by George Rossano
(24 September 2012) Spectators at the Southern California Interclub Invitational Championships were treated to exhibitions by Ashley Wagner, reigning U.S. National Champion, of both her short and long programs. Wagner warmed up with the Senior Ladies at the competition and skated after their event on Saturday and Sunday evening. Wagner was there skating before the judges for experience and feedback before the start of the senior Grand Prix later next month.
Wagner's short program is set to music from "The Red Violin," and showed off an elegant black costume in her performance. The choreography was well suited to the dramatic music, and the performance was clean and secure from start to end. For jumps Wagner landed 3F+2T, 2A and 3Lo, and for spins and steps I would guess they were all levels three and/or four (as was typically the case in her performances last season). This is the same jump content often executed last season, though rearranged to take advantage of the time bonus points now available in the short program.
Planned program content from last season often listed her combination as 3F+3T though the triple toe loop was not often attempted, and if there was an error on the 3F, she would sometimes put the toe loop on the triple loop. There were no significant errors in the performance discernible to me, and I would have had no negative GoEs, and been in the 1s and 2s for most of the elements.
The choreography for this program at this point seems nearly fully developed, with no obvious holes in the transitions noticed by me. Following her double Axel, she goes immediately into a falling leaf, that soars and is the most eye-catching moment of the program. For components I would have had her in the 7.00 to 7.50 range, with choreography and interpretation the strongest marks from my point of view.
My sense of the program is that this is a nearly complete work, that primarily needs further polish, which it is sure to get as the season develops. The main limitation for me at this time is that, though the program was well skated, it did not fully capture the drama and tone of the music. With further work I could see this program squeezing out another 1/2 point or more in program components and end up in the eights.
For the free skate, her program is set to "Sampson and Delilah." For this routine her dress was another beauty in several shades of lavender.
Wagner's free skate seems to me to be still a work in progress. The overall structure of the program is there, but many of the details needed to make this a great program are missing, and I assume yet to be worked out. She landed six triples, but two of the jump elements were a bit ragged. The second element was a 2A+2T, and since the program lacked a 3T, I assume the goal is to up that element to a 2A+3T combination, which was the case in her free program last season. The spins and levelled step sequence again seemed to me to be 3s and/or 4s, as again was the case last season. For GoEs, I would have had her mostly in the range of 1 +/- 1, except for two jump elements where I would have had to have gone negative.
There were obvious holes in the transitions, to my mind, and with the choreography unfinished I would have gone lower on the components for the free compared to the short, mainly around 7.00 and a little lower for the Transitions mark. Also pulling down the Presentation mark for me was a lack of intensity and savage power needed to carry off the well known music from the bacchanal that is cut as the last section of the program -- as is usually the case when this piece of music is used. It will be interesting to watch this program develop as the season progresses. When completed and polished this routine has the potential to become a memorable program.
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