5th World Freestyle Slalom Championships: Last rounds of battle
In Geisingen, Germany
You can check out the summary of the first rounds of the Battle Competition here, if you missed it
At the very start, 43 women had registered for the Battle competition. The 26 best ranked competitors were automatically qualified, and the 17 others had to fight for the 6 remaining places in a pre-qualification round. The first round, made of 8 groups of 4 and gathering 32 girls, followed the pre-qualifications to eliminate half of the selected skaters. This is briefly what happened the day before, at the opening of the event.
Women’s Quarter Finals
Now the time had come for the 16 best women in the world to confront one another!
Marina Boyko, Feng Hui, Kristina Lysenko, Angelika Babiy
Daria Kuznetsova, Svetlana Komissarzhevskaja, Sabina Ismailova, Su Fei Qian
Polina Semenova, Klaudia Hartmanis, Paulina Czapla, Chanya Mongkolchareonchok
Angelica Prucnal, Chiara Lualdi, Barbara Bossi, ChenChen
These were the quarter-final groups. In bold, the names of the women who went through to the semi-finals. The knocked out didn’t prove themselves unworthy, but some competitors really set the bar high.
In the FIRST GROUP, Marina Boyko (Ukr, #1) and Feng Hui (Chn, #9) easily win over Russians Kristina Lysenko (Rus, #24) and Angelika Babiy (Rus, #23) – Kristina misses most of her tricks and lacks linking, while Angelika misses her second run and her back deckchair during her third run. The two winners were fighting for the first qualifying place, and had to unveil their best runs: 15-cone day-nights and efficient sevens for Marina who ends up 1st, Vs. complex combos like [sewing-machine + butterfly + back toe wheeling] and a 14-cone toe seven for Feng Hui.
The SECOND QUARTER-FINAL was a Junior group! Chinese Su Fei Qian (Chn, #4) takes the lead with sick combos looking ridiculously easy: [back-front-back wheeling on the 50s… heel freezing at the end of the line and doubling the performance] or [round trip on 10 cones doing shift]...
Although she was a cut above the rest in her eights final group, Sabina Ismailova (Ukr, #40) misses her qualification, supplanted by Russian champion Daria Kuznetsova (Rus, #19): The latter shows more combos, is more varied and manages more tricks.
Polina Semenova (Rus, #3) ends up first of the THIRD GROUP especially with a great combo during her second run on the 10-cone 80s: [heel wheeling + day-night + round trip back on the line managing 4 external heel sevens]. Paulina Czapla’s (Pol, #33) performance lacks linking and her tricks lack finishing, and Chanya Mongkolchareonchok’s (Tha, #49) skating needs to mature. They are knocked out, letting the second qualifying place to Polish Klaudia Hartmanis (Pol, #6) who deserved no less with her 6-cone external toe seven, shifts, Korean and cobra combos, etc.
The FOURTH GROUP is won by ChenChen (Chn, #2) who spends her time doing shifts. All kinds of shifts. Impressive but not original. This might play tricks on her in the following rounds (bad pun, I know…) The real fight in this group is between the two Italians for the second place. Finally Barbara Bossi (Ita, #7) wins over Chiara Lualdi (Ita, #12) and knocks her out.
Women’s Semi Finals
The semi-finals are not about who’s going to be first to get the advantage in their next group, but who’s going to make it to the finals: it’s a fifty-fifty.
Marina Boyko, Su Fei Qian, Klaudia Hartmanis, Barbara Bossi
Feng Hui, Daria Kuznetsova, Polina Semenova, ChenChen
Yes indeed, Polina Semenova prevented ChenChen to go through to the final! Didn’t I tell you that her obsession with shifts would play tricks on her at some point? Polina didn’t have technical peaks as high as ChenChen’s but she showed variety, and it proved to be rewarding beyond her hopes. Feng Hui might be a Junior, but her skating is already very matured, mastered and finished: she’s got wheelings, shifts, sewing-machines, sevens, but also flexible tricks such as butterflies and cobras, and sitting tricks like Christies and deckchairs – she links everything, and she’s fast. Pretty intriguing!
Daria Kuznetsova doesn’t make it through to the final despite a very clean and industrious performance, made of long and varied combos with wheelings, flexible tricks, spins, and sitting tricks.
No surprise as for the qualified skaters of the first group: Marina Boyko and Su Fei Qian are technically a cut above the two other competitors.
Women’s Consolation Final
Two runs and a last trick for each skater.
This is when ChenChen wakes up and realizes that she knows other tricks than shifts: she can also do sevens! …and butterflies and footguns – in a moment of clarity at the end of ther second and final run. However, she cannot help but doing a nearly 40-cone toe shift for her last trick. Her performance is still convincing enough to make her win the consolation final, in front of Daria Kuznetsova who passes Klaudia Hartmanis thanks to more technical combos and a cleaner last trick (a 3-line butterfly with only one cone down, Vs. a 3-line back cobra with missed cones for Klaudia). Barbara Bossi ends up 4th of the group.
