I do think the U.S team is stronger this year than the last 2 years. The problem is this years Worlds is going to be alot tougher than the last 2 years which were both pretty weak. That is why the U.S really blew it not getting 3 spots back those 2 years and allowing 2 injured skaters who were overmarked at Nationals to go as their number 2 both times. Gold and Wagner have a good shot at 3 spots back if both have a great competition, but that seems tough to count on at this point. More likely probably is hoping one has a great competition and one a so so one, and hoping that might be enough, which it still might be.
The commentator is delusional or blind, and the U.S. hype engine is alive and well. Hope Gracie can ignore it all.
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I've been reading the posts in this thread w/ a lot of interest. The struggle for 3 spots should be taken into context of US ladies skating over the last couple of decades.
The US has been blessed (and spoiled) by Kwan. Since the mid 90s, she could be counted on to finish on the podium, which meant that a 2nd US lady only needed a top 10 finish at Worlds to continue the 3 spot advantage. Additionally, the US had other stars such as Tara Lipinski, Sarah Hughes and Sasha Cohen to hold up their end of their bargain, and they went beyond just top 10, competing as strong medal threats themselves. In Tara's case, a GOLD medal threat.
But, if you think about it, beyond Kwan-Lipinski, Kwan-Hughes, Kwan-Hughes-Cohen, and Kwan-Cohen, the US landscape was always dominated by unpredictable skaters such as Ervin, Kwiatkowski, Bobek, Nikodinov, Kirk, McDonough, and Liang.
After Hughes left skating, Kwan-Cohen kept it alive for a couple of years, but Kirk could be predicted to finish around 15th place at Worlds.
Kwan and Cohen were gone by '06 and that left a whole new batch of ladies to struggle under a new scoring system that no one was properly prepared for.
It really isn't a surprise that we are where we are.
Now, if any one of the current crop of US ladies can pull a rabbit out of her hat, it's Wagner. She's competitive. She's no dummy and can see that Yu Na is back in form, Mao is close to securing the 3x, Carolina and the Russian babies are peaking. I sense she gets motivated by competition, and you can bet she and her team are working towards the 3-3 in the SP and a 2x-3t in the LP. Staying away from 4CC's was a smart move, too.
But, the problem we are running into is that Ashley and Gracie have not established any momentum via Nationals or 4CC's, to lay out strong programs at 90% capacity, perhaps test driving 3-3s (in Ashley's case) or steadier jumps and stronger choreography (in Gracie's case). Still, they have some time and they only have to travel to Canada for Worlds.
Lord knows that Worlds will be interesting!
Wagner had a very good early season but has not been skating well since. It may be the injuries etc, and she may very well be back in form by worlds.. But the way this team was selected there are so many problems.
Shouldn't consistency/plus how well your skating at the moment determine this team? It just seems to me lately USFSA has been looking at potential while not considering consistency. I.e maybe we will get lucky and Alissa will skate clean.. Or they have been looking at someone who has had good early season results but not necessarily skating well at the moment. See Flatt and Czisny the last two years...
I just feel we need a system that takes into account potential, consistency, and how well you are skating at the moment..... (Three months between Nationals and Worlds is a heck of a long time)
I guess I'm saying is I think that Gao with her international results this season deserved far more consideration than she got...By the US judges.. (Hicks too I think deserves more consideration as well. She should be at Four Continents-not Agnes) But there's a little bit of hypocrisy that Ashley's results this season matter- but Gao's don't. Because Gao frankly has been the most consistent lady this season...However consistency only seems to matter if your a favorite. (Gao vs Gold) And having a much better free skate only seems to matter if your a favorite (Gao vs Wagner)
That's why I'm calling this system unfair.
Last edited by bek; 02-11-2013 at 12:29 AM.
