What are summer competitions for? Getting out the new programs and new tricks in no-pressure situations. After watching several clips from this summer's events, we are thinking U.S. "veterans" beware.
Let's start with some good news.
There are a slew of first-year seniors and strong juniors with triple-triple combinations - and we're not talking triple toe-triple toe.
More good news - "veterans" Ashley Wagner and Mirai Nagasu look poised for a solid season.
So where is the problem?
The newbies with the triple-triple combinations lack the maturity of the "veterans" - who lack the triple-triple.
We are having a difficult time thinking of a skater who has the poise and presence of senior lady and can throw down an effortless triple Lutz-triple toe.
Why no triple-triple from Wagner or Nagasu? Best case scenario - they have one and it just didn't happen for them at Glacier Falls. To which we respond - when is there a better time to start trying difficult combinations than at a summer competition that has no bearing on the season?
Neither Wagner nor Nagasu qualified for Worlds (in April this past season) and therefore cannot use the excuse they had a shortened off-season and did not have time to work on triple-triples. (Although Wagner did make a cross-country move and Nagasu presumably has been crossing all over California for her lessons in Lake Arrowhead with Frank Carroll.)
Excluding Yuna Kim and Mao Asada's recent contributions, how much longer will a triple-double be acceptable in ladies' figure skating. We argue it has already been too long.
Wagner and Nagasu have the refinement of a senior lady, but without a triple-triple, may soon be falling behind. With young Russians like Adelina Sotnikova and Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva on the senior circuit this season, the technical level is expected to increase.
We have yet to see Christina Gao this season, one U.S. lady with a higher value triple-triple, and we're hoping she brings a bit more "wow" factor this season to pay off her strong combination.
And let's circle back to those young seniors and few juniors we opened with.
Here, 2011 U.S. junior champion Courtney Hicks attempts a quadruple Salchow and at about 2:30, a triple flip-triple loop. She has a ways to go, but at least she is thinking big:
Also at Glacier Falls, 13-year-old Leah Keiser impressed with her triple Lutz-triple toe:
At Skate Detroit, junior Gracie Gold showed us a soaring triple flip-triple toe:
When we think triple-triple - we want to see effortless attempts like Gold's above, or Olympic champ Yuna Kim.
2010 U.S. champ Rachael Flatt is all about the triple-triple, but has yet to establish consistency with the combination in major competitions (though she did reel off a solid triple flip-triple toe in her Olympic short program!).
Yes, triple-triples have been done, and done well, by American ladies in the past - but only a handful.
As we push towards Sochi 2014, we expect a technical upgrade from the ladies and the time to start that push is now.
What do you think? Leave your comments below.