The women’s final was a fight between Asia and Europe: Feng Hui and Su Fei Qian, respectively future Junior Classic Champion and Vice-Champion, against Marina Boyko (World #1 and 2010 Battle World Champion) and Polina Semenova (Battle and Classic European Champion).
Three runs and one last trick.
The Chinese own the final. They do lots of shifts, normal or opposite, as single tricks or as part of combos.
Their sevens are mastered: a 9-cone toe seven and a 10-cone heel seven as well as a [butterfly + 6-cone toe seven + internal toe chicken leg] for Feng Hui; and a 9-cone heel seven for Su Fei Qian, who particularly bets on shift combos such as [opposite shift + multiple wheeling flips], [11-cone heel shift and then back managing 15 cones] or last but not least [butterfly + 15-cone toe shift]. Feng Hui also does a [heel shift + wheeling flips] and a 15-cone heel shift during her last trick (then she tapped and her 20-cone back heel wheeling following was thus not taken heed of), but Su Fei Qian has the advantage on this one.
And although Feng Hui is more convincing in sitting tricks (5-cone deckchair and Christie, Vs. a single Christie), Su Fei Qian definitely takes the lead thanks to her last trick: the above-quoted back-front-back heel wheeling on the 50’s, heel freeze and again – three times, although she misses a couple of cones on the third line.
Marina Boyko’s runs are built in a way that you have the feeling she is repeating herself. In fact, she’s actually doing the same tricks on her two first runs but she changes heels and toes. However she does make a costing mistake: uninspired for her last trick, she repeated herself again and for real doing a toe day-night, followed by a useless 20-cone front toe wheeling on the 50s. This probably relegates her to the fourth place, behind Polina Semenova who once again is rewarded for her variety! As for her last trick, she does heel external curls going frontwards on the 10-cone 80s and then back on 6 cones. This is the same type of trick as the heel external seven she did in a combo during her second run, going back after a [heel wheeling + day-night]. Nevertheless she showed different kinds of tricks all through her runs, which is not enough to pass the crazy Chinese but which enables her to cling onto the third step of the podium.
Results of the Women’s Battle
- Su Fei Qian (Chn)
- Feng Hui (Chn)
- Polina Semenova (Rus)
- Marina Boyko (Ukr)
- ChenChen (Chn)
- Daria Kuznetsova (Rus)
- Klaudia Hartmanis (Pol)
- Barbara Bossi (Ita)
Let’s face it, the men were twice as many as the women: Out of the 80 registered skaters, 56 were automatically qualified, and the remaining 24 had to fight for the 8 available places left in pre-qualifications. One more round than for the womens was needed to reach the Quarter Finals and keep the best 16.
Men’s Quarter Finals
- Zhang Hao, Lan Wang Heng, Alexandre Claris, Andrey Shitov
- Kim Sung Jin, Pan Yu Shui, Guo Fang, Martin Sloboda
- Jon Larrucea, Liao Jie, Igor Cheremetieff, Ye Hao Qin
- Romain Lebois, Denis Islamov, Yu Jin Seong, Pu Hao Yang
Scary, don’t you think?
The bold names belong to the lucky people who went through. At this stage and given the competitors, it’s not about pure technique anymore but about tactics and about praying that your opponent will have a moment of weakness.
Generally speaking, and you mustn’t be surprised about it anymore, the Chinese are leading. Except for GROUP 2 where Kim Sung Jin (Kor, #1) ends up first (before Chinese Guo Fang (Chn, #5)), there is at least one Chinese in each group and you can be sure they are leading! Martin Sloboda (Ger, #4), not having renewed his tricks for a while, is kicked out in this very group – 40-cone back heel wheelings and dozen-cone sevens are not enough anymore.
Jon Larrucea (Esp, #3) and Romain Lebois (Fra, #14) are the only Europeans who go through. They both do a great job in ending up respectively behind Ye Hao Qin (Chn, #19) and Pu Hao Yang (Chn, #2), and knocking down Liao Jie (Chn, #7) and Igor Cheremetieff (Fra, #13) in GROUP 3, as well as Yu Jin Seong (Kor, #23) and Denis Islamov (Rus, #29) in GROUP 4 – two less Asians to deal with!
Let’s note that the new Chinese generation is even more alien than the previous one. You’ve had a preview of it in the Women’s Category, mastered by two Junior Chinese girls...
Alexandre Claris (Fra, #16) was very close from qualifying but he was passed by Lan Wang Heng (Chn, #12) in GROUP 1 led by Zhang Hao (Chn, #22). Both were extremely close with equal performances, trying to shoot each other down with back heel sevens and shift combos. However Wang Heng had a slight advantage as he showed more technical tricks (back heel chicken leg, toe wiper, [opposite + normal shift], [deckchair + switch heel wheeling front-back]) and Alexandre’s last combo wasn’t enough to save him [opposite shift + sewing machine + toe back wheeling going back the 50s].
Men’s Semi Finals
What matters is to be part of the two skaters to go through, whatever the place as long as you’re not dismissed!
