thought, can I just say how thrilled I am that Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson won the bronze medal in ice dance because I adore their programs this year, so much so that they almost make me want to take up ice dance, and they won a Grand Prix medal for Great Britain for the first time in a very, very long time.)