Olympic is right though that the depth of U.S ladies skating began to wane during the Kwan era, and even a bit before. People just didnt notice it since they loved Michelle so much and there was usually atleast 1 other capable star be it Tara, Hughes, or Cohen with her. However the depth was not what it used to be, and that is coming to fruition now in the post Kwan and Cohen era. In hindsight the signs of this have been about 20 years in the making though. The 92 and 93 Nationals were quite poor overall, where there was only 1 women each time who landed more than 3 triples cleanly (and in 93 that wasnt even the winner, a stumbling and bumbling Kerrigan who preceded her Worlds disaester with her pitiful winning performance, but a 12 year old Kwan who came 6th) a a sign of regressing depth for U.S women relative to what it had always been before, and it has continued since.
I think the US ladies team is strong enough to occasionally get 3 spots or even medal once or twice at worlds, even if the team loses the third spot again the following year. Just look at the Russians-- even without Plushenko, the team managed to medal at worlds once (Gachinski), though the team also had some rather unlucky worlds where they were down to one spot. The US ladies team, OTOH, has been doing about the same the last few years. I think it shows that USFS is more conservative in its selection, which translates to more conservative results; while sometimes the Russians seized openings and gambled (and had it paid off), even if they also lost big at some worlds.
I guess the point is, are we (i.e. is USFS) wasting time trying to find the next Kwan or Cohen? It's a new system, and a new era. It still seems to me that many folks are still stuck in the old days (some in USFS, NBC TV, some overzealous fans) with the way they heap tons and tons of pressure & expectations on Gracie Gold even though she was largely untested under the spotlight. This is her first season and she's ALREADY expected to save US skating? It's obviously been affecting her as you can see from her performances. And her nationals freeskate left Bezic of NBC to declare that US skating has found its new star. Umm, not so fast? Perhaps it may be in her future, but why do I get the feeling some are trying to project Hughes, Cohen and/or Lipinski onto her?
Then again - if we had 3 spots this year - assuming all else the same guess who'd have been number 3? Not Gao...but ZAWADZKI for goodness sake. Who's to say with Wagner/Gold/Zawadzki we wouldn't have lost it again this year anyway?
Agnes needs both better packaging that showcase her talents better and way more consistency in competition. She needs both of those things to be fixed if she is ever to live up to her huge potential she showed coming 2nd at Junior Worlds.
Nationals was very odd in terms of results. I think that Ashley should have finished like 3rd or 4th overall but named to the World Team anyway, provided she attended 4CC or some other test skate/competition/monitoring session before Worlds to prove she was healthy, not injured, and in form to compete there. However, that would mean Gracie would have won Nationals after that disaster of a SP, so that wouldn't be a good call either. Agnes was 3rd and didn't deserve to win either. Hicks skated 2 strong programs but apart from her technical ability the rest of her skating is not quite national championship material. So that leaves Christina. In some ways, I think an argument could be made that Gao should have won Nationals. Call me crazy, but her SP was not as bad as Gracie's and her FS was almost as good - the points spread should have been a lot bigger in the SP and considerably smaller in the FS which would put Gao ahead overall, Wagner had a deserved edge in the SP but it shouldn't have been as much as it was and then her FS was much weaker than Gao's, Agnes had a fall in the SP but otherwise the program was good - if fairly marked she and Gao would have had very similar scores in the SP, but then Gao had a better FS - even USFS judges agreed with that, but the margin should have been a bit bigger than the 3 points it was, so Gao would have gone ahead, I was alright with Hicks being slightly ahead of Gao after the SP due to her explosive jumps, but with that big pop in the FS, her FS score should have been a few points lower than Christina instead of a couple points higher, meaning Christina would have come out ahead. Arguably the results of US Nats should have been Gao 1st, Gold 2nd, and then I still can't decide the order for 3rd-5th between Wagner, Zawadzki, and Hicks.
But I will say it seems like Gracie gets held up for bad skates internationally too - not in the SP maybe, but 4CC was the second time she got a respectable FS score for a performance that was pretty much a mess - COR was the first time. I mean, Gao outscored her by 10 points here, but Gracie's 166 is a decent number for a competition that was not a total disaster but not far from it.
Last edited by Jammers; 02-11-2013 at 10:49 PM.