Sofia Samodurova (RUS): 187.86 - 1st
I like Sofia's style and her presence on the ice. She's the oldest of the top ladies at this event and it shows in her maturity and carriage on the ice. I thought both of her programs were nicely done and well-skated. After a bit of trouble on her combo in the SP Sofia sat in 3rd place, more than 4 points out of 1st place. She took the ice last in the FS and thanks to some mistakes from the top two, the door was wide open. Sofia delivered under pressure and ended up running away with the gold here. Her reaction in the Kiss & Cry was so sweet. You could tell the win meant a lot to her. As of now Sofia is listed as a substitute for the final two events. It would be nice if the Russian federation gave her a chance to compete for a spot in the Final. Whether they do or not, this was a great victory for her and she should be proud.
Mako Yamashita (JPN): 175.75 - 2nd
I love that Mako has matured a bit this season. There's more control and polish to her skating which should continue to improve as she gets older. She started off very well in the SP, nailing all of her jumps (and no edge calls) and earning level 4s on all of her spins and a level 3 in her step sequence. Mako finished the segment only 1.36 points out of 1st place. Unfortunately things didn't go as smoothly in the FS. There were no major issues but it didn't seem like her feet were all the way under her. She had a few step outs and wonky landings but she managed to stay upright. Mako finished 2nd in the FS and 2nd overall. This silver medal gives Mako 24 points. There are still two events left so we'll have to see if she's able to hang on to a spot in the Final.
Anastasia Tarakanova (RUS): 165.57 - 3rd
Anastasia started off very well in the SP. She nailed everything and was the leader heading into the FS. I'm not sure what happened to her but she was a bit of a mess in the FS. She took a hard fall on her opening 3Lz(<), lost several levels on her step sequence, doubled the salchow in her 3-jump combo, tried to make up for the 3T she missed in the opening by adding it to a 3F but under-rotated and fell, stepped out of her 3L and fell again on a 3F. It was a bit of disaster and very odd to see for an Eteri student. Eteri's girls usually recover very quickly from mistakes; Anastasia couldn't seem to right the ship after that first error. She finished 6th in the FS which dropped her from 1st to 3rd overall. Anastasia's 26 points should be enough to get her to the Final which means she'll have a chance to redeem herself after this performance.
As for the rest...
Young You (KOR; 163.42, 4th): I like Young You. There's a nice flair to her when she performs and I really enjoyed watching her. She lost points in the SP by popping the second jump in her 3F combo but still finished well enough to make the final group of skaters. I loved her "Pirates of the Caribbean" FS. It was so entertaining and she looked as though she had a fun time performing it. Young needs to work on getting her levels up and rotating a little quicker (two under-rotations) but she was great. Young placed 3rd in the FS which moved her up to finish a close 4th overall. I'm excited to watch her grow. Korea has a number of emerging skaters that should be in the mix post-Pyeongchang.
Other Competition Notes: Kaitlyn Nguyen (USA; 148.60, 5th) had a rough time in the SP but was able to pull up with a 4th place finish in the FS to finish top 5 overall...Akari Matsuoka (JPN; 145.00, 7th) placed a very disappointing 11th in the SP. Luckily she came back stronger in the FS and finished 5th in the FS which moved her up to 7th overall.
This week is JGP Baltic Cup which takes place in Gdansk, Poland. We'll see Eunsoo Lim (KOR), Daria Panenkova (RUS) and Emmy Ma (USA) plus two debuting Japanese skaters, Rino Kasakake and Akari Matsubara. Spots to the Final are on the line!
2017 Nebelhorn Trophy
There were not any big names at this event this year but I do want to recognize the medalists: Kalani Craine (AUS), Matilda Algotsson (SWE) and Alexia Paganini (SUI). All three earned their country a spot in the upcoming Olympics in Pyeongchang. Congrats!
Japan Open (my favorite pre-season competitions) will take place in Saitama, Japan on October 7. Mai Mihara and Marin Honda will compete for Team Japan; Karen Chen and Mirai Nagasu will compete for Team North America; and Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova will compete for Team Europe. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone but I'm really looking forward to the Evgenia and Alina showdown. Should be good! Also the Challenger Series will continue this week with Finlandia Trophy which will take place in Espoo, Finland on October 6-8. The big names to look out for at this event are Gabrielle Daleman (CAN), Carolina Kostner (ITA), Maria Sotskova (RUS) and Polina Edmunds (USA).