Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What on earth happened?!

The US National Figure Skating Championships were held this past week. For those of you who haven't yet figured it out from my European Championships post, figure skating is the sport I follow most closely.

You may imagine my surprise when the top four finishers in this year's competition turned out to be ladies who had never before medalled at Nationals. Last year's medalists (Meissner, Hughes, Czisny and Liang) finished 7th, withdrew, finished 12th and finished 5th, respectively. Granted, the fact that Alissa Czisny finished out of the medals is not surprising -- she is notorious for having a mental block when it comes to jumps. I like her skating a lot, especially her spins and spiral sequences, but I must admit that it was more of a surprise to see her medal last year than to see her out of the medals this year. Kimmie Meissner finishing 7th, though... that was a surprise. Sure, she missed two jumps in one of her Grand Prix programs this season. But she's the 2006 World Champion. She can pull it together for Nationals, right? Apparently not this year. To her credit, though, she still threw everything she had into her program, even after missing her first two jumps, and she was very gracious afterward. That speaks volumes about her character.

Check out Mirai Nagasu and Caroline Zhang, though... Zhang is the 2007 World Junior Champion and she placed 4th at Nationals this year, and Mirai Nagasu is the 2007 World Junior Championship silver medalist and the 2007 US Junior Champion and she won Nationals this year. Here is her history-making short program (the best US short program ever under the new scoring system):

To give you a little perspective, her overall score for the night was 190.41 -- that's 15 points higher than Michelle Kwan's personal best under the new scoring system (the 2005 World Championships), and just 8 points under Irina Slutskaya's personal best (2005 Cup of Russia).

Neither Zhang nor Nagasu will be going to Senior Worlds this year because they're too young... the US World team will be Ashley Wagner, Bebe Liang and Kimmie Meissner. Next year's World Championships, though... that will be a very interesting competition, indeed.

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