Japanese and Canadian Women Are Leaders in Ladies Short Program
By Liz Leamy
(26 November 2017) Satoko Miyahara of Japan, the 2015 World silver medalist, and two-time Grand Pix Final silver medalist, owned the night in the Ladies Short Program and racked up 70.72 points, which put her in first in the 11 entry ladies event.
Miyahara earned big program component, averaging 8.49, and Total Element points for her arresting rendition to the film score, "Memoirs of a Geisha," in which she reeled off a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, triple loop and double Axel with strength and determination. On the toe loop, however, she stepped out of the landing, making that her only element to receive negative GoEs. She also earned big marks for her spins, which were defined by wonderful positions and notable velocity.
“I’m really happy to get today’s points,” said Miyahara, who seems driven on perfecting her already exceptional skating standard. “I have a lot of things to do.” No matter how well she skates at a competition Miyahara is always focused afterwards on what she can do better to improve her performances.
Kaori Sakamoto of Japan, the 2017 World Junior bronze medalist, earned second for her breathtaking rendition to "Moonlight Sonata" by Ludwig von Beethoven, for which she garnered 69.40 points.
Sakamoto, whose skating is defined by lightning-quick jumps and great speed, did a triple flip-triple toe loop, triple loop and double Axel with long, flowing landing edges. Like Miyahara, Sakamoto also did some super-fast spins, including a back camel into back catch foot combination and high flying camel.
Sakamoto scored the highest element score in the event, but trailed Miyahara in components, giving Miyahara slim 1.32 point lead in the short program.
“I think I did a [great] job today,” said Sakamoto. “This time, I brought my best [short program].”
Gabrielle Daleman of Canada, the 2017 World bronze medalist, took third with her dramatic rendition of "Habanera" from the iconic opera "Carmen" by George Bizet, for which she earned 68.08 points.
Daleman, who was one of the most entertaining and compelling skaters of the event, opened up with a huge triple toe loop-triple toe loop and also landed a double Axel, with only a minor weakness of the landing edge. On her triple Lutz, however, she had a slight fall out on the landing, but not enough to receive a fall deduction.
Still, Daleman skated with notable energy and electricity and was a big hit with the audience.
“I’m very happy with how I’ve improved. The overall package is coming together and I’m looking forward to tomorrow [Sunday’s free skate],” said Daleman. “I have to take it home and be prepared for tomorrow.”
Among the U.S. skaters, Bradie Tennell did a stellar job, to place fourth in the short just 1.07 points out of a medal position.
Tennell, the 2015 U.S. Junior Champion, skated a gorgeous program to "Taeguki" by Dong-Jun Lee that put her in fourth with 67.01 points.
Tennell, who has tremendous presence on the ice, knocked out a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, triple loop and double Axel, among other impressive elements. She was the only U.S. lady to skate clean in the short, with three level 4 elements and one level 3. Her components averaged 7.35.
Ashley Wagner, meanwhile, was sixth with 64.12 points for her program to "Hip Hip Chin Chin" by Club des Belugas.
Wagner, the three-time U.S. Champion and 2016 World silver medalist, executed a triple flip-triple toe loop in which she two footed the landing on the second jump, double Axel and a triple loop of which she two footed the landing, along with some high-energy spins, footwork and connecting steps.
With average component scores of 8.42, Wagner had the second highest component scores, trailing Miyahara by 0.28 points. Wagner skated with energy and passion in a new red and blue dress with a striking gold crisscross design.
Karen Chen, the 2017 U.S. Champion, placed ninth, earning 59.53 points for her short program to the riveting "On Golden Pond" film score. This is a return at this competition to her short program of last season.
She opened up with a triple Lutz-triple toe loop and followed up with fast, well-formed spins and double Axel. During her program, however, Chen had a bad fall on the landing of her triple loop, which was downgraded. Her components averaged 7.74, fifth best of the group.
The point totals of the current leaders are within 2.64 points of each other, and their leads over the rest of the pack only 4-5 points, so considerable movement in Sunday's free skate is possible.