I see Rachael as the Emily Hughes of the next four years. (And I love Emily!) I just think moving on to college full-time and having the whole experience when you're actually college-age is a great opportunity for Rachael compared to what competitive skating most likely holds for her over the next four years.
If she is going to continue to skate, she needs to commit to working on her skating fulltime and being something other than "automatic/consistent." Her "consistency" helped here nowhere but Nationals this year, and she is now suffering downgrades on top of the fact that she is about as artistic and exciting as watching paint dry.
She also needs to to improve her overall look - no, I'm NOT saying she's fat, but between her current body shape and her godawful costume choices, she needs to make some improvements. I skate and I'm in a skating club and have heard many young skaters I skate with express being perplexed as to how, despite her technical prowess, she appears to have little muscle definition (and yes, some of them think she's "fat," which she's not). Basically, when she doesn't hit dead on jumps, she doesn't look good at all. There is some serious reworking needed here. Despite the problems at Worlds, Mirai has sailed past her with her programs and the judges opinions, and if Ashley and others hit their jumps, Rachael will be left in the dust. If she wants to go to college, then good for her, being a National Champion is a great way to go out, but if she wants to continue on the elite level, she has to make some serious changes to be competitive besides having reasonably consistent triples.
"Once you've skated together long enough, and you're really good friends, you can close your eyes, put your hand out and she's right there." Joe Dolkiewicz, 2011 US Novice Pairs Bronze Medalist
If she does a liberal art instead, it could work.
But I think she should have the full freshman experience. Skate or train 10 hours a week for kicks and fitness, but don't compete. Live in the dorm, and be a college student 100% of the time. After that year, see how it goes.
Heck, she may still be in the top 75 even if she doesn't compete from now until summer of 2011.
"Puccini cries out for spirals, but really good ones." ~ Dick Button, 1998 Worlds
I think that it would be in her best interest to either invest herself fully in school or defer her matriculation. Freshman year is hard enough without trying to keep up a competitive international career, and if academics is as important to her as it seems, I think that having at least part of a typical college experience might be really beneficial to her.
Rachael is only 17 years old. If she chooses to skate full-time, couldn't she improve and get higher PCS scores?
Anyway, I think Rachael should think really hard about what she wants to do. Her performance at Worlds was very poor to her standards. It seems like she is starting to have problems with her jumps, but it's not 100% yet (since I don't think she had another good performance left in her after the Olympics... Same for Mirai)... We'll see next season.
I remember many years ago, many said similar things about Angela Nikodinov. She had bad conditioning, she was not getting the favor of the judges. She needed a new coach, she should retire. She didn't have the consistency of Rachael, but she had great technique and great spins. But many had given up on her. And with the depth of the US ladies at the time many wanted her to go.
But then she went to a woman coach that she bonded with. She toned her body, grew out and colored her hair, got new costuming, improved her conditioning, got new choreography and had one of the biggest transformations I have ever seen. Voila, the judges and the fans loved her! She turned out to be one of the most gorgeous skaters and remains one of my all time favorites.
So yes, Rachael can do anything she wants with her skating and with her education, it's her decision and she has to make the right one for her. She is 17, the future is indeed bright whether it's skating or education or both!
Flatt is 9 months older than Nagasu and more than a year younger than Wagner. For everyone who thinks that Flatt should quit at 17, do you think that Nagasu should quit next year? Should Wagner have quit last year? Davis and White attend the University of Michigan. Czisny competed while attending and graduating from college. If Rachel wants to continue to skate, I'm certain she's plenty smart enough to figure out how to do it.
Reading comments like the USFSA holding up Flatt anymore makes me laugh. Flatt was robbed of the 2009 National title and she is supposably held up, LOL! Yeah Nagasu got some unfortunate < in the free skate at Nationals, what else is new, every event other than the Olympics this year that has happened to her, so it is not like they went out of their way to pick on her. Nagasu clearly has more potential and that was shown at the Major events this year, but Flatt deserves more than the scathing remarks and over the top criticsm she often seems to get from people. If she does move on to college, she can be proud of her career as a skater. She has been the U.S's most consistent skater for almost 3 years now, performed wonderfully at an Olympics and a couple times at a Worlds (especialy last year), won a well deserved National title and World Junior Gold, and been a class act through it all. If she continues on I think those who are writing her off now will be in for a surprise. I doubt she will overtake Nagasu as the top American again, but she can definitely continue to be a solid skater and improve further, and stay in the mix to represent the U.S at global events.
