Skate America took place this past weekend, and the first Grand Prix of the season is now in the books. A lot happened, for sure – some incredible, some perplexing, some unfortunate. I must say, it was more interesting of a competition than I had expected for whatever reason. Some parting thoughts below.
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So how did Czisny beat Kostner? Breaking it down.
In a world of base values and grades of execution, there were plenty who were scratching their heads wondering how a relatively clean Kostner could have scored only a few points over a fairly messy Czisny in the free skate. Surely, had that been a 6.0 competition, Kostner would’ve won, ordinal-system notwithstanding, and probably convincingly so. You could imagine something like a 5.6/5.9 for Kostner and a 5.4/5.8 for Czisny. The free skate scores looked more like a 5.6/5.8 (Kostner) vs. 5.5/5.9 (Czisny).
WATCH: Czisny free skate
WATCH: Kostner free skate
But it’s necessary to look beyond the surface of errors. And fair warning, lots of numbers coming up.
The technical side of the free skates was vastly different, both in difficulty and in execution. Kostner and Czisny both hit a solo loop, and you can argue that Kostner’s flip equated Czisny’s first lutz. But while Kostner hit two more clean triples, Czisny hit only one more. But in the end, Kostner started with a more conservative set of jumps, while Czisny started with a greatly more ambitious set of jumps that eventually got underrotated and downgraded down to be more in line with Kostner’s base value. 35.92 for Kostner vs. 34.33 for Czisny (which dropped from an originally-planned 45.8).
The difference, really, came in the spins, where Kostner had one Level 4 and two Level 1s, Czisny had two Level 4s and one Level 3, which gave Czisny a 2.2 advantage in spins. Kostner actually got a Level 4 for her step sequence to Czisny’s Level 3, which was a 0.6 advantage. The spiral sequences cancel each other out base-value-wise.
Related: Photos/videos from the ladies’ free
When it was all said and done, Czisny’s free skate was still worth more in base value than Kostner’s by 0.01. Now, execution-wise, Kostner had the advantage for being cleaner, but the base value already took the cheated jumps into account and Czisny’s spins were much better executed than those of Kostner, so the GOEs weren’t that disparate. Add the fact that the judges gave Czisny slightly higher PCSs, and you’ve got a pretty close set of scores from the two.
Combine that with Czisny’s four-point advantage from the short, and the gold was decided by less than a quarter-point.
Now, for skating observers, Kostner being in a scoring quandary is nothing new, but she’s generally regarded as being on the overscored side of the equation (see: 2011 Worlds). Interesting to see it flip-flop in this occasion.
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