Over at Golden Skate there was an interesting span of posts where people got a little off topic by comparing skaters in a Skater A > Skater B > Skater C format or in some cases Skater A > Skater B >= (greater than or equal to) Skater C.
This got me to thinking: Seeing as how these are the three main podium contenders heading into worlds, how would you rank Carolina, Mao and Yu-Na in the following categories?
Jumps (rank each)
- Combos (3-3 and 2-3)
Spins (overall but you can specify)
Skating Skills (this includes edges, speed, flow, etc.)
Choreography (for this year's programs)
Here are my thoughts:
- Axel: Mao > Carolina >= Yu-Na
Mao's axel is so light and airy it almost looks like a single. Both Carolina and Yu-Na have great axels though I prefer Carolina's b/c of her landing position which is fully extended and often held for a count, whereas Yu-Na usually checks the landing quickly but I do love Yu-Na's ability to do the axel out of an Ina or SE...
- Toe: Carolina > Yu-Na >= Mao
Carolina's air position and coverage make it a great jump for her. Yu-Na rarely does a 3T as a single jump; it's usually in combination with lutz or an axel so it's hard to judge. I like the delay Mao's 3Ts but she doesn't do a toe by itself either. It's been in combination with the axel lately; when she hits it, it's equal to Yu-Na's.
- Loop: Carolina >= Mao > Yu-Na
Both Carolina and Mao's loops are probably their best jumps. Both get good lift and pretty rotations in the air with nice landings. Yu-Na doesn't attempt a loop...
- Salchow: Carolina > Yu-Na > Mao
Carolina gets nice lift into the air on this one. The sal is probably Yu-Na's weakest jump even though it's solid. Hers lacks the height/coverage of Carolina's. Mao's sal is good but she's still getting the hang of it so it's not very reliable right now.
- Flip: Yu-Na > Mao > Carolina
Yu-Na's flip has good height and coverage and is one of her best jumps. Mao's flip is her money jump and she's able to do it out of complicated steps, but it doesn't get the coverage Yu-Na's gets. Carolina's flip is lovely when she hits it but it often has a looong step up.
- Lutz: Yu-Na > Carolina > Mao
Yu-Na's lutz is excellent and is another strength for her. Speed, distance, height...she has it all. Carolina's lutz has been MIA but the one she did at Europeans was lovely. Mao still flutzes...
- Combos (3-3 and 2-3): Yu-Na >> Carolina >= Mao
Obviously Yu-Na's ability to do a myriad of 3-3s and a 2A-3T with consistency make her the easy winner here. Carolina has been doing a 3T-3T consistently and her 2A-3T is good too. Mao has not attempted a 3-3 is some years but her 2A-3T is pretty good and her 3-jump combos with two loops are very difficult.
Spins: Mao > Carolina > Yu-Na
Mao's spins have improved a lot this season. By far she has the best positions in terms of extension, flexibility and variations, her speed is better and she's been getting level 4s all season long. Carolina's spins are average but I put her above Yu-Na b/c of her extension, positions and the improvement to her layback (arms and leg positioning are much better this year). As for Yu-Na, with the exception of the layover camel and her back position in the layback (which are both lovely), her spins are about average too. They aren't as fast as they used and the positions aren't that great, but she's still adjusting to the new spins rules so we'll have to see if they've improved since nationals.
Skating Skills: Carolina > Mao >= Yu-Na
Carolina wins this. Speed, edges, ease, flow...all three have them but Carolina is tops IMO. It's difficult choosing who is 2nd here but I give Mao the slight edge. Yu-Na has the edge on power/acceleration when you compare her to Mao but I feel Mao edges Yu-Na overall. Best thing I can point to is the step sequences. I've never seen Yu-Na execute a step sequence equal to the complexity of Carolina or Mao's. All three are strong here which is part of why they are the top contenders.
Transitions: Yu-Na > Carolina = Mao
I give Yu-Na the edge here due to her transitions into her jumps. All three include good transitions throughout their programs, but Yu-Na's entry into her jumps are what stand out. The moves connect with little prep time before the jump and they are faster and more difficult than Carolina or Mao's, plus she often adds transitions to her exits too. I would say Carolina's exits are better than Yu-Na's exits though; however, Carolina's entries are sometimes long...and Mao's jumps are often preceded by steps that don't pause as long as Carolina's do, though she (Mao) doesn't have as many transitions out of her jumps. So to sum up all have great in-the-field moves. In terms of transitions for jumps: Yu-Na (entry and exit), Carolina (exit), Mao (entry)...whew!
- SP: Carolina > Mao > Yu-Na
This one is based purely on preferences of course. I think Carolina's SP this year is the best she's ever had. Amazing musicality, almost every accent is used. It's a phenomenal program. Mao's I Got Rhythm SP has grown on me. I like the throwback Mao style mixed with the skills she's gained as a mature skater. She pulls it off very well. Yu-Na's SP is good and while it's better than a number of programs it doesn't stand out in comparison to Carolina and Mao's programs to me.
- FS: Mao > Carolina > Yu-Na
Again, it's all preference here. I think Mao's Swan Lake FS is lovely. It's a simple program that highlights her strengths in all of the right ways. The pacing is very good and the edit is very effective. Carolina and Yu-Na's programs are still works in progress but I'm feeling Carolina's Bolero more than Yu-Na's Les Mis. Lori has found a way to make Bolero work for Carolina and I think the program has moved from pretty good to nice IMO. For Yu-Na it's the same with her SP. Les Mis is a good program but, compared to Mao and Carolina's programs, this one grabs me the least. There are some nice moments but it doesn't do anything for me like her programs have in the past.
Feel free to add categories I left out. And sorry if this has been done before. I just thought it'd be interesting to see what everyone thought...