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  1. #381

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    The Lifeskate blog posted e-mail interviews with Rachael Flatt and Christina Gao conducted before they competed at Skate America and I'm cross-posting them here as well as in the Skate America forum in Kiss an Cry:

    Rachael Flatt fights back at her critics by being happy (Oct. 12, 2012)

    Christina Gao, Harvard student, sets eyes on Sochi Olympics (Oct. 19, 2012)
    "Randy [Starkman (1960-April 16, 2012)] lived by the same motto as the rest of us. The Olympics isn’t every four years, it’s every single day. He just got it." --Canadian Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden

  2. #382
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    I was shocked at how much Christina improved during the off-season. I was not expecting that at all considering she's juggling classes with skating. Her spins are much better than before and her artistry is not as dry as it once was.

    As for Rachael, I thought, considering her score that she skated extremely poorly, but she did okay. And when is she going to stop having problems with her tendons?

    I was expecting more from Ashley's program, but ehh, it's a nice start. I was never a fan of the Red Violin music anyways. Her spins, though are much improved from Japan Open. I wonder though if her team is going to tweak them so she can get the highest levels later.
    Last edited by smarts1; 10-21-2012 at 03:21 AM.

  3. #383
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    Gao is much improved, that was a bit of a surprise...but remember, that was just the short program. The freeskate will tell the story.

    Flatt was OK jumpwise, but the rest of her skating has just deteriorated so. It would have made a nice gala program, as she got into the performance near the end, but for a competition I'd have expected more from a former Olympian, even one who is currently going to school.

    A LOT of "oomph" in Wagner's program I feel was lost through watching it on the computer screen. It felt so much more alive in person when I saw her perform it at the Weiss show. Watching it on Youtube I was like yeah, eh, ok, good start, but nothing spectacular. Foundation has been set though.

  4. #384
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    Flatt was OK jumpwise, but the rest of her skating has just deteriorated so. It would have made a nice gala program, as she got into the performance near the end, but for a competition I'd have expected more from a former Olympian, even one who is currently going to school.
    She looks out of competitive shape. Her layback is essentially now an upright spin with an open free leg. The one good thing I'd say about her SP is that at least she didn't pick some classical music that has been heard a gazillion time before.

    A LOT of "oomph" in Wagner's program I feel was lost through watching it on the computer screen. It felt so much more alive in person when I saw her perform it at the Weiss show. Watching it on Youtube I was like yeah, eh, ok, good start, but nothing spectacular. Foundation has been set though.
    The footwork didn't match the intensity of the music. The first 2/3 was ok, and she had some nice spins in there.

  5. #385
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    Quote Originally Posted by krenseby View Post
    Do you feel that the judges were not merely objectively evaluating her performance as skated, but also using the scores to indicate how they personally feel about her as a skater? I know this might sound like a silly question, but I am trying to understand the psychology of judging.
    I imagine the judges, like many others, think she should just retire already. That definitely plays a part in their scores. Her quality of skating and performances are pretty mediocre at best these days anyway, so that makes it all the easier to score her as such.

  6. #386
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    Wagner's short program felt, well, short. Perhaps it was the conscious decision to backload the solo triple and the axel that made the first half relatively short of required elements. For the first minute, it was just the jump combo and choreography (which I like). The second half looked rush in comparison. Perhaps it was because she had to wait for the music, I felt the steps were rushed through and the final spin incomplete. She really could have a bigger lead if her spins were of higher level. Love the holding out of the jump combo landing and the split leap after the axel.

    Strategy wise - perhaps she should go for an easier 3/3 instead of waiting for the flip/toe to happen. Sotnikova was totally going to overtake her if not for the pop. As the leading US lady, she really should not have to rely on others' mistakes for the lead. I am not sure if she can get this kind of GOEs on the 3/2 outside of the US.

  7. #387
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    I have wondered if Ashley would be better off going for 3t-3t and 3f in the SP. Her 3lo is good but that's probably the jump she's most likely to 2ft, and 3f-3t might not happen consistently enough for it to be worth it, and the layout I mentioned above would have a higher BV than her current one when she does the 3-2 and we know she can rack up big GOEs on her flip! I don't doubt she could do a 3t-3t either.

  8. #388
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    I know it's just the short, but I think other college girls who are skating would love to know whatever secret that helps Gao keep skating at this level while going to college full time.

  9. #389
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    Well, Gao explained why she thinks it is working for her, in the link that Sylvia posted above (Lifeskate interview). Others have done it before successfully, including Dick Button, Debi Thomas, Paul Wylie, Matt Savoie (although Paul and Matt deferred full time studies to pursue the Olympics).

    Gao loves Boston, loves having the chance to forget about studies while in the rink, and to forget about skating while in school. Her new coaches are obviously working well for her too, and she's matured into such a lovely young lady. Her layback leg position is to die for.

  10. #390
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlai View Post
    I know it's just the short, but I think other college girls who are skating would love to know whatever secret that helps Gao keep skating at this level while going to college full time.
    Gao has only been in college for about 2-3 months prior to SA and is a freshman. Depending on what her major will be and what classes she will take in the future, I'm sure it could have an impact on her training as she continue to maintain this dual schedule. Flatt, for example, has Physic labs and probably also group projects for engineering classes, which eat up quite a chunk out of her days.

  11. #391
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    Quote Originally Posted by orbitz View Post
    Gao has only been in college for about 2-3 months prior to SA and is a freshman. Depending on what her major will be and what classes she will take in the future, I'm sure it could have an impact on her training as she continue to maintain this dual schedule. Flatt, for example, has Physic labs and probably also group projects for engineering classes, which eat up quite a chunk out of her days.
    But compare her with Emily Hughes when she was freshman, Gao still looks good, all things considered. I mean, for her to not only maintain her skating but skate one of her best shorts, as a full time freshman in college.

