I thought it was interesting that during Junior Pairs, a bunch of people were tweeting about how horrible our Pairs are at the exact same time I was thinking how much better our pairs are than they were when I first started going to Nationals.
For example, there used to be a time when almost no Pairs team in the US was able to do SBS Spins and keep them in sync for the entire time. Now almost all of them do it. They also don't have Pairs Spins that crash into each other and get all wobbly and kind of die out. And this is Juniors we are talking about. It used to be that all but the top Senior Pairs and even some of those also had these issues.
That said, I think Death Spirals have gone downhill in some ways. Well, in one way. That is pretty much every single Death Spiral I've seen this weekend, the Lady has gone down into the final position by sticking her butt out and then laying down. That is NOT how you are supposed to get into a Death Spiral. The whole idea is that you are swooning, you gracefully sink down to the floor and then you die all why some guy is spinning you around on the ice. That's why they call it a Death Spiral. Er, at least I think that's why.
As far as the actual competition is concerned, the first skaters up where Cali and Nick. I enjoyed their program even they didn't have the hardest elements but it ended up putting them in last place.
AnnaMarie Pearce and Craig Norris were fourth to skate. He stepped out of the SBS jumps and she fell on the throw but it was still a credible performance. They were fast and they really interpreted the heck out of the program. But they fell from sixth to seventh and now I'm worried they'll break up or stop doing Pairs or something. So I will have to pray to the Gods of Pair Skating again or maybe take up a chant: Stay in Pairs, Stay in Pairs, Stay in Pairs. You guys are going to be really good Pairs if you do, I am sure of it.
Another fun team was de la Mora & Wilson. I am not a big Transformers fan but the music was okay. It was the costumes I loved though. I loved them so much I want them to skate to the Matrix next year so they can wear them again!
In the top group, I really wanted Denney & Frazier to stay in first. I am crazy about this pair and I think Haven is destined to be the Next Great Pairs Diva. So that was my focus. Plus their main competition, Simpson & Blackmer skated to Titanic which reminds me Celine Dion which makes me want to puke. Okay, that's not fair. Plus they skated quite well and actually won the Free skate. But not by a big enough margin to pass Denney & Frazier.
So I was happy because I got to see some great skating and also my favorites win.
The gap between Pair and Ladies
There was a big gap between the end of Pairs and the start of Junior Ladies so Jobob and I went to the Fairmont to "lobbychick". We didn't see too many skaters or coaches except for Frank Carroll but I did get to have the most amazing martini. It was called a Chocolate Kiss and it was made from raspberry and chocolate liquor. It was to die for. It was even worth $10. Sort of. I want another one.
However, between it and the bar nuts, I took in as many calories as I normally do for dinner so that basically became my dinner. Not something I want to be repeating on a regular basis.
This is also the third time I've had alcohol and found it really helped my head. This is disconcerting because I am not a big drinker so I really don't have to have a drink every night of Nationals in order to not get a headache. Plus the martinis at HP Pavilion are not worth the $9 they are charging for them.
In some ways, the Junior Ladies championship reminds me of watching the Ironman World Championships. There the question is: who's going to come in second to Chrissie Wellington. Here it's who will come in second to Grace Gold. So I guess that makes Gracie figure skating's Chrissie Wellington.
In the first group we had my personal favorite Gwendolyn Prescott. When I first saw here skate, she was much younger -- it was 7 years ago after all. I think she was in the Preliminary level. She as tiny and zoomed around on the ice with great speed. She had the jumps, but wasn't just a jumping bean. I loved how she moved her body and performed even at such a young age.
Fast forward to 2012 and I haven't been to a local comp in 1.5 years and haven't really followed the local scene for longer. In between, Gwen won the Intermediate title at Jr Nationals and was criticized for staying Intermediate another season. The thought was that she should move up to Novice and give someone else a chance.
I have to admit, I find that reasoning exasperating. This sport can really chew up young girls and sometimes it's better for the younger skaters to take their time and not be such godawful hurry to get to Seniors. In Gwen's case, she's grown a lot and when she did move up to Novice, she didn't continue to win everything. So I hope some of those naysayers are a bit embarrassed now because clearly staying Intermediate another year was a good idea. (And, if they aren't embarrassed, they can suck it.)
Anyway, even though she's grow quite a bit and hasn't got the same sort of jumps that a skater like Gracie Gold does, she's still the same skater I fell in love with back in 2004-2005. Her program was delightful. She is a happy skater and everything she did was secure and had good technique. She did fall on her first triple. But she landed everything else. Her score was quite good but since she was the first skater of the night, it wasn't clear how it would hold up.
Some of the other Junior Ladies did post bigger scores for this portion of the event but they had lower scores in the SP so when the second group took the ice, Gwendolyn was still in first place. That means the lowest she could finish was 7th - One place higher than her SP finish!
In the second group my favorite skaters are Gracie Gold, Hannah Miller, Mariah Bell and Polina Edmunds. Gracie skated first and her first combination was a freaking triple lutz-triple toe! I was sure I was seeing things and it was probably a 3T-3T because what Junior Lady has a 3Z-3T, but, no, it was a 3Z-3T.
But Gracie is more than jumps. She also moves well and whenever she's on the ice, my eyes are drawn to her even if there are other skaters. In fact, I first noticed her during a Jr. Ladies practice before I knew who she was and had the same reaction to her that I had to Mirai Nagasu in the exact same circumstances. The only difference is that everyone expects Gracie to win this year while no one was expecting the same from Mirai that year.
The scores Gracie posted were out of this world and it was obvious she had won even with five more skaters to go.
The rest of my favs had a lot of issues with jumps unfortunately. Hannah Miller skated to Masquerade Waltz and the same person on Twitter who questioned her Dance Macabre in the Short questioned that music choice. I disagree. I thought both pieces suited her and weren't too old for her at all. She ended up in third down one spot from the Short. Mariah Bell and Polina Edmunds ended up in fifth and sixth respectively. Polina got a lot of new fans on the internet though and Mariah got me as a new fan. She could fall on everything and still be interesting to watch.
Oh, and if Gracie Gold is the Chrissie Wellington of Jr. ladies, then Ashley Cain is definitely the Mirinda Caffre. You know, the one who is so good that normally she'd be winning everything if only she didn't have the misfortune to compete at the same time as a phenom.
So that finishes up the Junior events. On to Seniors!