The first of the six ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events wrapped up this weekend in Japan and although some of the results were to be expected there were some dramatic twists at the NHK Trophy.
Right off the bat, the reigning world champion and 2010 Olympic silver medallist from Japan, Mao Asada, finished in 8th place which will undoubtedly take her out of contention for the ISU Grand Prix Final in Beijing in December.
The speculation is that with her change of coach from Tatiana Tarasova to Nobuo Sato only six weeks ago, there has not been enough time for her to adapt to her new jumping technique resulting in failed or singled jumps throughout both her short and free performances.
Will the poor results affect her confidence and prevent her from getting back to her old successful self? Time will tell.
The event was won by Carolina Kostner of Italy who had earlier captured the short program. Instead of the short program boosting her confidence, it almost always seems to throw Carolina and she faltered a bit in the free.
But she was able to hold on to the lead against American champion Rachael Flatt who took the free and ended up pulling up from third after the short to take the silver medal.
The bronze medal went to Kanako Murakami, the 2010 Junior World Champion from Japan, whose second place finish in the short is likely a promise of more great skating to come.
In Ice Dance, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the 2010 Olympic and world silver medallists from the United States, handily took the title in Nagoya.
Interestingly though, their choice of tango music for the free dance seemed to fall flat. Assuming that the tango, with its "looking away" characteristics, was meant to compensate for their weakness in relating to each other on the ice, it didn't have the requisite amount of heat or male/female dynamic or tension to make it truly believable.
It could be that the program is still "growing" and we will see a more evolved product as the season continues.
The silver medal went to Four Continents champions from Canada, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who were light on their feet and demonstrated much greater speed and strength gained during the off-season.
The bronze medal went to the American brother and sister team of Maia and Alex Shibutani who are the national junior ice dance champions. Finishing in fifth after the short program, their second place free dance was captivating and charming and bolted them onto the podium in their first senior Grand Prix event.
The pairs belonged to the 2010 Olympic silver medallists and world champions from China, Qing Pang and Jian Tong. They delivered what I like best about them: good skating, big tricks and a connection to the music especially from Jian.
Russians Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov performed solidly in both the short and free skates, finishing second in both segments to take the silver. The bronze medal was won by Japan's Narumi Takahashi and (Canadian-born) Mervin Tran who are also 2010 World junior silver medallists.
The men's competition showed that Daisuke Takahashi, the 2010 Olympic bronze medallist and world champion from Japan, is not going to give anything up without a fight. Takahashi won both segments of the competition and took the event with a 16.6 point lead over American champion and ultimate silver medallist, Jeremy Abbott.
The bronze medal went to France's Florent Amodio who posted a personal best score in the free program, earning him second place and moving him from fourth place after the short to the podium.
The second stop on the Grand Prix series is Kingston, Ontario, Canada where Skate Canada International takes place next weekend.
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