It's also the case that not all unis will let you defer for a year.
And so, dear Lord, it is with deep sadness that we turn over to you this young woman, whose dream to ride on a giant swan resulted in her death. Maybe it is your way of telling us... to buy American.
Rachael could have the world's best choreo and costuming and land all her jumps, but her speed and overall effect still pales miserably in comparison to Lepisto, Kostner, Mao, Yuna, Mirai, Makarova, etc....it seems to me that skaters are kind of stuck at their basic level of skills.....otherwise Rachael and Caroline Zhang would have improved them by now....
The reason Rachael and Caroline couldn't overtake Alissa at 2009 Nationals is exactly this. Even with all their jumps landed, they were slow and totally unimpressive. Rachael improved her programs this year enough to win Nationals, but someone like Agnes Z or Ashley Wagner could match that level, and the judges at Nationals will be eager for that to happen since Rachael is now 9th in the World and not 5th. Lepisto, Kostner, Nagasu, Phaneuf, and Makarova are just the tip of the iceberg of skaters that have passed Rachael since last year's Worlds (Kostner and Phaneuf have consistency issues, yes. As do Lepisto and Nagasu but their skills are so good they can seem to get away with 3-triple programs and still beat a Rachael) when Murakami, Shelepen, Agafanova, Ovcharova, Zawadzki....come on to the scene, then it will really be tough to even stay in top 10 at Worlds with mediocre skating skills....
The GP next season should be very interesting and I look forward to some new faces from US and abroad!
Rachael of course can do whatever she wants and she'll probably be good enough to make Nationals podiums for a few more years if she stays...but I honestly see her going the way of Bebe, Emily, Kimmie, and Alissa...a Kwan or Cohen-like career is not in the cards for her.
Last edited by haribobo; 03-28-2010 at 03:33 PM.
As much as I liked Angela's skating (I even liked it before the transformation but loved it after), I dont think the judges ever really liked it that much. She came 3rd in the SP at the 2001 Worlds but with ordinals ranging from 3rd to 8th. She lucked out Butyrskaya had bombed the qualifying and was skating in the earlier flight as I am pretty sure the judges would have put her 3rd or even 2nd in the short with the same performance if she were (as it was Maria's ordinals ranged from 2nd to 7th but she ended up 5th). Still it was nice to see the judges place her over a clean Hughes for once, the only time they ever did that. Too bad she missed the last minute of her otherwise gorgeous free skate and handed Hughes one of her many lucky medals.
2001 Nationals before that of course she totally outskated Hughes and yet had to settle for 3rd place.
2002 Nationals she skated a beautiful short program and was placed below Hughes and Cohen. She probably would have missed the Olympic team even with a clean free skate.
Didn't Emily Hughes try to balance Harvard and skating? It didn't quite work out. Also, are there any good coaches near the university (whichever she chooses?)
The only time Angela was truly hard-done by judging was 2001 Nationals and that was just a case of Nationals judges not trusting Angela after years of mediocre results vs. the very dependable rising star Sarah. Sarah didn't exactly bomb that year anyway- so it was a close call for them (not for me cause Angela was so diviiiiine)
Last edited by haribobo; 03-28-2010 at 06:32 PM.
Rachael's juggled school and skating for the past 4 years, and I believe when she starts college, she knows she won't be able to do that without slacking off in the skating department---much like Emily Hughes.
So if she decides to defer college for one year, it will be with an eye to seeing how much she can improve her skating if she gives it 100% of her attention. After all, Paul Wylie never succeeded internationally until the year AFTER he graduated from Harvard.
I think Rachael's skating suffered a bit this season due to the fact this was her Senior year in high school, with all the social and academic events that go with that. She peaked at Nationals and never quite made it back to that level at Olympics and Worlds.
I'd be interested to see how she does with concentrating on skating for a year. If that's what she chooses to do. I know she will be successful in her college career for sure.