Today was a back to work day for Rachael and I and all of the other 24 female skaters (the bottom six were cut after the short program) and their coaches. At this highest level of the sport all of the ladies have a plan for exactly how they train on the day in between the short and long program. Every lady today did something different on the first practice and only three of the top six ladies did the second practice: Rachael, Mirai and Mao.
Rachael and I discussed her short program in detail and as you might expect we were very pleased with her debut Olympic performance since she improved her international personal best by over six points. We got to watch it on CTV while she was warming up for her first practice. Except for the triple lutz, which I called a squeaker, many of her elements were done to the best of her ability. She was all smiles yesterday from the moment we met to take the bus over, through her off-ice warm up, on-ice 6 minute warm up, while she was waiting to compete, while she competed, in the kiss and cry and in the mix zone with the press afterward. Needless to say, she was so excited to compete and I think it showed.
As a coach with a critical eye, I offered her feedback on what she did well and kept my criticisms to a minimum. Rachael knows the areas that could have been better besides completing a stronger triple lutz, which probably cost her 4th place (she lost 1 full point of the Grade of Execution or GOE of that jump and placed .12 behind Miki Ando from Japan). She is also learning what it takes to reach the podium. From my point of view, Rachael keeps getting stronger and stronger each time she shares the ice with Yuna and Mao.
Even though we are at the Olympic Games, there is still much to be learned. Becoming the best athlete in the world is a continual development process. What better place to gain experience than here!
Onward to the long program and another day of exciting women's figure skating.
P.S. Snagged tickets to the USA vs. Switzerland men's hockey game in between Rachael's practice sessions. USA won 2-0 and it was the third non-skating event that I attended at the Games. This is more than I expected!