Pogorilaya’s Late Debut and Injury; Chen’s Late Program Change
Pogorilaya injures her back at internal event, withdraws only from that; Chen announces her new long program with her first Grand Prix less than two weeks away.
In three days time, the Grand Prix series will open in Moscow. But at the beginning of this week, eyes turned instead first with anticipation, than with alarm, a little further eastward, to the city of Yoshkar-Ola. There we were supposed to get three more programs from two of the top Russians we still hadn’t seen. But we only got two, before an injury suddenly threw the Grand Prix season of one of those into uncertainty, with her first event only a week and a half away. And scarcely had we gotten an optimistic statement from her, but we got news of yet another discarded program from one of the ladies she’d be skating against.
Two Programs and an Injury
Russia’s internal Cup series is primarily used as a Nationals qualifier. But skaters who have a berth on either the senior Grand Prix circuit or the Junior Grand Prix Final, and thus automatic entry into Russian Nationals, will often still attend for the mileage. The second event in Yoshka-Olar which ran from Thursday to yesterday, had such skaters in three of the four senior events. In the men, higher technical content helped Alexander Samarin be easily dominant over Sergei Voronov, and in the dance Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov went completely unchallenged.
But the main event of significance was the ladies competition. It was the first competition of the season for both Anna Pogorilaya and Polina Tsurkaya, neither of whom participated in the Russian test skates. In her short program, Pogorilaya put on a spectacular show for much of it, though the fatigue seemed to get to her a little in the final spins:
However, her underrotated triple-triple resulted in her coming in third, behind the clean-skating Tsurskaya and Stanislava Konstantinova. Then she suddenly withdrew from the event before the free skate. Fans feared an injury, and one that would take her out of Skate Canada next week. When her explanation came, it was somewhat reassuring. She said she pulled out to protect her back, and that she’s having issues. But she also said they weren’t serious, and she expects to compete in Canada. Perhaps she’ll be fully recovered. Or it may be the kind of injury where she pulls out only of less significant competitions, but will skate at less than one hundred percent at a more important one. We’ll have to see next week.
Tsurskaya followed up the short she’d kept from last season with a free skate far less memorable, even discounting the fall and doubled jump. Third in the segment, she had to hold on to second ahead of a much cleaner Anastasiia Guliakova, and lost to Konstantinova, who kept it to one fall and firmly outskated her. View full results here (in Cryllic).
But whatever the state of Pogorilaya’s back, at least we know her programs should benefit from the months she’s spent preparing them. That won’t be true for both the programs of one of her American competitors:
Karen Chen’s 11th Hour Program Change
Karen Chen has already skated in club competitions, a Challenge event, and, finally, the Japan Open the weekend before last. She did not skate at all well at the last, and was by far the lowest scorer of the six ladies participating. Apparently deciding to take drastic measures as a result, she announced today she’s gotten a completely new long program:
"It's time to take a risk and trust my instincts." 🤞✨
Music: Slow Dancing in the Big City 🎶
Choreographer: 🙋🏻 pic.twitter.com/zxnBvI9yPJ
— Karen Chen (@Karebearsk8) October 17, 2017
She went into further detail with one of the biggest of her area’s newspapers, the Mercury News. There she noted the Carmen long she’s now discarded was the second warhorse opera program she’s scrapped; she had a Tosca long before that! A soundtrack for an obscure movie is certainly a departure from that. And listening just to its most famous track, “The Ovation,” it sounds like something Chen would skate well too; it’s very believable when she says she feels it’s what she needs. Had she done the switch and announced it as much as a month ago, this would be news to rejoice at.
But she, too, is assigned to Skate Canada. And getting a new program only three weeks before her first event is another matter. It doesn’t help matters to hear her choreographer wasn’t able to help, and she had to put it together on her own. Nor is it soothing to think she’s not the most consistent of skaters as it is. One would no longer lay money on her at her first Grand Prix event. It won’t even be easy for her to then get used to the program while her season is going on.
Still, it would be worth it if she skated it well enough at Nationals to make the Olympics, especially if she did well there too. Given how daring it is of her to try this, when most ladies would just go back to their long program from the previous year, one kind of hopes she pulls this off.