Some random thoughts from Skate America....
This year, Skate America was held in Lake Placid, NY. I've been to several skating competitions up there and it's honestly one of the most stunning places I've ever seen. Unfortunately, "stunning" was a word that didn't get a chance to enter the 1980 Herb Brooks arena too often - only when Yu-Na Kim was skating.
The event took place in the same arena that the 1980 Dream Team hockey game took place - 'DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?!??!?"
Why, yes. Yes I do. And her name is Yu-Na Kim. She hails from South Korea where she is basically Elvis on skates - but a chick. With squintier eyes.
The great thing about Yu-Na is that she is SO far ahead of the other ladies, it's basically a given that she'll win every event she enters and yet at the end of every program that she skates, she looks so genuinely happy and relieved to have put out a good performance. She seems to be keeping a level head in the midst of the Olympic crazyness and media hype. Very cool.
She basically has no competition - not a single person can touch her in terms of points. And yet she skates as if she's backed into a corner, coming out with fists raised and ready to take on the world. I don't know how she does it - but it's what competition in skating should really be about. You're competing against yourself - it's a cliche but you're out there simply to do your best. And the judges will do whatever the hell they want to do. But if you put out your best performance, you can't ever feel bad about it. And that's seems to be how she's approaching her skating this season. Again, very cool.
She had an uncharacteristically rough skate during the long program but I'm thinking it's almost better - she was probably due for a malfunction and better here than later.
I'm just crossing every available body part that she stays healthy throughout the season. If she doesn't win in Vancouver, it will only be because she got hurt and wasn't able to jump for two months. It will be an absolute travesty if she doesn't win. She is incredible and a very special gift to the world of skating.
Fumie Sugari, Japan, loves to skate wearing gloves. It drives me nuts. Seriously - you can't deal with cold hands for 4 minutes? You learn to deal with that when you're a juvenile level skater. She's been on the olympic level scene since the invention of milk. And yet she still looks 12. She's a little boring but every once in awhile she'll make you cry so for that, I like her. Who doesn't like to cry? She likely won't make the Japanese Olympic team but who knows - fellow Japan-ite, former sensation, Mao Asada is having a ROUGH season and if she doesn't pull it together soon, Fumie may find herself on the Oly team.
Elena Glebova from Estonia had a fairly strong performance. She's the four-time national champion in Estonia. That sounds pretty impressive, but of course, it's Estonia. National championships don't take place in an ice rink, they take place in a parking lot. And everyone just pushes giant rocks around. But hey, I give her a lot of credit. Not many people can pull off a dress that incorporates tassels, tie-dye, brocaded sequins and a high collar.
I'm a big fan of Rachel Flatt. She's not always the flashiest performer, but she's consistent - and she's honest. By that I mean, when she skates, there's not a lot of applied drama or pretense. She's just Rachel. It's refreshing. She's the closest thing to a lock for the US olympic team - but who knows. Nationals will be interesting for the ladies. The top 6(ish) are pretty even.
Rachel is the most even competitor out of all of them which is why most think she'll make the team... and she's probably the skater capable of placing the highest in Vancouver.... which is a little depressing - the US ladies skating scene is a little bleak right now. They really are desperate for a STAR and no one's stepping up to the plate.... Mirai Nagasu is the one who could really shake things up, just not sure she has it in her right now.
Ryan Bradley is about as adorable as they come - and a fantastic performer. Few in men's skating can touch him in terms of crowd appeal. He has a lot of scoring potential - when he hits, which .... I doubt he'll find himself on the Olympic team (he doesn't always skate well under pressure and nationals, the olympic qualifier, will be a pressure cooker), but if he does make it, the world will be in for a treat with his long program.
Evan has feathers on his costume. And mesh netting. A lot of it. Neither sit well with me. In fact, that fruitcake I ate last christmas digested easier than Evan's feathers. Not cool, Evan. Not cool.
And those are my thoughts.