2009 U.S. bronze medalist Caroline Zhang has some serious thinking to do this off-season after falling to 10th place at Nationals this year.
Arguably one of the most talented U.S. skaters today, Zhang must address two things in the near future if she hopes to ever make a World Championship or Olympic team: 1) fix her jump technique, and 2) increase her speed and basic skating skills.
By carrying more speed into her jumps, Zhang wouldn't have to get in such awkward positions on the take offs in order to generate momentum and land them fully rotated. The picture below was taken by me at Nationals this past January, and showcases the root of her problem. Does that look like a good triple flip take off to you?
I love Zhang, and her spins and spirals are world-class. However, she's going to continue to get buried by the judges if she doesn't take some time to rework her jumps. It may take a season or two, but if her ultimate goal is to make the 2014 Olympic team, it must be done. She may have a hard time even cracking the top 5 at Nationals ever again if her technique doesn't change, as skaters like Mirai Nagasu, Rachael Flatt, Ashley Wagner, Agnes Zawadzki, Christina Gao, Amanda Dobbs and Alexe Gilles have much more solid (and therefore reliable) jumping habits.