We arrived in Moscow and immediately made our way to the Megasport Arena to see what was going on.
All those involved in organizing the postponed World Championships on such short notice have done a fantastic job in such a short period of time. The arena was ready to go and the skaters did not disappoint.
Here are our notes from Sunday's practices.
The reigning Olympic champion started slowly, but quickly proved to us she is back in top form. Despite opening up on a few early attempts at each jump, by the time her music came on towards the end of the session she was back to the Yuna we remember. She hit a triple Lutz-triple toe, triple flip, and double Axel in her new short program to Giselle.
Kim said afterwards she was a bit nervous and had to get used to the ice, but now that she has (as evidenced by her triple-triples), she will be tough to beat. We have not seen triple-triple combinations like hers all season...
Also of note, Kim was at the rink in the afternoon (even though her session was at 9:30p.m.) to cheer on teammate Kwak Min-Jung. It was nice to see her supporting Kwak, clapping after successful jumps.
Japanese skaters ready
We cannot begin to imagine the emotional roller coaster for six of the most talented athletes here. While Mao Asada and Kanako Murakami did not practice, all three men and Miki Ando were impressive.
Ando is jumping easily and landed triple Salchow-triple loop combinations. If she can skate this freely in competition she should land on the podium.
It appears as if Daisuke Takahashi's quad struggles continue, but the rest of his jumps and presentation are spot on. Brian Joubert told us he thinks Takahashi is the best skater of the season.
Nobunari Oda landed a huge quad combination and Takahiko Kozuka looked ready to dominate qualifying tomorrow and getting ready for the real deal on Wednesday and Thursday.
Miner, Dornbush get Worlds legs underneath them
Ross Miner and Richard Dornbush, two of the new faces for U.S. men's skating, are making their Worlds debuts in Moscow. They were a bit shaky in their first official practice. Miner was able to pull it together for a clean short program run-through, but Dornbush had to regroup out of the program, where he looked just fine. Miner has also had a day here, while Dornbush was fresh off the plane this morning.
Watch out for...
Two skaters who have to go through qualifying that really stood out from the pack.
Misha Ge from Uzbekistan (photo six above). He was born in Moscow, moved to California two years ago, and now trains in Lake Arrowhead with Frank Carroll. Ge (pronounced like the letter "G") moves across the ice like Alexei Yagudin, one of his favorite skaters. He also raved about the style of Daisuke Takahashi. If Ge can add a triple Axel to his arsenal, he's one to watch in the future.
Ira Vannut of Belgium. The 16-year-old makes her Worlds debut and showed off a strong arsenal of triples on practice. She trains with Kevin van der Perren and like her teammate, told us she loves jumping - her favorite - the triple Lutz.
Favorite fashion statement so far...Kirsten Moore-Towers manicure - Canadian flags. See to the right...