  12. #392
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    Still, I'm tired of all the excuses from Flatt. In an interview in The Orange County Register, she talks about how school is her priority now, and that skating is taking the back seat, especially since tendonitis makes it difficult for her to train as hard as she'd like. I'm guessing that she's looking for excuses for her poor performances, but it's annoying to see her shrug off another lackluster, injury-laden performance when there are motivated young skaters who would love the opportunities she's been given.

    If she's truly injured and not skating/training at her best, she should do what other skaters (Michelle Kwan, Evan Lysacek) have done and given her place to a skater who's hungry and prepared for it. Placing last when you know you're unprepared is insulting to the work other skaters put in.

    Also, Gao is proving that you can attend an extremely high caliber university, adjust to a new rink and coaches, improve your skating, and handle it all with grace.

  13. #393
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    Quote Originally Posted by edonice View Post
    Still, I'm tired of all the excuses from Flatt. In an interview in The Orange County Register, she talks about how school is her priority now, and that skating is taking the back seat, especially since tendonitis makes it difficult for her to train as hard as she'd like. I'm guessing that she's looking for excuses for her poor performances, but it's annoying to see her shrug off another lackluster, injury-laden performance when there are motivated young skaters who would love the opportunities she's been given.

    If she's truly injured and not skating/training at her best, she should do what other skaters (Michelle Kwan, Evan Lysacek) have done and given her place to a skater who's hungry and prepared for it. Placing last when you know you're unprepared is insulting to the work other skaters put in.

    Also, Gao is proving that you can attend an extremely high caliber university, adjust to a new rink and coaches, improve your skating, and handle it all with grace.
    I think Rachael has reached the point where she is indulging in an exceedingly expensive hobby. Her parents must have plenty of money to continue to fund it.

  14. #394
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    My guess is this is the last GP assignment Flatt will ever be given. If she reaches the point she has to start qualifying for Nationals I wonder if she will continue skating, as at that point she will be clearly to the point of doing it just for the "love of it". She has already reached that point in reality, but she might well be deluded to that truth at this point.

    I hope Wagner and Gold can get the U.S 3 spots back at this years Worlds so Gao, Czisny, and others have a spot to fight for the 2014 Olympics.

  15. #395

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    I think the main difference between Gao/Flatt is talent/puberty.. I think Rachael's jumps were going long before Stanford. And that has to do something with puberty. Whereas Christina seems to have perfect figure skating body...I seem to recall Rachael started out part time in school and Gao is going at it full time.

  16. #396
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    Quote Originally Posted by bek View Post
    I think the main difference between Gao/Flatt is talent/puberty.. I think Rachael's jumps were going long before Stanford. And that has to do something with puberty. Whereas Christina seems to have perfect figure skating body...I seem to recall Rachael started out part time in school and Gao is going at it full time.
    I think some of this is true. Rachael's achieved what she has in skating, and probably in school too, due to being a work horse. She's never been a naturally talented jumper and she's never had the ideal body for skating. So when she had time to train all the time and really keep her diet in check, she did well because she worked really really hard and was able to build up that consistency, plus school wasn't as hard for her. So now, she's in college where she has to travel farther to train, isn't training as much, and its harder to make sure you're eating properly and sleeping adequately to be in the best shape possible, her courses are harder for her and she admits to skating not being a top priority and being committed to having a normal college social life, so the result isn't surprising.

    Gao on the other hand has always been a very talented jumper. She's also always had the ideal skating body, and if I'm being perfectly honest, having filled out a bit since college has actually helped her skating in terms of power and posture, she used to seem very gangly and round-shouldered, almost too skinny, but no longer does. Plus we know she got a perfect math SAT, so she's obviously naturally smart. Mark and Peter are better coaches than Rachael's new coaches, and SCOB is a lot closer to Harvard is than the rink Rachael trains at. So for Christina, she's probably not feeling as much of time crunch, nor is feeling as much academic pressure because she hasn't started her major coursework or labs yet and is likely naturally smarter than Rachael anyways, which means she's probably getting enough sleep, and does not have to worry so much about what she's eating because she's naturally thin and the little weight she has put on has helped her skating and image on the ice. So it's very different. Christina seems like an overachiever too, but maybe not the same kind of work horse as Rachael, she used to get pretty visibly upset and frustrated when she didn't skate well so now that she's a Harvard student, there's less pressure put on her by herself, her coaches, and her fans so she seems to be enjoying her skating more. From the sounds of it, Christina also isn't as intent on having a typical college experience while insisting on continuing to skate like Rachael, who is in a sorority and regularly attends events like football games.

  17. #397
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    Quote Originally Posted by judgejudy27 View Post
    I hope Wagner and Gold can get the U.S 3 spots back at this years Worlds .
    Gold's senior outings have been just mediocre. If she's the presumptive #1 or #2 spot, she really needs to start showing it IMHO. There are other talented skaters out there just as hungry as she is to go to Worlds this year.

  18. #398
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    Looks like picking Christina might have been a bad decision for TEB. Great performance.

  19. #399
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    Ashley and Christina!

  20. #400

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    Congratulations to Ashley Wagner on her first GP gold & to Christina Gao on her first GP & senior international medal (silver) at Skate America!
    "Randy [Starkman (1960-April 16, 2012)] lived by the same motto as the rest of us. The Olympics isn’t every four years, it’s every single day. He just got it." --Canadian Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden

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