2018 NHK Trophy: A Tale of Two Triple Axels

I know it’s hella late but I finally did my review on the ladies’ event at NHK Trophy! To call it epic would be an understatement – I haven’t seen an event this good in over a year. This season, I’m really rediscovering my love of ladies’ figure skating, and this event was a highlight for me.

Call the police: Kailani Craine was robbed in the SP! Beautiful skater, I look forward to seeing her in the future, because she’s a star.

Angela Wang, Angela Wang. How I wish you could land your stuff, because you have gorgeous programs. I admit though: Send in the Clowns combined with rough jumps is a recipe for a heartbreak. The short program is a bomb!

Mae Berenice Meite is a heck of a fighter. I’m so glad she stayed in it through all the injuries and managed to lay down a solid performance in the free skate.

I’m afraid this might not be the year for Maria Sotskova. Her programs are fine but she’s just struggling with those jumps, and I think she might get lost in the Russia bloodbath. She’s a full time acting student now and not everyone can pull a Nathan Chen. She’s had a great career – went to the Olympics, medaled at Nationals and the GPF, and now she can go on and be a beautiful film actress. Then again, I could be totally wrong and she might surprise me with a great skate next time, so I’ll wait and see.

Courtney Hicks is a beautiful skater with a beautiful short program and a beautiful dress. I could watch that program all day. A shame she’s also been caught liking racist tweets. #ProblematicSkaters. Character aside, the FS to The Nutcracker really doesn’t match her big powerful skating and I found myself taking a nap.

It was great seeing Alena Leonova looking so happy and actually skating pretty well. I don’t know why she showed up in that old grandma dress for the SP when she is still so bright and beautiful, but I’ll take it. You can just tell she’s here because she loves it, and who knows, maybe she can Tuktamysheva her way back up!

Eunsoo Lim is a beautiful skater. But why, why, WHY put such a elegant young girl in a naughty Chicago program? Raf, what were you thinking? There are some ladies who could SLAY a Chicago (Tuktamysheva, I’m looking at you!), but please, not innocent flower Eunsoo! I’m not a fan of it at all, but that’s the choreographers’ fault, not hers. She is SUBLIME! (Okay, and I think I have a tiny crush on her. Help me).

Say it with me: MARIAH BELL FOR NATIONAL CHAMP! She finally did it! Honestly, 5th place in this field is like 2nd in a normal field, so I think she can be very proud. I have no choice but to love a girl who skates to “To Love You More” by Celine Dion, and the FS is really starting to grow on me. She just looks so beautiful and happy out there!

Mai Mihara is the most underrated Japanese lady and that’s the tea. I admit the SP doesn’t really grab my attention, but she is an awesome skater and she deserves much higher PCS. I’ve been a fan of her FS to “The Mission” since I first saw it last season, and I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of it.

SKATE WARS: THE EMPRESS STRIKES BACK! Liza Tuktamysheva is coming for you! I dare you to find a man with a better triple axel. (Seriously, I want to see her and Yuzuru do an axel faceoff). It’s true that she doesn’t have the floating quality on the ice that earns a perfect 10 in skating skills, but her technical score should’ve been enough for silver here.

Satoko Miyahara is a stunning skater with great costumes, lovely programs, and the best spins in the business. Every little detail is beautiful. But she should NOT have beaten Liza here! I feel like sometimes I resent her not because I dislike her skating, but because the judges like her a little too much. There’s no reason why she should be getting those big GOEs on jumps compared to Liza. I know the Satoko fan club is going to crucify me for this, but it’s just my observation. On a good note, her SP dress is a freakin dream and she wins the award for best-dressed lady of the event.

RIKA KIHIRA, AN ALIEN FROM MARS! This girl is not human! And not only is she a jumping machine, she still has good skating skills and pretty spins. The programs are decent – not masterpieces, but with such good jumps, they don’t need to be. For Satoko, the beautiful programs are her main weapon, but for Rika, the programs are like a frame for her amazing jumps. I think I can really warm up to this girl. And I think if anyone is going to chase down Alina Zagitova this year, it’s Miss Rika Kihira.

Phew, this was an amazing event! I will take a day or two to catch my breath, then it’s back to work doing reviews of Rostelecom Cup and hopefully The Judges’ Table project. Until next time, happy skating, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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