Atsuko's NHK 2010 Highlights
October 24, 2010
By Atsuko Kuryu
Photos © 2010 Absolute Skating, Caroline Paré
Since this is the post-Olympic season, many newcomers appeared in the 2010 NHK Trophy in Nagoya, Japan.
Two of the most impressive debutants were Japan's Kanako Murakami and Yuzuru Hanyu, both of whom were World Junior Champions this past season.
Murakami nailed a triple toe-triple toe combination, a triple flip and a double axel beautifully in the short program and stood in second place. However, she fell three times in the free skate and dropped down to third place. Her perkiness and sparkliness attracted lots of people. Hanyu pulled off a quad toe in the beginning of his free skate to show his potential.
In the ice dance field, Alex Shibutani and Maya Shibutani were cute and brisk. Their style seemed to be something you might have seen at the old ballroom – very elegant and classy. The World Junior Champions, Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov's performances were also impressive. Elena and Nikita made a fantastic debut on the senior stage.
Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov from Russia and Narumi Takahashi and Marvin Tran from Japan looked very impressive in their second season as seniors.
Vera is so cute with her bisque-doll-like outfit and has outstanding technique. Their performance was dramatic and consistent.
Takahashi and Tran also showed their improvement. They became more mature and graceful. Narumi said that she has been acting like a mature woman in her daily life in order to look more mature on the ice, which surely worked.
The ladies competition was not too exciting because many made mistakes in their execution. Only Carolina Kostner showed a flawless program, though it was not a high level in terms of technique. Rachel Flatt also showed a good performance and finished first in the free skate and second overall. Other experienced senior skaters such as Ashley Wagner, Caroline Zhang, Elene Gedevanishvili did not perform up to their potential.
I should say something about Mao Asada, but for me it is too painful to describe how poorly she performed. What I would like to say is that Mao is a really talented skater and everything will be on track sooner or later.
Fortunately, the Men's competition became very exciting at the end of the event.
Kevin Van der Perren nailed a quad toe, a triple Axel, a triple Salchow, a triple loop, a triple Lutz as well as a triple flip-triple toe-triple toe sequence and a double Axel-double Axel combination. He gained the best technical element score in free skate, but his PCS was not high as usual which kept him in low standing-eight overall.
All the Japanese men pulled off the quad toe, though Takahito Mura couldn't collect himself for the rest of his performance and finished sixth overall.
Florent Amodio's free skate was a sensation. He skated to a Michael Jackson medley which really excited the Japanese crowd. I think the collaboration between Florent and Nikolai Morozov could bring about an amazing change, so watch out for them this season!
Daisuke Takahashi had several problems in his jumps, but his performance was awesome as usual. He collected a high PCS score and won easily. Since this was just a performance in the beginning of the season, I was thrilled to think what will happen as the season continues.
Jeremy Abbott's programs were my favorite in this competition. His short program was choreographed by Antonio Najarro, was very unique and has a little bit of a Stephane Lambiel flair. I'm not sure if it fit his style, but I like it. His free skate is so amazing. The music is from the motion picture, "Life is Beautiful." He made several mistakes technically, but it didn't ruin the overall impression. It is one of the most graceful and intricate programs so far this season.
Note: The photos used were not taken at this event.