Anyway, here is my basic breakdown of what occurred in the men's event. In my opinion, Ryan Bradley's scores in both segments were a little inflated. Yes, his jumps in the short program were nearly impeccable and his energy was certainly high, but I still thought that his spins and footwork were a little slow. His free skate was nothing less than a mess. Even his music seemed to be a random mash-up of completely unrelated classical pieces. However, I do appreciate his showmanship and his effervescent personality. He seems to have a lot of fun on the ice, and that makes him fun to watch. As a spectator, I would rather see a flawed performance in which the skater(s) are engaging with the music and with the audience than a clean performance in which the skater(s) just seem to be going through the motions without any passion or spirit.
The Associated Press keeps describing Bradley's free skate as "conservative." It wasn't conservative; two quads is not conservative. It was just poorly executed, and since he skated last, it was a little anticlimactic to me because before that all these up-and-coming young skaters kept throwing down spectacular programs, one after another. Come to think of it, they all seemed to be skating to movie scores: Richard Dornbush skating to Sherlock Holmes, Ross Miner skating to Casablanca--both of which were delightful, Armin Mahbanoozadeh skating to Avatar--which wasn't quite as magical as it had been at Skate America, but still a solid performance. Jeremy Abbott is not an up-and-comer, but he skated to the score from Life Is Beautiful, and while it wasn't the performance he wanted to give, it was still one of my favorites. And then there was Adam Rippon, who has become one of my favorite skaters in the world, ever. Apparently his short program was disappointing (I did not get to see it because NBC did not see fit to broadcast it), but he was magnificent in the free skate, finishing third in the free skate standings and fifth overall. Again, perhaps I'm unfairly biased but I thought that he was a little under-scored in the free skate. Maybe his performance didn't warrant 160 or higher (no quad, after all) but I think it certainly warranted something in the high 150s.
On the women's side, my two favorite ladies' competitors in the world right now are Alissa Czisny and Mirai Nagasu, and so I wanted both of them to win. Unfortunately ISU rules do not allow for ties, so the best I could hope for was that they would both be on the podium. And so it came to pass, with Alissa Czisny taking first and Mirai Nagasu taking third. Rachael Flatt took second. I've been watching Rachael Flatt for nearly a year now, and so far haven't been very impressed with her. Suspicious that I may not have been entirely fair to her, I've been trying to figure out why, and here's what I've concluded. (1) She is known for being a technical skater, and I tend to respond better to the more artistic skaters. (2) She often skates to this kind of jazzy music that I don't really care for. (3) In my opinion, she usually doesn't seem personally connected to her music or to the character that she is trying to convey, so her interpretation usually rings false for me. However, she debuted a new short program at the Nationals with new, nonjazzy music, and for the first time she really seemed personally connected with the music and invested emotionally in what she was doing (I don't mean to imply that she's never been emotionally invested in her skating before, only that it didn't seem that way to me as a spectator).
And what can I say about Alissa Czisny? I love her free skate program so much; every time I see it I think that it's the best she's ever done (except at the Eric Bompard Trophy; that one was a little rough). I can't find a decent video of her free skate from Nationals, but I found a couple of her free skate from the Grand Prix Final. This one is better quality but might not be available outside the US. This one doesn't have commentary so you can hear the music better (although it also might not be available outside the US; I have no way of knowing). As I've said elsewhere, it often seems to me that the official term "ladies' singles figure skating" seems condescending, but Alissa Czisny is a lady in the best possible sense of the word.
In ice dance, Meryl Davis and Charlie White won their third straight national title, which wasn't a surprise but still fun to watch. What was somewhat surprising is that the top three finishers are all coached by the same coaches. The third place finishers, Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein, skated their free dance to music from Cabaret, which was delightful enough by itself but also evoked warm and pleasant memories for me of performing in Cabaret in college.
It may seem strange for me say this, but arguably the highlight of the entire championships was the pairs free skate, specifically the winning free skate of Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin. They skated to Schubert's "Ave Maria" in tribute to Coughlin's mother, who died last year. Now, I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about the use of sacred music in figure skating programs, but in this circumstance it was entirely appropriate, and the performance was one of those moments where everything comes together perfectly to create something transcendent. Nothing I can say about it will do it justice, so I invite you to watch it for yourselves. Never will I cease to marvel at the ability of the human spirit to create such exquisite beauty out of pain ... and to heal itself in the process.