Somebody please help me. I really want to be excited about Gracie but I still fail to see what everyone's so excited about.
I see the potential in her jumps. Good height, distance and speed...good technique except for the flip. She's a gifted jumper, there's no denying that. Her basics are good, her spins are decent. She's a solid skater. However, I'm failing to see that spark of anything else special that would make me excited to watch her. So many girls have the ability to jump and spin, but for a few, there's something extra about them that makes them stand out:
Julia: Her presentation. It's very, very good for a 13 or 14 year old skater. She's ahead of the curve in terms of that. If she had choreography that would force her to listen to the music and utilize that presentation along with her flexibility, she could be amazing...plus she has difficult jumps.
Adelina: Lovely, mature presentation, gorgeous lines and extension, great flow...she's 16 years old but she's the only newbie who could legitimately give the top 3 skaters a run for their money at worlds...plus she has huge, difficult jumps.
Liza T: She has pizazz, attitude and fire when she performs and she does perform when she skates...plus she has difficult, textbook jumps.
Kaetlyn: She's a natural born performer who can connect with her music and the audience easily...plus she has nice jumps.
Zijun: Lovely, lyrical style and presentation and a great understanding of music...plus difficult jumps.
It's like everyone has something extra in addition to the jumps. With Gracie, I see huge jumps and a positive attitude about her skating...but that's it. I don't see natural grace from her; her skating is very stiff to me. Her arms are rigid almost airplane-y, her jump landings are abrupt and very Emily Hughes with the "Taa-daa!" arms. I don't see any kind of musical connection or understanding when she skates. She regurgitates choreography the way most younger skaters do meaning there's nothing behind her movements which leaves the program feeling empty. In terms of emotion, her face is either blank, plastered with a fake smile, or terrified looking.
Maybe I'm expecting more from her than I should. To me, 17/18 is more than old enough to have a good grasp on the basics of performing. I look at Michelle and Sasha at 17/18...or Mao and Yu-Na at 17/18: maturity, polish, artistry and then some. I know it's a little unfair to hold Gracie to such high standards but when people are constantly saying how wonderful she is, I'm thinking, "Well if she's so great, why is she 17 years old and still skating like a 13 year old?" There are a number of up-and-coming skaters who I'd place above Gracie b/c they display more than just jumps when they skate; however, most people don't know about them b/c for some reason the media is fixated on Gracie.
I'm really trying to be excited for her and cheer her on but as of now I'm just annoyed with her. Huge jumps are great but when they're delivered in a generic shell of a program with zero to connection to the bad music she's skating to, I feel let down and then really angry and confused b/c the media then proceeds to wax poetic about how marvelous and wonderful she is and how she's a star! Plus, I'd probably lay off of her some if she actually had some consistent skating to back up all of this praise but her skating has been sporadic all season long. She is 100% hit or miss right now.
I'm sorry to have a mini rant and I'm not trying to pick at her; I'm honestly trying to understand. I want to like her and, seeing as how NBC and USFSA has anointed her as the "golden child" something tells me I need to start liking her. But given her current level of skating and what she's managed to do this season, I'm hardly impressed and still wondering what makes Gracie Gold so great and worthy of this all this praise and attention?
Maybe somebody who actually gets it can help me understand...