Zhang Hao, Kim Sung Jin, Jon Larrucea, Romain Lebois
Lan Wang Heng, Guo Fang, Ye Hao Qin, Pu Hao Yang
This is the last stop for our European heroes who fought bravely against the invaders. Zhang Hao and Kim Sung Jin knock them down in the FIRST GROUP: The Chinese mostly qualifies thanks to his 10-cone deckchair and his [19-cone shift + transfer to the 50s + toe wiper + freeze] and the World #1 Korean thanks to his impressive combo on the first run [opposite + normal shift + transfer to the 50s with a front-back heel wheeling + back again with a 16-cone back heel wheeling] and subtleties such as his heel star (a shift turning towards the outside around one cone – which is the exact contrary of the Flower seven to the inside).
As for the SECOND GROUP, it’s a Chinese slaughter confirming the above reflexion saying that the new Chinese generation is sicker than the “old” one (let’s put “old” in brackets as some skaters of the old generation are still in the Junior category): Pu Hao Yang, nicknamed God in China, shows off starting with a [14-cone deckchair + toe flower seven], going on with a 25-cone toe seven (20 + 5 back) with a finishing spin, a [10x10 back-front toe wheeling + sewing-machine, toe wiper and opposite sewing-machine] and ending up with a 3-cone deck seven – yes, a deckchair revolving like a seven.
Guo Fang and Lan Wang Heng, the old generation, cannot but bow before him and Ye Hao Qin, who seizes the second qualifying place – the kid managed the whole 120s doing back deckchair… Oh, and let’s not forget his 3-cone Christie deckchair.
Men’s Consolation Final
Jon Larrucea and Romain Lebois get their revenge and seize the two first places of the Co-Final thanks to complete and varied runs as well as significant last tricks. Indeed Guo Fang and Lan Wang Heng repeat themselves with theirs. Guo Fang tries to succeed in doing [toe wiper + toe wheeling + toe wiper] on the 50s because he missed it in his runs, but fails twice – he ends up 4th; whereas Lan Wang Heng does [heel opposite shift + heel opposite wiper] – although this is not exactly the same as what he did during his runs, it still belongs to the same trick family. He gets the 3rd place.
Romain Lebois does a good performance with finished combos such as his 30-sec [20-cone toe shift + sewing-machine normal + opposite] and his last trick [10x10 toe back-front wheeling, three times] – the third time being “only” 10x5. Jon Larrucea does less combos but, unlike Romain, shows that he can do toe *and* heel wheeling, which added to his variety, linking, and cleanness, propels him to the 1st place of the group.
Men’s Final by ReKiL.ru
This is quite a comical picture: Kim Sung Jin surrounded with Chinese kids. It looks like the final of a local competition, but don’t you judge a book by its cover: These kids are programmed to kill!
Guess who’s going to get the first place? Pu Hao Yang, you’re right! After his three amazing runs, two of them being 30-sec combos, he didn’t even take the trouble to ask for a second try for his last trick (a 4-cone deck-seven with two cones down). Actually I guess I would have felt comfortable too with a [14-cone deckchair + 20-cone toe shift + toe star] and a 40-cone toe seven…
Ye Hao Qin gets the second place thanks to his 14-cone back deckchair, his 19-cone toe seven, his various wheeling combos… and a 3-cone Christie deckchair as a last trick to crown it all.
Kim Sung Jin manages to pass Zhang Hao thanks to his freestyle, originality and the maturity of his skating. The little Chinese is a wheeling machine but he doesn’t have the creativity… yet! He still gets an honorable fourth place with his 14-cone deckchair and his diverse shifts and wheelings.
Results of the Men’s Battle
- Pu Hao Yang (Chn)
- Ye Hao Qin (Chn)
- Kim Sung Jin (Kor)
- Zhang Hao (Chn)
- Jon Larrucea (Esp)
- Romain Lebois (Fra)
- Lan Wang Heng (Chn)
- Guo Fang (Chn)
The Chinese hit the jackpot with the Battle competition, both in the Women’s category where they take over the two first places as well as the lead of the Consolation final, and in the Men’s category where 5 out of the Top-8 are Chinese!
Pu Hao Yang highly deserves to be sacred World Champion for the second year in a row. Kim Sung Jin, the current World #1, is a bit overtaken by the Chinese technique but holds on, in reaching the final and the third step of the podium. Jon Larrucea, the double European Champion in Classic and Battle, confirms his supremacy over Occident in ending up first European of the competition, in front of Romain Lebois who manages the best feat of his growing career.
COMING SOON: The last part of the World Championships Report, summarizing the Classic Freestyle competition of the last day.
Chinese translation of the 1st article
Day 2 of WFSC in geisingen, Part I, Speed Slalom, Chinese version
Day 2 of WFSC in geisingen, Part II, Pair Style Slalom, Chinese version
Part III of Day 2, Battle Final of WFSC in Geisingen (Chinese version)
Day 3 of WFSC in Geisingen, Classic Slalom & Style Slides, Chinese version (Chinese version)
Last chapter - Epilogue of WFSC (chinese version)
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